Feels Like Forever


Niall texts her an hour later, asking if she’s okay. Emilie swallows the lump in her throat even as she promises that everything is fine. She knows that things are going to change now - not only is she the permanent guardian to Ryder, which means she alone is responsible for him and his well-being, the relationship she has with Niall is bound to be different, too. He had sounded so excited about the idea of her moving in when he brought it up, nervous but excited especially when she hadn’t said no immediately, but now, that possibility is gone. She closes out of the messaging app and brings up her photo gallery.

The photos of Ry are now interspersed with selfies that Niall has sent over the last nine months, and the sight of his grins, his bright blue eyes… it hurts. She knows he is disappointed, how could he not be? The distance between them seems to have grown over the last couple of weeks; he hasn’t let their conversations become awkward, stilted, since he asked, but Emilie can’t stop herself from fearing that her rejection is only going to hurt them both and their relationship won’t be able to withstand it.

She locks her phone, the post-Thanksgiving picture vanishing as the screen goes black, and sets the device on the nightstand. A heaviness settles deep in her soul. The weight of her worries slowly grows, suffocating her with each he’s going to leave you, you’re going to be alone, he doesn’t want you any more that loops through her mind. Sniffling, Emilie wipes away the tear that slips along her temple to dampen her hair, gives up when more tears follow.

The quiet is broken by a harsh gasp, and Emilie bolts upright in bed. Her breath comes out rapidly, shakily, and her heart pounds painfully behind her ribs. The heat that comes from the air-vents does little to ease the chill that clings to her skin, emanates from the inside out; icy sweat drips down her spine, and goosebumps race across her flesh. The vestiges of the nightmare disappear like water through her fingers, and though she tries to hold onto them, she can’t remember what it was about. The only thing she can recall is the overpowering sensation of desperation, agonising loss, and the empty void of loneliness.

The clock on her phone says it’s just half-two, but she knows she won’t be able to sleep again. Not for a while, anyway. She throws back the covers and grabs her phone, checking on Ryder as she heads to the door. He sleeps on, peaceful and unaware of how mixed-up his aunt is, and Emilie tries to take comfort from that. She leaves the door open just a crack and makes her way on silent footsteps to the kitchen.

Tea in hand ten minutes later, Emilie sits on the couch, crossing her legs into a pretzel, and stares at her phone. She has no idea if Niall is even still awake or if he even wants to hear from her right now. Sure, he messaged earlier to check on her, but that doesn’t mean he can ignore the way she’s disappointed him. She settles further into the couch and lets her mind travel over the last nine months of him being in her life.

Niall has been such an amazing man, never demanding her attention, always so understanding when she has had to cancel phone calls or video chats. He accepted so readily that Ryder has always been her number one. Emilie closes her eyes and brings up the memories of the week she spent in LA. The peacefulness of not having anything to do but spend time with Niall, waking up in his arms or to breakfast ready downstairs, going to bed whenever she wanted and spending less time than she wanted to memorise everything about him... she wants that back. All of it, all of him.

Logically, Emilie knows that none of this is Ryder’s fault. The child is just an innocent victim of an immature, selfish mother, and Emilie can’t be angry that he’s hers now. She had known caring for him would be a potential from the moment she heard that Danielle was even pregnant. But there’s nothing she can do about the reluctance, the hesitance, the irritation, at having her life turned upside down because Danielle couldn’t grow up and put her son first.

Tears she didn’t even know were there suddenly break loose, streaming down her cheeks, and she has no idea why she’s crying. All she knows is the ache of mourning that consumes her. This is going to be the thing that destroys her relationship, and she is going to be left alone to care for a child she didn’t bring into this world, and she will never find another man like Niall even if she searches for the rest of her days. He’s a breed of his own; far too kind and patient and caring, he is irreplaceable. Or maybe it’s because she loves him more deeply than she’s ever loved someone else. He has burrowed so far beneath her skin, he destroyed all the walls she has kept firmly in place since the last disastrous attempt at a serious relationship, and Emilie nearly drowns in the truth that Niall is too perfect for her.

“Uh-oh, An’ Em spill!”

Emilie jerks awake, blinks blearily at the toddler that stands next to the couch. Her neck twinges when she sits upright, and she realises she fell asleep on the couch - and, as Ryder pointed out, spilt tea on the floor. Sighing, she gently pushes him back a few steps so he doesn’t step into the puddle. He follows her dutifully to the kitchen, moving to stand by his high-chair, and she hurriedly gets him buckled into the seat, gives him a peeled banana, and grabs a dish towel to clean up the mess on the living room floor. She has never been more grateful for stone floors than she is this morning.

Every inch of her body hurts from sleeping hunched over. It gets worse when she crouches down, her hips protesting by seeming to grind against their sockets, and she nearly cries at the pain. She was planning on going for a run this morning, but if her muscles and joints are already mutinying, that activity is off the list of things to do. She drops the sopping towel into the washing machine then heads to the fridge to get out the eggs.

She sets the plate of scrambled eggs on Ryder’s tray, kisses his forehead, and immediately moves out of the way so he can dig in. Her phone vibrates on the coffee-table; she answers the call only to have to input the code for the guest to enter the parking structure. It’s either Monica or Derek, so she doesn’t give a damn about her appearance. They both have seen her in worse condition.

“Oof, you look like shit, babe.”

“Gee, thanks, Mon.”

“Go, take a shower or something. I’ve got little man.”


“Go!” Monica laughs, shooing her away from the kitchen toward the bathroom. “Your coffee will still be waiting or you when you get out.”

“What would I do without you?”

“Have no life, mostly. Now go.”

Emilie rolls her eyes but does as so politely ordered. She can’t deny that a long, hot shower will do wonders in unkinking her muscles from the awkward position she was in all night. One of These Nights starts as soon as Pandora loads, and she smiles to herself and sets her phone on the bathroom counter. She’s just undressed and turned on the shower when a thought drifts lazily into her mind. It’s most likely a terrible decision, and she wonders if it will keep Niall from being too upset with her or make things worse. She decides to deal with the aftermath, well, after; making sure her face isn’t in the shot, she snaps the picture and sends it off to Niall, then steps into the tub.

Monica sits on the living room with Ryder when Emilie finally emerges from the bathroom thirty minutes later. It felt awkward to take so long in the shower, but the tension and stress are all but gone now, so it is worth it. She flops down onto the couch and makes grabby hands toward the drink that sits on the coffee-table. Monica is no help at all - all she does is snort in amusement and makes no move to help Emilie reach the iced mocha.

“What did you tell him?”

“I... damn, not even going to give me a chance to indulge in some coffee first? Wait, is this why you’re here?”


“I thought it was because you missed my face.”

“Of course I didn’t. I just needed the daily dose of your drama.”

Emilie gapes at her friend; there is rarely drama in her life that isn’t manufactured by outside sources. Then she remembers what happened just yesterday and amends her reaction. Drama. “Well, I, um, I told him I couldn’t move in with him.”

“How did he take it? No, Ry, I’m playing with the triceratops, so you have to wait your turn. Oh, no,” Monica gasps, staring at Emilie with wide eyes and dropped jaw. “He didn’t dump you, did he?”

“Not yet. Don’t look at me like that. You know as well as I do that it’s only a matter of time now. I mean, the distance has always been there, but he got up the courage to suggest moving the relationship into more, something undeniably serious, and I knocked him down. So now he has to decide whether it’s worth dealing with being so far away while knowing I said no to moving in with him.”

Monica hands the pink dinosaur to Ryder, crosses the living room to sit on the sofa and pull Emilie into her side. “Look, I’m not saying you didn’t surprise him by saying no. Hell, you mighta even shaken his confidence a bit. But you should probably talk to him about it, okay? Don’t let your fears get to you if they’re unfounded.”

“I’m... I’m scared, though. What if he doesn’t think it’s worth it anymore?”

“Then he’s an idiot, and I’ll fly to LA just to tell him all the reasons he done fucked up by letting you go.” Monica hums under her breath then flashes a grin. “That’s exactly what I’ll do. I have some vacation saved up, and Emmett would understand.”

Emilie lets Monica’s words wash over her, comfort her. The uncertainty in regards to Niall is still there and will be until she talks to him, but it’s easier to breathe now that she isn’t alone, dwelling on the possibilities. Monica turns on the television on, finds The Twilight Zone, and settles into the couch. She doesn’t let Emilie go, as if she knows just how tenuous is the hold Emilie has on her emotional stability.

“What did you send him?” asks Monica as Emilie prepares lunch for Ryder, and Emilie’s eyes widen. She rushes to grab the phone from her friend. “Bean, did you sext?”

“Of course not, don’t be ridiculous,” Emilie retorts, even though she can feel the heat in her cheeks, giving her away.

“Oh. My. God. You totally did.”

“Shut up.”

>> Wow !!!!
>> That was great to wake up to !
>> Are you busy ?

<< Finishing up making some food for Ry then I won’t be. Why?

>> Can’t a man want to talk to his girlfriend ?

<< I guessss ;P
<< I’ll call you as soon as I’m done

Emilie hurries through her task, reassured by the fact that Niall called her his girlfriend. Her mind races over the potentials of what he could want to talk about, but she draws in a deep breath and tries not to let her thoughts race too far ahead. That rarely ever ends well for her. More often than not, she sabotages good things by overthinking, and this relationship with Niall is the best thing that’s come into her life, hat she has chosen and didn’t feel like she was obligated to accept. Ryder is amazing, and she would never change how much she does for him. But taking care of him has always been something she considered a requirement.


Hearing Niall’s voice causes her words to dry up in her throat. She ignores the inquisitive look that Monica shoots her, running a hand through her hair as she perches on the countertop. Eventually, Emilie clears her throat. “Hi. Uh, what’s up?”

“I’ve been doing some thinking, and I think we need to talk about it.”