Author’s Note: Fair warning… Don’t drink a mixed drink at the Legion in question. It’s always stronger than you expect. Of course, if you don’t drink beer, you don’t have much choice, but I’d say keep it to one rum and Coke and ask for extra Coke. Just trust me on that one. 😛
“Carrie’ll make sure we get to the hotel okay. Don’t worry about us. We’re not driving back tonight,” Larry said, and Carson gave him a look. While his sister-in-law hadn’t had as much as either of the others—Mackenna couldn’t seem to resist a drinking contest, which was not a good thing—and was more or less clear-headed, he didn’t like the idea of sending them off on their own. Then again, he wasn’t sure he could leave Mackenna on her own for more than a few minutes, as tipsy as she was. Even Carson had drank more than his usual, not comfortable discussing what he’d learned with his brothers, and he knew it was a mistake, but he didn’t know how else to keep himself calm just then.
“He’s going to worry no matter what,” Mackenna said, leaning against him. “He does that. Carson worries. A lot.”
He looked at her. “You might have a problem, you know.”
She shook her head. “Not a drunk. I swear. It’s only Sundays at the Legion, and I’m not like this most of the time. I promise. Not an alcoholic. Tried hard not to be. It’s just that it all hits at once, and I sound like a drunk. I’m sorry.”
He put an arm around her waist to keep her upright. “You have the keys to the Woodsman? Mac went back with Natalie and Jim, I think.”
“Yes. I have keys. I think I’ll sleep in Shadow, though. That way you don’t have to worry about driving. See? Perfect solution.”
He rolled his eyes. “No, it’s not, but we’ll make sure you stop before it hits you next time.”
“Are you still mad that I invited everyone?”
“No, I’m not mad.” He didn’t know that he could stay mad at her. He hadn’t wanted to try or anything, but so far anything she’d done that had upset him had passed, the anger or frustration or horror—that was when they discussed theories about what happened to his father—that all seemed to fade almost as fast as it came.
“Good.” Mackenna tried to straighten herself up, didn’t quite manage it, and let out a sigh. “So… In the morning there’s a brunch, and I don’t know if the tickets are all sold out or not, but the cafe has good food, too. You can try that or eat before you leave Wilmar. If you find us before ten, you can ride along for the lake tour, after which we get root beer floats. It’s a tradition.”
“Sounds good,” Larry said, smiling. Carrie gave him a look. “Come on. It’s not every day you get to ride around in antique car and get a bonus root beer float. Don’t be a spoilsport.”
“I’m going to get Carson to dress up in costume for the parade. You have to stick around for that, at least. Mac would say it was imposing, but Natalie did tell me to tell you she had room for all of you. So there’s that if you’re worried about money for the motel.”
“I don’t remember that,” Carson said, frowning. “Are you sure she said that? You didn’t just come up with that after all that drinking because they didn’t say they had that many spare rooms.”
“No, but they have a couch or two and people can share rooms. We talked about it in the bathroom, if you must know.”
“They did,” Carrie said. She let out a breath. “I’m surprised that you didn’t argue with her about the costume thing.”
“Oh, I basically lost that battle last week, but there’s still no guarantee that what she brought is going to fit me. I might not be in costume.”
“You’re really getting into all of this, aren’t you?” Nick asked, and Carson shrugged. He didn’t know how much of it he was into, but he did know that he couldn’t seem to argue with Mackenna, and she was into this stuff. That meant that it was going to be important to him, too, as long as he was spending time with her.
“Carson is involved, after all. He owns the car,” Mackenna said, and then she frowned. He watched her, hoping she wasn’t about to puke on him. “Well, maybe.”
“Yeah, if Dad got it through some kind of criminal activity, I’m not sure Carson can keep it, but we’ll see about that when we know all the facts.”
“If it was a crime that happened that long ago, I’m not sure they can do anything about the funds, but we’ll have to see. Who knows?”
“Shut up, Nick. I’m not calling my ex-wife.”
“We should find Larry a girlfriend, right?”
“Come on, Mackenna. Let’s get you back to Jim and Natalie’s before you start a fight.”