Chapter 38 – The Confession

Unlike the night before, Brittany found it difficult to fall asleep.

Her mind continually drifted between being annoyed with Nick for leaving her such a letter, instead of just having the balls to say those things to her face, to being sad be was gone.

She sighed, thinking back to when they’d first become close friends while on the cruise. She clearly remembered Nick telling her how she had to move on with her life. If he’d actually believed that, then why hadn’t he gotten rid of the bracelet like he’d said he would?

Brittany knew the answer to that. It was because deep down, Nick himself always had trouble moving on as well. As much as he claimed he had, he’d never been able to let any aspect of the past go.

She squeezed her eyes shut as Nick’s words echoed in her head. And really, they weren’t even Nick’s words. Niall had read the letter aloud to her and try as she might, she wasn’t quite able to hear Nick’s voice saying them. Imagining Nick saying anything at all to the effect of “You should go be with him,” was damn near impossible.

Another thing she had decided she hated about the letter was that he’d very clearly written it right after his heart attack and subsequently, right after her trip to New York. She was sure that had to be the reason for Nick’s comment about how he didn’t know if she would miss him.

He’d also made reference to their trip to London, by saying that Niall obviously still had feelings for her. That part she could picture Nick saying, with that same smug look he’d had on his face as he’d chased Niall out of the reception hall.

Brittany sighed to herself as she remembered the events of that night. She and Nick had never talked about it, and now she sort of wished they would have. Perhaps their near hook-up had affected him more than he’d let on.

Brittany shuddered slightly as she laid there, remembering the roughness of her best friend’s lips against hers. It was something she’d tried her best to forget, but of course the more she thought about it, the more it stuck in her mind. The memory was always coupled with how wrong all of that had felt.

It led her to wonder if it had felt wrong to him? Had he just said all of those things to her because he didn’t want to lose their friendship? Had he actually continued to have feelings for her? She was beginning to feel like she didn’t know Nick at all anymore and the thought saddened her. There was no way she could ever find any of this information out, and without doing that she didn’t know if she’d be able to go back to thinking of Nick as the person she knew the best in the world.

And yet, through that letter he’d proven he’d known her better than she’d thought. However subconsciously, she remembered feeling that pang of heartbreak in London and all of the nostalgic feelings that had come back to her that weekend. Nostalgia was all she’d convinced herself it was, but the night she’d slept next to Nick, her thoughts were consumed by the man she was laying next to now.

She glanced over at him and smiled. Nick had been right about one thing – with him, she was happy.

“Why aren’t you asleep yet?” he muttered, opening his eyes slightly.

She jumped a little, not realizing he’d been awake. “I thought you were sleeping,” she said, maybe a little more irritably than she’d meant to.

“I was,” he said, not really moving from his rolled over position. “But you keep shifting around. What’s wrong? You were fine yesterday.”

“I know,” she sighed. “It has nothing to do with you,” she assured him.

“Nick?” he asked knowingly. It wasn’t difficult for him to guess.

“Yeah,” she admitted. “I’m just… some of the stuff he said in the letter bothered me.”

Niall frowned a little. “Well… he did say he wanted us to be together.”

“Yeah, I know,” Brittany sighed. “I know he said that, but he also said that he didn’t know if I’d miss him, and… I don’t…” she trailed off, unsure where she was going with that, and not quite wanting to spill everything to him.

Niall sat up a little bit. “Yeah,” he said, rubbing his eyes slightly. “That was weird, considering the only thing he ever said to me was to stay away from you.”

Brittany drew in a breath. She knew Nick had said something to him at the wedding. And now, all of that drama was going to come out. But she supposed if they were going to be together, they were going to have to be honest with one another. “Yeah… I knew he did something like that,” she said, shaking her head. “But he never told me he did.”

“It doesn’t make sense, really,” Niall mused. “Not that I knew him or anything, but I don’t know why he’d say that to me, and then write that to you.”

Brittany gulped and felt her heart speed up in her chest. She hated thinking about that night with Nick, and had never spoken about it aloud with anyone. The fact that the first person she was ever going to say anything to about it was Niall made it all ten times worse. “He… probably changed his mind…” she said with a sigh. “After he realized there was no chance for us.”

Niall just raised his eyebrow, waiting for Brittany to continue, because he could sense there was more to the story. There always was with her.

And of course, he wasn’t wrong. “He kissed me, and I just… I guess I went through this phase where because he and I were so close I thought I had feelings for him, and maybe he went through the same thing, or maybe he did actually love me the whole time, I don’t know, but he kissed me and we went back up to the room and…” she made eye contact with Niall, not really wanting to continue, because it was all so horribly awkward, and because she couldn’t believe these words were coming out of her mouth. It was as if she was reliving that night all over again.

“What?” Niall asked, searching her face for any indication of what happened next. “Did you sleep together?”

“No!” Brittany said quickly. “No, we stopped before it got to that point. I mean, we almost did, but we didn’t. I was so nervous about it and I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t in love with him like I thought I was. It wasn’t him who I was thinking about…” she trailed off, and then looked at Niall pleadingly, hoping he would understand.

He did. “And you told him that?”

“No… I didn’t tell him anything about you. We just agreed we were better off as friends. But I guess he knew. It was probably easy to tell. And maybe that’s what he thought, that he was some kind of replacement for you,” she said, her voice cracking a little. “But he wasn’t. He never was, he was just my friend, and I wasn’t in love with him but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t important to me.”

Niall wrapped his arms around Brittany as she cried. “You know him better than I do,” he said softly. “But all of that was years ago.”

“Yeah,” Brittany muttered. “But he wrote that letter recently. He said in it that it was after his heart attack. That was at Christmas. It wasn’t that long ago.”

Niall sighed, not really knowing what to say to Brittany to make her feel better. “I didn’t know he had a heart attack,” he said simply.

“Yeah,” Brittany said, still clinging to him. “He did. And I was standing right there.” She looked up at him, her eyes wide and glassed over with tears. “I was standing right there and we were fighting, and he was so mad about New York, because he thought I was going to ditch him, apparently. Then he looked at me and told me to call 911 because he was having a heart attack. And then after all of that was over, he said he was surprised I was still there. He thought I was going to go back to New York! Of course I was still there, what did he think was going to happen? That he was going to collapse and I was going to take it as my excuse to go running back to you? Maybe that’s what he thinks now. That since he’s dead I’ve just gone running right back to you like I wanted to all along.” She buried her head in his chest and started sobbing again.

“You’re getting really upset over nothing,” he said, putting his hand on her back and rubbing it slightly.

“No I’m not.”

“Yes you are,” he protested. “He might have thought those things, but you proved to him otherwise. You didn’t leave and go back to New York like he thought you were going to. You stayed there with him.”

“Yeah,” she said, still not quite sure he was right.

“I’m probably not helping,” he sighed.

Brittany shrugged. His opinions weren’t really helping, given that he didn’t know Nick at all. But his presence and support was at least making all of this more bearable.

“Tomorrow we’ll go back to LA, on Monday you’ll meet with the lawyer and maybe you can talk to one of Nick’s friends who knew him better than I did, yeah?”

She wasn’t so sure she could talk to anyone or who was going to be there the next day but she nodded anyway because she knew Niall was just trying to help. “Yeah, okay.”

He kissed her on the forehead and slid back down under the covers. She curled up to him, feeling slightly more at ease and drifted off to sleep.

***

The following afternoon, Brittany carried her suitcase down to the front area as she met up with the others. “Ready to go?” she asked carefully, looking at them.

The three of them nodded, and she breathed a slight sigh of relief. She loved Malibu, but she was ready to go back to LA and sort out the matter of Nick’s will. She wasn’t really looking forward to it, but she missed him, and she hoped that somehow she would get some sort of answers.

That and she felt in a rush to do something, anything that wasn’t just sitting around Nick’s house wondering what he must be thinking of her.

“Thanks for coming out here with me you guys,” she said gratefully, picking up her car keys and surveying the room to make sure the blinds were shut and everything was in order.

“Anytime,” Danielle said warmly, looking at her.

“I’ll hold you to that,” Brittany laughed, walking over to the alarm system. She eyed Liam and Niall, who were just standing there awkwardly. “Can you guys take the suitcases out to the car?”

They obliged, picking up the luggage and walking out of the house. Once they were far enough down the driveway, Brittany turned to Danielle.

“Thanks for forcing him to come here,” she said with a soft smile. “Really.”

“I didn’t force him to do anything,” Danielle laughed. “I might have given him a little nudge but he wouldn’t have come here if he didn’t want to.”

“Well, thanks for nudging him then,” Brittany smiled, stepping over to her friend and hugging her tightly.

“You’re welcome,” Danielle laughed, pulling away from her friend. “Just don’t break up with him again, because I don’t think I have the energy to get you guys back together again.”

“We’re not going to break up again,” Brittany said seriously, punching in the code for the alarm system.

“Glad to hear it,” Danielle said, stepping out the front door.

Brittany took one last look inside the house before taking a deep breath and stepping outside. Going back to LA was going to mean going through the will and finally taking a step into a new life. She was determined to move on without clinging to the past.

Just as Nick had tried to teach her to do.

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