Dirty Daddies

Page 58

I stare at the notes like they could bite me. “That’s too much.”
“Hardly. It’s not even minimum wage.”
“But what if I spend it all?” My eyes are so guarded when they meet his.
“I hope that you do. You need some new boots if you’re going to be trekking through fields every day, those old things are a health hazard.”
Slowly, so slowly I reach out and take the money. “Thanks,” I say, trying to play down how touched I am. Not just for the money, but because he trusts me enough to have it.
“I can take you into Gloucester if you like? Take you shopping?”
I shake my head quickly, much too quickly. “I’ll get the bus.”
He nods. “Okay, suit yourself. Be back in time for movie night though, yes? I’m getting in the popcorn.”
I turn the notes over and over in my fingers. One hundred pounds. A whole hundred pounds.
I think of the things I could buy. New underwear and boots and maybe a pack of cigarettes of my own, to smoke in the fields after a hard day of fencing. Maybe I could buy a new hairbrush and a lipstick. I’ve only got one lipstick, not that I ever wear the stuff.
“Carrie,” he says to call me back to my senses. “You’ll be back in time for movie night, yes? Don’t let us down.”
“I won’t,” I say. “I won’t let you down.”
And I won’t.
I’m never going to let him down. Nor Michael, either.MichaelI slept a lousy sleep. It’s my phone that wakes me up, bleeping away on my bedside table.
I rub my eyes before I reach for it, and realise the daylight is blazing through the crack in the curtains.
“Wake up sleepyhead,” Jack says at the end of the line. “It’s almost midday.”
I check my alarm clock. He’s right.
That’s what a night pacing around your living room does for you.
“Guess I overslept.”
“Guess you did. You should’ve stayed over.”
I sigh. “I hardly think that would’ve been a good idea.”
“She loves you,” he says, just like that, and I sit bolt upright.
“She loves you, she told me so. And she loves me, too.”
A mix of relief and nausea floods through me. “She said that? Love?”
“Uh huh, yeah. She said it. Love.”
I can’t fight the zing of nerves. “And were you… when she said it?”
“Was I fucking her?” He sighs. “No, Michael, I wasn’t fucking fucking her. How much of a cunt do you take me for?”
“I’m sorry,” I say, and I am.
“She did sleep in my bed though. But not like that. Just sleeping.” He groans. “Fuck, this is awkward. It’s just…”
“Fucked up,” I say, “yes, I know.”
“I mean, she was in nothing but a scrappy little top and knickers, and she is fucking divine, and I did have my fucking hard on pressed against her ass all night.” His laugh is low and easy. “But I didn’t stick her with it, and she didn’t ask.”
“I’m supposed to say thank you, am I? That’s how this goes? Thank you for not fucking the eighteen-year-old girl we’re both infatuated with. Well done, have a gold star.”
“Thank you for not fucking the eighteen-year-old girl we’re both infatuated with without me. That’s how this goes. Gold star for me.”
I shake my head, even though he can’t see me. “This isn’t happening. Forget it.”
He laughs. “Suit yourself, but she doesn’t want to choose and I don’t want to let this go.”
“Then I’ll back out gracefully,” I tell him.
“And she’ll hate us both for it if you do.”
“You’re a cock,” I say.
“Yes, I am,” he says. “But you brought her to my doorstep, and she isn’t like other girls. She’s nothing close.”
I lean back into the pillows. “Your point being?”
“My point being that your concrete sense of morality is going to have to take a bashing if you want to live in Carrie’s world. Your call.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” I say.
“You do that,” he replies. “I’ll see you later. Don’t be late for movie night.”
He hangs up the call before I can argue.CarrieI’ve been in Gloucester city centre a thousand times, but never with a hundred quid in my pocket. I feel uneasy to have it there, like someone is going to take it from me. Someone like Eli or one of his loser mates.
That’s why I didn’t want Jack to bring me here. I didn’t want to risk running into any of them. I didn’t want them to see me with someone. Someone they could speak to, someone they could scare off me.
Eli is the only family who’s ever stuck by me. He ruined my life, but he came through at the other side, tracking me down when I was fourteen and telling me he was still my brother.
He’s never even mentioned what happened all those years ago, and I was always too scared to bring it up in case he dropped me again. Sometimes he’s kind and tells me about my old mum and dad, and sister, too. He says they don’t want to see me and never will, but I still care.