“Pull over. Let me drive for awhile.”
“No, it’s fine-”
“Riley. You keep rubbing your eyes like a tired baby.” Riley chuckled and pulled over.
They swapped and Riley was out by the time they were five minutes down the road.
Niall looked over at her and smiled. What a stubborn woman.
“It reminded me of you.” Riley shrugged as she gave Niall the bracelet.
Niall put it on and grinned. “Thanks Ri. I love it.”
They hugged each other again, but held on a little longer and a little tighter.
“I missed you.” Riley whispered.
“I missed you too. I’m glad you’re back.” Niall whispered back.
They hated being apart.
“No, no. It’s my treat.” Niall said as Riley started pulling out her wallet.
“Niall, I can pay for myself. It’s not like this is a date.” “Would you just put your wallet away and let me do somethin’ nice for ya.” Niall said teasingly as he paid for their food.
Riley rolled her eyes and put her wallet away. “Fine. But the next one’s on me.”
“Come here. Let me fix it.” Riley giggled as Niall tried to do his tie.
He dropped it and walked over to her. Niall watched her as she tied it and straightened his collar and jacket. Say it, a voice in his head whispered. Oh yea, cause this would be a good time to say it, he thought.
Riley patted his chest. “Okay. I think you’re good.” They both faced the mirror.
Riley whistled, “Snazzy man.”
Niall laughed. “I’d look better if you were by my side.” “Oh nonsense. I’d just look like a rag doll hangin’ on your arm.”
“I’ll walk you home.” Niall said.
“Niall, I’m fine. Honestly.” Riley stood and immediately got dizzy.
Niall caught her as she stumbled. “You’re drunk, love.” “No I’m not. I…..I didn’t even drink.”
“Then why are you so dizzy?”
“ ‘Cause I have a headache.”
Niall put her coat on her and looped her arm through his. “Come on. I’m walkin’ ya home.”
Have a good day at work! Riley texted Niall. A couple minutes later he responded. You too!
Riley smiled. I love you. She typed out, then deleted it and just put her phone away. No way. She couldn’t tell him that. It would ruin everything.
“I dreamt about you last night!” Niall blurted out.
Riley stared at him. “What?” she half laughed, trying not to make the situation awkward.
“Now you see why I didn’t want to tell you?” he pouted and rested his head in his hand, leaning on the arm of the couch.
“Well it’s only weird if the dream itself was weird. What was the dream about?”
“Just...Us. I don’t really remember much. Just that you were in it.”
Riley smiled and nudged him, “See? I’m not weirded out, so you shouldn’t be.”
Niall just watched her as she continued to work. He could feel the touch of her lips on his, thinking about the dream. He lied. He remembered the dream perfectly. He kissed her. And she kissed him back.
“Here, take my seat.” Riley said, standing. She pulled the chair out and closer to him.
“Oh sit down, Riley.”
“Niall, you have a broken leg. Sit down.”
“Sit.” she glared at him and pointed to the chair.
Niall rolled his eyes and sat down, leaning the crutches against the wall. “Thank you.” he mumbled.
She tousled his hair and smirked, “You’re welcome, stubborn ass.”
They both chuckled.
“I saved a piece for you.” Niall felt a warmth in his heart as Riley’s face lit up.
She was so bummed that she had to miss the party. Her favorite bakery was catering to it and she loved their cake.
Riley hugged Niall and took the little paper plate back to her seat on the couch.
Niall giggled and sat next to her.
She took a bite of the cake. “Mmmm...I think this might actually cure my cold.” She kissed his cheek, making him blush. “Thank you.” she said and kept eating. “N-No problem.” he smiled.
“I’m so sorry.” Riley said quietly, holding Niall close as he cried into her shoulder. “Your Grandpa was a wonderful person.”
The two just sat there for what seemed like hours. Once he calmed down a bit, she took his face in her hands. “Are you gonna be okay?” Riley asked.
Niall nodded and held on gently to her wrists.
She wiped his tears with her thumbs. “You know I’m here if you need anything, right?” she smiled.
Niall chuckled and nodded. He kissed the palm of one of her hands.
Riley stared at him, wishing she had the nerve to say what she really wanted to.
“You can have half of mine.” Niall said.
“No, it’s fine. I don’t want to take yours.” Riley said as she looked around disappointed.
Niall grabbed one and put it up to her face. “Eat it.” “Niall.” she laughed.
“Just eat it.”
Niall shoved it in her mouth, then held out his plate. She shyly took another one. “Thank you.” she said through a mouthful of pizza roll.
“Take my jacket, it’s cold outside.” Niall said.
“It’s not that cold.”
“Okay.” he shrugged.
They didn’t get halfway down the street before Riley was shivering.
Niall smiled and shook his head as he took his outer jacket off. He put it over her shoulders.
She looked at him.
“I have this one. I’m fine.” he said.
Riley put her arms through the sleeves and zipped it up. “Thank you.” she said shyly.
“Sorry I’m late!” Riley exclaimed as she came running in.
Niall stared at her.
“What?...Niall I said I’m sorry.” she said.
Niall shook his head, “No no, love! You’re okay! You just...You look stunning.” he said, unable to take his eyes off of her.
Riley could feel her face going bright red. “I-I….Thanks.” she finally said.
“Can I have this dance?” Niall bent down and held out his hand.
Riley wiped her tears and nodded, taking it.
He put his other hand on her waist and they danced around the empty room.
Riley tried to calm her crying, but she just kept thinking about how ridiculous she felt for getting stood up. And at a work party! Everyone danced and had a wonderful time. Except her. She stood against the wall like an idiot. Riley broke down again just thinking about it and her head fell on Niall’s shoulder.
“Hey, hey.” Niall bent down to her eye level and took her face in his hands. “Everything’s gonna be okay. That guy was an idiot for standing you up. He has no idea what he lost.” Niall wiped her tears with his thumbs. “You deserve better than that….And so much more.”
Riley looked at him.
They stared into each other’s eyes, completely lost. Like some cheesy romance movie.
There was a loud noise in the hall and they jumped apart.
“I made your favorite!” Riley called.
“What? No way!” Niall hurried into the kitchen. “Yes!” He cheered. He tried to stick his finger in the batter, but she swatted at his hand.
“At least wait until I pour it in the pan. Then you can lick the bowl.”
“It’s okay. I couldn’t sleep anyway.” Niall yawned. Riley chuckled and brought her knees to her chest.
He watched her for a moment. “Was it a bad dream again?”
Riley nodded and hid her face.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head, “I just don’t want to go back to sleep. Everytime I close my eyes, I see monsters.” she sniffled.
Niall sighed. “What if I stay with you?”
Riley looked up at him. “But don’t you have to work early tomorrow?”
He just shrugged. “You’re more important.”
“Watch your step.” Riley said as they went up a step onto the boat dock. Niall held tight to her hands.
“What are you doing to me?” he chuckled.
“I’m not doing anything to you.” Riley laughed.
They stopped and she took his blindfold off.
“Okay, open your eyes.” she said.
Niall did so.
“Oh wow….This is breathtakin’, Petal.”
They stood in front of a lake, mountains and trees stretching out around them.
“Happy birthday.” she grinned.
“Here, drink this. You’ll feel better.” Niall helped Riley sit up and drink the medicine, then wash it down with water.
Her face twisted in disgust. “Oh..That’s bitter.”
“Sorry.” Niall chuckled.
Riley laid back down. Niall tucked the blankets around her and kissed her head.
“I’ll be right back.”
“Can...Can I hold your hand?” Riley asked nervously. It was Niall. He had been her best friend for years. But even then….that didn’t make her feel any less awkward. Niall smiled and took her hand.
“You don’t even have to ask, babe.”
Riley squeezed his hand as the doctor began stitching up her leg.
Niall held her hand in both of his as she cried in pain. Geez, they at least could have waited for the numbing shot to kick in.
“You can borrow mine.” Niall offered her a pair of sunglasses that were sitting on the dashboard.
“Oh, are you sure?”
“Yes, Pet.” he chuckled.
Riley took them and put them on. “How do I look?” she asked and puckered her lips.
Niall looked at her and laughed. “Shexy.” he said, wiggling his eyebrows. They both laughed.
“You might like this.” Riley said, holding up a suit from the rack.
Niall walked over and examined it. “Ooo, I do. See, this is why I bring you. You see all the good ones that I miss.”
“It’s not heavy. I’m stronger than I look.” Niall said. “Oookaaay.” Riley said and took a different piece of equipment.
Once she turned around, Niall quickly moved the sound box so he could set it down. When she looked at him again, he walked back over to the other things and grabbed another one, trying to act like he wasn’t just winded from the last one.
“I’ll wait.” Riley said.
“Thanks, Petal.” Niall said and got out of the car.
Riley settled into her seat and closed her eyes. It was half an hour before Niall came back out.
He saw Riley asleep and couldn’t help but smile.
She didn’t have to wait. He knew she wasn’t sleeping well lately. But she waited anyway.
“Just because.” Niall shrugged.
Riley threw her arms around him, hugging him tight. “Thank you so much Niall. I owe you.”
“Nonsense. You don’t owe me anything. Just go put it on so I can see ya in it before you go.” he teased.
Riley laughed and ran to her room with the dress.
“Look both ways.” Riley called from the bottom of the hill. Niall did so, then pushed off. “Woohoo!” he cheered as he slid down on the board. He hit a bump and got off balance, eating it face first into the snow.
“Niall!” Riley ran up after him. He sat up and shook his head. Riley lifted his goggles up. “Are you okay?” she giggled.
Niall’s breath caught in his throat. The sun hit her eyes just right, making them glow.
“Y-Yea. I think so.” he chuckled.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” Niall said.
Riley glanced at him. She couldn’t stay mad at him. His big blue eyes had her hooked. Along with everything else about him.
She rolled her eyes, “Ugh, I can’t stay mad at you!” she groaned.
“Yay!” he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, making her laugh.
“Wait, why? I mean..Yay! But, why? It’s my charm, isn’t it?”
Riley rolled her eyes again, “Something like that.”
“My sexy nose?” They both laughed. “Seriously, what is it?” Niall asked as he laughed.
“Just…” She was not about to say it was because she loved him. “Totally your sexy nose.” she teased.
“Try some.” Riley said.
Niall made a face.
“Oh come on. It’s good!”
“That’s what I always tell you when I want you to try something.”
Riley rolled her eyes, “Fine. The next time you want me to try something, I’ll try it. If you try this.”
Niall groaned, “Fine.”
“Drive safe.” Niall said as he shut her car door.
Niall leaned in and kissed her cheek, “Promise?”
Riley smiled and blushed, “Promise.”
Niall stepped back and watched her drive off.
“I love you.” he whispered.
“Well, what do you want to do?” Riley asked.
Niall looked at all the pamphlets. He grabbed one advertising for a ropes course. “How about this?”
Riley took a deep breath, “Sure”.
She hated heights.
“One more chapter.” Niall begged, making a puppy face.
Riley giggled, “Okay. One more. Then we have to go to sleep.”
“Deal.” Niall snuggled closer to her as she kept reading.
He felt like a kid. But she loved reading, and he loved listening to her.
“Don’t worry about me.” Riley grumbled as she cleaned herself up.
“Riley. What that man did wasn’t right-”
“Yea and I took care of it. I beat the shit out of him. It’s not your problem.”
“I love you! That makes it my problem!”
She looked at him through the mirror. “What?”
Niall went wide-eyed. “I-I care about you. You’re my best friend. Of course I love you.” he said.
Riley’s shoulders sunk a bit. “Just let it go, okay?” she said and walked out of the bathroom.
“It looks good on you.” Niall said.
“You’re not just being nice, are you?”
“Of course not, love. I wouldn’t lie to you.”
Riley blushed, “Thanks, Ni.”
“Close your eyes and hold out your hands.” Riley said.
“Oh just do it!”
Niall laughed and did as she said. Riley put the box in his hands.
Niall opened his eyes and looked at the box. He gave her a questioning look and opened the box. It was a little gold pendant on a gold chain. The pendant had a beautiful design imprinted on it.
“Oh it’s beautiful, Riley. Thank you.”
“That’s okay, I bought two.” Niall said. Riley chuckled, “Of course you did.” She took the ice cream bar and Niall got up to go get another one.
“After you.” Riley said. Niall gave her a smile as she held the door open for him. He hobbled through.
She opened every door they came to for him.
Him and his damn broken leg.
“We’ll figure it out.” Niall said quietly, holding her to his chest.
Riley was losing it. She didn’t want to be away from him. And he didn’t want to be away from her. They had to do something. They had never been apart for this long. They had known each other since they were teenagers. Once they became friends, there was no splitting them up. Niall got a crazy idea. But….he had to try.
“Come with me.”
Riley stepped back and looked at him. “What?” “Come with me.”
“Niall….I can’t just leave for a whole year.”
“Riley, please. I don’t want to be away from you for that long….I don’t ever want to be apart…..I...I love you Petal.”
What did he just do?
Riley just stared at him.
“Pet..please say som-”
“I love you too.” she said quietly.