The feeling of guilt coupled itself with a feeling of annoyance expressly because he felt guilty. Why on earth should he feel guilty for enjoying his conversation with Chantelle? It’s not like he was secretly in a relationship with her or anything. She was a really nice girl and very chatty. He spent most of Thursday night, Friday and Saturday messaging her. It was all quite normal conversation with a hint of flirting, but nothing too heavy. The best thing about it was that it cheered Niall up aside from the aforementioned pangs of guilt.
Thursday night rolled into Friday. Friday passed in the blink of an eye; even with the inclusion of a few pints at the local on Friday evening. He found he was very quick to respond to Chantelle’s messages, but would often leave Fiona waiting awhile.
That said, he was admittedly partly excited about seeing Fiona. She might have hurt him, but he was still utterly beguiled by her. He didn’t tell Chantelle about her. It was too soon for familiarity like that. He didn’t want to risk alienating her if things weren’t going to reach a happy conclusion with Fiona.
Ordinarily, Niall would go out on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy a few beers while the football was on. He was never really bothered about who was playing and only ever did it for the social aspect. On this particular Saturday, he decided to stay at home instead and play on his console which wasn’t greeted too favourably by his friends. They badgered him for the reason why he didn’t want to come out, but he told them nothing. For some reason it was mainly because he didn’t want them thinking badly of Fiona rather than protecting himself.
The day passed by and gave way to the evening. He’d arranged to go to Fiona’s at 7pm where she’d cook him dinner, but he made sure he was intentionally late and didn’t even leave his house until twenty past. Before he left, Chantelle messaged him with a photo of what she was wearing for her night out. The alarm bells rang in that instant. This was her displaying her tail feathers for him. There was no denying that she looked stunning and he made sure to tell her so. When she responded by saying it was a shame he wasn’t there to see her in the flesh that confirmed his suspicions. She was definitely interested. It stuck in his mind more than he imagined it might.
Fiona went out of her way to prepare a delicious meal for Niall and it didn’t touch the sides. He was impressed with her culinary prowess. After dinner, they retired to the sitting room where Fiona poured them wine and the two talked everything through.
“I’m just not sure I could ever feel comfortable sharing you, Fee. I don’t think I can handle being the other guy.”
“There’s no way I can explain that’ll make you understand, but you aren’t the other guy. You’re the one I yearn for when I’m alone. You’re the one who makes my heart pound and lights my fire. James lost that ability a while ago.”
“So end it with him and be with me.”
“It isn’t that simple, Niall.”
“Why? Why the hell isn’t it that simple?”
“He depends on me. He’s had to go through a lot of crap and I’m the only real support he has. If I ended it then I’d be scared of what would become of him.”
“Some support you’re offering if you’re getting nailed by another bloke,” Niall said; attempting to keep his emotions in check.
“Mental and emotional support is worth much more than sexual support. Don’t think I don’t feel bad for cheating, but it’s hardly my fault you’re impossible to resist.”
“Please! Don’t insult my intelligence, Fee.”
“I’m not! You don’t think I’m absolutely infatuated by you? Can you not tell how much I light up whenever you enter a room? I adore you.”
“Yes; I’ve felt it from the start, but people can pretend. You tell your fella that you love him while seeing me behind his back. My doubt can’t come as much of a surprise.”
“I do love him. It’s really tough to explain. I guess the only way I can say it is that my love for him is the kind where I feel protective and worry for him. With you, it’s raw passion where I can’t stand to be away from you.”
Niall tried to stop himself from feeling deeply flattered, but he couldn’t help a surge of adrenaline. He wanted to resist Fiona, but she was simply too beautiful. He wanted to play hard to get, but he was desperate to feel her touch. He could feel his resistance melting away and he was angry with himself for it. She gave him the puppy dog eyes and lightly touched his leg. His first instinct was to remove it. It was still his instinct as he reached over, put his hand on her face and kissed her. He soon became very aware that instincts couldn’t override the sensation of desire as the kissing very quickly turned into sex right there on the sofa.
The remorse was abundantly prevailing. He didn’t feel guilty about the fact that he’d spent the night making love to a woman who was in a relationship, nor even that he’d agreed to carry on seeing her. The guilt was entirely internal. He felt bad on himself. That he was doing himself a disservice. He knew that he deserved better than to be the “other guy” and no matter how Fiona dressed it up, that’s exactly what he was. The problem was that he simply couldn’t ignore the feelings he had. He couldn’t ignore the attraction, both physical and mental. She had him hooked.
What he felt as a result was self-loathing. It was still morning, but all he wanted to do was get drunk. Drinking wouldn’t solve his problems and well he knew it, but it was all he could think of to try and numb the negative sensations.
Niall resisted the urge to go to the pub for all of an hour after he got home from Fiona’s. He stayed there all afternoon and all evening right the way through until closing time. By the time he left, he was completely wasted. The entire day was a blur. As he stumbled half-dressed into bed, he attempted to remember some of what had happened, but all he got was vague flashes. Only sleep would cure it. He lay back; the room spinning around him. It didn’t take very long before the void of sleep encompassed him; his mind too frazzled even to dream.
TO BE CONTINUED
Title image from Shine Aloud.