Amy Lyndon's first clue that her life was about to change came at eleven forty-five on a sunny Friday, the last day of March, when Daddy stormed into her room without knocking. Luckily, Amy, who had just gotten out of bed, was wearing her bathrobe or there might have been an embarrassing father-daughter moment.
"I've had it up to here with you," Daddy said, gesturing wildly, his face as red as a glass of Bella Vista Vineyards Pinot Noir.
"What's the matter?" Amy kept her voice low and calm. She'd learned this trick from Mom, who had been an expert at handling Daddy's sudden, but infrequent, rages.
"What's the—" His words came to a sputtering stop as a vein popped from his forehead. Uh-oh. The vein thing was a bad sign. And his complexion had turned almost purple, closer to the color of Malbec than Pinot Noir.
"Daddy, calm down. You'll give yourself a stroke or something."
He spoke again in a voice that rattled Amy's bedroom windows. "Get dressed. Then get out."
"You heard me. I want you out of this house by..." He checked his Rolex. "Noon. That gives you fifteen minutes. And if you're smart, you'll run straight to Grady Carson. I understand he's proposed. Congratulations."
"How did you know that?"
"Everyone knows it. You've been dating him for a year and a half, and he's everything you need in a husband."
Amy said nothing because Grady Carson was most definitely not everything she needed. Who knew he was planning to pop the question at Tammy's wedding? Like from out of nowhere. She'd turned him down in no uncertain terms and kept her mouth shut about the whole thing. If Daddy knew about Grady's proposal, then Grady must have told him.
Damn him. Damn both of them. "Daddy, I don't plan to—"
"Don't tell me you don't want to get married. Because, to be honest, Amy, I'm tired of you living off my goodwill. It's time you go live off someone else's." Daddy waved a piece of paper in front of Amy's nose, then pulled his reading glasses down from their resting place above his bushy eyebrows. The paper appeared to be an American Express bill. "You spent twelve hundred dollars on shoes last month? Really?"
"They were Jimmy Choos, and I—"
"I don't give a rat's ass who made them. Amy, your credit card bill last month was more than ten thousand dollars."
"Oh? That much, huh?" She was bad with money, like Mom had been. Most of Daddy's rages were precipitated by the arrival of credit card statements. This was a known fact.
"You're twenty-eight, still unemployed, and living at home. This can't go on any longer. Either accept Grady's proposal or move out. Today." He marched out of her bedroom.
She followed him out into the hallway. "You can't make me go," Amy said to his retreating back. "And you can't force me to marry someone either."
He turned, one eyebrow arched in that classic angry-daddy look. "Wanna bet? Now, get your things out of here before noon."
"But the Z4 won't hold all my stuff." The sports car held two people, barely.
"Oh...that's too bad. When you come back engaged to Grady, I'll let you get your stuff. Until then, it's my stuff. God knows I paid for it all, including the sports car."
They stood with gazes locked for a moment. "I'm not marrying Grady. He's an idiot."
"No, he's not. He's made a fortune as a hedge fund manager, and that takes brains. Honestly, if you were more like your brothers or cousins we wouldn't be having this discussion." Daddy stopped yelling at her and strode down the hallway.
Amy didn't argue any further; she'd heard Daddy's complaints many times over the years. She just didn't measure up like her brothers and her cousins, most of whom were super smart, had gone to Ivy League colleges, and completed law school. Amy was just...ordinary.
She returned to her room and stared at the clothes in her ginormous walk-in closet. She'd give Daddy a couple of hours to calm down about the credit card bill. That's how Mom had always handled him. Tomorrow he would be his normal, happy self.
In the meantime, she needed to get out of the house.