Chapter Eighteen

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The next morning I wake up excited to show my dad around the city. I've only been here for a little more than a month, but it feels like years. I missed him so much. The last time I was away from him this long was when I went to dance summer camp when I was twelve years old. I remember him picking me up from the dance studio and promising to never leave his side again. Of course he laughed it off and brought me to the pizza parlor and treated me to a movie afterwards. He's always been an amazing dad and I don't know what I would do without him.

I do my usual run for an hour when I wake up at five in the morning, to expel my excited energy. After, I take a long hot shower and get dressed in jeans and a collared lace blush-pink sweater. Wanting to look nice for our reunion since he went straight to the hotel after getting here later than we expected, I put on some blush that makes my cheeks prominent, a few swipes of shiny lip-gloss, and eyeliner. No mascara because I will not curse myself to cry on this amazing day that I will see my dad after a month from being apart from him.

My dad says he's coming to the school and expects 'a grand feast of breakfast' which turns out to be the IHOP ten minutes away from the school. He's happy anyways and says it's what he meant. I just laugh and happily listen to him talk while we dig into our sky-high pancakes, well, he has an impressive stack of them while I opt for French toast and egg whites. He criticizes me and my healthy choice of breakfast the entire morning and I lecture him about his. Honestly, if he doesn't eat healthier, he won't be around to see me dance in Carnegie Hall.

I take him to all the places I've visited before, like the infamous shopping center 5th Avenue, Central Park, and a few other places that aren't as famous, but still amazing. He gawks through it all and snaps photo after photo. I laugh at his funny facial expressions as he stared up at the Empire Building. When I came here with Riley and Finn my jaw dropped to the ground and my neck ached from staring up at it for so long. I'd never been afraid of heights, but when we bought tickets to visit the observatory deck, I nearly peed my pants. Naturally they teased me for the rest of the day.

On the way back from visiting the Statue of Liberty, Dad turns to me on the ferry and stares at me with a smile but doesn't say anything.

"What? Do I have something on my face?" I ask and run my fingers over my mouth. Before getting on the ferry to go to the monument we had chicken kababs that were surprisingly delicious.

He shakes his head, laughing. "No, you just look so beautiful. You're out here doing your dancing thing and – and you've grown into such a lovely woman. You remind me so much of..." He pauses and pain flashes across his clear blue eyes. He darts his attention to the water, seemingly mesmerized by the golden glow of the sun reflecting off the sparkling blue water. I frown and scoot closer to him and tune out the loud laughter coming from the group of college students behind me.

I take his hand and give a tender squeeze. "What's wrong?"

He shifts his eyes to mine and his smile returns, but it falters. "Nothing is wrong. You just... you look so much like your mother." My jaw rocks loose and I shift backward, thrown off. Where did that come from?

"I hope the similarity stops there," I say harsher than I intend. I know that I favor my mother appearance wise. Whereas I get my blonde hair and blue eyes from my father, I get the smaller facial features like my nose and pouty mouth from my mother. But that's where the similarity stops. I'm not a coward like her or a narcissist that up and leaves her family for a man of more stature. Thinking about my sad excuse for a 'mother' makes my blood boil and I turn away from him.

The scenery of the sun dancing along the shimmering water is beautiful and I would take pictures and even a selfie with him, if it weren't for that woman clouding my mind. I'm thinking of ways my life would have been different had she stuck around and not abandoned us when I hear him sigh and gently take my hand. I don't like at him, though. I don't want to possibly lash out on him. He doesn't deserve it. But I finally slowly look into his regretful gaze when he softly calls out, "Butterfly."

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