It was 6pm on a chilly Saturday evening when Joey and Lauren made their way across the square, towards the Queen Vic to meet up with their friends for a quiet night out.
Joey had his arm around Lauren's shoulders when he pulled her closer to him, pressing a kiss to her temple, "I'm sorry for this morning, you know I love you no matter what right?"
Lauren looked up at him smiling softly, "I know you're just trying to help me Joey, I shouldn't keep turning to alcohol when times get hard."
The night before had been Lauren's birthday, not many people knew or remembered which she was grateful for. Joey had been working all day and night so Lauren didn't have any distractions, allowing everything that was happening with her parents and Kirsty get to her which led her across the square and in the local pub drowning her sorrows.
"Lauren you were a mess! Michael Moon had to bring you home, Michael Moon, Lauren! Of all people!" Joey exclaimed as Lauren's hangover started to take its toll.
"I'm sorry ok?! I wasn't keeping track of how much I was drinking. I was upset and didn't have anyone to talk to!" Lauren replied clearly becoming upsets at her actions from the previous evening.
Her choice of words slightly irritated Joey, "Lauren you're supposed to come and talk to me when times get hard. You've got to tell me to let me be there for you, I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong and why you're upset!"
"I know and I realise that now but you were working and I didn't want to bother you whilst you were at work, you said it was really busy yesterday"
He wiped away the single tear that fell, pulling her into a hug knowing how upset it was making her, "I'm never too busy for you. I was terrified when Jay came and told me what sort of a state you were in! I never want you to feel like you can't talk me, I'm always here for you no matter.. ok?"
Nodding Lauren pulled away from Joey enough that she was still in his arms but so that she could see his face, "I'm sorry, it won't happen again, I promise"
"It's ok, sorry for getting mad at you, I just care about you way too much to allow anything to happen to you" Joey said softly, capturing Lauren's lips in his.
"We don't have to go in if you don't want to? I'd be happy to go home and curl up in bed with a few films" Joey asked Lauren as they stood outside the Vic.
"No I'll be fine, orange juice will be fine plus I haven't seen anyone for a few weeks, would be nice to catch up" she replied.
It really had been a while since she had a decent catch up with her friends especially with all the drama that came with everyone finding out about her relationship with Joey and then everything that happened with her Dad and his new wife. When Whitney invited her out for a few hours with the rest of the young ones Lauren knew she couldn't say no, even Lucy was going which was a big surprise, she wasn't exactly Lauren's number one fan at the moment.
"Ok but as soon as you've had enough let me know and we'll go back to mine straight away, yea?"
Lauren nodded, smiling slightly at how caring her boyfriend was being.
As the young couple walked in the pub to meet their friends it didn't go unnoticed by Lauren at how much Lucy perked up when she saw Joey, only greeting him. Ignoring it she said hello to the rest of her friends, sitting by Whitney at the booth with Joey by her side.
"I heard you had a late one last night Lauren!" Lucy half smirked, knowing how much it would wind up the one person she used to trust with her life.
"Yes well that was a mistake. Tonight's going to be the complete opposite, just a few orange juices before I go home to cosy up with a few DVDs and my Joey" Lauren exclaimed before resting her hand in Joey's lap, smiling up at him, "Aint that right babe?"
An hour had passed by, Lauren and Joey are still in the pub having an enjoyable night with their friends, Lauren had stuck by her word and drank orange juice determined to prove to Joey what he means to her. Due to Lauren not having a drink she was free of her beer goggles which mean Lucy's sly looks towards Joey and herself didn't go unnoticed, however not wanting to cause a scene for her boyfriends sake Lauren tried to be the bigger person and ignored her once best friend.
"You ok, babe?" Joey whispered to Lauren seeing how quiet she seemed, staring into space in deep thought.
Sighing slightly Lauren looked up at Joey smiling at him, "I'm fine, just thinking"
Wrapping his arm round her shoulders he brought her closer to him, placing a lingering kiss on her temple, "Do you wanna go home?"
"No it's ok! Let's stay for a few more drinks and then we can go, I don't want to be rude, we haven't been here that long"
"What do you want to drink?" Joey said as he stood up to go to the bar.
"Orange juice please"
"You sure you don't want anything a bit stronger?" Joey asked, raising his eyebrow.
"No babe, just an orange juice."
Just as Joey was about to leave the table Lucy saw her chance and shot up, stopping Joey from moving away, "I'll get these in Joey! What was it? Lager and orange juice?" She said, smirking slightly.
Confused, Joey nodded shooting a quick "Yeah thanks" her way before sitting back down beside Lauren.
Lucy had been thinking for a while now what she could do to possibly start an argument between Lauren and Joey, hoping that it be eventually become the end for the young couple.
When she saw Joey head for drinks she immediately jumped at the opportunity to began her plan to sabotage her 'best friend'.
Standing at the bar, waiting to be served she noticed the dark haired teenager walking by her on the phone, "Just an orange juice was it Lauren?"
"Uh, yes please Lucy." Lauren answered before moving over to the over side of the bar so she could speak properly.
"What can I get you darling?" Alfie asked Lucy with his usual chirpy attitude.
"Can I get a vodka & coke, a pint of lager and a double vodka and orange please Alfie?" she said after thinking about it.
Chuckling slightly he flashed her a smile "Who's on the heavy stuff tonight then? I thought you were all here for just a quiet drink!"
Smiling ever so slightly she quickly checked to see that Lauren was looking in her direction, "I just fancied one, had a stressful morning, need to let loose."
Laughing, Alfie handed her the drinks and accepted the money "You do right darling! You're only young once ain't ya!"
Walking back to the table Lucy began to feel slightly nervous as she realised what she had done was probably a bad idea but it was already too later as Lauren hurried back to the table after finishing her phone call, reaching for her drink, the majority of it already gone before she had sat down.
Half an hour or so later Joey had begun to notice how Lauren's behaviour had changed, she was suddenly a lot more chatty and all over everyone than she had been most of the evening.
"Babe are you alright?" He asked her, concerned at her sudden change in attitude, towards Lucy especially.
Looking back at him she raised her eyebrow "Yeah, why? I'm just having a laugh with my mates!"
Joey sighed quietly so no one would hear, he realised what was starting to happen, Lauren had been drinking. It wasn't that he was upset about her drinking, it was more the fact that she had promised him she wouldn't touch a drop of alcohol this evening and lying was a huge problem for Joey when it came to the one he loved more than anything.
As the night slowly progressed it was becoming very obvious that Lauren was drinking more than orange juice, but she also never went to the bar.
'Was she hiding alcohol in the toilet?' Joey had thought on more than one occasion.
Joey and the rest of the boys were stood at the bar ordering drinks for themselves and the girls. Lucy had offered to go up to the bar once again but Joey had turned her down as he wanted to watch what Lauren did very careful with the orange juice he was about to get for her.
Setting the drink down in front of his girlfriend, Joey sat down next to her, putting his arm around her shoulder as she leaned into him.
Taking a sip of her drink Lauren pulled a face and looked up at Joey, "Have you ordered something else?"
Joey looked at her confused "No it's just orange juice why?"
"It just tastes differently to what it has done the past few drinks, oh well." She ignored Joey's quizzical look, going back to whatever it was that she was discussing with Whitney.
Half nine had rolled round by the time Lauren had finished her orange juice she told her friends that she needed the ladies room, however standing was proving to be quite difficult.
Joey was becoming quite concerned but very annoyed at the young girls actions, "Lauren how much have you had to drink?!"
Giving up she just slumped back against the booth "I haven't had one drink I swear!"
"Well it's certainly not looking like that is it?! How much have you had?"
"Joey I promise I haven't had one drink, I haven't even been the bar the only people that have bought me drinks are you and Luc-" Lauren's eyed widen at this point realising what she was about to say. "Have you put something in my drink? Have you spiked me?" She accused Lucy of, raising her voice.
Scoffing Lucy stared at her "Are you serious? Do you really think I'm capable of something like that?"
"Lauren calm down she's only brought you back orange juice" Joey said trying to convince Lauren that her thoughts were delusional.
"You've obviously been sneaking the odd drink in here and there" the young blonde smirked at her friend.
"I haven't been near the bar to sneak a drink in here and there" Lauren shot back using air quotations.
"You have been to the toilet a few more times than necessary Lauren" Joey exclaimed, not fully understanding what he could possibly be accusing his girlfriend of.
"What are you trying to say? You're supposed to be on my side!" She shouted, pretty shocked.
Laughing Lucy stood up, collecting her things. "On your side? How old are you Lauren, grow up." She said before leaving the pub.
Looking back at Joey, Lauren started to plead for his forgiveness. "Joey I'm sorry but I swear I haven't touched an ounce of alcohol, someone must have put something in my drink!"
By now Joey was obviously angry, "Why are you always blaming things on other people? Just admit it Lauren, you can't go a day without a drink! Do you have any idea what you're doing to yourself?!"
"Don't you believe me? I'm not lying to you!" Lauren managed to choke out, getting teary eyed.
"I don't know what to believe anymore. Come on I'm taking you home" Joey picked up Laurens belongings, helping her out of the booth keeping a grip of her arm as she was swaying.
Once they were out of the Vic and walking through the square Lauren began to sob, "I know you don't want to talk to me but don't take me home please. I told Mum I wouldn't go home in this state."
Joey didn't answer her. Instead he just led Lauren in the direction of number 23. When they reached the door he helped her steady herself against the wall so that she didn't lose her balance. Looking to his left he sighed as he watched the girl he was supposed to love throw up the contents of what she had consumed within the past few hours.
"Thank you" Lauren said softly as she felt Joey rub soft circles on her lower back, pulling away the hair from her face.
"Just go to bed Lauren" He told her once she had finished, not showing any signs of sympathy.
"I'm sorry Joey" she said once more before letting tears roll down her face as she walked into the house and up the stairs into Joey's bedroom.
"Keep an eye on her" Joey shot at his younger sister Alice, running off before he could give her an explanation.
The young male had made his way back into the Queen Vic, looking for any evidence that Lauren had snuck in alcohol.
"Is Lauren alright, Joey?" Whitney had asked as soon as she saw him walk back through the doors.
"She will be, she's done worse. Whitney can you answer me honestly please?" Receiving a nod he carried on, "Did Lauren have any alcohol in the bathroom?"
"I honestly don't know Joey but what I do know is that she loves you and she wouldn't lie to you about something like that. She knows how much she could risk losing you. All I'm saying is you should explore all options before accusing her" Whitney answered before leaving with Tyler.
Sighing Joey looked around the table and when he didn't find anything he walked up to the bar.
"Bit of a show you put on not so long ago wasn't it?" Alfie chuckled.
Not impressed Joey shot him a look as if to tell him mind his own business. "Have you served Lauren tonight Alfie?"
"No she's not been up the bar once from what I know why?" He asked curiously.
"Because she claims she hasn't had a single drink but still ended up the way she did. She tried saying Lucy had put something in it but I'm not sure she would do that" Joey said running his hands up and down his face.
Alfie laughed once more, "Of course she wouldn't do anything like that"
"Lauren said that Lucy had bought her a few drinks, do you know what they were?"
"Joey man I shouldn't really be answering that"
"Please Alfie, my girlfriends a mess and I really don't want to call her a liar." Joey pleaded.
Sighing, the older barman quietly mumbled, "Each time she came up to the bar she asked for vodka & coke and a double vodka & orange along with the odd pint. You didn't hear it from me" he gave Joey a look before walking into the back of the pub.
Joey took a second to process what Alfie had just told him before realisation hit him in the face. Hard. Lauren was drinking orange juice.. what have I done?