My Light Is You

Author’s Note: I knew this scene was what I wanted to do with the lyrics from Do You Believe? I did, but I didn’t know how to get right, and having put it down on paper, it still feels wrong. The end was hard to do, and I don’t know that this would make the final version of the book, but this does at least get my intent across.

My eyes will open to the darkness
And in the darkness will be you
And in the darkness my only light is you
And in the darkness the light is in your eyes


My Light Is You

She was trapped. Her nails scraped along the metal, fingers finding no purchase as she tried to free herself. She couldn’t get out, couldn’t make anything move. She couldn’t breathe, the air was so thin and she could practically feel it disappearing. She couldn’t get enough breath in her lungs, and panic had taken hold of her, making her want to scream and cry and pound on the walls.

Someone had to hear her. They had to let her out. She just needed some help. She could get out, she could still make it. She could live. She would get out of here. She just needed a little more time, a little more air… If someone would just hear her…

“Mackenna, wake up.”

She heard Carson’s voice and looked around in confusion. The room was too dark. They’d actually fallen asleep in bed for a change, not on the couch or one of the cars, and it was almost black in here with those curtains. She normally preferred that over shadows—she only slept in full light or full darkness—but not tonight.

“Carson?”

He leaned over her, and she couldn’t see much, just his eyes, which should have been creepy, but it was good to know he was there.

“You had the nightmare this time,” he said, reaching over to brush back some of her hair. “I had a hard time waking you. Are you… Do you want to talk about it?”

She sighed. Not particularly, but she did push him to share his—partially because his involved memories he’d needed to unlock—so she should reciprocate once and a while. “It was… dumb. I just… For some reason, I was… it was me in the trunk, like that man we found… and I was alive when I was put in there, and I couldn’t get out. It was dark. I was trapped. I panicked. It… I feel stupid.”

“Um, no, you’re very intelligent, and we don’t know who he was or how he ended up in the trunk of the car. I’m no expert, and I didn’t get a good look, but we technically only suspect it was a man because of the clothes. It could have been a woman. We’ll have to wait for someone else to tell us that part,” Carson said, being frustratingly logical about it. “And it’s only human to be curious. Your mind was working on the problem while you slept, that’s all.”

She nodded. “I know. I just… I hate feeling like that, hate being so helpless… I swore that wouldn’t be me again after those years in that tenement. I fix things. I don’t… I would never want to be trapped anywhere. I like driving in open cars and not hiding, no small enclosed spaces…”

“Small enclosed arms no good, either?”

She laughed. “Yours are just the right size, not that small, even if you’re not the size of Larry. And if you were trying to hint about holding me, just do it already. I thought I married you for a reason.”

“Hmm. I thought it was for my car.”

“And the funny socks.”

“And those,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close, spooning her against him. “Though I am glad I can be of some service like this.”

She shook her head. He wasn’t just of some service. He was the only reason she was even in here trying to sleep like a normal person. He was a lot more than socks or the antique car they’d be restoring together. No, she wouldn’t say he was everything, not that cliché, but he helped her and she helped him and it mattered.

“Would you like to do something distracting until you can fall asleep again? We can play the song game for a bit if you think it might help.”

“Hmm. I suppose a couple come to mind at the moment.”

“Let’s see… Candle on the Water?”

“That works,” she said. “Try another.”

“Is there a theme here or should I just do another random stab in the dark? Or is that too terrible a pun at the moment?”

“It’s pretty terrible, but you know there’s a bit of comfort in terrible puns, too,” she said, and he nodded before kissing her temple. She smiled. “You do realize you now have to hum the song until I fall asleep again and that could take hours.”

He laughed. “I don’t mind. You’ve seen me through plenty of nightmares. It’s only fair I do it for you, too. Though… are you sure you want the humming? I mean, I like the idea of humming because I’m too tired to come up with anything better, but I think I’m even tone deaf when I hum, so…”

“I like anything that involves your voice,” she admitted. It was soothing, and she was already used to falling asleep to it after their nights on the phone or in person, and she liked it more and more by the day. “Whatever you say or don’t say or hum or anything at all… it’ll probably work.”

“I like your certainty.”

She shrugged. “I already feel better. This… us… the way we talk… it helped.”

He managed to snuggle them even closer, and she closed her eyes, no longer fearing the darkness.

One More Try

Author’s Note: So this part was… a bit hard to pin down because I just wanted to do the two lines and I’d already written these sections and I didn’t want to repeat them, so I ended up deciding to use this instead.

The song for this one was My Rainbow Race, originally by Pete Seeger and covered by Melanie on this album.

I took these two lines as inspiration:

And because I love you
I’ll give it one more try

And really, it doesn’t fit but this part is a start of the mystery, so… that’s something, right?


One More Try

Mackenna stepped back, studying the car again. She needed to get it off the trailer and assess the parts she couldn’t see without better access, but she at least had pictures of the entire thing. She’d have to get them off the camera and view them on the computer to see just how much damage she was looking at, and she would probably need Mac’s input on a lot of them since she had never done this much work to any one car before, not when she helped rebuild Scarlett or even now that Phantom was hers to restore completely.

She looked back at Carson, who was running a hand over the fender, not paying any attention to her. She wasn’t sure where he was, but he was almost smiling, so she didn’t try and pull him out yet. She wanted him to have good memories of restorations, too, not just the trauma that came with the car his father had brought into his life just before his death.

She would have to talk to Larry and Nick again, make sure neither of them had any regrets about letting Carson keep Phantom. He had been willed it by his grandfather, sort of, but the car wasn’t actually his grandfather’s and so he didn’t have the right to will it to Carson.

If his uncle made a fuss about it, things could get ugly, but so far he’d been quiet, probably a bit shamed by his part in the aftermath of everything, but she didn’t know. The man hadn’t had anything to say to them, and if she was honest, she was still angry about him, knowing as much as he had and never saying a damned word. That was low no matter who he’d promised to keep silent for, and since he supposedly never liked Carson, it wasn’t for his sake.
Still, that would have to wait. She wanted to be prompt but thorough with this assessment, and the light would be gone soon. “You want to brave the inside?”

Carson looked up at her. “I don’t know. Do I?”

“It will likely be a bit musty,” she said, thinking of the smells that always seemed to creep into the cars that were stored closed up, not so much either of the Maxwells. The Airstream managed to avoid it because Mac drove it often and kept the air circulating a bit instead of trapped inside constantly with the humidity around them.”

“How is it the glass isn’t in worse shape given the state of the car?” Carson asked, peering at the intact windshield. It was bent at an odd angle with the damage to the roof, but it wasn’t gone.

“Not sure, but it’ll be fun trying to figure it out, that and half a dozen other things,” she said, gesturing to the door. “Open that for me, would you?”

“I’m a bit worried now.”

She snorted. “Oh, please. It’s not like something is going to jump out and bite you. You can see in there. No live animals in sight, not even a spider web. Nothing is lurking to get you. I just figure being a man and all—”

“Now I know I don’t want to do this,” he muttered. “You’re always so determined to prove you can do anything a man can do, so this is going to be bad. Or humiliating. Or both.”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, yes, I set up an elaborate prank just to show you up when we are the only ones here. Mac’s at the Legion, and your brothers are at their homes. What purpose could that serve?”

“You have a camera.”

She laughed. “Okay, I do, I admit that, but that is for work. I’m taking pictures of the car prior to doing any work. It helps me know where I started but also what needs to be done, and I can use them to show what I’m talking about when I tell them prices and so on.”

“Easy,” Carson told her. “You don’t have to justify all that to me. Not sure why you’d have to justify it to anyone.”

“There was a man who didn’t want to pay Mac what it actually cost to do the repairs on his car, not one penny over the quoted amount, and it pissed me off because things don’t always go according to plan, especially with rarer cars like this. Parts can get expensive, have to be custom made in many cases. After that, I took pictures of everything. Mac wasn’t a fan of it at first. He didn’t mind a few pictures, but I took hundreds from all angles… spent days getting them he felt were better spent getting to work.”

“As long as you’d taken the pictures of the area, I’m not sure why it would matter if he got started, so why not do it in order of what needed to be done first?”

“I hadn’t learned that lesson yet,” she admitted. “I’m still not very good at it. You’ve seen all the ones with Phantom, how disorganized they are.”

Carson shrugged. “You were pretty focused this time, all the ones from the outside first, now the ones inside. It’s fine.”

“You don’t always have to agree with me.”

“I don’t.” He gave the car another look and frowned. “Are you sure I’m not going to break anything?”

“If you do, we’ll add it to the assessment.”

“And charge them for something I broke?”

“If the door breaks when you open it, they have worse problems than they knew, and it might be something that can’t be fixed. We need to know,” she said. “If you’re really not going to open the door, then you should—”

“Fine,” he said, reaching for the handle and pulling on it. The door didn’t budge. “It’s locked, isn’t it? You let me try to open a locked door.”

Mackenna leaned over to peer in the window. “It doesn’t look locked.”

“You should so have a video camera for this.”

She laughed, “I should. Give it another try, and then if that doesn’t work, we’ll break in.”

“Didn’t that lady tell you if they had keys or tried to open it before?”

“No keys,” Mackenna said. “They can’t explain where this car came from, and they didn’t find any records of it. She didn’t mention trying to open it. I would have if I found it, but I didn’t find it. So here we are, with a door that may be stuck or may be locked, and we’ll have to prove that one way or another.”

Carson sighed. “Okay, fine. One more time, and then you call a locksmith.”

Mackenna had no intention of using one, especially not after what the local one had called her in the past, so she hoped he got it open or even loosened. She didn’t want to discuss that, though it was easier to get into older cars than it was new ones.

“One more time.”

He gave the car door a good yank this time. The metal screeched a bit as it opened, and he stumbled back with it, tripping over his own foot and landing under the door with a groan. Something fell and hit him in the stomach, and she had no choice but to snap a picture of that.


“I hate you.”

“No, you love me. You married me, remember?”

Carson grunted, rolling over and forcing himself up to his hands and knees, well aware that she’d taken several pictures while he recovered from having the wind knocked out of him. Whatever it was that fell out of the car hit hard, and he was not sure he wanted to know what it was. He did know he had to destroy that camera. He could not let her show that to his brothers. They’d use that story against him for years, just like all the others, and they needed no help from her.

He looked down at the object now in between his hands and frowned. Yes, he knew nothing about cars, but he didn’t think that was any part of the car, not in its original state. He picked it up and turned it over, trying to make out what the hell this metal box was.

“What is that?”

“You’re the car expert. The history expert. You tell me,” he said, rocking back and holding it out to her. She took it, and he forced himself up to his feet. He started to lean against the car and stopped, thinking better of it.

“I have no idea,” she said, lifting it up above her head. “I don’t… It seems too small for a jewelry box… for much of any kind of box, but it has hinges here and might even open.”

“You probably shouldn’t,” Carson told her, and she frowned at him. “It might need special treatment to be opened… some kind of historical artifact that will be ruined if it isn’t opened in the right conditions.”

She sighed. “I’m curious now. I want to know what’s in it.”

“Me, too, but if it is significant, we don’t want it ruined, either.”

Mackenna nodded, pushing around him to look at the door. “Where was it? Right by the door?”

Carson stood next to her, eying the space between the remains of the seat and the frame. “I don’t think so. It would have fallen out before I fell, landing on my feet, not my stomach.”

She twisted her lip as she looked around, lifting up the camera and starting on her pictures of the inside. She grimaced when the small box got in the way, passing it back to him. He took it, trying not to think too much about what might be inside and instead focus on her and what she was doing.

“Huh,” he said, looking at the side of the door. She turned back from the camera. He pointed to the door. “Could it have been behind that panel there?”

She took a picture of the space, still frowning. “Maybe, but why would anyone put it there?”

Carson shook his head. “No clue. It just… It might make sense that it fell from there after I got the door open. I don’t know. I wouldn’t have thought to open that panel, but I think some mice did.”

“Yes, someone’s been at the interior,” Mackenna agreed. “And I kind of agree about the panel. It seems like it must have been there even if it makes no sense that it was. Unless… the driver or owner of the car wanted it hidden. Damn, that just makes me more curious about what’s inside.”

“Call the lady who wanted the estimate and ask her what to do about the stuff we find.”

“I will.”

“You might have to wait until after we go get the Woodsman.”

Mackenna swore. “Why didn’t you remind me? We have to get it going before Mac gets back. He’ll be pissed if we don’t. Come on.”

The Light Under the Door

Author’s Note: I was having trouble with this one as I didn’t like Summer Weaving‘s chorus, but I found other sections of the song that I did like and fit what I’ve been developing (Mac’s subplot) so I went ahead and wrote this.

I focused mainly on these lyrics:

To walk a night into a day that has no reason
Walking past the house of someone else’s season
Gazing at the light on the rim of a tightly closed door
Weave me inside before the winter and I wouldn’t ask for more


The Light Under the Door

Mackenna hesitated in the hallway, looking at the light under the door. By this time at night, Mac was almost always already asleep, so it was strange to see his light still on, strange enough that if it wasn’t this particular time of year, she’d be opening up the door to make sure he hadn’t had a heart attack or something first.

Well, no, she’d be forcing Carson to open it for her, most likely, because she still had issues with men’s bedrooms thanks to her uncle’s suicide, even if it was better now. Carson had helped her over it, to a part, but she still regressed at times, and the idea of finding her grandfather dead—she couldn’t do it. She knew Carson didn’t deserve that image, either, and it would possibly trigger him as much as it did her, but she wasn’t sure she was strong enough to face that twice. Mac wouldn’t be the same, but her uncle’s death wrecked her and her life, and Mac was too important to her now. She could lose it all again. She didn’t know that she could live through that again, for all she could drink the boys under the table and had people wondering about her because she knew her way around cars and other less feminine things.

Someone touched her arm, and she almost jumped out of her skin.

Carson winced. “Sorry. I was just wondering what kept you.”

She gestured to the light under the door. He frowned when he saw it, looking back at her.

“We’re not really keeping him up, are we? I didn’t think we were that noisy, and since I haven’t gone to bed yet, no nightmares. Not from me—or you, for that matter.”

She nodded, taking his hand and leading him away from Mac’s door, back out to the living room. She kept his hand all the way to the couch, where he sat down beside her, letting her use him as a pillow as usual.

“Sorry. I didn’t want him hearing us again.”

“Well, he might have already, but you seem pretty upset, so I’m not so sure I’m worried about what Mac thinks right now.”

She shook her head. “I was fighting my own issues. That’s it. I just… I was concerned by the light, and if it is something else, I’ll hate myself in the morning, but between that horrible day with my uncle and my near certainty that he’s just in there looking at the old photo albums and mourning, I don’t want to disturb him right now.”

Carson nodded. “Right. You said he goes through their entire life together leading up to when she died. That’s… a lot. I—I could go take the heat for you and ask him if he needs anything. Better he’s mad at me for intruding than you.”

“Don’t do that. You don’t have to go making yourself an enemy, not that you are. Mac likes you fine. He just doesn’t show his feelings to many people. That’s why Grandma was special, why it’s so hard for him right now. I feel… guilty, actually. It’s so much easier for me. I loved her, she was my grandma, but I barely knew her in comparison, since my aunt forgot to mention they were still alive and screwed me over like she did. I had a few years with both of them, not nearly as many as I’ve had without her. So I don’t… it’s not as hard for me. And worse… I’m with you. And we’re happy. We’re both giant messes and damaged, but we are good for each other. We have support and love and… he’s so alone. He’s trapped in winter and freezing, but you and me… we’re melting in summer warmth and happiness.”

Carson nodded. “It has been very muggy lately.”

“I didn’t mean it literally.”

He smiled, reaching over to cup her cheek. “I’m teasing. You know I can at least try that sometimes even if I’m not very good at it. I just… You have nothing to feel guilty about. Your grief is not the same as his and never could be. And it’s not wrong to be happy in our marriage even if he’s been widowed. We’ve had enough bad already, we can use some good, and if he were more of the type that talked about stuff like this… he might just tell you that he had plenty of good with her and it’s your turn. I don’t know. I don’t know Mac well enough and he’d hate me putting words in his mouth.”

She curled up closer to Carson. “I think you might be right about it. Though he’d have a different way of saying it.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Carson said. “Still, you might listen to him. He’s a smart man. A good one.”

“So are you.”

He kissed her forehead, and she closed her eyes, knowing they’d probably fall asleep right here like this again and she didn’t mind it one bit. She just wished she knew some way of helping her grandfather, even if he didn’t want it.

Sentiments On and Off the Road

Author’s Note: The last scene I did for these two sort of almost led into this and ties in a bit I wrote ahead of things. I’ve decided to include that, at the last second, though it doesn’t fit the part I wrote prompted by the second song on the album, Between the Road Signs.

In between the road signs and the white lines
And all of the comforts of home
In between the road signs and the sad rhymes
And all of the comforts of home

They’re not on a car run this time (that would have fit well, I suppose) but out in the Maxwell to see Mac, and this happened and it fit. Mostly.


Sentiments On and Off the Road

“You’re singing again.”

“If you had a problem with my singing, you probably should have told me a long time ago,” Mackenna said, shrugging. She didn’t really think it would bother him, since it never had before, though others would argue they hadn’t had that much time to know each other before they hit the point where they were now.

“I didn’t say I minded,” Carson told her, shaking his head and almost losing his hat. He grimaced. “Remind me next time not to let you talk me into this even if I am riding in the Maxwell with you.”

She grinned at him. “Remind me, and we’ll put a strap on it like Mac has for his bowler, okay? I really enjoy the look of you in hats.”

“I think you have warped taste, but fine, I’ll try and remember to remind you,” Carson said. He took the hat off and set it in his lap. “Not going to let the natural air conditioning take the hat, since you’re so very fond of it.”

She laughed. “It’s not the hat. It’s the man wearing the hat. The one with his car and damaged memories and wonderful taste in socks and music as well as women.”

He snorted. “Oh, I see. Flattering yourself, are you?”

“Someone has to. I don’t get nearly enough of that.”

“Oh, please. If we played a drinking game with the guys at the Legion including where we had to drink for every time one of them praised you, even the battle-hardened marines would be down under the table,” Carson said. “They adore you, and you know it.”

“I do,” Mackenna said. They were sweet old men, and she had given some thought to maybe staying with one of them if anything ever happened to her own grandfather, but now she had Carson to think about, and he already had issues staying in her grandfather’s house despite the fact that his apartment was impractical for them.

She had to have a garage no matter where they lived, and she liked being where Mac and the Maxwells were.

“I just was wondering if you always have to sing in the car,” Carson said, and she looked at him. “I mean, I know you don’t do it as much around Mac, but it seems like if we’re alone, you always have a song, even if we don’t have a radio, like now.”

She grimaced. Mac enjoyed the silence a lot more than she did. She couldn’t. It took her back to the way everything had gone still after that shot but before she opened the door, and she hated it. She could cope with the quiet, but she preferred background noise, especially music.

“I suppose I can admit that’s one of my many issues. I don’t like white noise or silence very much. Mac is firmly of the school of discipline where music is a distraction, especially if you’re messing with the radio constantly, but I need it, so… I sing. And music with lyrics is almost always better when you sing along. Unless there’s something wrong in the lyrics, but that’s an entirely different matter.”

He nodded. “It is. That song was nice, though I’m not very familiar with it.”

“I have got such an eclectic collection thanks to all the random people I’ve met over the years,” Mackenna said. Between her older friends at the Legion, her grandparents, and everyone on the car runs, her music was a very interesting mix. She didn’t mind. She liked variety. “Should I pick one you know this time?”

“I don’t know about that. You know I don’t have as good a singing voice and… well, it’ll be all weird and like some bad movie montage, us driving along singing to that Willie Nelson song or something.”

She laughed. “It’s fun for road trips even if it’s about singing tours and not road trips themselves, but that’s not what I had in mind.”

“Oh?”

She was about to tell him when she saw the Airstream and grimaced. She started slowing down, needing to make the turn up ahead.

“What’s wrong? Why are we going to the cemetery?”

“Because I’m an idiot,” Mackenna said, now aware that she’d been overcompensating for her own feelings all morning without admitting anything to Carson despite last night. She stopped Shadow on the lane, keeping them back and out of view of the man at the grave.

More songs came to her mind, but she didn’t sing them, the reminders already too painful.


“I should have known he was out here,” Mackenna said, grimacing. Carson frowned, and she knew if they were closer, he would have understood completely. For some people, going to this place would be a daily or weekly routine, but some people weren’t Mac Gilreath. Her grandfather was a strong, proud man, and he wouldn’t speak of things that bothered him, even when they still hurt.

“I didn’t—your grandmother, right? I guess I didn’t figured Mac for the type that went talking to headstones.”

“He isn’t, not usually,” Mackenna agreed. “Just sometimes… Well, the not-so-funny and not-so-romantic story about how they met is that it was actually here. Generations of my grandma’s family were buried here long before she married my grandfather. She was here with her parents putting flowers on her grandmother’s grave and he was dragged over to do that to his grandfather’s. She got spooked, ran away from her parents, and bumped right into him. First time they ever met. They didn’t start dating for years afterward, but on their anniversary… he starts way back at their beginning and retraces their years.”

“That is… adorable and surprisingly sentimental for your grandfather,” Carson said, and Mackenna looked at him. He shrugged. “The man rarely does more than grunt in my presence. Sometimes he could pass for a mute. I never once got the impression he liked the idea of me marrying you or moving in here with both of you.”

“If Mac was really unhappy about it, you would know,” Mackenna assured him. She shrugged. “He was different with her. It was like… Well, in cliché terms, she was the light of his life.”

“He change that much when she was gone?”

Mackenna shook her head. “No. He was still taciturn and stoic, all those things that belong to men of his generation. He just… relaxed a bit around her. She got him laughing and smiling and making jokes. You just haven’t seen much of that side of him.”

“He really doesn’t like me, does he?”

She laughed. “That’s not true. He likes you fine. I think the more he sees how much we make sense and how good you are for me, then he’ll start warming up again.”

“I think he’d warm up a lot faster if I had a job and wasn’t—”

“Carson, stop it. Please. You quit that job for a good reason—it was forcing you to ruin lives. You were taking farms away, farms just like ours. No. I can’t support you having stayed there or trying to get that job back. I think you did the right thing, and I don’t care if you don’t make any money at all. I think he respects why you left, even if—and I stress the if—he has an issue with you being unemployed,” Mackenna insisted. He gave her a look, clearly not pacified, but she wasn’t going to argue more here.

She took his hand. “We should go. Mac likes to be alone when he does this. He would never want anyone to know he cried.”

Nighttime Comfort

Author’s Note: I was not happy with what I did for the first part of my new album challenge. It’s an important part of the one story, but it wasn’t as fitting with the prompt as I usually do and it was not… my best effort at all. I didn’t even do something new, just found an old piece. So… I have fixed that.

This time we’re back to Carson and Mackenna and the not finished sequel.

This fits with Together Alone and the lyrics I used before even better, I think.

We’ll grow old, we’ll take care of each other
I’ll be your sister, your mother, your lover

and

We’re believers, we’ve been hurt by believing
Needing people, we know looking’s not seeing

There’s even more to it than this, and it fits the other lyrics of learning balance and rhythmn, too.


Nighttime Comfort

“Carson?” Mackenna asked, reaching over to touch him, trying to be as gentle as she could. She knew he didn’t want to admit it, but in addition to his frustration with the job hunting, the nightmares from when his father died were worse these days. Knowing what had really happened then was only part of the problem.

The way his family had lied about what happened would probably always haunt him, even if he had the truth. What they’d done hadn’t helped him, hadn’t done him any favors, and she still got mad thinking about how they could have told him, ended his torment, instead of sending him to a therapist, getting him drugged up, and letting him think he was crazy.

If things had been worse, if he’d really started to believe the worst of himself, he could have ended up like her uncle, and she still couldn’t get that image out of her head. She understood the man was in pain, but she wished he’d asked for help.

Or at least waited until she wouldn’t be the only one there to find him.

She felt Carson trembling and sighed, wrapping her arms around him and holding on, as much for her own sake as his. She wanted to stop the nightmares for him, take them all way, but life didn’t work that way. This was their attempt at happily ever after, but they both weren’t kidding themselves. They knew it wasn’t that easy.

“Admittedly, this might be easier if we’d fallen asleep in the actual bed,” Mackenna muttered, but he didn’t answer, not that she would have wanted him to, not unless he was awake. She rested her head against his chest. “Should I say something profound and meaningful now? You’re too asleep to hear me. Um… I could do the standard lines of ‘it’s over. You’re fine. You’re safe. I’m here. I’ll protect you from any of that.’ How terrible is it I feel like I’m talking to a child?”

“Arguably… my emotional growth was badly stunted as one, so…”

“That woke you?”

“I don’t know what woke me,” Carson said, pulling her closer, “but if it was you, thank you. I… I had the worst one again. No, not the worst one. I can’t decide which is worse, to be honest, the one where it turned out it was me… or the one where he didn’t just… fake that part.”

Mackenna winced. She sat up and reached to run her fingers through his hair. “I was just getting mad at your family for covering it up, and now I’m kind of pissed.”

“Do not go picking fights with him again. Please. It was… he was honoring my grandfather’s wishes, even if they were all misguided and I don’t think it did my mom any favors, either.”

“No, she still believed in your father, and it ate her up inside. It was no better than trying to convince you forgetting it was best and none of it ever happened,” Mackenna said, shaking her head. “It’s frustrating, even if there’s nothing I can do about it now.”

He shrugged. “You’re here, aren’t you? You don’t have to be, but you signed up for it as a friend and then a psuedo-sister and now… a lot more than that.”

“Oh, is that all?” Mackenna teased, very aware of the ring on her finger. He laughed and kissed her forehead. “Face it. You’re stuck with me for life, not that we didn’t agree to that almost from the beginning.”

He nodded. “I know, but back then all you wanted was my car.”

She laughed. “Well, you know me, I’m a sucker for antiques.”

“Which doesn’t explain us.”

She smiled. “I have a weakness for fixer-uppers, too. I like me a good project.”

“Nice. I feel very insulted.”

“No, you don’t. You feel loved.”

“And very unworthy of it, but yes,” he said before kissing her temple. “I think we’d better try again to sleep. You’ve got a lot to do on the new car, and I need to job hunt again.”

“Nope, you’re my slave for the day, remember? It’s Sunday, no job hunting for you. Just a lazy morning for us and the car.”

“And Mac?”

She winced. “He won’t want us to, but we should probably check on him, too.”