CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE
Only For A Moment
"Fuck." Niall mutters as he touches his face.
I get some ice out of the freezer, place it into a plastic baggie, and press it to his already swollen nose. He only swears again, his blue eyes tearing.
"I'm sorry." I mutter.
"You're sorry!?" Uncle Louis says pacing around us, "Yes! You should be sorry! Both of you should be sorry!"
"Shut up." I utter in a low voice, Uncle Louis freezes as I continue, "I have had enough for today. If you're going to be a condescending ass the rest of the night, just do us all a favor and leave." I say, turning to look at him.
His eyes lock onto mine, only for a moment, and when our contact breaks he simply keeps pacing, "Whatever, Emma. You know I'm not leaving."
I wearily smile, knowing that in a way he was saying that although he thought we had done things stupidly, he was still here for us.
"Emma?" We all turn around and look towards the staircase, mum was leaning against the railing, tears filling her crystal blue eyes. "What just happened?"
"You didn't think this would happen?" She says in a small voice.
"But it did, Emma. It did. And now...I don't know how we're going to fix it."
Niall and Uncle Lou look at her wordlessly, unable to say anything to comfort her.
"Emma...Harry doesn't want to speak to me." Mum's voice crack by the end of the sentence.
Uncle Louis quickly walks over to her, wrapping her in his warm embrace, "Give him some time Edie. You know him. You know that...he doesn't do well when he finds out he's been lied to."
Mum says turns to face me, "Why didn't you tell me that you were going to tell him?"
"I didn't want to worry you..."
"So you'd rather I be caught by surprise?"
She turns to look at Niall and shakes her head, "You just couldn't say no, could you?"
"What?" Niall says looking up and placing the baggie of ice upon the counter.
"You're the adult Niall, and you just couldn't say no to Emma? Really?" Her voice is shaking and Uncle Lou tries to restrain her to him.
"Edie, it's more complicated than that."
"Niall...she's a baby compared to you! You're almost forty and her life is barely beginning! What could possibly have been going through your mind that made you believe this was okay!?"
"Please, Edie, enough." Niall says pathetically.
"Enough?" Mum says in an incredulous tone, "You think what I've said to you is enough? You think that what Harry's done to you is enough?"
"Mum. Please." I grab her hand and intertwine it in mine, "I know it's hard to understand. I know. But mum," I hold back my tears and try to continue, "You remember how I kept asking you about inevitability?"
Her brow furrows until it flashes across her face, the realization of the words I had just spoken. She wipes away a tear as she whispers, "He's inevitable?"
"Yeah, mum. He is."
Everyone is silent, and then suddenly mum undoes herself from Uncle Louis' embrace and walks over to the cabinet to grab her bottle of wine. "We're fucked." She mutters, grabbing the cork screw and attempting to open the bottle with shaky hands. Niall hesitantly reaches over and opens it for her. Uncle Lou simply stares at her, mouth agape at having heard mum swear for the first time...probably in his life.
"We can work through this." Uncle Louis says in a rather false tone, approaching the counter and sitting next to Niall.
Mum simply looks at him with a smug face, "Don't bullshit me, Louis. I know we're fucked. I know it, they know it, and surely you of all people know it."
Again Uncle Lou's face flushes at her terse choice of words, but he continues anyways, "Well Edie, I don't know about you, but I don't think Harry has many choices in this matter. Either he's going to make Emma break it off with Niall, and keep them apart for the rest of his days. Or he'll accept it and move on."
Mum laughs bitterly, "You really think Harry is going to accept this? You think he's going to hand over the little girl he's given the world to, to his best mate? Do you really think so?"
"Edie." Uncle Louis says with a rather pointed smile, "You know damn well you don't choose who you love. You both know that."
Niall simply looks at me, smiling tiredly.
I try to say something, but my heart stops as I hear a door open and see only half of dad's face as he peers at us from behind the wall at the top of the staircase.
"Didn't I ask you to get out?" He mumbles, looking directly at Niall.
Niall grabs the baggie of ice, his car keys, and gets up from his stool, "I'll see you, princess."
"No, you will not." Dad says in a low, serious voice.
Niall grimaces, but does not push him any further. "Goodnight." He says in a whisper, heading towards the door and closing it behind him with a very intentional slam.
Dad simply sighs and walks back into his room, leaving mum, Uncle Louis and I at the counter island.
Mum grabs two more glasses from the cabinet and smiles a very sad looking smile, "Who wants some wine? Maybe that'll make our troubles go away."
"Edie, I don't think anything can do that." Uncle Louis says pouring the rich red liquid into each pristine glass.
"Well, it sure as hell won't hurt us to try."
I shake my head, knowing that there was no amount of alcohol in the world that could erase this night. It will forever be written in our memories.
"Emma?" Uncle Louis says tipping the glass my way.
I nod of course, taking the cool glass and pressing it to my lips. The wine is sweet and for a moment I can feel all the stress leaving my body.
But only for a moment.
Because after that moment, it hits me harder. Dad's reaction, the betrayal in his eyes, and the fact that Niall couldn't tell me what had happened with his wife.
Everything seemed to be falling apart.
"I wish I could piece it back together." I mutter hopelessly.
Uncle Lou and mum simply look at me with furrowed brows, until mum realizes what I'm referring to.
"Give it time, baby. That's all we can really do."
Maybe I should just leave it in the hands of time.
There's nothing more I can do anyways.