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I tried to remain still when I woke up. It was dark. What time was it? I was afraid to reach for my cell phone.

‘Deep breath,’ I told myself. ‘It’s okay. There’s no such thing as monsters.’

Kind of not working. I reminded myself that Daddy was right there, and that I was fine, but that also didn’t work. Finally, I forced myself to reach out and fumble for my cell phone. I needed some light in the room.

I nearly had a heart attack when I crept my hand off of the bed and to the bedside table. I couldn’t find the phone at first, and I was freaking the fuck out. Finally, I felt my phone, and I pushed a button and scanned the room. Bringing the phone to my chest, I tried again to breathe slowly.

When the light shut off, I heard a weird high pitched whining noise. It took me a second to realize it was me. I forced myself to scan the room again. 30 seconds, rinse, repeat. I wanted to turn on my bedside lamp, but I didn’t want to wake Daddy up. Plus, that meant my arm wasn’t safely on the bed anymore.

I did that for about five minutes, before Daddy woke up. “El? What’s going on Baby?” his voice was thick with sleep.

“Go back to sleep. I’m fine,” I forced myself to keep my voice steady. Normal 26 year old women were not afraid of ghoulies and ghosties and things that went bump in the night.

Daddy pulled himself up on his elbow and stared at me for a second. “What’s wrong?” he asked me.

When I didn’t respond, he took in my cell phone. “Bad dream?” he asked me sympathetically.

“There’s no such thing as monsters,” I said, more to reassure him that I knew that than anything else.

He sighed, reaching over the side of the bed to turn on the lamp. “What was it about?” He rubbed his eyes tiredly and gestured for my phone, which he used to check the time.

“I don’t know. There was a woman. I don’t know if she was the devil or a demon or what. Scary. I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Any chance it was a zombie?”

Crap. It had not been a zombie, and losing out on The Walking Dead was not going to fix this shit.

“No,” I told him, trying to think of something else to say. “Zombies are more falling apart. She was really put together. I think that was part of what scared me.”

“Okay,” he swung his feet over the side of the bed and then walked around to me. “Do we need to check just this room or the whole place?”

“You can go back to sleep. I’ll be fine. I might do better if I read or watched some TV, but I don’t need you to do that.”

He settled down on my side of the bed, cupping my cheek in one hand. “Are you allowed to get out of bed without permission?”

“No, but you can give me permission. I’ll just go watch some TV. It probably won’t take that long, and then I’ll be able to go back to sleep.”

“I’m not giving you permission. We can hunt monsters if you want. I’m happy to check closets and under the bed. But, you are not going to just stay up for an hour or two and try to distract yourself. That plan doesn’t work for me.”

“I don’t want to go back to sleep,” I whined.

“I don’t want you to stay up all night. So, am I checking the room by myself? Do we need to go through the whole house? Tell me what we’re doing.”

“I’d be fine if you’d” Daddy cut me off.

“I’m not going to. You know what your options are; pick.”

“Just this room if we lock the bedroom door. And I guess the bathroom too.”

“Okay. Coming with me?” he held out a hand

“It would make me really selfish if I let you monster hunt by yourself. Plus, if a monster eats you, I don’t want to be by myself.”

“Thanks. I think.”

“But you have to carry me. Because if a monster eats you, and I’m behind you, maybe they’ll be too full to eat me. And I’ll just be all traumatized.”

Daddy picked me up. “There’s no such thing as monsters though Baby. Remember how we talked about this?”

“Yes, but if there were monsters. And besides, there totally are,” I yawned and rested my head against his shoulder. “Stella too.”

He picked her up and handed her to me. After checking the bathroom and the closets, he opened up the door to the hallway.

“We don’t need to check everywhere.”

“We’re not. I’m getting you a drink.”

I thought about protesting, but it actually sounded somewhat comforting. When we got to the kitchen, he settled me onto a kitchen stool and pulled out the carton of milk.

“Not milk Daddy,” I told him.

“Yeah, milk. Don’t worry, I’m going to make it taste good.”

I was skeptical, but I watched him as he pulled down a small saucepan and poured milk into it. Then he added vanilla and nutmeg. I smiled as I watched him pour in sugar. He had become militantly anti-sugar after I had let how much candy I ate on the average day slip. Suffice it to say, he did not view my habit of rewarding myself for every completed task with a vanilla tootsie roll as a good idea.

He’s wrong, but as he likes to point out, he makes the rules.

He finished pouring milk into the bottle and then quickly scrubbed out the pot. “Time to go back upstairs Princess.” He picked me up and carried me upstairs, where we settled onto the bed. I drank from the bottle and watched him through sleepy eyes as he grabbed a book.

“Shall we read a bit while you drink your milk?”

I nodded, trying to focus. Now that we had cleared the house, I felt really tired.

He opened the book and began, “Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform.”