The next day while Niall was at work and in the middle of contemplating his next moves regarding Fiona and Chantelle, he received a text message from the latter. She pulled no punches; simply asking if he wanted to visit her house tomorrow where she’d cook for him and they could enjoy some sober conversation. He advocated her direct style, though didn’t respond immediately.
What he had to consider was that she was likely inviting him round because the house was absent any parents (he’d discovered she still lived with her mum and step dad at that point), which meant she probably had other ideas in mind too. If that step was to be taken then Niall knew his decision was effectively made. There was no way he was going to even attempt to juggle two women mainly. He knew his conscience couldn’t handle it even if there was no actual official relationship with either Chantelle or Fiona.
As much as he wanted to see Chantelle again, he’d have rather they met somewhere public so they could hold off the physical intimacy. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to sleep with her. He wanted it in the worst way. What he didn’t want to do was consummate their relationship while everything was still up in the air. What if he slept with Chantelle and then Fiona decided she wanted to ditch her boyfriend to be exclusive with him? That would cause nothing but problems.
What Niall needed to do was make Fiona an ultimatum and he knew it. He’d have to tell her it was either him or James and that she had to make the choice straightaway. Niall knew he had to do that; however, he didn’t know if he could. He wasn’t sure if it was because he didn’t want to be so imposing on Fiona or if he was scared of what her choice would be. His head spun as he contemplated and—
“Niall,” came the voice of Rob.
“Yeah,” Niall replied; snapping out of his daydream.
“Work to be done, mate.”
“Yeah… sorry, Rob. I was in a world of my own.”
Rob gave Niall a good-natured pat on the shoulder and Niall quickly got back to his work. He’d have to save contemplation until later.
When he arrived at home, Niall went immediately for the fridge and grabbed himself a bottle of lager. He sat in the front room and drank while he thought of what he should do. In his mind, the lager would help dull his inhibitions and allow him to think more clearly.
That bottle turned into another while he stared blankly at the TV; unaware of what was even on the screen. It seemed that every part of him would point towards Chantelle then he’d get pulled suddenly back because of his strength of feeling for Fiona. It was becoming frustrating.
A third bottle quickly went down followed by a fourth shortly after; his senses dulling just as rapidly as his inhibitions were. It concerned him how easy it was to turn to drink of late. He was doing it more frequently and in much greater abundance than usual; almost rivalling how much he drank in his early twenties before getting together with Vikki. While deliberating cutting back on the drinking, Niall went and grabbed a fifth bottle.
Time was wearing on. He knew he’d have to consider getting to bed soon, especially given how much he’d had to drink. Plenty of sleep would be necessary in light of the fact that work awaited him the next morning. Chantelle’s invite had still gone unanswered and he knew she’d likely be concerned as around nine hours had passed since she sent the message. It never took him that long to reply. Niall had to send her something back before she became suspicious that he was giving her a silent brush off.
He picked up his phone and opened the message thread. Chantelle’s words appeared on the screen. Firstly, he ensured to type how sorry he was about the delay, omitting details as to what the delay was for. Then he hesitated. It was time to make a snap decision. He cleared his mind of all the intricate details for just a few seconds and brought it down to one simple question; did he want to go to Chantelle’s house tomorrow? He looked back down at his phone and began typing.
“I’d love to come round tomorrow. Sounds perfect. I’m on an early finish so I can be there at 4 x.” He pressed send immediately to prevent himself from delaying further. It was done. He’d acted on impulse and his impulses told him he wanted to explore what was happening with Chantelle. She had really gotten under his skin. He was excited by her.
Her response was quick. “4 will be good. I’ll see u then. Lookin forward to it x.” The date was set. Niall felt much calmer now it was confirmed. It felt good to have finally made a decision and one he was content with. He’d do all he could to put Fiona to the back of his mind until such a time as the situation was convenient to deal with. Until then, he’d enjoy whatever might be brewing with Chantelle.
They spent a little while texting back and forth. Niall decided on an early night to give his slightly drunken head a chance to heal itself before his 0630 alarm rudely awoke him. As he got ready for bed, Niall fended off thoughts of Fiona and did his best to remain upbeat about the upcoming date with Chantelle. It worked up to a point. The bad thoughts were too strong though and they soon consumed everything. His heart ached for Fiona. He wasn’t sure if he said it aloud or if it was in his mind, but Niall definitely heard the words “please… please just get out of my head,” in his own voice before falling into a despondent sleep.
TO BE CONTINUED
Title image from Shine Aloud.