Welcome back for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s prompt is ‘ball’. And since I finished outlining Protecting the Heart(book 2 in my BC Security series) Thursday, those characters are still swarming in my head. I’ve shared some of Declan’s back story, but today it will be Eva’s.
“Did you ever go to a ball, Mommy?”
I set the book I’d been reading to my daughter aside. “Why do you ask that?” We hadn’t even been reading about princesses or balls. Danica usually picked out superhero books or ones about animals.
“When I was at Amber’s yesterday, she was watching a cartoon, and they were at a ball. They were all wearing fancy dresses and suits.” She wrinkled her nose at that, and couldn’t help but laugh. My girl didn’t understand the appeal of dresses, never had. I didn’t wear them anymore either.
“Not a real ball with princess and all that,” I finally told her. “But, there were a few parties that were like that.”
“And you wore dresses like that?”
“Probably not quite the same. But, they were rather fancy.” I’d told Dani stories from my past, but ‘d left out a lot, especially from those few years before she was born.
“I saw a picture of you in one.”
I was about to pick the book up so I could return it to the shelf, but her words stopped me. “What do you mean? What picture?”
“In one of the picture books in your room. It’s white, but it’s really fancy like those ones were in the cartoon.”
Picture book? It took me a minute to realize she meant a photo album. But, those were all in a box in my closet, except for the ones I’d started filling after we moved here. “Were you snooping, Dani?”
Her little cheeks flushed, and she glanced away from me. At least ‘d known better than to keep her birthday presents there.
“It was really pretty, Mommy.”
The dress had been beautiful. But, my memory of it, like a lot of memories of that time, were tainted now. “That was from my wedding,” I told her.
She bit at the corner of her thumb, and I almost smiled. She’d stopped sucking her thumb when she was two, but even more than two years later, that thumb was a source of comfort when she was anxious. “What is it?” I asked her, settling on the bed beside her.
“There was a man in the picture, too. Is he my daddy?”
Why hadn’t I just burned all those pictures? I didn’t need that tie to my past. And now it was bringing up questions I really didn’t want to answer. I tried never to lie to her, though. “Yes, he is.”
“Is he a prince? He looked like one of the ones in that cartoon.”
A prince? Hardly. Not unless he was the evil one that wanted to come in and take control of the kingdom. “No,” I said softly, “but he liked to think he was.”
He nose wrinkled up again, not in disgust his time but thought. “That doesn’t make sense. Was he trying to find a castle to take us to? Maybe that’s why he’s not here. Is it?”
Okay, so I’d never been too truthful with her about this. I just told myself she didn’t need to know, that she was better off not knowing. I didn’t know how much longer I could deflect her questions, though. Especially now that she was making friends who did have fathers in their lives.
“No, that’s not why, Dani. He’s not here because I wanted to keep you safe.”
“But, the prince is supposed to keep the princess safe.”
And a husband was supposed to love and cherish his wife. But, that hadn’t been my experience. I tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “Things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to.” I pulled the blankets up over her and brushed a kiss over her forehead. “Go to sleep now. We can talk more about it tomorrow.”
I just hoped I could figure out what to tell her by then. I’d done what I needed to all those years ago, before he even found out Danica existed. And I’d do whatever was needed to make sure he didn’t find out about her. I’d keep both of us safe for as long as possible.