Even though Jack has every right to be seriously pissed at both of us, he shakes his head and helps us out, cleaning up the crow shit and picking up the feathers from the sides.
I wonder why he came back early. I wonder why he didn’t call the cops and make a big fucking scene.
I’m really relieved I can stay. It makes me scared how relieved I am, because good things hurt so bad when they’re taken away, and I’m not sure I wanna go through that. I’m not sure I can stand losing Michael before he’s even been mine.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to stand losing this house, with its big airy windows and it’s lovely green fields. I’d find it so easy to fall in love with this place.
And to fall in love with being around these guys, too.
I feel safe as I work alongside them, even though they’re both pissed at me for different reasons. I’ve never had people pissed at me before who’ve knuckled down all the same and helped me sort my crap out.
They don’t have to help me clean up this mess, but they do.
Jack doesn’t have to give me a roof over my head for another few days, and I don’t know why he is, but I’m grateful. I’m grateful he cared enough to sweep up the glass and not call the cops on me. I’m grateful he cared enough not to make Michael pay for my stupid fuck up.
I work as hard as I can, because I’m not lazy and I want them to know it. I get carried away in the moment sometimes, and I don’t always think about the practical stuff, but I’m not a slacker.
I didn’t mean to trash Jack’s pretty house, it’s just that I cared about saving the crow more than I cared about his carpets.
I hope he knows that.
I hope Michael knows that too.
Michael fills up a tub of soapy water and attacks the white living room carpet with a scrubbing brush. He doesn’t stop scrubbing, not even as I drop to my knees alongside him and place my hand on his.
“I can do it,” I say, but he sighs and carries on. He flinches when I turn his face to mine, closing his eyes as my fingers brush the shadow of stubble on his jawline. I hate the way he shies away from me touching him. If he hadn’t then I’d have tried to kiss him again like I did last night.
“Let me do it,” I insist and he lets go of his grip on the brush.
“I should’ve called last night,” he tells me, staying put on his haunches as I continue what he started. I glance up at Jack as he heads past us into the hallway with a pan of more broken glass. I wait until I’m sure he’s out of earshot.
“You should’ve stayed last night,” I tell him. “You should’ve stayed with me. We both wanted it.”
“This needs to stop,” he says and my heart pains. When he’s serious he means it. He always means it. I both hate and love how he always means what he says.
I play ignorant. “What needs to stop?”
He brushes my hair away from my forehead and smiles one of those sad smiles. It’s not you, it’s me. Such a fucking cliché.
I hope he doesn’t insult me by fucking saying it.
“I care about you,” he says. “I care about what happens to you. Fuck, Carrie, I was worried sick about you. But I can’t let this turn into anything it shouldn’t be.”
“Anything it shouldn’t be?” My tone comes our sharper than I mean it. “Who’s to say how this should and shouldn’t be?! Who makes up the rules?!” My eyes burn into his. “Did you make them up? What about what I think should and shouldn’t be?”
I stare right at him, all thoughts of scrubbing muddy boot prints drifting into nothing.
“I want you,” I tell him. “I want to be with you. When I’m with you, I feel like we fit. I feel like you could get me, even when I don’t get myself.” I pause. “And I feel like I could get you too.”
“We do fit,” he says. “And that’s a good thing. We can be friends, Carrie. I’d like to be your friend.”
I’d laugh if I wasn’t so fucking mortified.
Fucking friend-zoned by the hot older guy I’ve been getting myself off over for months.
It stings bad.
“Friends?! You want to be my fucking friend?!”
“Yes,” he says, and he’s got that serious edge to him again. “I’d very much like to be your friend, Carrie.”
“And that’s all, just friends? No matter what?” My eyes search his for a chink in his armour, but he looks so sure.
“Just friends,” he says. “And I’ll be your friend no matter what. I’m on your side, Carrie, always. You can count on me.”