My wife and I divorced after I discovered she was having an affair. Unfortunately, due to my struggle as a freelance writer, and her success as a former model, she won custody over our two daughters. During that time, I got bi-weekend visitation rights. This lasted for two years, when our girls Fiona and Mati were sixteen and seventeen at the time, respectively. Now they are eighteen and nineteen, free to emancipate themselves from my wife and live with me if they chose. Due to my continuing career struggle, I advised against this, for their wellbeing. So, Mati stayed with Fiona and their mother, and her new partner, indefinitely.
A month after Fiona’s eighteenth birthday, I received word that my grandfather had passed. He was a renowned, retired archeologist and museum curator. Most of his wealth had been accrued from a trust fund established by his grandfather, a successful psychologist. He had died from a heart attack after living years in secrecy with heart problems. We weren’t close, except when I was a kid, before graduating and seeking a creative career. Despite this, I was contacted about his will, and learned that he had entrusted his entire estate to me, including an interesting trust fund: a monthly ‘allowance’ taken from an off-shore account, of five-thousand dollars. In the will were the words “I always respected your passionate drive, and wish upon you a life of fulfillment to compensate for my absence.”
I was touched, and beyond grateful.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but…
Let’s just say, I didn’t hesitate moving into the massive six-bedroom, three-bathroom manor, complete with a backyard garden, maze, and pool, a large fountain in front and a cobblestone courtyard, occupying an eight-acre estate. The will was for the house, property, and everything on it—including the soft-top convertible Jaguar coupe in the spacious garage. All utilities were paid, and a groundskeeper would tend to his duties every weekend.
Almost without reluctance, I contacted Mati directly, and gave her the great news. My wife was incredibly upset, but powerless, while my daughters both eagerly moved in with me, spiting her for betraying my trust while favoring my loyal, if not coddling, treatment of them instead.
Once I got settled, I stayed at the house for five days alone, before the girls came over. I sent a limo for them, since I had that kind of money now. The estate was some thirty miles from where I lived, and about a five-minute drive to the nearest neighbor, also a large house, but comparably lacking. The estate’s gently curved driveway alone is a mile and a half long. As for the distance between here and my ex-wife’s, where the girls were being picked up from, I deduced a forty-minute ride.
I took advantage of this time and tidied up the best I could.
Given the amount of space in the house, I didn’t have to do much work. It had been exceptionally cared for before my grandfather’s unfortunate passing, which occurred at a golf course two hours away. As for tending to my own things, when I initially moved in I had most of it taken upstairs to the master bedroom, but the rest of it straggled by the foyer. In the last five days, I had plenty of time to finish arranging and unpacking, but instead I spent the days exploring and the nights lounging.
I couldn’t help but feel like this was a miraculous gift from the heavens, if not literally, and not only a way to reconnect with the only people I love in this life, but to help decimate my writer’s block, too.
My phone chimed in my khaki shorts’ pocket. I set the box I was carrying upstairs down on the steps in front of my shins and unearthed the phone.
‘Omg daddy a limo!? This is crazy. You’re the best. See you soon. LY!’
It was from Mati. I smiled and replied:
‘Only the best FOR the best. Can’t wait. LY2’
What followed was an angel-face emoji paired with a hugging one.
A soothing contentedness filled me.
Due to their strict mother—the bitch—they didn’t get a smart phone until eighteen. Which meant Fiona didn’t get hers until a month ago. Mati and I had been periodically texting for a year before that, mostly to communicate our bi-weekly hangouts and occasional things they wanted to share with me, so I wouldn’t become too estranged. About a month after owning the phone, Mati started saying “LY” and “LY2” in place of “love you” and “love you, too” respectively. At first I didn’t care for the nonchalance, but I quickly realized that it was merely an abbreviation of text, not of emotion.
So, naturally, I adapted.
After pocketing my phone and picking up the box, I couldn’t help but think about my girls more. I haven’t seen them in two weeks; it’s a Thursday afternoon, now, so technically this coming weekend would line up with their next scheduled visitation. But everything else lined up differently, and for the better, so here we are.
They sure had gotten ‘big’ alright. They were hardly my ‘little girls’ anymore, although they both acted it more often than not, and unmistakably adorably. Despite their maturation, it didn’t feel right calling them ‘women’ just yet. Besides, if I did that, it would make them feel more like friends than family. And don’t get me wrong, they’re technically my only true friends, anyway.
Regardless of their age, I still attribute cute nicknames to Fiona and Mati, and neither of them have ever complained, or even shown a hint of ridicule. They have always loved being spoiled and pampered, and I’ve done it right, or so I believed, over the years with my ex-wife. After the divorce, I was monetarily deprived, so I could only spoil them with love. Not once in that time did they ever seem to wane in their familial loyalty to me.
For that I was immensely grateful.
Fiona has always been “princess” to me, especially after Shrek came out. Fortunately it didn’t release until two months following her birth, although for a while she clung to the notion that I eventually named her after that character nonetheless. In addition to “princess,” I often called Fiona by her abbreviated nickname, “Fi,” as did Mati. Unlike Fiona, though, I never called Mati by her full name, Mathilda, unless she was in trouble—a rarity these days—or in certain sarcastic, joking manners. My nickname for her was “cupcake.” In addition to being a silly and cute moniker, it was fitting considering Mati has had an affinity for desserts since she was twelve.
But Mati wasn’t twelve anymore. And Fiona wasn’t, either.
I set the box down in my master bedroom and took a deep breath. I was in great shape for my age, thirty-seven and counting. While not as fit as I dreamt I could be, I’m at a comfortable level.
I wandered over to the bed and collapsed back onto it after a brief springing motion from my feet. The four-poster king-size bed was a bit high up, which made me think my grandfather used a stool to help him. I hadn’t noticed one in the room, but then again I hadn’t fully explored yet, either.
The burgundy velvet coverlet was criminally comfortable.
The spacious bedroom was currently doused in natural daylight, which unrestrainedly filtered in through the tall, rectangular window currently ‘behind’ me. To the right of the bed, that is, if I was lying on it properly. Thick burgundy curtains were pulled aside, which I did in every room every time I woke up, but kept the doors shut.
Despite the soft radiance filling the room, I felt incredibly relaxed and placated.
I unearthed my phone to check for new messages, but saw none. My home-screen wallpaper was a photo of the three of us, taken during their last visit. We went out to an aquarium that had just opened up and then got some casual dinner at a Silver Diner. We had a great time on a considerably low budget, and only two days to work with, especially with the 10am-7pm windows. As if I was some kind of felon. I rolled my eyes at the notion, but then my gaze returned to the screen.
We made it a habit to take a new pic every other weekend, together.
I’d update my phone accordingly.
In this recent one, we were squeezed onto one booth seat. It was Fiona’s idea, the silly girl. She was small, too, hence her lack of concern. Mati quickly caved and thought it would be fun, too, insisting I be in the middle, with my arms around them. Of course, I ended up forcing multiple takes with the shenanigans I pulled, and they were no different. Silly faces to ‘ruin’ the photo, bunny-ear fingers, hands covering eyes, stuff like that.
My God, this bed was comfortable.
I felt like I was sinking into it.
A syrupy smile slowly and diminutively graced my face as I looked at the phone wallpaper for some time. I felt my eyes grow heavy, and my heart light. I was so comforted after the last two years of struggling and distance from them, to finally not be concerned about money or even losing their love. At the very least, should they want to branch out on their own after a stint here, they could happily visit anytime.
I just wanted the best for them.
In the photo, which was finally the one where all three of us were smiling big—although I did keep the other ‘outtakes’—I was mushed in the middle, with my left arm around Mati, and my right around Fiona, who was nearest the aisle. I’m 6’1″ and Mati is 5’2″, Fiona 5’6″. Still, sitting together like that, it almost seemed like we were all the same height. Well, Mati and Fiona for sure. Mati was more of a slumping-sitter than Fiona, who almost always had great posture, and was the more buoyant of the two, consistently chipper, even when her sister was in a subpar mood. She would do her best to cheer up Mati, which eventually worked without fail, especially if I pulled in the assist.
They were so adorable.
The girls were blessed with long, rich, dark brown hair and umber eyes. Fiona’s was a hue closer to black, yet her eyes were a tad lighter brown than Mati’s, especially under natural light. Their skin was almost the same complexion, Fiona’s a caramel shade darker from all the beach and pool-time, while Mati usually favored lounging inside. Extrovert and introvert, the two of them, respectively. Yet still they remained so close and loyal.
Such beautiful girls, somehow, coming from me and their mother.
They must have gotten their pretty genes from her, as much as I hated to admit it. I started balding in my twenties so it had since become a lost cause. I had a well-maintained beard, hazel eyes, acne-scarred cheeks, and imperfect teeth. Their smiles were brilliant, like white sunshine, and their skin just as impeccable. They were my little miracles.
Despite my conviction that they ‘got their looks’ from their mother, it remained a mystery from the neck-down. The two girls were, physically, almost the polar opposites. Their mother had an average physique when we dated, however stunning as she was, the latter of which sealed the deal with model agencies, including cosmetics and eyewear. Fiona, now eighteen, had the figure of an ideal swimsuit model, with C-cup breasts and a cute little bubble-butt. She had a thin waist without being hourglass-shaped, noticeable clavicles without being gaunt, and thighs delightfully between thick and lean. Mati, conversely, was beautifully stout. I don’t know when exactly she started to peak, but I’d have to say in the last two years alone her bust has significantly increased. She used to almost be Fiona’s size when she was sixteen. Now her breasts were unavoidably enormous, at least DD, and whatever weight she has gained lately also distributed itself to her thighs and buttocks. She had a slight pudge to her stomach, which resulted in her never wearing anything with midriff-exposure, contrary to Fiona’s more liberal attire. Despite this, Mati rarely if ever acted noticeably shy about herself in public or jealous of Fiona, especially in my presence; our platonic atmosphere was loving and nonjudgmental, easygoing and goofy.
Part of my mind shifted gears, all of a sudden realizing that I just subconsciously acknowledged, in great detail, the startlingly attractive physiques of my two daughters. I was momentarily shocked and appalled at myself, embarrassed and ashamed. However, the other part of my mind—notice I didn’t say half, because I’m sure this portion had greater real estate in my brain—was not slowing down.
My eyes started to grow heavy, an odd fatigue coming over me.
The last thing I saw before the darkness of sleep enveloped me, was my phone screen, but in particular, a melting collage of brown eyes, bright smiles, and tightly contained breasts.