Chapter 18 - Awkward car-trip
Emma woke up to a way too bright room. She must have forgotten to close the curtain. Her clothes were thrown on the floor beside the bed, and her iPhone showed the time 10:17. Emma felt surprisingly comfortable. She had no headache or hangover. She pressed the shuffle button on her phone and a John Legend’s voice started pouring out the speakers. When she had taken a shower she put her wet hair up in a messy bun, and then she changed into her adidas sweatshirt and a pair of black leggings. Her room was a mess, like always, the day after a night out. Since she had nothing to do she began to clean up. When she had thrown yesterday's dress in with the rest of her dirty clothes and her room once again was tidy, she was left with one thing that didn’t belong. Zayn’s leather jacket.
As Emma stood with the leather between her fingers, she knew she had waited too long. She had to talk to Harry. She found his name among her contacts on her iPhone and pressed call. „Bonjour Emma,” Harry greeted as he answered her call. „Hello Harry,” Emma replied and she immediately felt her guilty conscience grow. „We need to talk,” Harry said in a more serious tone which surprised Emma. She suddenly hoped that Harry would tell her how he had found a beautiful French girl, and that he was over Emma. She knew it was cowardly of her and it would be too good to be true - but she did not want to hurt him. „I think that I have to prolong my stay here, I’m not quite sure for how low,” he continued. Emma nodded and remembered she that he could not see her through the phone. „It's all right,” she then murmured. „I'm wondering if you might want to come and visit me?” Emma was speechless. This was far from what she had expected. Now she was faced with a choice. She could go to Paris and go all in on a possible relationship with Harry, or she could stay home and try to get over her feelings for Zayn. Deep down she knew that there was no real choice. It would not be fair to Harry if she couldn’t go wholeheartedly into a new relationship - and although she had always dreamed of going to Paris this was not the right circumstances. „Harry ... I can’t,” when Emma had first uttered the words a silence lowered over the conversation. Emma then explained how she felt it had gone too fast between them - even though she no longer felt hurt by Adrian she was not ready. She also told him that she really cared for him - but that he deserved someone who could give him their whole heart. Tessa did not mention Zayn’s name, but Harry had a feeling that there was a major reason why she declined. He took the rejection as the gentleman he was - and although it had always delighted Emma she knew that she secretly wanted a guy who would fight for her - not just be the better man and leave. Someone who would protect her, and who would not give her up quite so easy.
„We can always meet up at Starbucks once I get home,” Harry said as the phone call neared its ending. „Yes, that would be great. Then you can tell me all about the great Paris”. Emma smiled at the thought that they might still be able to maintain their friendship. „Yeah, well see you Emma and take care of yourself,” Harry said, ending the call. Although Emma wasn’t devastated by the phone call with Harry, nevertheless she felt like she had lost something. He was kind, considerate and made her feel confident - but she knew she would never be able to do this. She had felt love - the feeling of passion and butterflies, and therefore she could not settle for less. She grabbed Zayn’s jacket and went downstairs to eat breakfast. „Emma, my head hurts so badly,” Louis whined. He lied sprawled on the couch. The TV was running in the background and there was a bottle of water on the table. In addition, there was an empty bowl on the floor. He definitely hung-over. „Love, do you have a hangover?” Emma asked compassionate. She found the milk and cornflakes and she sat on the couch to join Louis. He just nodded. While she ate they talked about the eventful night before. Louis had only left the club when it had closed - which meant he had been gone all night. From what he had seen Sutton had left with Niall. When Louis was in the middle of a story about how Esme had lost balance on the dance floor and she had grabbed a bunch of people and pulled then down along with her, Ross got home. Their father had been out and grocery shopping, and he just shook his head and smiled when he saw his son's condition.
„Dad, good timing - Emma needs the car,” Louis told his father. Ross nodded and handed her the keys while Emma looked confused at Louis. „Please, please, please, will you please do me a tiny favor?” Louis begged. Eventually Emma gave in because she assumed that he probably just wanted McDonald's or something. Obviously, he was not cable of driving. Emma regretted agreeing to drive when she found out what he needed from her - and although she tried to back out, she still ended up taking her Converse on and starting the car. She was supposed to pick up Zayn who apparently wasn’t sober enough to drive either. When Emma arrived at Zayn’s house she honked and waited impatiently. Zayn walked out of his house and Emma observed his every move until he reached the car and opened the door. He was wearing his black Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a black t-shirt. It was a chilly morning but he obviously couldn’t use his jacket since Emma had it. When his eyes met hers the surprise was evident. He clearly hadn’t expected Emma in the car - but she had just assumed that Louis had told him about Emma being the one to pick him up. Awkward. She even hoped that Zayn didn’t remember anything from yesterday. As he entered the car he just gave her a silent nod. Great, he was probably planning on remaining silent during the entire drive.
„I thought Louis had told you he wasn’t sober enough to drive so he sent me instead,” Emma said quietly. „It’s not a problem. Thank you for bothering,” Zayn said with his hoarse I-have-just-awakened voice. Damn that sounded sexy. Emma nodded in response and she continued to focus on the road. When they had driven in silence for a few minutes Zayn had had enough. Perhaps Emma would prefer if he wasn’t in her life - but he knew he didn’t want to be without her. A shiver went through Emma’s body as Zayn placed his hand on her thigh. „Emma,” he started, and right then she gave him her full attention - she knew that whatever he was going to say it would be serious - because he never called her by her full name. „I'm really sorry for everything that happened yesterday. I know that it's not an excuse, but I was smashed. I'm a little overprotective but I just always worry about you, and I know you think that I don’t care but I really do. I get it if you just want to ignore me from now on - I have really behaved like an idiot but can you just please forgive me? I simply will not be able to function without our friendship,” Zayn stumbled over the words and Emma could hardly keep up - but one thing she caught: He didn’t want to lose their friendship. Friendship. She knew she couldn’t do without him, but it was so hard for her to be around him when she knew he was not as happy for her as she was for him. She at least thought so.
Emma did not know that Zayn worried about her completely freezing him out of her life. He could not cope with that thought and therefore it was important for him to point out how important she and her friendship were to him. He only removed his hand from her when she parked in the driveway. She turned to him and smiled weakly. „I wouldn’t do without you either… I simply couldn’t,” she said before leaving the car. He followed her. „And thank you for lending me your jacket. It’s in the wardrobe so you can just take it when you’re headed home again.” „No problem. We wouldn’t want you to get sick.” Although Zayn smiled it did not reach his eyes.