Poles apart, p.17
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       Poles Apart, p.17
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           Kirsty Moseley

  are her favourite things to watch on TV.” I shrugged. She was too young to be into one thing, she just liked colourful cartoons at the moment.

  “Not heard of either of those,” he admitted sheepishly. “Maybe we could choose something together?” he offered hopefully.

  I shrugged, forcing a smile. “Sure.” I stepped away from him, wanting to get some personal space.

  He smiled the dimpled smile that made my heart race. I put my hand to my mouth to stifle my yawn, and he smiled again. “Come on then, I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping.” I nodded and followed him out of the room. He pointed toward another set of stairs that led to a third floor. “There are another couple of rooms up there. I use it as a games room, then there’s another bedroom. Rory could use that for studying if he wants, or maybe he’d prefer his own lounge or something up there for when his friends come over? If he wants that then I could order new sofas and stuff…” he trailed off, frowning thoughtfully.

  I sighed, trying not to let how sweet he was being to my brother affect me. “I don’t think he’ll need his own lounge,” I muttered, shaking my head in rejection. Carson was clearly trying to make me feel at home here, but it was never going to happen.

  He smiled and walked to the room next to Sasha’s. I breathed a little sigh of relief that her room was so close to mine. I’d been so used to her sleeping in the room with me that it was going to be a little hard to get used to being separated now. The expensive baby monitors Carson had just ordered would obviously come in handy.

  I stepped into the room after him and felt the smile twitch at the corner of my mouth because there was actually a little colour in this room. One dark-red wall sat behind a gigantic, mahogany four-poster bed. There was an L-shaped brown leather sofa grouped around a fireplace, with a huge TV above it. Everything looked beautiful and expensive, like some sort of show home. The red duvet set matched the curtains. It was cute.

  “Bathroom’s there,” he said, nodding to a door on the opposite wall.

  “What’s the other door?” I asked, pointing to the door next to the bathroom he’d pointed out.

  “Walk-in wardrobe.” He smiled casually and I nodded absentmindedly, already knowing my meagre clothes would look out of place in there.

  “Okay. Well, I guess I’ll see you in the morning.” I nodded toward the door, signalling for him to leave so I could slope off to bed.

  He smiled and rolled his eyes. “This is my room.” He gripped the back of his shirt and tugged it over his head, tossing it on the chair by the side of the bed.

  I gulped, and tried – unsuccessfully – to keep my eyes off his body. I needed to be strong. Sure, I still wanted him physically, but I just needed to remember what he’d said to me. What he was making me do, what he threatened to do to Sasha if I didn’t marry him. Once I thought about that again I gritted my teeth angrily.

  “So, where is my room?” I snapped, frustrated. I just needed to go to bed so I could sob myself to sleep like normal.

  “This is your room,” he replied, wrenching open the buttons of his jeans and sliding them down, kicking them onto the chair, too.

  I frowned in confusion. “But you said this is your room.”

  He nodded. “It is. We’re getting married, remember?” he replied sarcastically as he turned down the bed, ready to get in it.

  Shock made me recoil. I glared at him with as much hate as I could muster. “If you think I’m sleeping in here with you, then you’ve got another thing coming!”

  He laughed; he actually had the nerve to laugh at me. “You’re so sexy when you’re mad.”

  I didn’t answer, I just pushed past him to go and find the spare bedroom he’d said was down the hall. I couldn’t even look at him anymore. He obviously thought demanding we got married gave him ‘husband’s rights’ over me. He obviously thought giving me his surname meant he got to use my body whenever he wanted. That feeling of being cheap and nasty washed over me again.

  As I got halfway across the room, he grabbed my wrist, yanking me to a stop. “Where are you going?”

  I ripped my arm from his grasp. “Away from you!”

  “I thought we were going to bed?” He frowned, clearly confused by my change of attitude.

  I snorted in disbelief. “I’m not sleeping in here with you! You think you can just order me to marry you? I’ll fucking marry you if that means I get to stay with my daughter, but don’t think I’m going to be performing like a wife just because you say so!” I spat, shoving on his bare chest as hard as I could.

  He stumbled back a couple of steps and his face turned angry, too. “You’re sleeping in here with me, Emma!” he argued, reaching for my hand again.

  I whipped it out of the way quickly and turned for the door again. Before I got to the door, though, two arms wrapped around me and I was swept from my feet and into his arms. I gasped and struggled to get out of his grasp as he carried me over to the bed. I needed to get out of here quickly. I could feel the sadness creeping up and it wouldn’t be long before I completely broke down in tears. I didn’t want him near me when that happened.

  He dropped me on the bed as I dug my nails into his shoulder. I immediately went to push myself up and run, but he gripped my hands, pinning me to the bed. The angry expression was back on his face, and I felt my blood turn cold as I wondered if Carson Matthews, man I had put on a pedestal for the last three years, was actually going to force himself on me.

  “You’re sleeping in here with me and that’s final! I don’t give a shit if I have to pin you to the sodding bed all night! We’re getting married, so we’ll behave like a normal married couple!” he shouted, his face tinted red with anger.

  I struggled to fight him off again, thrashing my legs, screaming for him to get off me. Effortlessly, he shifted so he was on top of me, pinning my whole body down with his weight.

  “Get off me! Let go!” I shouted. He gripped my wrists tighter, scowling at me. “GET THE FUCK OFF ME!” I screamed. I carried on trying to get free, but to no avail. In the end I just gave up, laying perfectly still underneath him as the sobs racked my body, making me gasp for breath. “I hate you,” I choked out.

  “I know.”

  “I hate you for making me do this, Carson,” I croaked, squeezing my eyes shut and trying to stop crying.

  “You said.”

  I turned my face away and just lay still under him, willing myself to stop crying. I couldn’t fight him off; if he was going to use my body then it’d be against my will. I guess he thought us being engaged gave him that right now. “If you’re going to rape me then just do it,” I whispered, my chin trembling.

  “Rape you?” he gasped. “What the fuck, Emma? I wouldn’t… are you crazy?” He finally let go of me, pushing himself up so he was straddling me as he looked down at me in disbelief. “Seriously? You think I would do that?” he asked, clearly hurt by my assumptions.

  I sniffed loudly, swiping at my tears as he moved off me, sitting on the bed next to me. “I don’t even know you anymore, Carson. Maybe I never did. The Carson I knew wouldn’t be making me do this. He wouldn’t threaten to take my daughter away. He wouldn’t make me feel like a dirty tart every time he looked at me.” I looked up at him through blurry eyes as his face softened and he shook his head and settled down next to me, wrapping his arm over my stomach and pressing himself against my side.

  “Don’t cry,” he whispered, stroking my hair softly. “You do know me. I’m sorry, but this is what needs to happen. You won’t hate me forever. I can make you happy here if you just let me. I’ll give you anything the three of you want. I’ll be the best dad in the world.”

  And there it was again – the slap in the face that told me he was only doing this for Sasha and not me. If he just said he wanted me, that he liked me, that I made him laugh, anything…

  I couldn’t speak. I rolled over, facing away from him as I curled into a ball, hugging my knees to my chest as I sobbed harder. Behind me, he sighed deeply and cl
imbed out of the bed. Seconds later, a soft blanket was placed over me as he tucked it under my chin before leaning in and planting a soft kiss on the side of my head. His touch was so much like the Carson I fell in love with that it broke my heart a little more.

  “I’ll go sleep somewhere else. You take this one,” he muttered quietly before he stomped across the room and left, closing the door tightly behind him.

  IT TOOK ME AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF TIME to fall asleep. Everything was too quiet; there was no shouting going on outside in the middle of the night, no cars coming and going in the car park, no music playing in another apartment. Carson’s house was utterly silent. I hated it.

  I’d laid there awake for hours, going over everything that had happened, mulling over just how much my life had changed in the space of twenty-four hours. Thinking about being Carson’s wife made me so confused I didn’t even know what to think anymore. I wanted to be his wife more than anything in the world; I wanted the life he painted for us, the four of us together with him spoiling Rory and Sasha to the point of ruin. At the same time, I hated the thought of being his wife. He didn’t love me; therefore, he would continue with his playboy act, humiliating both me and Sasha. I had no idea how I was supposed to cope with seeing pictures of him with other girls. Sasha would be old enough to understand at some point. No doubt she would end up resenting him more in the long run; his antics would tarnish the whole family name and end up embarrassing her, too.

  I could almost see it; my life was going to be one long and painful, humiliating Hell. People would look down their noses at me everywhere I went. I would be the one who couldn’t satisfy her celebrity husband and let him walk all over her with anything female. I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it other than stand and watch for fear of losing my daughter. I would be a laughing stock, and the worst thing was part of me still wanted that because I loved him so much. I seriously was a worthless piece of shit.

  Sadness ate me up to the point where I’d cried so much that my tears had dried up and I’d laid there a hiccupping, soggy mess. I thought I’d hit a depressing low when I was pregnant and alone, but this low, this was lower than I ever thought possible. I felt kind of dead inside, like my heart had been broken irrevocably and nothing would ever be able to fix it.

  When I woke in the morning, my eyes stung with tiredness. The sounds of banging and drilling filled my ears, so I sat up, confused for a second where I was before I remembered the finer details of my predicament. My gaze settled on the alarm clock, and I was shocked to see it was past ten in the morning. I hadn’t slept in this late since I’d given birth almost two years ago.

  I sat in bed for a long time, just listening to people crashing around in the room next to mine, people talking and relaying instructions. When I couldn’t stand not knowing what was going on any longer, I pushed myself out of bed and looked around for something I could get changed into. I’d fallen asleep in my clothes last night, so I was sure to look an absolute mess. I had no idea where Carson had put my bin bag full of possessions, though. After not finding my own bag, I ventured through the door Carson had said was the wardrobe. My eyes widened in shock. Rows and rows of expensive, designer clothes hung in colour-coordinated lines along both sides of the room. Although there were probably enough clothes for him to wear something and then discard it, there was still plenty of rack space so I’d be able to fit my small, limited wardrobe inside, too.

  My hand reached out, touching the sleeve of a charcoal grey suit which hung there. My mind was already imagining what Carson would look like decked out in such finery; I’d never seen him in a suit before. His rack of jumpers caught my attention, so I walked over, choosing a black hoodie at random. Shrugging out of my crumpled T-shirt, I pulled his hoodie on before smoothing back my hair and attempting to tidy it.

  The banging grew louder as I crept out of my room. I stopped in the doorway of Sasha’s new bedroom, seeing Carson plus two workmen, all working to put her furniture together and make her room safe. I hadn’t even heard them arrive.

  They were already halfway through arranging her room with exquisite, white wood furniture. In the corner of the room sat the most beautiful chair I had ever seen in my life. It was an armchair, but the arms and back of it were made entirely from old-fashioned teddy bears. It was stunning, and my hand was itching to touch it and feel how soft it was.

  My eyes suddenly settled on Carson. He was on his knees, hammer in hand, screws precariously placed between his lips as he frowned down at the instructions on how to assemble a changing table. Without my consent, a smile crept onto my lips because his cute little bewildered expression caught me off-guard and made my heart stutter.

  “Excuse me, Miss.”

  I jumped as someone spoke behind me and sidestepped the doorway. “Sorry,” I muttered, watching as two men carried in a seven-foot-tall toy giraffe. As they passed me, a little tag fluttered to the floor at my feet. I stooped quickly, picking it up. My eyes widened and a strangled choking sound came from the back of my throat when I saw the price of the giraffe was just under a thousand pounds.

  Carson noticed me then. “Hey, sorry, did we wake you?”

  I gulped, swallowing my shock and horror that he’d spent that much money on a stuffed toy. I looked up at him, fiddling with the tag absentmindedly. An extremely-uncomfortable sensation crept over me because I realised I was standing there in one of his jumpers after I’d cried in front of him last night and told him to get it over with and rape me if he was going to. I didn’t know whether to mention it and apologise or not.

  “No, I…” I smiled politely as one of the giraffe guys, now empty-handed, walked back out of the room picking up a bag full of plug socket covers. “I had to get up sooner or later,” I finished. “You guys look busy,” I muttered, eyeing the beautiful cot the two men were in the middle of assembling.

  Carson nodded. “Hopefully won’t be too much longer now.” He set down his hammer and pushed himself to his feet. “If you’re hungry, there’s food downstairs,” he offered, motioning toward the hallway and stairs.

  Not wanting to stand there and watch while they worked, I nodded in agreement and headed downstairs towards where I remembered the kitchen being. On the way, I bypassed several other workers all fixing plug covers, stair gates, and screwing furniture to walls so it couldn’t tip over if little people started climbing on it. It seemed as if everything had been thought of. There was even a storage van parked outside, and people were carrying out Carson’s glass furniture, inappropriate ornaments and knickknacks to be stored. Clearly Carson had been busier on the laptop last night than what I’d thought because he’d managed to get everything under control. The house would be shipshape for a two-year-old in no time.

  As I stepped into the kitchen, I came to an abrupt halt as my eyes landed on a petite, grey-haired lady busy taking cinnamon swirls out of the oven. My mouth instantly watered as the smell wafted up. Her eyes widened for a second before a lovely, warm smile graced her ruby-red painted lips.

  “Emma?” she inquired, setting the tray of yumminess down on the side. I nodded, not having a clue who this woman was. Her smile grew larger. “Aww, it’s lovely to finally meet you. I’m Gloria, Carson’s housekeeper.” She waved toward one of the stools that sat on the other side of the counter to where she was cooking up a storm. “Sit. Eat, before all those men traipse in and take all the good stuff,” she encouraged, pushing an empty plate toward me and nodding at the array of things she had set on the side. I opened my mouth to speak, but she beat me to it. “So, Carson tells me this morning that you two have a child? A little girl, and she’s coming to live here? I just love children! I can’t wait to meet her. What kind of things does she like to eat? I’m going to make up a little tea for her so she can have all of her favourite things when she comes here. Obviously, it’ll be a bit of a change for her. Where were you living before? Was it far?” She grinned at me expectantly.

  I swallowed, blinking at the number of questions be
ing fired at me in one go. If there was a contest for who could say the most words in the space of a minute, this woman would win, hands down. But I actually loved it. Her easy smile and kind eyes made me feel perfectly at ease as I picked up a freshly-baked croissant and set it on my plate.

  “Um… well, she likes anything really, so don’t go to any trouble. I mean, I can cook, so you don’t need to.” I chewed on my lip, not used to being waited on.

  She made a scoffing noise in the back of her throat and waved a hand dismissively. “It’s my pleasure. Plus, I get paid to cook, so if you take over then you’ll be doing me out of a job,” she chimed in, winking at me playfully. A nervous chuckle escaped my lips. I hadn’t thought of it like that. “So, maybe I should bake a cake or something?” she continued.

  I shrugged, picking at the edges of my croissant. “You really don’t have to go to any trouble.”

  Before she could answer, I heard someone walk in behind me. Gloria smiled over my shoulder affectionately. “She’s a sweetie pie all right,” she stated to the newcomer.

  I flicked my eyes over in time to see Carson walk in and nod at the statement. “Told you she wouldn’t want any fuss,” he replied, pulling out the stool next to mine and sitting down, snagging a plate and quickly filling it with one of everything from the counter. I squirmed in my seat. I had never expected to be sitting next to Carson having breakfast. It was strange, kind of a nice strange, but awkward at the same time because I knew he didn’t truly want me here. I just came as an extra part to my daughter.

  He looked up then and caught me staring at him. A sad smile twitched at the corner of his lips. “Don’t go on Twitter today, all right?”

  Confused by his words, I recoiled. “Why not?” I didn’t even have a Twitter account, mainly because my cheap-as-they-come phone didn’t even go on the internet.

  A frown lined his forehead as he looked down at his plate. His shoulders hunched and a muscle in his jaw twitched before he answered. “The statement has gone out to the press now about us. There’s some stuff on Twitter about… well, it’s not nice stuff.”

  ‘Not nice stuff’. I had no idea what that would mean. I raised one eyebrow in prompt. “Not nice?”

  He sighed and looked up to Gloria who nodded in encouragement. Finally, he turned to face me. “It seems the Twitter-world is under the same impression as my mother. They think you’re after my money. There’s a worldwide trend at the moment of Carson’s gold-digger.”

  Anger built in my stomach. Not anger at the people who were trending – whatever that meant – about me being a gold-digger, but anger at Carson. This was his fault. People who had never even met me were now making assumptions about me because of his ridiculous demands. I pushed my plate away from me, no longer hungry.

  “That’s just perfect,” I muttered, shaking my head. “I hate this. Seriously, this is your fault, Carson! Why the hell are you making me do this? It’s stupid!”

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