Falling in love was never easy. To become so in tune with someone, to trust them with your life, required a lot of internal strength.
A lot of people had told me before that ‘love hurts’. I had believed them; having never been in love before, I didn’t know. But the thought had plagued me for awhile now. Love and hurt shouldn’t be placed in the same sentence together; they should be oxymoronic.
Why was I thinking about love? Well, the answer seemed childishly easy; Liam, of course. But, it wasn’t simple. In fact, it was complex. It had only been a month since we started dating and love doesn’t come by that quickly.
Or does it?
Regardless of whether I loved him or not, my relationship with him was beginning to scare me. His image had become so engrained within me, his presence always surrounding me. Any spare moments I had were dedicated to him; thinking, fantasizing.
Was this healthy?
There was no way that I was in love with him after simply one month.
But, then, what was this?
I couldn’t help but wonder, does he think about me this much?
My question was answered within the next few minutes as my phone began to buzz on my beside table. Leaping over my bed, I collected it and pressed it against the side of my head.
“Hello?” I said, breathing deeply in an attempt to erase any signs of fluster.
“Hey, how are you?” Liam’s silky smooth voice questioned. Sighing softly, I collapsed onto my bed, enclosing myself within the warm folds of my black doona.
“Good, thanks. Better now that you’ve called,” I teased, giggling softly to myself. “You?”
“Great,” he replied. Hearing the smile in his voice was enough to make my heart flutter. Allowing my eyes to flicker closed, I imagined him holding me.
“I was just thinking about you,” he continued, his quiet breaths exemplified as I strained to listen. “That song, Just The Way You Are, came on and… well, I couldn’t help but think of you.”
Simple tactics like these made me appreciate him even more. I was a true romantic at heart and Liam knew exactly how to please me.
However, Liam wasn’t the only one that had captured my heart. Zayn, Louis and Niall all had their own soft spots, their own thoughts dedicated to them. They’d grown on me, so fast and so quickly and imagining life without them became difficult, almost impossible.
They surrounded me, internally, their mere memories warming me. Niall’s laughter always echoed in my mind, Louis’ jokes were always on repeat. Even when they weren’t with me, they were there in spirit.
And then there was Harry.
To go so long without seeing him was absolute torture.
It was always the same, he would go away or I would go away and we’d spend the entire time texting or calling. Nothing had changed, we still spoke at least once every day, if not more. Yet, something had become different. The dynamic in our friendship was deeper, we were closer. We had passed some unforeseeable line and become even better friends.
It was hard to describe, to the untrained eye, we were still best friends. However, both Harry and I knew that something had snapped.
My train to Liam’s hometown was booked a week in advance, my bags packed three days before I was due to leave. As the date fast approached, the minutes seemed to stretch out into hours. My impatient longing bubbled under the surface and I wanted nothing more than to leave, to arrive in Wolverhampton and see the supplementary family I had been missing.
The Live Finals and the Judges’ Houses took the backseat in my mind, a decision that, at one stage, I would later come to regret.
When my train pulled up into the busy, crowded and historic Wolverhampton station, my vision was filled with Liam and Harry, standing and waiting for me patiently. Their body language was relaxed and I prayed that any mess I had made up at Niall’s house had been forgotten. Jumping off the train, my bags in tow, I leaped over to them and folded my arms around the two of them, laughing. They joined in, hugging me tightly, before letting me go and hugging me individually. Behind them, I saw Niall and Zayn walking over to us, two ice cream cones in their hands.
“Where’s mine?” I joked, before greeting them too. After being told Louis was waiting in the car, I watched as Harry took my bag and followed the boys out of the station, lagging behind slightly and pulling Liam with me.
His fingers intertwined themselves between the spaces in my hands and I watched them carefully, genuinely interested. He pulled me closer and the gap between our bodies evaporated. Despite the warm day, I felt a chill overcome me. I shivered slightly, although not enough for Liam to realise.
“Everything alright?” I whispered, nodding my head towards Harry and then back at Liam. He looked pensive for a moment and his eyes clouded over. Briefly, he nodded.
“I think so. He’s been acting fine and everything has gone back to the way it was before, so, ah, yeah. Yeah, it’s all good, I think…”
Satisfied with that answer, we sped up slightly to ensure the others wouldn’t leave our sight. Nevertheless, we were still several metres behind them. Nobody had seemed to notice, however, as they continued manoeuvring their way through the severely crowded station. Perhaps choosing the train that arrived to Wolverhampton at lunchtime wasn’t the smartest idea.
“I’ve missed you,” I told Liam, looking directly in his eyes. His face lit up like a child on Christmas day and it excited me to know that I could make him happy. He leaned down and kissed me softly. I bit my lip as he pulled away, wanting more, wanting his hands all over me and mine all over him.
I had to restrain myself and tell myself that we were still at the train station. Later, I reminded myself.
As Liam’s car, a people mover of all things, came into view, Louis and his smiling face greeted me. Reluctantly, I let go of Liam’s hand as he bounded over to me and hugged me tightly. Glancing behind him, I saw a tall young woman with striking blonde hair and a petite frame laughing. Cocking my eyebrow at Louis, I asked him the silent question.
“Hannah, come over here!” He instructed, shouting over his shoulder, before looking back at me, the smile never leaving his face.
“Scarlett, this is Hannah. Hannah, this is Scarlett,” he introduced after Hannah had floated over. “My girlfriend,” he added, beaming as we hugged.
“It’s so nice to meet you, finally!” I exclaimed. “I’ve heard so much about you.” She giggled, a light tinkering sound and complimented my hair. Rolling my eyes, I assured her that it was a mess right now, but thanked her nonetheless. Once the introductions were done, Louis wrapped his arms around her, focusing his attention on her entirely. Their love was obvious from miles away and it was infectious.
Piling into the car, I watched the houses and then the city buildings flicker past as Louis drove us home. Conversation flowed in the car and if a question was asked, I answered, but I spent the short twenty minute journey home with my nose pressed against the glass.
The city was beautiful, a mix of old and new. It vaguely reminded me of Holmes Chapel, only slightly bigger and I felt right at home. The houses were gorgeous, picturesque villas painted against a clear blue sky, littered very slightly with the remnants of clouds.
The moment we pulled into Liam’s driveway and the car stopped, the boys all dispersed. Hannah and Louis saying their goodbyes before heading off on a walk. Harry and Niall decided to go swimming in Liam’s pool and Zayn wanted to Skype with his best friend, so he left us too. Looking at each other, Liam and I laughed and I moved over to him, leaning against him as we sat in the backseat of his car.
“Can’t say I’m complaining about everyone disappearing,” I said, mulling over what we could do.
Liam’s house was large. A double story mansion with hallways that spanned off into a multitude of rooms. It was a maze I could lose myself in, discovering new crooks each time. After spending a few minutes in the car, Liam led me inside and gave me a quick tour. As we approached his bedroom, my heart sped up. Pushing open the door, I was confronted with a large room, painted blue and white with a double bed in the middle. His desk was neat and tidy, his room void of any mess. There was a faint buzz coming from his laptop that was currently on and sitting perfectly in the centre of his wooden desk. There, as his background, was the picture of me and the boys that we had taken as I was leaving Ireland.
The room had a musky smell, the deodorant overpowering with a slight hint of Liam’s natural scent. I inhaled the smell, wanting to forever memorise it. Walking over to the window, I looked outside into his backyard and watched as Niall pushed Harry into the pool.
“We never had our second date you know,” Liam said, his voice muffled as he was bent over and looking for something under his bed.
“Geneva’s party?” I inquired, my attention focused on the pictures he had stuck up next to the window. There was a pretty blonde girl that looked like Liam and I knew that was his sister. I wondered when I would get to meet her.
“Okay, third date then,” he countered. I heard him rummage around some more before a soft thud told me that he had closed a drawer. Dropping something on his bed, Liam shuffled around some more. Before I could turn around, however, I felt his warm breath on my shoulder as his body pushed against my back.
No words were required as he pressed his soft lips to my shoulder, his slightly rough fingers gently pushing aside the collar of my dark top. Involuntarily, my eyes fluttered shut as I enjoyed the tickling sensations of his mouth against my cool skin. His other hand found it’s way to my waist, burying itself beneath the cotton fabric of my top. His fingers slipped under the waistband of my jeans slightly, caressing my untouched skin. My heart beat sped up and I instantly felt warm, despite the cool temperature in Liam’s room.
My hands felt useless as they hung limply at my side whilst Liam gently bit the skin on my neck. Breathing heavily, I tried to regain some control over myself. His hand moved around my stomach, laying there for a moment. His warm mouth left my skin, leaving a cool patch and he swivelled me around, so that I was facing him.
His eyes were on fire, darting from my mouth to my eyes every few moments. Before I could stop myself, I felt my feet lift me so that I was level with Liam’s eyes. Predicting my movements, Liam swiftly placed a finger on my lips, gently pushing me away.
I frowned, slightly hurt.
“Trust me when I say I want to do that more than anything right now,” he whispered to me softly, removing his finger and then wrapping his arms around me. Resting my head against his chest, I could hear his heart beating at a million miles per hour. I let him continue.
“But I’m scared that if we start, I won’t be able to control myself… I won’t be able to stop. Not right now, not after I haven’t seen you in so long.”
We both knew what he was talking about and reluctantly, I had to agree. We were both raging with hormones at that instant. With my head still resting on his chest, I slowly nodded. He held me tighter and kissed the top of my head.
We stood there in that position for a few moments, simply enjoying each others’ company.
“Anyway,” he said, the vibrations of his deep voice reverberating through me. “Our third date, dinner and a movie tonight?”
Although he phrased it as a question, there was no choice on my behalf. His voice suggested that he would not take no for an answer. I considered humouring him, telling him I was too tired but that’s when the tickets on the bed became obvious. Watching me, Liam noticed where my attention had drifted and laughed, letting go of me. Instantly, I felt cold so I wrapped my arms around myself.
“Well, by movie, I meant a theatre production. Is that okay?” He asked, waiving the tickets around in the air enthusiastically. I nodded, excitement gracing my face as I saw the words “Mary Poppins” on the tickets.
Glee still present on my face, I hugged Liam and kissed him again, before heading downstairs and showing off to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, this didn’t go to plan as the boys already knew about it, but they told me to have fun and explicitly told me not to have sex. I frowned in their faces before giggling again. I was a hot mess that day.
As I sat with the boys and Hannah in Liam’s backyard later that afternoon, I couldn’t have felt happier. It was such a relief to have such a relaxing and normal day after all the drama that had gone down in Ireland. Everything did indeed seem back to normal.
Perhaps that was a naive view to take. Maybe if I had thought about it more, I would’ve realised that there was no way Harry would’ve gotten over me that quickly. Perhaps if I had been less selfish, I would’ve noticed how Liam and Harry never actually exchanged many words. Maybe the looks that Hannah kept giving me that night, the looks of confusion whenever I was physical with Liam, should’ve told me that something was wrong, that something wasn’t quite right.
But I was Scarlett Thomas and I chose to live in my own world.
This was going to get me in a lot of trouble one day.