Getting there had been the tough part. I had only been here once, so I couldn’t put my finger on just where it was. The car ride here had held several play arguments and many wrong turns. Eventually, we pulled into the parking lot at about 7:30.
It’s a Monday, so there aren’t many people here. Just in case, Niall had requested a table in the back so he won’t get recognized. Unlucky for us, though, the waitress is a huge fan.
“Oh my gawd!” she squeals with a goofy smile as she twirls her blond ponytail around her finger. “Niall I love you! You’re sooo my favorite, and you have a beautiful voice!” Niall smiles dryly and fumbles through his menu. “I just can’t believe you’re here! Like oh my gawd!”
“What would you like to drink?” Niall says wearily, glancing up at me.
“Just water, please,” I say to the girl, who sends me a look before scribbling on her notepad.
“I’ll just have water too,” Niall tells her. She gives him a giant smile before bouncing away.
He heaves a sigh as she disappears from view. I chuckle a little and glance down at the menu. “Do you get that a lot?”
“You have no idea,” he huffs.
“I told you that you don’t have to take me out if you don’t want to,” I point out, meeting his eyes. “We could have just gone back to the hotel with the boys.”
He rolls his eyes. “I’ll be damned the day that I let a couple people fan-girling get in the way of a date with you.”
I feel my face get hot and I let my hair fall in front of my eyes. “Thank you, Niall. That means a lot.”
“Anything for you.”
This only makes my face grow warmer. What is he doing to you, Maci? I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Granted, I didn’t have any friends before I met Niall and the boys - but even then I hadn’t had even a petty school-girl crush.
My thoughts are broken my a glass being slid in front of me. I look up to see the is waitress back, sending me a glare that quickly dissipates when she looks back to Niall. What have I done to her? She sets Niall’s water down close to him, brushing his shoulder as she pulls her hand back. A wave of something floods through me - was it... Jealousy? Niall’s lips are pressed into a thin line as the waitress - her name tag says Riley - sets two straws down on the table and smiles sweetly at him.
“What are you going to have to eat?” she says, only really talking to Niall. He shakes it off and looks over at me.
I realize that I haven’t even been looking at the menu. Frantically searching for something to eat, I tell him he could order first. I don’t hear what he orders, but Riley squeals in delight. I raise my eyebrows and look over.
“That’s a good choice,” she says with a wink.
I feel my face turn red, but this time it isn’t the warm tingly feeling I usually get from Niall. This is different, like an almost cold feeling. Anger, I realize. Oh boy.
I quickly look back down and spot something. Telling Riley my order, I realize that she isn’t really paying attention. She’s watching Niall dreamily, and nodding for no reason. I clear my throat and she snaps to attention, giving me an annoyed look. She quickly scribbles something down and narrows her eyes at me as I hand her my menu. Riley wipes the look off of her face before turning back to Niall.
“Food will be out in a minute,” she purrs, brushing his shoulder with her hand on the way past him.
I bury my face in my hands and let out a groan. I can’t get angry at other people, I have no reason to! They’ve done nothing wrong, it’s probably just me. Was she doing anything wrong? I sure seem to think so, but I know deep down that I shouldn’t be getting angry. Niall’s hand on my arm pulls me out of my thoughts.
“What’s the matter, Love?” he asks worriedly.
“It’s nothing,” I lie, my head still in my hands.
“It’s that girl, isn’t it?”
I sigh and meet his eyes. He looks at me apologetically and moves his hand from my arm down to my hand. “I’m sorry,” I say. “I shouldn’t be mad.”
Niall lets out a cross between a sigh and a laugh. “I don’t think this is going to make you feel any better, but this kind of stuff happens to the lads and I everywhere.”
“You’re right,” I groan. “That doesn’t make me feel any better.”
He squeezes my hand and I give him a weak smile. “I know how you’re feeling. That guy that was talking to you earlier? Same kind of thing.”
My face goes red. “I’m sorry, that was my fault. I was talking to him.”
Niall shakes his head. “That was not your fault. You were being nice, he was the one flirting.”
I shrug, giving in. “I don’t know what I did to that girl, though,” I sigh. “She’s been sending me looks.”
He grimaces. “You didn’t do anything, Love. She shouldn’t be rude to you. You’re an amazing girl. Don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different.”
I smile widely at him and brush my thumb over the top of his hand, still holding mine. “Thank you,” I whisper.
Niall is amazing. He always knows just what to say to make me feel better. I don’t know why he still likes me, though. I got his nose broken - my smile falters a bit as I think about this - my father was horrible to him, the second day I knew him I was already bawling my eyes out like a little baby, and I honestly have nothing to give.
I’m not a good singer, like him. I’m not a good dancer. I don’t play an instrument. I don’t have friends beside the boys that I met yesterday. I don’t come from a good home. I’m just plain useless, definitely not special like him. Why does he like me?
“Anything for you,” he says quietly, leaning in over the table.
His lips meet mine and I’m filled with that lovely warm feeling again. My stomach bursts with butterflies as his free hand moves up to cup my cheek. I’m always so far away when we kiss. I feel like I’m on a different planet, drifting in the low gravity. Weird, I know. I’m about to get lost even further when someone clears their throat, startling both of us. I pull away quickly, smoothing out the skirt that I’m wearing - the one from the boys’ interview this afternoon.
I look up shyly to find Riley standing there, looking absolutely livid and holding our tray of food. My face turns bright red as she shoots me daggers with her eyes, and I look down at my hands, still in Niall’s. I slowly pull away, but not before feeling him squeeze my hand.
“Here,” she snaps, roughly setting down my small plate in front of me. She smiles kindly at Niall and sets his down lightly in front of him. “Can I get you anything else?” she purrs, laying a possessive hand on his shoulder.
A wave of anger floods through me. He’s not yours to have, so back off, I mentally snap. Oh gosh, did I really just think that? Cool it, Maci.
“No thanks,” he says, flinching away from her hand. “We’re fine.”
“Well just let me know,” she says with a wink, sending more anger through me. Maci...
Niall huffs as she walks away. “I’m sorry.”
I shake my head and pick up my fork, digging into the food placed in front of me. I take a bite and feel somewhat better, considering I’m eating at my favorite restaurant. In my peripherals I see Niall doing the same. It’s quiet for a long time, neither of us interested in breaking the silence. Niall finishes several minutes before I do, wiping his hands on his napkin.
“That was delicious,” he says enthusiastically, one of us finally speaking.
I nod my head and smile, taking another bite. “My favorite,” I tell him after I’ve finished chewing. “My father took me here once, when I was 14.”
Niall winces at the mention of my father, but nods his head thoughtfully. My eyes land on the metal brace resting on his nose and I wave of guilt and sadness takes its time moving throughout my body. I caused that. Something must have changed in the way I was looking at him, because Niall rests his hand on top of mine - I now realize that it is shaking.
“It’s alright, Love.”
I set my fork down and heave a sigh. “No, it’s not, Niall. My father broke your nose and now you have to wear that metal brace on it and you have black eyes that are hard to cover up and it’s all my fault because I-”
“-Maci,” Niall says, and something in his voice makes me stop mid-word, my mouth slightly open. “Stop. Take a breath.” I do as he says and pull my hand away from his, folding my hands and resting them in my lap.
“This-” he gestures to his nose. “-is not your fault. This is what your father did to me.” I wince. “Not you. The eyes? They’re easy to cover. In fact, I don’t even want to cover them, because they show that I saved the girl I’m crazy for.”
A warm tingly feeling runs through me and I look up to meet his sincere eyes. He’s crazy about me?
“There’s nothing you could have done to stop him-”
“-That’s not true,” I interrupt. “I could have just not called for you and-”
“-And what!?” he raises his voice. Niall’s fist clenches and I start to get worried. “And let him do something like that to you? Rape you!?”
His voice stings me and my eyes prick. I hadn’t thought about it like that. Rape. What a strong word. I guess that’s what my father was going to do. I just hadn’t thought about it like that. And now that Niall has said it... He’s right - but it feels like a ton of bricks were just dropped on top of me. Add to that the fact that Niall is getting angry - I’m on the verge of tears.
“Niall,” I say quietly. I have to find some way to calm him down. “Please, it’s alright. I know my dad is... Extreme at some times, but-”
“But nothing!” he shouts, standing up and making the table rattle. His chair scrapes noisily against the floor and I flinch. “How can you just sit there and let him do that to you, Maci!?” A couple people are staring at us now.
“Niall, please, sit down,” I whimper. “It’s okay-”
“-Maci, listen to yourself!” he shouts, slamming his fist on the table and making my stomach wrench.
I wince, and throw my hand over my head in complete fear, ready to block the next blow heading my way.
But it didn’t come.
I slowly open my eyes and look up at Niall. What I see completely catches me by surprise. His face is horrified, staring down at his hand, still in a fist on the table. He just gapes open-mouthed at it, like it’s some kind of alien.
I’m too shaken up, though. I can’t handle it - Niall getting angry, slamming his fist on the table, and then... I thought he was going to hit me. I honestly was prepared for a blow to the face. This in itself brings tears to my eyes. Why would I think that of Niall?
My vision becomes blurry with tears - tears of weakness. I can’t believe I’m going to cry. You don’t deserve him, Maci.
Niall looks up at me, his face still horrified. “Maci, I-”
I don’t hear the rest. I launch myself from my chair and am running out of the restaurant before I know it - tears streaming down my face.