“The fuck you say,” Daddy says, finally having enough and snapping. He pushes past my mother so swiftly that she almost tumbles. His arm shoots out and he helps her steady her footing, never once removing his heated gaze off Cohen. “The fuck. You say!”
He prowls forward, and when he gets about halfway to us, Cohen pats my thigh and indicates that he wants me to shift so he can stand. I do so, mutely, and wait to see how this plays out, knowing that it has to play out for us to be able to move forward.
“You knock up my girl. Demand that she move in. And not even plan on making an honest woman out of her?” he fumes.
Cohen stands toe-to-toe with him, their eyes almost level, but even with Daddy having a few inches on Cohen, he doesn’t back down. His chest heaves, but for the most part, he remains calm.
“I didn’t say that, Axel. I plan on marrying your daughter the first chance I get, but that is something that is between the two of us. I respect you enough that I had planned on coming to you privately to ask for your blessing, but I have to be honest with you—I will be marrying my girl whether you give that to me or not. With all due respect, I love your daughter and I couldn’t really give two shits if you want to bless that or not.”
“What did you just say?” Daddy turns and looks over at my mom. “What did he just say to me?”
“You heard him, honey,” she says with a smile. “I think it’s time you took that alpha male down a few notches, big boy.”
My gaze shoots from my mom to my dad to see his reaction, and then it lands on Melissa when she throws her head back and laughs loudly.
“Hush, beauty,” Greg tells his wife. “Son, I think you need to tread carefully here. I like your head right where it is.”
Melissa snickers even louder at that.
“You don’t care for my blessing?” Daddy tosses back at Cohen, and there’s no mistaking his body language—he’s ready to kill. His hands are flexing and his face is beet red.
“Ax—” Mom tries.
“Don’t you dare ‘Axel’ me, Izzy. Don’t you dare. Did you hear him? He just said he didn’t give two shits!” he roars. “You’re walking a tight line here, Cohen.”
This is getting out of hand. I know there won’t be a good outcome if I let the two men I love the most fight over this. Standing carefully from my seat, I give Melissa a wobbly smile when she nods her head in encouragement before I go to stand in front of Cohen and face my father.
I feel Cohen move, and before I can speak, I’m behind him and he’s once again between my father and me. My eyes go from his solid back to the only two people I can see—his parents. Cohen’s move of dominance and protection is one I know didn’t go unnoticed by my father because I see Greg nod and Melissa smile so huge that it looks unnatural. I grasp his shirt in my hand and try to get his attention.
“Cohen,” I start.
“Not now, Dani. I get you think you need to protect me from your father, but this needs to happen and it needs to happen now.”
I sigh, drop my hands from his shirt, and do the only thing left I can. I wrap my hands around his stomach and spread my palms wide against his abs. It’s another move I know doesn’t go unnoticed because Melissa’s smile gets even larger, and when I move my eyes to Greg’s, I see that his are shining bright and his smile matches Melissa’s in size and happiness.
“Are you going to do anything?” I ask him.
“Nope. My boy knows what he’s doing.” He leans back and pulls his wife to his chest, and they just watch with those big, loopy-loo smiles as Cohen stands his ground with my father.
The father who I know could kill him with his bare hands.
“I’m going to tell you this once, Axel. I love your daughter. I’ve loved her before it was right to feel that way. I fought those feelings until she was ready for me, because I’ll tell you this. It was never a question that I was ready for her. What we have is something I will never feel worthy of. Not of her love. Something she gives me without hesitation. I know she deserves the best that life can hand her. You do not have to remind me of that. But even though I don’t think I’m good enough for her, I’ll spend my life making sure that she knows she’s the best thing I will ever have. Do you understand that? I will make sure there isn’t a day that passes that she doesn’t know how much I love her. I’ll spend every second I have left on this Earth giving her everything I possibly can. I waited, out of respect for you and for her, until I couldn’t wait a second longer, and I will not—not for you—give up even a sliver of time with her now that she is mine.”