Fall Apart - Chapter 2
She had went the entire wedding without crying. She'd come bloody close during her speech, but she'd managed. She'd coped with the ceremony and the speeches, but the minute she finished her second bottle of wine, it was time for Tom and Lorna's first dance and by the time that was finished; Izzie was a complete wreck.
"We wouldn't be here without you, Iz," Lorna said, absolutely and utterly sincerely. Izzie shook her head.
"Tom would have come to his senses."
He probably wouldn't have, she knew that. But it wasn't his fault. It was hers and hers alone. She seemed to wreck everything, so when she was given the chance to fix it, she did. Lorna needn't thank her - Izzie shouldn't have caused the situation in the first place.
Maybe she'd been too friendly once or twice, given him the wrong idea. Tom had been absolutely committed to Lorna since university, why on Earth had he chosen now to stray away?
It didn't matter now, she thought, watching the pair dance through cloudy eyes. She wouldn't have to explain her tears to anyone - they were happy tears for her two best friends. She was happy for them and couldn't wait to see what came their way next.
It wasn't untrue.
But Izzie didn't cry happy tears; only sad tears and tears of utter despair.
And she knew where she stood on today's issue.
She felt a tapping on her shoulder; Jack.
"C'mon," he urged, a cheeky grin on his face. "Let's have a dance, Izzie."
She had tried to refuse. But Jack seemed insistent and as maid of honour, she had meant to find someone to dance with following the couple's first dance, really, she had. Except the only man she wanted to dance with had just married her oldest friend and was currently engaged in a waltz with said friend.
It took her a moment to realise she was crying. Jack looked at her curiously.
"Are you happy for them?"
"Why would you ask that?" She snapped, stiffening up her guard. God sake, don't crack the resolve. We've still got hours left at this damn party.
His face softened, "Izzie, you're crying."
She shrugged, wiping at her tears and closed the gap between the pair once more. His eyes continued criticising her as the song played on, but he didn't mention it again.
After speaking to Lorna, she found a way out of the conversation in that she wanted to check up on the girls. She expected they'd be fine, but she really needed a moment away from all the love and happiness and to fall back down to Earth. Somehow, speaking to Jimmy seemed preferable to chatting with Lorna any longer about her role in making the wedding happen.
"I've gone home," Jimmy told her over the phone, and she could practically hear him shrug. He explained that the girls were fine, they were only watching telly and they were old enough to be left on their own.
She'd had enough.
Slamming the room door behind her, she rushed for the exit, dying for a sneaky cigarette and to call a cab home. Jimmy had a point; the girls would be fine. But she had explicitly asked that he spend the night with them. Useless bloody bastard.
Why she was so angry, she couldn't put her finger on. Was it Jimmy leaving the girls alone, or Jimmy leaving the girls to go home to Shelley? Did he do it because the girls didn't want him there or did he do it to wind her up? What was his bloody problem?
As she took the first drag of her cigarette, she found herself unable to stop the tears now. Months and months without a single tear and now they were falling in floods.
What did she do to deserve such a bloody mess?
"Thought you'd given up the fags?" he asked, Tom, standing by her side. Was this just a feeble attempt at conversation? What did it look like?
"Well, I lied. Didn't I?"
A little too quick there, Iz. Voice too hoarse to pretend she was okay, she quickly wiped at her tears and took another drag of her cigarette.
Like he cared, she thought, shaking her head at her own absurdity. Of course Tom cared! God, what was she like? She was too tired for this minefield with Tom and Lorna. Couldn't she just forget about it and move on?
Making up some rubbish about Jimmy, her eyes never once met his. She focused on the cigarette smoke, burning in her throat. Breathing in and out - the longer you held the smoke in, the better it would feel. The more she focused on the cigarette, the less she had to worry about the feeling of Tom's body at her side. She would be fine, the cab would be here any minute and she wouldn't have to see either of them again until the returned from their honeymoon.
"Anything I can do for you, Iz. Anytime."
Her eyes met his, clouded by tears once more, "What I said before, about you and Lorna... I meant it. I just want you both to be really happy."
It was true. Lorna was her oldest mate, and Tom made her very, very happy. She really did want nothing but the best for the couple, even if that meant endorsing her own misery. She had merely been wondering why she couldn't have it both. Why couldn't they all just be happy?
That was simple, she chided herself. Lorna has the one thing that'll make you happy; Tom.
"I know that," replied Tom, smiling up at her. "I'm really going to try and make this work."
"Well you better had," she said, words turning slowly into a sob. She had lasted the whole day, probably would have made it all the way home without a proper cry if it wasn't for him. But she couldn't help it - for all the misery she was putting herself through, Tom Clarkson was going to do more than just try and make it work. He would make it work.
He pulled her into his arms, a gesture of a true friend, she thought. And for a split second, she had never felt safer in anyone's arms.
But then she remembered, this couldn't be the gesture of just a mate. He told you only days ago that he loves you, Iz. Those feelings don't just disappear because he's married now.
Her cries grew louder as she struggled out of his embrace, hoping to God the bloody taxi would just pull up right about now. But as she got to her feet, her body was wracked with sobs and the taxi was nowhere to be seen.
He pulled her gently round to see him and brown eyes locked on blue. She begged him silently to just let her go, not to do something he was going to regret. But in typical Tom Clarkson style, he read her thoughts and shook his head - sod it, probably running through his mind. Her alcohol influenced mind took a moment to catch up, and before she knew it, his lips were on hers.
She kissed him back, tears seeming to halt with one single action and just for a moment, she felt that safe feeling once more. Why did it feel so right being in Tom's arms? Why did she feel like she could conquer the world with just one kiss?
Because you love him, you silly sod.
Just as she felt ready to give into her feelings, the headlights of a car illuminated the scene and she panicked. Finally it hit her; she had betrayed her best friend and Lorna was never going to forgive her. No matter how drunk she was, she should have known better. She was a grown woman and she was behaving like some stupid teenager with no concerns for Lorna's feelings and no regards of the consequences. How could she forgive herself, never mind Lorna forgiving her?
She darted for the cab, ignoring Tom's plea for her to wait. He had known her for long enough, he would know how guilty she was to feel, how she'd punish herself for days. She wouldn't want to be talked out of her feelings and she certainly didn't want to risk falling into his arms once more.
All she wanted was to go home, have a very big glass of water, and prepare for tomorrow's hangover. She'd have to ring Jimmy and read him the riot act. Perhaps once she'd dealt with the splitting headache and probable vomiting, she would take Chlo and Mika out for their tea, just because. She was a mother, a teacher - she wasn't a home wrecker. Tom needed to be with Lorna, he wasn't an adulterer. He was a loving and caring bloke, and she knew he loved Lorna.
"Miss Redpath," Jack called, and she turned, teary-eyed back to look at him. "Could you drop Miss Haydock off on your way home?"
Somehow, Steph Haydock ended up beside her in the taxi, mumbling something about Jack and she dancing. Izzie didn't particularly care, she had her own silent tears to cry. But when Steph's hand sat on her arm, she felt compelled to listen to the drunk. After all, she couldn't go anywhere.
"Izzie, Tom's with Lorna now."
She laughed, "I know, Steph. I was at their wedding, too."
But Steph didn't laugh, only pulled away and settled into her seat more comfortably. Izzie watched her, waiting to see if there was a point to the story. Steph simply shut her eyes and rested her head back against the seat. With a sigh, Izzie done the same, willing the headache to start while it was ahead.
"You'd do well to remember it, then," spoke Steph, a slight sting to her words.
Izzie sobered up in that very moment, eyes watching Steph widely, "Steph-"
"Do you think Jack likes me back?"
Izzie didn't know. What she did know, however, was that she was in trouble.