My mother was quiet as she watched me walk. Then she stared at Evie. “Evie, I appreciate all you’ve done. Now please, take the rest of the day off. We’ve got it from here. Actually, take the weekend. We’ll see you Monday.”
I turned to look at Evie, practically pleading with my eyes for her to stay.
“I honestly have nothing else going on today, Mrs. Garner-Willoughby,” she said. “I can stay with him.”
“You’re off until Monday,” my mother said, her voice deep and forceful. “I’m sure your parents miss you. Why don’t you go home for a few days?”
My parents followed me inside as Evie stood in the driveway watching. I knew she didn’t have a choice. My mother called the shots and made the rules, and she made damn sure everyone knew that.
The moment we got inside, the slamming of her car door and the buzzing of her engine as she drove away told me she was gone.
I waved to Caroline and Arthur as they followed Julian inside, but my gesture went unreturned. I shrugged it off. I had to. I needed that job. I needed them to like me. I wanted to be around Julian, and I was quite sure he needed to be around me.
I pulled into my parents’ driveway a short time later. “Home sweet home.”
“Evie, is that you?” my father called from the living room before getting up to greet me.
“Look who’s home,” my mother said in her cheeriest voice. “I feel like we haven’t seen you in months.”
“It’s been a couple weeks, I know,” I said as she wrapped her arms around me.
“You need to call your mother more,” my father suggested as his hand rested on my shoulder. “Every night she talks about you, and we wonder how you're doing, but we leave you alone because we know you’re busy working with the Garner-Willoughby boy.”
“That’s right,” my mother chimed in. “I keep wanting to call you every day to talk about how things are going, but I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
“So, how goes it?” my father asked, stroking his thick, dark mustache.
“I love it,” I said with a smile as I thought about Julian. “He’s great. A little challenging at times, a little misunderstood, a little lonely, a little confused…”
A thousand words could describe him, and it would never fully paint a picture of Julian Garner-Willoughby.
The smell of cinnamon rolls wafted down the hall, waking me from my peaceful slumber Sunday morning.
“Evie,” my mom called from the kitchen. “Come eat. We’re having rolls before church. You’re going to church with us, right?”
I dragged myself out of bed. It was barely eight o’clock and my mom was as awake as ever, chatting away with anyone within a ten-foot radius.
“Where’s Alexa?” I asked as I shuffled into the kitchen.
“Oh, she has a new boyfriend,” my mom said, rolling her eyes. My parents exchanged looks as my father looked up from behind his newspaper.
“What’s that look for?” I asked them.
“Your father has strong feelings about this one, that’s all,” my mother answered, squinting at him.
“He has strong feelings about all of them,” I said, pulling a plate down from the cupboard.
“I’m going to trust he keeps these feelings to himself this time,” my mother said as she poured cinnamon icing over the steaming hot rolls.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Oh, goodness,” my mom said. “I don’t even remember this one’s name.”
“Dad, who’s the boy Alexa’s seeing?” I asked. My father couldn’t lie. It was his best strength and his worst weakness all at the same time.
“It’s Spencer’s younger brother, Slater,” he sighed unhappily as he folded the paper and put it down on the table. My father strongly disliked Spencer, which meant he automatically disliked any and all other men bearing the Goodwin name.
No wonder Alexa hadn’t told me. She knew I’d have warned her that they’re nothing but a bunch of heartbreakers.
Alexa and I