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Turning carefully as the sunlight filtered through my bedroom window, I propped up on my elbow and reached out to brush a wayward blond hair behind her ear. My heart ached deep in my chest that she’d grow up without her momma. My sister’s little girl was now mine, and she’d be raised as my own as best I could. Being a single father for the last few years had forced me to grow the fuck up in certain areas, at least all areas other than women. It’s not like I could imagine a woman coming into my life and helping me raise Lyndsay.
“That tickles!” Her little voice surprised me. Big blue eyes looked up at me with an innocence in them that I knew I’d do anything to protect.
“What tickles?” I lifted an eyebrow and reached over to tickle the side of her neck. “This?” Her giggles filled up the air as I reached for her.
“No, Daddy! No!” She swatted at me and rolled off the bed, hitting the floor.
“Hey. You okay?” I moved quickly, ready to scoop her up.
She smiled up at me from the floor. “Yes!” Bounding up, she tickled my neck and ran off toward the living room, her blond curls flying behind her.
“You tricker!” I yelled playfully from the bedroom and got up. I ran my fingers through my hair and walked down the hallway to the kitchen. It was hard to believe Jannie had been gone for five years. Seemed like yesterday she was giving me shit about finding a good woman in my life. Too bad she never found a good man.
“What are you thinking about?” Lyndsay tilted her head to the side as she sat up at the breakfast bar, her little chin propped up in her hands. “You look worried.”
“Nope. Just trying to wake up. I went to sleep with a princess next to me and woke up to a frog.” I pinched the tip of her nose softly. “What happened?”
“A frog! Not me, Daddy.” She pulled back, shaking her head.
“No. You’re right. You’re much too pretty for that.” I walked to the fridge. “What does my girl want for breakfast this morning?”
“Pancakes, and eggs and maybe some bacon. Oh! And some sausage. And that ham we like so much, daddy. The really salty one.”
I laughed and glanced over at her. “Cinnamon rolls it is.”
She huffed and rolled her eyes. “Fine. I’m going to watch cartoons. Are we going to Mimi’s again today?”
“Yeah, baby. You know it’s baseball season right now. I have to be there when they tell me to.”
“I hate baseball season.” She walked toward the living room with her shoulders rolled in. I needed to find a damn day off to spend with her. The cute little thing had no clue that I was her uncle instead of her father. She didn’t need to know. That was the decision mom, dad and I made the day we buried my sister. It was better this way, and I was old enough and wealthy enough to take Lyndsay.
“Not that I could do it without you,” I mumbled to the empty air around me. My mom and dad had been more than helpful, and between the three of us, Lyndsay was growing up to be a bright, happy, healthy little girl.
“Dad!” she yelled from the living room.
“Yeah?” I pressed the button on the stove and walked to the edge of the kitchen.
“When are you going to bring home someone that can do my hair right?”
I put my hand on my hip and gave her a funny look. “Are you saying I’m not a good beauty shop lady or something?”
She giggle-snorted, the sound of it warming my soul. “Dad. We need a girl around here.”
“Well, we have one.” I pointed to her. “You!”
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