"No matter what anyone tells you? Girls ain't easier than boys."
India reached in her purse. "I did bring something for you. It might be a little stupid and corny, so don't laugh, okay?"
She handed over a small cloth envelope. "It's a sachet I made using Carolyn's favorite scent from Sky Blue. I thought you could…I don't know, put it in your pillow out here or something. Maybe if it smells like her you'll sleep better."
Carson was too choked up to say anything when the sweet scent of his wife filled his lungs.
"Sorry, stupid idea, I'll just go now."
He clamped his hand on India's knee. "You are just a sentimental little angel under all them devil tattoos, ain't ya?" He looked up at her and didn't bother hiding the moisture in his eyes. "It's perfect, Indy. Thank you."
"You're welcome." She squeezed his hand. "I do ask that you don't ever show it to Carolyn, master seamstress, because my sewing skills leave a lot to be desired."
"You got it." He kept hold of her hand, not knowing how to even ask her what he needed to.
"Carson? What is it?"
He sucked in a big breath and slowly let it out. "They shaved Carolyn's head, all the way to the top of her scalp except for the very front. She'll need a scarf or something to hide it when she comes out of the coma because she won't want anyone to see her like that. I went home today and just grabbed a bunch of stuff, not knowin' what I should bring her. Since you're good with hair and accessories stuff, I know she'd trust you to help her, and not fall into a blubbering wreck like Kimi and Keely would if I asked them."
"I'd be honored to help her." She firmed her quivering chin. "Bet she never thought she'd be so tight with a foul-mouthed tattoo artist after that first time she called me out on not being the appropriate woman for her precious son."
"Don't kid yourself for a second she didn't love how fast you rallied to Colton's defense and bitch-slapped her down to reality-her words, not mine."
"I'm just glad you both see Colt as the amazing man he is now, and not the f**k up he'd been. It means a lot to both of us." India pushed to her feet. "Take care of yourself, old man. Give our love to your better half. And for god's sake, eat something more than just candy bars for supper, will ya?"
Carson dusted the Snickers and used the facilities. By the time he returned to the waiting room, the nurse was ready for him.
Inside the room, he parked the rolling stool next to Carolyn's bed, placing one gloved hand on her forearm and covering her hand with his other.
"Hey, sugar. I'm sittin' here beside you. I know you can hear me. I need you to hear me. Come back to me. I need you to know that I'm right here, I ain't goin' anywhere."
He launched right into his one-sided conversation. "It's your lucky day. India stopped in. She was goin' on and on about the new tattoo she designed for you. A gigantic bear, its jaws open and dripping saliva. She thought the image appropriate since you've always been a scary mother bear when it comes to your cubs-no matter how old they get. We were thinkin' she could ink it above your McKay brand. That way you'd have a tat above and below your belly button. And you know how much I love tracin' that tattoo with my tongue."
Sometimes he still couldn't believe his wife had gotten herself tattooed, between her hipbones right above her mound.
He laughed. "Okay, sugar, that was a total lie. Indy sends her love, as does Colt. I think she showed up because she needed someone to complain to about her kids bein' pigs. Devil pigs in clothing, was how she phrased it. I know you felt that way a time or twenty when the boys were growin' up. I told her about the time you hosed the boys down…"
As soon as Carolyn heard Carson's voice she stayed still, soaking up every syllable. It seemed as if she hadn't heard from him in days, but she knew it might've only been hours since she existed in the void of nothingness. The doors to her memories were no longer visible and randomly accessible. That scared her. Those memories were her only hope of staying tethered to the life she had and the world she needed to return to. Now the only time she could access those memories was when Carson spoke of the past.
She remembered the mud hole incident, but that wasn't the memory that popped up first…
Why did she have to give birth to all boys?
Five rough and tumble McKay boys.
Why couldn't she have had a sweet daughter? An angel who didn't have an aversion to baths, who wouldn't wrestle in the living room, who wouldn't constantly shove food in her mouth and five minutes later go looking for more? A little doll she could clothe in frilly dresses and darling hair ribbons. A quiet child.
But this is what she got.
Five destructive boys.
Who had wreaked utter havoc in the house in just four hours.
Someone had let the dogs in the living room-dogs with muddy feet.
Then the boys had left their manure-covered boots inside the kitchen door, so now her kitchen reeked like cow poop.
Dishes covered the counters. The last person who used the milk hadn't bothered putting it back in the refrigerator.
Carolyn followed the wreckage to the living room. Dirty socks, comic books, Ag magazines, toys and more pieces of clothing littered the floor. Not to mention wrappers from Halloween candy were everywhere-on the couch and chairs, the coffee and end tables. She even found gum stuck to one of the lamps. In two places.