Claire stood on the corner, staring over at Connors home. She'd been there for the last 20 minutes, frozen in place. Connor had text her to say that Jared was home, she'd been ready to give him a piece of her mind, until she got to the corner and fear outweighed anger. Kaci began to squirm, bored with occupying herself, jolting Claire out of her trance. "Ok Kace, mommy's moving now. We're going to see daddy." Claire began to walk, slowly, across the road. "Daaa-ddyyy" Kaci repeated, trying to wrap this new word around her tongue, "Daady" she said and giggled, proud of herself. Finally they reached the porch. Claire lifted Kaci out of her chair and on to her hip. Taking a deep breathe she rang the doorbell and waited. She heard muffled footsteps and then saw a shadow in the door way, the door flung open and there stood Connor, a nervous grimace on his face. Claire let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding. "Ah, Hi, come in" Connor said moving to the side so she could get past. "Well hello there peanut!" he smiled at Kaci, tickling her cheek. Kaci laughed out loud, all of a sudden, the music playing in Jared's room stopped. She heard a door slam. No one spoke for a moment, but the tension in the air said it all. Connor spoke, "I, um, I didnt, tell him you were coming. . . he uh, he just would have left". Claire's eyes shot open, "You what?" she whispered through clenched teeth, "so, he has, um, no idea???. . . shit shit shit!" "Shhhhhh-iiii-" Kaci repeat, "Oh no Kaci, we don't want to learn that word, mommy bad, bad word, Kaci doesn't say that", Kaci screwed up her tiny face and growled like a lion about to attack its prey curling up her hands like claws and swiped at the air. Connor stiffled a laugh, "Your lucky she listens to you" he grinned. "Yea, well, " Claire said, and then remembered why she was there. "Is he in there?" Connor shook his head, "Probably went outside for a smoke" seeing the confused look on Claire's face, he explained, "I wont let him smoke in the house, it stinks" he shrugged. "Should be back in a minute, want me to wait with you ?" Claire shook her head,"Ok, well, if you need me, shout" Connor said, walking back up the stairs. Claire stood for a minute and then let herself into Jared's room. It was bare except for a bed, a computer table, stereo and a wardrobe. She didn't know what she expected but this wasn't it. Then again, she mused, he obviously didn't spend much time there. About 30 seconds later she heard some mumbling upstairs, voices low, one calm, the other agitated, then footsteps, thundering down the staircase.
"OH NO YOU DON'T! Get the hell out of my house, NOW!!!" Jared bellowed, he was speaking to Claire but he never took his eyes off of Kaci. It was like he was hypnotized, he didn't even blink. But of course, he would have no idea that his daughter looked just like him. Kaci burst into loud sobs, Claire pulled her close and kissed her head, "Shhh baby its ok" she soothed, rocking her back and forth. Her eyes turned to slits and she honed in Jared. He could upset her all he wanted, but Kaci, that was a different story.
"I said GET OUT!" Jared repeated, "Or I'll-", "Or you'll what" Claire spat, "Throw me out? With your own child? God I knew you were nasty but I didn't for a second think even you could sink this low, the thought never crossed my mind! God knows why, screaming at your own child? ha! how wrong I was!" Claire said bitterly. Jared stood, open mouthed, staring. "I mean, I have never asked you for anything, nothing Jared! Yet you cant even be bothered turn up to her birthday party? When she was born, and I called you tell you, you put the phone down? you change the days we work together so you wont even have to see me, your own brother see's your child more than you do. No, forget that, because that would imply that you actually see her, but wait, you never have, have you! What is your problem?!" Jared opened his mouth to speak but Claire cut him off again. "No, you know what, I actually don't want to know, I bought her over here thinking that maybe, just maybe, you might have mellowed a little, but you haven't have you? Your still just a selfish spoiled little boy who throws a tantrum when he doesn't get his own way. Well you know what? you win, no more tantrums, have it your way. I'll stop contacting you, and when, sorry, if you ever do decide to grow up, you know where to find us". She pulled Kaci even tighter towards her and started towards the door, but she wasn't finished yet.
"I hope you know what your doing. Your missing out on the best thing that had ever happened to you, You'll want her in your life at some point, and God help you when you realize its too late". She closed the door on her way out. Fighting back tears, she smiled at Kaci as they began to run down her cheeks, "Shall we go to the beach sweetie?" she whispered. Claire didn't want to go home, she didn't want to be anywhere he had been. Kaci looked so serious and wiped a tear from Claire's cheek, "Mama, no cry". Claire smiled and squeezed her tighter. She loved that little girl so much her heart ached. She couldn't possibly understand how Jared couldn't. "Lets go" she said.
It was getting dark, she pulled Kaci closer to her and closed the book they were reading, she knew what she was about to say would probably go over Kaci's little head but she felt she needed to.
"You know your daddy, he was very very angry today, and mommy is so sorry you had to see that. But I just want you to know, mommy loves you very much and I will never, ever do anything to make you sad or scared ok? but if you do feel sad or scared you come and tell mommy, no matter what it is, or how old you are, you come and find mommy and mommy will make it better. But if you cant find me, that's okay, because, you see that old lighthouse over there? that light will keep you safe, so you just remember, if you ever feel sad, and you cant find mommy, you just look for the lighthouse and you'll be o.k, okay?"
Kaci nodded and and squeezed Claire tighter, her tiny eyelids drooping, long eyelashes casting shadows across her cheeks. "Mommy," Kaci mumbled, "Yes Kaci?" Claire answered. Kaci yawned and snuggled up closer to Claire, "Lets go home."