“Hey Andi, let’s give it a whirl again?” Dad walked up to our table and offered my sister his hand.
“Sure,” she said enthusiastically.
“That’s if it’s okay with the birthday girl,” Dad added.
“Huh? Oh… yes… of course…” I shook my head, still trying to get over the shock of Brendon Shore paying for my sister’s flight, and first class, no less.
“I’ll come back later and take you for a spin too, okay?” Dad winked at me.
“Yeah,” I replied, still slightly distracted.
I had to find the man.
“It’s hard to believe you’re a big girl now,” Dad said in disbelief.
“Dad, I am a young lady,” Andi corrected.
“Right… but it’s just you were so little when I last saw you, and you’re such a big girl now.”
“Dad, I have a tiny frame,” Andi sighed.
“No, that’s not what I meant… I meant you grew… up… big…er…I’m just so excited you’re here,” he stammered.
“Why don’t we change the subject off the ‘big girl’ thing?” Andi suggested.
“So you get good grades in school?” Dad asked. “Your sister tells me you’re some kind of genius.”
“I don’t know about that,” Andi blushed. “I’m good at the maths and sciences, and I’m a whiz at history and social studies.”
“That’s good,” Dad smiled. “You get your smarts from your mom, I’m sure.”
“I don’t know about that, Dad, I think I get my culinary smarts from you.”
“You like to cook?”
“Yeah. My favorite is pies. Pumpkin is the best with the pecan…”
“With the pecan gingersnap crust?”
Both their eyes widened.
“You found my box of recipes, didn’t you?” Dad asked.
“I did,” Andi dropped her eyes shyly. “It was a way to feel… close to you… somehow.”
“Oh sweetheart, I am so sorry about what happened between your mom and I. I made some pretty dumb decisions and well, your mom has her faults but she raised you well,” Dad apologized.
“Dad, I forgive you. I told you that when you picked me up from the airport earlier,” Andi replied.
“I know, but I wanted to apologize again,” Dad said. “I screwed up pretty bad.”
“Dad, let’s move on. The past is the past. Are you doing okay?”
“You mean with the EXCES? Yeah, I seem to be improving here. Rosalie has some great naturopathic remedies. She’s a great nurse.”
“You mean… well, I’ve been tested. I’m okay. And I think Kass said she’s fine too.”
“Yeah, what about Carina?”
“I think she’s still in denial about this whole trip with Kass thing and you’re back in her life… and well… now mine too… it’ll just take her some time, Dad.”
“I hope to see her again someday.”
“I think you will.”
“So any boys I should know about?”
“Actually yes. His name is VJ.”
“Uh oh… do I need to get out the shot gun?”
“Dad!” Andi rolled her eyes. “Do you even own one?”
“Well, no, but I do have a slingshot,” he said, his eyes twinkling.
“Dad! There will be no sling-shot-ing. VJ is a good guy. He’s a Peteran, and he’s studying to be a youth minister.”
“Well, good for him. So he’s a college boy?”
“Yes, but Mamma already approves. I think you would too. We’ve been together for a year and a half now. And he’s sweet and respectful to me and Mamma and he’s not pushy or anything. He really cares about me and about his ministry.”
Howard stared lovingly at his youngest daughter. She really was a “big girl” now with a boyfriend and everything.
“What?” she said, a smile starting at the corners of her mouth.
“Sounds like I’ll have to meet him,” he said seriously. “Since you’re big enough to have a boyfriend. Next you’ll be getting married.”
“One step at a time, Dad,” Andi laughed.
“Okay, but you’re happy?”