Unexpected Fate / Page 43

Page 43


I don’t think so. No. I finally got out from under my father, and there is no damn way I’m going back. Especially now, it would only be a million times worse.

“I’m not leaving my home, Nate.”

“Don’t be irrational, Dani!” he screams in my face.

Lee, who was quiet until now, steps between us. “Be pissed, I get that, but don’t you dare talk to her like that.”

I give him a squeeze before things get too intense between him and Nate. Won’t be the first time, and it damn sure won’t be the last.

“Look,” I start and step around Lee so that I can make sure Nate knows I mean every word I’m about to say. “I’m not going to leave. First of all, if whoever is sending the flowers is watching me, they’ll see that and follow. I’m comfortable here. We’re safe here. Lee can stay for a while, right, Lee?” I turn and wait for him to nod. “And I’ll tell Daddy what’s going on. I won’t be put out of my own house because of some stupid flowers.”

“Flowers with goddamn cameras in them, Dani!” he yells.

“Tone, Nate,” Lee reminds him.

“Shut the fuck up, Lee.”

“Would you both shut the hell up?!” I scream.

“What the hell is going on here?”

Oh great. I look over at my mom and smile sweetly. She narrows her eyes, and I know she doesn’t buy it for a second.

“Do you want to tell me now or wait until your father gets in from unloading the car? He’s always freaked me out with that sixth sense he has when it comes to his children. Imagine my shock when I’m trying to enjoy a glass of wine and a nice game of Candy Crush when your dad comes rushing in the room and demands we leave right this second because he knew you needed something. Of course, he couldn’t tell me what it was you needed, so we had to stop off for just about everything he could buy at Walmart, the only damn store that’s open at eleven on a Saturday. So . . . before he gets in here and I have to hear him gloat about being right, why don’t you tell me what has your brother doing his best Axel Reid impression? Hey, Liam,” she finishes with a smile. “Don’t you look handsome tonight.”

Jesus Christ, it’s going to be a long night, and all I want to do is go to bed.

“Don’t worry. His bark will be a lot worse than his bite,” Lee whispers in my ear on a laugh. He’s quick to move away before my dad walks in the room though.

“Hey, Daddy,” I smile when he pushes into the room. “Shouldn’t you be in bed by now? You know, past your bedtime and all?”

“Don’t be a smartass with me. What’s going on?”

“What makes you think something is going on? Nate and Lee were just watching a movie with me. Normal boring night.”

“What makes me think something’s going on? Besides the fact that a father always knows when his little princess needs something? How about your brother over there?” he states and points to Nate.

Nate, who is standing farther away in the middle of the living room, pacing back and forth and muttering to himself. His fists are clenched and his face is flushed with anger.

“Oh . . . poor guy. I told him that ’N Sync wasn’t getting back together. He took it really, really hard.”

Lee lets out a boom of laughter. My mom snickers to herself and rubs her hand down my dad’s back.

“Dani,” Nate warns. “You tell them or I will.”

“I don’t think—” I start only to be interrupted by Nate when he drops a bomb in the middle of the room.

“Why don’t you fucking start with you and Cohen and then get to the flowers and cameras, Danielle.”

“The hell is he talking about?” Daddy rumbles.

“Uh, about that.”

“There better not be any of that to be about,” he fumes.

“What does that even mean?” I ask.

“Don’t you be smart with me. Start talking.”

I sigh and look at my mom for some help, only to get a small nod and smile. Lee isn’t much help either. He walks over to the couch, sits next to Nate, and waits—the popcorn we forgot about in their hands.

“Shit,” I mutter.

“Mouth!” Dad explodes.

I narrow my eyes and have to resist the urge to stomp my feet.

“Start. Talking.”

“Ugh! This is ridiculous. Well, this is definitely not how I saw this going. Thank you, Nathanial. You might as well sit down, Daddy.”

“I don’t want to sit down,” he argues.

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