Grumpy Daddy by Jaye Diamond

Chapter 1

Payne

––––––––

I have a reputationfor dominance. A hard-ass nature that’s written all over me. It’s a weakness for most women I meet, and Cassandra Rourke is no different—but the little rich girl wants to hide what I do to her.

I’m sure she’s used to being the one who makes the opposite sex drool when she walks into a room, and isn’t sure how to handle someone else who is in great shape, attractive, and doesn’t have a trace of insecurity on them. She’s used to making men act like boys. Well, not this one, honey.

I saw how she gawked before snapping her mouth shut at the airport. How she ran a hand through her dark hair to fluff it and freshened her red lipstick, fast as lightning, when she thought I wouldn’t notice. And a less perceptive man would have assumed she spoke in cold and short sentences because she didn’t feel the slightest tingle for him, but this girl doesn’t throw herself at the guys she wants. She sets the chase in motion and expects them to come running. Acting like an untouchable, cold hearted princess is her love language. I’m sure it’s worked for her so far, but I’m not that easy.

“So,” she says, after I’ve ignored her for a solid ten minutes, “am I staying with you, or am I just working at your place?” Her flat tone makes her sound bored with her own question, like the answer doesn’t matter and she just wanted to fill the silence in my vintage Ford truck.

It’s a rare model with a backseat, although it barely has room for rear passengers. She’s squished back there, since there was more room for her luggage in the front, after we filled the bed of the pick-up with her largest luxury travel bags. She packed more stuff than a small family would bring with them for a summer, and it all probably costs more than the average family’s annual income. I’ll start throwing out the shoes if she really steps out of line. Girls like her can’t bear to be separated from their fancy footwear.

“Your parents didn’t tell you where you’re staying?”

“They said you’re in charge when I’m here—and you’re, like, what—forty?”

“Correct.”

“I assumed a forty-year-old man wouldn’t want to share a house with a twenty-year-old girl for an entire summer, so I thought you might’ve made other arrangements.”

“Nope. You’ll be in my guest room the whole time.”

“And you think that’s appropriate?” she asks hotly.

She’s daring me to claim I don’t want to fuck her—that I wouldn’t dream of crossing that line—which we would both know is bullshit, so I won’t bother. Any man who meets Cassandra would want to stick his dick in this icy girl and warm her up. She looks like she was created solely for that purpose. Bred to be bred. The result of a long history of prized trophy wives. “I think being forced to stay with a stranger, who’s a guy, wouldn’t be fun for a woman of any age,” I tell her, “but you should have thought about that before you drove mommy and daddy crazy.”

Her parents sounded like they were at their wits end when we first spoke. I met the Rourkes through friends of mine, the Kings, who said their daughter, Jules, was in a college club with a girl whose family was loaded and gave money to any legitimate charity that asked for a donation. I had just begun managing a charity fund for combat vets who weren’t as lucky as myself. They also came back alive from the war, but every appendage didn’t come back with them.

Cassandra’s parents agreed to become long-term donors for the fund. They just asked for one thing in return: for me to set their daughter straight. She’s gone through a years-long rebellious phase that finally spun out of control, when she was kicked out of the club she met Jules in, for spiking drinks to “help” her friends “unwind.” She was also on thin ice with the dean for kicking a football player out of his own dorm—when he was butt-ass naked. Apparently, they had been fooling around and got into an argument that ended with her shoving him into the hall, and him thinking she was bluffing when she said she was locking him out—until she closed the door and turned the deadbolt into place. At that very moment, the dean was giving a tour of the dorms to prospective students and their families. When they turned down the hall toward the jock’s room, every one of them got flashed by fully erect jock cock.

Sick of running to her rescue every time Cassandra acted out and almost got herself expelled or arrested, her parents told her she needed to get her act together or they would stop financially supporting her, write her out of their will, and she could kiss her inheritance goodbye.

“That’s none of your business,” Cassandra says with a dismissive tone, as if any of my thoughts on the subject mean less than nothing to her. As if me correcting her attitude and behavior isn’t the reason she was sent here from New York to live with me in Willow Grove.

This military town is the last place where I was stationed before I retired from the Marines. I decided to finally plant some roots here, after getting involved with the wounded veterans' fund. After never staying longer than two years in one place, for the past two decades.

Cassandra's visit is the first thing that's made me question my decision to settle down in Willow Grove. I want to get married and have a family. So having a daughter might be in the cards for me, in the near future, and I would never want her to deal with the kind of attention Cassandra is sure to receive. Men outnumber women in this town ten to one. Plenty of them are good guys who honorably serve their country and have a strong moral compass, but a lot of them are sex-starved young men, who hang out in aggressive packs, and all they want to do in their downtime is drink and fuck.

I know their type all too well. I used to be one of them. A raven-haired, green-eyed, unattainable shit stirrer like Cassandra would have been popular with my wayward crew. A rare prize they would have relentlessly pursued like the big game we used to hunt in the forest.

“Look,” I say, glancing at her in the rear view mirror, “I want to make sure people in need keep getting your parents’ money to better their lives, and I’m sure you want to keep getting your parents’ money so you can maintain the lifestyle you’re accustomed to. Is that something we can both agree on?”

“Only if we can both also agree you’re a creep for doing this.”

I clench my jaw, eyes darting between the mirror and the road as shadows cross over Cassandra’s pouty face. If she doesn’t make any attempt to disguise how sick she is of me—after spending less than an hour in my presence—when I’ve done nothing but go easy on her—then I hate to see the final form of this bratty attitude that will probably show itself by the end of the week. It’s like she’s determined to make this visit harder than it has to be out of spite. This is what happens when you raise a child without discipline and give them whatever their heart desires. It feels good at the time, but it’s a bitch to correct the ones who turn rotten to the core because of it.

“You might get away with talking back like that at your parents or professors, but the rules are different with me, girlie. You will pay for any disrespect.”

“Oh yeah? How?”

“Well, since I’ve been nothing but courteous and you’ve been nothing but unpleasant, you can make it up to me by cooking us dinner. It’s been a while since someone slaved over a stove to make me a home cooked meal.”

She snorts like I said something funny. “Not gonna happen.”

“Then your penniless pretty ass can go somewhere else.” We pull into my paved driveway and I can feel her sharp green eyes burning holes in the back of my head as I cut the engine. “There’s a strip club hidden away on a back street, twelve miles that way.” I point north. “They’d hire you on the spot.”

I hop out of the truck, throw some luggage out so I can move the seat up, and leave the door open for her. This girl is so used to getting her way, and having no accountability, I half expect to be called names, then watch her go. Her parents sent her here without a cell phone, and without any way to access the accounts they keep her allowance in, but she must have friends who come from loaded families too. She might have cash from them. She could hitchhike to the nearest hotel and cry and curse in it for a few hours while she realizes walking away from a nine-figure inheritance because you didn’t want to make a strange man dinner was a colossally stupid decision.

But I’m not worried about her leaving because I know she’ll come to her senses and come crawling back. She’s spoiled rotten, but she’s not an idiot. Her parents made it clear this is her last chance to stay in their good graces.

Eyes burning, she climbs out of the truck, crosses her arms over her busty chest, and sweeps her gaze over my grassy lawn, tall willow trees, and yellow clapboard house.

Willow Grove isn’t only known for being a town that’s budget relies on a military installation. It’s known as one of the oldest towns in this fly-over state, and most of the homes in it are at least a hundred years older than Cassandra, who is no doubt used to fresh, lavish things. I wonder if she can appreciate my home for what it is. For its simple, old-fashioned charm.

“Fine, I’ll cook whatever you want,” she says, “but that doesn’t mean I’m eating it.”

Great. The first sign of progress. “Your call. Just make sure you clean up after whatever else you fix yourself. We’ll put your things in the guest room, then I’ll show you around the kitchen.”

Her room for the summer is on the second floor, and overlooks the makeshift skatepark one of my neighbors built for the local kids, in his wooded backyard. I hear little wheels rattling and swishing sounds as I carry the heaviest bags. I leave the lighter ones for Cassandra, but that doesn’t stop her from complaining.

“Do you have an air conditioner? Please God, tell me you have an air conditioner,” she says, fanning at the beads of sweat gathering on her cleavage.

I turn my eyes away with a quickness and swallow roughly. “I’ll show you how to turn it on.”

“Just tell me where it is,” she says, brushing her body against mine as she moves past me. “I don’t need any help figuring out how to turn things on.”

She throws a coy look over her shoulder, then keeps walking. Fucking hell. I grit my teeth, touching my dick through my pants without thinking.

It throbs and grows as I picture the punishment she should earn for that comment and pressing her hot little body against mine.

She has no idea how dangerous little games like this are, when a tease is dealing with a real man and not the boys girls like her are used to keeping under their thumbs.

“Oh, um, I found it,” she says, blinking in surprise when I come down the stairs and enter the hallway that leads to the kitchen.

The little tease thought I’d hide in the guest room until I got my dick in check. Never in this house. If she wants to get me worked up, then she’ll have to live with the result.

The outline of my hard-on could be seen, through my pants, from space, but I make no attempt to hide how badly I want Cassandra as I tower over her tiny frame.

“I should spank your naked ass for teasing me, and then pump out a load in it,” I tell her, my voice all gruff and growl, which makes her shiver with—what? Apprehension? Fear? Or excitement? “I should eat you alive—but we might both enjoy that too much, and getting me hooked on fucking you isn’t going to improve your attitude. You’d be distracting me. Playing me. And I don’t play games, young lady. Understand?”

She lets out a shaky breath and nods her head. “Yes.”

“Yes what?” I demand, my tone harsher than a drill sergeant’s.

“Yes...sir.”

“Good. Now make me dinner.”