Neighborhood Dad Ch. 10

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Thanks to everyone who has stuck with the story.

I know there has been almost no sex so far – and that has frustrated some – but there’s more coming. Just let me set things in motion.

And thanks for all the votes and comments.


With Ricky needed at the diner, Paige and I rode home by ourselves.

After a minute of silence, Paige spoke.

“You know, I never did hear you say one way or the other.”

“Say about what?” I asked, feeling like I’d missed a sentence or two.

“Randi mentioned buying a guitar and hitting you up for lessons. Ricky asked me what I wanted to drink, and I never heard you say yea or nay. I hope you didn’t feel like I was putting you on the spot by liking the idea.”

“No, it’s fine. She’s right, I did mention it. That was a few months ago, and I’d forgotten about it, but sounds like she didn’t.”

“That kinda brings me up to a point I wanted to mention,” she said, a little hesitantly.

I pulled my eyes off the road for a second to see her eyebrows pulled up questioningly.

“Go on.”

“Well, I think the reason she didn’t forget about it is that she – um, I think she has a crush on you.”

I sat up a little straighter in my seat. I didn’t look her way this time. I thought she might see something in my eyes that would give it all away.

“Don’t be ridiculous – she’s half my age. What would make you think that?”

“It’s not ridiculous,” she countered. “It’s a little weird for me, ’cause half the girls on the team think you’re cute. And I’ve seen Randi turn down a couple of guys who asked her out. I think she did that because she’s hung up on you.”

It felt like my brain just blew a gasket. Half the girls on the team think I’m cute?

“Which half?” I asked before my brain could figure out what my mouth was doing.

“Dad! kartal escort Shut up! Don’t pick on me – it’s hard enough talking about it without you making fun of me.”

“I’m sorry, I – I shouldn’t have done that. But why would you think she has a crush on me?”

“She’s never said anything, but I’m a girl, I can pick up on these things.”

She can pick up that Randi has a crush on me, but she hasn’t figured out that it goes both ways? Or maybe Paige isn’t so sure about anything and is just jumping to conclusions.

“Like what? What kind of things?”

“Like personal space. You know, me and Lori and some of the other girls that have known you forever will give you a hug or a pat on the shoulder or something, but Randi never touches you. She keeps this 4-foot boundary around you. At first I thought it was just being shy, but she’s known all of us for months now and she still does it. I think it’s because it would feel too personal.”

“That’s it? That’s what you’re basing all this on?”

“No, Dad, there’s more. Like how she always makes a point of speaking to you before we head out to the mall. A-And that time she blushed …”

“She what?” I asked because her voice had trailed off and I couldn’t make out what she said.

“She blushed. All of us girls were upstairs talking after the Halloween party, and Autumn mentioned how she’d walked in on you while you were changing.”

“Ohhh, yeah that. I’m sorry – I thought the door was locked or I -“

“I know, I know. She was all embarrassed about it. But then we were talking, and several of the girls were saying that you’re cute. And someone asked Randi what she thought, and she just turned beet red and never said anything.”

I was glad to reach our home and pull in the driveway. This was a conversation I was looking kartal eskort bayanlar forward to ending.

But Paige wasn’t done yet. She kept going up the walk and into the house.

“Look, I know it probably seems silly to you, but her feelings are very real to her.”

I kept going toward my bedroom, wanting to vacate this talk before it got any more embarrassing, but I wasn’t quick enough.

“I know you loved Mom.”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. I half-turned and looked back.

“And I know what you two had was really special. I get that. But Mom didn’t let getting sick stop her from living. She had a strength about her, and she wanted to share life with us right to the very end.”

I wiped at a tear that was sliding down my cheek. I turned fully to Paige as she approached and took my hands in hers.

“If she came down from heaven right now and saw how you hide away in your den at night, she would be sad. She’d tell you it’s time to stop mourning. She’d want you to -“

“To what? To move on, to forget her? C’mon, Paige. I can’t do that.”

“No, not forget her at all. Remember her and what she stood for. And know that she’d never want you to spend the rest of your life alone.”

I pulled my hands free and wrapped them around her back, squeezing her to me.

With her cheek against my shoulder, Paige said, “Now that I’m dating Ricky, I worry about you being here by yourself so much. And how much worse it will be if I go off to college.”

“Hey now, don’t you go worrying about that. You go where you feel like they have the classes you want – well, within the boundaries of North Carolina.”

“I know, I know: in-state tuition.”

We both chuckled, a much-needed break from the seriousness of the conversation.

She spoke first.

“What kartal esmer escort you need is a date.”

I thought about Randi coming over for guitar lessons, and it felt like a promising scenario.

“I think you should ask out Autumn’s mom.”

I had already started imagining my hands holding Randi’s as I explained where to put them on the neck and strings. Paige’s words knocked me out of that fantasy. I pulled back to look her in the eye.

“I know Lori gives you a hard time about it, but we’ve all seen how she looks at you when she picks up Autumn. She’s dying to go out with you – or just to jump your bones.”

Yep, it had just gotten more embarrassing.

“If I wanted to go out with -” Randi. No, not Randi. Donna? No, that’s Crystal’s mom.

“Gina,” Paige supplied.

“Gina, right. If I wanted to go out with Gina, I’d ask her out. But I’m just fine. I don’t have to have a woman in my life to feel whole.”

Even as I said that, it felt like a lie. I could picture Randi’s smile, hear her soft voice, the feel of my hands on her hips as she rocked back and forth …

I pulled back further from Paige lest those kind of flashbacks led to an unwanted physical response downstairs.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable, Dad. I just wanted you to know it’s okay. I won’t get upset if you go out on a date. You’re not betraying Mom – you’re, you’re um … honoring her by trying to recreate what you had. Isn’t there some old quote about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?”

My daughter was so wonderful. I gave her a warm smile, which I think she mistook for patronizing.

“I know I’m not saying this very well. I’m not the writer, but you know what I’m getting at.”

“I do, and I love you for it. Now, I’m really tired and just want to have a little quiet time, okay?”

“Okay, I’ll leave you be for now.”

She turned and headed up the stairs. Geez, don’t we ever have simple conversations anymore in this house? Everything feels so damned serious, I’m exhausted by the end. But I kept going over Paige’s comments before sleep arrived that night.

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