Chapter Twelve

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"No! I don't wanna!"

"Copeland you haven't bathed in a week!"

She giggles, dodging my arms and running out of the room. "Copeland! Come back!" I yell desperately, a smile plastered on my face. I follow her high-pitched giggles to the kitchen. Everything goes silent as I enter the room, crouched low.

"Where are you..." I say, more to myself. There's a small giggle from the other side of the island. My smile grows wider as I see Copeland sitting with her back pressed against the island, hands covering her mouth as she giggles into them.

"Found you!"

She lets out a loud scream, standing and trying to run past me. I let out a triumphant laugh as my arm hooks around her waist, hoisting her up over my shoulder. "Vic!" She cries over loud giggles, her small fists pounding against my back.

I run towards the bathroom, closing the door and locking it as I set her down. Copeland crosses her arms as I start the bath. "Take your clothes off, I'm not giving you a bath fully clothed."

"But Vic-"

"Nuh uh missy, no whining."

A pout forms on her face as she grumpily pulls her shirt off, arms crossed. "What bubbles do you want?" I wonder, picking up the three bottles of bubble bath I had purchased over the years. "The blue one!" Copeland coos, smiling and discarding the rest of her clothes as I pour some of the blue liquid into the running water. "I'll be right back, get in."

She nods, getting into the filling bathtub as I leave to go grab some extra towels.

"See baths aren't that bad." I say, entering the bathroom with two towels and a change of clothes for her. She shrugs, her hands playing with the bubbles. "You think you can play in here without drowning while I go make dinner?"

"Yes, I have my barbies."

I nod, patting her head and leaving the bathroom. I leave the door open so I can see in while I'm in the kitchen. Dinner was just gonna be chicken fried rice because it's easy to make and quick.

Copeland starts to sing softly, barbies in her hand. "Whatcha singing Cope?" I call out, turning the stove on and setting a pot with water on top.

"A song daddy used to sing to me."

She begins to hum again, the soft sound filling the silence as I continue to make dinner. As the water boils I add the rice, turning the heat on for another spot on the stove. A sizzling sound surrounds the room as I put the onions into the hot pan. The sound of the onions frying almost drowns out the sound of Copeland's singing.

"You still have all my."

I add more vegetables to the pan, going to chop up the defrosted chicken breast. The pan sizzles more, the scent of cooking food entering my nose. Next is eggs, the fragile shell cracking when I tap it against the edge of the skillet.

"You still have all my."

The rice finishes, the white specks being poured into the sizzling pan. I add soy sauce, stirring the heating up food.

"You still have all my heart."

"Copeland, you think you're almost done? Dinners ready." I call out, gripping the handle of the pan as I continue to stir the contents. "Can I stay in a little longer?"

I ponder her question. "If you want to." It's not hurting anyone.

"I'll serve dinner and set everything up and then I'll get you out, how does that sound?"

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