David Thompson was nervous. He was pacing, going from the resolution hanging on his wall to the window and back again. Each time, he stopped to look out the window.
Where were they?
Amanda and Olivia were coming over to eat supper with him, and not for the first time. This time was different, though, because Olivia was going to be spending the night, the entire weekend, actually, with him.
And he was nervous about it.
There was no time for nerves now, though, because he heard their car in the driveway. He pulled open the door right as Amanda raised her fist to knock.
"Good timing." The pretty brunette greeted him, stepping inside.
Olivia was close behind, practically on her heels. David's shy, wide-eyed daughter wasn't yet certain what she thought of him exactly.
The little girl opened up over a supper of macaroni and cheese, David's specialty, and a movie. However, when the door closed behind her mother, Olivia clammed right back up. Neither father nor daughter knew what to do next.
Sitting on the couch, whispering to the doll he had given her and doing her best to ignore David, Olivia's face suddenly contorted with a wide yawn. David caught it before she hid it behind her hands.
"Do you want to put your PJs on?" he asked.
It was getting close to her bedtime. She shook her head.
"Of course not." David muttered under his breath. "Okay. How about this?" he suggested. "We'll both go put our PJs on, and then we can come eat some ice cream before we brush our teeth. How does that sound?"
Olivia looked at him through narrowed eyes, considering his offer. "Can I have chocolate syrup on my ice cream?"
David hammed it for her when he answered, "There's no other way to have it!"
She smiled and hopped off of the couch, running to her backpack. "Okay."
David smiled to himself. All right. Maybe I can do this.
When Olivia appeared in the kitchen a few minutes later in her pajamas, David was getting the all important chocolate syrup out of the refrigerator. She silently pulled a chair out away from the table and scrambled up into it to watch him with serious eyes.
Before returning the syrup to the refrigerator, David pulled two spoons out and put a half-dollar sized amount of syrup in each. He saw Olivia's eyes widen as he held one out to her, grinning boyishly as if it were their secret. She accepted it, grinning shyly back at him.
Olivia loosened up even further when, while they brushed their teeth, David kept up a steady stream of silly faces in the mirror for her.
Father and daughter were both smiling when she went to bed.
David jerked awake, almost bolting out of his bed. Something was skittering over his chest. Something little girl shaped. He checked his alarm clock. 1:49 a.m. What on earth? He reached over and clicked on his bedside lamp, sitting up.
The covers fell away from him, revealing Olivia, curled in a tight ball beside him on the bed. Noticing that she'd been uncovered, Olivia reached for the blanket and pulled it back over her head. David smiled, and pulled it back down.
"What's wrong, Liv?" he asked, his voice husky with sleep.
"The storm." She answered in a small, muffled voice.
David looked out the window. There was no storm to speak of.
"What do you mean?"Then he saw. Heat lightning. "Oh. There's no storm, just lightning. It's heat lightning."
Olivia looked up at him, her fair brows creased with confusion. "What's that?"
"It's normal lightning, I guess." David really wasn't sure. "Just without the rain and thunder." Getting an idea, he swung his legs around and stood up, grabbing his camera from off of his desk. "Let's go look."
"Mommy says to stay inside when it's lightning." She objected, looking concerned.
"We'll stay on the porch. We'll be safe." Seeing that she hadn't budged, he held out his hand for her to take and added, "Trust me."
She stared at his hand for a second before climbing down out of the bed and taking it.
David settled on the porch steps, and Olivia curled into him, more from fear than anything else, he had a feeling, but he'd take it. Olivia gasped as a bolt of light split the black sky. She buried her head in his shoulder. David wrapped an arm around her and rubbed her back.
"It's okay." He promised. "It's a long way away still."
He dared to pull her into his lap, and she stiffened for a minute before relaxing. After seeing a few more of the lightning bolts, Olivia began to enjoy herself.
"Do you want to take pictures of it?" David asked, holding up his camera.
She nodded eagerly and he handed it over, explaining what to do. His daughter's eyes were bright now as she took a couple of pictures. David looked off to the side, watching the lightning.
After a few more minutes, a particularly bright bolt flashed across the sky.
"Look, Daddy, did you see? Did you see?" Olivia called out, pointing.
David froze. "Yeah, I saw."
But he was more taken by what he had just heard. His little girl had just called him "Daddy". For the first time.
Funny, he had thought that bolting from Amanda all those years ago meant giving up his chance at being a father. But it appeared that lightning bolts were going to give that back to him.
8:30 Saturday morning found Olivia and David just then getting up. Olivia had ended up sleeping in his bed with him. They got up and made the bed together.
David turned to go into the kitchen, almost running into his daughter. She stood there with her arms outstretched, wordlessly asking to be picked up.
Huh. That was new. He complied and carried her into the kitchen.
"Are you hungry?" he asked, stifling a lazy yawn.
He wanted to know how she could be so bright-eyed so soon after waking up.
"We've got bananas, toast, eggs, frozen waffles, or cereal." He held up a finger for each option. "Or, if you want, we can go out for breakfast."
"Pearly's?" Olivia asked hopefully.
David smiled. "That's my girl! Pearly's it is. And then we'll go to the park? Is that okay with you?"
The next afternoon, Father's Day, found the four men who had signed the resolution and their families gathering at Campbell's Steakhouse.
Amanda and Olivia were the last to arrive. David caught Amanda's eye and waved them over to their table. Olivia's eyes brightened and a smile split her face. When she reached the table with her mother, Olivia excitedly held up a hand-made card.
"Look what I made during Sunday school! It's for you."
"Thank you." David said, kissing his daughter on the forehead.
Amanda looked on, as amazed as the rest of their crowd. "I take it that the weekend worked wonders, huh?"
David nodded before taking a good look at the card.
Amanda told him, "I don't get it, but she said that you would."
David cocked his head to the side, looking between his beautiful, suddenly lively daughter and the simple card that she had made him.
A piece of dark blue construction paper folded in half. The center drawing on the corner was a large, jagged, green, line. A lightning bolt from a yellow marker. In one corner was a purple heart from a red marker. In two other corners, drawn with a black pen, were one-dimensional drawings of what he understood to be spoons. In the final corner, also drawn in ink, was a bottle with a six-square graph on it. No, he got it, not a graph, a chocolate bar. Lightning, two spoons, a heart, and chocolate syrup.
The inside was covered with hearts of all different colors. In the middle of the page, Olivia had written "I" another heart, and "U", and signed her name.
"Olivia," Amanda smiled. "I think you've made him speechless."
It was true. David didn't know what to say.
"Do you like it?" Olivia asked him hopefully.
"Very much." David promised, finding his voice. He hefted her up onto his knee. "I love you, sweetheart."
She turned and hugged him. "I love you, too, Daddy."
I needed a break from "Because I Care", and this is what I came up with. Please review! Thanks! :)