My stomach tips right over itself when it’s not Michael’s voice that answers me.Chapter NineJackCarrie Wells is in my fucking living room. Large as fucking life.
Her piercing eyes are as wide as fucking saucers, her pretty mouth flapping harder than the bird flapping around the ceiling.
My eyes don’t know where to look first, at her, at the crow in my fucking house, or at the state of the place around her. My white carpet is filthy with muddy boot prints. The cushions on my perfect white sofa have been trampled, and they’re covered in mud too. There’s bird shit splattered over the front of my TV, my mantelpiece is in fucking disarray with several of my picture frames smashed on the top.
And her, covered in shit, mud and feathers, a picture of horror as she stares right back at me.
“The door!” she yells, but I’m too fucking dumbstruck to move. The crow flaps straight over my head and out. She races after it, and I hear her angry wail before I find her in the open front doorway. Her eyes are wild as she glares at me. “You let him out! He needed his foot taking care of and you let him out!”
When my voice comes back it comes back hard.
“What the holy living fuck is going on here?! What the fuck are you doing in my fucking house?!”
I know as soon as I’ve said it. Of course I fucking know.
I dig my mobile from my pocket and thumb straight through to Mike’s number.
The girl takes one last look at the sky and groans as she accepts defeat. She closes the door behind her and heads back in like she owns the fucking place.
“If he dies, it’s your fault,” she snaps.
I’ve got the call connecting tone in my ear even as she says it. “My fucking fault?!”
“He was tangled in your crappy fucking fence!”
I hold up a hand to signal her to shut the fuck up, and she folds her arms as she waits. Her muddy boot taps on the floor, and it really shouldn’t be a pleasure to watch her red mist fade away, but it is. There’s a beautiful trepidation in her eyes as she soaks in the mess. I watch her gaze travel over the trail of boot prints to end with a long hard look at her boots. She lifts up the soles as if the mud needs explanation, and when her eyes meet mine again they are full of nerves at odds with her cocky stance.
Mike’s phone rings to voicemail. I take a breath before I unleash my fury down the line.
“You’d better get here. Now. I’m in my fucking living room with your missing fucking person. Get here, Mike, before I call the fucking police.”
Carrie Wells is a sight to behold as the colour drains from her cheeks. “You gonna call the cops?” she asks, and her whole body tenses, as though she’s about to make a dash for it.
I hang up the call. “I should. It looks like the place has been fucking ransacked.”
She shakes her head. “I haven’t taken anything.”
I gesture around me. “My house is fucking destroyed. Why the fuck are you even in here?”
She takes a step forward. “Michael tried to help me. I had nowhere to go.” She pauses. “It’s not his fault. He doesn’t know about the crow, I was just trying to save it.”
I’m rarely lost for words, but she has me stumped. I don’t know whether to march her off my property or laugh insanely at this whole fucking spectacle.
“I’ll clean up,” she says, and I cover my face with my hands in disbelief.
“You’ll clean up?!”
“Yeah,” she tells me. “I will.”
I point to the smashed frames on the mantelpiece. “And what about the damage? What about the fact I’ve got a total fucking stranger on my property? In my house?”
She’s quiet while she thinks, chewing on her bottom lip like she wants to draw blood. “I’ll pay for it.”
“Do you have any money?” I look her up and down. It’s a marvel that her beauty shines through the state of her tattered, filthy clothes. Her boots are grubby and old, and I can see a flash of pink sock through a hole in the toe.
She shakes her head. “Not yet, but I can earn it. When I get a job I’ll pay you back.”
I can’t stand to look at the living room anymore so I step out and close the door behind me. The hall is also covered in boot prints and so is the kitchen. I dare to peek into the dining room and groan in disbelief to see the rainbow shards of what used to be my prized glass sculpture.
I hear her footsteps behind me. “I’ll pay for that, too.”
I swear under my breath. That sculpture was almost ten grand, a stupidly extravagant purchase at an auction house down in London.