Reckless In Love
Page 81

 Bella Andre

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
The waitress brought their coffees, but instead of picking up the cup, her father closed his eyes and took a deep breath through his nose. After quite a long while, he opened them and looked straight at Drew. “I promised Ashley I would try. But I have to tell you just how hard it is, after you promised me you would keep her safe.”
“She is safe with me, sir.”
“If it were just the two of you in Palo Alto, then maybe I could find that easier to swallow. But your life—I honestly can’t even begin to understand how crazy, how unpredictable, how unsteady it is. All I’ve ever wanted is for my daughter to feel secure. She should have everything she wants.”
“And if she wants me? If she wants this life?”
Professor Emmit shook his head. “I don’t understand it.”
“I see a lot of you in Ashley,” Drew said after a few moments. “How methodical she is, how she keeps asking questions and doing research until she feels that she truly understands something.”
“She and I have always been a lot alike.”
“Doesn’t she also share a lot of qualities with her mother?”
“Well... I...” Her father frowned into his untouched coffee. “They have the same eyes. And their laughter sounds the same.” His frown deepened. “And I suppose Ashley always loved riding roller coasters and diving into the ocean in a way I never have.”
“Just like her mom.”
The professor’s gaze met his again. “Yes. Just like Camila.”
Drew could hear all the longing, the frustration, in the other man’s voice as he spoke of his ex-wife. “What if,” he said slowly, “Ashley is living the life she wants? What if being in a relationship with me is just the perfect mix of steady and unpredictable?”
Her father pressed his lips together. “It’s not easy for me to see things that way, but for my daughter, I’ll try. Although there is one thing I will never bend on, Drew. You’d better go out of your way to make her happy every single day or—”
“Or I wouldn’t deserve her.” He smiled at his girlfriend’s father. “She’s everything to me. Just like she is to you. Absolutely everything.”
Her father still didn’t smile. He didn’t reach out to shake Drew’s hand. But he wasn’t scowling or frowning anymore. And when he asked the waitress to bring him a fresh cup of coffee, then said, “You put on quite a show tonight,” Drew hoped he’d succeeded at taking the first important step toward Ashley’s father accepting him as her boyfriend.
Chapter Thirty-Four
An hour later, Drew and Ashley were alone on the bus. He would be playing in Miami again tomorrow night, and there was a hotel room they could have gone to for the night. But both of them wanted to be here on the bus where they’d first made each other laugh. Where they’d first fallen in love. And where they’d first slept in each other’s arms.
Her entire face was lit up with the biggest, brightest smile he’d ever seen as she took his hands in hers. “I love you. And I don’t want to hide our relationship from anyone anymore. I want the whole world to know that you’re mine.”
“I love you, too, Ash.” He’d never grow tired of hearing her say I love you to him, or saying it to her. Just as he’d never get enough of kissing her gorgeous mouth the way he was right now. “And I’m going to love telling everyone on the entire planet that you’re my girlfriend,” he whispered against her lips.
“I still might be a little nervous about it,” she admitted, “but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it. It just means I’m still getting my feet wet with all of this. I’ve never been in love before.”
“I haven’t either, Ash.”
“Aren’t you even the slightest bit nervous?”
“Only with your father.”
She bit her lip, clearly worried as she asked, “How’d your talk go?”
He didn’t want to upset her, but he couldn’t lie to her. “It was pretty rough going there for a while. For most of our talk, actually. But I have a good feeling that he’s going to come around.” He smiled and added, “Eventually.”
He was really glad to hear her laugh out loud. “I think it’s all hard for him to take in. Both that I’m officially grown up now and that I won’t be right there at home all the time anymore.”
“Because you’ll be...”
“With you.”
“There’s nowhere I want you more. But my dreams aren’t the only ones that count. Yours do, too. So when Stanford Business School begs you to attend, you can’t turn them down to be on the road with me.”
“Honestly, I’ve finally accepted that getting into the best graduate program in the country is a pretty big if. And if they do accept me next year, we can figure things out then. But even if they don’t, I’m going to be okay with it—especially after the email Grant sent me while you were doing your meet and greet tonight.”
“He wants you to come work for him, doesn’t he?”
“Kind of. He said he’d like to hire me as a consultant to do some research into the nuts and bolts of actually starting an artist-run indie label from the ground up.” She was glowing as she told Drew the great news. “Thank you for telling him about my idea.”
“This is all you, Ash. Your brains. Your ideas. Your enthusiasm. I can’t wait for everyone else to meet you and see what I see.” He brought her closer and leaned in to kiss her. “But you should know I’m going to keep all of your beauty, and your gorgeous sensuality, for myself.”