- A Serialized Novel -

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

Author’s Note: It’s amazing how many times having the same conversation can go completely wrong.

Saying the Wrong Thing Again

“Maybe for the next one, you should be Mac’s chauffeur. You can be Rochester.”

Mackenna laughed, and Carson smiled at her, but he had a feeling part of her job when she wasn’t fixing the cars was to be Mac’s navigator, helper, and even his relief. He should have time off to enjoy the drive, too, and having her here with Carson all the time was not going to make the older man like him. He had a feeling he was slipping lower and lower in Mac’s estimation, and the impression he made on their friends here wasn’t much better. He had to figure they all thought he was crazy at best and at worst…

He grimaced.

“What’s that look for?”

“I… It’s just that I feel like I’m taking you away from what you’re supposed to be doing here, and we haven’t managed to do anything with Phantom or tracking down who might have sold her to my father—if anyone did and he didn’t just… steal her or something—so I’m feeling a bit guilty.”

She shook her head. “Don’t. I’ve done most of what I need to, and this is only our third day here. I keep telling you that a lot of the drivers don’t even show up for the pretours. The ones you met at the car club won’t be down until this afternoon anyway. There’s still time to find someone who knows about Phantom, and she has been generating plenty of interest just by being here. Plus you got that memory back about your father and the toy Model T. That’s something.”

He nodded. It was, but he didn’t feel like it was much of anything. He knew he should, that he should be better about this, but he was not good at being optimistic. Mackenna somehow managed it with all her crazy theories and from what she’d said about her paranoia in the past… He didn’t see how she could. He didn’t understand that. She wasn’t lying, no, he didn’t think that, but she was a lot further in healing than he was—in some ways, but not in others.

“So while you were in the shower, I called your brothers.”

“You did what? How did you even get their numbers?”

She grinned. “I borrowed your phone. I know—they have even more of a wrong idea about us now—but I like telling people about the car runs and the things they can see, and maybe they’ll join us for a bit, but it can’t be that bad. Besides, Nick said his wife had the photo albums you wanted and that he’d bring them down if they decided to come.”

“I’m not sure that matters if Dad bought the car when I was a kid.”

“You’re not as upset as I thought you’d be.”

Carson shrugged. “Well, I guess it’s still possible that either of them was involved, but I don’t think that they were. If I was eight, then they were eleven and thirteen, and it’s not… not the same as it happening when I was in high school, when the dreams came up. That’s different. I mean… I still think that Grandpa must have covered it up for some reason or other, and I don’t know why, but that answer’s probably in my head, not anywhere else.”

She nodded. “Unfortunately, that’s true. Still, we have managed to prompt you a few times, haven’t we? The little Model T is something. Oh, on Saturday, you’ll see a lot of them. They always park their cars at Kingston. Maybe that will get you something.”

“I don’t know.”

“Would you like to be hypnotized? Or maybe you could talk to Nate. You know he’s studying to be a shrink.”

“Oh. Maybe that’s why I don’t like him much.”

She laughed. “It’s a part of why I don’t, that’s for sure. I don’t like being analyzed all the time. He felt that he had to call me on why most if not all of my friends are guys.”

“Your aunt.”

“Yeah. I think he would have pushed for all the gory details there, but I wouldn’t let him. He doesn’t need to know.”

“You told me.”

“I… A part of it, and I didn’t mean to, but yeah, I suppose I did,” she said, leaning her head against his shoulder. He frowned, not sure where this was coming from, but he wasn’t going to push her away. She’d been in such a hurry to finish the repairs he’d kept her from yesterday that she didn’t get much of a chance to do anything before this tour started, and he knew she’d wanted to do more than clean the grease off her hands. She should be all dressed up and enjoying herself, but she was babysitting him instead. “You didn’t get any new flashes last night, did you?”

“I fell asleep thinking about the puzzle.”

She grinned. “That’s what working on a car is like for me.”

“Bet you can’t wait to start on Phantom then.”

She frowned, looking down at her hands. “I’d like to, but at the same time, I don’t want to. It’s…”

“Too much work?”

“I’m not afraid of work. It’s not how much I’d have to do that’s bothering me. I can handle doing one from the ground up—I’ve been looking forward to doing a project like this for a while now, actually. It’s just that if I do it…”

“You’ll get attached and not be able to keep it? I thought I told you that I thought the car belonged with you and—”

“And you’ll go when I’m done with it, leaving it with me.”

“Well, it’s—”

“Don’t bother.” She sat back, shaking her head. He frowned, but before he could say anything, she had climbed up into the front seat with her grandfather, leaving Carson alone in the back, cursing himself for screwing that conversation up again.

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