Chapter 20

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I waited a block away from the school. I remembered the girls telling their nanny Kerry, that they liked to walk some of the way home themselves. They were approaching an age where everything embarrassed them, but I wanted to be here. No more nannies. No more housekeepers. Just us. I watched them walking together, with another girl. I didn't know her name, didn't recall her face, and I felt a deep sense of disconnect with them. But as they waved to me and hurried towards the car, all I felt was comfort. Like a part of me was complete again.

They loaded into the back of the car as if we did this every day, chattering about an upcoming swim meet and camp. I'd forgotten about camp. This was to be their first year at Camp Sequoia, the same camp I'd spent two weeks at every summer from the tender age of thirteen. I didn't know whether Caroline had had the foresight to arrange their admission, or their transport. I made a mental note to check on the arrangements tomorrow. But tonight, I was spending some quality time with my daughters.

With Arlo sandwiched between them in the backseat, we drove out to a little place I'd always planned on bringing Caroline. One of the things that never happened. She was a wine and dine kind of girl, and I'd wanted to take her to the waters edge. Share some candy floss and walk along the promenade hand in hand, maybe win a prize or two knocking down coconuts or shooting at targets. As soon as we arrived, the girls squealed, and with Tasha holding onto Arlo's leash they sniffed out the hotdog vendor. We ate huge hotdogs and baskets of crispy fries, and stuffed to the brim, we walked a while. With candy floss in hand, I told them about the party tonight and they asked me something I didn't expect.

'Is Sydney coming?' Tasha piped up. I stopped walking. The girls looked back at me, curious looks on their faces.

'Dad?' Elodie enquired, her little brow arched. 'You okay?'

'Yeah, yeah sorry guys just tired.'

'Well is she coming?' Tasha asked, impatiently. 'I want to say thank you properly. She seemed really nice.'

'Uh....' This had taken me by surprise. 'I don't know whether she's coming, maybe....'

'I hope she comes.' Tasha pondered, as she carried on walking, Arlo scampering along behind her. I followed them, hearing snippets of their conversation. As they chatted they discussed camp, Tasha was excited about the nature hikes always an outdoorsy girl, whereas Elodie was looking forward to telling ghost stories with their friends around a camp fire. I remembered my own camp days fondly. My mother eager to be rid of me for a few short weeks, and me, just as eager to camp underneath a blanket of never ending stars with my two best friends.

Colton and Trey.

The thought of Colton stopped me in my tracks again, and as if they could read my mind, I felt a hand either side of me, take hold of my own clammy hand.

'She said we're a team now Dad.' Tasha spoke up, regarding me with her beautiful big hazel eyes. 'Sydney said we've all got to lean on each other and when one of us is down the other two have to work extra hard to put the sunshine back.'

I held their hands tighter, and we revelled in the late afternoon sunshine, basking in the cool breeze filtering in across the water, before we stopped at a small shack for ice cream. A large CRT TV set rested against he counter, where a man in a straw hat snoozed after taking our order. The news programme had started, and we gathered around the set with strawberry and vanilla ice creams clutched in our hands as Trey interviewed a local hockey star. He was charismatic, informative and totally holding his own and we cheered and clapped and maybe scared the other two elderly ice cream diners, sitting beside the counter. But we didnt care. High fiving one another, we couldn't wait to see Trey.

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