It looked like it was going to rain as I walked to Central Park, but I didn’t care. Rain or shine, it was still my place of solace. I found an open spot on the grass in the Conservatory Gardens and I sat myself down, bringing my knees to chest. Tears started to fall, as did the rain from the sky. I looked up and let the raindrops hit my face while I pondered about how much my life sucked. The rain was cool as it hit my skin and I sobbed with my head buried into my knees.

“I never thought that I’d be here, doing this with my daughter,” I heard a voice say from behind.


I lifted my head and looked behind me, as my dad stood a few feet away from me, holding an umbrella. “Spare me the talk, Dad. There’s nothing else you can say that will hurt me more than I’m already hurting.”

He walked over to me and sat down. I couldn’t believe my dad was sitting on the wet grass. “I knew I’d find you here.”

I looked at him as he handed me a small towel. “How did you know where I was?”

“This is the one place your mom would always run to after we’d have an argument. I went to your room to talk to you and you were gone.” He smiled. “You’re just like your mom.”

“Is that a bad thing?” I asked.

“No, baby, it’s not. Your mom is an amazing woman and you should be very proud to be like her.”

I smiled softly at him as he took a hold of my hand. “Julia, I’m sorry for earlier and the way I yelled at you. I’ve done some things in my life that I’m not proud of. In fact, I’ve done many things that I regret, and I don’t ever want you to have any regrets in life. You’re my princess, and I’d do anything to protect you and make sure that you don’t have any regrets.”

“You can’t always do that, Daddy. You’re going to have to let me make mistakes because it’s the only way I’ll learn, and yesterday was a mistake,” I said as I looked down.

He took in a sharp breath and put his arm around me, pulling me into him. “My sweet baby girl, we all make mistakes, but you’re only sixteen years old. What were you thinking?”

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“I was thinking about how much I wanted to be loved by someone the way you love Mom. All of my friends’ parents are divorced or can’t stand each other. But you and Mom, your love is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s real and it’s natural, and sometimes hard to believe with the things I’ve seen in this world. That’s the kind of love I want.”

“Baby, you’re only sixteen. You’re trying to grow up way too fast. You’ll find someone who will love you like your mom and I love each other someday, when you’re older. I never knew what love was until I was thirty years old, and it was the first time that I saw your mom.”

I lifted my head up and looked at him. “When you saw her in the kitchen after your drunken night at the club?”

He raised his eyebrow at me. “She told you about that?”

“Yes, and she said something about a list of rules you had and how you thought she broke one of them. What’s that about?”

“Nothing that you ever need to know about. The only thing you need to know is that my list of rules was one of my regrets,” he said as he kissed the top of my head.

“Mom said I’ll know who the right person is when he looks at me and takes my breath away.”

His grip around me tightened. “She’s right. You’ll know it in an instant. Now, do you think we can go somewhere else and talk? It’s really raining, and I’m tired of being wet.”

I laughed as I pulled away from him. “Let’s go home, Dad.”

He took my hand and we walked out of the park. “I’m really sorry, Dad. I never meant to hurt you, and if I could take back the events of yesterday, I would.”

“I know you’re sorry, Julia,” he said.

We climbed into the Range Rover and headed home. “Go upstairs and get into some dry clothes. We’ll go out to lunch and stop by the store to get a new phone, since you broke yours.”

“I’ll pay for it. I’m sorry; it was all my fault.”

“It’s okay, Princess. Do you have any idea how many phones your mom has broken because of me?”

I laughed at him as we headed upstairs and went into our bedrooms to change. As soon as I changed into some dry clothes, I knocked on his door, and he told me to come in. “Are you ready, Dad?”

He sat down at the end of the bed and patted for me to come sit next to him. “I have one question, Julia, and please don’t be embarrassed by it. I need to know that Brody used a condom.”

Oh God, I wanted to die when I heard those words come from my father. I knew it took everything he had to ask that. “Yes, Dad, we used a condom. If it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t a good experience at all, and I consider it one of my regrets.”

I saw his eyes fill with tears. He put his arm around me, and I put my head on his shoulder. “Oh, sweetheart, it’ll be one of the best experiences of your life when you’re one hundred percent ready. I promise you,” he whispered as he kissed me. “Now, let’s go get some lunch. Where do you want to go?”

“The Shake Shack.” I smiled. “They have the best burgers in the world!”

My dad looked at me, shook his head, and sighed. “All right, if you insist on a lunch full of grease. You certainly are your mother’s daughter.”

“Nah, I’m just kidding, Dad. I know how much you hate that place.” I laughed. “Let’s go to that restaurant where we get those really good salads.”

“Now, you’re talking.” He smiled as we both got up from the bed.

The first thing we did was stop at the store to get my new phone. My dad brought my broken one with him so they could try to transfer all of my contacts and pictures. As soon as I got my new phone, we walked arm and arm down the streets of New York to the restaurant. When we arrived, we were promptly seated, and I couldn’t help but notice the table of women sitting across from our table. They watched as my father strutted across the restaurant and sat down in the booth. Their staring continued throughout our lunch. I told my dad that I needed to use the restroom and that I’d be right back. I watched as their eyes diverted to me when I walked by as they looked me up and down. After I used the bathroom, I walked over, sat down across from my dad, and looked at the women at the table across from us.

“Hi, do I know you?” I asked with a wide smile.

“Julia, stop,” my dad said.

I got up and walked over to the table, still asking the women if I knew them. “Are you sure we haven’t met before? What about him, over there?” I asked as I pointed to my dad, who was giving me an evil look.

“No, I don’t believe we’ve met,” one of the women spoke up.

“Really,” I said as I put my hand on my hip and looked at each of them. “See, I thought maybe we knew each other by the way you were staring at me and my father since the moment we entered the restaurant. So, since we don’t know each other, then I’m going to assume that you won’t be looking our way anymore. Am I correct?”

The women looked at each other in embarrassment and then looked at me and nodded their heads. “Enjoy the rest of your lunch, ladies.” I smiled as I sat down.

“Julia Rose, what the hell?”

“Daddy, please. They wouldn’t stop staring so I thought maybe we had met before and I just didn’t remember.”

We got up from the booth and, as I walked in front of my father, I heard him apologizing to the women at the table. We stepped outside and my dad hooked his arm around my neck.

“You just wait until I catch some boys staring at you,” he said in a sinister voice.

We entered the penthouse, and my mom came walking from the kitchen. She walked over and kissed my dad on the lips, and then put her arm around me and kissed me on my head.

“I’m glad to see the two of you worked things out.” She smiled.

“Look at the phone Dad bought me,” I said as I held it up to my mom.

“Nice phone, Connor,” she said as she looked at him.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Julia thought it would be a good idea to say a few words to a table of women at the restaurant where we had lunch.”

“Why? Were they staring at your dad?” my mom asked as she looked at me.

“Yes. They were staring at him the entire time, and then they looked me up and down, so I felt like I had to say something.”

My mom high-fived me and smiled. I looked at my dad and he walked away, shaking his head while mumbling something under his breath.

“Don’t you ever get tired of it, Mom?” I asked.

“Sometimes, I do. But your father is a very sexy man, so you really can’t blame them for looking.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t think of Daddy being a sexy man. I draw the line at handsome.” I smiled.

I took my phone and went upstairs to my room. The first person I sent a text message to was London.

“Hey, I got a new phone, and I’m not grounded anymore. Why don’t you come over so we can talk about yesterday?”

“OMG! Collin told me what happened, and I’m really sorry. I’ll be up in a second.”

After I thought about it, I ran downstairs and asked my dad if it was okay that London came over. He said it was fine and he thanked me for asking. I was relieved that my dad and I were back on good terms. He was the most important person in my life and the thought of hurting him the way I did killed me. I walked over to where he was sitting at his desk and kissed him on the cheek.

“What was that for?”

“I’m sorry for everything I said the past couple of days. I don’t hate you, and I’m very happy that you’re my dad.”

“Julia. Thank you, baby. I love you so much,” he said as he reached over and hugged me.

“I love you too, Dad.” I smiled as I walked out of his office.

When I approached the kitchen, I heard London talking to my mom. I walked over and hooked my arm around her neck.

“Upstairs, now,” I said.

“Yes, ma’am! See ya, Mrs. Black.” She smiled.

We ran up the stairs to my room, and I shut the door as London lay down on the bed.

“So, how was it? Have you talked to him? I bet your dad almost killed him.”

“You’re asking way too many questions. First, it was awful, and I want my virginity back.”

London turned her head and put her hand on mine. “The first time is always hard. It’s like learning to ride a bike. Just get back on and try again. Eventually, you’ll get it right.” She smiled.

I sat up and looked at my phone. I opened up my contacts and sent a text message to Brody.

“Hi, I can’t wait to see you again. Call me.”

“Was he gentle?” London asked as she sat up.

“Yeah, he was, and he kept asking me if I was okay.”

I looked at my phone and saw nothing. He didn’t text me back yet.

“Don’t worry about it, Julia. He’ll text you back. He’s probably busy right now.”

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