Cherish & Blessed

By: Tere Michaels

“Could be, though that’s sort of closing the barn door after the horse… something. You know what I mean,” she said. “Or maybe she likes this boy.” Helena laughed. At him. “Why don’t you ask her?”

Evan gave her an eye roll in return as he leaned forward. He shut down his computer, then began to gather things together on his desk.

“And maybe don’t start off with that stern accusatory thing you do,” she continued breezily. “Ease into the screaming match.”

“Thank you for your advice. I’ll take it under consideration,” he said. He was being sarcastic, but Helena knew him well. She knew his tendency to blow up first and ask questions later. She also knew when to kick him in the shins.

“Good luck.” She gave him a sarcastic head pat.

And then she was gone in a wave of expensive perfume and heels a good three inches higher than the ones she had worn when she came in. Helena’s nights had gotten progressively more exciting and glamorous since she got involved with popular Broadway playwright Shane; suddenly pizza and late-night television had become theater and parties and gallery openings as his notoriety on the scene increased.

Evan hadn’t even realized gallery openings were a real thing. He thought they only happened in movies.

But Shane was hot right now, and Helena loved shedding her cop’s mantle and shaking off the horrible things they saw every day in Vice—and walking into a beautiful world where a person drank champagne and admired pretty things.

He envied her ability to step out of her skin. He’d never learned how.

MIRANDA LIVED in a tiny walk-up on the lower West Side, sandwiched between a pet store and an Indian restaurant. Five floors up the twisting, cramped stairway, Evan huffed with annoyance. Her share of the rent was an occasional drain on his finances, but the neighborhood was decent, and her roommates were all as reassuringly afraid of their parents as he hoped his daughter was.

Evan held a bag of Chinese food in one hand and knocked with the other, hearing the muffled sound of a television.

“Coming!” someone called, and Evan shifted his weight, subconsciously moving his body to one side. The shooting was a few years in the past, but one never entirely got past a shotgun blast through a closed door.

He assumed, however, that Miranda didn’t have quite that strong a temper.

Locks were unhooked, and finally the door opened, Miranda standing expectantly in the doorway.

“Dad,” she said loftily, chin lifted with a regal tilt, looking as imperious as someone could, wearing pajamas with kittens on them.

“Miranda.” Evan leaned down to kiss her cheek, brushing aside her dark blonde hair.

She sighed, then pulled him into the apartment.

They managed to put off the arguing and instead indulged in heavy silence while setting the teeny-tiny table Miranda and her roommates ate on. Two bedrooms, four girls; two chairs at the table, one love seat—he assumed they existed in shifts.

“Where’s everyone else?” Evan asked as he dug into his Kung Pao chicken. With a fork.

Miranda twirled sesame noodles on her chopsticks. “Sonya has a night class, Naib is at the movies with her boyfriend, and Rae’s at the gym.” She gave her father a serious stare down. “We have about an hour for our discussion.”

In his head, discussion had air quotes around it.

“I just want some information, Miranda. I don’t like being the last person to know something so… important. And personal.” That was the rub—under all the anger simmered the sad fact that his daughter hadn’t come to him about something so big.

She poked at her white box and noodles, scowling. “Fine. His name is Kent. He’s going for his master’s in international business after he graduates in January. He’s an only child. He’s from Connecticut, and he’s… wonderful.” She peeked up at him with Sherri’s eyes, and he found himself missing his wife with a profound ache. She would be so much better at this than he was.

“How long have you known him?”

“Four months. Well—longer, but just in a group.” Miranda’s face began to reshape into a slight smile. “But four months ago, we started dating.”

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