CHAPTER THREE

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    "The fair is in town so we could do that?" I'm in shock. I thought she wanted to escape all of this. And now she's inviting me to the fair? I recover from my shock when I feel Max pull at my arm. I look down at her, meeting her pleading eyes.

    "The fair sounds so fun! Can we please go, Dad? Please, please!" I look up at Amanda with a look what you've done face before looking back to Max. I raise my hand that she's not tugging on.

    "Okay, okay. But we can't be out too late because we have an early morning tomorrow, remember?" She nods happily before hopping off her stool and walking over to Amanda. I scoff when she grabs her hand, walking with her out of the shop and talking with her as if the last three years she'd been there just as much as Clara. I hop off my own stool and meet them outside. Amanda turns to me.

    "So do you want to follow me?" At first I'm confused, but then realize that she's talking about transportation. I shake my head.

    "Actually, we walked here. We're staying at the hotel that's right down the street." I put my hands into my jean pockets to stop myself from moving the strand of hair that had fallen in front of her face. Old habits die hard, ya know?

    "Wait, you guys are staying at the Monte Carlo?" I nod. "My parents own that hotel." She says this with excitement and I just nod, avoiding the odd feeling I had in the pit of my stomach.

    "Oh, that's great. Maybe then I actually will run into them."

    "I'm sure you will. They go to check up on the hotel every other day. And they try to visit each guest to ensure that they're staff is treating them correctly." When I don't answer and just nod instead, she continues. "Anyway, we can take my car."

    "Wait. How did Jake leave then?" She tenses up a bit at the mention of his name and I want to apologize and ask what happened but I stop myself short. It's none of my business.

    "He, uh, called a cab." I don't answer, catching the sense that she wanted to drop the topic. She unlocks her car which is a new Honda Accord.

    "Nice car. You always did have a knack for Hondas." I smile as I think to myself with the memory of her yelling at me to sell my old beat up truck and get a Honda cause they were 'more reliable' and 'ate up less gas'. In the end, I couldn't sell it because it had gotten wrecked to the point of no return.

    I have a Honda Civic now.

    "Yeah," she answers with a smile and gets in the driver seat. Max runs to the backseat and I get in the passenger side. I pull my seatbelt over my chest and look back at Max, giving her a look that said put on your seatbelt or else. I had understandably been strict about that with Max after the accident. Especially when I finally let her start sitting in the front seat. Sometimes, she'd even make Clara sit in the back. Clara would look at me to correct Max but I'd usually just laugh and let her take orders from a 10 year old.

    As she starts driving, she begins small talk. Well, anyone one the outside would consider it small talk but the fact that I was sitting next to her was indeed very huge. "So, 'Dad', huh?" She says with a tone that indicates that if she wasn't driving, she'd be elbowing my side and wiggling her eyebrows at me.

    Amanda, you have not changed one bit.

    "Yeah," I say with a small laugh. I look back at Max when I talk. "I guess she wanted a change." Max rolls her eyes at me, seemingly already done with the conversation. She extends her palm out in front me, something we'd agreed meant 'give me your phone and headphones and nobody gets hurt'. After one dirty look I got from and old lady in Publix, I didn't want her saying that in front of anyone anymore. To me it was funny. But apparently I had a fucked up sense of humor. I fish my phone and headphones out of my pocket and hand it to her. She immediately plugs it in and the music comes through the headphones loud enough to where I can hear it from the front seat. I give her a look and she immediately turns it down. I nod, satisfied and turn back around to face the front.

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