Thad set the crutches aside and lowered himself into the recliner. For a long moment, he just stared at her. He shook his head. “I can’t believe you’re here. I prayed for so long. You were a beautiful baby and you’ve grown into an even more beautiful woman.”
Heat stung her cheeks. “Thank you. I… I don’t know what to call you.”
He smiled softly. “How about Thad for now?”
“Okay.” She agreed, but truthfully, she was a little uncomfortable calling him by his first name. She had been raised to respect her elders and to never call them by their first names, unless she preceded it with mister, miss, aunt or uncle.
“Tell me a little bit about you. What do you do?”
“I own my own website design business.”
“Wow. That’s fantastic. My baby girl is her own boss. How about that?” he said, seemingly more to himself.
Faith smiled. “It’s only been a year since I had enough steady work to quit my day job. I worked as an assistant manager in a software company, so the learning curve wasn’t too tough.”
Thad chuckled. “What made you decide to switch careers?”
She shared with him the same story she told Brandon. “I’ve done sites for two musical artists, a couple of medical offices and my newest one is a construction company.”
“I always knew you would do well. When you were small, whenever we tried to help you do something, you’d snatch away, say, ‘I do, I do’ and take off running.” He chuckled, then sobered. “I missed so much.”
She met his eyes. “We both did.” Silence crept between them. “I brought some pictures of me growing up. I thought it might…” His eyes lit up and he came to sit next to her. She handed him the album and watched as he ran his hand over the cover photo of her taken at age four at a park.
“So beautiful.” He opened it and, for the next while, Faith explained each picture. She had chosen ones she hoped would give him a good representation of her formative years—walking into her first day of kindergarten, standing next to her winning science fair board in fifth grade, holding her second place spelling bee ribbon in eighth grade and running track her junior and senior years. She had also included some candid shots and her high school and college graduation photos.
At the end, he reached for her hand. “Thank you for sharing these.” He handed the book to her.
Faith gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “It’s yours to keep. I know it doesn’t make up for all the time you missed, but I hope it fills in a few of the pieces.” She felt her emotions rising again and blinked back the moisture in her eyes.
Thad nodded and clutched the book to his chest.
Her cell rang and she jumped slightly. “Excuse me.” She fished it out of her purse and saw Brandon’s name on the display. “Hello.”
“Hey, beautiful. What are you up to?”
“I’m visiting my…” She cut a quick look at Thad. “My father. Can I call you back?”
“Of course. I hope everything goes well for you.”
“Thank you.” She ended the call and dropped the phone in her purse. “Sorry about that.”
He laughed. “I’d be worried if it didn’t ring at least once. So, is there a special guy in your life?”
An image of Brandon flashed in her mind and she quickly dismissed it. “No,” she answered with a chuckle. “I’ve never been married and I don’t have any children.” She debated on whether to ask him the same questions. “What about you?”
Thad shook his head. “No. I never remarried and you’re my one and only. Did Francis ever remarry?”
“Yes, when I was eight, but no other children.” Seeing the sadness reflected in his face, she felt even worse. She’d had her mother and stepfather, but he’d had no one to share his life. Had he been one of those men who could only love once? Or had something else happened? She didn’t know him well enough to pry, so set the questions aside.
He brightened. “My best friend and his wife have five children and they’ve adopted me as an uncle. I broke down and bought this house because when their three boys spent the night, they almost got me evicted from my condo with all the noise.” He smiled. “They were running and sliding on the wood floors, turning flips and hitting the walls. My neighbors were not happy.”