Author’s Note: Still having fun with the costumes. 🙂
“Carrie, get a picture of this. Or a dozen. Look at our baby brother, Nick. He seems rather… dapper, don’t you think?”
“Shut up, Larry. I swear I will smack you,” Carson said, not feeling up to dealing with his brothers at the moment. He’d known that it would be bad when they saw him, but he’d thought that he could hold out for a while and not lose his temper, but that didn’t work. He felt self-conscious enough with this outfit on—he knew it wasn’t that different from his normal clothes, but he didn’t feel right in them, not that he thought he’d be comfortable until he could get away from Mackenna for a while. True, she was in with the drivers at the brunch and he was with his family, but when she’d been around, all he could think about was her, and that wasn’t right. He wanted things back the way they were. They were good friends. That was all they needed to be.
“You clean up very nice,” Carrie told him, adjusting the little tie that went with the shirt and fixing the band on his sleeve. She was so a mom, wasn’t she? Not that she and Nick had kids, but she was more than ready for them. “Try not to fidget so much.”
He snorted. “Around Larry and Nick? All they’ve done my entire life is torment me, and I’m just feeding the fire right now.”
She smiled at him. “You know that’s not true. At least not about tormenting you. In their way, they both love you very much.”
“It does not feel like it right now.”
“It never does.” Carrie stepped back to survey her work and nodded. “Better. Where is Mackenna?”
“Oh, she’ll be along in a minute. The driver’s meeting and brunch goes over the route for tomorrow, so it’s important, and she’s got to be there for it. She said we’d have to work out schedules for who wanted to ride when, though. We can look at the route if you’re coming tomorrow and pick times, but we’re also going to need to decide about today—”
“Well, one thing’s for sure,” Nick said, shaking his head. “You have to be in the car the entire time. You can’t not go, not when you’re all dressed up like that.”
Carson groaned. He never should have done this, but he hadn’t been able to come up with any other reason to prod Mackenna out of his room this morning, and if he didn’t get her out of there when he did, something would have happened that would have ruined everything. He couldn’t do that. He had to stop himself.
“I don’t see her anywhere, and everyone’s been huddled around the cars for a while now.”
“Not all of those people are drivers or owners. Lots of people like to look at the cars while they’re in town. There were even people looking at the one I have, some who wanted to buy it,” Carson said, and now that he did, he swore he felt those eyes on him again. Damn it, he was way too paranoid. He couldn’t keep doing this.
“Hey, look, Carson, that woman’s dressed up, too. Why don’t you go introduce yourself? Oh, wait, you’re not dating Mackenna.”
Carson rolled his eyes. “Not funny. Well, no, wait, it is a bit funny.”
Carrie snorted, the first to realize what Carson was getting at, and she shook her head. “Honestly, boys. You’re almost pathetic. That is Mackenna.”
“No way. She’s not—Damn. She is. She looks hot, too.”
“Yes, the heat is rather annoying, isn’t it?” Carrie muttered, and Carson almost laughed after his brothers seemed to take her words at face value. He couldn’t believe them sometimes. Of course, if Nick stared at Mackenna any more than he already was, he was going to get a smack from Carrie.
“There you are. I was hoping you’d meet us up here,” Mackenna said when she jointed them. “Have you decided how you want to rotate who’s riding when?”
“I think Carson should be in the car the entire time. You know, since he went to all the trouble of dressing up for you.”
“I didn’t do it for her,” Carson protested, and then he winced when he realized that he had done it for her, one way or another. “Um, never mind.”
Mackenna laughed. “It’s okay. I think it was sweet of you to cave in to my whims, and I would like it if you rode with us all day, but especially for the parade since you did dress up.”
“If I were to dress up, would there be some kind of bonus points like… a kiss?” Larry asked, moving close to her. “I should mention how nice you look today. Not that your normal look is bad or anything like that, but you do more than clean up good, you know.”
She flushed as red as her hair, and Carson swore he might just hit his brother. Not that he had any right to claim her, not that they hadn’t been denying that they were dating or anything like it since they met, but Mackenna was his. He didn’t like hearing his brother flirt with her, and he really hated seeing her respond to it.
Great, now he was jealous, too. He’d almost wish for a flashback at this rate. He was going to do something really stupid if he didn’t get himself under control fast.