Part 2

Daniel stood in the doorway of her office when she arrived the next morning. Hailey nearly dropped her coffee in surprise.
“Good morning, Ms. Canton,” he greeted.
“Morning, Mr. Richards.” She tried to slip past him into her office. Daniel stuck his arm out, keeping her from entering her office.
“You don’t get off so easily. I want to know why you ran out yesterday.”
“I had to get home before the weather got worse,” she lied.
“We both know that is not the reason why you left. I never meant to make you uncomfortable, and I shouldn’t have said anything,” he apologized. Hailey swallowed nervously and looked down at the ground.
“You didn’t know that was a sensitive subject for me.” She pushed her glasses back up her nose before looking up at him. He grabbed her coffee from her hand and opened her office door for her.
“Can we keep talking in your office?” he asked. She shrugged before following him him into her office. She placed her briefcase on her desk before pulling out her files. A picture fell out of her case, and before she could grab it, Daniel picked it up. Her coffee fell from his hand as he stared at it. Hailey grimaced and looked away from him, terrified of what he was about to say.
“I didn’t realize that you had a daughter,” he said. He placed the picture on her desk before walking towards the door.
“Wait, Daniel,” she shouted, stopping him. The truth was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t get the words out. He turned towards her before he had the chance to school his features. Disappointment shone in his green eyes, and she hated that she caused it. “Her father isn’t in the picture,” she said. The moment the words left her mouth, she made a face. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I just told you that.”
“Her father didn’t stick around?” he asked, walking back towards her. “What man would leave behind a beautiful daughter?” His brow furrowed, and he picked up the picture again. She allowed herself to watch him study the picture, trying to see if there was any recognition in his eyes. “If she was my daughter, I would never let her out of my sight. My wife would have to force me to go to work.”
“He didn’t know about her,” she admitted, looking down at her desk. “I didn’t have the chance to tell him I was pregnant before I had to leave town. I haven’t seen him in years, and I don’t know how he would react if he ever found out.” Daniel stepped towards her, his face softening.
“You should tell him.”
“I don’t think I can.”
“Why not?”
“Because when I had to leave town, I didn’t leave behind a boyfriend, I left behind my husband. Now, because of me, he will never know that he is a father.” Tears welled up in her eyes, and she leaned against her desk. He stepped up against her and rested his hands on either side of her body.
“Don’t cry. I didn’t mean to make you cry,” he apologized, touching her hand. The touch felt so familiar, and she leaned into him slightly. “I think you need to tell her father.”
“He’ll hate me. I can’t do that to him. He’s moved on from us.”
“Even if he did, it’ll give you closure.”
“Would you take us back?” she asked.
“Yes,” he whispered. “A long time ago, I lost the person I held dearest to me. If I could go back in time to have just one more day, I would do anything to hold her one more time. If your husband loved you, he would be foolish to let you go.” Hailey lowered her gaze. “I have to get to work. I trust I will see you at the all staff meeting later today.” He squeezed her hand gently before leaving her office.
Hailey sank into her chair and stared at the open door. Everything in her screamed to chase him down, but she stayed. Tears pooled in her eyes, and she rested her forehead on her desk. She missed her daughter and her husband everyday. She dreamed of a different life when everything was right. What type of an example was she to her daughter, if she kept living a lie?


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