I Wish – Chapter 16

Thursday June 7, 2012
Los Angeles, CA

The group’s last day spent in LA was one filled with recording, meetings and even an early morning interview on Ryan Seacrest.

Needless to say, by the time they walked into one of the meeting rooms of the hotel for their last of the day with their tour manager, they were all quite tired and bored.

“We need to talk about the Madison Square Garden show,” Leslie said, looking down at her books.

The five boys eyed her. “What about it?” Liam asked. “We’ve booked it, haven’t we?”

“And it’s sold out,” Zayn added as the boys all looked at each other proudly.

“Right,” Leslie said. “And that’s great, don’t get me wrong. We were just thinking that we needed an opening act, and we were considering just booking Brittany as it is technically part of the US tour. I just wanted to run it by you guys before we asked her about it, because it’s a long time away, and I want to make sure we can all remain professional about the situation,” she said as she looked at Harry.

“What?” he asked with a cheeky grin.

“The concert is six months away. If you’re not dating Brittany anymore by then, will you be able to be professional around her?” she asked bluntly.

“I’ll still be dating her by then,” Harry said confidently.

Though they were in the middle of a meeting, Louis was unable to contain his laughter. “Harry,” he said, “you don’t usually date girls for more than a night.”

Harry shrugged. “Yeah, and I’ve been dating this one for the whole tour so far. What’s your point? Plus I couldn’t exactly shag her once and then kick her out of my room, could I?” he laughed.

Niall was ready to throw something at him. “Do you actually even like her, then?” he blurted out.

Harry gave him a quizzical look. “Yeah…” he said, as though it were obvious. “Of course I actually like her. She’s fun, she’s in the same industry so she understands all of the stuff that comes with it.”

“Okay,” Liam cut Harry and Niall off before their conversation got too heated. He turned his attention back to Leslie. “Yes, it’ll be fine if we book Brittany as the opening act for Madison Square Garden. No one here has a problem with that. We’ve kept it professional the whole tour, we can do it then too.”

“Great,” Leslie said, scribbling something down in her book. “Well, I guess that’s it for today.” She quickly gathered her things. “The rest of your evening’s yours, enjoy it, boys.” As she got up to leave the room, Harry, Louis and Zayn quickly followed. Niall got up to leave as well, but Liam stopped him.

“Wait a moment,” he said, motioning for him to sit back down.

Niall sighed, but sat anyway. He crossed his arms and looked over at Liam. He knew he was acting childish, but it had been a long day, and at this point he didn’t really care.

“You’ve got to stop getting on Harry’s case every time he mentions her,” Liam said shortly.

“Yeah, I know,” Niall muttered. Liam wasn’t wrong, every time Brittany was brought up in conversation, Niall knew he got irritable. He also knew he always took it out on Harry a little more than he should. He sighed. “It just gets to me… he can’t ever come up with a reason why he likes her… he just does. Because she’s around, or because he likes having sex with her. Because she’s so convenient for him.”

Liam gave Niall a sympathetic look. “I know, mate. But you know, we haven’t known her that long. Harry might not know why he likes her so much, sometimes you just do. Can you even come up with a better reason as to why you like her?” he challenged.

Niall nodded. Boy, could he ever. Brittany gave him a new reason practically every day. “Yeah, I can,” he assured him. “One, she’s absolutely beautiful. Two, she knows about football. Three, she has the same sarcastic sense of humour that I do. Four, she actually understands my passion for music. Five, she’s not afraid to tell you what’s on her mind,” he listed, counting on his fingers as he went. “Do you want me to keep going?”

Liam shook his head. “No, I think I’ve got it,” he said with a sigh. “Look, Niall, I don’t know what else to tell you. If you like her this much, you’ve got to either put it out of your mind or come clean to Harry. Because he’s going to start to wonder why you’re acting so weird. He probably already is.”

Niall knew Liam was right. There was no way he was going to tell Harry, but he was going to have to let out all his pent up aggression somehow. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Cheer up Nialler,” Liam said, standing up and patting his friend on the back. “It’ll all work out.”

***

That evening, Niall was once again in Brittany’s hotel room. This time, Harry had opted to leave them alone before they’d even begun the lesson. Niall was happy to see him go. Life was just a lot simpler for him when Harry wasn’t around. Even though spending this time with Brittany wasn’t at all helping the fact that he was supposed to be trying to put her out of his mind and get over it, there wasn’t much he could do about it for the time being. Once they left LA, he promised himself, he would stop spending so much time around her.

“Come on, Brittany,” Niall said, taking a deep breath as he placed her hands on the strings. Brittany was sitting on the edge of the bed, while Niall was kneeling down in front of her. “Try again.”

She sighed. “I’m sick of just playing chords and stuff all the time,” she said with exasperation in her voice. She looked down at Niall as he gave her an unamused look. “I know what you’re going to say.”

“You need to learn the basics,” he told her, as he had time and time again.

Brittany just rolled her eyes. “But it’s so boring.”

Niall was helpless in the face of her cute pout. He supposed it couldn’t hurt to try something a little more complicated. She was never going to learn if she didn’t push herself. “All right,” he gave in, standing up. “Let’s try playing a song, hang on a minute.”

He left the room for a moment and returned with a book filled with all of his favourite songs. “What do you like, then?” he asked as he knelt down in front of her once more. He set the book down on the bed beside her.

Brittany flipped it open and looked through the different songs. Niall certainly had diverse taste in music. “I don’t know,” she said. “What do you think is easy?”

“Hm…” Niall flipped through the book lazily and tried not to pay attention to the fact that Brittany’s hand was now resting on his shoulder. “This one’s easy. It’s just a few different chords,” he said, letting the pages of the book sit on Girl by The Beatles. “It starts on A Minor,” he said, looking up at her. “Do you remember that one?”

“Yeah,” she replied, placing her hands back on the strings. “Like this?”

“Yeah,” he nodded, repositioning her hand slightly. “The pattern is pretty easy, go slow,” he instructed, watching her hands as she started to play. “Have you heard the song before?” he asked.

Brittany just nodded as she looked down at the book and tried to follow the tabs. “I don’t know when to switch though, it’s hard to think of the song in my head and pay attention to the book, you know?”

“Yeah,” Niall said quietly. “Here, start again. I’ll sing it so you can keep track.”

Brittany gave him a small smile, looked back down at her hands and began to play.

“Is there anybody going to listen to my story, all about the girl who came to stay,” Niall sang, watching Brittany’s hands carefully. They were so delicate and small. Not great for playing guitar, but Niall didn’t care much. He could watch her do this all day.

“She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry, still you don’t regret a single day…”Niall watched as her hands found the chords. She was a little off, but it didn’t really matter to him. She was managing to keep up with him, even though when he looked up he could see slight frustration on her face. She was concentrating hard – her eyebrows were knitted and her lips were pursed together as she glanced down at the book.

Niall took a deep breath. “Oh girl…” he breathed deeply again, mimicking the song as well as trying to keep his composure while he watched her face. He closed his eyes for a moment. “Girl, girl…”

He had to force himself to look back down at her hands. This was a guitar lesson, after all.

“When I think of all the times I’ve tried so hard to leave her, she will turn to me and start to cry, and she promises the earth to me, and I believe her…” he continued to look at her hands, strumming away, but his mind was in another place. He was sitting so close to her, he could hear her soft, even breaths. He licked his lips slightly, as he tended to do when he was uncomfortable. “After all this time I don’t know why…”

Her lips, on the other hand, were still pressed together. Niall noticed this as he caught himself glancing up at them again.

“Oh, girl…” he breathed, not even caring he was no longer watching her play. “Girl, girl…”

He hated himself for loving her so much. She was Harry’s girlfriend. Harry’s, not his. He seemed to constantly forget this small, yet important and heartbreaking fact whenever he was alone with her.

The fact that he was still singing the song was the only thing keeping him breathing normally at this point.

“She’s the kind of girl who’ll put you down when friends are there, you feel a fool…”

Harry’s girlfriend, he reminded himself as a few locks of her hair came untucked and fell in front of her face. He took a deep breath and concentrated on singing the song as best he could.

“When you say she’s looking good, she acts as if it’s understood she’s cool, ooh, ooh, ooh… girl… girl, girl…”

Brittany noticed his change in tone and looked down at Niall she lazily strummed the chords she’d remembered from the book, but soon her hand fell limp. She simply opted to watch him sing in front of her. Looking into his eyes, she sat, and listened.

Niall continued, his heart beating quicker as she watched him. He didn’t dare stop now. Not when he had her attention.

“Well she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure, did she understand it when they said…” he sang, keeping his eyes connected with hers. She leaned down a little, wanting to be closer to him, and his beautiful voice. “That a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure, will she still believe it when he’s dead…”

Niall noticed her lean down towards him, however slight the movement was. He shifted his posture upwards.

“Oh girl… girl, girl…” he breathed, watching her as she gently set the guitar aside. What else was there to do but keep singing? “Oh girl… girl, girl…” he stressed, breathing heavily.

There were no lyrics left in the song, but Brittany continued to study him as she breathed for a moment. Her eyes were hazy, and they clouded all of Niall’s better judgement. They were already only inches apart. He closed his eyes and leaned in towards her.

She didn’t stop him. Instead, she closed her eyes as well and allowed him to softly press his lips against hers. He tucked her fallen hair back behind her ear while he did so. His heart pounded in his chest, but he was unable to form any coherent thoughts. Other than the fact that he couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

He pulled away from her and blinked a couple times. Neither of them said a word. Niall had crossed a line, and he knew it. Standing up, he looked at Brittany apologetically.

Then he walked out of the room.

As soon as he was back in his own, he slammed the door shut and leaned back against it. So much for trying to put her out of his mind and get over her. How could he have been so stupid as to let that happen?

He licked his lips… he could still taste her gloss on them. He quickly wiped his mouth and shook his head, as if to erase any memory of what had just happened from it. He laid on the bed and put his face down in the pillows, letting out a frustrated groan.

He didn’t want to forget.

He wondered what Brittany was going to think of him now. If she was going to continue being friendly with him, or if she’d be completely disgusted by him and never want to talk to him again. That, he figured, would probably be for the best. He also worried that she was going to tell Harry, and he was sure she probably would and that Harry would come knocking at his door, demanding to know what happened and why he had done it.

Niall mentally berated himself for making things even more complicated than they already were. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and was surprised to see that he had no new messages.

He debated texting Brittany to tell her that it had been a mistake and to not tell anyone, but that wouldn’t do any good. In fact, it probably would have just made things worse.

Instead, he shot off a quick text message to Liam, telling him to tell the others that he was turning in for the night and didn’t want to be bothered.

Then he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

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