Poles apart, p.23
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       Poles Apart, p.23
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           Kirsty Moseley

  He chuckled, taking Sasha’s hand and helping her down the concrete steps. “Don’t tell me, you don’t like fish or crabs?”

  Crinkling my nose in distaste, I shook my head. “Not unless they’re covered in batter and come with chips.”

  Carson chuckled. “Well, I’m taking Sasha crabbing later, and you’re coming, so you’re going to have to get over this little issue pretty quickly.” He winked at me before smiling down at his daughter as she jumped the last step and landed onto the cool yellow sand, immediately wriggling her toes and giggling excitedly.

  When she plopped down onto her bum and demanded one of the buckets, Carson swept her into his arms, juggling all the stuff he was carrying so he could hold her. “Let’s go further up the beach, sweetness; we don’t have to sit right on the steps. We’ll pick out a nice quiet spot and set the blanket out, and then me and you, we’re making the biggest, most-extravagant sandcastle Clacton-on-Sea has ever seen!” he joked.

  I had to chuckle at his enthusiasm. It was like he’d opened his mouth and his inner child had tumbled out.

  MY DAY WAS FULL OF LAUGHTER, smiles and sandcastle competitions. Carson seemed to go out of his way to ensure Sasha and I had a nice time. We paddled on the edge of the sea, running away from the waves, collected shells and pretty pebbles, built sandcastles and moats. We ate ice cream and hot doughnuts, and we’d even gone on the pier rides for a little while. It was lovely just to spend the day together and to do things I could never normally afford to do. Sasha and I even had our first go on a merry-go-round together while Carson stood at the side, taking photos and waving to Sasha each time she went past him.

  After chips on the beach, Carson had made good on his promise of teaching Sasha how to go crabbing. That was my least enjoyable part of the day – especially when he’d caught a particularly large one and chased me around the pier with it while I howled with terrified laughter. All in all my day was amazing, and it was a shame to go home at the end of it.

  Spending quality family time with Carson and watching him interact with his daughter had easily been the best part of the day for me. Every time they laughed together, every time she smashed down one of his castles while he was mid-build, every time he tickled her and made her smile just warmed my whole body from the inside out. I loved it all.

  Carson and I had gotten along famously all day long, joking and talking and laughing. It was nice because while we were there, we had no pressure on us, no one watching us, no one judging us at all. There were no complications, no paparazzi, no ill feelings – just two people with a mutual love of the same child all spending the day together. I didn’t want it to end.

  The following day, we’d elected to stay in London, taking a picnic to Hyde Park. After eating, we’d visited some of the more tourist aspects of the city that I’d never really had the time nor the money for. Carson went above and beyond to make the two days spectacular. Sasha was now well and truly a daddy’s girl – and the feeling was certainly reciprocated. Seeing him wrapped around her little finger was the most adorable sight I’d ever seen.

  That night, he’d been a little deflated, though. As I’d helped him pack up a few things for him to take to Italy, he’d seemed a little sad. I’d kept him talking, asking about what he was going to get up to, who he was meeting with and what sort of things he would see in Italy. He’d promised to take me a few photos while he was there.

  Finally, the dreaded Thursday came around. Watching Carson hug Sasha goodbye and try to explain he wouldn’t see her for a few days was actually incredibly sad. As she took his hand and tried to lead him into the living room to watch TV with her, he actually looked like he didn’t want to leave at all. He groaned, looking up at me for help, so I smiled at Sasha and shook my head.

  “Daddy has to go to work for a couple of days. He can’t watch The Fimbles,” I told her. “Say bye, and you can see him again in a couple of days. Daddy has to go.”

  She frowned, clearly not understanding as she tugged on his hand and shook her head adamantly. “No go.”

  Rory stepped in then and picked up Sasha. “Right, we’re going to go play in the garden. Want to ride that shiny new trike and see if we can get it all scratched up before Daddy comes back?” he asked, throwing a wicked grin in Carson’s direction.

  Carson rolled his eyes but didn’t answer as Sasha finally let go of his hand and nodded in agreement with the trike idea. “Thanks, Rory,” Carson said. “See you Sunday. Take care of the girls, huh?”

  Rory smiled sarcastically. “I always have done.” He carried Sasha back through the house and toward the garden. Carson waved at her, smiling moronically like a guy who was hopelessly in love.

  “Ugh, I hope goodbyes aren’t always gonna be this hard,” he muttered under his breath before turning back to me and forcing a weak smile. “So, now you.”

  I kicked my toe on the floor and nodded. “Yep. Want me to hold your hand and beg you to come watch TV with me, too?” I joked, chewing on my lip uncomfortably.

  He sighed and stepped closer to me as he shoved his hand into his pocket and produced his wallet. I frowned, confused, until he pulled out his credit card and a folded piece of paper. “I’m going to leave you my bank card. The pin number for it is written down. I’d hoped yours would be here before I had to leave, but it’s not, so I’ll leave you this just in case you see anything you want. Anything, Emma. If you see something, just buy it, there’s no upper limit on the card.”

  I gulped, shaking my head. “I don’t need your bank card. I have my own money,” I protested.

  “I’m not fighting with you about this,” he stated, taking my hand and placing the card inside as he folded my fingers around it. “Take the card. You and I are getting married. What’s mine is yours. End of story.”

  I sighed, knowing I shouldn’t bother protesting because I knew I’d lose. I’d just agree, take the card for now, and just not spend on it. Simple. “Fine. Thank you.” I nodded, pushing the card into the back pocket of my jeans.

  A beautiful grin stretched across his face as he stepped closer to me and dipped his head so we were both almost level. “I’d better go before I miss my flight,” he mused. “Kiss me goodbye.”

  I frowned, confused by his words. I looked around, seeing we were the only ones in the hallway; there was no one to put this act on for. “But there’s no one around,” I muttered.

  “Exactly.” His smile grew bigger as one of his arms wove around my waist, pulling my body flush against his, and his other hand slid up my back, tangling into my hair. I didn’t even have time to work out what he meant by that before his mouth covered mine.

  His soft lips felt so right against mine that I sagged against him and whimpered. When his lips parted and his tongue touched mine, deepening the kiss, my insides melted. Unconsciously, my arms rose and wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer to me as I crushed my body against his. Every nerve inside me seemed to come alive with excitement as he moaned in the back of his throat and pushed me against the wall, pressing his body against mine tightly.

  My passion was spiking, rising through the roof as my hand fisted into his hair. The kiss was getting a little out of control. Well, ‘getting’ probably wasn’t the right word because my control had slipped the second his lips touched mine. His hands slid down my body, caressing my buttocks before he gripped tightly and lifted me off my feet. My legs acted as if this were a well-practiced dance, wrapping around his narrow hips where they seemed to fit perfectly.

  My clothes felt scratchy against my oversensitive skin as I moved, and I longed to peel them off, to feel his skin on mine, to have his body cover mine like a blanket. My loins burned as the intimate position made us rub together, the friction causing me to gasp and break the kiss. His lips didn’t leave my body, though; instead, they travelled down my neck and his teeth sank into my shoulder gently, nipping me.

  “Fuck, I don’t want to go. I want to carry you upstairs and bite every fucking inch of you,” he growled.
  Don’t go. Please, don’t go. It was on the tip of my tongue.

  “You always do this to me. It’s not fair how much I want you,” he murmured against the skin of my neck. “Ugh, I hate saying goodbye to you.”

  I guided his mouth back to mine again, kissing him roughly because I just had no words. My brain was a mess, my emotions were a mess, and his words were cutting me deeply because that was exactly how I always felt about saying goodbye to him.

  A car horn blasted outside, but Carson didn’t break the intense, steamy kiss. I was losing my breath; my body was writhing in need of relief as I kissed him like it was the last time I would ever be allowed to. When the car horn blasted again, longer this time, Carson groaned and pulled his mouth from mine. I gasped for breath, not opening my eyes as I tried to come down from the cloud I seemed to be floating on. My jittery body was like a live wire as he pressed his forehead to mine.

  “You have to go,” I whispered when he seemed to be making no move to set me on my feet.

  “Yeah.” He growled in frustration and traced his nose up the side of mine as his grip on me loosened, and I knew the moment was over. “Get a passport, okay? Let’s not do this every other week when I have to go away,” he muttered, holding me steady as I got to my feet.

  “Margo’s getting me one,” I replied, smiling, silently wishing we actually did go through this every other week because making out with him like that was hot as sin.

  “Good.” He stooped and picked up his flight bag, turning and walking to the door. As he pulled it open, I waved to Bradley, Carson’s friend who was taking him to the airport. I knew him from the club; he often came with Carson.

  Carson turned and frowned, looking down at me with sad eyes. “I guess I’ll see you Monday morning when you wake up.”

  I nodded, chewing on my lip. It seemed like an extremely long way away. “Have a safe trip.”

  He sighed deeply and stepped closer to me again, bending and capturing my lips in another kiss – this one soft, gentle and somewhat chaste compared to the one from moments before.

  As I watched him drag his small suitcase and store it in the back of Bradley’s car, my heart sank. Watching him walk out of my life for days on end was something I should be used to by now, but I wasn’t.

  It’s just four days. Ninety-six hours. I can survive that, can’t I?

  IT WAS SURPRISING how quickly you got used to someone being there. The house felt empty, cold, and a little lifeless. Of course, Sasha was still being her usual self, causing a ruckus wherever she went, but something was missing – and I knew exactly what it was. Carson Matthews. I always felt bad when I didn’t see him on race weekends, but this was something more. I’d been used to seeing him around the house, sitting on the sofa, talking in that voice which made my insides tremble – or just in the kitchen, with his fine arse bent over as he looked into the fridge for something to snack on. It was the little things you got used to so quickly.

  Sasha had been inconsolable. It seemed like once an hour she asked where Daddy was – Daddy dinner, Daddy play, Daddy bath, Daddy cuddle. It was cute, but heartrending at the same time. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who was going to be counting down the hours until I next saw him from now on.

  Luckily, on Friday I had something to keep my mind off him. As promised, he’d texted me a list of day nurseries that came highly recommended by people he knew. I busied myself calling around them and explaining the situation about who we were and asked if they had places available for Sasha. Two of them actually sounded nice, so I’d arranged appointments to go and visit the following week with Sasha so we could see if she fitted in to one of them. The phone calls wasted a significant proportion of my day.

  By Saturday, though, I was just wallowing around. Lucie had come over to visit after lunch, bringing her kids around for a play date, which kept Sasha happy for the whole afternoon and well into dinnertime. Of course, a little gossip with my best friend perked me up to no end.

  However, by the time she left and I’d bathed Sasha and got her settled into bed, I was back to not knowing what to do with myself in the large house. Rory was out with friends, so I just rattled around the place on my own. I actually missed my poky little flat which didn’t echo when you walked or talked.

  Not used to having my Saturday nights to myself because I would usually be working at the club, I didn’t actually know how to keep myself entertained. Saturday night TV was an extreme let-down, so after an hour of channel-surfing, my boredom got the better of me and I ended up in bed by half past nine.

  Sunday passed much the same, although I busied myself by cooking up a storm in Carson’s luxurious kitchen, making a traditional roast dinner, followed by a homemade raspberry pavlova. That killed a few hours, and Sasha kept me busy for the rest of the day.

  By the time she was in bed, though, I was counting down the hours until I would see his smile again. We’d exchanged a few texts over the weekend, but I hadn’t had any real contact with him since Thursday morning. It was almost as if I was still working at the club and wouldn’t have contact with him from one week to the next. I didn’t realise how quickly I’d come to rely on seeing him every day.

  Once Sasha was tucked in bed and Rory was off watching TV in his room, I decided a long soak in my incredible en-suite was in order. The large, claw-footed bath was practically calling my name.

  Just as the tub finished filling and I had removed my last piece of clothing, my phone rang. I pulled it out of my trouser pocket, answering it without looking at the screen, thinking it would be Lucie because not very many people actually had my new number. When Carson’s deep voice greeted me, I all but squealed and almost dropped my phone into the tub.

  “Hey, are you busy?” he asked.

  “Nope, not at all.” I dipped my hand into the water, swirling it around to create a few more bubbles before I stepped in and sighed inwardly as the warm water caressed my skin.

  “Ah, okay, good. I was just, er, well, I just wanted to check how you were and if everything was all right. Obviously it is, because you haven’t called me to tell me otherwise, but, you know, just wanted to call and check.” He seemed nervous as he spoke, and I instantly wondered why.

  “Everything’s fine. Is everything okay with you?” I asked curiously, sinking down into the warm, lavender-scented, bubbly water.

  He sighed, not answering immediately, and my mind started to dream up things which could have possibly happened to make him call me and be all stuttery when he was usually so cool and collected. My mind jumped to one conclusion – he’d cheated and was now calling to ease whatever guilt he felt about it.

  “Everything’s all right,” he answered.

  My heart sank as I closed my eyes. The emotional pain was building like a storm in my chest, and soon it would burst from me in the form of hysterical sobs. I knew it would come at some point. I just prayed I could keep my sadness at bay until I got him off the phone.

  “Actually, no, everything’s not all right,” he suddenly said. “I miss you. I’m lonely. The hotel room was too quiet all weekend. I’m just mooching around now waiting for the time when I can check out and go to the airport to come home. There’s no little person running around, no Rory to backchat me, and no you to talk to or laugh with. I don’t like going away. There, I said it. I miss you all, I miss home, and I just called to hear your voice. Make fun of me if you want.”

  My eyes flew open. “What?” I croaked. “What brought that on?”

  He sighed deeply. “I’m just laying here on my bed and staring at the ceiling, thinking about how I’d much rather be home with you. I’m officially homesick.”

  I fought the smile trying to break free. He missed me. He would rather be here with me than in Italy surrounded by gorgeous models and dancers. My sadness was quashed immediately. “Well, would it help you to know that Sasha is asking for you all the time?” I asked. “Or that Rory said it was weird you not being at the dinner table to talk sports with?”

/>   He laughed. “Runt’s missing me, huh? I knew I’d grow on him,” he joked. “Anyone else missing me?”

  I smiled, laying back, letting the water lap around my shoulders. “I don’t think so. Oh, Gloria said she missed your face,” I joked.

  “She did? Anyone else? No one you can think of who is remotely missing me and wishing I was there?” he prompted.

  “Is there anyone else?” I teased.

  “What about you?”

  I smiled. “Me? I’m too busy in the bath to miss you, baby.”

  My answer was met by silence for a few seconds. “Bath? Like, right now?” he finally replied.

  I grinned and purposefully let the water splash so he’d hear it. “Yep.” I sank further into the hot water and closed my eyes.

  “Naked?” he questioned.

  “Obviously!” I chuckled.

  He groaned loudly. “Now I’m even more homesick,” he whined. “I have all sorts of things running through my mind right now.”

  I got his drift immediately. I gulped as the same thoughts started running through my head. I could just imagine him, lying on his back in bed, shirtless with those mouth-watering V lines. I could picture his tattoos and the warmth of his body and the glint to his eye, and those dimples in his cheeks…

  “Emma, I should probably go before I start asking you to touch yourself. I’m getting dangerously close to that point right now, and if you do it then I’m gonna be even more desperate to come home so I can watch.”

  I giggled at his dirty words, clenching my thighs together tightly because my sex was starting to ache uncomfortably. “You’re filthy,” I scolded playfully.

  He blew out a big breath. “Yeah, I know. Sorry. I’m gonna go. I have a monster hard-on now, and I need to get rid of it,” he replied. “Don’t suppose you want to send me a naked bath picture to help me along?”

  I grinned, chewing on my lip as I thought about it. “Go get off the phone, you pervert,” I joked.

  “Okay, okay, I’m going,” he grumbled. “I’ll be leaving here in a couple of hours, and should be home just after two, so I guess
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