Fortunately, his version of barrels and mine are in two different categories.
His screech of ego-fury cuts through the air as he launches himself my way, arms flailing with light but fast punches. I knock the first couple away with my hands then realize he’s not going to stop until he’s put down.
I make sure Anna is out of the line of fire, then come back with an uppercut. He goes back down, but he turns his head to the side, spits a tooth and a gobbet of blood, then scrambles to his feet.
Just as the sheriff and my brother get to either side of him.
“Fuck you! This is my day! You think taking her away from me will stop any of this?” He isn’t even looking at me, he’s shouting at Niko. “You’ll be sorry. Whoever these goons of yours are, they’ll be sorry too. And you,” he turns to glare at Anna’s mom, “you’re going to scream before the end! I’m going to use you until you are used up.”
I ignore it all, turning back to Anna, and take hold of her shoulders.
“Say it, baby.”
She stiffens in my hands, takes one glance at Alex, then shakes her head. “I don’t want to marry him. I never did. But—”
“No buts, baby. That’s all I needed to know.” I kiss the top of her head, wrapping her into my arms, then turn to Tor. “You good?”
He nods. “Sure. Sheriff, do your thing.”
The sheriff sniffs, then lets go of Alex, and turns to Niko. “Niko Farkas, you are under arrest for the crimes of embezzlement and perverting the course of justice. Other charges may follow.”
As the sheriff reads him his rights, I pull Anna into my side.
“Sorry, baby. Your dad is going to have to face some consequences for what he’s done. It’s the only way this ends without bloodshed.”
She nods. “I want him to pay. It’s the right thing. He’s responsible for all of this.”
“I know, baby. That’s what our PI found out.”
I hug her tight as she watches her father being cuffed, then I turn to Alex.
“This squares everything. I’m not asking, I’m telling you. This ends now. Because if it doesn’t, you’re not going to like what happens. You’ve done well for yourself since you got out, I suggest you enjoy that and drop this vendetta. It’s over. I’ve seen a lot of shit in my time working with these people, and I’m going to cooperate with the investigation. Niko is going down for a long time. I know that doesn’t make up for what happened to you, but you’re going to have to find a way to get good with that. We clear?”
He glares, turning to watch as Anna’s dad is led out of the room, with her mom walking behind in a daze of confusion, then meets my eyes again, his jaw working like he wants to say something but isn’t sure what.
Then it’s like all the fight drains out of him, and he sags in Tor’s grip.
And finally nods.
“I never did anything wrong.”
He closes his eyes, and I see tears, but he isn’t saying another word and I guess that means this whole thing is over.
The priest is gathering his things, but I’m not done.
“Baby.” I grab her and turn her back to me, dropping down onto one knee. “I’ve had this since the day I met you.” I take the box out of my back pocket, and open it up, showing her the ring. Rose gold with a five carat, flawless antique diamond I bought years ago from a estate in France. It was said to have been given to the great grandmother by a prince. Never worn because she died from fever before they could be married. Love and tragedy but this time, it’s going to happily ever after. “The priest is right here. I’m not waiting. If you want your parents to see you get married, now’s the time.”
I reach over and tug the bullshit thrift store engagement ring off her finger and fling it into the trashcan.
“Is that supposed to be a proposal? Because as proposals go, I’ve heard better.” She smiles and my heart thunders in my chest. My dick is so hard it could etch our initials into the diamond I’m holding.
I slip the ring on her finger. “I’m not asking, baby. Because I know the answer already. I’m just saying, let’s not waste time.”
She stares into my eyes, and I see the flicker of brat. Her badass wants to come out and play and I’m good with that, as soon as I get the formalities out of the way.
“You need me to convince you?” I lower my lips to her ear. “I’ll take you in the other room for a minute. Bend that sweet ass over my knee and remind you of a few things.”