“Daddy? Can we talk?”
“Of course, my princess. What’s on your mind?”
“I, ummm…I want to speak with you…about something important.”
He laughed and said, “What are you so nervous about? You know you can tell dear old dad anything.”
“Yes, I know that…but, can ‘dear old dad’ handle his princess leaving?”
The word pierced his heart like a blunt dagger. He wasn’t expecting this.
“Y-y-you’re leaving us?”
He wanted to ask why, but he knew. He remembered the same situation with his sister and knew that this was bound to happen sooner or later. He just wished that it could have happened after he was gone. Every parent knows that the children will one day leave the nest; it’s expected. But, Brady loved having his children around so much, he never thought about them leaving. It was normal for siblings and their families to live together in the Pruett households, so he never had much experience with children moving out on their own.
Callie explained, “I know that eventually I will have to leave, but I don’t want to wait until then. I want to know what real life is like. Legacy life is great, but I know there is more to life than just what our family does. You and mom got to live and experience the world before you settled down. I want to experience the world too.”
“Callie…I’m very proud of you for making this decision on your own. It would have been harder for you leave when you had to. I remember when your Aunt Alayna left. She and Roland had been married for ages, Devan was a teenager, and Anthony had been around for a while too. Devan took it really hard because he had grown up here too. And, we all depended on her so much. It was really hard to watch her leave, and they definitely should have left long before then.”
She was surprised he remained calm. “So, you’re not upset?”
“No, princess. I mean, I’m going to hate watching you go, but you have to…and not because of Julian. You have to go for you.”
“Thanks for understanding, daddy.”
“Of course I understand. So…are you really trying to experience the world, or is there someone special out there who prompted this decision?”
“Daddy! You would know if there was. You’re the only special man in my life.”
“I’m flattered, but let’s hope that changes really soon. I don’t like the idea of you living alone. It’s just bothersome as a father.”
“Well, maybe Sasha can come live with me after her birthday.”
“I hope I’ll be dead by then,” he said. “Not sure if I can handle both of my princesses leaving me.”
Her face wrinkled. “Don’t say that, daddy! I don’t want you to go anywhere just yet.”
“I’ll do my best to stick around,” he said in attempts to reassure her. “Now, I’ll let you go under one condition.”
“What’s that,” she asked eagerly.
“Let me buy you a house.”
“But, daddy, I–“
“No! I know you want to experience the world and everything, but you don’t have a job, and no daughter of mine is going to go live in some tiny rat hole! Understood?”
“Yes, daddy. Thank you.”
She understood, and she appreciated it. Even though she anticipated needing to get a job, she wasn’t sure of what she would want to do. She had a few skills, but she wasn’t terribly good at any one thing–at least not enough to make a career out of it. But, now that Brady would be supplying the funds for the house, perhaps she could concentrate on finding Mr. Right.
“You’re my princess, and I’m going to take care of you until Prince Charming comes, ok? That is not negotiable.”
“I love you, daddy!”
“I love you too, Callie.”
“Can you do me a favor, though,” she asked sweetly.
“I will do anything for you!”
“Can we keep this between us? I’m not ready to tell mother yet.”
He looked surprised. “Of course. It’ll be our little secret. We can go house hunting in afternoons on my days off, ok?”
“You’re the best, daddy!”
“…(sigh) my sweet princess is all grown up…”