- A Serialized Novel -

Sorting out Carson's legacy only leads to more questions.

Author’s Note: I wanted to use these cufflinks in the story for a long time now, and I couldn’t resist them being the catalyst for… something else. 😉

Carson’s Present

“You sure you don’t want anything to eat?”

Carson shook his head. Food repulsed him at the moment. He’d already had to fend of Natalie and Mac’s disapproving look when he refused breakfast, and he didn’t know why Mackenna would bother asking. She knew that he’d lost his stomach in the night, and she should know better than to ask. “I’m still a bit queasy. You said there was plenty of stuff at the stops, so maybe later on I’ll feel like eating.”

“It’s a good thing your brothers weren’t willing to get up this early. They’d be harassing you about getting carsick.”

“I’d better not. Maybe I shouldn’t go with you. I know you think I should, but I don’t want to puke in the Maxwell and ruin this for everyone.”

She put her hands on his face. “Just remember that I don’t think you’re a killer, and I think you’ll be okay. You can’t resist me, so you may as well except what I say as fact then.”

He almost laughed, and he did manage a smile. She grinned back at him, and he tried to hold onto her confidence, wanting to believe that she was right even if most of him screamed that she had to be wrong. He didn’t know what to do if she was wrong, though. He didn’t think he could handle the consequences of that. He wasn’t sure if he’d have to be committed or serve time or what.

Maybe it was an accident. Maybe it was not what he thought at all.

“You are not a killer,” Mackenna repeated, and he nodded, letting his head rest against hers for a moment. She was sure, and he could let her go on being confident enough for the both of them, couldn’t he? He didn’t know. Maybe. He’d try. “I think I’d better get you your present.”

“My present?”

She nodded before she turned to the car, digging around in one of the containers cluttering the backseat. He watched her with a frown, not sure what she’d think he needed out of the Maxwell. She leaned back and held up an item in triumph before jumping off the car.

“Here. Mac refuses to wear these because he thinks they’re Fords, but they’re cute, and only he would know that, anyway,” Mackenna said, taking hold of Carson’s hand. He watched as she put the cufflink through the hole, trying to remember how he’d gotten into this mess, and then she fixed the other, giving him a wide grin. “Perfect. You look just like you belong.”

He should say something about how stupid he felt dressed up like this, that he didn’t know how she’d talked him into it, but after yesterday, he couldn’t help thinking about something else. Combine that with his dream last night and the way she’d tried to talk him out of his worst fears, he didn’t know how to react. He wanted to do something, to tell her how much all of this meant to him, but he couldn’t find any words. He should hug her, maybe. That would work. “Mackenna…”

“Your outfit is complete now,” she said, reaching up to adjust his shirt collar.

He couldn’t help it. He put his hand on her back, leaning forward to catch her lips with his, knowing he was making a huge mistake. This would ruin everything, and he needed her too much to let that happen, but he hadn’t stopped himself. Couldn’t, even now. She should smell like the cars, like grease and oil, but right now she was a bit floral—must have been her shampoo—and he found it a bit dizzying, though that could have been his stomach still being off from the night before. He couldn’t believe he’d done that.

He was a killer. He had no business kissing anyone, and he shouldn’t be kissing her because he knew this was going to ruin their friendship. He was an idiot.

Mackenna stepped back, blinking. “Um…”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. It’s just… You in a dress made me realize—No. It’s—I’m just trying to—I’m wrecking everything. That’s what I do. I didn’t—I shouldn’t have kissed you. I’m sorry.”

“We share the car.”


“And I get to keep you forever.”

“Um, Mackenna, I don’t know what you’re—”

She cut him off with another kiss. Oh. So he hadn’t managed to screw everything up after all. Good. Very good.

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