Marley Ryan poked her head into her father’s private office. “I’m heading out, Dad.” The handful of his associates meeting with him turned to appraise the intrusion.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were in a meeting. I just wanted to say goodbye.”
Her father stood and strode toward her.
“Don’t worry about it, sweetheart,” he said with a sad smile. “Gentlemen, my daughter. She is heading off to Miami for school.”
A few of them nodded their approval.
“Miami? Can you believe it?” Peter Ryan shook his head with a laugh. “With such a prestigious school as Boston University right in her own backyard, Harvard right down the road?”
The men murmured their agreement.
“Marley, I wish you would reconsider and let me drive you to the airport.” He took her hands in his and met her gaze with those pitiful clear green eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that, Dad. We already talked about it. You’re busy. It’s fine. I’m a big girl now.” She squeezed his hands tenderly and cast a glance over her shoulder toward the door. Why did he have to make this so difficult? She was minutes away from freedom.
The heavy sigh that came from her father made her cringe.
“Don’t worry about me. Oscar will drive me, and I’ve already arranged transportation from the airport to the school when I get there. I promise. I won’t talk to strangers, and I’ll only date full-blooded Irish boys.”
At that he rolled his eyes and released her hands. A low chuckle rumbled from the men in his office.
“Sounds like a bright girl, Mr. Ryan,” one of them said.
“All right, Marley.” Her father put his hand on her shoulder and smiled. “I trust you.”
“It’s all those full-blooded Irish boys who shouldn’t be trusted,” another man added.
Mr. Ryan shot him a look of feigned disgust then turned back to his daughter.
“Go on now, before these old boys change my mind for me.”
Marley wasn’t about to make him tell her again. With maybe a little too much exuberance she stretched up on her tiptoes and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Okay, bye, Dad! I’ll call you when I get settled.” And then she was out the door, down the steps, and in the car before he could answer her.