"She started a fight with not one, but two other girl campers. A fist fight," Sister Grace clarified.
"Good Lord." Carolyn bit her lip to stop from asking how bad the other girls' injuries were because Keely knew how to throw a punch, take a punch, and had no qualms about using her fists to get her point across.
Just like her father.
Or just like you.
It shouldn't have been a point of pride for Carolyn that her daughter never backed down from a fight-yet it was. Not that she'd ever admit that to anyone. "Was Keely injured?"
"Not as much as the other girls." She paused. "In light of this latest infraction…we're requesting that you come to camp and pick your daughter up."
She froze. "Excuse me? You're kicking Keely out of church camp?"
"Are you f**kin' serious?" Carson said behind her. "That girl is givin' me a goddamned ulcer."
Carolyn whirled around and glared at him.
"I'm sure you understand our decision. We cannot tolerate that type of behavior at a church camp where young people are supposed to be learning to exhibit Christian behavior and live lives of kindness and compassion."
"While I understand your reasoning, I'm just as interested to know what provoked my daughter into that type of reaction. Because she only comes out swinging when she's backed into a corner or if a member of her family is threatened."
Which meant there was more to this incident than her hot-headed daughter just hauling off and slugging someone. "Sister Grace? What aren't you telling me?"
"We've gotten a statement from two other campers about how the situation started-but the statements are conflicting. And the parents of the girls your daughter attacked are demanding that Keely be removed from camp."
"I can drive up there today and get her," Carson offered. "I always thought makin' her go to church camp was punishment anyway."
"Hush," she hissed at him.
"Excuse me?" Sister Grace said.
"Sorry, Sister, I was talking to a yapping dog."
Carson grinned and let loose a howl.
Not funny, she mouthed at him. "Am I correct in assuming the other girls involved in the altercation are also being sent home?"
"No, since your daughter was the instigator-"
"Did Keely admit she started the fight?" Carolyn demanded.
"So my daughter just got caught fighting with the other two girls. All you have is those girls' word that Keely started it, and I'll bet one of those conflicting reports you mentioned, backed Keely's version of events, didn't it?"
"Sister Grace, I'll be more than happy to come to camp and discuss possible solutions to this predicament with you, the other camp counselors, my daughter, the girls involved and their parents. So please call me back when you've set up a time for that meeting to take place. God Bless." She hung up and tossed the phone aside. Bracing her hands on the counter, she closed her eyes, giving herself a mental pat for the foresight to end the conversation, rather than making it worse by tearing into a nun.
They'd call back. They had to. So she had some time to calm down or come up with a plan of attack.
Bad choice of words.
Carson moved in behind her. Those strong arms wrapped around her-just like she needed them to-and he placed a tender kiss on the back of her neck. "What can I do?"
"I don't know. I don't want to be one of those mothers who rushes in and defends her child, regardless if that child is in the right or the wrong, so the kid never learns to deal with the consequences. We've always made the boys deal with this stuff. I've never swooped in after one of their many, many, many fist fights." She took a breath. "I tell myself it's different with Keely, not because she's the baby, but because she's a girl. I tell myself that boys are boys, and McKay boys come by their need to solve problems by using their fists naturally."
"Evidently so do McKay girls."
"Sugar, I'm not bein' flip." He turned her around. "When the boys were wronged, damn straight we made it our business to get to the bottom of it. Remember when Colt was in junior high and Mark Whaley tried to get him kicked off the basketball team by claiming Colt was beatin' on him in the locker room? Then Mark showed the coach the bruises to prove it? We backed our son, took the Whaley kid and his parents to task, and the truth came out in the end. Colt didn't have it in him to be a bully. We knew that." He lovingly tucked her hair behind her ear. "We've stood behind our sons, and this sorta thing has happened to each one of them at least once, partially because their last name is McKay. You know that's something I dealt with for years. As did my brothers all because our dad was the original instigator and folks around here have long memories."
"And short fuses," she murmured. "I remember I'd watch cowboys squaring off in the bars and then beat the tar out of each other. The next weekend they were best drinking buddies only to mix it up in the parking lot a few hours later. So I'd convinced myself it was a cowboy thing."
"That's part of it. Add alcohol and most guys think they're ten foot tall and bulletproof. But I also wanna point out that when Carter went after John Cagle and busted his nose and two teeth? We didn't defend his actions because Carter was in the wrong that time, fightin' over a girl. We made him deal with the consequences of his actions."