"Are you ready to get out of here then?" Michelle grinned as she placed some of Carla's belongings into a bag whilst Carla lay in bed, over the covers in a loose fitting jumper and leggings.
"More than," She sighed. "I've had enough of staring at these four walls. Feels like I've been in here for years."
"Feels like that for us too. It'll be so nice to have you back home, Car."
Carla smiled; a smile full of nerves and anticipation. She was so glad to leave the hospital, she wanted some normality and to get her independence back. It was a long shot going back to work already but she had her mind focussed on what she does best. Although, the reception she'd get being back on the street definitely clouded her mind. Tracy was still, understandably, angry at everyone. It had been three days since Rob had been caught but she hadn't come to terms with it. She was raging at the world and seeing the woman that, in her eyes, got her fiancé locked away could be dangerous for Carla.
On top of that, she also panicked about when Peter would be back on the street. She hadn't heard from Ken since his visit the other day and she needed to know what was going on so she could prepare herself.
The thought of packing up and moving away had occurred but she'd ran away so many times. She had a responsibility to the factory workers and quite frankly, why should she be the one to leave when Peter and Rob have been the ones in the wrong?
"Right," Michelle dragged her out of her daydream. "Have you signed the discharge papers?"
"Yep, just before you got here."
"I think that's it then. Let's get out of here." Michelle said, taking hold of Carla's hands and supporting her as she slowly eased herself off the bed.
"Let's go." Carla mumbled, her body already riddled in pain. She knew she had a long way to go in her recovery.
"Easy." Michelle warned, watching the raven haired woman wince as she took a step towards the door.
"Home sweet home."
"You've tidied up." Carla looked around her flat at the pristine state it was now in.
"Of course I have, you daft mare. Couldn't have you coming home in the state you'd left it in," she joked. "Now, let's sit down and I'll make you a cuppa."
Carla quietly groaned as she sat down onto her sofa, but she soon relaxed when Michelle pulled her legs up so she was laying across it.
"Here's a blanket and I've got some magazine's from Rita's place somewhere." She added.
"There's really no need for all this fussing, Chelle." Carla gently shook her head.
"The doctor told me that you're still very weak and moving about will be painful so I'm just helping. You're not going to be moving a muscle, lady."
"You're such a mum." Carla chuckled, taking hold of the remote and turning the television on.
"A coffee is coming up."
As Carla quietly laughed to herself at her friends maternal side, she wondered if she'd of been like that if her little girl had survived. Babies are supposed to turn all women soft but she couldn't imagine herself like that. Of course, she wasn't a cold hearted bitch and the people around her knew that. But she's never been like Michelle. Does that mean she would've been a bad Mum?
"There you go." She placed the coffee onto the table.
"What? Oh, sorry," Carla jumped into fright. "Thank you for that. The hospital's drinks taste like dish water."
"What were you thinking about?" Michelle wondered, taking a seat in the armchair.
"Oh, nothing important."
"I know that look."
"The look you make when you're in a deep thought. Come on, spill."
"Fine," Carla exhaled. "I was thinking about the baby. If I would've been soft and maternal like you and every other mother."
"Well, I have the privilege of knowing that you are soft. You just have a hard exterior." Her heart ached for the best friend that suffered the worst heartbreak she could imagine. The thought of losing one of her boys physically pained her so the fact Carla had gone through that and more, and was still smiling showed enormous amounts of strength.
"But I'm not 'mumsy'. I never have been and I can't imagine me being like that."
"Not every mother is the same."
"It's just weird to think of how things could've been," Carla's voice croaked. "We'll never know now, will we?"
"I'll never forgive those men for all the chaos they've caused you this year."
"It is what it is." She shrugged.
"Do you want a hug?" Michelle asked, softly.
"No, I do not. I'd much prefer watching This Morning if it's all the same with you." She joked.
"Give over," She playfully leant forward and nudged Carla's arm, causing her to wince loudly in discomfort. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry."
"I take back everything I said about you being soft." She said, trying to look annoyed.
The sunlight shone through the blinds, immediately awakening Carla. Michelle left last night after helping Carla to bed and she'd been there ever since. A full nights sleep in the comfort of her own home was just what she needed; she checked the time and groaned as it neared 10am. She wasn't used to having a lay in but she'd have to get used to it.
Michelle agreed to come over at lunchtime to check in so until then, Carla had to shuffle out of the bedroom to make breakfast and take her medication.
Slowly, she pushed herself into a sitting position and swung her legs out of the bed. She tiredly put a hand through her hair as she wandered into the main living area to turn the kettle on.
As she waited, she went over to balcony to open her curtains, brightness now streaming through the room. She opened the doors and walked out onto the balcony.
She looked around at her neighbours going about their day but something particular caught her eye...
Her breath suddenly hitched in her throat as she saw the man who was getting a suitcase out of a taxi...
She wasn't aware that her husband was be released from prison today. That was all she needed right now.
She swallowed back her nerves and hastily walked back indoors to the kitchen.
For now, she was going to take her medication and rest, like the doctor ordered. Peter could wait.
"Hey." Carla muttered as she opened the door to Michelle.
"Heya," She walked in and dumped her bag on the kitchen counter. "How are you feeling?"
"I still feel like death if that's what you mean." She shrugged, hobbling over to the sofa and sitting down.
"I would've come earlier if-..."
"I'm joking, Chelle. I'm fine." Carla interrupted, completely done with the constant pity.
"Did you manage to sleep okay?"
"I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow. And yes, I've taken my meds."
"Good," Michelle nodded. "I'm going to make you some lunch but I can't stay for long. Liz is by herself."
"Honestly, you can head off now if you want. I'm just going to chill and sit by the telly."
"Are you trying to get rid of me?" She joked.
"You know I love you," Carla shook her head. "Can you pass my phone? It's on the coffee table."
Michelle handed it over and watched Carla as her mind seemed to dwell. It looked as if she was thinking long and hard about something.
"Yeah. What wouldn't I be?"
"It looks like somethings on your mind."
"When did you say Peter was getting released?" Carla asked, raising her eyebrows when she saw Michelle's face drop.
"You know then." She sighed.
"Why didn't you tell me, Chelle? Do you know what it felt like seeing him on the street this morning?"
"I was going to tell you today. I just didn't want it to jeopardise your recovery."
"Look, it's fine," Carla swallowed. "I've decided to see him."
"What?" She screeched. "That accident has really done a number on you."
"I need closure."
"You've got closure. That man doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as you. Get rid."
"This has got nothing to do with you." Carla snapped.
"I think it does. I was the one who picked you up when you reached rock bottom after what he did to you."
"I'm sorry but, I did love that man once. We need to have a chat about everything that's happened recently. I owe it to him."
"None of this was your fault. You owe him nothing." She shook her head.
"He was in prison for months because of Rob."
"Exactly. Because of Rob. Not you."
"I'm going to speak to him whether you like it or not, Michelle. I haven't got the energy to fight with you."
"Fine. But don't let him get under your skin; I know what he's like."
Carla exhaled as Michelle walked back to the kitchen area. She could tell she was annoyed at her but it was the least of her problems. She really thought she'd understand her reasonings for having a chat with Peter. They couldn't just leave it how it was. Not to mention the fact they'll still be living in the same street together. She bit her lip as she called Ken's phone number.
"Hi, Ken. It's Carla."
"Oh, Carla! How are you?"
"Erm, I'm okay. I called to ask a favour."
"Of course, go ahead."
"I know I said I didn't want Peter anywhere near me once he's out but I think we need one chat. We can't leave things the way they are right now."
"How did you know he was back? Did Michelle tell you?"
"No, I saw him get out the taxi when I was on the balcony this morning. It was a shock to say the least."
"I'm sorry that's how you found out. Should I put him on the phone?"
"It's fine. Can you send him round to my flat?"
"If that's okay."
"That's marvellous. He'll be right over."
"Thanks, Ken. Bye for now."
As Carla hung up the phone, she mentally cursed at herself. She knew Peter would be so excited, full of hope and confidence. He'd be expecting a lot more then Carla was offering. She hated the fact that he could so easily win her round; she was weak around him. Those big brown eyes and cheeky smile makes her go soft, it always has.
When the ringer buzzed through the room, panic arose and she questioned whether she actually had the strength to have this conversation right now. Was she in the right mindset? It was too late now and as Michelle tutted, she knew it was time.
Michelle buzzed him up and turned to face Carla who was tidying up her appearance. Opening the door and glaring at the man stood before her, she rolled her eyes and left.
"I'll leave you to it," Michelle said before whispering to Peter. "Don't you mess her around."
"Of course I won't." He replied.
As the pair were left in the room alone; he grinned like a Cheshire Cat whilst Carla stared at him in silence.
"Hey," he grinned. "How are you feeling?"
"Sit down. I think I owe you an apology." Carla sighed, pointing over to the armchair opposite the sofa where she was sitting.
"You don't owe me anything." He said, softly.
He stared into her emerald eyes tenderly, but she looked down and licked her lips to try quell the awkwardness she was feeling.
"This was a bad idea." She muttered.
"No, it wasn't. We needed a chat. Say what you need to say."
"I'm so sorry for what Rob put you through. It was a horrible thing to do, you didn't deserve all that agro."
"What Rob did was never down to you. You weren't to know. Please, don't blame yourself." He reassured her.
"It doesn't stop me from feeling guilty." She ran a hand through her hair.
"You've always been like that," he chuckled. "I've always loved how compassionate you are but you feel guilty when you've done nothing wrong."
"At least I feel guilt," she muttered. "If only the same went for you, Hmm?"
"I'll take this as an opportunity to apologise again for everything with Tina-..."
"I don't want to talk about her." She interrupted.
"But we have to," he exhaled. "It was the worse thing I've ever done. I never gave you the explanation you deserved though, I was just self pitying back then. But prison gave me time to analyse everything and I've done a lot of thinking. Having an affair with Tina, was just an ego boost. You having to pay my way made me feel less of a man. It wasn't your fault, I know that. You were just looking out for me like a partner should so I'm not blaming you. But having my girlfriend do that made me feel stupid and incapable. Especially with Rob's constant jibes. And I guess, a young female like Tina flattered me. It made me feel good about myself again and took me away from life's challenges. I was weak and stupid. I will never forgive myself for hurting you the way I did."
"So, what? Should I have not supported you back then? Should I of let my partner struggle by himself whilst I live the life of luxury?"
"I appreciated the support so much. But I had too much pride. I've grown up a lot since then-..."
"Peter, it was only a few months ago!" She laughed.
"Prison has forced me to grow into a real, respectful man. The man you deserve. Losing you, it's put a lot of things into perspective and showed me what's really important. I may have taken you for granted back then but now I've lost you, I've realised how much I need you. And how much I love you."
"It took losing me to realise how much you love me? Flamin' 'eck, Peter."
"I didn't mean it like that." he sighed.
"What are you hoping for? Because I'm not going to get up and straddle you," she said before wincing. "Not that I could with the state of my ribs right now."
"Of course I don't. My only intention is to hopefully, make you feel better. To give you closure."
"Well, I appreciate you for not self pitying for once. First time for everything."
"How are you feeling anyway? It's so nice seeing you awake." He thought about the times he saw her connected to various tubes, so motionless and ill. He wasn't sure whether she'd make it but now she was sat before him, in her new flat. He embraced this moment and was so thankful she was the one to get him here.
"Feels like I've been hit by a truck. But I feel better now I'm out of hospital."
"I can't believe he did this to you. It makes me want to put him in an early grave."
"I wouldn't recommend saying stuff like that anymore. Didn't do me well last time I said something like that." Carla joked, referring to the time she said she wanted to kill Tina.
"Good point." He smiled, locking eyes with her once again.
It took a few seconds for Carla to realise she was weakening to him once again as she stared into his warm gaze. She looked away and coughed to get herself out of this. She needed to be strong and resist temptation but it was too hard looking into his puppy dog eyes.
"Anyway, that's what I had to say. I'm sorry." She said.
"I know you are."
"Right then, I won't keep you." She slowly stood up and guided him to the door.
He followed her but stopped directly in front of her.
"Bye then." She frowned.
"Thank you for agreeing to see me." He whispered.
"We had to do it at some point. But remember, I still hate your guts." She smiled, gently.
"I still love you." He stared, lovingly.
"What am I supposed to say to that?"
"And I know you feel the same." He added.
"You've not changed one bit." She narrowed her eyes.
"Look me in the eyes and tell me you don't love me."
She stuttered, avoiding eye contact.
"See," he smiled, softly. "I know I've hurt you, and there's not a hope in hell that you'll ever be mine again. But I just needed to know you felt the same."
"Get. Out." She said through gritted teeth.
He walked out and she slammed the door, she leant against it and released a breath she didn't know she'd been holding.
She knew it was going to be hard but not this hard. She still loved him and she didn't know how long she could deny it for.
Peter is back! A lot more Carter writing coming up...I hope you enjoyed this!