I watched her leave the room. Her shoulders shaking as she held in her sobs. I sat there for a second. I stared into space, wondering what the hell had just happened. And then it occurred to me what did happen and I felt sick to the core. You’re a fucking idiot! Go after her.
“Wait!” I called out but she didn’t stop. I started to go after her but then I overheard her talking to the girls.
“I just need to get out of here for a while. I’ll be back. I, just, I need to get some space. I need to be away from him for a while” She said. I sucked in a sharp breath. She hated me! I made her hate me. I felt tears fall down my face.
“You have our number if you need us. Call us if you need something or if you want to talk”
I heard the door close and I decided to finally make an appearance. I walked down the stairs, wiping my eyes. They saw my face and shook their heads.
“What the hell were you thinking, Zayn?”
“I don’t know. I wasn’t” I said, wiping away my tears.
“What were you fighting about anyway?”
“I thought she was cheating on me with Andrew” I said. But as soon as the words left my mouth, I realised how stupid the fight was.
“Her friend, Andrew?” Liam said, looking at me. I nodded. I wanted to punch something…hard.
“You’re a fucking idiot Zayn. They’ve been friends since –”
“ – Birth. I know” I said.
“If you knew, then why didn’t you tell her that you were sorry? That, I don’t know, you thought he was someone else. A random boy!”
“I was caught up in a jealous haze, Liam. I was jealous that she was with him not me”
“She spends time with you almost every day. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get her alone? She always says ‘Zayn wants me to hang out with him’ or ‘Zayn wouldn’t let me’ or ‘I’ll have to check with Zayn’. It’s always Zayn this, and Zayn that. It’s a wonder how she hasn’t become claustrophobic yet from being trapped inside the house. It’s like you have her handcuffed to you and have her under house arrest. She does need to get out occasionally and spend time with some friends, Zayn”
I said nothing but ducked my head in guilt and shame. I was the one who sent her running.
“Look” Eleanor sighed. “Just give her some space and some time to clear her head. She’ll come back when she is ready. But do not. I repeat, do not go after her. If anyone is to go after her, it’s Sophia, one of the boys or me. If you went, all it would take is one look at you and she would not ever come back. And you would have lost her forever”
“So what do I do, then?” I asked. I wanted to make it up to her.
“You better have a good fucking apology and explanation ready for her, Zayn. Because she is going to need one. And, I want to hear it before you say it to her”
“I’ll go after her” Niall said, suddenly. I narrowed at my eyes at him. Why did he want to go after her? Woah! I thought. Why do I care? Niall wouldn’t take advantage of her. He knows better than that. I sighed and nodded. He picked up the spare set of car keys and headed out. “Don’t eat without me” He said, and then left.
The girls shook their heads and walked off somewhere. Harry left to play Xbox. Liam stood there before marching up to me and grabbing me by the shirt. He punched me in the face.
“Ow! What the fuck dude!” I said, rage ready to envelop me.
“What did I tell you the day you asked her out?”
“I don’t know” I said, still shell-shocked that he had punched me.
“Yes you do. Think, what did I tell you?”
“I, I…” I began to stutter. Then I remembered.
“I’d die for her” I said, seriously. I’d jump off a cliff for her. If she was to be a human sacrifice, I’d put my life on the martyr instead of hers.
“And you wouldn’t harm her in anyway? You wouldn’t break her heart? You wouldn’t cheat on her?”
“Absolutely not” I said, shaking my head in disgust. “I’d rather die”
“Good, but if you do let any harm come to her. I don’t care how long we’ve known each other but I will have to make you leave this house and never return. We will cut any ties to you and break our contact. We will never forgive you. Ashley is our sister, our daughter, our friend and we love her very much. She is the most vulnerable of our group. Point is; you hurt her, we hurt you. Got it?”
I nodded. I’d die for her.
*End of Flashback*
Liam saw my sudden change. “I will make you leave this house, Zayn. I will not let Ashley be the one to run away. This is her house, and you were the one who came here last. You’re just a visitor to her. She welcomed you into her house graciously. If this does not blow over, we’ll send you packing and cut off any ties to you. We won’t talk to you and we won’t want to hear from you ever again. Eleanor and Sophia are tough because we’ve had fights but Ashley hasn’t and that makes her vulnerable. You’re lucky that I love Ash, otherwise there would be more damage than just a bruise”
I nodded. He let go.
“I won’t give you another warning. And don’t tell Ashley how you got that bruise”
“What am I supposed to say then?”
“Lie. Just don’t tell her I punched you. That will upset her”
“Oh so, I’m supposed to tell her that I ran into your fist?”
“I don’t know just don’t tell her the truth”
He walked away to join Harry on the X-Box. I stood there for a second then went into my room to prepare a really long, really good apology.
I thumped down another beer bottle with a sigh. “Woo! That was goooood” I said, loudly. People around me laughed. I was really, really drunk but I didn’t really care. It was time to have some fun. “Oh my God! I. Love. This. Song!” I said. I stood up on the bar counter and let out my hair. I shook it loose and ruffled it a bit.
The song ‘All That Jazz’ started to play and I sung at the top of my lungs. “Come on babe, why don’t we paint the town. And all that jazz” I said. More people gathered around and started to cheer me on. I smiled and sang some more. “I’m gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down. And all that jazz” I bent down low and got back up, flicking my hair.
“Start the car, I know a whoopee spot.
Where the gin is cold, the piano’s hot.
It’s just a noisy hall where’s there’s a
And all… that…
I swayed my hips. The boys whooped. Then I saw a familiar face and a part of me become instantly become angry but the fun part consumed it and told me to worry about why he came later. I pointed at him and beckoned him to join me. He shook his head. I pouted and jumped off the make-shift stage. I walked up to him – ignoring the slaps on the ass I was continuously getting, grabbed his wrist and dragged him to the stage.
“Slick you hair and
Weigh your buckle shoes
And all that jazz”
I sung, running my hair through his blonde hair. His eyes darkened with lust and longing and I smiled seductively.
“I hear the Father Dip
Is gonna blow the blues
And all that jazz.
Hold on hun,
We’re gonna bunny hug
I bought some aspirin
Down at United Drug
In case you shake apart
And want a brand new start,
I put my back to him and slid down him like he was a fireman’s pole. I did the splits and everyone cheered and applauded. He gave in to me and pulled me back up. He held my waist and started to do the salsa.
“Find the flask
We’re playing fast and loose.
And all that jazz”
He sung in my ear. He was actually pretty good, compared to my tone deaf singing. I twirled and jumped on to a table.
“Right up here,
Is where I store the juice.
And all that jazz”
I pointed to my chest. He smiled and joined me on the table.
“Come on babe, we’re gonna brush the sky.
I bet you lucky Lindy, you never flew so high.
‘Cause in the stratosphere,
How could he lend an ear
He sung, sliding his hand up my thigh and I gasped. He clenched it hard. I smiled again and spun away, teasing him.
“No, I’m no one’s wife”
“But, oh I love my life”
We sung the last line together as he tipped me and we both started pant, breathless. The dance had taken a lot out of us. Everyone applauded and as we got off the stage, they went back to talking amongst themselves. Although; a few people lingered, eyeing me off and glaring at him.
“Why’d you come here?” I asked him. “If Zayn sent you to apologise, I’m not hearing it”
“Who said I was here to apologise? I could be here to see if you were alright. Because I’m nice like that”
“Well, I’m fine. Thanks for asking but you don’t need to worry about me. I can handle myself just fine”
He glanced at the 10 beer bottles in front of me and then at me. “Yeah, I’m sure you can handle yourself just fine” He said with mock surety. “Besides, I might not just be here to see how you were. I could be here for a drink”
I rolled my eyes. “There are at least five other bars in this district that could serve you and you just happen to come to the one I’m at. Oh, I’m sure you are here for a drink”
“I might like the drinks they serve here”
“Alright, let’s just cut to the chase. We know why you are here but how’d you find me?”
“Easy. I thought ‘now if I was in a fight with someone and I was stressed or frustrated, I’d want to relax and forget about everything just for a night’. And the only place where you can do that without looking like a complete weirdo is a club. Now, that left me to choose 1 of 5 bars. And, you have only been to one. And this is the closest one. And it’s familiar. You’d feel uncomfortable in a different bar. So that led me here”
“Alright, Nancy Drew! Fine! You found me, you know I’m fine. You did what you came to do. So, why are you still here?” I asked him, looking at him. He smiled wryly.
“Like I said, maybe I am here for a drink” He motioned for the bartender to him. The man walked over, drying a cup with a tea towel. He put it under the counter and flung the towel over his shoulder.
“What can I get you today, sir?” He asked. I detected an Irish accent and I almost laughed.
“A Jack Daniels on the rocks” He said. I cocked my head. I’d never had one of those before, and it sounded good. He noticed my gesture and smiled. “Make it two”
The bartender nodded and set about making our drinks.
He was finished within seconds and put them down in front of us and walked over to someone else to take their order.
He looked at me and held his glass up like a salute. “Bottoms up and here’s to forgetting everything for tonight and just feel…Alive”
We downed our glasses and the liquid burned my throat as it went down. I grimaced.
“Maybe I should have gotten something less strong” He said, concerned. I shook my head and managed a smile.
“No, tonight is about forgetting rules and all that. So…” I gestured for the bartender. “Two more Jack Daniels on the rocks”
He smiled and I smiled too. His smile was a challenging smile. My smile was a ‘bring it on’ smile.
Two hours later…
We stumbled out, laughing our heads out like the complete drunken idiots that we were. If I wasn’t intoxicated, I would have had a brief dèja vu but my mind could barely keep up with my thoughts.
“Come on, I should take you home” He clearly wasn’t as intoxicated as I was. I frowned.
“Awe, do I have to go home?” I said.
“Yes, Eleanor and Sophia and the boys are worried”
“But, but, he’s there” I said, incoherently. I poked him in the chest, and glared at him pointedly. He nodded solemnly, seriously.
“Yes, that is true” He said. “But, you won’t have to see him”
I nodded. “Awe, I still don’t wanna go home” I whined. “Do I have to go home?” I repeated what I said earlier. Niall laughed. “What’s sssoooo fffuuunny?” I said, smiling and giggling.
“You are. You’re so funny when you’re wasted as hell”
“I’m not drunk. Just a little bit tippppsssyy” I said, giggling and holding onto his chest. I stopped.
“What?” He said, worried. I thought he might’ve worried I’d puke over him or pass out or something.
“You’re so pretty” I said, giggling. I stroked his jawline. “Boop” I said, poking the end of his nose. I looked at him and frowned. I put my arms around his neck and leaned up to him.
“Ashley -” He began, warily and cautiously.
“Shhhh” I interrupted, putting a finger to his lip. I giggled a little and leant up again. I leant towards him, pulled back and then leant towards him again. I put my lips to his and pulled back. I studied his face, seeing if it was alright. His eyes had darkened with lust. I took that as a yes and kissed him again this time. He responded and put his hands on my back, pulling me closer to him.
All of a sudden, I felt something come up my throat and I pulled back immediately.
“Ash, what’s wrong?”
I ran to the nearest bin and puked. My stomach emptied whatever solids and liquids were in it. I held back my hair as the last bits of content from my stomach went into the bin. Sadly, the alcohol was still in my stomach.
He ran a hand through his hair. “I shouldn’t have kissed you” (see what I almost did there ;) lol)
I giggled. “We should do that again” I said, stumbling towards him. My heel caught in a crack and I fell flat on my face.
“Oh my god, are you okay?” He asked, running to my side.
I giggled again and turned on my side. He was leaning over me, his eyes full of worry. I ran my hand down his face. “Hello handsome, how are you to-” I stopped mid-sentence and passed out.
“Ash?” He said, warily. He shook me gently. “Please don’t be dead” He muttered. He checked my pulse. He slumped and sighed in relief. “Come on, let’s take you home” He picked me up and carried me home.
I leant my head on his chest and smiled. I sighed.
“I love you, Niall” I mumbled.
Niall hesitated and he faltered a bit in his step. But then he sighed. “Yeah, I love you too Ash; too much for my own good. I don’t deserve you. Shit, Zayn’s going to kill me” He said. “Ash?”
“Yeah, you and me both, you and me both” He said.