August insisted on driving the rental car we picked up at the airport. It’s been a quiet ride, which I’m grateful for. It’s beyond awkward to try to carry on a conversation with a man I just don’t know anymore. It’s hard to find something to talk about with someone who hates me.

My house comes into view… a small ranch with three bedrooms and two baths on a quarter-acre lot. I never imagined this would be my life—a single mom with a kid who makes my world go round and a dad who lives with us. My plan had always been to marry August where we would one day have our own house and children together… and my dad would come visit us on holidays.

I didn’t ask for any of what I ended up with, and it’s all from the consequences of my father’s sins.

But let me make it clear… I love my father to the moon and back. Yes, he was a criminal. Yes, he’s probably done horrible things, which I will never ask him about it and he has never volunteered to tell me. It’s enough that he wanted out of his life of crime. My dad wanted a clean start so he could be a good role model to his daughter. The only way he knew how to do that was to turn on the very mob family he worked for.

Yes, he put us in danger. Because of his actions, my fate and my future were changed. Yet, I don’t hold a single hostile thought toward him for it. He’s my dad. I love him, and we’ve had a good life here together.

August pulls into the driveway behind my dad’s car. To my surprise, the front door opens and my dad comes out. He trots down the steps as August and I get out of the vehicle. Tentatively, my dad offers August a welcoming smile.

I have no clue whether it’s genuine. My father is insanely happy August is a donor match, but he’s still incredibly worried that I left the sanctity and security of our little life here to go find him. Dad’s not sure if this will bring repercussions down on us, so he’s being cautious in his joy.

As of this moment, my father believes August is only here to make everything better so we can simply return to our normal life after the transplant. I don’t want to burst his bubble.

August approaches my dad, who offers his hand. As they shake, my dad says, “Thank you for coming.”

No apologies for what he’s done to disrupt August’s life and no clue he isn’t here to make everything okay for my father. August is only here to help Sam.

August side-eyes me, and I can read his expression loud and clear. I need to tell my dad what the game plan is so we can get it out of the way.

I turn to my father. “Where’s Sam?”

He throws a thumb over his shoulder. “Playing Fortnite.”

A rare feeling of gratitude washes over me toward the game that completely sucks away my son’s attention. He’ll be occupied for a bit, probably not having even noticed my dad left the house.

“Listen, Dad,” I drawl uncertainly, not sure how exactly to come out and say this. I figure being blunt is the best. “We’ve decided to do the treatment in Vegas.”

I brace because my father is a complete hothead.

“What?” he barks loudly. “No. Absolutely not.”

“I’m sorry, but—”

But my dad isn’t paying attention to me anymore. He rounds on August, pointing an accusing finger. “This is all your fault. You’re pissed at Leighton, so insisting they go to Vegas is your way to get back at us.”

Even though my dad doesn’t have a clue as to what has happened since I left, has not been privy to anything between August and me, he would not be wrong in that accusation. I think a lot of August insisting on us returning is so he can take back some control of the situation. He’s had no say so on any of Sam’s life because he was denied all those years. I don’t bother trying to disabuse my father. In fact, this argument will stay between my father and August. I’ve already made my decision, but I shouldn’t have to protect August from my dad’s wrath. He kind of deserves it for being a jerk.

Crossing my arms over my chest, I settle in to listen to what I bet is going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight that could potentially lead to violence if I know these two.

But the door to the house opens… and my—our—son appears. “Mom,” he exclaims, as pure excitement washes all over his handsome young face.

He gingerly comes down the steps, fatigue and weakness the most prevalent symptoms of his leukemia. I hurry to greet him, leaving my dad and August behind.