Friday, May 9, 2008

My Daughter, My Life

My Daughter, My Life

by DG Hear©

Not a lot of sex but there is some. I need to thank my editors, LadyCibelle and Techsan for making my story a much better read. I also need to thank Jake Rivers for his input.

*

Why don't people understand how much cheating tears a family apart? Day after day, week after week, the paper is always filled with divorce notices and dissolution of marriages. I should talk; I've been married twice and divorced once and am now a widower. Let me tell you my story.

I guess I could say I got married too early the first time. Hell, I was only a teenager. My girlfriend and I played around with unsafe sex and of course she got knocked up. We thought we loved each other and got married. Our son was born and life looked pretty good. After a while the grind of married life, which I wasn't ready for, started happening.

Bills and more bills, her mom telling me I wasn't good enough for her daughter, that Mary could have found someone better. She was always coming between my wife and me. I'll agree I wasn't the greatest catch but she sure wasn't helping us much by tearing me down.

I was a high school dropout and ended up working in a warehouse, moving furniture. At least we got a discount on all the furniture we bought. I worked a lot but missed doing the things teenage kids do. I'm not feeling sorry for myself here. I made my bed and now had to sleep in it. I'm just trying to paint a picture of our situation at the time.

Mary didn't use birth control and got pregnant with our second child. Her mother berated me for getting her daughter pregnant a second time, like it was all my fault, Mary could do no wrong. Nine months later we had our second son.

We lived in a trailer park, which was all we could afford. We were even renting the trailer. I didn't consider us what some people call trailer trash. We were a young couple trying to make their way in life. Unfortunately, we didn't succeed.

I forgot to mention that Mary's parents were well off. Not rich but they had enough money to live comfortably. They helped buy a lot of the things we needed for the kids. They also bought things for Mary. They wouldn't help us out financially. I knew her mom was working against me hoping our marriage would fail. Sex was the only thing holding it together and little by little we were doing less of that.

One day I had had enough. I turned twenty one and went to the bar. I got drunk and got in my car. I was arrested for driving while intoxicated. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. I lost my job and Mary's mother convinced her to divorce me.

Life didn't go very well for me for a while after that. I moped around and kept drinking. I picked up a few bucks here and there doing odd jobs. My wife took the kids and moved back home with her mother. Every time I called their house, I got hung up on. One night after getting drunk I went over to their house and raised hell. I'll admit I was a total idiot and threatened her parents. I was arrested again and a restraining order was issued. Now I wasn't even allowed to see my sons.

In the months and years that followed they turned the boys against me. As they were growing up they were told that I was a bad person and to stay away from me. I got even by not paying any child support; not a smart move on my part but that's what I did, or didn't do in this case.

About two years later Mary got remarried to some guy that worked in her dad's office. I got a call one day from Mary's attorney asking me to relinquish my rights to the boys and they would stop the proceeding against me for back child support. It seems that Mr. 'New Husband' wanted to adopt my boys.

It didn't leave me with much choice so I signed the damn paper giving up my legal rights to the boys. It wasn't like I was a good father or anything, but I lost my sons which were a part of me. I went on another drinking binge.

The only person that stood beside me was my sister Kate. She was two years older than me, married with two kids. She convinced me to seek help for my drinking and I did. It was really odd that I was drinking more out of boredom and depression than being an alcoholic. I drank to forget about my life. After going to counseling I decided to turn my life around and went back to school and got my GED. I then took up a trade as a mechanic. I studied hard and found a job in a car dealership repairing vehicles. I found that I liked the feeling of accomplishment and I was good at repairing vehicles. I started saving money to open my own vehicle repair shop.

After a few years of saving money and learning more of my trade I was ready to take the next step. There was a local gas station for sale and I put down my down payment and started my own business. The hours were long but I loved working with my hands and I was becoming successful.

Throughout the next few years I dated a few women but nothing serious. I even saw my boys as they were becoming teenagers. Strong healthy boys and they seemed pretty smart too. I kind of followed their lives without intruding on their privacy. I saw Mary a few times but never spoke much to her. She had a new life with her husband and I noticed she was pregnant and later she had a daughter.

From then on my life was that of a confirmed bachelor. I dated but didn't want to get involved anymore. I just wasn't all that good with relationships. My business was my life. I hired a couple of good mechanics and it freed up a lot of my time. I could pretty much come and go when I wanted.

I did go to my sons' graduations. Even though they hardly knew me, I was proud of them. They both were headed for college. I guess I made the right choice for their well-being. It did bring a bit of sadness to me. It's hard to explain but I guess they will always be a part of me. As they say, "Life goes on." I always wondered who 'they' are since they say a lot of things.

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One night, when the shop was near closing, a car pulled up. It was an old car making a lot of noise. "Can you fix this?" the woman asked me, looking really concerned.

"Probably, but I'm about to close. If you want to leave it here I'll look at it tomorrow."

"Can I use your phone? My daughter and I need to get home and I have to try to find a ride."

I looked in the car and a sweet girl maybe six years old was sitting there looking a bit scared. "Come inside, the phone isn't a portable. I'll continue closing up while you locate your ride."

She thanked me and started making calls. She was beginning to look flustered. I figured she wasn't having much luck locating a ride.

"Where do you live?" I asked her.

"About eight miles down the road on Rose Lane. We moved there about a month ago," she answered.

"If you aren't too scared of strangers, I can drop you and your daughter off at your house. I'll only be a few more minutes."

"That would be great; I don't want to inconvenience you."

"No problem, just going out for dinner and then back home."

"I'm Kara and this is my daughter, Amy. We moved here from West Virginia last month. I work at the department store and of course Amy is in the first grade." The little girl looked at me and smiled.

"I guess you must have figured out I'm Brad since it says so on my shirt," I laughed. "I'll take a look at your car tomorrow and give you a call and let you know what the problem is."

She thanked me for dropping them off at their house. Amy thanked me also; she was a cute little girl. I finally got a good look at Kara. Probably twenty-six, twelve years my junior. Nice figure and she had a good personality. She never did mention a husband. Maybe I'd ask her out. I had nothing to lose.

The next day I looked at her vehicle. It was low on oil and needed a tune-up. I gave Kara a call and she told me to go ahead and fix it. I let her know it would be in the neighborhood of a hundred and twenty five dollars.

"Will you be able to get it done this morning so I can have it for work this afternoon?" she asked.

"I can drop it off about noon if you will bring me back to the shop; my guys will be here to watch the garage."

"Sounds great. See you around noon."

I pulled up and she seemed happy to have her car back. I thought I would ask her out for lunch. Like I said, I had nothing to lose, but first I better make sure there wasn't a husband in the picture.

"Where does you husband work?" I saw no reason to beat around the bush.

She looked at me and said, "There isn't a husband now. I'm divorced and Amy and I moved here to try to start over." She looked rather sad.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. It's just that I have a special today for lovely unattached women who get their car repaired."

"And what might this special be?" she asked me.

"I will knock twenty-five dollars off any repair job if the lovely lady would have lunch with me. I'll even pay for the lunch." I knew I had a silly grin on my face.

I knew it was a stupid come-on but sometimes we all do stupid things. This time it worked. (Shit, nothing ventured, nothing gained!)

Kara handed me a check for a hundred dollars and smiled. "Not a bad deal. You might be getting awfully fat if you do this all day." She was laughing as we got into her car and headed for the restaurant.

After that day Kara would stop by and get gas and a few groceries fairly regularly. I knew she was coming on to me so I went with the flow. We started dating fairly often after that. I started to become attached to her daughter Amy; she was a sweet lonely little girl. She had school and baby sitters most of the time. One night when Kara and I were planning on going to a movie, little Amy asked, "Can I go, Brad?"

Without even looking at Kara, I said, "Sure, Honey, you can go." The smile on her face was worth a thousand words.

Kara wasn't overly happy but I didn't care. Amy was becoming my pal. Whenever I went to their house Amy would always come and talk to me while her mother was getting dressed. Kara was never ready on time. I didn't really mind because I would play games with Amy.

Kara had a mixed work schedule. She would send Amy to childcare after school until she got off work. For some reason it bothered me; I wanted this little princess to have a better life. Right now she spent her time in school and then daycare till late in the evening.

I got a call one day that a school bus had broken down on a country road. The school called me and I headed over to see what I could do. When I got there another bus was there to transfer the kids and take them home. Amy saw me and ran up to me.

"Amy, get on the other bus. We have to take you to the daycare," the driver said politely.

"Can't I stay with Brad? He's my friend."

"No, Amy, not without your mom's permission, I'm sorry," the driver said.

I felt so sorry for her. What kind of life was a daycare center? I quickly pulled out my cell phone and called the store and asked for Kara. I told her about the bus breaking down and that Amy wanted to come to the garage.

I could tell she could care less one way or the other. I handed the phone to the driver and he got permission to leave Amy with me. She was as happy as can be. She stood there and watched while I found out the problem. It was a broken radiator hose. I told the driver of the first bus that I would be back in a few minutes with the new hose. He could contact the school garage and let them know he would be back within the hour.

Amy climbed in my truck and we headed to the garage to get the new hose. She was talking a mile a minute as I drove along. We got the new hose, took it back and the bus driver was on his way. Amy watched me the whole time.

"I want to be a car fixer upper when I grow up," replied Amy.

"You mean a mechanic like me?" I asked.

"Yep, I want to be a 'chanic', just like you."

It was enough to melt any man's heart. I loved this little girl. I talked with her mom and instead of daycare the bus would drop Amy off at my store/garage. I had an office and she would sit there and do what little homework she had. She would always want a snack when she first arrived. First her snack, then her homework and after that she would come and watch me or one of the guys repair cars. She was a pure joy to have around.

Sally, a woman I had running the store for me, took Amy under her wing. She was like a second mother to Amy. She had a daughter that was off at college and was happy to have Amy around.

One day when Amy was watching me repair a car, she said, "Brad, I wish you were my daddy."

I was dumbstruck. What do you say to a little girl that says that to you? I was dating her mother and we got along fine. I never really thought of marrying again.

I had to say something to the sweet thing. "Honey, we'll have to see what happens. We'll always be friends and right now we are pals."

I liked Kara a lot but I wasn't sure how she felt about me. We had become intimate and the sex with her was great. She totally gave of herself; she was probably one of the best sex partners I've ever been with, but marriage? I just wasn't sure.

Here I was almost thirty-nine and had an established business. I decided to take a chance and ask Kara to marry me, more for little Amy's sake, which might be a mistake. I wanted her to have a stable home life. I did have a pre-nuptial agreement signed to protect the business in case the marriage didn't work out.

I should explain a little about Kara's first marriage and Amy's father. Kara got married young. She said she was kind of a reckless teenager and hung out with a pretty wild crowd. Kurt, her former husband, was rather an unruly guy. To make a long story short, she got pregnant by Kurt and they got married. She told me that sex with Kurt was great. Something I really didn't need - or want - to know, but Kurt was always getting into trouble.

One day he got drunk and beat on Kara and little Amy. When I heard that I wanted to find the motherfucker and beat the shit out of him. Just the thought of a man striking a woman and hitting little Amy pissed me off. I know I wasn't the best father and had been more or less a drunk myself, but I'd never beat on Mary or the boys.

Kara got a restraining order put on him and applied for a divorce. She said she really did love him, something else I didn't care to hear, but couldn't take a chance of being beat on again.

Kurt went on a drinking binge and drove his car. He crashed into another vehicle killing the two passengers. His alcohol content was so high that he didn't even know he did it. He came out with a few scrapes and bruises. He was arrested and ended up being sent to prison for vehicular homicide. He was sentenced to fifteen to twenty-five years. He could be out in as early as ten years. He had already served two years as she told me the story.

Kara told me she couldn't take any more of the harassment from his family and friends. They blamed her for him driving drunk because she was divorcing him. She finally got her job transfer to Ohio and that's when she moved here.

It made me think how no one wants to take the blame for their own actions. Kurt was the one that drank; no one forced the booze down his throat. I should know; I did the same thing. Thank God no one was ever killed by my drinking and driving. It also reminded me of Mary's second pregnancy. Her mother blamed only me - like Mary didn't have any say-so about birth control! There I go regressing again. I guess we all look back and wondered what if we had done things differently.

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After our getting married, life was pretty good for a while. We had sex pretty often and went out regularly. I always wanted to include Amy, but Kara preferred dancing and drinking. I wasn't much of a party person any more and of course it kind of pissed off Kara. I wanted to do family things. Whenever I found something we could do as a family, Kara had an excuse why she couldn't do it.

I decided that Amy was going to be a big part of my life, so we started doing everything together. Once in a while Kara would come with us. We went to amusement parks, the zoo, the beach, fishing and everything else we could think of. Throughout the next few years we became darn near inseparable. She always called me Daddy. I wanted to adopt her but Kara said it wasn't possible because Amy's dad wouldn't sign over his rights to her.

It was pretty shitty; he did nothing to help support her. Again, it reminded me of myself and how stupid I had been and hadn't supported my sons either. At least I ended up doing what was best for them. He was in prison, and yet he wouldn't sign over his rights so I could adopt Amy. I considered her my daughter anyway and I was her daddy.

I remember shortly after we got married Amy had a nightmare. She came into our room and tried to lie next to her mom.

"Go back to your own bed, Amy," her mother said.

Amy was crying slightly and came to my side of the bed. I pulled the covers back and she slid her little body in next to me. She fell asleep almost instantly. Having my arms around this precious little girl felt so good. It was like I was protecting her from the world.

She started showing up a couple of times a week. I would just pull back the covers and she would climb up and fall asleep.

Kara and I argued about it a few times but it never stopped my little pal from coming back. Eventually I explained to her that she had to learn to sleep in her own bed. I put in a nightlight and told her we would leave her door open. She accepted this alternative and it made life more bearable with Kara.

It wasn't sexual but just protective love, which my little girl wanted so badly. I began living my life for her. I was doing everything with her that I missed out on with my sons.

When she was about nine we went to a fair and I spent about twenty dollars at a shooting gallery trying to win her a big overstuffed teddy bear. We finally won it and she was so proud of it. It always sits in the middle of her big bed.

My little pal and I even went hunting together. I showed her how to shoot but she only hunted with a BB gun. She said she wasn't going to shoot any animals. She made me feel bad so I started hunting with my camera. There we were, both dressed up in our hunting gear, her with her BB gun and me with a camera. We got some really nice photos of the wild animals. Amy told me she was happy that I wasn't shooting her little fuzzy friends. We did our shooting at targets at the rifle and gun range.

Kara and I had a somewhat normal relationship. It wasn't really bad but it really wasn't loving either. We did our thing in the bedroom; it was always good. I have to say she did her best work in the bedroom. She wasn't much of a cook so most of our eating was done in restaurants.

Kara went with Amy and me to different events but we nearly had to force her. It was always work, work, work with her. I was beginning to wonder if it really was all work or something else.

For some reason, I really didn't care; Amy was my pride and joy. It was her life and her future I was worried about. I decided to help her out anyway I could so that she reached her potential. A typical example was when the school asked for volunteers, I volunteered.

Amy was good in everything she did. She had both brains and talent. Getting Kara to Amy's games was like pulling teeth, so I made sure I was always there to support Amy. Whenever she made a good play, I was there to cheer her on. She would always look back and smile at me. She knew how much I loved her.

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About a year had passed and Kara was working later and later. She also decided to start going out with the girls. Our sex life was diminishing; I knew something was wrong. I hired a private investigator to start following her. He followed her on and off over a two month period. The results were just what I had expected. She was cheating on me.

I wasn't sure what to do about it. My first impulse was to divorce her but that meant I would lose my little girl. I wasn't her biological father. I didn't know what to do. Confront Kara with it, and tell her I knew? Pretend I didn't know and just go on with my life? Amy was my problem. She was now my life. She was what I lived for and I knew she loved me and considered me her father. I waited a month to see if it would stop. Maybe it was just a fling. Something Kara needed to get out of her system. It wasn't and I knew I had to do something.

I confronted her with the facts and photos. She seemed a bit surprised but didn't apologize for any of her actions.

"Look," she said. "We both know I married you to give Amy a good home. We weren't in love even though the sex is good. I want more. I want to go out and party and try new things. I guess our age difference tells the story."

"No, Kara, our age difference has nothing to do with it. We have a wonderful daughter who didn't ask to be brought into this world but she is here. You should be thinking more about her and her wants, needs and desires rather than your own. You're so stuck on yourself that you can't see beyond your own wants, and who you can fuck next. To you it's all me, me, me. You don't care about Amy, you just care about yourself."

I knew what I was talking about. I'd lived it; I did the same thing to my boys. Not a day goes by that I don't remember what a horrible father I was. Here it was happening all over again but this time it was my wife doing it.

"So, what are you going to do about it? I leave and Amy is leaving with me. You will lose your little pride and joy."

I knew she was right. What was I willing to do to keep Amy in my life? She needed me and I needed her.

"You promise to keep your affairs private, and we'll stay married. I don't give a damn about you anymore but I am concerned with Amy finding out. I'll move into the guest room and you live your life and we'll live ours. If you hurt her, I promise you I'll kill you."

Kara looked a bit disturbed at my answer but she agreed to keep her affairs quiet. I moved my stuff into the guest room. I really didn't want to sleep with Kara any longer.

When Amy came in she asked me, "Daddy, did you and mom have a fight?"

"Yes, Honey, I'm afraid we did. I'm going to sleep in the guest room for a while. Don't worry, nothing else has changed. You're still my little gal pal and I promise you I will always be here for you."

"I love you, Daddy."

"I love you too, sweetheart."

For the next three years that is the way we lived. Kara had her affairs in private. She was always telling Amy and me that she had to travel overnight or was working late. I knew what was really going on. I just hoped Amy didn't. My friend Rick, the private investigator, kept track for me with names, addresses and places that Kara went. I guess she thought since I agreed to her indiscretions that I no longer had her followed. Wrong! Whenever she didn't come home I would call Rick and he had her followed. I had nearly three years worth of documentation on her affairs. Most men would call me cuckolded but I was doing it for Amy.

Amy and her mom had an up and down relationship. I guess Kara wanted to have it both ways - her affairs and a good relationship with her daughter. Too often she chose her boyfriends over Amy, but I was always there to see Amy in the school plays and at all her sporting events. For all intents and purposes I was her father and a very proud one at that.

Rick called me one day and told me he had some bad news.

"Brad, Kara's ex-husband has been released from prison."

"Where's he at, Rick? Do you think he will try and contact Kara?"

"He's in West Virginia but I think he has already contacted Kara according to my sources. I'll try to find out more for you."

"Thanks, Rick, you're a real friend. As you know I'm more worried about Amy than Kara. If that son-of-a-bitch goes near her, I swear I'll kill him."

"Easy now, Brad. I'll keep you updated as soon as I find out anything. Whatever happens, don't do anything stupid. Amy needs you."

Now I was worried about my little girl. The bastard beat her when she was just a baby, I'd hate to think what he might do to a fourteen-year-old girl. I decided not to approach Kara on the subject of Kurt just yet. I needed more information before going on the attack. After all Amy still wasn't my flesh and blood.

I stayed around Amy every night. We watched TV together and even went to the movies. I didn't want to let her out of my sight. On Saturday she had soccer practice and I had some repairs to do at the garage.

At just around noon my cell phone rang. I answered it.

"Daddy, mommy's dead!" It was Amy screaming into the phone.

"What! What is it, Amy? What did you say?"

"Mommy's dead in her bedroom. Please, Daddy, come home. I'm scared. I don't know what to do." I could tell she was almost in shock.

"Honey, get out of the house. Go sit on the front porch. I'm on my way. I'll call the police and they might even get there before me. Just get out of the house, Honey."

"Please hurry, Daddy. I'm scared."

I told my guys to take over at the store. They had heard part of the conversation as I jumped into my truck. I had 911 on the phone.

"Please, my daughter just called and said my wife was dead. Please send a squad car to 2775 Rose Lane. Please hurry. My daughter is there all alone."

"Can I have your name, sir?"

"Brad, Brad Collins. My daughter is Amy, Amy Lake. Please hurry. I'm on my way there now."

"Okay, Mr. Collins, the patrol is already dispatched; they should be there any minute."

"Thank you, thank you so much. Let them know I should be there in another five minutes."

I was in panic mode. It was all I could do to keep my wits about me. I never asked how Amy knew her mom was dead. Whether it was a heart attack or some sort of crime. I would know shortly; I was about to pull up in front of my house.

I could see my house ahead. There was a patrol car and an ambulance parked haphazardly in the drive. I pulled up in front of my house and jumped out. Amy came running to me.

"Daddy, Daddy, Mommy's dead, someone shot her. There is a dead man in bed with her. Daddy, I'm scared, I'm really scared."

Amy was shaking as she and I walked to the house and a patrolman asked who I was.

"I'm Brad Collins. I live here. I'm the one who made the call to 911. Where's my wife? Can I go in?"

"I'm sorry, sir, but we can't disturb the crime scene. You'll have to wait out here."

"Crime scene? What crime? I live here, for Christ's sake. My prints are all over the damn house. I need to know if it's my wife. My daughter said she was shot. I demand to be let in."

"Sir, please, let us do our job. I know how you must feel but please wait a few minutes. The detective will be out to talk to you and your daughter."

It was no use arguing with the officer. I knew he was just doing his job but I was kind of messed up myself right now. I took Amy by the hand and we sat together on the porch swing. She seemed to be going into some type of shock. Another ambulance pulled up and the paramedic came over to attend to Amy. He took her over to the ambulance so she could lie down while he ran a few tests, blood pressure, pulse and whatever vitals they run. He said she needed to rest, that she seemed to be in shock.

About that time the head detective came up to me.

"Mr. Collins, I'm Detective Hurley. I was told that it was you that called in the report. What can you tell me?"

"My wife, what about my wife? Is she dead? Is there a man in there also? Is he dead? Why don't you answer me?"

"Mr. Collins, I'll tell you everything you need to know but first I need you to answer my questions. Now, did you call in the report?"

"Yes, I did. I was at my garage working when my cell phone rang."

"Who called you, Mr. Collins?"

"My daughter, Amy. She must have come home from soccer practice and saw her mother dead. I'm not sure what she saw. She just called me and said, 'Daddy, mommy's dead.' I had her repeat herself and then I told her to go outside and wait on the porch and that I would be right home."

"What did you do next, Mr. Collins?"

"I called 911 and told them what my daughter said and told them to hurry and get here. I then told the operator I was on my way here also."

"Did you know your wife was shot, Mr. Collins?"

"No, not until a few minutes ago when Amy told me. Was she shot? Was there a man with her? Was he shot also?"

"Mr. Collins, there are a man and a woman in the bedroom of the house. Yes, they were both shot and killed with a twenty-five-caliber revolver. Do you own any guns, Mr. Collins?"

"Yes, I collect guns. I have about fifteen in my collection."

"Are any of those twenty-five calibers, Mr. Collins? Can you show us your collection?"

At that moment they were bringing the bodies out of the house. Both were in body bags so I knew they were dead.

"Mr. Collins, could you identify the woman's body for us?"

The paramedic unzipped the top of the bag and I looked at the blood-covered face of Kara. "Yes, detective, that's my wife, Kara." I started crying.

We might not have had the best marriage but to see her lifeless body got to me. I wept as the detective continued to ask me questions.

"Would you identify the man if you will?"

He unzipped part of the bag. The man was shot in the face.

"I'm sorry, detective; I have no idea who that man is. Being shot in the face doesn't help much either."

"We have his identification. We'll run it through our records and see if it's legit. Mr. Collins, I know this might be hard for you but we have a number of very personal questions for you to answer. We would like you to come down to the precinct for questioning."

"What? Do you think I did this? Do you think I murdered my wife? I was at work! I have a number of people who will back me up that I was there since seven this morning."

"Mr. Collins, no one is accusing you of anything yet. In any type of murder, which we feel this is, the spouse is always a suspect. I'm sorry but that is just a fact. I assure you we will talk to all your witnesses to verify your whereabouts after finding out how long ago this shooting took place. Now, will you co-operate with us or do we have to do this by force?"

"Let me call my sister to be with Amy. She's only fourteen and saw her mother dead. She needs someone with her."

"I talked to the paramedics and they suggested she spend the night in the hospital. If you like, feel free to call your sister and tell her to meet the ambulance there. So you know, I will have to talk to your daughter soon. Since she discovered the bodies, she might have seen something else too," explained the detective.

I called Kate and told her about Kara being killed. I know she was distraught even though she wasn't a good friend of Kara's. I had talked to her when Kara and I kind of went our own ways. She didn't know how I could live this way, but I told her I did it for Amy's sake. She loved Amy also and agreed to meet her at the hospital and stay with her till I arrived.

I went over to the ambulance to talk to my daughter. They had given her a sedative and she was about half asleep. "Amy, Honey, I have to go to the police station and talk with them..."

"Daddy, don't leave me, please don't leave me."

"I'm not leaving you, Honey. You're going to the hospital and rest. Aunt Kate will be by to stay with you until I arrive. You'll be fine."

"I love you, Daddy."

"I love you too, Honey. Now you get some rest and I'll see you later." I kissed her forehead and turned to see the detective who I knew was listening to my every word.

"Mr. Collins, before we head to the precinct can you show me your gun cabinet?"

We went inside and I took my key out of a drawer in the bedroom. I saw the messed up bed and the blood all over everything. There was a crime crew looking through everything and taking possible evidence and pictures reached in my socks drawer and took out the key and handed it to the detective. We went down the basement and he opened up my gun cabinet.

"Quite a collection you have, Mr. Collins." He took out a twenty-five-caliber revolver and smelled the barrel. "Do you have any other guns that are not in the cabinet?"

I hesitated before answering, "I have a twenty-two pistol I keep in the bottom drawer of my night stand."

The detective sent an officer to my bedroom to see if the gun was there. The officer brought back the gun and showed it to the detective who set it in the gun cabinet. The detective could read my face; he knew I was hiding something.

"Mr. Collins, you have another twenty-five caliber pistol, don't you? Where do you keep it?"

"In the garage, bottom drawer behind the wrenches," I answered.

We all walked into the garage and the officer looked in the bottom drawer and there was no gun. He continued to look through all the drawers and the gun was missing.

"Where is it, Mr. Collins? Did you shoot your wife and throw it in the river? Where's the gun, Mr. Collins?"

"God, no, I didn't kill anybody. I don't know where it is. I have always kept it in that drawer."

"When was the last time you saw it?" asked the detective.

"I can't remember. Maybe six months or even a year ago. I can't honestly say."

"Who else knows you keep the gun in that drawer?"

"Kara knew. That's about it," I answered.

"What about your daughter? Did she know you kept a gun in the garage?"

"No, I never told her. She does know about the one in the night stand. I told my wife and daughter about it in case they ever needed it for protection."

The detective looked me in the eye. "Mr. Collins, we have to do a complete search of your house. Is there anything you want to tell us before we start?"

"I have nothing to hide. Are you guys just going to rip our place apart looking for anything to blame me for something I didn't do?"

"Mr. Collins, you've seen too many movies. We will go drawer-by-drawer, closet-by-closet, mainly looking for the pistol. We will disturb your house as little as possible. Do we have the permission to start the search or do we need a warrant first?"

"Look, Detective, I didn't kill my wife or her lover. My only concern now is to help my daughter get through the murder of her mother. Do what you have to do. I have nothing to hide."

He said he still wanted me to come down to the station and answer questions. He was honest with me and told me I was still his prime suspect and that anything I could show him that it was someone else would help my case. Right now he didn't have enough evidence to charge me but would keep looking for the truth.

"Detective, if you want the truth about my wife's life I suggest you get the briefcase out of my bedroom closet on the top shelf. All I ask is that you not let too many people see that folder. It will give you plenty of suspects."

He went and got the briefcase out of the closet and told me to follow him to the station so I would have my car to go to the hospital and see my daughter after our talk. I believe he felt in his heart I wasn't going anywhere but he had a job to do.

---------------------------

We arrived at the police station and instead of taking me to the interrogation room; he took me to his office.

"Mr. Collins," he said as he opened the briefcase. "What am I to find in this briefcase and why don't you want it known?"

"My wife's lovers over the past three plus years. She has been cheating on me and I had her followed by a private investigator."

"Mr. Collins, that's just another reason that makes you the prime suspect."

"Detective, my wife knew that I was aware of her affairs. She didn't know that I still had her followed on a number of occasions. The reason I thought you might want to keep this quiet is because there are a number of prominent people on that list, including a judge and several police officers. Also, for the sake of my daughter, she's only fourteen and in high school here. If all this gets out, it will crush her."

"Mr. Collins, for the life of me, I can't understand why you would stay married to a woman like this. Why didn't you just divorce her instead of putting yourself through all this?"

"My daughter, I did it all for her..."

"...but Mr. Collins, any court in the country would have let you have your daughter. Your wife was an unfit mother. Any woman having this many affairs should..." He didn't finish his sentence; I could tell how upset he was getting.

"Detective Hurley, Amy isn't my blood daughter. In fact she isn't even my adopted daughter. I married her mother when she was six. Her biological father was recently released from prison. I am worried that he might come here and try to see Kara and take my daughter from me. You see, no court would grant me rights to a stepdaughter over her mother or her biological father for that fact.

"I could have left but Amy is my life. There is no way I could forsake her. What was I to do? I made an agreement with her mother that, if she kept her affairs private, then we would stay married. I figured I would stay with her till Amy graduated when she was eighteen and then divorce her using all the information I had accumulated. So you see, if I just wanted her dead, I would have done it years ago."

"My God, what a strange relationship," said the detective.

He looked through the list of men and knew he would have to question just about all of them. There were over thirty in all. Each one might have a reason to take Kara's life. It could be anything from blackmail to a spouse getting involved. None of them could deny the affair since he had the photographs linking them to Kara.

While we were sitting there a patrolman asked to speak to the detective in private. He stepped out of the room and looked a bit disturbed as he came back in.

"Mr. Collins, the report came back on the man your wife was with. It was Kurt Lake, her ex-husband. Christ, I hope your alibi holds up. It sure isn't looking good for you."

"I didn't kill anyone. I didn't know he was in town. My P.I. just told me a few days ago that he was released and I told you that. Damn, what else can I do to prove I had nothing to do with it?" I had tears in my eyes, and I could tell the detective wanted to believe me.

"Mr. Collins, I'm not going to hold you now. I have to advise you to not leave the county and that we will be talking to you some more after we check out your alibis. We'll also be talking to your daughter tomorrow. On another note, there was no evidence found in your house. No gun, no recognizable finger prints other than your family and the deceased male, and your rear door was pushed open. We feel the perpetrator could have run out through the rear door. There were cigarette butts, but they were the same type found in the trousers of the deceased, Kurt Lake."

"Detective, you said they were having sex when they were shot. I need to know exactly what my daughter saw."

"The fellow was on his back, the woman was straddling him. Of course he was penetrating her. She was shot three times in the back and once to the back of the head. He was shot point blank twice to the face. It was definitely a revenge shooting. She was of course lying across his body. As I said, Mr. Collins, don't leave town and we will be talking to your daughter tomorrow."

I was troubled when I left the police station. Was it someone after Kara or maybe someone after her ex-husband? Right now I had more important things to attend to. I had to make sure Amy was all right.

When I walked in she spotted me. I saw a smile cross her face. My sister Kate was there with her.

I spoke to Amy. "Hi, Honey, how are you doing?"

"It was awful, Daddy; I don't think I'll ever get that picture out of my mind. Who was that man, Daddy? Why was Mom with him?"

"Later Honey, we'll talk about it later. Right now you need to get some rest. Everything will be okay. I'm here for you."

She gave me a slight smile and dozed back off to sleep. I turned to my sister. "Thanks, Kate, thank you for taking care of Amy. I don't know what I would have done without you."

"I'll always be here for you and Amy. She loves you so much, but now we have a problem."

"What problem, Kate?" I asked.

"Child Protective Services was here. They aren't sure what to do with Amy."

"What do you mean, what to do with Amy?"

"The woman said that since you were her step-father you aren't her guardian. She said something about contacting her biological father to see what he has to say."

"He isn't going to say shit, Kate."

"What do you mean? Did you talk to him?"

"He was the man fucking Kara and was killed."

"Oh, my God, what about poor Amy?"

"She's coming home with me. She's my daughter. She isn't going to a bunch of strangers."

I got on my cell phone and called Child Protective Services. The woman was still at the hospital and would be up to see me. About a half hour later a woman showed up.

"I'm Cheryl Baker, from Child Protective Services. I received a call that you needed to see me."

"Yes, it's about my daughter Amy."

"Yes, we're looking for her biological father," she replied. "Do you happen to know where he is?"

"A matter of fact I do. He was released from prison last week and is now on a slab down at the morgue. He was killed along with my wife, Amy's mother. Amy's my daughter and she's coming home with me."

"This is highly irregular..."

"I don't care how irregular it is. Amy might not be my flesh and blood but she is my daughter and she is coming home with me. No stranger is getting her."

"Mr. Collins, I can't let a young girl go with a male who is not a relative. Surely you understand. If you had a female co-guardian it would probably be ok."

"You were ready to send her home with a man that beat her as a child and just got out of prison but you couldn't possible let her go home with her father for the last eight years. How stupid are you?" I was really getting pissed at this woman. Luckily for me Kate was there.

Kate interjected, "Excuse me, Mrs. Baker. Brad - Mr. Collins here - is my brother. He's a bit distraught at the moment but did you say that if a female signed as a co-guardian for Amy that she could go home with us?"

"Yes, of course the young lady has to agree to go with you."

Right then Amy woke up again. "'What's the matter, Aunt Kate. Where's daddy?"

"He stepped out in the lobby for a minute, Amy. Everything is okay. Your dad and I have to sign some legal papers so you can go home with us when you get released from the hospital."

"Amy, I'm Cheryl Baker from Child Services. I'm looking after your interests here. Do you have a problem living with Mr. Collins and Kate Miller?"

"Of course not, that's my dad and aunt. They're the two nicest people on this earth. I won't let you take me away from them," screamed an irate Amy. "Where's my dad?"

I walked back into the room. "I'm right here, Sweetheart. No one's taking you anywhere. You'll be going back to our house. Don't worry, daddy's here now."

Kate looked at the woman, "Where's these papers to sign? Let's get this over with, I know you're just doing your job but even considering taking a girl away from her father is horrible to say the least. You can't throw everyone in the same barrel. It seems to me that it should be a case by case process."

Mrs. Baker spoke. "I'm sorry for the way I acted. You are right, I didn't know enough about the case. Usually when a death occurs, the child goes to the living parent. I had no idea he was just released from prison, let alone killed."

"The man that was killed with my mom was my biological dad? I didn't know; no one told me," said Amy.

"Oh, my God!" said Mrs. Baker. "I thought she knew."

"Honey, I'm so sorry. You've been through so much," I replied.

"It' alright, Daddy; the only memory I have of him is him beating me. You're my Daddy. The only daddy I'll ever remember."

"I'm so sorry," spoke Mrs. Baker. "I had no idea the child didn't know."

"There are a lot of things you didn't seem to know about our family. Am I considered Amy's legal guardian now?"

"Yes, but it has to go though a judge although I don't see any problems. I'll make sure the judge understands the case. Again, I apologize for my lack of judgment," replied Mrs. Baker.

After Mrs. Baker left my sister Kate said, "What kind of a legal system do we have that would take Amy from you and give her to a stranger. I couldn't believe that woman."

"It's okay, Aunt Kate; nobody is going to take me away from my dad. I know he wouldn't let it happen. Thank you for being here for me and dad. You're the best aunt anyone could have."

"I love you too, Amy, but you better try and get some more rest. I have to leave now, but if you need me just call. I'm only a phone call away."

I sat in the chair while my daughter slept. Tomorrow was going to be another bad day - more questioning and decisions to be made. It was starting to get late; I told the nurse that I would be sleeping in this chair right next to my daughter.

-----------------------------

I woke up when the morning staff was making their rounds. I looked over and saw Amy smiling at me. "Feeling better, Honey?" I asked.

"Yeah, I guess as well as can be expected. It's still hard to believe, Dad. Mom's gone." She had tears in her eyes. I got up and gave my girl a hug and a kiss on the forehead.

The nurse came in to run her morning tests, so I went down to the cafeteria and got some coffee. While I was there I called the garage and told the guys I wouldn't be in. They asked about Amy and I told them she was doing fine. I mentioned that the detective would be around to see them and to make sure they told the truth. I didn't do anything wrong, so I didn't have any reason to lie.

"He was here yesterday boss. We explained to him that you were here the full day till you got the call from Amy. He even contacted the pizza kid who delivered our pizza yesterday. Good thing you bought us lunch," he laughed. "Brad, you just take care of Amy and your affairs. We'll take care of the business."

"Thanks, Bill, and thank Russ for me too. I really appreciate it. Also thank Sally for me."

"Will do, Boss. You just make sure your daughter is okay."

My phone rang and it was Kate. She said she contacted a cleaning outfit and they would clean up the room where Kara was killed. I told her to tell them to get rid of the bed and mattresses and also any throw rugs that had blood on them. I didn't want Amy to see any stains. She said they would be done by late afternoon. I was expecting to take Amy home that night.

I went back to Amy's room and she was looking pretty good. She was eating some breakfast. The doctor told her he would release her today. He gave her a prescription for a light sedative in case she had trouble sleeping. About that time Detective Hurley showed up.

"Mr. Collins, may I see you out in the lobby for a few minutes." He was telling me, not asking me. "So far your alibis hold up. We checked a few names on your list of possible suspects and most denied knowing your wife on a personal level until I showed them photos. We have been talking to the most recent ones on the list first. Almost all had alibis for the time frame we are talking about here.

"What we haven't figured out is how Mr. Lake got to your house. Either he drove there and the killer took his vehicle or your wife picked him up but we have no idea where from. We've checked the airport and train station. Also a few of the local motels, to see if he was checked in. The only photo we had to show was his mug shot. Not really the best picture."

"I wish I could help you detective but I don't have a clue. It was a complete surprise to me also. I can't say that I'm not glad she's gone but not this way. There was no reason for someone to kill her. Have you thought that it might be a revenge of Mr. Lake instead of Kara?"

"We're checking all possible suspects. There are still quite a few names left on your list. I'm going to talk to your daughter now. Has she said anything more to you?"

"No, I've just been here to support her. She's been through a lot. Can I be there while you question her?"

"I guess so, but you have to keep quiet. If you start getting involved, I'll have to ask you to leave the room."

We walked back in and I told Amy that the detective needed to ask her some questions about yesterday. "Are you up to it, Honey?"

"I'm a bit shaken still but I'm fine. What do you need to know, sir?" asked Amy.

"I'm Detective Hurley and I need to know about your whole day yesterday."

Amy looked over at me. "It's okay, Amy, just tell the truth..."

"Please, Mr. Collins, don't interrupt."

Amy started explaining her day. "Well, Sir, I was up and eating breakfast about seven. Somewhere around eight I got on my bike and rode it to soccer practice."

"Where was your mom at the time?"

"She was getting dressed. Usually she took me to practice but she said she had an appointment and I would have to ride my bike."

"Did she say where the appointment was?"

"No, Sir, she had them quite often so I never asked. I just got on my bike and rode to practice like I do every Saturday. It takes me between twenty minutes to a half hour to ride the three miles."

"What time did you leave practice?"

"I'm not sure, I didn't wear a watch. You can check with the coach but I would have to figure somewhere around eleven-thirty."

"Did you ride straight home?"

"Yes, I did."

"Were you alone or did someone else ride along with you?"

"I was by myself; my friends don't live out this way."

"Okay, Amy, this is going to be hard but what happened when you arrived home."

Amy had tears in her eyes. "I got off my bike in the front yard and went to go in the front door, but it was locked."

"Is it usually locked when you come home?"

"No, Sir, it's almost always unlocked."

"Did anything seem strange to you beside the door being locked?"

"Yeah, come to think of it. Mom's car was in the driveway instead of in the garage and the garage door was closed. Usually when she comes back from somewhere the garage door is open."

"What did you do next, Amy?"

"I went to the back door where we usually have a key in the flower pot, but the door was wide open. I kind of yelled in, 'Mom, Mom, are you home?' I didn't hear an answer so I walked into the kitchen. It just felt eerie, like something was wrong. I went down the hall and mom's bedroom door was open."

"Is it usually open when you come home?"

"Yes, sir, but something didn't seem right. I walked to the bedroom and I saw Mom's back covered with blood. I screamed out and fell back against the doorjamb. I just kept screaming when I saw another person under mom. I ran to the kitchen and called Dad. He told me to go outside and he would be here soon. I ran to the front door and unlocked it and ran out and sat on the porch. The next thing I knew, the police were here and asked me something but I have no idea what he said. Then I saw daddy and ran to him."

"Amy, how did you know it was your mother?"

"I didn't know. I just figured it was her since it was a woman and it was Mom's bedroom."

"Did you know the man, Amy?"

"To be honest, at the time I didn't see nothing but a bloody head. It scared me bad. The Child Protection lady said it was my biological dad. I don't remember him and of course with all the blood, I didn't know him."

"Amy, does your dad own any guns?"

"You mean this dad?" she pointed to me. "Yes, sir, he collects them."

"How many does he have?"

"I don't know sir, ask him, he's sitting right there." I had to laugh; she was just being honest.

"Where does he keep his guns?"

"In the gun cabinet in the basement."

"Do you know where he keeps the key to the cabinet?"

"No, sir, only him and Mom knew."

"Does he have any guns that he doesn't keep in the cabinet?"

"Yes, sir, two of them." The detective looked surprised and so did I.

"Where does he keep them, Amy?"

"He keeps a pistol in his bedside table for protection. He told me and Mom it was there."

"Where does he keep the other gun, Amy?"

"In my closet. It's my BB gun and he said I could keep it there." I had to smile again. The detective was about lost for words.

"Any other guns that you know of, Amy?"

"No sir, that's about it. I hope you find who killed my mom and punish them. I loved my mom," replied Amy as she started crying.

I went to her and held her. "I'm sorry, Daddy; I'm trying to be a brave girl."

"It's alright, Honey, everyone has a right to cry. Just let it all out."

She cried for about a minute and when she stopped the detective said, "Amy, is there anything at all that you might have missed? A car pulling away, someone walking down the road, even tire tracks, anything at all?"

"I'm sorry, detective; I told you everything I could remember. I wish I knew more but I don't."

"You did fine, Amy. You've been a big help. You take care of yourself and if you remember anything else no matter how small, please give me a call."

I told Amy that I would be back in a few minutes. I walked the detective to the elevator.

"Mr. Collins, you're not out of the woods yet so please don't leave the county without my knowledge, and take care of your little girl. I have a daughter her age and I hope my daughter would be as respectful as yours."

"I understand, Detective, and thank you for the compliment. She is a great young lady."

I walked back into Amy's room and we talked a little bit about what she saw and her going into shock. "Dad, promise me you'll never leave me. You're all I've got."

"Honey, someday you will be dating and find a boyfriend, and eventually get married. That day will be a sad and yet happy one for me. I'll know my little girl has grown up but at the same time I'll miss her so much." I knew my eyes were watering up just thinking about her leaving me some day."

"You'll always be in my heart, daddy. We'll always be together."

I just smiled; after all she was just a fourteen-year-old girl.

We left the hospital and she seemed to be doing pretty good. The doctor said all her vital signs were fine and, of course, he gave us a prescription for a sedative if she needed it. When we went back to the house she was a bit nervous.

"It's okay, Honey,. I had a cleaning crew come in and clean your mom's room. If you like you can wait on the porch till I check it out."

I walked in and the whole house was clean. Kara's room was changed around. Kate had the cleaning people move my bed and dressers into Kara's room. It gave it a whole different appearance. I looked behind me and Amy came in. When she looked in the room she smiled. She walked in and jumped on my bed.

"Where's mom's stuff, Dad?"

"It's all been put in the guest room. The mattresses and bedding were thrown out. One day when you feel better you and I will have to go through your mom's stuff and see what you want to keep and what we will give away. I'm going to leave it up to you but I'll be here to help you."

Kate stopped by to make sure everything was all right. Other than Amy she was the only woman I cared for. I know Amy liked her also.

The next day I drove Amy to school. I wanted to make sure she was okay. A couple of her girlfriends came up and gave her a hug. She turned to me and said, "I'll be alright, Dad. I'll ride the bus to the garage after school."

I left and went to the garage. Bill and Bob were there taking care of business. The next few days were spent getting back to normal. The detective stopped by and told me he kept running into dead ends.

"Mr. Collins, I'm almost sure you didn't kill your wife because all your alibis check out. I haven't dismissed the idea that you could have hired it done. We still haven't located the gun either."

"Detective, I assure you I had nothing to do with my wife's murder."

"Mr. Collins, I talked to your P.I. and he told me that you said if you saw Mr. Lake that you would kill him if he touched your daughter."

"I did say that under duress but I never saw him, and neither did Amy."

"Your P.I. told me that also. He had evidence that Mr. Lake was coming to town but he wasn't sure when or how. I have something else to take up with you."

"What is it?"

"Your wife and Mr. Lake both had marijuana in their system. Did you know your wife smoked pot?"

"No, I wasn't aware of it. She didn't even smoke cigarettes."

"We also ran tests on her vehicle and Mr. Lake's fingerprints were in it, along with a small bag of pot and cigarette papers. We figured she picked him up somewhere and brought him to the house. Any ideas where she might have met him?"

"None whatsoever," I told the detective. "I spent the whole morning at work. Maybe it's good that I didn't know. If I would have known what you're telling me now, I might have gone off the deep end."

"Another thing, Mr. Collins. The bodies are ready to be released for burial. What do you want us to do with them? It is your wife after all, and your daughter's legal parents."

"Give me a day to think about it. Right now you wouldn't want to hear my answer; that I can assure you."

Amy was dropped off at the garage after school. The guys gave her a hug and told her how sorry they were about her loss. She handled it pretty good. She said the majority of people at school talked nice to her but a few were just mean. She told me she knocked one guy down after he insulted her mom.

I had taught her to protect herself. She was a beautiful girl but also was a tomboy. She was one of the most well-liked kids in her school. When we got home I told her we had to discuss burial arrangements.

"What do you think, Dad? Mom did have a lot of friends and they would probably like to pay their last respects."

"We can have a service for her. I would prefer cremation instead of burial, if it's alright with you, Sweetheart."

"Sure, Dad, that would be fine. What about Kurt, Daddy? I didn't like him and I know you didn't either but he was my father at one time."

"The detective said no one in West Virginia wants to claim the body. You're the next of kin. Since you're a minor they can't force you to pay for his last expenses. He only had a couple of hundred dollars on him according to the detective."

"Daddy, I know it's got to be hard for you but can we have him cremated too? We don't need a service for him. We'll just go to the crematorium and make arrangements. It's just the right thing to do."

Damn, I would like to just throw his lifeless body over a cliff. He was the sperm donor of my little girl. I guess I would have to do what is right by her. Believe me, it wasn't easy to pay last expenses for a slime ball like him. At least the detective gave us the few hundred dollars toward the funeral and we got a whole two hundred fifty five dollars from Social Security.

Kara at least had insurance. She had a small burial policy of ten grand and she had a large policy at work. Her death was considered an accidental death so it paid double. We decided to put the whole policy in a college account for Amy. I used the small policy for Kara's last expenses, and it was enough to pay for her ex's cremation. At least no money came out of my pocket.

After the funeral I asked the detective if I could take Amy on a short trip for a couple of days. She was a bit downtrodden, which could be expected. I wanted to take her to Sea World and cheer her up a little. He gave us the okay since he had no evidence of foul play on my part.

Amy and I had a great time. It gave us a couple of days to put our problems behind us and just enjoy ourselves. It was the first time Amy was ever on an airplane. She really liked it. While we were at Sea World we also went to see a play. Amy told me she was going to be an actress.

"I thought you wanted to be a mechanic like me," I laughed.

"I do, Daddy," she laughed. "I'll be a mechanic till I make it big in the movies. I'll always have a trade to fall back on." She smiled and gave me a kiss.

Our short vacation was nice but we had to get back to reality. I went back to work and Amy went back at school. We grew closer since we only had each other. I did my best to provide her with a normal life, at least as normal as I could under the circumstances.

Detective Hurley stopped by every few days and said the trail of information was getting stale. He did tell us that they located another ex-prisoner who admitted driving Kurt Lake to Ohio. He dropped him off at a small motel outside of town. He put the motel in his name instead of Kurt's, and that's how they were able to locate him.

"He couldn't shed much light on the murders. He did say that Kurt was going to see his wife and daughter. He said something about winning her back and taking her and his daughter away, but that was about it. There was no way we could hold him. His name was Rob Robison. Ever hear of him or his name mentioned? It did explain how Kurt got here," explained the detective.

"No, I've never heard the name before. Again, everything leads to me," I told the detective. "I can see why I'm considered a suspect. I'd be willing to take a lie detector test to prove my innocence."

"Right now that won't be necessary. They usually don't hold up in court anyway. We did get copies of your phone bills and Mr. Lake has called your house a few times in the last few months."

"I saw our phone bills. There weren't any calls from this Kurt guy," I said.

"That's because he called your house. It wouldn't show up on your bill unless he called collect. I'm afraid your wife was setting up this meeting with him for awhile."

Over the next few months nothing new was found. Detective Hurley said he would keep us informed of any new findings. About the only good that came out of that was that they looked less and less at me.

Amy was involved in everything at school. She was on the different sports teams; she said it was good exercise. She was in the school play saying she was preparing for her acting career.

Amy was a beautiful young lady and I was worried about her dating. I knew it was going to happen and I needed to talk to her about it. One evening after dinner I decided to bring up the birds and the bees.

"Honey, you'll soon be dating and there it a few things you should know about men and women."

She was smiling at me, "What kind of things, Daddy?" Now she was grinning at me.

I knew she was teasing me. Kids her age probably knew more than I did.

"Honey, I'm talking about sex here. You're already fifteen and I need to tell you about birth control. If I had my way I'd make you wear a chastity belt but it's not feasible," I smiled. "If you want to, even though I prefer you not have sexual relations, I'll get you birth control pills." Boy, this sure was awkward to talk to her about.

"Daddy, Mom had this talk with me when I was twelve. Aunt Kate and Sally both talked to me after Mom's death. They figured you would have a hard time talking to me about it. They were right, Dad, but thank you for trying."

"So you know about birth control, and sex with boys and the birds and the bees."

"Dad, they teach a lot of that in grade school now. Just so you know, Dad. I don't need birth control pills right now. I'm not going to have sex with just anyone. I would have to love the man if I'm ever going to have sex with him, and right now you're the only man I love, Daddy." She laughed. "I promise you if I ever get to that point in my love life, I'll let you know and you can get the pills for me."

-----------------

No more evidence ever materialized on my wife's death. Amy and I just went on with our lives. We still did most everything together. We vacationed and watched TV together. I made sure I was at all her sporting events. She even had a sweet sixteen party.

Amy was asked out on dates after she turned sixteen. I had told her she couldn't date until after she turned sixteen. I admit I was a bit jealous, but my little girl had grown up. The first time I saw a boy kiss her good night, I could have wrung his neck. When she came in the house she smiled.

"I saw you watching through the drapes, Daddy. You didn't look too happy."

"I'm sorry, Honey, it's just that... that you're growing up so fast and you will be leaving for college and..."

"Easy, Daddy, I'm going to a local college. I'll still be around for a few years. If I ever do get married I'll have lots of grandkids for you to help raise. They couldn't have a better grandpa.

About six months later we received some really bad news. My sister Kate, the only other woman I loved was diagnosed with cancer. They only gave her three more months to live. The cancer was too far-gone to do anything about it.

Amy and I spent as much time as we could with Kate and her family. She was the only other woman I loved besides Amy. We cried after the funeral. Another part of my life was gone. All I had now was Amy. She came to me and held me.

"Everything will be all right, Daddy; I'll always be here for you."

Our life continued on. I tried dating but it just wasn't for me. I just wasn't good with relationships and every time I got home, Amy gave me the third degree. You would have thought she was the parent. I have to say I really didn't mind; it showed me she still cared.

She seemed to date pretty decent guys. When I spied on her, which I know I shouldn't have done, she never seemed to let a guy go to far. I heard her tell her dates when they wanted to go further that she was saving herself for that very special person and right now they weren't the one. It made me laugh but the boys seemed a bit rejected. She would always counter and told the guys that didn't mean that in the future there might not be a connection, just not right now. She wasn't only beautiful and thoughtful of others, but she had brains too.

She told me she wanted to go to the senior prom. She was double dating with one of her girlfriends. It was surprising that she always introduced me to her dates. She told me one time that I had to approve of anyone who asked her out or she wouldn't go. I wanted to tell her that the only person I wanted her with was me but I knew better. She was too good a daughter to hurt her feelings.

I gave her a credit card and told her to go buy herself whatever she needed for the prom. Her girlfriend, Sandy, couldn't believe that I would just give Amy carte blanch on a credit card.

"Sandy, I trust Amy more than anyone in this world. I know she'll do the right thing; she always does."

"Wow, I wish I had a relationship like that with my dad," replied Sandy.

The morning of the prom by daughter went to the hair salon and had her hair done. She got dressed in her new blue chiffon dress which showed too much cleavage. Not really, but it did seeing she was my daughter. Beautiful wouldn't fit her description as much as stunning. She didn't even look like a young lady; she looked like one gorgeous woman.

"Where did my little tomboy go?" I asked Amy.

"She's still right here, Dad, only she's dressed a little differently."

"Honey, you are so beautiful. Have a nice time at the prom. I'll be waiting up for you."

"Dad, you're so funny. I love you and I will be a good little girl," she laughed.

Her date, Brian, was one lucky fellow to be allowed to take Amy to the prom. I did give him a stern look that said 'if you touch her, I'll kill you.'

----------------------

After the prom came graduation. My little girl was now headed for college. She did keep her word and go to a college within driving distance to our home. I couldn't believe she was studying literature and acting.

We didn't get to spend a lot of time together since she was a full time student and I had the business. We saw each other for a few minutes in the morning and late at night. We decided to make Sundays the day we spent together. We would go out to dinner and rent DVD's and watch them together. We loved spending time together but our schedules didn't allow us much. Besides she was grown and I suspected might want to spread her wings a little.

She was always in my thoughts. One day she came home and said she tried out for the college play and got the lead role. A story about a distraught woman who's husband was brutally murdered.

"Honey, can you handle this type of role? I don't want it to bring up bad thoughts about your past."

"I'm fine, Daddy. After all that was six years ago. I just want to make sure you'll come and see me in it."

"I wouldn't miss it for the world. I'll be right there in the front row if I can get a seat."

"You'll get the seat, Daddy, I'll see to that. I just wish Aunt Kate could have been here; I loved her so much. Maybe I'll get you a seat for Sally and her husband. They've always supported me too since Aunt Kate died."

"That would be nice, Honey. I'm sure they would like to see you in your first leading role." I was surprised she never mentioned her mother. Maybe it was just too painful.

I mentioned it to Sally the next day and she said she would love to go and would mention it to her husband. She knew he thought of Amy almost like a daughter and was sure he would go.

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The day of the performance the place was packed. They gave me my program guide and I was so proud to see 'Starring Amy Lake' on the cover. I never did formally adopt her since I knew I would have a problem because I was a single male. Of course now that Amy was twenty, no one could raise any objections to us being together.

The performance started and I had tears in my eyes the minute Amy appeared on stage. She was fantastic. I wasn't the only one that was saying it. At intermission it was all the crowd talked about. I wanted to scream out, "She's my daughter" I was so proud.

In the second act of the play she saw her husband killed. She went into a type of shock. It looked so real. The audience was wondering if something really happened to her. I was worried. I remembered when her mom died that she went into the same type of shock. I was hoping that something in her memory hadn't triggered her reaction seeing her fictional husband killed.

The curtains quickly closed and the audience was on edge wondering her condition. About thirty seconds later the curtains opened back up and she was in a hospital bed. The crowd clapped knowing it was an act and she wasn't hurt. I cried. My baby girl was the star of the play.

After the play the cast stood in line to greet some of the patrons. When I got to Amy she put her arms around me and gave me a big hug. My eyes were filled with tears as I hugged her back. I told her how proud I was of her. Sally and her husband hugged her too.

When I got home I was sitting on the couch waiting for Amy to get home. My mind couldn't get over her acting as a patient in shock. She was so believable. Not only me but the whole audience thought she was really in shock. I couldn't get over it. Then I began to wonder. No, it couldn't be true? She was only a fourteen year old girl at the time. I didn't quite know how to bring it up to her.

I didn't have to. She brought it up to me. She came into the house and said. "Daddy, I have something I need to tell you. I should have told you a long time ago."

"What is it, Honey?" She laid her head on my shoulder and I put my arms around her and squeezed her tight."

"I have a secret to tell you."

"What is it, Amy?"

"I shot Mommy."

I froze. Did I hear her right? Did she say she shot Kara?

"What are you saying, Amy? You shot Mom and Kurt?"

"Yes, Daddy. Please don't be mad at me. They were going to take me away from you. I couldn't let that happen, Daddy. I had to stop them. Please don't hate me, Daddy. I did it for us."

"Honey, I don't hate you. I could never hate you." I squeezed her tighter. I was totally surprised at what she had said to me. "Honey, I need you to tell me the whole story. Can you do that?"

"Yes, Daddy, I'm ready to tell you everything. Just hold me tight while I tell you.

"The Friday before it happened, I accidentally lifted up the extension phone in the garage. I was going to call you and ask you if I could use your wrench to tighten the nut on my bike handle bars. You always said to get your permission before using your tools. When I lifted up the phone I heard Mom talking to a man. Later I heard her mention his name. It was Kurt. I knew it was my father. He said he was ready to come to take me and Mom away. I froze when I heard that. Mom said she was ready to leave and that we could sneak away the next day. Dad, you're not going to like this part at all but he said he wanted to fuck Mom in her marital bed before he took us away.

"Mom laughed and thought it was funny. She even said he should see how much I've grown and maybe he might like to... I can't say it dad. I can't believe Mom would let him touch me. Anyway, I heard their plans to leave and force me to go with them the next day. You worked late and I didn't have a chance to be alone with you. I knew I had to do something Dad. After I hung up the phone I got the wrench out of the toolbox and saw the gun. I knew what I had to do.

"I went to my girlfriends and stayed late. When I came home, Mom told me I couldn't go to practice because she had somewhere to go and couldn't drop me off. I told her I would just ride my bike. I guess she didn't argue with me because it might send up some kind of red flag about her plans. I got up right after you left for work and hurried up and left before Mom could talk to me. I knew she wasn't going to let me go to practice. She yelled at me as I left, but I didn't stop; I went and rode my bike to practice.

"My mind wasn't on the practice. The coach ended up calling it off earlier than usual. When I got home, I noticed Mom's car wasn't in the garage. I figured she went to pick up Kurt. I went in the garage and got your revolver and snuck in the back door. I could hear Mom and Kurt having sex. I heard Kurt say we would all leave as soon as I got home from practice. He said we would be a family again. They were laughing at you, Daddy, they were laughing saying what a wimp you were and how they would enjoy taking me away from you.

"I couldn't let that happen, Daddy, I just couldn't. I stepped into the room and saw Mom riding Kurt. I just fired three shots into her back and a fourth into the back of her head. Kurt leaned forward and looked at me. I shot him twice in the face. One was right between the eyes. I held the gun steady, Daddy, just like you taught me.

"I did freeze up after that but I hid the gun and then called you. You know the rest. You're not going to send me away, are you, Daddy? I couldn't let them separate us, I just couldn't."

"My God, Honey, why didn't you tell me?"

"I couldn't, Daddy. I was afraid you would try and take the blame and I would lose you. I told you I would make a good actress. Everyone believed me. Now it's just me and you, Daddy."

She was right. If she had told me, I would have taken the blame. Hell, I was their prime suspect anyway. I would have done anything to protect my little girl.

"Honey, where did you hide the gun?"

She stood up and walked into her bedroom. She grabbed her overstuffed Teddy Bear and unzipped it. She pulled out most of the stuffing and a washrag. Inside the rag, she had the revolver. It'd been in her Teddy Bear all that time. I told her to put the stuffing back inside the bear and then we got into the car and drove down the river road for about an hour. We got out and I took a file and filed off the serial number and then wiped any prints off the gun and I let Amy throw it into the river.

I looked at my loving daughter. "Amy, we are never and I do mean never to speak of this again. Do you understand?"

She smiled and said, "I love you, Daddy, and I do understand."

We went back home and never spoke of it again.

Amy had a couple of dates after our talk. She didn't seem serious about anyone. She usually double dated with her girl friends, or went out as a group. Our Sundays were still our special day.

About a month before her twenty-first birthday she came out in her nighty and said she needed to talk to me. She sat down on my lap and said, "Daddy, I think it's time to get the birth control pills."

My heart dropped. It was the last thing that I wanted to hear from my little girl. I was lost for words. What is a father supposed to say when I had told her to tell me when she was ready and thought she would want them.

"Are you sure about this, Amy? Are you sure you want the pills?" I was so hoping she would tell me she was just joking but she didn't.

"Are you going to tell me his name? I thought you had to love him first?" I was trying to get some information out of her but she wouldn't budge.

"Daddy, I'm not telling you who it is. I am going to be twenty-one. You know I wouldn't need your permission now but I can't lie to you. I told you I would tell you when I was ready, and yes, Dad, I love him very much." She was smiling but I didn't think it was too funny.

She went to the doctor the following day and she got her prescription filled. She didn't say much about it after that.

"Amy, I was planning on taking you out for your twenty-first birthday. Do you still want to go or do you have other plans now."

"Daddy, you're my main man. Yes, I expect you to take me to the finest restaurant for my birthday."

When that day arrived I gave her a credit card to go and buy a new dress.

While she was getting dressed I put on a suit, something I very rarely did. When she came out of her bedroom she looked gorgeous. "Honey, you look so beautiful." I knew I had tears running down my cheek.

She had on a beautiful blue dress that was about four inches above her knees. The neck line was just low enough to show the top of her ample breasts. Her hair was done up like a model's, setting high on her head.

God, at that moment I almost wished she wasn't my daughter. I wanted to make love to this beautiful woman. She might have just turned twenty-one but she held herself tall and straight like she might be twenty-four or so. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a silver necklace. It was her birthday present.

"Happy Birthday, Baby," I smiled as I handed her the necklace.

"Oh, Daddy, it so beautiful. I love you so much. Thank you."

"It's not nearly as beautiful as my little girl," I smiled.

I took her out of town to the big city for her birthday. I had reservations at the nicest restaurant I could find. Amy was getting looks from all the men we passed. After dinner we went to see a play. She reminded me of her becoming an actress and of course I smiled.

After the play she asked me to take her dancing.

"Honey, I'm not much of a dancer but I'll do my best."

We were spending the night at the Sheraton Inn and they had a lounge, with a band and dance floor. There was a big sign at the entrance that said, "You must be twenty-one to enter." My sweet sexy looking daughter walked over to the doorway to the lounge and smiled at me. I couldn't help it as I followed her to the door as the doorman asked us if we wanted a table or booth.

Amy answered, "A table please, up front next to the dance floor."

The doorman seated us and I was laughing at my sweet daughter playing my sexy over-twenty-one date. The waiter came over and asked what we were drinking. My sweet daughter asked for a Margarita. I wasn't sure about this but I decided that I would let her have her fun for the one night. "Just bring us a pitcher of Margarita's," I said as I grinned at my smiling daughter.

At home I would let her have a wine cooler when we were alone. Now she was old enough to drink - my baby girl was twenty-one, so hard to believe. The band played a slow number and she asked me to dance. I shook my head wondering what I was getting myself into. I took her in my arms and held her close.

"Daddy, thank you for the best birthday ever. I love you so much."

"Honey, you might not want to call me Daddy while we're here. Someone might overhear you and get the wrong idea."

"What idea is that, Daddy? I don't look like a hooker, do I?"

"God, no! I've never seen a hooker as beautiful as you. I guess holding you close like this isn't something that most dads do with their daughters."

After a couple of dances we were seated and drinking our drinks when a man asked Amy to dance. Amy looked over at me to see how I would respond. If I had my way, I'd get up and kick the guy's ass, but I decided to go along with whatever Amy wanted. After all it was her special day.

"It's nice of you to ask but no, thank you. I'm here to celebrate my birthday with my boyfriend." She smiled at the guy and again at me.

The guy looked over at me and decided by the look on my face he better leave. Amy laughed when he left. We got up and danced some more. I might have drunk a little too much because I found myself holding Amy too close. I could feel her pressed up against me and smell her intoxicating hair and her perfume. She didn't say a word but just put her arms around me.

She had the attention of a number of guys around the lounge. She whispered in my ear, "Daddy, are you jealous of these men looking at me? You seem a little aggravated."

"Yes, I'm jealous of these men and your boyfriend who I have yet to be introduced too. I'm sorry, Honey; it's just that I don't want anyone touching my little girl."

"Daddy, I'm not a little girl anymore. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a woman."

"Believe me, Honey, I've noticed. God knows I've noticed."

"I think it's time we go to our room, Brad. I'm getting horny and I want that birthday present you said you have for me." She said it rather loudly and laughed making the men close to us figured we were headed up to our room to have sex. Of course I played along to make her happy.

When we were walking to the elevator I knew I had a couple of drinks too many. I could feel them deadening my senses a little. Amy only had two Margarita's and had her senses about her. It was another thing about my girl, she was not only smart but seemed to have a lot of common sense which seemed to be lacking in many young people today.

We went into our room and Amy stepped into the bathroom to change. I went ahead and took off my suit and slipped on my pajama bottoms. I turned on the TV just for the noise. I wasn't paying much attention to it but an old love story was on. I knew Amy loved these old movies so I just left it on and sat in a large lounge chair and thought about my life and my daughter. She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Ever since I took her to the movies twelve years before, she was my life. I sure will miss her when she leaves the nest. She always says she isn't leaving but most kids talk like that till they start to experience life. Now she was on birth control and had a boyfriend. It sure sounds like she's getting ready to move on.

She came out of the bathroom and her hair was down and she had on a pair of her baby doll pajamas. They were nearly transparent to my eyes. I could see the nipples of her breasts pushing taut against the thin fabric. The bottom shorts did nothing but barely cover her pubic mound which made her all the more sensuous. She walked over to me and sat on my lap. I couldn't hide the erection I was getting. I was getting embarrassed for getting a hard-on looking at my daughter.

"Daddy, thank you for such a wonderful birthday. You're the best daddy and friend a girl could want."

She leaned forward and pressed her lips against mine. We kissed on the lips before but never anything like this. This was a lover's kiss. Soft, sensuous, and slightly wet would be the way to explain it. I knew it was wrong but I didn't stop her. In fact I returned the kiss, time and time again.

I tried to think but I wanted this so bad myself. My erection was pressing against her thigh. I know she could feel it.

"Daddy, I want you to make love to me."

"Baby, it's wrong. You're my daughter."

"Daddy, I've wanted you most of my life. There is no boyfriend; I got the birth control pills for this night, Daddy. Don't you want me?"

"My God, Honey, there's no woman I've ever wanted more."

"Then take me, Daddy. Make love to me. Please don't turn me down. I've waited so long. I'm a woman and I know what I'm doing and who I want - it's you, Daddy."

My head was spinning. I wanted her; I realized that I had wanted her for years. Now I find out she has felt the same. We got up and dimmed the lights and lay on the bed.

"Make love to me, Daddy, but be gentle. After all this is my first time and I want to remember it forever."

Right then she wasn't my daughter; she was a beautiful young woman who loved me and I loved back. I slid my hands gently inside her bottoms and felt her mound for the first time. So soft and as I slid my hand further south she spread her legs. She was so hot and moist.

"Feels so good. Keep rubbing me, Daddy."

I found her clit and started rubbing harder and as she was pushing against my hand I pushed two fingers into her soft moist opening. I felt her having a mini-orgasm. She reached down and pulled her bottoms off with my fingers still inside her.

"Make love to me, Daddy, make love to me now."

Maybe it was the drinks of maybe lust but I climbed between her thighs and slowly pushed my cock into her pussy. I stopped when I reached her hymen. "Are you sure, baby, are you really sure this is what you want?" I asked.

"I've never been more sure of anything in my life Daddy."

I pushed forward as she yelled out. I was buried in her to the hilt. I waited for the pain to subside and then in a gentle motion I fucked her. She felt so incredible. She was now starting to buck against me.

"Okay, Daddy, give me your best shot." She was smiling and pumping at the same time. "Oh, God, why did we wait so long? I could have done this with you years ago. I love you so much. Cum in me, Daddy, cum in me. You're the reason for the pills, the only reason. I wanted to feel you come inside me, Daddy."

"Here it comes, Honey." I shot the biggest load of cum that I could ever remember into my sweet Amy.

She was screaming out for more, and more she got. We made love over and over throughout the night. I realized that sex was so much more when it was with someone you truly love. After most of an all-nighter I called the desk and reserved the room for another night.

The next morning I looked at Amy lying there on the bed. She was so beautiful. Her eyes were open and she was smiling at me.

"I love you, Amy Lake, I love you so much."

"I love you too, Daddy. No one is ever going to separate us. That's a promise from me to you."

I had no idea what was going to happen after we got back home. All I knew is that I had just had the two greatest nights of my life with a woman I truly loved.

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