Willow had left to go into town to see her Aunt Maureen and I was sitting in the shop with dad when I heard a truck pull up outside. I frowned turning to look, everything had me suspicious today, dad however never looked up from his job at hand. The minute I saw who walked up I shook my head.
"Man shit just got real," I said laughing hugging my Uncle Rico. He wasn't a real uncle but he and my dad went back to mechanic school. Dad had given him control of the first shop he had ever opened years ago.
"What can I say I'm a man of many talents." I laughed knowing that dad wasn't leaving any second chances for the guys who had been at the house last night. If Rico was here some shady shit was about to happen.
Dad stood up shaking his head, "man you look like shit."
Rico walked forward catching his hand in his, "shit what are you talking about I look better than your ass."
I shook my head at all the egos in the shop but then again found it kinda amusing because that's where I got mine from. "So ya'll going to tell me what the two of you have up your sleeves."
Rico shook his head, "this is grown folks business son."
I rolled my eyes, "yeah well I have some grown folk business of my own if you have the time later. I hadn't thought about it but Rico would be able to find out who this Franklin was and how to find him easy enough. It might take some time but it would be easier than trying to drag it out of Willow who wanted to clam up every time I mentioned it.
"You know I got you," he said. "Now go tell your momma I expect supper and when me and your dad get done I'll come see what other mess you done got yourself into."
I snorted, "ok if she feeds you leftovers don't say a thing."
Walking in the house I found mom in the living room curled up on the couch reading. "Uh yeah Uncle Rico, not me, says he expects supper."
Momma rolled her eyes, "he can expect an ass-whooping."
I snorted, "I pretty much told him."
She laughed, "he is so stupid I swear." Sighing she looked up at me, "is Willow ok, she looked kinda upset when she left."
I shrugged, "she's worried about her aunt. She's been spending so much time with me she feels as if she has abandoned her."
Mom shook her head, "I know it has to be hard on her, I can't imagine. I know how hard it was to lose Gran and Gramps." Mom grew silent for a minute before she looked up at me, "so just how serious are ya'll?"
"I'm not about to ask her to marry me if that is what you are hoping for, " I said sitting down beside her. "I like her but I don't really know how she feels. Half the time I feel like she is still running."
Mom nodded, "your dad was a runner."
I couldn't help but laugh, "that's because you was crazy as hell mom. I mean can you blame him."
She reached out swatting at me, "I am not crazy young man. She has a lot going on, give her time."
I nodded, "all I have is time."
"She is special isn't she?"
I nodded leaning back, "that she is. She's a special pain in my ass."
Mom laughed, "ugh I can't stand you."
I shrugged, "cause I act just like my dad or just like you?"
"You remind me so much of your dad it's insane," mom said shaking her head, "but I admit you have me in there too."
I leaned back watching mom, "so can I put in my request for tonight?"
Mom nodded, "sure can cause you and your dad was going to grill steak so boom."
I rolled my eyes, "you are so lame mom. Jesus I see where Presley and Harper get it from."
It bothered me that I had been sent in the house like a little kid and a big part of me wanted to march my ass outside and stand there daring them to send me away again. The problem was I knew they both would and I didn't have time to listen to both of them. Sighing I got up and went to the kitchen walking out onto the back porch.
Pulling out a cigarette I had just lit up when Rico walked around the corner. "So not only do I have to clean up your dad's mess which is kinda your mess you got some work for me too nephew."
I shrugged, "yeah, so you know the story, theres this girl..."
Rico laughed, "there's always a girl Maddox."
I glanced over at him, "fucking pain in the asses."
He shrugged, "so what's the problem?"
Words just began spilling out of my mouth as I told him about Willow and her problem. I told him as much as I knew which as I spoke didn't sound like it was enough to go on but after Rico asked me more questions, took notes, I realized I did have at least a beginning. I wondered if he would be able to track down Franklin.
"I don't want you to handle Franklin," I said, "I just want you to find him. I can handle him."
Rico nodded, "I'll get all the info I can. It shouldn't be too hard, guys like him stick out like a sore thumb. You can bet her dad isn't the only one he is funding."
I snorted, "I don't know her dad is probably funding their whole operation."
Dad walked outside handing Rico a beer, "man we've been put on cooking duty. You grilling or am I?"
I looked over at Rico and he understood I didn't want to talk about Franklin in front of my dad. I'm sure he figured that's why I would want to talk to him but I felt like I needed to handle Franklin on my own. My dad wouldn't be there forever and I wanted to be just as great as he was for my own kids one day.
Frowning I realized I had just imagined my life with kids, little freaking read headed kids. Willow, she was wearing me down. If she only knew the power she held over me I would be done for.
Pulling my phone out I ignored dad and Rico argue over who was the better bbq'r and text Willow. She had been gone a while and I was starting to worry.
It took a few minutes but she responded, "chemo was rough on her today. She's feeling pretty bad. Will you be mad if I stay here tonight?"
I let out a breath but knew I couldn't be mad at her, "no you do what you need to do. Tell her if she doesn't get to feeling better I'm going to come bother her."
Willow sent laughing faces, "she told me she was going to pray on that right now."
I smirked at the phone pushing it into my pocket watching as Harper and Presley came out from the house with mom to sit down. It was interesting sometimes just sitting back watching everyone. You could learn a lot.
Mom must be into some new book because she was still reading on her phone as she sipped on some drink she had mixed up. Harper had her earpods in listening to music ignoring everyone. And Presley, well that girl had a major crush on Rico. No one knew it but me. It wasn't that she admitted it to me. You could read it all over her face. He was old enough to be her dad but that didn't stop her from staring at him, she would laugh at every little thing he said, it was kinda annoying but amusing at the same time. I didn't' get how everyone else didn't pick up on it. Maybe they did and chose to ignore it.
As the night moved on we sat outside under the stairs and ate, then drank listening to music as dad and Rico told old stories. They were both pretty damn wild in their youth, you would actually think they were brothers as alike as they were. Mom had put her phone down and was sitting beside me shaking her head as Rico talked about the first time mom walked into the shop and Dad about killed everyone for staring at her.
Mom shook her head looking over at me, "none of this is true, just so you know."
I nodded making a face at her, "I mean it sounds pretty true to me."
It felt good to just relax and let lose. The only thing missing was Willow. I knew she hadn't liked staying so far away from her aunt so I decided to move back into the shop tomorrow. Here had only been temporary. At least back at the shop she was only a couple of minutes away versus the 30 we were out here.
Like a love sick schoolboy I pulled out my phone, "I miss you Red."
She replied immediately, "call me that again and you'll be back in the hospital."
Smiling I took a sip of my beer and looked out at my family. Was this what happily ever after looked like? How could something so wrong have turned out so right?