Hi everyone! So, I'm still working on Dinner Date, but I was having a bit of writers block when this idea popped into my brain. I love exploring old Carla and Peter storylines from a different perspective, so that's what this is. Not sure how long it's going to be, but definitely a few chapters at least. Enjoy!
Carla's dreaming when her buzzer goes, it's a nice dream for once, and one she's not happy to be pulled out of. Confused, she reaches for her phone, which is somewhere in the bed with her. She finds it and squints at the screen, it's 12:06am. Her heart rate begins to quicken. Who is ringing her buzzer just after midnight? She briefly pulls the covers over her head, as if this will cause the person to go away. When she first moved back in here, she'd had nightmares for weeks. But redecorating had helped along with the general passing of time, and these days she felt almost happy there. It was disconcerting that someone ringing her buzzer late at night could suddenly bring all those fears screaming back.
She takes a deep breath to calm herself and remembers that whoever this person is can't actually get inside the building unless she buzzes them in. Which she isn't going to do. Relaxing slightly, she leans back down against her pillows. Suddenly it goes again. She throws off the duvet and climbs out of bed, padding across the living room floor, towards the front door. She has her mobile phone gipped tightly in her left hand, ready to call the police if she needs to. As she reaches to pick up the intercom phone the buzzer goes again, causing her to jump backwards and drop her mobile phone to the floor with a clatter.
"Fuck." She picks it up, praying the screen hasn't cracked. Thankfully, it's still intact, and so she turns her attention back to the intercom. It buzzes a third time and she finally lose her patience.
"WHAT?!" She shouts down the phone, her fear now replaced by anger. What kind of person rings someone's doorbell unannounced after midnight?
She hears someone clear their throat on the other end.
"Carla?" The voice asks and her stomach drops, surely it can't be him.
"Who is it?" She asks again, quieter, not sure she wants to hear the answer.
"It's me, um, Peter."
She panics and moves the phone away from her ear, as if that will somehow help, she can still hear his voice, albeit slightly muffled now.
"Carla, can I come up? Please."
Carla bites her lip, unsure what to do next. She hasn't seen Peter for months, hasn't even heard from him. And now he's outside her flat in the middle of the night, expecting to be let in. She brings the phone back to her ear.
"Peter, what the hell are you doing? It's the middle of the night!"
"I know, I'm sorry, I got here late."
"I've got work in the morning."
"Please, I just need five minutes."
Carla wants to tell him where to go, she wants to tell him he's got a nerve turning up here after all this time, but her curiosity gets the better of her and so she buzzes him in and unlocks the front door. It's only as she hears his footsteps in the hallway that she realises the skimpy pyjamas she's wearing aren't very appropriate attire for seeing your estranged ex-boyfriend for the first time in months, but there's nothing she can do about it now.
He pushes her front door open and their eyes meet for the first time in five months. She watches his eyes trace down her body and she rolls her eyes, time hasn't totally changed him then. She always knew he'd be back at some point, but she didn't think it would be this soon, and she certainly didn't think his first port of call would be her flat. Thing's hadn't exactly ended amicably between them. He smiles at her awkwardly, but her face remains impassive. She's not going to let one smile from him destroy all the work she's put into moving on with her life.
He looks different than when she last saw him, healthier. He's slimmer, tanned, and has more facial hair than she's ever seen him with. Clearly going away has been good for him, but that doesn't mean she's going to forgive him for it.
"Hi." He begins simply.
She folds her arms. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see you."
"I told you, my train got in late."
"And this couldn't have waited until tomorrow?"
"I couldn't wait any longer to say what I need to say to you."
She laughs dryly. "I haven't heard from you in five months, but you couldn't wait another day?"
"Carla, please." She can tell he's getting frustrated but if he thinks she's going to give him and easy ride, he's got another thing coming.
"Have you even been to see Simon yet?"
"Of course I have!" He replies, defensively, "The whole reason I left in the first place was to sort myself out for him, you really think he wouldn't be the first place I go?"
She shrugs, "Well I don't know do I? You show up here, unannounced in the middle of the night. It's all very cloak and dagger."
"It wasn't supposed to be cloak and dagger." He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. "My train was delayed. I went to see Simon and then I came here because I needed to speak to you."
"Why didn't you call me? Or send a text?"
"I don't have your number anymore."
Her heart sinks, but then she remembers that she deleted his number after he left, so she can't exactly be annoyed that he's deleted hers.
Her face must give her away because he quickly adds, "I didn't delete it or anything. I lost my phone, and then I didn't really feel like I could ask anyone for it. You'd made your feelings pretty clear before I left."
"I'd made MY feelings clear?" She raises her voice, and then remembers the time and so lowers it to an angry whisper, "YOU told me you didn't want to be with me. You kicked me out!"
"I was drunk!"
"Well you didn't sound drunk, you sounded serious."
"I was lashing out, and I know I was wrong, but I thought you'd come back, and you didn't."
"I didn't think you wanted me to."
"I thought it was just a fight, and that we'd get past it, like we always did." He shrugs, sadly.
"Everyone has their limit Peter. I'd given so much to our relationship and you just threw it back in my face." She can feel herself getting upset, and that pisses her off even more. She hasn't allowed herself to think about their relationship for months, and now here he was forcing her to re-live it all.
"I'm so sorry for everything I said to you, but you must've known I didn't mean it. Come on, I always lash out when I'm drunk."
"No. It was more than that."
He pauses and she takes a moment to study his body language, he seems sober at least.
"I was in a bad place when I left, it's why I left. But I've been working hard on myself, and I'm so much better now."
"Good for you."
"I'm not saying I'm cured. I'm always going to be an alcoholic. But I've been sober, for months and I intend on staying that way."
"Have you come for a medal?"
"No," He shakes his head. "I'm here to say that I've sorted myself out, so now maybe we can try again?"
She bursts out laughing despite herself, before covering her mouth with her hands.
"You can't be serious."
"I'm deadly serious."
"Who do you think you are? You left me months ago, I haven't heard from you since, no one has. And you think you can waltz back in here and I'm just going to take you back? Are you sure you've not been drinking?" She quips sarcastically.
He steps towards her, but she takes a step back, she doesn't want him anywhere near her.
"Carla, I know thing's ended badly between us, but I never stopped loving you. And you can't honestly tell me that you've fallen out of love with me in just five months?"
"You are the most arrogant man I have ever met. What do you think I've been doing? Pining for you? Waiting at the window for you to return from war?"
"No, of course not. Look, I've gone about this all wrong."
She laughs incredulously but doesn't reply.
"I just wanted to come here and show you that I've changed, and I did it for Simon, but I also did it for you."
He steps towards her again, and this time she doesn't move. He tentatively reaches for her hand and she allows him to take it in his. She looks at his face, open and earnest. She does still love him, of course she does. But it isn't that simple. He left her, and she didn't know if he was going to come back, she had no choice but to try and move on with her life.
"Peter. I'm so pleased that you're feeling better, and I really hope that you've overcome your demons, for Simon's sake. But your drinking wasn't the only issue in our relationship, and all that other stuff is still there."
"But we can tackle it together, I'll be able to deal with it better."
"Simon still hates me, Peter, and you getting better whilst you were far away from me is only going to re-enforce his opinion."
"I've spoken to him tonight, I've told him I'm happy for him to stay living with Leanne, it's not going to be the same as last time, I promise."
She looked at him sympathetically. "You can't promise me that."
"Carla." He takes her face in his hands and she lets him, being this close to him she can feel herself physically weakening. She's never been able to see straight around Peter. When he first left, she was devastated, she wanted to chase after him, find him. But she didn't because she knew he'd left for the right reasons. So, after a few weeks of moping she picked herself up and carried on. She had a business to think about, family and friends. She'd survived without him before she could do it again.
"I love you."
She doesn't have time to respond to his words before his lips descend onto hers. It takes her a moment to respond but as soon as she does, she forgets about her misgivings. She's missed him so much and kissing him feels like coming home. But it doesn't feel exactly the same as it used to, he is physically different, but she can tell he's emotionally different too. His movements are certain in a way they weren't before. Their relationship had always been precarious, him always worrying that he'd made the wrong decision, her always worrying he was going to change his mind. Now she can tell, his mind is made up, he's the man she needed him to be a few months ago. But now it's too late.
She pulls away, "Peter, no, I can't."
He steps back, breathless. "There's no rush." He says. "I know me turning up here out of the blue is shock, and there's thing's we need to discuss still. I just needed to see you tonight."
She's still catching her breath, "Peter, you don't understand, it's too late."
He's looks at her questioningly.
"I've got a boyfriend."