“Hey, Dad.” I smile, opening the door for him before he even has a chance to knock, then step back and let him into the house.

“June Bug.” He leans down, kissing my cheek. When he pulls back, he engulfs half my face with his big hand. “You look tired,” he states quietly as his eyes study me.


“I’m okay. Moving always sucks.” I let out a breath and look away to finish my lie. “I want everything unpacked already, so I’ve been staying up late and waking up early to get it done.”

“June, what’s going on?”

“Nothing.” I smile, and his voice drops to the ‘dad tone’ that says, Don’t lie to me.

“June.”

“I’m fine, Dad. I promise, just tired.” I wave my hand around and start to head for the living room to grab my purse, but his hand grabs mine, stopping me in my tracks, and I turn to face him once more.

“I know you’re lying.” He shakes his head and continues quietly, “Not sure when my girls all started keeping shit from me, but I gotta say, I don’t like it.” His hand comes back to my face and his eyes search mine. “I love you, more than anything in this world, and nothing will ever change that.” He kisses my forehead then leans back, catching my eyes again. “If you need someone to talk to, I’m here, and if not, your mom doesn’t love you as much as I do, but I’m sure she’d hear you out too.” Rolling my eyes at the comment about Mom, I wrap my arms around his waist and squeeze.

“I know. Love you, Dad.”

“Always, baby girl.” His lips touch the top of my head, where he asks, “You ready to go eat?”

“Yes, can we take my car?”

“Fuck no,” he replies immediately without even thinking about it, and I can’t help it, I laugh leaning back. “It would make me feel better.” I pout, and he shakes his head.

“Not happening. Get your bag. I’m driving.” He lets me go and I do as he says, before meeting him back at the front door so he can drive us to lunch.

“Thank you.” I smile at our waiter as he slides a double cheeseburger and onion rings in front of me and the same thing in front of my dad.

“Let me know if you need anything else,” he returns then walks off. I have no idea why this is my favorite place to eat; the customer service is lacking big time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who works here smile. Then I take a bite of my cheeseburger and remember why I don’t care that the people who work here are rude.

“When do you start your new job?” Dad asks, squirting ketchup on his plate.

“Next Monday.” I swallow my bite of cheeseburger then dip one of my onion rings in ranch dressing. “It’s not ideal teaching summer school, but the principal told me that with me working now, he can pretty much guarantee me a spot when summer ends.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, Dad,” I mumble, watching him lift his hand and wave over my shoulder. Glancing behind me, my lungs freeze when I see my cousin Sage followed by Evan heading toward us.

“Yo,” Sage greets, grinning.

“Hey, bud.” My dad scoots over in the booth, and Sage leans over to kiss my cheek, mumbling, “Hi” before taking a seat next to him.

“Mr. Mayson.” Evan shakes my dad’s hand then looks down at me, and I scoot over without thinking, making room for him. He takes a seat next to me…right next to me.

This cannot be happening.

“You know my daughter, Evan?” Dad asks, and as Evan turns to me, there is something in his eyes I can’t read, but it doesn’t look good. My heartbeat kicks up as his eyes go back to my dad.

“We’ve met.”

“Forgot you’ve been helping keep an eye on her,” Dad mutters, taking a bite of his burger then swallowing. “What are you two doing today?”

At Dad’s question, I tuck myself tighter against the wall, because Evan is taking up the whole seat, and I can’t focus while his body is brushing against mine.

“Normal stuff,” Sage says as his eyes move between Evan and me. His shoulder bumps Dad’s and his eyes light with mischief.

“Don’t they make a cute couple?” He grins, and I narrow my eyes on him at the same time I feel Evan’s body still.

“Don’t be a pain,” Dad mutters, but his eyes move between the two of us, and I wonder what he’s thinking about, because his eyes change ever so slightly.

“I’m gonna go order. We should eat on the road so we’re not late,” Evan says to Sage, and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding before saying goodbye to both of them as they leave me and my dad sitting in the booth.

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