“You said no, right?” My fists clench at the thought of her seeing David—fuck, seeing any man who’s not me.
“Is that a real question?”
“Yes,” I say through my teeth, wondering why the f**k I’m doing this. I really don’t want to know, and I’m acting like Asher or Trevor with their territorial, over-protective asses.
“I have never gone out with him. We work together, and he is kind of a friend.”
“How is he ‘kind of a friend’?”
“You know, Cash, you’re starting to make me feel like you don’t trust me. I told you we never dated. I told you we work together, and I told you he is a friend. Now unless you want to give me a polygraph, you’re going to have to take my word for it.”
“I hate knowing that you called him instead of me,” I tell her the truth.
“I never called him.” She shakes her head and looks at me like I’m crazy. “We left the school at the same time; he was parked next to me, and when my car wouldn’t start, he offered to give me a ride home. I knew your mom had Ashlyn, so I was planning on coming home, changing, and calling you, that way you could take me to my car later and look at it. But when I got home, the police were here waiting for me, so that kind of ruined all of my plans.”
“Will you promise me not to go anywhere alone with that guy?” This is not about me being a jealous ass**le…okay, maybe it is a little bit…but there is something about him that sets my teeth on edge.
“Cash.” She shakes her head.
“Baby, it’s not that I don’t trust you.” Her eyes narrow, making her look adorable. My hands go under her jaw, titling her head back. “Something about him doesn’t sit right with me.”
“Is it because he has a penis?” she taunts. I smile and lean in to kiss her.
“No, smart ass, it’s not because he has a penis,” I say against her mouth.
“Cash,” she says softly; my eyes go from her mouth to her eyes. “He has been nothing but nice. Just, please, trust me.”
“I do trust you,” I tell her honestly. Not only do I trust her, I love her. Maybe Trevor is right in a f**ked-up kind of way, and I need to tell her that I love her…put it out there.
“So just know that I will not put myself in a situation that something could happen to me,” she says, running a hand through my hair. My eyes close when her soft hand travels down my neck and up my jaw.
“Do you know that I love you?” I ask as my eyes open, looking into hers. I hear her quick inhale and she shakes her head, her eyes searching my face. “I never stopped loving you. I didn’t know how much of the old you was in this newer version,” I smirk, “but I found out that I love the new you just as much, if not more. I don’t want anything to happen to you.” I pull her against me, resting my cheek on top of her head.
“I love you too,” she says, making me smile and feel lighter than I’ve felt for the last two months—hell, the last few years.
I look down at my lap. Cash’s large hand is entwined with mine, his thumb moving slowly back and forth against my skin. The roughness and strength in his hand makes mine feel small and delicate. I can’t believe he told me he loves me. I knew it would come eventually. He shows me every day that he cares not only for Ashlyn, but for me as well. I have finally accepted that he is not going anywhere. Part of me is still hurt that he walked away from me when I needed him, but the other part understands why he did what he did. I would do anything for my daughter, just like he did for his son. “I think you should meet my parents,” I say, looking over at him. His eyes come to me for a second before going back to the road.
“Sure, we can go during your next school break.” He squeezes my hand before bringing it to his mouth and kissing my knuckles.
“I won’t have another break for a few months.” I try to think of a way to have my parents come out here, but right now, getting out of Alaska is like trying to get out of Alcatraz—nearly impossible. The only way in or out of the place I grew up is by boat or plane, and when the weather is bad like it has been, there is no way. “I was going to Skype my mom tonight so she could talk to Ashlyn. You can meet her then.”
“What’s Skype?” I look over in shock. Who in the world doesn’t know what Skype is?
“You’re joking, right?”
“No.” He shakes his head.
“Skype is only the best invention ever. You use your computer and the other person uses theirs and you call them then they are sitting there in front of you.”
“Like teleporting?” he asks and I burst out laughing.
“No, I'm explaining it badly. You see them on the computer like a live video feed. I got my mom hooked when I was home. Her sister lives in Hawaii and they hadn’t seen each other for over four years. Then my aunt was on Facebook one day telling everyone that she got Skype. My mom, who had become addicted to Facebook because of my aunt, wanted to know what Skype was so I took her and got her a camera to hook up to her computer. Now during the winter, when Mom’s stuck inside because there is normally ten-feet of snow outside, she Skypes with my aunt. They also they play all those annoying Facebook games and send everyone they know invites.” I take a deep breath when I'm done talking and he looks over at me and smiles.
“I don’t know what that is. I don’t have Facebook.”
“You don’t have Facebook?” I gasp. “How in the world do you know what’s going on with your friends if you don’t have Facebook?”
“I call them and say ‘hey, what’s going on? How are things? Anything new?’”
“Oh, yeah, I guess you could do that.” He squeezes my hand and chuckles.
“So, you want me to meet your mom over Skype? I'm not sure if I'm ready for such a serious step in our relationship.”
“Very funny.” I roll my eyes. “I’ll see if she can get my dad to sit down long enough to meet you as well.” I notice him shifting in his seat and squeezing my hand a little tighter. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I mean, I'm sure your dad hates me.” I want to say, ‘no, of course he doesn’t hate you,” but that would be a big fat lie. I’m Daddy’s little girl, have been and will always be. When I came home with Ashlyn, my parents fell in love with her and couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want her.