The Carrero Heart – Arricks POV
Lovers of my books The Carrero Series will love this brand new bonus scene.
Book 1 – myBook.to/TheCarreroEffect
Book 2 – myBook.to/CarreroInfluence
Book 3 – myBook.to/CarreroSolution
Book 4 – myBook.to/CarreroHeart1
Book 5 – myBook.to/CarreroHeart2
Jake’s POV – myBook.to/JakesPOV
Just Rose – getBook.at/JustRose
Read at your own risk!!
Sophies love confession
I wander across the street towards the Huntsbergers, that knot of anxiety that has been plaguing me since Sophie and I fought a couple days ago, and I have been unable to leave to go home without fixing this. I hate fighting with her, hate when we’re mad and brooding apart, but sometimes we just need to take time apart to simmer.
Sophie can be hard work at the best of times, especially when she is closed up in her usual defensive, keeping everyone at arm’s length. I was tired, lack of sleep had me short with her and I acted like an ass-hole who should have known better than to bite when she is pushing me away. The last couple of days I have pulled her name up in my cell a million times, but my gut told me I owed her a face to face, she’s all I have thought about.
The Huntsbergers new housekeeper Olivia lets me in and she motions upstairs when I ask for Soph’s whereabouts. The house seems eerily quiet and I am glad. If we are about to have an all-out Sophie rage, then I would rather not have an audience. The girl knows how to throw a strop and a half, and she can be pretty verbal when she’s pissed at me. I know I deserve it, I dumped her back home got snidey with her and fucked off for two days while I simmered. I don’t even know why I was so mad at her, but I was, and it took two days to stop being that pissed. Lately I just get so mad with her, it’s not me, it’s not how I have ever been with her, but this past few months she ignites it somehow. She needs my help, not my moods and I know I am letting her down by acting like a prize idiot and avoiding her the last couple of days instead of facing this head on like I used too.
I woke up this morning and it was clear as the sky – stop fucking around and go be the best friend she needs. Stop dismissing her when you don’t know how to deal with her, you used to be her everything and now you are never there. Sophie isn’t the problem here, I am.
I scale the stairs at speed and come level with her bedroom door, surprised to see it’s wide open. Taking a deep breath to calm my nerves, pull on my most appealing expression to grovel for forgiveness I stride into her room with a confidence I definitely do not feel. Soph’s mad at me is the same as being scalded by my Mom. It matters.
Sophie is curled up on her bed, looking small and cute, her favourite fluffy Unicorn she named something crazily stupid, like Princess Sparkly or some shit, is over her face with her arms wrapped around it. The Sophie pose of self-soothing and I just feel shittier that she has needed a hug and I wasn’t around. My stomach sinks with the sight of her, back in kid mode, sweats and ponytails and cuddly companions.
This is the girl who I am powerless against. The girl who needs a protector.
‘You could replace the bear, with me.’ I say out loud, impulsively, to catch her attention. Sophie yanks the teddy down and glares at me with half shock, half outrage and I have to suppress the urge to smile at that cute little face she pulls. No makeup, hair on top of her head messily and she suddenly looks so young and innocent with those big blue eyes blinking my way mistrustfully. She looks away from me, sits up and starts toying with the fluffy beast, looking away and I can tell she is probably still sulking.
My moody little Madame.
I push down the swell of nerves, relax a little that at least she isn’t yelling and telling me to fuck off, and stand by the door waiting to see if I should come in.
‘Why would I want to do that?’ She answers quietly, huffily, without looking my way and I hear her sigh.
I sigh too, powerless to resist her and suddenly overwhelmed with the need to just wrap her up and squeeze her to death. I hate when she’s upset. It makes me feel like crap too and the ache in my gut reminds me what a shit head I have been with her lately.
‘Because I could do with a forgiveness hug, after being an ass-hole yesterday. Tell me what you need to forgive me Soph’s.’ I smile her way and catch her eye for a second before she looks away again, crazily evasive for her. I wonder if she is still mad or if this is just awkwardness because she thinks I might be.
I’m not mad at you, Mimmo.
‘Maybe I don’t forgive you.’ She whispers, looking down as she pulls the Unicorn into her stomach and squeezes tighter.
I can’t resist it any longer, moving from the doorway and crossing to get on the bed beside her. Every part of me needs to console her and fix this weirdness between us. We never go long periods without making up, we rarely fight to the point that one of us walks away and I hate this distance, hate how little and hurt she looks like this. ‘Looking like a kid again Soph’s, are you back to sulking like one, and making me suffer for being a shit head?’ I flop down on the bed beside her, trying to ensnare her with my arm into a hug but she resists and dodges me. A tiny flicker of wariness on that cute face and a hint of a glare.
Still pissed then.
‘Don’t stay mad at me.’ I implore her, moving in closer to try and angle round to catch her eye. Face to face I can usually read her a little better, win her around a little easier when she has to look me in the eye.
‘I’m not mad at you anymore.’ She rushes her words, still avoids me and then slides off the bed fast, leaving Princess squishy or whatever its name discarded on the bed between us. I sigh and feel my heart sink that this may prove to be harder than I thought. Even for sulky Sophie, she is acting out of sorts.
‘What’s wrong then? You’re acting weird as hell if you’re not sulking. Did you not sleep?’ I watch her walk around her room in bare feet, baggy t-shirt doing nothing for her figure, yet she looks exactly how I always think of her. In casual clothes, young and clean faced – this is the Sophie I love the most, the real her. She is usually grumpy as hell when she hasn’t slept enough, and she looks exhausted. Again, guilt eats at me that maybe this is down to me.
‘Yeah, I’m tired.’ She answers me flatly and I frown, concern rising as I watch her move to the window and gaze out forlornly, she seems so distant and closed off and I don’t like it at all. I hate not knowing what she’s thinking and get up to close the gap between us.
I walk up behind her and slide my arms around her slight figure, fitting against her like a second skin. So easy to cuddle Sophie, she’s always felt natural within my arms and I gravitate to touch her anytime we are close by. I just want so badly for us to be okay again as I rest my jaw against her hair and breathe her in, she always smells like summer, flowery and warm, uniquely her. Sophie always reminds me of summer nights at the beach for some reason, maybe because I have taken her there a million times.
‘Soph’s I’m sorry. I know I walked out after saying I would be here for you, but I’m trying to make things right. I hate when we fight. We were both tired and emotional and being shitty and impulsive. Can we just start over?’ I hold her a little tighter, content in being with her, but I sense her tension suddenly. Her body going rigid within my hold and she shrugs me off fast.
‘Stop … I can’t. It’s fucking with my head.’ She blurts out, turning so she bangs into the wall behind her and looks at me like she is about to burst into tears. My heart constricts, and stomach tightens achingly at her reaction. She has never weirded out from me touching her before. The way she has spun out has disrupted the vanity and sent a million cosmetic jars spilling crazily all over. A perfume bottle rolls towards me and I scoop to pick it up.
‘Sophie what the hell has gotten into you?’ I pick it up and stand up to look at her, seeing a look of fear and sheer panic on her face that instantly halts me. I have no idea what the hell has gotten into her, she knows I would never hurt her.
She knows she can trust me – always.
‘Nothing. I think you should go… I don’t feel well, and I just need to lay down.’ She’s stammering, emotional, and I have the horrid stomach churning sensation in my gut that we are not anywhere near okay. Panic rising inside of me and knocking me off kilter. I scan her face and there’s tell-tale signs of dishonesty that wound me to my core.
‘Why are you lying to me? You never lie to me.’ Stabbing pain shoots through my chest at the thought Sophie is being this way towards me, she is my best friend. We have always been honest with one another, and now she is hiding something from me. I step forward to pull her back to me, but she raises a palm to my chest, stopping me mid movement and seems to inhale harshly.
‘I can’t, please don’t make me.’ She is visibly upset, and it only deepens the pangs of fear in my stomach, churning me up. I know I was a douche bag, but she is over reacting crazily to our fight.
‘Sophie you’re worrying the shit out of me, what’s wrong with you? Don’t make you what? Forgive me? That makes no sense, I can’t force you to not be mad at me.’ I try to smile, even though every one of my alarm bells is ringing crazily. Anxiety peeking at why she is being so weird with me when I just want to fix us back to how we always are. I want to hug her better and make us okay again.
‘Stop being weird and come here.’ I shake my head at her, trying to dismiss this, hoping it’s just stubbornness and upset, and a whole lot of tiredness that has her being so hormonal. I manage to snag my finger in her belt loop and tug her to me, to get hold of her for a hug. Her body collides with me clumsily as I get her closer and panic sweeps her face in a Nano second.
‘You can’t touch me like that anymore…It’s not right… Because, because … I love you!’ She bursts out twisting free of my attempt at an embrace and I really am non-plussed at how crazy she is being. We always touch or hug, it’s never been an issue, in years, not since the first time she let me hug her.
‘What are you talking about? I love you too, Soph’s. Touching you in what way?’ I try to dismiss it, reaching again, only this time she ducks and moves further away as tears fill those perfect tropical blue eyes and I get hit in the chest with another thud of guilt.
Sophie is really upset.
‘Sophie, what the hell?’ I turn to watch her, where she is standing, she looks how I feel. Panicking, confused, and it’s only making me even more so. My palms getting clammy and my throat drying with anxiety at her obvious distress.
‘What is it Mimmo?’ I really have no clue and can’t help the impulse that moves me closer to her again. She holds up a shaky palm and looks at me with complete devastation on her face, that cuts my heart like a knife.
‘I. LOVE. You.’ She says it slowly and emphasises it this time, and I just blink at her completely confused. I know Soph’s loves me, she tells me all the time, I don’t get what this is and why she is so upset.
‘Okay…. You said that …..’ I move towards her, smiling a little as I try to get my head round why she is being odd, and it suddenly registers with the way she is watching me painfully, intensely, as though seeking some sort of answer to what she said. The penny drops.
‘By love?…… Sophie…. What do you mean?’ I frown at her as a tightening knot, envelopes my guts and my anxiety hitches steadily, a little tremor of clarity pushing through at exactly what she is telling me. Fogginess giving way to a little niggling realisation.
‘I’m sorry Arry, I didn’t mean too. It’s not like I meant for things to change… It just happened.’ She looks even more devastated this time, and I can’t breathe as it forces its way into my head, EXACTLY what she means. I pause, momentarily stunned and have no clue how to react.
Sophie is my best friend – the girl I love like a best friend. Like a sister.
‘You don’t love me like that Sophie, you don’t know what you’re saying. This is stupid, you’re confused.’ It tumbles form my mouth as my brain tries to catch up, still in shock, fumbling and staring at those searching scared eyes she’s locked on me and I can barely breathe. My body goes rigid; I can see her staring at me, that beautiful little face so open and afraid, and yet all I can feel is a huge building wave of sheer panic. My hands seem to have a mind of their own and grasping at fuck knows what, between us – I shove them down and try to stop my feet from turning and getting away from her.
We are not like this with one another…. we’re best friends.
‘Arry?’ She reaches for me this time, stepping towards me, but the wave of blackness closing in on me makes me move away impulsively. Afraid that her touch might send me running and that would be the shittiest thing to do to her right now. I’m trying to control my breathing, lungs heavy, and her eyes are boring into me and eating me away with that terrified look in her eye.
‘Sophie, you’re like a kid sister to me…. You ARE a kid sister to me. We’re not like that. You. …Me…… We have never been like that. This isn’t right Sophie, this is wrong on so many levels, it’s practically incest.‘ I blanche at her, head in chaos and thoughts tumbling around crazily. I cannot even begin to comprehend what being that way with her would be like. It is wrong on so many levels. I mean look at her… she’s so young, and vulnerable, and pure. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, daren’t, ever cross that line with her. The way she is looking at me is ripping my insides out.
‘You think I wanted this? You think I asked to start feeling differently about you? Or to even know that’s what this emptiness has even been? Don’t you think I wish I could just push it all away, and be like I was before?’ She raises her palms, her face overcome with regret and heartbreak and I just feel that same stabbing pain in my gut that she’s hurting. I have no words, nothing formulates or comes out of my mouth as a million thoughts and feelings collide like a massive train wreck in my head. I think I might be sick, the room is tilting pretty badly, and maybe I should sit down. I am definitely not getting enough oxygen and my own panting breath is drowning out her voice.
‘I didn’t know until yesterday that this was, what is even wrong with me. This is all a shock to me too, and it’s not like I don’t know that this isn’t right. I know you don’t look or feel that way about me, I know you’re in love with Natasha and this fucks me and you up in every way. You don’t need to point this out to me…I already know Arry!’ She sobs with the rush of words and I impulsively reach for her, that part of me instinctively needing to always be her strength, cutting through my chaos, yet I realise I can’t anymore.
I shouldn’t be touching her if she feels this way about me, right?
I hesitate, my soul aching to hold her, yet my brain telling me not to touch her and give her the wrong idea. I have no clue what to do. Natasha runs through my head, and I feel a huge overwhelming pit of ache in my stomach as I visualise her in my head, reminding me that my heart is already invested elsewhere.
‘I don’t know what to say. What you want me to do? I don’t even know how to feel right now Soph’s.’ I move back to give myself breathing space, my body is too eager to wrap around her and hug this all away, but I know it won’t help either of us right now. I am so majorly confused. I never saw this coming at all, and I am pretty sure Sophie is having some sort of midlife crisis – this is all a huge misunderstanding.
She slumps down on the floor, I hit the wall, behind my back and slump down too, mirroring her across the carpet, unsure what else to do or feel in this moment. I have a spew of reasons pouring through my brain about why this is wrong, as if I would even contemplate it……which I wouldn’t. Sophie has never been that kind of a deal to me…well, maybe once, a long time ago, I looked at her that way for a brief moment, but that was before. We have come so far since I first met her, we have become so much more to each other than this.
‘If I knew what to do then I would be doing it.’ She sniffs through quiet tears and my heart is literally wrenched out of my chest. She looks so broken and I hate myself for this, for not feeling that way about her too.
‘You and me Soph’s, it’s always been innocent. It’s always been platonic. I don’t get how this…’ I can’t tear my eyes from her. trying to just let this sink in.
‘You don’t get how I could fall in love with you? Really?’ Anger spikes in her voice, that dripping sarcasm and for a moment I just stare at her. The beauty that is Sophie. That fire when she is hurt, I hate that it’s here between us now, but at the same time it’s a part of her that I have always loved. Her strength, when faced with pain. It rips me apart some more and I watch that angelic face starting to close up on me, reverting to inner Sophie, to shield herself from the pain that I am inflicting on her. Stomach and heart meeting in unison as both drop low in my pelvis with a thudding ache of regret. I am never usually the cause for her to recoil inside her Sophie defence system.
‘Is it really that awful, or unbelievable?’ She struggles to her feet, that mask lifting and her wall building. I can see it happening right in front of me and I am powerless to do anything about it. It’s killing me. I stand up too, feeling at a disadvantage down here and my legs are not as rubber as they were moments ago. I think the shock is wearing off.
‘No, it’s just… Sophie this is morally wrong, it crosses so many boundaries. I’ve been your guardian since you were a kid. I watched you grow up…I know everything about what he did to you… We could never.’ I am rambling, trying to grasp at the bricks she is piling up between us and push them aside, make her see sense. I feel like I am trying to convince myself too, but it’s stupid.
I know how I feel, right?
Natasha – girlfriend.
Sophie – best friend, kid sister – sort of.
‘Jesus Christ! It’s not like I am about to force you to have sex with me for god’s sake. Over reacting just a tad, aren’t we?’ She snaps at me, stalking to her dresser and swipes a hair brush angrily. I feel that cold veil of ice move through my body at the image she has just planted in my head, of her, and me, doing something naked that should not be in my head at all. Like a flash of ex rated something I would never ever allow to materialise, and it makes me feel like I am suffocating as I blink it away. Anxiety back tenfold at the wrongness of what I just imagined doing to her, with her.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
‘Jesus Sophie…Don’t put that visual in my head…. I don’t want to think about sex with you. I couldn’t ever do that too, or with you… I don’t think I could even kiss you let alone….’ Mumbling aloud while trying to push thoughts of doing all of that out of my head in sheer panic. Sophie throws me a raised brow look that ignites the memory of her telling me we kissed, and I feel the blood drain from my face and my heart misses a beat. I really do feel like I may throw up this time.
‘I know we did that, then, but, I was drunk, and I don’t even remember Sophie. I don’t think I could ever…That I would want too if we…. Or that I mean……It’s just that you and I….. Trust, and our families………I can’t imagine I could kiss…..’ I can’t breathe, my chest achingly tight and my brain feels like it may self-implode. Vision swimming with black dots around me.
‘For the love of God! ‘ Sophie snaps again, and I am alerted to her stalking towards me a little too late. Before I even know what’s happening, before I get a handle on this light-headed bullshit, Sophie’s hand is on my face and her mouth is on mine.
And everything stills………..
Just for a second before that full punch in the face realisation that she is kissing me hits me tenfold in the gut and I jerk away, instinctively pushing her back by her upper arms. Stung by the mortification of what we are doing.
‘What the hell did you do that?’ The shock of that moment of complete calm makes me feel guilty as shit. Natasha probing my head, emotions spewing out of me and I’m aiming my frustration at Sophie. Lashing at her because my head really has lost the plot and I no longer know which way is up anymore.
‘To shut you up, you’re rambling, and to clear up all your confusion…See! You clearly can’t. You can go now. Guess we’re done here. ‘ She lifts her chin moodily, my strong fiery girl. When faced with pain she always hits it head on, defiantly…..my little warrior. I feel like a fucking shit head in this moment and when she moves away, and I see that glimmer of heartbreak in her face, I react without thought.
I catch her by the wrist instinctively, pull her back hard and fast and lock lips with her before the doubts kick in. That stillness, that moment of calm, it happens again. Like a weird content silence where the only thing I can feel, or see, or taste – is her. And I like it.
My hands have found their way to her face, we fit so perfectly, our mouths mould flawlessly and she tastes like she smells. I try to get lost in the moment, the eruption of tingles in my stomach, the way my body warms at the contact, but the kick of guilt and horror that overtake me at doing this hits full force and leaves me breathless as I pull away. Lifting my palms away from touching her, I realise just how little control I actually had of my faculties in doing what I just did. There was no explanation for crossing this line other than a moment of complete stupidity.
I have a fucking girlfriend – Sophie is my BEST friend.
‘Shit. I don’t know why I….. I shouldn’t have done that. Fuck, Sophie…. I’m sorry. I can’t believe I…. I don’t know why I …….’ I move away from her, no longer able to trust myself and completely fucked up by how I am feeling about her right now. Her kiss lingering in my head, her taste, her lips.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!!! – What the fuck are you doing, Arry?
I am freaking out, I know I am. My heart rate is through the roof and I can barely breathe right now. My feet are pacing, even though I have no clue as to where they are going and I cannot stand still to just still the chaos in my brain. She just stares at me wordlessly and it’s unbearable. I have nothing to say – for myself, for what I just did. I don’t know what to even do.
‘I need you to go.’ Sophie looks at me with an almost dead pan expression, but that tiny flicker in those endlessly deep eyes tells me she’s hurting and its a strike in the stomach.
‘Soph?’ I lift my hand to reach for her, even though I have no clue what to say. I am completely out of my depth and I just need time. I have managed to get myself near the door with my chaotic pacing and I realise that leaving is maybe the best idea right now. She is right. We both need a little space to get some perspective on this.
‘I need some time to let this sink in… I can’t think straight……’ I move to her, but then realise that was the mistake I made before and ended up kissing her.
Fuck, I kissed her!
Why the fuck did I do that?
Can’t cross this line. No one would ever forgive me.
Sophie looks closed off and I know I need to end any hope she may have from that kiss, while I get my shit together and my brain out of my ass. I can’t leave this hanging between us, I need to be clear that I just made a stupid mistake.
‘I’m sorry Sophie… I just don’t think I feel that way about you, I have a girlfriend and I don’t know how the hell to play this. I should never have kissed you, and I have to tell her….. That’s not who I am. I don’t cheat, I don’t know what that was.’ I know I should leave but even as the words leave my mouth I feel that pit of anxiety grow, the words feel like lead in my mouth and I can’t decide if it’s because I know I am hurting her, or if there is some doubt inside of me that I am not being honest.
I kissed her….. I liked it.
It felt like I always imagined kissing the right girl would feel like. But it’s her, Sophie. Never ever would I ever go there. She means more than this.
‘It was nothing, why bother? It was barely more than a graze of lips, almost chaste, and probably brotherly on your end. You will only hurt her and it’s pretty clear that it was a spur of the moment test that failed. I don’t blame you for anything. You have always been everything for me and more; I owe you so much, and I fell in love with you for it. Now maybe you’re right. We grew apart, and maybe we were meant too, exactly for this reason. So, go… I’m not mad. I just need you to leave, and maybe we should just stay clear of each other for a bit, while I get my head straight.’ Sophie barely looks at me and her voice betrays nothing. It kills me inside, because I know her and know this is the face of indifference she presents when she is wounded. She can make me bleed without even trying.
‘Sophie?’ Guilt consumes me, and my need to always heal her is the overriding emotion in me. I want to wipe this away, fix it somehow. She just looks alone, the way I hate her looking. My heart constricts in my chest, yet I am powerless.
‘Just go, you’re only making it worse.’ She sounds cold and I hesitate about going to her. Her slight frame and petite little body just cries to be held right now. I yearn to wrap around her and make this better. Shield her from the heartbreak she is feeling. I hate knowing Sophie is in pain, yet I am causing it this time.
‘GO!’ She repeats it angrily and I know I should. There is nothing I can do right now; reluctantly I move back, watch her turn away from me for a second and feel that panic rise in my stomach, torn in two about what to do.
I need to think this through, I am better when I get space to process things and this is what I need to do. I watch her in closed down ‘stay away’ mode and leave quietly, pausing outside her door in a moment of doubt about whether I should go or not. Torn.
I shouldn’t just leave without saying something …even goodbye.
I pause in the hall but then catch sight of movement in the lower landing and think better of it. I need to go and think, take some time to just really figure out how to salvage my friendship with her after what I just did. What she just told me about how she feels.
I move down the stairs quickly, my head elsewhere and nod at the housekeeper as I let myself out into the daylight.
Everything feels surreal and I realise I have no clue what to do with myself. I had planned on being with her for the day and now I am standing in her front yard staring emptily at the street and no clue what the fuck to feel. Like a tidal wave of sheer weight hits me from all angles and I slump down on the front step and sit down defeatedly.
Sophie is in love with me.
My best friend is in love with me.
I feel something……. but
I have a girlfriend. I am supposed to be in love with Natasha.
I have responsibilities relating to Sophie that would make being with her so wrong.
She is like a sister in a way. My family would be pissed at me, hers would be too.
I’m too old for her, she’s too young, we’re not right in that way.
If we dated and we didn’t work out, I would lose her – I can’t ever lose her.
My head is all over the place with a million conflicting thoughts and I really do try and grasp the reality of my feelings. I have never been so confused in my life.
Do I feel more? Could I feel more?
Sophie is beautiful, funny, smart, fearless. I have always been in awe of her for so many reasons and if it was down to attraction alone, then I don’t think I would have a problem if I allowed myself to think about her in terms of looks alone. I have never denied that I think she’s gorgeous in every way. She has the kind of perfection that is so rare, effortlessly, and a figure that turns heads. I am not blind, not celibate either. I get how attractive she is…I just swore to never go there, and I do not want to ever go there, even in my head. I put her firmly on platonic in the first weeks I ever knew her and have refused to cross that line ever since.
I have no clue how she would even handle a physical relationship after what she went through, I have never seen what she’s like with boyfriends, I always avoided seeing her dating.
Why? Maybe I should have analysed why I never wanted to see her date before now.
On an emotional level, she can be hard to handle, stroppy, childish and complicated at her worst. She has scars that reach deep, making her more fragile than most and going down this route would only abuse the trust she has in me.
None of that has ever made me want to lose her as a friend. If anything, those parts of her make her who she is. I like her fire and her sassy attitude. I love her strength and her ability to face things most girls would crumble at. She’s fearless and strong in so many ways and I admire and respect that about her crazily. I love her wit, her sarcasm and her childishness. She entertains me, wraps me around her little finger without even trying.
This would fuck everything up in so many ways and we would risk everything that we are. I can’t risk that between us. I need Sophie in my life, she keeps me sane and grounded. I can’t be thinking about the what if’s, I shouldn’t even be contemplating them.
But that kiss……
Everything stopped with a kiss. And I have no idea how the fuck I should feel when I think about kissing her. All I know is that one tiny, almost nothing kiss, made me feel more in those few seconds than kissing Natasha for the last two years of my life has done.