CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Stains of Red Wine
I shake as I struggle to pull my keys out from my purse. My hands trembling so badly that I could barely grasp the bloody things. Somehow though, I felt the cool metal upon my fingertips and managed to get them out of my bag. I guided them towards the door, silently bracing myself for what was about to come.
The nervousness subsided though when I felt his hand at the bottom of my spine, his warmth radiating through my jumper.
"Hello?" I say as I open the door and step in. The door creeks eerily behind us.
Funny, I don't recall the bloody door being creaky.
"Hello, Emma." I hear mum's voice coming from the hallway. I walk upon the wooden floors and peer into the kitchen, knowing that's were she wanted to meet me. "Good to see you're home." She says, grabbing her wine glass and tipping it back slightly. "Oh, hello Niall." She mutters as she sees him step slightly to my side. "How was your romantic getaway?"
"Are you drunk?" I say with a furrowed brow.
"Slightly buzzed." Mum says with a smile, "Had to do something to keep myself sane."
"Oh..." I'd never seen mum like this, and quite frankly I was expecting more rage and less smiles.
"Sit down, both of you." She says pointing to the stools in front of her, putting her wine glass back down upon the granite counter top with a clink.
Niall hesitantly sits upon the stool, and pulls mine out slightly.
"Shh." She says putting a finger up to her lips, "I got these pictures last night from Zoe. Zoe, as in your Aunt Sophia's sister? She'd always been quite fond of Niall, and quite frankly quite upset she never got the chance to meet him. Thought it was bloody hilarious he walked into her inn of all places last night with a pretty little blonde." She pulls out her phone, unlocks it, and places it between us. "Imagine my surprise when I saw who the pretty little blonde was."
"You knew since last night?"
"Indeed I did." Mum says pouring red wine delicately into her empty glass. "In fact," She says with a smirk, "I knew about eight years ago." She shakes her head, "What I didn't know though," She states tracing the glass with her delicate fingers, "Was that I had allowed this piece of shit to take advantage of my daughter from the time she was eleven." She looks up at Niall angrily, her normally clear blue eyes growing darker and piercing.
"You had no plans of ever intending to do anything like this, it wasn't suppose to happen this way, it just happened."
Niall stays quiet, not meeting her eyes.
"What did you two do last night?" She snorts, "Well, you stayed in an inn, in a single room, why am I asking such stupid questions."
"We didn't do anything, mum."
She rubs her temples, "Emma, the very fact that you two spent the night together means that something happened."
"I would never take advantage of Emma." Niall says in a rather indignant tone. "Never, Edie. You know I love her."
She nods, "I've never doubted the love you have for my daughter Niall. What I do doubt is your fucking character. In what mind do you think it's correct for you to be seeing my twenty year old daughter, when in fact she could be your own bloody daughter?" Her voice starts slowly rising and I begin to brace myself. "You know what, let's continue on that route, shall we? You met Emma when she was three. Three. You babysat, you wiped her tears, you fed her, you taught her how to read, how to sing, and God knows what else. So tell me Niall, what kind of degenerate are you that you find yourself sexually attracted to a girl that you treated like a daughter up until....what maybe a month ago?"
"Mum." I say in a harsh whisper, tears filling my eyes quickly.
"Do you not have a response for me Niall? No? No witty or sarcastic retort?" She smiles bitterly, "You know, I've always thought of you as family Niall. You know that." She turns to look at me, "And Ems. In what mind do you think this is okay? How is this okay?" She shakes her head, her eyes becoming teary. "Emma, perhaps this is my fault for encouraging this little crush, but for the love of God, don't continue this. Don't do it."
My words are stuck in my throat. I try to respond, but instead Niall does it in my place.
"This isn't fair." He says to mum, "You can't blame this on anyone."
"Really? Because you were supposed to be the bloody adult, Niall. You're the one who's supposed to teach her right from wrong, who told us you'd always protect her."
"I am always going to protect her, Edie."
"No, no you're not." She replies in tears, "You can't. You can't anymore."
"No. In what mind do you think I am? Do you really think I'm going to allow this to continue?"
"What are you saying?"
"I don't want to ever see Niall here again. I don't want to see him around you, I don't want to hear of him, I don't want anything to with him." She places her glass upon the counter and gets up from her stool, the metal screeching against the porcelain. She wipes off her tears and turns to look at the both of us, "Say goodbye, Emma. Niall is leaving."
"You can't do this." I whisper.
"I have to Emma." She says grabbing my hand across the counter top, "Maybe you don't understand what this means, but as your mother—"
"You are not my mother." I say pulling my hand from under hers, she attempts to grab it once more, but I pull away more violently, knocking over the bottle of wine.
The red liquid stains the counter top, streams of it flowing over and staining our clothes.
Mum simply looks at me, mouth aghast as fresh tears start to flow from her eyes, "Emma."
I push away the guilt that started to form at the pit of my stomach, things said in anger were always the ones we'd regret the most.
But I can't seem to find the words to say. I look at my jumper, stains of red wine penetrating angrily through the cotton material.
I look as if I'd gone to war.
But the battle was only beginning.