Feels Like Forever


A knock on the door sounds after another half-hour, and Emilie glances over her shoulder toward the entryway. Her body yearns for sleep, and the thought of moving in any capacity is definitely not a pleasing thought. She knows remaining where she is isn’t possible, though, so she sighs heavily and pushes to her feet. Niall takes Ryder from her without hesitation, and she grabs her phone off the coffee-table and rounds the corner of the couch. She peeks through the peephole right as the visitor starts banging on the door with their fist. Cursing, she hurries back to the living room, snapping her fingers to get Niall’s attention.

“Don’t let Ry come in sight of the door. At all.”

He nods, scoots down on the couch so that he’s closer to the far wall, and she heads back to the door, pulling it open just enough to peer out at Danielle.

“Do you mind? I have neighbours.”

“Where’s my son?”

Emilie forces herself not to recoil in disgust at the alcohol on her former-stepsister’s breath or the skunky odour that comes off her in waves. “He’s sleeping.”

“Give him to me. We’re going home.”

“Uh, you may be, but he’s not going anywhere with you in this condition. As his godmother and his aunt, I’m not putting him in danger.”

“We’re not even related,” snaps Danielle, taking a step closer; Emilie’s grip on the door tightens as she prepares to slam the door in the other woman’s face. “Your dad divorced my mom, so he’s nothing to you.”

“You made me his godmother. We signed paperwork in front of a lawyer. I take my duties very seriously.”

“Fine. I’ll just call the cops.”

“Go ahead.”

Emilie pushes the door closed and makes sure the locks are engaged. Harry stands at the end of the entryway, brows pulled together over concerned eyes. She forces a smile but doesn’t say anything; if she opens her mouth, she might just cry. The door behind her back starts jolting with each impact of Danielle’s fist, and Emilie shuts her eyes against the yelling from the hallway and the crying from the living room. Taking a deep breath, she looks at Harry.

“Can… can you have Niall take Ryder into my bedroom?”

Harry nods and turns on his heel to pass the message along. Emilie watches as Niall pauses mid-step with Ryder in his arms, flashes her a reassuring smile, then continues on into the other room. The door clicks closed behind him. Louis and Harry stay out of sight, and Emilie has never been more grateful to anyone else for knowing what to do without her having to ask. Other voices join in the cacophony in the corridor, someone yelps, and she sighs, turning and unlocking the door. Her neighbour from across the hall has Danielle pinned to the floor on her belly, his lip oozing blood and Danielle shouting obscenities as she struggles.

Ten minutes later, four officers round the corner, and Emilie opens the door further to slip out of the apartment. John backs away from Danielle, holding his hands up in the air as he nears his own door. One of the cops clears away the bystanders, while another helps Danielle up off the ground. The one nearest Emilie turns to her.

“Why don’t you go on back inside, ma’am? We’ve got this handled.”

“She’s the one that has my baby, dumbass!”

The cop frowns, and his expression goes from friendly to guarded. “Okay, ma’am. How about we go inside and talk while my colleagues here get her side of the story.”

Emilie shrugs and leads him into the apartment. He carefully examines the entryway and room beyond as she closes the door behind them. Heart pounding in her chest, she hopes that Niall can keep Ryder entertained enough until everything calms down. This isn’t something the child needs to witness. He doesn’t need the scars from it. She sits shakily on the stool at the bar and laces her fingers together in her lap. The two young men sitting on the couch keep their gazes averted to the television, though Emilie isn’t quite sure how much attention they are actually giving to the show.

“All right. So what exactly is going on?”

She sighs, blowing out a breath. “Okay. That woman is my stepsister. Well, former stepsister. But she made me her son’s godmother when he was born a little over a year and a half ago. She dropped him off here three days ago and didn’t bother telling me he was sick, so I had to take him to the doctor to get antibiotics. Well, she just showed up twenty minutes ago reeking of pot and alcohol, demanding I give him to her so she could take him home. I’m his godmother, I couldn’t just let him go with her when she’s fu ー messed up like that. So I told her she couldn’t have him because it wasn’t in his best interest. It wasn’t safe for him. Now y’all are here.”

“I see.” The officer ー Lawson, his nametag says ー looks up from where he’s been writing in his small notebook. “Do you have any paperwork proving you’re his godmother?”

“Absolutely. Should I go get it, or?”

“I’d like to come with you, if that’s all right with you.”

Emilie slips off the stool, waves for the cop to follow, and taps gently on her bedroom door. Ryder is asleep, sprawled out on the bed, when she steps inside, and Niall gives her a small smile. He stays out of the way as Emilie ducks down to twist the dial on the safe under her desk, and the door swings open with a soft squeak. She grabs the file folder in question and flips through the pages until she comes to the contract. Officer Lawson takes the papers, flips through them as he scans the contents. Over the cop’s shoulder, she can see Louis and Harry craning their necks, trying to see what's going on from the living room.

“Do you have a copy of this so we can put it with our report?”

She takes the original back and hands over the copies. Officer Lawson nods succinctly then turns on his heel to make his way through the apartment. Danielle is seated on the floor in the hallway, arms behind her back, and her venomous glare could have stripped paint from steel when she looks up. Emilie pulls the door closed behind her, leans against the frame. The cops talk amongst themselves, and one of them gestures toward Danielle. Eventually, Officer Lawson steps away from the group.

“All right, Miss…?”

“Oh, uh, Ellis.”

“Okay. Miss Ellis, are you capable and willing to watch your godson until social services can be called?”

Emilie’s heart jumps into her throat, and she exhales shakily. “Yeah, absolutely.”

Danielle can be heard yelling all the way to the door to the parking garage; Emilie waits until she’s sure they’re gone before going back inside. Three young men stare expectantly at her when she enters the living room. She forces a smile and flops down onto the couch. Niall’s arms open immediately, and she leans heavily into his side, buries her face into his shoulder. The adrenalin from the encounter with Danielle and the officers has drained, and now, all she wants to do is go to sleep. Or cry. Or both. Niall seems to understand that, rubbing her back soothingly even as he distracts Louis and Harry from paying too much attention to how close her emotions are to bubbling over.

Thankfully, the guys accept it easily enough when she decides to take herself to bed around eight that night; Harry promises to keep the television volume quiet, and Emilie gives him a smile of gratitude before slipping into the bedroom. Niall follows closely behind. While she brushes her teeth, he shifts Ryder over in the bed to leave space for her, then waits until she’s back in the room to pull her into a tight embrace. Her breath comes out in a shuddering gust; he holds her through the sobs and hiccups, murmurs softly to her the entire time, and then pulls the blankets up over her and the child after she’s laid down. His lips are warm against her temple, and she barely gets the chance to murmur out a goodnight before she’s asleep.
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this week is a special one! since my story dreams unwind only has a couple more chapters until it's done, i've decided to do double-updates for all of my stories this week! so you'll be getting a chapter of this one today and tomorrow, and a chapter of so long on thursday and friday!