☠ Chapter Forty-Two ☠
➳ ZAYN'S POV
After listening to Liam's voicemail on my answering machine, I went back to bed. Fuck Kit, she could wait until morning. And after a nice long sleep, I went and got myself a new cellphone, and a new piercing in my nose, before I even started driving towards Liam's place. Eventually I'm pulling into his driveway, and walking up to the front door.
I knock lightly and within a minute Liam's opening the door. He stands before me in his low-slung sweat pants, and eyes that, in their struggle to adjust to sunlight, are nearly closed. "Finally," he says, with annoyance laced in his voice. "Where the hell have you been?"
"I just got your message this morning, mate."
"Well your girlfriend's passed out in the living room with Snow," he utters before he steps back, allowing me to step inside the house. I cringe at the word girlfriend because I don't consider Kit my girlfriend, she's just a girl that always seems to be around. I notice the two of them immediately; they're both curled up in a ball on the floor near the couch.
"What the fuck is-" I hear Kit moan, using her arms in a struggle to lift her body up. "Zayn?" She calls out in a rushed tone, before she stands up in a hurry. Once she stands, she tries fixing her hair and her clothing, but there's no fixing it. She looks like fucking shit.
In her haste, she manages to wake up Snow, who also looks like a pile of shit; with knotted hair, bloodshot eyes, dirty clothes, and big bags under her eyes. Once she stands, she ends up falling right back over, and onto the soft cushions of the couch. Snow rubs at her eyes before she utters out, "what time is it?"
"Christ, it feels like it's five in the morning," Kit clutches her head as she winces.
"Actually it's well after one in the afternoon," I point out. I mean, I wasn't one for mornings, but whatever it is these two were on has clearly fucked them up beyond the point of realization. Taking in Snow's appearance, it seems as though she might be back on her old habits. Fresh out of rehab, and it looks as if she's already on the fucking pills again. Is that where her and Kit went to last night? Does this mean that Kit was in the fucking stuff too?
It's not that I give two shits about Kit, because I really don't; she's annoying as hell, and I don't even know that I fully trust her tales of our budding romance because it really doesn't sound like me. How do I know that she isn't just someone that's taking advantage of my memory loss? I mean, there are no photos of us in the house, despite the fact that she claims we 'live together.' There are just little things I've noticed over the last few days that do not add up to her claims.
"Oh," Kit says quietly before fixing her clothing again.
Liam takes a step closer to me, "I think you should take Kit home. She was pretty fucked up when I found her."
My mind is asking fucked up, how? but I just nod my head, and call out Kit's name. She takes slow, but careful steps towards me until her bloodshot green eyes are the only thing I can see. I don't really know what to do with her. Frankly, I'd love to just fucking leave her here, but I can't.
"Thanks, man," I say to Liam before I lead Kit outside of his house and to the car. She gets in the car, wincing in the process, and I begin the short trek home. "So where'd you and Snow end up?" I question. I want to know if the two of them got into the pills, since Snow had the same run down look she always used to have when she would go on her drug binges.
Kit clears her throat, "not much . . . we grabbed a bottle and drank in the backyard."
"Oh, really? I couldn't find you last night when I went to leave."
Kit avoids any and all eye contact with me by staring out of the window. "We left to score some weed," she says quietly.
"Weed?" I question, wondering if that's all that they went to get. But then again, how in the hell would I know whether she's lying to me or not? I don't know the woman well enough to fucking judge anything she tells me.
"Yeah, Snow knew where to find some cheap, good stuff so we went to buy some and smoke it." She sighs while staring at the passing buildings and cars.
"Isn't that kind of a really fucking stupid thing to do, considering she just got out of rehab?"
"She just got out of rehab?" Kit asks, obliviously.
"How didn't you know that? They just fucking released her and you went out to score weed? What're you, fucking stupid?" I scold her, and she instantly cowers away from me in her seat.
"I didn't know!" She yells out.
"Was it really weed?"
She runs her fingers through her hair, before uttering, "yeah." But a part of me doesn't believe what she's telling me. The look in Snow's eyes is one I've seen before. I really can't tell whether she's lying or not. With certain people, you can tell when they're lying because they have dead giveaways - their voice goes high, they avoid eye contact, they twitch, whatever it is, it's usually a dead fucking giveaway that they are avoiding the truth. The shitty fucking part is that I don't know Kit well enough to gauge whether or not she's lying straight to my face. I can only assume.
I don't respond to her, I just drive us back to my house in silence. When we get back, she doesn't say a word to me, she just walks straight up the stairs and heads to my bed, where she passes out quickly in a hungover haze. I ignore it, because the whole gesture of sleeping in my bed has me really fucking irritated.
I head to my art room, turn on some loud music in my headphones, and begin painting to try to let out some of the anger and frustration I'm feeling. I spend hours and hours inside the room, until I finally hear a noise in the house and I'm forced to pull away. When I look at a clock, I realize that I've been painting for well over five hours, and I haven't heard a peep from Kit.
I put my things away, and wash my hands before leaving the room. I check the bedroom to find that Kit is no longer in bed. When she left, I really don't know, but she's obviously not here now. So where'd she go? I check around the house and call out her name a few times, but she isn't here.
And so I check the last place possible . . . I slowly walk down the stairs to the garage, only to end up screaming out in anger.
My fucking car is gone.
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
When I wake again, this time I open my eyes to find Niall's face. I've managed to turn around in his arms and we're now laying face to face, just inches apart. He's breathing softly, and his eyelashes flutter every now and then as he dreams.
I remember that we must've slept together, seeing as how I'm wearing his shirt, and no bra, and he's wearing . . . well I'm not sure. I carefully lift the blanket just a little, and breathe a sigh of relief when I see white boxer-briefs. He's wearing underwear, that's a good sign.
When I feel him begin to shuffle in his sleep, I quickly close my eyes. I can tell that he's awake now, as his breathing pattern has changed, and I know that he's looking at me, despite the fact that I'm feigning sleep. "Shit," he says really quietly.
He very carefully begins to shuffle his body away from me. Once he's managed to wiggle away from me, I hear him speak, "you can stop pretending to sleep." How did he know?
I mumble incoherently and cover my face with the blanket. I don't want to face him. I slept with my best friend, which means that everything changes between us now. How could anything ever be the same between us? I don't know how to act around him, knowing he's seen me naked.
"Arielle," he says quietly. His hands grip at the blanket and he pulls it away from my face. Big, blue eyes welcome me, and I close my eyes. He just repeats my name again.
I take a deep breath, before I ask, "did we-" I try to ask it, but it won't come out. "Did we, uh-"
"Are you trying to ask if we had sex?"
I nod my head and then hide behind the blankets again. This is horrifically embarrassing. Niall is my best friend, how in the hell did this happen? Alcohol makes people do stupid things. I knew this beforehand, and yeah, I wanted a night without thinking about the consequences, but I didn't want this!
Niall's hands pull the blanket away from my eyes again, "we didn't."
"Wh-what?" I ask, pulling the blanket away from me slowly this time.
"We didn't have sex last night," he reiterates.
"Oh my god," I breathe out a sigh of relief. But then I remember that I'm wearing his shirt and no bra. Does that mean that we did things together? "Why exactly am I wearing your shirt?" I put my fingers to my temples, waiting very impatiently for an answer.
"Oh, that . . . well you and Rae got really drunk and you wanted to skinny dip in the ocean, so you two stripped down to nothing and ran in. I chased after you to try and put some clothes on you, but you really didn't want to wear clothes." He chuckles. "Every time I put your shirt back on, you'd just end up taking it off when I wasn't looking."
I look down at his shirt that I'm wearing, noticing that I'm wearing it backwards. It's just like that movie I watched last month. That's probably what I was thinking when I tried skinny dipping with Rae.
"Yeah, I had to put my shirt on you backwards because you couldn't figure out how to undo the buttons behind you. It was literally the only way of keeping your clothes on."
I groan out, realizing that everyone last night probably ended up seeing me naked, including Rae and Hayes. Oh my god, my supervisor at work saw me naked. "Wait. Couldn't I have just slipped the shirt off without undoing the buttons?"
Niall shrugs, "you never figured that out, I guess."
"And the whole we're sleeping in the same bed thing?"
Niall scratches the back of his neck, "oh, that. Well, you wouldn't stop screaming whenever I left the room. You literally wouldn't let me leave."
I wince. "And the spooning?" I ask with raised eyebrows.
This time Niall's the one who's pursing his lips and squeezing his eyes shut in embarrassment. "Yeah, that's just an instinct, I guess. There was another body in my bed, I just kind of gravitated towards you. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. It's something I do in my sleep."
I sigh and run a hand recklessly through my hair, "it's alright. Just one more question though . . ."
"Which is?" Niall stands from the bed, and my eyes go wide because he's basically naked in front of me. The only fabric that covers his body is a pair of tight boxer-briefs, and though his face reads an innocent expression, I can't help but think he's purposely trying to get a reaction out of me. I shy my gaze away from him.
"Who all saw me naked?" I ask, and Niall walks across the room, picks up his jeans and begins putting them on.
As he's zipping his fly he says, "let me think . . . well me, Rae, and possibly that guy, Hayes. I'm not really sure because he was only around for like five minutes and at that point, you two were already in the water."
"Seriously? Hayes too?" I cover my face with my hands this time.
Niall takes a step forward and sits on the edge of the bed. He pulls my hands away from my face, "I mean, I don't think he did. You never came out of the water the whole time he was on the beach."
"Are you sure?"
"Pretty sure," he responds with a chuckle.
I sigh and throw myself back against the bed, "I'm never drinking again." Niall quirks an eyebrow. "Okay, that's probably a total fib, but whatever."
He chuckles before eyeing up his shirt on my body. "Look, I hate to bug you, but I really need my shirt."
"Oh, shit, right. I'm sorry. Can I just-"
"I'll give you some privacy," he says, standing up from the bed and leaving the room.
I stand from the bed and gather my clothes, but I can't seem to find my bra anywhere in the room. It's embarrassing as hell because I got so drunk last night that I can't even remember what I did with my damn clothes. "Fuck," I curse.
"Everything alright in there?" I hear Niall's voice from the other side of the door.
I reach around my back, trying to unbutton the shirt, but to make things even more embarrassing, I can't undo them. I desperately try to slip the shirt off my body without undoing the buttons, but it's to no avail. "No," I say quietly as I hang my head. Today is just not my day.
"Can I come in?" He asks softly.
I hear the door slowly creak open, and Niall appears, covering his eyes with his hand. "Am I allowed to look?" He asks shyly.
"Yes," I run at him and pull him inside, quickly closing the door before anyone else sees that I spent the night with Niall.
He chuckles, "really don't want them to know, do you?"
"I'm sorry, I just don't want them to get the wrong idea," I raise my hands up in defence because I don't want Niall to get offended.
"I get it."
"Oh god, this is so embarrassing but do you know where my bra is?" I instantly close my eyes after uttering the question because this is all so bad. I know it's just Niall, but hell, it's still so mortifying.
Niall purses his lips together. "You're not wearing a bra?" He asks with a tilt of his head.
I cover my face with my hand, "no, and it's not in the room."
"You were wearing one last night when you crawled into bed."
"Oh my god," I moan out. "This is horrible!"
Niall just chuckles, "maybe it's under here." He bends over to look underneath the bed, and I check the other areas I checked before to see if I possibly missed it. But I can't find it, and I assume that neither can Niall because he stands up empty handed.
"I uh- I have a sweater in my car if you want," he says awkwardly.
"Well we need to do something before the rest of them wake up." I realize that I'll have to go without a bra for now, but I need to get into my own clothes and get out of Niall's room before Rae and Hayes wake up and realize that I spent the night with him. I clear my throat, knowing the next part is especially awkward, "can you unbutton me? I can't reach."
Niall's face reads worry, "yeah, I can do that." He takes careful steps towards me and I turn my back towards him. I'm pretty much naked underneath, and I know that the panties I'm wearing are fairly racy, and this is Niall. I just have to keep in mind that he saw me naked last night. That makes this a little less awkward, right? It totally doesn't. This is mortifying as hell because I know that Niall likes me. He's had a raging crush on me since I met him and he saw me naked and now he's about to see me in nothing but racy underwear.
His fingers lightly undo the first button, and I immediately turn around in his arms, "no peeking!" I scold.
"Arielle," he raises an eyebrow, "it's not like I haven't seen it before. I mean-"
"Niall!" I swat at his arm, "this is totally different!"
"How so?" He smirks. I find myself blushing wildly because I'm not used to this playful, flirty side of Niall. He has always been shy, and cutesy, but this is a totally different side of him.
"I'm sober, firstly! And it's light out, so you can see everything. Just don't look!"
"Alright, fine!" I can feel his breath on my neck when I turn around again and he chuckles. He undoes the second and third buttons and my heart's already hammering inside of my chest. This shouldn't be so exhilarating, should it?
I'm tempted to even ask how I got my panties on last night but I'm positive that I really don't want to know the answer to that question.
"I guess I should thank you," he says quietly. Suddenly it's awkward for me again because why is he saying thanks? Thanks for showing me your ass? Thanks for giving me a free show last night?
"Last night was a lot of fun. And I don't mean the whole seeing you naked thing. I mean that it was really nice seeing you again. I haven't had that much fun with you in a really long time," he confesses. "I hate to say it, but once Zayn came into your life, I was kind of pushed aside."
"Niall-" I try to stop him, because this is awkward, considering I'm almost naked and he's still tantalizingly slow with undoing the buttons. At the mention of Zayn, my chest almost caves in.
"No, just hear me out, please. I've been holding this in for months. Arielle, I like you."
Oh my god Niall, not now . . . Please stop.
"I've had a crush on you for a really long time, and I realize that this really isn't the right time to be telling you this, but it's just - I don't know when I'll see you again, or even if you'll want to see me again, and I don't know if I'll ever have the courage to say it. And right now, I'm rambling because I'm nervous and I'm being an idiot by telling you this when you're practically naked and I'm undressing you, and I can see your underwear, and I'm so sorry that I chose such a terrible moment to tell you all of this. Jesus Christ, I'm an idiot. I know I really shouldn't even be saying this considering you and Zayn just ended your relationship, but hell, I feel like I've been waiting forever. I'm really sorry, Arielle."
I turn around in his arms, and his shirt swings with the wind that I create. I come to the conclusion that he's managed to undo every button, but how long ago was that? I mentally curse at myself for getting so fucking drunk that I got myself into this situation. Now I have to deal with Niall, and I honestly don't know what to say. I can tell him that, right?
"I don't know what to say, Ni."
He hesitates, but he reaches forward and grabs both of my arms, rubbing them up and down softly. "It's alright, you don't have to say anything."
"Well, if we're being honest here . . ."
"We are," he agrees.
"I already had suspicions that you liked me," I confess.
He pulls his hands away from my arms, and raises his eyebrows, clearly embarrassed, "really?"
"Oh god, so I didn't have to do the whole-"
I shake my head, and he covers his face in embarrassment. It makes me feel a little better because now we're both mortified. But I feel like maybe he's in worse shape than I am because I don't feel the same about him, and I know all too well about heartbreak. Heartbreak is a thousand times worse than someone seeing you a little naked. I wouldn't wish heartbreak on anyone but Kit, Chef Wilson, and my mother.
But as I look at Niall, who's sitting on the edge of the bed, I think of the possibility of dating him. He's not like the usual guys I date, because he's nice, and sweet, and he's a natural good boy. He's a complete one-eighty from Zayn, but it could possibly work, couldn't it? I still feel like I'm in no position to date, but maybe I could handle it?
No, I really couldn't.
I still miss Zayn too much.
I quickly slip my shorts up my legs when Niall isn't looking, and then I sit down on the edge of the bed beside him. "Look, Niall . . ."
"Oh god," he utters quietly.
"No, it's not that. It's just - I was in love with Zayn, and all of the sudden it was just . . . over. I'm still dealing with it, Ni. I'm not over him yet, and it would be totally wrong of me to even consider dating you. It would be unfair of me to do that to you because I'm not ready to date. I'm sorry," I say as I place a hand on his knee. "I appreciate everything you've ever done for me, and . . . I don't know, maybe one day, but now isn't the time."
Niall scratches at the back of his neck, "well I appreciate the honesty. I'm glad you'd rather be truthful with me than lead me on. That's probably why I like you so much," he chuckles, "you're such a good person."
"Not really," I shrug, "but thank you." I stand from the bed and take a few steps back, "now, I really need to change, so turn around."
He flops back onto the bed and covers his face with the duvet. I turn my back to him and quickly slip his shirt off and put mine on with ease. When I turn around, he's still covering his face with the blanket like the gentleman I know him to be. "Okay, you can open your eyes."
He sits up and I toss him his shirt. "I'll go get my sweater for you," he says quietly. He takes a small step towards me and places a featherlight kiss on my cheek, "thank you for being honest, again."
I give him a small nod and he walks out of the bedroom leaving me with my thoughts. Cancerous, insidious thoughts that are all about Zayn. I sit on the edge of the bed and sink my head in my hands. I'm never going to get over this, am I? Maybe I need some sort of closure . . . But where can I find closure when it comes to Zayn?
I can't see him, or talk to him, so there must be another way. What about his attacker? What if I looked into who attacked him? That could give me some closure, right? Finding out who attacked him means I could confront the bastard and yell and scream at them for ruining what was once a perfect thing. I could finally give blame to someone other than myself because that's all I've been doing and it's enough to shatter me.
I need this.
I need to blame someone other than myself for my own sanity, and finding out who beat him up could do this for me.
I don't know where to even begin or how in the hell I'm going to do this, but I know that I want to do this. Zayn has many enemies, and so do I, so in all honesty, I have absolutely no idea who could've or would've done this to him. I think in order to do this, I need to talk with Louis. Out of everyone that wanted to hurt him, I think the biggest suspects come from whomever Zayn works for.
I'm sure in his line of work he's pissed people off, crossed people, and worked for some pretty shitty guys and so if there were anyone who ever wanted to hurt him, it'd probably be one of them, right? So I need to talk to Louis, and I need to meet with that Ryder guy I met.
There's a soft knock on the door, and Niall pops his head through, "here," he says as he hands me his oversized sweater. "Don't worry, everyone's still passed out," he reassures me.
"You up for a cup of coffee?" I ask.
"But you hate coffee," he replies with a chuckle.
"I think the situation calls for it."
We both walk down the stairs and enjoy a cup of (disgusting) coffee before anyone else even wakes up. It gives me a chance to quickly sober up and make plans on how I'm even going to go about finding Zayn's attacker.