Laces and Lace (Assassins #6)(83) by Toni Aleo

Running her fingers through her hair, she turned to take the glass of sweet tea she had just poured to the counter where her computer sat. Karson was at practice, and when he got back, they were supposed to go to the mall to look at stuff for the house. Later that night they would go over for dinner at his captain’s house with some of his other teammates. She was nervous to meet his friends, but then again, after meeting JT, she figured she could deal with anyone. Also, the wives would be there, so maybe she would make friends. At least then she wouldn’t be lonely when Karson left.

Leaning on her hand, she clicked through the emails that Rachel had sent her. Rachel had been a little better, but it was nowhere near the relationship they had before she left for Nashville. Lacey didn’t realize how dependent she’d been on her friendship with Rachel until she didn’t have it. It was weird not being able to call your best friend to bitch about your husband leaving his nasty clothes all over the place or how messy he was or how she was nervous that he was leaving. If Lacey even mentioned Karson’s name, Rachel would change the subject. She wouldn’t even entertain the idea of Karson.

Lacey was soon accepting that her life with Karson was one thing and her business with Rachel was another. It bothered her to the core, but what was she supposed to do? It was getting to the point that when she called Rachel, it was only for work and that was it. She didn’t even ask about her nephews anymore; she saved that for when she texted Grady, which was only once a week.

She missed them.

All of them. And while it was killing her, she still couldn’t regret marrying Karson. She was so happy. He made her smile constantly, sometimes without even being around. He loved her and had no shame showing it at a moment’s notice. He was considerate and kind, and man, he burned up those sheets. Just thinking about his lip curving in such a sinful way and his dark seductive eyes capturing her before he devoured her could have her grinning like a schoolgirl in seconds. They worked and she wouldn’t feel sorry for that. Not when she was more in love than she had ever been in her whole life.

While she loved all of them—Karson, her dad, Grady, Rachel, and the boys—she just wished there was a way to have some kind of balance. To get her family to love him as much as she did. She knew it was a long shot, but there was no hurt in praying it would happen. Or that at least they would try.

Clicking out of an email, Lacey went to the order summary for that day. She wanted to make sure that the new piece she had designed was selling well. It was freaking gorgeous in her opinion and all Karson’s idea. It was a black corset, but instead of regular lace ties tying it together, he said to use hockey laces. He thought it would attract all the female hockey fans. Looking at the numbers, she could say that he was right. It was a hit, and she couldn’t wait to send it off for mass production.

Picking up her phone, she clicked his name and wrote him a quick text.

Lacey: K’s Laces are selling really well.

Karson: Told you they would.

She smiled. While she was glad he texted her back, she didn’t expect him to. He was supposed to be practicing.

Lacey: Are you done?

Karson: Nope, I’m in a meeting. I’ll be home in an hour. I was actually about to text you and let you know. You good?

Lacey: Yeah, just working.

Karson: Cool. I’ll be home soon.

Lacey: :)

Laying her phone down, she checked a few more things and was about to get ready to go to the mall when her phone rang. She assumed it was Karson, but when the display read that it was her father, she was sure her eyes were playing tricks on her.

Picking the phone up slowly, she hit the accept button and said, “Hello?”

“Lacey Arielle, it’s your father.”

“Hey, Daddy,” she said slowly.

She hadn’t talked to him since he’d walked out of her apartment back in Chicago.

“I was calling to ask if you are ready to come home.”

Straight to the point, as her father always was. Sitting back in her chair, her brows came in. “Um, I’m coming to Chicago in two weeks for a meeting and to check on the store.”

“No, I mean are you ready to come home for good.”

“I am home, Dad.”

“No, Chicago is your home. Tell me you are done with this charade. Surely, you are ready.”

Closing her eyes, she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Daddy, it isn’t a charade. I love Karson. I’m happy.”

“I don’t believe that. Come home.”

“No, I am home.”

He paused and her heart went insane in her chest. She hadn’t spoken to him in weeks, and he thought he could just call to demand shit? How unfair was that? And why? Did he really assume she would just obey him? He was delusional!

“You know, I really don’t see what you don’t understand. I am happy, I am in love, and Karson and I are building a life here. We bought a house, and maybe we’ll get a dog or something, but we are happy. He is my husband, my partner for life,” she said, anger lacing her voice. When she remembered what he had done, for a second time, she decided to call him out on it. “We heard about you calling his coach. That was really low of you. I’m going to ask that you don’t do anything like that again, but knowing you, you probably will.”

She shook her head, completely disgusted with the person she called her father. “Daddy, I need you to respect me. Respect my marriage, and if you can’t do that, then please don’t call me back,” she said sternly. In her head, she knew Karson would be proud of her, but it didn’t keep her heart from pounding so hard it hurt in her chest. The times were few and far between when she actually stood up to her dad, but this had to stop. Karson was everything to her.

“Fine, Lacey,” he said softly and her heart ached. She hated this. She wanted her dad to be a good man and support her. She wanted him not to try to sabotage her and Karson. She wanted him to be happy for her. Not so controlling. But that wasn’t the man Nate Martin was.

“Fine, I guess I’ll let you go then.”

“No, sweetheart, I miss you,” he said and she paused.

Tears welled up in her eyes. “Well, I miss you too, Daddy.”

“And you’re right, I was wrong for trying to ruin that scum’s career,” he said and Lacey rolled her eyes.

“He isn’t scum, Daddy. He is amazing.”