3. Thursday, September 27th

Photoshoot days were the most tiring out of any other day. At least during interviews we could have a laugh. Photoshoots? No way. We had to be on our best behaviour because if we started messing about and got any of our clothes dirty or hairstyles messed up our stylists would lose their minds.

I tried to close my eyes again, but I couldn’t get back to sleep, and I really had to go to the bathroom.

Only one problem, I could hear the shower running, meaning that Liam was occupying my precious bathroom.

I sighed to myself. This was what I loved about living alone. Never having to share the bathroom. Never having to share my food and generally just having my own space to be free to sleep whenever I wanted!

Not that I minded that Liam was staying with me. I really didn’t. I was just now reminded why I liked being by myself in the first place. I had no idea how he’d done it – living with Danielle. Then again, I supposed their place was bigger than this.

But still.

I looked over at the clock. We really had to start getting ready. I stumbled out of bed and made my way over to the bathroom.

“Liam,” I said, knocking on the door. “I’m coming in, mate.”

I turned the knob and to my relief it wasn’t locked. I could still see Liam behind the frosted glass of the shower, but I shrugged, pulling my toothbrush off the counter.

The glass on the mirror was completely fogged over, but that was okay, I didn’t really need to use it much. Besides, I was still half asleep as I –

“Niall!” Liam stuck his head out from the sliding door of the shower. “What’re you doing?”

I had a toothbrush sticking out of my mouth and gave him a look as I motioned towards it. What did he think I was doing? At least I wasn’t taking a piss, because that would have been crossing a line!

He sighed a little. Liam was not a morning person, and I could tell I was annoying him but come on! It was my bathroom and I needed to get ready.

“Can you pass me a towel?” he asked instead of going off on me.

I nodded, walking over to the rack and handing him one. He ducked back into the shower and wrapped it around his waist before stepping out.

He smiled at me, but it was obviously very forced. He still looked sad, and for a moment I was afraid he was going to tell me that he and Danielle always used to shower together in the morning or something. I could help him out with the bagels bit, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to be jumping in for a bit of shower comforting!

But he didn’t say any of that. Instead he walked out of the bathroom and I suppose went to get dressed.

I shrugged and stepped into the shower, going as quick as I could since we had to be out at the studio in less than an hour. I didn’t bother doing anything with my hair because the stylists were just going to have at it anyway.

After finishing up in the bathroom I darted to my room to get dressed. Again, didn’t have to worry too much about what I wore because the stylists were going to deal with all of that.

Once again, Liam was sitting at my kitchen table.

“What?” I asked, giving him a bit of a look. I’d helped him out yesterday, but I didn’t have any helpful advice left in me. “No coffee today?” I asked with a laugh, trying to lighten the mood a little.

He shook his head. “No, I woke up a bit too late for that,” he said apologetically. Oh, Liam. I was only joking around. Of course I didn’t expect him to go out and get coffee every morning.

“You want me to run out and get coffee?” I asked, though I wasn’t sure why. We had to be out the door and on our way to the studio basically right at that moment.

“No, that’s alright,” he said, standing up and pulling the last two bagels out of the paper bag before tossing it in the bin. He handed one of the bagels to me and went over to the front entranceway.

I followed him, slipping my feet into my favourite white Supras.

“Actually,” he said, looking back at me as we left my flat and I locked the door, holding the bagels in my mouth. “Instead of treating me to coffee, what do you say we go out for that pint later on?”

Yeah buddy! I could deal with a pint! “Yeah, alright!” I nodded enthusiastically, taking the bagel out of my mouth. “Shall I invite the other lads?”

Liam looked thoughtful as we walked down the street in search of a cab to take us to the studio. I wished I could drive, but I liked the freedom of being able to get a cab and get to work on my own when we were at home. We weren’t able to do that when we were out on tour.

“I don’t know,” he said finally. “If you want,” he shrugged.

Accommodating Liam. He clearly didn’t want to exclude the other guys but it didn’t seem like he wanted them to come.

“Maybe it could be just us,” I said with a grin.

He looked relieved and smiled a little. “Sure.”

~~~

I was so relieved. I wasn’t sure if Niall wanted the other lads to come out with us, and it wasn’t that I didn’t like hanging around with them, but Niall was so much easier to be around.

Take our photoshoot day, for example.

The boys were all walking on eggshells around me, and while I appreciated their concern, it wasn’t really doing anything to make me feel better. If anything, all it did was remind me that something was very, very wrong in my life and that I was about to break at any second.

Literally, any second. Where I thought I had been doing better, that day I was actually feeling down again. I was glad that it was just photoshoots, because I didn’t think I could handle dealing with interview coaching from management. As it was, any interviewers had been strictly told not to ask about girlfriends, but that didn’t make it any better.

In fact, not getting the girlfriend question also made it worse, because I was so used to getting that question and putting my hand up. I don’t think I’d ever been asked that question and been single, actually.

That was why I was thankful to be sitting in a pub with Niall when the day was over.

“Cheer up, mate,” Niall said with a smile, sitting down across from me and handing me a pint. I eyed it. Harry was right – Niall did only drink light beer. That was alright with me though. I don’t normally drink any type of beer, so light was fine with me.

“Yeah, thanks,” I said, staring down into my beer.

Niall took a large sip from his own. That boy can drink nearly as fast as he can eat. It really was quite a sight. “Long shoot today, wasn’t it?” he sighed, leaning back in his chair. “If I have to put my hands in my pockets and make one more serious face,” he narrowed his eyes a little and then burst out into laughter. “If only they could just take photos of this,” he said, motioning to us sitting at the table with our pints, “Right now instead.”

I shook my head a little and took a sip of my beer. It tasted bitter in my mouth, but I kept drinking it, because I was sure it would probably get better. Besides, Niall had been nice enough to buy it for me. So I was going to drink it. No wonder he drank only light beer – anything strong than this would probably be undrinkable. “Well yeah, but they probably couldn’t put photos of us drinking on t-shirts and mugs,” I said.

Niall just nodded. “Yeah, yeah, fair play,” he laughed and finished his beer. “Another?” he asked.

I gave him a look. I’d had all of two sips of mine! “Uh, I’m good, thanks.”

“Yeah, okay,” he said, getting up to get another beer. I sighed and continued drinking mine. I tried to drink it fast, but I really couldn’t. So I just sipped at it lazily until Niall returned with two more beers.

“Here,” he said. “For when you finish that one.”

I sighed internally a little. I didn’t even think I’d be able to finish the first one. But I kept at it. “Thanks, mate,” I said, forcing a smile.

He just nodded. “So,” he said. “How’re you doing?”

I raised my eyebrow a little. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about it, but at least he was making some kind of attempt. At least he was asking me right out instead of dancing around the issue like everyone else was. He didn’t even wear a sympathetic look like Zayn had earlier that day when he’d put his arm around me and asked me how I was holding up.

I shrugged. “Alright,” I said, taking a swig of my beer. Actually, it tasted a lot better while I was sulking.

“Yeah?” he asked, his face brightening up a little. I wondered if he actually thought I’d completely gotten over it already.

“Uh,” I said, looking at him. It was hard to explain how I was feeling when I knew he had no idea how to relate. “Well, not really, but it’s strange. I can’t really explain it.”

He just leaned in, and genuinely look interested in what I had to say. It was probably because he was already starting to feel a buzz. Niall could drink fast, but I was well aware that he didn’t have to drink a lot to start feeling pretty good.

I took a large gulp of my beer, nearly finishing it and looked at him. “Yeah, I just… It’s like someone died, and you can’t really bring them back, and you want to, but you know they’re in a better place.”

I had no idea what I was on about. Evidently, neither did Niall, because he just looked at me quizzically. “What?”

“Yeah,” I said, still trying to sort out my own thoughts to explain to him what heartbreak and the end of a relationship felt like. “It’s like the relationship died, and you miss it, but you comfort yourself by saying you’re better off. Sort of like comforting yourself by thinking someone who died is in heaven and looking down on you.”

I swear his eyes darted at the ceiling for a split second. “That’s deep,” he whispered, finishing his second beer.

I nodded my head, finishing my own beer and starting on my second. “That’s life,” I said.

I think I’d been hanging around Zayn a little too much because he always said weird stuff like that.

“Do you really miss her that much?” he asked. “Is it like you think about her all the time? Because if you think about it, being at work and not with her is the same as being with her but still being at work, I mean you’re still not with her.”

I gave him a look as I thoughtfully sipped on my beer. If I didn’t think about the taste, it actually wasn’t so bad. “Uh, I suppose.”

“I mean, it doesn’t change anything, does it? Except, I guess, you know,” he said with a suggestive nod.

I rolled my eyes, but inside I felt he was right. That was a big part of what I was going to miss because there was no way I’d ever be able to pull a Harry and sleep with loads of women. “Yeah,” I sighed. “But you get along all right.”

He shrugged. “Yeah,” he said.

It hit me that I actually didn’t know if Niall slept around a lot. Harry was quite vocal about it, but Niall rarely said one thing or another about sex. Actually, if I didn’t know better, I’d almost have thought he was a virgin.

I finished my beer and Niall was quick to get up and get us another round. He sat back down across from me and I put my elbows on the table. “It’s not just sex though,” I said with a nod, and he was back to listening intently, taking sips of his beer every once in a while. “I mean, that you can take care of yourself,” I said, shaking my hand a little.

Niall leaned back in his chair and laughed, but then leaned back over and nodded his head easily. So I continued. “But… that feeling of having someone who’s always there with you and who you know is going to be there for you, that’s not something you can take care of yourself,” I said with a sigh.

He didn’t say anything. He just looked down at the table and then glanced back up at me.

“I genuinely thought I was going to marry her,” I said with a sigh.

His eyes widened at me. I’d never really told him that before. I’d never told anyone that before. I knew that Dani and I were pretty young but I couldn’t help it, I thought about that stuff. Especially since we’d moved in together and had been dating for so long.

“Another round?” he asked, nodding a little.

Probably not the best idea, considering we did have to work the next day. But I could tell that was the only solution to the problem he could think of. I had to admit, it wasn’t a terrible idea.

“Yeah, alright,” I nodded.

He went up to the counter and returned with two more beers and a basket of chips. “On the house,” he shrugged, picking one out and shoving it into his mouth.

I smiled a little, digging into the food myself.

All things considered, it was a pretty good evening.

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