Dirty Daddies

Page 83

She shakes her head again, and I wonder what the fuck’s gone down here.
Nothing’s happened but the boots.
Surely it can’t be the fucking boots.
Surely one little gift can’t spin someone out that bad.
I crouch at her side but she shuffles away from me.
My voice is harsher when it comes out next. “Carrie, what the fuck happened here?”
She shuffles further but I grab her wrist. It’s easy to see the bruises with her pale skin against my fingers.
I heard about the bruises. Self-inflicted, so they say.
“Talk to me,” I say. “Carrie, you’ve got to fucking talk to me.”
Her eyes are wild and wide when they land on mine. She chokes over a couple of words, her nose wrinkling as she fights back tears.
“What happened here? Did someone do this to you?”
My heart drops when she shakes her head.
“It was me,” she said. “I did it.”
It feels like she’s kicked me in the fucking gut. “But why? Why would you do this?”
She looks anything like the brash girl who trashed my house the last time around. Where once she was cocky she looks broken. Where once she was full of backchat she has nothing.
She shrugs and that’s all.
One fucking shrug.
I don’t even know what to say.
“I thought you were happy,” I tell her and she shrugs again. “I thought you liked it here. I thought you were happy with us.”
She doesn’t speak. Doesn’t say a word.
“This was your home, Carrie. All of ours.”
She flinches as I say it.
And with that she dashes from her spot, racing through the house so quickly I have sprint to catch her. I grab her at the front door, pulling her back inside just as she’s about to launch herself from the front doorstep and bail on me. Bail on us.
I’m so fucking hurt I don’t know how to handle it. My whole world spinning at the thought I could’ve got this all so wrong.
But I didn’t.
I know I didn’t.
“Why?” I ask, and my voice is raw. “Just tell me why!”
“Because I’m trouble,” she hisses. “Because I bring trouble on everyone.”
I shake my head because I won’t believe it.
“Is this because of the boots?” I ask and all her aggression shrivels to nothing. “Is this because you don’t think you deserved them? Fuck, Carrie, you more than fucking deserved them.” My breath is ragged. “But I don’t deserve this!”
She shrinks from me, backing into a wall as her lip quivers.
“Tell me you didn’t do this,” I say, but she won’t. “Please, just make me understand. You’ve got to help me understand.”
But she doesn’t. She doesn’t say a thing.
I’m lost. Floundering. Sick to the stomach as the whole world comes crashing down around me.
And then, before I’ve even managed to find my bearings and get some of this shit cleared up, I hear Mike’s car on the driveway.CarrieI want to tell him but I can’t. Even now I can’t let them throw Eli in prison. He’s my brother. He was there for me when no one else was.
My heart is breaking worse than Jack’s, even though I can’t show him. My heart is breaking because I know I can’t come back from this, because no matter how much Jack’s eyes say he wants to forgive me, I know he won’t.
I know he can’t.
I know he’ll never trust me again.
I wish I could say I’m sorry, but I can’t. Even though I can’t bring myself to land my brother in the shit, I can’t bring myself to confess all this either.
Jack’s glaring right at me as I hear Michael’s car pull onto the drive. I want the ground to swallow me up and never spit me out again, but I’m standing right here with nowhere to run and no one to turn to.
Michael doesn’t even notice the destruction as he steps through the door. He sees me before Jack but he’s already got questions of his own.
“Kevin Baker was asking directions to your house in town earlier, why?”
He has to crunch on glass before he comes to his senses. I watch his eyes widen in horror.
“Kevin Baker?” Jack asks. “Who the fuck is Kevin Baker?”
I have no idea who Kevin Baker is. No idea at all.
“He was on my books a few years back,” Michael says. “From a broken family in Gloucester, a nasty piece of work. Violent.”
Jack looks at me but I can’t meet his eyes.
“What was he doing asking for you, Carrie? Do you know him?”
I shrug, because I know I’m going to have to say something. “Never heard of him.”
He looks so confused. “Was he here? Is that what happened to the place? It’s not the first time he’s resorted to breaking and entering. His criminal record is a mile fucking long.”
“I’ve never heard of him,” I repeat again, and I haven’t. I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.