“I know. He’s my best friend,” he says. I feel the heat from him even though he feels a million miles away. The space between us feels like a gulf. “I guess he’s the man you want, right?” he asks and I’ve never heard him sound nervous before, but there’s something there. Just a little something.
“The man I want?”
“Of the two of us. It’s about him, right?”
My heart flutters. “You mean my favourite?”
He sighs. “Yeah, your favourite.”
“I don’t have one,” I reply honestly. The silence is heavy. It makes me fidget, like I’ve said something wrong. “I don’t have to have a favourite, right? Why do I have to choose? I can’t choose. I don’t want to.”
His voice is low but warm. “Well, that’s uh, kinda how things work, no? You meet a guy, you hook up, it becomes a thing…”
“You want me to choose one of you?”
He sighs. “Fuck, this isn’t how this conversation was supposed to go.”
“But you do, right? You want me to choose?” I hug my knees tighter, because I can’t. I always wanted someone to give a shit, and now there are two and I can’t lose them. Not either of them. “I’m not choosing,” I tell him. “You’ll have to work it out between you. I love you both.”
I suck in breath as I realise what I’ve just said, every muscle wired as I wait for him to freak out. But he doesn’t. He really doesn’t.
“You mean that?”
My body is on fire with nerves. “Yeah. I mean that.”
And then he touches me. I flinch as a warm solid arm reaches out for me and pulls me close, but it feels good. It feels amazing. My body presses to his and his legs wrap around mine, my head fitting so perfectly against his shoulder.
“And we love you, both of us. We’re both fucking crazy about you, Carrie Wells, you little shit.”
I smile against his skin, and I could cry. I could really cry.
His cock is hard, I can feel it pressing against my leg, but he makes no move to fix that and I make no move to fix that either. I wrap my arms around him and hold him tight and he holds me.
“Sleep now,” he whispers. “We’ll sort this crap out another day.”
I nod. Yawn.
And eventually I fall asleep happy.Chapter EighteenCarrieJack tries to act super normal next morning, even though I wake in his arms with my hair all over his pillow. He gives me a smile and disentangles himself and heads off for a shower like this is just any other day.
But it isn’t.
Now I’ve slept in his bed I don’t want to sleep alone again.
It felt too good to feel someone’s body against mine. It felt too good to have someone hold me for the first proper time in my life.
Now I know how it feels to be safe and warm in someone’s arms I can’t let it go, and I won’t.
But I can’t choose, either.
I can’t choose either man over the other, they both mean too much to me.
When I was being passed around foster homes like a bad smell, all I ever wanted was one person to give a shit about me. Now there’s the chance I have two. Two men who care enough to give me a chance. And they love me, he said so, and Jack isn’t the kind to lie.
I’m eating a bowl of cereal when he joins me in the kitchen. He pours himself one and takes a seat opposite, smelling ocean fresh with a navy-blue t-shirt over jeans.
“You don’t have many clothes, do you?” he asks, but it’s not a dig. I look down at the top I’m wearing, another basic cami, and one he’s seen already this past week.
“How many do I need? I can’t wear them all at once.”
He smiles. “It was an observation. Most girls I’ve ever met love clothes, can’t get enough of them.”
“I’m not most girls.”
“You got that right.”
He digs his wallet from his jeans and I put down my spoon as he counts out a load of notes. He slides them across the table at me. “What’s that?” I ask.
“For you,” he tells me. “I was thinking of buying you some things, clothes, boots, whatever, but you earned the money, you should spend it on whatever you want.”
Nobody has ever given me cash before. Gifts, but not cash. Nobody trusts me with cash.
“I don’t want it,” I tell him all the same. “I won’t be bought.”
He raises an eyebrow. “You think I’m trying to buy you for a hundred quid? Please. I’m hardly that much of a miser. I’m paying you for your work on the fence.”
“But I don’t want it,” I tell him. “I did it for me, not you.”
“Then I’m paying you for our fence, Carrie. Take the money please. A good job is a good job and worth paying for.”