Thought I'd try just a few more one-shots before I posted a multi-chapter story. This is just an idea that came to me after a nap one day. Please review, they make me happy. Like I said before good or bad I want to know your thoughts. And, please look over the grammar mistakes because grammar is not my strong skill.


I do not own Life with Derek

What father could forget the day his baby girl was born? How could those memories ever slip out of view? For Derek, they couldn't. Every day no matter how many trials life threw at him he could remember the day his baby girl was born and smile. She brought him joy from the very first moment and sustained that joy for the rest of his life. Every second he could look at her and joy would flood through him relaxing him and making him realize just how wonderful his life was.

"Derek, do you want kids," his wife Casey asked him late one night. They were twenty three and living in the States. After college they had married and relocated to New York. Soon after they moved they realized that New York was way too busy for their liking and moved to a small Southern town in Georgia. Derek had gotten a job at the local elementary school teaching physical education. He had started teaching hockey to a small group of students in gym one day and before long he was the coach of a large local team. The student's exceled with him as a coach and the small town southern students had found a sport they loved and gained a chance to travel. Casey was a second grade teacher at the same school and had opened an afternoon dance studio teaching dance to the majority of the girls in the town. "Casey, you know I love kids. I wouldn't mind a few of our own. Why?"

"Are you sure you wouldn't mind a few of our own?" "Case, of course not. I told you a year ago I wouldn't mind. Why?" "Derek, I'm pregnant." "What, really!" "Yes really. In about eight months you will be a daddy."

The doctor looked up and said, "Congratulations daddy. You are the father of a beautiful baby girl." Derek was speechless at that moment. All he could do was smile as he observed the beautiful baby girl they had just laid on his wife's chest. He tenderly touched the baby's cheek as he leaned down to kiss his wife. As the nurse reached to take her to do some tests he let her little finger wrap around his finger. "Derek, you might want to go call the family and let them know we have a new little girl around." "Don't we need to decide on a name for our angel first?" "Yeah, I think you may be right."

"Derek, she has your nose and your smirk. And what little hair she has looks just the color of yours."

"But Case, she has your bone structure. She has your petite features and your big blue eyes. She is beautiful, Princess. She's gonna be a heartbreaker. I'm thinking I may need to have a hockey stick around in about sixteen years to beat off all the boys wanting to date my baby."

Casey's laugh filled the room causing the baby lying in her arms to wiggle. It was true their baby girl was going to be a heartbreaker. She was only two hours old and that was evident.

"Derek, for once I'm thinking you may be right. What do you want to name our baby? I want something traditional but exotic. Something that will make our beauty stand out among others."

"Princess, hate to break it to you, but I don't think our little ones going to have any problem standing out in the crowd. Her looks are going to assure that. But, what names do you like?"

"I had been thinking Brooklyn. But, she just doesn't look like a Brooklyn to me. What about Skyler, Andrea, Alexis or Leigh."

"I like those names, all of them. What about Alia?" "Alia, oh Derek, I love it. Alia Rose Venturi."

"That's beautiful Case, just like our baby girl. Alia Rose Venturi and her beautiful mommy are my heart and soul and will be from this day forward."

Derek sat in the floor of his living room across from Casey. She was helping hold their eleven month old daughter up as she struggled to take her first steps. The little girl could hold herself up and take a few steps if she was holding on to something. "Derek, I fully believe she could walk if she would just do it. I actually think our little rascal may be scared of something for the first time in her life."

He laughed and shook his head. Their daughter was a daredevil. If there was something that an eleven month old shouldn't do, she would try to do it. If they told her not to do something, she would do it. She was just like Derek. She would push everybody to the limit seeing just how far she could go. Derek would usually let her get by with whatever she wanted.

"Come on baby, you can do it. You can walk to daddy. I know you can. Come on sweetie. Come on," Derek said. Timidly Alia began to take a tiny step forward. Casey smiled and let go of her daughter's hand. Slowly the little girl continued to take steps across the room. Casey beamed at Derek as she watched their daughter walking across their living room. Derek had his arms out in front of him begging his baby to come to him. "Come on angel, come on."

Derek scooped her up and swung her around as she fell into his arms. Casey clapped as she rose to walk towards her happy family. Alia formed a tiny smile and babbled, "dada, dance. Dance, dada." "Yeah, angel. Daddy and his angel can dance." Casey walked towards the radio sitting in the corner of the room and flipped it on. The perfect song filled the air.

Well I never once backed down from a punch; I'd take it square on the chin.

And, I found out fast that bully's just laugh, and you've got to stand up to them.

So I didn't cry when I got a black eye, as bad as it hurt I just grinned.

But, when tough little boys grow up to be dads they turn into big babies again.

It scared me to death when you took your first steps I'd fall every time you fell down, and your first day of school I cried like a fool and I followed your school bus to town.

Well I didn't cry when Old Yeller died, at least not in front of my friends. But when tough little boys grow up to be dads they turn into big babies again.

Now, I'm a grown man but as strong as I am sometimes it hard to believe. How one little girl with little blond curls can totally terrify me.

If you were to ask my wife would just laugh and say I know all about men, how tough little boys grow up to be dads they turn into big babies again.

And, I know one day I'll give you away and I'm going to stand there and smile. But when I get home and I'm all alone I'll sit in your room for a while.

Well I didn't cry when Old Yeller died, at least not in front of my friends.

But when tough little boys grow up to be dads they turn into big babies again.

"Alia, come on baby girl. It's time to wake up. We are going to visit Pawpaw and Nana today. We have a big trip ahead of us," Casey Venturi said to her two year old daughter. She rolled her eyes as the child rubbed her eyes and turned sleepily towards the wall to continue sleeping. "You are too much like your daddy sometimes. Do you know that?" she whispered quietly. Down the hall her husband was finally up and in the shower. It has only taken her forty five minutes to get him up. She turned to go fix breakfast softly grumbling, "It's his fault you are not a morning person. He can get you up and ready."

"Hey princess," Derek said walking into the kitchen. "What's for breakfast?"

"I am frying bacon, fixing scrambled eggs, and baking biscuits. We have a long flight ahead of us and I don't want to listen to you grumbling about being hungry the whole way. But, you can't eat until Alia is up. I couldn't get her up; she is so much your child. Why don't you go give it a try?"

Derek smirked as he headed towards his daughters room. "Alia Rose, come on it's time to open those pretty blue eyes and get up. Mommy has breakfast cooking in the kitchen. Remember we are going to see Pawpaw and Nana today. Come on mini princess, get up."

The little girl turned slowly over to face her daddy and rubbed her eyes. She mumbled as Derek laughed. "Yep angel, I know. It's so hard getting up in the morning ain't it. But, mommy is going to get annoyed with daddy if I don't get you up and ready to go to Canada. Come on baby, let's get you up and dressed." She just rubbed her eyes a bit more as he picked her up and snuggled her tight in his arms.

Casey laughed as her husband walked in carrying their baby girl who was still very sleepy. "Well she is up at least. However, she does have to be dressed before we leave the house," she said. "Hey princess, I managed to get her up. Let's take it one step at a time here." Casey just laughed.

"Come on baby girl," she said. "Let's get you some breakfast and then we will see about getting you into some pretty clothes." Derek just laughed and said, "Alia, I think mommy is going to insist you wear a dress today." The little girl jumped up and down on her daddy's shoulder clapping her small hands. "Well I can see she ain't arguing one bit about that."

Breakfast passed quickly and sure enough while Derek cleaned up the kitchen Casey took their baby girl to get dressed. "What do you want to wear today? Do you want to wear your blue dress with Blue's Clues, your red dress with Elmo, your yellow dress with bumblebees, or your pink dress?" "Pink one mommy, pink one." "Okay sweetie, the pink one it is." She laughed as she slipped the pink dress over Alia's head. This was most certainly Alia's favorite dress. Derek's best friend Sam had bought her the dress. It was light pink with white swirls on it. It had little angels embroidered into the fabric. Across the front of the dress read, "DADDY'S LITTLE ANGEL." The funny thing was the statement couldn't have been truer. Derek loved that little girl with a love that the rest of their high school would never believe he had in him. Alia Rose Venturi was Derek's girl through and through.

The little girl jumped off the bed and raced through the house. She bounced off the furniture falling backwards into the floor. Casey laughed as she watched her baby run and play. Derek chased her around and around. "Derek honestly, quit encouraging her. Our little angel certainly doesn't need another excuse to cause trouble. She handles that well enough as it is. Besides if we don't hurry we are going to miss our flight. Then you can explain to mom and George why we aren't coming to Canada, and they aren't going to get to see their grandbaby."

"Relax princess; we can still make it on time." "Only if you hurry up and get our stuff into the car right now." The radio in the corner of the room began playing a song called Butterfly Kisses. Alia froze then jumped up. "Daddy, daddy, it's the song. It's our song." Derek just laughed. "Case, I think the car is going to have to wait for just a minute. Right now there is a much more important task on hand. Right now, I am going to dance with my daughter."

Casey could only smile and nod as Derek scooped Alia up in his arms. As the music played she watched them twirl around and around the room, their baby girl giggling as her daddy bounced her. She listened to the words of the song and smiled.

There's two things I know for sure.

She was sent here from Heaven and she's daddy's little girl; as I drop to my knees by her bed at night she talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and I thank God for all of the joy in my life.

Oh, but most of all. For butterfly kisses, after bedtime prayers sticking little white flowers all up in her hair, walk beside the pony daddy, it's my first ride I know the cake looks funny daddy, but I sure tried.

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have done something right. To deserve her hugs every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

The years flew by quickly and it wasn't long until Alia was supposed to begin kindergarten. Lying in bed the night before Derek turned to Casey, "Case, how do I let her go? It's not time for my baby girl to be in kindergarten. Are you sure we can't keep her out another year? I don't think she is ready to be a big girl. I think another year of preschool would benefit her." "Oh honey, she's not ready, or you're not ready. I think our little girl is totally ready to start kindergarten. She will be at the same school we are both at. You will even get to see her during the day. She will make new friends and have a wonderful time. You aren't losing her. She is starting a new chapter of her life but we still have many years with her before we lose her."

"I know, but it doesn't make it any easier," Derek said. "I know, honey, I know. You just have to be brave. Now go to sleep you big overprotective daddy. You and your baby girl apparently both have a big change coming tomorrow."

The morning light dawned and for once their baby girl was up and out of bed. She woke them both up squealing, "mommy, daddy, it is my first day of school. I get to go to big girl school. I get to go to school with mommy and daddy. Let's go, let's go, let's go."

"Hold your horses precious," Derek said. "I and mommy have to get up; you have to get dressed, let mommy fix your hair, eat breakfast, and pack your bag. It ain't time to go quite yet." "But, but daddy today's big girl school day." "I know baby girl. Why don't you go pick out your dress for today and put it on. Mommy will be in to fix your hair in a few minutes." "Okay daddy, okay."

"Well isn't somebody a bundle of energy this morning," Casey said laughing at her five year old daughter. "That's for sure. I guess we better get moving before little bit comes back in here again." "Ok, why don't you go fix breakfast while I put little bit's hair in piggy tails."

After breakfast Derek said, "Okay angel. It's time to go now. Are you ready?" "Yeah, yeah daddy. This day has taken foreverrrrrrrrrr." He smiled at her and said, "Well grab your bag and go get in your car seat." The little girl grabbed her new book bag and raced towards the car. Slowly she stopped and turned back. "Daddy," she said. "Yes, baby." "Daddy, will you dance with me?"

Derek could not stop the overwhelming emotion that enveloped him. Casey laughed softly and reached to turn on the radio. "Of course," he said. "I will never miss a chance to dance with my daughter."

Casey smiled once again as she watched her husband and her little girl spin around and around in the radio this time to yet another new song.

Gotta hold on easy as I let you go, gonna tell you how much I love you though you think you already know.

I remember I thought you looked like an angel wrapped in pink so soft and warm. You've had me wrapped around your finger since the day you were born.

A beautiful baby from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.

"Daddy, daddy. Don't let go of the bike until I tell you to. I don't want to fall. Please don't let go," eight year old Alia Venturi yelled to her daddy as they raced along the sidewalk. She was trying to learn to ride her bike without training wheels. Derek had promised her he would help her learn so she could ride up and down the block with her friends this summer.

"It's okay Alia Rose. Daddy won't let you fall. I promise." "Okay daddy, please don't let me fall." "I won't angel, I'll never let you fall."

They raced along the sidewalk, Derek running right beside her his hand resting on the seat. Finally as she picked up speed she took a deep breath and yelled, "Let go daddy."

Casey smiled from the porch as she watched her husband hesitantly let go of their daughter's bike and stop running, standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Alia pedaled on down the sidewalk picking up speed but managing to stay upright. She laughed as her baby succeeded in riding her bike. Derek turned to look at Casey as Alia approached the tree.

Casey yelled, "Alia," as she pointed. Derek swung around and saw his baby girl quickly headed for the tree. "Alia, hit the brakes. Hit the brakes," he yelled.

The little girl applied the brakes as she slid into the tree. Derek and Casey both took off running towards her, Derek reaching her first. She was sitting back on the ground where her little accident had left her sitting. The little girl's helmeted head had bounced off the tree when she hit. "Baby girl, are you okay?" Derek asked. The little girl smirked at him and said, "Daddy I crashed."

Casey laughed when she realized that her little girl was perfectly fine. Most little girls would have been sitting there in tears. Her little girl was smirking. She was definitely Derek's child. Daredevil should have been her middle name.

"Yeah, you certainly did crash. Next time put the brakes on before you hit the tree. Are you okay?" "Yeah I'm okay. Did you see me? Did you see me? I was riding my bike."

"Yeah baby, I saw you. You were doing so good. Next time just put the brakes on." She giggled, "Okay daddy. I will, I promise."

"Okay you two. Why don't we put Alia's bike up on the porch and go inside. I have some watermelon and ice cream waiting inside and I believe I can hear calling out, Alia, Alia come and eat me," Casey said. The little girl laughed as she took off running towards the house. Derek grabbed her bike and wrapped his arm around Casey's waist as they walked towards the house. Casey said, "I believe we have a little daredevil on our hands. Her first ride on a bike and she manages to crash because she forgot to apply the brakes. And, exactly when do we plan on letting our baby drive?"

"Definitely not until she is in her thirties. Besides she won't need to drive until then anyway. I don't plan on letting her leave home until she is at least in her thirties." "Oh Derek, how well do you think that will actually work. Don't you remember us. Neither one of us could wait to get out of our parent's house and out from under their rule. Somehow I don't think Alia Rose will be much different." "Well, I don't care. It doesn't matter. She isn't like us at all. Our little girl is perfect." Casey just smiled and said, "Well our perfect little girl is waiting impatiently for her watermelon and ice cream." They laughed and gathered Alia between them as they walked towards the kitchen.

With a mouthful of ice cream Alia said, "Daddy can we dance to our new song. I want you to dance with me." Derek just smiled as he stood up. It was impossible to say no to those big blue eyes. It was impossible to say no to her all together. He had never mastered the skill of saying no to the little girl and probably never would. "Of course baby, let's dance."

Casey smiled as once again she headed towards the radio.

Wind blowing on my face, sidewalk flying beneath my bike.

A five year Old's first taste of what freedoms really like.

He was running right beside me, his hand holding on the seat.

I took a deep breath and hollered as I headed towards the street.

You can let go now daddy, you can let go.

Oh, I think I'm ready to this on my own.

It's still feels a little bit scary, but I want you to know.

I'll be okay now daddy.

You can let go.

Alia was thirteen years old and packing to go on her first adventure. She was going to spend two weeks of the summer in Canada with her Uncle Edwin and Aunt Lizzie and their two kids Caylyn who was seven, and Camden who was four. Then she was going to California to spend a week with her Aunt Marti and Uncle John and their two kids, Brianna who was three and Michael who was one. She was so excited and bouncing around the house. Most of her friends were going to summer camp and weren't going to be around this summer anyway. She was excited for the chance to get to spend time with her aunts and uncles who she didn't get to see often. She was excited that she got to spend time with her cousins. She loved being with other kids. She had often begged her parents to have more kids. Her parents, however, were completely contempt with just Alia.

"Okay, Alia, make sure you brush your teeth and your hair. I'm your mother, it's my job to tell you that before you leave. Call me if you need anything. Help your Aunts out with the other kids. I know that Lizzie and Ed, and Marti and John will take good care of you. Give your aunts a kiss for me. Remember your Aunt Marti is going to fly out here to bring you back and when you get here your pawpaw and nana will be here. They are going on a tour of the states this summer. They were very disappointed when they learned you were going to be in Canada when they weren't. So when you get back they will be here with Simon."

"Okay mama, I need to go now. The plane leaves in an hour and a half. If we don't hurry we will be late."

"I know baby. Go find your daddy and tell him we need to leave now."

Alia walked into the backyard and found her daddy working on their swimming pool. "Daddy, mama said to tell you we need to leave now or we won't make it on time to the airport."

"Alright baby girl, go on back in the house and get your stuff into the car. I will be there in just a minute."

Alia smiled and walked back inside. Derek stared at her as he watched her go. She looked so mature now. She was growing up, not so little anymore. She was no longer the little girl in her "Daddy's Little Angel," dress and piggy tails. She was now a beautiful teenager. Her hair was the exact color as his and had in pulled up in a twist on the top of her head. She was skinny and petite. Her features were delicate and she looked like a princess in her blue jean mini-skirt and her hot pink sequined tank top. She was growing up and changing right before his eyes and he wasn't sure he was ready for this. He wasn't ready to let her out of his sight for three weeks even though she would be with Ed and Lizzie and then Marti and John. He trusted his siblings with his baby girl and he trusted his daughter, he just wasn't ready to let her go.

He walked inside and saw his wife and daughter waiting on him. Casey was standing next to the radio once again with her hand on the play button. He looked at them curiously before Alia spoke up. "Daddy, you didn't think I could really leave for three weeks without a dance did you?"

He answered her with a smile as he held his arm out welcoming her into his embrace. Softly he whispered, "My baby's growing up." She looked into his eyes and replied, "I'll never be too old to dance with my daddy."

"Come on you two. Let's go. We have to cut this a bit short though. We don't want to miss our plane. Your aunt Lizzie would get me if you missed your plane and cut a day off of your visit with her."

Beautiful baby from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again

Go on take on this whole world but to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone.

Now I look at you, I've turned around and your almost grown.

Sometimes your asleep I whisper I love you in the moonlight at your door.

A beautiful baby from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.

Go on take on this whole world but to me you know you'll always be, my little girl.

The day had finally come that Derek had been dreading for sixteen years. His baby girl was now officially sixteen and her mother had decided that she was now old enough to officially date. His daughter was a beauty and he knew that. She had a list a mile long of guys who would do anything to get a date with his little girl. He however, had a hockey stick by the door just waiting for the first guy to try to date his daughter. It was a Friday and Casey was in the kitchen fixing breakfast. He walked towards the kitchen peeking into the room that held his sleeping daughter. She was fast asleep with the sun shining through the window on her reddish brown hair. She tossed and turned yawning as she flipped over and fell back asleep. He stood there just staring at her. It seemed like only yesterday he was holding her in his arms and staring down at her in amazement. It still puzzled him as to why he got a gift as special as Alia Rose Venturi. He had done so many things wrong in his life but he got a precious child as a reward.

Derek walked into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Casey's waist. It seemed like only yesterday that they were sixteen. Now they were the parents of a sixteen year old. It didn't seem possible. He wasn't ready for this. He wasn't ready for the next two years to pass. He wasn't ready for it to be just him and Casey in the house. They had always wanted more kids, but it never seemed to happen for them. Maybe, just maybe, Alia Rose was enough of a gift.

"She's sixteen," Casey said. "Our baby girl is finally sixteen." "I know are you sure we just can't wish real hard and turn back time. It seemed to work in the reverse order, I mean, we blinked our and our baby is sixteen."

"Nope, no matter how bad we wish she was still a tiny little girl with bouncing red curls running around the house climbing the furniture, she's sixteen. And, she has to stay sixteen. At least for another year. You do know that she is sixteen now. From the time she was little our deal has been she could go out on a date when she turned sixteen. She's looked forward to this night for years. We can't back out now. She's going out tonight with Brad and that's a fact."

"Hey, hold up, wait right there, just a minute, I never said she could go out when she turned sixteen. You did. I say no. What I say goes, right?" "No, what I say goes. She is going out tonight with Brad and that's final. You are going to hug her and then let her go. Let her have fun. She is a smart girl and responsible. We've taught her well, and she will be fine. You are going to politely shake Brad's hand tonight. You are going to keep the inquisition to a minimum. You are not going to threaten the poor boy with the hockey stick and you are going to remove it from its place beside the door. You are going to remind them that she has a curfew of eleven thirty and that she will be home by that time or they will not see another date together. You will remind her that we need to know where she is at all times so if plans change or if they are running late she will call us. We will not be mad at her if she calls us. We will be mad at her if she doesn't call us. And last but not least tell her that we trust her and to have fun. Understand?"

"Understanding ain't got nothing to do with it. I can understand just fine, but I don't have to like it. She's sixteen, beautiful, innocent, smart, funny, and so much more. I just don't want her falling in love with a sixteen year old me." Casey laughed and said, "Yeah I know. I don't know how I fell in love with a sixteen year old you. But, I did and I wouldn't change a thing. She is going out with a guy named Bradley Bailor. Brad is a good guy. I work with his mother and he is from a good family. He makes good grades most of the time. He is smart and funny. He is on the high school football team. And, I believe he will take good care of Alia."

"I don't care. He is still a teenage boy and my daughter is still a beautiful teenage girl. I don't like it one little bit. He might be a saint and I still wouldn't like him dating my baby." "I know honey, I know. But Alia is growing up and we have to let her. Now, breakfast is almost finished. I made her favorite chocolate chip pancakes, country ham, and French toast. Go see if you can drag our birthday girl out of bed. And, good luck."

Derek smiled as he walked towards Alia's room. "Alia, Alia Rose, come on baby it's time to get up." He laughed as she rolled over and ignored him. It was no easier a task getting her up on her sixteenth birthday than it was any other day. "Come on sweetie, get up. Mama has your favorite breakfast waiting in the kitchen. I know, I know, it's early. But, it's your big day, come on."

Alia rubbed her eyes and flipped back over ignoring her daddy. Finally Derek pulled back the covers, picked up his sixteen year old daughter, and deposited her to a standing position in the middle of her bedroom floor. "Now are you going to come to the kitchen and eat, or am I going to have to carry you?" She just grumbled so he scooped her back up and walked to the kitchen before depositing her in her chair.

The day passed quickly as they made preparations for her pool party the next day. There was food to buy, outfits to pick out, and as Derek grumbled more and more money to spend. When five o'clock rolled around Alia dashed frantically to her room to find an outfit for the night. Casey just laughed as she followed her baby to her room. With a pile of outfits almost as big as Alia was tall stacked on her bed she finally decided on one. Casey gently curled her daughters red hair as Alia applied her make-up. Derek stood in the doorway and watched. Alia looked so much like Casey did at that age. She was definitely Casey's daughter and you could tell. She only had Derek's hair, and his spirit. That smirk of his is what had killed him when it came to saying "No" to Marti so many years ago. Alia had that smirk and he couldn't bear to tell her "No" either. His beauty still had Casey's petite frame and Casey's bone structure. And, you could lose yourself in her big blue eyes. When her hair and make-up was finished Casey left the room to lecture Derek a bit more about appropriate behavior. Alia slipped into a beautiful spaghetti strap dress. The color was not grey and it was not black. It was more of a brown color with deep enhancements where it didn't even look brown. The professional color for the dress was chinchilla. It blended extravagantly with her reddish curls and made her look skinnier than she was. She slipped her feet into a pair of light brown heels and grabbed her purse.

Derek's breath caught when she walked out of the room. "Baby girl, you're beautiful. Wow!" She lightly laughed and said, "Thanks daddy." She gave him a big hug and he tilted her chin up where he was looking straight in her eyes. "I know your mama and you have talked about this day for weeks. I still don't like it one little bit, but you're growing up and I have to accept that. I love you Alia, and I trust you. Be home on time, let us know where you are going to be, and call us if you need us. I want you to know at any time throughout the rest of your lifetime that you can call. I know what goes on when you're a teenager. Believe it or not me and your mama were teenagers once. If you ever get into a tough situation where you aren't comfortable and you need us to come get you call. We won't be mad at you for calling. Right then it wouldn't even matter where you were at. Just be safe baby. I trust you and I love you." Alia smiled as she hugged her daddy even tighter, "daddy I'm going to be fine, quit worrying. I know how to handle myself. Okay. I will be fine." "I know you will angel. But, I'm your daddy and you're sixteen. It's in my job description to worry about you."

Casey smiled watching the sweet exchange between her husband and daughter. Derek had always been one to hold his emotions tight inside. He would never tell someone he loved them until he had too. He was still like that in many cases. Alia and herself were the only ones that ever got to see the real Derek. The real Derek told Casey he loved her each and every day. The real Derek would lay down his life in a heartbeat to save his wife or daughter. The real Derek cared about the work he did at the school and wanted to make a positive impact on each and every child's life that he taught. The real Derek lay awake all of the previous night dreading his daughters sixteenth birthday. The real Derek could express his true emotions to his daughter without a second thought never forgetting to let her know that she was his baby girl, his whole world, and that he loved her. The real Derek would sit awake worrying tonight until he heard Alia come into her room. The real Derek would wait until his little girl fell asleep and then he would tiptoe into her room and plant a loving kiss on her forehead, thanking the Lord that she made it home safe and sound.

"Daddy, before I go, I want to know something." "Ok, baby what do you want to know?" "Am I too old to dance with my daddy?" Derek smiled at the question. "Of course not Alia. You will never be too old to dance with your daddy."

So Casey walked over to the radio and flipped on the button once again. This had become a routine in their lives. Once again the sweet melody flooded into the room and Casey watched her husband, so much older than she remembered but just the same, and her daughter, a beautiful sixteen year old in a breathtaking sundress, float around and around in the living room floor.

Sweet sixteen today, she's looking like her mama a little more every day

One part woman, the other part girl

To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls

Trying her wings out in this great big world

But I remember

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayers, sticking little white flowers all up in her hair, you know how much I love you daddy but if you don't mind, I'm only going to kiss you on the cheek this time

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have done something right, to deserve her hugs every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time, like the wind the years go by, precious butterfly, spread your wings and fly.

The day had finally come and Alia was leaving for college. It wasn't too far away but four hours seemed like a lot for Derek. He was going to miss checking in on her every night and seeing her soft curls asleep on her pillow. He knew that she would be taken care of. She was going to be sharing a dorm with her best friend since kindergarten, Lanie. He knew that she would be just fine. Her boyfriend Brad had a dorm on the other side of campus. But, he was still worried about her. It was hard to keep a straight face while bustling around the house. They were carrying packed boxes out to Brad's truck which already held his stuff and Lanie's stuff. It was hard for Derek, he wasn't sure he was going to be able to say goodbye. She was his baby.

Alia ran around the house giving orders, carry this box here, put that one there, OH NO Don't drop that one. This had been going on for close to two hours and still the boxes were not completely packed. "Goodness Lia, are you moving to a university four hours away, or across the country," Brad asked. "Uh oh," Derek mumbled as Casey and Lanie laughed. Lanie said, "Ali's going to lose it now." Alia stopped what she was doing, put her hands on her hips, and turned to face her boyfriend. "Now, what do you mean by that. You know very well where I am moving. For goodness sakes you helped me pick out which dorms would be best. Why are you already trying to make a hard day worse? Are you just trying to make me angry with you, because it's working? Do you have to make a comment about everything? Why can't you just shut your stupid mouth and carry the dang boxes?"

Brad was standing wide eyed in the corner. "I'm sorry Lia, I didn't mean it. I was just trying to be funny. I know you are stressed out, and I know this is a hard day for you. I didn't mean to be insensitive. I love you and I'm sorry." Alia looked up at her daddy and said, "Am I being impossible today? Am I being hard to live with?" Derek looked at her and said, "Yep. But you are being the same Alia Rose that we all know when you get stressed out. Take a deep breath and go pour you and Lanie a glass of sweet tea. Then when you feel cooled down a little come back out. I think we know what boxes to put on the truck. We can handle it." Alia smiled, "ok." She hugged her daddy before walking across the room to where Brad was standing. She whispered, "I really am sorry," before she leaned up on her tiptoes to plant a kiss on his lips.

Casey smiled at Derek's grimace and said, "I'm going to go start lunch. You guys finish loading the truck. I could use Alia and Lanie's help in the kitchen." Derek nodded as he picked up yet another box and walked towards the truck.

When lunch was finished Alia walked out to call the guys who had just finished loading the truck. Lanie's boyfriend Aaron had just arrived and they loaded his own stuff into the back of the truck. They were only allowed to have one vehicle on campus and in the dorm complex that Aaron and Brad would be living in. They had decided to take Brad's truck since it was the biggest. They all set down to a good Southern home-style lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and homemade baked bread with sweet tea to accompany. Inside the freezer was some homemade ice cream waiting to be eaten.

Alia looked at her parents and said, "I hope you know I'm going to miss this. I am going to miss home cooked meals with you and my friends. I am going to miss sitting down as a family and mama asking how my day went. I am going to miss this home, and you. I don't know if I want to leave. I can do it, but I don't know if I want to."

Derek felt his heart tighten in his chest and it took all his self- control not to tell her that she didn't need to leave. He wanted to tell her that she could stay here and be just fine. Casey felt tears well up in her eyes and she blinked them back. Softly she said, "Baby girl, I know it's scary. Leaving home is always a bit scary. But, it's worth it. It's time to step out and start your own life. It's time to follow your dreams and make what you want to happen come true. Every child has to leave home at some point or another. But, home will never leave you. You can leave home and create your own world but we will always be right here waiting. Our doors will always be open for our baby and her friends. We will keep in touch and you will visit often. Me and daddy will come visit you too. And believe me, you want to leave home. You have so many things ahead of you that you don't even realize. You will be fine baby."

Alia nodded and gripped her boyfriend's hand as a tear slipped down her face. She picked up her fork and continued to eat as silent tears fell onto the table. They ate ice cream on the big wrap around porch and Casey treasured the chance to hear her little girl laugh once more. After about forty five minutes Brad looked up and said, "Lia baby, we are going to have to leave soon." Alia nodded and the tears began once again.

Casey hugged her daughter tight once more and said, "Call me often baby. And come home soon. Have fun. Be safe and be smart. I love you." "I love you too mama," Alia sobbed. Casey hugged Lanie and said, "It seems like just yesterday when you and Alia were running around the house with cookie dough hands chasing one another. Or trying on your new bikinis before heading out to the pool. It's amazing how fast you girls have grown. Take care Lanie. Like I told Alia be safe and be smart. Have fun, college is meant to be a period of fun. A time in your lives where you aren't kids anymore but you don't have all the responsibilities of being an adult. Take care of Alia, and let her take care of you. And don't lose touch. I expect to see you home with Alia very soon." Lanie laughed and hugged Casey, "Don't worry Mrs. Venturi, I will make sure Ali behaves." "Lanie, when will you ever learn to just call me Casey." Lanie laughed and said, "Maybe when I am as old as you are."

Casey hugged Aaron and said, "take care of Lanie. She deserves you." Aaron just nodded and took a deep breath. It was not often that someone said something that kind to him. He had always found the parents in Derek and Casey that he wished he had been born to. Finally Casey hugged Brad and said, "you're a good man Brad. I have always trusted you will my baby and I feel confident you won't let me down now. Make sure she lets herself have fun, but not too much fun. Make sure she behaves herself. Make sure she's call home. And, make sure you take care of her." Brad nodded and said, "you know I will. I love Alia." Casey patted his back affectionate and said, "I know you do. That's why I'm confident she will be alright. Come visit with Alia soon." Brad smiled and said, "of course."

Casey turned and saw Alia hugging Derek. Alia still had tears falling off her cheeks and she could see Derek blinking back tears. He picked her up off the ground and twirled her around like he did when she was a little girl. He held her tight and whispered encouraging words in her ear. Brad stood softly waiting for the moment Derek released her. Derek let her go and said, "take care of my baby." Brad nodded and said, "of course."

Brad placed a hand on Alia back and steered her towards the truck. She was about to shut the door when she said, "wait." Everyone stared at her curiously as she ran back up the steps to Derek. "I can't do it," she said. "I can't leave yet. I know I am not a little girl anymore. But I can't leave without a dance with my daddy. Don't make me leave without a dance with my daddy." Derek smiled at her and once again opened his arms. Everyone watched knowing what was coming. Casey felt a tear roll down her cheek as she watched the all too familiar sight. There wasn't a major event that had happened in her daughter's life that Derek hadn't been able to sooth with a dance. Casey flipped on the radio and music filled the air.

Beautiful baby from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.

Go on take on this whole world, but to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone

Now I look at you, I've turned around and you're almost grown

Sometimes you're asleep I whisper I love you in the moonlight at your door

I walk away and I hear you say, Daddy love you more

A beautiful baby from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again.

Go on take on this whole world, but to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

Someday some boy will come and ask me for your hand

But I won't say yes to him, unless I know

He's the half that makes you whole, he has a poet's soul, and a heart of a man's man

I know he'll say that he's in love, but between you and me

He won't be good enough

A beautiful baby from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that'll lead you home again

Go on take on this whole world but to me you know you'll always be, my little girl

My little girl

Alia had been in college for two year

s. She was two years away from becoming a pediatric nurse like she had always dreamed of. It was summer vacation and Alia was coming home. She was taking summer classes at the local community college to get her EMT certification. She was spending the summer relaxing and traveling with Brad. She had been home for a little over two weeks when Brad came to dinner.

It was not an unusual occurrence for Brad to have dinner with the family. In fact, it was a more unusual occurrence when he wasn't eating with them. It had been that way since Alia was sixteen years of age. But this time something was different.

Derek could sense it in the way that Brad looked at Alia. He could sense it in the way the boy looked at him. He could tell the young man was nervous and he had a feeling he knew why. He could see the slight bulge under the young man's coat where the box that held the ring was hidden. He knew all so well the feeling of asking a woman to marry you. He knew that there would be a discussion coming between him and the boy later that evening.

He knew this moment would happen since Alia was born. He knew that one day he would have to tell a man that it was okay to take his daughter's hand in marriage. But, he didn't have to like it. He didn't have to say that he was perfectly fine with not being the main man in his little girl's life anymore. He didn't have to admit that his little girl wasn't so little anymore.

Casey knew the discussion that was coming as well. That is why she busied herself and Alia on the back porch making ice cream after dinner and left Derek and Brad alone in the living room.

Derek paced back and forth across the floor looking at the nervous young man in front of him. Brad slowly spoke up and said, "Mr. Venturi. I know you know what I want to ask. I love Lia with everything I have in me. I can't imagine my life without her. She's the other half of my heart and I feel empty when she isn't around. Her smile can brighten my day and I want to see her smile for the rest of my life. I want to make Lia my wife. But, I don't feel right asking her without your permission. Can I please ask your daughter to become Mrs. Bailor."

Derek said, " I knew what you were going to ask when you walked in here this evening. And, I have been trying to plan what I was going to say all through dinner. But, it isn't an easy task. You see I know that you love her and that you will take care of her. She is twenty years old and you have proved that you loved her by staying with her the last four years. I can see the same love between you and my daughter that was between me and Casey so many years ago. I know that you will treat her well and that she will be fine with you. But, it isn't easy to let her go. You see she will never be anything but my little girl to me. She will always be the three year old running around the house jumping off furniture. When you look at her I want you to think of me. Think of what I will do to you if you ever hurt her. I want you to think about that. I know you don't understand fully. You will one day. I didn't understand why it was such a big deal that Dennis let go of Casey until we had Alia. So yes, you may ask my baby girl to become your wife. I won't stop you. I do want you to let her finish college before you make her a wife. Remember that she will always be my baby and I will always be her protective daddy. Treat her well son. Take care of her."

Brad nodded and said, "you know I will sir." Derek said, "I know son. I think it's about time you started calling me Derek." Then he leaned his head out the door and said, "Case, Alia come on in here."

Alia walked in with a questioning look on her face. Brad took her hands and dragged her to the middle of the room. Derek wrapped his arms around his wife's waist. As Brad took their daughters hands and dropped to one knee on the floor tears filled Casey and Alia's eyes.

Brad said, "Alia Rose Venturi, I love you. I always have and I always will. Would you do me the honor of becoming Mrs. Bradley Bailor after you graduate?" Tears slipped down Alia's face. She glanced up at her smiling parents and Derek gave her a slight smile. "Of course I will marry you Brad. I've never wanted anything more."

Derek felt a tear roll down his own cheek as Brad slipped a ring on Alia's finger. He smiled when she glanced over at him, her eyes full of tears herself. Brad stood and held her tight against him. He pressed a kiss against the top of his fianc├ęs forehead. She smiled and let him hold her close. Casey gripped Derek's hand tight.

Finally Brad looked at Alia and said, "I think you are forgetting something." Alia looked at him questionly. "Well Lia, you are in the same house as your daddy and a major event just happened in your life." They traded a look and then both said at the same time, "Dance with daddy."

Derek felt more tears roll down his cheeks. He looked over and said, "I picked out this song years ago." He moved towards the radio and flipped it on and then took his daughter into his arms.

I came to see her daddy for sit down man to man. It wasn't any secret I'd be asking for her hand

I guess that's why he left me waiting in the living room by myself with at least a dozen pictures of her sitting on a shelf

She was playing Cinderella

She was riding her first bike

Bouncing on the bed and looking for a pillow fight

Running through the sprinkler with a big popsicle grin

Dancing with her daddy, looking up at him

In her eyes I'm Prince Charming, but to him I'm just some fella, riding in and stealing Cinderella

I leaned in towards those pictures to get a better look at one, when I heard a voice behind me say now, "ain't she something son?"

I said, "yeah, she's quite a woman,'' and he just stared at me. And then I realized that in his eyes she would always be

Playing Cinderella

Riding her first bike

Bouncing on the bed and looking for a pillow fight

Running through the sprinkler with a big popsicle grin

Dancing with her daddy, looking up at him

In her eyes I'm Prince Charming, but to him I'm just some fella. Riding in and stealing Cinderella

He slapped me on the shoulder, then he called her in the room. When she threw her arms around him, that's when I could see it too

She was playing Cinderella

Riding her first bike

Bouncing on the bed and looking for a pillow fight

Running through the sprinkler with a big popsicle grin

Dancing with her daddy, looking up at him

If he gives me a hard time. I can't blame the fella. I'm the one who's stealing Cinderella

It was finally Alia's wedding day and Derek was finding it hard to breathe. It almost seemed like he was losing her. He was so proud of her. She had made so many good choices in her life. She was getting married to her high school flame, the only boy she had ever dated. She had attended four years of college and then worked for six months in the local pediatric ICU before she was to be married. She was beautiful. Her lacy veil covered her beautiful red hair. It took his breath away to look at how beautiful his baby was in her spaghetti strap flawlessly white wedding gown. It just didn't seem like she could be twenty two years old. It didn't seem like that many years had passed. She was surrounded in the small room by her mama and her Nana both trying to calm her down and reassure her. Lizzie and Marti were gathered in the room as well commenting on how much she had grown and how beautiful she looked. It got quiet when Derek stepped inside the room.

"Daddy," she said. "I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I can go through with this. I don't know if I'm ready to be married. I don't know if I'm ready to grow up." Derek looked at her and said, "Alia Rose, do you love him?"

Alia nodded and said, "yeah."

"No Alia, do you love him? Are you willing to go to the ends of the Earth and back to be with him? Are you willing to stick with him through sickness and health? Are you willing to love him no matter what life brings? Are you ready to let him help you face any hard days that may be ahead of you? Do you love him?"

"Of course I do daddy." "Really cause I don't think you do. I don't think you will be able to stand by him if push comes to shove. I don't think you are ready to marry him"

He could see her face grow mad and he waited for her temper to explode.

"How dare you say that. Of course I love him. I would do anything for him. I want to wake up every morning to his smiling face. I want him to be the father of my children. I want to grow old beside him. I want you to like him. But I will marry him today no matter what you say."

"Exactly," Derek said. It was then that Alia realized that her daddy had tricked her into answering her own question. "It will be scary at first baby. All things new are a bit scary. But it will be worth it. I want you to marry Brad. I know he will take care of you, even when I can't. But you'll always be my baby."

Alia smiled and hugged her daddy. The music started playing and she took a deep breath. Derek smiled as he took her arm. "I think that's our cue." Casey hugged her daughter once more before she took her seat and watched her husband give their daughter away.

The wedding reception passed and it was time for the first dances. Derek watched tearfully as his daughter danced her first dance with her husband. He held his wife close as they danced together as well. He could remember when they had danced their wedding dance. It didn't hardly seem fair that it was their daughters turn. It made him wish that he and Casey could've had more kids when he realized that his only child was really leaving home.

Alia took the mike after a few dances and said, "those of you that know me know I can't do anything important in life without one small detail. This is the biggest day of my life so far and I haven't completed that task yet. I can't walk out of here tonight without doing this. It took a lot of thought to come up with the perfect song. Finally me and Brad found one that seemed to be meant for today, for tonight, for us. So, before I leave for my honeymoon I have to ask one special person to join me in the center of the dance floor. You see I haven't danced with my daddy. I need to dance with my daddy."

Derek smiled as he realized that he hadn't lost her. She would always be his baby and she would always give him a chance to dance with his daughter. He pulled her close and held on to her like she was his lifeline. In many ways she was. Brad turned on the radio and a soft country song he had never heard filled the room. He listened to the lyrics carefully absorbing every word as he twirled his baby around the room.

Look at the two of you dancing that way, lost in the moment in each other's face

So much in love, you're alone in this place, like there's nobody else in the world

I was enough for her not long ago, I was her number one she told me so and she still means the world to me just so you know

So be careful when you hold my girl

Time changes everything, life must go on, and I'm not gonna stand in your way

But I loved her first, I held her first, and a place in my heart will always be hers. From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me, I knew the love of a father runs deep. And I prayed that she'd find you someday, but it's still hard to give her away. I loved her first.

How could that beautiful woman with you, be the same freckle faced kid that I knew

The one that I read all those fairy tales too, and tucked into bed all those nights

I knew the first time I saw you with her, it was only a matter of time

But I loved her first, I held her first, and a place in my heart will always be hers. From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me, I knew the love of a father runs deep. And I prayed that she'd find you someday, but it's still hard to give her away. I loved her first.

From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me. I knew the love of a father runs deep.

Someday you might know what I'm going through. When a miracle smiles up at you.

I loved her first.

Many years passed and many things happened. Nothing stayed the same. Babies were born and people died. Laughs echoed through the woods and tears were cried. Brad and Alia had three beautiful children, Matthew Bradley, Scarlet Casey, and Landon Derek. When Derek and Casey were eighty six Casey died peacefully in her sleep.

Derek began to go downhill fast. He lost his will to live without the love of his life. He often said that part of his heart was missing. Alia knew it wouldn't be long before her father joined her mother in Heaven. Her Nana and Pawpaw had been there for years. Marti and Derek were the only two out of the bunch that were still alive. Marti was getting pretty old and worn down herself.

Somehow when the call came Alia still wasn't ready for it. She wasn't ready to say goodbye. But it was time.

The hospital said that he was only hanging on for her. They said that he was ready to go but couldn't leave without saying goodbye to his little angel. It was still hard to drag herself to the hospital knowing things would never be the same again.

It was hard to walk in the room. He looked so old and run down. He didn't look like the daddy in her memories. "Hey daddy," she said. Bradley stood beside her arm wrapped around her. Her kids were all there along with her grandbabies and her first great-grandbaby.

"Hey angel," he whispered. "Daddy," she sobbed. "Do you have to leave, I don't want you to go. I ain't ready."

"Yeah angel, it's time. My body is tired. My mind is tired. I'm ready. Don't be scared. I'm not. I want to see your mama again. I want to see my parents, and Lizzie and Ed. I want to see them all. And I want to see you, down here. I want to watch over you. Angel, I want to be your angel."

Alia blinked back tears until finally she let them slide down her face. "I know. I know. Tell mama I said hi. Tell her I love her and I miss her. Tell Pawpaw and Nana, Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Ed, and Uncle Simon that I miss them."

"I will baby, I will." The nurse peeped in and watched the family for a moment. As upset as the daughter was she seemed calm about this. She seemed at peace and she knew the old man was.

"Daddy," Alia said. "Yeah Angel." "Before you go, can we dance one more time."

Derek nodded as he found the strength somewhere deep inside him to stand up and share one last dance with his daughter.

Softly Alia sang as they slowly danced.

You can let go now daddy, you can let go. Oh I think I'm ready to do this on my own. It still feels a little bit scary but I want you to know. I'll be okay now daddy you can let go.

It was killing me to see the strongest man I ever knew, wasting away to nothing in that hospital room. You know he's only hanging on for you that's what the night nurse said. My voice and heart were breaking as I crawled up in his bed and said.

You can let go now daddy. You can let go. Your little girl is ready to this on my own. It's gonna be a little bit scary, but I want you to know. I'll be okay now daddy. You can let go.

You can let go.

Softly Derek laid on the back on the bed and held his daughter tight. He felt his breaths growing shorter. He kissed her head and held onto his grandbabies hands. "Thank you," he said. "Thank you for giving me one last dance with my daughter." Slowly it was like the angels filled the room as he took one last breath and rode off to Heaven.

That is all. The End. I have been working on this story for several weeks trying to make sure every little detail fit in like I wanted it too. I still don't know exactly how I feel about it, but I would like to know what you thought. Please share your thoughts with me, good or bad. It makes me smile to know somebody appreciated or disliked what I wrote enough to share their feelings with me. And thank you for taking time to read this.