MY BODY IS SHAKING SO badly that, once we clear the gym’s front doors and get out of sight of the windows, I almost collapse.
“I am so proud of you,” Lyn says, reaching out to take my black heels out of my hand so I don’t drop them. You do not drop Louboutins on the ground. Ever.
“Holy crap, that felt . . . amazing! I mean, I kind of feel like I’m going to puke, but holy crap!”
“Told you. Confidence. It means everything when dealing with men.”
“When did you get so smart?” I ask her, trying to calm my heart down after that showdown with Cohen.
“When you started letting your hormones take over your common sense.”
“Bitch,” I laugh.
“Slut,” she smiles.
That night, I’m pretty sure I am still feeling the adrenaline of my Cohen showdown. He sent me a text shortly after that simply read, “We need to talk,” to which I responded with a very mature, “No we do not.” He didn’t reply, but then again, that isn’t Cohen’s style. When he wants something, he just takes it. I have a feeling that, the next time I run into him, there will be a whole lot of taking.
Daddy was up when I came home, but I’d left the heels in the car and pulled on some sweatpants and a hoodie over my normal workout gear. He narrowed his eyes, but didn’t say anything. I swear that man knows everything.
It is most definitely time to move the hell out.
“Dani?” I hear Mom yell from the kitchen.
“Hey, Mom. What’s up?”
“Nothing much, sweetheart. I just wanted to let you know your father and I are going up to the mountains next weekend.” She looks up from her dinner prep and gives me a smile.
My mom, even at her age, with some gray hair mixed into her dark-red locks, is beautiful. You would never guess that she has two children. She’s just a little taller than I am, but where I got all slim and small, she has the curves. I’m pretty much an exact replica of my mom—which is why Daddy has called me his little princess since the day I was born. Mom is his princess, so it makes sense.
“And you’re letting me know this because you’re worried Nate will starve?”
She gives me another smile. “No, my smartass daughter. I’m letting you know this and telling you that there are some boxes in the attic that you can use and giving you a heads-up that I’ll have your very loving but overprotective father hours away and unknowing for four days. Plenty of time for you and the girls to get you packed up and moved into their new townhouse. Melissa and I checked it out this afternoon, and it’s in a gated community, so when your father does become aware that you moved out on a sneak attack, he will only be upset for a little while.”
I look up at my mom and have to fight back the emotion. Not because she is basically kicking me out—lovingly, of course—but because she is giving me the one thing I have been basically begging for.
“You’re helping me escape?” I whisper.
“I’m not helping you escape, sweetheart. That would imply that we’ve been holding you hostage,” she laughs. “I would keep you home for as long as I could, but I know you need to fly. And if I don’t help make sure it’s at least done in a way that your father can’t argue about when he does find out, then you’re never going to convince him that you aren’t his little toddler just learning how to walk. He was made to protect you, baby. He loves you and it comes from a good place, but even I can admit it’s time.”
“What about Nate?” I ask.
“What about him? That big old baby wouldn’t know what to do without me to wash his clothes and feed him.”
I laugh because she is not wrong.
She turns and walks over to the sink to wash her hands. After drying them off, she walks over to me and gives me a big hug. I soak up the strength of her love and pull back to look into her eyes.
“You’re okay with this? He’s going to be so mad,” I laugh.
“I’m okay with it. And your father mad isn’t a bad thing if you know how to calm him down,” she jokes with a wink.
“God, Mom! That is so gross.”
We both laugh, and I thank my lucky stars that I lucked out with such amazing parents.
“Why don’t you go change out of your gym clothes and those sweats you think fool anyone with. Then you can come down here and tell me what’s going on with you and Cohen.”
I gasp and look at her in shock. “What? How?”
“Oh you silly girl,” she says and tucks a piece of hair that fell from my ponytail behind my ear. “Not only have I been watching this unfold for years, but I watched him all but fly out of here the morning after he stayed with you. Not only that, but the twins are chatty with their mom, and their mom is chatty with me.”