Dirty Daddies

Page 34

His eyes flit to her and linger too long, and I notice the brush and pan again, notice Carrie’s pink socks and the speed in which Jack must have composed himself enough to clear up the glass from the floor.
He’s a good man. One of the best. But Jack’s hot-headed, it takes him an age to calm down when he’s riled up, I’ve seen it more times than I can count over the years. But not now.
Because he wants her.
I’ve never seen Jack all that interested in anyone, but he’s interested in Carrie.
My Carrie.
Only she’s not my Carrie. She’s just a girl who needs my help.
Our help.
Jack’s right about Coleford. It’s not fair to hole a girl up alone miles from anyone she knows. It’s not fair to shove her into an impersonal hotel room and expect her to stay cooped up there while you try to sort her life out around your day job.
Carrie’s still hugging herself. Her eyes are still all on me. A strange thrum of possessiveness threatens to eat me up even though I’ve no claim and I never will have.
“What do you want to do?” Jack asks Carrie and this time she shrugs.
I can’t believe he gives a shit about what she wants after she’s brought a one-woman wave of destruction down on his home.
The Carrie Wells effect.
If I’d have put money on anyone being immune, it would’ve all been on Jack, but it seems I’d have been wrong.
“You’ve really got nowhere else to go?” he asks her and she shakes her head.
“I’ll clean up my mess,” she says. “Just like I told you I would.”
I’m on the verge of uttering the unthinkable and telling her I’ll take her back to mine, Pam be damned, when Jack lets out a sigh.
“You can stay,” he tells her, then looks at me. “Just for a few days until you sort something out with the housing agency. But no more secrets, and no more fucking crows.”
My jaw flaps, stumbling over words that should be grateful but feel like glass.
“I can stay?!” Carrie asks and she looks so happy that all thoughts of bursting her bubble fade to nothing.
“For a few days,” Jack says, but she’s nodding. Smiling.
“No more crows,” she says. “I promise.”
She’s never promised me anything. I wish she would.
I thank Jack and I mean it. I force my stupid jealousy aside and push myself to be the better man. The man I should be. The image of conscience and professionalism that I’ve been holding myself to my whole adult life.
And then we get to cleaning up the rest of the terrible fucking mess in his house.
I wait until Carrie’s out of earshot before I give Jack my thanks for the second time, man to man.
He nods. Tips his head and there’s that edge again. The one that makes me feel sick.
“I’m not doing it for you,” he says, “I’m doing it for her.”Chapter ElevenCarriePosh guy isn’t so much of a dick as I thought he would be. I normally hate rich people – they look down their noses when I pass them on the street like they’re so much better than me. But being rich doesn’t give you a free pass out of Dumbville. Having money doesn’t make your shit smell any better than mine.
I thought I’d hate this guy, Jack, but I don’t. Even though he’s a negligent asshole with his fencing, and his temper is as hot as mine, he doesn’t seem like an absolute total douche.
I feel a weird sizzle when he’s close, and it’s not just because he’s a proper man – like Michael –but because he’s different to everyone else I’ve ever met. A different different to Michael.
Michael is strong and calm and considered. Michael looks at me as though I’m someone who could be somebody someday. He looks at me as though I’m more than my shitty reputation, like I have my own mind and my own brain and my own reasons for acting like I do.
Michael gives me hope I’ve never dared to have before – that there maybe someone out there strong enough to hold me tight and not let go. Who can see through all my shit and call it out for what it is – a stupid, shitty way of coping with being alone.
Jack, on the other hand, he seems like the guy who’ll see through all my shit and hold me firm, keep me right. Jack seems like the kind of guy to not take any shit at all.
His features are harder than Michael’s. His hair is cropped short and his jaw is solid. His eyes are dark and heavy and his nose is slightly Roman. He’s put together well for a guy who’s clearly greying. He’s got to be at least forty, too.
I guess they’ve been friends a long time, him and Michael. I’m good at reading people, because knowing people’s ways is in my blood, and it’s obvious these guys really give a shit about each other. The way people should give a shit about each other but rarely do.