- A Serialized Novel -

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

Author’s Note: It’s never enough to have just one cup of coffee to start the day, not with certain people.

The Breakfast Rule Backfires

“Have some fruit.”

“I never eat this much for breakfast,” Carson said, giving Mackenna a desperate look. She almost felt bad for him, even after he’d pushed too far earlier, a bit of pity for the lost man with the funny socks and strange inheritance. He had no idea what it was like, living with Mac. The old man’s generation believed in full meals, and no one got away from the table without a three course buffet no matter what meal it was.

“Just take a bite of the cantaloupe. It’s faster that way.”

Carson frowned, accepting the fruit with a grimace. “I’m really not a breakfast person. This is… insane.”

“You’re a guest. Don’t offend anyone now.”

Mac grunted, reaching for his coffee. “Should learn to eat better.”

“Yeah, ’cause a poor diet is the root of all my troubles,” Carson said, shaking his head as he took another bite. He stiffened, pushed back his chair, and left the room.

Mackenna gave her grandfather a look. “He did say he didn’t usually eat breakfast, and he’s had a rough few days. Maybe you could lay off the full meal rule for a bit until he’s got a proper appetite again.”

“Thought you weren’t planning on fixing him.”

“I’m not. It’s just… He’s the first person besides you that I’ve gotten along with in a long time, and so it’s kind of nice to have him around. Plus he’s Phantom’s owner, and whatever I end up doing on the car is subject to his approval, so I need him. It’s not going to be anything more than that. If I help him with this whole murder thing along the way, it’s kind of… incidental. He’s got issues. I’ve got issues. We can sort of keep each other in line with them. That’s not a bad thing.” She sat back in her chair, studying her grandfather with suspicion. “Unless, of course, Henry told you something about him that you’re not telling us. We have discussed the possibility that if his father was killed, he might have done it, and he’s aware of other unpleasant options, too, reasons why his father might have been murdered and why he can’t remember what happened or what he really saw.”

Mac picked up his fork. “Henry never confided in me.”

“Did you confide in him?”

“Are you asking me how much Henry knew about you?”

Mackenna frowned. “No, I’m not sure I want to know what you might have told him. What I want to know—or at least to understand—is why he didn’t say anything to anyone if he knew who killed his son-in-law and why. I don’t like the idea of him manipulating Carson like he has. Why didn’t he just tell him what happened? Even if it was traumatic as hell, if his father or the killer hurt him or molested him, why keep that from him? He needs to know. Not knowing is torturing him.”

Mac shook his head. “Henry had secrets. Didn’t tell me them. Don’t know what happened with his son-in-law. Know it messed up the boy, that’s all. Didn’t know about the car. Didn’t talk about you.”

That, at least, was a relief, though Mac didn’t talk much at all, either, so she shouldn’t be surprised. “All right. Please don’t push him about eating. I don’t need him puking every time we have a meal.”

Mac shrugged, going back to his food, and Mackenna rolled her eyes as she rose, walking down the hall to the bathroom. She heard the water running, and when she ducked her head in the doorway, Carson was standing over the sink, wiping off his face with a washcloth.

“You all right?”

“Can fruit be traumatic?”

“I think it depends on what happened with it. Why? The taste bring up some kind of unpleasant memory or something?”

Carson leaned over the sink. “I thought I liked fruit. I do, most of the time, but I took a bite of that and was ready to hurl all over the table.”

“When’s the last time you had cantaloupe?”

“I have no idea.”

“Could have been the day your father died or something.”

“I guess.”

“Come with me. We’ll walk it off. I can show you a bit of the farm.”

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