In episode #10, Carter ran into the one thing she couldn’t have, and while in a counseling session with a client she ran into the one thing she hadn’t opened herself up to have.
In this episode, Carter, still questioning love, finds herself in a compromising position; when she goes against the grain and follows her passion and heart, she’s left devastated.
I was still in a somewhat somber, pissy mood when Vince and I began our stake out. We had been sitting for close to an hour, and I had said maybe two words to Vince. He sat diligently in the passenger seat and stared at the two, turned-off, small TVs we had perched atop the dashboard. One connected us to the living room and the other connected us to the bedroom. Rico had called about ten minutes ago to tell us that the suspect and a female friend were on their way back to the suspect’s apartment, so we sat and waited for that to happen.
“What is up with you?” Vince asked. “Who pissed you off?”
I sat in the driver’s seat, my red-lens binoculars on the steering wheel.
I turned enough so that I could see Vince from the corner of my eye.
“Fine,” he said. “Whatever. Don’t talk.”
I sat there, pouting and hating myself for being so ignorant to Vince. He had done nothing wrong. He didn’t deserve my funky attitude.
I didn’t know where to start or even how to start, so I blurted, “Why don’t people just leave?”
“What you mean?”
“I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, ‘What, am I supposed to stay miserable in a loveless marriage? Don’t I deserve to be happy? Why can’t I be happy?’ and the crazy thing is this comes from people who have fucked around on their husbands or wives and expect someone to have sympathy for them. Why can’t they just leave before they start cheating?”
“Is this about your mother?”
I laughed. Well, it sounded like a hyena dying. “That’s a whole other story. I’ll make that one short. Dad told Mother he wanted a divorce.” When Vince eyes went buggy, I added, “More on that later. But this is about more than just them. It’s like the world is freaking crazy. People don’t know what commitment is any more. What love is. They think they can just stand before God and promise to love someone, fall out of love, not try to make it work, fuck around, have their mate find out, and then, POOF. Nothing. Everything ends amicably, and they can now be with the one that makes them happy. Are people fucking for real, Vince? I just can’t wrap my brain around it.”
“Sometimes, it’s not that easy to do,” Vince said.
“Well, if it’s not, people shouldn’t fall in love, and they damn sure shouldn’t get married. If you don’t communicate, if you don’t tell people how you truly feel, then what’s the point? We all just go around screwing the world and not caring about the consequences?”
“I think it’s an individual thing,” Vince said.
“That’s the fucking problem. People care so damn much about themselves that they hurt everyone around them. Look at my mother. She screwed so many men that their votes alone could affect a fucking presidential election. She ain’t care a drop about me or Dad’s feelings. And she calls that love. Is it any wonder I don’t know what love is? I don’t even know why we need love.”
I rubbed my face and listened to my belabored breathing. I began flailing my hands about as another rant pushed itself to the surface.
“I’m doing counseling today, right?” I said.
“Okay, so I’m in counseling, and I’m trying to tell Gloria that she will love again. That it takes time to build trust, and that to keep love going you have to nurture it and communicate with it, and all this other bullshit, that I don’t think I’ve ever fucking believed because I can’t keep a man past a minute and I have such a great fucking role model in my mother.”
“Come here, baby.” Vince opened his arms.
“No, no come here.” I needed someone to talk to me, not shield me from the pain. I needed someone to tell me why love was important. I needed someone to show me definitive proof that indeed what the world needed now was love, sweet love.
“Why is love important?” I asked, my voice small. “How can you trust it?”
“Do you want my take on it?” he asked.
“Yes, yes I do. I need someone’s take on it.”
“Okay. I think love is that one thing that keeps us all from going over the edge,” Vince began. “Shit, we all have drama in our lives, and most of the time, we’re all running around, freaking out, barely getting things done because we don’t think we have the power to do anything. When I know I’m loved, I don’t know, but it gives me that extra confidence boost to think I can do anything I put my mind to. No matter how fucked up things are around me, I can breathe in it because I know someone loves me and needs me.”
I don’t know why, but I began crying. First, I grabbed my nose because it was stinging so bad, and then the floodgates open. It wasn’t an ugly sob cry, but the waterfall cry that just has to release itself. Vince didn’t pull me to him and encase me away from everything. He just sat there and watched me, and I never loved him more.
“That was nice,” I whispered. “Nice way to think of love.”
“Well, in a way, just about everyone you love falls into that love, but to make it the real thing love, just throw in that your mate has to think you’re sexy and adorable even when you’re stinky and funky from playing ball all day, or they still love you after you lean over and fart on them.”
I slapped his leg, and then fell out laughing. “You are stupid.”
“But you love me.”
I looked Vince in the face and said, “Yes, I do love you all right.”
At that moment, I wanted to kiss Vince. I wanted to throw my arms around his neck and feel his arms around me, pressing me closer to him. I could feel my breath move slower in and out of me. Even in the dark, I could see Vince’s eyes grow emerald-green. He was thinking something; I hoped he was thinking the same thing that I was.
Vince inched closer to me. I didn’t move. I stayed with my back glued to the door, waiting, wondering what he would do to me.
His pretty, full lips were so close to mine, I could smell the IBC Root Beer on his breath, dark and sweet. A breath caught in my throat.
With shaky fingers, I touched his face and glided a finger down his jaw, to his chin and up to his lips where I outlined them. Vince opened his mouth a little and sucked my finger into his mouth. Slowly, I pulled it out, and as I did, every part of my body was turned on for him.
He lowered his mouth to kiss me just as a cell phone rang. After about the third ring, Vince moved away from me and all his body heat went along with him. I rummaged in my jacket and pulled out my work cell.
“Hello,” I said.
“Are you asleep?”
It was Kenneth. I coughed and replied. “No, why?”
“Your voice sounds husky.”
“Oh, I guess I must’ve dozed off while reading. How are you?”
Vince watched me as I talked.
“I’m doing fine. I called because I wanted to apologize for today. I should have said hello at the church, but…”
“Kenneth,” I said, “don’t worry about it.” Vince turned away from me. “I mean, you were with your family. I didn’t expect you to sit and have a conversation with me.”
“I know, but it was still wrong.”
“Well, I accept your apology.”
“I wanted to make it up to you.”
“And how is that, Mr. Stevenson?”
“Let me make you dinner.”
The reflection of Vince’s face in the window wasn’t a good one. He was frowning. I felt the need to hug him and wipe the frown from his face, but I had to handle this job while it was active.
“When?” I asked.
“Tomorrow, your place? I’ll bring all the ingredients, and all you have to do is allow me entrance to your kitchen.”
“We can definitely do that.”
“Great. Say 6?”
“Six would be great.”
A white Acura drove by and parked in the driveway across the street from us. A second later, Rico drove pass in the van. I patted Vince’s shoulder. He turned, and I pointed to the Acura. He turned the TVs on and placed his headphones over his ears.
“Then I’ll see you then,” Kenneth said. “Looking forward to it.”
“Me, too. Bye Kenneth.”
I ended the call and grabbed for my Canon that rested beside Vince’s leg. I turned toward the window and wound it down a bit before snapping pictures of our suspect. He jumped out of his car and trotted to the other side to open the door for his female friend. He held her hand as he helped her out. Snap. He kissed her cheek. Snap. She kissed him fully on the mouth. Snap. As they made their way into the house, the suspect smacked the girl on the ass. Snap, snap.
I removed a wireless piece from my jacket pocket and slipped it into my ear; pressing talk on my wristwatch, I said, “Rico, how’s everything?”
“I’m straight, mama,” he replied. “I’m just around the corner, but you can’t see me ‘cause of the house. How are you two doing?”
I looked over at Vince who hadn’t moved his eyes toward me since the phone call.
“We cool, babe. You got the video and audio up in the van, too, check?”
“Si, girl. The girlfriend is at her best friend’s house about five minutes up the street. I’ll go get her when we get something good going.”
I slithered over the seat.
“Can I watch, too?” I asked.
Vince looked at my knee…not the face, the knee and said, “Sure.”
I moved over until our thighs touched. I slipped my glasses from my pocket shirt and put them on.
The suspect, who we will call Dummy, and his friend walked into the living room. She sat on the sofa while he wandered out of the room and off the screen.
“Makes no sense,” I muttered.
“Nothing really. Rico was saying that the girl is over her best friend’s house waiting for us to call her.”
“I don’t know, I guess I thought the person you loved would be your best friend, too.”
I shrugged and frowned as I watched the screen. My right cheek felt like it was burning, and I turned to find Vince staring at me.
“What?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“Rico,” I called into my wristwatch.
“Call Deborah and ask her to call her boyfriend and see what he’s up to.”
Dummy waltzed back into the living room with a bottle of wine and two glasses. The phone rang and he reached for it.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hey honey,” Deborah said.
Dummy cleared his throat and whispered to the girl, “My old lady.”
She waved her hand, dismissing the girlfriend and began pouring the wine.
“What are you up to?” Dummy asked. “I thought you were hanging out with the girls.”
“We’re about to go out,” Deborah answered. “I just missed you and wanted to tell you that.”
“You sweet, boo.”
“Do you love me?”
“What?” Dummy looked at the girl and rolled his eyes at the phone. The girl covered her mouth and laughed.
“Do you love me?” Deborah repeated.
“You know I do.”
“Then tell me. Tell me you love me.”
“I love you, Deborah. So much it hurts.”
“I love you, too, baby. See you later on.”
Dummy hung up the phone, sat beside the girl, and filled himself a glass of wine. The two clinked glasses and drank until the glasses were empty. Immediately, Dummy gripped the back of the girl’s head and pulled her into a heated kiss. I felt Vince shift in his seat.
The girl pulled away and stood.
I heard a beep, then Rico said, “Should I go pick up Deborah now?”
With flourish, Dummy ripped the girl’s shirt off. It tumbled to the floor in a buttonless heap.
“Uh,” I said, mouth dry, “I think that might be a good idea.”
Vince and I watched Dummy pull the girl up from the sofa and back her into the front door. He took her bra off and began devouring her breasts. My right hand flew up to my mouth. I felt dirty watching the video, but I couldn’t help the flush that permeated through me or the throbbing I felt between my legs. Vince cleared his throat. I couldn’t look his way. I knew his eyes were green, I knew his golden skin had a red tint to it. I knew that something would happen if our eyes connected.
We watched Dummy give ample attention to both breasts before quickly removing the girls’ jeans and panties. We watched her prance away from Dummy, and we watched him, on hands and knees, crawl after her like the fucking dog he was.
I dropped my hand and it landed on Vince’s thigh. He moaned. It was soft and barely audible, but I heard it. Without looking at him, I rubbed his thigh. I felt him attempt to dig himself further into the seat to get away from my hand.
The girl fell over onto the couch, and Dummy quickly pounced on her. He parted her legs and connected his mouth with the most sensitive spot on her body.
“Carter,” he whispered.
“Yes,” I purred.
“Look at me.”
And though I knew I shouldn’t, I did.
Needless to say, I had my very first orgasm ever just with the look from Vince. I was ready for multiples.
His hands found either side of my face just before he pressed his lips against mine.
I sighed against Vince’s mouth and reveled in the juiciness of his lips, his kiss. His tongue found mine, and in no time, they were wrestling with one another.
My hands grabbed the back of Vince’s head, and I dug my fingers into the thickness of his hair as we kissed. My nipples ached as I wondered when or if Vince would touch them and take away their pain.
There was a beep, followed by “Carter.” It was Rico.
“Deborah and I are a block away,” he said. “Drive the truck around to meet us so we can organize this thing.”
Vince quickly pulled away. We were both panting and sweaty from the heat that rose all around and in us.
I pressed talk and replied, “On my way, babe.”
I stared at Vince, and when he wouldn’t say anything, I slid behind the wheel and started the truck. My nerves were so bad that I could barely keep the truck in the right lane.
I made a left around the corner and pulled alongside the curb. Rico and Deborah parked a second later. Vince turned off the TVs and stepped out the truck. We walked across the street and found a tearful but quiet Deborah sitting beside Rico.
He must have debriefed her already. We always had a short talk with the client, let them see footage, and tell them about the surveillance. After the initial tears and anger, we asked if they wanted to confront their mate.
“Can we go see this son of a bitch now?” Deborah asked through gritted teeth.
“If that’s what you want, ma’am,” I whispered.
Rico stepped out the truck and pushed his baseball cap low over his eyebrows. The cap had been fitted with a camera. So were the watch Vince wore and the gold pen in his shirt pocket. Though I wasn’t going in with them—I would be in the van waiting and watching, my shirt’s buttons carried audio and video. We never knew what might go down, so we needed as much footage, and if something bad happened, evidence of everything as possible.
“You have your key to the back door, right?” Rico asked.
“Then let’s do this.”
Rico and Deborah made their slow approach through the neighbor’s yard to Deborah’s back door. Vince, never having said a word to me, followed them.
I got into the van, settled in, and wondered what Vince might be thinking. I knew that he was in love with me. Though you didn’t want to initially begin a relationship with a make out session in a truck during a stake out, I was hoping our little moment meant something to him. It would definitely help to restore my faith in the institution called love.
Deborah now lived alone. After she and the guys burst into the house and scared the hell out of Dummy and his friend, Deborah politely kicked them both out of the house without clothes and then called the police. She told them the whole sordid story and informed them that she would be down at the station tomorrow to file a restraining order and that she would have all of Dummy’s things packed and shipped to Dummy’s mother’s house by the end of the week. He was never to come back to her house again. After she threw their clothes out the door, the policemen escorted the pair to Dummy’s car, and the couple, ashen with fear and embarrassment drove off as fast as they could with the policemen watching and laughing.
Rico and Vince came out of the house rolling.
“That was the quickest toss out I’ve ever seen,” Rico said, still laughing. “Deborah was not playing.”
“She must have been planning this scenario for a while,” Vince said.
“For real. Well check it, peoples, I’ve got to get home to my baby, so I will see y’all tomorrow, okay?”
I stepped out of the van and gave Rico a hug. “See you in the morning, babe,” I said.
Vince and I watched Rico get into the van and drive off.
Once again, we were left alone and to our own devices. Instead of saying something, like I expected he would, Vince walked toward the truck with me in tow. Vince got into the driver’s side, waited for me to get in, and quickly pulled off to make our way back to F.A.C.E. so that we could drop the truck off and pick up our own rides.
The ride to F.A.C.E. was in complete silence. Because Vince didn’t speak, I was too afraid to. I felt like we had a moment earlier, and I needed him to verify that for me. Nothing I could say would do anything to help me right now.
By the time we reached the F.A.C.E. parking garage, I was so wound up with tension that I had to say, “Talk to me, Vince. What’s going on in that head of yours?”
He stared out the windshield. “I’m sorry about earlier,” he said.
I shook my head. “What?” I asked.
“I’m sorry. The kiss, you and me, I’m sorry that happened.”
I jumped out the truck, afraid I was going to vomit. My stomach flipped violently, and it lurched everything eaten from today upward. I grabbed my stomach and took a few quick breaths. I heard Vince’s door slam shut and then heard him sprint to my side.
“You okay, Carter?” he asked. He touched my shoulder, and I stiffened.
It was funny how you could go to the extremes in a flash. A little more than an hour ago, I had been kissing Vince and wishing he would touch me. My body was joyfully electric. Now, I stood, holding my stomach and every part of my body ached. I was not going to cry or vomit in front of him. I would never let him know just how hurt I was.
“I’m cool,” I whispered. “Must be my acid reflux.”
After a few breaths and a bit of silence, I said, “So we’ll just forget the kiss.”
“I think it’s for the best,” Vince answered. “I mean we’re best friends, and we don’t want to mess that up with something like a relationship, right?”
“Lord knows I’m a basket case,” I said. I tried to laugh, but it came out more as a squeak.
“Who would want to be in a relationship with me anyway?”
“Carter,” Vince began. I playfully punched his arm. I smiled. At least that was what I attempted to do.
“It’s cool, babe. Besides, like you said, we’re best friends. The only time we even tried to do something with us, nothing happened because we were so drunk.”
Vince chuckled. “Yeah,” he whispered.
I needed to be away. I needed to go somewhere so that I could vomit profusely, cry until I was depleted of all moisture, and then begin my hate of everything all over again. It wasn’t Vince’s fault. He was just telling the truth. He wasn’t in love with me. He didn’t want to try to do anything with us. That was understandable. I couldn’t blame him.
“Well, you have a good night, Mister Man,” I said. I started toward the elevator.
“You’re not going home now?” he asked.
I looked back his way. “No. I’m going to write my logs for tonight and get a little bit of work done.”
“Oh.” Vince stood there, his hands deep in his pockets. “Can I get a hug then? I can’t leave my girl without a hug.”
I opened my mouth and no words came out. I coughed and tried again. “Sure.”
I stood there with my arms opened. Within seconds, Vince filled them and pulled me tight to him. I hugged him back, but I didn’t feel him. I couldn’t. If I remembered what it felt like, I knew I would cry and snot right on his shoulder.
He kissed my forehead and said goodnight.
“Night to you, too,” I said before scanning myself into the building.
The elevator dropped me off on my floor, and I ran down the hall to my office. There, with the door shut and the lights out, I screamed for almost thirty seconds straight. Then, I fell onto the love seat in my office. I grabbed a pillow and pulled it close to me. As much as I wanted to cry, I couldn’t. It was like I was being tortured. Like the tears just wanted to linger inside me until they became stagnant and infected my insides. I could feel my eyes swelling from the packed tears, and my chest, I could only take in short breaths because it hurt to breathe.
I tried to tell myself that I shouldn’t feel hurt. I shouldn’t be sad. Before those two or three minutes in the truck tonight, I didn’t even know that I could care about someone and maybe even love him. And it wasn’t that Vince didn’t like me. He did, just not in that way. And that didn’t matter. I kept saying these things in my mind, and then I began saying them aloud to the walls and to the back of the loveseat.
I didn’t need love. Love hurts. I wasn’t going to worry about love anymore. I wasn’t going to worry about who I did and didn’t hurt because in the end, we all hurt.
Vince was my friend. My best friend. I was not going to think about the way he looked at me, or the way he kissed me. None of that was real. He was sorry about what had happened; I was, too. I was sorry that I let myself be open to the possibility of a What if. I wouldn’t do that again with anyone.