CHAPTER THIRTY ONE
Just One More
"The plan is simple really." He says pouring us wine into crystal clear glasses as I place the plates upon his wooden table. "We just have to tell the truth, Ems. That's all."
"What if maybe, I just speak? You know, instead of you telling him."
"That would be better." He says pulling out my chair so I can sit down. "Can you do it though?"
"I owe dad that much, at least."
Niall takes a forkful of pasta and smiles widely, "God damn, you can cook."
I roll my eyes, "And you doubted me."
"I didn't doubt you."
"You just didn't think it would be this good."
"Guilty as charged."
There is a comfortable silence as we eat, both of us hungrier than we had thought.
"This isn't the last time." Niall says between bites.
"This isn't the last time we do something like this? You know...?"
"You mean...have dinner, go to the cinema..."
"Go on a date?" He tries.
I nod, "Why do you say that?"
"Because, I have a feeling about what's going to happen tomorrow, and I just want you to know that no matter what Harry says...this isn't the last time."
"How do you know I'm not going to listen to my dad?"
He smiles, "Are you going to?"
I smile, "You caught me."
"I don't want to put you up against your dad, Emma. That's not what I'm here for."
"But I also want you to know that I will fight for you."
"You're getting all caught up in cliches again." I say swirling the red liquid in the glass and taking a sip.
He smirks, "Can't help myself, princess."
He knows I don't mean it, the constant chiding and sarcasm. He knows I simply don't want to succumb to the cliches, although I already had in my mind.
"Let's talk about something else." He mutters, trying to turn back the conversation to something easy, and light. "How's Janice?"
"She's alright. Got a job at a shop down in the hills."
"Oh, that's great."
I put down my fork, my hunger subsiding at the thought of dad and the entirety of this mess.
"Are you done?"
"Yeah. I'm good."
He takes his few last bites, picks up his plate and picks mine up with it. He looks up at the clock on the wall and smiles as he places the plates into the sink, "How about a cuddle then?"
When Niall had mentioned a cuddle, of course I had jumped at the thought of lying comfortably intertwined in his arms on the couch. But he hadn't led me to the couch...
"Um." I look at his bed, his room, his blue walls. I could feel my heart race. "Why..."
"Well, I figured..." He flushes, shaking his head, "Never mind, we can just go to the living room."
I stifle a chuckle, Niall was thirty six. Thirty six. He was a fucking grown man, and yet he was acting like a bloody teenager. He couldn't work up the nerve to press me to his bed, to say, "Emma, I just want you in my bed already."
"We can stay here." I say, sitting upon the freshly made bed.
He sits next to me, awkwardly. He twiddles his thumbs, nervously moves his leg.
"What?" I turn to look at him, "Why are you being so bloody weird?"
"I just..." He shakes his head and whispers "Fuck me." In an exasperated tone.
"What!?" I pretend to be offended and his eyes widen immediately in horror.
"Oh, fuck no! Not what I meant!"
I laugh loudly, "I'm joking."
His lips purse into a straight line, "Not funny."
"I thought it was."
He turns to look at me, "Did you now?"
I saw it then, the flicker in his blue eyes. His jaw twitched slightly, and as he got up to face me, I felt my stomach leap into my chest.
He turns to look at me, "Did you now? You think I'm a joke, Emma?"
I lean back as he comes closer, pressing me down onto the bed. I smile, "You do make me laugh."
My smile fades though as he comes closer, he leans in and oh...it wasn't funny anymore.
He towers over me, his arms reaching around me, his palms resting firmly on each side of me on the mattress. "Emma? I asked you a question" He whispers, his mouth mere inches from mine.
And that's when he does it. When he finally presses me to his bed, his warm body upon me. His hands race up and down my sides, anxious to touch. He grazes the small space between my jeans and my shirt, fingertips touching bare skin. He looks at me, questioningly, wanting to explore further. I nod silently, and his hands go up the flimsy material. His skin hot as it made contact with mine.
"Emma." He whispers, his hand on my rib cage. "Can...I?"
I nod yes, because God, I've been waiting so long. I've been so nervous and such a bloody wreck about it, but I've been waiting for so long.
His hands move further up, grazing the lace upon my bra. I shudder as he traces my collarbone. His lips press against my neck, slowly working their way down.
And then he stops.
"I can't do this." He lays down next to me, sighing loudly. "Princess, I just..."
I turn on my side to look at him, "Why?" I manage to say.
"It's just that..." He groans, "I hate asking you this...but...is this...your..."
"Oh." I manage to say. It's all that I say.
"Is it your...Would I be your...first?"
"I..." I lay back, not wanting to face him. "Yeah, you would be."
He sighs, "We can't just...we can't just rush into it, okay? I don't want you to think that's why..."
"You're with me?"
"I know it's not."
"But still, princess." He turns to face me, running his hands through my hair. "There's no reason to rush..." He says it hesitantly, and I know that if he wasn't the great man I knew he was, he wouldn't be saying this right now. Right now he would be...well...
"Maybe we should just head home." I say about to get up, not wanting things to get awkward between.
"I think you can spare another hour." He says wrapping his arms around me and pulling me to him, "Just one more."
Three hours later we were finally going home. It was only nine, relatively early. We picked up a carton of ice cream, thinking that mum and Ollie specifically would enjoy it.
As we pull up to the driveway, I furrow my brow, "All the lights are off..."
"Huh, you think they're watching a movie or something?"
"But dad always leaves the kitchen light on..."
Niall parks the car and we make our way to the door, I thrust my key into the lock and turn it. I quickly make my way in, ice cream carton in a plastic Tesco bag.
"In here." The voice comes from the dark kitchen. Dad's voice sounds annoyed, a tad angry. I turn to look at Niall, he shrugs. We make our way into the kitchen and find dad changing a light bulb, standing upon a chair, "Bloody light bulb, I've been trying to change it for an hour."
Niall chuckles, pulling out his phone and turning on the flashlight. He points it towards dad and dad smiles sheepishly, "Thanks, mate." Dad steps down from the wooden chair and looks at us, "Had a fun day?"
"It was alright." I say with a smirk.
Niall turns on the light, "So ungrateful this one." He says looking at me.
Dad smiles, "Guess some things never change."
I look at Niall guiltily as dad turns to move the chair, but he simply dismisses me. I know, I know that I shouldn't make it so bloody obvious, but I just...
"Hmm?" I say setting the ice cream upon the counter.
"What movie did you see?"
"Oh, I don't even know. Some action movie."
"What did you do after?"
"That took you that long?" He says in a very dad-like tone.
"We drove around a bit."
"Mhmm." He says looking at Niall, "Well, at least you're home now."
"Lou is coming for dinner tomorrow." Niall says grabbing some bowls and ignoring dad's pointed stare.
"Oh, what's the occasion?" Dad replies pleasantly surprised.
"El and Ellie are out of town."
"Oh, well the more the merrier."
I look at them chatting, setting the plates for all of us to eat. What if this is the last time they get along like this?
Just one more time, hold it together one more time.
"I'll get mum and Ollie." I say with a very tense smile.
"Yeah." They both mumble, waving me away and continuing their conversation.
As I make my way up the stairs, I stop on the step before the last. I breathe in, a big gulp of air.
I had to hold it together one more time.