“You can come in now,” she told him. It’s not as though she had a hot date this evening or any plans. “The house is being fixed up a little at a time, so be cautious in the living room. There are probably still some tools out and the trim is lying around.”
After brushing past him, Piper unlocked the front door and gestured him inside.
“We can go into the kitchen to get away from this mess.” She motioned toward the back of the house. “I can see what I have to eat if you’re hungry.”
Walker remained in her living area and shook his head. “I didn’t come to impose, Piper. But we can talk in the kitchen.”
Piper set her purse on the island and went to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. She needed to do something with her hands or he’d see they were not quite so steady. Déjà vu from the experience she’d had in Ryan’s kitchen a few days ago.
“Want one?” she asked, holding the cold bottle up.
She untwisted the cap and took a drink. What she needed was a beer, but she’d save that for when her father left. She was off work tomorrow and she had every intention of getting good and drunk tonight. She may even sit and watch Lifetime movies just to torture herself further with one happy ending after another.
“I’m sorry this visit is a bit...strained,” he told her, taking a seat at her small kitchenette. “I know you’re wondering why I just showed up at your house unannounced after all this time.”
Piper didn’t say a thing as she waited on him to struggle with his own words. In the years she’d lived with him, she’d never seen her father be anything but strong and confident. Now he seemed not only worn and tired, but nervous and unsure.
“What I did, the way I went about handling the divorce and being a father to you, was wrong.”
Piper clutched her bottle until the plastic cracked. “If this is—”
“No, Piper.” He held up a hand, shaking his head. After tossing his hat onto her table, he continued, “This is something that’s been years coming. It needs to be said and you need to hear it.”
Nodding, she pursed her lips together. Apparently, Walker Kindred had some sort of guilt laying heavy on him, as well he should. And he was right—this apology was a long time coming.
“I was so caught up in being in the limelight, of being popular and at the top of my game, bringing in more money than we would ever need, I completely lost focus of what was important.”
Piper glanced away. God, she was a coward. For years she would’ve given anything to hear her father say he was sorry, to confess that he was wrong. But now as an adult, she didn’t care so much. There was a little girl deep inside her that would forever be scarred by not having her father around, yet seeing him on television smiling and waving to thousands of fans.
She hated being cynical and hard where he was concerned, but she honestly didn’t know how to handle this unscheduled, uncomfortable reunion .
“So why are you here now?” she asked, bringing her gaze back to his.
“I have cancer.”
Piper was so glad she was leaning against the counter, otherwise she would’ve fallen to the floor. She set her bottle behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist. Questions whirled around in her head.
She’d been wrong. The hurt could slice deeper. He may have neglected her, may have lived by his own selfish ways, but this was still her father and the word cancer brought on a whole host of emotions...namely fear.
She swallowed and held his gaze. “Tell me this isn’t a deathbed confession.”
Walker shook his head. “Not at all. Actually, I just finished my last chemo treatment and my doctors are confident I’ll be perfectly fine.”
A wave of relief swept through her. “Good. So you’re here because you...”
He came to his feet and crossed the room to stand in front of her. “I’m here because when I was told I had cancer, I immediately thought of what I’d done with my life. The championships I’d won, the people I’d met, the bonds I formed on the road with crew and partners. But there was a huge void in the decades that played out in my head. You and your mother.”
Piper cursed the tears that pricked her eyes. Damn vulnerability. Why couldn’t she hold it together lately?
“I wanted to wait until I was finished with all of my treatments before I came to see you, to beg you for another chance. I know I missed important years, years I’ll never get back, but all I can do is try to be a father now.”