Timo grabbed Willa’s hand and dragged her further inside. After a few seconds of weaving through people, they finally made it to the bar and sat down. “Scotch neat. Two,” he held up two fingers.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Willa asked taking the seat next to him.
Timo looked at her, brow raised. “We’ve just been informed that it doesn’t matter how much money we raise, we’re stuck getting married. I think that deserves a couple of drinks.”
“Okay, ouch,” Willa replied but smiled showing that she wasn’t really offended. The bartender came back with two glasses in hand and set them down. “In that case, I’ll take a shot of tequila instead.” Timo raised an impressed eyebrow as his lips twitched into a smirk. “What? I was in Juvie, not a nunnery,” Willa couldn’t help but comment. Timo gave a chuckle and obligingly kept the second scotch for himself.
Two hours and three sheets to the wind later, the two were stumbling through a dark alleyway, half carrying each other as they walked. Willa was giggling, her face pressed into Timo’s side as he shook up the spray paint can with one hand, the other wrapped tight around the girl’s shoulders. “Why are we doing this again?” she asked as she finally stifled her giggles enough to speak clearly.
“Because you’re a giggly drunk and I’m a mischievous one,” Timo responded easily, looking down at her with a grin. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen her this relaxed and carefree. It had definitely been before she got sent to Juvie, probably closer to her childhood.
“So, what are we writing?” she asked as she stared up at the brick building, already decorated with plenty of graffiti.
Timo shrugged and handed her a second can. “Whatever.” The two set to work decorating the wall. Willa finished first and wandered over to Timo to see what he was spray painting.
“Wow,” she murmured as she stared at the rose. “It’s pretty.”
Timo stepped back to admire his work. “For Magdalena,” he explained. Willa gave him an odd look, but didn’t say a word. “What about you?” He turned to look at what she did before raising an eyebrow and staring down at her. Every once and a while he’d look at her like he was analyzing her, wondering whether or not she actually wanted out of their marriage. Wondering if she didn’t have some sort of crush on him or if she really did see him like a brother. This was one of those times.
“Who are we kidding? That’s what tonight is about, right?” Willa explained as she gestured to the wedding cake she drew with startling intricacy and signed with both their initials on the bottom. “Our engagement, our wedding, our future.” She wasn’t sure if she was saying that because it was true or as a reminder to Timo that he could no longer pretend. He could no longer keep seeing Magdalena. Not unless he wanted to run.
Timo opened his mouth to respond when they both heard someone coming toward them. A quick look behind Timo’s shoulder had Willa tensing. “Willa, calm down,” Timo softly commanded, already knowing what the blonde’s reaction would be.
“I can’t go back to Juvie,” she whispered right back as she eyed the cop coming closer. “I can’t.” Timo grabbed the paint can out of her hand and tossed it along with his own into the nearby dumpster. Then he began frantically looking around for someplace they could run or hide. “He spotted us,” Willa whispered into the front of Timo’s shirt as she gripped onto him tightly in fear.
Seeing no other option, Timo quickly reached out to tilt the girl’s head up. He was surprised to see the worry and near desperation in her eyes. With only the slightest hesitation, he leaned down and planted his lips on hers. He felt her tense before quickly relaxing into his embrace as she slowly moved her lips in motion with his. His hand reached behind her to cup the back of her head. One of her hands untangled itself from his shirt to reach up and tightly grip his short black hair. The other unfurled only enough to firmly grip his side, just above his hip bone.
“Hey, hey! Break it up, you two!” the cop called as he shone his flashlight on the two.
Willa and Timo slowly broke apart, their eyes staring at each other in wide surprise. Timo regained his footing first. “Sorry, officer!” he called out with a wave of his hand. He turned to leave, but was forced to gently tug the still surprised Willa behind him.
They walked a few blocks in awkward silence before silently boarding the last bus of the night. Willa seemed content to completely ignore Timo’s existence whereas he couldn’t seem to take his eyes off her. Willa had always been like his sister; they had grown up together. He had never seen her as a girl before, but now that he had, he couldn’t seem to stop.
Her curly hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail and she had a light grey knit hat covering most of her head with the occasional small braid peaking out. Her eyes were rimmed with black eyeliner and her lips were painted with pale pink lipstick and a small amount of gloss, as usual. She wore simple light blue jeans and her shirt was a pale purple color. He gave a small cough and looked away once he realized how easy it was to tell that she wasn’t wearing a bra. He shifted uncomfortably as he fought to keep his cheeks from reddening. Timo turned his head back around slightly to peak at her out of the corner of his eye only to realize that she had stopped ignoring him and was staring right back at him. Her blue eyes barely peaked out from where she was looking at him through her dark lashes. She looked shy and cute and so very feminine that for a second, Timo was tempted to do a double take just to make sure that this woman sitting next to him was really Willa.
There was a moment of slightly awkward silence as the two just observed each other before Willa finally spoke up. “This is our stop,” she said softly, finally dragging her eyes away from Timo. They stood up and got off of the bus and began walking the long trail that led to the Ends of the Earth bar and Willa’s trailer. The walk was silent and tense, but the tense atmosphere no longer felt awkward. Instead, something else charged the air between them. Before Willa could figure out what it was or what it meant, Timo grabbed her arm and whirled her around to face him.
“Wha-” her question got cut off as Timo did the one thing he had been thinking about all night. He covered her lips with his own once more, sinking his hand into her hair. Immediately, she brought her hands up to his sides and gripped him tightly, pulling herself closer into his body. He slowly began backing her up until they reached a tree. He let go of her hair and reached down to cup her cheek, tilting her head for better access as his tongue angled deeper into her mouth. She let out a low groan from the back of her throat that had him smirking as he slowly pulled away to look down at her lust glazed eyes. Once more she was peaking at him through her thick lashes, but this time in combination with her swollen lips and heaving chest, she looked less like a shy schoolgirl and more like a sultry vixen. Unable to resist, he leaned back in one more time for a quick kiss before reaching down to grasp her hand and leading them both back to the dirt road.
In no time they reached Willa’s trailer. It wasn’t until they were inside that they realized that they were still holding hands. “Timo…” Willa spoke softly, as if worried that she might destroy whatever odd mood had the both of them ensnared.
Timo must have feared the same thing because he brought a finger to her lips and shushed her before using the same hand to gently stroke her cheek. He tilted her face up and scanned her face for any sign of hesitance. Finding none, he leaned in. This time their kisses were gentle; romantic. He gently moved her to her bed – which was really more of a couch – and leaned her back on it, carefully resting himself above her as their kisses continued.
She wasn’t sure who fell asleep first, but when she woke up she found herself splayed on top of Timo, one of her legs slipped through his. Her head throbbed lightly as the tequila caught up with her, but she closed her eyes and snuggled back into Timo’s warm body. She still wasn’t sure exactly what happened last night, but she knew that she was going to enjoy it while she still could because if there was one thing Willa knew as a Gypsy it was that things always look a lot different in the light of morning than they do in the dark of night.
Timo wasn’t entirely sure how it happened, but now that it had, he couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the kiss, maybe it was the shy look or maybe it started before that with the alcohol. Either way, the way Timo saw Willa had been completely changed.
Timo had woken up that morning with the worst hangover he’d had in ages. He was barely coherent as he stumbled from the bed to the bathroom, dug around for some aspirin and popped what was probably more than the recommended dose. It wasn’t until he’d returned to the main room and spotted Willa sitting up on the bed that he remembered the events of last night. “Shit,” he muttered with wide eyes.
Willa had been looking at him cautiously, similar to the way one might a wild animal. As soon as he spoke, a look flashed in Willa’s eyes that Timo couldn’t read before it was quickly gone. “Ditto,” she grimaced more than smiled. The silence between them was more than awkward before Willa finally broke it, “Look, why don’t we just forget about last night.”
“Forget about it?” Timo asked incredulously. How the hell was he supposed to forget about making out with his best friend in a drunken haze?
The blonde got up, looking him in the eye as seriously as she could. “Yes. Forget about it. We’re friends, have been for, what? Ten years?”
“Eleven,” he half-heartedly corrected.
“Eleven,” she smiled. “I don’t want things to be weird between us. Especially since it will already be weird when…”
“We get married?” Timo smirked, still half-hearted.
Willa examined him for a minute before nodding slowly. “Yes. Last night was… nothing,” she shrugged nonchalantly, though there was a certain tenseness between her shoulder blades. “Besides, you still have…”
“Magdalena,” he whispered eyes wide as he finally remembered his girlfriend. “Shit.”
Willa gave him a tight smile. “So, we agree? It’s forgotten?”
This time Timo was the one to examine Willa. After a moment, he apparently found what he was looking for because he nodded. “Like it never happened.”
Timo was the one with the most to lose. If Magdalena found out that he had cheated on her, he knew that she would be gone faster than he could say the word ‘Gypsy’. And if Willa was unable to let it go, their friendship would be irrevocably changed. They had both agreed to forget, but Timo was the one who couldn’t.
“Hey, Timo,” Willa smiled up at him as she removed her waitress apron from her waist.
“Hey,” Timo smiled back, unable to tear his eyes away from her lips. Ever since that night, things had been different for Timo, but it appeared that nothing changed for Willa. She still looked at him the same, acted the same, spoke the same. There wasn’t an inch of body language that said she ever thought of their kisses. It was like it never happened.
And boy did that burn.
He had expected Willa to be the one having problems letting their little indiscretion go. She was young, only sixteen, and never had a real relationship. But she was perfectly fine pretending nothing happened and he was the one hanging on.
It almost made him wonder if she’d had experience hooking up with someone and then acting like it never happened.
“What’s up?” she smiled as she moved toward her trailer. She opened the door and Timo followed in after her. She dropped her apron on the kitchen table and reached into the mini fridge and brought out two sodas as Timo sat across from her.
Timo shrugged, trying to act as casually as she was. “Nothing, just wanted to see if you were busy. Thought you might want to hang out.”
“Okay,” Willa nodded agreeably, “What do you want to do?”
Timo grinned and reached out to grab her hand, tugging her up. “Don’t know yet,” he laughed as he dragged her outside and down the trail to the bus stop at the bottom of the hill. This was something they used to do a lot as children. They had often been left alone as their families were usually out stealing or running cons so they’d board a bus and get off randomly, exploring the city as they went.
“Let’s go to the beach,” Willa suggested with a grin as she opened the window to help cool the stifling hot bus down. “We can walk the boardwalk, check out the street vendors, do a little shopping of our own,” she wiggled her fingers to illustrate that the only shopping they’d be doing would be with the use of a five-finger discount.
The minute they reached the beach, they could feel how much hotter it was. At the Ends of the Earth, they were surrounded by woods and sweet, sweet shade but now they were out in the heat, exposed to the sun.
Willa slipped her loose white top over her head. “You’re lucky I grabbed this before you yanked me out the door,” she grinned as she stuffed her shirt into her brown suede purse and pulled out some sunglasses. Now, she was only clad in colorful sky high wedges, a light blue pair of jean short shorts and her favorite turquoise bikini top with large black shades over her eyes and her usual array of necklaces, rings and bracelets. Her hair was also in its usual state of attractive but messy disarray with curls and braids everywhere. “You gonna give me your shirt or are you planning on walking around in this heat wearing all of that?” Willa asked with a laugh as she held her hand out.
Blinking in surprise, Timo finally drew his eyes away from her form and slipped off his vest, handing it to her, and then slipping off his button down shirt. She reached over and grabbed Timo’s shirt from his hand and put it inside too before slinging it back over her shoulder, the bulk of it dropping to thump against her backside as she walked.
He watched her for a minute and couldn’t help but wonder when she became a girl that wore makeup, carried purses and wore high heels. “Nice shoes,” he complimented staring down at the colorful wedges. The colors started off as a brown diamond in the back, but then a yellow diamond was around that and then a blue one and a pink one and so on. Each ring was a different color until it got bigger than the platform so all you could see along the sides were stripes of different colors. The straps were light brown braids that crisscrossed before winding up and tying around her ankles, the ends consisting of dangling tassels.
“Timmy Choos,” Willa smiled back at him.
“Ah, good old Uncle Fonso,” Timo grinned. “Gotta love a good knockoff.”
“They make for excellent birthday presents,” Willa agreed as she meandered over to a street vendor who was selling jewelry. She stared for a moment down at a simple silver bracelet with two turquoise stones in the center with a feather around each stone. It was beautiful but labeled at seventy bucks. She quickly moved on to some feather earrings that she quickly pocketed while the vendor was talking to another customer.
The two made it a couple yards away before Timo pulled something out of his jean pocket. “Here,” he smiled as he tugged her wrist toward him and slipped on the bracelet she’d been eyeing.
“How did you get that?” she asked with a grin as she examined the bracelet.
Timo shrugged, “Baggier clothes.” It was a simple rule. The baggier your clothes, the more you could hide. The problem was, of course, that if your clothes were too baggy, you’d be instantly fingered as a lifter. “Besides, I figure there’s your necklace,” he reached out to gently tug at her silver necklace with a large turquoise pendant at the end, “and your ring,” he reached out to grip her hand, practically shoving the turquoise ring in her face. “You needed a bracelet.”
“I have turquoise bracelets,” she smiled.
Timo shrugged again. “Not from me.” And it was true. Turquoise was Willa’s favorite color and stone. Most thought it was because it was her birthstone and tended to color-code her gifts because of it, but the truth was that her all time favorite gift was a small turquoise stone that Timo had lifted for her when they were children. Ever since then, she’d held a certain fascination with them. “Ooh,” Timo smirked as he spotted something in the distance. “Let’s get some ice cream.”
The two sat next to each other on top of the board walk railing, Timo facing the beach while Willa faced the crowd. “Uh-oh,” Willa suddenly murmured causing Timo to turn around, worried.
“What is it?” he asked as he adjusted himself so that he was facing the crowd.
“Walter, Leo and Isabel,” she nodded her head in the direction of a nearby store.
Timo brought his hand up to his forehead to block out the sun as he squinted. “What are they up to?” he asked the blonde.
“The usual. Walter’s finding something,” Willa shrugged as she continued to lick at her ice cream nonchalantly.
Taking his cue from her, Timo relaxed and returned to his own treat. “Do you wanna leave?” he questioned.
She tilted her head to the side in thought before shaking her head. “They’re on the other side of the street. They can’t see us.”
“Does it matter if they can see us?” he asked in curiosity. Willa seemed to like and trust the three, despite one of them being a cop. She wouldn’t have disclosed their problems otherwise.
“I just don’t feel like being hassled about you,” she admitted freely. “I’m not sure if Leo’s told them that Uncle Shad rejected breaking up our engagement and I don’t want to hear their theories on what we should do next.”
“You brought them in,” he reminded.
She turned to glare at him. “And we would never have gotten the money without them.”
Timo shrugged before spotting something over her shoulder. “I think they’ve spotted us,” he whispered, jumping off the railing.
“What?” Willa almost turned her head around to look, but Timo grabbed her hand and yanked her off the railing, causing her to drop her ice cream. Before she could yell at him, he’d bolted, dragging her behind him as they headed down the boardwalk as fast as they could. After several yards, he crossed the street, off the beach and into the city. After a few blocks, he ducked into an alley, dragging a panting Willa behind him.
“You need to run more,” he commented as he breathed a bit more deeply, but nowhere near as out of breath as the girl in front of him.
Willa glared fiercely, standing up straight as she got into his face. “Shut. Up,” she poked his chest with each word, but Timo stopped paying attention the minute she got in his personal space. Ignoring her attractiveness had been hard before, but now that he was getting an up close and personal view, it was damn near impossible. Before he even knew what he was doing, he had swooped in and captured her lips with his own.
“So… I feel like this is sort of becoming a thing,” Willa mentioned casually as Timo made trails of kisses up and down her neck.
“Mmm?” he mumbled, clearly distracted as he focused on what he was doing.
Willa’s arms were wound around his shoulders and she began lightly playing with the hairs on his nape. She leaned her head back to give him more access, but continued talking. “This. Us. Kissing.”
Timo finally pulled a way with a light sigh to look her in the eyes. “Babe, I’m doing some good work here. Do you really want to talk about this now?” He let one hand go from her waist to check his watch. “With twenty minutes left until your shift starts?”
A small smirk appeared on her face as her eyes grew more mischievous. “Mmm,” she moaned lightly as she tugged his face back down to hers. “Good point.” Willa smirked wider as she pulled him in for a deep kiss.
Timo willingly obliged as his hands once again moved to rest on her hips before slowly sliding up her shirt. He began stroking her rib cage up and down in large sweeps, not going any higher up than he knew she felt comfortable with. Similarly, one of Willa’s hands moved to his shirt’s hemline to lightly play with it, fingertips gently skimming his skin at the band of his jeans.
All too soon, they were forced to separate. “I’ll see you after my shift?” Willa asked, her lips still a swollen red. She tied on her apron and played with her hair, trying to make it seem less like sexy I-just-made-out hair and more like her usual Gypsy mess.
“I have some work for Uncle Shad that I have to do first,” Timo replied, shrugging back on his vest which had been removed at some point during their make out session. “So it might be a while. I’ll call you when I get done,” he compromised. Willa nodded agreeably and the two shared a kiss before going their separate ways.
Timo grinned rather happily as he wandered down the street. He had been having a pretty good day so far and it seemed to promise to get better. He was meeting Uncle Shad at his office in Gypsy Row which usually meant that he had a serious job for Timo. Serious jobs equaled serious money.
“Hello, Timo!” an older woman smiled and waved. Timo nodded back. Gypsy Row was a stretch of about two or three blocks where all of the older Gypsies and those not out making money for the family resided. It was their community. Each house had a caravan or trailer parked out front. Gypsies had moved with the times and tended to live in houses now, but they still kept with tradition and that meant that ever Gypsy owned a caravan.
He waved to another older woman in hello before walking up to a house and going around back. In the backyard there sat a large shed. Timo rapped on the door before walking in, knowing that Shad was expecting him.
“Ah, Timo!” Uncle Shad smiled looking up from his paperwork. “Good. You’re right on time.” Shad stood up and moved toward the boy, giving him a friendly hug before reaching down to pick up a piece of paper from his desk. “I need you to go to this address and pick up a package for me.”
Well used to such vague instructions, Timo nodded easily. “Will I need a car?” he asked.
“No, no. That won’t be necessary.” Shad waved him off, already engrossed in his work once more. However, before Timo could leave Shad’s head popped up once again. “How’s Willa?” he asked, a speculative look in his eye.
“Good,” Timo replied hesitantly.
Shad nodded agreeably as he hummed. “You know, there was something I noticed the two of you said that night.” There was no need to specify which night the man was talking about. “You said that Willa thought of you as a brother and Willa said you thought of her as a sister. Neither of you said what you thought of the other.” Shad continued to look at the boy probingly. “Interesting, don’t you think?” he asked. “That you would prefer to interpret her feelings instead of telling me your own and that she would do the same…” His lips pursed in speculation before nonchalantly shrugging and once again returning to his work.
Timo unsteadily left the shed, unsure of how he was supposed to respond to Shad’s words. He walked several blocks away and boarded the bus to run Shad’s errand. Timo pondered on the man’s words. Did Timo say that Willa didn’t have feelings for him because he didn’t want to lie and say he didn’t have feelings for her? Had Willa done the same?
These thoughts bounced around in his mind, but he got no further clarity and gained only a raging headache. Timo swiftly picked up the package from two large, shady gangsters that he vaguely recognized as belonging to one of the local sects of the Mexican cartel. Timo was curious as to what kind of business Shad had with them when the Gypsies tended to stay out of anything criminally hardcore. Never-the-less, he kept his mouth shut as he handed the package over to Shad half an hour later.
“Good, good,” Shad muttered before shooing Timo away, apparently done for the day.
With nothing better to do and having promised anyway, he shot Willa a text asking if she wanted to meet up. She responded almost immediately which meant that she was dead bored.
He made his way down to the beach where they had hung out previously. It was late afternoon and the sun was slowly making its way toward the horizon. He stepped into a small Chinese restaurant on the boardwalk and walked out with two takeout containers and chopsticks. Timo then made his way over to the railing to wait for the blonde girl.
“Hey,” Willa spoke up from behind him causing him to turn and grin.
“Hey,” he greeted back, handing her one of the paper boxes filled with food. The couple made their way down the boardwalk, once more just walking around and talking. They occasionally got odd stares for eating while walking around, but they just laughed. At some point, Willa began to look at Timo’s food longingly. Well used to Willa’s ways, Timo rolled his eyes and easily exchanged cartons with her, taking her Lo Mein in exchange for his beef and broccoli.
The two talked about what they had been up to lately, though there hadn’t been much time since they’d last seen each other that morning. Willa talked about how Walter was working on finding something and how she had been roped into helping since there weren’t any customers at the bar. Timo told Willa about his weird errand for Uncle Shad. He would never have opened his mouth about it to anyone else, but Willa was his best friend and Uncle Shad’s niece. He knew his worry was founded when she too gave an odd look at the thought of Shad working with hardcore criminals like the cartel.
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Timo tried to ease her mind. Seeing that his words weren’t working, he threw an arm over her shoulder and tugged her close into his body. “Don’t worry about it, Willa,” he muttered into her messily braided hair. She nodded in agreement, but tossed what was left of her food, not in the mood to eat anymore.
Sensing that she was no longer interested in continuing their walk, he led them to the nearest bus stop and boarded, heading back to Willa’s place. At some point during the ride, she began to relax and rested her head back against Timo’s arm, which still hadn’t left her shoulders. By the time they got off the bus, Willa was back to her normal self, so he was unsurprised to find himself shoved, forcing his body away from hers. He looked at her in pretend annoyance, but she just grinned mischievously and darted ahead, prompting the boy to chase her. When they reached her trailer, Willa turned to give him a smirk and with a knowing grin, he followed her inside.
The second they walked through the door, their lips were on each other. He walked them back toward the kitchen table and with an easy movement, lifted Willa to sit on top of it. She spread her legs, allowing Timo to nestle between them, bringing them even closer. Willa quickly tugged Timo’s vest off, making sure to run her hands all along his chest and back as she did so. Timo’s lips made their way to her neck, smirking at the hitch in her breath as she automatically clutched at his shoulders in pleasure. Like this morning, Timo’s fingers made their way underneath her shirt, running his hands up and down her rib cage. This time, he could sense that she wanted more so he slowly backed away in order to lift her shirt off. He was careful to make eye contact just in case he was reading her wrong, but Willa’s eyes grew darker, apparently comfortable with how far they were going. As if to prove it even further, she reached out and quickly began unbuttoning Timo’s shirt. With a grin, Timo leaned back in for a kiss when a loud crash outside startled the two.
Timo threw his shirt back on from where it had been hanging from his elbows, but didn’t bother buttoning it as he ran outside to see what was going on. He briefly contemplated taking some sort of weapon just in case, remembering Willa’s tale about the hit men in track suits, but realized Willa didn’t really have any weapons in her trailer. He made a mental note to buy her a baseball bat or a knife or something before exiting the trailer and taking a look around. Spotting a familiar figure not too far away, his eyes widened as a string of curse words fell from his lips. “Magdalena.”
A/N - I did some research, but there's next to no info on Gypsies and what I did find contradicted The Finder. So I tried to combine fact with fiction :) I got my info from the British documentary Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.
Magdalena gave a large grin as her friend Shiloh twirled around in the dress. “It looks great,” she complimented.
Shiloh leaned in close to examine the girl’s face. “Liar,” she announced after a second. “I can’t believe you’d try and lie to me!” Shiloh shrieked as she went back in the dressing room. “What would have happened if I’d believed you? I would have bought a dress that I looked horrible in!”
“Oh, give the girl a break,” Bali said, flipping through a magazine she’d found in the front of the store. “She’s still upset about Timo.”
Shiloh gave a repentant sigh as she re-emerged from the dressing room in a different dress. “Sorry, Mags,” she said softly at the brunette girl who looked to be close to tears.
“I just don’t get it,” Magdalena confessed, not for the first time. “Everything was going so great. I really thought he liked me.”
“He did.” Shiloh patted her friend’s shoulder comfortingly.
“He said he had to go see Uncle Shad,” Magdalena continued on as if she hadn’t heard the blonde’s words. “It wasn’t the usual business meeting. I thought he was going to ask for my hand.”
Shiloh continued to rub Magdalena’s shoulder, glaring at Bali who hadn’t even bothered to look up from her magazine. Sensing the glare, Bali shrugged. She had heard it all before; they both had. Magdalena had been crying about it for almost four weeks now.
“But now he hasn’t talked to me since!” Magdalena sniffled, as tears threatened to fall down her cheeks.
“Oh no,” Bali moaned. She was not interested in her friend’s waterworks. She loved Mags, she did. But if she had to sit and watch her sob over some boy who apparently didn’t love her anymore, she was going to kill herself… or Magdalena. Probably Magdalena. “How about we go out to dinner. My treat,” she offered, hoping to distract the girl and thus get out of the waterworks.
Magdalena sighed but nodded. “Alright.”
“Wait,” Shiloh cried out. The other two turned back to the girl. “My dress?”
They both looked down as if surprised. They had completely forgotten what they were even doing in the store to begin with. “It’s cute,” Bali offered with Magdalena nodding in agreement.
With a wide smile, Shiloh quickly changed out of the dress and bought it. Carrying the bag, she dragged her friends out of the store and farther down the boardwalk. “Well if Bali’s paying, we’ll go to that new expensive Italian restaurant,” she teased over her shoulder.
“Haha,” Bali deadpanned. Shiloh turned to the side as if to say something, when suddenly she stopped walking. “What’s up?” Bali asked, turning to look at what caught her friend’s attention.
Shiloh smirked knowingly. “Look who it is, Mags.” She turned to point farther down the boardwalk. There, standing waiting on the railing was Timo Proud, the very boy Magdalena had been complaining about.
“How did he know where I was?” Magdalena asked, though the smile on her face as she self-consciously pat down her hair said she didn’t really care how he found her.
Bali shrugged, uncaring. “Maybe he asked your folks.”
“He’s probably here to surprise you,” Shiloh squealed. “Go up to him!” She turned to encourage her friend.
The brunette took several steps forward before suddenly faltering. The three girls watched in surprise as a blonde girl came up to Timo. She was dressed like a Gypsy, but there was no way that she was one. For one, none of the girls recognized her. For another, Gypsy girls weren’t allowed alone with a boy until they were married. It was why the three girls traveled everywhere together in a pack. So thus, the blonde must be a gajen. It was hard to tell sometimes with the popularity of boho fashion to tell who was Gypsy and who was an outsider.
The three stared in shock when Timo grinned and handed the girl his carton of food before they set off, walking the boardwalk and watching the sunset. “I guess now we know why he’s been avoiding me,” Magdalena said brokenly, even as her feet automatically followed the couple.
“We don’t know that,” Bali pointed out sensibly. “They could just be friends.” As if done purposefully to contradict her, Timo wrapped an arm around the girl’s shoulders, tugging her into his body tightly.
Magdalena choked as she tried to hold back sobs. She failed when Timo leaned down to kiss the blonde’s head. Shiloh shifted uncomfortably at her friends sobbing form, aware of the stares they were all receiving from the other people on the boardwalk. “Maybe we should go home.”
“Don’t you want to follow them?” Bali asked mostly in curiosity. “She looks Gypsy.”
Shiloh looked at the brunette like she was an idiot. “There’s no way that girl is Gypsy. She’s meeting Timo alone,” she stated obviously.
“She might have ditched her escorts,” Bali countered. It was possible, but no one really dared to. The reason why girls weren’t allowed alone with a boy was because anything could happen or they could say that anything happened and there would be no proof of the truth. If a boy lied and said that he slept with a Gypsy girl before marriage, the girl would be ruined whether it was true or not. No Gypsy boy would marry a girl who wasn’t pure. So girls traveled in packs so that there were always witnesses to any interactions.
“No,” Magdalena said strongly. “She has to be gajen.”
Her two friends looked at each other but didn’t say a word. It was likely that Magdalena was right, but the way she said it… it sounded more like she wanted it to be the truth instead of it being something she genuinely thought. If Timo was cheating on her with another Gypsy… she would be devastated.
“Look, they’re boarding a bus,” Shiloh pointed out to her two brunette friends.
Without another word to her friends, Magdalena sprinted forward to board the bus in the back, careful to hide behind other people so that she wouldn’t be seen. Her friends were forced to jump on board as well, barely making it as the bus took off.
“Where are we going?” Bali muttered after several long minutes of watching the scenery. They had left the main city and were heading down the highway toward the Keys. Shiloh shrugged in response having no clue either. Magdalena, meanwhile, didn’t even bother responding. She had calmed down considerably from her breakdown on the boardwalk, but her eyes were still damp as the slightest incident threatened to cause more tears to fall.
As they continued on the bus, more and more people got off and the three girls began to worry that they would be spotted. Luckily, neither Timo nor his companion looked behind them, so the girls were safe. Finally the two got off at a stop, seemingly in the middle of nowhere; at least nowhere the girls knew of. They waited until Timo and the blonde had started walking before hastily jumping off the bus before it could leave. They followed the pair up a hill, carefully to stay on the edge of the nearby forest so that they could duck and hide if either of the two turned around. Halfway up the hill, the blonde shoved Timo causing him to chase after her.
Magdalena made to run after them when Bali grabbed her arm. “If we run, they’ll hear us,” she cautioned.
“But we’ll lose them!” the brunette girl wailed.
“What the hell could be up there?” Bali asked logically. “We’re in the middle of nowhere climbing up a hill. I think we’ll be able to spot them.”
Magdalena crossed her arms angrily, but ultimately listened to her friend as the three girls continued their slowed pace up the hill. When they reached the top, they were surprised to find a bar. They peaked into the windows, but found it to be deserted.
“Great, now we lost them!” Magdalena scowled, turning a blaming glare at her friend.
“I don’t think so,” Shiloh murmured, wide eyed as she pointed to a trailer in front of the bar. Through the window, they could hazily make out Timo, but unfortunately, they could also see the blonde girl. “What are you doing?” she asked in a harsh whisper when Magdalena moved forward.
“Meet me by the woods near the trail,” she whispered back, her short brown locks blowing in the wind. “I need to see for myself to be a hundred percent sure.” Her two friends exchanged a look, but ultimately did as told. Magdalena meanwhile made her way closer to the trailer, sneaking quietly so that she didn’t warn them off. Once she reached the trailer, she ducked down and peaked though the window. If there was any doubt before, there wasn’t any now. Timo stood between the girl’s legs, smirking as she removed his shirt from his body.
Gypsy boys were allowed a lot more freedom than the girls were. Unlike girls, they could travel by themselves, stay out at any hour and no one would say anything. They even sometimes had sex with outsiders instead of waiting for marriage like was proper. While relations with outsiders was frowned upon, as long as they didn’t fall in love with a gajen and try and run away with her, most of the others turned a blind eye.
This, however, was different. For Timo to cheat on a Gypsy girl with an outsider, with a gajen… it was like a slap in Magdalena’s face; the biggest insult possible. It was saying that she wasn’t good enough for him and that even an outsider was better than her.
Magdalena stumbled back, confronted with the horrifying sight. She had suspected, but despite Timo’s closeness on the boardwalk and on the bus, the two had done nothing that couldn’t be written off as platonic. But this… there was no mistaking this.
She turned to run away, tears flooding her eyes once more, but in her haste, she knocked over a metal chair causing a loud ruckus. She debated whether or not to still run when she heard the trailer door open behind her. Damn him for being so quick, she thought as she turned around to face him. She saw as his eyes widened in surprise and curse words fell out of his mouth. She smirked viciously in response. He deserved to be surprised. He deserved to be vulnerable. He deserved to be hurt.
“I can’t believe you would do this to me,” Magdalena accused. “I thought you were asking Uncle Shad for my hand!”
Timo gaped at her, unsure of what to say. He had gone to Uncle Shad to dissolve his engagement so that he could ask for her hand, but Magdalena didn’t know about the Willa part of the equation.
“And now, to find you cheating on me with an outsider…” Magdalena scoffed angrily, but there were tears building in her eyes. “With some whore-”
“Hey!” Timo finally jumped in. “Don’t talk about her like that!”
The two stared at each other. Magdalena was shocked that he would defend some girl against her. “You disgust me, Timo,” she said with a disappointed shake of her head. “We’re done.” With that, she angrily turned on her heel and left.
Timo stared after Magdalena as the brunette quickly descended down the hill disappearing from view. A soft voice had him quickly whirling around, however, as he suddenly remembered where he was. “You didn’t tell her,” Willa said flatly, her eyes cool as she leaned against the corner of her trailer having come out once she heard the ruckus.
“Willa…” Timo took a step forward but she merely took one back. With her arms crossed over her chest, she merely turned on her heel and walked away from him, heading deep into the woods.
Timo had no choice but to wait for her outside of her trailer. He would have followed but he knew that seeing him would only anger her further and to be honest, he didn’t know the woods well enough not to get lost searching for her. He stayed out there for hours and when morning dawned, she still hadn’t come back. Timo looked at the woods in worry as he watched the sun rise above it, but he knew that Willa knew those woods like the back of her hand and would be safe.
Checking his watch, Timo reluctantly made for the dirt road. Uncle Shad would need him soon and Timo still had to shower and change. He would come back once his work was over. Willa had to return to her trailer sometime; after all she still had work too.
Later that day, he quickly returned to her trailer, knocking on the door impatiently before peaking inside the windows only to realize no one was in. With a scowl, he kicked a stray pebble and brought out his cell phone to shoot her a quick text. He had been sending them all day, but so far she hadn’t answered a single one.
“Timo?” a deep voice asked from behind him, causing him to jump slightly. Turning around, Timo spotted Leo, Isabel and Walter all on the step of the Ends of the Earth, each with a cup of coffee in their hands. “What are you doing here?” Leo asked suspiciously.
“I’m looking for Willa,” Timo replied.
Isabel gave a small laugh. “I thought you two always knew where each other were.”
“Yeah, well, not right now.” He scowled, glaring at his phone at the reminder that she hadn’t responded. “We’re… sort of fighting.”
“What happened?” Leo asked protectively, folding his arms as he stared down at the smaller boy.
Timo let out a small sigh but gave in. Willa trusted these three and they had helped him out when he still wanted to break the engagement. Maybe they could lend some insight on what he should do. “I… We… Magdalena… Shit.” He scowled once more as he realized he had no idea how to start the story. “Okay.” He took a deep breath and started again. “I’ve been seeing this girl, Magdalena.”
“The girl you’re in love with?” Isabel asked for clarification causing everyone to stare at her in surprise.
“Yeah…” Timo looked at her oddly. He hadn’t realized that Willa had told her about Magdalena. “At least I thought I did.”
“Ah.” Walter nodded as if he now understood Timo’s problem entirely, which, knowing Walter was completely possible.
Ignoring this, Timo continued, “After Uncle Shad refused to break our engagement, Willa and I went out drinking.”
“What?” Leo asked angrily, taking a threatening step forward.
Timo raised his hands in surrender. “We had just been told that no matter what we did, he wouldn’t break our engagement. I think that earns a bit of alcohol.”
“Oh, leave it alone, Leo.” Isabel lightly slapped the man’s arm. “They’re kids and it was a tough night.” She then turned back to Timo. “Keep going,” she urged, waving her hands, apparently interested to hear more.
“Well, one thing led to another and we kissed,” he blurted out quickly, already knowing what Leo’s over-protective reaction would be.
“What!” Leo yelled true to form.
Isabel nodded like she half expected that and Walter had stopped paying attention a while ago so Timo continued with his story. “We both agreed that it didn’t mean anything, but then it kept happening. We’ve been seeing each other.”
“Mmhmm.” Isabel nodded with an interested look in her eye, but still not seeing the problem.
“The problem was I hadn’t exactly broken up with Magdalena,” Timo finally spit out with a wince.
“What!” Leo yelled for a third time only this time, Isabel’s dulcet tone echoed the same word.
“I hadn’t figured out how and I guess Willa thought I already had…” Timo shrugged helplessly. “And now she won’t talk to me. Well, neither will Magdalena,” he added as an afterthought, “but I’m more worried about Willa.”
“Knew it,” Walter smirked, nodding his head in self-satisfaction, apparently having figured this out already.
Isabel turned to glare at him for his unsympathetic response before a kind smile made its way onto her face as she turned back to Timo. “Well, what normally happens when you two fight?” she asked. Timo started at her blankly. “You two do fight, right?”
“Not really,” he admitted.
“Not once?” she asked incredulously. “Not ever?”
Timo paused to think about it. “We argue, sometimes we yell and then we forgive each other,” he answered.
“That’s a fight, son,” Leo’s tone was back to normal and he no longer appeared angry.
Timo turned to face him. “It takes place in the span of ten minutes or less.” All three stared at him with surprised looks. “So, like I said. Not really.”
“All of your fights are ten minutes or less?” Isabel stated, still in shock. “How do you do that?”
The Gypsy boy sighed. “I don’t know. Look, I told you this because I wanted your help in finding Willa. If you can’t help me-” he made as if he was going to leave.
“Hang on a second,” Walter spoke up, his favorite word having finally been spoken. “I can find her.”
“Walter,” Leo said warningly.
“But,” Walter continued on, “it would be easiest to wait. She has to show up for work sometime.”
“Actually,” Leo interrupted, “Willa asked for a couple of days off. Said there was some family stuff she had to take care of. I assumed she meant she was helping you.” He turned to look at Timo.
Timo gave a sigh knowing that it was useless to stick around since she was apparently not going to be back for a while. “Thanks for the help anyway,” he gave a wave as he left. It looked like he would have to track her down himself.