It was a simple offer.
I invited Isla to rent a room in my five thousand square foot home. Plenty of rooms and plenty of space. But the second she moved in, I knew I was in trouble. I could handle wanting her when there was distance between us, but once we started to play house, all my pent up desire started knocking down walls.
That was my first mistake of many.
The private investigator I hired to track down my ex found her not far from where I live. I should have locked my past behind me, but something urged me to find her. I’m glad I did. But our union left me with a situation to be reckoned with.
When a new fire is lit and old flames rekindle, one will have to burn out.
The decisions I’ll have to make won’t be easy.
No matter what I choose, my heart will break.
Shelly leaned back, her hair falling around her face while her arms still embraced the pillow. “I could agree to that. You can come over during the weekday after work if you’d like to see Emma. That way she’ll get used to you. You can’t just take her for a weekend. She’ll cry bloody murder for me. And besides, I don’t think you know how to change diapers, or feed her, or give her a bath.”
I hadn’t thought about that. To Emma, I was a total stranger. “Okay. I’ll stop by every day around this time until she’s comfortable enough for me to take her on the weekend. I don’t have a project right now, so the timing is perfect.”
I leaned closer to Emma and caressed her chubby arm. Emma’s eyes fluttered open. When her bluish-green eyes set on me, I stopped breathing. Her eyes were just like mine, so uncanny, like almost looking at a reflection. Though Shelly had told me Emma’s eyes looked like mine, seeing the truth of it took my breath away. Relishing the feeling, I studied her.
I had thought she would burst out with a cry, but instead she smiled and twisted into a crawling position. Gripping the posts, she bounced, making cute baby sounds. When she spotted Shelly, Emma held out her arms and started to whine.
Shelly picked Emma up and kissed her forehead. The love Shelly had for Emma warmed my heart. I smiled, but I kept my heart hardened. Shelly told me her intentions, but I didn’t trust her.
“Here you go.” She deposited Emma in my arms, and since I hadn’t expected it, I almost dropped her. “Emma this is your father, Josh. Josh, your daughter, Emma.”
“Hi, Emma.” I bounced her a little the way I’d seen mothers do, afraid she would whine again. I had no idea what to do next. What the hell was I thinking when I had asked Shelly if I could have Emma for the weekend? I had no idea how to change a diaper, feed her, bathe her, or whatever else an eleven-month-old baby needed. I guessed I needed to hire a nanny as soon as possible.
Emma gave me a blank face. She glanced to her mother and then back to me, uncertain. When I made a goofy face, she smiled and let out a cute noise. One of her tiny, delicate hands touched my face, and the other set of fingers wrapped around my index finger. At that moment she stole my breath and tattooed herself onto my heart. You will always be a part of me. You own my heart and my soul. I will love you, care for you, and protect you with every breath I take. I’m your father, and I promise you I’ll make up for all the time lost. I swear to you on my life, Emma.
International Bestselling, Award Winning, Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.
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