I shrug again. “Eddie’s alright. I like him.”
“Eddie’s a fucking prick,” he snaps. “You think he gives a shit? You think a few drinks are worth spending the fucking night with a loser like that?”
I grit my teeth. “He’s the best fucking offer I’ve got. Nobody gives a shit. At least I can get drunk and forget about it for a few fucking hours.”
I hate how I’m doing this, acting like I’m so hard when all I want to do is ask him to take me home. To his home. Ask him to stay with me awhile, until I sober up. All I want to do is tell him I’m hungry, and I don’t know how I’m going to get back to Rosie and Bill’s, and I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do when they throw me out, and I need him. I really need him.
But I don’t.
“I’m taking you home,” he tells me, and my heart does a jump. I don’t know whether he sees it in my eyes because he takes a breath. “To Rosie and Bill’s,” he clarifies and my heart drops.
“They don’t want me–” I begin, but his hands squeeze my arms.
“Shut up, Carrie. Just shut the fuck up.”
I’m so taken aback that I do.
Nobody’s told me to shut the fuck up for a long, long time. It’s all tight lips and careful language. All disappointment and tutting and sadness – not anger. Nobody actually pulls me up on my shitty behaviour anymore.
Because they’ve given up. Everyone’s given up on me. But not Michael.
Not even now I’m not his problem anymore.
“My bus left already…” I tell him.
“I wouldn’t trust you on the fucking bus anyway,” he says. “You’re coming with me. I’m driving you straight to their front door and handing you over.”
I smirk. “But you’ve been–”
“Drinking?” he interrupts. “Thanks to you my first beer is still on the table.”
I’m trying to summon up the voice to say thanks, or whatever I’m supposed to say to shit like this, but I don’t get a chance. The door opens to my right and the posh suited guy steps out.
They stare at each other, him and Michael, and Michael loosens his grip on me.
I wish he hadn’t. I liked the way he held me there.
“What the hell are you doing?” posh guy asks, and Michael groans.
“Taking Carrie back to her parents.”
I can’t bring myself to argue. It’s a first for me.
They stare at each other a long time, and I fidget, scuffing my boot along the brickwork.
“Text me when you’re done and make it quick. This is way out of order,” the posh guy says, and I wonder for a second if they are… but they can’t be, because I’ve seen the way Michael looks at me, even though he tries to hide it, even though he doesn’t want to.
Posh guy leaves and I let out a sigh. “He your boyfriend? He’s a bit stiff.”
“He’s a friend,” Michael tells me. “We were having a beer.”
I watch the guy walk up the street. He’s hot for an old dude, looking ripped under that pompous suit he’s wearing.
I kinda wish they were into each other, maybe I could, I dunno.
It’s stupid. Dumb. I push the thought away.
“I don’t want to go back to Rosie and Bill’s,” I say, but Michael shakes his head.
“You’re out of fucking luck,” he tells me, and he’s not playing around. His voice is edgy outside of his office, edgy and deep and dangerous, even though I don’t feel in danger at all. “I’m taking you home right fucking now.”
I hate it when people touch me. I hate walking down the street attached to someone else, but when Michael takes my wrist in his hand and leads me across the street, I don’t mind it at all.
Michael isn’t like other people. Not like anyone I’ve ever met.
He won’t be played. He won’t be pushed away. He won’t be screamed off me.
Not yet, anyway.
And I don’t mind that at all, either.Chapter ThreeMichaelI don’t let go of Carrie’s wrist as I head across the High Street towards my apartment building’s car parking area. I curse under my breath as I check for bystanders. This town is full of eyes and ears and there’s every chance the fake news that I dragged Carrie back to mine will hit my office before I do in the morning. I could do without that, not least because I’ll have questions to answer that won’t look great on my employment file. I don’t give a fuck what they say about me, but if stupid rumours were to impact the kids on my caseload… It doesn’t bear thinking about.
I’m crazy for getting involved, but I can’t stop. My feet take it upon themselves to keep on walking, my heart hammering while my mind spins with justifications for my actions, even though I know there are other ways to handle this.