A new determination seizes me.
I want to be successful for Mackenzie. I will be successful for her.
A few hours later, my place is cleaned up as well as I can, I’m signed up for entrepreneurship classes, and I have an appointment at the bank to get a business loan.
It’s all set up.
I’ll be the type of man that she deserves. I’ll be the type of provider she deserves.
Whatever it takes.
Whatever she needs me to be.
I’ll be that for her.
It takes less than forty-eight hours before I can’t take it anymore.
If I don’t see Colton, I’m going to explode.
I’m back at home and my parents have grounded me. They forbid me to see him again, but I’m done following their orders.
I want to live my own life and I want to live it with Colton.
“Where do you think you’re going?” my father asks as I open the door. I have a bag of clothes hanging from my shoulder. Enough for a week.
“To see that thug?”
“Colton?” I ask as I lock eyes on him. “The man who saved your life? All of our lives?”
“You mean, the man who caused that shit in the first place.”
“I caused it!” I snap. “I went to a party in a bad part of town and got into trouble. He was there for me. He saved me. It was my fault those men came to the lake house!”
“Oh, please,” he scoffs. “You really expect me to believe that?”
“Believe what you want,” I say as I swing the door open. “But it’s the truth.”
“Don’t walk out that door, young lady,” he warns in a serious tone. “I won’t have my daughter with a man like that.”
“Or what?” I ask as I turn around.
“Or else I’ll disown you,” he says and from the look in his eyes, he’s serious. “No more credit cards. No more money.”
“Is that all you have to hold over my head?”
He huffs out a breath like I punched him.
“You want to play this game?” he says. “Fine. If you leave now, you’ll never be welcome back in this house again.”
My stomach twists as my heart breaks. Did he really just say that? Is he really willing to give up his only daughter because he refuses to get to know the man underneath the tattoos and poor background?
If he’s going to make me choose, I’m going to follow my heart.
I’ll regret it forever if I don’t.
“Goodbye, Dad,” I say as I stare at him. “I hope you don’t mean that.”
He opens his mouth to talk, but nothing comes out. He looks so… defeated.
I turn and walk out the door, knowing that I’ve made the right decision. I’m done having them control me. I want to be with Colton and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
As I get to my car (that I paid for with my summer jobs), my mother rushes out.
“Wait! Mackenzie, wait!”
I suck in a deep breath and turn to her.
She runs right up to me and gives me a warm hug that brings tears to my eyes.
“I’ll talk to him,” she whispers. “I’ll make him see.”
“Thanks, Mom,” I say as my chin begins to tremble.
“You don’t worry about a thing,” she says as she squeezes my arms. “Go have fun. We’ll always be here for you. Me and your stubborn father. You know that.”
I choke back my tears as I nod.
I know my dad and he’s always been more bark than bite. Especially when it comes to me.
“Go get him,” she says with a sly grin. “He’s really cute!”
I smile as she kisses my forehead and then rushes back into the house.
My heart is swelling in my chest and I feel much better as I get into the car and drive down to the road.
“Oh, are you kidding me?” I mumble when I see Joy’s Lexus pulling up to my house. As if I haven’t been through enough today.
I roll down my window as she hops out of her car with her hands spread open. “Where the hell have you been? I’ve been texting you for days.” She texted me twice. “I want to tell you all about Brad.”
“I don’t want to hear it.”
“I said, I don’t care.”
She jerks her head back as she gives me a sour look. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Um, maybe you ditching me at that party?”
“Oh, that,” she says with a wave of her hand. “You know I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t have to.”
The worst part is that a few weeks ago, I would have let that slide. I would have let her walk all over me.
I’m starting to see things differently. I have value. Colton loves me and knowing that fills me with confidence.
I’m not going to let anyone treat me like dirt again.
“I don’t want to be friends with you anymore, Joy.”