Chapter 46

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"Reality means new experiences, adventures, love, happiness, laughter... It means life. And life is what we make of it, after all."


Life is chaotic.

That's something I've learned from having five brothers.

I'm usually easily annoyed by their quips when they all visit our parents for family dinners, but today I just enjoy it, leaning against the living room wall with a smile as I watch all five of them converse and chatter.

"He came clean to them," Dad says as he joins me, wrapping his arm around my shoulder when we watch how Max slaps Liam upside the head for something he said.

I turn to look at my father, raising an eyebrow in question. "Max. He talked to them, told them what happened with Riley and that he treated you unfairly. He didn't tell them about Lincoln, he said it's your decision what you want to tell them in that matter..."

He presses a kiss on my head, and I can't help but lean in, letting his fatherly love seep straight into my bones as I lock eyes with Max, who just shoots me a smile. I'm sure he knows as much as I do that we still need to talk. I haven't even told him about my talk with Riley, yet. I just pulled him into a hug when he opened the door earlier, which surprised not only him, I also saw the smile on my mother's face when she nodded her head, approving of my gesture.

"He is coming, right?" Dad asks, making me look back up at him. "Lincoln, I mean."

"Yeah, he wanted to be here already but something came up at the hospital and I dropped him off on our way here... He just texted saying he should be here soon, in time for dinner."

Dad nods his head, heaving a sigh when he suddenly pulls me into his arms, letting his chin rest on my head when he mumbles, "He's treating you right, isn't he? Because if he isn't, you tell me and I..."

"Dad..." I interrupt him, tilting my head up to make him look at me. "You raised me to be strong and independent. I wouldn't be with him if he wasn't treating me right, or if he couldn't accept that. Promise."

He sighs while tightening his grip around me once more, and I just instantly feel how worried he is. I know he's struggling with letting me go like that; I know it can't be easy for him to see me confide in another man that isn't him. We've always been a team, despite the stunts he pulled and despite the troublemaker I was in my teens.

"All this time I'm thinking I have to have that talk with him, you know. That famous father-boyfriend talk," he says with a quiet laugh, and I smile right with him, meeting his trusting glance when I look up.

"Did Pops have one of those with you?"

"Oh, princess, you don't even know..." he laughs louder now, eliciting some raised brows from other family members in the room.

"Was it that bad?" I ask with a smile, imagining how Pops threatened Dad if he ever were to hurt my mother. The image is funny, somehow.

Dad sighs, rubbing his hand over my back when he looks at my mother, who is watering her plants with a smile on her face. "No, it wasn't that bad. You know your grandfather - He was a good man, protective of his family... But he hated my guts in the beginning." He laughs again. "He came around eventually, and damn am I glad about that... I was persistent. I made sure he knew I wasn't leaving, ever. I guess that made him realize how much I did love his daughter."

And like she knew he was talking about her, my mother looks up, shooting Dad a quick smile to which he responds with a wink before he looks back at me, the happiness radiating off of him every time he looks at his wife. The sole display of love in his eyes almost makes me want to cry, he just always knew how to show all of us how much he cares for us, how much we mean to him.

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