The soft, regular breathing and the strong arm around his waist was usually enough to make him drift off to the Land of Dreams, but not tonight. He felt exhausted, but for some weird reason he couldn’t sleep.
He looked up and smiled. He didn’t miss the mirror. It was good to be home again. A little chaotic, but good nevertheless. After greeting Mrs. Graves, who had been living in the house looking after the livestock, the kids had some trouble establishing their priorities.
Danny had reallllly wanted to say hello to Dawn, but Gaia and the pups – how could they grow that much in a few days? – had been also high on his list. Zoë had surprised everyone by not hurrying into the scullery – as expected – but making her way to her room. After a short exchange of looks with Luke, Reid had followed the girl upstairs and Luke had escorted Danny to the dogs.
Reid rolled on his back, softly caressing the arm now on his stomach, and let the memories of that afternoon return to his brain.
His “Are you okay?” had startled her. She obviously hadn’t heard him following her. Then she nodded and plunged on her bed.
“It’s nice to be home.”
“I agree,” Reid had taken a seat on the bed, “Vegas is an exciting city, but the noise started to stress me out.”
Zoë had smiled, not quite ready to share the truth. But Reid had known.
“And being surrounded by family all the time…”
Zoë had straightened herself and had nestled herself to his side.
“It was confusing,” she had murmured and when he had raised his eyebrow, she had continued, “they say one thing, but mean something else.”
“Grandma Lily and Grandpa Holden,” Zoë had lowered her head, but then – abruptly – had looked up again.
“I didn’t feel safe.”
“You know they would never do anything to hurt you, right?” Reid had to ask, even though he understood Zoë’s experience completely. He was just surprised the girl had noticed it too. It confirmed that his daughter was more sensitive than her exterior showed.
“I know. But I can’t trust them,” Zoë had clearly been shocked by her own honesty and had lowered her head again. So Reid had put his finger under her chin, lifting her head up so they could look each other in the eye.
“Never apologize for what you feel, Princess. Your feelings are yours.”
“But it feels unfair, because they’re always nice to me…”
“And they are nice. I know for a fact that they love you very much. That’s not the issue. Your feelings are not about them. They’re about you. If you feel you can’t trust them, that doesn’t mean they can’t be trusted. That they’re not trustworthy. It means you don’t have faith in them. And there could be many different reasons for that. Like the fact that you feel they don’t say what they really mean could be a good reason.”
Zoë had nodded and had then dropped herself on the bed again.
“I like my room.”
“I’m glad,” Reid had mirrored her movements and had been on his back on the bed. “I hope you’ll spend many years in this room.”
They had been quite for a while, enjoying their silent company. Then Zoë had surprised him again. With a question, this time.
“Did you feel sad when I called you Daddy?”
“Sad?” Reid had rolled over to his side, so he could see her face. “I felt a lot of things, but sad wasn’t one of them. Why do you think that?”
She had shrugged.
Reid had laughed softly.
“Well…you calling me Daddy was different. So I guess that made my response appropriate.”
He had ruffled her curls and had continued in a more serious tone: “But as I said, I felt a lot of things. I was surprised, I was grateful, I was moved…but not sad. The opposite. Very happy.”
Zoë had been quiet, looking at the ceiling. After a few minutes she whispered: “It was a surprise to me too.”
“Do you regret saying it?”
That had made her look up at him. Her curls had danced, as she was shaken her head.
“No. You are my dad.”
“I am,” Reid had pulled her close, “and a very proud one too.”
After a few minutes, Reid had sat up.
“Are you ready to go down? Mrs. Graves made us some pie.”
Zoë had shaken her head.
“Later. I just want to stay here for a while.” Her eyes had told him the whole story. ‘Alone’.
So he had left and had joined Mrs. Graves in the kitchen. There had been regular contact, so she didn’t have anything new to report, but she’d just shared what had been going on. And he had politely listened, while thoroughly enjoying the blueberry pie in front of him.
A sigh gurgled up from his chest, thinking about that pie and he then removed the arm from his stomach. Luke made some soft noises, but didn’t wake up and after putting on some pants, Reid found his way to the kitchen.
Although the pie had been his main motive to get up in the first place, he passed the fridge without opening it and walked to the door.
The builders had worked hard. The new buildings looked impressive. He would have his own swimming pool. Occasionally he felt like a kid in Disneyland. This was such an occasion. Overwhelmed by life. One year ago he’d never pictured himself living with a partner, two kids and his own swimming pool. His life had been simple. Well-organized. Detached. One passion in life. His work.
Then Mr. Snyder had showed him the truth. His life was a snow globe and Luke had the power to shake it. And he had. Repeatedly.
Reid stared out of the window.
Since the wedding-that-actually-happened-for-a-change and his faulty proposal, he felt like his snow globe had hit the ground and was still rolling uncontrollably. Apparently not even Luke managed to stop it from turning.
He wasn’t even surprised by the two strong arms hugging him from behind.
“What’s on your mind?” Luke softly asked.
Reid didn’t turn around and it took a few minutes before his answer found the route to his mouth.
Big Thanks To Lorraine, for brushing up my grammar
I’m SO happy I could offer you a LuRe story on Valentines day. Not sure when I will continue. Stay tuned…