Rico and I had left Daltons and headed straight for the airport. Neither one of us had thought we would luck out and get both jobs done in one night but doing so allowed us to fly right back to Dallas. I would be home by noon tomorrow if I was lucky.
On the plane I shared my concerns with Rico that Dalton might retaliate. I wasn’t worried what he would do to me but what if he came after Willow. Or what of all this did was rile him up even more. Rico told me to stop making problems where there was none and to leave it to him. I knew he was trying to keep me as clean as possible but I hated being pushed aside.
Rico must have sensed my aggravation because he looked over at me shaking my head. “Maddox there is a point in all of this where you have to take a step back to protect your family.”
“What about yours?”
He shook his head, “people don’t care about ex wife’s. Why do you think I keep Isabella such a secret to anyone but close friends.”
I shrugged, honestly I just assumed that Rico didn’t know what to do with a preteen daughter and let her stay with her mother as much as possible. “I’m sorry man I just...wait what am I apologizing for.”
Rico snorted, “I don’t have much to lose Maddox, you do.”
I nodded, “you ever think of getting remarried?”
Shaking his head Rico laughed, “fuck no.”
“You know dad said that exact thing?”
Rico laughed, “look I don’t know what kind of white shit your dad had going on, and I love your momma, but we don’t do that shit in my side of town.”
Rolling my eyes I elbowed him, “I’m not talking about that and you damn well know it.”
“I’m too old Maddox, I don’t have the time to chase after any female.”
I laughed, “man there are plenty who all your have to do is whistle. I mean I know of one personally.”
Rico looked down at me but didn’t speak any further. It was killing me not to flat out ask him if he saw the same thing I did with Presley. I had hoped al of my joking around would cause him to spill that he knew. Looking over at him I couldn’t help but shake my head. He wasn’t ready for Presley. It probably was a good thing he lived in a complete opposite town, hours away.
Landing in Dallas Rico and I parted ways. I was tired as hell but I was ready to be home. I was ready to pull Willow into my arms. Heading home I debated what if anything I should tell her. She would find out about Franklin, but what about Dalton? If he did as I asked he would be nothing more than a blimp I’m the past.
It was close to one when I pulled up at the shop and if I would have had to drive another hour I would have had to pull over and rested. I didn’t even bother going in the shop and seeing dad. Instead, I took the back entrance in and sent Willow a text that I was now home. I stayed up long enough to take the quickest shower of my life then I went and got my ass in the bed.
The sun was setting as I opened my eyes, I guess I had been sleeping pretty hard because Willow was now tucked in close beside me. Closing my eyes I leaned down inhaling her shampoo before kissing her forehead. Everything I’d been doing lately had been for her and it kinda scared me. Me, Mr. don’t get attached, Mr. never going to settle down. I had become everything I had sworn not to be.
What was it about her that had made me change my ways so fast. It wasn’t like the change was gradual, no it was quicker than I could blink my eye at. This was what dad had warned me about. This was exactly the way dad had described falling down mom. Well not exactly but that’s beside the point.
Willow stretched as I ran a hand lightly over her arm. As she slowly opened her eyes I had expected maybe a smile, her to snuggle up closer to me, not for her to smooth punch me in the shoulder. I sat up watching as she got out of bed like a wild cat. “Willow what the fuck, that hurt.”
She was still shaking the hand she has hit me with, “good you dumb ass. Do you know what you’ve done?”
I opened my mouth and then closed it. I didn’t know exactly what part of what I’d done she was referring too. Willow crossed her arms, “Franklin is so much bigger than you Maddox. You can’t just go in and...”
“Wait,” I said interrupting her, “what exactly did he say?”
Willow shook her head looking down, “he said we were square.” She looked back up and I could see the fear in her eyes, “Maddox it will take me years to be good with him. You can’t just...”
“I paid him off Willow,” I said walking toward her. “He meant what he said.
Willow looked up at me confused, “what? Why would you do that?”
I shrugged, “because I love you Willow. What upsets you upsets me. It’s my job to fix whatever I can.”
“I’ll pay you back,” she said looking up at me.
“No you won’t,” I said pulling her into my arms as she shook her head. “No, listen. Franklin and I have an agreement that you are no longer apart of this. If he is stupid enough to let your dad borrow money again you are out of it.”
Willow shook her head, “he would never agree to that.”
I smiled tight-lipped, “well he did. I gave him a little extra to sweeten the deal and he was more than happy to accept my offer.”
I watched as Willow sighed, “Maddox how much did you give him.”
“Enough,” she repeated, “what the fuck does that even mean.”
I wasn’t about to tell her the huge chunk of money I had just given up for her. “I gave him enough to leave you alone. Now promise me you won’t get caught back into your dad's shit.”
Willow looked down and for a second I was afraid she would refuse, “I promise you, Maddox.”
“I mean it Willow, I can't do that again.” I would but she didn’t need to know that. I needed her to stand up to her dad. I needed her to stand up for herself. I would always be here for her but I needed her to find some strength when it came to people using her.
Willow laid her head on my shoulder, “you didn’t have to do this Maddox. It’s too much.”
“I decide what’s too much Willow,” I said looking down at her. “I love you.”
She leaned in kissing me. "I love you too Maddox so much. I’ve just never had anyone do anything for me. Not like this."
"Well get used to it Willow. This is me, and I take care of what is mine. And you like it or not are mine."
Smiling Willow looked up at me, "I kind of like the sound of that."
Smoothing her hair out of her face I leaned down and kissed her again. "You have to be patient with me Willow. There is a lot of things I don't know. There is even more things we have to learn about each other but I want this to be your home."
"Home," Willow said leaning her head against my chest. "You are my home Maddox."
It was the second time I had but the idea in her head. Maybe if I said it enough times to her it would stick. I loved her and I was afraid of losing her. Was this my Karma? Sometimes I thought it was fate, giving me something only waiting to take it away. A part of me still thought I would be punished in this life. I had been an asshole to so many girls. I had never thought it would be possible to settle down. But then this little fiery headed girl walked into my life and things had never been the same.
Leaning down I kissed her, "So, you never did tell me how much you missed me when I was gone."
Willow rolled her eyes, "Miss you? Why would I miss you?"
I cut my eyes at her only to laugh as she threw herself in my arms. "Just so you know I'm super cranky in the morning and if you run out of soda I'll be a bitch until you bring me some more."
I snorted, "tell me something I don't know."