The Boss’s Daughter by Aubrey Parker
(Inferno Falls, #1)
Publication date: October 27th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
I think Brandon might call after I get home, but he doesn’t. I pretend it doesn’t hurt, but it does. With Dad mad at me, Brandon is just about the only person I could talk to other than Phoebe. And I don’t want to talk to her. She’ll have all sorts of advice, and really I just need someone to believe me.
I want someone to believe I’m an adult. Someone who recognizes that I’m no longer a kid. Someone who respects me.
It’s ironic that I expect this from someone who won’t call me back.
Without Phoebe to batter me with her opinions and urging, I can only make excuses on my own and rationalize for myself. Maybe he’s not calling because he doesn’t want to make things worse with my father. Maybe he’s not calling because he thinks he can save his job — though I think we can both agree he won’t be getting that vice presidency. Dad is a stickler about honesty. He equates it with loyalty. But that’s something he doesn’t get about me and never has: There are things he doesn’t need to know and wouldn’t want to know, and withholding them isn’t about disloyalty. Not spilling your guts every time you see someone isn’t the same as lying. It’s privacy. I’m a woman now, and deserve my own treasure trove of secrets that are no one’s business but mine. Dad doesn’t get that. He thinks he does, and I suppose he thinks he’s protecting me.
But the person I am now doesn’t need protection. And that’s what Dad doesn’t understand.
I’m annoyed that he was so angry. I should be able to be with whomever I want. We’re well past the days when he was allowed an influential opinion on my personal life. But somehow, this is about more for him. Somehow, this feels like a punch in the gut to my father, I suppose. Not only was he confronted with blatant proof of my adulthood in one fell swoop; he was blindsided with a double-punch from the man he’d decided to rely on. The man whose judgment he’d trusted.
Dad doesn’t see that there’s nothing wrong with Brandon’s judgment from where I’m standing. But I have no arguments right now other than “Yes, he is” and “No, you’re wrong.” It’s like trying to argue religion or politics. I could bluster, but he’ll never hear me.
But even more than the feeling of rejection and reprimand is the horrible feeling about the rejection and reprimand. I can’t feel rejected by my father unless I care what he thinks, and I can’t feel reprimanded unless I admit, in some small way, that he might be right. I don’t believe he’s right at all, but I feel chastised just the same. My father’s approval has always mattered, and that mattering tripled after Mom’s death. Dad is all I have. He’s been my anchor, my port in the storm. No matter how bad things got, I could always count on my father. If anyone ever hurt me, he was the person I turned to.
And he’d say, There, there, it’s all right. You’re better than they are. They’re not good enough for you.
He said it about friends who did something mean. He said it about boyfriends and dates who jilted me, people who made me feel inferior or unwanted. Every time I had a problem with someone else, I came to my father, and he explained why they were wrong for doing something not-nice to me. Dad was always my advocate, explaining why we were right and the world was wrong.
This time, I’m wrong.
This time, I find myself wanting to side with the man my father thinks is the enemy. I honestly don’t know if he’s reacting genuinely to what he’s learned, or if this is just programming. Someone did something to his little girl, and he’s automatically on the defensive without a rational thought to drive it. He’s explaining why he’s right and Brandon is wrong, just like always.
Only this time, I’m on the other side.
To have always been under my father’s protection and now be cast outside the wall? That hurts. That wants to buckle my legs, curl me into a ball, and send me to tears. That breaks my heart. I used to have someone to turn to when I felt like this, but now my anchor’s turned against me. He thinks I’m the problem.
In the other wing, through the main entrance, I hear the door open and close. I hear feet on the stairs.
I wait, sure that if I let enough time expire, Dad will come to me. He’ll knock softly on my outside door, obeying our separate quarters as if they were truly separate. He’ll sit on the edge of my bed and put his strong arm around me. Then he’ll make me feel better, because right now I feel awful.
But a knock never comes. The clock makes a full revolution; sixty minutes leave me with nothing.
I feel as if I deserve this. A split forms within me, and there’s a strong Riley who tries to stand. To be my own woman. That Riley tells me that my father isn’t always right, and that when he’s wrong, I need to go on without his approval as long as I’m doing what I know is right. But it’s impossible to believe. It’s impossible to feel. Because the old Riley, the little girl inside me, is too entrenched.
I pull the phone from my purse. There are no messages. It does not ring.
I tell myself that I’ll be fine.
Tomorrow will come. Then the next day. Dad and I will make up. He’ll expect me to come around and admit to my foolishness, and I will. It hurts New Riley a lot to believe it, but I imagine I’ll probably apologize. I only have one father. If he doesn’t come to me, I’ll have to go to him. I’ll tell him I was wrong, and that I regret it, even though I don’t.
I look at the phone and feel utterly, hopelessly lost. Helpless because I’ve realized something I don’t want to: I love Brandon Grant.
I love his personal strength. I love his story, and how he overcame. I love his stoicism and straight-faced sincerity. I love the way I was able to break that seriousness and get him to smile and laugh. I love his silence, and how he hides himself from the world. I love how bold he is, coming out from behind that mask.
God help me, I don’t regret a thing.
God help me, I’d do it again.
I’m thinking this as I look at my phone, which won’t ring.
Brandon, right now, isn’t calling because he wants to save his job. He wants to save his ass. Mason James has always had a way of making me feel a need to please him, but he has that effect on everyone. I saw it in Brandon’s eyes. I saw him looking at my father the way he’d look at his own, if he’d had one.
And still, I can’t help thinking about him.
I won’t call. I can’t call because I don’t know why he hasn’t called me. He might be staying away for my own good, or he might be staying away for his. If I call, I’ll find out which it is. If I call, it’ll break my heart.
I don’t think I can take that right now.
So I lie on my bed, like the teenager I no longer am.
I look up at the ceiling.
There’s no knock at the door. No ring of the phone.
And I’ve never felt more alone.
Riley’s whole life is ahead of her … if the temptation of her father’s new protege doesn’t prove to be too much to stand
Ever since losing her mother as a girl, Riley James has lived for her father, Mason. The loss has nearly consumed them both, and they’ve only survived it together. But while Mason is moving into his twilight years, Riley is still young and ready for her life to begin. Her father’s shared grief — once the warm embrace she needed — now feels like a set of shackles that are starting to chafe.
Brandon Grant is smack dab in the middle of his life’s best years. So far they’ve been devoted to the construction company where he’s dedicated the last several years. A product of the foster care system, Brandon comes from a dark enough past that he can never let anyone get too close — except his boss, Mason James, who steps into the void his father was never there to fill. After years of back breaking work, Brandon is finally about to land the promotion he’s always wanted. Soon, he’ll finally start living for himself, and find someone to share in the happiness he’s sure to earn … eventually.
But love can’t always wait …
Just as Brandon is being groomed for the position, he meets the sweetest, most charming, and electrifying girl he’s ever seen — and realizes, with the crushing, sinking knowledge that she’s Riley James, the boss’s daughter.
While Riley might be ready to move on, her father can’t, and he makes it abundantly clear that Brandon’s not to go near her. As he spends more and more time in the office, preparing to become the company’s big man, he clocks more time with Riley. Soon, their spark ignites to inferno.
Riley and Brandon must decide if their happiness still means what they’ve always thought, or if they’ve finally found the person who can turn their lives into something more.