“Because of me,” Mr. James suddenly announced from behind him, making him curse when he realized that at some point during their conversation the doors had been opened.
At least the doors worked quietly and efficiently, he thought as several pairs of hands grabbed him and yanked him out of the elevator. As Craig pulled back his fist and let it fly, Connor hoped that they didn’t break his jaw so that he could beg Rory for a second chance. That’s if she came to visit him in intensive care.
* * * *
“Mother f**ker!” Connor gasped as Craig punched him in the stomach, causing his legs to give out, but before he dropped to the ground, Bryce and Sean were there, picking him right back up for more.
“Stop!” she cried, moving to help him, but her father blocked her and kept her in the elevator.
He kept his eyes locked on her as he told the twins, “She doesn’t get past me until we’re done and you make damn sure that no one interrupts us.”
“Sure thing, Uncle David,” Darrin said as he and his identical twin, Reese, stepped in front of the elevator and stood side by side, standing guard and blocking her view of Connor getting his ass kicked by her brothers.
“Shit!” she heard Connor groan a few seconds later.
“Dad, please tell them to stop,” she begged, panicking as she placed her hands on her face, struggling to keep it together.
“I’m sorry, Rory, but he has this one coming.”
“They’re going to kill him,” she said, trying to stay calm.
“Probably,” her father agreed with a shrug.
“Why didn’t you call me when you were hurt? For that matter, why don’t you call me when you need help? And why the hell did you just get married without me there to give you away?”
“What?” she asked, taken off guard. “Why would I call you?” she blurted out before she could stop herself.
“Because I am your goddamn father!” he shouted, losing his temper for the first time in her life. While her father could get pissed, really pissed, he never lost control, never shouted, never at her.
“When you’re hurt or need someone, I should be the first person that you call! Do you have any idea how f**king scared I was when I found out that you’d been rushed to the hospital by ambulance? I had to hear it from the f**king mailman that my daughter was seriously injured because no one called me!”
“Do you have any idea how it feels to have to sit outside your child’s house, scared to death that they were in pain or worse that they might not make it through the night? Do you?” he snapped, looking angrier than she’d ever seen him before.
“But, you taught us to be self-reliant. I didn’t think that-“
“That’s bullshit your brothers shoved down your throat! You are my daughter and there will never be a time when I don’t worry about you or want to take care of you. You were stubborn and didn’t want to let your brothers think that you were weak so you tried to act tough. You were my little girl, my little princess and you used run into my arms crying my name every day when I got home from work until you turned five and your brothers decided to treat you like a little brother. From that moment on, you thought that you had to be as pigheaded as they were and you stopped being my baby girl,” he said, his voice softening, his expression turning sad.
“You are my baby girl, Rory. I love you more than you will ever know, but you are so damn pigheaded,” he said with a sigh. “You need to know that you can always call me,” he said, stepping aside only to pause and shoot a glare at her. “And the next time that you’re hurt, sick or you need help, you better call me, because if I have to hear it through the mailman again, you and I are going to have words, young lady,” he said, shooting her a wink to soften his words, making her relax as he stepped back.
“I will, Dad,” she said, feeling close to crying. Her daddy loved her and she’d probably be rubbing it in her brothers’ faces if she wasn’t very much afraid at the moment that they were killing her husband.
“Step aside, boys,” her father said, reaching back and taking her hand into his and leading her off the elevator. The scene that met her had her heart skipping a beat and her stomach dropping.
Johnny and Brian held back a struggling and still weak, Andrew while Craig and Sean held Connor up as Bryce pulled back his fist and let it go flying, connecting with Connor’s face and splitting his lip.
“Stop!” she screamed, releasing her father’s hand and tried to go help him, but Reese grabbed her before she could so much as take a step and pulled her back. She went to elbow him, but the large bastard was fast, too fast and he had her arms behind her back and restrained before she could take her next breath with a simple hold, but a damn effective one.
“Okay, let’s clear this up, shall we?” her father said, gesturing for Jacob, who looked like he wanted to take a swing at Connor, to come forward. He didn’t look like he was going to listen, but one hard look from her father had him swallowing hard and stepping forward.
“Okay, tell her what you told my boys,” her father said, gesturing for him to get on with it. She was just thankful that Bryce had stopped punching Connor to listen.
“Connor’s plan was to use you to get your brothers. He was using the relationship to look good in your brothers’ eyes to win them over and when the project was finished, he was going to get them to come work for him and run you out of business,” Jacob said, shooting Connor a murderous glare, which explained why he’d been acting like such a jerk for the past couple of months. He’d known about the plan and knowing Jacob, he wasn’t happy about it, but he’d obviously trusted her to handle it on her own.
“Don’t f**king listen to him, Rory!” Connor yelled, but he was quickly silenced by a punch to the gut from Bryce.
“And how exactly did you find out about that?” Darrin asked.
“Because I overheard Connor explain it to Andrew,” Jacob said, gesturing to Andrew who closed his eyes in resignation and cursed.
“When?” Reese demanded.
“In June I think,” Jacob said, looking thoughtful, “he was just using her. He wasn’t in love with her. As long as he didn’t hurt her, I stayed out of it. I didn’t know that marrying her was part of the plan. I thought he was just going to screw up and Rory was going to end their deal.”
“That’s bullshit!” Andrew snapped, but thankfully no one hit him, probably because none of them were mean enough to strike a man recovering from a life threatening illness.
“I heard every word!” Jacob said firmly, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I love her!” Connor shouted.
“Then why are you after her company?” Jacob demanded.
“Okay, let’s get this over with, I have somewhere to be in an hour,” her father said, gesturing to her brothers to drag a bloody and panting Connor forward.
“I’m a little confused about something,” Johnny said. “If he was trying to get on our good side, then why didn’t he try sucking up to us?”
“He only kept telling us to f**k off,” Sean said, sounding confused.
“He punched me,” Bryce bitched.
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