Author’s Note: It was time to get back to the main plot again.
“It’s always one of these cars with you two, isn’t it?” Carson asked, seeing Mac out by the car shed, the black—no, wait, it was green—Maxwell out again, and the old man under the hood. He was tinkering with something, but Carson didn’t know enough about cars to guess what, not from here, and even if he were closer, he still wouldn’t know.
Mackenna grinned. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
He rolled his eyes as she drove the Airstream closer to where her grandfather was working. The sun was almost gone, and he’d be putting the Maxwell and this car away in a minute, telling Mackenna to make dinner or something, but for now, he was where Carson had to figure he wanted to be—with his favorite cars. That was all that mattered to this family, wasn’t it?
Then again, they’d had their fair share of tragedies, what with both of Mac’s sons dying young, one of them committing suicide, and he’d even lost his granddaughter for a time while Mackenna’s aunt kept her from knowing that Mac even existed.
Nice family there. Even with a possible killer in his, he didn’t think his was half that bad, and he knew that he never wanted to meet her aunt. He didn’t know that he could be sympathetic to the woman’s loss or anything, not after what she’d exposed Mackenna to—if she couldn’t handle raising the girl, she should have sent Mackenna to Mac and his wife. No excuses.
“You all right over there? You’ve got one of those looks on your face again.”
“I guess I just can’t help thinking about the past.”
“Not even for one minute?”
“Is it pathetic if I’m becoming one of my older brothers and getting all protective of you? I swear, if I saw your aunt, I’d chew her out or worse. I don’t know… It seems wrong to me that she didn’t give you to Mac years ago if she couldn’t handle things after your uncle died.”
Mackenna nodded. She parked the car in front of the shed. “Yeah, it’s something that’s bothered me for years—keeps me from speaking to her. After I called her up to tell her that I was here and alive, I asked her about it, and she never answered. I never called her again.”
“I don’t blame you.”
She smiled at him as she opened the door. “I do like having you around. You are a good brother.”
He doubted that, since his relationships with his brothers were strained and awkward half the time, with either them thinking he was crazy or him being annoyed by their smothering. He didn’t get along with them on a good day—something was always going wrong. Maybe it was just the way things worked with families, maybe it was some kind of underlying tension with his brothers, something about the murder.
“You don’t look much like your brothers, do you?”
Carson shrugged. He never had, not really, but that didn’t bother him so much. They were his brothers. They were always around, always picking on him or getting him in trouble “to protect” him. He hated the way they tattled on him.
“You have gotten so big, haven’t you?”
He frowned. “I don’t know you.”
“No, I suppose you wouldn’t, but I know you. I can see myself in you so clearly… Oh, you’re young yet, but in a few years, you’ll be a dead ringer. We could be twins.” The man reached out and ran a hand along Carson’s cheek, and he jerked back. “What, didn’t they ever show you pictures of me? It’s okay, Carson. I’m your father.”
He didn’t know how this man knew him, but he had to be wrong. “I don’t have a father.”
“Yes, you do. I’ve been away, but I’m back now.”
The man put a finger to his lips. “Shh. It’ll be our secret for now. Don’t tell anyone you saw me.”