Chapter tune: Lou Reed – A perfect day
That Saturday, Raina hopped off the bed at seven o’clock in the morning. It was a bit unusual for her to wake up so early on her own, especially during the weekend. But this was the day her daddy was supposed to come back, so her excitement could not be contained any longer.
“Mommy!!” she shouted, storming into her parents’ bedroom.
Skye, still sleeping, took some time to open her eyes and respond with a frown.
“Honey… what have we said about waking mommy up?”
“Do it without too much noise… I’m so sorry mommy..! It’s just, daddy comes home today and I’m so excited!”
“I know squirt, I am too” Skye smiled at her daughter. It wasn’t possible to stay mad at her sweet face for longer than a few seconds. “But he’s not coming till noon, so we have have plenty of time still. Why don’t you go downstairs to eat some breakfast? And I’ll be right there too. Oh, and please don’t run down the stairs again, honey… You wouldn’t want to stay in bed with a sprained ankle when you could go do the park with daddy and me, would you?”
“Oh, no! I won’t mommy, I promise!”
The rest of the morning went by like a breeze. Raina did her homework and cleaned her room as promised – although it took her roughly double the time needed, for she kept drifting away into her thoughts every fifteen minutes – , and as soon as the clock hit twelve o’clock, all she could do was pace impatiently back and forth, waiting for her dad to arrive. Thankfully that didn’t take long, and soon Jesse was parking his car on the driveway. Raina let out a squeal and stormed outside to greet him. “Daddy!!”
Jesse’s eyes glowed the moment he laid his eyes on her. He had sworn he’d never love another woman as much as he loved his wife, but nobody had prepared him for the kind of feeling that overtook his heart the minute his only daughter was born.
“Where is my precious cupcake! Come here..!”
Raina didn’t need any more encouragement. Even before Jesse had finished his last sentence, she had already jumped into his arms.
“Awww, that’s my girl! Oh my god, how long was I away? You have grown even bigger, baby! I’m sure by next time you’re gonna have to pick me up!”
“I missed you so much daddy!”
“I know muffin, I missed you too. But hey, I’m back now and we’ll do all kinds of fun stuff together!”
“Yay!! Can we go to the beach? Or the park?!”
“Sure baby! We can go to both as soon as we finish lunch, alright?”
All this time, Skye looked lovingly at her husband and daughter. She knew Raina had always been daddy’s little girl, but she didn’t mind. Although right that moment, she realized with some guilt that she wanted her husband all to herself, even for just a little while.
Jesse, as if he read his wife’s mind, gave her a smoldering look. It had been too long since they were together. He walked towards her, his gaze fixated on her beaming face.
He traced a finger onto her lips before he pulled her into a long lasting kiss which left both of them breathless. It was Raina’s giggling that made both of them return to reality.
After quickly greeting his parents, he once again turned to his wife.
“I’ve missed you pokerface… so, so much.”
“Not as much as I missed you, believe me.”
“Ha, wanna bet?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “So… wanna go to our bedroom and help me, uh… unpack?”
“I’d love to help you unpack” she replied with a mischievous smile, leaning closer.
Jesse’s eyes opened wide and he swallowed hard. “Damn…” he whispered and turned to his daughter “Okay cupcake, your mommy and I are going upstairs to leave my luggage and unpack. But we’ll be down soon and then you’ll tell me all about what you’ve been up to during the last couple of weeks, alright? And I’ll give you all the presents I got you. How does that sound?”
“Yay! Can I come upstairs too? I want to help you daddy!”
“Ah, no no baby, it’s not a lot. You go help your grandma and grandpa with lunch and we’ll be right down in about… half an hour, okay?”
“Probably less” Skye grinned.
The afternoon passed easily. After lunch, Jesse and Skye took their daughter to the park and then the beach where they spent the rest of the day relaxing and playing on the sand. It was one of the happiest days for little Raina. She knew her dad would have to go away again eventually, but she shut that thought out everytime it crept into her brain. Her family was together one more time and that was all that mattered.
When they returned to the house, the sun had already set. But Raina hadn’t had enough of her dad yet. She wanted to spend more time with him, as much as possible, before she had to sleep and that wonderful day was over. She picked up her notebook filled with poetry and sketches and, with great pride, ran to her parents’ bedroom to show it to him. But upon approaching, the voices coming from inside made her stop.
“What do you mean you’re leaving again in a week? You barely even got here Jesse!”
“I know baby, but the new record company fucked us up with that last contract. I really don’t have a choice.”
“Why did you sign the contract then?”
“It was a mistake, I know that now. We’ve already fired our trainwreck of a manager. Shit, I miss Vito. Why did he have to retire so soon? He would’ve never made that mistake.”
Skye snapped her fingers in front of him, as if she was trying to make him concentrate. “Jesse.”
“Baby, you have to believe me! I didn’t mean for this to happen!”
“Goddamnit Jesse, you knew I wanted to travel to Roaring Heights in a month for that gallery opening. I’ve been sitting on those paintings for months now. I thought we had talked about this!”
“Ah yeah, go to Roaring Heights with Tony. Fucking slimy bastard. You think he’s only interested in your paintings? I’ve seen how he looks at you! Gallery opening my ass.”
“What the hell are you talking about? I won’t go with him, we’ll briefly meet there. You are the one who’s away eight or even nine months a year, being chased by all those slutty groupies! Do you see me getting jealous?”
“No Skye, I don’t. And to be completely honest here, I don’t get it.”
“Get what?” Skye glared at him, as if she had already figured out his answer.
“How can you not be jealous? It’s like you don’t even care.”
“Are you kidding me? Of course I get jealous and insecure Jesse, but I don’t say anything because I trust you and because it’s your goddamn job!”
“That’s right! And that job pays for everything you’ve ever wished for, so that you don’t have to get one!”
“Oh, so now I’m your trophy wife? You think that I don’t have ambitions and dreams? You know, all these years I’ve been patient, staying in this house alone with our daughter and your parents while you were roaming around the world, playing music with your buddies. But I can’t take it anymore Jesse, it’s like I’m living in a prison!”
Jesse shook his head with disappointment. “Oh, so taking care of our child is prison.”
Skye bit her lip, realizing how that last part probably sounded like. “No… no Jesse, I didn’t mean like that…”
Raina was silently listening to her parents’ conversation. At that point she couldn’t take it anymore. She threw the notebook on the door, not even sure what she meant to accomplish by that action. Maybe to make her presence known – her name did come up after all – , maybe to make them stop fighting, maybe a little bit of both. She rushed into her room, just in time for the huge knot in her throat to transform into warm tears down her cheeks.
Jesse and Skye looked at each other with uneasiness and regret.
“Shit.” he muttered “How much do you think she heard?”
“I don’t know… but I think it’s time for a timeout. I’ll go talk to her.”
“No baby, it’s okay. I’ll go. Listen… I’m sorry. I don’t wanna fight.”
“Me neither. And… I’m sorry too. I love you, and I love our family… our life. But I miss you, you know?”
“I know baby… I miss you too, so much. I’ll figure something out, alright? I’ll talk to the guys about it. It’s gonna be okay baby, I promise.”
Jesse gave his wife a tender kiss and walked towards his daughter’s bedroom, even though all the lights were off. He knew that was her favorite hiding spot, so he softly knocked on her door.
“Go away!” Raina screamed.
“Baby… it’s me, daddy. Can I come in?”
Jesse could hear his daughter’s sniffling before she answered. “I guess…”
As soon as he was in, he picked her up, sat on the couch beside her and gently wiped some of her tears away. “Hey baby… Uh… about what you heard.”
Raina looked distressed, her big grey eyes veiled under a glossy cast. “Are you and mommy getting a divorce?”
“What? No muffin, where did you get that idea from?”
“My classmate Jen’s parents were always fighting and they got a divorce. She told us last month!”
“You know baby, grownups have intense conversations like that sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. Me and your mommy love each other very much to get a divorce. And we love you very much as well. You know that, right?”
“But why were you fighting? You always fight when you come back! And then you leave again! …was it something I did?”
“Oh no baby, listen to me. It had nothing to do with you. I am so sorry for making you sad. We both love you so, so much. And it was nothing serious, I promise… it’s all better now. It was my fault we were arguing, but I’ll fix it and we’ll never talk like this again, alright?”
“Do you promise me you’ll never, ever get a divorce?”
Jesse smiled. This was an easy promise. As much as he and his wife drove each other crazy sometimes, he was certain he would be lost without her. And he knew she felt the same way. “We’ll never, ever get a divorce cupcake. Promise.”
“Okay…” Raina muttered with disbelief.
“So, how about a bedtime story?”
“Yay! Daddy… can you tell me the story of how you and mommy fell in love?”
“Hey, don’t think you’ll fool me that easily, squirt. What have we said?”
“…You’ll tell me when I’m older…”
Jesse smiled and booped her nose. “Because this story is for grownups and you are too little. Look at this little nose!”
Raina giggled. “Dad, I’m not little! You said so today!”
“I guess I did. Still not old enough for that story though. How about the one with the bear and the frog?”
“Daddy! I don’t like it anymore. This is for babies, haha! But it’s okay, I’ll ask grandma to tell me one. She tells me the best stories! And maybe next time you’ll come back I’ll be a grownup too and then you’ll have to tell me!” she declared.
These words sent a cruel pang to his heart. Damn, he thought, how long have I been so out of it? It finally dawned on him that all this time, like his wife was trying to tell him, he had been missing everything. And everyone missed him. This had to stop.
Raina glanced up at his dad with concern. “…Dad..?”
Waking up from his thoughts, he instinctively took his daughter into a tight hug, nearly afraid she was going to grow into an adult overnight. “We’ll see about that last part, muffin… we’ll see.”
A/N: Hey guys! Well, this was a bit uneventful… I was going for more interesting things but this was getting pretty long, so I decided to cut it there… and I know kids are a little boring lmao, but we still have a couple more chapters and then little Raina and co. can finally grow older! 😉 Thank you so much for reading! 😀 ❤ ❤