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You Don't Know Your Beautiful

Baby you light up the world like nobody else
The way you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed

"Tibby, c'mon! I wanna change the channel!"

But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell
You don't know, oh oh! You don't know your beautiful

Tibby was standing in front of the TV, wearing her new school clothes but stubbornly barefoot. She was singing along at the top of her lungs, but stopped suddenly to land a big kiss to the young boy on the screen.

"Gross!" Cole declared.

"Niall's not gross!" Tibby yelled. She practically hugged the TV.

My daughter, the world's biggest One Direction fan.

"Honey, you can do so much better than someone in a boy band," I said. I was exhausted. It was almost time to put the kids to bed and I couldn't wait to fall asleep on the couch with a wine cooler. Tibby turned around, looking crestfallen.

"But why?"

I sighed. "Because guys like that will only break your heart," I said gently. "It's time to get in your jammies." Cole snickered. "Both of you," I added.

"Mom, that's not fair!"

"Life's not fair. The first day of school's tomorrow and I don't need your teachers dealing with you two zombies."

"Bwaaaahhh," Tibby said. She stuck her arms straight out and lumbered toward me. I caught her in my arms as she erupted into a peal of giggles.

"C'mon," I said, scooping her up over my shoulder. I looked at Cole and he reluctantly got up.

"Are you gonna read me another chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban?" he asked. For a brief second I saw the sweet baby face of pure innocence.

"Hmm, where were we?" I said.

"How could you forget? It's the part where Hermione and Harry go after Ron after he was dragged into the Whomping Willow!"

I laughed. "Oh yeah, that's a good part. Tell you what. We'll do two chapters tonight. Sound good?"

Cole grinned. "Sweet."

We split up at the bathroom. He went in to brush his teeth and I carried Tibby into her bedroom. She landed on the bed and gave me a sleepy smile.

"I like my clothes, mommy," she said. Her little fingers ran over her dark blue skirt.

"You're going to love school. You're going to make so many friends and go on field trips and--"

"Will you miss me?"

The look of worry on her face twisted my heart. "Of course, I will!" I assured her. "I always miss you when I'm away from you."

"Did you miss me when you went to lunch today?"

I pulled some pajama bottoms from her dresser. My heart sped up at the mention of the lunch. "Yes, I did."

"Coley said you met with that man from Wal-mart with the cool shoes."

I paused a moment before turning around. I reached for her skirt and swapped out the pretty pleated garment with soft CareBears bottoms that had been extremely well loved. "Yes, I did have lunch with the guy with the cool shoes."

Tibby's eyes were glued to me, but I didn't meet her gaze straight on. She lifted her arms so I could swap out her white blouse with a soft pink t-shirt. "Is he my daddy?" she asked quietly. Hopefully.

"Oh, baby," I sank down on her bed. I stretched out on my back and she turned so she was laying right beside me, her face still tilted so she could look at me. I felt the rush of tears. "No, he's not your daddy."

My little girl's eyes grew sad and portrayed emotions far older than her five years. "Why doesn't my daddy like me?"

She had never spoken the words aloud and I had never wanted to go down the road. It would figure that my first meeting with a man, even a man that was ONLY an old friend, would open the floodgates of questions and fears. I wrapped her in a bear hug, the closest I could come to putting her in a cocoon.

"Your daddy had a sickness in here," I said, tapping my head. "But you have so many people that love you, Tibs."

"But what about the other kids?" Her breath grew warm against my arm.

"At school?" Her little head nodded.

"There's going to be other little boys and girls that have families just like you," I said. "You like your family, don't you?"

She pulled away from me and a tiny little smile formed on her face as if I had just said the silliest thing. "Mommy, I love you and Coley and Auntie Bee and Hoover and Wal-mart. Duh."

I laughed. Some psychologist somewhere would be cringing at the thought of Wal-mart being an extended part of the family. I really did need to find someplace else to shop every now and then. I slid off the bed and held out her covers. Tibby quickly slid under, her smile growing wider as I tucked her in tightly like a mummy. I pressed a kiss to her forehead and she wormed her arm out to loop it around my neck.

"You're the prettiest and bestest mommy ever," she said.

I shook my head. "No, but you're the bestest daughter any mommy could have," I whispered. She tapped her little finger on my nose and yawned.

"Silly mommy..."

"You don't know your beautiful." I laughed. "Silly girl. No more boy bands."

Tibby just smiled. I leaned over and clicked off the light, waiting for just a minute before getting up and stepping into the hall. I left the door open just a crack.

Even though Cole was waiting for me, I didn't head to his room right away. I sank down on the floor. My heart hurt. Not for myself, but for my little girl. I knew that I'd be bombarded with more and more questions the older Tibby got. The problem was, I didn't know how to, or even if I should, tell her the truth. As sad as she was that she had never met her dad, how could I tell her that I hated him more than any other human being in the world?


I looked up. Cole stood in the doorway, frowning and looking slightly scared. The last time he had seen me crumpled on the floor had been that night.

That horrible, horrible night.