Shifts - NathanielMature

I had just passed around drinks when Willow - who we all agreed had way too much coffee - grabbed my arm and pulled me over.

"Selfie time!" she yelled and snapped a few pictures. "Come on, Dad!"

"Not again," he groaned. "I'm driving!"

She pouted through the rear view mirror and he sighed, relenting. He stuck his tongue out at the camera and she giggled.

"I am not taking a selfie with you," Matt said.

"Good 'cause I didn't want to take one with you anyway," she said and uploaded them to Facebook.

She whistled and, when I wasn't paying attention, slowly reached for the aux cord.

"No," I moaned. "Not that. Anything but that!"

She giggled and plugged her phone in. I shook my head with an amused smile as she turned on her Pandora. She bounced in her seat, singing along to some random EDM song and I thought to my phone call with Dr. Mack.

Little Bit was doing really well. She was playing with the other foals and acting just like she should. It made me feel a little better.

'Press Play Walk Away' came on and I tapped my foot, muttering the lyrics. Willow laughed triumphantly and shook me.

"I knew you liked this song!"

"Busted," I admitted sheepishly.

When it was time to switch, the smile faded from Willow's face and she groaned when Matt got out.

"He's an awful driver," she complained.

"He's an awful everything," I muttered, not thinking she'd hear me.

"Why don't you like him?" she whispered as he pulled back on the road.

"Because he's an asshole," I whispered back. "He treats you and your dad like dirt and uses you.

She stared. "No he doesn't...."

I arched a brow. "You feed his horse, his horse stays in your barn, he uses your ranch for practicing, you transport his horse in your trailer, and you use your gas. Has he paid you for any of that?"

She looked uncomfortable. "Well, we're just helping him out."

"And he still treats you like shit."

She frowned and glanced at him. "You really think he's using us?"

I sighed. "It's only my personal opinion, Willow. I just don't like seeing you and Aaron having to do extra work while he sits in the car on his phone."

Her expression was hard to read and I looked away, suddenly uncomfortable.

Willow was right about him being an awful driver. He swerved between cars and several times Willow hid her face.

"Please be okay, please be okay," she would mumble when that happened.

Every time we stopped, she'd run back to the horses to check on them and give them water. It freaked me out how he drove.

"Could you slow down a little?" I asked after a couple hours.

He glared at me through the mirror. "Don't tell me what to do, city boy."

"I'm not," I snapped. "But you're making me and Willow nervous."

"I'm not nervous," she lied and I glared at her.

"Worried I'll get in an accident and ruin your hair?" he taunted.

"No. I'm worried you'll get in an accident and hurt the horses!"

An uncomfortable silence filled the truck and Willow avoided my eyes. However, I did notice a significant drop in speed. In the passenger's side seat, Aaron finally felt safe enough to get some sleep.

"Let's play a game," Willow suggested.

"How old are you?" Matt snorted.

"What game?" I asked, ignoring him.

"It's one my dad and I play every year."

"And it's obnoxious," Matt grumbled.

Willow was digging around in her bag that she brought to the front with her. She pulled out a notebook and pen and handed it to me.

"I get car sick real easy," I whispered so Matt wouldn't hear. I didn't feel like fighting with him.

"That's okay, I'll write," she whispered back then spoke normally again. "We look out the window and try to see if we can find a license plate with each state on it."

"Let's add to it and try and guess the custom ones," I suggested and she nodded enthusiastically.

By the time Matt's six hours were up, we had found 30 of the 50 states and saw 14 custom license plates.

"My favorite was 'B1TCH91'," I laughed.

"Will you sit up front with me?" Willow asked quietly. "I don't want to be by Matt."

Aaron was already getting in her side and I nodded quickly. I walked around to the other side and Matt looked furious.

"Who's going to pass around the drinks now?" he demanded.

"You are," I said, buckling in and trying not to laugh at the look on his face.

We were still listening to Willow's Pandora and she put me in charge of liking or not liking songs.

"Be honest!" she said. "No thumbs downing good ones!"

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah. All right."

I yawned, having been awake for the whole ride.

"So, what happens when we get there?" I asked, accepting a Coke from Aaron and got a Sprite for Willow.

"We'll check in at the hotel," she answered, merging into the next lane smoothly and keeping one eye on the trailer. "They reserved a special spot for the competitors. Then we'll back the horses into the barn they've got. Which reminds me. Dad, don't forget we need to get a tag on our trailer."

"Yes ma'am," he said, saluting her.

"Then we'll sign in and the fun begins. Tomorrow is the competition and the next day is when the awards are announced and delivered."

"Sounds fun," I nodded.

"Please say I'm not sharing a room with him," Matt said and I groaned, throwing my head back and reaching my breaking point.

"What are you, a child!?" I yelled. "Why the fuck does it matter!?"

Matt just glared at his phone.

"Relax you two. We only got one room this year like usual," Aaron said.

"I'd rather sleep on the floor than share a bed with him," Matt snapped.

I shook my head wearily and turned back to look out the windshield.

"You all right?" I asked, seeing a weird look on Willow's face as I thumbs'ed down a song.

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine," she muttered. "Just tired. "The coffee's dying off."

I laughed. "Took it long enough."

"Shut up," she said, letting go of the wheel long enough to shove me.

The End

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