Chapter 2 (Parts 3 -- 5)
This is the continuation of 'Under Her Thumb." It will probably make more sense to read chapter 1 (containing parts 1&2) first. I really appreciate the feedback and the votes, considering we are putting this work out here for free, it's nice to know people are enjoying it.
In answer to a reader's very welcome comment, it was pointed out that since Steve adopted Beata, she is no longer his stepdaughter but is now his daughter. I thank you for that, and just respond that I continue to periodically use the words stepdaughter/stepfather to remind the reader that she is not of his own flesh and blood. Let's just call it a quirk... Please enjoy the next installment.
Two weeks later, and Steve had done everything he could to keep things from getting weird, despite the guilt he carried. During their nightly television routine, he'd made a point of keeping a modicum of father/daughter decorum. He sat in the big chair instead of the couch with his daughter, begging off when she asked that his back was bugging him. Due to this, Beata could sense something was definitely off, her normally affectionate and loving father seemed lost and distant and it scared her very badly. He wasn't eating properly at all. He spent the majority of his home time holed up in his office, his face buried in his forestry maps. Beata also noticed that he seemed to be sleeping poorly and wasn't in a hurry to go out anywhere.
Treading quietly into Steve's office, the distraught teen finally confronted her stepfather. "Daddy?"
"Umhmm?" Steve mumbled distractedly, his mind working to formulate a Species Sampling Report for the Ministry.
Looking at the floor, Beata asked, "Can we talk?"
"Sure Baby," he indicated the small, leather couch beside his desk. "About what?"
"Are you... mad at me?" she asked quietly after she'd tucked her feet under herself.
'Shit!' he thought to himself, 'I was afraid of this.'
"No Sweetie, of course not," was all he could think to say.
"Do you still love me Daddy?" she asked quietly, her soft, high voice cracking on the last syllable.
Seeing the crushed look on her face, as a tear slowly fell from her huge, glistening eyes was more that his heart could bear. "Oh BabyBea... Yes I love you honey, I love you more than anyone or anything in the whole universe."
"Then why do you hardly talk to me anymore? You've spent more time in here lately than you do with me Daddy," she sobbed harshly and covered her face in her hands.
Steve's heart collapsed at the sight of his beloved daughter, so hurt by his shortcomings. All he knew is he had to make this better, he had to find a way to fix this or his relationship with Beata would be totally compromised.
He looked at her and patted his lap, "Come here Baby, come sit with Daddy." Instantly the petite girl flew off the couch. She curled into a ball in his large lap, sobbing raggedly into his collarbone. She hung onto him like her life depended on it, shaking and coughing as her pent up emotions poured out of her.
"Shhhh, it's ok Baby, it'll all be ok," he murmured reassuringly while stroking her hair, "I'm so sorry Bea, I didn't mean to make you feel this way, honest. I've just had a lot going on at work lately and my mind has been really occupied with stuff," he hedged.
Between sobs, Beata whispered, "Daddy, I know something's wrong... You haven't been eating or sleeping enough and I'm so worried about you... I love you so much Daddy, I thought I'd done something to make you sad."
"This has nothing to do with you, or my feelings for you Beata, I'm just dealing with my own baggage." Steve said with conviction. "You need to understand Baby, that your love is more important to me than anything in the world."
She looked up at him with earnest curiosity, "How can I help you to be happy Daddy, please, there has to be something I can do to bring back that smile when you look at me?" She reached up and tenderly caressed his slightly weathered face as she stared into his eyes, her soul laid bare.
Steve's heart swelled and he gave her a gentle smile. Caressing her back with his fingers, he said, "Baby, you're already doing it... You've made me feel more loved than I can ever remember. The way you show me how much you care every day is incredibly special to me... thank you BabyBea."
"Do I make you feel more loved than mom did?" she asked tentatively.
"Well uh, that's a little different but... to be honest..." he said, gazing off into the distance, "yes... way more actually... Beata honey, please try to understand... From the first moment I met you, I've felt that you were the greatest gift God and all the angels could've ever given me. I'm so grateful for every day that I've had you in my life," he said, a tear of his own sliding down his face. She buried her face back into his chest and sighed with a contented smile. The tears that soaked his shirt now were the tears of joy that she hadn't lost the love of her father. Beata had a fair amount of baggage of her own; thanks to the strained relationship she'd always had with her mother. The thought that she'd alienated her stepfather too, would have been too much for her young heart to bear.
Getting an idea, Steve patted her on the rump with his big hand to get her attention. "You know what I think we should do Sweetie?"
"What?" she asked, baffled by his sudden mood change.
"What do ya say we spend Christmas holidays up at the cabin? It's only three weeks away. We can go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the day and play games in front of the fire at night... Does that sound like fun?"
Beata perked up instantly, "Seriously?!" She asked, almost vibrating with excitement. "Really, really?!"
"Really, really," Steve nodded, as he smiled back at her.
"Oh my God!! This is going to be so freaking awesome! I can't wait to tell Ginny!" Her face fell as she thought of her dearest and oldest friend. "Oh crap," she said dejectedly.
"What's the matter Baby?" Steve asked.
Beata shook her head, "Oh, it's not a big deal Daddy, it's just I feel bad for Ginny. Her mom's gotta go somewhere out in Manitoba over Christmas, to look after her sick sister's kids. Ginny is supposed to stay out in Abbotsford over the Christmas break with her obnoxious cousins."
Steve just looked at her. Baffled, he said, "Ookayy... So how does this affect our trip up to the cabin?" he asked shaking his head, incredulous as usual at the female propensity for thinking guys can read minds.
"Daddy," she swatted him playfully on the chest, "It's just that I promised her she could spend as much of that time as she wanted over here. You know, so she could avoid being driven crazy by a house full of noisy brats out at her cousin's place."
"She really likes it here that much?" Steve asked.
"Well yeah silly!" Bea smiled, "Ginny absolutely loves it here with us, she tells me so all the time."
Steve was a little taken aback. He knew that Beata and Ginny were close; they'd been attached at the hip since elementary school. She'd been hanging out at their house since Steve had moved in and probably earlier. Steve genuinely liked Ginny and had a real soft spot for the spunky little waif, but he hadn't realized how much she cared for them. "I know she loves you like a sister Baby but..."
"She loves us Daddy," she interrupted, "she's told me a bunch of times that you're the only man that's ever shown her any warmth or affection. I think, because of what happened to her mom, and the fear that her mother projects, Gin's always been terrified of men. She told me once, because she's so comfortable with you, she sometimes feels jealous of the way we cuddle. I think she wishes she could join in...you know... just to feel for a little while what it's like to be loved by a daddy."
"Oh my God, that's kind of sad... that poor, sweet kid," Steve whispered.
"I know, right?! Beata exclaimed, "I think all Ginny wants more than anything else, is to be really loved. Her mom is just as distant and distracted as my mother was, and she doesn't have any brothers or sisters, so she's just, alone... except when she's with us."
"Wow... I had no idea, she always seemed so happy and upbeat," he said.
"She is when she's here, Daddy," Beata said, her eyes almost glowing blue in the lamp light.
Making up his mind, Steve puffed his chest out as he said, "Well shit, can you think of any reason we can't take her with us?"
Beata shot upright, "Oh Daddy, are you serious?! She squealed
Steve smiled, "I think Ginny deserves a nice Christmas too, don't you?"
Beata grabbed Steve by the sides of his face, looking into his eyes, "Daddy, you are the kindest, most loving man in the whole world. Ginny will be so happy, she'll have a total conniption when I ask her." Her expression became very serious, yet serene. Beata leaned forward and until her nose was touching his and said, "Thank you Daddy, I really, really love you... I..I don't know how to... say it."
At that, she leaned forward and kissed him firmly on the lips. Her soft, passionate lips lingered on her stepfather's shocked mouth for a few seconds. Steve could feel the blood pounding in his ears. When Bea released him, he could see her face was as flushed as his must be. She held him hard for a long time, then his five-foot bundle of energy jumped up with a giggle and rushing off to give Ginny the good news.
Steve just sat back in his office chair and tried to process the events of the last several minutes. He'd never seen Beata so happy and he was happy to include Ginny, perhaps help her feel a little loved. He smiled as he could her Beata on the phone down the hall, she was giggling like crazy at Ginny's reaction.
'That kiss though...that simple, little kiss,' he pondered, his guilt burning due to his reaction to it. 'She just about knocked my socks off... her mother never did that to me.. Not like that.' He finally shrugged, coming to the conclusion that he'd just have to roll with it. All he cared about was keeping the girls happy. He smiled as a thousand ideas ran through his head; he had every intention of giving Beata and Ginny their best Christmas ever.
The last few weeks had been a bit of a circus for Steve, he'd spent countless hours wrapping up endless details, (including the gift wrapping). He had tons of holiday hours built up, so taking time off work wasn't a problem. It took a little finagling, but the girls had managed to get it cleared with Ginny's mom and they were chomping at the bit to go. Steve had to laugh thinking back to Ginny's reaction to all this. She'd come over the day after Beata asked her, absolutely glowing with happiness. She had approached him very solemnly in the kitchen. She took both his hands in her tiny fingers and kissed both of them, then stood on her tippy-toes and gave him a gentle, almost reverent kiss on the lips. The petite teen then put him in a bear hug that shocked him with its intensity. Apparently, she was pretty happy to be coming along.
Steve had his big 4x4 packed and the snowmobile was locked down in the box. He even had a pull-sled so they could haul everything up to the cabin behind the skidoo. They hit the road early on the 20th of December. Two and a half hours later, they got to the base camp, fifty miles north of Whistler Village. Here they could safely park the truck near the base of the mountain. It took a little while to get organized but Steve and the girls were finally churning up the logging trails leading to the cabin. Luckily, the seat on the skidoo was long enough for the three of them to fit. Beata and her friend kept themselves pasted to Steve for warmth. The powder snow was quite deep already, and that combined with pulling the sled made the climb up the mountain take a little over an hour.
Once there, Steve put the little snow bunnies to work, shoveling snow off the steps and porch, and then starting a path to the 'sled-shed.' He unloaded the pile of plastic bins; chock full of gear and supplies for the cabin. He then went to get a few armfuls of the seasoned firewood, neatly stacked under the eve of the leeward side of the shed. He chopped up some bigger pieces and prepped some kindling. By the time the girls had the shoveling done, Steve had the fire burning and the supplies squared away. Beata and Ginny were bushed after the trip and all the shoveling, but were radiantly happy to be there.
Ginny got the grand tour of the rustic, yet beautiful little log structure. Beata grabbed her hand and showed her the loft which held two double beds with a tiny night stand in between. The front of the main floor consisted of the living room with its big, stone fireplace; two old, large, leather club chairs, a small coffee table and a low, overstuffed couch that faced the fire. A large, fur rug dominated the floor of the living room. A small kitchen with a table and four chairs shared the back of the ground floor with the bathroom and utility room to the back right.
Steve's ingenuity impressed Ginny to no end. Truly off the grid, he'd designed the cabin to be completely self sufficient. At the back, near the door to the water closet, he had installed an efficient little wood stove. It was primarily made for melting snow and heating water for bathing and washing but it was capable of heating the whole cabin. The big fireplace up front was far less efficient and was more for looks than function. A solar power system charged a hidden bank of batteries; they in turn, powered the cabin's LED lights and a small pump for the water system.
On the mountain it could get extremely cold, sometimes minus-thirty Celsius at this time of year, so it took about a half hour or so to get the chill out of the cabin. The girls had made the beds and Steve was in the process of making a simple dinner of canned beef vegetable soup and some crusty bread. The trio enjoyed the hot soup after braving the cold ride up and the chilly cabin on arrival. They took their big soup mugs into the living room, basking in the glowing warmth of the fire crackling in the hearth.
Steve had lit some old oil lamps so they wouldn't run the batteries down; he still needed to brush the snow off the solar panels. The ambiance of the fire and the old, flickering lamps gave the room a magical quality and Ginny's eye positively glowed in appreciation. Beata had snuggled in on one side of Steve on the large couch; Ginny looked on with longing in her eyes. He smiled at her and opened his other arm, indicating the spot beside him on the couch. With a small squeak of pleasure, Ginny quickly cuddled up to his large frame. Beata and her father smiled at the obvious pleasure the simple gesture gave her. The girls soaked up his comforting warmth and loved his strong, quiet presence. Their eyes sparkled in the dancing firelight, mesmerized by the ever shifting flames.
Steve looked at the pair and chuckled, he gave them a little squeeze and said, "This is better than TV any day, hey girls?"
Beata snuggled in tighter and said, "Is it ever, I love this Daddy."
"Me too, this is so wonderful Mr. A... thank you so much for inviting me." Ginny's eyes glistened as she spoke, looking like she was struggling to hold back tears.
He smiled and squeezed her around the shoulders with his big arm and said, "You're always welcome in our home Sweetie... we love having you with us."
Ginny was in seventh heaven; never had she felt so accepted and cared for. It took all her willpower not to burst into tears of blubbering joy. Instead she cuddled in close to her best friend's dad and hugged him in silent thanks. The three of them stayed cuddled together that way for a long time, savoring the soup and entranced by the fire.
Steve said, "Well I don't know about you two, but I'm getting fairly warm." He gave them both a squeeze, then stood up and pulled his sweater off as he headed to the bathroom to change into his sweat pants and tee shirt. He did a quick washing up and then headed to the kitchen to clean up. He couldn't help but over-hear the girls talking quietly upstairs in the loft; they'd obviously gone up to get changed too.
Beata - "God I love it here...always have. It's kinda weird though... This is the first time we've spent Christmas up here... It's going to be so awesome!"
Ginny -- "I'm so excited I could just about pee myself, I can't believe I'm even here... Bea, did your dad really design and build all of this?"
Beata -- "Yup, he sure did. I know he comes across as just some normal guy and all, but he really is kind of a genius. He's been on his own in the woods since his was sixteen. He can track, shoot, hunt, fish, use a bow and arrow, all kinds of cool stuff. He built all this up here totally by himself long before he even met my mom."
Ginny -- "Wow, you must be so proud to have him as your dad. You must feel really... you know... really safe and looked after."
Beata -- "Yeah... Yeah I do, more than you think. Before, when it was just me and mom, I always felt so... so isolated and kinda vulnerable. My mom wasn't the warmest person as you know. But from the first time I met Daddy, he always made feel safe and protected... like I matter, ya know what I mean?"
Ginny -- "Yeah, I feel the exact same way around him. He's so big and kinda... powerful. Did you see the way he lifted the back of that heavy snowmobile and threw it off to the side? Oh my God, that really freaked me out. It kinda made me feel small and a little scared, but it kinda turned me on too... sorry"
Beata -- "It's ok, and if you tell anybody this I'll kill you, but I felt the same way Gin... I think I even got a little wet. (He could hear giggling for a moment)
Ginny -- "I'd never tell anybody Bea, besides, I couldn't talk, my panties were almost dripping when I watched him chop the firewood earlier."
Beata -- "What can I say Gin... I just love him... I love everything about him."
Ginny -- "Bea... would you be mad at me if I told you that... that I think I love him too."
Beata -- "No... I'm not mad Gin. How could you not love him? You're my best fiend, more a sister really... I have no problems sharing my daddy with you.
From that point on, all Steve could hear was hugging and some soft, joyful sobbing. He was utterly floored. His mind whirled from what he'd heard. 'The sexual references were crazy enough, but that 'Sharing her daddy' stuff... Holy shit!'
Steve's thoughts continued to ramble, 'Well, I must admit, it doesn't hurt the ego at my age, knowing that I'm loved and that I would even appeal to an eighteen-year-old girl... Wow... I don't know if I'm the luckiest man alive, or just bat shit crazy... Guess time will tell.'
Steve made a show of clanking dishes and loudly putting stuff away before calling out to the young woman up in the loft. "Girls... do you want to come down and make some smores? I've got all the makins,' Steve said in a sing-song voice.
"Really?! That would be awesome Daddy," Beata called down happily, "We're just getting our jammies on, we'll be right down."
Steve puttered around getting the smores stuff and then stoked the fires. Behind him, from the steep ladder to the loft he heard Bea. "Daddy, can you help Gin down the ladder, she's not used to it yet and she's a little nervous."
Steve just smiled to himself, they'd been up there once before to make the beds and managed to make it down alright. He turned and walked over to the ladder, reaching up, he said to Ginny, "It's ok Sweetie, reach down and grab my hand." Once she had complied, he gently plucked the petite girl off of the ladder as though she weighed no more than two pounds. He then proceeded to carry her in his arms like a baby into the living room, and gentle as a feather, placed her on the couch."