THREE AND A HALF YEARS LATER
For a little while, Niall actually managed to make an honest woman of the wildly promiscuous Fiona. After accepting being the other guy for a while, happy not to be in anything too serious, it was Fiona who finally made the decision to end her relationship and be exclusive with Niall instead. It went well for a bit, though it soon became apparent that they didn’t quite work as a couple. Their breakup was at least amicable and they remained friends.
Niall stayed single for a while after that. He got himself a new, better paying job and started renting a place of his own. This made him a much more attractive prospect to women in general yet he wasn’t interested in anything more than an occasional passing fling.
It was a bittersweet feeling for him when, just a week over two years after their relationship had ended, Vikki got married to the man who she’d got with after him. He wasn’t bitter about the fact she was getting married but more because everything had gone so smoothly for her since they’d called it a day. Other than that, he was genuinely happy that she’d moved on with her life and had found her true love.
Vikki’s nuptials prompted him to get back out onto the dating scene. Unsurprisingly, he stayed away from C-MAC and other dating sites, instead choosing to meet women the old fashioned way: by going out and talking to them. He also tried dates with a few friends from Facebook. Nothing seemed to fit no matter how hard he or the woman in question tried. Niall was becoming quickly convinced that he’d be better off single for the rest of his life.
Then, one day, his fortunes in the relationship department changed. He’d been charged the task of training a new employee and, initially dubious, was delighted to see that she was a stunning young woman. Claire was also very bright and friendly with it. The two quickly became friends. Shortly after that, they went on their first date and a relationship naturally followed.
Claire was a hit with his family and friends. She was nothing like previous girlfriends of Niall’s; a much gentler and more softly spoken woman. Niall was extremely happy. After years of near-misses and fruitless searching, he’d finally stumbled across someone who he could genuinely see a future with. It helped that Claire was completely besotted with him too.
Niall was sat in his office at work concentrating on the data that filled the computer screen before him. It was a slow day and he was looking forward to its end—especially as it was a Friday, which meant an early finish and two days off.
He heard his phone buzz on the desk and glanced quickly at it. It was a Facebook notification. That could be ignored and he duly did ignore it to resume his work. Twenty minutes later, when he’d finished that particular job, Niall retrieved his phone and was about to look at the notification when a knock on the door disturbed him.
“Only me,” Claire uttered musically as she poked her head around the door.
Niall smiled broadly, stood, and walked over to her; taking her in a swift, tight embrace and kissing her on the lips. “How’s your day going, beautiful?”
Claire’s green eyes sparkled as she broke into a shy smile. Even after nine months in the relationship she still got embarrassed when Niall complimented her. She brushed a few loose strands of her blonde hair away from her face. Recently she’d had it cut into a bob and it really suited her—at least it did to Niall. It left her smooth, milky neck on display and he liked that.
“I’m glad it’ll be soon over,” Claire said.
Niall pulled her in close again and closed the door by backing her up against it. With a firm grasp on her backside, he kissed her with great fervour and it caused her to moan pleasurably. While they hadn’t given in to temptation at work so far, Niall was always insistent there would come a first time.
He broke from the kiss momentarily. “Do you really have to go this weekend?”
“You know I do. I’m the chief bridesmaid,” Claire responded breathlessly as Niall took advantage of her bare neck.
“What am I gonna do by myself?” His voice was muffled as he continued to attack her neck with kisses.
“You could actually see your friends for the first time in I don’t know how long.”
Niall pulled away with a guilty look on his face. “It has been a while, hasn’t it?”
“It certainly has,” Claire replied in a chiding tone.
“I can’t help it. Having constant sex with you is just so much more entertaining!”
They both laughed and kissed again for a moment. Niall then returned to his seat—discreetly adjusting his trousers as he went—while Claire sat on the chair across the desk. He retrieved his phone again and finally got the notification up.
His heart skipped a beat. He couldn’t even explain why. Claire was saying something and he couldn’t hear a word of it. The notification was as surprising as it was arbitrary. A friend request—from Chantelle. They hadn’t spoken in well over three years. What had possessed her to want to connect again in any way?
“Niall? What do you think?” Claire asked.
“Sorry… uhm… what were you saying?”
“What’s wrong? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“I… suppose I kinda have,” Niall muttered quietly.
“It’s just a friend request I really wasn’t expecting.”
“Oh, okay. Anyone interesting?”
“Just an old friend. Somebody I was close to once. We haven’t spoken in years.”
Claire said nothing more about it and started to talk again about the upcoming hen party that she was attending that weekend.
Niall did his best to listen. Most of it got through though his mind was mainly consumed by the friend request. He had a sudden urge to find out what Chantelle’s game was.
TO BE CONTINUED
Title image from Shine Aloud.