- A Serialized Novel -

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

Author’s Note: Poor Carson. Someone just had to push.

Unsettled Again

“I can drive you out to my parents’ place if you’d like.”

Carson opened his eyes, not pleased to see Nate standing there. Great. Perfect. That was just who he wanted to talk to right now. He didn’t know if he disliked the man on principle or if he felt jealous or threatened, but he didn’t like him. He let out a breath. “Um, I think I’ll wait for Mackenna.”

“You sure? The longer you’re out here in this heat, the worse you’re gonna feel.”

“Yeah. I’m sure.”

“Has Mackenna been telling you horror stories or what? I don’t know what I did that makes you so hostile, and I don’t think—”

“I appreciate your family letting me stay at your house with Mac and Mackenna, but I… I was going to get a hotel room anyway. If things had gone differently yesterday, I would have. So thanks for last night, but please leave me alone. I don’t want to go back to your parents’ house, though I will need to for my stuff—I’ll do that later. Right now, I just want you to go.”

Nate frowned. “Okay, I’m thinking she must have—”

“Move.” Carson managed to warn him before shoving him out of the way. He puked, hating his stomach for being so damn weak, adding in a few curses for the man who’d had to push then. He’d almost gotten that gag reflex under control, almost had the whole thing back the way it should be, since he couldn’t feel anyone watching him in the truck’s cab. He’d been getting better until that jerk showed up and wouldn’t go away.


“Yeah, thanks. Now go away. I was fine until you started bugging me.”

“Hey, I thought I’d help by taking you back where it’s cool and you could rest and—”

“And go to hell because I almost had that staved off before you showed up and ruined everything. I don’t like throwing up, I don’t like doing it in front of strangers, and you are not helping. I just wanted to be left alone. Is that too much to ask? Oh, yes, apparently it is for you.”


“I had the stomach thing almost under control. I got rid of the feeling of having someone watching me. I was almost calm. Then he comes over, and I lose my stomach. This sucks.”

Mackenna glared at Nate before she stepped over to Carson’s side. “I’m sorry. I told him not to upset you, but I thought maybe if he did take you back to his parents’ house, it might help.”

“Not really. He undid all the work I’d done showing up like that. I thought I’d heard him talking to you, but that didn’t matter. When my anxiety’s going full blast, there’s nothing I can do about it. I tried, but I’m lucky I’m not on the ground screaming or something again.”

“Well, you’re going to get sick again stuck next to this, so we should move you. We’ll move the cars, too. Have a seat in Shadow while Nate and I push Phantom into the trailer, and we’ll deal with this in a minute.”

He nodded, accepting her help as he got out of the truck, avoiding the vomit and trying to keep himself from doing that again. He didn’t like how this place affected him. “I wish my grandfather was still alive. I’d ask him to tell me what he knew and avoid all this. Do you think… Do you think I was here before and that’s why this is such a problem? I mean, it’s only five hours from the farm, roughly, so if my father was alive and he did take me from the house at any point, he could have brought me here, right? No, wait, he was there after school started up again, and this is in the summer, so it couldn’t be here, but this place is making me so… I think I’m getting worse.”

“Well… Didn’t you say that you told your father that you wouldn’t give him a chance even if he bought a real Model T and not just the toy he gave you?”


“So… Maybe he did. Maybe that’s how you ended up with Phantom.”

Carson looked over at the Maxwell with a frown. “That’s not the same thing at all.”

“Did your father know anything about cars?”

“Um… No. At least, not that I know of.”

“So he confused the models, got a car he thought was the same, and maybe you were with him when he did. We won’t know until you get your memories back, but it’s possible he did buy it for you or to win you over, and maybe that’s why this is so hard for you to deal with. It’s bringing up the memories of wherever you were when he bought it.”

“That’s one hell of a bribe,” Nate said, looking at Phantom. “You gotta figure that she was in better shape when he bought her or she’d be a lot worse now, since she’s been neglected for this long. She might have been almost… new, as it were.”

Carson grimaced. “I’m going to puke again. There’s no way my family had that kind of money.”

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