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I sat on the couch after Masen left, holding the pendant in my hand. Tears fell down my cheeks, and I tried to wrap my head around everything that was going on. Masen was a freaking prince. He was royalty. Why would he want to be with a poor baker’s daughter? I meant it when I said that I was a nobody. I was treated like shit by my sister and I barely loved myself. How could I love someone else?
Shaking my head, I thought about his insistence on becoming our investor. Money and relationships … not a good combo. I didn’t want to … I was afraid that if something happened and he didn’t get his investment back, he’d sue our family. For certain, we’d be out on the streets.
I got up, grabbing a notebook from the kitchen and I made a t-chart of pros and cons of Masen helping us out of our financial dire straits. The pros far outweighed the cons. But, the biggest con was the possibility of losing him. He’d made me feel so special. I didn’t want to lose that relationship. If I was even capable of having that relationship. Hell, I mucked that up when I left this morning.
God, I suck.
No, Alice sucks. She’s the one who was planting all this bullshit in your head that you’re a whore.
I added that to the con list and I pushed the paper away. I curled up, hugging my pillow and quietly sobbing until I heard the front door open. I sat up, watching as Alice stomped toward her bedroom. Her face was puffy, and she’d be crying. I looked back, watching my dad as he followed her. He closed the door, walking over to his recliner, sitting down stiffly. He looked at me, his eyes swirling with concern and anger. “What happened, Dad?” I asked.
“I’m worried about you, baby girl,” he said. “I heard you crying.” He also picked up my list, pointing to the last ‘con’ statement. “And this is total bullshit.” I bit my lip, holding the pillow. “Bells, I’m going to tell you what I told Alice. She’s turning eighteen in a matter of weeks. If she cannot pull her weight around here, she’s out. I already told her about how I was now considering going to the police for her stealing money from petty cash for her homecoming dress, which she didn’t even attend.”
“What?” I growled. “That’s total crap! She could have returned the dress and the money!”
“She returned the dress and kept the money,” Dad sneered. “Her boyfriend was suspended, supposedly. He couldn’t even go to the dance. So, yeah.” He looked at me. “Things are going to change here, Bells. You deserve happiness and since you’ve come home to take care of me, you haven’t had any happiness. You would get up before dawn, work like a dog and be berated by your younger sister. I’m so sorry.” His voice cracked, and he began crying. I shot up from the couch, hugging him tightly. I could feel his body tremble. “You shouldn’t have to shoulder this alone, Bella.”
“I do this because I love you, Daddy,” I whispered, rubbing his back. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
“But, at what cost?” he asked. He sat back, taking my face into his hands. “Masen told me about his offer to be our investor.”
“I told him that I needed think about it,” I said, sitting back on my haunches.
“I understand why you want to think about it, but I’m still the owner of the Swan Family Bakery,” he said, taking my hands in his. “I told him yes.”
“DAD!” I growled, standing up and glaring at him. “How … I … I can’t believe this!”