Home > When We Met(7)

When We Met(7)
Author: Shey Stahl

“Tilly,” I mock. My aunt means well, but she gossips too fucking much. Do not tell her anything unless you want everyone from your vet to your dentist knowing by noon. “See you at dinner on Sunday.”

“Oh, I know. You should ask out Serenity.”

I make a face. I’m sure it’s a disgusted one. “She’s seventeen.”

“Oh, well, she’ll be eighteen soon.”

I roll my eyes. “She’s unfuckably nice.”

“What does that mean?”

“If you don’t know, I’m not explaining it. I’m late.”

Story of my life. I have two little girls. I’m late to everything, all the time.

“Bye, Sev!” Tilly yells as I walk toward the door.

Sev waves to her, more concerned with the dog. “Bye, Lucifer.”

If you hadn’t guessed, the black lab that’s a permanent fixture at the bar, Sev renamed him.

Inside my truck again, I start it after buckling Sev in her seat. Holding my steamy coffee in hand, I think about wishing I could go back to bed, and Morgan. Why would he have left with Lillian? He’s fucking married. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s cheating. You get married, you made a vow, for better or worse. Morgan believes that shit, too, so why? Why would he have done that?

Maybe he hadn’t. Maybe he drove her home and that was it. Maybe… I don’t care.

Unfortunately for me, Lillian works at the shop. Bishop Repair is my dad’s business he gave to me when he realized the ranch was too much to handle doing both. I’ve been working there since I was fourteen and love turning wrenches.

What I don’t love is drama, and it always seems to find me.

“Play dat song I like!” Sev yells, motioning to my phone center console.

“What song?”

“Dat one I likes.”

I smile. She loves “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. Don’t know why because she thinks Marilyn Manson is the greatest singer in the world, but I’ll take anything over “Beautiful People” played so loud my ears ring later.

It’s five miles back to the shop, and for those fifteen minutes it takes us, I sing to my little girl.

Sev sways in her seat. “You’d the best singer, Daddy.”

I wink at her in the mirror. I can carry a tune, but I wouldn’t say I could have made a living out of it. Okay, I might have been able to be a country singer, but my life is on a ranch with two little girls who call me daddy and make me chase monsters for them. “I love you, darlin’.”

Her smile widens, my name for her and her sister always evoking that cheeky smile and the reason why this country town will always keep me here, regardless of the small-town rumors.

 

At the shop, Sev takes off into the office where she hangs out during the day. I don’t have a babysitter for them, and honestly, I like having them where I know what they’re doing.

Inside the shop, I run into Lillian first, trying to avoid her as I rip the repair orders off the counter and twist toward the door.

“Barron?” she calls out.

Fuuuuuck. I spin around on my heel to face her, regretting it instantly. I don’t like people crying. I have two girls, so it’s a daily occurrence, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me. They work me over with tears too. Get anything they want with a shake of their chin and glossy eyes. Don’t believe me? I stopped for that damn bear on my way here. Its dirty, limp body is sitting on Camdyn’s booster seat, waiting for her.

“Hey, mornin’ Lil,” Please don’t want to talk about it. I stare at her, waiting. She says nothing as she sips her coffee. “Well, I’ll be in the shop.”

“Hey,” she begins, and I cringe. I hate girl talk. It drives me crazy. Like I want to pull my hair out. Also, don’t confide in me. I don’t want to know things. I might tell someone, and I don’t want to be responsible for spreading rumors. You know I don’t like them.

I watch Lillian and know where this is heading by the heavy breath she takes in. She’s preparing to spill her girl guts to me. What I wouldn’t give to be back in that toddler bed staring at Marilyn Manson. That’s how much I enjoy talking about problems with women.

“Last night, Morgan and I were at the bar and—”

“I’m going to stop you there.” I hold up the repair order in my hand. “If this involves my brother’s dick, I’m out. There are some things I don’t want to know, and that’s one of them.”

She pauses for half a second, looks around for Sev, who is fully enthralled in a drawing of witches and Halloween, before blurting, “We slept together.”

I stare at her. Blankly. Hell, even Sev looks up from her drawing, shakes her head, and goes back to coloring. She has no clue what that means, but her expression is priceless. I drop my eyes to the repair orders. I think I swallow and shift my weight, maybe sigh, but I don’t know for sure. I’m counting the steps to the door, wishing I could take them and leave the conversation.

“Are you going to say something?”

I smirk and continue flipping through the orders. “No, but I bet his wife will.”

“Barron…” She starts hysterically crying. I mean, full-on goddamn sobs.

Stepping forward, I pat the top of her head. “Stop crying.”

“What am I going to do?”

“I don’t know, nor do I care. That’s between you two.”

Her face rearranges in anger that I won’t talk to her. “I just want someone to talk to.”

“Talk to Sev. I’m sure she’ll listen.”

Sev smirks, much like me. “I won’t.”

You’re starting to understand my little spooky-loving monster is a lot like me, aren’t you?

Lillian goes on to tell me that Morgan won’t return her calls this morning, and she’s worried. “I don’t have time for this. I have enough to worry about.” I level her a serious expression. “Yesterday, Camdyn googled Barbie sex. You fucking around with my brother is the least of my concerns this week.”

Her mouth falls open, and now it’s her turn to blink rapidly. Like how I threw that tid-fucking-bit of information on you too? That’s how I felt when I looked at her damn iPad and found that. I’ve yet to ask Camdyn about it because, yeah, I’d like to avoid that conversation.

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