My legs threatened to give way and I fought the rising bile. In that moment, I truly hated my father. I thought I already hated him as much as was possible but now I realised that J was right; I’d still had some love and hope there, but now, that was completely fading. “How could someone do that?” I gasped.
“I don’t know, babe.”
I had to sit; my legs couldn’t support me anymore. J sat next to me, concerned eyes never leaving mine. “What did you do?” I asked him.
His chest rose and fell in a heavy movement. After a short moment, he said, “I killed him and two other guys. Not gonna detail that for you, sweetheart, but I don’t want that a secret between us.”
It didn’t surprise me that he’d done that, and while thinking that, a horrible revelation came to me. “Dad played on your past didn’t he? The stuff that happened to your cousin.”
Pain flared on his face, and he nodded. “Yeah, he did.”
“You said he waited till it suited his purpose. Why now?”
“The guy was the VP and was blocking a drug deal that the President wanted passed. Marcus helped him achieve that by using me.”
My mind was racing to process all this. “Where are you and Dad at now?”
“He told me today that he wants me to do some more jobs for him. I’m not though. I’m done with him. And if he wants me out of the club, he can fucking fight for that because I’m not backing down and I’m not leaving.”
“Scott won’t let that happen.”
“No, but your father has an agenda, babe. He told me he won’t let me marry you.”
Butterflies hit my stomach at his words. “We’re getting married?”
His forehead creased. “Of course, we’re fucking getting married. Told him he’s got no say in it.”
I smiled; a huge smile, because in amongst all the awful stuff he’d told me, he’d given me the one thing I really needed to hear. I leant my face to his and lightly kissed him. “He’s got no say in it,” I promised.
Now he smiled. “I know.” His hand curled around my neck and he rested his forehead against mine. “Fuck babe, it feels so good not to have all that shit between us anymore; as much as I hate you having to deal with it.”
My arms circled him. “I’m glad you finally told me. I was beginning to go insane wondering what the hell was going on with you.”
We sat there like that for a long time. I savoured the closeness and the feeling of fresh beginnings. J was finally mine again; completely mine. I chose to focus on this for the moment rather than on the sense of loss I felt over my father.
I sat back and watched Madison, Brooke and Crystal, and not for the first time this week, I realised I was a lucky bastard. It had been almost a week since I’d finally told Madison about her father, and while it’d been a long fucking week dealing with the emotional fallout of that, it’d also been a fucking fantastic week with her.
“J, earth to J,” Brooke called, interrupting my thoughts.
She shook her head. “You keep zoning out on us. You okay?”
“He’s probably thinking about club business; it’s always just club business,” Madison teased with a wink. “Brooke wants to know if we want to go to the movies with her and Crystal next Thursday night instead of doing Thursday night dinner.”
Thursday night dinners had become our new tradition. Brooke and Madison had started it while I was away and they made sure I was there every week; my life wasn’t fucking worth living if I didn’t make it. “Sure,” I agreed, “Whatever you want.”
Brooke rolled her eyes. “J, you can say no if you’d rather just stick to dinner. It’s a kids movie after all.”
Fuck me. I hated kids movies. “All good. I’ll be there.” I looked at Crystal to see her staring intently at me. “What are we seeing, kiddo?”
She hit me with a mega smile. “It’s a dog movie. You’re going to love it, J.”
Christ, a fucking dog movie. I plastered a smile on my face for her. “Looking forward to it, sweetheart.” Crystal was a good kid; she was still trying to get over her mother and brother’s deaths, and the three of us were working hard to help her. Building a strong family was part of that so a dog movie was the least I could do.
We finished dinner and Brooke insisted I help her clean up while Madison helped Crystal with an assignment for school.
“You and Madison seem a hell of a lot happier this week,” she said as we did the dishes.
“Yeah,” I agreed. I hadn’t mentioned anything about our problems to Brooke so I wondered where this was coming from. “Did Madison say something to you?”
“No, I’ve got no idea what’s been going on with you two but there’s definitely been tension for the last couple of weeks. You two alright?”
“We are now. Been a long few months but we’re working on it.” I hated talking about this shit but Brooke was like Madison and invested copious amounts of fucking energy into trying to get me to talk.
She didn’t fail me today. “When are you going to ask her to marry you? I thought you’d have that all done by now, the bossy ass that you are.”