Feels Like Forever


Emilie steps out of the car, her skin feeling even stickier in the dampness of the air. The clouds have begun to roll in, threaten rain, and she is thankful that she got her run in before the storms start. She slides a hand over her sweat-soaked hair and presses the lock button her key-fob. Her car beeps twice behind her as she heads toward the door. Shivering slightly in the cold air of the indoors, she crosses her arms over her chest and makes her way around the myriad of turns until she reaches her door.

“What the Hell.”

Niall looks up from his phone, smiling brightly. “Hi.”

“I… What are you doing?”

“Mostly scrolling through Instagram.” He pauses and frowns. “Did I not tell you I was here?”

“I don’t think so,” she says slowly, pulling her phone from her purse.

There aren’t any text messages waiting to be read, and she shows him the screen of her phone. His lips pull down further as he taps at his screen. When he looks up again, his face is twisted in contrition.

“I never pressed send.”

She stifles her laugh, gestures for him to move, and unlocks the door. He follows her inside, locking the door behind them. Her throat tightens in realisation, but she doesn’t tell him it isn’t necessary now that Ryder isn’t here. She hesitates outside her bedroom door then turns to face him.

“Okay, so. I’m gross and in desperate need of a shower. Um, there’s a remote to the TV somewhere, so if you wanna watch a show or something, feel free, but I’m sorry about the hunting you’ll have to do.”

“It’s okay, love. I have Netflix on my phone.”

“All right. Well, I’ll be right back.”

She ducks into her room and rushes to grab clean clothes. It isn’t until Emilie catches her reflection in the bathroom mirror that she remembers she is wearing a sports bra and leggings; her skin is still a mottled red from exertion and heat, and she grimaces at the state of her hair. She yanks the hair-tie from the ponytail, shaking her hair loose, as she leans over and starts up the shower.

She hurries through the process of scrubbing her body and washing her hair, and fifteen minutes later, she steps out into the living room freshly-cleaned and dressed in a pair of leggings and an oversized T-shirt bearing the logo for the Eagles. Niall pauses whatever show he’s watching on his phone, sets the device aside, and Emilie flops onto the couch with a heavy sigh. She’s gone for a jog every morning since that first day, when she found out who Niall really is, and while it has gotten easier to go further for longer, her body still hasn’t become accustomed to the strain.


She nods, resting her head against the back of the couch. “Yeah. Couldn’t get to sleep last night, tossed and turned all night, and decided to go for a run this morning because I’m a dumbass who likes to make my exhaustion even worse.”

“I can leave if you wanna nap.”

“Nah, I’m okay. If I nap now, I won’t sleep tonight, and it’d be a problem.”

“I’m surprised Ryder isn’t here,” he comments lightly after a moment of silence, and Emilie sighs against the twinge of pain in her chest.

“Danielle said she wanted to keep him this weekend which is code for she’s using it as a way to punish me.”

His face screws up in confusion, his head cocking to the side. “For what?”

“I made a comment about how I was running low on diapers and asked if she could drop some off with her this weekend, and she took it as me judging her for not ‘being on top of things’, I guess.” Emilie shrugs, scratches idly at her thigh. “It’s stupid as fuck, but if I tell her that, then it means I don’t get to see Ryder for even longer.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It is what it is. He’s worth having to bite my tongue all the time.”

Emilie can’t handle the worried expression on his face, the way he chews at his lower lip as he stares at her, so she hurriedly changes the subject. Now that she knows that he’s a musician, he talks to her about touring, his music, and - of course - his golfing. She adores the way he lights up as he speaks; the love he has for what he does is endearing, makes her wonder if she’ll ever be that happy about doing something other than raising her godson.

They don’t do much beyond binge-watch The Twilight Zone for the next couple of hours; Emilie dozes off and on, and Niall stays quiet whenever he notices that she’s not completely awake. It’s peaceful, but Emilie finds herself wishing that her former stepsister hadn’t decided to use Ryder as a tool against her. The hurt of missing him isn’t nearly as overwhelming as it would have been, she thinks, than if Niall wasn’t mere feet away from her. And that alone worries her. He shouldn’t be such a calming presence after only a month of texting and two in-person conversations.

Niall proves to be helpful in the kitchen; he dices red bell peppers efficiently while Emilie cooks chicken and mixes up the honey-soy sauce. As she sautes the peppers with the meat, he sets about making rice. She points to the cupboard with the bowls, and he nods, presses a hand to her waist as he passes behind her. She suppresses a shiver at the warmth of his touch and focuses on not burning herself on the hot pan.

“I need this recipe,” he all but moans, setting his bowl on the coffee-table, and Emilie bites back a smile.

“You literally helped me make it.”

“Well, write it down anyway, because that was delicious.”

“I’ll text it to you,” she promises before scooping the last bite of her dinner into her mouth.

They clean up the mess from cooking together, and the silence that wraps around them is a comfortable one. She puts away the dishes while he wraps up the leftovers, finds a place for them in the refrigerator. When he turns around, he has the bottle of wine in hand and a brow raised in question. Emilie debates whether it’s a wine kind of night then promptly decides every night is a wine kind of night. She nods, reaching for the glasses and the corkscrew, and Niall carries the bottle to the living room.

Emilie pours another glass of wine, grimacing when she catches sight of how much is left. It’s the second bottle they’ve opened in the last hour, and she knows her words are starting to slur around the edges. Niall laughs at her pout, and she sticks her tongue out at him. They haven’t talked in a while, their laughter and chatting falling silent as they sipped at their wine. She watches as Niall digs his phone from his pocket, types something; there’s a heavy tug deep in her gut as she stares at him, the stubble that covers the sharp curve of his jaw, the vivid blue of his eyes, the downward tilt to his lips. She knows it’s a mixture of alcohol and the fact that she hasn’t been in any kind of physical relationship since before Ryder was born, but her body is definitely reacting to what she sees in front of her. With a frown, she glares down at her lap.

“Fucking useless, shut up.”

Niall’s head snaps up, and his brows draw together in confusion. “Did… did you just call your -” he gestures at her crotch “- fucking useless and tell it to shut up?”

“I did, yes.”

“Er, why?”

“Because.” She shrugs and takes another drink of her moscato. “It is fucking useless.”


She shows some mercy and waves a hand vaguely, cutting off his attempt to form words. “It’s nothing, don’t worry.”

“No, you’ve got me curious now, you can’t just leave it at that.”

“I can and am,” she replies with a smug grin, and he rolls his eyes; the smile that tugs at his lips is unmistakable, though, so she counts it as a win.

Emilie isn’t surprised to see it’s past eleven when she looks at her phone, nor is Niall’s hesitant question about sleeping on the couch unexpected. It’s late, and they’ve both had quite a bit to drink; even though wine rarely gets her drunk, it still affects her, and she isn’t quite sure about his tolerance to liquor of any kind. She assures him his staying over isn’t a problem then heads to the laundry closet, tugging down the spare pillow and blanket that she keeps there for whenever Derek stays the night. Setting them on the end of the couch, Emilie grabs her glass and swallows down the last mouthful of wine in her glass, reaches for his once his is drained. He passes it over, and a shiver races down her spine as their fingers brush.

Looking back, Emilie won’t be able to say who moved first, or if perhaps they both moved at the same time. All she knows is one second, she is on her feet, staring down at those ridiculously blue eyes, then the next, she’s straddling his lap. He’s an amazing kisser, her brain supplies, and she nearly giggles. Her lips part, her tongue brushes his lower lip, and he obliges. He tastes of wine and the slight salty bite of soy sauce. She trembles as his hands come up to rest on her waist, holding her there even as his tongue explores her mouth.

“Wait, wait, wait,” she murmurs into the kiss, her brain reminding her that she’s still holding the wine glasses, her arms held out to the side at an awkward angle. She pulls back, stretches to put them on the coffee-table, then faces Niall again. “Okay, we’re good.”

She breathes in his huff of laughter, swallows it down as she seals their mouths together again, and he wraps his arms around her, pulling her closer. His heartbeat thunders under her palms as she slides her hands over his chest; he groans low in his throat when her fingernails press into his skin, her hips pushing down against him. Her skin is tight, goosebumps racing along her flesh, and she feels like bursting apart with the sensations.

“Do, do you have anything?” he whispers when they part, breathing heavily, and she bites her lip.

“I- I don’t. Fuck. But, uh, I’m on birth control, and I just got tested, like, two months ago, and I’m clean. God, don’t stop,” she whimpers, gasps as his teeth scrape against her throat.

He chuckles into her skin. “I don’t want to, believe me.”

“Then let’s not.”

He hesitates and pulls back, and Emilie stifles a sigh. She grabs his hand, presses it against the inside of her bicep where the birth control rod rests, and mumbles “implant” at his confused look. His nod is shaky, but whether it’s nerves or something else, she isn’t sure. She doesn’t get the chance to question it - he captures her mouth with his, and she’s lost instantly in the taste and feel of him. His hands tremble as he pushes her shirt up and over her head, and his gaze rakes over her bare skin. Emilie is oddly thankful for not having worn a bra after her shower, the weight of his want evident in his eyes and sending flickers of desire up her spine.

Somehow, they manage to strip without any major incidents, though she does come close to falling off his lap as he pushes his joggers to his feet. As she lies back on the couch, she lets her eyes wander, staring at the expanse of skin that she can see. Her fingers bury into the curls on his chest; he ducks down to kiss her, and she lets go of any and all control she may have, lets herself get lost in the stretch and burn and waves of pleasure.

Niall collapses next to her, and she giggles manically as he throws an arm over her waist, presses his face into her neck. He blows out an unsteady breath. “Fuck.”

“Mm, no, I think we just did that.”

Emilie closes her eyes and sighs blissfully; it’s been so long since she’s had this kind of closeness with another person, and something in her loosens with the intimacy. Her heartbeat slowly steadies, and she shivers as his fingertips drag over her collarbone in a feather-light touch. He presses his lips to her shoulder, pulls back enough to lift himself on one elbow. She smiles up at him.

“That was fantastic,” he murmurs softly, and though it’s too close to tenderness, the words causes a warmth to burst into life under her skin.

“It really, really was.” She pauses, her thoughts jumbling in their attempts to be voiced. Eventually, what comes out is, “I’d like to do it again sometime.”

“So would I.”

Emilie pushes herself to sit up. She feels far more naked now, on display, as she struggles to find the right words to explain. Niall strokes a finger along her spine, but he doesn’t push her to talk, he just waits patiently. “But... I, I don’t think I can handle a relationship right now. Between school and Ry, adding a relationship, especially one where we’re in two completely separate cities, it just doesn’t seem feasible.”

“I understand. I really do.”

“But, if you’re okay with a casual kind of thing - friends with benefits, if you will - I’m pretty sure I could work with that.”

It’s meant as a joke, honestly, so Emilie is caught by surprise by how readily he agrees to it. He seems serious about it, too; there is no humour on his face as he assures her it’s something he wants, too. Any protests she may have are muffled when he kisses her again, stealing the breath from her lungs, and she decides to go with it. Her arms snake around his torso as he covers her body with his.