Suite Cravings by Sophie Brooks
“I’m so glad you’re here, Lucy. We’re going to have so much fun now that you get to stay here with me. But don’t worry. Nothing’s going to change too much. You’ll still go to your school and you’ll stay with Grandma and Grandpa every other weekend. Plus, you’ll go to their house every Wednesday after school for a few hours.”
I took a deep breath, aware that I was talking too fast. Usually, everything I said was in an even, measured tone, but today my words were coming out in a rush. “I think you’re really going to like your room. Remember when you picked the colors for the walls and the bedspread? Everything’s ready for you.
“And you’re going to like living full-time at Birmingham Heights,” I continued. “The pool on the tenth floor is almost ready--won’t that be fun? Uncle Landon and Uncle Romeo live here, too. You’ll be able to see them a lot more. And that’s why I got you this.”
The card on the lanyard was the most controversial issue in my welcome speech. “This controls the elevator, but you can only use it when you’re with me, your uncles, or Aunt Becca. Otherwise, it’s only to be used for an emergency. You can’t use it by yourself, or I won’t know where you are and I’ll get scared. You don’t want me to be scared, do you? I’m giving this to you because you’re six, and you’re old enough to understand that it’s only for emergencies.”
I frowned, trying to remember if I’d left anything out. “I’m really glad you’re here, honey. We’re going to have so much fun together.”
My heart was beating fast, as if I’d sprinted across a crowded street, when all I was actually doing was standing in my living room. “Well? Do you have anything to say?”
“Bravo!” my brother Landon said. He was my business partner, my younger brother, and my close friend even though we didn’t always see eye to eye. “You’ve convinced me to be a good little girl.”
“Only you could clap sarcastically.” My sister Becca elbowed Landon. “Be good. This is important to him.”
“It is,” I said. Lucy would be arriving soon, and even though she’d spent lots of time in the ultra-luxe residential tower my brothers and I had built, this was different. As of today, she lived here. No more taking her back at the end of the day. No more two-hour visits after school. She lived with me now.
“I still think it’s a lot to throw at her at one time,” Becca said. She was twenty-four, the youngest of my siblings, and the only female. Therefore, I respected her opinion in this matter. She knew more about how six-year-old girls thought than the rest of us did. “Do you really need to talk about the elevator pass the moment she gets here?”
I sighed. We’d gone back and forth on this a lot. “It’s a safety thing.”
“Yeah,” Landon said, and I was surprised he agreed with me. “Suppose Lucy and Reid are up here alone, and he trips over his enormous ego and falls—she’ll need to be able to go for help.”
My eyes rolled involuntarily. There were three balconies in my suite, and I contemplated how ruffled my suit would get if I pushed Landon off one.
But Becca seemed to be doing a good enough job of beating him up for me. I grinned as she clobbered him with a throw pillow. “Don’t be such an ass,” she scolded. Then she turned to me. “When you greet her, just make sure you’re not stuffy.”
“Stuffy?” I echoed. “It’s my daughter, not a board meeting.”
“You can sometimes get a little… formal.” Becca was obviously choosing her words carefully. “Just relax. You’ve been waiting for this forever, and it’s going to be awesome.”
She was right, this was the moment I’d worked toward for so long. The custody battle with my ex-wife’s parents had been absolute hell. Even when I won, I couldn’t move Lucy in right away because my suite wasn’t finished. About half the suites in the building still weren’t.
Now it was finally time to have my daughter here with me full-time and it was a big deal. With conscious effort, I forced myself to relax and let the tension out of my shoulders.
Then my phone chimed. Whipping it out, I stared at the screen. “She’s here.”
Becca sprang to her feet, rushing over to me. She gave me a quick hug. “You’re going to do great, Reid.”
Landon had gotten up, too. He strode over more slowly. “All three of us are thrilled Lucy’s going to be living here.” By saying three, he included our younger brother, Romeo, who was God knows where. He certainly wasn’t here, even though he lived in this building, unlike Becca who didn’t—yet she’d shown up. For a moment, I wanted to gather both Landon and Becca in my arms and give them a hug—something we didn’t normally do.
“Go get her,” Becca urged, giving me a smile and a small shove.
“Right. See you two later.”
Becca called after me as I jogged to the elevator. “I’m going to work out with Landon, but I’ll see you for dinner.”
I gave her a thumbs up just before the doors slid shut. The elevator took me directly from my suite to the lobby. Then I saw two familiar figures by the security station. One cried “Daddy!” and ran to me.
All nerves, all concerns, and everything else faded as I picked Lucy up and held her close. She wrapped her hands around my neck and pressed her little blonde head on my shoulder.
As I held my daughter, I almost forgot that the nanny was there, a young woman hired by my ex-in-laws. She’d brought two small, purple suitcases. A lot of Lucy’s things were already here, plus Becca and I had gone a bit overboard on getting toys and clothes we thought my daughter might like.
A member of the security team took the suitcases upstairs while I thanked and dismissed the nanny. And then I smiled at Lucy. “I’m so glad you’re here, honey.”
Her returning smile melted my heart. “Me too.”
“Your room’s all ready for you, and Aunt Becca is joining us for dinner.”
That made her smile even wider. “What about Uncle Landon and Uncle Romeo?”
“We’ll see them soon. We all live in the same building now,” I said, though her guess was as good as mine when Romeo might show up here. Apparently, the thought of the unfinished and therefore unoccupied floors didn’t bother him as much as it did me. Romeo was the head designer, and his artistic temperament meant that he marched to the beat of his own drum. And apparently, only came to work according to his own schedule.
I took Lucy over to a little alcove that had a vast number of plants and a waterfall. It was a recent addition to the huge lobby and had been created by Landon’s girlfriend, Sadie.
“Is this new?” Lucy asked. She was small for her age and looked even tinier in the vast space.
“Yes. A lot of things are new, so I wanted to talk a little before we go upstairs.”
Lucy’s luminous eyes were serious as I knelt down next to her and launched into my introductory spiel. She was a better audience than my siblings had been. She nodded at the appropriate times, and her face lit up when I showed her the elevator pass.
“Can I put it around my neck?”
“Sure, but don’t you want to try it first?”
“Yes!” She jumped to her feet and darted toward the elevator, catching me off guard. I followed as quickly as I could without running, since there were people milling about. Luckily, I had long legs.
Lucy pushed the button summoning the elevator and the doors slid open as I arrived. I followed my daughter inside and pointed to the sensor pad next to the buttons on the control panel. “Just touch the card there, honey.”
My daughter lifted the card up… and it came at least five inches short of the pad. She jumped but couldn’t manage to touch the card to the sensor long enough to make the elevator work.
All that time I’d worried about whether she should have her own elevator pass. All that discussion—and it had never even occurred to me that she wouldn’t be able to reach it.
I looked at the frustrated frown on Lucy’s little face and realized that I had a lot to learn.