Book cover of “The Carrero Solution: Starting Over“ by L.T.Marshall

The Carrero Solution: Starting Over

  • Genre: Romance
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: L.T.Marshall
The final conclusion to the story of Emma Anderson and Jake Carrero. The Boss and PA who transitioned from strangers to friends, friends to lovers, and then lovers torn apart by his impulsive mistake. Much in their relationship remains unsaid and unremedied, leaving them uncertain about finding a way back to each other and fixing what could have be... 

Chapter 1

I’m lying in a heap on the bed, numb from endless sobbing and wracking pain. I don’t know how long I’ve been lying, listening to my blood rush through my head as my heart self-implodes inside my body. I’m nothing but a shell. A quiet, empty shell of exhaustion and heartache rumpled beyond recognition.

I lashed out, hit at him, and shoved him away with every ounce of strength I possessed, yet still, he tried to cling to me.

My Jake, my body and soul. Now the destroyer of everything that I was.

I told him not to touch me, never to touch me again. To leave and to go away. I screamed and cried and fell to pieces on the floor at his feet. His words tumbled around me like noise that I couldn’t understand, so consumed by my grief.

It’s only when I whimpered and begged that he leave me alone that he finally listened, moving away so I could find my way to my feet, running into the solitude of this room… our room. His room. Shutting him out and locking him away. I can’t bear for him to be near me, touch me, or look at me anymore.

What we are is lost; his betrayal sealed our fate, and my world has been ripped apart with such devastation. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. All I can think about is his mouth against hers, over and over, and it rips through my heart. Kissing the mouth of the one woman in the world I hate beyond compare. He does not know the depth and damage cheating with her has done. He has no idea how deeply his betrayal has wounded me.

He kissed someone else. Not just anyone else but her. The object of all my hatred and pain for the last few months.

The woman who possessed his heart once upon a time. The only other woman who has been loved by him and now carries his child.

Marissa Hartley.

How can I ever get beyond this or believe his feelings for her are as clear-cut as I thought?

Her name is like a dagger in my chest, a wound so unbearable, burning, and searing, ensuring I never recover from the fatal blow.

Why, Jake?… Why? Because you were so sure of my readiness to betray you? Fueled by insecurity because of my refusal to start a home with you or answer your proposal?

Fueled by my stupidity in making you believe I would betray you so readily over a fight.

Were we so fragile that something this stupid has ripped us in two?

There’s a light chap on the door. My breath halts and my pulse stops. His closeness still affects me. Even at a distance, my body feels him in the air and trembles.

“Emma?” Jake’s voice, hoarse and raw, causes sharp pain in my chest. I slide onto my side to blot him out, covering my ears, curling into a ball with a fresh wave of the unbearable aching inside me, silent tears pouring down my face. I just want this pain to stop devouring me.

“Emma, please?… Let me in.” He pleads, his voice as far away from my Jake as it could possibly be, different from how he normally sounds, crushing my soul. I’m so far away from myself that I fear I’ll never find my way back. I close my eyes tight, screwing them hard, willing him to leave. My voice wouldn’t come even if I wanted it to. It’s so raw and painful, making it too hard to swallow, aftereffects of the wailing of a desperate woman.

There’s a gentle thud against the door. It creaks with the pressure of human weight, a noise of something heavy and soft sliding down the other side slowly.

“I’m not going anywhere, Neonata. I’m staying right here until you let me see you. I need to see you, Emma… I’m going insane out here.” The sadness in his tone makes me ache. He sounds as broken as I feel. His normally low husky tone is strained and hoarse, emotion breaking with every agonizing word.

He left me until I became quiet, but I couldn’t lock him out forever. This is his apartment… his home. Not mine anymore. I need to get up, take everything I own, and leave him; he’s left me no choice but to go. There’s nothing here for us anymore.

Fresh waves of devastation hit me, causing me to break the silence with a sob. I can’t begin to think about leaving him, not yet, not while my body wants to lie here and die. The pain is so all-encompassing I can barely breathe.

“Please… Please, Bambina. It’s killing me staying out here listening to you cry. Let me in. Let me hold you.” His voice breaks, the pain too much. I imagine him slumping against the door, his knees up and arms around his shoulders, maybe cradling his head, as broken and crumpled as me. I try to shake his image from my mind, tears consuming me; the thought hurts me more than I can imagine. I can’t bear for him to be as broken as me, aching in agony outside his own door.

I’m drowning in confusion. I can’t endure the pain of letting him close. The thought of his touch brings the flash of a vision into my head of him and her - him touching her, focusing on her eyes, kissing her. It slices through me like a hot poker and tortures me to my core.

What has he done to us?

“I… I… I can’t.” My voice is weak and fragile, a ghost of the normal tone I usually possess. I breathe through tears, unsure if I’m loud enough for him to hear me.

“Emma, I won’t touch you. I swear. I’ll keep my distance. I just need to see you… look at you.” He begs. He shifts toward the door to strain for my response, which shatters me all the more.

I don’t like him this way. He’s my strong, domineering Carrero, always so sure and infuriatingly confident, in control of everything.

I can’t bear this sad, quiet version of him begging me, sitting slumped outside, and seeking permission to enter a room in his apartment.

This is not Jake. I want my Jake back. I want the Jake from a week ago, the one who never betrayed me and left me this way. The Jake who would move mountains to protect me, not this man sitting out there who is so far removed from the one I thought I knew.

“I can’t. I can’t get up.” it’s true. I don’t have the strength to walk to the door. My body’s broken. I cry quietly, tears falling freely beyond my control. I can barely lift my head, so drained of life I am beyond the point of moving. Fatigue is wracking every limb with emotional exhaustion. I don’t know what time it is, but it feels like I’ve been here for days.

“Just tell me I can open the door, and I will,” his voice is strained. He’s waiting and hoping I won’t hold him out while still seeking my permission.

I can’t keep him out as much as I desperately want to. He’s the one causing me paralyzing agony but is also the only person in the world with a hope of helping me. That’s my torture. My healer is also my tormentor. When all I can feel is devastation, my heart aches, calling out for the one person who always grounds me and makes me feel secure.

“It’s your house,” I crumble, not deciding for him. I flinch moments later, clenching my body in surprise, as he kicks the door open with effortless force. The wood splintering and metal sheering violently; light flooded from the other room, showing his strong masculine figure silhouetted in the frame.

I curl into myself tighter, as I did when I was a child, covering my face with my arms and instinctively defending my body. The pain of him being near me is more excruciating than anything I’ve ever endured. I hear him moving closer. The bed dips as he slides on, keeping his distance. He sighs heavily. I can feel every ounce of strong energy radiating from him, despairing and remorseful, surging with as much heartache as I am.

“I love you, baby… I can fix this. I want to fix this. I want you so badly that this… What I’ve done… It’s killing me. It’s ripping me apart that I’ve hurt and lost you.” His voice aches and trembles, and the urge to turn and wrap myself into his safe arms overwhelms me, but I know I won’t find the relief I desperately desire. His touch will only cause more devastation to my heart.

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