A Peek at Carter

A Peek at Carter is four bonus scenes that I put at the back of both Just Add Heat and Baby, It's Cold Outside. They are scenes that take place before the books begin, and are told from Carter's point of view.

Love at First Sight

     “Carter, hurry up and take out the trash. I’m trying to get this kitchen cleared up before Cheryl and her friend get here.”
     “I’m coming. Just a minute.” I had to yell through the bathroom door because I was still fixing my hair. Nothing I did could tame the wild mess that grew out of my head. I didn’t understand it. Neither of my parents was cursed with this shaggy black mane. I had let Cheryl experiment with her straightening iron last summer and although I liked the results it just seemed a little bit too gay to do to myself every morning before school. I ran my fingers through it one more time before giving up and I smiled at myself with an open mouth. I had just gotten my braces off last week and I still liked to check myself out without seeing shiny metal.
     I walked down the stairs in no hurry. It wasn’t that I was lazy or anything, but Mom was racing around like Cheryl was bringing Princess Diana over or something. I didn’t get the big deal. It wasn’t as if Cheryl lived across the country and only came home for holidays. She lived in the dorms at UT. We saw her all the time. Too much if you asked me. I was finally in high school and I liked being the only kid in the house. For the first time in my life I didn’t have to fight anyone over the Fruity Pebbles and make do with the crappy bran cereal my parents ate or try to get to the Oreos before Cheryl commandeered them to eat in her bedroom with her pack of friends.
     I entered the kitchen and saw my mother at the stove stirring a huge pot of something. It didn’t smell too bad, so that was a good sign. I walked over to peer over her shoulder and repressed a shudder. Whatever it was didn’t look very appetizing.
     “What’s that?” I tried to swallow my disappointment at the fact my mother was cooking which automatically ruled out pizza.
     “Chili. The watery mess in the pot was supposed to be chili?
     “Mmm.” I loved my mother with all my heart, but she just could not cook. I figured the nicest thing to say was nothing so I just moved along and grabbed the bag of garbage and carried it outside to the can. I had just closed the lid when Cheryl’s Jetta came barreling up the driveway. She screeched to a stop and jumped out.
     “Hey Carter, did ya miss me?”
     “I just saw you last weekend. I haven’t even had a chance to yet.” Actually, I did kinda miss her. It was still a little bit strange not to be able to walk across the hall and talk to her if I wanted to. We had always been close and the fact that she was four years older than me meant that we were too far apart in age to get into all of the normal sibling arguments. She came up to me and gave my arm a squeeze. I looked over to her car as I saw the passenger door open.
     “Justine, this is my brother Carter.” The girl getting out of the car looked over the roof at us and it felt like I got the wind knocked out of me. I met the eyes of the hottest girl I had ever seen.
     “Hi Carter. Cheryl has told me all about you.” Her voice. Holy crap it was sexy.
     I wanted to tell her hello, but my mouth refused to work. I ended up nodding at her stupidly before turning on my heel and walking back into the house. I realized I probably seemed rude, but this was the first time I had ever come face to face with such a gorgeous woman. I opened the back door and walked quickly past my mom.
     “Cheryl is here,” I managed to say as I made my way back to the stairs and to the sanctuary of my bedroom. When I got there I flopped down on my bed cursing myself for being such a pussy. What the hell is wrong with me that I couldn’t even talk to a hot girl? I had to snap out of it immediately and try to reclaim some coolness. I was in high school now; I couldn’t let myself look like a fool.
I stood back up and walked over to my closet. The first order of business was to change out of my sweats and into something that made me look more mature. I pulled out some jeans and a blue sweater. I kicked off my sneakers and sweats and hastily pulled on my jeans. I left my tee shirt on and put the sweater on over it. It didn’t hurt to bulk up a little bit. I pulled my sneakers back on because I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard and I tried to smooth down my hair. I was going to go back down and impress…shoot, I don’t remember what Cheryl called her. Damn it. Now I was going to look stupid if I asked her name. I shook my head and started back down to the kitchen. I could hear the females talking so I straightened up before walking into the room.
“There you are. Are you okay sweetie? Cheryl said you were acting strange outside.” I gave Cheryl a glare before answering.
“I’m fine. I just remembered something and I had to take care of it before I forgot.” Whew. My voice had recovered and I sounded coherent. Cheryl looked me over and raised her brow. I should have realized she would notice that I changed clothes. Luckily she didn’t say anything out loud, though.
“Well, I hope everybody is hungry. Justine, I made chili in honor of your visit.” Justine, her name is Justine. Thanks mom.
“I certainly am. Thank you for going to all this trouble for me, Sharon.” Justine was the only one of us to express her feelings of hunger. Cheryl and I knew mom’s cooking for what it was. Practically inedible. Mom pulled some bowls down from the cabinet and started doling out portions.
“Not much for me, Mom. I’m not that hungry.” I was starving but I would come back later and make a sandwich or something. I wasn’t going to sit here and try to choke down the “chili” in front of Cheryl’s friend. I wanted to look smooth in front of her and there was no way to do that while eating mom’s cooking.
“Me either. I didn’t know you were cooking and I ate some Twinkies before we left.” Cheryl knew the drill, too. Poor Justine was going to be taken off guard by mom’s food.
We all sat down at the kitchen table and I took the opportunity to grab a handful of shredded cheese to dilute the chili taste. When I looked down at my bowl it was easily two thirds cheese. Perfect.
I was trying to watch Justine out of the corner of my eye. She was so pretty that it was making me act unnaturally.
“So Carter, what grade are you in?” Oh no, she was talking to me directly. I tried to look nonchalant as I met her eyes.
“I’m a freshman.” I thought that sounded better than saying ninth grade.
She smiled at me and I could feel myself blushing. Geez, this had never happened with Cheryl’s other friends. Okay, that wasn’t entirely true, Heather was pretty hot, but she didn’t have anything on Justine. She was like a goddess.
“So Justine, what’s your major?” My mom stepped into the breach left by my embarrassed silence.
“English. I want to write but I didn’t want to go into Journalism. I really wanted to go to cooking school but my mother insisted that I go to a “real” school.” She made air quotes around the word real and rolled her eyes, so I figured she didn’t agree with her mother’s assessment of her educational choices.
“Well, I’m glad you came to UT, otherwise I wouldn’t have met you.” Cheryl piped in while stirring her bowl. No one but Mom had taken a bite yet. Maybe Cheryl had alerted Justine in advance. I hoped so; it didn’t seem fair to make a guest eat this food without forewarning.
Justine smiled and took a bite. She kept smiling as she chewed her mouthful. I looked at Cheryl and she winked at me. Good, that meant Justine knew what was up and was being polite. It made her that much cooler to me.
We sat there chatting and “eating” for about half an hour more before I got up.  It was almost time for me to go to my friend Jeff’s house. Crud. It had seemed like a good idea to make plans to be out of the house tonight when Cheryl said she was bringing a friend, but now I was mad at myself. I wished I could make up a reason to stay home but his mom was taking us to a movie.
“Well, I have to go. Mom, can I have some money for a movie?” It sucked that I had to ask my mother for cash in front of Justine, but I didn’t have anything left after I spent my money on my new telescope. I was actually kicking myself about that purchase since I lived in Austin and the sky was drowned out by all of the light.
“You can grab a twenty out of my purse. Do you want me to drive you?” God, this was getting worse by the minute. Now mom was pointing out that I was too young to drive. I needed to get out of here before I looked like even more of a kid to Justine.
“Nah, I’m good.” I walked over to mom’s purse and grabbed out a twenty dollar bill before stuffing it in my front pocket.
“Bye Carter, see you later.” Cheryl got up to hug me so I hugged her back.
“It was nice meeting you, Carter.” Justine’s smooth voice made my name sound like a caress. I think I’m in love.
“You too. Bye Mom.” I walked out the back door and into the garage to get my bike. I hopped on and took off to ride the four blocks to Jeff’s house. I had just met my dream girl. I just hoped Cheryl would stay friends with her so that I would have a chance to get to know her better. Next time I would be ready with some intelligent conversation and possibly some witty banter. As I got closer to Jeff’s house I peddled faster; I could hardly wait to tell him about Justine.

Tonight Was the Night

Ten years later

Tonight was the night. I was going to ask Justine out. On a date. My palms started sweating as I waited for her web page to upload. I needed to remind her to upgrade her DSL speed; this slow shit was irritating. Okay, focus man. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves but it didn’t work. I was a nervous wreck and I felt like I was sixteen and asking Rachelle Browne to go to the movies on my first real date after I got my driver’s license. No, scratch that, this was much harder than when I was a teenager. I liked Justine way back then, when she was so far out of my league as a junior in college, that I would never have dared to ask her out. I really didn’t know how I was going to have the cojones to go through with it tonight, though I felt under pressure since her website was finished and with it my reason for coming over here and helping her.
I had to believe that I wasn’t going to get shot down right off the bat. I had caught her staring at me a few times and then blushing. I knew when a woman was into me, I hadn’t gotten to be twenty four without my fair share of female companionship. I mean, lets be realistic, the ladies thought I was hot. Hell, I bet even dudes thought I was hot, in a non-gay way, of course. I’m not conceited, but I do have eyes. I wasn’t sure if that was going to be enough to sway Juss, though.
I had actually been stealthily trying to worm my way into her consciousness for the past several weeks; standing in her personal space, making comments that were just shy of being innuendos, and most of all, making sure she could see me outside of the realm of “Cheryl’s little brother” when possible.
The timing was perfect. She had finally seen her ex for the douchey prick he was and kicked him to the curb a few months ago, thereby leaving the path clear. It was like a sign when she called me up and asked me to help her set up a website. Thank you, Cheryl. Now, it was all up to me.
Upload Complete. So that was it. My work for her was done. I half considered telling her there was some kind of problem, allowing me at least one more official visit, but I just couldn’t do that to her. She was really excited about her website idea and I was interested in seeing where she was going to take it. Also, that would have been a really dick move on my part and not the way I wanted to start off a possible relationship. The time was at hand.
I stood up and stretched. I could smell the chicken pot pie she was making for us tonight, part of her payment for my web design services. My stomach rumbled, but unfortunately it was nerves and not hunger. Well, it was hunger too, but mostly it was the fact that I was trying to gather up all of my mojo for the task at hand. I refused to wimp out. Go out there, pussy. I mentally flipped my inner voice the bird and started for the kitchen, slowing my steps as I came around the corner. Justine was standing with her back to me, slicing a cucumber and singing a song that I didn’t recognize. I stood there for a minute watching her until I decided to make some noise to alert her to my presence.
I cleared my throat and she spun around holding the knife out in front of her.
“Geez Carter, you scared me.” Her cheeks got pink but she smiled at me. “The food is just about ready. How is it going in there?”
“All done. You obviously need to check it over before it goes live, but I’ve done everything we talked about. It looks great.”
She beamed at me with delight. “I’m so excited. I can’t thank you enough for this, Carter. I could never have gotten this done without you.”
“It was my pleasure. The food has been well worth it. I’m going to miss all of these home cooked meals.”
She just smiled at me and blushed before turning back to her cucumber.
It was now or never. “So I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me?” She turned back to me a couple of seconds later.
“Go out?” Uh oh, I could tell she was trying to buy time before answering me.
“Yeah, you know, to dinner or something.”
“Um. Well, I work most nights.”
“I know. I was thinking maybe next Monday. I’m finished with your site and I know Mondays are your off days. I thought that instead of you having to cook we could go out. Then, maybe we could catch a movie or whatever.” I had to admit that my invitation didn’t sound very smooth or well thought out, but I had to hope she would overlook that and want to spend time with me anyway.
“Just you and me?”
I nodded.
“You mean a date?”
“Well, yeah.” Did I not make myself clear enough?
“I don’t know, Carter. That would be kind of weird, you know?”
She was turning me down. To be honest, it didn’t occur to me that she would really say no. It took a second for my mind to recognize the feeling in my stomach as disappointment.
My brain went straight into high gear. I knew she liked me, so I had to make her see the benefits of an actual date.
“Why would it be weird? We’ve known each other for years. We’ve been spending every Monday evening together for three weeks and there hasn’t been any awkwardness.”
“That’s not the same as a date.” She held her hand up as I opened my mouth to protest. “You’re Cheryl’s brother. That is making things awkward. Plus, I’m too old for you.”
“You’re not too old for me, Justine, that’s ridiculous. We’re not in high school. We’re both adults. I really like you.” Shit. That did sound a little bit high school.
“Carter, don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re too young for me.”
Was it possible to take it the right way? I was stuck for a reply to that. I had nothing.
“I really like you, too, though.” She started blushing so I jumped on the only chance I was going to get.
“Alright, let’s take age out of the equation for a minute. We like each other and we know we get along. What harm could there be in going out for a friendly date and seeing where things might go from there?”
“What about Cheryl?”
“What about her?” Cheryl was the one person in the world who knew that I’ve always carried a torch for Justine. She used to tease me about it when I was younger, but I didn’t think that she would have too much of a problem with the idea of Justine dating me. At least I hoped not.
She raised her brow. “Don’t be dense. She would not be cool with it.” She didn’t say anymore, but bent down to get the pot pie out of the oven. My stomach growled, reminding me that I’d skipped lunch so that I could finish the design on the energy bar wrapper for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I didn’t want to have to work on it tonight since this was my last night working for Justine.
She set the casserole between us on the island and looked at me. “I’m sorry, Carter.”
I could tell by her voice that she had decided that a date wasn’t going to happen. I had to quickly restrategize.
“What if we stayed in? I’ll even cook for you.” Did I sound too desperate?
She stared at me for a few seconds more and I could almost hear the crickets chirping. I felt my stomach sink. This sucked.
“I’ll cook.” What? She was saying yes? I could feel my heartbeat speed up. She wanted to date me! I felt like skipping around the room, and if I was alone I would have, but I wasn’t going to do anything to mess this up.
“Great.” I made sure my voice was clear and confident.
“Okay, next Monday we can have some dinner and take it from there. Now, I have to finish the salad.”
Her face had turned a little bit pink with embarrassment, so I let her turn around and get back to her cucumber while I mentally gave myself a high five. I was going to make next Monday a night she would never forget.

The Big Unveiling

     I was this close to shooting my load, but I was trying to make it good for Justine. This was only the third time we’d been together, so I wanted to impress her with my longevity.
     “Oh god, oh god.” She was panting and grabbing onto my shoulders so I knew she was about to have another orgasm. I increased my tempo, and my breath sounded loud in my own ears. That’s probably the reason I didn’t hear the door opening until it was too late.
     “Oops. Sorry.” Jesus, was that Cheryl? I turned my head to the voice and met my sister’s eyes. “Arrrrgh! Oh my god! What’s going on?”
     “Uhhhgh.” I let out a scream of my own, but it wasn’t quite as high pitched. A moment later Justine squealed too.
     “Fuck Cheryl, can’t you knock?” I was trying to be a gentleman and cover Justine, but in the process I was exposing more of myself.
     “Carter, what the fuck?” Cheryl made a face at my nakedness but didn’t move.
     “Cheryl, turn around.” Justine was frantically trying to disentangle herself from me as Cheryl continued to gape at us.
     “Damn Cheryl, take a picture.” I gave her my meanest look but she just turned from my eyes to Justine.
     “How long has this been going on?” she asked Justine accusingly. Shit, this is just what Justine had been afraid of. This was going to undo all of the progress I had made in getting Justine comfortable with a relationship between us.
     “Oh my god.” It wasn’t the same god she had been chanting to a minute ago. She was bright red and had a look of total horror on her face. This wasn’t good at all.
     “Cheryl, would you please give us a minute here?” I tried to sound reasonable but the words came out harshly. I loved my sister but she had just created a nightmare scenario for me. She didn’t say anything but walked through the living room and into the kitchen. Just great. She wasn’t even going to let us get dressed in privacy. This was getting worse by the second.
     “I knew this was a bad idea. I’m sorry Carter, but we can’t be together this way. I told you this wouldn’t work.”
     “Wait. Don’t say that. This was just a surprise for us all.” I wanted to be the voice of reason but I could feel Justine slipping away from me.
     “No Carter. Cheryl wasn’t merely surprised she was horrified.” She had me there but I wasn’t about to give up without a fight. I had waited too long for a chance with her to let it all go now.
     I pulled on my jeans and grabbed my tee shirt off of the coffee table. “Please Justine, give me a minute with Cheryl, okay.” She nodded because I’m sure she wasn’t ready to face the coming inquisition. I got up and stalked into the kitchen like a warrior ready to do battle. Cheryl was standing by the kitchen window.
     “I need to talk to you. Outside.” I grabbed her by the arm and dragged her to the back door with me. I didn’t need Justine overhearing anything that I was about to say to my sister. Cheryl didn’t say anything until we were on the patio.
     “How could you, Carter? She’s my best friend; you can’t go around having sex with my friends, that’s just gross.”
     “Cheryl, you know I love you, but you need to butt out. This is between me and Justine.”
     “You made it about me when you decided to use my best friend for your little romp.” She had her hands on her hips and she was giving me her best imitation of our mother’s scowl.
     “This isn’t a romp and you know it. Don’t try and pretend you don’t know how I feel about her. You’ve always known.” Her face softened slightly but she wasn’t ready to let me off the hook just yet.
     “Carter, this isn’t the same thing as you mooning around after my roommate. We’re all adults now and this could get really complicated. I don’t want to see her get hurt. You either.” She had said the last part almost grudgingly.
     “The only thing that will hurt me now is if you say or do something that makes Justine decide that being with me is wrong.” I reached out and took her hand. “Please Cheryl; help me make things right with her.” I was practically pleading with her at this point but it was my now or never moment. She gave me a searching look but I could see I was getting through to her.
     “Promise me this isn’t some passing thing with you. This isn’t another Christina?”
     I cringed inwardly at the reminder of Christina. She was pretty and she was cool to hang out with, but I had used her to make myself feel better after seeing Justine with that creep John who she had started dating. My parents had thrown a dinner party and I knew Justine was bringing that putz so I invited Christina along. Big mistake. She had been under the impression that she was “meeting the parents” and I had compounded the problem by behaving as if we were much more of a couple than we were. After she started getting a little bit too attached, I broke up with her as nicely as possible. That didn’t stop her from calling me with a stalkerish frequency or showing up at Cheryl’s house hoping that my sister would be able to change my mind.
     “You know that whole business with Christina was directly related to Justine. Come on, how often do I ask anything from you? Never, so please, please go in there and tell her you don’t have a problem with us being together. Even if you do, do it for me. I love her, Cheryl.”
     She looked at me speculatively. “How long have you and she been…” She gestured between me and the house.
     “For almost a month.” I ignored the look of surprise on her face. “Really, since I started helping her with her website. She’s awesome.”
     “I know she is. That’s why I don’t want you to do anything to mess her up. She’s important to me.”
     “She’s important to me too. Please.” I was full on begging.
     “Okay Carter. I’m going to go in there and tell her I was just surprised and that I think you’re a great guy and she should give you a chance. But,” she leaned over and poked me in the chest with her finger. “If you do anything to hurt her or in any way mess up my friendship with her because of this, I’m going to Fuck. You. Up.” She punctuated each word with and extra hard poke. “Are we clear?” This was the meanest I had seen Cheryl since we were kids and I cut off the hair of her favorite Barbie doll so I knew she meant business.
     “Crystal. Thanks, I owe you big.”
     “Don’t worry; you’ll be paying up when the time is right.” With that she walked back inside and left me standing on the patio wondering what was going on in Justine’s head.

I Am a Knight

“Aaiigh! Help!” Justine’s scream ripped through the house just as I was pulling my boxers on after my shower. I tore through the distance between the bedroom and the kitchen in record time. That was the “I just cut my pinky finger off” kind of scream. I arrived to the sight of Juss standing hunched over on the island with a dish towel in one hand and a spatula in the other.
“What are you doing? What’s the matter?”
“There’s a rat in here. I just saw it run into the laundry room.”
I pulled out the old standby phrase. “It’s more scared of you than you are of it.”
“That’s bull! There is no way it’s more scared than I am.”
“Where did it come from?”
“Somewhere behind me. I saw it run along the baseboards and under the laundry room door. Go get it!”
Fuck. The last thing I wanted to do right now was catch a rat, but we couldn’t have one loose in the house. I shuddered at the thought of coming face to face with such nasty vermin. How the hell did we get a rat in here? We’d never had a rodent problem before. Juss was adamant about keeping those “pest-a-way” things plugged in at all times. It must have crawled through the doggy door. But in broad daylight? It probably had rabies. I didn’t share that with Justine; I wanted her to come down some time today.
“I’ll go get something to catch it with.” I immediately thought of my old lacrosse stick from high school. It had a net on the end and it was long, keeping me from having to get too close to any rodent. I dug it out from the back corner of the office closet before making my way back down the hallway, feigning some of my old moves. Yeah, I still had it going on.
“Hurry up!” she barked at me.
 Apparently, Justine wasn’t a lacrosse fan. As I got closer, I could see she was shaking. She was so lucky she had me to do these kinds of things for her. I didn’t want to say it out loud, but rats scared the crap out of me, too.
I looked over at Justine and held my finger to my lips in the universal sign of “be quiet,” then held the stick in front of me as a weapon while I crept over to the door and turned the handle.
I threw back the door and burst into the laundry room, but I couldn’t get a bead on it. I tiptoed stealthily over to the washer and dryer and leaned over to see which machine it was hiding behind. Nothing.
“It’s not in here, babe. Are you sure you saw one?” She turned on me in outrage.
“Of course I did! Would I scream for you otherwise? Find it and kill it.”
“I’m not going to kill it. I’m strictly catch and release.” Just then I saw a movement to my left and instinctively swung the stick toward it, capturing the beast for my love. A split second later a tiny field mouse shot through the mesh of the stick and back into the kitchen.
“There it is! There it is!” Justine was screaming and pointing to the wall so I yanked the back door open, allowing it to escape into the grass. I turned around to receive my praise, but found Justine collapsed on the island, shaking uncontrollably.
“Are you okay? Baby, talk to me. It was only a little mouse.” She didn’t say anything for a few seconds, but she suddenly burst into laughter.
“You looked hilarious. Omigod, first you were posing and then you were stalking it, and your wiener was hanging out the whole time.” She took a deep breath, only to start cackling again.
I looked down and saw that my dick was poking out of the flap in the front of my boxer briefs.
“You think my wiener looks funny, do you?” I put on the most menacing look I could muster as said wiener took it upon itself to stiffen and enlarge.
“Yes, but maybe I just need to see it up close.”
Oh yeah, now I was going to get my reward. “By all means, check it out.” I stifled a groan as she scooted off of the island and stood in front of me, grasping my cock between her fingers.
“Hmm. It looks much more sinister up close, but I need to be sure.” She dropped to her knees in front of me, pulling my boxers down and over my, now huge, erection.
“I don’t hear any laughing.” I stiffened as she leaned forward and enveloped my dick with her lips.
“Nnnmmn,” she hummed, sending a shock wave through my body. She pulled back, making a popping sound as she released my rod from her mouth. “It appears I was mistaken. It’s actually quite intimidating.” She stayed where she was and looked up at me. “What can I do to repay you for your act of bravery?”
     I felt like a knight (a Jedi one) who just won the hand of a fair maiden.
     “You were off to a pretty good start.” A second later she cupped my balls with one hand and used the other to grip my ass and pull me closer to her head. Yes! If this was how she wanted to thank me for ridding our house of pests, I vowed to jump to attention the next time she squealed at a spider in the bathtub.
     I had to restrain myself from thrusting my hips and shoving my cock farther down her throat; for some reason that really pisses her off. I gasped as she scraped her teeth lightly up my shaft. Damn, I was already about to blow, but I wasn’t ready for it to be over, yet. “Stop. I need a second.”
     “It’s now or never. Your parents will be here any minute and you still need to get dressed.” Oh yeah, that’s what I’d been doing when she’d screamed. I’d better let her finish me off, then.
     No sooner had I had the thought, then the damn doorbell started ringing. Motherfucker! Why?
     Justine shrugged and pulled my underwear up before standing. “Sorry.”
     “Not as sorry as I am.” The bell pealed again.
     “Coming,” Justine called as she walked toward the front door, leaving me to sprint to the bedroom to finish dressing. It took a couple of minutes before my cock deflated to a size suitable for company.
     By the time I came out of hiding, Mom and Dad were sitting on the stools in the kitchen while Justine slid a tray of onion tartlets in front of them. Dad looked over his shoulder at me and wagged his eyebrows. He somehow knew what he’d interrupted. Cockblocker! I sent him a glare and continued into the kitchen. The sooner we ate, the sooner this evening would be over and we could get back to the important stuff.