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I did as he said, and a high-pitch sound came through before it began to smoke.

“That can’t be good.” I laughed.

He agreed. “Yeah, but it’s a better sound than before. I’m not giving up on it just yet.”

“Yes, you are because it’s a piece of shit!” a person snapped, stumbling into the space. “I don’t know why you brought that into my damn shop.”

I looked up to see a grown man wavering back and forth with a whiskey bottle in his hand. He was almost Jackson’s exact twin, except aged with wrinkle lines, gray hair, and an even more pronounced permanent scowl.

I didn’t know someone could scowl more than Jackson.

Alex’s persona shifted at the sight of the man. “Mike, I thought you weren’t coming in today.”

“It’s my shop. I’m allowed to come and go as I please. Don’t forget it,” he hissed, walking over to the car. He tossed the hood down and tapped it twice. “Take this to the scrapyard.” He took a swig of the whiskey and then finally glanced my way. The moment he met my stare, I swore I saw hatred swim in his eyes. “I know you,” he hissed.

“I don’t think so,” I replied, nerves building in my gut. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Jackson in the back corner of the shop, looking our way.

His frown was identical to his father’s.

“I’ve seen the likes of you. You related to those people at the church?”

“My father runs the church.”

“Hmph. You’re a PK,” he groaned, taking another drink.

“A PK?” Alex asked, but I knew the term. It’d been tossed my way all my life.

“A pastor’s kid,” I answered.

“I don’t want nothing to do with you people,” he scolded me. “So take this piece of shit car and get out of my shop.”

“But Mike, I think I can fix it,” Alex started. It was clear Jackson’s father made him nervous. The same kind of nervous he was making me feel. It was scary being around unstable individuals because you never truly knew would come next.

“We ain’t fixing shit for this bitch.”

Chills down my spine.

Knots in my stomach.

“Dad, knock it off. Don’t be a fucking asshole,” Jackson barked from afar, growing a bit red in the face. I didn’t know someone could make Jackson seem so soft, but his father sure did. “You’re drunk.”

“I might be drunk, but I ain’t stupid.” His eyes stayed glued to me. “I know what kind of people that church brings up, and I don’t want nothing to do with any of them. The way they act like they give a damn about people, but really, they just take their money and live in their mansions. You think I don’t see how y’all look at me when I go into town? The way you look at my boy? Like we’re some lowlifes?”

“I don’t know you,” I whispered, my voice shaky. I only knew the stories people told, and those stories were terrifying. Though, all the stories seemed a bit based on facts that afternoon.

“Yeah, but I know you and your type. I don’t want you anywhere near this place again, you hear me? Take yourself and that dirty money of yours elsewhere. We don’t want any of the Harris’s filth near us. Especially the daughters. Everyone knows the biggest whores are the daughters of a pastor. Now piss off and tell your God to do the same thing.”

Did those words really just leave his drunken mouth?

My lips parted to speak, but nothing came out. I was stunned into silence.

I turned slightly and found Jackson’s eyes on me. He frowned as if he felt bad for me, which made me feel even worse.

I didn’t want to cry in front of Mr. Emery because that seemed like it would’ve been a victory for him. He was intent on making me feel as though I was nothing but darkness, and the way his eyes pierced into mine made me want to vomit. I wasn’t certain what to do, so I turned around on the heels of my feet and stormed out of the shop.

“Hey!” Jackson shouted after me. “Hold up!”

I whipped around flustered. “I get it, all right? You guys hate us. I won’t come back.”

“No, it’s…” He sighed, rubbing his hands over his face. He didn’t say anything, and he went back to his dark, sulky look.

“What is it, Jackson?!” I snapped, annoyed by the likes of him and his father.

He spoke low. “You forgot your purse,” he said, holding it out to me.

I snatched it from his hands and muttered a thank you even though he didn’t deserve it.

“Listen…” He cleared his throat. “What he said to you…that was too much.”

“Everything he said was too much.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “My dad’s a lot sometimes.”

“Ha. That’s putting it nicely.”

“He has these issues with your family. He’s been through some stuff with the church after the incident a few years back.”