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He was just trying to be funny. At least that was what he told himself. His pride refused to allow him to admit that what he’d said was fuelled by pure envy; that there had been nothing funny or jokey about it. Why wouldn’t she just accept the fact that the remark wasn’t a dig?–
The fact that he had meant what he’d said, the fact it had been fuelled by envy, the fact it hadn’t been intended to be funny, and the fact it had been a dig meant nothing to Niall. He was just vexed at the fact that Chantelle hadn’t bought into his lie.
His latest act of jealousy had triggered the immortal and much-feared words “We need to talk”. While Niall had done his best to make light of it all, Chantelle wasn’t going to be hoodwinked.
On one of his routine stalking sessions, Niall happened across a Twitter conversation between Chantelle and a man from a reality TV show; a hunky and very attractive man. The conversation had resulted in some quite shameless flirting. Niall was unable to grasp that she was flirting with a celebrity of sorts. All he saw was a threat. All he saw was that a very good-looking man was talking suggestively with his girlfriend.
Niall was too full of anger and antipathy to prejudge his actions when he posted the tweet calling the celebrity out. That was where the lie about it being a joke had stemmed from. He knew there was no way out of it and so did all he could to backtrack, even convincing himself that he’d sent the tweet in jest.
The result of it was that Chantelle wanted to see him and have a serious talk. There was no getting out of it. Niall knew what was coming. He’d pushed her too far this time… and yet, maybe, just maybe, he could talk her around. His actions were a result of the fact that he was utterly beguiled by her. His love had become possession. He could work on that. He was worried but hopeful that she would see just how much he cared about her and change her mind.
The air was cold and humid. A slight fog obscured the view all around, though Niall couldn’t be sure if the fog was real or if it was just the fog in his mind. He blew a loud sigh, raised his hand, and lightly rapped on the door.
It was an agonising wait. Ten seconds or so felt like an hour when Stacey finally came to the door. Her face was solemn, yet she smiled pleasantly through it as she always did every time she saw him. They had grown to become rather good friends.
“Hey, you. Come in.”
Niall thanked her as he stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind him. “How are you?” he asked as he walked towards the kitchen.
“I’m fine, thanks. Chantelle’s upstairs.”
“I figured. I just wanted to put my beers in the fridge,” Niall replied, holding up one of the bottles of lager he’d been carrying in a plastic bag.
Stacey nodded and gave him an apologetic look, which tugged on Niall’s heartstrings. If Chantelle had been talking to her about ending the relationship then it was surely game over tonight. He kept one of the bottles of beer out, opened it, and took a long swig before heading upstairs.
When he opened the door and stepped inside the room, Chantelle looked up from where she lay on the bed. Her glance was evanescent and she offered no greeting. Not a good start to proceedings.
He took another swig of his beer and then went to lie down next to her. “Hello,” he mumbled.
“You brought beer?” she asked; evidently not impressed.
“I thought a couple might take the edge off.”
Chantelle shuffled across the bed; ensuring there was space between them both. She looked nervous, uncomfortable, and irritable all in one sitting.
Niall sat up with his head resting on the pillow; awaiting what Chantelle had to say. He wasn’t looking forward to it, but was eager to get it over with. Then the door opened and in came Stacey. He looked quizzically at her.
“Are we watching this film then?” Stacey asked of Chantelle.
“Yeah, I’ll put it on now,” Chantelle re-joined.
Niall was dumbfounded. He had no idea what was going on as Chantelle started playing a movie on the TV and Stacey sat on the bed next to her. To make matters worse, the movie they were watching was Magic Mike; not the ideal movie for a man who’d been worrying incessantly about his girlfriend lusting over men better looking than he was. He couldn’t help feeling that she was toying with him.
They each sat there largely in silence; Chantelle and Stacey with the occasional “Ooh” at the sight of male flesh, Niall drinking his beer and chuckling at the realisation of Kevin Nash’s role in Magic Mike. The tension could have been scooped with a spoon.
After what felt like an age, the movie came to an end. An awkward silence beckoned. Stacey seemed somewhat reluctant to leave the room, though she eventually did; casting a mournful glance at Niall as she walked out.
Still silence occupied the room. Chantelle stared dead ahead—her eyes wide. Niall looked at her; drinking in as much of her as he could ahead of what was to inevitably come. While his veneer was calm, his stomach was churning through fear. This couldn’t be it, surely!
“I think you know what I want to say,” Chantelle finally uttered; still refusing to even glimpse at Niall.
“Listen, Chan, I’m sorry about the tweets to that guy. I just get a bit jealous sometimes and—”
“I don’t care about the tweets, Niall,” she interrupted. “They were just a final nail in the coffin. I’ve not been into this relationship for a couple of weeks now. You’re not the same guy I met months ago. You were really cool and laidback, whereas now you’re just so clingy and jealous. I feel like you’ve lied to me about who you are.”
“I haven’t lied to you, Chantelle. People change to suit the environment around them. That’s all I’ve done. If I’m jealous then it’s only because you’ve given me cause to be.”
“I haven’t though, Niall,” she responded with a touch of irritation. “I’m still the same with guys now as I was when we met. I admit I flirt with people, but so do you.”
“I haven’t flirted with anybody for ages.”
“So what exactly are you still active on C-MAC for?”
Niall didn’t know how to respond. There was no answer he could give that would make him look any better. Admitting he was actually messaging women on there or that he was frequently snooping on her profile to see what she was up to wasn’t going to serve him either way.
Chantelle resumed. “You should probably just admit that you aren’t really into this relationship either.”
“That’s just it, Chan. I’m very into it. I can’t help getting scared about the fact I might lose you to somebody better. I know I’m not your type and I’m not sure you even fancy me as you never actually say whether you do or not.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake! Are you being serious, Niall? Do you really think I’d be with you if I didn’t fancy you?”
“I don’t know. I might just be a ‘nice guy’,” Niall answered facetiously.
“I can’t be dealing with this. There’s no point. I’ve already made my mind up. It’s over!”
“Just like that? No discussion or even an attempt to fix things?”
“This problem can’t be fixed. I don’t like the person you’ve become. I’ll be better off single for a while. I think you probably will be too.”
Niall got off the bed and stood up. “Well thank you for making that fucking decision for me! You were right about one thing at least—there is no point. There never was!” He stomped towards the door and left the bedroom without another word. As he went downstairs to get his beers from the fridge, Stacey appeared from the front room.
“Is everything alright?” She asked.
“Not really. Chantelle just ended it. Although I knew it was coming, it still hurts like fuck!”
“I’m sorry,” Stacey muttered; giving him a short cuddle. “She might change her mind. You’re about the only decent guy she’s ever been with.”
“I don’t think so, Stace. Chantelle doesn’t want a decent guy; she wants a trophy! That much is clear,” he said scornfully as he got his beers out of the fridge.
“I don’t think she really knows what she wants, Niall.”
“Well, it’s no longer any of my concern. I just hope that you and I can stay friends.”
Stacey smiled. “Of course we can.”
“Good. I’ll be in touch.” He gave Stacey another hug and then left the house.
The fog had thickened; a perfect representation of his mood. He thought about calling a taxi before deciding to walk home instead. The distance really didn’t concern him at that moment in time.
As he walked, his resolve faded. The emotion was raw. The thought of never seeing Chantelle again broke his heart and he couldn’t prevent tears from forming in his eyes. He knew he’d messed it up. He knew it was his fault.
The pain he felt right at that moment was completely different to the pain he’d experienced with Vikki and Fiona. With Vikki, there had been a mutual feeling that their relationship had gone stale and that cushioned the blow. With Fiona, there had been only a feeling of injustice. On this occasion, Niall could only point the finger at himself. Chantelle was right; he had changed. He’d become obsessed with her finding a better-looking man and hadn’t the fortitude just to speak to her about it and clear the air. This was all on him and he knew it.
Still walking, Niall typed out a text message for Chantelle: “I’m sorry. I ruined this with my jealousy when I should’ve just spoken to you about what I was feeling. I guess I was just too proud. Thank you for giving me a chance and providing me with some good memories. You’re a great girl and I’m sure you’ll be a success in whatever you choose to pursue. I hope that we can be friends one day. See you around xxx”
Though the message was fairly straightforward, Niall was keen to make sure that she knew he wasn’t blaming her for everything.
Home was still a good long way away. Plenty of time to drink the remaining beers.
TO BE CONTINUED
Title image from Shine Aloud.