Poles apart, p.12
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       Poles Apart, p.12
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           Kirsty Moseley

  could cause so much trouble.

  I winced. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, but I didn’t want to trap Rory and Sasha inside with me all day. Maybe I should ask Lucie if they can go to hers for the day, and possibly the night, too.

  “Umm…I have a daughter. I was thinking maybe I should get her to my friend’s house or something?” I suggested, looking at them for their opinions. They would have more idea of how to deal with this situation than me so I was open to their advice.

  “Yes, we’re aware of your daughter. Maybe it’s a good idea to have her go to a trusted friend until this all blows over. I don’t recommend you take her, though. Do you have someone who could take her out of the building and to your friend’s? A neighbour, perhaps? Someone who could slip out unnoticed with your daughter,” the policeman suggested.

  I gulped. That made sense. I looked to the door next to mine. “Mrs Miller? She lives right next door. She could take her with my brother, too. My friend lives about a ten minute walk away,” I agreed, nodding enthusiastically.

  I left it to them to sort out with Mrs Miller, and I called Lucie who, of course, agreed quickly. She really was the best friend a girl could ask for. After half an hour, Rory, Mrs Miller and Sasha left to go to Lucie’s. Rory went first and was to wait around the corner so they didn’t all leave together. The police informed me that Mrs Miller and Sasha had apparently strutted out of the building without the reporters even batting an eyelid at them; obviously they just saw a woman carrying a child and thought nothing of it because she wasn’t me. I sank to the sofa with relief. As soon as I got the call from Lucie saying they had all arrived safely, I disconnected my phone again, sat on the sofa and cried.

  After another hour, there came another urgent banging on the door. I groaned and pushed myself up, opening the door, expecting to see the police who I knew were still here. But instead I saw Carson. He looked murderously angry, his eyes tight and stressed, his hair messy like he’d been pulling on it or something.

  “Hi.” I sighed with relief that he was here. I really, really needed a hug from him.

  He didn’t smile, his jaw clenched as he shoved a newspaper into my chest. “What the fuck is this?” he growled, his words coming out slowly and full of acid.

  I frowned and looked down at the paper he’d thrust at me. Splashed across the front was a picture of Carson and me coming out of Lloyds last weekend, and another smaller picture in the corner of Sasha at the park, me pushing her on the swings. The title on the paper made my heart stop and my blood run cold. Now I understood why he looked so furious.

  “OH, GOD,” I MUMBLED. I couldn’t breathe. How did they know? How had they known she was Carson’s? Why hadn’t they just assumed I had a baby with someone else? How did they piece it together that she was his? And how the heck had they gotten these pictures of us at the park? That was Monday. I hadn’t seen anyone following us around on Monday taking pictures!

  “Tell me that’s bullshit,” Carson growled, stabbing his finger into the paper angrily. “Tell me that’s your little sister or something.”

  I gulped and shook my head. I couldn’t meet his eyes. I had hoped this moment would never come. I’d always tried to keep this away from him for his own good, so he could live his dream instead of being trapped with a waster like me. How was I going to explain this to him?

  “That’s not my sister,” I whispered.

  He let out a load groan. “That’s your daughter?” he asked, his voice still tight with anger. I could tell he was trying hard to keep it together and not scream at me, and I was extremely grateful because I wasn’t sure I could cope with that on top of everything else.

  “Yeah.” I nodded, looking at his feet, wishing the ground would open up and swallow me. Or maybe I could somehow magically jump back in time and call in sick the night Rodger Harris came to the club and saw Carson there.

  “Is she…” he shifted on his feet uncomfortably, “… mine?” he whispered.

  Could I lie and say no? Could I really lie right to his face and save us both the pain of going through this, to save him the burden of having a daughter with someone he didn’t love? Deep down, I knew I had to tell the truth now, but I had no idea how he’d react. Maybe he’d want to see her and be in her life, or maybe he’d run a mile and all I’d see of him would be the dust cloud where he left so quickly.

  “Carson,” I started but stopped, unsure as to what I should say. I couldn’t lie to him and say no, but I didn’t want him to feel obligated or anything to us.

  He snatched the paper from my hands, flicking from the first page, going a few pages in. He held up the double-page spread in front of my face. “You put on her birth certificate that I was the father.”

  Birth certificate? How would he know that? I glanced at the paper he was waving in front of my face to see Sasha’s birth certificate printed there. They had blocked out my address, but everything else was clearly visible: her full name, date and place of birth, my name, where I was born. They had circled the father’s name and occupation in red. ‘Carson Gerard Matthews, Racing Driver’ was printed there clear as day, with my signature at the bottom as the person who gave the information.

  “How did they even get that? Why would they put that there?” I asked, shaking my head in disbelief.

  He laughed humourlessly. “That’s their job, Emma, to research things. They have people everywhere; they just slip someone a few quid in the records office and bam, easy. Now answer the fucking question!” he growled. “Is. She. Mine?”

  His tone made the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end. I gulped and nodded.

  “Jesus, Emma! For fucking hell’s sake!” he shouted. He stepped into the hallway, grabbing my arm and making me step back as he slammed the door shut with so much force it sprang back open again. He smashed his hand on it, slamming it again. I whimpered; I’d never seen Carson angry, and he was actually scaring me a little. “How could you not tell me something like this? How? WHY?” he ranted. His face turned slightly red from anger.

  I flinched and bumped into the wall as he stepped forward again. “I’m sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing,” I whispered. He stepped forward again, his hand slamming into the wall by the side of my head. He was glaring at me with so much hate I actually felt scared of him, but at the same time he looked so hurt I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and hold him.

  “You’re sorry? I have a fucking daughter I didn’t know about, and you’re sorry?” he snapped, his face inches from mine.

  “I didn’t want to trap you,” I whispered. Big, fat tears were silently rolling down my cheeks.

  He pushed himself away from me and instantly I both missed his closeness and breathed a sigh of relief that he had given me some space to breathe. He turned his back on me and gripped his hands in his hair.

  “She’s two?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at me, his expression unreadable.

  “Next month,” I confirmed, nodding.

  His body was still and tense. “How the hell could you keep something like this from me? Why didn’t you tell me?” he spat, glaring at me.

  I swiped at the tears falling uncontrollably. He was looking at me like he hated me, and it was breaking my heart. To see the man I loved look at me with such distaste and revulsion actually made my legs feel a little weak.

  “I was thinking of you,” I whispered.

  He snorted and rounded on me again, trapping me against the wall, his angry face millimetres from mine. His breath was blowing across my cheek as he spoke. “You were thinking of me? Do you want me to thank you then?” he snapped sarcastically.

  I whimpered and shook my head, silently wondering if he was actually going to hurt me. I’d never seen anyone so angry, and the way he was looking at me made me nervous. Deep down, I wondered if I deserved him to hurt me. Maybe I’d made the wrong choice, and I deserved to be punished like my parents had always told me. They had always reminded me every day of what a dirty little tramp I w
as, how I was a disappointment which wouldn’t amount to anything and how I had the devil inside me. Maybe I really did and I’d just refused to see it until now.

  “Thank you for keeping my daughter away from me, Emma. Thank you for keeping things like her first step or word away from me. Maybe I’m better off not knowing her. Is that what you mean by ‘thinking of me’? Or maybe you thought I didn’t deserve to share those things with you?” he ranted. His hands were on either side of my body, trapping me against the wall as his body pressed against mine heavily, pinning me there.

  “Carson, I…”

  “All this time, you’ve been seeing me every week, screwing me even, and you were keeping this from me?” he hissed, shoving himself away from me again and gripping his hands in his hair roughly, growling in frustration. “How could you not tell me? All this time!”

  I slid down the wall, hugging my knees to my chest as I cried.

  He laughed coldly. “Yeah, bring on the waterworks, Emma. That’s gonna sort everything out!” he said sarcastically.

  “I was thinking of you,” I said again. My voice broke and hitched with sobs as I spoke. “When I found out I was pregnant, you were just starting to take off with your career. I didn’t want to take your dreams away from you. I didn’t want to trap you with a stupid little sixteen-year-old girl, because you deserved better than that. I wanted better for you than to be a teenage father,” I admitted. I pressed my face into my knees, feeling my tears soaking into the material of my jeans.

  He sighed heavily. “So, you went through that on your own. Instead of telling me and letting me help you, you did it on your own. This is why you work at the club, so you can afford a daughter and a little brother.”

  I nodded, and sniffed.

  “You’ve kept this from me for two years. You’ve seen me make all this money, and the whole time you’ve been struggling to raise my daughter on your own,” he said quietly. Movement sounded from beside me and something bumped my shoulder. I turned my head slightly to see he’d slid down the wall and was sitting next to me. His head was in his hands, his whole body language sad and defeated.

  “I don’t want your money.” I closed my eyes and tried to think about anything other than the pounding in my head that was making me feel queasy.

  We sat in silence for a little while; I didn’t know what to say. I knew I needed to let him process this. I’d had two years and nine months to accept being a mum, but he’d had parenthood thrust on him this morning.

  Finally, he spoke, his voice husky and deep where he hadn’t said anything for a while. “Her name’s Sasha?”

  I smiled. “Sasha Eloise Bancroft,” I confirmed.

  He sniffed and wiped his face. “That’s a nice name.” I nodded; I loved her name. “What does she look like? In the papers, you can only see the back of her head.” He turned to look at me. I gulped when I saw how red his eyes were. Had he been crying while we were sitting there? I desperately wanted to comfort him, but I couldn’t even move my arms from my hugging position on my knees. It was like I was frozen there.

  “She’s beautiful. She looks like you.” I smiled weakly as I looked at the bright-blue colour to his eyes. “She has the same colour hair and eyes as you, but her hair’s curly like mine.”

  He smiled for a second before it faded again to be replaced by the heartbroken look. “Do you have a picture?”

  I nodded and forced myself to move. Pushing myself off the floor and heading into the lounge, I picked up a photo frame from the side. I turned back just as Carson walked in and held it out to him. As he reached out to take it, I noticed his hands were shaking and his breathing was coming out a little shallower than usual. He looked at it silently, just staring at the picture with wide eyes and his lips parted. His face was so soft and tender I felt my heart melt into a puddle.

  “She’s beautiful,” he whispered.

  I chewed on my lip, unsure what I should say. I always thought I was doing the right thing by Carson, letting him off, giving him an out from my life. I never wanted him to have to live like I lived every day. I was always confident I’d done the right thing in letting him have his dream. But at this exact moment, looking at him as he looked at a picture of his daughter for the first time, I suddenly felt selfish. I felt like instead of giving him his dream, maybe I’d taken something away from him, taken her away from him. Sasha was the best thing that had ever happened to me, but it had never occurred to me that maybe it would be the same for him if I’d have told him.

  “Where is she? The police told me she went to a friend’s,” he said quietly.

  “She’s at Lucie’s because of the reporters. They were banging on the door; I thought it best to get her away from it until it calmed down. Rory’s there, too; they’re staying there tonight,” I explained.

  He nodded and ran his thumb over the picture lightly but didn’t say anything.

  My mouth was dry as his silence stretched on and on. I knew I needed to start this conversation myself. “Carson, you don’t have to feel obligated to us or anything. We’re doing fine. I don’t want your money or anything, but if you want to see her, you can. You can see her as much as you want, or if you don’t want anything to do with her, then I understand that, too. She was a mistake, and you don’t have to pay for that for the rest of your life,” I said, trying to let him know I wouldn’t stop him from seeing her if he wanted to.

  His head snapped up to look at me. “If I want to see her? Is that a fucking joke? Of course I want to see her, she’s my daughter!” he retorted. His eyes turned angry again as his jaw clenched and unclenched.

  I nodded and swallowed awkwardly. “Okay, well, you can come around here whenever you want.”

  He laughed coldly, shaking his head as if I were stupid. “I’m not leaving my daughter here to be brought up on a fucking part-time lap dancer’s salary!” he hissed.

  My back stiffened. ‘Leaving her here.’ I looked at him warningly. If he thought he was taking her away from me then he had another thing coming. “What’s that supposed to mean exactly?” His eyes turned calculating as I spoke. “You can see her whenever you want; we’ll arrange visits and stuff…” I trailed off, the hair on the nape of my neck standing up as panic gripped my stomach.

  He snorted when I said the word ‘visits’. “You think I’m leaving her in this shitty little flat with a mother who can barely afford to support her? You think that’s fair on her, being raised like a fucking pauper?” He sneered at me distastefully.

  Anger took over as the dominant emotion in my body, so I shoved his chest as hard as I could and glared at him. How dare he insinuate I wasn’t giving her everything she needed! Sure, it was hard most of the time and we’d probably never have the money for laptops or iPods when she was older, but I loved her more than anything and I would give her everything she needed. Material things didn’t matter as long as a child was loved, happy and healthy.

  “You stupid prick! Don’t you dare insinuate I’m not looking after my daughter properly!” I screamed, shoving on his chest again.

  He snorted. “Emma, you can probably just about pay your rent each month and go to university. How can you give her everything she needs? What about when she needs a school trip or something and you don’t have the money. Are you gonna pull extra nights at the club? What happens when you fall short on the rent one month? Gonna sell your body in the backroom? You think she’ll thank you when she finds out her mother is a whore who sells herself?” he asked spitefully.

  Before I could stop myself, I drew back my hand and slapped his face as hard as I could. His head whipped to the side and instantly my hand stung and burned. “Well, a whore who sells herself was good enough for her prick of a father!” I screamed. How does this boy always manage to make me feel dirty, cheap and nasty? He looked back at me, his eyes softening as if he knew he went too far. But it was too late. I wasn’t going to let him make me feel dirty anymore; that was the last time. The way he’d said it just to hurt me, I never thoug
ht Carson would ever do that. “Get out,” I growled through my teeth.

  “I’m not going anywhere,” he said sternly, his jaw clenching. I noticed with some small measure of satisfaction that his cheek was turning red where I’d struck him.

  “Get the hell out before I call the police in here to remove you!” I ordered, defiantly crossing my arms over my chest.

  He laughed and stepped closer to me, reaching out and stroking one finger across my cheek. “Oh, sweetheart, you really think the police are going to do something a lap dancer tells them to do, over me?” he asked, his voice teasing and mocking.

  I swallowed loudly and looked at him with as much hate as I could muster. I tried not to look into his eyes because I knew my resolve would waiver as soon as I looked into those baby-blues I loved so much. “Get out,” I repeated.

  He leant in closer to me, gripping my chin and forcing me to meet his eyes. “Go pack a bag, we’re leaving. No daughter of mine is going to live in a place like this. Pack your stuff, enough for a couple of days, and I’ll get people to come and pack up the rest,” he stated coldly. He released my chin and stepped back, crossing his arms over his chest, his face hard and determined.

  My mouth popped open in shock. Did he honestly think I was going to let him take her from me? My mind started spinning through thoughts of how I could pick up Sasha from Lucie’s and leave. There was no way I was letting him take her from me. My credit card would get us far away from here, and if I had to then I’d crawl to my parents for help. I couldn’t lose the most important thing in my life. I couldn’t let him take her; she was my everything.

  “Carson, don’t do this! I’ll let you see her whenever you want, I promise, but I won’t let you take her from me.” I looked at him warningly. The only thing stopping me from having a full-blown panic attack was the fact he didn’t know where Lucie lived. If I needed to, I could call Rory, tell him to take Sasha and get on a train and go as far away as he could, and then I could go and meet him.

  His eyebrows pulled together in confusion. “What are you talking about? I’m not taking her away from you.”

  Now I was confused. “But you said pack a bag,” I said weakly. The urge to run to collect my baby was making my legs twitch and my hands wring together anxiously.

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