Daddy’s Little Liar by Lila Fox

Chapter One


Rylan Simmons stood when he saw his friend and college roommate walk across the restaurant toward him. He couldn’t help but smile at the small woman who bounced at his side. This was the first time he would meet Darian’s little, Larkin, and from what he could tell already, Darian had his hands full.

He stood and held out his hand to shake Darian’s. “It’s great to see you.”

Darian grinned. “It’s been too damn long.” He wrapped his arm around the woman. “This is my Larkin I’ve told you about.”

Rylan shook her tiny hand. “It’s nice to meet you finally. Your daddy talks about you all the time.”

Larkin grinned. “He told me about you, too. He said you two used to get in trouble in college.”

Rylan smirked at Darian. “Did he also tell you he caused most of it?”

Larkin giggled and looked up at Darian. “Now, you can’t get mad at me.”

Darian grinned down at her. “Oh, pet, that’s not the way it works.”

Rylan chuckled as they bickered back and forth. He’d never seen his friend this playful or happy, and he was glad he’d found Larkin.

“Do you both want to sit?” Rylan asked, interrupting them.

Larkin and Darian laughed and sat very close to each other on the other side of the table. He looked up when the waitress stood by them.

“Hello, my name is Faith. Can I get you anything to drink?”

Rylan thought she was a pretty little thing, and he could tell she was extremely nervous because her hands trembled. He wanted to put her at ease. “Hi, Faith. I’ll take coffee and water.”

She bit down on her lip as she wrote something down on paper. He watched her as she took the others’ orders. He could see her shake and wondered why. His gaze followed her as she made her way across the room.

Darian chuckled, getting his attention.

He grinned. “Sorry. I don’t like that she was shaking.”

Darian’s brows snapped together. “I didn’t notice.”

“Do you want me to talk to her, Daddy?”

Darian laid his arm on the back of Larkin’s seat. “Not yet. We’ll keep our eyes on her.”

“Tell me how business is going,” Rylan said.

“Good. My partners and I have branched out, brought in more partners,” Darian said.

“I want to hear more of that.”

“I wish you’d think about coming to Arkansas.”

Rylan shook his head. “Not until my mom is dead.”

“How can you stand to be around her?” Darian asked.

“I feel obligated because she’s family.”

Darian nodded. “I understand that. You’ve always been a guy who took his obligations seriously.”

“Because of my father.”

“He was a great man,” Darian said. “I respected his views on about everything. He was a lot like my own father.”

“Yes. He’s the one who taught me about looking out for women and children and that the world would be a better place if we have more chivalry and kindness and not as much bullying.”

“I could never understand why your father married your mother. They were so different.”

“My father told me it was an arranged marriage. It definitely wasn’t a happy one. That’s why my father put most of his time and money into charities. It made him happy when he was looking out for the underdog.” Rylan smiled. He missed him so much but felt blessed to have had him as a father for as long as he did. “Besides, I’m used to Denver.”

“It’s very big,” Larkin commented.

Rylan nodded and then paused when the waitress came back.

Faith set the tray on the edge of the table and slowly put the glasses and cups in front of the three before she straightened. “Are you ready to order?”

“Oh, gosh, I haven’t even looked,” Larkin exclaimed. “Do you have a special?”

“Yes. Salmon with risotto and asparagus.”

Larkin made gagging sounds, and Faith grinned. “I don’t like that kind of food either.”

“Are the cheeseburgers good here?” Darian asked.

Faith nodded. “I like them.”

“Then bring Larkin a burger with fries, and I’ll take the special,” Darian said.

Rylan handed her the menu. “I’ll take it, too.”

He didn’t like that Faith avoided looking at him in the eyes. She seemed to be scared of men for some reason.

“I’ll be back with your meals shortly.”

“Thank you, sweetheart.”

Faith’s gaze darted to his before she scurried away.

“Daddy, what’s she afraid of?”

“I don’t know, pet.”

“Can I ask her when she comes back?”

“No, you’ll embarrass her. Rylan and I will keep our eyes on her.”

Larkin nodded and took a drink of her pop.

Rylan watched as the waitress took care of her tables. There was one table that bothered him. When he saw the way the men treated her, he was furious.

He and Darian continued to talk about business as they waited for their meals.

“Here you go,” Faith said.

Rylan looked up as she set a plate down in front of him. “Thank you. This looks delicious.”

She paused and glanced at him. “I’ll tell the chef you said so. Is there anything else I can get you right now?”

The three at the table shook their heads.

“All right, I’ll check back with you in a bit. Enjoy your meal.”