“Vera didn’t want to keep her. She hasn’t got room for a baby in her life, so I offered to adopt her. Because she’s a part of you, Kyle, I kept her.”
“She’s beautiful, Emily.”
“She’s ours, Kyle.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I figured out what I want out of life, my new life because of your father. I want you, if you’ll have me. I love your kids and I love you and….”
He took her in his arms, kissing her deeply, trying not to squash the baby between them. She cried in protest, wiggling between their chests. Laughing, Kyle pulled back the blanket, gazing into her astonishing blue eyes.
“What’s her middle name?”
“Nadia.” She emphasized the second syllable. “It means hope.”
“Rose Nadia,” he repeated solemnly. “Everyone!” He clapped his hands sharply, getting their attention. “I want you to meet someone. Emily Geraci, I’d like you to meet my salsa students. Emily is a former student. The best I ever taught.” He glanced at her, eyes twinkling.
“And I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our dance family. My daughter, Rose Nadia.”
It took nearly three minutes for them to stop cheering. Kyle stood with Emily, accepting the congratulations of his students. Attracted by the noise, his co-workers came in to see what was going on. Soon, nearly everyone in the studio knew about Emily and Rose. His daughters were next door in ballet and came over to see their new baby sister.
“But where did she come from?” Mindy asked, squinting at the baby.
“I’ll explain later, honey. Isn’t she pretty?” Kyle said.
“But I’m ‘posed to be the baby, Daddy.”
“Now you’re the big sister. What do you think of that?”
“I dunno. I guess that’s okay.”
“Way to go, Dad.” Cindy teased him. “So this is what you were up to the night you didn’t come back to the ship?”
“Like I’d tell you.”
She nudged him. “Naughty boy!”
“Just don’t you bring one of these home anytime soon.”
“Gawd, Dad! Yuck!” She took Mindy and went back to ballet class.
Kyle carried Rose around the studio showing her to everyone, accepting their compliments and congratulations. Finally, after all he’d been through, everything was coming together. He felt like he was walking on air, floating a mile above the ground.
Emily watched him work the room, her eyes glowing. Cindy came back into the classroom after ballet, carrying her workout bag. She flopped down on a chair next to Emily.
“So, you and Dad getting married?”
“If he wants me.”
“If? You even need to dignify that stupid statement with a response?”
“He hasn’t officially asked me yet.” Emily laughed, hugging Cindy. “Would that be alright with you?”
“Yeah! He needs to be happy, Emily. Being with you was the happiest he’s been in ages. Being without you, that’s the most miserable I’ve ever seen him. Even after Mom died.”
“Is he enjoying what he’s doing?”
“He loves it. He goes to work and comes home smiling. He never did that at the office. This is where his heart is.”
She watched Emily watch her father for a moment. Making a sudden decision, she leaned over to the CD player, pushing the play button. A slow love song by Faith Hill started playing. Cindy pirouetted to her father’s side, taking the baby from him. With a gentle shove, she pushed him across the room to Emily. He held out his hand and she took it as the music wrapped around them.
Kyle and Emily danced together as if they had done it all their lives. Gradually, the other instructors and the students joined them, dancing as Faith Hill sang Breathe. The last notes of the song ended. Kyle leaned over, kissing Emily, holding her close.
“Marry me,” he whispered.
“Of course,” she replied.
© Dellani Oakes