Author’s Note: I didn’t really feel like I should post anything today, but I figure I probably owe people the end of the story. So, here it is. The end.
Well, I did leave it so that I could write a sequel. I even started that. I just don’t know if I’ll ever finish it.
“You are a celebrity now,” Larry said, passing Mackenna the newspaper, and she grimaced, shoving it under her plate. She was tired of seeing herself hailed as some kind of hero. Her plan had been stupid, and it had almost cost Carson his life, but all anyone wanted to hear was how the “strong” woman had “saved” her man and taken down a bad guy that the police and feds had been hunting for thirty years. She was now some kind of urban legend of her own—a female mechanic turned Wonder Woman and doing it in period dress so that made her something out of a steampunk comic, did it? She was now her own myth, at least in a few of the local papers. She wanted it to all die down and be forgotten. She didn’t like all the fuss or the exaggeration. She didn’t deserve it.
“I’m actually glad that it’s not me,” Carson said, grunting as he reached for his fork. His side was bothering him again, but any time one of them suggested he take a pain pill, he got annoyed and refused. He was way too stubborn sometimes. “I don’t want the attention. It’ll be bad enough when they start the trial.”
Nick gave him a look of pity. “Maybe he’ll confess, and you won’t have to deal with it.”
Carson snorted. “He’s going to try and pin Dad’s death on me again, and if he does it this time, he really will get away with it.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Mackenna.”
She shook her head. “We’ll find some way of making sure he gets what’s coming to him. What he did to your father, to you, to your whole family… He deserves to pay for that. It’s not like he didn’t hurt others, either. Between the robbery and your dad, he should end up behind bars for the rest of his life. That is, if budget cuts don’t get in the way.”
She shrugged. “So I’m never going to be Miss Optimist. It’s not who I am. Who cares?”
“None of us,” Larry told her with a grin. “We’re glad to have you joining the family just the way you are.”
“Larry, the wedding talk is still forbidden,” Carrie told him, and Mackenna thought Carson was doing his best to pretend he hadn’t heard either of them. “Leave it alone.”
“Why should I? His big objection was because he thought he killed Dad, and now he knows what we all did—that he didn’t. He was used by the guy to confuse the issue, but he didn’t kill Dad. Dad wasn’t a monster. Now we have the truth. We should celebrate. Carson no longer has to be stuck in the past because he can’t remember. He does. He can move on. Right next to him is his reason to move on.”
Mackenna felt herself blushing. Carson groaned. “If we get married, I’m going to make sure we elope so that none of you are there. I swear.”
She laughed, leaning over to kiss his cheek. “If we can survive a killer, we can survive a wedding, if and when we have it.”
“I love you,” she told him. He frowned, blinking at her, and she nodded. “I know. I never officially said it before, but I think it got forced into perspective when the guy had you at gunpoint and I had to do something because I couldn’t lose you. I kind of figured I’d gotten broken enough not to trust enough to love anyone, but then you snuck in there, and it happened when I didn’t mean for it to, so… yeah. I love you.”
“See? Now you have to marry her.”
“Go to hell, Larry.”
From the way the boys looked at Carrie, she was the one who usually made the comments like that, but this time it had come from Mac, and the rest of them were too stunned to react right away. He grunted. “That’s better. Tell him about the car, Mackenna.”
“What about the car?”
“Oh, while you were in the hospital and the story was kind of a big deal… the guy we never managed to make time to talk to—the owner of the other Maxwell Messenger on the run—he told Mac about the guy he’d consulted about his car, and when Mac spoke to him, he found out that there was a bit of what the guy’s son called a ‘swindle’ when that car got sold to your father.”
“The son’s convinced it was worth a lot more than your father paid for it, and his father’s a bit too senile these days to remember properly, but he supposedly didn’t want the burden of overhauling Phantom, so he sold her to your dad for less than half what she was worth.”
Mackenna shook her head. “No. We’re not. She’s really yours, Carson. Well, I suppose you’d have to talk that over with your brothers because your grandfather technically didn’t have the right to will her to you when your father’s estate would have been split between the four of you—you three and your mother—but she’s not stolen. She didn’t get bought with money from the robbery. She’s yours to keep.”
“You mean she’s ours.”
“Yeah,” Mackenna said, smiling. Then she frowned. “Wait, is that a proposal?”