“How did you break your arm?” she asked, but he wasn’t looking at her and didn’t see the question. She reached over and in a gesture similar to the one he’d used on her the previous night, gently tilted his jaw so that he was looking at her. She repeated the question and he seemed to shake himself out of his reverie, but when he spoke again, his voice was so horribly empty.
“He was very angry,” he said with a shrug.
“Your father broke your arm?” She needed clarity on this point and wasn’t sure she understood. He nodded abruptly before draining his glass.
“I’m exhausted,” he muttered gruffly. “I was wondering, would you and Kayla like to go to the beach with me tomorrow? I’ll fix a picnic lunch. Unless you’ve moved your ladies’ get-together to tomorrow? Since you missed it today?”
“A couple of the others had other plans this weekend as well, so we decided not to meet until next week. Anyway, the beach sounds nice,” she agreed absently, not really paying attention, her mind on what he had just revealed. He smiled before getting up abruptly.
“Great.” He sounded pleased. “It’ll be an early-ish start. I think eight o’clock should do it.” He turned to head out of the door, then hesitated and turned back to her. He leaned over her.
“Thank you for today, Bron,” he said sincerely, bending down to drop an unexpectedly sweet kiss onto her opened mouth. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“No, wait. Bryce . . .” But he was already striding away, leaving her to fret over the unexpected information he had divulged about his father. Had it been an accident? Or deliberate? The latter possibility left her cold and unable to fall asleep for the longest time.
Bronwyn woke to the conspiratorial sound of whispering just outside her door, and a bleary-eyed look at her bedside clock told that her it was seven thirty a.m. She groaned at the thought of getting Kayla up and ready in time for Bryce’s early start. She was exhausted after an uneasy night’s sleep. She cleared her throat and frowned when the whispering outside her door continued. She pushed herself up when the door handle turned slowly and braced for an energetic wake-up call similar to the one Bryce had received the day before. She leaned forward when nothing happened; the whispering continued for a few more moments before her daughter’s dimpled face appeared around the door. When the little girl caught sight of her mother, she gasped and abruptly jerked back out of sight.
“Mummy not sleep!” Bronwyn heard the toddler hiss frantically before she was shushed by an unmistakeable, deep voice that always managed to send delicious shivers down her spine. Intrigued now, Bronwyn leaned even farther forward, wondering what they were up to. After another few moments of whispered exchanges, Kayla stepped around the door, already dressed in a pair of pink denim dungarees, a yellow-and-pink T-shirt, and her favorite pair of red squeak sneakers. In her hands she solemnly clasped a handful of multicolored autumn flowers, which Bronwyn recognized from the garden outside.
“Hello, Mummy.” She grinned.
“Good morning, sweetheart. What do you have there?” The little girl solemnly handed her the flowers before leaning up on tiptoes to kiss her mother on the cheek.
“Happy Mummy day,” the little girl said carefully in a well-rehearsed way.
“Mummy’s day? But . . .” She glanced up to see Bryce standing in the doorway with a tray clasped in his hands, her eyes huge and vulnerable in her face as she tried to figure out what on earth was going on here. “Bryce, it’s not . . .”
“Yes it is. You’ve missed out on two, so Kayla and I are making up for lost time.” He placed the tray in her lap and removed the flowers from her numb fingers to place them in the empty vase on the tray, before moving the vase to her nightstand. He dropped a kiss on her cheek. “Happy Mother’s Day, Bronwyn.”
Kayla solemnly held up a small gift-wrapped box, and when Bronwyn opened it she frowned in confusion.
“What’s this?” It was an electronic beeper-like device nestled in a custom-molded Styrofoam cushion.
“The smart key to your new car,” he informed with a slight smile, and her eyes widened when she turned the small device over and spotted the prominent BMW logo on the other side of the key.
“Bryce, this is too much,” she protested helplessly.
“This is nowhere near enough,” he interrupted gruffly. “Nothing I do can ever be enough.”
“I don’t know what to say,” she said, unable to read his mood and not sure how to react.
“You don’t have to say anything.” He grinned, flashing a dimple identical to his daughter’s and looking just as mischievous as the toddler. “Just enjoy the car. It’s not quite as sporty as the last one you had; I wanted something bigger and safer because of Kayla.”
“But when did you . . .” She couldn’t seem to gather her thoughts, and his smile widened.
“I started shopping when you told me about how you were forced to sell the last one. It was delivered yesterday, but the visit to the aquarium kind of distracted me. I figured you must be sick of that Jeep by now. I know you’re not a fan of it.” She nodded dumbly in response to that observation, still staring blankly down at the key in her hand. Bored with the lack of attention, Kayla started tugging at her father’s hand. He glanced down at her and signed something to her that Bronwyn didn’t quite catch. Whatever it was seemed to satisfy the little girl because she grudgingly settled down
“Take your time getting ready,” he told her. “Kayla and I will be downstairs packing our picnic. It’s going to be a beautiful day; sunny, with blue skies and not a single cloud on the horizon.”