“How did you know my name?”
“Wild guess. You look like a rose maybe?”
“Thank you for the ball.”
Thank you for existing.
I stayed kneeling, waiting for her to leave. For some reason, she didn’t. She just stayed there looking into my eyes. It was like some weird cosmic connection that could only exist between a parent and a child. Something came over me, and against my better judgement, I lifted my hands to her face and pulled her toward me, kissing her forehead. My palms remained wrapped around her cheeks. In that moment, an epiphany came to me. It was the answer to the one question I’d spent my entire life asking. I finally knew my purpose, what I was put on this Earth for, why I was allowed to live when my mother died. I was born to give life to this precious human being.
I must have gotten carried away in my thoughts because I’d forgotten my hands were still on her face. The next thing I knew I heard footsteps, followed by a man’s voice.
“Hey! Get off of my daughter!”
I jumped back.
He knelt down and placed his hands on her shoulders. “What did this man do to you?”
“Nothing, Daddy. He just helped me find my ball. Then, he kissed me.”
His eyeballs nearly popped out of his head as he slowly turned to me.
Holding my hands up, I pleaded, “It’s not what you think.”
“My daughter disappeared from the field, she turns up with a strange man who kissed her, and it’s not what I think! It’s not what I think? You’ll be telling that to the police!”
“Mr. Simonsen…Robert…” I said.
He squinted. “How do you know my name?”
I couldn’t say it in front of Rose, but I needed to explain myself if I didn’t want to be carted off to jail. “My name is Sevin Montgomery. You know Olga Sutton…”
He released his grip on her. “Rose, go back to your coaches.” She hesitated to leave, looking between him and me. “Go on!” he yelled. She glanced at me one more time before running toward the other players. When Rose was out of earshot, he looked at me. His voice lowered. “What about Olga Sutton?”
“Five years ago, Olga Sutton arranged the adoption of my child without my knowledge.”
“That’s insane. Olga’s daughter didn’t even know who the father was.”
“It was a lie. I’m the father.”
“You can’t prove that.”
“Look at my face, then look at Rose, and tell me I can’t prove it.”
Addy was pressing her uniform in preparation for the grand reopening next week. A loud whooshing sound escaped from the iron as she let some steam out onto the thick navy material. “Have you heard from him?”
I was sitting on a stool watching as she took each wrinkle out. “No. Not since last Thursday night. The more days that go by, the more I’m seriously starting to worry that we’ll never be able to repair our relationship.”
It had been nearly a week since Sevin’s last visit to Addy’s. While he’d been helping her with the business side of the reopening through emails mostly, he was keeping his physical distance from me.
Last week, though, he’d come over to confess what happened with Rose’s adoptive father at the baseball field. I had no clue he’d been going to Spearville every week. It helped explain his temporary absence from my life. Sevin’s resilience was not a surprise. Even though I’d made it known that I felt it was a bad idea for him to confront the Simonsens, I knew that it was inevitable.
Apparently, when Sevin made his identity known that day, Robert Simonsen softened, begging and pleading with him to stay out of Rose’s life, pointing out that it would devastate the little girl to discover that everything she knew to be true was a lie; Rose obviously had no clue that she was adopted. Robert told Sevin that if he really cared about Rose, he wouldn’t try to disrupt her life. Sevin left Spearville feeling defeated and confused, especially since having the close contact with her had only reinforced his feelings of unconditional love and attachment. At the same time, he felt a responsibility to protect her from getting hurt. The situation was left unresolved for the time being.
Not a day went by when I didn’t think of Rose. The fact that they’d kept the name I’d chosen for her both broke and warmed my heart at the same time. Sevin was a lot stronger than I was, because I couldn’t even bear to see her face, knowing what I did.
Addy now knew the whole truth about my time away and the reasons behind it. She spent almost every day trying to encourage me not to give up on a future with Sevin.
Fluffing out her newly pressed uniform, she hung it up and took a seat. “Five years of damage is not going to undo itself easily. This is going to be a battle you may have to fight for a very long time. You betrayed him. But guilt and self-punishment are a waste of energy. Let me ask you this. Why did you stay married to that donkey for so long?”
God bless Addy for always finding a way to make me laugh under the worst circumstances. I chuckled at her use of that term to describe Dean, who luckily had left me alone and was cooperating with the divorce. The threat against his marijuana operation apparently worked.
“Primarily, it was out of fear that Dean would find my family and tell them about the pregnancy, but it was also because I felt like I didn’t deserve any better after both betraying my sister and giving Sevin’s and my baby away. At my worst, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to live anymore. My depression made me indifferent about things, especially the marriage. The stripping, too, was just another display of my own self-loathing and lack of respect for myself.”