November 25th 2004

Ryan sits in a hard plastic hospital chair, his head hung low trying to contain his nervous energy. Theresa had gone into labor almost twenty hours ago, and it had been almost an hour since they had taken her into the delivery room with her mother, telling Ryan that a nurse would come get him when the baby was born. "You can come in now," a nurse appears in front of Ryan offering a cheerful smile. "The mother and baby are doing great."

Ryan jumps up quickly, "what is it?"

"Theresa would like you to hear it from her," the nurse just smiles and leads Ryan down the corridors to the room they have Theresa settled in.

Nervousness consume Ryan and he can't help but hover in the doorway, staring at Theresa and the tiny bundle wrapped in yellow in her arms. "Ryan," Theresa notices him, "come in. Come meet Angela Isabella Atwood, your daughter."

"Mine?" Ryan asks quickly.

Theresa nods, "they did a blood test right away."

Ryan stops next to Theresa and stares down at the tiny baby girl in Theresa's arms and Ryan can't help but ask again, "mine?"

Theresa's eyes connect with Ryan over the bundle, "yours."

"She's beautiful."

"Do you want to hold her?" Theresa questions.

Ryan quickly shakes his head, he'd never held a baby before, "maybe later."

"You'll have to hold her sooner or later," Eva states, "might as well make it now."

"I don't know how," Ryan admits.

Eva nods, "I know." Scooping her granddaughter out of her daughter's arms, "cradle your arms. Very good. Now be sure to support her head. There you go, you got it."

"She's so perfect," Ryan states in awe, never wanting to let the little girl go, never in his life had Ryan ever experienced love like this for any person.

Theresa nods, "yeah she is."

"Hi baby girl, I'm your Daddy."


December 2005

"Thanks for bringing her up Ryan," Kirsten's eyes are swimming with tears as she stares at Angela who is sitting in a high chair making a mess of Chrismukkah dinner.

Ryan nods, his eyes moving from Angela to Kirsten, "I want you guys to be a part of her life. I want her to see you as grandparents."

Kirsten wraps an arm around Ryan's shoulder, "try to stop us."

"Dadda!" Angela holds her food covered arms out to her father. She was a beautiful baby, it wasn't just Ryan's bias that had caused him to form this opinion, everyone said it. She had thick dark curls, lightly tanned skin and shockingly bright blue eyes that she had gotten from Ryan.

"Ryan why don't you get her cleaned up and we'll set up the presents?" Kirsten suggests.

Ryan nods, scooping his daughter out of her high chair he holds her at a distance, "I don't think you could have gotten anymore messier. Good thing we thought to take off your pretty dress huh?"

"Ryan, will you hurry up?" Seth calls from the living room, "the miracle of Chrismukkah must continue, you're just holding it up."

"Yeah," Ryan calls back carefully slipping the red velvet Christmas dress Kirsten had bought for Angela over her head.

"A little antsy Seth?" Theresa asks, attempting to take Angela back from Ryan but failing as Seth sweeps her into his arms.

"Yeah," Seth nods, "I am. Angie here wasn't able to fully appreciate the miracle that is Chrismukkah, and I would like to be the first person to give Angie a present." With his announcement Seth sits on the floor in front of the Christmas tree and hands a carefully wrapped box to Angela. The 13-month-old doesn't understand the concept and proceeds to bang on the box, until Seth demonstrates and in an instant Angela has grasped the concept and the wrapping paper is off, revealing a bright pink pony. Everyone bursts into laughter at the sight and Angela, not fully understand, giggles along as well.

"No Angela," Seth states seriously, "you don't understand the full importance of this horse, but one day, I promise you, you will."


September 2010

"Daddy, I don't want to go," Angela's blue eyes are swimming with tears.

Ryan lifts Angela into his arms as she sobs into his shoulder, to Theresa she suggests, "maybe we should try this another day? I don't think she's ready."

Theresa shakes her head, "she's doing this today. You're missing class for this and I'm missing work, she's going to have to do this at some point and she'll act like this every time."

Angela clings more tightly to Ryan, "Daddy please don't make me go!"

"Sweetie," Ryan attempts to pull her arms out of her grasp, "you're going to love kindergarten. I promise, you'll get to play with lots of other kids and you'll have lots and lots of fun, okay?"

"But I'm scared," Angela sobs. "I wanna stay home with Nana, like I do everyday."

Theresa is the one who manages to pry Angela away from her father, "Nana will pick you up after school and you can spend the afternoon with her."

"But I don't know anyone," Angela hiccups.

Ryan kneels down in front of Angela, "Uncle Seth made sure I brought this with me, just in case." From Angela's pink back pack Ryan produces a bright pink plastic pony.

"Princess Pink!" Angela exclaims.

"Uncle Seth said to tell you that Princess Pink will give you luck," Ryan states.

"Really?" Angela wipes at the tears on her cheeks.

"That's what Uncle Seth said," Ryan assures.

"And I have to go?"

Ryan nods, "you have to go."

"And you'll come in with me?"

Ryan nods again, "for a couple minutes."


July 2015

"I love you Angie," Theresa states forcing away tears, "but I've got to do this. You'll be fine with Daddy in Newport." And with her words Theresa slides into the driver side of her car, offers a final wave before beginning her trip to the east coast where she had been offered a job she couldn't pass up.

"Daddy!" With the exclamation Angela launches herself into Ryan's waiting arms, sobbing.

"We'll be okay," Ryan assures carefully cradling Angela's head. The job offer had been the final nail in the coffin that was Theresa and Ryan's marriage, they'd been married for nine years but neither was in love and Ryan wasn't ready to give up his life for hers, and that's when they had both realized it. "We're going to make it work, just the two of us."

"She left because I didn't want to leave California," Angela's voice is muffled as she sobs.

Her words make Ryan let go quickly and crouch down to her eyes level, gently griping her shoulders, "this has nothing to do with you. You're mom just had to go, and we're going to be okay. But if you do change your mind and want to live with your mom, you are more than welcome to make that choice, because it is your choice."

Angela shakes her head slowly, "I'm going to miss Mom, but I don't want to ever be away from you Daddy."

"I love you too baby girl," Ryan whispers fiercely hugging Angela to him.

"Forever?"

"Forever and for always," Ryan assures.

March 2020


"Angie, please open up," Ryan knocks on the door of his teenage daughter.

"No!"

"Please talk to me!" Ryan calls back.

"No! I want to talk to Aunt Summer!" Angela's response his followed by sobs.

"I'm here," Summer's sudden appearance takes Ryan off guard. "Angie, sweetie, I'm here, do you want to open up the door?"

Within seconds there is a fumbling on the other side and as the door is pulled open wide enough for Summer to slip in Ryan catches a brief glance of his daughter's red rimmed eyes.

After ten minutes of attempting to hear on the other side of the door to find out what his daughter and sister-in-law are talking about, Ryan gives up and heads to his office to attempt to work. But it doesn't work, Angela had come out from being with friends in tears and immediately went to her room asking for Summer.

"Hey," Summer's voice startles Ryan out of his intense concentration on a line that doesn't belong on the blue prints he is drawing up for a deadline he has the next morning.

"Is she okay?" Ryan asks quickly.

Summer offers a small smile, "she's fine. Just her first heartbreak. So not actually fine, but she'll be fine. She wants to see you though."

"She does?" Ryan jumps to his feet.

Summer nods, "she does."

Ryan is halfway out the door before he stops and faces Summer, "what do I say to her?"

"Just assure her that you love her," Summer shrugs, "that should help."

Ryan nods, "thanks Summer."

Summer nods, "anytime."

Ryan walks into Angela's room, "hey baby girl."

"Daddy," Angela walks into Ryan's embrace, "Craig broke up with me."

"I'm sorry baby," Ryan sighs, hugging his daughter tightly.

"It's not that I thought it would be for ever," Angela takes a few deep breaths. "But he broke up with me," her statement causes a fresh round of tears.

"How about this," Ryan suggests, "you and I go out. Get some Indian food, your favorite, and ice cream, maybe see a movie and you can hang out with your old dad?"

"Really?" Angela looks up at her father, "but you have a deadline tomorrow."

"I turned it in early," Ryan lies. "So what do you say."

Angela smiles through her tears, "sounds good. I love you Dad."

"I love you too baby girl, forever and for always" Ryan places a kiss on the top of Angela's head before they leave her room.


June 2023

"Dad," Angela taps her foot in frustration, "seriously if we don't go now we're going to miss my graduation."

"Just a couple more pictures," Ryan encourages, "really this time."

"You've taken an entire roll, Ryan," Theresa speaks up for her daughter. "Even I think you have enough."

"I know, but I'm just so proud of you, kid, Valedictorian isn't just something that happens to everyone."

"I know Dad, you keep saying, but they might take away the honor if I'm not there to accept it." Angela can't help but smile at her well meaning father. "Besides we're supposed to meet Grandma and Grandpa Cohen at the hall in ten minutes."

"Okay, okay," Ryan nods, "just one more. Theresa will you take a picture of us together?"

Theresa nods, "of course."

As Ryan steps next to his daughter, Angela leans closer to her father, "I love you Daddy. Forever and for always."


November 24th, 2004

Ryan sits straight up in his bed, his heart pounding as memories of the dream make his head spin. He could remember ever detail of the fantasy world he had made up. His thoughts racing around the idea of the daughter he would never had. Theresa had lost the baby, but if she hadn't Ryan would be welcoming his daughter into the world. Laying back against the pillows Ryan tries to fall back to sleep, knowing that he will dream of what will never be.