Chapter 21 – The London Eye

Nick looked at himself in the mirror once he had finished showering and getting ready for the day. He replayed the events of the night before in his head. He’d been so close to telling Brittany that he loved her. What would that have accomplished? Even if AJ was convinced he was basically her boyfriend already, he wasn’t the type of person to want to be in a relationship. He was sure that she would have just looked at him as though he was crazy.

Because really, he was.

Still, he tried to shake off all of his insecurities and doubts, determined to make their day in London together a good one. He’d been to the city many times before, but somehow this trip felt different. He wasn’t there on tour, and he wasn’t there to record.

He was just…there.

And he had to admit, though he hadn’t originally wanted to come at all, it was sort of nice. Despite the fact that he felt uncomfortable as hell in the lavish hotel room.

There was even lace on the skirt of the bed. What the hell did he need that for?

He shook his head and left his room to go see if Brittany was awake.

When he knocked on her door, he ran a hand through his hair and put his hands in his pockets. He berated himself for feeling so awkward. It was just Brittany, she wasn’t going to do anything to him. But his near confession from the night before had scared him, and though he knew Brittany wasn’t aware of anything that was going on in his mind, he still felt different around her. He wasn’t sure how to act.

But there was no time to dwell on it as she opened the door. “You’re finally up,” she said brightly.

“Yeah,” Nick said, still standing awkwardly in the hall. “How long have you been up?”

Brittany shrugged. “Dani and I went for coffee at like… six.”

Nick gaped at her. “Six?! You could have woken me up earlier.”

She laughed. “It’s fine. I even went out and did a little shopping on my own, since I know you wouldn’t have wanted to do that,” she said, motioning towards the mound of shopping bags that sat on the floor.

“A little?” Nick raised his eyebrow.

“Well, you know, I haven’t been here in a while… had to make the trip worth it,” she grinned, and walked back inside the room to grab her purse. “But I’m starving, let’s go get something to eat.”

“Yeah, okay,” Nick said as they walked down the hall and got into the elevator. He glanced down at her. Her highlighted hair sat just below her shoulders, and with the angle he was standing, he could see down the top of her dress.

God, the things he wanted to do to her. Which, strangely, made him feel less awkward than thinking he might actually have feelings for her. And that realization, in turn, made him feel guilty. She was supposed to be his best friend, and here he was imagining all the naughty things they could be doing.

“Nick?”

“Huh?” He’d obviously zoned out.

“I said, where do you want to go for lunch?”

“Oh.” He didn’t care where they went for lunch. Now that his mind was firmly in the gutter, he would have gladly ordered room service and stayed in the hotel room all day. “Uh, I don’t know.”

“Okay…” she said, and the elevator doors opened. They stepped out into the posh lobby and walked out of the hotel. “Well,” Brittany said, glancing around as they walked down the street. “We could go to this deli I saw down the street.”

“That’s fine,” Nick said, keeping his hands firmly in his pockets. Lunch was the last thing on his mind at the moment.

Brittany gave him an odd look. “What? You’re being weird. Sorry there’s no Chili’s here but you’re just going to have to deal.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “I can eat at other places.”

“Sure you can,” she winked at him.

“Oh come on, we went for Chinese yesterday.” Nick said with a laugh, putting his arm around Brittany under the guise of being playful. “And besides, I know you love Chili’s.”

“I actually hate Chili’s,” she said, looking up at him, but making no motion to push his arm off of her.

Nick raised his eyebrow. “You do not.”

“I do,” she grinned. “I’m never going to eat there again.”

Nick clasped his free hand to his chest. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

Brittany laughed as the two of them reached the deli. She pulled out from under Nick’s grasp and opened the door. “I guess I could go there again… for you.”

Nick wasn’t sure, but it really seemed like she was flirting with him.

And he didn’t mind that in the slightest.

***

For as many times as he’d been to London, Nick had never been on the London Eye. Naturally, when he’d told Brittany this, she’d insisted that the two of them go on it.

It was far more of a romantic setting than he would have liked, and once again, he was back to feeling awkward. It was starting to get dark, and through the glass they were able to see the lit up city against the clouded sky.

It really was a pretty sight, if Nick had appreciated that sort of thing.

“This isn’t like your regular carnival ride, is it?” Nick laughed, as he peered out of one of the windows.

“No,” Brittany said, glancing at him and then looking back out the window. “I wouldn’t even say it’s a ride.”

“It’s sort of like the Empire State Building. If it moved.” Nick mused.

Brittany scoffed. “This is way better than the Empire State Building.”

Nick gave her a look. “That’s just because you hate New York.”

“Well, yeah,” Brittany replied, glancing at him and then looking back out of the glass. “The lights are pretty,” she sighed.

He looked down at her. She was just standing there, quietly taking in the sight of the city. He had to admit the lights were pretty. Had he been more of a hopeless romantic, he probably would have said something cheesy like “Not as pretty as you.”

Luckily, he wasn’t that hopeless.

Well, not that hopelessly romantic, anyway.

“Have you been up here before?” he asked instead.

“Yeah,” she said softly, still looking out on to the city. “The first night I was in London we came up here.”

We. Nick tried his best not to seethe with jealously, knowing there wasn’t much point. They weren’t together anymore, Brittany didn’t seem to want to be with him anymore. But the thought that she’d already been up there and seemed to be slightly comforted by the memory bothered him.

He had to remind himself that of course this trip was going to be nostalgic for her. It was only natural that being thrown back into this city and being around all of the people from her old life would have that effect.

He also knew that sometimes he tended to dwell on the little things too much.

But was it so bad that he wanted Brittany to love him the way that she seemed have loved Niall? It was. He knew it was, because it was selfish and he was terrible at committed relationships. But when he looked at her, he always forgot about all that. It was an ongoing battle he fought with himself.

Brittany stared out the window as Nick stood with her. She wondered if he was bored, but quickly dismissed the thought. She felt somewhat selfish in bringing Nick up here. She knew it wasn’t something he’d be particularly interested in, but she felt it was something she needed to do.

Maybe it was the nostalgia factor, and that was definitely a part of it, because as she stood there, she very clearly remembered Niall wrapping his arms around her from behind and lightly kissing her on the cheek.

It had been a picture perfect moment, and it tugged at her heartstrings as she remembered it.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Nick looking at her. She couldn’t help but connect her memory with the present, and wish that Nick would be the one to put his arms around her.

But of course, he didn’t. And though Brittany had spent the entire day looking for signs that Danielle was right, and that Nick did have feelings for her, she hadn’t found much. Sure, he had stolen a couple glances in her direction, but that hardly meant anything. And he was seeming to zone out a little more than usual, but she attributed that to him being a bit jet-lagged.

“Come on,” she said, when the wheel stopped moving and they were once again on the ground. “Let’s go back to the hotel. It’s been a long day and it’ll be an even longer one tomorrow.”

Nick nodded as he followed her. He still didn’t know hat to do with his hands and he walked down the street. It was something of a long walk back to the hotel, but Nick didn’t mind. He found himself to be content just being with her.

And then he, again, berated himself for what a lovesick teenager he felt like.

“Thanks for coming with me, Nick,” she said suddenly, looking up at him.

“Anytime, baby,” he grinned at her as they walked.

She shook her head at his cocky smirk and looked back out at the streets ahead. “London really is beautiful,” she said when they were stopped at a crosswalk.

“You’re beautiful,” he said, turning to look at her. The line was cheesy as hell, and he was only half serious when he’d said it. He took her hand and kissed the top of it, giving her his signature half smile.

Brittany giggled a little, taken aback by what he’d said. But she gave him a proud smile, and didn’t let go of his hand. Instead, she laced his fingers with hers as they continued to walk down the street. It was a small gesture, but her heart pounded in her chest as they did this.

Maybe Nick really did have feelings for her.

Or he was just being dorky, which was also possible. He tended to do that a lot. Still, she looked at their hands out of the corner of her eye and felt giddy all over again. He wasn’t making any motion to let go.

That is, until they walked by the Starbucks beside the hotel.

“Brittany!” she head a voice call a couple seconds later.

She glanced back, and though she was sure she felt Nick’s grip on her hand tighten, she pulled away so she could go greet Louis and Eleanor.

“Hi guys,” she said, smiling at them.

“I thought that was you,” Louis smiled. “It’s nice to see you here, it’s been a while.”

Brittany smiled at them, grateful for the familiar face and that they were being friendly to her. “Yeah, it has. Congratulations on your wedding, by the way.”

“Thanks,” Eleanor said as the four of them continued to walk in the direction of the hotel. “You guys are staying at The Dorchester, right?”

Brittany nodded. “Yeah, we are,” then she glanced over at Nick. “Oh sorry. Guys, this is Nick. Nick, Louis and Eleanor.”

They nodded at each other, albeit somewhat awkwardly. “So you guys are staying there too?” Brittany asked quickly, eager to get the conversation moving again.

Louis nodded. “Yeah. It’s nice to make a mini vacation out of it.”

Brittany laughed a little. “Yeah, it has been a nice mini vacation.”

There wasn’t much left to say after that, but thankfully the rest of the walk was short. They made their way into the hotel and into the elevator to go up to their respective rooms.

“Well, I guess we’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Louis said with a smile as he and Eleanor exited onto their floor.

Brittany nodded at them. “See you tomorrow.”

“That was awkward,” Nick commented once the doors shut and the elevator was moving again.

Brittany shrugged. “There’s not really much to say. The last time I talked to him I was leaving in an angry fit because I was mad at Niall.”

The elevator doors opened and the two of them made their way to their rooms. Nick glanced over at her. He’d been considering asking her to spend the night in his room, but now the moment between them was gone. Again, it wasn’t the right time.

“I’m tired,” Brittany said with a yawn. “I was up so early, and tomorrow’s going to be long. Good night, Nicky,” she grinned, opening the door to her room.

“Night,” he said, giving her a slight nod.

Tomorrow, he promised himself, he would tell her.

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