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Because of Low (Chapter Thirteen)

Marcus

Will ow had gone to take a shower. Apparently she'd put that off afraid I'd face Cage alone. The fact she'd stood between the two of us to protect me would be funny if it didn't piss me off a little. It made me want to go out and beat the shit out of someone so she could see I wasn't some spoiled rich kid who's never had a busted lip or black eye. She'd met Rock, Dewayne and Preston. Could she not tell I didn't exactly run around with the country club crowd? I flipped the last pancake and reached to get the butter out of the fridge.

"She moved her stuff. You make her do that?" Cage asked from behind me.

Guess we were going to get that private confrontation after all. I pulled out a stick of butter and turned around closing the door behind me.

"I didn't make her do anything."

Cage snarled and glanced back at my bathroom door. This was the first time she'd showered in my bathroom too.

Normally she used Cage's.

"Why Low? You could've had any damn chic in this town.

Why'd you have to go and mess with Low?" When he said stupid shit like that it made me question his belief she was special.

Sitting the butter down I reached for a knife to slice off some pats to put on our pancakes. Without looking back up at him for fear I'd lose my temper I responded, "You of all people should know how special she is. Girls like her aren't easy to find. From the moment I opened that door," I stopped slicing and looked up at him. I wanted him to see my face when I told him this. I needed him to believe me. "I knew she was going to get under my skin. Then the more I got to know her. The more I watched her and talked to her I wanted to get closer to her. And as much as you hate to hear this she wants to get close to me too." Cage let out a hard laugh and turned to go back to his bedroom. I went back to slicing the butter.

"I want to believe you won't hurt her. But I know you will. I'm going to stand back and let this play out. Because in the end, she'll come running back to me."

His door slammed behind him.

He was wrong. But I wasn't going to argue with him about it anymore. As long as he stood back and left us alone I was good. That was more than I could have hoped for.

I set the table and poured us both coffee adding some cream and sugar to Low's. I also placed a glass of orange juice beside her plate of pancakes. I wasn't sure if she liked coffee with her meal. I liked cold milk with my pancakes so I poured her a glass of that too.

The door to my bathroom opened and she stepped out dressed in the clothes she'd had on earlier but this time her hair hung damp and loose down her back. The ends curled just a little when wet. Her face was scrubbed clean of any makeup and she was beautiful. Big green eyes taking in the table then lifting to meet my appreciative gaze.

"Wow. That looks really good."

I pulled out her chair and waved my hand for her to have a seat. Giggling she made her way over and stopped right in front of me. Standing on her tip toes she kissed me softly then leaned back and whispered, "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

She slid into her seat and I pushed her chair in then walked over to my side and sat down.

"I don't think I've ever had a guy pull my chair out and push me to the table before. I always thought it would be kind of awkward but you made it look as smooth as it appears on television."

I smirked then reached for the syrup.

"I worked for Jax Stone for a few summers at his vacation house on the island. One of my jobs was serving their food.

I pulled his mother's chair out a million times." Her mouth made a small o shape.

"That's how you know Sadie then?"

I nodded and once again I was surprised that my chest didn't ache at the mention of Sadie's name. Damn if that didn't make me smile.

"Um, Marcus," she giggled and I looked up to see what was so funny.

"Why did you give me three drinks?"

This time I laughed and shrugged, "Wasn't sure what you'd want."

Will ow bit her bottom lip still smiling then reached for the milk.

"With sweet stuff, I like milk."

"I'll remember that."

Willow

I had to work tonight but Tawny called and asked me to watch Larissa for a couple of hours this afternoon. Marcus hadn't argued with me like Cage would have. He seemed to understand family craziness and gave me a ride over there. He'd made me promise to call him as soon as I was ready to leave. He was going job hunting today and he had a paper to write for one of his online courses. Leaving him was still hard. I was already addicted to him. Not exactly healthy behavior.

As usual Tawny was running late. She'd promised I'd have time to go home and change before work but it looked like I'd be going to work as is. Glancing at my phone for the tenth time in like five minutes I let out a frustrated growl.

Why couldn't she just call or text when she was running late?

The sound of gravel crunching under tires outside ended my frustration and I went to close Larissa's door so Tawny wouldn't wake her up from her nap. I'd go outside to call Marcus after I'd dealt with Tawny. I didn't want her listening in on our conversation.

Walking by the window I stopped. Instead of Tawny's piece of junk Ford Taurus there was a very expensive black car in the driveway. That couldn't be good. Turning around I went to the door expecting a knock when it opened and in walked my sister followed by an older guy. Much older.

"You can go now," Tawny said sauntering into the house and glancing at me as if I were the hired help.

"Um, okay," I stared back at the strange man. Was this her new sugar daddy? Whoever it was I was getting an introduction before I left. If Tawny was going to bring strange men around my niece I wanted to know who they were.

"I'm late and you've got work. Why're you just standing there?"

The man frowned slightly at Tawny and took a step toward me holding out his hand, "hello, I'm Jefferson." That's all I get? One name? What was he freaking Usher? I don't think so.

"Will ow, Tawny's sister," I replied shaking his hand as firmly as I could. A smile tugged at his lips and he was instantly familiar. How odd. I'd never met this man before. I studied his face carefully. What was it about him?

"Okay now you two have met. You can leave," the irritation in Tawny's voice was unmistakable. She didn't want me here. Well now I was curious. So too bad.

"Are you dating my sister?" I asked looking back up at Jefferson the one named old guy.

"Yes, I am."

"Aren't you old enough to be her father?"

"WILLOW" Tawny screeched storming back into the room and grabbing my arm so tightly her nails bit into my flesh.

"What? I have a right to know what and who he is exactly.

You're bringing him around MY niece."

You're bringing him around MY niece."

"Get out," she seethed.

I jerked my arm out of her hold and glared at her.

"No. Not until I get answers."

"Low so help me God I am going to"

"Lowlow," Larissa's small voice interrupted my sister and we both turned to see her standing at her door. Blonde curls sticking up in a disarray from her nap.

"Hey sleepy head you're awake," I replied walking toward her. Little arms raised up in the air for me to pick her up and I gently lifted her and rested her on my hip.

"Mama," she mumbled in a sleepy voice pointing to Tawny.

"Yep Mama is home."

"Dada" she pointed to Jefferson.

My head snapped around and my eyes locked with his.

Slowly I took in his nose and eyes. The way his bottom lip was slightly larger than his top one. Could this be him?

Holding Larissa tightly against me I shifted my questioning gaze to my sister.

She let out a sigh and rolled her eyes.

"Fine. You'll find out soon enough anyway," she hissed,

"Jefferson is Larissa's dad. But he's still married and in the process of a divorce. Once it's final Larissa and I'll be moving out. You can have this place once we're out. I don't ever want to set foot in it again."

She'd broken up a marriage. Larissa was this man's love child. Oh. Shit.

"Close your mouth Low and give me Larissa. Then leave, please."

I walked toward Tawny in a daze. I'd always wondered if that was the case but hearing her admit it was like someone had slapped me. Tawny reached for Larissa and Larissa buried her head in my chest and clung to me.

"No," she said loudly. Tears were in her little voice.

"Give her to me Low," Tawny was angry.

"Go to Mama now sweet girl. I have to go to work," I said gently easing her small head back to look at me.

"My Lowlow," she announced wrapping her arms tightly around my neck.

"Yes, your Lowlow but your Lowlow needs to go to work.

Your," I paused and stared up at Jefferson ignoring the sick knot in my stomach, "Daddy is here to see you." I felt like I was going to throw up. My sweet baby girl was the product of adultery. It made me want to scream to the top of my lungs. This was so unfair. I hated what Tawny had done yet I couldn't wish it'd never happened. Holding Larissa in my arms I could never wish she didn't exist.

"My Lowlow," Larissa repeated patting my chest. I turned my attention back to her and she was giving her father a toothless smile while introducing me to him. Tears burned my eyes and I forced them back. Crying would upset her and I needed her to let me leave. Although running out the door with her wrapped tightly in my arms was tempting. I wanted her away from the truth that would haunt her for the rest of her life. I knew what that stigma felt like. The dad that only visited you when he could get away from his real family. Being the product of an affair. That was me. It had shadowed me my entire life. Not being good enough for my dad to want me all the time. And then the visits had just stopped one day. He'd moved his family away and I never saw or heard from him again.

I had no doubt in my mind Jefferson would do the same thing to Larissa. He'd tell my gull ible stupid sister that he was leaving his wife but he never would. She'd never leave this house. Larissa would grow up here while one man after another walked in and out of her mother's life. She'd cry herself to sleep for the daddy who'd not wanted her.

"Give her to me and just go," Tawny demanded ripping Larissa from my arms. She knew what I was thinking. She hated me for it too. The fury flashing in her eyes didn't scare me. The pain she'd eventually face when this man never came through for them and eventually left them alone was what scared me.

"MY LOWLOW," Larissa howled as her small arms reached for me.

"Shush Larissa. That's enough," Tawny scolded only causing Larissa to scream louder.

I wanted to grab her back but the longer I stood here the worse this would get. Instead I blew her a kiss, "Love you my pretty girl." Then taking a page out of Marcus's play book I said, "Remember act like a princess. Princesses don't scream." She paused and thought about it a minute while little tears rolled down her face.

"Skiutles," she said frowning.

"Yes, that's right they say Skittles," I assured her then waved goodbye, "I'll see you soon, okay." I turned and rushed out the door before the tears came.

I'd walked about a mile when I saw Marcus's truck slow down beside me. He was out of it and over to me immediately. I knew I looked a mess. I hadn't called him because I'd needed to cry and vomit. Walking helped calm me down some and clear my head.

"Low, what's wrong?" He asked pulling me into his arms. I shook my head and willed myself not to lose it again. I couldn't tell Marcus any of this. My world wasn't something he'd understand. It was ugly. I didn't want the taint that had followed me all my life to be a part of my relationship with him. He'd see me differently if he knew. He'd see Larissa differently. If I wanted us to work I couldn't share this part of me with him.

"Why didn't you call me? I was writing and glanced at the time and realized you should have called an hour ago. I came as fast as I could."

I pulled back from his chest and swallowed the lump in my throat. The acidic taste from puking burned my throat.

"I got in a fight with Tawny. She's an ass. Larissa cried because I was leaving. I hate to leave her like that." Marcus nodded and his thumbs caressed my cheeks as he held my face. I really hoped he didn't try to kiss me. I needed to brush the vomit from my mouth.

"Family can suck," he agreed. Then he turned and opened the truck door and lifted me up into the seat.

"Next time, call me. Please," he pleaded.

I nodded and forced a smile.

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