Falling For Dad's College Rival - Page 5

“You look beautiful, by the way,” he adds, leaning in to peck my cheek but I know what he’s gonna say.

I should’ve known earlier.

“I decided not to go tonight, sweetie,” he says, contracting his lips. “I’ve got a ton of work to do, and well… To be honest, I just don’t feel like transporting myself back twenty years. I thought it over today, and those years before your mom and I—” he tries to say.

But I get it.

I should’ve known.

I know my dad better than he thinks, and he’s only ever reliable when it comes to things he knows are safe and controlled. Like work, pre-paid holidays, and coupon dinner discounts.

My hurt must show because he tries his best to remind me it was me who never wanted to go in the first place.

But once my lower lip starts to tremble, and my cheap mascara starts to run, he fesses up.

“Truth is, sweetie,” he says slowly, taking me by the hands and sitting me down. “The thought of seeing Trent Latham again, after all these years? It makes me… ill,” he admits, but I don’t see fear or dread in his eyes when he mentions the name.

I see that side of him I’ve only had a glimpse of.

The one that tears up photos and smashes frames.

But hearing him explain things snaps me to attention. Full attention and I get up as if I’m being pulled by strings, suddenly feeling an urgency I can’t explain.

Like I have to go tonight. As if my life depends on it.

“You’re going to your reunion, dad,” I tell him firmly, the very thought of missing my one chance to meet Trent Latham flashing through my mind.

I list off all the reasons I can think of, least of which is my outfit, hair, and so on.

“I made an effort for you, dad. To support you like you wanted,” I tell him, almost shouting and wagging my finger at him. “Oh, you’re going alright. Now get in that shower while I get your suit ready,” I command, surprised when he actually listens to me for once.

“Alright, honey,” he murmurs, looking me up and down again with some pride. “I’ll go. And thank you,” he says, pecking my cheek again. “Thanks for not turning out exactly like me,” he adds, half-smiling to himself as he hurries to get himself ready.

I set out his suit and shoes then fix my makeup in my room while he’s getting ready.

I notice my hands are shaking but try to tell myself it’s just from getting bossy with my dad. Something I’d never normally do.

But I know deep down it’s something else.

That other feeling I’ve had all day.

The feeling that my luck’s about to change somehow.

I thought I was a little nervous getting ready, but my dad’s like a bundle of nerves which isn’t helping me either.

He even asks me to drive us to the reunion before changing his mind at the end of the street.

“Nope. Sorry honey,” he groans, and I sigh bitterly, but he only means he can’t be a passenger. “If I’m not driving I don’t feel in control,” he admits, and we switch seats quickly at the next red light.

“What’s so nerve-wracking about a reunion?” I ask him once we’re on our way and he’s calmed down a little. Feeling better about being in charge of something like driving.

“I think I just had one too many coffees this afternoon,” he fibs, shrugging off my question, but I can see him chewing at his lip, his eyes dancing around and his own impatience at the wheel.

He’s usually a pretty calm guy, but this whole thing has him rattled, I can tell.

“Just don’t wander off,” he says suddenly, interrupting my little memories of the yearbook photos, my thinking about Trent Latham all over again.

“I mean, don’t leave me stranded stuck with someone I look like I don’t want to talk to,” he adds, trying to laugh it off.

“Like who?” I ask. “I don’t even know anyone there, so how would I know who you want to talk to and who you don’t?”

“It’s mostly a dinner, I think,” he says absently. Almost to himself. “So it should just be whoever we’re across from and sat next to. You’ll be next to me,” he adds.

“And after dinner?” I probe him further, feeling like maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, after all, being tied to my dad all night how the hell am I supposed to get near Trent Latham?

“I’ve got work tomorrow, so I don’t think we should stay long,” he tells me, shooting me a glance in the rearview that reminds me he didn’t want to go in the first place.

Like he’s doing me a favor now by even driving me there so I can stay just long enough for a meal.

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