Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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23. ⪻ 23 ⪼

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H.

For some reason I’m nervous.

I’d been on plenty of dates in the past, even an amazing one with Belle before, but still I’m nervous. Prior to our first date, I was positively buzzing with nerves. We’d become fast friends and I was hoping that we wouldn’t regret trying to date. I was pleasantly surprised when the first date when so well, aside from me having to leave early due to work.

But now as I stand outside the door to Annabelle, and Edward’s, flat I can feel my heart beat rise steadily. Part of me regrets not bringing flowers, another part of me wonders if I’ve dressed too casually, or too formally. I wonder what Annabelle will wear, and I wonder how she’ll react when she sees me.

Will she smile and wrap me in one of those bone crushing hugs she’s known for, or will she play it cool?

With a deep breath, I bring my fist up to the door and give a couple knocks, listening for the light footsteps on the other side. I hear her shout to someone, probably Edward, before her footsteps are right on the other side of the door and my heart is caught in my throat.

When she opens the door an immediate smile comes to my lips upon seeing that she’s not anywhere near ready to go. Her hair is wrapped on top of her head in a towel, light makeup delicately painted across her face and a fluffy robe covers her body.

“Hello, you look -” She holds up her hand to stop me.

“Not ready yet?” She wonders, her tone a bit irritated. “Yes, I know.”

Looks like someone had a rough day.

“I was going to say beautiful.” I compliment, stepping into the flat without necessarily being invited in. I lean down, pressing a delicate kiss to her cheek in hopes to ease her attitude, or stress, a bit. “Rough day?” I ponder, my words whispering in her ear.

“You could say that.” She responds, sighing lightly. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to ruin our date night with my irritation. I promise once I’m done getting ready I’ll be in a peachy mood.” She tells me, a miniscule smile coming to her lips. With a little pat on my shoulder, she points down the hall towards the bedrooms. “Edward is in his room if you’d like to say hello.”

Annabelle smiles towards me before backing into the hall and disappearing into the room at the end of the hall. I watch her until she shuts the door before making my move to go and see Edward.

I still feel extremely guilty over the fact that I wasn’t able to take Edward off Annabelle’s hands today. I had a surgery scheduled for the middle of the morning, with no telling exactly what time I’d be done. Plus, you have to factor in the patient’s recovery time, paperwork, the surgery itself, among other things. Thankfully, I was able to get off in time for a date night, even if I am a wee bit tired.

“Hey buddy.” I say, knocking against the doorframe of Edward’s room. I find him perched upon his bed with a book in his hands, focusing intently on what he’s reading, barely looking towards me.

If I had guess, I'd say the punishment of no telly or tablet wasn't that rough on him. He seems to enjoy reading quite a lot.

“Hi Harry.” He greets. I enter his room, striding over towards him and taking a seat on the edge of his bed. He barely pays me any mind before he’s back to his book.

“How are you?” I wonder, trying to create some kind of conversation with him. It used to be so easy to talk to him, now it’s like talking to a wall. Hopefully, Niall has better luck than I with trying to get him to open up.

“Fine.”

“What are you doing?” His eyes peel from the book, setting it down on his lap before turning his full attention to me.

“I’m reading, because I can’t watch telly for a week.” He reminds me, still pouting a little bit.

I can’t help but wonder how much of a fit he threw last night after I left. Clearly, he doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about the punishment and he surely didn’t make a big fuss yesterday whilst I was here.

“Reading is fun and pretty cool too.”

“I guess.” He shrugs, seemingly disinterested in the conversation.

“How did you like going to work with Annabelle today? Did you learn anything?”

“It was okay. I learnt that work isn’t a fun place to be.” He mumbles, eyes lifting from the book to gaze over at me. He almost looks hesitant to tell me about his day, and I can't help but wonder why.

“Why’s that?” I wonder, presumably he was just bored the entire time. I would be too if I had to sit behind a desk and type all day, a major reason why I went into the medical field.

“There was a mean lady there.” My ears perk up a bit, wondering who on earth could possibly be mean to Edward, or perhaps Annabelle.

“Mean how?”

“As soon as we got there, she pulled Annie away and I could hear her yelling, even through a wall! It was kind of scary. And then when Annie came back out, she looked like she was going to cry.”

Before I can question Edward further, or even dart off to Annabelle’s room to ask her what had happened, the doorbell sounds throughout the house.

“Sounds like Niall’s here.” Edward smiles a little bit, but doesn’t make a move to get off his bed. I give his little knee a pat before getting up and answering the door myself, calling out to Annabelle to say I’ve gotten it.

I open the door to find my smiling friend with a football in his hand. He looks to be in a much better mood than he was at work, though he was pretty cheery at work this morning.

“Hey mate.”

“Hey, you beat me here this time.” Niall exclaims, entering the flat and taking a look around, as if it would be any different than the time he’d been here. “Where’s my little man, I got him a new football, seeing as his old one is all torn up.”

“He’s in his room.” Niall grins and looks down the hall, hoping to get a glimpse of the boy, but coming up empty. “You better not even think about playing that in the house.” I warn, gazing down at the ball, which is being tossed between both of his hands lightly.

I can already imagine Annabelle losing her mind if he were to start kicking it within the flat. With his slight clumsiness I'd have doubt he'd break something. Annabelle doesn't need anything else to worry about.

“Relax, mate, I wouldn’t dare.”

“I know, just tread lightly when it comes to Annabelle though.” Niall drops the ball onto the ground before stopping it with his feet to keep it from rolling about.

“Uh oh, what’s the matter?”

“Apparently, she got shouted at at work today.”

“What the hell?”

“Yeah, Edward told me; he saw the whole thing.” I respond, biting the inside of my cheek.

“Edward was there?” Niall wonders. I know I made the initial plans for Niall to come over and watch Edward, but Annabelle followed up with him. I thought she would have told him about what happened yesterday, including the whole suspension thing.

“Didn’t she tell you?” Niall shakes his head, confusion swiping across his face. “Edward was suspended for a day.”

“He just started though.”

“Some child at Edward’s school told him his parents died because they didn’t love him anymore, so Edward hit him.” I explain in short.

I don’t want to go into all the details of the other child’s mother basically threatening Annabelle and Edward. I know if I bring it up, I’ll just get mad, and that’s not something we all want.

“Good on him.”

“Don’t encourage him. Annabelle will kill you.”

“Why will I kill Niall?” Both Niall and I turn around at the sound of Annabelle’s voice.

I can’t help my eyes from glancing her up and down, drinking the image of her in. She’s dressed in a simple button-up dress with a pair of sneakers on her feet. Even when she’s dressed so simply, she still looks so magnificent.

“No reason.” I answer, once my eyes are done staring at her beauty.

“Uh-huh.”

“Hey Annabelle.” Niall pipes up, walking past me to wrap his arms around Annabelle.

I’m not a jealous person, but if anybody aside from Niall were to grab her in a hug like that, and kiss her on the cheek, I can’t promise that I wouldn’t do everything in my power to pull the man off her.

“Hi Niall. Thank you so much for doing this, again. I promise once things have settled down I’ll find someone else to watch him. I know you probably want to spend your nights off doing something more fun than babysitting.”

“I don’t mind. Plus, one wrong move with a new person watching him and he may strike the sitter.” Annabelle peers over Niall’s shoulder to look at me.

“Harry told you about that, huh?” Niall nods. “I’m sorry, I should have given you a head’s up. Things have just been hectic.”

Annabelle goes on to explain what happened in a bit more detail and then instructs Niall on what Edward’s punishments are. It’s pretty entertaining to listen to Niall pout about no television or tablet time, like it were him that was punished in some way.

“Go; get out of here you two. Have fun, but not too much fun!” Niall’s voice, as well as Annabelle’s arm wrapping around my waist, draws me from my stupor. I grin down at Annabelle, receiving a smile in return.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Five minutes later, Annabelle and I are sitting in comfortable silence in the front seat of my Range Rover. The only sound between us was a soft humming coming from Annabelle’s lips to the tune of whatever song was playing on the radio. As much as I really just want to start enjoying this evening and focusing on us at the moment, I can’t help but think about what Edward had said earlier.

“How was work today?” I ask, lightly pushing the subject to act as if all is normal and that I don’t have a slight idea of what had occurred.

“Um, alright.”

“Only alright?” I push. Annabelle turns her head towards me, flashing me a knowing smile.

“What’d Edward tell you?” I shrug my shoulders.

“That you didn’t have a good day.” The sigh that leaves Annabelle’s lips is heavy and full of stress, I can tell.

“That’s an understatement.” I open my mouth to question her further, but she’s already beaten me to it, explaining just what had happened. “Edward woke up okay today; I, on the other hand, did not. That being said, we ran late to work, so immediately my boss wanted to meet with me. I should have told you yesterday, but my boss was not happy about me ditching out.”

“Even to care for your brother?”

“Even for that reason.” She mutters, her words laced with venom. Clearly, she does not like this woman. “Anyways, she chewed me out for being late after leaving early yesterday, then she saw Edward. I had left out at my post, but he could see the whole thing, unfortunately.” Annabelle pauses, rubbing her temples, something I’ve noticed she does when she gets stressed. “I thought I was fired right then and there.”

“Were you?” If Annabelle was fired over something so simple, I would have stormed right up to her boss and begged for her job back myself.

“No, thank God. She said that I’m on my last strike though.” I find myself getting angrier than I was simply hearing that she was yelled at.

I should have probably given Annabelle a head’s up, but I do suffer from a bit of an anger issue. It doesn’t happen often and I like to think I have it all under control, which most of the time I do. But there are certain things that set me off.

“How can she--” I pause, wanting to rephrase my words. “Can she do that?” Annabelle just sighs, seemingly unaware of the literal smoke billowing out of my ears.

“In her defense, I was late and I have been a tad distracted.”

“No.” I state, my grip on the steering wheel tightening slightly. “No, in her defense, it’s uncalled for. Screaming at you at work? I don’t care if you deserved it, which you didn’t; she has no right!” By now I’m gripping the wheel so tightly my knuckles are turning bright white.

I can see Annabelle out of the corner of my eye, but right now I pay her no mind. I’m too caught up in my head, thinking about ways to confront her boss. The images of me yelling at her ungrateful, bįtch of a boss were circling around in my head. If I wasn’t a master of attention to detail, I think I would have crashed the car by now.

“Harry, calm down.” I can hear the slight fear in Annabelle’s voice and it only angers me more. “It’s alright.”

“It’s not, Belle. That’s not how you treat a person.”

Before I know what I’m doing, my fist comes up and makes contact with the steering wheel. What I witness in the seat besides me is ever more horrific than me losing my temper for the first time in months, maybe even years. Annabelle had jumped, clearly frightened by my outburst. She was now leaning against the passenger side door, almost cowering away. And I don’t blame her.

“Whoa! Calm down.” Though her actions say fear, her words are thick with authority. “Harry, you’re kinda scaring me.” With those words, I feel nearly all the anger just drain out of me.

“What?” I pray my mind was playing tricks on me, that I hadn’t heard her correctly. Her actions are one thing, cowering away hits me like a knife through the chest, but for her to admit it, that’s another thing.

“I said you’re scaring me and if you don’t knock it off, I’ll get out of the vehicle.” She threatens, eyes burning into my side. It’s a miracle that I’m still driving.

The thought of her actually getting out of the car and leaving me is all it takes for me to inhale a deep breath, exhaling all the bad energy away. Some of it still lingers, but I try and push it way back.

“I’m so sorry.” I apologize, feeling ashamed that I let myself get that angry.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re kind of a hot head?” She wonders. From the corner of my eyes, I see her slightly relax in her seat, which in turn relaxes me as well.

“Not in a while.”

“Should I be concerned?”

“No, God no.” I tell her immediately. The last thing I want her to think is that I’d ever become violent, towards her. In the past, there have been times when my anger completely took over and there was a bit of bloodshed, but I’d never lay a hand on her. “I’m not one to lose my anger anymore. There was a time, but not anymore. I promise.”

Annabelle takes what I’ve said into consideration, nodding her head slightly to herself.

“I’m just trying to figure this out. So, my boss is something that sets you off?” It sounds crazy coming out of her mouth.

“I think I only really got mad because it was you she was yelling at and taking advantage of. I haven’t gotten that mad in a very long time. I can’t explain it, but I feel very protective of you.”

“Did you just quote that vampire movie?” I find myself laughing at her, happy that that’s what she took from what I was saying. I’m glad she was trying to put a lighthearted spin on this conversation gone wild.

“No, never!”

“Okay, just please don’t make a habit of losing your cool like that. I already have Edward to worry about, I don’t want to worry about you too.”

“Have I ruined this date too?” I wonder. This time Annabelle is the one to laugh, her laughter a melody to my ears.

“You haven’t ruined any of our dates, you goof. We’ve got the rest of the date for you to ruin it. Or we have the rest of the date for us to erase what just happened. Take your pick.”

“Erase it.” She smiles at my response, placing her hand atop mine on the gear shifter.

“Now, where are we going?”

“I hope you like burgers, because you’re about to have the best God dåmn burger of your life!”

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