“Mother fucker!” Darrin roared as Danny bit back a yawn. “You want to tell me why you don’t want to marry me?” he asked, praying like hell that it wasn’t because she wasn’t in love with him, because honestly, he wasn’t sure if he could handle that kind of a blow right now. Not after hearing what his father had said. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but after his mother had made a big deal out of him beating the shit out of her baby because he could end up paralyzing himself, he’d realized that Jodi had left. Afraid that he’d scared her off, he went after her only to find her talking to his father…..about the asshole. Or rather, he heard his father talking to her about the asshole. He still couldn’t believe just how badly that piece of shit had fucked her over. What kind of a man does that to a woman? Not only does he dump her, but he also leaves her destitute and responsible for cleaning up his mess? There was no doubt in his mind that if he’d been home when he’d found out the extent of just how badly that piece of shit had fucked her over that he would probably at this very moment be getting arrested for killing the bastard. All those times that he watched her deny herself something that she wanted, watched her settle for less and it was all because of that fucking loser. When he’d realized just how incompetent and lacking the piece of shit had been in bed he’d been pissed off on her behalf, angry that she’d been with a man who hadn’t appreciated her, but this……. This was too fucking much. And she’d been willing to marry this fucking asshole? That’s the part that he really didn’t understand. The guy had been a fucking loser in every way possible, sucked in bed, been lacking downstairs and hadn’t treated her the way that she’d deserved. Now he knew that it was actually so much worse. According to his father, the guy was a pudgy, ugly, balding piece of shit who thought it was okay to steal from women and ruin their lives just before he dumped their asses and his Tinkerbelle had dated that. Not only that, but she’d been willing to marry that fucking bastard, but not him…. That was the part that he couldn’t understand. It was also the part that made him feel like shit. He was supposed to be the one for the her, the one that took care of her, made her happy, loved her and….. Oh…….fuck. He loved her. He fucking loved her. “Shit,” he said, dropping her hand so that he could rub his hands roughly down his face, needing a moment to come to terms with this. “What’s wrong?” she asked, sounding concerned. “Nothing,” he said with a small shake of his head, not particularly happy with this revelation. He didn’t like this, not one fucking bit. She was supposed fall in love with him, not the other way around. This was his game plan! She was supposed to come to need him, want him and ultimately love him so that he could marry her and have what his father, uncles and cousins had. He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a small woman who not only didn’t love him, but also didn’t want to marry him. He needed her to fall in love with him so that when he finally fell in love with her, his game plan would be over and she would be all his. “Tell me why you won’t marry me,” he said, taking a step back, needing the space to clear his head. “It has nothing to do with you. I’m just not interested in marriage,” she explained with a wobbly smile that caught his attention. “You don’t want to get married?” he asked casually, waiting for her answer and the confirmation that he needed as he quickly formatted a brand new game plan, one that would end with him getting exactly what he wanted. It was risky and something that he’d told himself that he wouldn’t do, but the stubborn woman standing in front of him, searching for the right way to tell him that she wasn’t interested in marrying him really wasn’t leaving him with much of a choice, now was she? Then again, he really shouldn’t be shocked. The woman didn’t seem to know what was good for her. “No, I’m sorry. I’m just not interested in getting married,” she said softly as if that would somehow make it easier for him to accept. It didn’t, but it did make his decision to follow through with his new game plan easier. There was a real possibility that she would never speak to him again after this, but….. What the hell, it would be worth it. She’d be his forever and she would know for the rest of her life that a man loved her, truly loved her and wanted her then that was a risk that he was willing to take. “I understand,” he murmured absently as he reached down and took her hand in his, running several possibilities through his head. “I understand.” *-*-*-* “Danny?” “I need to make a call,” he said, picking his phone up from the bureau as he made his way towards the door. “I’m going to be a while.” “That’s okay,” she said around a yawn as she laid back down on the bed and snuggled back beneath the covers, more than happy to have an excuse to get in a few more minutes of sleep before she was forced to face a long day of standing in lines at one of the parks. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he promised just as she started to drift off. *-*-*-* Nine hours later….. “Baby pink or baby blue,” she contemplated out loud to the empty hotel room as she tried to decide between the two small bottles of insanely expensive nail polish that she’d bought from the hotel store. Sighing, she shot another glance at the alarm clock bolted to the nightstand and once again couldn’t help but wonder what kind of phone call took nine hours. When she woke up to discover that she’d managed to sleep for three whole hours she’d been admittedly surprised. When she’d managed to get in a shower and get dressed she’d become a little concerned and now, she was becoming a little pissed for good reason. Because apparently Danny had ditched her ass again this morning so that he could go out without her. Not that she would begrudge him some time alone with his family if that’s what he wanted. She would absolutely understand if he wanted to spend time alone with his family. In fact, she’d encouraged him to spend some time alone with his family more than once. But, he wasn’t doing that. Apparently last night she’d bruised his ego, but instead of admitting that, he’d given her some piss poor excuse that he had something to do and left her stranded with his family at the reptile farm. She’d been pissed, but she’d been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, figuring that he needed some time to himself. When he wasn’t at the hotel when they got back, answered her calls, returned her texts, or even returned to the hotel until after two in the morning, exhausted and distracted, she’d decided that perhaps they should have a talk in the morning. He’d apparently decided that wasn’t necessary. Now as she sat there on the bed in the room that she’d decided to rent after she’d found out from Darrin, who’d been buying Advil, ice packs and an insane amount of snacks from the hotel store where she’d run into him two hours ago, that Danny had ditched the family to go out on his own, she was counting down the hours until she had to leave for the airport in the morning.