I hear Jack’s footsteps in the hallway, and I’m too fucking proud for either of them to see me upset like a silly little cow, so I grit my teeth, shrug my shoulders and act like I don’t give a shit about Michael Warren anyway.
“Fine,” I tell him. “Just fucking friends it is then.”
I turn my back on him and scrub that carpet until I get blisters.
They don’t hurt nearly as much as my heart does.JackI try to work out if they’ve fucked or not. Michael’s got stronger control over his fucking dick than I have if he hasn’t fucked the girl already.
Whatever heated exchange they’re having on my living room carpet dries up as I return. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife as Carrie scrubs the carpet like a lunatic.
Oh how quickly things change.
This morning I boarded a plane with the sole intention of putting an end to Michael’s Carrie Wells insanity for good. This evening I’ve invited the crazy girl to stay in my home, not for Michael’s sake, but for hers.
Hers and maybe mine.
I’m rarely excited by anything, but I’m excited by her.
When I was a kid, I loved going to watch daredevil stunts with my dad. I loved the guys on bikes doing flips in the air and the people getting shot out of cannons. I loved magic shows where the pretty assistant always got sawn in half in a box.
It always felt so exhilarating – the inevitable buzz of adrenalin that zipped up my spine at the thought that something could really go wrong. As though I was dancing with danger just by looking on from the sidelines.
That’s how Carrie Wells makes me feel – only I’m not on the sidelines with Carrie Wells, I’m right in the fucking arena.
Being around her feels like dancing with danger. It’s all in her eyes. In her wildness. In the way she gives no fucks for social norms and conventions.
It’s in the way I know she won’t be tamed, but I want to try anyway.
I don’t fucking know why, but I do.
I’m watching the clock until sensible Michael heads home for a sensible sleep before work tomorrow. I’m wondering how much work of my own I’ll get done knowing this exotic sprite of destruction is loose in my house tomorrow.
Michael hovers a long while before he leaves. He declines a beer as we finish up the cleaning. He declines a coffee too, stating – as predicted – that he needs a decent night’s sleep in order to give his meetings the best of himself tomorrow.
He’s always trying to give the best of himself.
If he hasn’t fucked Carrie Wells yet, that’ll be the reason why. His own inflated sense of decency.
I tell him I’ll see him soon when he finally heads off for the night. Carrie nods her head but says very little, even though he prompts her for a goodnight.
I can’t keep up with their exchanges. One minute they’re falling over themselves to take the blame for each other, the next they won’t even look each other in the eye.
She looks shocked as I hand her a cold beer from the fridge.
“I think you’ve earned it,” I tell her and clink my bottle against hers.
“Just cleaning up my mess,” she says but swigs it back with a smile.
I pull out a stool from the kitchen island and take a seat. She follows suit, propping her grubby elbows on the freshly wiped marble like we haven’t just spent an age making this house presentable.
I’m not like Michael with his super reasonable approach to life. I like to hammer down the ground rules and make sure everyone knows where I stand on things.
I’m direct and I give no fucks for anything less.
“Let’s get a few things straight,” I say and she cocks her head at me. “I may be letting you stay, but I’m not a total fucking moron. If you want to stay under my roof, you’ll be treating the place with respect.”
“I’ve got more respect than you have for the place,” she tells me. “When was the last time you checked on your land?”
I shoot a look at the window, staring at the blackness beyond. “You mean my fields?” I shrug. “Fields pretty much take care of themselves last time I checked, with a little helping hand from the sheep in them.”
“That’s your problem,” she says. “You don’t know your own land. You have no respect for it. You like the house but not what comes along with it. Maybe you should be a city boy instead.”
Her assumptions rile me and my tone lets her know it. “You think you’re from the land? From a tribe of nature in harmony with the soul of these parts? Is that what you think?”
She raises an eyebrow. “Something like that actually, yeah.”