He buried his face into my shoulder and lifted me up off the ground, spinning me in a circle.

“Hey daddy,” I said, when he put me back down.

“Hey baby girl,” he said, his eyes shining with tears. He cupped my face and studied me. “You look beautiful.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.”

He smiled. “Same old Zoe, eh?”

“No, I’m so much more awesome. Like, beast mode.”

Before I could escape, he had me in a headlock. “Who’s the awesome one now?” he growled, laughing.

“Still me!” I called, wriggling to get out.

“Say I’m the bestest daddy in the whole wide world and I’ll let you go.”


We wrestled for a couple more seconds.

“Fine, you’re the bestest daddy in the whole wide world!” I cried out, laughing.

He released me and I gut punched him.

“All’s fair in love and war father dear.”

He steered me towards the table with Emma and Mason, who were watching us amusedly.

“Is that the boyfriend?” he asked, loudly.

I rolled my eyes. “Yes dad, that’s my boyfriend.”

“Great.” He led me over to the table, and I sat down next to Mason.

Emma’s phone rang, Rob’s ringtone. She hesitated, and then stood up. “I’ll be right back.”

She left, leaving Mason and I alone with my dad.

“So you’re dating my daughter?” my dad said, clasping his hands in front of him. He raised his eyebrows.

“Yes sir.”

My dad stuck out his hand. “Charles Baker. You can call me Mr. Baker.”

Mason shook his hand. “Mason Walker.”

“I have eight rules when it comes to dating my Zoe.”

I groaned and put my head in my hands. “Dad.”

“Zoe.” He looked directly into Mason’s eyes. “Do you think you can handle that?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. See Zoe, no need to be all embarrassed and red-faced.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Would you like to know the eight rules Mason?”

“Yes sir.”

“You sound like you’re stuck on repeat,” dad said, laughing.

Mason looked at me, anxiety written all over his face.

“Dad, leave him alone,” I said.

“Not until he knows the rules.”

I groaned. My dad rarely went into parent-mode, but when he did, there was no use in arguing.

“Rule one won’t be relevant at this moment, but it’s still important to know. Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as hell not picking anything up."

“Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them."

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