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Richard finally spoke for the first time since she began to bare her soul, "You know, Tori…. Love makes fools of us all. I remember when I first saw your mother. We were at some social function and I spotted her looking at me from across the room. At the time, she was being courted by this aristocratic boob….." He laughed remembering the man.
"He was shamelessly trying to get her attention. But the look on your Mother's face was that of absolute boredom." Pausing, he wiped a tear from his own eyes remembering the first time he laid eyes on his beautiful wife.
"At the time, a part of me, though proud of my family, always felt that I was never good enough for the likes of her. She was like this beautiful porcelain doll." He paused and looked at his daughter. "You know you have always looked most like her sweetie." Pulling her closer to him, he placed a soft kiss on her forehead.
He continued, "I felt like such an oaf around her. So awkward and so unpolished. Our money was made off the sweat of our backs and the determination of our wills. Some of the wealthy look down on that: saying that because we didn't come from old money, we lacked breeding. But your mother…..she never thought that way."
He looked at Tori with big blue green eyes, "I almost walked away from her. I thought she deserved someone better than me. That even that pompous ass that was bothering her could give her what I couldn't. Luckily, your mother would have none of that. She asked around and found out that I worked with my father and grandfather at the shipyards". Richard laughed as he pictured Dominique's face. "What a spitfire she was… She would go down there everyday and bring me lunch. Everyday she would be there and everyday I would tell her to go home. "You don't belong here" I would tell her. But being determined like she was, she'd show up everyday just in time for the lunch whistle."
"One day a shipping crate came crashing down splintering into pieces. Unfortunately, one of the dockworkers was pinned under the rubble. Everyone rushed to get the debris off him. I was so focused on getting the man free. I hardly noticed your mother by my side. There she was in her expensive clothes and her perfectly made up hair holding her own with the best of them. We took piece by piece away until we were finally able to get the man free. Not only did she help rescue him, but as we were working away, she sent her driver to fetch her father." Pausing, he took a moment to remember his father in law. "Your grandfather was an amazing man and a very gifted doctor. It broke his heart when he couldn't help your mom when she got sick. I guess when it's your time, it's your time." He broke into a thoughtful pause and sighed.
All the while Tori listened intently as her father reminisced about his first meeting with her mother.
"Anyway, he came and took care of the man's injuries and rode all the way to the hospital in the ambulance with him. He saved that dockworker's life that day." The admiration of his father in law shone on his face.
"It was also on that day I sat down and had my first lunch with your mother. I realized it was not up to me if we were together or not. I couldn't stay away from her even if I tried." A smile went to his eyes.
"My heart and my legs were in cahoots and they always led me straight to your mother's side."
He turned to Tori and his face turned more serious. "You see Tori? Fate has a way of making those decisions for you. If you and Brett are meant to be together, it will happen. Love will not be denied, no matter how hopeless the circumstances may seem. What I am saying is maybe your true love is Brett. Maybe not. All I know is that you, my love, are far too wonderful a person not to have a true love somewhere out there. Everyone does", he said with all certainty.
"Though your mother and I didn't have a whole lot of time together, what time we did have I would never trade for anything. Love is worth the risk and the paybacks are so much greater than the disappointments." A tear came to his eye remembering his life with Dominique.
"The love your mom and I shared gave us four incredible children. That love is part of you. That love created you and nothing…and I mean nothing…… an ever take that away. I promise… you will have a love like that. No matter what you may think, you deserve it. We all do." He said this last sentence with complete confidence.
Tori pushed away from her father, "But Daddy, you just don't under…"
Long fingers rushed out to hush Tori, "Listen, sweetie. I heard every word you had to say. But this is my story and I'm sticking to it." He winked and held out his arms. Tori again fell into his arms.
"What I see is a beautiful, beautiful woman… who is going to make some woman out there very happy someday…and I'm going to proudly stand by and watch it happen."
Feeling the kind of safety that only her father could provide, Tori watched in wonder as her father accepted her without condition. Wondering as she had so many times in her life what she had ever done to deserve this amazing man she called Daddy.
Sometimes a parent has the ability to make or break a child. Richard Hull was a shining example of what a parent could be.
That day Richard would have his daughter back even if it took one hug at a time…..one day at a time. He would be there for his kids. After all, he had a promise to keep. He sent a quiet thank you to his beloved Dominique as he felt Tori sink into his embrace. He knew she was home.
TO BE CONTINUED. Installment Nine