Tenth story in the Angel Girl series.
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Authors note: I loved Purple Lacey's Angel Girl stories from the first and this one just popped into my head and demanded to be written. I am grateful to Purple Lacey for letting me play in her sandbox.
JD Dunne woke to the sound of crying, he listened for a moment or two expecting to hear the familiar sound of Buck Wilmington coming to his daughter's aid. But no sound came, so as any good uncle should, he got up and moved quickly down the corridor to Angela's room. Angela Wilmington was just 6 months old and the most beautiful child JD had ever known. She was crying, her little face flushed, one fist in her mouth.
"Hey there you, what's wrong?" he asked picking the wailing child up in his arms.
Their live-in housekeeper Rita would normally have come running as well, but she was away tonight attending a family christening. JD had learned very fast, along with Buck, how to be a competent parent, and a crying baby no longer sent him into a panic, reaching for the phone and calling poor Nathan out at all hours. He felt her forehead, which was not hot enough to indicate a fever, but her flushed left cheek was hot. She had stopped wailing, held safe in her Uncle JD's arms. She just whimpered and chewed her fist.
"Hush, little Angel, hush now. Does your mouth hurt?"
JD continued to talk softly to her as he searched the house for her father. Having found Buck's bed empty, and drawing a blank in the kitchen, the den, and the study, he tried some of the more unlikely locations.
"Well, where the he heck is he, darling?" JD asked. He returned to the living room. On the low coffee table he spotted some papers, and instantly knew where the errant father had gone.
+ + + + + + +
"Hi there," JD said softly as he slid in to sit beside Buck, still cradling Angela in his arms.
"Hi," Buck replied his eyes on his now sleeping daughter. "Is she alright?"
"Your daughter is the proud owner of a tooth," JD explained.
"Oh darling, you clever girl," Buck cooed, stroking her cheek with infinite gentleness. "Sorry you had to deal with it, JD. I just "
"I know. It wasn't a problem, honest. You and Rita usually get all the soothing and comforting. It was nice to have a go."
The two men sat in silence for a long time, side by side in the cab of Wilmington's classic red 1950's short-bed truck. He had restored her himself, and she had been - until Angela - his pride and joy. He had lavished more time and money on her than on all the women he had dated.
"It's the right thing to do," JD finally said quietly.
Buck ran his hand over the dashboard. "I know," he all but whispered. "It's just ... God JD, this old truck, she and me have seen some times. I don't just mean ah hell. I can't explain it. I used to go over to Chris' and work on her on my own, sometimes for hours, after Sarah and Adam. It was a good excuse to be out there and keep an eye on him, but it was also a way to oh, I don't know lose myself, not think about them, about what I'd lost, what I was losing as Chris slipped further down, and all I could do was make sure there was a soft place for him to land. She saw me through all that; gave me a purpose, a focus."
JD looked across at his friend. In the poor light he could make out tears on Buck's cheeks, not he suspected, because he was losing his truck, but tears of remembrance of times past, good and bad. Gently JD lifted Angela up and placed her in her father's lap. Buck looked down, smiled, and equally gentle, gathered her up in his arms and held her close against his chest, kissing the top of her head gently.
"Her safety is more important than any truck," JD softly stated the fact.
Buck had known almost from the outset he would have to get a more practical, safer car now he had a child. The old truck didn't meet modern standards, and there just wasn't enough space in the cab for two adults and a child, let alone all the equipment that they had to carry whenever they took Angela out of the house. He had hoped to keep his beloved truck and buy a second car, but the cost of buying a house, even with JD's contribution to the mortgage, employing a housekeeper, and the extra costs involved in raising a child had put a huge strain on his finances. The truck, one of a limited number of special additions and fully restored, was worth in excess of $20,000. It was a financial resource he just couldn't afford not to use.
Buck had asked JD to actually sell it for him, rather than face the prospect himself. JD had found an Internet site and posted a picture. Within four days they had received four offers, all offering the full asking price of $21,000. Some swift bidding then ensured and the final price was $23,500. The buyer's check had cleared and tomorrow (Saturday) a transporter would come and take the truck away.
"I know, but it doesn´t make it any easier to say goodbye. She's a friend." Buck once more ran his hand along the dash, while cradling his daughter in the other. "I've treated her right, and she's never let me down, not once. Ain't many modern cars you can say that about, or even people, come to that. I'll miss her."
+ + + + + + +
The new car, actually second hand, was parked behind the truck. JD and Nathan had accompanied Buck to search for a suitable replacement. JD offered moral support, Buck took care of the technical details himself, and Nathan was there to check out the baby features. After a lot of research by JD, one car stood head and shoulders above the rest; a Volvo station wagon. It had all the safety features, and was as baby friendly as a car could be. Buck hated it.
"Look it has a front crumple zone, four air bags, side air bags, roll bar, side impact protection, anti-lock brakes," JD explained, yet again. "And it has child booster seats built in, plus, anchor points for the baby seat, front and back, so you can have her beside you when you drive," Nathan added.
"I know, I know, it's just that it's a VOLVO! It's a a a I mean it's it's so, and it's " Buck struggled to express just how un-cool a Volvo was.
"It may interest you to know that in Europe, this car is the car of choice of most police forces, especially for highway patrol," Nathan offered.
"Yup, big, safe, and fast, very, very fast!" JD enthused.
"And don't forget the five stack CD player, GPS system, air conditioning, heated seats, all the extra's you could want," Nathan prompted.
But then Buck had turned back to look at it again. "But it's PURPLE!" he despaired.
"Well you couldn't afford it otherwise," JD pointed out.
The car was only a year old. It had been custom painted in a deep rich purple, with a metallic finish; it positively sparked in its purpleness. The customer had died suddenly before they could collect the car or make the final payment. The dealership was thus left with it on their hands. For a year they used it as a demonstration car, since it was a top of the range car with all the optional extras. Now a new model was out and the dealer needed to get rid of it. With hardly any miles on the clock it was a bargain. A perfect solution to Buck's car problem, and at $19,999 he would have a few thousand left to put in the bank, providing a much needed safety cushion.
+ + + + + + +
Angela Wilmington woke slowly to realize her mouth hurt, and she was in her daddy's arms. Angela's daddy was the best daddy in the world, and when he was with her she was totally safe. Her daddy would make her mouth all better. She gurgled at him as her hand went back into her mouth.
"Hello, my angel. Is your tooth making your mouth sore, honey? Well, Daddy's gonna make it all better, but you are such a clever girl to have a tooth. Yes, you are." Buck continued to speak soft words of love and reassurance to his baby girl as he placed a gentle kiss on her inflamed cheek. "We are going to go and find that special ring your Uncle Nathan brought for you, the one in the fridge, so you can chew on something cool and that will make it feel much better, don't you worry."
Angela gurgled at her daddy through her fingers as he carried her back inside the house.
"Tomorrow you and me will go out for the day," he told her as they walked inside.
JD smiled as he watched father and daughter go; locking up the truck and following them in. Buck would not be there to watch his truck go. He would spend that time concentrating on his first love, the love that had made the sacrifice necessary and worthwhile.
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