Carolyn slid her arms around her husband's waist and buried her face in his neck. "My man. Always the voice of reason. Thank you."
"Anytime, sugar." He kissed her forehead. "It's been important that me'n you are on the same page when it comes to disciplining our kids."
She looked at him. "So what do we do if these girls said something that ticked Keely off, and because she's a hormonal teenage girl she just decided to start throwing punches?"
"That girl has one trigger for her temper: when someone talks down her family. The level of crap that's said to her is proportional to whether she hurls verbal insults back at them, or if she punches them in the mouth to get them to shut it." He paused and his eyes slid away.
Her eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Or the other option is our sweet and sassy, but sly daughter decided she'd had enough of church camp and knew exactly what it'd take to get kicked out."
She sighed. "That thought had crossed my mind too."
"If that is the case…gonna be a long, shitty summer for her. And I do mean shitty, 'cause I'll have her scraping up cowshit, and horseshit and I'll even lend her to her Aunt Kimi to clean up chickenshit."
"Agreed. I wonder how long it'll be before they call back?"
The phone rang.
"Might not be them," Carson pointed out.
Carolyn sidestepped her husband to grab the phone but she kept her hand on his chest. "McKays."
"Mrs. McKay? This is Sister Grace again. We've set up the meeting for three hours from now. You'll be able to make it?"
Just barely. It was a two hour and forty-five minute drive to the camp. "Of course. Thank you, Sister Grace, for handling this so quickly. I'll see you soon."
Carson picked up her hand and kissed her palm. "Want me to come along?"
Yes. This man was her rock and she was his. But he'd worked himself to exhaustion the past week to the point he hadn't tried to get down and dirty with her-which was saying something. They needed that intimate connection even if it was just quick missionary position sex that was over too fast. She kissed him with more passion than their usual peck of affection. "Stay here and get some rest because no matter what happens I'll need something to take my mind off this later."
"That I can do."
Holy Rosary Church Camp was nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. The setting was gorgeous-it'd always exuded a spiritual vibe, which was why she'd chosen it.
When she'd told Carson she thought two weeks at church camp would be good for Keely, he'd argued, reminding her that she hadn't had a choice but to attend Catholic school and he wanted his daughter to have a choice. But Carolyn had stood firm. The camp brought kids from all over the U.S. and their time was spent doing charitable works for the needy. As the baby of the family as well as the lone McKay girl, Keely could stand to learn some selflessness.
Carolyn parked in front of the chapel offices. She smoothed the wrinkles from her khaki pants, fluffed up her shoulder length hair-it seemed she kept cutting it shorter every year-and added a quick coat of peach lipstick before she exited her Toyota 4-Runner.
The nun manning the desk stood up and smiled, offering Carolyn her hand. "Welcome to Holy Rosary Church Camp. I'm Sister Beatrice. How may I help you?"
"I'm Carolyn McKay and I have a meeting scheduled with Sister Grace."
The nun's smile dried. "Of course. Follow me, please." Her black robes swished as she led Carolyn to a small conference room.
Keely sat in the corner, arms crossed over her chest, a mulish expression on her face. The wariness in her eyes disappeared when she saw her mother. Then her tough-talking cowgirl daughter threw herself into Carolyn's arms and squeezed her tight. "Mom. I'm so sorry."
"You want to tell me what happened?"
She shook her head. "I'm not allowed to tell my side of the story until the meeting. I wouldn't want to sway you into believing I'm tellin' the truth."
Sister Grace pointedly held the door open. "Ladies. We're meeting in Father Bartholomew's office."
They followed the nun single file; Keely in the lead, Carolyn in the rear. She froze in the doorway when she saw the woman sitting in the front row, next to a girl with a black eye.
Edie Knapp. Or whatever her last name was now after her second-or was it her third?-divorce. Edie's daughter-a carbon copy of her mother down to the tight-lipped sneer-gave Carolyn a critical once-over with the eye that wasn't swollen shut.
In that moment, Carolyn knew this situation-years in the making-was about to implode.
"Now that we're all here, I'll make introductions and ask that we can keep this civil," Old Father Bartholomew stated.
Good luck with that.
"Edie Shultz and her daughter Margo. Carolyn-"
"McKay, yeah, we've met. Can we get on with it?" Edie demanded.
The priest cleared his throat. "The allegations are that Keely has been harassing Margo since the first day of camp. The counselors have broken up shouting matches and near altercations several times. However, Margo says Keely attacked her this morning after chapel. When Amanda Peterson tried to step in, Miss McKay turned on her too."
That's when Carolyn craned her head and saw Tammy Peterson sitting in the second row. Tammy and Edie's daughters were thick as thieves? No surprise since those witches were in the same coven.