"Lorelai!" Luke called from the front door.
Lorelai sensed the urgency in Luke's voice. She stopped making her coffee and walked into the living room to find Luke trying to comfort their five-year-old daughter, Hallie.
"She's crying, and she won't tell me what's wrong. She cried all the way home from school, and I can't do anything to make her feel better…"
Lorelai immediately crouched down, wrapping the sobbing girl in her arms. She smiled and gave Luke a thumbs-up as she picked Hallie up, rubbing her back and carrying her upstairs.
Hallie was usually a happy little girl. She was extremely self-confident, fearless, and sensitive. She loved animals, especially Paul Anka, and loved to read. Nightly, she begged Luke to read her a story. Usually, it was a Dr. Seuss classic, like Green Eggs and Ham or Cat in the Hat. There was something about the bedtime story that just wasn't the same when Lorelai tried to read it. Maybe she wasn't as good at the voices as Luke was, or maybe it was a father-daughter thing. But one thing Lorelai was good at was figuring out what secrets Hallie was hiding.
Lorelai placed Hallie on her bed, wiping her eyes and crouching to her level. "Are you sick?" she asked, feeling Hallie's forehead. Hallie didn't have a fever.
"Did you have a bad day at school?"
Hallie nodded. "Yeah." She sniffed and wiped her eyes.
"What's wrong? You can tell Mommy. I keep really good secrets. I even pinky promise I won't tell." Lorelai offered, holding out her pinky finger.
Hallie thought for a moment, and reluctantly linked her pinky to her mother's. "But you can't even tell Daddy," she insisted, her big blue eyes staring up at Lorelai.
"I won't. That's why I pinky promised. What happened?" Lorelai asked.
Hallie took a deep breath, curling her knees to her chest. "Well, I was on the playground today. Then I was playing hopscotch with Grace, and all of a sudden, Tommy came by, and he was holding hands with Brittany," she pouted.
Lorelai knew immediately what was wrong. Hallie, at five years old, had her first broken heart over a boy… not just any boy, though. He was a boy who she was engaged to for a whole day. Lorelai pulled Hallie onto her lap, playing with her daughter's curly hair.
"And I asked him if we were still engaged, and he said no. Then he wanted his ring back." Hallie added, choking between words.
"And did you give it to him?" Lorelai asked, reaching for a tissue.
"No. I threw it over the fence," Hallie cried.
Lorelai giggled slightly at the concept of Hallie refusing to give the gumball machine engagement ring back to her ex-fiance. It was all too much adult drama for Hallie, but it reminded her of her first boyfriend at Hallie's age.
"Well, Hallie. I can tell you this. If he tells you he's going to marry you, and he's with another girl that's not his mom, or his sister, or someone in his family… he's not worth it. So, you need to put your broken heart back together again," Lorelai insisted.
"How do I do that?" she asked.
Lorelai smiled. "I'll be right back," she said. She went downstairs into the kitchen and pulled out some ice cream from the freezer. She scooped the biggest scoop she could manage, and added sprinkles, nuts, whipped cream, and hot fudge.
"What are you doing? And what's wrong with Hallie?" Luke asked.
Lorelai licked the spoon. "I'm having some ice cream. And don't worry, Hallie's fine. She had a bad day, and it's kind of a girl thing. She'll be okay. Want some ice cream?" she offered, holding out the spoonful to Luke.
"I'll pass," Luke answered with a confused look on his face.
Lorelai brought the sundae up to Hallie's room, producing a spoon for her and for Hallie. "This is a break-up sundae. These are very special sundaes. You only get them when you're really, really sad about something a boy did to you. And you had to have really, really liked him… a lot. It's so special, Rory didn't even get one until she was 10," Lorelai said.
Hallie's eyes grew wide at the sight of the mountain of pure sugar. "Wow," she whispered.
"Yeah, it's really good. Dig in… oh wait. First, we have to make sure everyone knows how you feel about Tommy." Lorelai grabbed a gel pen from Hallie's pencil case and began to write on her daughter's hand.
"That tickles!" Hallie giggled. "What are you writing on me, Mommy?"
"You'll see," Lorelai said. She put the finishing touches on her artwork and blew on Hallie's hand to allow the ink to dry faster.
"What does it say?" Hallie asked, trying hard to read upside down.
"It says 'Tommy stinks'," Lorelai replied.
Hallie laughed. "Yeah, he stinks!"
Lorelai and Hallie sat on the bed, giggling, talking, and eating ice cream until Hallie's first broken heart was quickly mended. Luke sat downstairs, curious as to what went on in Hallie's room.
Lorelai emerged from the bedroom, holding the empty bowl of ice cream. "Hey," she said, putting the dish in the sink and curling up next to him.
"What was wrong?" he asked.
"You have to pinky swear not to tell that I told you," Lorelai said, holding out her pinky.
"I am not pinky swearing anything. Just tell me what happened. Jeez!" Luke grunted.
"Hallie had a little boy trouble. That's all. It's all fixed now, and I think she'll be staying away from boys for a little while. Just don't mention it to her, okay?" she asked, kissing Luke on the cheek. "I have to get back to the inn for a little bit, but I'll be home in time for dinner. What is dinner tonight, anyway?"
"I'm thinking pasta tonight," Luke said.
"Ooh! Pasta! Can I have loads and loads of parmesan cheese on that?" Lorelai asked, grinning.
"No. Besides, you just had that sundae that you shared with Hallie," Luke stated plainly.
"Fine. I'll be back soon," Lorelai said, grabbing her keys and heading out the door.
Hallie came downstairs and stood next to the couch, holding a picture. "I made this for you, Daddy. I was sad before, so I kinda forgot about it." She handed the finger painted picture of her and Luke in front of the diner.
Luke took the picture, touched by the "Willliams Hardware" sign at the top.
"Mommy helped me add that part. She said it was important," Hallie said, pointing to the sign.
Luke kissed his daughter on the forehead. "Thank you for the picture. It's very nice, I think I may hang it up in the diner," he said.
Hallie nodded. "Will you pinky promise me something?"
Luke sighed. "What is it?" he asked.
"That you won't ever stop doing the voices for me when you read me a story? Even though Mommy thinks it's silly and you get all red when you find out she was watching?" Hallie pleaded. "And that you won't make her throw her ring over the fence?"
Luke smiled, assuming that her promise was somehow related to her traumatic day. "I promise… I mean, pinky promise," Luke said, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was looking. He held out his hand and linked his pinky to his daughter's.
Lorelai stepped away from the window and got into the car, smiling. He didn't check very well…