This Heart of Mine(169)

By: Susan Elizabeth Phillips



"Like, duh," Benny said.

Daphne poked him, but Victoria Phoebe was snuggling into her father's neck and didn't notice. She peeked back up. This is my daddy dear. He says I'm his very special girl, but not

to tell Mommy, except he always says it in front of her, and then they laugh.

"You have very nice parents," Melissa observed politely.

I know, but they kiss my cheeks too much. I'm getting chapped.

"I remember Rosie Bonner used to complain about the same thing."

Rosie Bonner! Victoria Phoebe grew indignant. Last night she tried to hide me in the litter box because I was getting too much attention, but Hannah distracted her with a cookie. I loooove Hannah.

"She's always been our special friend," Daphne said. "We played with her a lot when she was your age."

Don't you play with her now?

The animals exchanged glances. "Not in the same way," Benny said. "Things change. Stuff happens."

Victoria Phoebe was a future summa cum laude, so not much got past her. What kind of stuff?

"Children can only see us when they're very young," Melissa explained kindly. "As they get older, they lose the power."

That bites.

"But they can read about us in books," Murphy Mouse added, "which is nearly as good."

"Books that are making your mother a ton of money," Leo pointed out. "Although not as much as my paintings."

Victoria Phoebe grew huffy. Forgive me very much, but reading doesn't hold a lot of appeal at the moment. I'm still trying to cope with diaper rash.

"Definitely sarcastic," Celia the Hen clucked.

Daphne, who appreciated sarcasm, decided it was time for more explanation. "Even though you won't be able to see us as you get older, Victoria Phoebe, we'll be around watching out for you and all your brothers."

Brothers?!

"We're sort of like guardian angels," Melissa interjected hastily.

"Furry ones," Benny added.

"The point is," Daphne said patiently. "You'll never be alone."

Exactly how many brothers? Victoria Phoebe asked. And then, Oops! Gotta go! as her father passed her over to her mother.

The creatures watched Kevin pick up a glass of lemonade from the table under the trees. "I'd like to propose a toast," he said. "To all our friends and the family that means so much to me. Especially to my mother, Lilly, who came into my life at just the right time. And my sister-in-law, Phoebe, who is almost as good at matchmaking as she is at running a football team." He turned, cleared his throat, and sounded sniffy. "And to my wife… the love of my life."

Victoria Phoebe peered around her mother's arm. Here they go with the kissing again. Right now it's just each other, but they'll get to me and my cheeks next.

Sure enough, they did.

Daphne gave a blissful sigh. "Now we're at the very best part of being in the book business."

"The happy ending," Melissa said, nodding in agreement.

"Way too much kissing," Benny grumbled. And then he brightened. "I got an idea. Let's go play some football!"

Which they did. Right before happily ever after.

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