Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(90) by Susan Mallery
Walker didn’t know if he said the words or only thought them. Either way the relief was instant and powerful. He carried Zoe to the chair and settled her on his lap where he kissed the top of her head and held her securely in his arms.
“Was that man really my daddy?” Zoe asked quietly.
Walker swore under his breath. Not on my watch, he thought desperately. He couldn’t answer these kind of questions. Not now, not after what she’d just been through. He was the wrong person to help her deal with all this crap.
But there wasn’t anyone else, so he cleared his throat and prayed for divine guidance.
“It takes a man and a woman to make a baby,” he said, then wondered if he’d just dug the hole bigger. “But making a baby doesn’t mean a man is a daddy. Being a daddy is different. It’s a name a man has to earn. He has to prove himself by doing the right thing and being there and…” And what else, he thought desperately.
“And loving his little girl,” Zoe whispered as she began to cry.
“Right. He has to know her and because he knows her, he loves her. Because she’s a very special little girl.”
Zoe raised her head and stared into his soul. “So you’re my daddy.”
From the moment he’d found out Charlotte was dying and had realized he was going to walk out on her, he’d carried around a weight in his chest. It was as if that action had somehow locked his heart in a small box that was both heavy and painful.
Zoe’s innocent, trusting, scary-as-hell words had just opened the box—and for the first time in over a decade, it didn’t hurt to breathe.
“Yes, Zoe. I’m your daddy.”
ELISSA RESURFACED in a hospital room where a brisk, efficient nurse explained she would be kept overnight for observation.
“The doctor will be by later to discuss your injuries,” the woman said. “Basically you’ve got a broken arm and some internal bruising. Nothing’s seriously damaged, though. You got lucky.”
Lucky was an interesting word for what happened.
“My daughter,” Elissa said. “Where’s Zoe?”
“I met your little girl. She’s a sweetheart. That big handsome man of yours said to tell you he was taking her home to a Mrs. Ford and he would be back later tonight.”
Elissa closed her eyes and breathed a sigh of thanks. Zoe must be all right or she wouldn’t have been let out of the hospital. Thank God.
“You can have more pain medication now,” the nurse told her. “But as it seems to knock you on your butt, you might want to wait until you’ve seen everyone. Unless you don’t want to see them.”
Elissa still felt fuzzy. The details of Neil’s rampage were still completely clear in her mind, but she was less certain about what had happened after that.
“Everyone?” she asked, shifting, then wincing as waves of pain shot up her arm. She glanced down and stared at the cast covering her left arm from just below her wrist to above her elbow. “I slept through getting a cast?”
The nurse grinned. “Honey, you slept through more than that. Are you up to seeing the herd?”
She had a herd? “Sure.”
A few minutes after the nurse left, her parents entered, followed by Bobby. Her mother and father rushed to her side.
“Are you all right?” her mother asked. “I couldn’t believe it when Walker called us. Oh, baby, your face.”
Elissa touched her swollen lips and had a feeling she looked even worse than she felt. “I’m all right, Mom. Zoe and I survived, thanks to Walker’s help.”
“I wish he’d killed that bastard,” her father said, his gaze intense. “I’d like to do it myself.”
Elissa waited for her mother to scold her husband for being so aggressive, but she only stroked the uninjured parts of Elissa’s face.
Bobby stepped closer. “You’ve got a black eye. Cool.”
Elissa couldn’t help smiling. “Black-and-blue?”
Bobby squinted. “More purple-and-red.”
Her mother shushed him. “How’s your arm? It must hurt.”
It throbbed, but Elissa didn’t want to take any pain medication until the visit was over. Right now the fussing felt really good.
Elissa looked up and saw Dani Buchanan hovering in the doorway.
“Are we interrupting?” Dani asked.
Elissa smiled. “Of course not. Come on in.”
Dani entered, followed by Reid and Cal.
“Penny’s at home with the baby,” Dani said. “Otherwise she’d be here.”
Elissa was more surprised that they were here. “You didn’t have to come to the hospital.”
Reid smiled at her parents, then leaned in and kissed her unbruised cheek. “Sure we did. You’re Walker’s girl.”
Tears filled her eyes. She appreciated the sentiment, even if it wasn’t true. Walker’s girl. She liked the sound of that and she would have given a lot to make it happen.
Cal walked over and squeezed her hand. “You don’t look so bad.”
“Good to know.” She introduced the Buchanans to her parents.
After they’d chatted a few minutes, her mother excused herself. “I’m going to go pick up Zoe. Mrs. Ford called me earlier and said she was fine. Still, I want to see for myself.” She hesitated. “You don’t mind, do you? You’re going to be in the hospital overnight so I thought…” Her voice trailed off.
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