Take Any Chance Bonus Epilogue

An Adam & Mia Epilogue: The Kindergarten Conundrum


“I can’t find her anywhere. Any ideas?” Emilia was standing at the counter in our kitchen when I entered. She’d poured me a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, and I scooped it up and took a sip. Ahhh, that sure hit the spot.

I frowned in answer to her question. “She’s not in her room?”

Emilia shook her head and shrugged. “Not in her room, not in the sunroom. I thought she was with you until you walked in here without her.”

I blinked. “Hmm. I think I have a suspicion.” I set down the mug on the counter. “I’m on the case. Is everything ready to go?”

Emilia had just pulled a brand-new insulated lunch bag from the fridge, replete with reusable organic packaging. checking inside. “Her lunch is packed. Clothes are laid out. Heath’s almost here. All we’re missing is Canyon Hollow’s newest kindergartner.”

I grinned. “Okay. Off on my manhunt.”

“Don’t you mean your tiny dictator-princess hunt?”

“Well, yesterday she asked me if a little girl could grow up to be a princess-veterinarian-astronaut. So, I’m off to hunt for whatever you’d call that.”

She laughed and turned back to the fridge to pull out her own packed lunch. Emilia would be running off to work as soon as we had delivered the young lady to her class. I’d be on pickup detail on my own, documenting the event with pictures, as ordered by said princess’ mother.

I found the young lady in question, as evidenced by the parked tricycle nearby, a few short minutes later. She was exactly where I thought she’d be.

But I still had to follow the rules before I could open the door to peer inside. I stooped down and jiggled the cord attached to the little bell hanging beside the quarter-scale doorway.

“Paging Her Royal Highness, Princess Sabrina.”

There was no answer. Just a little whimper that any parent would pick up in a crowd. A whimper that shot a tiny dart right to my heart.

I swallowed and took a deep breath. “Is everything okay in there?”

“Nobody’s here,” came the tiny voice beyond the diminutive door.

“Hmm, so who am I talking to, then? The fairies? Can I send a message to the fairy princess?”

“The princess isn’t here,” she said in that serious, grownup-sounding voice she sometimes used.

“Oh, okay. Well can you fairies send her a message? The princess’ mommy and daddy would really like to get a hold of her because they miss her.”

In spite of her obvious distress, I thought I heard a little giggle, as if she were congratulating herself on successfully fooling me.

I bit my lip. The cuteness of it was sometimes overwhelming. But when the hell had she grown up so fast? Once upon a time, she’d been my little shadow who followed me everywhere and never refused anything I asked. Though to be fair, the relationship went both ways like that.

“The princess wants to say that she’s mad at Mommy,” the voice said quietly through the door.

I frowned. “Why’s she mad at her mommy? Her mommy loves her so much and is excited for the princess to go to kindergarten.”

“The princess said to tell you that she doesn’t want to go to kindergarten.”

“Hmm. That’s a problem, then.”

Then she said her most favorite word in the English language. “Why?”

“Because how will she become a princess-veterinarian-astronaut if she doesn’t go to school? Have to go to school to learn how to do those things.”

“Do I really?” she blurted before I’d even finished the sentence. Then, quickly correctly herself. “I mean, does she have to go?”

“If she wants to be a princess-veterinarian-astronaut, then I’m afraid she does. She has to go to school just like Mommy and Daddy did.”

“I heard Mommy say that you dropped out of school.”

I rolled my eyes. Emilia… I sighed. “Mommy was joking around. I promise you that I attended and passed kindergarten.”


“Anyway, can I speak to the princess now?”

“Daddy…” came the admonishment on the other side of the door. She opened it and peered up at me. “You already knew it was me.”

I shrugged, palms upward as I effected a surprised expression. “I had no idea. I thought I was talking to the fairies. Not the fairy princess herself.”

She shook her head. Her dark hair settled in an unruly cloud just above her shoulders. Staring up at me with her serious dark brown eyes, she said, “Fairies don’t have to go to school.”

I cocked my head. “You’re right, they don’t. But maybe if you show a good example for them, they’ll start.”

“Mommy picked ugly clothes for me to wear.” Her face screwed up tight, like she’d just eaten a lemon and I was suddenly fighting showing my amusement. I was aware that the academy required uniforms, although for kindergartners they were optional. They had, however, suggested we dress them in uniforms as often as possible to prepare them for first grade when it was required.

“Well, I think Mommy just wanted to make sure you got used to your uniform.”

“If I wear that uniform, then no one will know I’m a princess.”

I squatted down so that I was on her level and stared into her serious gaze. “Princess is all about attitude. You don’t need clothes to show the world who you are. But I’ll tell you what, if you come out and get ready for school right now, I’ll let you wear whatever you want for your first day of kindergarten, okay?”

She clasped her hands in front of her and raised up on her tip toes. “Really?”

“Yes, but only if you come out right now and go up to your room to dress for school so we aren’t late.”

She hopped up to me and clamped her tiny arms around my neck, planting a big kiss on my cheek. “Thank you, Daddy.”

I scooped her up with one arm and she let out a little shriek. Then I landed a big kiss on her cheek. Once again, I gently set her back on the ground.

“Off you go, princess. I’ll tell the fairies to wait for your return. They want to hear all about your big adventures at school.”

“Fairies don’t care about school,” she corrected as she scurried off to her room.

I had visions of her returning in her Little Mermaid Halloween costume from last year, though that was probably way too small for her by now. She was growing fast. Too fast.

And this whole compromise of mine would earn me a look from Emilia, I was sure of it. Accusations of spoiling her would abound. But hey, she did it too. It’s not like I was the only guilty party in this racket.

Emilia would just have to deal. I’d solved the problem, hadn’t I?

As I bent to close the door to the playhouse, I peered inside, smiling when I noticed how she’d set a perfect service of tea for the fairies with tiny plates, cups and saucers.

I made a mental note to leave her something from them later—a thank you note and a small bouquet of wildflowers maybe. I could pick them on the walk back from taking her to school.

Then I turned and headed back into the house.


I looked up from checking my “to do” list for the day at the sound of scampering feet across the terracotta floors of the side entry.

Adam had accomplished his mission, apparently.

“Sabrina—” I called just as she hit the base of the stairs.

“I’m getting dressed, Mommy.”

I sighed. Well at least she was feeling the urgency of the situation. I checked the time on my phone. We’d be able to get there just in time if only—

The doorbell rang and I hit the app on my phone attached to the front door. Without looking at the video feed, I tabbed to unlock the door. That was Heath, right on time. At least by his definition, anyway.

“Hey,” I called through the speaker on the app. “Come in. I’m in the kitchen.”

A minute later, Heath was standing right beside me with a massive camera in his hand. “I’m ready to document the big day! Where is our little student?”

“Getting dressed.” I screwed up my mouth and gave him a look of exasperation. “She was…being difficult.”

He chuckled. “I’m completely shocked.”

“I doubt it.” I raised my brows. “Where’s your man?”

“He couldn’t get out of work and he was upset about it. Ordered me to get all the photos and video and he’s sending a balloon bouquet over for her this afternoon.”

“That’s so sweet,” I beamed at him. “Tell him you’re both invited over for dinner this weekend.”

Heath pulled a face. “Depends on who’s cooking.”

I narrowed my eyes at him and gave his solid bicep a swat. “Don’t be a brat. My cooking isn’t that bad.”

His face split into a smile. “Depends on what you’re making.”

“You’re rude.” I scoffed.

“We already knew that.” Adam entered from the same doorway his daughter had just bolted through minutes before.

“I see you found her.” I said, quirking a smile at him.

He sent me a wide, satisfied grin and nodded. Damn, he was just so cocky about it, too. So gorgeously cocky that he infuriated me and made me want to jump him at the same time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time for that.

“She was in her playhouse.”

I blinked, frowning. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Jeez, I needed to get more sleep or something. Or maybe it was just perpetual Mommy brain. I liked to blame a lot of my “duh” moments on that.

His eyes flicked over to my packed bag. “You ready to go? You’re taking off right after, aren’t you?”

I’d already checked my schedule for the day on my phone. “Yeah, I’ll just head over straight from the school. My assistant made sure to schedule appointments an hour later today.”

I grabbed the rest of my stuff and shoved it into my large bag. Since I’d started the clinic, nestled between the crooks of Canyon Hollow and neighboring Blackstar Canyon, my commute had been doable via electric bicycle, which was how I most often chose to go into work.

Suddenly the tiny scampering footsteps resounded once more, this time accompanied by the rustle of voluminous amounts of taffeta and tulle.  I glanced down at my daughter as she pranced into the kitchen, chin in the air and arms out gracefully as if strutting down a runway, quite pleased with herself.

And wearing a massive ballgown of a dress that nearly swallowed her. Deep blue with twinkly sparkles glittering from the skirt. A gift from her “funcles.”

I arched a brow and glanced at Adam, whose smile widened. “There she is. All ready to go, princess?”

I blinked. All ready to go to kindergarten—in that?

“What happened to your uniform?” I asked. “I laid it out for—”

Adam turned to me, catching my eye meaningfully. “We had a negotiation.” I glared at him. He hadn’t even warned me.

My brows climbed my forehead. “A negotiation?”

“Funcle Heath!” Sabrina shrieked, all poise and grace forgotten as she launched herself into Heath’s arms. He almost dropped his camera in order to catch her.

“Nice dress, kidlet.”

He pulled her up and hugged her against him, landing a kiss on top of her head before setting her down. “Don’t want to wrinkle your haute couture.”

She did a slow turn, arms out. “You like it?”

“Of course I do. I helped pick it out.”

I blinked, trying to figure out how I could talk her into a change of clothes when Adam caught my eye and gave me a small shake of his head.

I mentally sighed. He was right, of course. I had to pick my battles and this one just wasn’t worth it. If the dress made her happy and excited to go to school on her first day, then who was I to fight it?

I doubted it would return in as nice a condition as when she left. And if she tore it, she’d be really upset.

“You’re wearing those with it?” I pointed at her feet.

She lifted one of them up to stare at the white tennis shoes. “Yes. They help me run fast.”

“It’s a fashion statement, Mommy,” Heath said, laughter in his eyes.

“Well, it’s definitely that. What kind of statement remains debatable.” I turned back to my little kindergartner. “Okay, you ready to go? We’re walking to the school together. Do you want to walk or should Daddy pull you in the wagon?”

She shook her head, dark hair fluttering about her shoulders. “I want to ride my horsie!”

I flicked a gaze at Heath. “But the horsie is taking pictures of the occasion.”

“It’s okay. I got it. We’ll take some when we leave the house and some more when we get there.”

I held out a hand to take his camera from him and we all left together. Heath carried Sabrina on his back, as the princess had requested, and Adam and I walked behind them, hand-in-hand. Heath occasionally snorted and made horse noises or pretended he might rear or buck her off while she giggled uncontrollably.

Adam squeezed my hand and I smiled up at him. It was a beautiful day to be taking our daughter to her first day of school.

The walk to the Helena Modjeska Academy wasn’t long, as it was on our side of the canyon, just a little over half mile from our house. The little town of Canyon Hollow was waking up and coming to life as morning sunshine arced over the high canyon walls and filtered down through the old growth trees all around us. Birds sang and a light breeze kept cool what promised to eventually become a scorching September day.

And the neighbors were out in full force. Some chatting with each other across yard boundaries, some sitting on their front porch chairs, all ready to watch the processional to the first day of school. We’d seen most of them at the Labor Day barbecue the weekend before, but they waved and clapped enthusiastically as we passed by, all of them wishing the “little princess” a fine first day of school.

Once we got there, Heath insisted we pose amongst the live oaks and in front of the school sign, each of us standing on either side of Sabrina, Adam  handing her little backpack to her with a kiss, me crouching low to give her a hug. The two of us holding hands, our backs to the camera as she trotted off to line up with her class.

It was a full-on mini photoshoot and Heath was refusing to compromise on his self-assigned role as documentarian of our little family.

And I was grateful for every bit of it.

“Okay, I gotta run. I parked in the parking lot here but I have an appointment I’ve got to make.”

I hugged him goodbye. “Thanks, Funcle Heath.”

He kissed me, then gestured to his camera. “Any time. I’ll process these and share them to you tonight. Bye, you two. You look like you need more reassurance than she did.”

I glanced over at Adam, who was staring after his daughter. But, just as she was about to follow the line leader toward her new classroom, that mass of dark blue twinkling tulle swirled and looked back at us.

Then she broke ranks and ran full speed toward us. The kindergarten teacher paused, watching this and halting the line processional.

“Sabrina, you have to—” I said as she sped right past me and jumped into Adam’s arms.

“Up, Daddy!” she commanded, and he pulled her up into his arms so that her face was even with his. With a quick, almost mischievous glance at me, she turned and put her hand up to Adam’s ear, whispering into it.

Whatever it was, it took her a while to tell it all as Adam nodded and “uh-huhed” obediently. I shifted my stance impatiently, mindful of the teacher watching us. Other parents turned to watch, too, probably to identify the holdup.

Trust Sabrina to channel her father over me when it came to school. The little rebel. Maybe this was only the beginning?

I huffed to cut this whole thing short. “Baby, we have to—”

“Shh,” Adam said. “She’s almost done.”

And not a minute later, he set her back on t  he ground and she called out. “Bye Mommy!” and ran back to her place in line.

I blinked as the teacher said something. Then all the children turned and waved to their parents.

Adam and I waved back. While watching our daughter disappear through the doorway to her classroom, I muttered to Adam, “What was that all about?”

“Instructions for how to take care of the fairies while she’s gone.”

I laughed. “And I’m sure you committed all that to memory?”

“Every bit of it, naturally.”

We walked back to the house, fingers laced together.  As we hit the base of the driveway, my head leaned on his shoulder and he stopped, took me in his arms and hugged me tight. “Cheer up. We only have twelve more first days of school to go.”

I blew out a breath and wrapped my arms around his neck and looked up at him. “And I have a sinking feeling it’s going to happen in the blink of an eye.”

His mouth curved into a crooked smile. “Oh no, no don’t do that. We’ll savor all the moments, special and otherwise. We’ll be grateful for what we have. Deal?”

I smiled back at him and nodded. “Deal.”

Then his head tilted toward mine and we kissed.

And I savored every second of that moment, too.

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