“I get you’re upset, Niall, but you can’t go bombarding me with texts and calls like that. It’s a good job my phone was on silent.”
“No, Fiona. You don’t get it at all,” Niall replied quietly. “You get the best of both worlds. You get me and you get him. While I’m not with you, I get to go out of my mind because I can’t have you the way I want you. At least James gets the joy of being blissfully ignorant.”
The line went quiet. Niall could hear Fiona breathing on the other end while he awaited some form of reply.
“It hurts me too, you know,” she finally muttered.
“Oh, I’m sure it tears you asunder,” Niall replied sarcastically.
“It isn’t easy for me to know that this hurts you, Niall. I didn’t want things to go this way.”
“Unfortunately things rarely go the way you want when you’re playing two people.”
“You clearly can’t let this go can you?” Fiona asked rhetorically with an edge to her tone.
“I don’t like sharing, Fee. I certainly don’t like being the other guy. If you’d told me from the start that you…” Niall cut himself off. He wasn’t sure if he meant what he was going to say so withdrew from saying it. “I just wish you’d been honest from the start. I thought you were mine.”
“I am yours, Niall. I’m just somebody else’s too.”
It annoyed him that she could just say it so matter-of-factly as though the situation was entirely normal. What got him down was the fact that it was becoming increasingly normal in that day and age. What got him down further was the fact that she really did have no intention of choosing either way which one of him and James she wanted. She really was all for having her cake and eating it. Her justifications of her behaviour were evidence of that.
“I… I think I’m going to need to take a break from all of this, Fee. I need to work things out. Although I can’t stand to be away from you, the situation is killing me.”
“So what does that mean?” Fiona asked; sounding upset.
“I’m not going to see you for a while. I either need to get my head around the situation or shed myself of the feelings I have for you. Whichever comes first I suppose.”
“Is there no other way we can sort this out? I don’t want to go for ages without seeing you and not knowing one way or the other if you still even want to see me after you’ve thought.”
“And I don’t want to share you with another bloke. We don’t always get what we want.”
Touché, Niall thought. It’s not like she could argue with what he said. He could have been burning his bridges, but he was beyond caring now. If she ended their thing then it made life so much easier for him. He knew he was expendable. He knew she’d never get rid of James over him. Perhaps forcing her hand was the way to go.
“Okay. Take some time to think about things,” Fiona finally agreed. “I’m not happy about not seeing you, but I’m in no position at all to be telling you what to do.”
Niall wasn’t expecting that and went quiet as the words slowly processed and reprocessed.
“Niall, are you still there?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m still here,” Niall responded; slowly coming back to reality. “Not seeing you isn’t what I want either, but I need to work out what’s best for me. I know you won’t leave him and I need to see if I’m cool with keeping this up or not.”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t leave him. I just said that I can’t right now.”
“Well let’s not split hairs. I’d still have to be the little secret in the meantime.”
“How long do you need to think?”
“As long as it takes. I can’t give you an answer because I really don’t know.”
“Okay then,” Fiona almost whispered with an unhappy sigh. “I’ll just hope it doesn’t take too long. I’ll leave you to it then I guess. I miss you.”
“I miss you too, Fee. Seeya.”
Niall hung up the phone. He felt numb, but he also felt as though his mind had dumped an awful lot of cache. Upsetting Fiona didn’t feel great. Not seeing her felt worse. Not even staying in touch via text or phone call sounded impossible. He was going to do it though.
Looking at his phone, he noticed he had a C-MAC message. Initially, he was going to ignore it, but changed his mind. It was Chantelle responding to his message from Friday night. She apologised for the delay in getting back to him, explained a little of what she’d been doing and asked if he was okay.
This led to a message conversation that lasted all afternoon, but was about to turn extremely interesting.
“So are we ever actually going to meet or are we just dropping messages forever,” a message from Chantelle read; completely going off the subject of their conversation. Niall was stumped. He really didn’t know how to answer her question. The truth was that he hadn’t even thought about the possibility of their ever meeting, but now that he was faced with the question it seemed obvious that she would either eventually want to meet or phase out like the others. She was the only person who even messaged him on C-MAC anymore and had been for a few weeks at least.
He didn’t respond straightaway. If he said no then that would probably seal the deal as far as their being in contact was concerned. She’d disappear as though she’d never been an entity in his life at all. If he said yes then he was declaring himself as being available; meaning he was surely giving up on the idea of him and Fiona. His response here had big repercussions. Though he didn’t want to consider that things might have to end with Fiona, he admittedly had quite a soft spot for the straight-talking and seemingly genuine Chantelle. She was funny, outgoing, interesting and called things as she saw them. There was also the fact that she was a lovely looking girl too. The fact that she was so honest made her an antithesis of Fiona who had lied from their first encounter.
Niall picked up his phone and opened the C-MAC app. He went to his inbox and brought up Chantelle’s message thread before pressing in the empty box for his reply. He looked at the letter keys as they appeared on the screen and hesitated. What do I do, he thought. Niall cleared his mind and began typing the words that his gut instinct told him to. Once finished, he cleared the letter keys and read his response.
“Yeah, I think we should meet. When are you free? x” the message read. All he had to do was hit send. He hesitated again for what felt like the fiftieth time. He thought of Fiona. He thought of how much she meant to him. He thought of the great times he’d had with her; all the fun, the laughs and the fantastic sex. Then he thought of how it had all been a con. How she had been carrying on with a boyfriend he’d known nothing about while his back was turned. Niall hit send.
It took less than a minute for Chantelle to respond; asking him what he was doing that very night. He told her he had nothing planned and she suggested he should join her and her cousin, Stacey, at a pub in a town nearby. Initially reluctant, he soon shook his irrational hesitancy and agreed to go out with them. They exchanged numbers and Niall said he’d head to them in a taxi at the arranged time to pick them up and head for the pub. It perhaps wasn’t the way Niall would have chosen to meet Chantelle the first time, but he needed to have some fun and what better to take his mind off the shit with Fiona than a few drinks with a beautiful young woman?
TO BE CONTINUED
Title image from Shine Aloud.
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