“Stop with the what-ifs. What if we all die tomorrow? What if aliens come down and take over all of our bodies? What if this is someone else’s reality, and we’re all part of a game they’re playing.”
She shook her head and laughed. “You’re an idiot.”
“Never said I wasn’t. Come on. I’ll take you home. Unless you want to go for a drink?”
“I can’t go home or go for a drink. I have to go to my kitchen and prepare for tomorrow. And I should wait to see if your guy can fix my truck before the weekend. If he can’t fix it, my regulars will be disappointed. They’ll go somewhere else, and I’ll lose customers. If I bake for tomorrow, but can’t open, then that’s a waste of ingredients and a waste of time and money.”
My hands were still curved around her shoulders, and I gave a gentle squeeze. “Willow, take a breath. Stop spiraling. No matter what it takes, you’ll get your truck back tomorrow. And if you don’t, we’ll figure something out. We can drag a table out here. You can sell your muffins along with regular coffee.”
“No buts. Remember what I said? This isn’t just about helping you. It’s also about making sure I can get through the day without firing Josie for being a cow, as well as making sure I don’t get into a fistfight with my brothers over our business. I need your coffee. It makes the world a safer place.”
Her shoulders relaxed, and laughter filled her eyes. “You’re lying, but, okay fine, whatever.”
We sat at one of the tables by the truck and waited for my mechanic.
I wanted to know everything about her, but I also had to tread carefully. Willow wasn’t the kind to give up information easily. There wasn’t much about her online other than a few Snack Attack social media pages.
Everything she posted was about her business, nothing personal. It was like she didn’t have a past. Like she hadn’t existed until a few years ago.
“Why did you open a food truck instead of a coffee shop?” I asked. “There’s plenty of empty stores around here.”
“I like the freedom it gives me. I like that I don’t have to be in one spot all the time. If I want to, I can move on in a heartbeat.”
“Why would you move on?”
“Oh, you know, boredom. Not staying in one place for too long. What’s the saying? Familiarity breeds contempt.”
If I had my way, and I would, she wasn’t going anywhere.
Before we could continue our conversation, my mechanic arrived. After some hemming, hawing and jaw rubbing, he said there was something up with the compression, but he could have the truck back by lunchtime tomorrow.
“Lunchtime works,” Willow said, visibly relieved. “I’ll set up a table like you suggested for the morning rush.” She reached across the table and placed her hand on top of mine before snatching it away like she’d touched acid. “Thanks. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
“You can repay me by coming to the ball as my date.”
“That’s not playing fair.” With a shake of her head, she pursed her lips and crossed her arms. “If I didn’t know better, I would think you’d planned all of this. One way or another, you’re going to get me to go to that damn ball with you, aren’t you?”
She blew out the longest breath I’d ever heard and threw her hands up. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but okay, Evan, I’ll go to the ball with you. I guess I have to get all fancied up.”
I resisted the urge to punch the air in victory. “You’re fancy enough.”
“Yeah, super fancy. Somehow I don’t think a tank top, jeans, and beat-up Converse is the right look for a ball.” She pulled her phone from the back pocket of her jeans and pressed the Uber app. “As fun as this has been, I have to go to my kitchen and prep for tomorrow.”
“Don’t call an Uber. I’ll drive you.”
She lowered her phone and half-smiled. “Why do I have a feeling I’m going to regret saying yes to you?”
“OCD much?” I nodded toward an ultra-organized shelf filled with Tupperware containers that were meticulously labeled and lined up by size.
She gathered ingredients and set them in front of an industrial-sized mixer. “I like to keep my stuff in order. Anyone who rents this place is given a shelf to store their dry goods, but the equipment is for everyone’s use. There’s a place for everything and everything in its place. My gramps always said that.” With a careful eye and a practiced hand, she began measuring ingredients. “But I think Benjamin Franklin said it first.”
“Tell me about your gramps.” From the way her voice warmed when she spoke about him, it was obvious he meant a great deal to her.