The Time Of My Life

Cassie Holmes never expected to win the Win a Date with One Direction creative writing competition. She had only entered because it gave her another excuse to write; something she loves to do. She’s not really a fan of the boy band, but when she meets her date of choice, Zayn Malik, she can’t help but feel drawn to him. Zayn is focused on his career as a member of One Direction, but after reading Cassie's winning entry he is intrigued. Meeting her in person, he is taken with her wit and charm. Will what starts out as just a publicity stunt become something more?

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11. ZAYN: Revelations

I really enjoyed Cassie’s cooking.  If her whole family cooks like she and her cousin do, I’d be tempted to marry her just to be able to eat food like that for the rest of my life.

When I got back to the house we rented, the guys were in their rooms so I was able to temporarily escape their teasing.

Quickly padding up to my room, I changed out of my clothes into an old t-shirt and a pair of sleeping pants.

As I lay in bed, I kept playing the whole evening over and over in my head until I fell asleep.

 

The alarm on my bedside table woke me up the next morning.  Reaching over I hit it hard, intending to go back to sleep for a bit longer.  I paused and glanced at the time.  Seven o’clock.  That made me pause.

Seven o’clock? I frowned.  I didn’t set an alarm last night.  I don’t even remember taking it out of my bag.

That train of thought gave me pause.

Don’t tell me…

I slowly turned my head towards the desk opposite the bed.  And just like I expected, Louis and Niall were sitting there with the chair turned so that it was facing me with a big grins on their faces.

I groaned into my pillow.  It was too early for this.

“At least let me get dressed and have breakfast,’ I mumbled.

Thankfully, Louis and Niall both left my room.

I dressed in jeans and a white and blue striped short-sleeved polo shirt, and styling my hair before finally trudging downstairs to the kitchen where Harry and Liam were making breakfast.

“Morning,” Harry piped up from the stove where he was frying eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes.

“Morning, Zayn,” Liam greeted from the counter where he was beating eggs, probably for scrambling., while an eye on some frankfurter sausages that were grilling.

“G’morning,” I yawned.

“I made instant and filtered coffee,” Liam said, gesturing towards the two glass pots on the table.  “Since I didn’t know how to use the machine in the kitchen.”

“Thanks,” I said, taking a cup from the cupboard and filled it with instant coffee.  I took a sip before fixing myself a plate with a fried egg, a couple of fried tomatoes, some mushrooms and a couple of sausages as they had just finished cooking.

The others sat to breakfast one by one.

I was only halfway through my breakfast when the guys looked me expectantly.

Here it comes.

“How was your date last night?” Louis asked.

So I told them what Cassie and I did the night before.

And at the end, they were all grinning

“You’re totally in love with her!” Harry exclaimed.

“What?  No, I’m not!”

Louis laughed.  “You are!” he chortled.

I shook my head, and then drained the last of my coffee before going back upstairs to grab a pair of socks and my converses.

I decided for a walk in the woods around the house to explore for a bit.

It was still warm, but the shade of the trees shielded me from most of the sun’s rays.

Strolling through the trees, I could see why Cassie and her family had moved here.  The trees around the houses gave them privacy as well as lovely scenery.  It must be beautiful out here in the autumn.

I wondered what Cassie must be doing right about now.  I could imagine her helping her mother in the garden, or cooking in that big kitchen of hers.

I’m not sure that I love her, but I definitely have strong feelings for her.

Leaning against the trunk of one of the larger trees, I closed my eyes and thought of Cassie.  An image of her immediately rose up in my mind.  I could see her smiling brightly at me; that smile was one of the things that I love about her; the way it lights up her whole face.

I love the smell of her hair; the way she nibbles on her bottom lip when she’s deep in thought; the way she almost completely tunes everything out when she’s reading a book or listening a good song; the way she blushes when she glances at me; the sound of her voice.

That’s when it hit me.

Wow, I thought.   I really do love her.

 

Louis was the only person in the living room when I got back; everyone else was off doing something else, I assumed.

‘You look like you’ve come to a realization,’ he commented.

‘I think Harry was right…I really do love her,’ I said.  ‘Should I tell her?’

‘That’s not for me to tell you when you should tell her,’ Louis replied, smiling.  ‘But you could very well end up scaring her away before she’s ready to hear that from you.

‘But you have to ask yourself this; has this really changed anything between you?’

Louis left me alone to think on it, which I did.  Today must be a day for revelations because I realised that Louis was right; nothing has changed between us; except that I now recognise what I feel for her.

We mostly have a casual relationship, as we didn’t see each other very much; mostly because on my end I was very busy and also we lived further away from each other.

She’ll be going back to uni in the fall, and I’ll be going on tour to promote the new album soon.  But I’d be willing to make it work with her.

 

That night it was my turn to make dinner.  I had decided to make Rogan Josh.

As I was preparing the rice to go with the curry, I wondered what she was doing for hundredth time that day.  I was then with the sudden, overwhelming need to hear her voice.

Thankfully none of the guys teased during dinner; vaguely I wondered if Louis had had talked to the others and said that I needed to let my revelation sink in.

As soon as I’d finished dinner, I ran up to my room, picked up my iPhone and dialled her numbered.

She must be writing or doing something with her phone next to her as she picked up the phone just after the first ring.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Cassie,” I greeted.

“Hi, Zayn,” she replied.  “Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s great,’ I replied.  Fantastic, even.

There was a bit of an awkward silence as neither one of us seemed to know what to say next.

“I hope everyone’s enjoying the house,” she said.

“Yeah, the guys are really enjoying themselves, though we’re still a bit unsure how to use the espresso machine.”

She laughed and replied, “Yeah, it does take a bit of practise and getting used to.  I tell you when I really started drinking coffee it took me forever to remember what went first.  I was so happy when I made a cup of espresso that actually tasted like it I was about ready to apply to work as a barista.”

I decided then and there, if Cassie ever decided to work in a coffee shop I would be visiting that shop as often as I could.

We engaged in some more idle talk before hanging up.  I didn’t say or even hint about how I felt about her.  It was still trying to wrap my head around it; and besides, I didn’t know if she really felt the same way about me.

 

The next morning Cassie popped over to invite us all to the main house for a barbeque dinner.

The others were as surprised as I was when she told them that she actually lived at the end of her mother’s garden.

I went over to spend some time with Cassie before we went to, what was effectively, her parent’s house.

 

Cassie was in the kitchen making up a salad to take over to her parents.  I asked if I could help, but she declined.

“Feel free to browse around, though,” she told me.

I assumed she meant the house, and not the kitchen where I would be in her way.

I’d already seen the lounge and the library, so I went upstairs to her study.  There was a desk with a leather chair behind it.  There were several bookshelves next to the door.  The

Unlike her library downstairs, these were mostly non-fiction books.  There were quite a few on photography, some were older for film cameras so I assumed that those were inherited; there were picture books of Italy, Portugal, France, and several other European countries.  Above her desk, there several shelves; some of which were filled with ring-binders and coloured notebooks.

I pulled one out and skimmed the pages.  Each one was handwritten.  Some pages were dated like in a diary; others were titled with little phrases written all over the page like the writer had just jotted down ideas as they came to them until they had filled a whole page.  There were also quite a lot of spider diagrams with paragraphs written underneath them.

I realised that these must be Cassie’s journals where she wrote down ideas for stories and poems.

Her handwriting was very neat, in almost straight lines.  The margins were a bit wonky, but were mostly straight.

There was a big ring-binder filled to bursting labelled ‘writing (poems)’ in big letters.  From the size of it, I was willing to bet it was every story and poem that she had ever finished.

“Hey, I thought I’d find you up here.”

I looked up.

Cassie was standing in the doorway.  She looked slightly flushed, like she had just taken a mad dash from the kitchen.

“I didn’t ask before but are you allergic to any fruits?”

I shook my head.  “Not that I know of.”

“Oh, good!  I was panicking a bit there,” she sighed in relief

“Do you mind if I read them?” I asked, pointing to the big binder.

She glanced at it.

“Sure, I was going to ask you what you thought about them anyway,” she replied, before going back down the stairs.

I pulled down the binder with a little difficulty; it was heavier than I’d anticipated.

I settled down in the big armchair, and started leafing through the file.

I enjoyed reading her poems, they were all very well written.  One in particular caught my eye.  It was titled ‘Love Is My Drug’.

I must have read it out loud because Cassie had turned back to me and said, “Oh, that’s just something I started writing before I started that story for the competition.”

“And here I thought you’d written it about me,” I teased her.

Cassie just chuckled and said, “To quote Richard Hugo, ‘Never write a love poem when you’re in love’.”

That made me pause.  Was she in love with me, too?

“Is everything all right?” she asked, startling me from my thoughts.

“Yeah, everything’s fine.”

I settled back into my seat and started to read.

 

I’ve never felt this way before.

That sparkle in your eyes,

The taste of your lips,

The smell of your cologne,

The feel of your skin…

Love is my drug

 

I’m on a rollercoaster of emotion,

It scares me but I can’t stop it.

I’m afraid of the heartache

but I can’t get enough of you.

 

I’m high as the clouds,

I feel like I can touch the sky

in this euphoric haze.

I can’t get enough of you,

You are my ecstasy.

 

The poem was thought-evoking.  It certainly made me think about the way I felt about Cassie.

I couldn’t help wondering, despite what she said about not writing when you’re in love, if she felt that way about me.

 

At about six o’clock in the evening, we went through the garden to the main house.  Cassie was carrying a big bowl of salad in her hands, which she tightly but carefully carried a bottle of wine under her arm.  She had asked me to carry the fruit salad she had made.

We met my band-mates in the driveway of the main house; Harry offered to carry the bottle of wine for her, which she happily agreed to.

Cassie led us through to the kitchen where we were greeted by a tall middle-aged woman with red-brown hair that was starting to turn grey.  This was no doubt Cassie’s mother.

“Hi, Mrs Holmes,” I greeted her.

“Ah! Ciao, Zayn!” she exclaimed and started talking rapidly in her heavy Italian accent.  ‘So nice to finally meet you!  Cassandra has told us so much about you and our friends; we feel like we know you already. But enough of this, you must all me hungry.  Let’s not stand about.  Follow me to the patio.”

I barely followed what she said so I could imagine the look on my face mirrored those of my band-mates.

Cassie laughed.  “She’s even worse in Italian.”  She in close and stage whispered, “We call her ‘Hurricane Maria’ around here.”

Cassie’s father was on the patio at the back of the house when we arrived, tending to an outdoor pizza oven.  He was a tall, quiet man with dark hair and blue eyes set in a pale face with sharp feature.  It made me wonder how he even fell in love with his wife.

Despite Mrs Holmes rather exuberant personality, she was an amazing cook.

Mrs Holmes told us that it was her grandfather who taught her how to cook pizzas and make pasta, but it was her grandmother that taught her to bake cakes and sweets.

I’d noticed that the kitchen they had was huge.  It had been modernised and refurbished, but it still had that old feel to it.  They had a large espresso machine; I remembered that Cassie had a smaller one in her own kitchen.  I guess Italians really do love their coffee.

“Mamma is still very Italian when it comes to certain things,” Cassie explained.  “She insists on doing a lot of things herself, I try to help her when I can, but she’s very stubborn.”

Now I know where she gets that from, I thought to myself.

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