After emptying her straining bladder, she went to check on Annie. Her heart clamored in her chest when she saw the empty bed. Willing herself calm, she knew that there must be a reasonable explanation for her daughter not being in her bed. As quickly and as quietly as she could, she went down the stairs. There was no use calling for Annie in the large house, she wouldn’t hear her. Cass ran back up the stairs and burst into Kevin’s room ready to scream. She had heard about all the famous abductions in California. Stopping herself by covering her mouth with both hands, she almost fainted from relief.
Kevin was sitting up in the bed, his head tilted back, resting on the headboard. Annie was curled up in his arms, her head resting on his bare chest. One of her hands tightly clenching to an open pajama top that he was wearing.
Cass walked to the side of the bed and studied the sleeping pair. It was a beautiful picture and now she knew that deep down in her heart there was no way that she couldn’t tell Annie the truth. Both of them were sound asleep, both softy snoring, both of them with their mouths slightly open.
Annie may have looked comfortable in her father’s arms, but Kevin definitely didn’t. Cass leaned in and whispered to him, “Kevin, wake up.”
With a mumble, his head lolled to the side. “Oh shit, I nodded off,” as he looked down at Annie curled tightly to him.
“What happened?” Cass pushed Annie’s legs over to the other side.
“She was crying that her ears hurt. I gave her the medicine and tried to tell her it would take time to work. She wouldn’t settle down.” His hand moved a curl from the china doll face. “Then the strangest thing happened... She wouldn’t let go... She...” Kevin was still trying to figure out exactly what happened.
Cass was only half listening to Kevin; she had deduced what had gone on. “She wanted to put her face on your chest, she fussed enough to get you to open your pajamas.”
“Yeah... What the hell is that all about? It freaked me out.” Kevin lay in bed with Annie at his side, he kept staring at Cass. He watched Cass go around the bed to the other side and climb in his bed. He was all for Cass joining him but Annie was between them.
“She’s done that since she was a baby. She wants skin-to-skin contact because she can’t hear you, she can’t see you in the dark, but she can feel your skin and the heat from your body. She can smell you too.”
“Cass, what the hell are you doing?” Kevin blinked a few times as Cass moved closer to him and Annie.
“We’re going to sleep,” Cass moved on her side.
“But Annie... my bed...” Kevin was having some trouble with this.
“Shut-up Kevin and go back to sleep.” Cass closed her eyes slightly.
Kevin wasn’t going to agree to this as he moved away from Annie. Annie latched onto the stray tail of the shirt.
“Forget it big guy. She is like barbed wire when she gets a grip. It’s just like that leg lock she gave you earlier.”
“Oh,” Kevin grumbled somewhat unhappy to have both women in his bed. He loved to hold Annie but holding Cass would be just as much fun, in a different way of course.
Kevin slept in the following morning. The day before had worn him out emotionally, not to mention the bottle of wine that he and Cass had drained at dinner. Ambling into the shower he thought about all the things Cass had finally been drunk enough to tell him. At certain points in time and during the rough spots, she blamed all of her misfortunes on Kevin. She hadn’t stopped blaming him until he insisted that he take responsibility for his child and help her out. The burden of carrying all the bills and the ranch had really begun to wear on her, losing Abe was a real blow to her.
She also told him that at one time she had feelings for A.J. but after sharing a kiss in Montana, she could tell that she didn’t feel the same things she felt for A.J. as she did for another person. Kevin pried, trying to get her to tell him who, he was banking on the fact that it was him. They had had relations just the other night, granted it was nothing more than overly stimulated adult bodies compensating for emotional stress, but he was hoping that it would at least get her to thinking about becoming a legitimate family. He wanted a family very much. He didn’t think he was in ‘Ga-Ga’ love with Cass but he thought they had a good shot at it. Besides, the last time he had done ‘Ga-Ga’ love, he ended up in divorce court. At least with Cass he shared something in common, Annie. With the water beginning to run cold, he stepped out of the shower. An easy day had been planned and Annie’s doctors appointment was tomorrow.
Cass didn’t move from the kitchen counter as she watched Kevin watch Annie. Remembering this morning, she had to smile. Annie and her had figured out how to turn the monster sized television on in Kevin’s living room. She smiled even more when a closed caption device kicked on. Annie smiled too, she couldn’t read all the words but she could read some of them. Kevin was doing everything in his power to make Annie’s stay as comfortable as possible and spoil the hell out of her at the same time. Yes, it tweaked at Cass’s self-esteem knowing that she was afraid that Kevin was trying to buy Annie’s love. She would watch and make sure that the real points of life were shown. People can be bought, but do they stay when all they are seeking is love and acceptance.
She grinned when Kevin get on all fours and crawled to a cartoon involved Annie. He pounced on her and began to tickle. Annie squealed with delight over the attack and launched one of her own. It was another sweet picture, one Cass had always dreamed of seeing.
Cass made breakfast as the two shrieking banshees tore up the living room. Every now and then, Annie must of hit her mark because Cass would hear an “Ow, hey watch it.”
“It’s hard playing with little girls,” Cass stood at the door.
Kevin tapped Annie’s shoulder and pointed to the kitchen.
“Breakfast,” Cass spoke very concisely.
Annie bounded off the floor and headed to the kitchen.
Kevin looked around his living room. It was messed up, turned upside down, and everything was out of place. He smiled as he stood up, “There’s always later.” He whistled as he headed to the kitchen. Any other time, he would have gone up the wall and down the other side. Nevertheless, his kid made the mess, not anyone else’s.
By evening, Annie dropped into bed, one exhausted kid. Kevin had convinced her all day long that she needed the medicine just one more day and tonight. If she didn’t want it tomorrow then that would be fine. Again, he reiterated his promise of a fancy tea party with her. This put a glow of excitement on Annie’s face that lasted the entire day. It was all she talked about. They had set their date, but it wouldn’t be truly set until after Annie’s doctors appointment.
Kevin came downstairs after putting Annie to bed; he was wore out again. Cass was on the phone again. Kevin paced as he listened to one half of the phone call. It was Chase or Gary. Cass hung up and looked a little upset.
“What’s wrong Cass?” Kevin sat next to her on the couch.
“Ferdie is sick, Chase is worried.” Cass couldn’t think of anything that would make Ferdie sick.
Kevin leaned back; he tossed his feet up on the coffee table. “That’s a problem. It’s not like you can take a bull to the vet. Maybe we should get her a dog or somethin’.”
“You’re an idiot,” Cass remarked. “She loves that grouchy old thing.”
A large arm dropped around her shoulders, a hand turned her face to his. She smiled weakly, Kevin was doing it to her again and he had simply just touched her during a casual conversation. She had a little heart flutter as he leaned in a little closer.
“Only you would let our daughter play with a two ton raging beast.” He leaned a little closer, brushing his bearded cheek against hers. “She needs a cat or something.”
Cass bolted off the couch as Kevin tipped sideways. She knew what he was up too and wasn’t giving him the chance again. Mr. Romance was checking in. Grabbing the phone, she hit re-dial. Chase answered the phone at her house, “Get the vet out there, Kevin said he would pay for it.” She was laughing when she hung up; Kevin was still sitting up, but laying sideways on the couch at the same time.
“I am?” Kevin blinked. Folding his hands under his cheek, he was trying to look angelic.
“Yes you are... Ferdie is Annie’s best friend.” She watched Kevin for a moment. “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your daughter’s best friend, would you?”
“No...” Kevin groaned as he covered his eyes. “What the hell could be wrong anyway? What’s this going to cost?”
Walking to him, she patted his knee with her hand. “Probably nothing... I think he’s just lonesome.”
“Christ!” Kevin sat up quickly as Cass jumped back. “I’m paying for a forlorn bull!”
“Well, he’s not a bull, he’s a steer. He’s castrated remember.” Cass laughed as she headed up the stairs, leaving Kevin once again with an uncomfortable thought. Kevin was a typical male and his pride normally rested between his legs.
The next day they waited patiently at the doctor’s office for Annie’s name to be called. They checked her out and gave her parents clearance for her to fly but she had to be back in two weeks to start her therapy and turn on her implants. It would be a long and stressful period for all involved, so the doctor thought that a mini-vacation would be a great treat for everyone before they buckled down and began the task of getting Annie to hear and speak as close to normal as possible.
Annie wasn’t aware that she was going on another trip and didn’t care. Her tea party with Kevin was set for the day after tomorrow. Plans had been made for Kevin to drop Cass off at the house for some down time while the two of them went shopping.
As they dropped Cass off, she came around to Kevin’s side of the truck. She motioned him to lean over so Annie couldn’t see her. “I’m still insecure about this entire deal. Don’t over do it and make me feel threatened.”
Leaning out of the truck, he kissed her swiftly on the lips, “I won’t.” Throwing the truck in reverse, he left Cass standing in the driveway in shock.
Annie giggled from the backseat and Kevin heard her say gruffly, “Mommy liked that.” His heart thumped as he glanced at Annie, it seemed that maybe, just maybe, he and his daughter were thinking along the same lines.
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