Poles apart, p.11
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       Poles Apart, p.11
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           Kirsty Moseley

  Swearing under my breath, I headed back to my flat.

  Rory looked at me curiously when I walked in. “Well?” he asked, looking puzzled.

  “Huh?” Oh, crap, he doesn’t know anything, does he? Was it on the TV instead?

  “The milk, Emma!” He laughed, looking at me like I had lost my mind. “You went out to get milk?”

  I glanced down at my empty hands and silently cursed myself for not buying a pint to tie in with my lies. “They were sold out?” I suggested weakly, but it sounded more like a question.

  He laughed and rolled his eyes. “Right, I’m leaving for school. Remember, I’m going to the library to finish my project after school so I’ll be late home,” he said, kissing Sasha on top of her head.

  “Okay. I’ll leave your dinner on the side if you’re not back,” I said absentmindedly, already starting to think about Carson and the papers again. Rory smiled and headed out the door just as Sasha threw her beaker onto the floor to get my attention. I smiled and looked back at my beautiful baby girl. “What shall we do today? It’s just you and me; Mummy’s got no classes today. We could go to the park?” I suggested.

  She immediately held her arms up to me. “Pak!” she screamed excitedly.

  THE REST OF THE WEEK PASSED much the same. Every day I would run down to the shop after giving Rory a stupid excuse and I would scan the paper, only to find nothing in there at all. With every passing day, I felt a little less scared about it. If they were going to print something they would have done it by now; they obviously thought this wasn’t a very good story to run with.

  On Friday night, I did my hair as usual, pulled on a pair of grey tracksuit bottoms and a black hoodie of Rory’s and then made the fifteen-minute walk to work. As I was walking down the road, I noticed two people leaning against a car outside the club. Frowning, I put my head down as usual so as not to attract unwanted attention. My hand instinctively tightened around my can of pepper spray in my pocket. Sometimes, clients like to wait outside the club for opening time. I’d been grabbed once outside. Luckily, one of the bouncers had arrived at the same time as me and had pushed him off me, but it always made me a little more wary of people hanging around outside there.

  I gulped and stole a glance at them, quickening my approach so I could get inside before anything happened. When I was about fifteen-feet from the entrance, both men sprang away from the car. I fought back the urge to scream as I almost jumped out of my skin. Instead of grabbing me, like I was expecting, a light started flashing as someone called my name over and over, trying to get my attention.

  Oh, God, the reporters are at the club?

  “Emma! Is Carson coming to the club tonight? How long have you been together? What do your parents think of you dating a celebrity? Are you in love with him? What do you think about him seeing other girls?” The questioning was relentless as I sprinted the distance to the club, with them keeping pace alongside me.

  I burst through the doors and leant against the wall, panting for breath. They didn’t follow me in. In a way, I wish they would have because then I could ask Jerry, one of the bouncers, to escort them away from the club with a not-so-friendly warning. After finally calming my heart rate, I pushed away from the wall and headed upstairs to see Jason. I needed to get hold of Carson and tell him not to come here tonight. If they waited outside on the off-chance of him coming then they would get pictures of him entering the club, and that wouldn’t exactly look too good for him.

  I spotted Jason and immediately went to him. He smiled as I walked in, obviously completely unaware to the little scene outside. “Jason, do you have Carson’s number?”

  He frowned and shook his head. “No. Why would I?”

  “Don’t you have to fill in paperwork to be a member?” I asked, looking at him hopefully. But I already knew the answer to that from when I was doing paperwork at the other club – clients didn’t have to give personal details to have a membership, as long as they paid their annual fee.

  “We don’t hold that kind of information, Emma. You know that. Why, what’s up?”

  I groaned and put my head down on the bar. “I need to speak to him! There are reporters outside. I think they’re going to wait there for him or something.”

  He touched my arm to get my attention. “Why would they do that?”

  I groaned and told him everything that happened the weekend before: how Rodger Harris came to the club and asked a load of questions, how I didn’t know he was a reporter, how Carson and I had our photo taken outside Lloyds. He just listened with a thoughtful expression on his face the whole time.

  “Okay, so we have no way of contacting Mr Matthews to tell him not to come. He never gave you an emergency number? He’s never texted you or anything?” he asked.

  The number on my fridge! “I have a number!” I cried excitedly. Grabbing my phone, I called Rory, ignoring the little woman who was telling me I was running low on calling credit and how I needed to top up. Rory answered almost immediately. “Rory, I need the phone number from the fridge,” I said quickly.

  “Huh? What’s up, Emma?”

  “Just go to the kitchen and get me the number quickly! It’s important. Go now, please,” I begged desperately. I heard him walking through the flat and then he reeled off the number. I scribbled it onto a napkin and looked back to Jason, praying this would work. I could call this press agent guy and ask him to pass Carson a message telling him not to come to the club.

  THE MAN ON THE PHONE was very polite and understanding. He told me not to worry about a thing, that he would contact Rodger Harris directly and get him to leave the club before my shift finished tonight. He requested I stay inside until he called me back to tell me the coast was clear, so they wouldn’t harass me again. I thanked him, grateful, and Jason set a coffee on the bar in front of me.

  “How about you work the bar with me tonight, instead of waiting tables?” he offered, smiling sympathetically.

  “Thanks, Jason. I’d like that,” I admitted. I couldn’t face putting on a big, fake smile and having men leer at me all night. All I wanted to do was curl in bed and have Carson wrap his arms around me. This was going to scare him away from me now, for sure. He would see this as just another negative thing, another reason not to come here anymore, and I wouldn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. My heart sank with each passing second.

  Within half an hour, the club phone rang. Jason was busy serving so I answered it. “Angels Gentlemen’s Club,” I stated, trying not to let my building depression leak into my voice.

  “Hi, can I speak to Emma Bancroft please?”

  My breath caught. Is that… it can’t be, can it? “Carson?”

  “Emma? Is that you?” He sounded a little relieved.

  My hand tightened around the phone as I pressed it harder to my ear. My eyes filled with tears. “Yeah,” I croaked.

  “Are you okay? I just had a call from Mason telling me to stay away from the club. He said Rodger Harris was there hounding you again tonight.” He actually sounded angry about it.

  My eyes widened. Was he angry with me? Was he blaming me for all this, for causing him all this trouble? “Yeah, sorry. I didn’t have your number to call you; I only had your press agent’s number. I hope you don’t mind me calling him,” I said, wincing and waiting for him to bitch me out about it.

  Carson sighed. “Take my number now,” he instructed. I grabbed my phone from my pocket and tapped it in as he told me it. “Emma, are you okay? I could come and get you… take you home?” he suggested.

  “You can’t come here, baby. Mason told me to stay in here until he called me to say it was clear outside. Do you think they’ll leave, or wait until closing?” I nervously glanced out the window. I couldn’t see anything because it was too dark, but I still couldn’t help but scan the pavement trying to see a figure lingering there.

  “They’ll leave, don’t worry. Mason’s going to offer them an exclusive interview with me after my next race, including photos; i
n exchange, they’ll leave you alone. Everything will be fine, Em.”

  My eyes fluttered closed. I was so much trouble for him. He was having to put himself out, just to get them to leave the club? I hated how this celebrity thing worked. This was my only brush with it, and it made me feel so stressed my stomach hurt. I had no idea how Carson put up with this all the time. It was painful.

  “Thanks. I’m so sorry,” I mumbled guiltily.

  He laughed. “Don’t be sorry. I’m just sorry I won’t get to see you tonight. You’re working tomorrow, though, right? I’ll be there tomorrow and see you then instead,” he replied, his voice soft and caring.

  Smiling at the thought, I pressed my forehead against the wall, letting the cold try to alleviate some of the tension headache building up. “Okay. You think maybe I could get a really big hug tomorrow or something?”

  “Emma, if you need me to come there now, I will,” he stated, his voice fierce. I knew he would, too. If I asked him to, he would get in his car and drive to the club, to Hell with the reporters. I loved him even more for that. He was so adorable and selfless sometimes, and sometimes it was hard to remember he was just a client of mine and nothing more.

  I shook my head sadly, silently wishing I could just say, yeah, come on over and hold me while I cry onto your shoulder. “I’m fine. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’d better go. I’m working the bar tonight, so I guess I should actually do some work before I get sacked,” I teased, trying to lighten my mood. Even the sound of Carson’s voice couldn’t pull me out of the worried slump I was in.

  “Okay. I’ll call Mason now and see how he’s getting on.” He disconnected the call and I just stared at the phone for a minute, wondering just how my life became this complicated.

  After another hour, Mason called me back. He’d sorted everything; the reporters had agreed to leave so I was free to go home. He asked to speak to Jason after, so I passed the phone over, watching and trying to work out what was going on. There was just a lot of agreeing and nodding in understanding from Jason’s end, so I couldn’t gauge anything from him.

  When he hung up the phone, he smiled. “Okay, so you can go home now. One of the bouncers will be driving you and walking you to your flat, as per Mr Matthews’ orders,” he said, shrugging casually.

  I gasped. Carson had insisted someone drive me home? No doubt he’d arranged for some sort of payment for this to happen, too. “Carson paid to let me finish my shift early, right?” I rolled my eyes in exasperation.

  Jason’s smirk told me I’d hit the nail on the head. “I’ll go speak to Jerry, get him to pull the car up out front and check to make sure they’re definitely gone from outside.” He disappeared for a few minutes, sorting everything out, and I smiled sadly.

  Hopefully with Carson doing this exclusive interview for them, then this would be the end of it. I prayed it was anyway because this was extremely stressful.

  I WOKE THE NEXT MORNING to the sound of urgent knocking on the front door. Groaning, I pushed myself out of bed, glancing at the clock. It was barely seven. The knocking continued – and woke Sasha, too. She looked at me a little grumpily as I headed out of the bedroom, making my way to the door, rubbing my tired eyes.

  After checking the chain was on the door, I pulled it open, wondering who on Earth would be knocking on my front door at stupid o’clock in the morning. As soon as the door opened a few inches, I could hear the clicking of cameras. Someone shoved their hand in through the gap, thrusting a tape recorder in my face.

  I gasped and immediately tried to shut the door, but the group of people standing there were holding it open. “Emma, is it true what The Peoples’ Post are claiming this morning? Does Carson really have no idea? Why has it all been kept secret?”

  I gasped and barged the door again, trying to shut it. “Just go away! What are you all doing here?” I cried angrily. How on Earth would they know where I lived? How could they just turn up at my door like this unannounced – wasn’t this harassment?

  Their relentless questions and clicking of cameras continued as I pushed the guy’s hand back out of my door, finally managing to get it slammed shut. Slumping against the door, I burst into tears. A feeling of violation washed over me because of the group of people just turning up outside my flat, banging on the door at this time of the morning.

  My mind flicked to Rory. How was I even going to begin to explain this to him? Something had to have been printed in the paper today, because the reporters were asking if it was true.

  They were still pounding on the door and shouting questions when suddenly, the phone started to ring. Rory walked out of his bedroom, his eyes still half-closed. He stopped short when he saw me sitting on the floor, my back against the door, crying while people banged outside and shouted for my attention.

  “Emma, what the hell?” he cried, running to my side and wrapping his arm around me. “What’s going on? Who’s at the door?”

  I gulped and wiped my face. “Reporters. Don’t open the door, okay? I’ll get the phone.” I pushed myself up weakly and headed to the phone. Sasha was crying in my bedroom, obviously not liking the fact I’d left her in her cot.

  As soon as I answered the phone, I wished I hadn’t. “Emma, do you have any comments on the article in The Peoples’ Post today?”

  They knew my number, too? “No! Just leave me alone. Please?” I begged. I really couldn’t cope with any more stress in my life. My life was hard enough without people branding me a stripper in the papers. I hung up the phone and it immediately started ringing again.

  “What’s going on, Emma?” Rory demanded.

  I closed my eyes as I spoke. “There have been a few reporters asking some things about me and Carson. They took some photos last week of him and me together for my birthday, then last night they were at the club, too. Apparently, they’ve printed something about me in The Peoples’ Post this morning, and they’re all asking for comments about it.”

  He frowned and snatched the ringing phone from my hand, an angry expression on his face. “Who is this?” he demanded down the line. I didn’t hear the answer, but Rory looked even more pissed off. “No, she doesn’t have any comment! Stop calling here!”

  As soon as he disconnected the call, the phone started ringing again. Oh, God, surely the fact that Carson is friends with a stripper isn’t this big a story! If they were hoping I was going to sell him out or do some sort of kiss-and-tell story on him then they were very much mistaken!

  I walked over to the phone socket and ripped the lead from the wall, instantly silencing the phone. Everything was deathly silent for a few seconds – until Sasha cried louder, the banging resumed on the door and, thirty seconds later, my mobile started to ring.

  I felt trapped; I couldn’t even leave the flat because there were reporters outside waiting. It was actually kind of scary; the feeling of being penned in made me feel a little queasy. I debated calling Carson; after all, he did give me his number the night before. I quickly decided against it, though, because if I called him he would probably race over here and then it would just add more fuel to whatever story had been printed about us. Instead, I decided to call Mason; technically this was his job.

  I ran to my bedroom, picking Sasha up from her cot and giving her a quick cuddle as I rejected the call from the unknown number coming into my mobile. “Can you just keep her quiet in the lounge for a couple of minutes while I call someone to try and get them away from the front door?” I asked, passing Sasha to Rory.

  He nodded and immediately headed out of the room. I didn’t have any credit on my mobile, so I quickly plugged the landline back in and dialled Mason’s number. He answered almost immediately, yawning and sounding like I’d woken him. “Mason, it’s Emma Bancroft. I’m sorry to call you so early,” I started.

  “No problem, Emma. What can I do for you?” he asked, his voice husky and thick with sleep.

  “There are reporters banging on my front door and calling my phone right now. They’re asking questions
about Carson again. They said something about an article in The Peoples’ Post this morning, but I don’t know what it’s about,” I said weakly, swiping at the tears which just wouldn’t stop flowing down my face.

  “You have people there right now?”

  “Yeah. There are about four or five guys banging on my front door as we speak.” I looked down the hallway and saw my letterbox move. I frowned until I saw a pair of eyes peeking through; the shouting of my name got a little louder as he spotted me. I jerked back into the kitchen quickly. “And now they’re looking through my letterbox,” I added, sniffing loudly.

  “Okay, don’t panic; I’ll sort everything. I’ll have police officers there in a few minutes to move them away from your door. There are rules, and they’re not allowed to harass you. I’ll have them moved to outside your building while I try to sort this out.” His calmness was very reassuring and made my worry fade marginally. “What was printed? Do you have a copy?”

  I sighed. “No. I have no idea. Sorry.”

  “It’s no problem. Damn Rodger Harris, he agreed last night not to print anything about you two.” He sighed heavily. “Can I call you back on this number?”

  I frowned. “Umm… They keep calling this number and my mobile number, so I was going to turn them both off,” I admitted.

  “Okay, yeah, that’s a good idea. Disconnect your phone, don’t speak to anyone. If there are any problems, you call me immediately. Call me in an hour for an update, okay? And, Emma…stay inside until I tell you, all right?”

  “Absolutely. Thanks. I’ll call you in an hour then.”

  As soon as I hung up the phone, I disconnected it and turned off my mobile, too.

  Within ten minutes, the shouting stopped outside my door and a polite knocking sounded. “Miss Bancroft, please open the door. It’s the police,” someone called. I gulped and looked through my eyepiece to see two police officers standing there. Sighing with relief, I opened the door. They smiled kindly. “Miss Bancroft?”

  I nodded. “Yeah.”

  “We’ve moved them downstairs, outside the main entrance because there are distance limits for reporters. The banging on your door will stop now. We’ll wait downstairs until they disperse. You have Mason Bossley on the case, so hopefully it’ll be within the next couple of hours. If you could just tell us if you plan on leaving your flat so we’re aware,” one of them said, looking me over a little curiously. Maybe he was wondering what all the fuss was about, and how a petite lap dancer in a pair of worn-out pyjamas
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