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It was still dark out when Gracie opened her eyes. She was snuggled up with Bun Bun, her paci in her mouth. Looking behind her, she saw Daddy sleeping. He looked peaceful as he laid there. A strong yearning to scoot over and cuddle filled her, but she resisted. She wasn’t ready to do that yet.
As she shifted, the huge bulge between her legs got her attention. She pressed her hand against the plastic of her dipey, and felt the spongy feel of wet padding. She had peed in her sleep. It was frustrating. Her body responded the same way regardless of how she felt. Gracie hadn’t ever been a bed wetter, but even before they had come here, something about being in a dipey made it okay to just go in her sleep. Not only that, every time she woke up, she had her bunny hugged tight, and her paci in her mouth. Her didee wasn’t far either. If Daddy didn’t make her sleep with the things, she wouldn’t wake up that way. The thought of not having Bun Bun to hug, or her paci to nurse made her eyes tear, but she quickly pushed those feelings away. It’s Daddy’s fault! she fumed.
A full ba-ba got her attention, and she reached out and picked it up. She was nursing a second later. Gracie was bored. Her eyes shifted to the toys still laying on the corner of the bed, but she forced herself to look elsewhere. Ten minutes later, she saw them again. It had been a long boring evening yesterday, and Gracie was tired of being bored. Giving in, she sat up on the bed, and scooted closer to see what these things were.
Her thick dipey made it feel like she was sitting on a pillow. Somehow the gathers at the legs had stopped cutting into her thighs, and she was able to move without hurting. She forced the smile off of her face when she realized it was there.
The first thing she picked up looked like a small satchel. It was red with small handles at the top, about eight inches square, and covered in cloth. Stitched into the front were the words ‘My Quiet Book’ in white letters. There were three different colored balloons on the front as well.
Gracie put her ba-ba on the bed, and took her paci so she had two hands free. She pulled the two handles apart and it opened flat to reveal a pair of denim shorts on the left side, with an undone buckle at the waist, and the words ‘Buckle Up’ embroidered above them. Before she knew it, her hands were fastening the two ends together. On the right side, there were four different colored balloons with their strings all tied together, and the word ‘Snaps’ above them. Gracie lifted the cloth circle of the purple balloon and it popped off in her hand. One by one, she pulled each of the circles off the book. As she pulled the last one off, it lifted the page, and Gracie began snapping them back in place so she could see what was on the next page.
Alex felt the bed move, and opened his eyes. He watched as Gracie scooted over to the corner where the toys were. She looked so cute with her thickly diapered bottom, nursing her bottle as she scooted across the bed. He smiled as she sat with her legs far apart and put her bottle down so she could play with the toys.
As she began playing with the first of the soft books he had brought in for her, Alex could only see her profile, but when she smiled around her paci after turning the page it made him smile. She was letting go and just playing. He watched her for a bit as she buckled, tied and snapped the items in the first book, and then moved onto the second. It was another soft sided book, but this one had a train stitched into it with the alphabet embroidered on the cars. Each car held a small cloth animal in a pocket, and he smiled again as Gracie pulled them all out, laying them on the bed, and began putting them back where they go. He closed his eyes, letting her play. If she saw he was watching, she would probably stop playing, and that would be a shame. As he drifted back toward sleep, Gracie let out a soft giggle.
Baby babble woke him a couple of hours later. He eased his eyes open and saw Gracie sitting with Bun Bun in her lap, and she was holding a small book in her hand as she talked to her bunny. She would babble for a moment, and then reach over to what looked like a soft sided model of a cottage. Alex remembered this was a cloth version of the bears’ cottage in the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the small book was in fact the illustrated story. As he continued to watch her, he figured out that she was reading a page of the story to her bunny, and then acting it out with the cloth pieces in the model. She looked absolutely adorable as she went through putting Goldilocks on each of the chairs.
He waited until his bladder wouldn’t hold off any longer for relief, and said softly, “'Morning Baby,” with a smile on his face.
Gracie snapped her head around, looked at him and scowled. With a sigh, he got up off the bed and headed to the bathroom. It saddened him that no more happy babbling came from the bedroom. His watch told him it was nine thirty. He hadn’t really wanted to sleep that late, but had been up until two working on the numbers.
When he came back into the bedroom, Gracie was sitting back at the head of the bed, the toys ignored. “Play with the toys Baby, you were having fun,” he practically begged her. When she didn’t move or respond, he gathered clean clothing, and headed to the shower.
Fifteen minutes later he was dressed and ready. He pulled the stopper up on the bathtub, ran the water, and poured some bubble bath into the stream. When it was half full, he shut the water off, dropped some bath toys in the tub, and returned to the bedroom. Gracie was laying on her back just finishing her bottle.
“Come here Sweety, Daddy’s going to give you a bath.” Gracie didn’t move, and that irritated him. He wasn’t going to let on though, and grasped her ankles, and slowly pulled her toward the foot of the bed. He said, “We need to get you ready for breakfast Sweetheart; don’t you want a full tummy this morning?”
“No!” she grumbled.
“Sweetheart, you have to eat, and you’re not going to do it here. We’re going over to the restaurant to have breakfast, understand?” he asked, a bit of steel in his voice.
Gracie didn’t answer. She just laid there glaring at him.
Alex untaped her very wet diaper, pulled it out from under her and set it aside. Just as he reached for the wipes to clean her bottom, Gracie picked up the soaked diaper, turned it inside out and threw it hard at him. It hit his face with enough impact that the sodden padding wrapped around his lower face, and then fell to the bed. The spiteful smirk she gave him pushed Alex over the edge.
It was like time skipped forward. One second he was standing over her as she laid on her back in front of him, and the next, he held both her wrists in his left hand over her lower back, with her bare bottom in the air. His hand was raised in the air above her. He glanced toward her head, saw the terrified look on her face as she cried, “No Daddy!” and he stepped back, releasing her.
Alex was frightened at what he had been about to do. There was no question in his mind that he had every intention at that moment to smack the daylights out of her bottom. The fact that he had reacted out of anger scared him. Nothing Gracie had done, not even throwing the diaper at him, warranted what he was prepared to do. Tears stung his eyes as he realized he had almost hurt her.
Gulping air, he told her, “Grace, get up and take a shower.”
Grace lay there terrified. She had never seen Alex so angry before.
“Go on,” he told her softly.
She got up and hurried into the bathroom. A part of her mourned that he wasn’t speaking to her like a little girl anymore, and she had tears in her eyes as she let the bubble bath drain from the tub. How had things gotten so messed up? she wondered. She didn’t know what was going on, but he had told her to break the rules.
As she ran the washcloth over her body, Grace was frightened. She had expected Daddy…Alex to get angry, but not like he did, and she certainly didn’t expect him to tell her to go take a shower. She hurried to get clean, afraid to find out what came next. The look on his face when he told her to go on was what she would expect to see if he lost his best friend to cancer. She finished up with her shower, and gingerly opened the door to the bedroom.
“Come here Honey,” Alex said from his place at the foot of the bed. She saw a fresh diaper laid out, and a shirt and skirt next to it. When she approached, he told her, “Lay down.”
Grace laid on the diaper, and Alex taped it closed. He dressed her in another sports bra, and her shirt before putting her skirt on her. Her bunny sandals were next, and then he sat there for a moment looking lost. Grace couldn’t help herself, and pushed her paci into her mouth as she hugged Bun Bun tight. She nursed hard and fast as tears formed in her eyes. It hurt watching Daddy look like he did.
“I’m going to put you in your seat, and take you to the truck Grace. I want you to go home. I’ll have Cindy drive me to rent another car, and I’ll get the stuff together here.” He looked up at her and said tearfully, “I’m sorry Grace. I made a mess of this, and I’m really sorry.”
He said the words like he was at a funeral. “What do you mean? Why don’t you come with me?” she asked after removing her paci.
It took a moment before he told her, “Because I’m not coming home. I’ll make sure everything is paid there, and see that you have money to get what you need, but I’m not going back there.”
“No!” she cried. “Why are you doing this?” She was losing the only person she cared about because she had been hateful, and it was more than she could stand. Why couldn’t she just have been a normal human being that didn’t want baby things?
“Because I almost hurt you Grace!” he cried. A second later, he added, “I was about to spank you a lot worse than what you felt yesterday. I’d rather lose you than hurt you Gracie.”
“I’ll throw it all away! I promise! I’ll never touch another dipey again! Please, just don’t do this,” she sobbed.
“You’re lying to both of us Grace. You may be able to put it away for a while, but you’ll eventually want it again, and then it’ll come between us,” he told her.
Gracie, watching her whole world crumble, pushed her paci back into her mouth, scrambled across the bed and hugged Daddy tight. “Den I’ww be a good girw! I pwomithe! I’ww be good! Thtay! Thtay hewe!” she cried.
She felt him hug her tighter and his shoulders began to bob. Daddy was crying, and it made her cry. “You are a good girl Baby,” he told her through his tears. “It was me that screwed up. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Grace dropped her pacifier and said, “I don’t care about the spanking,” and was startled when he pulled her back roughly.
“Don’t you ever, EVER let anyone hurt you like I did yesterday morning Grace. I don’t care what they do for you. Do you hear me?” he barked.
Grace was frightened at his anger, and just nodded her head with wide eyes.
He pulled her into a hug again, and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Please, just don’t let anyone hurt you.” Almost a full minute passed and he told her, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I tried to help you feel better about who you are, and I screwed everything up. I would never have spanked a child like I did you yesterday, and I should never have trusted someone else with your feelings like I did with Glenn. I’m sorry Baby, I don’t trust myself not to screw something else up, and hurt you badly in the process. I love you Grace. I love the woman, and the baby, and I won’t take a chance on hurting either of you anymore than I already have.”
Grace sat crying in his embrace. As she scrambled to figure out how to keep her world in one piece, everything became crystal clear. She hadn’t been so much angry with Alex over the last sixteen hours, but herself. It was just easier to blame him for her hurt and anger over wanting her paci and bunny and all the rest of the baby things. While he had put her in a situation that had hurt her, it wasn’t his fault that things hadn’t gone the way they were supposed to, and she knew it. She also knew that if she hadn’t wanted to be a baby girl, none of this would have happened.
Alex wasn’t just a husband anymore. He had changed that when he brought her here. His gentle care and loving touch had changed everything. She had been harboring her hurt so closely that she let it get in the way of their relationship. She truly loved this man with all of her heart, and didn’t want to lose him. Something occurred to her, and she pulled back from him, let her emotions go, and asked, “Are you going to just leave your little girl all alone?” tears streaming down her face. “That baby has been alone for most of her life, and you come along and show her what a loving daddy is supposed to be, but now your just going to walk out on her?” Gracie started sobbing, and couldn’t continue.
Alex just looked at her.
“I’ve learned over the last few days how to let go and be the baby girl without hating myself for it,” She continued. “It was terrifying and painful, and wasn’t easy for you to watch, I’m sure. At the same time, you’ve been learning how to be a daddy. I could see the uncertainty in your eyes, and I’m sure you were scared to make a mistake. Most parents don’t have a clue how to care for a child when they have their first, and when you add that I’m not a normal child, it makes it ten times harder. The point is though, they muddle through. They make mistakes, and they carry on because they love the child. Please…” she cried, her voice breaking. “Please don’t tell me you don’t love Gracie.”
“Jesus,” he whispered as he pulled her into another tight hug. “I love you, I love you, I love you Baby Girl, I love you,” he sobbed, and ran out of air. When he took another breath, he repeated it again, as he rocked her back and forth, his hand holding her bottom.
She clung to him, and when he ran out of air the second time, she cried, “I wub you Daddy!”
“I’m so sorry I hurt you Baby, so sorry,” he cried.
Gracie hugged him tighter and turned to kiss his wet cheek. “I don’t care that you made mistakes Daddy, you cared enough to try,” she sobbed. A second later, she added, “That’s what makes you my daddy. That’s why I’m your baby girl.”