"I told you I really don't want to talk about this, nothing fucking happened." I complained.
I was laid out on Harry's couch at his apartment while he was in his room changing.
"Then why are you here? You could've said 'No Harry, I'm going home' instead of coming over." he called to me.
"Fuck I hate it when you're right." I sighed.
Harry walked out clad in his workout gear. He sat down to put his socks and sneakers on in the chair next to me.
"So, what actually happened when you walked Kaine home?" he pushed.
"It was really nothing." I said trying to build my wall up.
"Niall, you're a grown ass man, tell me what the hell happened." he said.
"Alright, we got to her building and she kissed my cheek, nothing right?" I asked chewing my bottom lip.
"I know you're lying, you always do that when you're lying." he pointed out.
"Alright so I leaned in to kiss her first okay? But she pushed me away and reminded me of Kira. And I stopped, I think it was just a fluke with the alcohol in my veins." I defended myself.
I sighed and tugged at a loose thread on my shirt.
"Niall, remember how long it took for you to secure down Kira? She didn't want anything serious at first right? But now you have her and you have a ring for her, don't let some other girl who you've known for a week ruin this." Harry said. "She's young yeah, and definitely fit but you can't let her get in your head."
"I know, I think it's just we connected so easily and I think it was just I was drunk I really do." I said.
"Regardless of what it was, it happened and it can't happen again, unless you're single." he assured.
"She's got a boyfriend in Texas anyway, she's not even interested in me." I tried to explain further.
"You've just got to think more clearly when you're around her yeah?"
"Yeah." I said nodding my head.
She was 22, what was I thinking. I've known her for a week, I can't have any feelings for her. Kira is the one who's been around for four years now. She's the one I know and love, I do. I felt around in my pocket for the ring again and pulled it out.
"I really don't know what to do about this whole proposal situation." I said.
"Well, give it another couple months. See if things smooth over. Maybe because she has a job now she'll be better, and maybe you can get laid again?" Harry offered.
"God it's been three weeks I don't know what the hell is going through her mind. She always used to be the one who was desperate for me to sleep with her, what is her deal?" I complained.
"I don't know that sucks a lot. Maybe she'll come around this weekend?" he said. "Pun intended."
"God I hope so." I laughed. "She's not coming out Saturday with us though."
"She'd be pissed at you if you pulled that shit on her." he said before standing.
"I know that's just what I said." I complained further.
I sighed again and grabbed my gym bag off of Harry's table and opened it up. I changed while we continued talking and sat down to lace up my sneakers.
"I can only do like an hour workout tops today I've gotta meet Kira on her set." I told him.
"Maybe I'll come with you? Haven't seen her in a while and I'd like to see her model friends too." Harry said wiggling his eyebrows.
"Yeah I don't care. Just don't be a creep." I joked. "I can drive."
Harry and I worked out for a little over an hour at the gym down the street from him. I don't know why anyone would bother getting a personal trainer when they could just have Harry yelling demeaning things at them and making them do more reps and lift heavier weights. That's what he always did to me anyway and so far it's been working. We went and picked up dinner for the two of us and Kira and I checked for the address of the set again.
We drove about thirty blocks to get to the studio in the fashion district and found a spot. We walked up to the doorway and walked into the relatively large studio where Kira's manager, Sarah, would meet us.
"Hey Niall, haven't seen you around lately." Sarah said greeting me warmly.
"It's nice to see you again, S. This is Harry, he's mine and Kira's good friend." I said introducing the two.
"Nice to meet you." Harry politely said shaking her hand.
"Is she around somewhere?" I asked looking for bright blonde hair.
"Let me check the back room, last I saw she was there." Sarah said and walked off.
Harry and I sat down on a bench and looked around at the shoot happening. The music was loud and the models just sat around looking at their phones while their makeup was being done. Everywhere else was dark and the shutter going off on the camera was blinding.
"I fucking hate coming to these things, I think if I had known she was trying to become a model four years ago I wouldn't have even become involved with her." I groaned.
"Are you serious?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, it's just a bunch of too skinny girls getting photographed for magazines. Sarah is the only one who will talk to me and the photographers are always huge assholes, they think they're so important. And I can barely see you because it's so dark and you can't hear anything." I continued.
"You sound like you're turning 88 not 28 by saying that." Harry chuckled to himself.
Sarah finally came out into the main space after a while and approached us again.
"She'll be out in a few minutes, just help yourself to drinks or food, god knows the girls don't." she smiled and walked off again.
"How does Kira even qualify to model? She's ridiculously short." Harry commented.
"She's a 'petite' model, whatever the hell that means." I said and grabbed a couple of water bottles off the table next to me and offered Harry one.
After about ten more minutes Kira emerged from the back room looking flushed in a robe.
"Hey, I'm sorry I was taking off makeup and changing for the next shots. Is that dinner?" she asked all in one breath.
"Hi Kira, how's it going?" Harry asked sarcastically after she didn't acknowledge his presence.
"Hello Harry. I'm fine, but seriously is that dinner I only have a couple minutes to eat until I have to go back into makeup.
"Yes it's dinner." I said standing up off the bench.
I held the container in my hand and leaned down to kiss her but she turned her face so I landed on her cheek.
"Thanks Niall." she said taking the container out of my hands.
"Uh, sure." I said still caught off guard by her action.
"Um, I'm gonna run to the bathroom quick, I'll be back in a second." Harry said rising off the bench trying to get away from our tension.
I looked at him with pleading eyes trying to get him to stay so we could leave quickly but he shook his head and walked off. That little shit.
"So you're sure about not going out on Saturday with us?" I asked her again hoping I could change her mind.
"Ni, I can't, I've got a shoot earlier and then I have to go bartend after. I'm sorry." she said opening the container up.
"Can't you get someone to cover for you? I want you to meet Liam and Louis." I said. "And Kaine."
"I'll meet you're new little boyfriends from work another day." she teased.
"They're really great guys, you would like them." I said pleading again.
She made the same mistake as everyone in the office thinking Kaine was a boy. Maybe I should keep it that way so I could stay out of trouble with Kira.
"No can do. I've gotta work." she shrugged. "But I told you I'm taking you out for dinner Sunday. So we can spend your actual birthday together."
"Alright." I sighed.
"I gotta eat, thanks for bringing me dinner." she smiled.
I saw Harry walking back toward us so she got on her toes and gave me a short, and I mean short, kiss on my lips.
"No problem, I love you." I told her.
"Bye Niall." she said and started to walk off. "Bye Harry."
And with that she disappeared into the back room again, not even looking behind her.
"Let's just go." I sighed and walked off toward the door and waved to Sarah.
"What the hell was that?" Harry almost yelled when we got back into the car. "Why would she turn away from you like that?"
"I don't know what the fuck has been going through her head lately. I don't get it." I cursed.
"I know you said she's been in a terrible mood for the past couple months but that doesn't mean she should take it out on you." he said equally as mad.
"Okay, I thought I was overreacting to the situation but I'm glad you see it too." I said.
"No wonder you put the moves on Kaine, can't blame you when she's being like that."
"What could've caused her mood to shift so drastically for a couple months now?" I groaned ignoring Harry's previous comment.
I slammed the car door shut and started the engine.
"You don't think she's cheating on me do you?" I asked the question that has been running through my mind ever since the mood swings started.
I could feel her pulling away from me a little more everyday and I really did not want to even think about whether or not she could be cheating on me. I thought that maybe by proposing to her I could keep her, and make her stay with me. I thought maybe she would stop pulling away and be happy if I finally gave her a ring. Sure I wanted to settle down soon but I could wait another few years to do that, Kira's sketchy behavior was what prompted me to buy the ring. So that she would realize I could be good for her, and that I was the one for her.
I originally started driving back to Harry's apartment but made a turn and started off toward the jewelers.
"I don't know man, it seems out of character for her, and up until a couple months ago she was so head over heels in love with you. I don't know what to think." Harry said after a moment of silence.
"Can you reach my knapsack in the back seat?" I asked him.
"Yeah, what do you need?" he asked.
"Get the ring out of it." I told him.
He reached into the back and grabbed the bag to put on his lap. He opened it up and unzipped the small pocket and retrieved the light blue box.
"What are you gonna do?" he cautiously asked.
"I'm returning the fucking ring." I stated.
"Are you sure you want to do that? I thought that-"
"I'm sure. I bought it to make her stay in the first place, I thought that getting her a ring would change everything." I interrupted. "I've felt her pulling away from me for a couple months, and I still love her and I want her to stay, but she's got my mind all screwed up."
Harry was silent for a couple minutes to process what I was saying and we drove along with the sounds of the streets around us.
"You know what, let's return that fucking ring, she doesn't deserve it." Harry finally said.
"You're not gonna stop me?" I asked rather surprised.
"No, if you think this is what you have to do then let's go do it." he nodded affirmatively.
"I feel like it's just an omen for our currently shitty relationship and I don't want to keep looking at it. It's not like it's gonna be enough for her anyway." I said.
"Why do you say that?" he asked.
"It's not a giant diamond, she's the kind of girl who would want to one up all her friends, I can't afford 2 carats, hell I could barely afford 1.5 but I got it anyway, I just wanted her to settle for me." I shrugged as I pulled into a spot.
"Her? Settle for you? Come on Niall, are you for real? You're the one with the steady job who has his life figured out. You'd be the one settling." he laughed.
"You're kidding me have you seen her? That's not settling, she's totally out of my league, always has been." I said while I grabbed my wallet and the ring box.
I opened up the box and looked at the ring for the last time. The silver band with the diamonds all around it and the 1.5 carat stone in the center. It was beautiful, no doubt about it and to a lot of girls it would be perfect, but for Kira nothing about it could be. I had to get rid of this ring.
Harry and I got out of the car and walked into the Tiffany store. When I originally came into this store to buy this overpriced thing I felt like I was being judged by all the employees, but I was feeling it now more than ever. Harry and I were still in our gym clothes that were drenched in sweat. As I approached the counter the worker looked us up and down and gave us a weak smile that only got smaller and smaller through our conversation. She tried to change my mind countless times but finally gave up when I slammed the receipt and my credit card down on the countertop. As soon as she refunded my account we left that place and I vowed I'd never walk back in there again in my life.
"You paid 20 thousand dollars for a ring?" Harry asked me when we got back in the car.
"Ridiculous isn't it?" I scoffed. "And I could have spent thousands upon thousands more to get something bigger and better but I just can't afford that."
"I think you did the right thing, returning the ring and all." he said.
"I hope so, I really do." I offered a small smile.
"They must have thought we were the biggest jackasses ever going in there like this." Harry said after a while.
"Oh my god did you see the woman's face when we walked up to her? She looked like she had just seen someone get stabbed in front of her!" I said laughing.
We talked more like this until I dropped him at his apartment and told him I'd see him tomorrow. I drove with the radio on the rest of the way home and hummed quietly to the classic rock playing. I parked in my spot and gathered my bags from the back and took out my phone. I dialed in a number I knew so well and situated my phone between my ear and shoulder as I walked into the lift.
"Hello?" her voice said.
"Hey Ma, sorry it's late there, but I miss you." I said.
"Niall, dearest, how are you?" my mother spoke into the receiver.
Her thick accent filled my thoughts and instantly made me long for home. I hadn't seen her since Easter when I went to visit with my brother and I really just needed to talk to her right now.
"I've been better." I admitted when I stepped out of the lift onto my floor.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Well things aren't going so great with Kira right now, and I really just wanted some advice." I said taking my keys from my pocket to open my door.
I walked in and set my things down on the table before flopping back onto my couch.
"I, uh, I never told you but I bought her a ring a few months back when things were going well. But I think I really bought it back then because I felt like things were slowly falling apart and she was pulling away from me." I explained.
"So did you propose to her?" she asked curiously.
"No, actually I returned the ring today after a rough encounter with her." I sighed.
"Well, I've never met her so I'm not sure of her true character but do you feel like you did the right thing? Do you really think she's the one you want to spend your life with?" she asked.
"I don't know, I've only been with her in the last four years, I don't know what's out there. She's just been so cold to me for a few months now and I don't know what to do." I admitted.
"When's the last time you slept together?"
"Ma!" I laughed a little disgusted. "Don't go asking me those things."
"Just an honest question." she laughed on the other end.
"Let's say it's been a while." I answered still laughing. "She barely wants to kiss me she turned her face on me today."
"Dear I think you made the right decision, make the next couple weeks a priority to test your relationship, and if you don't feel it's going anywhere, it might be time to end it." she said.
"Thanks Ma. I really needed help." I said. "And I really miss you a lot."
"I miss you too dear. But next time you want to propose to someone, tell me first. I have Nan's diamond from her engagement ring that I've been saving for you." she said.
"I will, I don't think it'll be for a long while though." I admitted. "Thank you."
"You may be almost 28 but you're forever my baby boy. And you're never too old for your mother." she said.
"I love you Ma, I'll call Sunday or Monday." I smiled.
"I love you too Niall, be safe." she said back.
"Goodnight." we said at the same time.
I hung up my phone and dropped it on the couch next to me. Ma was always good for a pep talk, and tonight I really needed it. When I looked up at the time it was nearly nine so I decided to shower tonight. Once I was done in there and brushed my teeth I went to lay down in my bed. Just as I was about to dock my phone I got another call, Kira's name flashed across the screen.
"Hello?" I said picking up confused.
"Hey Ni, sorry it's late it's just I have a quick question." she said through the line.
"Yeah what's going on?" I cautiously asked.
"I know it's your birthday and all on Sunday and I promised to take you out but I got called in for a shoot that night, can we move our date to Friday?" she asked, she seemed distracted.
"Kira, no, we agreed on Sunday we're doing Sunday." I said angry running my hand through my hair.
"Niall, come on I just got back into these jobs I can't blow this off." she whined.
"Tell them no, you had plans. We agreed on Sunday we're fucking going on Sunday." I swore.
I didn't want to take anymore of her bullshit today. This was pushing me over the edge.
"Niall." she warned my swearing. "Come on, you know I can't just blow things off, how would you feel if I made you blow off a work thing?"
"You do make me blow off work things all the time. You're not going out with my friends and me on Saturday when I told you weeks in advance. Kira we're fucking going out on Sunday." I said losing my patience.
"I can't do Sunday anymore. This is important to me." she said trying not to yell at me.
"And I'm just a piece of fucking garbage then? I'm not important to you?" I raised my voice.
"You're overreacting I knew you would." she yelled at me. "You are important to me too but you can't make me choose between you and my job right now! I just started working again and I need the job, I need the money."
"Reschedule the shoot, do it earlier. Who the hell even has a shoot that late in the day?" I said running my hand through my wet hair.
"I can't. If I could then I would but I physically cannot do that. Come on just go Friday with me." she bargained.
"We are going on Sunday." I yelled again.
"Niall, we are going Friday I already changed the reservation. I'm sorry but that's the only time this weekend that I'm not working." she snapped.
"You fucking changed it without even telling me? Kira what the hell, what the hell is happening between us." I kept on yelling.
"I'm not talking about that right now, I'll see you on Friday." she said.
"Fine, whatever you fucking want. Whatever works for you, anything for you Kira." I yelled again.
"Stop being difficult. Goodnight Niall, I'm sorry." she said again.
"You're the difficult one." I snapped pulling at my roots.
"Goodnight Niall." she reemphasized.
"Kira I love you." I let my feelings roll out, I didn't want to comfort her and let her know this when I was fuming with her but it was just habit.
"Alright." she said.
And without another word, the line went dead.