“Wow!” Dad said, rubbing his hands together as he looked at me. “You got yourself a date! Way to go!”
I blinked at him. “Most dad’s would be upset that their daughter had a boy over the house all alone.”
Dad chuckled as he looked over at me. “First of all…you’re what twenty? I’m pretty sure at this point you’re grown up enough to make your own decisions, and two…you’re you.”
“Ha ha,” I said, sticking my tongue out at him.
“So,” Dad said, leaning towards me. “Is that what you’re wearing?”
I looked down at my dark wash jeans and v-neck graphic t-shirt. “Yeah? I mean it’s just dinner at his place.”
Dad shook his head as his nurse, who I now knew was named Angie, walked in. “Ang, she’s wearing that to her date.”
“You finally nabbed a date with bookstore hottie?” she asked as she handed Dad some pills and pulled her stethoscope from around her neck. “Good for you.”
Dad nodded, and I cringed. “And she’s wearing that.”
“Dad!” I hissed.
Dad picked up his pudding cup from the bed side table and pulled the spoon out, flicking it at me.
I stood, throwing my hands up as I stared down at the brown blob on my shirt. I took the napkin Angie held out to me as she bit her inner lip to keep from smiling.
“Nice, Dad, nice.”
“Now if he says anything you can say your Dad got overexcited with his pudding cup!” he replied, smirking at me.
I shook my head as I wiped it, making it even worse. “I don’t have anything else clean! I was going to do the laundry tonight!”
“You have a debit card, don’t you?” Dad asked. I nodded. “You have money in your account right?” I nodded again. “Go buy yourself something like that blue shirt you wore the other day…buy yourself a few things and then bring them back here. I’ll choose!”
I laughed. “You’re some kind of fashion expert now?”
He stuck his chin out, puffing his chest. “I watch project runway. I know what’s the in thing.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay, I’ll trust you.”
He used his hands to shoo me out, and I leaned down to kiss him. The truth was he knew what the fashions were from the time I was a teenager; without Mom around, he felt he needed to keep on top of it for me. He was determined to be Mom and Dad at the same time. I smiled to myself as I drove to the mall. He did a pretty amazing job at it.
I wandered through the mall for an hour before I settled on three shirts, a few large accent necklaces and a white cardigan that matched them all. When I got back to Dad’s room he shooed me into the bathroom to try each on and show him.
“That one! Yes, that’s it!” Dad said when I walked out in the turquoise v-neck that had a diamond shaped embellishment in the center of the chest. The material was soft and flowed from the gathering directly below the embellishment.
“Is it unanimous?” I asked, turning to face Dad’s second shift nurse, Joe.
“For sure,” he replied, giving me a smile.
I looked down at the shirt, running my fingers over the folds of fabric. “Are you sure it’s not too fancy for dinner in?”
“No,” Dad said, looking to Joe for support.
Joe shook his head. “Not at all. As long as you’re comfortable.”
I breathed in, letting the air slowly out of my lungs as I looked at Dad. “I should get going then?”
“Mascara? And some of that cat-eye liner you do sometimes?” he suggested.
“Fine!” I mumbled as I grabbed my purse and went in to put some makeup on. When I came out I put my hand on my hip. “Better?”
“Much! Right, Joe?”
Joe blushed as he looked down at Dad’s chart. “Yeah.”
I widened my eyes at Dad and he shrugged. Joe was a few years older than me, but it was obvious he was uncomfortable with the situation.
“Here,” I said as I slipped a small black device from my purse
“What’s this?” he asked as I handed him the recorder.
“The book we were reading. I taped me reading it for you.”
I leaned down and kissed him.
“Clever girl,” he said as he looked down at it, and then back up to me. “Now go have fun– just not too much.”
I laughed, shaking my head. “Yes, Dad.”