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My Darling Bride: Chapter 12


Fresh from a shower, I walk out of practice, and the evening air feels good to my wet head. Our strength coach complained about my conditioning this morning and made it his top priority. I nearly threw up while running the stadium steps before he was satisfied.

I’m pulling out my keys to unlock my Range Rover when I look up and see someone lingering in my peripheral.

Still wearing a suit, he’s obviously come from the office. I notice his Mercedes in the lot a few spaces over. I pop the back door open and toss in my duffel bag. “Hey, Dad.”

He nods, tucking his hands into his slacks. In his early sixties with dark graying hair, he’s tall and built like me. “Hello.” He offers a small smile, his granite face solemn. “Sorry to track you down like this. I tried to call, but you didn’t pick up. As usual.”

“Guess you saw the engagement announcement,” I say as I lean against the car and cross my arms.

He moves to stand in front of me. “Yes. Congratulations. I can’t wait to meet her.”

He does sound eager, almost hopeful, but I shove any feelings away that that might give me. “We’re doing a civil ceremony. Nothing fancy.”

“Will I be invited?”


He takes that in stride as if he expected it and looks away, hiding his expression. “I called you on your birthday, too, but you never called back. I wanted to take you to dinner.”

My thirtieth was two weeks ago, and usually I do have dinner with him, but with everything going on, there wasn’t time. “Sorry. I’ve been busy with getting back in shape for the season. Jasper threw me a party at his place. Nothing big.” Jasper and a few other guys from the team came over.

He swallows. “Your mom always made you a German chocolate cake.”

My lips tighten. I refuse to acknowledge him when he brings her up.

He fidgets. “There are some things we should discuss.”

I check my watch. “I really don’t have time right now.”


I stare at my father for a long time. He’s a man who rarely offers compromise. I exhale and say, “Two minutes, all right?”

He straightens his back, a tough expression slipping into place as I watch him transition into lawyer mode. “You can’t play football—”

I throw my hands up. “Forget your two minutes. I don’t have time for this.”

He inches closer. “Sorry, sorry. That was the wrong way to start.” His shoulders drop a little as he rubs his temple. “Please, I just worry about you. You have nothing to win and everything to lose by playing. I’m worried that if I don’t say something to you now . . . I just . . . I don’t want to miss the opportunity to speak. We talked in the hospital, but I’ve barely seen you since then.”

My jaw tics. He was at the hospital. According to Brody, he only left to shower every other day.

“I’m doing great. My scans are great. My life is great. I’ve even seen a specialist. Don’t worry.”

His hands clench. “They had to restart your heart. Do you realize how terrifying that was for me?”

“First of all, I’m healthy. The team doctors say there’s no reason not to play, and their concern has more credibility than yours. I’m sorry if my injury caused you stress. In the future, stop watching the games.”

His eyes narrow. “I watch every game. I’m proud of you. For your success. You’re amazing on the field.”

I rub my jaw. Yeah, maybe, but he never was into sports. He wanted me to go to law school, only it wasn’t what I wanted; plus, I couldn’t get into his alma mater anyway. “Thanks.”

“I may not have always been there for you, but this time—”

I scoff, interrupting him. I hadn’t wanted to get into this with him, but he’s gone and said the one thing I can deal with. “You were never there for us.”

He blows out a breath. “I know.”

“Were you concerned when Brody and I took turns sitting with Mom because we were freaked out about her depression? How about when you shipped us off to boarding school before Brody and I had even stopped crying about her? Your expectation for me to give one shit about your concern evaporated years ago.”

His face dips as he stares at the ground, then looks back up at me. “Is that what you think? That I didn’t care? I was devastated when she asked me to leave. I didn’t want to go, and then she died before we could fix it.”

Yeah, I’ve heard this before. “You cheated on her. That’s what matters.”

“I made a horrible mistake. Once. I admitted it immediately. I loved your mother, Graham. Right before you went skiing, we’d planned to meet. She was finally going to see me again . . .”

His eyes well up, and I wince. The only time I’ve ever seen my father cry was at my mother’s funeral, but his tears that day made me furious.

But today my chest tightens, and I look away, fighting the emotion the memories bring. My head goes back to those images I saw when I was clinically dead, of him walking away from us with his suitcase.

“Then you shipped Brody and me away. You didn’t want us.”

“That was the second-biggest mistake of my life. Your mother died because of me. I know that. If I had been there, if I had never cheated, she wouldn’t have been alone . . . It’s easy for a lawyer to fill his time with work, and by the time I lifted my head up and decided it was time to get back to life, you were a star football player. Neither of you needed me.”

I shake my head. “You taught us to live without you.”

“But you still won’t let me be a father.”

Because I saw the hurt my mother had experienced. I saw her fucking tears. I was there the day she skied off the mountain. I can’t let go of his mistake.

“What about Grandmother’s will? Brody will be cheated out of his marriage share. If you want to be a father, why’ve you stayed silent?”

He cocks his head. “Unfortunately, my mother wrote her wishes, which excluded Brody. Legally, it’s cut and dried. I didn’t have anything to do with that.”

I shake my head. “You could’ve said something.”

“Of course I’m angry for Brody. I’ve offered him money, but he won’t take it.” He exhales. “I’m not here to argue. I saw your announcement and thought we could touch base. I don’t want to regret not making my feelings known now. I don’t want to watch you get hurt on that field again.”

Football is my life. It’s what I clung to like a life support when Mom died, when he sent us away.

I stare at him for a minute, trying to build my anger inside again to respond, and it does come, but something about it tastes of regret too. In thirty years of life, this is the first real conversation my father and I have ever had.

“Fine,” I say grudgingly. “It is good to see you.”

His eyebrow pops up. “Do you really mean that?”

I shrug. Things aren’t perfect between us, but it does mean something that he hunted me down. “Yeah.”

He pats me awkwardly on the shoulder, then steps out of my way to let me open the car door.

He starts to walk away but turns. “If I’m not invited to the wedding, I’d like to host a get-together afterwards at the brownstone. What do you think? Would Brody help?”

I will need to show Emmy off, so it’s pretty much perfect for my plans. I tell him that’s fine and get in my car, watching him walk away. He’s a taciturn man, stern, and decidedly moody. Like me. And he’s never married again, nor has he ever brought another woman around us. Maybe that means something, I don’t know.

I shut the door and hit the call button on the dashboard and hear the line ring for Brody.

“Hey, bro. What’s up?”

I answer, “You would not believe the conversation I just had with Dad. Also, I need you to help him plan a party after the marriage. Nothing fancy. Plain and simple. Can you get in touch with him?”

“You’re moving fast. I’m getting tingles. Sure I can’t talk you out of this?”

“Nope. Emmy is going to marry me. You’re going to get your money, and everyone will be happy.”

There’s a silence on the phone.


He groans. “I want you to be happy. You.”

“I will be as soon as football season starts, baby bro.”


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