Author’s Note: It was almost just Carson and his brothers, but that’s not half as fun.
“So, really, you should just have told us you got a girlfriend.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend. Mackenna’s not my girlfriend. She’s… a friend, yeah, and a woman, but she’s not—we’re not dating. If anything, she’s… a business partner,” Carson said, finding the words awkward and hoping that she didn’t take his brothers up on the offer to join them. She could have whatever was in his apartment to eat if she needed something, but the whole visit seemed ruined now that his brothers had come in and made that assumption. She was just a friend. A sister, maybe, and he couldn’t tell them how much he needed her to help him through this whole business with the car and his memories and getting him over all of it.
He needed her. He could not have his brothers screwing this up.
“Yeah, uh… The car. She’s the one I took it to. Well, the granddaughter of the guy I took it to. She’s a good mechanic, and she had some ideas about the car and how to best handle it, so that’s what we’re working on. The car.”
Nick frowned. “I thought that was such a junk heap that all you were going to do was sell it off for what they’d give to you.”
“It’s worth a lot more restored, and we’re still trying to find out if we can do that, how much we’d have to invest in it, what kind of interest there would be. She’s got a car show she wants to take it to next week, and we’ll show it around, get a sense of the potential and whether or not it’s worth doing anything with.”
Larry nodded. “Sounds like a good idea, actually. Investing a little, getting more out of it, and you know, maybe it would be worth something to a museum, if nothing else. Shame we have no idea where it came from.”
“Did… Who ended up with the photo albums? I forgot in all the confusion and upset after the will got read,” Carson said, looking from one of his brothers to the other. “They didn’t go to Uncle Tim or his wife. There was a specific bequest for them, and maybe in there somewhere is a picture of the car from when it was new and in our family.”
“You think it’s been in the barn for more than thirty years?”
“Why not? It’s possible, isn’t it?” Carson shrugged, though a part of him kicked himself for not thinking of it sooner. “If they don’t want to look, they can just let me borrow them for a while, and I’ll get them back as soon as I’m done. A car with a story—like one that’s been in the same family for over a hundred years—that’s a better sell than one with nothing. You should see the one her grandfather has. It’s all original. He’s never changed a thing except the passenger seat because the cushion was worn too thin and hurt his wife when she rode with him.”
Nick shook his head. “Somehow, I don’t think you’re going to sell that car. No, you’ll get all attached to it and become one of those strange old men who takes his special car out on Sundays and pisses everyone off by making them drive thirty miles in a sixty-five zone.”
Carson rolled his eyes. “I’m not that old—I’m also not going to keep the car. I just figured this was a better way of dealing with it. You won’t find me out tinkering all the time. You know I’m no mechanic. You couldn’t wait to give me crap about my real car, remember?”
“Has that thing fallen apart on you yet, or has your girlfriend fixed it?”
“Damn it, she’s not my girlfriend. Stop calling her that. You make her sound like… something less than she is.”
“And that would be a shame, because I’m a hell of a lot more than anyone thinks,” Mackenna said, joining them. “I thought it was women who liked to gossip, but you boys couldn’t even get in your car without talking about me. I’m not sure if I’m flattered or disappointed.”
“Be flattered,” Larry told her. “You’re on the minds of three good-looking brothers. You could almost have your pick, other than the one that’s married, so take it as a compliment and commence making us squirm because you know you can.”
She lifted an eyebrow. “Where are these three good-looking men? I’m not seeing any around.”
Carson laughed. “Thank you. We all deserved that.”
“You bet you did,” she said, leaning against the car. “So, I was thinking… steak dinner, someone else buying, how could I refuse? I’ve just got one question—there a limit on how many drinks I can have?”
“Uh,” Nick began, about to tell her that they hadn’t said anything about paying for it—Carrie would kill him for that—but Larry just grinned, shaking his head.
“No limit. I’m curious to see how much a lady mechanic can drink down.”
“One problem with that.”
“You can’t hold your liquor?”
“No. I’m not and never have been a lady.”