Author’s Note: It’s not easy for Carson to get past all his issues, especially not when there’s interference.
“For the lovebirds.”
Carson frowned, looking up as someone set two beers on the table. “Um, I don’t know what you think, but you’re wrong, and you don’t—”
“I know I told you that this was not a date,” Mackenna said, glaring at the man who’d joined them. He was younger than most of the others around them, and Carson didn’t remember seeing him when she told her friends she wasn’t joining them, but that didn’t matter. He’d been too distracted at the time. The bartender had given him a weird look when he ordered, and he didn’t think he’d managed to calm down for at least an hour after that last flashback, and while he knew he’d had more than one beer, he couldn’t remember how many it was.
“She breaks the hearts at this thing every year, you know,” the man went on, ignoring Mackenna’s reaction. “They all love her, but they never stand a chance.”
“That why you think you need to interrupt us?” Carson asked. He shook his head. “Look, we were discussing something private and important, and I don’t know who you are, but please, just go. It’s not what you think, and it’s not—”
“Relax. I’m not here to make any kind of play for your girl.”
“I am not anyone’s girl, Nate. I told all of you that Carson and I had something to discuss—”
“My parents called. They said they found Mac, and he’s looking for the two of you. Also, there’s a bunch of interest in your friend’s car already. I guess Mac took it out, and a couple people gave him offers on the spot.”
Carson shifted in his chair, not sure how to react to that. “I didn’t think the car was worth that much, not as it is.”
“Depends on the collector. Some people around here would love to get at yours because it’s almost all original. Some of them like that. Didn’t Mackenna tell you that? If you’re going to be chatting about the car anyway, you might as well be doing it with people who are wanting to do stuff with it.”
“Honestly, I didn’t think Mac was getting it out until later, and right now is not a good time—”
“Did someone really shoot it?”
Carson put a hand to his head, but before he could respond, the others had joined Nate at the table, surrounding them. They were all talking at once, and he shook his head, getting up. He knew they meant well, but he did not know how to be in a crowd right now. Mackenna hadn’t told them what they were discussing—his father’s murder—or they might have been more willing to give them space, and while he was grateful to her for that, he didn’t want to do this now. The flashback had shaken him more than he wanted to admit.
“Hey. Don’t let Nate chase you off.”
“Now I need air,” he told her, giving her a look. “I know why we’re here, and I know it’s important to see what others think of the car, but I was only just getting to where I could talk about that flashback when we got interrupted.”
“I can’t talk about our theories in front of anyone else. That’s… It’s… I don’t want the worst to be true, and I can’t have random strangers knowing about those things, especially since we don’t know if any of them are true.”
“You don’t have to. I don’t see these people that often, and some of them are pushier than others. I didn’t want to tell them why we needed to be alone, so I just left it about the car, and that was a mistake because they must have figured we were done with all that kind of talk by now.”
Carson nodded. She reached for his hand. “You look exhausted. If we can find Nate’s parents, maybe we should head out to their place and let you rest for a bit. You can sleep now and not worry about waking anyone in the night.”
“You are so close now. A few more memories, and you’ll know everything.”
“I think that’s part of what I’m afraid of.”