Willow and I were out grocery shopping again.
"Wheat or white bread?" she mused.
"Wheat," I said immediately. "If you're going to make me eat all that food, the least you could do is give me something halfway healthy."
"Oh, stop complaining," she said. "If anything, you've lost weight since you started working with us."
I chuckled. I liked being friends with Willow. We still insulted each other as much as possible but the air was lighter and her physical stance was more relaxed. I knew mine was, too. That was, just about until we went down the cereal aisle. Willow was looking at the list app on her phone but looked up when she heard my groan.
Five reporters were rushing towards us. My mouth dropped open as I gripped the grocery cart. It was too late to run and I had a feeling they had been following us since we got in the store. I quickly thought back to see if we had done anything embarrassing but we were in the clear. They were all talking at the same time and we both sighed wearily.
"One at a time will make this harassment go by a lot quicker," Willow snapped.
"What are you doing here?" one reporter asked.
"What does it look like?" I snapped. "Grocery shopping."
"Nathaniel Banker is grocery shipping?" the reporter said.
"Next," Willow said, turning to a woman.
"Is it true that you moved in at the Turner Ranch?" she asked.
I did some quick thinking. Tell the truth or lie? I looked over at Willow but she didn't seem to have an answer, either. I sighed.
"Yes," I said with my back straight.
They all gaped at me, clearly expecting me to deny it.
"Why did you take him in?" the same reporter asked Willow.
"Why does it matter?" she snapped.
"Just tell them," I whispered and she sighed.
"He needed help getting back on his feet," she said irritably. "So, my father and I are doing just that."
The third reporter elbowed his way forward. "There are rumors that you hit Matthew Larson. Can you confirm or deny them?"
"Oh for fuck's sake!" Willow shouted.
So that's his last name.
"If he wants to pretend I hit him then he can do that all he wants," I said smoothly. "Let me guess: he's the one that told you how to find me."
None of them spoke for a second. Then the fourth one came up. I recognized her as the one from the museum.
"Are you two still in a relationship?" she asked.
"We never were," I snapped. "That's a bullshit lie my parents and sister Polly spread to defame me."
"Sure it was," she said with a smirk. "If you're not in a relationship, then why are you shopping together?"
I laughed derisively. "Seriously? I'm helping her and her father; that includes with the grocery shopping. Are you really as dumb as you were at the museum?"
She flushed but was saved by the final reporter. His question was for Willow.
"How far along are you in the pregnancy with Brandon Charles?" he asked and she shook her head.
"I'm not pregnant." Then her eyes glinted mischievously and I narrowed mine. "I'll tell you one thing about Mr. Charles, though." They moved closer and she leaned in. "There's only one way to get him up: I won't go into details, but I will say that it requires having to dress up like Richard Simmons." Their jaws dropped and I tried to hold in my laughter. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we have some shopping to do."
We pushed past them and, when we were out of earshot, I bent over the car and erupted into laughter. She chuckled and got out a gallon of milk.
"You're not supposed to lie to the press," I snorted.
"I couldn't resist," she laughed. "He and I never even had sex. If he wants to spread rumors that we did, then he'll have to deal with the consequences." We laughed some more then she turned pink. "Actually, it's been a while."
"Oh yeah?" I asked. "How long?"
She cleared her throat, blushing more.
"I need some more Sprite," she said and we pushed on.
When we were done shopping, I helped her load the car.
"You're going to be in so much trouble," Aaron said when we got back but he was laughing his ass off. "You're already on the news!"
"He brought it on himself," Willow said but she seemed proud of herself. "I'm afraid we'll have reporters on our land again."
He frowned. "Do you still have the check?"
"Yep. It's tucked away somewhere safe."
"Good. We'll see if the Bankers plan on taking us seriously."
"I wonder what they'd say if they found out it was you who hit Matt, not me," I mused while we all sat on the couch, watching the news report.
I yawned and checked the time.
"I'm going to take a quick nap before dinner."
"Sleep well," they said in unison and I smiled as they popped open their cans and drank from them at the same time.
They were so much alike it was startling. I wondered if they knew that.
I went upstairs and climbed into bed, yawning again. I rolled on my back and thought about earlier. Mostly I thought about what Willow said about not having sex in a while. I frowned. Why was I so interested in her sex life? Then I realized it had been a while since I had sex, too. For some reason, I wondered what it would be like to kiss Willow and shook myself.
Then I thought about the news report. What would my family do when they saw that news report?
I sighed. They cut me off and kicked me out of my house; there wasn't much more they could do.
Or so I thought.
"You need to come downstairs," Aaron said grimly, waking me from my nap.
I rubbed my eyes and did as he said. I followed him. Willow was hitting her forehead on the wall.
"Shit. Fuck. Shit. Damn it. Fucker."
I frowned and Aaron handed me a formal letter. I read it over and my jaw dropped.
"They're suing me!?" I yelled. "For what!? I don't have anything!"
"Not just you," Aaron sighed. "They're suing Willow, too."
"Why?" I demanded.
"Slander," she grumbled, still hitting her head on the wall and swearing under her breath.
"We didn't say anything about my parents, though," I said slowly.
"They must be working with Brandon," Aaron said, making Willow sit down. "Don't worry you two. We have a damn good lawyer."
I shook my head, tossing the packet on the table.
"They're not really going to sue us, Aaron," I sighed and they both stared at me. "They've pulled this shit before. It's an intimidation tactic. I'll bet they're feeding it to the media, too, so it will cause an even bigger scandal." I rolled my eyes. "They got it out here quickly."
"So we just ignore it?" Aaron asked.
"Yep," I said.
Willow still looked upset when we heard whinnying from the barn. She jumped to her feet, staring with wide eyes.
"Dad, what day is it?"
"The twenty- Oh man!"