When I opened my eyes groggily and looked at the clock, I realized we had been napping for over two hours. Kimmy at least had an excuse; she hadn't gotten much sleep last night. I, however, had gotten plenty. It was just that every time I had half awakened, I felt her warm body next to mine and it relaxed me so much that I couldn't work up the willpower to get up. There was something incredibly soothing about holding a sleeping child in my arms.
It seemed a shame to wake her, but we couldn't sleep all day after all. I began to stroke her back with one of my hands, trying to wake her in the gentlest way I could.
She sighed and opened her eyes, smiling at me again with those big, beautiful eyes.
"Time to get up, Kimmy," I told her.
She immediately threw her arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. "So it isn't a dream after all," she said.
"No it isn't," I reassured her with a friendly smile. I yawned and stretched, then sat up. Kimmy climbed off my lap and sat next to me on the bed.
"Well, it looks like we're too late to go to the furniture shop to buy you a bed," I told her. "We'll go tomorrow. Tonight you can sleep here. I'll take the couch."
"You don't want to sleep with me again?" she asked, looking a little disappointed.
Actually, I was kind of hoping for that kind of reaction. I smiled at her. "If you don't mind," I replied.
"I don't mind at all," she said. "I never got to sleep with my daddy the whole time I was growing up, so now I have to make up for it."
I laughed. "Okay. In the mean time, I think it's time for dinner."
"Do you want me to fix you dinner?" she asked. "I'm a good cook. Mom always made me fix dinner for Troy and her."
"I'd love to taste your cooking," I smiled, "but I was actually thinking we should go out tonight."
"Go out?" she asked. "You mean, like on a date?"
"Well, no," I laughed. "Dates are for boyfriends and girlfriends. I just think we ought to celebrate. Do you have any particular restaurants that you like to eat at?"
She shook her head. "Mom never took me," she replied. "Sometimes she'd go with Troy, but she'd always leave me home. She said I would just get in the way."
"Well then, if this is your first time, I want to make it as special as I can. I'll let you pick where we go. What kind of food do you like? Mexican? Italian? Chinese? Indian? Seafood?"
"I think I'd like to try seafood," she said.
"Great! I happen to know the perfect restaurant. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is nice, and it's never too crowded."
We headed out to the car and drove into town. I could sense the excitement on Kimmy's face; this really was a new experience for her. It made me feel a little sorry for her; even something as simple as going out to eat was something she had never done.
The restaurant was just like I had described it. There weren't too many people there, and quiet music played in the background. As a bonus, one of the girls who had been in my class a few years ago worked as a waitress there. Her name was Lisa, and she remembered me from school. As soon as I introduced her to my daughter, she made a special effort to be friendly to her. Kimmy positively beamed at the attention, a little shy perhaps but enjoying herself nonetheless.
Kimmy seemed a little overwhelmed by all the choices on the menu, so I helped her by suggesting a few options. We both ended up ordering the same thing, creamy garlic shrimp over pasta. As we ate, I told her all about the school where I worked and where she would be attending in the fall. I tried to make it sound as nice as possible, which wasn't all that difficult. I really liked it, after all.
Kimmy listened attentively, hanging on my every word. I don't know if she was even listening to what I was saying; she apparently just liked to hear me talk. I could tell by the look on her face that she was smitten by me. That didn't bother me; it was just the adoration of a child for her father. And she had never had a father before, so the whole concept was new and exciting for her. Probably after a couple of weeks she would just accept me as a normal part of her day-to-day life.
I have to admit, I didn't give Kimmy much chance to talk about herself. There were a thousand things I wanted to know about her, but on the other hand, there were a thousand things I didn't. After all, it would be difficult to get her to tell me about herself without discussing her history, most of which I really didn't want to hear. Maybe someday in the privacy of our home we would discuss it, but it certainly wasn't a topic to discuss in public. And the sooner she forgot about her past life and got on with her new one, the better.
After dinner I ordered dessert, something I almost never did at a restaurant, but we were celebrating after all. I really wanted Kimmy to have a wonderful time tonight; she deserved it after all that she had gone through. Admittedly, I had another motive as well; I was absolutely in love with her smile. Having a daughter was as new to me as having a father was to her, and the feeling I got when she flashed her smile at me was something I had almost never felt before. It filled me with so much happiness that I found myself unable to keep from grinning right back at her.
Once we were through eating, I paid the check and left an extra large tip for Lisa, then we headed back out to the car. I opened the door for Kimmy, but instead of climbing in right away, she first threw her arms around me and hugged me. It felt so nice, and I hugged her back.
My daughter, I found myself thinking. My precious little girl. Not for the first time, and not for the last time, I chided myself for almost rejecting her. I couldn't believe how stupid I had been.
Instead of going straight home, I took her to a nearby park that I liked to visit around sunset. The way the fading light of evening glowed on the trees turned an otherwise mundane sight into a magical wonderland. I wanted to share it with Kimmy.
We sat on a bench with my arm around her and her head resting on my chest as we talked about nothing in particular and watched the sun go down, just enjoying each other's company. I sometimes came here alone to relax after a hard day's work, but I found being here with my daughter to be even more peaceful and serene. She seemed to like it too, but whether she actually enjoyed it for the same reasons as I did, or whether she was just happy to be doing anything at all with her father I couldn't tell. Either way was fine with me.
The sun had long since set and the stars shone down brightly from the black sky when we finally got up and returned to the car. Kimmy took my hand as we walked back, and even after we had climbed into the car she grabbed my hand again and held it. I drove back to my house without her releasing it once.
"Is it bedtime now, Daddy?" she asked as soon as we entered the house.
"Yes it is," I replied. "You can change into your pajamas in the bathroom at the end of the hall. Go ahead and meet me in my bedroom as soon as you're ready."
As Kimmy rummaged through one of her suitcases, I headed to my room. I usually wore only a pair of boxer shorts to bed, but I figured it would be best to add a tee-shirt to my attire this time. I headed into the bathroom to take care of business, then climbed into bed.
A minute later, Kimmy appeared at the door. I nearly gasped when I saw her. She wore a simple pink tank top that was perhaps a little too small for her; it stretched tight across her developing breasts, and rode up to reveal her cute little navel. Below that she wore only a pair of white cotton panties, leaving the rest of her silky smooth legs bare. I honestly had never seen anything so sexy in my entire life.
She closed the door behind her, then slid under the covers with me. As she pressed her hot little body up against my side and lay her head down on my shoulder, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
No, if anything this was hell. To have such a gorgeous little thing lying here with me, and yet not able to take advantage of it...
Take advantage of her. Because that's what I would be doing if I gave into the temptation. I mentally scolded myself for even thinking such a thing. She was my daughter!
"Good night, Daddy," she whispered, then kissed me on the cheek. I wanted so much to kiss her back, but decided that right now, if I kissed her even on the forehead I wouldn't be able to stop myself. With only the strongest effort was I able to wish her a good night and close my eyes without trying to do anything. I felt a sudden empathy for Troy Hamilton.
I awoke to the sound of someone crying. I opened my eyes and glanced down, for a moment bewildered at the sight of a beautiful young girl in my arms. Then I remembered the previous day.
It was still dark, so I glanced over at the clock. 2:27 it read.
"Not that!" Kimmy mumbled through her tears. "Please!"
She was having a nightmare. That was not surprising, with everything that had happened to her.
"Kimmy," I whispered, gently nudging her. Her crying cut off and she opened her eyes, staring around for a second until our eyes met.
"Daddy, you've come to rescue me!" she exclaimed, still sobbing but with a smile on her face now. She was obviously still half asleep, the dream world and the real world merging in her mind.
"It's okay," I whispered, and kissed her on the forehead. "You're safe now. I won't let anyone hurt you ever again. I promise."
She rose up and kissed me on the cheek.
"I love you so much, Daddy," she said. Then she caught me off guard by pressing her lips against mine.
It wasn't just an innocent little peck, either. She held her lips there for at least thirty seconds. As she did so, I could feel her relax. All the tension went out of her body and her trembling ceased.
Finally, she ended that kiss and lay her head down on my shoulder once more, leaving me wondering what had just happened.
When I awoke in the morning, Kimmy still lay in my arms, but this time she slumbered peacefully. Unconsciously I reached up and began to stroke her hair. There was something so comforting about holding this girl in my arms, this child that needed me so much. As I stared at her lovely young face with her eyes closed and her lips slightly puckered as she slowly breathed, I felt at that moment that I would do anything for her.
It wasn't her fault that she had been left in my care, that my life had been interrupted, that I suddenly found myself with a responsibility that I had never expected nor wanted. Whatever inconvenience she caused me, it was nothing compared to the nightmare of the life she had come from. No wonder she had trouble sleeping.
But now she had finally found someone who would care for her. She had found her daddy, and despite my earlier reservations, I realized that I wanted to be her rescuer and protector.
Her eyes opened, and she gazed for a minute into mine. She had the loveliest brown eyes, so large and deep and full of life. The horrible things that had happened to her had not taken the sparkle from her eyes, for which I was immensely grateful at that moment.
"Are you feeling all right?" I asked her.
"Hmm?" she asked.
"You had a nightmare last night," I explained.
Kimmy smiled, and I found myself once again in danger of losing myself in that smile.
"I have nightmares every night," she told me. "But for the first time in my life, I have my daddy to make me feel better. I almost can't believe this is happening. Is it really over?"
"Is what really over?"
"I mean, am I really here with you? Are you going to take care of me?"
"Of course I am, Kimmy," I smiled. "I'm going to take care of you from now on."
"Forever?" she asked.
"Forever," I whispered, hugging her to me. She curled up in my arms with a contented smile and a relaxed sigh, closing her eyes again.
"Daddy?" she said without opening her eyes.
"Do you love me?"
That was an awkward question, especially since I had no answer. What could I tell her? For one thing, did I even know? I had known her for less than a day, but in that time I had been charmed, overwhelmed even, by her beauty and affection. I loved the feeling of her in my arms and the knowledge that she adored me. But was that love?
"Daddy?" she asked again.
"I'm sorry, Kimmy, but I really can't answer that question."
"What do you mean?" she asked in a disappointed tone.
"Look, it really makes me feel good that you think so highly of me, and I like you a lot. But I haven't known you long enough to really love you."
"It doesn't matter how long you've known me," she insisted. "I loved you from the first moment I saw you."
"You're such a sweet girl, Kimmy," I told her. "And so affectionate, and so pretty. I never really wanted a daughter until I met you. But now, I'm so glad that I'm your father. If you'll be patient with me, I have no doubt that one day I'll love you. I'm sorry that I can't give you any more than that right now."
"That's okay, Daddy," she said with a smile. "I promise to be patient. Just don't take too long, okay?"
"Okay," I told her. "I promise."
"In the mean time, would you do me a favor?"
"I want you to call me names."
"Names?" I asked.
"You know, like honey, or dear, or sweetheart."
I chuckled, amused and touched by the request. It was apparently all part of Kimmy's fantasy, her idealized version of me. Perhaps she had dreamt about her daddy holding her and calling her those affectionate names. It was such a simple request, and one that I was more than happy to fulfill.
"I'll call you anything you want, sweetheart," I smiled.
Kimmy grinned and wrapped her arms around me. "Thank you so much, Daddy," she said. "It feels so nice to hear you say that."
I loved it when she hugged me like that. I wished we could lie here forever in each other's arms. Unfortunately, there were plenty of things to do today.
"I think it's time we got up," I told her.
"Do we have to?" she asked.
"Yes, honey. We have things we need to do today."
"Well, we have to buy you a bed, for one thing."
"We don't have to buy a bed," she said. "I could just sleep in yours."
I pondered for a minute. It certainly sounded tempting. I loved the feel of her against me, I loved to wrap my arms around her, I loved to hear her sigh and know that I was causing her simple pleasures, and above all else, I loved to wake up to her beautiful face.
But having her sleep in my bed permanently had too many complications. Though I had done all right since my girlfriend had left, sooner or later I would need female companionship of a kind that Kimmy couldn't fulfill.
"As much as I would like that," I told her, "I don't think that's a good idea."
"Why not?" she asked.
While the question was simple enough, how could I answer it without embarrassing her? Then I realized, she would not be the one embarrassed; thanks to Troy she already knew all about that.
"I'm going to be honest with you," I told her. "My girlfriend left me a couple of weeks ago, but I plan to find a new one. And when that happens, we're going to need some privacy."
"I could be your girlfriend," she said, wrapping her arms around my neck. "I don't want to share you with anyone else."
"You can't be my girlfriend," I chuckled. "You're my daughter."
"I could be your daughter and your girlfriend."
I smiled at that. Was she really that naive? Did she not know what I was talking about when I said I would need some privacy?
"You're such a wonderful girl," I told her. "If I were a boy your age instead of your father, I would love to have you as my girlfriend. But it's just not right."
"Well, for one thing, it's illegal. I mean, look what happened to Troy."
"I wasn't Troy's girlfriend," she said. "Mom was. He just used me sometimes."
"Well, that's what I meant. It's okay for you to sleep in my bed as my daughter, but if you were to sleep in my bed as my girlfriend, I would be just as bad as he was."
"No you wouldn't," she insisted, "because he didn't give me a choice. I didn't want to with him, but with you it would be different."
That surprised me. That almost sounded like...
Before I could complete that train of thought, Kimmy kissed me on the cheek. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if I were your girlfriend?" she asked. "You could take me out to eat or to the movies during the day, then afterward we could come back home, and you would lift me up and carry me to bed. Then I would kiss you and we would confess our undying devotion and everlasting love to each other, then we would kiss some more and snuggle and sleep together. Wouldn't that be nice?"
It most certainly would! But I couldn't do that to her. Not to a thirteen year old girl, and most definitely not to my own daughter.
On the other hand, none of what she said was necessarily sexual if I took it at face value. Technically, all of that could be done between fathers and daughters. But was there an implication in her words that we would have sex? It could all be perfectly innocent after all.
I didn't know what to think. Did my own daughter actually want me to make love to her? In fact, did she even know what that meant?
Considering what she had been through, there could be no doubt about the latter question. She knew all about sex, so maybe her fantasy wasn't so innocent after all.
To cover my embarrassment, I chuckled. "You're really sweet," I replied, "and I love how affectionate you are, but we can't do that. I'll tell you what. We'll compromise. Today we'll go buy you a bed, but that doesn't mean you have to use it. You can sleep in my bed until I find a girlfriend."
"I don't want you to find a girlfriend," she insisted. "I want you all to myself."
"I'm sorry," I told her, "but there are certain things she could do for me that you can't."
"Why can't I?"
"Kimmy, do you realize what you're asking?"
"Oh, I suppose you're right. It's just that I finally found my daddy, and I'm scared of losing you. Please don't look for a girlfriend, Daddy. I don't want you to love another girl more than me, because then I would just be a nuisance to you, and you would send me away again."
"Is that what's worrying you?" I asked her. "You're afraid I'll reject you?"
"Oh Kimmy, it's all right," I said, wrapping my arms around her back and hugging her tightly. "I'm not going to reject you, or send you away."
"But you said you don't love me yet. I can accept that as long as I know that one day you will. But if you get a girlfriend, maybe you'll love her and never learn to love me."
"Kimmy, you don't have to worry about that. No matter what the future brings, I want you to know that you're a part of my life now that I will never give up. No, more than that, you're a part of me. Half of everything you are comes from me after all. So let's make a promise. I promise that if I ever have to choose between you and another woman, I'll always choose you. But in return, I want you to promise that you'll never make me make that choice, okay?"
"But what if you meet someone and I hate her? What if she hates me?"
"I don't think it's possible for anyone to hate you," I laughed. "But before I get involved in any relationship, I'll ask you your opinion, because you mean so much to me, and I don't ever want to do anything that will make you unhappy. You're the most important person in my life, Kimmy, and that's never going to change."
Suddenly there were tears in Kimmy's eyes.
"Do you mean it, Daddy?" she asked. "Am I really the most important person in your life?"
"I mean it. For now it's just because you're my daughter. But one day it will be because I love you. That's a promise."
She hugged me again, signaling her acceptance. I was glad she was giving me a chance, although at the moment, I was willing to forgo sex for the rest of my life if she stubbornly insisted I not get a girlfriend. I really would do anything for her.
"I think it's time you got up," I told her gently. "If you want, you can go ahead and use my shower. There are clean towels in the cupboard in the bathroom."
"Okay," she smiled, then kissed me on the cheek and climbed out of the bed. I watched her skip into the bathroom and close the door behind her.
I sighed. She really was a little darling. So tender, so innocent, so sexy...
Where had that thought come from? What kind of a pervert was I, thinking of my daughter like that? Maybe it was just because I hadn't had sex in two weeks, and so every girl seemed sexy to me. Yes, that was probably it. I would just have to find myself a girlfriend, and then there would be no problem.
I heard the water turn on in the shower, and my mind immediately conjured up the image of her naked in there. I shook my head to clear that thought, but it didn't work. No matter what I tried, I couldn't stop thinking about her nude little body, with water running down her soft, beautiful skin. What gorgeous breasts she must have! What a beautiful, lovely pussy, with the lightest covering of silky hair.
I brought my hand up and slapped my face. That did the trick. The image thankfully fled from my mind as the shock of the sudden pain chased it away.
I continued to lie on the bed until the water turned off. A couple of minutes later the bathroom door opened and Kimmy emerged, dressed in only a towel, with her damp hair hanging down over her shoulders and her night clothes clutched in her hand. Suddenly that image came back into my head.
"Thanks for letting me use your shower, Daddy," she said, coming over and kissing me on the cheek.
"You're welcome," I replied, trying not to let the memory of that kiss linger.
My daughter then headed out of the bedroom, and I once again slapped my face.
I was tempted to take a cold shower, but decided it wasn't necessary. After all, even if I was fantasizing about her, that didn't mean I would do anything about it. If I were that type of person, I would have had an affair with one of my students years ago.
I closed the bedroom door, then stripped off my clothes, entered the bathroom, and turned on the water. A warm shower was enough to relax me and help take my mind off of things. As I stood in the spray, I let my mind clear itself of all thoughts, like I usually did in the shower. It was the one place where the worries and cares of life could not reach me.
After about ten minutes, I turned off the water and stepped out. I dried myself off, then replaced the towel on the rack and opened the door.
As my bedroom came into view, I suddenly froze, staring in shock at my daughter who sat on the bed, still wrapped in a towel. Her eyes met mine, then lowered to my thighs.