Looking around the room Celia sighed “where are we going to put a crib?”
“Honey we simply don’t have the room,” Ian came up to her slipping his arms around her. “It’s time we consider the possibility of moving.”
“But…” biting her lip she slowly nodded her head “I know it’s long over due isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry” Ian stroked her soft aqua hair “I wish it could be different but you know we need the room…”
“And your parents could use the room too,” she sniffed looking around the room “this is the only home I know. I’m going to miss it…”
“So am I” Ian agreed “I grew up here but it’s not like we won’t come back to visit and we’re still in the same town.” Laughing Ian added “besides Matt and Payson will need a place to live since they’re moving to Starlight Shores.”
Puzzled she asked “what are you talking about? They live in Monte Vista.”
“The dance company Matt belongs to closed and Drew decided to retire to become a stay at home mom to give Caleb the freedom to tour with Molten Lava.” He shrugged “Matt doesn’t want to go through the hassle of breaking in a new dance partner so he’s taking a teaching position at the studio.”
“That’s wonderful” she said “you can spend more time with your brother now.”
“I’m glad but I don’t think Matt’s as happy as the rest of us.” Ian looked away saying “I don’t think he ever waned to live in Starlight Shores again. He loves to dance and his reputation and fame helped him get the prestigious teaching position.”
“Hey he’ll be alright,” She squeezed his hand “now our kids can grow up together. Lets look at the bright side of things.”
“I’m usually the one telling you that,” he chuckled “not to change the subject or anything but when are we going to tell the girls?”
“Tell us what daddy?” Kara asked from the door.
“How long have you been standing there?” Ian asked
Shrugging Kara ignored the question as she asked “tell us what mama?”
“Kara how many times have I told you to knock before coming into our room?” Celia asked the little girl.
Kara let out an aggrieved sigh “I made sure you weren’t making any grunting moaning sounds before I came in…”
“What?” Ian pierced the girl with an icy glare of disapproval.
Rolling her eyes “what’s the big deal? You were only talking.” She crossed her arms refusing to back down.
“That’s besides the point young lady,” Ian told her wondering how many times she had listened at their door. The things she might have hard. He shot Celia a look saying “another reason why we need our own place.”
Putting a hand on his shoulder Celia nodded distracted as she gazed down at her daughter. “What’s the rule around her Kara?”
Kara’s eyes darted from one parent to the other. Her bravado crumbling under their combined displeasure “I’m supposed to knock before coming into a room if the door is closed.”
Shrugging Kara refused to respond. Refused to admit to she knew the answer. “There should be locks on the door if you don’t want us coming in.”
Ian exchanged a look with Celia before returning his displeased look upon her. “You’re splitting hairs. If the door is shut you’re not to come in without knocking …”
“and you’re to wait for someone to invite you in after you knock,” Celia added.
Crossing her arms Kara grumbled “what do you guys do in here that you don’t want us to see” Her eyes sparkled with unbridled curiosity “I hear things…” here eyes bulged as she slapped a hand to her mouth as she realized her slip.
“Do you listen outside our door?” Ian asked his voice rising as his anger tried to get the better of him.
“I just want to know” the little girl cried “there’s nothing wrong with getting information.”
“There is when you sneak around and listen to private conversations” Ian told her wondering how best to explain it in a way she would understand. “How would you feel if you were telling us something that you didn’t want anyone else to know? Then you find out someone was listening outside the door.”
“Depends upon if that person told someone else” she shrugged like it didn’t concern her at all.
“Kara think about it,” Ian intoned “you know you would feel that your privacy was violated”
“I suppose…” she hung her head giving them a begrudging nod “I wouldn’t like it once I found out. I’d think they were a sneak.”
“So why did you do that to us? Are you a sneak?” Ian asked her.
“I don’t want to be but how else am I to find out about stuff?”
“Have we ever not told you things you needed to know?” Ian asked her.
“No buts we always tell you what you need to know.” He held up a finger sensing she was about to interrupt him “sometimes your mother and I need to talk about things before we tell you. Do you trust us?”
“Yes daddy” her lip quivered on the verge of tears “I’m sorry I’ll try not to do it again. I promise but I get so impatient.”
Getting up Ian gave her a hug “apology accepted.
“Now what were you going to tell us?” Kara asked eagerly.
Laughing Celia shook her head “not yet young lady. We need Katrina in here before we tell you.”
“Alright I’ll go get her,” Kara said running from the room.
“Mama when will the baby be born?” Katrina asked
“Not for several months.”
“That long,” Katrina looked at her mom in dismay “what’s taking it so long?”
“Honey it takes that long for the baby to grow. When the time is right the baby will let us know when he’s ready to come out.” Celia explained.
“Why do you keep saying him? Is it a boy?”
“I don’t know. It could be a girl I suppose. I just want a boy” Celia told her frowning “why? Would it bother you if it were a boy?”
“I don’t want a brother” Kara said jumping up from the table and running to her room.
Katrina watched her sister leave impassively “she really hates the idea of the baby being a boy.”
“Do you know why?” Celia asked her.
Katrina cocked her head to the side “I think she’s afraid you’ll love the boy more than her.”
“Oh” Celia blinked fidgeting with her fingers”what do you think?”
“I know you and daddy love me,” Katrina told her “I want a brother. I know baby’s will take a lot of your time.” Shrugging she added “I’m cool with it.”
“Thank you sweetie,” Celia moved to follow Kara when Katrina put her hand out to stop her.
“Mom there’s something else…” she bit her lip looking to make sure her sister wasn’t around “Kara over heard you and daddy talking about her being adopted. I think she’s afraid you won’t want her anymore.”
Celia nodded absently as her thoughts were racing ahead wondering when she and Ian had discussed her adoption. It must have been when they received notification from John’s lawyer that he was seeking visitation rights. She remembered crying on Ian’s shoulder and how he had held her. It felt like a nightmare. Why after six years would he come back and want to see the child he willingly gave up his rights to. She had never wanted Kara to know that Ian wasn’t her dad. With her blond hair she looked enough like Ian that no one questioned he was her father.
Walking past the boxes of stuff that was packed for the move. Celia knocked on the girl’s room. “Kara let me in” she called “we need to talk.” After a moment Celia walked into the room to find Kara pacing the floor in short jerky strides. “Kara honey why are you so upset?”
“After the baby is born you won’t want me anymore,” she pulled on her hair as she spoke.
“That’s not true. Your dad and I love you very much,” Celia told her.
“Is that why you adopted me?”
“Honey” she approached the agitated little girl “I’m your mother. I gave birth to you. You grew inside my tummy just like this baby is doing.”
Kara stopped her pacing long enough to stare at her mom “then why did you adopt me? I don’t understand.”
Sitting on the floor with Kara beside her she sighed “after Katrina was born I made a really bad mistake. I left your daddy.”
“You left daddy” Kara asked in a horrified voice. She had friends that had siblings who had different mothers and daddy’s. She didn’t think she was like them. She liked knowing her parents were the same as Katrina’s. Then she had heard that conversation. Found out she was adopted. That was cool like they had chose her to love. But that wasn’t true either. She had been nothing but a mistake. “I’m not daddy’s little girl am I?”
“Sweetie you’ll always be daddy’s little girl. He loves you. He adopted you because he wanted you to be his. We’re family” Celia moved to hug the girl but Kara jerked away from her.
“He’s not my real daddy. You lied to me. Made me believe he was.” She started to cry crumpling on the floor keening loudly.
“Honey I’m sorry I didn’t mean to. I never thought your real father would ever want to see you.” Celia pleaded with her.
“My real father wants to see me?” Kara asked sniffing “I want to see him too.”
With those words echoing in her ears Celia realized her mistake. “Kara honey he’s not a good guy I don’t think…”
“That’s what you would say isn’t? You don’t want me to know who I am. Who my father is? You just want me to be who you want.” Kara cried storming from the room.
Six months later Celia and Ian were finishing the final touches to their new home. Leaning into him Celia sighed with contentment “I love it.”
“Good,” Ian smiled as he leaned over her kissing her deeply on the mouth. “I love you.”
“Ew gross” Katrina giggled as she walked past them.
“How do you like the new house?” Ian asked her.
“I like my room but I ….” she looked around the yard “I miss Grandpa I wish they could have moved with us.”
“We’ll go and visit them. You’ll still be able to have sleep overs.”
“Yippee” she shouted running up to Ian and throwing her arms around him “I love you daddy.”
“I love you too sweet pea” Ian told her running his fingers through her long hair “where’s your sister?”
Shrugging “I don’t know” Katrina said as she ran around the house.
“I guess she didn’t want to be asked any more questions” Ian turned towards Celia “do you know what’s up with Kara?”
Shifting the baby in her arms she looked away from Ian for a moment “she’s still upset about the move.”
“Are you sure?” Ian asked “she doesn’t seem to like me very much anymore. Did something happen? Did I hurt her feelings or something?”
“It’s nothing like that,” Celia cooed to the baby “I’m sure whatever it is it’ll pass.” She looked up and smiled “don’t worry she’s still your little girl.” She walked away saying “I need to put the baby down for a nap.”
He watched her walk away. What did she mean Kara was still his little girl? Of course she was he had the adoption papers to prove it despite the months they’ve fought to keep John from getting a court approved visitation. Smiling in relief as he saw Kara walking hand in hand with her sister. “There you are,” he said running up to them “where have you been?”
“Why? Why do you care?” Kara glared at him.
“I’m your dad of course I care,” Ian told her.
“You’re not my dad,” she told him defiantly.
“Of course I am…”
“No your not. Mama told me you adopted me. She told me my real dad wants to see me but you won’t let him. I think your mean. I hate you,” she cried running from him into the house.
The shock of her words left him numb. There was nothing more hurtful or devastating than to be told by his little girl that she hated him. Why had Celia told her about the adoption? Why didn’t she tell him that she had? Was that why Kara acted so cold, so distant towards him? Did she really think he was keeping her from seeing her real dad? He’s the one who got up at night when she cried. He’s the one who held her and kissed her bruises and made them better. Didn’t that count for anything? You’re not my dad. I hate you. Her words echoed in his head.
He looked down to find Katrina holding his hand in hers. She looked up at him “daddy I love you.”Half choking from the tears that he tried to hold back Ian stooped and picked her up. “Daddy I love you,” she repeated wiping the tears as they spilled from his eyes. She kissed his cheek telling him once more “daddy I love you.”
“I love you too sweet pea” He held her to him knowing he was the one be comforted, needing to hear her tell him she loved him all the more because of the one who said she hated him. It soothed his troubled soul even if it didn’t lesson the pain from the rejection. After a few minutes passed Ian sniffed and kissed Katrina cheek “thank you sweet pea. I needed to hear that.”
Nodding she took her dad’s hand after he put her down and walked to the house. “Why don’t you want Kara to see her dad?” she asked him.
“Oh honey I didn’t know she even wanted to see him.”
“Mama didn’t tell you?” Katrina asked surprised.
Shaking his head feeling even more lost than he already was. “Maybe mama forgot to mention it to me with the baby and moving and everything,” Ian suggested.
Nodding Katrina said “she’ll probably tell you now that Kara want’s to see him,” she said confidently. “You’ll let her won’t you?”
“I don’t know sweet pea,” Ian told her opting to be honest “he’s not a good person. I don’t want Kara getting hurt.”
“Is that why you’re her daddy now?” Katrina asked.
“Yeah it’s part of the reason. She’s also Mama’s little girl and I wanted my girls to grow up together. To be sisters. I wanted to be a family.” Ian explained to her “do you understand?”
“I think so,” she kissed his cheek “I think you should tell Kara. It might make her feel better.”
“I need to talk to your mama first then I’ll talk to her,” Ian told her marveling at how wise she was for someone her age. “Don’t worry sweet pea it’ll work out.”
“I know daddy,” she grinned at him before running into the house ahead of him.
Watching her go he wished he was as confident as she was. He followed her into the house at a much slower pace. With each step he took he felt chilled to bone. Why would Celia tell Kara without telling him? Without discussing it with him? Numbness was invading his body and every step was a chore, heavy and leaden. Celia looked up from the counter where she was fixing supper “it’s about time you…” she stopped staring at him as he glared back at her. “What’s wrong Ian?”
“Kara told me she hated me,” his voice cracked as emotion overwhelmed him “she said I wasn’t her real dad. How did she know that Celia? Why did you tell her and not me? You knew all along what was wrong and you didn’t tell me. Do you know how awful it feels to hear your little girl tell you she hates you?”
“She said what?” she said in shock both by the words and the way Ian was acting.
“You heard me. Why didn’t you tell me?” He slammed a fist down onto the counter rattling the dishes stacked on it.
“Ian I’m sorry,” Celia cried “I didn’t know what to tell her. I said things I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you but I didn’t know how.”
Turning away from her realizing he shouldn’t have tried to have this conversation while he was so upset. He was only going to make things worse. “So you thought it would be best that she hate me instead of you…” he mumbled in despair.
“It wasn’t like that,” she protested “Ian please I didn’t know she’d take it out on you…”
“I’ve got to go into work,” Ian told her after he checked his vibrating phone “We’ll talk about this later when I’ve had a chance to calm down.”
“Ian I love you,” she called as he left the kitchen without acknowledging her or saying I love you in return.
“Bye daddy,” Katrina raced to him as he was gathering his gear “be careful”she told him.
Tweaking her nose he said “always sweet pea. Love you.” He squeezed her tight. He looked up to see Kara staring at him. He stood up and held his arms out to her hoping she would come to him. Tell him she loved him. She did neither instead she turned and ran from the room.
“Be good for mommy,” he told Katrina. He started out the door before stopping and retracing his steps. Taking Celia in his arms he kissed saying “I love you. I don’t like the situation you put me in but I still love you. We’ll talk when I get home.
She nodded as she watched him turn and leave yelling after him “be careful.”