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My Ward My Woman

By:Jordan Silver

1

Solomon

“Sir, we’ve got a situation.” I barely spared the man who entered the room a glance before going back to what I was doing.

“What kind of situation?” I read the second line of the report I’d been trying to get through, for the thousandth time. This guy should get a job as a sleep therapist. What the fuck am I reading?

“It’s uh your uh…” I knew what he was going to say before he said it. I glared up at him already knowing I wasn’t going to like what came out of his mouth next. “Spit it out.”

“It’s your ward sir.” Uh-huh, of course it is.

“What about her?” If she got suspended from school again I’ll tan her ass for sure this time.

“She kinda sorta disappeared.” I was out of my chair so fast it flipped over and ended up across the room behind me. Everything that could possibly go wrong went through my head in a few short seconds. Alexandra!

My enemies… I held onto the desk to calm myself. Only she had the power to make me this weak. Please… I started one of many prayers I’ve said in the past how many years since my little darling hit puberty.

Once a well-behaved and utterly adorable child, she’s now become a hoyden. A pain in the ass that has been making my life a living hell these past few months, and tying me up in knots every chance she gets. I couldn’t think about that now, every time I did, I gave myself a headache.

She’s been with me since the age of ten or eleven. That’s when a plane crash destroyed what was left of her family. Her dad, rest his soul, was an old high school and college buddy. One, who’d been as close as any brother. It was for that reason that I wasn’t completely surprised when the lawyer called with the news that I was to be her new guardian.

I wasn’t shocked but it couldn’t have come at a worst time. I was just getting into the groove of the business world. Not that it had been that hard. The company had been in the family for at least five generations, and by the time I took the reins we were doing pretty well for ourselves. I just needed to bring us into the twenty-first century.

Don had liked living life in the fast lane. That’s how he’d ended up with a kid at the ripe old age of fifteen. That shit would’ve scared the hell out of me at that age, but not him. He approached fatherhood the way he did everything else, like it was something to be conquered.

His parents hadn’t been too pleased and there had been a strain in the relationship for a time, but they’d taken care of the young girl who’d given birth to their granddaughter.

When Don was old enough, he’d taken his daughter since her mom had fallen into a life of drugs and prostitution. She’d expected to have a life with Don, one that would’ve changed her status drastically. Don had been out for a good time.

He couldn’t love her, but he adored his little girl. I think that’s where we both started thinking of her as a doll. We were young and stupid, what the hell did we know? But she was our doll and I guess we treated her like one. Now she’s making my ass pay for past sins.

After college, I buckled down and started looking at life through different eyes. It was time to put my youth behind me and start the journey into adulthood. My own father who’d always despaired of my friendship with the free spirited Don had drilled it into my head every chance he got that life was about more than having a good time.

So while I was learning the ins and outs of the family firm, Don was jumping off of cliffs and skydiving; anything to get that rush he was always chasing. His old man hadn’t been ready to let go of the reins and Don had spent his time with his young wife gallivanting around the globe getting into whatever he could find to keep his adrenaline going. I’d joined them a time or two, but I got my rush from closing new deals. It was in my blood.

So there I was, twenty-five barely, and the world at my feet. Then she came along and I had to switch gears. We already knew each other, but it had been a while since I last saw her. I remember the well of love and sadness I felt for the little angel I’d always called my doll even after she’d grown out of the toddler stage.

Those first few days we clung to each other in grief and I remember how assertive she was even then. How she’d climb into my lap and wrap her little arms around my neck and kiss my cheek before placing her head on my shoulder. She always seemed to know when I was grieving the hardest back then.

After the grief was spent and reality crept back in, I realized I was in deep shit. She wasn’t a doll after all; she was a living, breathing thing that needed care and lots of attention. I was ready to jump out the fucking window by week two because I was terrified that I would mess shit up.

I’d look at her little face looking up at me so hopefully. Just knowing that I was going to fix whatever it was that was bothering her at the time. My heart would melt into a puddle and I would reaffirm the promise I’d made myself, that I was going to do everything in my power to make her life a good one. Not just for her dad, but also for the little being I’d held for the first time when she was just a few minutes old.

Mom had stepped in and been a big help since I didn’t know the first thing about raising a little girl, especially one who’d been so hurt and afraid when she came to me. She’d pitched in and done mostly everything back then, but I’d drawn the line at letting my little Alex go home with her.

She was my responsibility, and I owed it to my old friend to watch over her the way he’d asked. Plus having her was like having a part of my old buddy with me always. But it hadn’t been easy.

I remember the many nights I spent sitting at her bedside holding her hand or when that didn’t work because the nightmare was too forceful, then I’d have to climb in and hold her to give her comfort. That had gone on for a solid two years I think, until it dwindled down to once every so often. Those tears used to break my heart.

I could give her everything in the world except the one thing she wanted most, her dad and stepmother. Somehow we muddled through and became our own little family unit of two. I spent weekends shepherding her around, always with her little hand clutched firmly in mine as she dragged me from one place to another.

Back then, all I had to worry about was scraped knees and wounded pride from my little tomboy. She was a fierce little thing who had to excel at everything to please her uncle Sol. I should’ve known that fighting spirit I’d taken so much pride in would come back to bite me in the ass.





2





Solomon





Sometime in the last year I’d started to notice a difference in her behavior towards me. At first she’d seemed withdrawn. She wouldn’t look me in the eye when we spoke and there were no more sneak tickle attacks when she felt I was ignoring her too long.

I suddenly realized that I hadn’t heard her cheerful laughter for some time, and that it had been a while since she came into my home office to bring me a snack late at night before going to bed. She was avoiding me.

A talk with my mother assured me, that it was just natural teenage angst. All the same I decided to keep a close eye on her just in case. She was old enough to date but as yet I hadn’t heard anything about a sweetheart, something else I was dreading once she hit puberty.

I comforted myself with the fact that my girl had a good head on her shoulders and we’d had the ‘talk’. At least I’d tried, but her red face and the lump in my throat had kinda had us both rushing from the room once the ordeal was over. Never-a-fucking- gain would I want to go through that horror show.

Even I didn’t believe my bullshit. But for a few years she believed that if she let a boy hold her hand she’d catch a debilitating disease. Until some asshole teacher taught her different and she chewed my ass out for lying to her. Her uncle Sol was perfect, which meant no fibs. She’d had me up for sainthood until about age sixteen when the battles began.

Because I was watching her so close it was easy not to miss anything. It seemed like everyday there was something else with her. If I’d known in the beginning that one little girl could turn into so much fucking trouble I would’ve hired a battalion of people to help me raise her.

She started wearing makeup for crap sake and I knew that was the beginning of the end.

Then I’d notice her day dreaming a lot with a silly half smile on her face. I started a time or two to ask her who or what had put that look on her face. But the fear of losing my precious doll to some pimple faced asshole punk kept my tongue behind my teeth.

As long as his name wasn’t mentioned he didn’t exist. Yeah I was playing the shit by ear; the fuck did I know about letting her go off to have a life separate from me? Besides she was too fucking young, she was still my little doll.

Then came the mad dashes to her room, as soon as she came in from school. I would hear her giggling with her friends of which there were many, behind her bedroom door. Then on weekends when she had half that school of hers in my damn house, I’d have to go into hiding to get away from teenage bullshit.

I’d shake my head at the whispers and blushes that would appear as soon as I walked into a room. It got so as soon as I saw the million and one cars pulling into the driveway I’d high tail it to the other side of the house. That became the norm whenever she and her friends were in residence.

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