chapter 17

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I sat still and silent as Niall placed the hot mug of tea carefully into my hands, offering a small smile before he set a half empty packet of Rich Tea biscuits on the coffee table. I sniffed pathetically, still feeling groggy from the tears I'd shed in the car as he drove me to his apartment block. The same block he shared with Harry. I'd been hysterical, convinced he was going to lay into me, or worse, tell Harry. Most of all, it was the shock of being discovered, the disbelief at someone else knowing my huge, horrifying secret, paired with the knee buckling blow of finding out that I was well and truly pregnant finally catching up on me. But Niall had assured me that he just wanted to help, wanted to talk, wanted to be there. I told him I didn't need to talk. He insisted.

So now, here I was, curled up in a ball in the comfort of his sofa, sipping the intoxicatingly sugary tea he'd served up. He told me that was how they made it in Ireland, to drink up, it would help. Help what, I didn't quite know. It couldn't solve the problem of the baby that was growing inside me, could it?

Niall sat opposite me, sinking into the dark green, fabric armchair, looking very at home. I'd never been in Niall's apartment, but it surprised me. It was all very cosy, very homely, and he told me it was because he missed Ireland, and his family. He made it like a little haven, fashioning it similarly to where he lived back in Ireland, to help when he became homesick. I thought it was a nice thought. I wondered what it was to feel homesick. I'd never had the sensation - New Jersey held nothing for me but dark memories, and I knew very little of my second home in New York. The only things I missed about those places were usually memories of my father - of walking through Times Square with my hand in his, or building a snowman outside the house in Jersey with him and my little sister, though the images of the setting were hazy and distant in my mind, time taking its toll on my brain as the years slipped by gradually and the memories became buried deep down inside my head. Now, they were no more than a weary essence of times gone by. Not a proper memory, really.

We were both unspoken, sipping our teas tensely. Niall rustled as he extracted a biscuit from the packet, dipping it slowly, cautiously, into his cup. He groaned loudly when it broke off. Then he sighed, seeming to give up with the casual actions, our charade of ignorance against the elephant in the room. He glanced up at me, eyes vigilant; worried and wondering.

"Do you want to talk about it, Tamara?" he asked quietly. A simple sentence that made me feel sick.

I swallowed back my tea. "No. But you're going to make me aren't you?"

There was a pause, but I'd been right. Niall inquired, "How far gone are you?"

"Eight weeks."

"And how long have you known?"

"A few days."

I answered his questions curtly, reluctant to discuss it. I had been truthful when I told him I didn't want to talk. I didn't even want to be here. This all confirmed further that what I'd dreaded was really happening; it was a reality, and I was actually expecting. I wished I could will myself to wake up somehow, that I could sit up in my bed in the dark in a few moments and realise that this day had been a nightmare made up in my head and I was simply sick due to a stomach bug. Not a pregnancy.

Niall gazed at me curiously, probingly. He was being nosy, now, wasn't he? Fishing for scandel.

"Is it Harry's?" he asked slowly, inquisitively.

"I don't know," I replied coldly. But it was the honest truth, at least.

Niall shook his head, judging. I hung my head, feeling no more comforted now than I had at that god awful clinic. "I can't believe the twat didn't even tell us you were pregnant. Not like we'd want to know."

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