Anyone But Him 2: Maddox

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The next day I was sitting on the counter up front of the shop trying to convince mom to cook for me tonight. I had my best puppy dog face on when the door dinged and in walked Willow. She made a face looking at me and I couldn't help but smirk at her.

Willow had paused at the door and I could tell she was hesitant to walk toward me. Amused I focused on her enjoying that I could make her nervous even through her hard shell. Mom hit my arm making my jump, "Maddox get your ass off the counter your not exactly the welcome sign we need people to see first thing.

Willow snorted as I jumped down, "I'd bring me more business."

"More like scare them away," Willow muttered loud enough for me to here.

Mom either pretended to not hear her or just flat out ignored her as she turned to grab her keys and paperwork. Walking around the counter I sat down not about to abandon my quest of getting my mom to cook for me tonight. Willow refused to look at me which only amused me more. I mean she could at least thank me for buying her lunch yesterday.

"I know Blaine called you this morning and told you what he found wrong with the car and what he did to fix it. He said you would need payment arrangements?"

Willow's entire face went red and her eyes looked my direction. I suddenly got very interested in my phone. "Yes, I...I feel horrible about it. I know your husband cut me a really good deal. This move was harder on me than I thought it would be and..."

"It's ok Willow it happens to all of us at some point in our life. We normally require you to at least pay 30 percent down. Can you do 240?"

From the corner of my vision I saw Willow pale. Looking down at her phone she was silent for several seconds. "I umm...yeah...yeah...."

Mom frowned, "Willow if that's too much tell me. I mean I understand I do. It's not like I don't know where to find you."

Willow let out a breath, "I can pay you a hundred today. I'll try to come up with the rest soon."

It was clear Willow was flustered. I watched as she pulled twenties out of her purse. I wondered why she just didn't ask her aunt for the money. Surely she didn't' move down here without any money. Something told me there was more to the story but I knew she wasn't about to sit here and tell us.

Willow refused to even look my direction as mom drew up the paperwork for her to sign. Even as she signed the agreement to make monthly payments I could tell her hands were shaking. It wasn't that much money overall, dad had only charged her 800 and all mom had asked her to pay was 50 every two weeks. It was the best deal I'd ever seen mom make. She was usually stricter than dad was about those things.

Handing over the paperwork mom glanced down at me, "her car is in the back do you want to pull it around for her?"

"If it means you're cooking pasta for me tonight," I said smiling up at her.

Mom groaned, "Maddox I swear to God. Fine now get your ass outback and bring this poor girl her car."

Willow glanced over at me amused I'm sure at me getting yelled out. Making my way through the garage to the back I wondered exactly what was going on in Willow's life. She had said she had moved down here to help take care of her sick aunt but something just didn't sit right with her. I mean yes her aunt was sick, maybe I was overthinking. Maybe Willow just needed help.

Unlocking Willow's car I looked around as I cranked it for any signs of who Willow really was. Her car was by no means fancy but it wasn't a wreck like her Aunts Orange Honda. Willow's car was a white Nissan Altima that had about 5 or 6 years on her. The inside held little clues about Willow. In fact it held nothing but some loose pennies rolling around in the cupholder.

As I pulled around front I saw Willow standing with her arms crossed by the door. I didn't bother parking the car in a spot just stopped in front of the door. Getting out I saw that Willow was still refusing to look up at me. "Are you ok?"

She nodded her head glancing up momentarily, "yeah I just have a lot on my mind I'm sorry."

I shrugged stepping to the side watching as she approached her car. "You didn't have to buy my lunch yesterday you know."

"You're welcome, "I said watching as she sat down in the driver's seat adjusting the settings.

"I'm not a charity case you know."

I looked down at her confused, "Willow I never said you were."

She shook her head, "I guess bye."

She slammed her car door shut before I even had time to say anything to her. She drove off leaving me looking after her wondering what exactly I had done to piss her off.

"Is it possible that you have finally found one girl who isn't blinded by you?"

I turned seeing Presley walking up. "Shut the fuck up Presley."

She laughed, "I mean I find it refreshing. I don't see what girls see in your ass anyways."

I rolled my eyes at her, "it's not my fault that all your little friends like me."

Presley stopped walking, "and if you ever even try to talk to any of them I promise you that I'll make your life a living hell."

I snorted opening the door letting her walk in first, "you already do that so you'll have to come up with something better."

Mom looked up from the counter, "if you want me to cook you're the one going to the grocery store."

I made a face at her, "seriously, do you not have what you need at home? Call Harper, or make Presley go"

Presley made a face at me as Mom sighed, "Maddox Alexander stop being so damn lazy and do what I said."

Grabbing the note from her I shrugged, "well you can tell dad why I'm missing."

"Baby you've been up front with me for an hour I know don't you think he knows you've gone rogue."

Shaking my head I started walking, "doubt it. He hasn't come looking for me yet."

Heading to the grocery store I had already decided that I wasn't going back to the shop. Instead I'd grab what mom needed and head to her house. It was around 3:30 so I knew she wouldn't stick around the shop much longer anyways.

Her list of things she needed was simple but still I didn't know where half of it was and I found myself roaming aimlessly around the store. Hitting a corner I about ran slap into Willow. "Damn girl."

She looked up at me taking a step back. "You really need to watch where you are going."

Looking down I saw she had a prescription bag in her hand. She must have come here to get her Aunt's pills from the pharmacy in the back of the store. "Same applies to you."

Willow looked up at me, "I have to go."

"Ok," I said stepping to the side, "don't let me stop you."

"You wish," she mumbled passing me.

I started to say something back to her but decided it wasn' worth my time. She was obviously in a worse mood than normal. Probably still embarrassed from earlier. I shook her off and continued on my way to grab the rest of the things I needed.

That night mom cooked a huge pot of cajun shrimp pasta and everyone showed up. Harper still lived at home but it was rare that Presely and I showed up on the same nights. I had to admit even though everyone was giving everyone else a hard time it was nice to sit down as a family again.

Mom had her hands full with all of us and dad wasn't much better. The only kid she had that was anything like her was Harper. The two of them usually just shook their heads at the rest of us as we argued about any and everything.

Feeling my phone vibrate I pulled it out seeing it was Rosalyn. She had been blowing my phone up ever since I had stayed the night with her. I had known it would happen, it always happened with her. Sighing I blocked her number. I just couldn’t keep dealing with her.

Seeing dad get up from the table I followed him out onto the back deck. Pulling out my cigarettes I stuck in win my mouth before I offered him one. He just shook his head watching as I lit up. “You know you really need to stop.”

I snorted, “like you don’t ever smoke.”

Dad arched his brow at me, “I smoke when I need to think. You smoke like a fucking train.”

“Maybe I have a lot on my mind,” I said leaning against the rail.

Dad walked down the steps heading to the back shed. “You need to talk?”

I shook my head following behind him. “No. I can handle my own.”

Dad glanced over his shoulder at me but didn’t say anything. I knew if anyone would understand me it would be him. As much as I hated to admit it we were cut from the same fabric. He understood things no one else could.

“I have a race tomorrow night,” I said casually.

Dad nodded, “I’ve checked your car, everything is good. You didn’t fuck it up too bad. Raliegh touched up the paint this afternoon.”

Nodding I looked over at him, “the Nissan is ready but I don’t like how it shifts.”

Dad shrugged, “it's you that has to drive it. You know I don’t like either of them.”

I laughed, “don’t stay out here too late. I need to go, I’m fucking tired.

“If your stop fucking with those little groupies you’d get some sleep.” Dad said pulling his toolkit down.

“Wait I know you aren’t trying to give me advice on girls,” I said.

Dad raised his eyes looking at me, “you’ve heard the expression been there done that. There isn’t much I haven’t done son.”

I made a face at him, “well obviously.”

Dad laughed chunking a rag at me. “Get the hell on before I make you fix this damn lawnmower.”

Smiling I walked out into the night a little more relaxed than I had been earlier. Mom was walking toward me so I nodded toward the shop. “He never sleeps does he.”

She smiled, “he likes to keep his mind busy.

"Really I thought that's what you were for." I laughed as mom cut her eyes at me flipping me off as she passed me.

I sighed getting in my truck seeing I needed to go get gas. It was already getting late and I knew it could wait but at the same I just wanted to get it over with. Pulling up at the gas station I hoped out paying at the pump leaning against my truck watching as the numbers quickly began to spin.

Looking up I saw Willow's car pulling in the pump across from me. The damn girl was showing up everywhere. I don't know if she didn't see me or if she was just ignoring me but I heard her talking on the phone. "I promised I'd pay you didn't I. Just leave him alone."

I wondered who she was talking about. I heard her slide her card only to let out a breath. "Shit."

Willow obviously had some major money troubles. Did they stem behind whoever "he" was? Deciding to speak before she noticed me across from her I peeked my head around the pump. "I'm beginning to think you are stalking me."

Willow looked up and I could tell she was distressed but at my words she gave me a small smile. "Oh yeah cause I don't have anything better to do than follow the biggest asshole in town around."

I shrugged turning as my pump clicked letting me know my truck was full. Putting the nozzle back up I noticed Willow was leaned over her seat and I saw her grab some bills looking up as if she was praying. She turned looking at me quickly gripping the bills in her hand.

"Why are you out so late?" I asked.

Willow looked down, a clear signal to me she was trying to come up with a lie. "I don't know Maddox why are you out so late?"

I smiled at her, "oh you know us town assholes have a full schedule."

She nodded, "yeah well have fun with that."

I watched as she walked toward the station to pay her pump. The girl was a walking mystery to me. For some reason I was determined to figure her out. Call it boredom, call it curiosity, something was up with that girl.

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