“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” Louis roughly asked, unintentionally swerving in his fit of anger. The steering wheel slipped slightly between his fingers and he quickly moved his hands to grab it again. Zayn squealed in a slightly girly manner in the background and then coughed to cover his slip up.
“Louis, I don’t know! I don’t know what the fuck’s going on,” I cried, staring at the side of his head, trying to get him to understand. I glanced at Zayn too, hoping he would comprehend what I was talking about. His dark eyes met mine, but only his disappointment was conveyed.
The anger infiltrating Louis’ system was evident in his erratic driving. The small Volkswagen Mini that we had rented for the week swerved left and right and for the first time ever, I feared for my life. Subconsciously, I checked my seatbelt to ensure it was fastened. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zayn do the same.
“Liam’s falling for you hard, Scarlett! And Harry, well he’s in lo-, I mean, he…well he’s your best friend. What are you doing?!” The car veered left strongly as Louis made the turn without indicating. I had to grab the handle in order to ensure I stayed stationary.
“Mate, stop the car. I don’t trust your driving right now,” Zayn’s firm voice came from the back. His no nonsense attitude was enough to make Louis pull over in a side street and turn off the ignition. The two boys turned to face me and I instantly knew that this was an ambush.
Louis took a deep breath, which was echoed by Zayn.
“Look, you can’t toy with both boys’ emotions,” Zayn said simply, cutting all the pointless substance. Hanging my head, I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping the tears wouldn’t start to flow. Why was I so emotionally unstable all of a sudden?
“I’m not toying with both boys’ emotions! Harry kissed me.”
“You kissed him back,” Louis pointed out simply in a matter of fact way, lounging back in his seat. No matter how much I tried to deny it, I knew he was right. I had responded, I had made the decision to engage in that behaviour with him. Despite everything I was feeling right now, I was also in the wrong.
Reclining in my seat, I put my hands behind my head and looked out onto the narrow street. The townhouses towered on either side, blocking out any view of the cloudy sky on that cool summer’s day.
“Who do you like?” Louis asked. The question was simple, one that should’ve had a simple answer. Yet, I found myself wondering who I did like. Harry? Liam? Maybe it was the freaking Muffin Man. I had honestly never felt this confused in my life before.
As a sudden thought hit me, I gasped.
“What if… what if… oh god.” The boys looked at me as I tried to figure out my thoughts. Suddenly, I opened my car door and jumped out, apologizing profusely and ordering the boys to go home. Spinning around, I pulled my iPhone out of my jacket pocket and dialled the one person that always picked up no matter what.
“Hello?” Her warm and familiar voice asked.
“Annabelle Thomas,” I smiled into the phone, “where have you been all my life?”
My darling sister was probably the one person that could help me more than anyone right now. The small talk was avoided as I jumped straight into my story, filling her in about my life up until my kiss with Harry the previous night.
“You kissed Harry?” She exclaimed, not even trying to hide the excitement in her voice.
“You have to be impartial in this, Bella!” I stressed. Her smirk was loud enough to hear over the phone.
“You and Harry are perfect for each other though, best friends in love, aww…”
“Just shut up. You know what though, I think I kissed him as a rebound from Liam’s rejection of me,” I explained, finally letting my thoughts out into the open. The phone went quiet for a moment and I pulled it away to make sure the call hadn’t dropped. Annabelle’s silence was slightly deafening and sort of intimidating, but I waited patiently until her thoughts settled down and she could give me an answer.
“Scar, I don’t really know what to say…” she trailed off, her mind reeling. “You need to figure out if you like him or not. You can’t lead both boys on, it’s not fair.”
“I know that,” I replied, slightly more defensive than necessary. Why was everyone telling me what I shouldn’t do? Shouldn’t they be helping me sort out this complicated mess?
There was a brief pause in conversation as we both contemplated the scenario.
“Okay,” I said decisively. “That ship has already sailed. We tried it once and it didn’t work, I don’t want to go back there.”
“What are you saying?” She questioned, worry evident in her quiet tone. Biting my lip, I knew that my next few words would essentially dictate the upcoming months in my life.
“I don’t like Harry Edward Styles.”
The thing about being a guest at someone’s house is that you have to be courteous of them. As parents looking after four boys, an extra girl and their own son, Niall’s guardians already had a lot on their plate. It was in my best interests to be the best possible guest. This involved returning at reasonable hours, especially considering that I was staying in a town that I had never visited before.
Unfortunately, I was never one to play by the rules. Therefore, sneaking in at one in the morning, by myself, was nearly impossible and I had to admit, I felt insanely guilty. That hadn’t stopped me, an hour before, from wandering the town centre by myself. Fearless, the night time didn’t scare me. In my selfish state, I had completely forgotten to consider the worry that Niall’s parents would’ve felt.
The lights in the house were all off, and I sincerely hoped everyone was asleep. I knew I’d eventually have to deal with Niall’s parents and they’d probably be disappointed, which was the worst to deal with, however, I wanted to prolong that uncomfortable scenario for as long as possible.
It was when I got to the front door that I realised I had no way in. No key, no open door, no window. Evidently, when I was distressed, my brain ceased to function. The biting cold was nipping at my finger tips and I wrapped my cardigan around me tighter, hoping to retain some warmth. Perhaps I should’ve considered the cold earlier before stepping out in short shorts. Momentarily, I distracted myself by watching my thighs as the small, frequent bumps appeared on my tan skin.
Putting my forehead against the cold window, I looked into the darkness, trying to find something or anything that would let me in. I was actually freezing and I knew it wasn’t healthy for me. The darkness pressed against the glass, prohibiting me from seeing inside. Sighing, I stumbled over to the tall fence next to the house and throwing my phone over, I struggled to jump it.
Niall’s parents would’ve killed me if they knew what I was doing. My mum, herself, would probably murder me if she knew what a bad guest I was being. Finally, after several moments of struggling, I made it to the top of the high wooden fence and looked down. My phone had landed on the soft grass, just to the left of the concrete path. It seemed fate was on my side with that one. Leaping down, I found myself in Niall’s backyard, the pool glistening as it reflected the light from the moon.
The scene was mesmerising, but my mind was still focused on how to get back inside. I considered calling one of the boys, but they were all angry at me, except Harry who wanted nothing more than to get with me, so I couldn’t call him either. I went over to pick up my phone, considering calling Annabelle again to see if she had any ideas. Crouching down and collecting my iPhone, I unlocked it and scrolled down to her number.
“Oh my god!” I cried, jumping around and stumbling. His warm arms caught me. Once I’d regained a sense of balance, I pushed him away and turned around.
“What the fuck! You scared me,” I quietly yelled. His eyes looked apologetic and so I rolled mine, telling him it was fine. “What are you doing out this late?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
My mind went into overdrive. Was it because of me? Of something else? I felt so guilty, he was so hurt.
“Liam… I’m sorry.”
“You’ve said that a lot in the past few days.” His biting tone surprised me as I was always so sure he wasn’t capable of aggression. His soft expression had contorted and the sarcasm was evident in his voice.
“Yeah, you’re right,” I replied, looking down. Perhaps I could’ve come up with a better comeback, but I didn’t want this situation to escalate anymore. I was over it.
“I don’t like Harry, by the way. I like you, Liam. I want you.”
Liam groaned heavily, running his hands through his hair. His simple white t-shirt clung to his chiselled body, the goosebumps on his arms present. He looked cold and all I wanted to do was hug him. I had to restrain myself, to stand still. After a complete agonizing minute of silence had passed, he shifted towards the door.
“Come with me,” he said. Instinctively, I followed him, not sure what he was doing. When I was with Liam, I felt safe. I trusted him.
He let me inside and locked the door behind him, before walking up to the room he was sharing with the boys. I hesitated, wondering if I should follow him or not. Turning around, he gestured with his hand to follow me.
Upstairs, the hallway was dark and occasional snores came from some of the rooms. I felt like I was breaking the rules, sneaking around after hours. Liam stopped in front of his door.
“Go put on some warmer clothes and meet me downstairs in five,” he instructed, before slipping inside his room. Glancing through the crack in the door, I saw the mess everywhere and a few bodies, lying on the floor, breathing slowly.
The prospect of an adventure after hours with Liam was exciting and I skipped over to my room, putting on a pair of tracksuit bottoms, boots and my warmest jacket. My appearance was the last of my worries right now and if Liam didn’t like it, too bad.
When I returned downstairs, Liam was leaning against the door, holding two scooters in his hands. He was wearing two jackets, the hood of the second visible around his collar and dark jeans. He looked larger than usual and again, I felt the urge to go hug him. Restraining myself, I collected the smaller scooter that Liam was holding out for me and exited through the front door.
The moon was high in the sky and I could only assume that it was around two in the morning. The streets were quiet and I jumped on the scooter, pushing myself forward with my left leg. The sound of wheels on the concrete paths surrounded me.
We scooted in silence for awhile, enjoying the serene moment. Upon reaching the town square, I stopped to watch the empty streets and the traffic lights as they slowly changed from green, to yellow to red before repeating their cycle. The lights flickered and the emptiness surrounded me. I felt safe, though, knowing Liam was close by. He did a few circles around the middle of the street, before slowly coming to a stop beside me.
“So,” he said, “want to tell me the whole story?”
I had to admit that I knew this question was coming. Any boy would want to know what or who his competition was and after the events that had gone down in the past few days, Liam was definitely going to be curious. I didn’t really know where to start but I figured the beginning was a good place.
Sighing, I walked forward a few steps and started to reminisce.
“Harry and I met each other in kindergarten. We actually hated each other back then to be honest… he always used to steal my crayons. Anyway, we ended up going to primary school together and eventually high school.”
Liam and I were moving slowly, walking side by side, rolling our scooters beside us. The surroundings around me vanished as I was transported to an earlier time, an easier time.
“We weren’t really…friends, I guess, until grade six. We started talking more then and one day, when this guy I liked didn’t like me back, the only person that I could find to talk to was Harry. So, I cried to him and he comforted me. After that, Harry and I just started talking heaps and then we got to the stage where we were talking everyday!”
Taking a breath, I tried to calm my voice which had gone slightly croaky. I cleared my throat.
“Then, one day in grade eight, Harry and I, we were at the local park,” I said, pointing to the park that we were coincidentally just walking past. “We were having a picnic, for some reason. It was sort of lame, but that’s what we did together, we did lame stuff together. Anyway, he was feeding me cake because we were taking the piss out of the couple sitting near us. Accidently, he… he, erm, got cake on my chin and around my mouth because we were laughing so hard and, um…”
Liam cleared his throat and looked away from me. His eyes were unfocused, glazed over. I wanted to stop, to spare him the misery, but I knew he wanted me to keep going.
“He… playfully licked the cake off my chin and our faces were really close, and we just sort of stayed like that for a bit and then… then he kissed me.”
All the feelings from back then came flooding back now. Confusion. Enjoyment. Fear. Love. They were overwhelming, but then I realised that they were the same emotions that I felt now, standing in front of Liam, with my life going haywire in terms of relationships.
“We dated…for a few months. And then, there was the incident where we had our first drinks together and then went and swam in the below freezing lake water. His friends pulled us out, thank god, otherwise we may not even be here. He’s always looked after me after that, but it just ended. We… we… I thought we were better as friends, so we broke it off. And then just stayed best friends.”
“And then, a few years later, whilst we’re standing in Niall’s kitchen, he kisses me…”
“I don’t like him, Liam! We are friends, best friends and that is it. I like you, I want you, please?”
Liam closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. I prayed that he would believe me, that he would give me a second chance. We had stopped walking and were standing under a large tree. The branches spanned across a great distance, covering us and shielding us from the harsh, white light of the street lamp. The blades of grass around the tree tickled me through the thick fabric of my tracksuit pants. It was perfect, it was movie like. Now, all I needed was that one fateful kiss and agreement to give me a second chance. Childishly, I crossed my fingers and shoved them inside the pockets of my jacket.
Liam finally opened his eyes and looked at me, gently pulling my hand out of my pocket.
“You don’t need to cross your fingers,” he smiled before untangling them. Leaning down, his lips meshed around mine after what seemed like an eternity. Placing his hand on my lower back, he pulled me closer to him, enveloping me in his warm arms. I pulled away and looked at him, searching for the answer I wanted in his eyes.
‘I’m the type to give second chances,” he said simply, his eyes mesmerising. I bit my lip, trying to restrain the beam that wanted to grace my face.
“Besides, to be completely honest, I couldn’t stay away from you,” he mentioned as I rested my heavy head on his puffed up shoulder.
It was then, at that stage, that I knew my decision was final.
I did not like Harry Edward Styles.
Because… I was falling head over heels for Liam James Payne.