“Why are you here?” Ice asked.
“Because Grace misses you, and I’m tired of waiting for you to get your head out of your ass and go see her.”
“She’s not angry at me because of Church?” Ice questioned cautiously, wondering if the man was wearing a wire. What normal man would want him involved with his daughter?
“No. My daughter happens to love you.”
“She told you that?” Ice ignored the spike in his heart rate.
“No, she doesn’t have to. I know. I Skype with my daughter twice a week and I saw the changes in her when she started seeing you. It was the first time I’ve seen her really happy in years.
“When she walked out of that house Leon Winston had her locked in, I knew my daughter Adrienne was gone. That monster killed her. Grace survived, but she was only a living shell.
“The last few months, I saw her change. I saw the happiness on her face when she told me you had taken her riding on that motorcycle of yours or when she would be excited that you were riding down to see her. I was overjoyed at the change in her.
“Then, when I come rushing down because two men tried to kill Grace and my wife, you were nowhere around. You lost a few points with me there until her mother told us all she had threatened you.
“Grace thinks you don’t care for her enough to see her because you’re worried over the club. She wants to be more important to you than this.” Dalton shrugged, looking around the room. “I’m to blame for that. I’ve spoiled my women into believing they should always come first.
“Like I said, none of my family will give you any trouble over Grace. If you’ve decided to end it with her, however, you need to talk to her so she can move on. I can’t handle another day of watching her stay in that house, setting that fucking alarm, and seeing another part of her die. I can’t lose her twice.” Dalton’s voice broke as he took another shot. He missed it then laid the pool stick down on the table.
“I was going to see her when you and Oceane left. I know Dax left this morning. I haven’t been to see her, because I didn’t want to upset Oceane.” Ice let Dalton know he was aware of exactly what was happening with Grace. He hadn’t left her; he had taken a step back until her family left.
“In that case, we’ll be gone by tomorrow evening,” Dalton said. “I’ll see you for the holidays. Oceane will have calmed down by then… maybe.” He reached out to shake Ice’s hand, but Ice didn’t take it.
“I’m going to be truthful. I’m not a good man. I never will be. If I was, I would stay the fuck away from your daughter and never see her again. I would give her a chance to find a husband to give her all those kids she wants, and she’d have a normal life. But I won’t. She’s mine. She’s been mine since the minute I saw her.”
Ice was aware of his men listening, probably thinking he was a pussy. However, if he was going to take Dalton’s daughter, the man had the right to know exactly what she was getting.
“I wasn’t always a good man, either.”
Ice studied Dalton’s face, seeing the hard angles and a nose which had been broken several times. Ice then looked at the man’s callused, scarred hands. Those weren’t the hands of an idly wealthy man. His eyes narrowed on Dalton’s arms. He had unbuttoned his cuffs, and Ice caught sight of the bottom half of a tattoo he recognized instantly. It was one of a biker club he always made fun of for being filled with pussies now, but at one time, when Dalton would have belonged to them, they had been some of the meanest fuckers to ride. He didn’t think Grace realized her father wasn’t quite so perfect.
Ice’s hand went out, shaking hands with Grace’s father.
Afterward, Dalton buttoned his cuffs back together before picking up his expensive leather jacket from a barstool. “I better get back before Oceane comes looking for me.”
“Does she know...?”
“Fuck, yeah. She hated it. Can you imagine Oceane on the back of a bike? But she hung in there until I crashed and burned. Then she came to see me in the hospital and told me she was pregnant with Dax. I straightened my shit up fast. A movie producer had seen news footage of my crash and hired me for stunt work. I still got to ride my bike and got paid good money for it. After that, another producer thought I looked better on the camera than the six-figure actor he’d hired and used me. Then we had Adrienne, and when she was born, I left that other life behind. You’re not the only one who fell for her on sight.”