Eminence

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I've always considered myself to be enough, I've never had the worry of not being good enough and I've never been insecure about my place in the world. But when you start to care for someone so far above you, someone royal, it turns out my place in the world isn't quite enough.

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62. Sixty two

I wake up in the middle of that night and my hand is linked with Charlie's across the space between the sofa I'm on and his bed. I smile and then realise my phone is flashing with a missed call. It must be from James checking up on me and I am glad we're okay again but I do know that I'm meant to be here with Charlie. I check my phone but it isn't James. It's Faye. I don't really know what to do, surely she didn't mean to call me. And she's probably asleep. I text her:

Do you want to talk? 

She doesn't reply but she calls me again and I step outside, walking to the canteen and answer the phone. 

"Hey." I say surprised. 

"Hey." she says sounding like she's holding back a little but not like she hates me. "Uh, you free to talk?" 

"I'm at the hospital with Charlie but I can talk."

"That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about." she says and I hear her voice wobble a little. "I heard about the baby. I know I'm the last person you want to talk to right now-"

"No, you're the main person I want to talk to right now." I promise her. "I thought I was the last person you wanted to talk to."

"You were." she says, her voice thick. "But I also can't stand back and know you're going through something like this when I'm not there to be your best friend."

There's a lump in my throat now. "I didn't think you wanted to be my best friend anymore."

She sighs. "You hurt me so bad Eve. More than I thought anybody could ever hurt me, let alone you. But you need me and I don't want to ignore that. We need to at least try and move past it don't we?" 

"I'd love that." I say and she laughs. 

"Okay good. Because I missed you." she admits and I laugh too. 

"I missed you too." 

"Alright, you go back to Charlie." she says. "Want to meet up tomorrow?" 

"Yeah, come over to mine." I say, feeling like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I'm very confused. Half of me is heartbroken, half of me is so happy about having my friends be my friends again. I don't know, I think I'm just going to have to go day by day.

I get back into the room and Charlie's stirred again. 

"Hey." I say and he's a lot less loopy than earlier on. 

"Oh my god." he groans. "Look after your ribs. I feel like shit."

"Oh no. Want me to get you anything?" I stroke his hair back and he takes my hand, shaking his head. 

"No thank you. But come sleep here." 

I kind of don't want to spend another night cramped up in that bed but I also want to be as close to him as possible and who am I to deny him his wishes when he's so hurt? I get into bed next to him, curling up and he chuckles, scooting over.

"Don't hurt yourself." 

"I'm fine." he pulls the covers out from under me and puts them over me. 

"You're not meant to be looking after me." I smile at him.

"Well we look after each other don't we?" he says and I laugh. 

"You're so soppy it's disgusting." 

"Says you, little miss 'I love you endlessly'." he grins and I burst out laughing. 

"Alright, we're both gross." I say, shutting my eyes. "Let's go to sleep."

"Seriously, I'm the hurt one and you're still the one going to bed early."  

"I would go to bed early if you'd actually shut up."

We're both silent for a moment and then laugh. 

"Night." he whispers.

"Night."

The next morning once Charlie's back home and I've spent a couple of hours with him I go back home ready for Faye to come over. I'm beyond excited to see her again. I'd get excited to see her before when we hadn't seen each other for a couple of days. It's been months since we've even smiled at each other. Finally there's a knock at the door and I rush over, ready to be reunited and squeal and be girly. My face drops when I see it's James. 

"You can't be here." I say and he frowns but there's a smile on his face too. 

"You invited me." 

"Shit, I did didn't I?" I realise. "It's just that Faye's coming here."

He winces. "I should go right."

And then Faye's car pulls up in the driveway. She gets out of the car, looking kind of confused. 

"I accidentally invited you both." I bite my lip, nervous. "Are you mad?" 

"No no." she says calmly. "I am Audrey Hepburn."

"You are Audrey Hepburn." I repeat, confused. 

"A classy, elegant woman." she nods, turning to James. "Hello again James. It's been a while."

"Hey, what's up?" he says, trying to be upbeat but I can see he's dying inside. 

"Not a lot. Let's all hang out together." she smiles.

"Oh no, I can go..." James says but she just wanders inside regardless. He gives me a desperate look but I just shrug, smiling. What Faye wants, Faye gets and if she wants us to all hang out then all hang out we shall. 

I'd like to say it's not awkward but it really is. It doesn't seem to be on her part but James and I aren't taking it so easily. She chats away confidently and I push myself to talk back but James stays pretty quiet the whole time. I don't understand how Faye isn't uncomfortable right now. It's bad enough being around your ex, especially one who cheated on you and to be around the girl he cheated on you with who happens to be your best friend? That must be kind of brutal but she's just her normal self. 

"I'm sorry, is this not weird?" James blurts out when Faye is telling us her plans for redecorating her room. She raises her eyebrow at him. 

"Huh?" she asks. 

"You know, with everything that's happened. Now we're all just hanging out together?" he sighs exasperated. "I'm freaked out!"

"I'm freaked out too." I admit and she frowns at us both. 

"You're freaked out? Are you worried I'm still mad?" 

"I guess so." James shrugs and she laughs. 

"I'm fine. Eve is my best friend and as for you, I've slept with 3 and dated 2 guys since you. You're like old news." she shrugs, smiling.

"Well you didn't need to put it quite so harshly." he mutters but I smile. 

"Well I'm glad everything's okay." I say and she bites her lip, looking kind of nervous. 

"Is everything okay? With you?" she asks. I feel really down all of a sudden. They'd kind of distracted me from thinking about the baby. Now I feel bad because I was so easily distracted from it. What kind of mother does that mean I was going to be? 

"Honestly I kind of forgot for today." I say, a lump in my throat. "Does that make me an awful person?" 

"No, it doesn't." James shakes his head. "You knew somewhere in your mind you needed distracting because you're heartbroken. You just let us be the ones to do it."

"I just feel like it's all my fault." I cry. "Who else was going to protect that baby other than me? It was my responsibility and I couldn't do it."

"It's not your fault." Faye shakes her head. "There was nothing else you could do Eve."

"There had to have been." I cry. "Otherwise who am I supposed to blame for something so horrible? If I can't blame anyone then I just have to accept it and I don't want to accept it!"

A tear spills onto Faye's cheek and she gets up, pulling me into a hug. They stay for a little while longer and then Faye has to go so James is heading out as well but he stops in the doorway and turns around to look at me again. I wait for him to say something but he stays quiet. 

"You alright?" I ask him and he shrugs. 

"Mind if we talk?" 

I step aside, letting him back in. We go and sit in the living room and he pulls his knees up to his chest, relaxing back into the cushions. It's kind of comforting to see him be so at home here, like nothing changed. 

"What do you want to talk about?" I ask him, leaning back into the cushions on my side too.

"The fight we had at the party." he says and then sits forward. "I don't want you to not speak your mind and then one day remember why you were angry and then leave again." 

"I don't know what to say." I shrug. 

"I think you do." he says softly and I sigh. 

"I just felt really let down. I didn't know you at all." It's the first time I'm thinking about how I felt about that incident in months. I forgot how much it actually hurt me to feel like he wasn't who I thought he was. "You were so... malicious. And spiteful. It felt like everything before that was a lie."

"Why would I lie?" he asks, not like he's arguing, just curious. 

"To just get your taste of the real world." I say and it surprises me that it stings to say that. "You said it yourself, at the very beginning, Faye was the most exciting thing to you. I just felt like that's what the whole thing was, all of us being friends, me and you, it was just you rebelling against your parents. We were your excuse to be normal."

"Eve, that's just not true at all." he says, exasperated. "Sure, Faye was exciting to me. She was new and different and if I wanted to just keep that feeling going I would have stayed with her. But I loved you."

"Was it love though?" I raise an eyebrow. "And you can say no. You just don't do what you did to somebody you love."

"I did it because I loved you. I didn't do the right things at all and I did try and go against you and I'm sorry. I just never felt like I was the first option for you. You'd be there saying all these wonderful things to me, sleeping right next to me but I'd still be thinking that you said those things to Charlie, you slept like that next to Charlie. Like why be with me when you could do the exact same thing with him, who you loved more."

"It wasn't about who I loved more." I say. "It was about who I liked being with. And I liked being with you."

"Liking being with me wasn't quite enough though." he says, not looking at me. "I don't want you to link this to the baby, because I'm not, but maybe it's best we don't have to be together forever."

"Yeah." I agree, kind of sad but kind of relieved. "I don't want things to be awkward though. However cliche it sounds we've been through a lot together. You're one of my best friends."

He looks at me again, a smile on his face this time. "You're one of mine too."

I thought I didn't love him before but that's not true. I wasn't in love with him. But now we're just friends, it's nothing more than that, I realise I do love him and I care for him. Not the way he wanted me to, but the way that matters now. 

He goes home and I feel kind of content again. Still weary and partly sad but content. I think I've got to realise that feelings aren't always black and white. I'm not going to be completely sad or completely happy all the time. I've just got to take it day by day, like I thought. 

I text Charlie: 

Missing you 

He replies:

I'm going to be asleep within the next hour so hurry x

He's in bed when I get there of course and he smiles at me. He looks kind of sleepy but he's smiling too. I get into bed beside him and expect a 'hey' but instead he comes out with "Are we engaged or what?"

"Oh." I say surprised, laughing. "If you want to be."

"Yeah I want to be." he smiles. "Do you want to be?" 

"Obviously." I give him a look and he chuckles. "So how long do we wait?" 

"Until we're ready. And until you're eighteen." he says, playing with my hand. 

"I'm ready now. I just think it sounds like a bad idea to be married at eighteen. Not that I don't have every faith in us, I'm just worried we'll jinx things."

"Then we wait." he kisses my forehead. 

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