Sequel: Black and White
Status: complete;;


chapter thirty-one;;

“No! You two can’t Skype each other right now! What the Hell are you thinking?”

I giggle at Amber’s outburst and shove her hand away from the front-facing camera on my phone. “Shut up, idiot, what the hell!” Still laughing, I avert my gaze to the person on the other end of the video call. “Sorry, babe, but according to this… very, very excitable best friend of mine, we aren’t allowed to Skype.”

“Dude,” whined Amber, “you know the rule. Now say goodnight to your lover, because I wanna get white girl wasted.”

Niall’s chuckle is clear even over my best friend’s theatrics, and I smile widely at him. “I understand, trust me. Why do you think I’m hiding in the loo instead of being out in the other room - no, Louis, go! I’m using the toilet! Shit,” he hisses, bringing his phone up closer to his face. “I gotta go, I think Lou’s figured out I’m not actually using the toilet. I love you, and I will absolutely see you tomorrow.”

I barely manage to get out an “I love you, too” before his side of the call goes wonky, the video blurring and audio going staticky. Liam’s face appears, and then he and his smug grin disappear as the call ends. I pout at the abrupt disconnection but don’t get long to dwell before Natalie and Delia are barrelling into the room; Stefanie follows at a much more leisurely pace, and she hands me a flat box wrapped in sparkly paper. I give her a confused look and open it at her insistence; inside, resting on the velvet, is a plastic “diamond” tiara. I laugh out loud when I see that the twists and curves of the plastic are actually phallic in nature.

As we finish getting ready for the night ahead, my mind wanders to all the changes that have happened in the last two years. My parents remarried around seven months after the letter I wrote to Pat- my dad. While they were off in their newly-wedded-again bliss, sipping mai tais and getting sunburnt, amber and I had moved into a lovely two-bedroom apartment she’d found; Brett moved in shortly after, but it wasn’t as weird or uncomfortable as I thought it might be. At least they can be quiet. And they didn’t put me in the middle when they went through a rough patch and considered breaking up, which is great. What’s even better is they started couple’s counselling and are stronger than ever.

Niall and I have been together the entire time, and surprisingly enough, it’s been… not quite easy, because relationships never are, especially when distance and busy schedules are very important factors. But while it’s been rough at times, I’ve also been the happiest I can ever remember being. Sure, not seeing each other in person for months sucks - Skype calls and photos are amazing, but they will never add up to the real thing. Regardless, I wouldn’t change our lives for anything. He has been my rock, my solid port in the storm, every single day. I can never thank him enough for that; all I can do is show him for the rest of our lives just how much I love him.

Alan and Jaz, I was sad to see them separate. Alan was so happy with her, and of course, that’s all I have ever wanted for him. He still hasn’t told any of us the reason why they broke up, and we aren’t asking. We’ve just accepted that it is what it is and supported him in his efforts to be complete with himself. Last I heard, Jaz is married to a doctor now.

I swipe on a pale pink shimmering lip gloss, fluff up the curls Amber spent an hour putting in my hair, and shriek when a hand plunks the tiara roughly onto the top of my head. Natalie laughs and hooks and arm around my neck, practically dragging me out of the apartment. Though three out of four of us are still famous (even though Silent Playground went on hiatus two years ago, Nat and DeDe get recognised on a regular basis), we decide to let loose without the accompaniment of our bodyguards; I can only pray that Bryan and Rick don’t choose to kill us in cold blood for this choice. Someone’s already called for a taxi, and the van is waiting by the curb by the time we reach the foyer of the building. We quickly slide into the backseat, buckle up without hesitation or protest at Delia’s stern glare.

A hand grips onto my upper arm, and I glance up at DeDe, grinning drunkenly. She motions that it’s time to go, and I frown. I’ve been having loads of fun watching the damn-near-naked men dancing provocatively in front of us for the bills in our hands. Our other friends are already standing in a small cluster, swaying into each other with the amount of alcohol they’ve imbibed. I look down at my phone’s screen, squint when the numbers blur into each other; midnight. I sigh and toss my last twenty onto the stage, and Delia leads me to the doors with the rest of our group.

She’s the only one sober - or at least, the closest to it - so she takes charge, ushering us into the van, and gives the cabbie my address. Once we arrive, I stumble up the front steps and down the hall to the elevator. Neither Natalie nor Amber are helpful in keeping me upright, since they’re as drunk as I am. Stefanie is too busy laughing at our unsteadiness to care much about the fact that each time I take a step, I nearly fall on my face. We all collapse onto the sofa and armchairs in a fit of giggles. Somewhere in the back of my mind is the free-floating thought that my neighbours are probably getting irritated with the noise and wil most likely tell me all about it tomorrow, but I am far too inebriated to give a damn.

Suddenly, I sit up straight and hiccup as I search through my pockets for my phone; I find it fifteen minutes later in the bottom of my purse. My fingers somehow locate the number I want, and I let out a small belch and shush the girls. Loudly. Their giggles do nothing but remind me that logic really isn’t my forte when liquor is in my system. The call goes to voicemail after five rings.

“Guys, shhhh, it’s ringing - oh, wait. Voicemail. Boo. C’mon, Niall, why don’t you answer? It’s me! Oh, well. Anyway. I have something really, really, really, really, really important to tell you. If I don’t tell you now, I-I-I-, I might explode! Yeah, that’s what will happen! I’ll explode, and it’ll be gross, and then you’ll be sad be-because I’m all exploded. Niall. I am, I am so fucking in love with you, I am! You’ve made so increbidly happy the past three years, and I… I can’t live without you. I can’t.” I sniffle, and Amber wraps herself around me as I start crying harder. I don’t understand it; I was literally just so happy, so why am I crying now? I shake my head and swallow thickly. “I love you. I do. I don’t want to think about you not being in my life. If you’re not there… fuck. Niall James Horan, will you marry me? I love you. Hope you’re having fun with the guys! Send my love to my brothers. Kisses and hugs since you’re not here for me to actually kiss and hug you -”

“And do loads more to!” Natalie shouts with a gleeful cackle, and I wave my hand inelegantly in her direction. “Don’t shush me, you whore! Niall needs to know how much you wanna fuuuuu-”

Thankfully, Delia’s slapped her hand over Nat’s mouth so her words can no longer be heard, and I giggle, fall off the couch. Everyone bursts out into even harder laughter, and I sit up, pouting, and rub my elbow. Stefanie helps tug me to my feet and steers me to the bathroom. I stand in the doorway staring at the toilet for a long moment, before she sighs and tells me to pee so I don’t end up pissing the bed. Someone shouts that I’m an idiot from the living room, and I flip whoever it is off and do as told. I fall face-first onto my bed, wiggle until I’m on my side, and close my eyes.

I’m utterly exhausted now that the apartment is quiet, but I can’t fall asleep. I lie awake for what feels like hours, staring at the wall. My mind replays everything that’s happened between Niall and me during the last few years.

I met his mother shortly following the guys’ release of their album Midnight Memories. It didn’t take much time after that that I met his brother, sister-in-law, and baby nephew. They all made me feel so welcome; Maura had asked so many questions about myself, told me how glad she was that Niall met me, and even asked when she’d get a grandchild from us. That had caused Niall to blush furiously and beg her to stop being so embarrassing. I’d never enjoyed meeting new people nearly that much in my entire life. My dad had pulled Niall aside once we got back to the house, he hadn’t even waited for us to unpack from the flight; Niall came to bed with a look of genuine fear in his eyes. He still won’t tell me what Dad said to make him so afraid. He claims, to this day, that it was only a “friendly chat”.

It’s so hard to believe that this is my life. I’m a well-known musician, dating a (or rather, the best) member of an internationally-renowned boyband, “adopted” by two of the other members (Liam and Zayn had even held a ceremony of sorts to claim me as their sister - otherwise known as we just sat around the living room, drank a few pints, and lit some candles while they chanted nonsensically over me), best friends with two amazing bands, with a girl who’s become a sister to me through all our years of friendship, and about to have the rest of my life dramatically changed tomorrow. It’s a wonderful life, and I’ll always be in shock that it’s mine.

Nerves suddenly seize me, dispelling what drunken fog remains cloaking my brain. I smile giddily into the dark. Though it’s been in the workds for almost a year, it never fails to make me happier than I ever thought possible. My fingers find the beautiful ring that’s taken up residence on my left hand’s third finger. Eleven months ago, Niall had convinced me to get on a flight to London and taken me to the restaurant where we’d first met. He waited until we were finished eating then reached across the table. His hands trembled slightly when they wrapped around mine, but I never got the question out before he spoke.

“Erin Why-Don’t-You-Have-a-Middle-Name McCarty, I… I could never thank you enough for forgiving me, for giving me another chance, for loving me like you do. I will never be able to tell you exactly how much I love you. You are my absolute everything, and my life would be meaningless if you ever left me. So, er, please don’t?” he shot me a nervous smile; I squeezed his hands reassuringly, and it seemed to be enough, because he inhaled shakily and continued, “I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So will you please make me the luckiest, happiest guy in the world by marrying me?”

I’d frozen, tears in my eyes. Was he really proposing to me? My mind raced, my heart beat violently against my ribs, and I could barely breathe. His grin, so full of hope and promise, started to slip at my lack of response. My brain snapped into actually working, and I rushed to answer.

“Yes. Oh, fucking Hell, Niall, yes!”

Amids applause from the other patrons, he slipped the ring onto my finger and dragged me to my feet. I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck, pressed my lips to his. I didn’t even care that people were now taking pictures of our moment. I didn’t care about anything other than the fact that I was now engaged to the most amazing man I would ever know in my life.

The planning has gone rather smoothly. We’ve known from the start who our bridesmaids and groomsmen are. With the help of my mom and Maura, everything else just… fell into place. Finding a dress was the hardest part; between my schedule with recording and touring, it just wasn’t easy to waltz right into a bridal shop and pick one. But I’d found one after a few months of scouring the internet, and after that, it’s been a matter of waiting until I can wear it. My nerves melt away, replaced by butterflies of excitement as I look forward to the next chapter of my life. I haven’t even turned twenty-two yet, but I’ve already found the man I want - no, need - to spend the rest of my life with. We’ve had our fair share of comments that our relationship, and engagement, would be another “Oh, this is forever! Oh, wait, it’s over!” love story, but I have worked my ass off with Niall to prove them wrong. And I will continue to prove them wrong, because he’s my everything.

I roll over in bed, close my eyes, and force myself to inhale deeply and evenly. It’s already one o’clock in the morning, and we all have to be up early in the morning. Tomorrow, I marry the love of my life. Tomorrow, I say “I do” and become Mrs Niall James Horan. And all I have to do is get through to tomorrow.