Not me. You can’t buy me, Carrick.
Aargh! I’m so ready to slam this door in his arrogant fucking face. This isn’t him. Not the real him. Not the Carrick I’ve spent the past month getting to know.
This…I don’t know who this version is, but he’s a complete tosspot, and I really want to punch him in his rich pretty face.
I take a step forward, poking a finger in his chest, forcing him to drop his hands and move backwards. “What the hell is this? This isn’t you! You don’t say shit like that—especially not to me! And coming up here like you own the place, finding out my room number, waking me up at the butt crack of dawn—you have no right! You know some would call that illegal or maybe an invasion of privacy or fucking stalking!” I all but scream the last part.
He at least has the decency to look contrite. He retreats back a step at the force of my anger.
“Jesus.” He shudders out a breath, dragging a hand through his hair. “This is not going how I wanted this to go.”
“No? How did you think it was going to go with you turning up here out of the blue, drunk and acting like an arrogant prick?”
He steadily meets my eyes. “I might have been drinking, but I’m not drunk.”
I drag a hand through my bed-tangled hair, withdrawing into my room. “Look, I’m tired, and I’m not in the mood to fight with you.”
I start to shut the door, but he puts a hand against it, stopping me.
“Please, Andressa. Just wait…”
I let out a sigh, lifting my eyes to his. “What?”
“I texted you.”
I can see from his expression that he wasn’t expecting that reply.
“Why didn’t you text me back?” His words are soft. He sounds wounded.
Good, because so am I. Deeply fucking wounded.
“Because I didn’t have anything to say.”
He looks like I’ve just told him that his favorite car has been crushed to smithereens.
He moves back, looking like he’s going to leave, but then he stops. “I didn’t sleep with her.”
The words are spoken so softly that I wonder for a moment if he’s actually said them.
The sense of relief I feel at hearing that is immense. And it’s wrong because I shouldn’t feel anything, especially not for him.
His eyes lift to mine. There’s desperation in them, and I feel it deep inside, like an ache in my bones.
“Why are you telling me this?” My voice is cold, devoid of emotion.
“Because…I thought…I don’t know what I thought.” He shakes his head. “I just want you to know that I’m not the complete bastard you think I am.”
Just half a bastard then.
“And I’m sorry. So very fucking sorry.”
“You’ve nothing to be sorry for. You’re a free agent. You can do whatever you want with whomever you want. It’s none of my business. I’m nobody, remember?”
That hurts him. I see it flicker through his eyes.
Good. Now, he knows an iota of what I’ve been feeling since he said it to me.
Then, surprisingly, his pain turns to anger. And that pisses me right off.
“You don’t think I did anything wrong? I kissed you, dry-humped you on that fucking sofa, and then a few hours later, you found me in an elevator with another woman, who I was readying to fuck.”
I really don’t need a recap of one of the worst nights I’ve had in a long time. Is he trying to get a reaction out of me? Because if he is, then he’s going to get one—big time.
“But that’s just a standard night for you, isn’t it?” I bite, only just getting started with him.
It was a low blow, and that was exactly what I was aiming for.
What I wasn’t planning on was how much the look of hurt on his face hurts me.
I step away from him, needing the distance. “Look, I’m tired and angry, and you’ve been drinking. We shouldn’t be having this conversation right now. We’re getting nowhere.”
“Yeah…you’re right.” He lets out a defeated sigh. “Before I go…I just want you to know that I am sorry. Beyond sorry. You deserve better than the way I treated you. I was so fucking out of line. What I said…God, Andressa, you’re not nothing. You’re everything. Aside from my dad, you’re the best person I know.” Raking a hand through his hair, he drags his eyes back to mine. “And not that this is an excuse for my behavior, but I just don’t…deal well with rejection.”
“She didn’t look like she was rejecting you from where I was standing.”
“Jesus, Andressa. I meant you.”
Looking away, I hide my pain and wrap my arms over my chest. “What do you want me to say, Carrick?”
He moves before me. Earnest eyes stare into mine. “Just tell me that I haven’t fucked this up.” His voice is close to a whisper, a desperate whisper. “I don’t want to lose my friend. I don’t want to lose you.”
I swallow past my own bitterness as a hand of pain wraps around my heart and squeezes. “You haven’t lost me. We just…screwed up, and we’re working through it. We’ll be fine.”
And I ignore the little voice in my head asking me how the hell any of this can be fine when I clearly feel for him like I do.
I’M IN SPAIN, and it’s late and hot. I’m still at the track, finishing up after today’s practice sessions. I’m here on my own as I told the guys to head back to the hotel. They were dying to go out for a drink, and I was too tired to even consider it, so I told them I’d finish up.