My Baby’s Daddy
Angela was standing on higher ground, making her half a head taller than Richard and allowing her to look at him from an angle she never had seen before. She took in his defined brow bone and the straight line of his nose. He had his gaze down as he helped put a band–aid over her finger, and his dark eyelashes hid the steely look in his eyes. He looked almost… gentle, the most tender she had ever seen him.
Startled by the contrast between his present demeanor and his usual stoic self, Angela could only gape at him speechlessly. After a while, she blushed and said apologetically, “I‘m sorry for what I did earlier. I hope I didn‘t offend you.” She was filled with regret over how forthright she had been.
“Just don‘t do it again,” Richard said as he looked up at her, his eyes like two clear pools. He seemed unaffected by the kiss as if it meant nothing to him, like a piece of lint on his coat.
Disappointment flashed in her eyes as she pulled her finger away from him. Then, she took a breath and promised, “I won‘t do it again.”
He eyed her darkly for a second, then slung his backpack over his shoulders as he declared, “Let‘s call it a day and go back to base.”
She was not so prideful as to have no self–awareness, and she knew she could never make it to the summit. Nodding, she said obligingly, “Okay.”
With that, she took the first step to dismount from higher ground, but her foot landed on a wobbly rock that detached from the soil.
She swayed, but before she could fall, a large hand gripped her shoulder and steadied her.
Angela looked up at the man who kept her from stumbling and falling down the slope, but she felt defeated. Did the kiss mean nothing to him? Doesn‘t he feel anything at all?
Richard let go of her shoulder, but offered her his hand as he said, “Come on, I‘ll hold your hand until we reach the foot of the mountain.”
She stared at his hand, and her mind wandered for a brief few seconds. He was always there when she needed his help, making sure she didn‘t get hurt. He didn‘t look like he knew how his gestures could give her the wrong idea, and how he could easily lead her on to think he liked her when in truth, taking care of her was nothing more than an obligation on his part–nothing personal.