Odd. The only morning Willow had missed since she’d taken over the spot was when her truck was with my mechanic. The hunk of junk had probably broken down again. I would talk to her about getting a new one. I was happy to pay for it, but she was a proud woman and would turn my offer down. If I disguised a new truck as me investing in her business, she might agree.
I dug my phone from my jeans and dialed her number, but the call went straight to voicemail. I shot her a text asking if the truck had broken down and to call if she needed help.
I glanced at the time and saw I was late for the meeting. I hurried across the park and into the building.
The atmosphere in the boardroom sucked ass. Cade’s sour face let me know I didn’t want to know what was going on with him. I didn’t care because I had other things on my mind like why Willow hadn’t called or texted me back.
Noah strolled in late as usual. He acknowledged me with a nod and asked, “Where’s your coffee?”
“The truck wasn’t there.” I shot him a look warning him not to ask any more questions.
“Can we start?” Cade asked, sounding as impatient as I felt. “I don’t have all day to sit around dealing with this crap. I have stuff of my own I need to take care of.”
No shit, Sherlock.
During the meeting, Noah announced he was going to ask Aubrey to marry him. It looked like two of the James brothers had found the woman they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with.
Both Cade and I warned him to be careful because Josie was on the warpath and out for blood. I told him that since her department fell under my responsibility, I would have a word with her.
When we were done, I went to my office to gather some documents for my brothers to sign. After that, I planned to find Willow. A quick look from my office window showed that her truck still hadn’t arrived.
A few seconds later, Josie sauntered into my office. I knew I needed to talk to her, but I wasn’t in the mood to deal with her shit yet.
She eyed me from beneath her glasses. She’d taken to wearing them recently even though she had perfect vision.
The smirk on her face and the glee in her eyes told me she had some information I probably didn’t want to hear.
She perched on the edge of the chair opposite my desk. “We haven’t had a chance to talk since the ball. Did you have a good time?”
“It was fine,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “You’ve been to one ball, you’ve been to them all.” She made a show of picking specks of dust from her skirt. “Did Willow enjoy herself?” She didn’t wait for an answer before continuing. “I noticed her truck wasn’t there this morning.”
“It might have broken down again, but I can’t get a hold of her to ask.”
“I know you usually read The Post with your first cup of coffee. There’s an interesting piece about you and Willow.” She tilted her head to the side and grinned. “What’s it like dating a criminal?”
I couldn’t stop my eyes from widening. “What?”
“From the expression on your face, you didn’t know. Poor baby. Willow was in prison for armed robbery.”
Beginning to feel resentful of Josie breathing the same air as me, I said, “Please leave. I’m sure your cauldron needs tending to.”
She stood and eyed me with a giddy expression that left me sick to my stomach. “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
After Josie flounced out of my office, I slammed the door.
Willow didn’t talk much about her past other than mentioning her gramps now and again. I figured that was because she’d had a hard time and would open up to me eventually.
Apprehension dried my mouth, and my fists clenched. I didn’t want to read the article, but I needed to because I guessed it had something to do with Willow not showing up with her truck.
I clicked on the news app and scanned until I came to a picture of Willow and me with our arms around one another at the ball.
The first line of the article asked who Willow Sanders was. Then it went into detail about how at age fifteen, she’d held a gun to a doctor’s head in front of his kids and wife and had then served time at a secure juvenile detention facility.
There were quotes from people saying she was bad news, that she was a drug addict, and nothing but a filthy criminal.
A quote from Willow’s mom said her daughter was born a troublemaker. They hadn’t spoken in years and never would.