Nikki stopped at the liquor store and grabbed a bottle of Cuervo before heading to her dad's place. She wasn't positive he'd be home on a Friday night, so she texted him first. He was a good looking guy in his fifties and she knew he hadn't wanted for companionship since her parents divorced a few years ago. Typically, he dated younger women. His last girlfriend was in her early thirties, only half a decade older than Nikki! She just shook her head whenever she met one of her dad's latest conquests. But he was single at the moment, the way he liked it, he claimed, and so was she. That's why Nikki was headed over to her dad's.
After dating for close to two years, her latest boyfriend, Paolo had broken up with her when she told him she needed to know if their relationship was headed for marriage. Although he was on the other side of thirty and had a good job, Paolo said marriage and a family weren't even on his radar yet.
"I love you and I don't see why we can't just keep going and having fun," Paolo said.
But Nikki didn't see it that way. She had a good job and was closing on thirty and she wanted to start a family before her career took over her life. She figured the younger she started a family, the sooner she could get back to building her career. Nikki did not see why she shouldn't have it all.
Ben answered the door and kissed his daughter on the cheek as she came into his condo. He'd planned on going to one of his local haunts down by the beach, but when Nikki called she sounded down so he told her to come right over. He always had time for his girl. Yes, it was wrong to play favorites, but he would have been lying if he denied that Nikki was his favorite of his three girls. He loved her sisters too, but he and Nikki had bonded in a special way from the time she was a little girl.
Being an athlete all his life, Ben had looked forward to a son to teach and coach, but his wife had given him three daughters. Luckily for him, Nikki was like the son he never had. She was sporty and quick from an early age and he had her playing soccer and softball almost from the time she could walk. Nikki loved competition, like her father, and took to sports like a duck to water. And Ben was always there as a coach. A growth spurt in her teens got her a track scholarship to university. One of his proudest days, though it would never admit it, was when she scored her first basket on him in the driveway when she was seventeen. Father and daughter were high competitive and always had been. They still raced when they ran together on the weekends.
"I brought our old friend José to hang out tonight," Nikki said, holding up the bottle.
"This must be serious. Let me get some glasses."
Nikki set the bottle down and went out on the balcony, which overlooked the ocean. Her father was a very successful businessman and even after giving her mother half of everything he still lived a very nice life. She loved the view from his balcony. Surfers were out catching the best of high tide while the sun made its slow descent into the ocean behind them, turning the sky into a searing vision of pinks and oranges. The breeze was warm and she slipped off the back so she could feel it on her arms. Her dad came up behind her and pressed a glass into her hand.
"I ordered Chinese. It'll be here soon. I figured we could eat and catch a game on the TV."
"Sounds like a plan."
"So what's up? Am I going to have to go over to Paolo's and kick his ass?" Ben had never liked Paolo and was relieved when his daughter had ended things. Still, he did not like to see his little girl hurt and he would gladly have taken a five iron to the kid.
"No, he hasn't done anything else. He was just coming over to get the last of his stuff and I didn't want to be there. I told him to leave his key." She gratefully sipped some of the tequila and enjoyed the burn as it slid down into her chest.
"Aren't you afraid he'll take something that's not his?" Ben put an arm around her waist. He'd already taken Nikki's heart, something Ben felt he wasn't entitled to.
"He's not like that. He's not a bad guy, Daddy, he's just still a big kid. Not unlike someone else I know." Nikki elbowed her dad in the ribs.
"Hey, I'm a responsible adult. I raised three beautiful and successful daughters, didn't I?"
"And then you moved to the beach and started dating girls their age!"
"I have not dated a twenty-year-old," Ben protested. That was the age of his youngest, Lindsey, who was in college. Nikki's older sister, Ashley, was a successful attorney.
"Not yet, anyway," Nikki laughed. "What if I dated someone your age?" Nikki asked. She did find older men attractive. She'd had a fling with a professor during university, something her father did not know about.
"I'd kill him. What do you want with a dirty old man?" Ben chuckled. "You're bright and successful, what do you need a man for anyway? You're too young for all that stuff."
"Mom had Ashley and me by the time she was my age," she pointed out. "Besides, you're never going to think any guy is good enough for me, even if I dated your clone!"
"You'd be lucky to find a guy like me."
Nikki had a point. Ben knew early on he'd be beating the guys off with a stick. All three of his girls were beautiful blondes, like their mother. Ashley had done some catalog modeling during college and Lindsey was in school studying theatre. She wanted to be an actress, and although he knew she had the looks and the talent, he wished she were going to school for something practical. But then, he'd never been able to deny his baby girl anything. Lindsey reminded him most of his ex-wife, and looked the most like her, petite and curvy, with a ton of freckles. She was also a dreamer, like her mother. It was his ex's lack of understanding about the real world that drove him crazy. It was cute when she was a co-ed. It was frustrating when she was forty and threw his money into one hare-brained scheme after another.
And just because Nikki was a star athlete in school it did not mean she was a tomboy. She had golden hair that fell halfway down her back and was nearly five-foot-ten. Her statuesque body was curvy, like a stretched out version of her sister's, but toned. With her cute button nose and clearly blue eyes she could easily have modeled like her sister did. Ben had always thought she bore a striking resemblance to the actress Stephanie March, the DA on Law & Order: SVU. Boys were eying her up since middle school and Nikki always had boyfriends from an early age and he'd never liked it. Even the fact she usually wore glasses instead of contacts did not stop them. Nikki wore very stylish glasses and she was one of those women who looked even more beautiful with her glasses on.
Usually the guys were jocks, and Ben knew all too well what those guys were like. He told her that boys were a distraction and she should keep her eye on the ball, but she always just laughed at him and sometimes she would be overly affectionate with a boyfriend around him, just to get his goat. Once she'd told him, "You're just jealous, Daddy. But don't worry, no boy will ever come between us."
Ben squeezed Nikki tight and kissed the top of her head. "Come on, the game should be starting soon."
While he turned on the big, wall-mounted plasma television, Nikki fell back into the couch and stretched her long legs, putting her feet up on the coffee table. She thought it would be nice to find a guy like her dad. Sure he had his flaws, but he was a good provider and he loved his daughters, even if he couldn't get along with his wife. Okay, maybe a guy like her dad, but one who could keep it in her pants. He left her mother for a sales rep who visited his company. He was in his late forties and she'd been twenty years younger and it did not last, but it ended the marriage. Nikki didn't doubt there had been other affairs too, but she did not entirely blame her father. She could see that her mother was a little ditsy and could be hard to be around. And as she grew into middle age she did not exactly take care of herself. Her dad was as fit as he was the day they met and still very handsome. He'd just gone gray and now sported a goatee. Well off and successful, Nikki understood why her dad had his pick of women. Another reason to find a guy like her father, she wanted a guy who stayed active and held up, not one who got a gut and spent all his time in front of the TV.
"So how come you don't have a hot date tonight, Dad?"
"You don't know how many chicks I had to turn down to spend time with my beautiful daughter tonight."
"I'm sorry I'm cramping your style."
"Don't worry, there's always tomorrow night."
Ben dropped onto the couch and put his arm around Nikki, who snuggled into him.
The food came and they ate in front of the television, washing the Chinese down with some beers. When they finished their food and they drank more of the tequila while they yelled at the television and the way their team was playing. Nikki insisted that if she was out there the score would be totally different and her father told her that her outside jump shot was gone.
"Bring it on, old man. Anytime, anyplace," Nikki laughed. It had been a while since they took to the court against each other, but the competitiveness was still there.
"I'm almost twice your age and I can still beat you at anything," Ben huffed.
Nikki laughed. She didn't have the heart to tell him that she intentionally kept it close when they ran together. He was in great shape, but she'd been a track star. It wasn't a fair fight.
"Come on, Dad, you can't be better than me at everything."
.... There is more of this story ...