The San Francisco Legacy House was still, but Derek Rayne didn't really mind. It gave him the opportunity to finish up paperwork, and inform William Sloan, precept of the Ruling House in London, of the current status. Current status, Derek thought, my daughter has resigned as a member of the San Francisco Police Department, my godson nearly died, and there's a rift between them for reasons they won't specify. That's our current status.

"Nick and I are heading to the hospital to see Philip. Should we tell him that you'll come by later?" Alexandra Moreau asked, popping into his office. Derek looked up and smiled at the young woman. He nodded once and Alex continued, "Okay, terrific. . .by the way, Lissa asked me to pass along a message. She needs to see you in her room when you get a minute." Derek's smile faded.

"Lissa needs to see me? Did she say why?" he asked anxiously. Alex shook her head, and Derek continued, "I'll find out soon enough. Shelagh and Maeve. . .are they already at the hospital?" This time it was Alex's companion, Nick Boyle, who nodded and Derek continued, "Give them my best. Tell Philip that I'll be by later."

"Will do," Alex replied and the two young people headed out of the House. Derek sat staring at the documents in front of him, though he didn't really see them. He couldn't concentrate on his work any longer. . .he was far too worried about his daughter. Without another thought to the documents which had to go out, Derek pushed himself away from his desk and walked out of his office to his daughter's room.

He rapped lightly on the door, calling, "Elizabeth? Alex said that you needed to see me." His daughter's contralto voice bid him to enter and Derek opened the door. He said as he entered, "What. . .oh my God. My God. . .this is why you needed to see me?"

His twenty-six year old daughter Lissa smiled shyly and said, "It was the only way I could think to get you away from those damn papers for a little while. I'm sorry if I scared you, Dad." Derek could only respond with a bemused smile as he looked around the room. There were gift-wrapped packages everywhere. Lissa continued, "Alex and Nick helped me out. I couldn't have done it without them."

"This is extraordinary. . .but why? It's neither my birthday nor Christmas, and your gifts to me for those occasions were wonderful," Derek said, referring to the clock which Lissa had given him for Christmas, which gave times for each city around the world at any given hour. Derek had told Sloan that every precept needed such a clock.

Lissa laughed softly and said, "Call it an early Father's Day gift. Gifts, rather, for all the years we missed out on. Here. This is the gift from 1970, when I was born." She handed Derek a square box. Carefully, he unwrapped the gift, then opened the box. Inside were a pair of infant shoes. Lissa said by way of explanation, "I found those when I was going through Mama's things. I figured that it was one way of giving you back part of my childhood."

Derek ran a reverent finger of the black patent shoes, which fit into the palm of his hand. He remembered holding Philip, only moments after he was born, and whispered, "So tiny. Now I know why I was chosen as Philip's godfather, rather than my father. It was so I would know the sweetness of holding a child. . .since I was to be denied knowing the sweetness of holding my own daughter. Thank you, Lissa."

The young woman blushed and said, "This is from 1971. Remember, Mama took Aunt Molly, Aunt Alicia, and me to Belfast." Derek nodded, accepting the gift. He discovered a small, heart-shaped picture frame inside, with a picture of the year old Lissa sitting on a blanket. She was laughing at the camera, still an innocent.

And so it went. . .for each year of her life, Lissa had given Derek a gift. A home video which Fiona had made of Lissa's second birthday, which Derek promised to watch another time. Her baby book, detailing her first word, her first tooth, her first step, for 1975. A red, white, and blue hair ribbon for 1976. A lock of hair from her first haircut when she was eight, for 1978. Slowly, the waste basket beside Lissa's desk began filling with wrapping paper, until it was overflowing.

There was a photo album which had just arrived a few days earlier from Toronto. . .pictures which showed Lissa from the time she was ten until she was twenty-five, which was her gift to him from 1981. Her tassle from her high school graduation marked 1986, and Derek found a corresponding picture in the photo album. His breath caught in his throat. . .she looked so young, and so solemn.

Intermingled with these were the traditional Father's Day gifts. . .writing pens, letter openers, and several rather silly-looking ties, the kind that would have appealed to a small girl. Derek wouldn't have cared if Lissa had given him the ugliest tie in the store, however. Lissa admitted with a grin as he fingered a tie with zig-zags, "I had Kat's help in choosing that one. But it did look like something I would have bought when I was small."

Derek laughed as he put the tie away and picked up another gift. He said as he opened it, "This is incredibly thoughtful of you, sweeting, but totally un-necessary." Lissa looked at him, pain flashing in her eyes. Derek put down the gift, a commendation she had received from the police department in 1992, and cupped her face in his hands. He said softly, "I already have my Father's Day gift. . .you. You're alive and well, and that's all I could ever want."

"But Dad. . .I wanted to do this. I wanted to give back what you missed. And you missed so much of my life. Granted, I don't have the corsage from prom, 'cause I didn't go to my prom, but I wanted you to have some of my memories," Lissa said earnestly. Derek smiled and kissed her forehead. Yes, he had missed a great deal of her life, but she was with him now. That was the important thing.

"You saved my life twice, Elizabeth, and you saved Philip's life. You are the greatest gift Fiona ever gave me. Although. . .I do thank you, for all of this," Derek replied. He pulled her into his arms, cherishing her strength and her warmth. The truth was, while the gifts weren't necessary, he was moved beyond words that his daughter would do this.

She returned the embrace, then gasped, "Oh! I almost forgot!" She danced out of his arms and hit play on her CD player. Lissa returned to his side and took his hand, saying with an impish grin, "I believe I owe you a dance, Father." Derek looked at her, then burst out laughing. However, his laughter turned to amazement when he heard the familiar opening chords of 'Sweet Caroline.'

"This. . .this was playing. . .this was your mother's favorite song. She played it. . .all the time," Derek said. Lissa nodded, her smile radiant. She knew, then. Of course she knew. . .Fiona would have made reference to it in her journals. Derek said, "This was the song that played when we made love. . .you were conceived to this song."

Lissa nodded, smiling, and replied, "Happy Father's Day, Daddy." Derek pulled her close, laughing. . .to disguise the moisture which burned his eyes. After Lissa had remembered her past with the Legacy, she promised Derek to dance with him. And now, nearly six months later, and four months before Father's Day, she was keeping that promise.

Lissa kicked off her shoes and set her feet on top of his shoes, adding as Derek danced her around the room, "You know, you will get another gift when the real Father's Day rolls around. I haven't quite figured out what that will be, but I am working on it!" Derek laughed. . .he had no doubt that she would keep that promise as well. She was, after all, her father's daughter. . .she was a woman of her word.

Continue on to read House of Cards...