Poles apart, p.25
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       Poles Apart, p.25
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           Kirsty Moseley

  Not even bothering to tell him I was leaving, I decided to find my own way back to the little office area and then ask someone to direct me to the family area. After the race, I would tell Carson I was never coming to another of these fucking races ever again.

  As I spun on my heel and marched back in the direction I came from, I heard Carson call my name. Ignoring him, I stomped back into the building and walked along the edge of the workshop, immediately regretting not paying much attention to Carson’s tour because I had no idea which door I had come through to get down here.

  “Emma!” Carson called again behind me. “Where are you going?” he asked. “You’re not allowed to just wander around down here. You shouldn’t even be here really.”

  I scoffed and carried on walking down the little narrow walkway, looking for an exit door, which would lead me to outside or inside, or anywhere that was away from him. “I can’t even stand to look at you right now,” I retorted, shaking my head. Seeing it in person was ten times harder than seeing it in the newspaper.

  “You can’t even… what?” he repeated, jogging to catch up with me. “What are you talking about?”

  I scowled in his direction, wishing I could somehow hurt him the way he seemed to be able to hurt me so effortlessly. “Just leave me alone!” I snapped.

  He practically growled in frustration as his hand closed over my wrist. I was yanked to a stop and he shoved open a door at the back of the workshop, stepping in and dragging me inside with him. “What the hell have I done now? For fuck’s sake, I don’t get you sometimes, I really don’t. One minute I’m showing you around, the next you’re storming off and are mad at me! What the hell did I do? Clue me in; give me a little sodding hint to this one, huh?” he ranted.

  “You and Miss Shorts-up-her-arse, tits-around-her-neck, blonde Barbie doll lookalike out there!” I practically screamed. “I’m not going to stand around and watch while you hook up with that girl right in front of me!” I shook off his hold on my arm.

  His eyebrows shot up. “Hooking up with her? What the…?”

  I groaned in frustration, wanting to grab the nearest thing and smash it – unfortunately, the nearest thing to me was him, and he was too big for me to pick up and throw. “Oh, don’t play dumb, Carson. I’ve seen it all before! I’m not going to just stand there and pretend I’m okay with it while you shag her like you do all those other girls!”

  “Other girls? What on Earth are you talking about, Emma?” he asked, looking at me like I was crazy.

  I scowled. Is he really going to deny all this? Does he think I’m stupid? “The girls, Carson! The ones from the papers. The models, the singers, the dancers!” I spat sarcastically.

  His brow furrowed as he shook his head slowly. His eyes bored into mine as he spoke. “I think you’re confused about something.” I opened my mouth to shout at him to stop lying to me for once in his life, but he cut me off by speaking first. “How many girls do you think I’ve been with in the last three years?”

  I gulped as an acrid taste seemed to burn in the back of my throat. “I really don’t want to play this game with you!” I huffed and tried to push past him so I could leave, but he grabbed my wrist and pulled me to a stop. He was glaring at me.

  “This isn’t a bloody game, Emma! This is our lives, and you’re making this really ruddy difficult!” he shouted, making me flinch because of how loud his voice was and how close he was to me when he did it.

  I growled in frustration and ripped my wrist from his grasp. If he really had to tell me how many girls he’d fucked in the last three years, if it was really that important I know, then I guess I had to play the game like a good little fiancée! “Two fucking hundred?” I retorted, clenching my jaw, waiting for his answer.

  His mouth dropped open in shock. “Not even close,” he muttered.

  “Five hundred then?” I spat venomously.

  He sighed and shook his head sadly. “Seriously? That’s what you think I’ve been doing for the last three years? Screwing anything that moves?”

  I closed my eyes and tried not to let his sadness get to me. He was trying to hurt me with this conversation. I knew that. There was no other reason except to rub into my face I was nothing more than one in a long line of girls he’d screwed – I just so happened to be the only one he got pregnant.

  “Just tell me the number then if you have to.” I tried to keep my voice emotionless, as my heart broke a little more. I silently wondered how one person could live through so much heartbreak but still survive it only to have it happen all over again the next day. There had to be a limit on how much pain one person could take before they just died from it. I must have been close to that limit now.

  He took a deep breath before he answered. “Three.”

  I nodded, trying not to show a reaction. “Three hundred girls. That’s awesome, Carson. Good for you,” I said sarcastically, clapping my hands in fake applause as I stepped back to get some personal space but bumped into the wall behind me.

  “Not three hundred! Three!” he shouted, slamming his hand on the wall next to my head.

  My mind worked furiously to take in the word. I must have heard him wrong; he must have said something else. That just couldn’t be right. Three? How could that be possible? He was Carson Matthews; he was rich and famous and was with pretty swimwear models all the time in the papers. How could that be true? I looked up at his angry face. His eyes were locked onto mine, his jaw clenched tight as he glared at me, daring me to challenge what he said.

  I gulped. I needed to check I heard him right. “Three?” I whispered, not trusting my voice to speak.

  He nodded stiffly, stepping back and running one hand through his hair. “Yeah,” he confirmed. “And that includes you.”

  “But h-how? Three? But… but… the photos in the paper… the girls…” I shook my head, not sure I could make myself believe him.

  A muscle in his jaw twitched as his eyes narrowed in anger. “You shouldn’t believe everything you read. Most of those photos are friends, or friends of friends. I go to a party on the beach and the paps somehow manage to take a photo where it looks like it’s just me with a load of girls. I talk to someone in a club or ask a girl for the time and immediately she’s my date for the night. None of it is true, Emma. There have only been three girls since I met you.”

  The intensity with which he spoke the words was making me feel slightly sick. It was like this was building to something, but I just didn’t know what. All this time, I had read things about him being a playboy and going with all these women, yet he actually wasn’t? Could I believe him? Why should I believe him in the first place? Didn’t they say a picture spoke a thousand words? And I had seen hundreds of pictures, which spoke volumes against what he was telling me right now.

  But the way he was looking into my eyes right now was making me want to believe him, was making me wish this were possible.

  “Really?” I asked, my voice breaking.

  He moved closer to me and reached out, brushing his fingertip against my cheek lightly, wiping a tear away. Until he did that, I didn’t even realise I was crying. I wanted his words to be true, but I couldn’t get my hopes up only to have him crush me again.

  “Really.” He nodded. “I met you at the club on my eighteenth birthday and since that day, there have been only three girls I’ve had sex with. One is you. Both of the others were when you left the club, when you were having Sasha. I didn’t know that was why you left. I thought you just up and left. I was hurting so much. I thought I’d lost you, so I slept with a girl. I can’t even remember her name or what she looked like; she was just a one-off. I was trying to forget you because you hurt me by leaving and not even saying goodbye,” he said, his voice soft and caring.

  My stomach twisted in a knot. Was he telling me he had feelings for me? Was this some sort of revelation that he actually did like me? I couldn’t breathe properly. I wanted to speak. I had no idea what I even wanted to say, but nothing was coming out
of my open mouth as I stared at him dumbfounded.

  “After about a month of you being gone, people told me to forget you and that I needed to move on and accept the fact you weren’t coming back. They just kept going on and on about how I should stop pining for you because you obviously didn’t care about me, that I was just one of the many guys you screwed for money, and if I’d been important to you at all then you wouldn’t have left like you did. They convinced me that what I thought was a real connection was in fact just good sexual chemistry, and that you only wanted me because it was your job. I believed them.” He frowned and shook his head dejectedly. “One night, I met a girl. She was nice and my friends were hounding me so much that, in the end, I asked her out just to get them off my back. We dated for about three weeks, but then I realised I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want anyone else.” He moved closer to me, cupping my face in his hands, just looking at me as if he was trying to choose his words carefully.

  My mind was totally blank. I couldn’t look away from his eyes as he looked back at me with such intensity it was almost too much to bear.

  A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he carried on speaking. “Then, after another agonising couple of months, you walked back into my life again. Since then, it’s only ever been you. I’m crazy about you, Emma. I love you, and I want to be with you. I want to be your husband. I want to take care of you and make you look at me like you used to, instead of this.” He clenched his teeth as a pained expression crossed his face. “I hate myself for making you look at me like this. I hate this hard look in your eyes. It’s painful and I can’t take it anymore. I didn’t mean to behave like this toward you. I know I’m hurting you by forcing you into things, but I just wanted to be there for you. I wanted to be there with you. You, me and Sasha, a proper family. Just like I’ve daydreamed about for so long.”

  My mouth was dry. He was killing me. His words were literally killing me with emotion. I was drowning in feelings. Things were hitting me so fast and so hard I just didn’t know how to cope with it. Carson Matthews, the love of my life, was in love with me, too? He’d just declared his love for me. Me, a dirty little lap dancer. How was this possible?

  I had no idea what to say. I felt a little numb, like someone had just thrown a bucket of cold water at me, and I was trapped in that split-second of shock where you just don’t know what to do or what to feel. Except that split-second was stretching into almost a minute of painful silence. His face fell as he continued to look at me. I wanted more than anything to tell him I loved him back, but I could do nothing other than stand there like a statue.

  “But I’ve gone about this completely the wrong way. I wish I could turn back time. I wish I could go back to that day I found out about Sash. If I could, I would do this all differently. But I can’t, and now I’ve ruined the relationship we had, and I hate myself even more than you hate me,” he whispered. “Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”

  I opened my mouth, praying something intelligent would come out. “Huh?” I groaned inwardly. That wasn’t intelligent at all! Stupid, stupid Emma!

  He smiled sadly and his hands dropped from my face as he stepped back. “You don’t have to marry me. I’ll have a lawyer sort out a trust fund for Sasha. I’ll set the three of you up in a nice place and pay you whatever amount you want in child support each month. I’d really like to have open access to Sasha rather than scheduled times for visits, but if you don’t want that then I understand. The way I’ve behaved the last couple of weeks doesn’t really give me the right to make demands or anything.” His shoulders slumped as he spoke. “I’m sorry. I should… I should go. I should be out in the paddock getting ready to start the race. My team are probably going mental looking for me.”

  He strode over to the door, his hand gripping the handle tightly as he turned back to me. His face was defeated and resigned, and the pain I could see etched across it made me feel sick. That one sad, devastated look on his face told me exactly how he felt about me, that look spoke volumes, and I didn’t doubt his love for me anymore. Only someone who was in love and felt like their heart was breaking could look like that. You couldn’t fake that look; there was no way.

  “I love you,” he whispered as he pulled the door open and stepped over the threshold.

  I was stunned. Frozen. Completely and utterly immobile as I watched the door close behind him. I couldn’t take it in. My mind was scrambled as I struggled to comprehend what he’d just told me. My heart slammed in my chest as it slowly sank in. Carson Matthews loves me. The realisation that I’d just let him walk away seemed to snap me out of my daze, and my muscles suddenly thawed. My stomach did a little flip as I started to believe it. Carson Matthews actually loves me! I shoved myself away from the wall and sprinted across the room as a huge smile stretched across my face.

  My heart was in my throat as the ten steps it took me to streak across the room seemed to take forever. Finally, I got to the door and wrenched it open, throwing myself through with so much force I almost fell on my face and slammed into the wall opposite. My eyes flicked around, seeing Carson’s back as he strode through the building toward the paddock behind.

  “Carson?” I called. My voice was weak and slightly breathless from the panic I felt seeing him walk out the door. He didn’t stop; I probably couldn’t be heard over the racket his team were making in the workshop. “Carson!” I called louder.

  When he stepped from the building and into the paddock where his team and all the MotoGP girls were standing, he was immediately swarmed with people and TV cameras. He was completely oblivious to my panic-stricken attempt to catch him.

  My eyes widened and then I was on the move again, streaking across the workshop, dodging around piles of tyres, tools, and wires strewn everywhere.

  “Hey! You can’t go out there!” One of Carson’s team stepped in front of me so quickly I actually slammed into him where I was running so fast. I let out a little yelp as we collided, and his arms wrapped around me stopping me from falling to the floor. “What are you doing in here? Public aren’t allowed in here. It’s a safety hazard.” He frowned at me in reprimand as he let go of me.

  I righted myself, looking over his shoulder to the last place I saw Carson, but he was lost in the swarm of people. “I need to speak to Carson. He’s right there,” I replied, pointing to the door and trying to step around him.

  He shook his head adamantly. “Sorry, Miss, but no one goes out this way apart from the team. You’ll have to go back to the spectator area. I’ll have security escort you back to your seat.” One of his hands closed over my elbow, and he gave me a little tug in the direction I had come from.

  I frowned and pushed his hand off me. “No, no. I’ll be quick. I just need to tell Carson something. I’m his fiancée.” A smile twitched at the corner of my mouth when I said that. That was the only time I had ever said it and actually liked the word being associated with me.

  The guy’s eyes widened a little at my revelation, but then he shook his head. “Sorry, I didn’t recognise you, Miss Bancroft. But I still can’t let you through this way. You’ll have to speak to Carson after the race. He’ll be on his way to the starting line any second. He was cutting it pretty close already.”

  My heart sank as I shook my head. “Please? It’s so important, please?” I stepped around him, meaning to head to the door anyway, but he sidestepped as well and shook his head firmly.

  “Sorry. Rules are rules. I’d get in a bucket-load of trouble if they even saw you in here.” He looked over my shoulder and waved his hand. “Bert will show you the way up to the lounge where family usually watch the race.”

  I groaned in frustration but knew there wasn’t anything I could do about it. The race would start in a few minutes. I’d just have to wait until after.

  I COULDN’T KEEP THE SMILE from my face as I followed the guy named Bert back through the building and up the stairs. When I got to the top, a rather large, beefy guy in a black T-shirt raised on
e eyebrow at me before looking at Bert.

  “This is Carson’s fiancée,” Bert announced, nodding back at me. “Miss Bancroft, this is Spence, our resident door ape who stops undesirables from entering the family VIP section.”

  Spence frowned and slapped Bert on the shoulder. “Resident ape? Sod off,” he retorted, rolling his eyes. “Nice to meet you, though, Miss Bancroft,” he greeted, smiling warmly.

  Grinning, I shook my head. I’d never had so many people call me Miss Bancroft as I had today. It was a little unnerving. “Emma is fine. Nice to meet you, too.”

  He sidestepped and pulled open the heavy-looking, frosted-glass door and motioned for me to go inside. “Enjoy the race.”

  I nodded in acknowledgement, even though I knew I wouldn’t. I hated to watch these things because my imagination ran rampant every time I saw Carson lean so dangerously close to the ground as he sped around the corner. “Thank you.” I smiled politely and stepped hesitantly over the threshold.

  The large room which stretched out before me was extremely expensive-looking. The right-hand side of the building was pure glass, which stretched across the whole wall. Little black leather stools and small tables with black leather armchairs were dotted along the edge of it so spectators could look out over the racetrack. Massive television screens were located in the centre of the room, showing the motorbikes as they lined up at the starting line. Cameras were panning across the drivers as they sat there. I couldn’t hear any sound from there, though; it was as if they were muted. The people who stood around drinking champagne were all dressed impeccably in suits or designer dresses. The women had a full face of make-up, and not one hair was out of place. They were all a fair bit older than me.

  I wrung my hands, wincing as I thought about what I must look like. I was wearing my smartest three-quarter jeans (which actually weren’t that smart) and a simple, white shirt. My hair had just been pulled up last-minute into a bun, and I wore no make-up at all. I was so out of place it was actually comical in a pitiful way.

  As I stepped into the room, a couple of people turned to look at me. Recognition crossed their faces before they turned back to their conversations, leaning in and whispering. My stomach squirmed. Clearly they read the tabloids and knew what my profession was. I frowned down at the floor. My happy mood was now gone. I didn’t like this place. I didn’t like these people who looked down their noses at me, figuring I was beneath them. Of course, I was beneath them, but they didn’t even see fit to put on a polite act.


  I jumped as a waiter held out a silver tray toward me, smiling politely. “Umm… no, thanks. Do you have a Pepsi or anything?” I asked, chewing on my lip nervously.

  He raised one eyebrow before he nodded and disappeared without another word. I gulped, heading over to the wall of glass, looking down at the racetrack. The drivers on their bikes looked so far away from up here. They were all stopped on their respective marks on the ground, waiting for the race to begin. A smile twitched at the corner of my mouth when I saw Carson. He was in ninth position today following his time trials the day before. He’d told me it was due to a tactical move – something about the amount of fuel they carried at the start of the race. He wasn’t worried about his
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