CHAPTER FIFTY ONE
Watching it Play Out
Zoe looks at me with her trusting honey colored eyes and smiles, "Emma, we weren't expecting you to get here for at least a week."
"Who is we?"
She smirks, "Niall."
"Obviously you've put two and two together?"
"Yeah...um..." I look away from her and she smiles sweetly.
"Emma, you're on a scavenger hunt."
"So cliche." Janice mutters.
"I'd agree with you there, love." Zoe says chuckling at Janice's remark. "But, you have to admit, it's pretty bloody romantic."
We all nod simultaneously.
Zoe clears her throat and continues, "Well...there was supposed to be something in the room, but I was told you wouldn't be coming for at least a week or two. Niall said we shouldn't really be expecting you that soon."
She nods, "That's why it's rented already. I have it blocked out for the next three months after this couple leaves."
"Well, he didn't know when to expect you..."
'Or if he should...' I think silently to myself.
"Can you do me a favor, Zoe?"
"Of course." She nods solemnly.
"Can you not tell Niall that I was here already?"
"You want to have the element of surprise still, love?"
I nod and she chuckles, "Oh, goodness. This is going to be fun to watch play out."
"You're telling me." Janice says with a smile.
"So..." I start.
"Oh, yes, yes, of course!" Zoe says turning around and going into the drawers behind her. She shuffles through them loudly, before pulling out a large yellow manila envelope. "I believe this is yours."
I could feel my hands shaking as she places the envelope in my hands. I look at it wearily, I could feel Janice's stare on me before she even says, "Open it already!"
I tear the envelope open, seeing that there is merely a key inside. One it, there is a single thin key chain that reads "Luck of the Irish"
"Fucking shit, we're going to Ireland aren't we?" Janice says in a huff.
"Is it really that easy?" I say looking up at Zoe, "It's just as easy as going to his house?"
"I think that the first step, maybe the hardest, was just looking for him wasn't it? You know, the whole, 'Should I run after him, or wait til he comes back?'" Janice says looking at me.
"And maybe he wanted you to find him as quickly as possible. Maybe he didn't know your dad would forgive him, maybe he thought you were running away so he had to make sure he could cover his tracks...maybe he made it so easy so that you could find him, but no one else could..."
Zoe simply looks at us and smiles, "I would suppose that a five hour drive to Mullingar is the last thing either of you want to do tonight."
"Actually..." I say looking at Janice, "It's not that late..."
Janice looks at me, wide eyed, "Are you out of your bloody mind!? It's nearly nine! I'm not going back on the road!"
"But..." I pout.
"He doesn't even know you're coming, I think we can afford to stay a night."
"I'll drive. You can sleep." I try.
"Emma, you're not driving."
"We have to take a ferry to get to Mullingar. In fact, it might even be faster to take a plane, wouldn't it?"
Zoe nods, "Yes it would. Could even book the flight tonight couldn't you?"
"See this is a reasonable woman." Janice says raising her hand and pointing at Zoe. "Why don't we rest and look up a flight we can take?"
"Because we could make it by morning..."
"Darling," Zoe says, looking as if she's worried she'd intruding, "The ferry from Manchester to Mullinger only leaves once a day."
"We need to take the ferry to make it over, wouldn't we?" I say wearily.
"That is correct."
"So," Janice says, taking the envelope from my hand and turning to look at Zoe "I know 218 is out of the question, but you do have another room open don't you?"
Zoe nods, "For you two, of course I do." She shuffles through a drawer and pulls out a set of keys, but before setting them in Janice's hands she smilingly asks, "You haven't eaten yet, have you?"
After eating a delicious, home cooked meal, prepared by Zoe herself, we find ourselves in room 121. As I was getting ready to shower, Janice was looking up ways to go to Mullingar. Luckily enough, I had brought my laptop.
"Okay, but if we fly, we still would have to take a train. And do we have anywhere we can leave the car?" Janice squeezes the excess water out of her dark hair with a towel.
"No...and I don't want to leave dad's car just lying around..." I reply walking over and looking at the bright screen.
"Should we just take the ferry and drive to Mullingar?" She asks, not bothering to turn around and look at me. She simply continues looking at maps.
"It would be better wouldn't it?"
"Okay, well, the ferry leaves at noon." She says looking at an informational site. She switches tabs and looks at the approximate time it would take. "We have to leave at like...nine-thirty? Better safe than sorry, no?"
"It takes two hours just to drive to the ferry?"
"And you wanted to do it all in one night..." She says looking away from the computer and looking up at me.
"Can you blame me?"
She laughs, "Of course not."
I pick up my phone and decide to check in with dad before going off to the loo. I lift a finger to my lips in Janice's direction and she nods, going back to the computer screen.
"Ello?" Asks a thick, raspy voice that could only belong to one person.
"Hi, baby! How is everything? Where are you? Are you okay? You did stop for the night right?" It was one question right after the other, and quite honestly it almost felt like he hadn't taken a breath between any of them.
"Dad, settle down. I'm okay."
"Did you find him?"
"No. But I will."
"How...how will you find him?"
"I have my ways." I respond, walking over to the yellow envelope and tracing the key chain and key Janice had placed upon it.
He chuckles, "Alright. Well, you did at least stop for the night, right?"
"Yeah, we're at the inn Auntie Sophia's sister owns."
"Oh, did you finally see Zoe?"
"She's mighty nice, isn't she?"
Dad sighs loudly, "Do you know where you're going to find him?"
"Are you going to tell me?"
"It might jinx it." I say with a chuckle.
"Alright. Just...just let me know you're safe alright?
"I'm safe, dad. I'm okay."
"Good luck, baby girl."
"Love you too."
I know that dad isn't okay with this. In a way, yes, he wants me to be happy. He wants me to be in love and for the person whom I love, to love me even more so than he even could. But, I don't know. Honestly, even though dad may have forgiven me, even though dad had indeed managed to see that Niall does love me, could we all ever go back to being a family? Not like just a real proper relationship where everything is curt and to the point, but an actual relationship. Like the one we all used to have?
Could they ever be friends again?
"Ems, I can hear you thinking from across the room. Just go take your shower."
I look up to see Janice busily typing away, not even bothering to look up at me.
"Yeah, I'm going."
Tomorrow night, hopefully, we'll be in Mullingar. I just have to focus on one obstacle at a time.