"No," Michelle said, as if it were that simple.
"I'm sorry what?" Erin replied as she sat across the table from the girls, James beside her.
"You heard me. No. This isn't happening. I don't accept it," Michelle said.
"Its not actually up to you," Erin argued. "I know this is hard for you but grow up Michelle!"
"Fuck the pair of you, this is insane. Have you forgotten that he's English, and a prick and..." Michelle ranted.
"Okay, not a prick," James interrupted. "And in fairness I'm also technically Irish. And you were the one who told me that I belonged here. That I was a Derry Girl. Did you forget that?"
"Shut up dick, I'm not talking to you," Michelle responded. "And you will ruin everything. As if you aren't going to just shift off and leave James behind if David or John Paul show even the slightest interest in you. You're just bored Erin."
"Stop it Michelle," Erin said in a low voice. "I fancy James. I chose James."
"Sure ya did," Michelle laughed. "I'm not going to sit here and be okay with this. So sort your shit out and then come find me."
With that Michelle roughly pushed her chair back and left the little ice cream shop they had met up in. Clare and Orla both just sat uncomfortably and James squeezed Erin's hand in his.
"You knew she wouldn't be easy," he sighed.
"She'll get over it," Clare told them. "I mean, I will admit I'm concerned. What if you break up? I'm not choosing sides. And I don't want our last years of school to be any harder than they already will be."
"We won't make you chose sides," James said. "And we know that it could go wrong but it also might be fine."
"And besides James is still one of us girls, no matter what," Erin smiled.
"You're both fools," Clare said but then she laughed. Erin could always count on Clare.
"Can I get an ice cream yet?" Orla asked, seemingly having no opinion on the revelation.
"Sure Orla," Erin nodded. "Can you get me one too?"
"Give us your money then," Orla replied, holding out her hand and wiggling her fingers. "Oh and James...."
"If you break my cousin's heart, I will break you. And I know how to dig quite a big hole."
Orla walked off towards the counter.
"Should I be worried about that?" James asked.
"You should always be a little worried about her," Erin replied. "And thanks for being you Clare. We knew at least you'd understand."
"Doesn't mean I one hundred percent support it just yet," Clare said. "But you can't help who you love I suppose."
"Well I'll take whatever percent of support you can give. It's more than Michelle," Erin laughed. "So now that that's over, anybody else got any news?"
James walked Erin home, Orla happily trailing behind then because he had bribed her with a lolly ring. He kissed her goodbye and made his way home, not sure he was ready to face Cyclone Michelle. But he didn't have much of a choice. When he opened the door he heard Michelle slam her own door as if she needed him to know she was still angry.
"Michelle," James called, knocking on her door. "This is ridiculous."
"Not as ridiculous as you dating Erin," Michelle huffed from the other side of the door.
"What do you want me to say?" James asked, leaning against the door. "You had to have some idea I liked her. I took her to prom."
"Aye, because she got stood up."
"That may be but I still chose to give up the Doctor Who night for her. Not Clare, if you remember."
"That doesn't mean I was expecting this!" Michelle replied.
"I don't understand why you're so angry about it," James sighed. "But you have to get over it. I really care about Erin. And she cares about me too."
"You think," Michelle countered. "I just...I don't want you to leave."
"Even if I broke up with Erin tomorrow, I still wouldn't go back to London permanently. Derry is my home and at the end of the day, as much as I still love my Mum, Aunt Deidre is more of a mother figure," James admitted. He heard her open the door.
"Don't let her hear you saying nice things about her. It'll go straight to Ma's head. And then she'll lecture me about why I couldn't be a more grateful child."
"So are we okay?" James asked cautiously.
"Undecided. I have to talk to Erin first. Just me and her."
"Since when are you protective of me?" James laughed.
"Since you up and tried to leave me, ya prick."
"Fair," James replied. "You want to watch a movie? Just not a horror one."
"Where's the fun in that?" Michelle said but she shut her door behind her and followed him down to the living room.
Erin was surprised when Michelle came around the next day by herself. But she invited her in and they went up to Erin's room.
"I have to know...why James?" Michelle asked immediately after Erin had closed the door.
"I didn't mean to but...he's funny, and smart and kind. I like when he smiles. And he saved me from a ruined prom. Not to mention he got me a lovely gift for Christmas and..."
"We did Secret Santa for Christmas," Michelle interrupted. "And Orla had you."
"He gave it to me later, when he walked me home."
"Is that why he was so cheery when he got back?" Michelle said but more to herself then Erin. "Anyway, so. Why can't you just be friends?!"
"Because I don't want to be just friends. Katya was...and you know how much I hate to admit I was wrong...but she was right. James is handsome. And sexy. In a James kind of way but still..." Erin admitted. She felt her stomach twist with nerves. She just wanted Michelle to go back to being her usual self. She wanted everything back to normal, just with one minor change.
"Ew, I just...I don't get when this changed. Why didn't you tell me?" Michelle asked.
"Is that what this is about? That we didn't tell you?" Erin asked.
"Possibly, a tiny bit."
"Michelle you three are the first people we've told. And I would have told you sooner except I thought you might react...like this actually."
"Do you love him?" Michelle asked.
"No! Christ Michelle we've only been dating a little while. But I like him. I care about him. And I might love him, one day."
"I believe you," Michelle sighed. "Okay. I can be okay with this."
"That was a quick change of heart."
"I guess I just couldn't accept that you genuinely like each other. Why would anyone in her right mind fancy James? It's still weird but I at least believe it."
"Thanks Michelle," Erin smiled at her friend. "So...are we still on for a study party tonight then?"
"Just promise you won't be all over James in front of me," Michelle begged. There was only so much she could accept at one time.
"Its a study party," Erin laughed. "And I'll try."
"I'll see you tonight then," Michelle agreed. "And yes, I'm bringing alcohol. Don't bother telling me not to. I'll need it to deal with you two and your romantic crap."