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Forgive me callaway book.., p.16

Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2), page 16


Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2)

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  Did she even know who he was? How would she react to her mother being gone? Would she like living with him? Did she have any allergies? What did she like to eat? All of those questions were answers a father should know, but he didn't. Soon, he felt the anxiety in his body being replaced with anger—anger that he had a child he didn't know about, anger that the mother hadn't contacted him, and anger that he had missed out on the first four years of Lucy's life.

  Amanda stirred in his arms and when he looked at her, his heart was overwhelmed by how much he loved her. When his mom had told them about Lucy being dropped off, she could have walked away. She could have told him she hadn't signed up for this, that it was his situation to handle, but she hadn't. She'd given him her unconditional support and in that moment, he had loved her even more. She was standing by him, and that meant more to him than she could ever know.

  She pressed a soft kiss on his chest, right over his heart. As she spoke, her voice was still sleepy. "Did you get any sleep?" She braced her elbows on his chest and dropped her head to her hands. She looked as exhausted as he probably did, yet she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Not just because of how gorgeous she was on the outside, but because the beauty she had inside shined through like sun rays.

  He brushed back a strand of hair from her face. "Not much, you?"

  She shook her head from side to side as she answered. "I got a couple of hours. How are you holding up?"

  "It still feels like it's not real, you know? I mean, why did she wait this long to get in touch with me? Why did she keep my daughter away from me for so long? Why did she just leave her here like that? There's a child sleeping in the room next door who I know nothing about."

  She leaned forward and kissed his lips softly, the kind of kiss that was meant to be reassuring and supportive. "Baby, you may never know the answers to those questions. You can't hold on to the whys. You have a daughter sleeping in the next room who we know nothing about, and we don't know if she even knows you're her dad. This is going to be a 'one day at a time' situation. It's going to take some time, but she's going to love you."

  "How are you so calm about this?" he asked when she finished talking. It was one of the things he had a hard time wrapping his head around. If the roles had been reversed, he would be freaking out. Yet here she was, as calm as ever. He didn't understand why she wasn't yelling or screaming or, hell, why she wasn't even crying?

  "You were honest with me about your past, Drew, and I accepted it because I love you. Now, I'm not saying I was mentally ready for what went down last night, but I love you. And that little girl in there is a part of you, which means I love her just as much. I will be there for her and for you in whatever way you need me." He could hear the raw emotions in her voice and when one tear trailed down her cheek, he wiped it away with his thumb.

  When she smiled at him, he knew everything would be okay because they would do this together. "You are incredible. How did I get so lucky?"

  "I think we both got lucky to find each other again," she told him, smiling.

  In that moment, his brain found peace, but as fast as he had found it, it was gone. "I don't even have clothes for her. I don't know anything about four-year-old girls. Hell, I don't even have a room for her here."

  She sat up, crossed her legs and Drew groaned at the sight of her bare thighs barely covered by his T-shirt. She smiled at him like she knew exactly what she was doing and he was more than happy to have the distraction, even if it was just for a second.

  He watched her body tense as she got ready to talk, and he couldn't help but worry about what she would say. He wasn't sure he could handle any more hard news for at least the next couple of months. "I was wondering about that last night, and I was thinking you guys could move in with me. I mean, since she just got here and you spend most of the time at my place anyway it shouldn't be too much of another a shock for her. We could fix up the spare bedroom and have her choose whatever she wants. That way, she feels like she's a part of the process."

  He let her words sink in for a few moments because he wasn't sure he had heard her right. This would not only change his life; it would change hers, drastically. He wasn't sure if she understood just how much. "Are you sure about this? This is a big move, Amanda. There's no going back from this."

  "I'm sure. Do you not want to move in?" He hated the doubt he was seeing on her face.

  He grabbed her by the hips and lifted her over him so she was straddling him. He straightened his back so their upper bodies were pressed together and caged her face with his hands as he rubbed small circles with his thumb on her cheeks. "Fuck, yes, I want to move in. I just don't want to overwhelm you."

  "We're in this together. I love you, Drew." She kissed him, but that time it wasn't light. It was full of passion and pent-up feelings that translated through the way her lips touched his.

  With every lick of her tongue, and every bite on his lips, he felt the stress of the night before leave his body. He dropped a hand to her ass and grabbed the back of her neck with the other, deepening the kiss, strengthening their bond as he took over. He licked and nipped the corner of her mouth and kissed her until she was the only thing he felt.

  When she started moaning and he felt her core rocking against his hardening erection, he knew he had to stop before things got out of hand. As much as he wanted to lay her down and spread her open for his pleasure, this wasn't the time or the place. He slowed down and pressed soft kisses to her chin and nose before dropping his forehead to hers, his eyes looking into hers. "I love you, too. Thank you."

  She smiled at him. "Now, how about you go see if she's up?"

  His heart started beating faster. He had no idea what he was supposed to say. Should he wait for his mom? There wasn't a manual to tell him how to handle a situation like this, and that made him nervous. The last thing he wanted to do was scare the child or make her feel uncomfortable or feel unwelcomed. "What do I say to her? I can't just walk in that room, and say 'Hi, I'm your dad'."

  "Just let her lead, and you'll be fine. I'll stand right beside the door, so if you need me I'll be there to help you." He watched Amanda as she climbed out of bed and pulled on a pair of jeans and a shirt his mom had gotten for her since they hadn't gone home to change from the wedding. When she was fully dressed and she saw he hadn't moved, she put her hands on her hips, and tilted her head, and gave him a 'why are you still in bed' look. He followed her lead and grabbed his dress pants from the night before, smiling when she handed him a shirt Cole had left behind.

  They walked out of the bedroom hand in hand. When they reached the bedroom he'd spent most of his life in, she squeezed his hand in support. He smiled when he saw a dark-haired little girl dressed in one of his old shirts sitting up on the bed, looking at the pictures on his wall. When he saw her, his whole world stopped. His mom had been right; there was no denying she was his. She was so beautiful it made his heart ache.

  He took a deep breath and knocked on the open door, watching her face attentively as she laid eyes on him for the first time. "May I come in?"

  Her big, brown eyes shined with curiosity and to his surprise, he didn't see any fear or uncertainty in Lucy's face as she answered him with a simple, "Yes." His heart filled itself with joy at the sound of his little girl's voice.

  He stepped into the room, glancing at Amanda who gave him a supportive look. He didn't know where to sit, so he leaned against the dresser on the other side of the bed. "Did you sleep okay?" he asked, hoping he wouldn't ruin this first interaction.

  She looked at him with big, sad eyes, and his heart broke a little when she spoke. "I missed my bunny."

  He was going to have to ask his mom if she still had some of Becca's old stuffed animals and anything else they could find in storage. "Well, I don't have a bunny, but I'm sure we can find something else to keep you company. My mom kept all my sister's stuffed animals."

  "Are you my dad?" she asked, like it was the most natural question in the world.

/>   He hadn't expected her to come out and ask that, and he didn't know what to say. Was there a correct answer to something like that? Should he ask if her mom had told her anything about her dad? He gathered himself and opted to go with the truth. "Yeah, I am."

  She glanced down at her knees and for a moment, he thought she was going to cry. However, before he could ask her if she was all right, she looked up at him a bit nervously. "My mommy only had one picture of you, and you were sleeping, so I didn't see your face. We have the same hair, see?" She took her hair in her little hand and pulled it to the side to show him, and he smiled at her. She was obviously very smart, and she was handling this much better than he was.

  He sat down next to her on the bed, careful not to get too close to her, not wanting to startle her. "Yeah, we do. Lucy, can I ask you if you know where your mom is?" He hated asking her that, but they had to get all the facts if they had any chance at making this work.

  "She just said I was going to stay with you for a while, 'cause she needed a break. But I'll try to be quiet, and I won't make noise. I promise," she told him, almost like she was afraid he wasn't going to keep her. He hated seeing that look on his child's face. Hell, when they were younger, he and his brothers made more noise than a rock band; that was what children were supposed to do, right?

  He took her little hand in his and when she smiled at him, he knew they would be okay. It wouldn't be easy, far from it, but she was his flesh and blood and he wouldn't let her down. "It's okay, Lucy. You can make as much noise as you want. I don't mind one bit."

  "Is this your house?" She was full of questions, and that was when he realized Amanda was right. She was leading this conversation, and he was thankful for it because he had no idea what he was doing.

  "No, this is my mom's house. You met her last night."

  She smiled at him and when she moved closer, he held his breath. "Is she the one who tucked me in? She's pretty, and she was really nice. My mom never tucks me in."

  "Yeah, that's her. That's your grandma, and she loves to spoil little girls," he managed to get out past the chunk of emotions building in his throat. This was real, this was his daughter. He closed his eyes briefly to get himself under control.

  "I never had a grandma before. Can I call her grandma?" She sounded so sad telling him that, which just raised even more questions about her mother and the life they had before.

  "Yes, you can. She's really happy to have you as her granddaughter. She's always saying she wants more girls in the family." He heard Amanda laughing from the doorway, like a balm to his soul.

  "What about you? Are you happy I'm here?"

  "I'm really happy, too, honey. But I've got to tell you, I don't know much about being a dad. I'm probably going to make a lot of mistakes, so you'll have to teach me a lot of things. We're going to learn this together," he told her, remembering how Amanda said it was important to make Lucy feel like she was part of building something.

  She nodded and said, "Okay." He watched as her eyes travelled to where Amanda stood. When she saw her, Lucy pointed. "Who is that?"

  Drew looked over to Amanda, who was smiling at the both of them. He opened his hand for Amanda to come sit with them. "That is my girlfriend, Amanda. Amanda, this is Lucy."

  "You are very pretty, Lucy," Amanda told the little angel, making her smile like she had just given her the moon.

  "Thank you. You have pretty hair," Lucy said as she reached to touch Amanda's hair.

  He watched as the woman he loved more than anything in the world leaned forward and stroked Lucy's hair, the same way his little girl was stroking hers. "You think so? Maybe we can braid each other's hair."

  "Really? You would do that?" Something inside of him ached when he saw the combination of doubt and happiness on Lucy's face, once again reinforcing the million questions he had. They would most likely never be answered if Lucy's mom never came back, though.

  He saw something soften in Amanda's expression, like she was thinking the same thing he was: what kind of childhood had Lucy had so far? "Of course, and we can bake cookies, too."

  Lucy looked down at the comforter on the bed as she spoke the words that made his ache grow into something almost unbearable. "My mommy says I'm too messy to be in the kitchen. When we have food, she asks me to stay out."

  "Well, I think there is no such thing as being too messy in the kitchen." He was thankful to have Amanda with him because he wanted to punch something. She was a goddamn child. What kind of mother told her daughter to be quiet and that she was too messy to bake? He had a feeling that was only the beginning of things that would piss him off.

  He didn't like it and he wanted to scream, but when Lucy asked her next question, his anger was the least important thing in the world. "Did my mommy leave me because I was bad?"

  "No, honey. She left you with us because she needs some time to herself. It has nothing to do to you."

  "Do you have a dog?" she asked, looking between him and Amanda.

  He smiled when Amanda ruffled her hair. "I do, and he loves little girls with brown hair."

  "Sorry to interrupt, but I found some of Becca's childhood things, stuff when she was a child, and I thought Lucy might like some clean clothes." He loved his mom for being such a kind and generous soul. She dropped the box of clothes on the dresser then looked at him. "Everyone is in the kitchen if you have a minute."

  The last thing he wanted to do was leave Lucy, but he also knew they needed to talk about this as a family, although he had every intention of keeping this conversation short and to the point. What he wanted to do was take Lucy and Amanda home and start figuring out what came next.

  Amanda squeezed his hand. "Why don't I stay here with Lucy and braid her hair while you go down to the kitchen. We'll be okay."

  "Okay. I'll be right back, Lucy, and then we'll go home." He kissed the top of her hair before he could stop himself. It had come over him so naturally, he hadn't had time to process the thought before acting on it. When she put her tiny hands around him and hugged him, he felt the tears running down his face but he didn't care. He didn't know how long they stayed like that, but when she pulled away, Amanda was crying, too. He kissed her as tamely as possible, conscious of the four-year-old looking at them.

  He was at the door when he turned around at the sound of laughter. Amanda and Lucy were in a tickling fight on his bed, and he swore it was the prettiest sight he'd ever seen. Forcing himself to walk away, he headed to the kitchen to face the choir. He walked into the room where his brothers and sister were all standing, obviously anxious. His mom poured him a cup of coffee, and he knew he had to make this short and fast if he wanted to get out of there anytime soon.

  "Let's get this done so I can take Lucy and Amanda home. I didn't know I had a daughter until last night, and I don't know who her mother is. But at this point, in this moment, it's not relevant because she obviously didn't care about her enough to stick around. We are all that little girl has, so we need to make the best of it."

  "How do you even know she's yours, Drew?" John asked in the same tone his brother used when he was trying to decide something.

  "One look at her and I know. I'll have a DNA test done just to make sure, but I don't have any doubts. Now, Amanda and I have decided it would be best to move in together. We've practically been doing it anyway; it was going to happen with or without Lucy. I know you all have a million questions, and I do, too, but I don't have any answers right now. What I really want to do is take both of my girls home and get to know my daughter before everyone else gets involved." He looked around the room, hoping no one would press him on this.

  "We get it. We'll be up at the cabin, so if you need us you just have to call. You can do this, Drew. You're going to be a great dad," Cole told him from the table, looking as tired as he felt. Drew hated that this happened on his brother's wedding night. As if Cole could read his mind, he looked at him. "Don't even think it, man. You didn't plan this. It isn't on you."

a, do you still have any of your old stuffed animals? Lucy was talking about a bunny this morning, and I just want her to have something she can hold on to." His sister looked to be in physical pain at the situation, which was strange.

  "Mom and I will look in the attic for whatever we can find, and I'll drop it off at the house later. We'll find her something," Becca told him before kissing his cheek and walking out of the kitchen like the room was on fire. He made a mental note to ask her about what was going on later.

  "Do you need anything from us?" He looked at Nick as his brother spoke to him, and then it hit him that they probably didn't have child-friendly food at the house.

  "If one of you could make a run to the grocery store to get things kids like, it would help us a lot. Mom, maybe you could go with them?" He glanced at his mom, who was beaming at him with pride in his eyes, and he hope he would earn it.

  "Sure, honey. Now, you go take your girls home." His mom kissed his cheek and with one deep breath, he went back upstairs and prepped himself for the changes about to happen.

  The second Amanda had seen Lucy, she knew she was Drew's daughter. She had the same hair and eyes as Drew; the resemblance was undeniable. Leaning against the doorframe, listening to Drew and Lucy talk, she felt something snap open inside. Some people say she fell in love with Drew at first sight when she was just a little girl. Well, standing there looking at Lucy, Amanda was pretty sure she was in love with the little princess staring at Drew like he was the strongest man in the world.

  On the drive home from the ranch, Amanda hadn't been able to stop replaying what Lucy had said about not making noise, and being too messy to bake. It broke her heart to see such a loving and caring child be so afraid of being a child. They were surrounded by unknown elements, but in that moment, she made a promise that she would do whatever she could to make sure Lucy was happy. She had no idea where things stood with the girl's mother, if the woman would ever be back, but she did know Lucy was a part of their lives for the time being.

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