CHAPTER THIRTY TWO
Where To Start
If I have nervous ticks, I am most certainly hyper aware of them now. I could feel my hands shake as I tried to brush my hair in front of the mirror, my knees were nervously bouncing up against my dresser, and for some reason I could feel my left eye pulsating at an alarming fast pace.
"Ems?" The brush drops from my hands at the sudden sound of mum's voice and she looks at me a bit surprised, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, fine. I'm fine."
"Uhuh. Well. You're Uncle Louis will be here soon..." She reaches for the brush and places it in my shaking hand. "What's wrong with you? You're shaking worse than a leaf!"
"I said nothing." I try to will myself from shaking, trying to brush my hair normally to prove to her that I was indeed fine.
She sits down upon my bed, making eye contact through my mirror. She looked tired, unusual for mum. Her blonde hair was in loose waves to her shoulders, her face cherub like even at forty. There were slight bags under her sapphire eyes, her lips a bright pink from biting on them nervously. She look beautifully exhausted, how ironic.
"How are things with...Niall?" She tries not to look disgusted when she says it, but the tone in her voice and the slight curling of her lip showed her dismay.
I focus on my hair, brushing in a deliberately slow . I could see my face flushing a violent red and know that mum is still watching me intently.
"Ems?" She says, obviously trying to get me to speak. "How are things with...him." She says in a sigh.
I know she wanted to try. She wanted to get over the fact that he was my uncle, that he was sixteen years older than me. She was trying. She was trying really fucking hard, because she loved me and she knew that I was happy. But that didn't necessarily mean that she would enjoy trying to understand the fact that someone her own age was dating her step-daughter.
"...Great. He's...treating you...right?"
"You haven't..." She moves her hands nervously trying to say the words without actually having to utter them in a sentence.
"No! God, No!"
"I'm just asking, Ems. You know this isn't easy for me either." She looks away for the first time, nervously looking at her chipped nail polish. "I don't know what to say."
"I've been hearing a lot of that lately..."
"Well, love. You're putting us in a bit of bind."
"Hey, if I remember correctly you said that 'maybe it's my fault since I encourage you'." I respond, making my voice a notch higher to match hers.
"Yes, I know I said that."
"Emma. I just don't know, alright? This is just a huge bloody mess, and even though I'm the adult I have no idea what I'm supposed to do."
"Because..." She huffs, "I know you consider me to be your mum, darling. But I'm not. Harry is your dad, I'm your step-mum. Ultimately, as frustrated as I feel, and as much as I care, your dad's not going to sit around and try to accept it the way I'm trying to. You know he's...he's going to blame me too."
"Mum, just because you're not my biological mother doesn't mean you love me any less."
"Yes...but...in these types of situations it feels like...maybe I don't have the right to tell you want to do."
"I think that's technically because I'm an adult."
She smiles, "I hope so."
"Mum, you know you're being proper mad. I don't think it matters that you're my "Step-mum"" I say making air quotations around the phrase, "You love me just as much as dad."
"I know, Ems. But..."
"Are you just scared dad's going to blame you? That he'll think you don't love me because you let me do this?"
I could see she was visibly shaken and pray that she doesn't start sobbing. I don't think I could handle it.
"Maybe...just a tad worried."
I turn from the mirror, getting up and wrapping my arms around her, "Things will work out."
"Yeah." She mutters into my hair, "I really hope so."
"Have you both lost your bloody minds?" Uncle Louis asks as he stands mere inches from me in the pantry. I had asked him to grab a can from the top shelf since he was slightly taller, just to lure him into a place dad wouldn't hear his loud mouth.
"We have to tell him."
"Why do I have to be here!? I want no fucking part in this." He says angrily handing me the can of corn and heading towards the door.
"Wait." I place my hand upon his and immediately his face softens, "Please. I need you here. I need all the help I can get."
"Emma." He sighs, but he doesn't move. "Fucking shit."
"I'm sorry we didn't tell you before...but you wouldn't have come."
"Why do I even need to be here, this is something you have to do on your own..." He mutters.
"I know you are, love. But you can't use me or your mum to hide behind. You have to tell him yourself. No one else involved...well just Niall."
"I will stay, Emma. But listen, you can't just expect us to tell him for you. You want your dad to take you seriously? To really know what you feel?" I nod. "Then you have to tell him. Not in the middle of dinner, not in front of all of us. We will be here to support you love, but this is something you have to do on your own."
"I know...I know. But it's so fucking hard." I lean against a shelf, sighing loudly.
"Well, Ems, no one said it would ever be easy." He smirks as he opens the door and steps out, leaving me in the dimly lit pantry.
Of course he was fucking right, he always was.
No one said it would ever be easy.
"No, but really." Uncle Louis says dominating the conversation at the dinner table, "There was that time that Emma got lost in a mall in...where was it...Brazil?"
"Yeah, in Sao Paulo." Niall says with a grin on his face.
"And Harry goes around the entire fucking mall, twice, looking for her. He had us, security, and Gemma looking for Ems, And still he couldn't find her."
"And then..." Niall says placing his face in his hands, trying to cover his laughs.
"We find her." Uncle Lou replies with a smirk upon his face.
"Where?" Ollie asks.
"In the food court having a proper fit." Dad says shaking his head.
I try not to laugh as I tell Ollie, "I wanted an ice cream, but since I was only six I didn't understand that each country had different money."
"So she tried paying with a quid." Niall says laughing loudly.
All of us laugh, and I can feel my cheeks flush remembering how upset I had been then. Oblivious that dad had been looking for me.
"So she didn't get the ice cream?" Ollie asks innocently.
"I did." I reply with a smile, "After dad gave me a lecture about running off."
"She was six, Harry. She was bound to do it sometime." Niall says looking at dad.
Dad shakes his head, "Yeah, but I didn't think she'd ditch us for an ice cream."
"Kids will be kids." Mum says ruffling Ollie's hair. He slaps her hand away and she laughs.
"Let me help you clean up, then." Uncle Louis says grabbing plates and stacking them.
"Thanks." Mum says collecting trays.
Uncle Louis looks at me pointedly, urging me to do it now.
"Dad?" I say in a low voice, it almost sounded like a whisper.
I clear my throat as he looks at me with a smile, "What's up, baby?"
"Can we have a chat?"
He furrows his brow, "What's wrong."
"Nothing, I just...have some things I wanted to talk about."
"Well...yeah, do you want to go to the study?"
He wraps an arm around me as we head to the stairs, "What's troubling my baby girl?" He asks.
I refrain from sighing, knowing that would worry him. The problem really was...where to start...