- A Serialized Novel -

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

Author’s Note: I do have the blanket. I picked it up a few years back, and it’s actually on my bed at the moment. Soft and warm, with a nice embroidered logo. So is the one I won when they had some kind of scavenger hunt raffle.

We usually stay with a very nice family in New London for the run, so I incorporated that idea into Carson’s story.

Supplies and Lodgings

“I don’t have the money for this.”

“You don’t have to get it all. Mac and I get a shirt because they include one in the registration pack, so that part’s covered, but I have to admit, I like the rest of it, too. I got the blanket a couple years ago, and Mac gives me this look every time I take it out in the morning, but the morning’s are cold even if it doesn’t rain.”

“You do this in the rain? You are crazy.”

Mackenna shoved him. He stumbled a little, but he didn’t fall. He glared at her, and she laughed. “You know, I did pack some of Mac’s old costumes when I grabbed his stuff, so you could forgo all of this and dress up with me.”


“You’d be quite the picture.”

“Yeah, nice, and I’m supposed to pretend that I didn’t notice your phrasing there. You can’t even say I’d look good in it, can you? You couldn’t pull off that lie—you know I’ll look ridiculous—and so you tried that instead, but it was pathetic.”

She forced a smile. “It’s not like I can’t picture you in them. When I found them, I thought they’d be perfect for you. Much better than that awful suit of yours. You could do a lot better. I’m not kidding. You wouldn’t look ridiculous.”

He gave her a dubious look, and she nodded. She didn’t think that she could explain it. She didn’t think she should. She didn’t want to dwell on what he’d look like. Her reaction to it, the way she wanted so badly to see him like that, all of that worried her. She shouldn’t want it. She shouldn’t want a lot of things, and it bothered her that she did.

“I don’t think so. It’ll make people think I belong here, that I know more about this than I do, and I don’t. I’m… That’s not me. I’m here for a completely different reason.”

“We were in the car together too long. I’m gonna smack you.”

He rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to lie. You know that I don’t know much of anything about this stuff, and I don’t think it’s right to let anyone think that I do. Really, it’s not. I’m here because you took pity on me, not because—Ow.”

“I warned you,” she said, shaking her head. “Come on. Mac should be done by now, and we can go get settled in.”

“Right. I was going to ask you where the hotel was.”

Mackenna laughed. “I guess years and years ago, Mac stayed in the hotels around here, since he hadn’t quite developed the same relationship with his tow drivers that he has now. Well, I can’t say I blame the ones that disliked driving for him. The Woodsman can be a real pain. Still, I think things changed a bit after my grandmother died. They took pity on him, I guess, and ever since then, they’ve offered to let them stay with them while we’re here.”

Carson swallowed. “What? You didn’t mention anything about staying with someone. It’s some stranger’s house, and I bet you didn’t even ask them if I could stay—and I can’t. Not with the way my nights have been going lately. I wake everyone with my nightmares, and I’m not doing it, not to some poor kind stranger. I need a hotel room.”


“No, I do. This isn’t something I can give in on. I cannot do that. It’s bad enough what I’ve done in front of you and Mac, but these people are opening their home to you, and I can’t just… It’s not something I can do. I won’t.”

She frowned. “This isn’t at all about the whole you and me and people getting the wrong idea thing, is it? Because you know we’re not—they’re not—”

“No, but that’s another reason why I should get a room of my own.”

“Okay, how about you meet them first before you go jumping to the conclusion that you can’t handle being around them? I’d even suggest you try it tonight before you go off and get a room of your own—you just got done saying you couldn’t afford to get all the stuff you want here, so why would you want to have that added expense if it wasn’t necessary?”

“To combat the humiliation I know I’ll feel when I wake everyone.”

“Did you wake everyone last night?”


“Then you might not do it tonight.” She put a hand on his arm, getting him to stare at it for a moment. “You said you trusted me.”

“I do.”

“Then try it. Please. You can’t avoid every social situation because you’re uncomfortable.”

He lowered his head. “Something about this is making me real nervous, and I don’t think it’s a good idea. I guess I can meet them, but don’t expect me to change my mind. I don’t think I will.”

“Maybe not. Still, I’m not sure that it would be any better in a hotel. Some of those walls are very thin, and you’re going to wake a lot more than me and Mac there.”

He winced. “I hate this.”

“We’re getting closer to your answers. Try and remember that.”

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