I sat in the back row, watching as my only daughter was given away by her step-father. My stomach twisted when she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. I respected the man that raised my little girl, but there was a certain level of jealousy that came with being the father that was always gone. I didn’t get to see or participate in many things, including this.
I hadn’t even been invited to be honest, but I had come anyway, arriving late on purpose so I could sneak in to witness her marriage to the love of her life. I knew she didn’t like seeing me now, I had been the cause of so much pain during her childhood, so I made sure she didn’t see me. I would leave as soon as I could without her ever noticing me.
The ceremony lasted little more than twenty minutes, and the views they had written I thought were beautiful. When the ceremony was over, I immediately removed myself from the room during the chaos while everyone was milling about congratulating the happy couple.
“You’re leaving?” I heard from behind me as I reached my car.
“You didn’t invite me, Anna.” I said, “I was hoping you didn’t notice me, but I had to come.”
“You always leave, Dad.” She said as I turned around. Even after only a few minutes of not seeing her in her dress I was taken aback by the sight of her. “Why do you always have to go?”
“It was my job to leave, Anna. The government doesn’t let you stick around long in my line of work.”
“But you made it to my wedding.”
“I couldn’t stay away. I’m supposed to be in the Ukraine right now. I had to pull some strings to get stateside for this.”
“What do you even do for work?”
“I can’t tell you.” I replied, letting my eyes drift to the ground.
“You always kept secrets, Dad, I think it’s time to share them with me.” She replied.
“I can’t tell you anything more than my job makes the world a better place.” I replied.
She suddenly ran forward and fell into my arms. I embraced her, enjoying the feeling of love that came with every letter she had written me and every hug she ever gave me.
“I love you, Dad. I don’t hate you.” She said.
“I love you more, kiddo. Get back to your husband. I’m sure everyone is worried about you by now.”
She handed me an envelope as she released me. “Take this with you.”
I stood there and watched her return to the building with tears in my eyes. She had grown into a strong, free thinking woman, even without my involvement.
I got in my car, my smile fading as I did so. I would open the envelope on the plane back from my mission. There was a man I had to kill, and I had to focus.