So many held my hand this time around and I'm so thankful for the friendship this fandom has given me. I'm going to give a huge thank you now to some very special people before this story begins. Lore, Alanna, Tam, Shell, Bee, Hadley, Cracked, Maggie: I love you all. Thanks for building me up when I feel like I'm crumbling. To every reader - thanks for giving this story a chance. xo


PROLOGUE

My life, my entire world, revolves around Isabella. I've loved her from the moment we met; she captivated me in the blink of an eye. There was an immediate, intense, and overwhelming need to always protect her. She isn't a part of my heart, she's what makes it beat. On the day she was born, when her tiny little fist grabbed hold of my pinky finger and held on for dear life, I knew I needed her as much as she needed me.

At eighteen, I became a single father. It has been a hard, well-fought journey filled with highs and lows, laughter, and more tears than I care to admit.

I learned how to host epic tea parties; she learned how to toss a football. She taught me how to jump rope and I taught her how to spit watermelon seeds. I can recite the names of every Disney Princess and she can identify classic cars by their emblems.

We survived bra shopping, wardrobe malfunctions, a horribly awkward rendition of the birds and the bees talk, and how boys have grabby hands and dirty minds.

Tea parties and boys aside, it's been up to me to teach her to be a decent human being. I like to think I've done an amazing job and haven't raised an asshole — aren't there too many of those in the world already? The day her mother walked out I became everything my daughter could ever need. Mother and father, cheerleader, fierce supporter, loyal friend, fair and just disciplinarian, encouraging coach, and positive mentor.

Isabella was raised to have integrity, self-respect, self-reliance, and confidence; yet she's also empathetic, loving, and kind. Every day I remind my daughter she is smart, strong, and beautiful - in that order. She can do anything and overcome any obstacle she faces, just as I have done.

I always encourage Isabella to take chances. Tell her failure is an opportunity to practice being brave. I let her know mistakes happen and it's okay if they do. As my Dad told me, mistakes do not define you. Good people can make bad choices— it doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you human. And sometimes mistakes lead you down a path you were meant to take. My 'mistake', my sweet Isabella Claire, turned out to be everything I never knew I wanted.

And one day, if some rotten boy breaks her heart, I want her to know that not all boys will hurt her. There's one who loves her beyond reason. That someone loved her first, with a fierceness which can not be explained or reasoned.

Isabella turned a boy into a man; a man into a father. Correction, she'd turned a man into a Daddy, and no other title could be more important than that.

This is our story but most importantly, it's the story of love.

A father's love.