“Are you wanting legal documents drawn up?”
Because that was the kicker. Whether he was going to make me sign away any fight I might have over Nova.
I waited, that lump in my throat getting bigger and bigger.
“Yes. I want you to sign something that will say you are not going to fight me for Nova.”
That was the other shoe.
He just dropped it.
My throat was back to burning. My stomach was seizing up.
“But those papers won’t say that you have no right to see her. I wouldn’t do that to you. Or to her. I’m trying to find a compromise for both of us.”
I didn’t have a choice.
I nodded. “Okay. I’ll move in.”
I would. “I’ll sign.”
“Are you sure about this?”
The papers were drawn up. Both lawyers were here, and Nate and Mr. Kade had moved to a conference room so we had some privacy. Phillip insisted.
I nodded. “I can’t risk losing Nova totally.”
Phillip’s face tightened. “He can’t make you do that.”
I met his gaze unflinching. “You know he can, and you know he would. It’s all or nothing with Duke. I can’t risk that, and if I have to choose between Duke and Nova, I’ll choose Nova every minute of every day.” I looked down at my hands. Both were in fists and pressing down on my legs. I hadn’t sat like this for so long, not since my childhood years. “Nova isn’t my daughter, and she is his. That’s the truth, and there’s no way around it. A will would get ripped to shreds if we pursued this. There’s nothing wrong with Nate Monson, whereas everyone knows that’s not what lawyers will say about my father.”
Phillip swore softly.
“I can’t fight Nate on my own, so this is the only move.” Everyone knew it. My team just didn’t want to admit it, so I would.
I leaned forward, picked up the pen, and signed away my fight for Nova.
It was the only way to stay in her life. That was all that mattered.
“I’m sorry, Quincey.”
I looked away, tears burning to be shed.
I wouldn’t. Not here. Not yet.
Tonight. Tonight, I would crumble.
“Your next battle is going to be against your father.”
I jerked my head in a nod. “I know.” And that one would be all-out war. “Are you ready for him?”
No. I turned, seeing the resolve settling over Phillip. I was feeling the same.
I said, “I’ll have to be.”
He nodded a few times, swallowing, then stood, gathering the papers. “I’ll take these to Monson, but I can say this now. Concerning your father, it’ll be an easier fight with Monson and his team at your back.”
That was true.
It would be easier but not any less painful.
Three days later
“Can we go over the plan again? I’m confused about the details.”
We were in Ricci’s SUV, heading for my father’s estate. I’d spent the past few days ironing out the details for our “escape” plan and going over everything with Nate, or more accurately, his sister.
“I’ve packed my stuff and Nova’s. Emily is coming with us, at least until we figure things out.”
“What about the first nanny? Emily usually works evenings, right?”
I gave Ricci a grim look. “We couldn’t trust her.”
Ricci was dressed in black, said she needed to dress the part. Her red hair was pulled up in a tight bun and she grimaced back at me. “She’s sleeping with your dad?”
I nodded. “Emily told me.”
“Right. Emily is awesome.”
“Emily knows the deal? That your dad is going to flip a lid, and when you don’t return with Nova, he’ll probably fire her?”
Another grim nod from me. “I’ll keep paying her as long as I can.”
“I bet Nate would pay her?”
I shared a look with her before she turned back to the road.
“He said his original nanny could come up, but she’s not here yet.”
“But you met his sister, right?”
I did. “Aspen is awesome, and she swears by their nanny, too, but…”
Ricci’s mouth tightened. “You’re moving into enemy territory.”
“Yeah.” I expelled a ragged breath. It was hard to think anything except what Duke had ingrained in me since I was born. “It’s how my dad views the world. Hard to shake that off, ya know.”
“Yes, but we’ve been over this. How you view the world and how your father views the world are totally different. You are allowed to have your own thoughts, and it’s okay that they’re in direct conflict with Duke’s.”
“I know. I do.” I was allowed, but there would be ramifications. That was just the deal here.
Ricci softened, reaching over and squeezing my hand quickly. “We’ll get through this. You and me, together.”
She gave me a smile before another firm nod. “Back to business. Your father is not at the estate? He and Nanny One are at the Savoy?”
“Awesome. He usually stays late, doesn’t he?”
“He does. Emily’s with Nova right now, and she’s got her bags all in my vehicle.”
“The rest will go in this vehicle.”
Ricci turned down our driveway.
My stomach just turned to knots again, all clenched up.
The air shifted, growing tense.
Ricci lowered her voice. “Everything will be fine. I promise.”
She couldn’t promise that, but I knew I would be fine as long as I had Nova in my life…as long as Nate allowed her to be, that is. “I know.”
We drove around to the back door, the area that Duke wanted the staff to use. Emily was hurrying in and out of the house, carrying bag after bag. Her arms were full. She’d drop what she had, then go back inside for more. My car was packed to the brim, and as we pulled up, she was waving her hands in the air.
“We have to hurry. Doria just called me upset because your father ended things between them. She said he’s on his way back now.”