He was getting red in the face, and he opened his mouth—
“He’s right, Duke.”
Duke Dick cut his gaze to his daughter.
Duke. She called him Duke.
I shared a look with Mason because that said a lot, though a strained relationship between a parent and a child was nothing new for either of us.
She added, “He never signed.”
“Valerie asked for you to take Nova in her will—”
“A will. I’m not her biological mother. He is her biological father.”
Duke Dick’s eyes were threatening to bulge out.
I was guessing the Lady Daughter wasn’t supposed to speak back to him in front of the adversary. Or maybe I was being a judgmental asshole?
I was right.
She turned to me, swallowing before taking a deep breath. She looked as if she were about to step into a tank filled with sharks, and not only that, but she was being asked to cut her carotid before she took that first step.
Her head folded to her lap before she lifted it back again. Her shoulders had a slight slump to them. “As you know, Nova is not currently here. We had thought a sit-down between all of us should happen first, but I understand your need to see your daughter.”
I made a low sound in my throat. “Call right now. Once the doctor is done, they can come here right after.”
Her eyes slid toward her father.
Christ. She didn’t want to fight him.
I gave him a look, too, and he was going to fight it. I knew it then. He was going to fight every step I made. And he had the financial means to do so.
“Fine.” I had to relent, at least for now. This was going to be harder than I initially thought. I wanted a moment to regroup. “Bring her to the hotel.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, Mason shoved back his chair and stood. Both of them were taken aback by the abruptness of it but not me. I was following him in less than half a second. We were both itching to get out of that house.
Duke Dick didn’t follow us out. He was still sitting when we left the room.
She followed us to the door.
Mason opened it, heading outside.
I reached for the door but stopped and turned to her. “If you don’t follow through, I will call the police.” My eyes went over her shoulder before turning back to her. “Do not fight me on this.”
She swallowed, but she raised her chin.
Her eyes went from being dazed to a fire being lit.
She reached for the door, too. Her hand closed just above where mine was, and she forced a gritted smile at me. “Safe travels back to your hotel, Mr. Monson. I’ll be in touch when we’re coming to the hotel.”
Mason shared a look with me as soon as I was outside.
The door shut behind me.
He said, “There are cameras.” His eyes flicked upward.
I got his message.
Anything we said, they could potentially hear.
Sighing, I ran a hand over my face, feeling like I aged five years just being inside that house.
As soon as I closed the door behind me, Mason said one statement under his breath.
“We need to call Logan.”
There was a knock, then the door burst open. Logan walked in and dropped his bags. “I have arrived!” He came in with a gust of crisp cold air as well.
Mason and I were on the balcony, and Mason stood. “Here we go.”
He led the way into the room.
It was hitting me now that Mason and I hadn’t hugged when he showed up. It’d been a situation when I needed him, and he came. Immediately. He was there to help. The hugs had been later, but Logan took two steps, bypassed his brother, and wrapped his arms around me.
“How are you?” He squeezed me hard and tight, then stepped back, leaving his hands on my shoulders. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to give you crap or make you feel guilty for calling Mason a whole day before me. I get it. I’m a lot, but I’m here now. And we’re going to get this shit sorted. Got me? I’m your personal pit bull.”
My throat was choking up.
“SBC-er.” I held up a fist.
He cuffed it with his and dipped his head down. “SBC for life, motherfucker.”
Mason had been waiting. Logan turned, and the brothers hugged. There were a couple of fists pounded on the back.
“How’s Taylor?” Mason asked after the hugging was done.
Logan was already eyeing the minibar. “She’s good. After work, she was going to head over to your place and stay with Sam until we get back. She’s taking the dogs, too.”
“You propose yet?” Mason asked with a knowing smirk. The knowing part was because he knew it was a sensitive topic. Logan was starting to realize he had a somewhat unhealthy fear of marriage. The divorce and his parents' relationship contributed to that. He glanced at me before clearing his throat.
The look was because he’d been talking to me a lot more lately about the whole situation.
I didn’t know if Mason knew or not.
“Before we have that conversation, I need to get properly wasted. And before that can happen, we have shit to handle for Nate.”
Mason frowned, then gentled his words. “Sorry—”
My phone started ringing.
It was Quincey.
I showed them the screen before hitting accept and taking it to the bedroom. “When?”
There was a sigh on her end. “We’ll be in the lobby in one hour.”
“No. You bring her up here.”
“This is the first fucking goddamn time I’m meeting my daughter. You bring her where it’s private. I walked away from your place today when she should’ve been at your house. That’s the second time I gave you. The first was after you told me about her.”
She sucked in her breath. “Listen here, you asshole—”
“You knew for six months. ”
She made a growling sound on her end. I could hear her trying to control herself. “Fine,” she bit out. “What room?”
“We’re in the presidential suite. I’ll call down so you can get up here.”
“You want me to meet them? Ride up with them?” Mason asked when I returned.
“I want to be there, but I also want privacy when I see my daughter for the first time.”