“Here you go,” I said, handing her the glass.
She took a sip of the water and her eyes widened, stunned. “Oh my gosh, I know who you are now. You aren’t a psychic, you aren’t a wizard—you’re Reverse Jesus!” she exclaimed, her doe eyes wide with wonderment.
She nodded quickly. “You turned wine into water.” Even I couldn’t hold in my smile at that one, and she was quick to notice. “You did it, Graham Cracker. You smiled.”
She tilted her head, studying me. “My favorite mistake thus far. Can I tell you a secret?”
“You may not be a psychic, but sometimes I think I am, and I have this psychic feeling that one day I’m going to grow on you.”
“Oh, I doubt that. You’re pretty annoying,” I joked, making her laugh.
“Yes, but still. I’m like an ingrown toenail. Once someone lets me in, I dig my claws in.”
“What a disgusting thing to compare yourself to.” I grimaced. “I mean, that’s literally the worst comparison I’ve ever heard before.”
She poked me in the chest. “If you end up using that in one of your novels, I want royalties.”
“I’ll have my lawyer talk to your lawyer.” I smirked.
“Oh, you did it again,” she said, leaning in toward me in awe. “Smiling looks good on you. I have no clue why you avoid doing it.”
“You just think it looks good on me because you’re intoxicated.”
“I’m not intoxicated,” she insisted, slurring her words a bit in the process. “I’m perfectly sober.”
“You couldn’t walk a straight line if your life depended on it,” I told her.
She took it as a challenge and leaped up from the sofa. As she began walking, she stretched out her arms as if she were walking an invisible tight rope. “See!” she said a second before stumbling over, forcing me to lunge to catch her. She lay in my arms, looked up into my eyes, and smiled. “I totally had it.”
“I know,” I told her.
“This is the second time you’ve caught me in one day.”
“Third time’s a charm.”
Her hand rested on my cheek and she stared into my eyes, making my heart stop for a few moments. “Sometimes you scare me,” she said candidly. “But most of the time your eyes just make me sad.”
“I’m sorry, for anything I’ve done to scare you. It’s the last thing I’d want to do.”
“It’s okay. Every time I walk in on you playing peekaboo with Talon, I see your true aura.”
She nodded once. “To the rest of the world, you seem so dark and grim, but when you look at your daughter, everything shifts. Everything in your energy changes. You become lighter.”
“You’re drunk,” I told her.
“I can walk a straight line!” she argued again, trying to stand but failing. “Oh wait, I couldn’t, could I?”
I shook my head. “You definitely couldn’t.”
She kept touching my face, feeling my beard in her hands. “Talon is very lucky to have you as her father. You’re a really shitty human, but a pretty awesome dad.” Her voice was soaked in kindness and misplaced trust, which made my heart beat in a way I was certain would kill me.
“Thank you for that,” I said, fully accepting both of her comments.
“Of course.” She giggled before clearing her throat once. “Graham Cracker?”
“I’m going to vomit.”
I scooped her up into my arms and rushed her to the bathroom. The moment I placed her on the floor, she wrapped her arms around the toilet, and I wrapped her wild hair in my hands, holding it out of the way as Lucy appeared to lose everything she’d ever put into her stomach.
“Better?” I asked after she finished.
She sat back a bit and shook her head. “No. Johnnie Walker was supposed to make me feel better, but he lied. He made me feel worse. I hate boys who lie like that and break hearts.”
“We should get you to bed.”
She nodded and went to stand up, but almost tumbled over.
“I got you,” I told her, and she nodded once before allowing me to lift her into my arms.
“Third time’s a charm,” she whispered. She closed her eyes as she laid her head against my chest, and she kept them shut the whole time I pulled the covers back, laid her down, and pulled the blanket over her small body.
“Thank you,” she whispered as I shut off the light.
I doubted she’d remember any of the night’s events come morning, which was probably for the best.
“I’m sorry my sister left you,” she said, yawning with her eyes still closed. “Because even though you’re cold, you’re still very warm.”
“I’m sorry Dick left you,” I replied. “Because even when you’re upset, you’re still very kind.”
“It hurts,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around a pillow and pulling it closer to her chest. Her eyes stayed closed, and I watched a few tears slip out. “Being left behind hurts.”
I stood still for a few moments, unable to leave her side. As someone who’d been left behind before, I didn’t want her to fall asleep being alone. Perhaps she wouldn’t remember me standing there in the morning, and maybe she wouldn’t have even cared. But I knew what it felt like going to bed alone. I knew the cold chill that loneliness left drifting through a darkened room, and I didn’t want her to suffer from that same feeling. Therefore, I stayed. It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep. Her breaths were gentle, her tears stopped, and I shut the door. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why a person would leave someone as gentle as her behind—with or without her weird sage stick and crystals.
Ouch, ouch, ouch.
I slowly sat up in bed, realizing quickly it wasn’t my bed at all. My eyes examined the room, and I shifted around in the sheets a bit. My hands fell against my forehead.
My mind was spinning as I tried to recall what happened the night before, but everything seemed to be a blur. The most important piece of information came flooding back to me, though—Richard had chosen New York City over me.
I turned to my left and found a small tray sitting on the nightstand with a glass of orange juice, two pieces of toast, a bowl of berries, a bottle of ibuprofen, and a small note.
Sorry for misleading you last night.
I’m a jerk. Here’s some medicine and breakfast to make up for me
making you feel like shit this morning.
I smiled and popped a few berries into my mouth before washing down the ibuprofen. Pulling myself up, I walked to the bathroom and washed my face—my mascara was smeared all over, making me look like a raccoon. Then, I used the toothpaste in the top drawer and my finger as the brush to clean my nasty morning-after-whisky breath.
As I finished washing up, I heard Talon crying and hurriedly went to check on her. I walked into her nursery and paused when I saw an older lady standing over her, changing her diaper.
“Hello?” I asked.