Carrick presses a soft kiss to my lips, jolting my attention back to him.
“Stay with me.” His lips move in soft, tender kisses over my cheek toward my ear, his hand curling around the back of my neck. “I’ll get us a room.”
“Where? Next to the one you have with Sienna.” It’s a shitty thing to say, and I instantly regret it.
Pulling back, he gives me a harsh look, and it makes me feel even worse than I already do.
I can barely meet his eyes. “I can’t stay with you.” I can feel the fear growing in me like a monster, readying to come out of the closet.
I let myself be selfish with Carrick, taking what I wanted with no thought for him or the consequences. I shouldn’t have. It was wrong of me. I know I can’t have him, yet I had sex with him again.
I’m leading him on. I’m not the type of person who does this. I don’t get involved with someone who I can’t give myself to even if just for a short time.
And I can’t give Carrick any of my time. I’m not the right person for him.
I don’t want to hurt him—that’s the last thing I would ever want—but I don’t know what else to do.
God, I hate how weak I am when it comes to him.
And knowing all of this, knowing how much I’ve screwed up with him, makes my panic climb to the highest level, and the worst thing about me when I panic is the person I become, the person I’m not.
“Don’t do this, Andressa…”
He tries to cup my cheek, bring my face back to his, but I do what I do best when I don’t know how to deal, especially with Carrick. I push him away—literally.
He moves back, slipping out of me, and I immensely feel his loss. Almost like he’s taking a part of me with him as he goes.
He yanks up his trousers, fastening them. His movements are rough with suppressed anger.
Ashamed, I move away, pushing my skirt down over my hips, smoothing it out. Bending, I pick up my ruined knickers from off the floor, closing my hand around them.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this again,” he says it so low, so harsh, that I freeze.
I lift my eyes to his, and I hate what I see there. “I’m not doing anything.”
Denial—it’s my best friend and my worst enemy.
“Just fucking don’t.” He stops me with his hand, his lip curling in disdain. “You’re doing exactly what you did in Barcelona, except I’m awake to see it this time.”
Shame lowers my eyes. “I’m…sorry. I just…” I hesitate, stuck on the words that are tearing me to pieces. The words that are going to hurt him. “I’m so sorry…” I whisper. “But…I can’t do this…with you.”
“Can’t do what exactly?” he snaps angrily.
I lift my eyes to his. I owe him that at least. “I can’t…” I pull in a strengthening breath. “I can’t give you any more than what just happened.”
He lets out a short bark of harsh laughter, but I can see the hurt in his eyes, and it’s shredding me to pieces.
Out of nowhere, a shot of anger bursts through me. “What is it that you want from me?” I cry.
Fury flashes through his eyes. He takes an angry step toward me, backing me up. “Isn’t that already clear? I want you!” Lowering his eyes, he lets out a ragged breath. “I just want…you.”
So many thoughts and feelings hit me at once—fear, exaltation, panic, want, confusion, need.
But the overriding, dominating feeling, as it always is when it comes to Carrick, is fear. Deep-rooted dark fear.
And as always, with my fear comes panic, and panic is in my driving seat.
“I’m sorry…” My lips tremble. “I can’t be with you. You’re just…too big a risk for me to take.”
The look on his face. I never want to see that look on another human being for as long as I live.
He lets out a solemn, bitter laugh. “You know, I really wish I knew what that meant.”
His eyes meet with mine, and the anguish I see in them crushes me to pieces.
“From the moment I met you, Andressa, I thought you were strong, maybe the strongest person I’d ever met, and I admired that about you.” He lets out a staggered breath. “But I’ve come to realize something.” He leans in to me, his face close to mine.
I suck in a breath at the absolute blackness in his eyes, feeling it closing in all around me.
“You’re not strong. You’re a fucking coward. And I’m done.”
Moving me aside, he yanks the door open, and he’s gone, leaving me with only the resounding bang of the door as it echoes in the stairwell and deep inside my mind.
You’re a fucking coward.
He’s right. I am.
I fall back against the wall, feeling like I’ve been shot.
The pain is unbearable. It feels like my heart is actually breaking, shattering into unforgiving icy shards inside of my chest.
Ironic, I guess, how I’ve always been so afraid of Carrick, of wanting him, afraid of the way I feel about him, and staying away for the fear of getting my heart broken.
But as it turns out, I’ve broken it all on my own.
And I have a feeling there’s no fixing it now.
WHEN CARRICK SAID HE WAS DONE, he meant it.
Andressa Amaro no longer exists to him. If she’s in a room, he leaves it.
She’s invisible to him.