Grace was slowly starting to get back into the swing of things. She wasn’t quite sure how to make ends meet. Yes, Allan had saved some money but the funeral had nearly exhausted her savings.
She’d been a stay at home mom even before she’d had Hailey. Allan wanted her home even when they’d first gotten married.
She checked the newspaper for jobs. “Hm, slim pickin’s.” She mumbled. She flipped through, circling the ones that were the least horrible, if not a tad interesting.
Grace checked the clock. It was time to get the kids. She set the paper aside and got into her car. After picking up Andrew, she drove to Hailey’s school.
Hailey was sitting alone on the porch. All the other children were talking amongst themselves. Hailey looked completely left out. School would be out for the summer soon. What would she do then?
“Hey, Hailey girl.” Grace smiled.
Hailey sighed and threw her book bag in the car.
“Did you have a good day?”
Hailey shook her head.
“What happened?” Hailey’s lip trembled and she wiped her eyes.
“The dance is coming up. Who am I gonna go with?”
Grace’s heart ached. The Father-Daughter dance was in three weeks.
“Everybody was talking about it today. And I got left out because they thought I wouldn’t go.”
Grace stared ahead, trying to hide her own tears from her daughter.
Andrew sat up a little straighter in his booster seat. “Why don’t you ask Paw?”
“That’s a great idea Andrew. Hailey, you can ask Paul.”
Hailey looked down. “He wouldn’t go with me.”
Grace frowned. “Why do you say that?”
“Because I’m not his daughter.”
“Hailey, he loves you like you are. I’m sure he’d love to go. Here. Here’s my cell. Go ahead and call him.”
Grace dialed Paul’s cell number and handed the phone to her daughter. Hailey waited anxiously for him to answer.
Hailey’s eyes brightened. “Hey Paul.”
“Hailey? Hey baby, how are you?”
“I’m ok. Um, mommy wanted to ask you something.” Hailey handed the phone to her mother.
“Hey, listen. It wasn’t me that wanted to ask you something. Hailey’s just a chicken.” Paul chuckled as he heard the girl groan. “So, I guess I have a question for you.”
“Would you like to go to the Father-Daughter dance with Hailey?”
There was a long pause.
“Paul? Are you still there?”
She heard him clear his throat. “Put me on speaker phone.” Grace pressed a button. “Hailey, I’d be honored to take you to the dance. I can’t wait. I just know you’re gonna look beautiful.”
Hailey was grinning, ear-to-ear. “Thanks Paul!”
He chuckled. “You are absolutely welcome Hailey. I can’t wait.”
Paul smiled as he got off the phone with Hailey. He’d hoped to go to their house today, but his mother had asked him to come over to her house instead. Somehow, he knew it had something to do with Tabatha.
Sure enough, when he walked through the door Tabatha was sitting in the recliner. She looked up and blushed.
“Hi. How are you?” This was their first meeting face to face. She was indeed gorgeous.
Tabatha was quite tan with amber eyes. Her hair hung down in wispy curls. Her eye makeup was just shy of extreme, but it worked for her.
“I’m fine. And you?” She asked.
Paul nodded. “Getting better. His daughter just asked me if I wanted to go to the father-daughter dance with her.”
Tabatha smiled softly. “That’s sweet.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, she’s great. Both of them are. And Grace, their mom, she’s so strong. I don’t know how she does it.”
Tabatha shifted uncomfortably. She saw something in his eyes that made her uneasy. The way he talked about those kids…and especially Grace. Who ever she was.
“Tabby, can you come here for a second?” Donna called.
“Sure thing Mrs. Donna.”
Paul followed the girl into the kitchen. “Where’s Dad?”
“He’ll be along. Now, Tabby, be a dear and drain the meat please.”
Paul walked back into the living room. His father was in his office as usual. He was a preacher and was most likely writing his next sermon. “Hey Dad.”
His father, Thomas, looked up. He pushed the wire-rim glasses up on his nose and smiled. “Hey Paul. How are you son?”
“I’m okay.” Paul stuffed his hands into his pockets. “You know, Hailey asked me to go to the father-daughter dance with her.”
Thomas sat back. “How are they doing?”
Paul sat on the leather sofa in the office. “As good as they can be, I suppose. No, better. They’re doing extremely well. Surprising actually.”
“Well that’s good…”
“You know, it’s funny. Andrew sounds just like Allan. It was right after Allan had died and we were at Mimi’s.” Paul chuckled as his eyes filled with tears. “Andrew looked around and saw us crying and he said, he said ‘daddy’s with Jesus right?”
Paul ran his fingers through his hair. “Grace was like ‘yeah.’ He said, ‘then why are you crying?’ Kinda like duh, what are you thinking?”
Thomas chuckled. “He’s a smart boy.”
Paul nodded. “They both are. They’re great kids, Dad. I love them.”
Thomas nodded. “So how is Grace?”
Paul looked around before he shut the door. “She’s good.”
Thomas eyed him. “That’s good…”
“Dad, Allan made me promise something before he died.”
Paul kept his eyes to the floor.
“What is it, son?” Paul cleared his throat.
“He made me promise to marry her. He said I was the only one he trusted with the love of his life.”
Thomas scratched his beard. “Have you told anyone else son?”
He shook his head. “I’m not sure what to tell you. I’m sure you love Grace. And the kids. I guess if its in God’s will, it’ll happen.”
Paul shook his head. “But see, that’s just the thing. Tabatha is here. Is that a test or a sign I’m not supposed to be with Grace?”
Thomas shrugged. “I can honestly tell you that I have no earthly idea. My best advice is always to…”
“I know Dad. Pray about it.”
Thomas smiled. “It’s always works.”
Paul heard the ladies called them to dinner. As he and his father began for the kitchen, he couldn’t help but remember the first time he’d brought Grace home.
They had worked at a summer camp together. He had had the biggest crush on her. He brought her home to meet his parents when he was only fifteen. Allan showed up and the two of them hit it off.
Paul had always had a soft spot in his heart for Grace. And no matter what, he always would.
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