Walking in fall was the best, he decided, scuffing his boots through the leaves. He liked the nip in the air, the cold night, the shortening days.
“All right, time to walk on your own,” he said, lifting Andrea off his shoulders and to the ground.
Off she went, tottering and laughing at the crunching leaves.
He hadn’t wanted to take her when her mother died, hadn’t wanted the responsibility. She wasn’t his child, but he was as close to a father as she had ever known.
She tumbled, silent for a moment as if not sure whether to laugh or cry.
His heart melted. A career was a career. This was….
This was….. well, he didn’t know what this was.
Scooping her up, he lifted her above his head, spinning wildly to her shrieks and laughter.
She’d changed something inside of him, something vital, something he’d never wanted but now would never let go.
Dropping her down, he hugged her tight. “Don’t you worry, baby girl. Daddy’s here forever.”