A selfish decision sends Dean’s life into a chaotic cycle of work and partying, but one day, he encounters a crying child who teaches him what’s truly valuable in life.
“I’ll pay child support, but I don’t want to hear anything about you or that child ever again,” Dean said. He picked up the last box of his possessions and headed for the door.
“That child?” Sienna yelled as she followed him. “Like you didn’t have anything to do with creating our daughter.”
Dean deposited the last box in his SUV. He was about to get in when Sienna grabbed his arm.
“You’ll never be happy if you leave us, Dean.” Sienna’s eyes were filled with tears. “You’ll live in regret knowing you abandoned your family.”
Dean couldn’t look Sienna in the eyes as he removed her hand from his arm. He looked down, but Sienna’s baby bump was just as accusing as her gaze.
“Good-bye, Sienna,” he said.
Sienna watched in shock as Dean drove away. They had only been married for three years, but they’d known each other since college. They’d worked at the same coffee shop. When their relationship became serious, they shared a dream of owning their own coffee shop one day.
Dean had changed since then. He was constantly frustrated lately and took it out on Sienna. Now that she thought about it, her marriage to Dean had been going downhill for over a year.
“Maybe it’s better that he’s gone.”
Sienna put a hand on her belly. “It’s not what I wanted for you, my darling, but having no father is better than having a bad one.”
Tears poured down Sienna’s face while she climbed into bed. No matter how hard she tried to convince herself that this was for the best, Dean had broken her heart.
She’d have to build a life for herself and their daughter without him. She didn’t understand how he could be so heartless. He walked out on them like it was the easiest thing in the world. Maybe he’d never loved her as much as she loved him.
Meanwhile, Dean turned his radio up and sped down the street. He felt like all the stress of getting married too young was falling away from him. There would be no more nagging wife for him and no screaming babies!
Finally, he was free. Dean had high ambitions for his career in the coffee distribution company he worked for. His boss had wanted Dean to take on more responsibility the last few months, but Sienna had forced him to decline because she didn’t want him traveling so much.
Dean decided to call Gary, his boss, first thing in the morning. He’d travel the whole country if that’s what it took to succeed! Maybe he’d find a good woman on his travels, one who didn’t nag all the time and fall pregnant unexpectedly.
“First, I deserve a celebration,” Dean said. He parked outside the first bar he saw and went inside.
“A round for everyone on me,” Dean said to the bartender. “I’ve just become a free man.”
Dean did his best to forget about Sienna over the next few years, and he succeeded. He adopted a philosophy of ‘work hard, play hard.’ He traveled across Oregon for his company and spent his nights frequenting bars and clubs.
He went on many dates and started relationships, but they all ended badly. One of his first girlfriends after Sienna gave his entire family food poisoning after she made them a clam bake. Dean’s mother had to be hospitalized.
Another of his girlfriends was far too intelligent and competitive. She’d joined him and his friends for a general knowledge game and destroyed them all. Dean still had flashes of her eagerly slamming her palm onto the table when she knew the answer to a question. He’d never been so embarrassed in his life.
Dean’s most recent relationship ended when he discovered how much the woman spent on luxury cosmetics and make-up. He’d seen the price tag on a bottle of shower gel, blocked her number, and avoided the places he knew she frequented.
“It’s difficult to find a good woman these days.”
Dean turned to his boss, Gary, who had invited him out for a drink that evening.
Gary, who had listened to Dean describe all his disastrous relationships, gave him a wry grin.
“Try being in my shoes,” Gary said. “I’ve got a child with the old ball-and-chain at home and a sweet sidepiece who also has a kid.”
“You have a child with your mistress?” Dean asked.
Gary laughed. “No way. The kid’s father ran off and left them. She was primed for me to come along and be the man of the house, know what I mean?”
Dean chuckled, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t like the way this discussion was headed and didn’t understand why it bothered him to hear Gary talk about his mistress that way.
“Don’t look now, but I think that lady over there wants to get to know you better.” Gary nudged Dean and indicated a dark-haired woman at the far end of the bar.
Dean and the woman locked gazes and smiled at each other. She was gorgeous! Dean wasted no time in buying her a drink. At Gary’s insistence, Dean spent the rest of the evening with the woman, Margo. They agreed to meet the next day for a walk through the nearby park.
It was a beautiful day. Margo and Dean spoke while they walked and discovered they had many interests in common. Everything was going great until a screaming child ran toward them from the bushes.
“Help!” The little girl shouted. Tears streamed down her face.
“Mom isn’t waking up. Something is wrong with her.”
Dean crouched down to ask the girl what was wrong, but Margo stepped forward.
“Ugh, don’t you hate little kids?” she asked Dean. “Stop whining, brat, and go away. You’re disturbing us, and we aren’t interested in your screeching.”
Dean was shocked by Margo’s attitude. He saw himself in her for a moment, making him feel ugly.
“I think our date is over, Margo,” Dean said.
He left her standing on the path and went to the little girl. Margo’s nasty words frightened her and made her cry even harder.
“You’re nothing but a disappointing loser who ran out on his responsibilities, and that’s all you ever will be.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you,” Dean told the girl. “Take me to your mom.”
“She’s this way.” The girl pointed at the bushes behind her. She took Dean’s hand and led him around to the other side.
A picnic blanket was spread across the grass beside the bushes. A woman lay on top of it. Dean reached down to check her pulse and gasped when he realized he knew her.
Dean immediately called the ambulance. While he waited for them to arrive, he gently lifted the unconscious woman into his arms.
“Sienna, wake up,” he said, patting her cheek.
“How do you know Mommy’s name?”
Dean looked at the little girl. She had her mother’s hair and freckles, but her green eyes and pointy nose…Dean had green eyes and a pointed nose. She was about the right age too.
“I knew your mom a long time ago,” Dean replied. “What’s your name?”
“Adora. Mommy said she chose that name because she loves me so much.”
The paramedics arrived then and took Sienna to the hospital. Dean and Adora rode with them.
Adora was sleeping when Sienna woke up a few hours later. Her eyes went wide when she saw Dean in her hospital room.
“Is she my daughter?” Dean asked, pointing to Adora.
“Yes.” Sienna looked at him with narrowed eyes. “What are you doing here?”
“She’s beautiful.” Dean sighed deeply. “I’m here because Adora called me to help her because her mom wasn’t well. I didn’t know it was you, or that she was my daughter. It seems like fate has brought us back together.”
Sienna snorted. “I appreciate the help, Dean, but you can go back to wherever you came from now.”
“What if I don’t want to?” Dean asked. “I know I was awful to you all those years ago, but I really believe we met again for a reason. Please, let me make amends for walking out on you. I’d like to get to know Adora.”
“Get lost.” Sienna sat up and pressed the button to summon a nurse.
“Today, it’s all apologies, but how long will it be before you realize that being a parent is a lifelong commitment? You don’t get to walk in and out of our lives as you please, Dean.”
“I won’t,” Dean pleaded. “Please, just give me a chance! I’ll prove to you that I’m not the same man who left you.”
“A leopard doesn’t change its spots.” Sienna glared at him. “You’re nothing but a disappointing loser who ran out on his responsibilities, and that’s all you ever will be.”
Dean stared at Sienna. Her words had cut right to his heart. He’d never truly realized what it must’ve been like for her to raise Adora alone. All this time, he’d never thought about how his choices impacted her.
When the nurse arrived and escorted Dean from the room, he didn’t object or complain. He’d come to an important realization about his life and the person he’d become. It was clear to him now that he’d made a wrong turn in his life.
Dean couldn’t stop thinking about Sienna and Adora. He was determined to make things right. When Sienna was released from the hospital, Dean went by to see her.
“What do you want?” Sienna asked when she came to the door.
“I want to tell you that I’m sorry.” He sank to his knees on the porch. “I made a terrible mistake when I left you. I realize now that there are no perfect women in the world, but you are the best women I’ve ever known. I was a fool to lose you, and twice a fool to lose my daughter too.”
Sienna crossed her arms. “I told you you’d never be happy, but it’s too late to come crawling back. I’m in a serious relationship.”
Dean gaped at her. It never occurred to him that another man might be in the picture. He didn’t know what to say, but the biggest surprise was still to come.
“Is everything okay, babe?”
Dean leaped to his feet when Gary appeared at the door. He called Sienna ‘babe’; did that mean she was the mistress his boss mentioned that night at the bar?
“Get out of this house, you no-good cheater!” Dean grabbed Gary’s arm and tugged him out onto the porch.
“Have you lost your mind?” Gary pulled away from Dean. “If you don’t leave right this minute, I’ll fire you.”
“Tear up my contract and burn it! I won’t leave here when I know you’re using Sienna and playing her for a fool. If she won’t take me back, she still deserves better than you.”
Gary gave a cruel smirk. “I hope you like a life on the street because I’ll make sure nobody in this industry hires you. How will you live then, big mouth?”
“I have an idea,” Dean replied.
“What on earth is going on?” Sienna shouted.
“He is married.” Dean pointed at Gary. “And he’s been using you all this time. He doesn’t care about you at all.”
Sienna turned to Gary, but he was already leaving. He ignored Sienna’s demands for answers and drove away.
“Well, at least he didn’t walk out on me while I was pregnant,” Sienna said. She shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Sienna, for all of this. Everything that’s happened comes back to my bad choice. Please, I’m begging you to let me make it up to you.”
Sienna studied Dean. He was beginning to think she’d agree when she turned her back on him and went inside.
Dean decided to try one last time. He arrived at Sienna’s house and convinced her to drive into the city with him. He parked outside an empty shop and unlocked the door.
“Remember our dream of owning a coffee shop?” Dean spread his arms in the open space. “I’m going to build it right here. I want to go back to those days when you and I shared our hopes and dreams for a shared future, but with the wisdom and gratitude I’ve gained.”
He approached Sienna and took her hand. “Please, give me another chance to be the man you and Adora deserve, a man you’re proud to have in your lives.”
Sienna scanned the room. “Okay. You can have a second chance, but it won’t come easy, Dean. There’s a lot of hurt between us that needs to heal, and you still need to prove that you are the man you claim to have become.”
Dean agreed. He built his coffee shop and made Sienna a co-owner. Over the following months, he treated Sienna and Adora like queens and worked hard to earn back the trust and love he broke years ago. Eventually, Dean and Sienna married again and raised their daughter in a happy family.
What can we learn from this story?
You can’t have a fulfilling life if you neglect your responsibilities. Dean felt overwhelmed by his responsibilities, but he should’ve asked for help or discussed his feelings with Sienna instead of running away.
Don’t break another person’s trust in you. Once broken, it isn’t easy to earn back a person’s confidence and prove you can be reliable.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.