Only Owen remained silent as Pippa began chatting to my selection of flat mates. I knew that someone would have already told him about what I’d done the night before, if he didn’t know already. I understood why he would be angry at me, after the argument we’d had it must look like I was doing it to spite him. But Owen didn’t know everything about Luke so how could he possibly know my subconscious motives for doing what I had done?
This wasn’t the time or the place for me to apologize to Owen so I tried my best to ignore his glares and focus on Pippa. I’m pretty sure she could tell something was going on as the tension in the room between Owen and me rose.
“So you went to school with Nessie,” Aislinn commented, trying to keep the mood light. “What was she like?”
“I don’t think she’s changed that much,” Pippa laughed. “The Nessie I know is quiet and kind and quite shy.”
“Well I think she has overcome that particular problem,” Owen muttered darkly.
“Owen, please don’t,” I pleaded.
“Don’t do what? I’m only stating the truth. You weren’t appearing particularly shy with Lloyd last night.” Everyone else fell silent, no one wanting to make eye contact with either Owen or me, not even confident Darren. “Are you going to deny it?” He pressed.
“I’m not going to have this conversation here like this,” I said as calmly as I could manage. “And is it any of your business if I got on well with Lloyd?”
“I think getting on well is a bit of an understatement, you bloody slept with him!”
“I did not,” I shouted back, losing my patience. “And if I did then I don’t remember it. Why do I have to explain myself to you? You’re not my mother.”
“You know what? You’re right,” Owen said shrugging his shoulders. “It’s none of my business.” Without another word he strode towards the door, throwing it open and storming out. Through my anger I felt a twinge of regret and got up from my chair to follow him.
“Leave him,” Aislinn said.
“I need to sort this out now,” I replied, following Owen out of the door. I heard his door slam and cautiously approached the closed door and gently knocked.
“I don’t want to speak to you,” Owen shouted from inside.
“Look, Owen,” I said slowly. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t mean it,” he replied grumpily, “you’re only saying it because you know that’s what I want to hear.”
“Of course I mean it. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t the truth, I thought you would know me well enough to understand that.” When I received no response to that I decided to continue. “I don’t want to fight with you, Owen. You are a wonderful guy and I really want us to be friends.”
“It’s not all about what you want.”
“I know, but I think it’s what you want too and I’d hate to have to live with a mistake that I made that ruined what could have been a wonderful friendship between us.” Yet again there was no response from behind the closed door and I realised I had probably done enough. “I’ll be waiting for you whenever you decide you’re ready.”
As I turned to walk away from the door, I heard a key turn in the lock and a click as the door opened. I was too stunned for words when I saw Owen’s face appear from behind the door, his eyes red and his cheeks blotchy with what I could only assume were tears.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I said as sincerely as I could, pleading with my eyes for Owen to forgive me.
“I know,” he replied quietly. “And I’m sorry for being such an idiot last night. If I hadn’t been so stupid we might not be here now.”
“You aren’t responsible for my actions,” I insisted.
“But I forced you into making a decision that you might not have otherwise made. At least let me say sorry for that.”
“Only if you’ll accept my apology for behaving like a spoilt brat and for yelling at you.”
“Deal,” Owen said, still a little tearful but trying to force the emotion back.
“Come here,” I said, pulling him into an awkward sort of hug, making him bend down to put his arms around me, his head resting on my shoulder. “I didn’t realise I would make you feel that way.”
“I just thought, when we first met, that you liked me more than as a friend. I thought that if I- you know what, I don’t know what I thought. I just wanted you to like me as much as I like you.”
I felt my breath catch in my throat as the words poured out of Owen’s mouth. I’d had no idea he felt that way, at least not that intensely. I had no idea how to respond to that sort of emotion.
“I wish you had just told me,” I replied.
“Would it have changed anything?”
“I would have known not to get at you the way I did at Lily’s party. And I would have been able to say that I like you very much, Owen. Just not quite like that.”
Owen pulled away from me, his face looking decidedly more composed than when he had first stepped out of his room. His head was nodding slightly, as if he were agreeing with a silent voice. “I understand,” he finally said.
“Can we still be friends?”
“I’d like that,” he said, nodding vehemently.
“Good,” I replied, the awkwardness of the situation beginning to sink deeper in now that some of the other tension had gone. “I should probably get back to Pippa. God knows what Darren is talking to her about.” We both laughed nervously at that, each of us picturing Darren gesturing ecstatically with his arms in the way he usually did. “You want to come too? I was thinking of doing something special with Pippa for her visit, maybe something we all could do.”
“I’ll be with you in five minutes,” Owen said. “Just got to sort a few things out first.”
“OK then,” I said, nodding understandingly. “I’ll see you in the kitchen then.”