“Payton, come on we are going to be late,” I tell my daughter. She is a ball of energy, stubborn and hard headed but she is also the most kind-hearted, giving a little girl. She reminds me of Cole more and more every day.
Coming Mama! Ellie wants to come to school with me today; I tried to tell her that Mommy said no but she wouldn’t listen and then started crying. She doesn’t want to be left at home today. Can I please take her? I’ll keep her in my backpack.” She smiles that beautiful smile and looks up at me with those chocolate puppy dog eyes.
Payton knows she has me hooked when it comes to those eyes and that smile. Ellie is a gray and purple stuffed elephant Nana and Papa bought her on their last trip to the Zoo. She doesn’t go anywhere without that Elephant.
“Ok, Baby Girl,” I relent “She can stay with you until we get to school but once we get there she will need to stay with me. She will be just fine.”
“You promise to check on her?” She asks with a pout and I can’t help but pull her into my arms.
“Oh Payton, what am I going to do with you?" I sigh. "I promise Ellie will be ok and Cadence will come to get her when it’s time to pick you up ok.” Another big smile forms her cute mouth when I mention Cadence’s name.
Cadence is my baby sitter slash friend. We both did our Student Teaching at the same school and she was offered a job there as well. She turned it down when she and her Husband had a baby.
So now she takes care of Payton since she is in half day Preschool. She loves it at her house since she gets to play with Six-month-old Ryker. Payton’s chocolate brown eyes shimmer with a hint of sadness
“Mommy, do you think Daddy will ever come back for us?” Now here is the thing about this situation. When she was old enough to really ask questions about her Dad, I told her everything about him. I even showed her pictures of him, I told her that we loved each other so much but his family moved away and I couldn’t find him. So now she always asks if he will come back.
This is the question that hurts me the most because I really don’t have an answer or the answer she wants. I drop my bag on the ground, then I kneel down so I’m level with her, she looks at me with such love but also grief, I know she misses him, even though she has never met him, but I get that, she misses having a Dad in her life. I reach up and tuck a fallen blond strand of hair behind her ear,
“I don’t know my Sweet Girl; all we can do is just keep praying. Maybe God has something special planned for us.” She seemed satisfied with my response since she gives me a hug and says
“I love you Mommy and I know that someday he will find us, and we will all be happy. I just have faith Mom.” I kiss her nose
“How’d I get so lucky to have a Daughter like you?” Payton is my light, she is my shining star.he is my heart, and my soul. I would give anything for her to be truly happy and I would move Heaven and Earth to bring Cole back to us, but the fact remains I don’t know where he is and truthfully I’m scared to search.
Later that day, I was just going over the music I was planning on introducing to my students when I hear a soft knock on the door, I look up to see Trevor standing in the doorway. Trevor and I have been friends since College.
He stands at six feet 4 inches; he has green eyes and blond hair. He is a really nice looking guy and any girl would be lucky to have him. When we first met he tried to start something up with me but I told him I wasn’t ready to date anyone; this was right after I had Payton and trying to stay on course with school. He understood and we just became friends but lately, he had become persistent again.
“Hey, Beautiful.” That was how he would always address me and at first, I was uncomfortable with it because the only other one who called me that was Cole, but over time I just grew accustomed to it.
“Hey, what’s up?” I ask as I put my papers in my bag and proceed to leave.
“I was wondering if I could take you and Payton out for dinner.” He shuffles and shoves his hands in his pockets; this is where it gets tricky. Payton knows Trevor but I have never been out with him, she only knows him as a friend from school. I have kept it that way on purpose, I don’t date, I mean at all. I won’t subject my Daughter to what dating would entail plus I still have hope that Cole will come back to me.
“Tonight is not good, Payton has dance class in an hour, then we have to go grocery shopping, and then it will be bedtime.” I don’t want to hurt him so I just tell him that I’m busy which really isn’t a lie.
Trevor looks up at me with concern, his piercing green eyes are gorgeous but they just don’t do anything, not like the soft and warm chocolate ones I see in my dreams.
“Willow, he’s gone! You need to let him go and move on.” He says coldly. “Come on it’s been four years, he would’ve come back by now besides it’s good this way since he doesn’t even know about Payton.”
I kind of know he is right but I just can’t give up yet. I have to keep my faith for her. His words crush my already bruised heart and the tears sting my face. I give Trevor a cold hard stare.
“You have no idea! I have tried, I have tried to let go of him but I can’t!” I whisper-yell. “It has to be this way, at least for Payton. I will not drag her into a mess of a dating life. She has hope and I have to give her that.” Trevor reaches up and wipes a tear away and I jolt from his unwanted touch.
“I get that Willow, and if he ever does come back I will not stand in their way. You have to realize though that he could have moved on and that would leave you alone."
"Willow, I’m here and I want you to take a chance on me. I want you to take a chance on loving someone else. I want to love you, I can be good for you and I will take care of you and Payton. You know I’m right.”
“I can’t Trevor! I’m sorry, it’s not fair to anyone, especially, my Daughter. Please understand that and if you can’t then we can’t be friends anymore. I have to go or Payton will be late.” I walk away but Trevor takes my arm and holds a little too tight.
“Let me go!”
“I will not give up on this Willow; you know we are good for each other.” A flashback to a little over four years ago, it was the night of my Mom’s accident.
“Your Father sent me to look for you Willow?” That voice! That voice sounds so familiar and it scares me. I pushed myself closer to Cole’s back hoping I could just crawl in and disappear.
I-I-I know you!’ I stammer out “How do I know you and who are you? I ask with a shaky voice. The guy smiles and looks at me with a predatory gleam “Ah come on Willow you know me.” He says “I’m Tyler Harrison,
“What do you want?” Cole asks.
“I’m here to take Willow back.” He says coldly
“What do you mean take me back?” I’m not going anywhere with you, I don’t know you. I say a little too loudly. I’m still hiding behind Cole but have gained enough courage to find my voice again.
“I meant to take you back to your Father so he can take you to see your Mom,” Tyler says and I can tell he’s lying just by the slimy tone in his voice and his body language. He keeps looking over at Cole and giving him the once over, when he sees me behind him and Cole’s hand still holding onto mine I can almost see anger and jealousy cross his eyes but he quickly shuts it out.
“Well you can go back and tell him I’m fine and I don’t need him to send his little pet to come fetch me. I’m capable of taking care of myself as he well knows. If he was so concerned then he should have come himself.” I reply angrily.
“I will not be at his beck and call and I will not go to him just because he sends some over starched rich kid, who fits his image of power and prestige to entice me. Peter should know me better than that, but then again he doesn’t know me at all.” Tyler doesn’t like my response, he shifts back and forth and runs his hand through his perfectly sculpted blond hair and stares at me with his piercing blue eyes,
“I was told not to come back without you Willow, and I don’t plan to disappoint your Father.” He says
“Well, I guess you’re just going to have to go back and disappoint him because I’m not going anywhere with you.” I can feel Cole tensing up next to me and I know that at any minute he is going to blow
“Listen buddy, I would appreciate it if you would just listen to Willow and get lost.” Cole says. “She said she doesn’t want to go with you and I wouldn’t let her anyway. I don’t know you but I can tell I don’t like or trust you.” Tyler scoffs,
“Seriously Willow, he won’t let youare you going to stand here and let him control you?” I walk around and face Tyler, Cole lets go of my hands and I can see that he is trying to regain some sense of control.
“You don’t know anything!” I yell. “Cole is not controlling me, he is protecting me because he sees and feels the same thing I feel about you. I don’t know what it is but it’s dark and it scares me. I will not go anywhere with you and if my Father really wants me then he can come to find me himself. So please go back and tell him that.”
I had made the mistake of turning my back on him because he reached over and grabbed my arm and starting dragging me away from Cole. I was too caught off guard to fight back, I looked over at Cole who was struggling to keep up, the pain was evident and my heart broke for him.
“Listen up Willow, I don’t care what you say or what your boyfriend does over there but you will soon realize that you were promised to me, you belong to me.”
I had heard that before, in my dream, now I’m starting to piece it all together; Tyler is the boy from my nightmares. I took a deep breath and sucked in every ounce of courage I could muster; I balled up my hand into a fist and punched Tyler in the nose. He let go and I ran back to Cole.
.I’m pulled back to reality when I hear another teacher calling my name. Trevor lets go of my arm but I see him mouth “I’m not going to give up.” If my past has taught me anything it is that he means it.
Why do I keep attracting these kinds of men? I learned with everything I went through at Tyler’s hands, so this time I won’t be going in blindly and stupidly. I don’t have just me to protect anymore, I have her.