"Morgan?" Kat burst through his open office door almost before he could finish hanging up the phone that morning. "We really need your help."
All Daniel could think of was that Lynette was in trouble and had asked for him. He had driven by her house more times than he could count in the last three weeks, looking for some sign of her, trying to screw up his courage to ring the doorbell and ask if they could talk about Kat. He wanted his daughter to know who he was and become more than just her teacher and advisor.
"What's wrong?" He shot to his feet, reaching out a hand to Kat.
"It's Bekka. You know that book she was so excited about? The one that guy she met in Florida wants to publish? It's all a scam. He's a major crook and he's trying to extort money from her grandparents and I know she needs to lean on somebody and she won't cry but I bet she wants to and... can you talk to her?"
"Sure." Daniel almost dropped back down into his creaky chair again. He felt blindsided.
Kat didn't need him, but Bekka did. Yet Bekka never seemed to need anybody. Whenever she asked for advice, it was mostly to check out what she'd already prayed about and decided for herself.
"Great. I knew you'd help." She started backing through the door, then paused. Daniel wondered if she was about to finally reveal what had been a shadow at the back of her eyes since she got back from Christmas. "It's... it's really nice to..." Kat shrugged, and Daniel could have sworn she blushed a little. "It's great to be able to... depend on... well, if we could pick our own fathers, all three of us decided we'd pick you. If you were old enough to be somebody's father," she added, hastily, and vanished through the door.
Daniel stared at the empty door for at least five minutes, his mouth hanging open. Then he laughed. He turned and propped his elbows on his desktop and hid his face in his hands and laughed until the tears came.
Bekka's problems were no secret to him. She had gone to the Randolphs for advice when her miracle book sale started to go sour. Joel immediately told Daniel, because he knew how important anything affecting her would be to him.
Kat coming to him and asking him to help was a good sign, Daniel knew. No matter what her stepfather had done to her, she still reached out. She still wanted a father.
"If I were old enough to be somebody's father," Daniel muttered, and laughed a little more.
He wished he could tell Lynette what Kat said. Would she laugh, too, or would she be hurt? But why couldn't he call her? He seemed to have missed her every time he drove past the house. That slob husband of hers couldn't be around during the day, could he? It wasn't like he could leave a message on the machine.
Daniel picked up the phone and dialed. After all this time, so many instances where he intended to call and then gave up, he knew Lynette's number by heart. The phone rang five times, then the answering machine picked up, with Lynette's gentle voice. Daniel hung up before the greeting ended.