Cal Applewood

Waiting Up

“You’re back! You’re back!”

Cal Applewood gave his best attempt at a frown as he walked inside his home to find his daughter bouncing on the big sitting chair, her eyes brighter than he preferred them to be at this hour of the night. “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

Brooke batted her long lashes and leaned against the back of the chair. “… Maybe… But I wanted to wait up for you!”

Hanging his cloak up Cal chuckled, and hefted the girl up out of the chair. “Oooph! That was sweet of you, but aren’t you tired?”

The little girl of eight shook her head in defiance of the notion. “No, sir!” she said with a chirp. “I could stay up all night!”

“Cor, help us all if you do,” muttered Cal with a grin. “Come on, little lady. Let’s at least get you under covers. Gonna be a cold night.”

The girl looked like she was about to protest but stopped, and pressed her nose into Cal’s beard. “Have you been drinking?”

The man grunted, and tickled her with his beard. “What else is a respectable gathering of men supposed to do? I didn’t have too much, though if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Brook grinned happily and wrapped her arms around her father’s neck as he carried her into her little bedroom. “Who was all there, Daddy?”

Cal grunted as he shifted her weight from one arm to the other. “Lemme see… There was Mister Gaelyn, of course. Then Godric, and Drewett, and Mister Eirikr….”

Brook wiggled in excitement. “Mister Eirikr was? I’m so jealous! Can I come next time? Can I? Can I?!”

“Oh, no! It’s a men only gathering. Don’t tell me you still have a crush on the man,” he chided with a teasing grin.

Brooke ducked her head and hid her face against his shoulder. “Nooo… well, maybe a little. He’s so nice! But so is Mister Godric and Mister Gaelyn, I guess….”

Cal chuckled and shook his head as he set her down on her bed. “Yes, he is. They are all very nice. Shouldn’t you like boys your own age, though?”

The girl crawled under a layer of blankets as she made a face. “Boys my age are dumb. Besides, one of them pulled my pig-tail today.”

Cal blinked. “Can’t argue with that,” he mumbled. “You keep thinking boys are dumb, sweetheart, and I’ll live a long time.” He then patted her head. “No damage done?”

Brook shook her head. “Nope! I told teacher, and then told him my Daddy and his friends would leave him in the woods if he did it again.”

“You did?” Cal asked, arching a brow as he tucked her in.

“Well… Almost…. I sure thought it! I — I did ask him to stop.”

Cal chuckled and kissed Brooke on the forehead. “You’re a good girl. It’s okay to stick up for yourself. Are you warm enou –”

Before he could finish, Brooke shot upright, clearly making an effort to stay awake. “Oh! Did you get a dragon hat?”

The man leaned back at her exclamation, then grinned and shook his his head. “No, I did not. I wonder, though if that’s why you insisted on me going to the meetin’ in the first place….”

Brooke blushed. “I just thought you would look really handsome wearing it…. That and… well….”

Cal gave her a sad smile as he tucked her back in. “Don’t worry about me, sweetie,” he said quietly as he gave her hand a squeeze. “When I get the hat you can wear it around the house all you like. But enough of that. A bedtime story, then sleep for you, little lady.”


The man smiled and rolled his eyes. “Oh, all right. Two bedtime stories, but no more.”