“Maybe you should come home for a while…until you’re all healed up. I’m worried about you being there all alone with no one to help you.”
She knew he would say that, which was why she hadn’t called since the accident. “Daddy, I’m fine. The worst of it is over and Kathi was here over the weekend. I’ll be home soon.”
He paused. “Your mother is really worried about you, Faith. You two need to work this out.”
“It takes two,” she mumbled. “How is she?”
He chuckled. “Still mad. But then you’re both stubborn. I love you both and I can see how this is tearing you apart. I’m telling you the same thing I told her—you two need to talk.”
Faith released a deep sigh. “I’ll call her later in the week.”
“Thanks, baby. Have you contacted your father yet?”
“No,” she said softly. “With the accident and all, I didn’t want to just drop that on him.”
“I understand. Well, I won’t hold you. I love you very much. Always remember that.”
“I love you too, Daddy.” She disconnected and groaned. Faith and her mother were more alike than she cared to admit. Both had a stubborn streak that probably accounted for most of their disagreements. Growing up, her dad had been the peacemaker and neither she nor her mother could stay angry for long periods of time. He always found a way to make them smile.
Putting her mother out of her mind for now, Faith shifted her thoughts to her birth father. All the bravado she had felt when she first came to LA had faded and nervousness had taken its place. She’d been in town a week and couldn’t afford to stay indefinitely, so she needed to put on her big girl panties and make that drive.
It took her until the end of the week to decide. Saturday midday, she followed the directions back to her father’s house. The black sedan was parked in the same spot. Faith sat in the car for a few minutes to gather her courage. She picked up the small book on the seat, got out and started up the walkway. The lawn looked freshly mowed and an array of colorful flowers lined the front of the house. She rang the bell and nervously wrung her hands while waiting. She heard the lock turn and her heart started to pound.
The door opened and she gasped softly. Aside from the sprinkling of gray in his close-cropped hair and neatly barbered goatee, he looked as if he hadn’t aged a day in almost three decades. He stood close to six feet, was still trim and his dark handsome face was virtually unlined. Her gaze drifted to the crutches under his arm and down to see that his left leg had been amputated at the knee.
A smile creased his face. “Hello. May I help you?”
Faith had no idea how to introduce herself. She fidgeted for a moment, opened and closed her mouth, searching for the right words. “I’m Faith.” His brows knit and confusion lined his face. Then she saw the moment he realized who she was.
“Faith?” he whispered. “My Faith?”
Tears filled his eyes and he grabbed her in a crushing hug. “Thank God. My baby girl,” he said over and over. He held her as if he never wanted to let go and deep, heart-wrenching sobs erupted from his throat.
She felt every inch of his pain and couldn’t stop her own tears. They stood in the doorway and cried out twenty-eight years of separation. At length, they quieted, but he didn’t release her. Finally, he leaned back. “I didn’t ever think I’d find you,” he said emotionally, swiping at the tears on his cheeks. “Forgive me for keeping you standing on the porch. Please, come in.” He maneuvered on his crutches so she could enter.
Faith stepped into an immaculate and elegantly furnished living room. Two landscape paintings hung on the walls, but no family pictures. Her curiosity heightened. Had he ever remarried or had other children?
“We can talk in the family room. Can I get you something to drink? Are you hungry?” he asked as he led her down a short hall and through the kitchen to another room.
“No, thank you.” The family room held a large bookcase, fireplace, a brown, fabric-covered sectional with recliners and another oversize recliner. She instinctively knew he spent much of his time here. A pair of glasses sat atop a book on an end table next to the chair and the sports news was muted on a large-screened TV. He gestured her to sit and she perched on the edge of the sofa, gripping the book in her hands tightly, unsure about what to say or do.