“If anyone wants me I will be in my room.”
My fifteen year old daughter picked up her plate and stormed out of the kitchen.
“Honey, I’d like us to eat together.”
Crystal flashed me a filthy look before slamming her door. My plan to create a new family was not going well.
“How long is this going to continue?” My new wife tried to contain her anger.
“Give her time, Sweetie,’ I pleaded. “She’s been through a lot.”
A week later the house was filled with laughter. It was obvious my daughter's homework club was a thinly veiled excuse for a pyjama party. Suddenly our home was filled with the aroma of freshly baked cookies.
“Crystal?” Wendy knocked gently on the bedroom door.
“What?” A sullen voice responded.
“Would your friends like a snack?”
The plate of chocolate chip cookies and warm milk were greeted with a chorus of approval.
“Your new mum is so cool.”
The compliment made me smile. Perhaps my daughter would now see things through different eyes.
I looked up to see Crystal standing in the doorway. It was after midnight.
“Are you having a good time, Honey?”
“Why did mum leave?” My daughter came straight to the point.
It was a long time before I could answer.
“We got married for all the wrong reasons,” I replied carefully.
“Didn’t you love each other?”
There was another long silence.
“We tried to. But your mum was looking for someone to make her happy and I thought I could fix her.”
I had to admit she was right.
“Well we did one good thing,” I hastened.
“We made you,” I grabbed her face and planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek.
“Oh yuck,” she fussed with mock embarrassment. “Daddy germs.”
It felt good to finally be able to talk.
“Do you love Wendy?”
“Uh huh.” We sat quietly for a moment. Eventually I put my arm around her shoulders and squeezed tight. “You know Wendy can’t ever replace your mum,” I tried to sound wise. “But she can be your friend.”
The following night I worked late and entered the house around seven. The sign on the kitchen door read, “DADDY STAY OUT.” From inside I could hear Crystal and her stepmum giggling at a private joke.
“You guys better not be talking about me,” I called.
“Hi Honey, call Sean and take a seat,” my wife responded.
Ten minutes later the kitchen door burst open as Crystal carried a plate in each hand to the dining table.
“Your favorite meal, Daddy,” she announced.
“Is that liver?” I asked.
The plate in front of me overflowed with bacon, mushrooms, onions, garlic and the distinctive aroma of liver.
“Oh man,” My eight year old stepson bowed his head to the table. “Someone kill me now,” he groaned.
“And for Sean…” Wendy placed a pizza in front of her son. “Crystal bought it with her allowance.”
Suddenly his face brightened up. Holding out my hands I led the family in grace.
"Maybe you two could bake some of Wendy's world famous chocolate chip cookies for desert," I suggested.
This is good, I thought. Leaning over I motioned for Wendy to come closer.
"Thank you," I whispered.
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