This is the 3rd in a series of stories beginning with TO SECURE A CENTURY and AS THE CENTURY BEGINS.
ENJOY!CENTURY 3: Era of Innocence … Lost
"NO!" two year old Ryan stomped her little foot and crossed her chubby arms as she glared up at her sister.
"Ryan" her father cautioned the little girl. "If you want to sit in Daddy's lap, then there is plenty of room for both you and your sister." He moved the storybook to the hand holding four year old Cassie, who looked nervous that she might lose her position. Cassie wrapped her arms around Adam's neck in an effort to remind him that she didn't want to get down.
Beth shook her head and gave Adam an "I told you so" look from behind their obviously jealous tot's head.
"Want her to MOVE!" Ryan insisted, her lip sticking out even further as she pouted.
"Want her to MOVE!" Joey repeated as he sat on the floor, not really paying attention to his sister's tantrum as much as using her words to accelerate the pretend motor of the little car he was running across the pattern of the braid rug in front of his Father's chair. "Move move move MOVE!" his little voice taking on the sound of a revving engine.
Adam couldn't help the flicker of amusement in his eyes as he heard Joey's assessment of yet another one of Ryan's dramatics. It seems her twin was learning to simply ignore her and continue with his games. Unfortunately he couldn't do the same. The little dark haired, dark eyed darling was becoming more of a handful every day.
Almost from the day she was born she was fiercely attached to her Daddy. More than once Beth had been forced to hand the child over for feeding when she refused to nurse. It had been emotionally frustrating for Beth, but thankfully Joey had been more than happy to take all his mother's attention at feeding time. Finally Beth resigned herself to the fact that it was more important for Ryan to eat than to feel badly that it wouldn't be from her hand. The baby began taking a bottle almost exclusively from Adam when she was only two months old.
Thankfully by the time the baby was six months old and Adam was set to begin teaching History at one of the universities in Nashville for the Spring Semester, Ryan would take a bottle from her Grandpa or Uncle Richie. She definitely preferred the male gender.
Her sister Chris and both sister-in-laws had cautioned Beth about giving into the little girl's demands, but she had brushed it off at first. Adam loved all of the children dearly, and having Ryan so attached to him she thought would give him a measure of the bond she enjoyed with Cassie and now Joey. It wasn't until after the twin's first birthday that the situation began to give her cause for worry. By that time, unfortunately, it was difficult to break the habit of allowing Ryan's attachment to her father to rule their daily activities.
It was hard for Adam to be cross with the little girl for simply loving him so much, but when his eyes met Beth's, he knew he needed to hold his ground. It would be easier if he had to correct her for grabbing a toy or touching something she wasn't supposed to. When it came to that kind of discipline … he handled it like a pro. This obvious jealousy though was more difficult to manage.
"I'm afraid if you don't want to sit on my other knee, then you will have to listen to the story from down there." he sighed, holding his hand out to welcome her into his lap … hoping she would cooperate.
A glint of mischief sparked in Ryan's eyes, but with a smile, she let him help her climb onto the other side of his lap.
"I love you Daddy." she said as she wrapped her arms around his neck as Cassie had done. Adam thought the crisis had passed just as he felt Ryan's leg give Cassie's a stout kick.
"Owwww!!!" Cassie cried out, the hard soles of Ryan's little white shoes caught her on the shin painfully.
"RYAN CHRISTINE!" both her parents began to correct her at once, but Adam looked over to Beth to let her know he would handle it. She'd had to be the bad guy too many times already.
"Come here Cassie." Beth held open her arms as the tearful red head slipped off her Daddy's lap and rushed over for comfort. Adam managed to kiss the top of her head before turning his attention to Ryan.
Without saying another word he stood with Ryan in his arms and carried her unceremoniously upstairs to the room she shared with Joey. The little girl gave both her Mother and Cassie a look over his shoulder of triumph. She thought she'd won. She thought she would have his undivided attention. Her victory was short lived.
Adam set her on her bed, a deep frown on his face. "Ryan, you will not hit or kick." he insisted sitting on the bed across from hers. "Do you understand?"
"I love you Daddy." Ryan tried to get around him, the crocodile tears forming in her eyes.
"And I love you too." Adam replied, not letting her off the hook. "But I am very unhappy with you when you hurt your sister or brother. You will not hit or kick them because you are angry. I will not allow it."
"But Daddy …" Ryan tried to protest, real tears beginning to fall.
"No Ryan. You were angry because you didn't want to share and you purposely hurt your sister. That is not the way nice little girls behave, and you will not behave that way." he strode to her bureau and pulled out her pajamas.
"You are going to bed now, and in the morning you will tell your sister you are sorry." Adam continued as he began to change the little girl's clothes.
"NOT sorry." she insisted, crossing her arms and being difficult.
"Then you will stay in your room until you are." It hurt Adam to have to be so stern with the child, but she was testing the boundaries and he knew it.
"No Daddy …" Ryan began to cry, clinging to him when she realized that now he was done putting on her pajamas, he was going to leave her.
Adam hugged her close and kissed the top of her head, wiping her nose with a kleenex before pulling the covers up around her. "Good night Ryan." he whispered as he patted the comforter and handed her the yellow monkey she liked to sleep with.
"Daddy …" she continued to cry, but Adam turned on the small night light and closed the door. For several minutes he stood in the hallway, listening to the sounds of her tears. She worked herself up so much that she started to hiccup. His insides ached to comfort her, but one look at the foot of the stairs where Beth stood holding a still obviously upset Cassie helped him to walk away.
"How is my Princess?" he asked as he took Cassie from her arms.
"I got a bruise Daddy." she pointed to an almost invisible little pink mark on her leg.
He smiled as he sat down in the chair with her, leaning down to kiss the little mark and then began kissing the little girl all over until she shrieked with laughter. "Daddy that tickles." she protested.
"All better?" he asked, blinking with astonishment.
"All better." she giggled, reaching for the book that he hadn't read to her yet.
Joey continued to play on the rug with his cars, completely unconcerned and content.