Safe and sound back at the Almosta Ranch, I let my mind sort through everything that had happened and I was pleased to note that my mind didn’t linger on anything Jake related.
I never feared for my life with Jake, the whole thing was more surreal than scary. No, what my mind lingered on and kept replaying was everything my dad said afterward.
Once all of the paperwork with the cops was over, Jake was arrested for kidnapping, and the four of us and Tinkerbell headed to the ranch in the same truck the guys arrived in.
Since Jake was going away for a long time, the officers released Tinkerbell into dad’s care, and I had a feeling that once she woke up and was checked and treated, that being under dad’s care would turn the dog around. Somehow I just knew that either dad would end up with a veterinary office dog, or the ranch would end up with her, and I was glad of that.
Once we all got back to the ranch, and loaded Tinkerbell into dad’s truck, Scott and Adam headed inside and gave dad and I a few moments alone. It was that conversation that kept replaying in my mind.
“Look Grace, I won’t pretend to be happy about your situation. I don’t think it’s right, not one little bit. But, one thing tonight has shown me is that I don’t want to lose you. When the guys called me and told me you were missing, well, my worst fears as a father were realized.
When I found out about you and the twins, I thought that was the worst news a father could get about his daughter, but I was wrong. Knowing you were in danger was far worse.
I would much, much rather have you safe and happy, no matter what I think about the choices you make, than have you not be in my life, for whatever reason.
You are my daughter, and I love you.
I know I don’t say it often, but it’s the truth. You’re all I have since your mother died, and it would kill me to lose you, in any fashion.
Now, that aside, it’s going to take me a while to adjust to all this. I probably won’t handle everything well, and I sure don’t know how introduce them when and if we are all together somewhere, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I get the feeling there will be a lot of bridges we’re going to have to navigate, but I figure if we navigate them all together, maybe we’ll make it across most of them alright.
The first bridge I’d like to address is your living situation.
You are welcome to come home until school starts. I understand that you have a job here, but your job with me is also available, if you want to come back to work in preparation for becoming a vet. I’d prefer it, actually. Maybe all this would be a bit easier to handle if you weren’t working and living here with them. They could come and pick you up for real dates, even both of them together, I guess. But I do understand that you are a grown woman, and that you’ll make your own decisions.
Also, part of being an adult and taking a stand is making hard decisions. I am willing to pay for vet school, for my daughter, who works for me and lives under my roof when not at school, no matter who she’s dating. I’m not willing to foot the entire bill if you are living on your own and working somewhere else.
Now, please don’t take that as a threat, because the absolute worse I meant it as is a bribe,” he said with a quiet, teasing laugh.
“I’m not above bribing you. Consider it a pork chop around my neck, if you would. But if you chose to stay here, I will help pitch in for school, but it won’t be a full ride. I don’t need an answer today, but take some time and think about it.
I’m going to head home now, and get myself and Tinkerbell here settled after an interesting evening.
As far as the twins go, I already said I’m against this, but I just want to ad that they impressed me today. They dropped everything to help you, and they made some hard decisions themselves, as far as calling me even though I’m sure they didn’t expect it to go well on that front.
I’ll add that as businessmen and ranchers, I’ve never heard a harsh word spoken of either of them. Still doesn’t mean I want ’em dating my daughter, but I’ve got to trust in your raisin’ child. I taught you to do the right thing, and to stand up for what you believe in. So, if this is what you believe in, I’m going to try.
Bear with me, though. It’s not going to be an easy road for this old cowboy. Fair enough?”
That was hands down the longest speech my dad ever gave. I just nodded and agreed.
“Yep, fair enough. And dad?”
“I love you, too.”
It was his turn to nod. I saw his eyes start to water, so to help him avoid the embarrassment of tearing up in front of his only child, I pretended I didn’t notice and reached in for a hug.
He held me tight, and with a final squeeze he got in his truck and drove away.
I had the feeling that leaving me here, to make my own decision, was probably the hardest thing he’d ever done, but I was grateful he did it.
I also had to admit that as usual, there was truth and fairness in every word he spoke.
Stay tuned, Chapter 19 will be posted tomorrow
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