- A Serialized Novel -

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

Author’s Note: It was Mackenna’s turn to share a bit. 🙂

Sharing a Bit More Than Theories

“Any better now?”

“I think your grandfather hates me.”

“Oh, please,” Mackenna said, not sure where Carson had gotten that idea. Sure, they’d bailed on dinner with Jim and Natalie, but they would be eating with them another night. That always seemed to happen when they were in town for the run. She bet he hadn’t done anything about the card and gift certificate that they always got them as a thank you, but that didn’t mean that mac had any reason to be upset with Carson. “Mac’s a bit gruff with everyone, including me. He used to blame it on his Scottish ancestry, but we all know that not every Scot is like that, so he couldn’t keep using it as an excuse.”

“It’s not just that. He’s been giving me the evil eye since that car club dinner, and I just seem to make it worse.”

She thought she knew exactly how Carson could fix that, but she didn’t want to get into it just now. That was crossing lines she didn’t want to cross. They had the house to themselves, with plenty of things to amuse themselves with, but she had a feeling it would always go back to the same topic, at least until he got his memories back.

“I think we need this,” she said, rising to grab the puzzle box off the shelf behind him. He frowned at her as she brought it back to the table. “I told you why I like working on cars. It’s too dark now, but I need something to keep my hands busy, and you could use something, too.”

“I’m surprised you’re not trying to make me play dress up.”

She laughed, opening the box and setting the lid aside. “I did want to get you into costume, but since that would stress you out and your stomach is already iffy, I thought we’d save it for after we’d talked things out a bit. You’re worried about how your father had the money to buy the car, aren’t you?”

Carson nodded, taking a handful of pieces and sorting out the ones with the edge on them. “We weren’t rich. Ever. It wasn’t just about my mother’s depression. The farm had stopped making much of any money years before, and Dad was not exactly an entrepreneur. We lived at the farm before he left because they couldn’t afford a place of their own.”

“Could be an innocent reason for that. Could be he inherited money after he left.”

“From who? My great-grandparents on his side were already dead. He was an only child. We never knew any family on his side, just on Mom’s.”

“Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it was someone you never met, someone who didn’t approve of your father’s marriage and cut him off. The way he got back in their good graces was to deny all of you. Not honorable, but not all that surprising, either.”

“Just unlikely.” Carson set a few pieces on the table and started organizing them. “What if he was a criminal? That fits with the handgun part. He could have gone on some kind of spree, could have even been… in prison. Actually, that fits with part of what he told me—that he had a good reason for staying away. Why not that?”

“Except if he was in prison, how did everyone lose track of him for the eight years between your birth and his return?”

Carson shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for everything. All we have is a bunch of theories.”

“Yeah. I’m good at theories. Too good.”

He gave her a look, and she sighed, scooting closer to him before letting her head rest on his shoulder. “My aunt was a mess, you know. Between her hypochondria and the rest of her issues, she was pretty much incapable of holding down a job. We got stuck with her parents on and off for a while, and they didn’t want kids around. They’d raised theirs, and they were done. I’m not even so sure they wanted her in the first place. Living with them was… unbearable. So many rules, so many ways to screw up, and I did just about every day.”

“Like the alcohol thing?”

“Oh, yeah. He had his under lock and key, thought he was so righteous because he only ever had one drink a week—on Sundays with dinner. I don’t think I would even have cared so much about it if he didn’t accuse me of trying to get in there every time I was in the kitchen. I got so sick of being accused of something I didn’t do that I did it. I emptied every bottle he had and got sick in the process, but he kept buying his wine, and I kept on drinking a bit at a time just to piss him off.”

Carson winced. “Were you there for a long time?”

“No. To give my aunt what little credit she’s due, she did try and make it on her own. It’s just when she did, she couldn’t afford much. An apartment in the crappiest part of town, you know the type. The walls were so thin you could hear everything. I couldn’t sleep for wondering if I was going to be next. The next to overdose, the next to be knocked around or raped or killed. All kinds of things went on in those apartment buildings, and I could hear them all, could imagine being a part of them… Sometimes I couldn’t tell if I was still just imagining things or if some of them had happened. I didn’t sleep, and I learned too much about the ugly side of life. It doesn’t even need to touch you to mess with you. You know what could have been, and there’s not much keeping you from it, just you holding your breath behind the closet door and maybe even praying that the stranger who wandered into the apartment while your aunt is gone won’t realize you’re there.”

She felt Carson’s arm go around her waist. “You know that you now have two older brothers that would hold onto anyone who tried and let you kick their ass for thinking about doing anything to you. Larry and Nick will help protect you from all the bad that’s out there.”

“Oh? Why just them? Why don’t I have three brothers to protect me?”

He laughed. “Because they always had to rescue me from the bullies. I’d be right there in trouble with you.”

“Ah. I see. That works, too.”

“It had better. That’s the best I can do.”

“Quit selling yourself short. This is a lot more than you think.”

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