Chapter 19 – The Mental Hurdles

Brittany looked across the table at Nick as be popped a dumpling into his mouth. She grinned a little, looking back down at her plate. As much as she felt uncomfortable at the prospect of seeing her ex-boyfriend, she was happy to be in London.

“What?” Nick asked, his mouth full of food.

“Nothing,” she said. “Just thinking.”

“About the wedding?” he asked knowingly. “Nervous?”

She shrugged. Nervous wasn’t exactly the right word. She really did want to watch Danielle and Liam get married… she just wasn’t entirely looking forward to the awkward conversation she was going to inevitably end up having with Niall. She didn’t know what she was going to do when she saw him, considering the last time she’d spoken to him she’d screamed at him that their relationship was over.

She briefly wondered if she could just make it through that day without talking to him at all. Since Nick was there with her, she was sure it would probably be possible. In fact, Nick being there with her was already making it easier. If she was there alone, she was sure she’d just be in her hotel room doing nothing.

That, or Danielle would have convinced her to just go say hello to Niall and everything would have been very awkward.

“Yeah, I’m a little nervous I guess,” she admitted. “I’m so glad you’re here with me,” she said, and it was genuine. “I don’t know what I’d be doing right now if you weren’t.”

Nick eyed her. “You really don’t know anyone else here, do you?”

Brittany shook her head. “I know them… I’m just not friends with them anymore. It’ll be awkward.”

Nick raised his eyebrow. “Yeah, I still don’t get that. Can’t you talk to any of the other girls?”

Brittany wasn’t so sure she could. “I don’t think so. I was never that close with Eleanor, and any other girls that were around when I was aren’t dating them anymore.”

“But somehow you and Danielle managed to stay friends,” Nick said, raising his eyebrow.

“Well, yeah,” she shrugged. “We were really close back when I was dating Niall. We sort of didn’t have a choice, since the two of them spent so much time together. Niall and I even spent a couple of days at their house once.”

Nick wasn’t sure what to say to that. “Sounds like fun.”

“It was,” Brittany smiled. “But it’s sort of all in the past now.” She had to admit that the weekend the four of them had spent together at Danielle and Liam’s home had been one of her best memories of that relationship.

That, and the two weeks she’d spent with him in Ireland. And of course their spur of the moment trip to New York. It was hard for her not to get a little nostalgic as her train of thought derailed into all of those old times.

“Britt?” Nick snapped his fingers nearly in front of her face. “Are you going to answer the question?”

“Huh?” She lifted her head up to glance at him. “I didn’t hear it…” she admitted, giving him an apologetic look. She hadn’t realized she’d drifted off into her own little world.

Nick didn’t look impressed, but he quickly recovered. “I asked you if it was weird for you to stay friends with Danielle.”

Brittany shrugged. “I don’t think so. I mean, we just…kept texting like nothing had changed. We didn’t really talk about Niall or the group anymore, really. Not after all the drama had sort of subsided.”

Nick nodded. “Do you think that was weird for him? To know that you were still talking to Danielle?”

Brittany thought about that for a moment. She’d never really considered that, and she wasn’t really sure what Nick was asking her all of these weird questions. “I don’t know. I don’t even know if he knew. She never told me about him, so I assume she never told him about me.”

“It was weird for me,” Nick said, and Brittany gave him a confused look. “I mean, it was weird when Rochelle stayed friends with Lauren. I always knew she was telling her stuff about me.”

“Yeah, I remember that,” Brittany mused, thinking back to that weekend on the cruise. “You know, I don’t think I ever actually told you this, but Rochelle totally grilled me the night before the cruise.”

“What?”

Brittany laughed, thinking about how silly it all was now. “Yeah, it was so weird. She asked me if we were a couple, and kept acting like she knew something was going on between us. Like she really wanted dirt on you.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “See? Exactly. She wanted to tell Lauren stuff.”

Brittany shrugged. “Well, she had nothing to tell her. I mean, we’re not a couple.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

There was an awkward silence after that. Neither of them quite knew what to say. Having been so close for the past two years, it was rare that they had any sort of moment such as this one. But it was happening and though Brittany knew why, she didn’t quite know what to do about it.

Part of her wanted to reach over, touch Nick’s hand and ask him if he wanted to change that.

The other part of her screamed not to because the prospect of changing their relationship terrified her. She was also sure that Nick would just look at her like she was crazy.

“You want to go back to the hotel?” she asked instead. “I’m tired.”

Nick smiled at her. “Yeah, sure.”

It was a far cry from telling him she had feelings for him, but at least she was beginning to consider the possibility of actually saying something instead of keeping it all bottled up inside.

***

Nick and Brittany were laying on his hotel room bed watching reruns of Friends. It was a fairly relaxed evening, but after a long day of travelling, they weren’t really up for anything more.

“God, I feel super weird watching this,” Brittany murmured, her eyes half closed as she laid her head on the pillow. “Cause like… we’re in London for a wedding.”

Nick laughed. “Yeah, but I bet no one’s going to say the wrong name,” he paused, and then looked at her with hope. “Do you think anyone will say the wrong name? Because that would make the ceremony a lot more interesting.”

Brittany rolled her eyes. She could never imagine something like that happening in real life, and definitely not to Danielle and Liam. “I really don’t think so. They’ve been together forever. They’re more like Chandler and Monica than Ross and Rachel if anything.”

“If they were Chandler and Monica, isn’t the London wedding where they’d be hooking up for the first time?” he joked.

“You watch too much TV,” Brittany mumbled, closing her eyes.

Nick continued watching the program without saying anything in response to Brittany. He smiled at the familiar episode of the show and couldn’t help but connect the situation the characters were in to his own.

So far, this entire trip had felt significantly less awkward than he had thought it would. Of course, they hadn’t gone to the wedding yet, but the trip itself didn’t seem weird at all. He felt comfortable around Brittany, just as he always did, but it was more than that.

Being here in London with her, when she was choosing him instead of going off to immediately see everyone in her old circle made him almost ecstatic. She hadn’t just brought him as an accessory. It was true, she’d brought him so she wouldn’t be alone, but she was also making an effort to spend time with him.

The more he thought about it, the more this trip seemed to be the perfect time to tell her how he felt about her. Even though the thought terrified him, he was beginning to reach the point where he had to say something. The excuse that he didn’t want to ruin their friendship was no longer valid, as the feelings he was having were already beginning the jeopardize things between them.

“Britt,” he whispered, preparing himself to confess and looking down at her.

“Hmmm,” she murmured. She looked like she was nearly asleep.

He sighed, using the fact that she was obviously tired as an excuse to not say anything after all.

“Hey,” he said, shaking her awake.

She opened her eyes a little and looked up at him.

“Stop taking up my bed and go sleep in your own room,” he said with a slight laugh.

She sat up and stretched out. “Yeah,” she said, rubbing her eyes and grabbing her purse off the side table. “See you tomorrow, Nicky,” she grinned as she left.

“Night.” He didn’t even bother correcting her on account of that awful nickname she always liked to use for him. Which was yet another sign that he was falling for her, hard.

He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling before closing his eyes.

This was not a good situation for him to be in.

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