Thanks for all the reviews so far, you guys keep me going! Potentially the penultimate chapter now, not entirely sure but we're nearing the end!
He'd got up before you, but how long ago you have no idea. When you dress and go downstairs you can hear him in the kitchen with Leo, but their tones are too hushed to make out. They've heard you before you can hear them, so your mind remains clueless as to the events of last night.
You offer a small smile as Harry meets your eyes. He looks less sad than last night, but he's enveloped in confusion and cushioned in frustration. He tells you simply that he doesn't know what he wants, so he can't make a decision, and that's the end of it. The three of you make awkward conversation, but no one really knows what to say. You desperately want to know why Lisa left in the dead of night, but you get the impression that Leo wouldn't be willing to tell you either. The topic of the wedding is brought back up when Harry's mum calls the landline. You recall Leo saying she'd moved out to the States shortly after her son had, claiming that she didn't have anything keeping her in the UK. Typically, she wants to know what is happening. You get the impression Harry may have spoken to her earlier this morning, not that its late, but you can't tell how much she knows from Harry's side of the conversation. Harry's new mantra, the constant reminder that Lisa left him and not the other way around, stabs at the remainder of your blackened heart.
You can't take much more of this. Whether it's your unhappiness or his you despise you're not sure, but you need to do something about it.
You motion to Leo that you're going out, and grab your bag and shoes without thinking, heading out onto the unfamiliar streets of New York. You spurt out the address that you'd accidentally memorised as you enter the cab, and find yourself soon after at the home of Lisa's mother, where she stayed on her hen night and where you assume she has gone.
The kind, somewhat elderly lady you can see is her mother lets you in when you explain that Harry hasn't sent you, but Lisa scoffs when you enter the living room and sit yourself down opposite her.
"Typical." She laughs bitterly. Your brow furrows and your head cocks to one side, giving away immediately that you don't understand and showing that you're not as close to Harry any more as she might think. Her gaze equals your confusion as she reads your open pages, and she slowly becomes more comfortable in your presence.
"He hasn't told you, then?"
You shake your head softly, and your curiosity peaks. You've asked her for answers before you can stop yourself, but she laughs again, a bitter cackle that shows her displeasure.
"I'm not going to make it easier for him." She states calmly. "Why have you come here?"
Quietly, you begin to explain that Harry is a good man, that whatever he's done he surely didn't mean, and that in all the time you've known him you've never seen him commit the way he has here, that she must be something special for him to ask her to marry him. You talk about the times he's helped you or saved you and the times he's been there for you, and by the time you've finished talking you know she's noticed the swell of tears in your eyes, and you wonder if she can sense how you feel about him. When you're finished, she sighs softly, and pulls the diamond engagement ring from her left hand, holding it in front of her.
"I don't want him." She says simply. You stare at her blankly and wonder how on Earth anyone could turn him down. "Give me your hand." She adds her command and takes your left hand before you can think, sliding the ring onto your own ring finger as if it was yours. A tear does drop down your cheek when you realise it fits perfectly, but was never intended to. She smirks and comments that it suits you, as you gaze at her, eager for answers.
"Why?" You ask quietly.
"For a number of reasons. Firstly, because of what happened last night, and secondly..." She trails off and for the first time begins to look a little awkward. "Well you may as well tell him now. Secondly, because I've been seeing someone else."
Your eyes widen and your heart pumps desperately. You realise that you'll have to deliver this news and you dread the moment, dread watching his heart break.
"For how long?" You ask before you can stop yourself.
"6 months." She sighs. "I'm not proud of it. Some things are just meant to be and others just aren't."
You look at the floor as you realise how right she is. Some things aren't meant to be, and some never will. You're not really sure why you're still here, and the urge to leave becomes almost unbearable. You need to be away from everyone, you need time to think. A thought occurs to you that might have taken you longer than it should have.
"Why won't you tell me what happened?" You question as you stand up to leave. "This sounds stupid, but am I involved in some way?"
Lisa starts to laugh and she almost looks happy. You wonder just how unhappy she was and how oblivious everyone must have been. Her laugh is bitter, and while you know you'd never be one of her friends, she seems almost grateful that she was provided with an escape route.
"You could say that." She chuckles, and you leave confused.
The idea of going back and facing Harry isn't your idea of a good time, but you can't think of anywhere else to go or any excuse for not telling him the truth straight away. You sigh as you hail another cab and groan the address to his apartment building. When you inevitably reach it, you slip inside and are thankful that you can only see Leo in the front room.
"Where did you go?" He asks casually, curious but not desperate. He assumes you'd been for a walk to clear your head.
You sigh and run your hands through your hair before joining him on the sofa, turning to face him with your turmoil displayed across your features. He tells you Harry has gone to bed when you ask where he is. You finally answer him in a whisper: "To see Lisa."
He sits upright and looks at you closely, now interested. His expression is asking you why and you wonder if he's assuming you had your own agenda. You shake your head with a small smile, and explain that you told her what a good guy he was, and some of the things he'd done for you in the past. Leo's ironic smile doesn't fail to catch your attention but you can't place why he's doing it, and he won't give you a straight answer. You look at your hands, specifically your left ring finger, and Leo looks too, wide eyed.
"She gave me this." You state simply, and you can hear Leo sigh as he leans back into the sofa and puts his hands on top of his head. He's debating what to do, and how to tell Harry, but you haven't even told him the worst part yet. "Leo, there's something else." You begin again, nervously. "She's been cheating on him... for 6 months."
Leo's blank stare echoes your own feelings and he groans. He looks at you, offering to tell him for you, but you shake your head. You're the one that made the mistake of going to see her. He squeezes your shoulder for luck and you smile before taking the stairs. You hesitate at the door, unsure whether to knock. You don't want to disturb him if he's asleep.
Gingerly, you turn the handle and peer around, heart breaking as you see his red eyed figure looking at you, surprised. You whisper an apology and go to leave, but he calls your name and you find yourself inside the room and crawling into his bed, your puppet strings tangled in his hands. As you lay next to him, he presses his forehead against yours and you can feel the warmth his sadness has generated, leaving you with an overwhelming desire to make him happy that you cannot fulfil.
"I don't know what to do." He whispers finally, breath hot against your cheeks. You can't help but breathe him in, desperate for a taste of him.
"I need to talk to you." You respond quietly, shyly. He pulls his head back so that he can better see your eyes and the sadness within them. As he comprehends it he cocks his head to one side and eyes you curiously. "I went to see Lisa today." You admit.
His eyes widen a little, but he knew that it would be about this. He says nothing but waits for you to continue.
"I was trying to explain to her what a good guy you are, and what she'd be giving up-" You pause when you notice his smile. Your brow furrows and he shakes his head softly. Why does everyone do that? You shake off the feeling of being left out and continue. "- but I'm really sorry, Harry. She gave me this."
The diamond sparkles in his gaze as you inch it off your finger and hold it out for him. He takes it, examining it closely. After a few moments, he looks back up at you with an awkward expression. "Would you mind just putting it back on for now, so that I don't lose it?" You raise your eyebrows in a joke-like manner and he grins as he slides it back onto you. He smirks as he looks at it. "It fits you perfectly."
You pray he can't see your sadness. His hasn't become apparent yet and you wonder if the news has quite sunk in. "Harry, that's not all."
He slowly lifts his eyes to yours and you can see the dread that fills them.
"She told me..." You choke slightly and pause for a few deep breaths. "She's been seeing someone else. For 6 months."
He sighs and drops his gaze. You can't help but to hold him close to you, secretly admiring the feel of his bare chest against the exposed skin around your navel, where your blouse has ridden up. You wonder if he thinks you don't notice the kisses he's placing into your shoulder, near enough on your neck, but your body certainly knows. You erupt in goosebumps and you're thankful for your padded bra. You wonder if he could ever understand how hard it is for you not to kiss him right now.
After a few minutes have passed, he pulls his head back up so that he can see you, but leaves his lips so dangerously close to yours that you almost cave to the desire. "I had my suspicions." He admits softly, fresh tears spilling down his cheeks and catching in the near perfect amount of stubble.
You hold him for a while longer, until the steady flow ceases. "At least that's made my mind up." He whispers, hints of sarcasm and laughter lacing his tone. Your sad smile is your response and he eyes you carefully.
"When do you have to go?" He asks. He'd been expecting to go on a honeymoon, so he hadn't really thought about your departure.
"Sunday" You say quietly. The wedding would have been on Saturday.
He looks at you sadly again. "Can't you stay longer?"
Your heart wrenches as he asks you. You want nothing more than to stay with him but you don't know if you can take it without doing something you might regret, or more likely something that he might regret. You shake your head silently and his eyes plead with yours. "I can't, Harry. I have things I have to go back to. There's work, there's my life..."
"Nikki I know you broke up with Jack." He states and you look at him with wide, ashamed eyes. "Leo told me."
You roll your eyes as you drop your gaze and you shake your head a little.
"Why didn't you tell me?" He pleads.
"A number of reasons, Harry." You pause as you formulate your answer. "Firstly because I didn't want to, but mostly because I didn't want Lisa to feel like I was a threat, you know what some women can be like."
His imploring eyes leave yours as he looks away from you sadly. "Why did you end things?"
"I don't want to talk about it." You snap, more harshly than you had intended. He automatically moves back slightly, affronted, and you sigh and apologise under your breath. He shakes his head as if to say he's forgiven you, but you know he's desperate to ask you again. You wonder when he and Leo spoke about it, and why they got onto the subject of your own love life.
"When did Leo tell you?" You've asked before you can help yourself.
Harry pauses before he answers, simply: "This morning."
"Why did he tell me? I don't know it just came up I guess."
You look deep into his eyes and note that his distraction has removed his sadness, but you're sure yours is still plain to see. The magnetic force pulling you against him is so hard for you to resist. "How did it come up?" You ask shamelessly, fed up of the dance both of your words are performing.
Harry remains silent and you wish, not for the first time, that you'd never come here in the first place. Your frustration boils over and your own tears fill the brim of your eyes as you roll back and stare at the ceiling. "Lisa told me I'm involved. Was it the kiss?" You whisper spitefully, immediately regretting your outburst when you feel Harry's comforting hand leave your arm.
The silence is painful and there is so much tension in the room that you know you'd need less than a knife to cut it. You don't know how long passes before he speaks again, but you think it must be a few minutes. "Don't." His cold warning vibrates through the room, bouncing off of the walls and hitting you repeatedly as it echoes back at you.
"What did I do, Harry, to piss her off so much?" You ask bitterly, despite your warning. You turn back to look at him, meeting only the side of his face with your gaze. His hands cover his eyes and you know he's crying again as you realise you are too. His fingers tug at his hairline and massage his forehead angrily, his sobs escaping play a bitter melody through the dense air. "I'm sorry for ruining everything."
He viciously pulls back the covers and climbs up from the bed, wrapping his arms over his head and leaning against the wall. You know you've already gone too far, and that you can't make things much worse than they already are, so you persist. "What did I do?"
"You didn't do anything!" He shouts, and as he turns back to face you the expression on his face is one that you've only seen on him a few times, one that leaves you scared as you regard it.
"Then what happened?!" You plead, very aware of your raised volume.
"It was me ok? I fucked up, I fucked up badly, it was nothing to do with you!"
"Then why am I the only person not allowed to know?" You retort angrily as the door opens and Leo bursts in. He looks at Harry with kind eyes but displays a warning glare at you as he takes your arm and pulls you from the room.
"Nikki, just leave it for now, ok?" He says quietly as he lets go of you when you're in your room. He smiles sadly, but leaves you there and goes next door to calm Harry down. You can hear thuds, presumably Harry's fist making contact with the wall or furniture. How that escalated, you have no idea, but you feel empty as you curl up on the bed, sobbing, and wonder what you've done.