She pulls her cell out of her back pocket, and after a few seconds of fiddling with it, she presses it to her ear.
“Hey,” she says into the phone. “Are you alone?”
This is ridiculous. I should just leave now and save myself the gut-crushing pain of seeing another woman in his arms.
“Is Cohen bringing a date?” she whispers and looks around the side of the dumpster.
“No one is coming, Maddi,” I whisper back.
“Then why are you whispering too, smarty pants?” she snaps and turns her attention back to her phone call. “I know that, Lyn, but Nate told Dani that he was and now she’s freaking the hell out . . . I don’t know where he heard it . . . No . . . Well, then who is she?”
Oh shit. It’s true. I should definitely leave. Maybe if I cut through the woods to the industrial park, some nice trucker will take me to Mexico.
“Oh really? Oh . . . yeah . . . No . . . Shit. Okay. Bye.” She looks down at her phone before looking up at me. Her eyes hold nothing but sympathy.
“Looks like it,” she whispers before pulling me into her arms. “Okay, plan B. Let’s turn this frown upside down. So he’s got a friend with him. We don’t know anything else, so let’s just pretend they’re friends and just friends. Lyn didn’t know much. Just that her mom told her that he’s brought her by the house a few times this last week. That’s all she knows. Let’s try not to stress about it, okay? You, my friend, look hot, so let us just enjoy the day. You continue to be hot, and aside from being polite, ignore him and his special friend. There will be plenty of other guys here tonight, so it’s time to get your flirt on. Do you need me to go sneak you some booze?”
“Maddi, I’m old enough to drink. I don’t need you to sneak me anything anymore.” I laugh.
“Right. Well, it’s time to act like you could care less and have some fun. Don’t let this hang over you—not tonight. Tonight is about making sure Cohen knows his family loves him before he leaves. No sad faces or jealous eyes. This thing between you two will work itself out, I promise.”
“Yes, sir, Maddi, sir.” I salute her, and after a few giggles, we take off on a mission to practice my acting.
I’ve always been good at acting.
Even if I feel like my heart is breaking inside.
It isn’t his fault I feel this way and he doesn’t. Or I should say that I feel this way and he isn’t willing to let himself.
One thing’s for certain though. If Cohen Cage wanted me like I want him, he never would have let it go this long without taking it. Taking me and never letting go. Instead, he’s just playing more games in his quest to keep me at arm’s length. Because he is making decisions about the future without even considering that maybe I believe he’s worth waiting for.
Time to put on my big-girl panties and pretend that the other half of my heart isn’t going to be in the arms of another woman.
“LITTLE PRINCESS, WHAT THE HELL are you wearing?” Daddy rumbles, taking my beer out of my hands. “No,” he snaps, playfully slapping my hand and takes a sip.
“I don’t think so,” I laugh and grab it back.
He raises one dark brow but doesn’t make a move to take my drink again. He had the hardest time when I turned twenty-one and could legally drink. He kept switching out my beers for apple juice the whole night.
“Want to tell me what has you down so I can go fix it?”
“Nothing is wrong, Daddy,” I mumble into my cup.
“Right. You get that I wasn’t born yesterday, yeah?”
“Oh yeah, I know that. You were born, like, fifty years ago.”
I snicker to myself when he starts bristling. He hates to be reminded that he’s over that fifty hump. I’ve seen pictures of him when he was my age, and honestly, if it weren’t for the light peppering of gray, you would never know he was fifty-one. He’s still one of the largest men I’ve ever met. He towers over Mom and me at six foot six, with muscles that have only gotten bigger and bulkier over the years. It’s clear to not just me, but every friend I have had over the years that my daddy wasn’t just hot when he was younger—he still has it.
“Don’t think I didn’t notice you going solid when the twins got here. Did you girls get into a fight? Does this mean you need to come home now?”
I roll my eyes and laugh. He’s been trying to find reasons to get me to move home ever since he got back from his trip and realized I was gone. For a whole day, he wouldn’t leave my living room. I think he would still be there if Mom hadn’t shown up. All it took was her to whisper in his ear, and just like that, they were gone.