Jake eyed his daughter through the mirror in his barbershop. He had been in the middle of shaving Loren's 5 o'clock shadow, when he noticed the sound of her pencil tapping and scratching across paper had stopped. He smiled to himself as he thought of how Hank and company had teased him about how his children would turn out. How wrong they were.
Lucy sat with her tiny feet dangling from her father's desk chair. Her little hand held the thick wooden pencil against her temple as she absent mindedly starred out the shop's window. She had gotten her mother's dark black hair. It reminded him of the night sky when the clouds were blue and spread like highlights. It fell in plump ringlets over her small shoulders, which caused unending frustration when Teresa sat plucking each glossy curl into place with a pick comb. But her eyes were the same steel grey as his, though they peer out of round orbits that were fringed with long, thick, black lashes. And her skin was a pale café au lait shade that reminded him of his coffee when Teresa poured too much crème into it.
"What's the matter, honey," he asked trying not to look up as he brought the blade tightly up, passed Loren's jugular.
Her little body exhale dramatically, "Nothin."
Loren brushed comically at Jake's hand, "Your cuttin' too close! I'm feelin' a burn."
But Jake's gaze was on his daughter.
"Oh, kids should be out playin'. Not all cooped up in here. Jake your too darn over protective. "
"She's only 6," was his reply as his wiped shaving lotion off Loren's face. "Pay me later."
Loren's body snapped forward as Jake kicked the inclined chair back up into place. "Take it out of ya grocery tab, when Teresa comes to the store," he said rubbing the back of his neck. He petted Lucy on the head as he passed, "such a pretty lil' thing all locked up, it's a shame!"
"Goodbye Mr. Bray," Lucy muttered turning to face her father.
He was already sweeping around the barbers chair, with a tense look on his face.
"Hmmm?" he made wide sweeps now, eager to finish and close up.
"It hurts," she said chewing absently on her lower lip.
"What hurts?" he asked shrugging on his coat and searching about for his Stetson.
"My head," she said looking up at him with those intense steely eyes.
Jake kneeled down in front of her searching for any kind of a wound.
"Did ya hit yah self?"
"No," she said rubbing her temples hard enough to stretch her eyebrows up.
"Stop that. You'll make it worse," Jake lifted her up into his arms as he made his way out the shop doors. With her small arms wrapped around his neck she buried her face into the collar of his duster in an effort to keep the bright sunlight from her eyes.
However, the muffled noises of the town reached her ears making the throbbing almost unbearable. She tired to concentrate on the smell of her father's musky cologne, and the warm comforting feeling of his pulse against her cheek. His hand was pressed to her back in such a way that she knew he was in a panic.
Then a coolness came over her body as Jake's boots finally came in contact with the wooden porch of Dr. Mike's clinic.
"Is it serious?" Jake asked as his eyes moved from Lucy to Dr. Mike.
The silence was palpable, as she continued to move her fingers over Lucy's forehead.
"Hmmm," she quickly moved to her desk and lit a candle. "Has she always been sensitive to the light?"
"Not til' this afternoon," Jake raked his fingers through his corn silk colored hair.
Michaela moved the candle before Lucy's eyes. "Sweetheart, tell me when it hurts, and where."
"Ain't her eyes! It's her head that hurts!" Jake was beside himself.
The sudden outburst caught Lucy's attention and she turned toward her father with alarm. Her entire body seemed to shrink nearer to him for protection.
"Jake I can't well examine her if you're going to be in hysterics," Michaela scolded him and turned back to Lucy. "Look into the light like I told you."
Placing his hand on his daughters back he smiled down at her, "I'm sorry honey. Go on."
Lucy turned and attempted to peer directly into the candles light, but the pain forced her eyelids to fall heavy. She shook her head only to receive a fine jolt to the center of her forehead, which forced her head down into her hands. Tiny little sobs began to rock her small frame as she curled into herself. Jake immediately fell to cradling her in his arms.
Michaela's shoulders slumped, as she blew the candle out and began searching through the many bottles that sat on her wall shelf. Her slender white fingers gently tapped at the labels on the tonic bottles as they passed.
"It's migraines, Jake. Take her home and put her in a dark room. There mustn't be any light. And apply cool compresses to her forehead to help relieve some of the pressure," she said all this with her back to him. Finally, wrapping her fingers around what she was looking for, she turn and placed a bottle of Laudanum in his hand.
Jake pocketed the Laudanum awkwardly, as he stared at Michaela in wonder. "Must be bad if your giving me this."
"It's only as a last resort, should the pain become excruciating. Migraines can last for hours. Also, if you must, give it to her watered down. Even after it passes, do not expose her to any brightness."
The girl already had her face buried in the crest of Jake's arm. Michaela reached out and ran her fingers through the girls ebony locks. She smiled wearily before turning to her desk to write down some notes.
"Let me know if there is any major change," she said continuing to scribble down this latest bit of medical history into Lucy's file.
"Thanks Dr. Mike," he said removing his duster and wrapping it around Lucy's head and body.
Michaela watched Jake leave with his daughter bundled in his arms. She hardly remembered the man he once was. There was something very satisfied in his temper these days. As though the war within him had settled in peace. He was happy, and anyone could see it, when he had his family in tow.