So, this was sat in my documents for a while and it was only during lockdown that I decided to pick it up again and try and make it work. I hope you all enjoy it! If you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them! Love to you all. x
It was safe to say that since the roof collapse, Carla had struggled to get to grips with what had happened. Her mental health had been deteriorating, to the point where Peter had noticed her character change. Her family had completely isolated her. Carla's tough exterior was cracking, exposing her vulnerability.
Carla had nothing to do with the roof collapse. Although she had asked Gary to try and save costs, she didn't ask him to do anything to put the lives of her employees in danger. But, to try and push the blame away from himself, Gary had implied that Carla had instructed him to save costs by cutting crucial corners, which had turned the whole street against her.
Gary was a reputable person. He had served his country and was respected in the street, whereas Carla had a reputation for being ruthless. Sure, she would have done anything to save Underworld, but not anything to put her work force at risk. She would never admit it, but she loved them like extended family.
She was unsure of why Gary had been besmirching her reputation, but all she knew now was that her family wanted nothing more to do with her. Why they believed Gary, she didn't know. The Connor's were making it impossible for her to try and make it up to them, as she attempted to put right something which she hadn't done in the first place, but they were stubborn and refused to believe that she had no idea what the builder was up to. It was her factory, after all.
Everyone that she cared about and everyone that had once cared for her had turned their backs. They had left her to her own mind, and the loneliness that she faced terrified her.
Portsmouth had been lovely. It had been a nice little break for the both of them, and had allowed Carla to focus on something other than her family fallout. For Peter, It had been nice to see a glimpse of the old Carla. They had rekindled some much needed passion, and Peter had promised her that no matter what happened, nothing and no one else would matter. They would have each other.
On their return, Carla made a promise, to herself, to try and make amends with her family. She cared about them deeply, and if Aidan's death had taught her anything, it was that life was too short to lose touch with people you care about.
She had tried her best, reaching out to Michelle, Johnny and even Kate. But she received little to nothing back. Michelle was still angry at her for her negligence, Johnny had chosen to stand by Kate and had seemingly promised to ignore his eldest daughter, and Kate blamed her for Rana's death. Five weeks after returning to the street, Carla felt there was no longer any point in trying.
In all honesty, she had hoped that Michelle would have forgiven her by now, or at least began to speak to her again. But she hadn't and she wasn't. It was hard not having her best friend around. Gone were the days when Carla could spill the latest gossip, or have a catch up with Michelle. Peter knew that not having Michelle around was having an impact on Carla, but he made sure that he was there for her instead. The couple took the time to talk to one another, to listen to what each other had to say, and it was a good thing. Slowly, Carla was starting to feel a little better in herself.
The pair were still living at Ken's, Roy too had seemed to disown Carla. Ken was more than happy to let the couple stay with him. They needed somewhere, and he wasn't going to see them homeless, no matter what the street thought of Carla. If he was honest with himself, he didn't think Carla could ever be capable of putting the lives of the factory staff at risk like that.
It was early in the morning - too early, and Carla woke up with a start. She sat up slowly, as not to wake Peter and turned to see the time. Half four, in the morning.
Carla sighed, a feeling of nausea washing over her. Her whole body felt run down, which wasn't unbelievable. She had been under a lot of stress in recent weeks. But, she felt different. This wasn't just normal stress. She placed her hand on her lower stomach to try and ease the sickening sensation, when all of a sudden, it hit her. The last time she felt like this. But it couldn't be? Right?
Although on their trip to Portsmouth they had been less than careful, what were the chances? At her age? With their history? No. It had to be something else. It was probably just the menopause.
She had been feeling nauseous for a while now, but never paid direct attention to how she was feeling and she certainly didn't think that it was down to something like this. But nausea could be the result of a number of things. Stress? Anxiety? Something that she had eaten?
"Love?" Peter mumbled, noticing the absence in their bed, taking Carla's mind away from her own thoughts.
"Yeah?" She whispered back.
"What are you doing up?" He asked her, his voice completely sleep filled.
"I can't sleep." She told him, her hand still placed on her stomach. Even if her nausea settled, there was no way that Carla would be sleeping tonight. The possible consequences of what had happened in Portsmouth would be whirring in Carla's mind until she took a test. Now more than ever, she wished she could speak to Michelle. Knowing that she wasn't on the other end of the phone made things like this ten times harder.
"Come here." He instructed her, reaching his arm out, and pulling her into where he was laying. She cuddled into her boyfriend, her mind still occupied as she struggled to process her thoughts. She sighed silently as Peter planted a soft kiss into her hair, before holding her close - unaware of her turmoil.
Carla closed her eyes, willing herself to go to sleep, as it if was going to be easy.
She tried to switch her mind off. Attempting to distract herself with thoughts of what she had to do that day, but all she could think of was how she needed to buy a test and deal with this situation. Carla couldn't shake off the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, which wasn't helping the nausea.
She tried convincing herself that she was getting herself worked up over nothing. Last time she was pregnant, yes, she felt sick and drained. But, it wasn't as bad as this. Maybe it was just the flu? Or maybe if she was pregnant, it was a sign of her age?
Carla shifted so that she could look to her partner. He was asleep once more. It was going to be a long night.
- C S -
Carla turned to look at the bedside clock. Half past six. With her stomach still not completely settled, she had been unable to get any proper sleep. Turning her head to the other side, she looked to her sleeping boyfriend. He looked peaceful, calm, quiet. Everything that she wasn't. Although she knew she would be able to pretend that she was ok for a little while, the way she was feeling might be a little harder to hide.
The nausea didn't seem to go away; the feeling all too familiar for Carla. All night she had thought about whether she should take a test sooner or later. There were pros and cons, although in her mind, she knew it was already a full gone conclusion.
Slowly getting up, avoiding waking Peter, Carla got dressed in nothing but a comfy tracksuit and trainers, and headed to the nearest open supermarket. She didn't want to get caught in Dev's buying a pregnancy test. The locals still held a grudge, assuming that she had something to do with the factory roof collapse, so she decided she didn't want to risk any of them gossiping about why she needed a test. Never in all her life had she worried about what people thought, but for some reason, this had bothered her. It messed with her head. How could she have been so careless? She cursed herself all the way to the Co-Op, which had just opened. She felt like a reckless teenager after a one night stand. Despite the face that it wasn't a one night stand and was no longer a teenager - she was far from it.
Standing outside the shop, holding the box in her hand, staring down at it, Carla was miles away. Once again she was in this position; only older, unmarried and with less family around her. Seclusion, isolation, loneliness.
Carla's thoughts were interrupted by the sharp noise of her phone ringing. Hastily, she tucked the box in her pocket and took out her phone. Of course, it was Peter.
"Yep?" She asked her man, trying to seem casual in her tone.
"Carla, where are you?" He asked her. She smiled to herself as she noted how sleepy he sounded, but the sleepiness in his voice masked the fear he had. Carla was clearly struggling with the weight put on her shoulders by Gary, her family, and the whole street. He was worried that she had finally snapped, unable to cope. Unaware, that there was a very different issue playing on her mind.
"I just nipped out for some fresh air." She lied.
"Are you alright, love?" He questioned softly. Peter had watched his partner vilified by the people that surrounded them and he wanted nothing but to protect her.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just couldn't sleep, that's all." She brushed him off. "Do you need anything?" She asked Peter back, wanting to deflect his questions knowing she couldn't keep up the façade for any length of time.
"No. Just you." He replied, smiling to himself. Proud of how he had slipped that into the conversation, hoping to remind her how special she was to him.
"I'll be back in a few minutes." She assured him.
"Ok. I love you." He told her, as her heart sank. She wasn't too sure whether it was the fact that she was hiding something from her lover or whether it was hearing him say those words.
"I love you too." She replied, before putting the phone down. How could she keep this from him? And what on Earth would she do if the test came back positive?
Peter knew that she was lying when Carla said she was fine. It was blatantly obvious to him that her family turning their backs had a massive effect on her mental health, despite the fact that she'd tell him that it didn't really matter. He made a mental note to make her feel special that day, almost in replacement of a relationship with any member of the Connor clan. Although, he knew that she missed them, and having them disbelieve her, cut her up inside.
Peter knew that Carla had nothing to do with the factory roof, and had no idea why Gary was putting the blame on her shoulders. There was no evidence and no proof that what Gary was saying was true, but there was no apparent reason for him to lie. Apart from the fact that he didn't want the blame for Rana's death and to put it on Carla was easier than going to prison for murder or negligent manslaughter. His lies had absolutely shattered the life of his lover, and Peter was angry. He wanted answers from the man. However, he knew that he would be no use to Carla if he was locked up for assault. He held a grudge towards Johnny, and especially Michelle for believing the lies. Kate was grieving, she needed someone to blame, but he expected better from Carla's father and her oldest friend.
Before long, Carla walked through the door of number one. She had thankfully avoided anyone that she knew on her return, which gave her a chance to gather her thoughts a little. Although, she still hadn't gotten over the fact that she had ended up in this situation.
- C S -
"I have to go now, love. I've got a shift." Peter informed Carla, coming into the front room, where she was sat, a glass of water in her hand.
"Ok." She nodded, as he came and pressed a kiss on her forehead.
"I'll be back later on tonight." He assured her, smiling, gently admiring her.
"Alright." She nodded, flashing him a small smile, trying to mask her feelings.
"I love you." He reminded her, as he walked out of the room.
"Love you." She whispered, hearing him slam the front door.
Now was her chance. With Peter and Ken out of the way and the house to herself, it was the perfect opportunity to find out whether she really was just worrying over nothing.
Going upstairs, Carla felt nervous. She wanted to call Michelle more than anything. In fact, the thought had crossed her mind - even after everything. She needed someone, but she was sure that the someone couldn't have been Peter.
"No." She whispered, feeling more nauseous now the result had been revealed to her. "Oh no, no, no, no, no." She panicked, thankful that everyone was out of the house.
Carla paced the length of the bathroom far too many times to count. She was anxious. She couldn't believe it. Ending up accidently pregnant was a mistake that only an idiot would make. Besides, Carla's last pregnancy had been completely accidental. How can that just happen again? Especially now? In the end, in order to pluck up the courage to take the test, she had convinced herself that the result wouldn't be positive. But clearly, she was wrong.
Carla ended up sitting on the edge of the bath tub, staring intently at the white stick. She began shaking, sweating and working herself up. She was genuinely shocked. Carla wasn't stupid, she knew that there was a possibility, but it caught her off guard. She felt unarmed, exposed, terrified. Terrified of what Peter would think, or say, or do. They were happy in themselves, but with the added pressure of having the majority of their friends and family having turned their backs on them did not help.
She had to take another test. That one could be wrong. It was probably wrong. It had to be wrong. There was no way that at the age of 44 she was pregnant. She couldn't be.
This time, instead of heading to the Co-Op and running the risk of being seen by her neighbours in such a state, she took a walk round to Freshcos to get another test.
She went into the supermarket and went straight to where she needed to go. Just looking at all the tests in the aisle was enough to make Carla feel even worse. She eyed them up, pondering on which on to get, before panicking and buying every single different one available. Five in total. Six tests would be enough to make sure, surely.
Each step that she took closer to number one, the worse she seemed to feel. She wondered whether she'd actually be able to make it there without collapsing. Collapsing, oh, the irony. Her mind turned to all the things that had happened in the past few months. The roof, a new breakdown and Peter coming to her rescue. She knew that whatever happened he would want to be there, he would want to help - but that was never the question. Could he cope was a better one. Last time, he couldn't manage.
Although, back then, he did have a small matter of an affair to contend with.
It was safe to say that Carla's head was a mess.
"You look just about as good as I feel." Tracy called, snapping Carla out of her thoughts.
"Sorry?" She asked, looking up at her former nemesis.
"It looks like you've just come back from a lock-in." She dared to joke, laughing slightly before noticing that Carla seemed too out of it to care. "Listen, why don't you and our Peter come round tonight?" She offered. Tracy had become a real ally in the past few weeks, helping to keep the Connors off their backs. She felt for Carla, it wasn't nice knowing that you're responsible for the accidental death of someone, not that she was certain Carla played a part. Regardless, she seemed as if she wanted to move on, but her family wouldn't let her. We all make mistakes, but it doesn't mean we have to spend the rest of our lives being reminded of them.
"Do you know what, I think Peter's working but thanks for the invite." She responded, her mind completely preoccupied.
"Well, you know where I am." Tracy reminded her, with a small pitiful smile at the end of her sentence before leaving her to carry on walking to Ken's.
Going straight upstairs into the bathroom, she emptied the plastic bag, allowing the contents to fall into the sink. Sighing shakily, she picked up one of the boxes. There was no way that this was actually happening.
About two hours later, Carla was sat on the sofa in the front room. She knew that is was now or never. She had to tell Peter now, or she'd bottle it. She didn't want it to be like last time, waiting three weeks to tell him - it wouldn't be fair. Besides, the way she was feeling, Carla doubted that she could keep it a secret for that long.
"I need you to come home." Carla announced frankly.
"Why? What's the matter?" Peter questioned, concerned about the sudden urgency. He wondered whether something had kicked off with the Connors. Although, he was more than certain that she could handle that alone - and would probably want to.
"There's something I need to tell you." She confessed, not revealing anymore than that. From the solemn tone in his partners voice, he assumed that something was wrong. He looked outside to see that Tim was parked outside the building.
"I'll get Tim to cover, I won't be a minute." He assured her, his heart racing, concerned with what was going on.
"Thank you." She mumbled, her heart pounding just as fast as Peter's, if not, more so. She put the phone down and took a deep breath. She kept telling herself that as soon as she told him, that would be the biggest hurdle out of the way. But the other half of her brain was telling her that she knew it wasn't that simple.
Peter came out to Tim's cab, knocking on the window.
"Mate, I need you to cover for me." He told Tim. The panic in Peter's voice let Tim know that he wasn't messing around.
"Are you ok, mate?" Tim asked, flashing him a look that was concern mixed with confusion.
"Carla's called, something's wrong. Only, she won't tell me what it is over the phone." He explained briefly. "I'll be ten minutes, tops." He assured his boss.
"Carla?" Peter asked, coming in through the front door, slightly out of breath as he had virtually ran from the cab office.
"Please, Peter, don't be mad." Carla said, as her boyfriend walked into his Dad's living room, and towards where she was sat at the table.
"Mad about what?" He questioned, trailing off as he had seen exactly what she was referring to.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't think I could..." she reasoned, tears falling down her face. "What does it say?" Peter asked her. "Carla, What does it say?" He repeated, getting no answer the first time. Carla held the test tightly in her hands, as if she had not heard Peter's questions, as silent tears rolled down her face. "You don't have to tell me, just show me." He begged, wanting to know, although by the atmosphere in the room and the look on Carla's face, deep down, he already knew.
"Only me!" Ken shouted, as he opened the door and came into the same room as the couple, noticing what was going on immediately. "Do you want me to go?" Ken asked. Carla got up, leaving the test on the table, and walking out of the back door. Peter just stood there in shock for a bit, not knowing what to do. "Go after her!" Ken exclaimed, looking to his frozen son. Peter carefully looked at the test, picking it up, reading the result and putting it in his pocket.
"Carla!" He called, opening the back door, and noticing her crouched in the ginnel, tears still streaming down her face. "Come here love." He soothed, pulling her up and into his arms. "What do I do?" She asked him in her tear stained voice. "Come inside, talk. I promise everything will be ok." He responded, before she backed away from her partner, pulling herself away from the hug.
"No. Don't, because you and I both know that you can't promise that." Carla said, shaking her head, as Peter placed his hand on the back of her head, in an attempt to calm and sooth her. "Kate hates me, My whole family hate me, the street, everyone, hates me. Peter, I can't do this. Especially not right now." She panicked. "Carla, calm down, please. Come inside with me now, we can talk, I'll listen, whatever you want. Please. Just calm down for me alright, because panicking like this isn't going to help anything." He told her, moving to hold her at arms length, stopping to wipe fallen tears from her cheeks. "Do you want me to get Michelle?" He suggested, knowing that she was a massive comfort and support last time she had found out she was pregnant. "No. No." Carla responded almost immediately. "She hates me, they can't know. I don't want anyone to know." Carla replied. "Ok, love." He sighed, wrapping his arms around her and rubbing her back, reassuring her and attempting to calm her down. "Come on, let's go inside." He encouraged, releasing her from the embrace and taking her indoors.
Ken had made himself scarce, going up to his bedroom to give the couple some space, knowing they needed to talk.
Sitting down at the table neither of them knew exactly what to say. But it wasn't what they should say that was in question, it was what they should do. It was all such a mess.