I’m not a man who gives into desire. I’m not a weak man who can’t control his urges. But I’m not the man I recognise as me as Carrie Wells sweeps her tongue across my mouth and begs for entry. I’m one heartbeat away from kissing her like I’ve never kissed anyone before in my life. I’m one breath away from tearing her grubby clothes from her and fucking her the way I’ve been dreaming of fucking her since the moment I first fucking met her.
She arches her back as if she knows it. She moans against my mouth as though she knows I’m about to break.
But I don’t.
It takes every scrap of resolve to pull away. I take a breath as I gather myself, ignoring the throb of my cock and the heat I’m packing under my suit.
“Goodnight, Carrie,” I say.
And this time I mean it.Chapter SevenMichaelI’m in the office early, attempting fruitlessly to bury myself in paperwork to numb the guilt I feel at wanting a girl less than half my age.
I know I can’t act on it. I know both my professionalism and my sense of moral judgement won’t go down without one hell of a fight, no matter what my dick has to say about it.
None of my colleagues have even arrived for the day when I receive the latest WTF message from Jack. I type out a response and delete it three times straight. What can I possibly say to him?
Found Carrie. She’s in your house with a bloody lip and a swollen ankle. Hope you don’t mind?
He’d be on a plane home before the morning was out.
I send him a simple everything’s fine and curse myself for it. I’ve got less than a week to find Carrie a more permanent place to stay, and I’m at a brick wall with all the agencies without her cooperation.
Jack’s place is the only viable option for now, although the thought of Carrie trampling muddy boots all over his living room carpet does little to ease my anxiety.
It appears I’m switching one set of stresses for another. At least I know she’s safe for the time being.
That will have to do for now.
I send her a text message at lunchtime telling her I’ll be back early evening, wondering how the hell things are going to be in the cold light of day after having given her the brush off last night. She’s volatile. Unpredictable.
I’m seriously out of my depth here and I feel it right through me. I consider calling Bill and Rosie and letting them know she’s been found safe, but I’m already well aware they are beyond caring about her current whereabouts. I could confess the sorry situation to my co-workers and hope they don’t judge me too harshly for going maverick on an epic scale, but I don’t.
I tell myself it’s for Carrie’s sake, making sure she can find her feet before she’s shunted into a load of agency meetings, but I know it has just as much to do with my own inability to let go of this time with her as any of that.
My gut is one big knot as I drive to Jack’s place straight after work. I plead for good fortune under my breath as I make my way to the front door, trying not to contemplate the carnage that might be waiting on the other side.
Muddy boots could be the least of my problems. She could have taken it upon herself to redecorate his living room with ketchup for all I know. Nothing would surprise me, having seen her case notes.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I find her in front of Jack’s huge TV. Her hair is shiny and full, cascading down over her shoulders to pool on the leather sofa. Her skin looks fresh and clear, her eyes bright as she watches some crappy reality TV show. Her knees are gathered to her chest, a collection of crockery discarded on the living room floor.
“Hi,” I say, but she barely gives me a glance. “How was your day? How’s your ankle?”
She shrugs then wiggles her foot. “Told you I’d live.”
The coldness in her tone takes me aback. The memory of her lips pressed to mine feels alien and distant. This is another face of Carrie Wells, one that should be familiar to me from weeks of grunts and silent treatment, but in my office it never felt personal. Not like it does now.
I clear my throat. “Did you sleep well?”
“The bed’s shit,” she says. “Too springy.”
It is springy, she’s right.
“What did you have for lunch?”
She shoots me a glare that damns me for interrupting her TV show. “Sandwich. Soup. Bar of chocolate. Any other questions?”
I take a breath. “Are you ready to talk about where you’ve been these past few days? Who did that to your lip?”