I rounded another corner placing the heavy box down unto another as I placed the last set of fixtures in. I hated moving. I hated early mornings and having to move. But I hated moving more. It wasn't one of my typical mornings, for one Aya, my seven year old daughter wasn't here. At least not for very long.
Her mother graced me with her voice earlier this morning, informing me of her unfortunate change of plans. Unfortunate for me because Aya wasn't supposed to be back until the next two weeks, all of that time which I'd booked for moving and settling in until she got back.
But no-that wasn't to be. Cally was getting married, I don't know why I should have cared, my only concern was the reason she didn't want our daughter at the wedding. She was her daughter after all. Still without much fuss, I got up having to cancel my single flight appointment switching to a double and try my best to do what I could before she arrived.
It was late afternoon when I managed to finish taking the boxes to the door leaving about two plates, and cups waiting on her to arrive. The doorbell rang a little after three and her head popped up from the door of the car. I ignored her mother standing at the door.
"Daddy!" Her voice boomed towards me giving me wide grin, opening the door running towards me.
With a sweep of a hand, I pulled her into my arms swinging her around in the air as she giggled before replacing her on the ground. She disappeared to somewhere around the house. I turned to Cally who stood silently at the door before slipping inside.
"Cally" I replied.
"Wow, you're all set already"
"Not that it matters right? "
She glanced over her shoulder at me, a small smile on her face.
"Well, you're able to handle yourself"
"Yeah. You know, I'm sure I told you about me moving, so you pulling this out of the wood works is slightly unfair don't you think?"
Cally sighed leaning against a box.
"I told you I got married"
"No, if I recall you said you were getting married"
"Oh for crying out loud Noah, I'm going on my honeymoon in a couple hours okay"
"And that's supposed to matter why?" I asked
Cally opened her mouth to speak but stopped realising Aya standing between us beaming. My eyes immediately widened seeing an oversized bear in her hand.
What the hell!
"What is that?" I asked glancing back at her mother.
" Its Mr. Bear daddy" Aya spoke up enthusiastically embracing the large plush toy.
Mr. Bear? What happened to the panda she had?
I glared at Cally demanding answers. She was gone for only three weeks and already there was something that I wouldn't even think of approving. For one, the damn toy was too large. Aya was small, and while she swore she was getting bigger, I knew and her mother knew that it was going to be awhile. A long while before she got any taller. Aya held the teddy by the feet, the rest of it dragging on the floor.
"Nicolas brought it when we went to the fair" Cally replied after taking a deep breath.
I rolled my eyes.
"Nicolas?" I asked. "And who's that?"
My eyes slipped to Aya's as she tugged at the hem of my shirt, her bright black eyes meeting mine.
"Mommy's friend daddy"
"Friend?" I asked looking back at her mother. "That's what we're calling him? "
Cally rolled her eyes again, side stepping me as I stared at the oversize toy.
Was she trying to replaced me? With him?
Did she want Aya to start calling her new play toy her dad?
The thought in and of itself was sickening, deadly sickening, and though I knew I shouldn't even be thinking like that, I still couldn't prevent myself.
My daughter smiled brightly holding the plush doll as if he'd gone and swiped it from heaven. Like it was the best thing that ever happened to her.
And that ofcourse made me jealous!
Deadly jealous, because those smiles of hers, especially the radiant one she now wore, was reserved for me only.
So liked the messed up and jealous father I was, I did the one thing we all would.
"We're not taking this with us" I said to Aya taking the toy, with much resistance from her hand. "I can't let you have it"
Her face contorted into a fown, before her lips began to tremble and tears welled in her eyes and I turned away. I couldn't bear to see her cry. It was my one weakness and I needed to be firm. Turning, I met her mother's questioning stare, I shrugged, knowing I'd long rid myself of the effects only she evoked.
"Really?" Her glance faded away from me as we both heard rushed footsteps going up the stairs. " Aya, wait! "
Her door slammed which took us both by surprise because she never closed her door. Never. Since her mother moved out, Aya either chose to sleep with me or I'd have to put her asleep before leaving. She always felt trapped with a closed door and the thought that there might be a monster in her closet every night, forced us to never do it either.
Ofcourse we knew nothing was there, but, she saw it.
"Are you proud of yourself Noah?" Cally hissed. "You just made your seven year old cry for her teddy bear"
Ignoring her, I continued to pack the boxes. Cally could always marry, date, sleep with or whatever she chooses to do with any guy she wants, but that doesn't mean I'm always happy with the arrangement. Aya was too easily impressed, she was still learning and the last thing I wanted her to think, was it was okay to have multiple partners. I wanted her to learn things the proper way, that there should only be a mom and dad, at least that was the intention and agreement starting the relationship with Cally, and even more so after finding out she was pregnant with Aya. I wanted stability for her.
Well, there goes best laid plans.
Cally's hands collided with the top of the box I attempted to remove with a smack, her flustered face glaring daggers in my direction. I knew she was pissed, just didn't care. She knew this was unfair. Whether Cally wanted to admit it or not, Nickolas was worming his measly way into my little girl's heart, and I'd have none of it.
She'll forgive me later. We never hold grudges.
At least I'm hoping not this time either.
"You realize this is stupid right?"
"Go ahead Noah, ignore me" She teased. "Just in case you've forgotten, you've got her to deal with for the next couple months long after summer".
Rolling my shoulders back, I leaned against the wall, crossing my arms. My biceps bulging at the end of my shirt and her eyes widened a little bit, before she let out a puff of air, walking a distance away. Distance. Yeah, she placed distance between us.
I knew the reason for her reaction. We might have broken up, but in some ways she was still attracted to me. No surprise there, I continued to take care of myself and worked out, I used to do it for her, but it had gotten so routine, it was practically part of my blood. Our breakup wasn't the worst kind, it was a mutual splitting after she claimed she needed space to be herself and that she was suffocating.
It was hilarious really.
We had a child, and we're doing our best to keep all of us alive and she was suffocating. She didn't worry about anything, neither wanted anything, because I made sure to give her everything. Especially Aya because I knew she meant everything to both of us.
Still she was suffocating.
She left and I got Aya, though we were doing the co-parenting thing. No we didn't go through the court. Every relationship had it's problems, I wasn't saying we were prefect, hence the breakup, but we were civilized enough to do what was best for her. That's what mattered the most.
"How the hell am I supposed to compete with that?"
Cally raised a brow, her hands falling to her side.
"What.....what are you talking about? Compete with what?"
"Him" I stated in a monotonous tone.
Her face wrinkled a little further, not following and I rolled my eyes.
"Are you trying to replace me with your new husband Cally?" I asked "Why the hell is the damn toy so huge? And where is the panda?"
Her face broke out into a small smile, before it began to spread, getting wider by the seconds until she was fully taken over with laughter.
Great, she finds me amusing.
I cleared my throat and her laughter died down, as she wiped a tear from her eye.
"Really Noah? Could I replace you?"
She nodded. "True. But you're Aya's dad Noah, I can't ever change that"
"What the hell is this then?" I asked holding the stupid toy by the foot.
" That's just Nicolas' way of trying to bond with her" she walked over closing the gap between us, and placing a hand on my arm. "You're all Aya talks about Noah, I think he's more jealous of you than you should be of him. Honestly"
I groaned. Glancing at her up and down. She was smiling too. The same smile Aya had.
"I still don't trust him"
"Seriously? Noah you're a great father, you don't know how lucky I am to have ended up with you and not some crazy guy I'd have to be dragging to court every couple weeks for child support"
"But I was still suffocating right?"
I stepped away placing the plushy down.
Cally turned on her heels facing me, her cheeks tained pink.
"Are you going to be petty?"
" No. I don't want you back Cally. I just want Aya to be happy"
"So do I and so does Nick" she responded adamantly.
"That's what I'm worried about- him"
She groaned stomping to the kitchen were I was.
Shit, I forgot we needed food. Cally could starve but not Aya.
"What about you? I don't know who you've got coming around our daughter!"
I turned, the veins in my head stiff and ready to pop, finding myself chest to chest with Cally, our faces just inches away from each other. My eyes narrowed and I noticed, her's was focused on my lips.
Why the hell was she married to this man?
"Up here" I teased.
Her eyes slid up to meet mine and I realised something was off. She was upset moments ago but not now. I remembered times like this, times when our conversations got so heated, you could feel the steam. Most of those times were when she felt neglected.
Mind you, Cally always felt neglected. I'm just curious how this guy was fearing out.
"You know as well as I, that I never take people home when she's here. Never " I gritted out. "Have you noticed she's calling him your friend and not your damn husband?"
I placed a finger to her lips silencing her as she opened her mouth in protest.
"Don't tell me she doesn't understand the word, or you're waiting to explain. You want me to believe you have her interest at heart, tell her the truth, since you're not replacing me"
I walked away from her blowing out a breath. Cally always took more energy dealing with than I had initially planned on expelling. Always.
We spun hearing Aya's voice in the hallway.
Shit. Did she hear us?
I ran a nervous hand across my face. Here we go.
My eyes widened seeing her bright smile, while her little fingers fumbled in her hands. All her tears had dissipated, as if they never existed. And that was more than a sign of trouble.
"Yeah, buttercup" I answered feeling weary in my stomach.
"I'm not trying to replace you Noah" her mother whispered from behind. "I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to be Aya's father"
I groaned internally. Did they set this up? Because of all the times I really didn't need to hear this right now. Not when my little girl was staring at me from behind those bright black iries of hers, not when she knew I couldn't resist her.
"Can I have Mr. Bear? Please daddy"
I groaned again. It sucks to be her dad.