I know the time when I have to face him is fast approaching, and I’m dreading it.
I’m worried that he’ll ignore me because I know that will hurt more than anything.
Hence, why I’m out in a bar with the team, drinking up some Dutch courage in case I do see Carrick tonight.
We’re in a bar called Pattaya, which overlooks the harbor. It’s really pretty here. We’re sitting outside, and I’m sipping on a glass of local beer, chatting with Ben. Petra’s not arrived in Monaco yet. Her brother’s wife went into early labor yesterday, six weeks early, so she delayed her flight. She wanted to stay and make sure everything was okay with the baby. Fortunately, it was, and now, Petra is the proud auntie of a baby boy yet to be named.
She could only get on an evening flight in, so she’ll be arriving later on. I can’t wait until she gets here. Even though the guys are great, to be honest, I’m missing her company.
“Carrick just texted, asking where we are,” Ben informs me. His eyes are down on his phone as he types out a text, presumably back to Carrick.
“He’s here?” My voice comes out sounding a little strangled. I cover it with a cough.
“Yeah, he’s coming to meet us.” He puts his phone down on the table.
Panic slides a hand around my throat and squeezes tight. I take a few calming sips of my beer.
I can do this. It’s going to be fine.
Needing a moment, I excuse myself to the restroom. When I get back, Carrick still hasn’t arrived.
My nerves are on edge. I can’t sit still in my chair. I feel like I’m about to come out of my skin, and my head is rotating every few minutes, looking for a sign of him. I just need to see him, so I know how things stand between us.
It’s been a long while since Ben texted him back, and I’m starting to think that maybe Carrick’s not coming after all. But then I hear Robbie start catcalling, and the rest of them join in, so I know Carrick has arrived.
My stomach and head fill with butterflies, making me feel a little dizzy.
Be breezy, Andi. Breezy…
Trying to act nonchalant, I cast a glance back over my shoulder to Carrick.
And I feel like I’ve just been smacked in the face with a brick.
He’s walking toward us with a girl attached to his arm. A really pretty and tall—probably about my height—model-looking girl with long brown hair.
Those butterflies I was feeling turn to dust, and I’m just left empty.
I can’t believe that he’s picked up some random and brought her with him.
Of course he has. This is Carrick.
Deep breaths. It doesn’t matter.
It’s none of my business what he does and who he does it with. All I care about is getting my friendship with him back on track.
Pressing my lips together, I turn back to the table. I grab my phone off it and stare down at it, like I’m reading something really interesting.
“Hey,” Carrick says from behind me.
Not hearing his voice, that Irish twang of his, for nearly two weeks has it shivering through me.
I clamp down the feeling, pushing it away.
Assuming he’s talking to the whole table and not directly to me, I don’t turn around, but I do mutter a vague-sounding, “Hello.”
Some of the guys get up to greet him, doing that manly handshake thing, Ben being one of them.
“I’ll get you a drink,” Ben says.
“Nah. Don’t worry. I’ll get them. What are you drinking?”
“Beer,” Ben tells him.
“Get me a cosmo, will you, baby?” the girl says.
She has a really nice English accent, sweet and posh. Not like my fucked-up English mixed with Brazilian accent.
“Sure thing, babe.”
The memory of being in bed with Carrick, his body wrapped around mine, his sleepy voice murmuring in my ear, “Night, babe,” slams into me painfully.
Their terms of endearment seem awfully forward for two people who just met.
Or maybe they didn’t just meet.
The thought makes my empty feeling quickly turn to a sick feeling. A really sick feeling.
“Let me get you a chair,” Ben says.
I’m assuming he’s speaking to the girl.
He drags over a chair, putting it next to me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see her sit in the chair with the grace of a gazelle. She’s wearing a short skirt, which rides up, revealing more of her long tanned legs.
I look down at my own legs, thanking my mother for passing on her good genes to me and thanking my good sense for at least wearing jean shorts to show them off—not that it’s a competition in any way. And in no way do I look anywhere near as nice as she does. She’s dressed up for a night out, completing that short skirt with heels and a halter top. All notably designer compared to my high street jean shorts, flip-flops, and red T-shirt, which has the word Geek emblazoned across the chest.
God, I am a geek.
Actually, the only things I have going for me right now are my legs and my hair. I’m wearing it down, and it looks pretty.
Since when did I start caring how I look or comparing myself to other women?
“What’s everyone else drinking?” Carrick asks.
A multitude of drink orders are shouted at him, mostly beer.
“I’ll give you a hand at the bar,” Ben offers, laughing.
I feel a hand—his hand—on my shoulder, and I freeze.