It was hard to believe our tiny teddy bear had been born 6 years ago today. Her dark hair fell in ringlets around her head, her bright green eyes just like her father's. I smiled as she blew out the candles, her little cheeks puffed out as she did. The boys and I clapped for her when she finished, Zabdiel picking her up to bounce her on his hip. What an adoring uncle, I thought to myself with a chuckle. All the boys had become uncles to her, spoiling her to death.
Especially Joel who insisted she needed all the newest toys. And as I gazed around the room, I knew that little girl was loved so much. But the one person who needed to be here the most wasn't and it broke my heart. Erick had become distant some time ago - right around the time our daughter turned 5 last year. I suspected it had something to do with that new assistant Ricky had hired but I didn't know for sure. All I knew was that when he came home late, he smelled like beer mixed with the strong scent of flowers - like a woman's perfume.
Maybe it was my imagination and gosh, I hoped so but the whole idea of it terrified me. What would I do if Erick was cheating? What would happen to our marriage? Our child? We couldn't continue like this. I had to confront him and I knew it.
I just couldn't bring myself to. But this was the last straw. My baby girl giggled as her uncle Christopher tossed her in the air briefly before she snuggled into his chest. And in that moment I made my decision. I'd ask him about it. Because I couldn't do that to our daughter - let her live with unhappy parents and vicious lies in the house.
She deserved better. After the boys had left and I'd partially cleaned up the mess left by the party, Erick came home. I glanced over at the clock and frowned. 12:23 AM. That now-familiar scent of flowery perfume drifted into the kitchen and my frown deepened when I saw him. His ebony hair was disheveled, clothes rumple, and he looked tired. He walked over to me and was about to peck my cheek when I turned away.
"Angelica, what's wrong?" he asked me.
I arched an eyebrow in disbelief, "Seriously? What's wrong? Have you completely forgotten what today was?"
He smiled slightly, shrugging as if he didn't know.
"Try your daughter's birthday, Erick,"
The smile dropped from his face turning into a frown.
"What? That was today?" he asked and I let out a frustrated sigh, running a hand through light brown hair.
"Where were you? I called you I don't know how many times!" I said, raising my voice as my anger got the better of me.
"I, um...I was just..." he stumbled over his words nervously before groaning, "Does it even matter where I was?"
"On our little girl's birthday?! Yeah, it kinda does, Erick!" I snapped.
His green eyes hardened and he pursed his lips in anger, brushing past me to storm up the stairs. But I followed after him, cursing under my breath as I took the steps two at a time. He shrugged off his hoodie as we entered the bedroom, letting it fall to the floor. I rolled my eyes, knowing I - italics - of course would be the one having to pick it up later. Finally he whipped around to face me and I crossed my arms over my chest.
"Did you ever stop to think that maybe what I was doing wasn't even any of your business?" he snapped and I clenched my jaw.
I was about to reply when he snatched the purple teddy bear off the nightstand. He looked down at it and he barked out a humorless laugh.
"You know, things were so different when I gave this to you. You never questioned me at all," he scowled, throwing it across the room.
I flinched and was about to take a step towards him but thought better of it. What good would it do to fight with him on this? Tears clouded my light brown eyes as I looked over at him. And I knew in that moment, if I broke down and just brushed it off - all that would be waiting on me was regret. Regret that I'd made the wrong decision.
"Erick...you should be able to answer my simple question without getting angry," I said quietly and his green eyes softened, "I just wanna know where you were,"
He bit his lip, looking down at his shoes. Silence ensued then and I thought he'd give me no explanation. Sighing, I turned to walk away but he caught my wrist with gentle fingers, tugging me into his chest. I couldn't help the sob that escaped my mouth and he rubbed my back gently, holding me tightly in his arms. The scent of him filled my nose, making my heart ache even more. I couldn't let him go, couldn't let our love go.
"Angelica, I'm so so sorry," he said into my hair, his voice muffled, "I never meant to hurt you. Or our baby girl,"
I let out a choked sob before he pulled away to cup my face, forcing my eyes to meet his own candy-apple green orbs.
"Where were you, baby?" I whispered, my voice breaking at the end.
He squeeze his eyes shut briefly but tears escaped anyway, rolling down his cheeks as he brought me back into his chest.
"I won't lie to you. I've been making mistakes. And..." he started to say before trailing off, his voice raw with emotion, "And I'm so sorry for them. I wanna make it up to you, the both of you,"
I pulled away from him then, knowing the unsaid insinuation. But one look into his green eyes, I couldn't find anger in my heart - just betrayal and hurt. But most of all - and this one was stronger than all the other emotions - love.
"How? How can we get past this?" I asked hopelessly, tears trekking down my skin.
With gentle thumbs, he brushed the tears away and I saw the regret and sorrow in those eyes.
"First, I'm going to go apologize to my little girl in the other room. Then you and I..." he said softly, intertwining our fingers, "...are going to talk,"
I bit my lip in thought, "Do you think we can really get over this?"
Slowly, he nodded as his hands cupped my cheeks, fingers caressing my skin.
"Even if I have to apologize every day for the rest of my life, I promise you, Angelica. I'll make it up to you and our tiny teddy bear."