Author’s Note: It was time for the two sides to meet. Or at least, time for Mackenna to meet the other Koslow boys.
“I’m not sure I understand what’s going on here,” Mackenna said, shaking her head at the paperwork. Whatever his company was up to, she couldn’t make heads or tails of it. She didn’t know what she was going to do to help Myers—or what Carson could do, and he was the expert there. Right now, she was lost. She didn’t have any kind of plan. “Is this supposed to make sense?”
“It’s a bureaucracy, so no.”
She laughed. That made sense. He came over and picked up the file, taking it over to his chair, flipping through the pages. He muttered to himself as he did, and she didn’t think that his babbling was confined to his flashbacks or nightmares. Babbling was a part of him.
A loud rap on the door made them both jump, and he dropped his papers. She stiffened, not sure who they should have been expecting. She hadn’t wanted to drive back before they did something about this Myers thing, and now the day was almost gone—so gone that Mac would be angry with her for driving the Airstream at night. She had more or less accepted that she’d be on Carson’s loveseat for another night, though she didn’t know how he’d feel about it. Still, neither of them were expecting anyone.
Carson rose, frowning. “I… Maybe it’s just a neighbor. Or something. I don’t know. Just a second.”
She nodded, leaning over to grab the papers for him while he dealt with the door. She shifted them into a neat stack and put them on the coffee table. She looked up in time to see two men pushing past Carson into the apartment, and she stood, trying to figure out what to do.
“Oh,” the blond said, stopping when he saw her. “Carson didn’t say he wasn’t alone.”
“Like you gave me a chance, Nick,” Carson said, rolling his eyes. “Mackenna, my brothers. Nick and Larry. They decided to come check on me in person.”
“You haven’t answered your phone since you left Grandpa’s,” the one Carson called Larry said, giving his brother a dirty look. “First you leave when we all thought you were too sick to go, then you ignore us, and we finally came to your apartment to make sure you weren’t dead. So sue us. If you ever answered your phone, you’d know we were worried. You also never called when you drove back. If you don’t want people barging in on you, tell them you’re fine for a change. We’re not that nosy.”
Carson shook his head. “Sure you’re not. I don’t believe that for a second.”
She smiled, leaning back and watching the show for a moment. She knew that Carson didn’t trust his brothers, but it was still nice to see the brothers interacting, acting like a family. She kept expecting Larry to grab Carson and give him a noogie, and she didn’t know why.
“So, you’re the reason why Carson was acting so weird and dodging us, huh?” Nick asked as he sat down on the other end of the loveseat, making himself at home. “He’s probably told you a bunch of stories about his brothers and now you’re wishing you’d run since we showed up.”
She looked at him. “I don’t run. Your mouth does, clearly.”
“I like your girlfriend,” Larry said, clapping Carson on the back. “I like anyone who gives Nick crap, though.”
“He likes it better when they’re picking on Carson,” Nick said, giving Larry a shove. Carson glared at both of them.
“Okay, first of all, Mackenna’s not my girlfriend, and in the second, you already confirmed that I’m alive and well, so you can go before you humiliate me further. Just go. Thank you for checking, but get out. Now.”
“Ooh, ouch,” Nick said, turning toward her. “I suppose we just ruined his chances, huh? You’ll never date him now, right? Not after this.”
She rolled her eyes. “I don’t know what it is about people that immediately makes them jump to the conclusion that two people of the opposite sex must be dating just because they’re in the same spot. That is ridiculous.”
“Well, Carson never has girls in his apartment, so we were naturally a bit confused.”
“Wow, way to dig the hole deeper,” Carson said, taking hold of Larry’s arm. “Go. Please. Before you make things any worse. You already managed to insult both of us and look like jerks, so your work here is done, trust me.”
“No, no, we’re dragging you out to dinner first. Come on, Carson, when was the last time you ate?” Larry said, pushing his brother toward the door. He looked back over his shoulder. “You’re welcome to join us if you can put up with us, but it’s a rule—if we’re in town, we make our baby brother eat. He doesn’t take good enough care of himself.”
“I’m thinking steak,” Nick said as he rose. “At least for me. Carrie went all vegetarian on me, and I would love some red meat. Carrie’s my wife, by the way. I’m married. Don’t worry. I won’t make a play for you since you’re not with Carson. Can’t say the same about Larry.”
“Well, if she’s single…” Larry said, winking at her. Nick laughed as he reached for the door handle. Opening it, he and Larry pushed Carson out the door, leaving her shaking her head at all of them.