“Can I brush your hair?” Paige asked.
“You certainly can.” She handed over the brush and moved so that Paige sat on the bed, and she sat on the floor, facing the mirror.
With Paige in the room, she didn’t think about the things the girl’s father had done to her in front of that mirror. When it came to Caleb, she also felt herself falling for the rough man. The moment he looked at her with that wicked smile, she was a goner. Her nights spent with him were the best nights of her life. She loved it when he sneaked into her room, they made love or fucked, and each morning, he’d wake her with a kiss before he left for the day.
“They’re having Mommy’s supper at the school next Friday,” Paige said.
“I heard. Your teacher told me.”
“Would you come?”
She looked at Paige, and saw the hope in her eyes. “Would you like me to be there?”
“I don’t want to be alone. I hate being alone, and I would ask Dad for me to have the day off, but there’s a spelling test, and I think I could do well.”
“You’ve been practicing amazingly well.” She knew Paige’s spelling meant a lot to her.
“They always laugh at me because I don’t have a mother.”
“You know, Paige, I wasn’t very close to my mother either.”
Paige looked at her then. “You weren’t?”
“She’s not come to visit me at the ranch, has she?” Paige shook her head. “Think of your Granny. She’s always stopping by, coming to see how you are. I often wished for a mother like that.”
Her mother was like that. The only problem was, her daughter had to be named Emily in order for her mother to care. Pushing that pain aside, Maddie focused on the little girl in front of her, who was running the brush through her hair.
Paige’s eyes filled with tears. “They all know my mommy didn’t want me.”
Pain swept through Maddie as the tears fell. “Paige,” she said, turning toward the little girl.
The brush was put down, and Paige pressed her hands toward her eyes. “She doesn’t love me.”
Maddie climbed onto the bed and pulled Paige into her arms, holding her close. “Then your mother is incredibly stupid.”
She didn’t care if she crossed the line right now. Paige was a funny, sweet, kind, amazing child. Whatever Paige’s mother had done, Maddie knew she could never turn her back on any of her kids.
“She left me, Maddie. She doesn’t even come visit, and she doesn’t want me to go to her. I know Daddy says she’s busy, but she’s never sent a card, or anything. I don’t even know what she looks like.”
Cupping the girl’s face, Maddie wiped away those tears. “Whatever your mother did, it has nothing to do with you.”
“But she didn’t stay.”
“And that’s her problem. Not yours, sweetie. Don’t ever, ever allow anyone to blame you for their own faults, okay? You’re perfect, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. I love spending time with you. You make me laugh so much, and I enjoy every second of it.”
“Even when I get dirty?”
“Especially when you get dirty.” She gave her nose a little pinch. “I’ll come to the school on Friday, and we’ll eat, ignoring all those people.”
“Did your mother ever go to school for you?”
Maddie shook her head. “No. Mom was always busy with my sister. There was never any time for me.”
“I like you, Maddie. I love you very much.”
She held Paige tightly, hugging her close, and not wanting to let her go. She would protect this little girl at all costs. When Paige yawned, she chuckled. “I think it’s time for us to get you into bed.”
“I’m not so sleepy.”
Paige rested her head against her chest, and Maddie chuckled. “Come on.” She wasn’t as strong as Caleb, so she took Paige’s hand, and walked her toward her bedroom. Pulling back the blankets, she tucked Paige in bed. The little girl was already asleep by the time she turned off the light and closed her door. When she turned around, she saw Caleb standing there, looking heartbroken.
“Please go to the school on Friday,” he said.
“You don’t even have to ask. I will.” She brushed past him, and he caught her arm, pulling her close.
“Thank you. For the way you handled that.”
“I didn’t really handle it.” She patted his chest. “I hope I didn’t upset you.”
“You didn’t. I’m just pleased she came to you.” He stroked her cheek. “Thank you.”
“You don’t need to thank me, Caleb. I care about her a lot. It has nothing to do with what we’ve got going on.” She smiled at him and moved back into her bedroom.
He followed her, which she expected him to.
“I, erm, it’s that time of the month,” she said. She pointed to her pussy. “There’s not really a lot we can do.”