“Hi, daddy!” she said brightly.
Mac turned his head and grinned. “My jewel...gimme sugar,” he said holding out a shaky hand.
She ignored the hand and took his face into her small hands. She bent over and kissed every inch of his face until he laughed with sheer joy. “I got loads of stories to tell you, Daddy. Wanna hear them?”she said lifting his boney hand to her cheek and pressing it there.
“Okay, but first...” he glanced up at Payton who shook his head to indicate he had not said a thing. “I gotta tell you something, Honey. You’re gonna be staying with Uncle Payton from now on. He...”
She turned to Payton and smiled. “Oh, that will be wonderful! I’ll take good care of him, Daddy. You’ll see. I can cook and clean for him, do the laundry and we’ll work together at the shop caring for the animals....and I can tell him stories just like I do for you.”