The floorboards creaked with the comforting familiarity only years of intimacy could bring. The sounds were a soothing, gentle reminder to the end of a long day. He paused only once, on the final stages of he journey, as he looked in through a cracked door and upon a small sleeping figure inside.
She was curled up deep beneath her blankets, softly snoring, where she would remain safe until the morning. A long sigh escaped his lips, partly from exhaustion, but mostly from the frustration of knowing the things that Davie had recently shared with him. It might as well have been spoken in another language.
He couldn’t imagine any harm ever coming to his little monkey-butt, his sunshine when the skies are gray, and the very thought that she could be in danger had put him in a very dark place.
What did they even know about Andy anyways? Handy-Andy, who seemed to know a little about everything, had given him little cause to be suspicious. But then there were the pictures. Why the hell was he taking pictures of her, and what could he be using them for?!
He could feel his blood pressure beginning to rise. His cheeks grew hot, and the blood thundered through his veins. His nostrils flared as he struggled to get his breathing under control, but his emotions got the better of him. Hot tears leaked from the corners of his eyes as he fought away the dark images haunting him.
“The fuck,” he whispered to nobody in particular. His words were full of anguish, born from a day overflowing with hardships heavier than he was accustomed to bearing.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when her little voice broke the silence.
“Is that you,” she asked sleepily.
“Yes pumpkin,” he answered softly. “Go back to sleep.”
The weight melted from his shoulders when she spoke, chased away by his absolute love for her.
“What time is it?”
“It’s late, kiddo, that’s all you need to know.”
As he answered her, he crossed the room and approached her from the right side of her bed. Then, as she crawled back up to her pillow, he sat on the edge of the bed where they shared a brief hug.
“Nessa,” he asked softly.
“You would tell me if there was something wrong, wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah daddy,” she answered. He peered searchingly into her confused eyes, seeking for any signs that might indicate otherwise, but there was only the innocence he knew.
“What’s the matter daddy?”
“Nothing baby,” he answered before placing a kiss on her forehead. “I just worry.”
“Don’t worry,” she said sweetly. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
He smiled as he tucked her in, pausing only to give her another kiss before turning to leave. It was amazing how quickly she’d changed the direction of the dark tides rolling inside of him, with only a single word.
“I love you daddy,” she said as he slowly closed the door behind him.
“I love you too, Nessa,” he said with a smile.
He turned to walk down the hall and by the time he got to his room, he had nearly forgotten everything but the last few minutes. Not much longer after that and even those were a distant memory. Twenty hours after waking, he finally returned into sleep’s embrace.