“It’s okay,” I told him. “I’ll make sure she feels extra, extra loved. And you too, if you need it.”
“Oh, I need it,” Cade responded with a deep laugh. “Alright, well tell her I’m sorry and I love her.”
“I will. See you tonight.” I swished the water again.
Cade let out a low growl. “No, I’ll see you tonight.”
I finished my bath, got dressed, and headed out to get the kids. I felt bad for Cade that he was unable to be there for Nova, but I knew she loved having me drop her off at ballet, so I was certain she would be okay. I signed the kids out of their school, loaded them into the van, and started off for the twins’ baseball practice. I’d been nannying the kids for close to a month now, so I had a pretty good handle on juggling all of their activities. It was the most time effective to bring the boys to baseball, drop Trey at karate, and then bring Nova to ballet. Typically by the time I got those four dropped off, it was nearly already time to cycle back and get Davin and David, so I would bring the remaining kids for a bit of ice cream, and then go and pick up the twins, bringing them some ice cream as well. Then I would bring them all home. After they were home, I’d go back for Trey and Nova, bring them each to get a treat of their own, drop Trey at home, and then drop Nova.
I climbed out in front of Nova’s ballet studio with Danille, Tyler, and Ricky. Nova was a little sad that Cade couldn’t be with her, but I snuggled her up lots and gave her a kiss on the cheek as I sent her off to join her friends, telling her sweetly that I’d be back for her when the practice was over.
She gave me an adorable smile, a huge hug, and then as she was skipping off to join the others she called out, “Bye mom!”
My heart was like a balloon that had been pumped too full and then burst. She had a huge smile on her face and I was blanketed in a feeling I had never felt before. That sweet girl cared about me enough to at least accidentally call me mom, and that made me feel like a million bucks. I carried out the rest of the schedule, finding myself unable to stop smiling, and when I was finally arriving back at Nova’s ballet practice to pick her up before heading out to pick up Trey, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was picking up my own daughter.
She ran up to me with a huge smile on her face and threw her whole body into a hug. I squeezed her tight, and then loaded her into the van and went to get Trey. I dropped Trey at home and then took Nova to finally be reunited with her very exhausted papa.
“Daddy!” she yelped as we walked through the door.
She ran up to him and he crouched down instantly to meet her in a big hug. “Hi, princess!”
“I got froyo from Jordan!” she said.
“Did you? She spoils you a little too much, maybe?” he said, looking up at me. I shrugged. He wasn’t wrong. “Well, go put on some comfy clothes and we’ll have some dinner.”
“Okay!” Nova scuttled away and Cade stood up and walked over to me.
“Thank you,” Cade said. He wrapped a hand around my waist and pulled me closer to him.
“Of course,” I replied, meeting his embrace. “Oh, guess what?”
“What?” Cade said.
“Nova called me mom today,” I said, and I could instantly feel Cade’s arms tense around me. “What?”
“I don’t know, I guess maybe it’s just the dad in me, that makes me a little nervous. That’s a big thing,” he explained with a shake to his voice.
“It is big,” I replied. I grabbed his head and pulled him down into a kiss. “But it’s okay. It’s not like I’m going anywhere, and sometimes I feel like I am her mom.” I batted my eyes at him. “If I’m always there for her, is it a problem?”
Cade’s face relaxed and a smile curved across it. He tucked his hand under my chin and lifted my head, setting his lips on mine. The kiss was deep and passionate, full of something I hadn’t felt from Cade before. “No, it isn’t,” he said after. “Thank you.”
All the numbers and paperwork of the day seemed to be droning on. I was at work worrying about other people’s lives when all I wanted to do was go home, get the twins, and play baseball. Maybe with Jordan as the catcher. Maybe I should buy her a pair of tight baseball pants.
My intercom buzzed and snapped out of my thoughts, which was good because I was just about to get stiff thinking about Jordan in tight pants and nothing else. “Mr. Coleman.”