Home > Take Me (One Night with Sole Regret #3)(4)

Take Me (One Night with Sole Regret #3)(4)
Author: Olivia Cunning

“Now sing the babe song,” she requested.

He smiled. Couldn’t help it. She always called Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” the babe song.

“Don’t you want to open your present?” he asked.

She jerked backward and smiled up at him broadly. She nodded, squirming to get down. He set her on her feet and squatted down in front of her to hand her the pink bag. He wished his gift was better wrapped, something Julie could tear into the way a little kid was supposed to open a birthday present. She tugged out the tissue paper and struggled to remove the large square box wedged inside the gift bag. Shade helped her. When he opened the lid for her, her jaw dropped.

“Oh, Daddy!” she squealed excitedly.

“Do you like it?”

She couldn’t seem to form words. But she could run in place excitedly, her entire body quivering with glee. Shade removed the diamond and pink-sapphire tiara from the box and set it on her head. Her hands flew upward to touch the little crown. “Now I’m a really, really real princess.” She nodded and looked up at him with expectant wide eyes.

“The most beautiful princess who ever lived.”

Her dazzling smile did things to his heart that would cause any cardiologist to cringe.

“I want to see my princess crown in the mirror!” She turned and started to rush for the front door, but he caught her and lifted her into his arms again.

He knew if she went into the house, his time with her would be over. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. “Can I sing the babe song first?”

She held onto the tiara with one hand and nodded. “Yes, yes. I love the babe song.” She hugged him with one arm. “And I love my princess crown. And I love you, Daddy.”

He wished he had his damned sunglasses on. What kind of bad-ass rock star stood outside his ex-wife’s house, clinging to a little girl, with tears swimming in his eyes? “I love you too, baby.”

“Mommy says I can’t be a baby anymore. I’m a big girl now.”

“You are a big girl,” he whispered to her. And he wasn’t sure when it had happened. He’d missed so many of her milestones. “But you can be a baby when you’re with me, if you want to.”


He sang “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” as if entertaining a crowd of twelve thousand. When he reached the chorus, Julie acted out the lyrics by offering him one smile and one kiss on the cheek. At the appropriate times, she held him close. She felt his heartbeat with one tiny hand and her own heartbeat with her other hand. He experienced this song on an emotional level whenever he sang it to her. He’d sung it to her in the middle of the night when she’d been an infant; it had never failed to soothe her. As the last line of the chorus rang from between his parted lips, he realized he did miss her. Even though he was holding her, he missed her. Terribly.

And he’d missed so much of her young life already. Too much. Those moments were lost forever. He needed to find a way to be home more often. His baby was growing up without him. There was no way to put her childhood on hold until he could find the time to enjoy it.

The front door opened, and Shade’s arms automatically tightened around the little sweetheart in his arms.

“You sing good,” Julie said. “I want to sing when I grow up. I want to be just like you, Daddy.”

When had all the oxygen evacuated the atmosphere? Shade struggled to suck air into his suddenly nonfunctional lungs.

Standing in the doorway, Tina huffed out a breath of annoyance. “You want to be a cheating, no good, high school dropout? I don’t think so, Jules. You’re going to college.”

Shade didn’t know why she had to keep busting his balls. It was hurtful enough when she did it to him alone, but when she did it in front of Julie, he couldn’t stand it. He wondered what kind of bullshit the woman said about him when he wasn’t around. It was a miracle he had any sort of relationship with his daughter.

“Time to go inside, Julie,” Tina said.

“Do you want to see my new dollhouse, Daddy? It looks like a palace. And it has a princess doll. And it has a bed in it for she’s apposed to sleep.” She yawned at the mention of sleep.

“Daddy has to leave now,” Tina said.

“Are you coming back tomorrow?” Julie asked.

“I have to sing at the loud place tomorrow,” he said.

“Are you coming back in two more sleeps?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“Three more sleeps?” she bargained, holding up three fingers.

“Six more sleeps.”

Her slim eyebrows crinkled in confusion. She held up five fingers, and he added one of his own. She gave him a horrified look. “That is too many sleeps, Daddy.”

“Is that thing real?” Tina sputtered, plucking the tiara off Julie’s head and gaping at it.

“Of course, it’s real. I’m not going to give her junk.”

“She can’t wear this.”

“Give it to me,” Julie insisted, making a grab for it.

“Just great, Jacob. You come here, disrupt everything, give her something she can’t possibly keep, and now I have to be the bad guy and take it away from her.”

“Why do you have to take it away from her? It’s not yours. It’s hers.”

“What if she loses it? Or if the stones fall out? Or someone takes it? Or if she’s kidnapped because of it? Jesus, Shade, this thing must’ve cost you ten grand.”

If she knew what he’d spent on it, he had no doubt that she’d hock it and buy herself another hundred pairs of shoes she never wore.

“Just let her wear it around the house,” Shade said. “It’s insured if it gets damaged or lost. She’ll be fine.”

“Give it to me,” Julie wailed. “I’m a princess. A really real princess. My daddy said so.”

“Now you’ve got her crying again,” Tina grumbled and jerked Julie out of his arms.


“Why do you have to be so stupid, Shade? It’s as if you were born without a brain.”

“Don’t frickin’ call me stupid in front of Julie, Tina.”

“The truth hurts, doesn’t it?”

“Daddy!” Julie screamed as Tina carted her into the house and slammed the door in Shade’s face. “I want my princess crown. I want it!” He could hear Julie’s tantrum through the door.

He hadn’t meant for his gift to be a problem. He’d just thought Julie would like it. The cost hadn’t been a consideration. Maybe he should have bought her some rhinestone piece of junk instead. Julie would have never known the difference. She was three. Four, he reminded himself. Fuck. He really was stupid.

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