“I’ll start the engine.

Andy is out of there in a heartbeat, giving me only a few minutes to say goodbye to Austin.
He holds onto me, a little too tight, and it’s clear that the tequila has gotten a hold of him. Not wanting to play the nagging girlfriend, I offer him a ride home that he refuses, wanting to stay back with the boys.

Annoyed, I leave him behind and make my way toward Andy’s Jeep.
Andy roars the engine, speeding out of the

long-winding driveway and toward home, which isn’t too far away

We pull up the front of my house. I wave goodbye to Andy, carrying my shoes since a blister is on the verge of killing me. I have no clue how Mom wears heels every day to work, making a mental note to ask her later.

I close the door behind me, tiptoeing toward the kitchen to grab some water.
I switch on the light to see my father sitting at the counter with a drink in hand. The amber liquid indicates it’s his usual potent choice of drink—whisky.

The wrath of a father waiting up for his daughter, a daughter who just left a party where she fooled around with her boyfriend and tequila was passed around. A party that was supposed to be chaperoned, but clearly, Madison was in charge.

“Hello,” I greet in monotone, avoiding his eyes and walking toward the refrigerator.

He doesn’t say a word, which comes as no surprise at all.
I suspect his next words will be “you’ll never leave this house ever again.

“Amelia,” he calls my name softly.
“I apologize for what I said earlier today.

My head slowly moves out of the refrigerator.
My father apologized? Has the universe gone mad? I’m unsure what to say, rarely hearing an apology ever leave my father’s mouth.

I take a sip of water, closing the refrigerator.
“I didn’t apply to Yale to defy you if that’s what you think.

“I know.

“I just wanted…” I struggle with my words, my head clouded with Austin telling me he loves me, a high which seems to disappear in my father’s presence and the reminder of his behavior after doing shots.
“I’ve always wanted to study law there. And I know Mom has only positive things to say about her experience at Yale.

“You’re just like your mother,” he confesses, his voice still low.
I suspect the whisky in hand has everything to do with it. “I know you think I’m strict, harsh, or the so-called dictator according to what you and your sisters like to throw around, but I only want the best for you, for all of my daughters.

I place my shoes on the floor, crossing my arms in defiance.
“Then why must you rule every decision of mine? I’m eighteen, Dad, and whether you like it or not, I’m an adult now. I need to make my decisions even if they’re mistakes.

“I understand that—”

“And I’ve done nothing but prove to you I’m capable.
I worked very hard to earn extra credits. All I’ve done is study this year. I know I’m not Ava, your favorite, but when have I ever let you down? Everything you want me to do, I do. The only thing I’m going to stand up for is going to Yale.

I see his face drop, his emotions visible, unlike his usually controlled self.

“Despite what you girls think, I don’t favor Ava.
” His emerald-green eyes meet mine, a color identical to my own. “You’ll always be my firstborn daughter, and everything you are reminds me exactly of your mother. And perhaps, what I’ll admit to is that I’m scared. Your mother didn’t exactly have an easy start to adulthood, largely due to my mistakes. I’m trying to protect you.


“But why can’t you understand that I can protect myself? If there’s anything you and Mom have taught me, it’s to stand up for what I believe in. Never compromise who I am for someone else. So, this is me, Dad, standing up for my dreams, for my future.

Silence falls over the room, the same time the microwave clock flicks to exactly midnight.

“Amelia, if this is what you want, I won’t stop you.

I absorb his words with a hard swallow, trying to determine whether this is a joke or real.
Given that Dad rarely jokes with me of late, I’m assuming the latter.

I continue to watch him in silence until a slight smile graces his face.
I’m overwhelmed at the thought of actually attending Yale at the moment, forcing me to place my bottle down on the countertop and throw my arms around him for an embrace. Inside his arms, I feel protected. I can’t recall the last time I hugged him, but my tears begin to fall as I bury my face into his business shirt, accidentally smearing mascara into the white fabric.

Slowly, I pull back, sniffling.
His eyes gloss over as he wipes the tear running down my cheek.

“You’re going to do great things.
You have the Edwards and Mason blood in you, though your argumentative side comes from your mom.

I laugh, allowing my face to rest in his hand.
“Between you and Mom, I don’t think failure is an option. Besides, someone has to be a good role model for Addison and Alexandra. Lord knows Ava is dying to teach them how to become the next influencer on social media.

Dad laughs, shaking his head.
“Your sister will be the death of me. How much easier would it be to have all sons?

“Maybe one day you’ll be blessed with all grandsons.

“Hey…” He smirks playfully. “Don’t go getting any ideas.

“I have a career to achieve, Dad.
You can count on me to be studying the next seven years.

“I remember those days.
I’m not as disciplined as your mom though.

Gentle footsteps echo in the distance.
A few seconds later, Mom enters the room dressed in her navy-blue robe with her chocolate brown hair loose, surprised to see us laughing.

“Am I interrupting?

” Dad motions for her to come over as I pull away. She moves toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck so lovingly. “We were just discussing her law degree.

Mom’s eyes perk up.
“So… it’s official?

“I’m going to Yale.
” I grin with a slight bounce.

Mom lets go of Dad, hugging me as her eyes glass over.
“Gee, kid, we sure are going to miss you around here.

“You’ve got three more daughters to continue the headaches.

“Tell me about it.
Ava will be the death of me.

“That’s what Dad said.
” I chuckle, then slow down. “Mom, I was thinking, do you think next summer Aunt Nikki would allow me to volunteer at the Manhattan firm?

“I’m sure she can make it happen.
I’m glad she and Uncle Rocky are in the city should you get lonely. Beau is what?” She looks at Dad. “In middle school? And, of course, Will still works in the city.

“I forgot about Will,” I say, barely able to remember the last time I’d seen him.
“I’m sure if I get lonely, I can visit them. But Andy also got into NYU, so he’s just a train ride away.

I let out a yawn, noting the time once again.
There’s so much to think about, plan, and do, but exhaustion from a very tiring day creeps in.

“I’m off to bed.
It’s been a long day. I’m sure you lovebirds want to be alone.” The second I say it, I cringe at myself. “You know what? Please don’t answer that.

Both Mom and Dad laugh at the same time.
“We shall remain quiet.

I turn back to face them one more time.
“I love you guys. Thank you again for everything.

And as I watch my parents gaze lovingly upon me, I realize how blessed I am to have their unconditional love.
For my years of growing up as their daughter, they have been two people so in love and never once letting me believe otherwise.

My thoughts drift to Austin.
I do love him enough that I don’t want to let go of what we have. Our geographical location will prove a challenge, but if we do love each other as much as we say we do, anything is possible.

I know my parents made it work despite the trials and tribulations they faced. In the end, their love was unstoppable.

As for Austin and me, only time will tell.

And for the last few months we have left together, I want to make every minute count.

I want to make memories to last me a lifetime.

Next chapter