“Carter, I don’t trust her.”
“Why not? She seemed sweet.”
Because she can’t resist your sweet caramel eyes, Amy thought.
“Just vibes I get…”
“Ok, she’s not coming. No big loss. Next?”
“My best friend! You must finally meet Sarah, Carter.”
They were relaxing on Amy’s sofa. Making the invitation list for Carter’s 30th birthday party.
He smiled. “For sure Sarah can come.”
Amy’s face lit up. “And my brother and sister, too, of course.”
Her face dimmed. “Well, what?”
“I don’t think so.”
“What do you mean you don’t think so? Carter, you don’t like my brother and sister?”
“Well, your sister’s a maybe. I’ll have to think about it. But your brother—”
“What’s wrong with my brother?”
“Nothing’s wrong with him. I just wanna keep the party small. Intimate, ya know?”
“So don’t invite Lucy or whatever her name is and invite my brother instead.”
“Look, Amy, I know how much you love your brother. But—”
“But what? Carter, just say it already please.”
“I just…well, I don’t trust him.”
“Are you joking right now? What’s the punch line?”
“Admit it, Amy. Something is off with him. Plus he’s obnoxious.”
“I think what’s obnoxious, Carter, is you deciding to permanently shut off my brother based on what…a 10 minute talk?”
“I’ve got good instincts on people I meet. Trust me.”
Amy recalled her brother’s warning after he met Carter:
“I could be wrong about him, Amy, but — be careful with Carter. Trust me.”
Amy now wondered if her brother was correct.
She crossed her arms. “And my sister?”
“She’s not too bad.”
“Not too bad, huh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
Her sister had warned her that Carter flirted with her. Amy reassured her it was just his friendly personality.
Carter’s eyes glistened like caramel-glazed donuts. “She’s sweet. Maybe she can come. We’ll see…”
Amy shook her head. “Whatever. I’m too tired to argue this now. Who else?”
And so it went…
More names added to the list…
“Amy, we can’t forget Natalia.”
“Natalia? Who’s Natalia?”
“My coworker. I told you about her.”
Amy felt a scorpion stinging her heart while crawling down her spine.
“I don’t remember any coworker named Natalia. News to me…”
“Yeah, she’s awesome. You’ll love her.”
“You have tons of coworkers, Carter. Why Natalia?”
“I just said, she’s awesome. And most importantly…she helps a ton at work.”
“Oh, so she must have tons of experience. How old is she? 40? 60?”
“She’s almost 23. But brilliant.”
“A prodigy, I’m sure.”
“Don’t be jealous, Amy. Insecurity is unattractive.”
“If I want to be more attractive, I’ll ask Natalia for advice. She seems to have really made an impression on you.”
“Why are you upset? It’s strictly professional between me and her.”
“Forgive me if it upsets me that you’d rather invite Natalia the brilliant awesome young coworker instead of my family.”
“Well, Natalia doesn’t give me weird vibes—”
“Ok, Carter! You don’t like my brother? Fine! But why would you choose this Natalia over my sister?”
“Be quiet, Amy. Shut up and listen carefully to me. I—”
“Since when did you—”
“I said listen to me! Now listen to me. I don’t need to explain myself to you. Ever. Understand?”
He had never spoken to her like this before.
The room became so quiet you could hear a drop of water.
Amy’s mind began boiling…
It swirled with millions of things to say…
A tsunami of a response to let Carter know he crossed the line…
The words surged through her throat…
Ready to burst out…
Not one word broke through her dam of angry thoughts.
Amy’s eyes sank into the unblinking eyes of the man she loved…
Why did she feel like she was drowning in her own head?
Carter grunted. “Now let’s put an end to these childish questions and get back to the list.”
Sure, she was getting bad vibes, but—
“You’re right, Carter. I’m sorry.”
She was flooded with guilt for questioning him.
Too ashamed to look into his eyes — unblinking, unmoving like a frozen caramel lake — Amy grabbed his hands and began rubbing them.
“Carter, I trust you.”