February 14th

Valentines Day is defiantly not Rachel Sanders favourite day of the year... In all honesty, it's her least favourite day. After living in a life filled with uncertainty: her single mother a serial dater, her older brother an escape artist and the only friend she has that doesn't back stab her is her dog Molly, Rachel is ready for normal... Or maybe not-so-ready.

Spending Valentines Day on a one-way plane trip to London (business class, of course) thanks to the 'unexpected gifting' mode of her mother, Rachel finds herself about to experience one Valentines Day she's sure not to forget.

Warning: If you don't like One Direction it's probably better (for your interest) that you don't read this.

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1. A Flight to Remember

My feet ached. Not the kind of aching like you've just worn heels for what feels like 14 hours straight waiting to pass through Sydney customs, but the kind of aching like you've just worn heels for what really is 62 hours and just finished hiking through the Alps only to find your helicopter is not only not-there waiting for you, but you have to spend another  3 days walking back to base. Fun.

 

Waiting my turn in line it was inevitable that my thoughts flew back to my catastrophic mother and my equally catastrophic brother who'd somehow conned me into the 8-inch skyscrapers.

"These will be perfect for you!" they said,

"Trust me, it's like being bare foot" they said. I should've known never to have trusted my mother when she pulled the ankle-breakers out of her closet, the only time she was bare-foot was when a bulldog ran off with one of her red Valentino heels one Christmas. She showered in flip-flops. My brother wasn't an idiot either, but any chance to pretend he was getting along with mum for once - he took. He even backed her up on the outrageously large pink Louis Vuitton suitcase, she bought on a trip to Thailand 3 years ago with fiance number 6. The fact he got arrested for trying to smuggle quite a few illegal substances in that very suitcase, didn't seem a good enough reason not to use it.

 

Rolling that very suitcase another 3cms, I sighed frustratedly. Now this was how I didn't want to spend Valentine's day. But then again... It wasn't like there was any specific way I wanted to spend Valentine's day. The year before it had been hunting local ducks in St Mary's Park with Molly (my dog). The year before that it had been renting an ice-cream truck and parking it outside Ben and Jerry's for 5 hours before some local 'sheriff' turned up claiming 'complaints' had been made. Now, not that going to London on a vacation - with no return flight, may I add - isn't as fun as hunting ducks and pissing off local businesses. But if there was one thing I hated more than Valentine's day, it was traffic... And that was when I saw him walk past... Well, them.

 

It was like standing in the canteen line only to have the fattest, big-kid push in front. Except in the airport, it came in the form of a messy haired group of dolts with skinny jeans, dirty tees, and sun glasses that made me wonder if vampires were allergic to fluorescent lights as well as the sun. They looked vaguely familiar but that notion that I could recognize them was pushed down by the overwhelming sense of impatience as I began tapping my foot before wincing as a jolt of pain shot up my leg, but ignored it tolerantly as they stepped into the front of the line went through and off. Now that, deserve some sort of pat-on-the-back. Seriously.

 

- 2 hours later -

 

Lugging my suitcase onto the conveyer belt and pulling off the ankle-breakers, I set all that was required into gray trays and watched them disappear before stepping into the scanner. If you haven't been in an airport before, as of recently anyway, you wouldn't know (like me) that they have this 'snazzy' new machine where you put your arms up stand with your legs apart and let this box thing whiz around you for 3 seconds before you step out. After doing so, is where it gets awkward. I looked to the screen on my left, there was this picture of a weird lump (which I figured was meant to be my outline from the scanner), a small yellow box situated just where my heart would be.

"Okay, ma'am I'm going to have to ask you to just pat yourself" the guy said. I turned and blinked,

"What?" I asked momentarily stunned. Like, what the hell did that even mean!?

"Pat yourself. Like pat yourself down" he said motioning the usual cop-pat-down that you see in movies. My brow furrowed,

"Isn't that kind of your job?" I asked slowly, trying not to sound like too mean. He sighed and pointed to the yellow box,

"Okay, that box. Is on your boob. Now if I have your signature on a form over there, I can pat-down your boob - OR - you can do it yourself" he said. I blushed.

"Uh, okay then" I said briefly patting myself on the chest. I looked back at him expectedly,

"Again please" he said,

"What the..."

"I wasn't paying attention sorry, do it again" he interrupted.

"Wasn't paying attention my a..." I muttered doing it again. I looked up and he was beaming - way to happily for my taste.

"Okay ma'am your all set. Go retrieve your stuff and head on down to your departure gate. Have a safe flight, and have a happy Valentines day..."

 

I was already jumping back into the ankle-breakers before yanking my suitcase after me as I looked at the ticket, then my watch. Ridiculous. Having arrived at the airport 4 hours early, I had been sure that there would've been time to sit down a bit before jumping onto the plane. Well, wasn't I wrong. 5 minutes to boarding and I was bolting towards that terminal like a pregnant woman on a mission to find the nearest bathroom. It was intense.

"Hey!" I called out, hands waving towards the woman at the check-in desk who was about to head through the tunnel.

"Rachel Sanders?" she asked, but I was already handing her my ticket and tapping the toe of my heel impatiently, as if it took any longer I'd probably miss the whole flight.

"Whatever took you so long? We've been calling your name over the speakers..." she was saying, but I was already staring down the tunnel towards the plane and as she held out my ticket I snatched it back and took off once more.

 

Arriving at the plane I ignored the pointed glare of the air hostess as she eyed my 5'9'' frame. To be fair it was more of a glare. The annoyance and what I was guessing was a hint of hatred was showing brilliantly in her eyes. Maybe it was the way my hair already unruly brown hair had somehow become even more-so, maybe it was the way my white tank top had somehow got twisted around my torso exposing a little more skin that what I was comfortable with... Not that I noticed this all had happened before I shoved my suitcase into the above compartment before slumping down into the plush business seat propping my feet up onto the foot rest noticing my reflection in the window before adjusting the tank and then efficiently closed my eyes. It was good to say I was pretty wiped out already, and the flight hadn't even started yet.

"Tough getting on?" a voice asked. I opened them slowly before turning my head to see a vaguely familiar (but cute) face surrounded my brown wavy hair. It took me a few moments to recognize him as one of the guys who had been given the 'frontage' at customs. Annoyed yet smothering it to maintain some composure I nodded before leaning back forcing a smile as I shut my eyes.

"Yeah, something like that" I muttered.

"Oh yeah, happy Valentine's day by the way" another voice chimed, I opened my eyes in a conspicuous glare as my gaze turned to meet the blue eyes of what looked undeniably like some kid Irish man. But those blue eyes didn't take away the fact I hated people saying that name.

"Yeah same to you" I replied nonchalantly clicking closed my seat belt as the airplane pulled started to pull out.

"Don't like Valentines day?" another voice from behind me spoke up. I sighed squeezing my eyes shut trying not to roll my eyes,

"Understatement of my life" I muttered.

"I heard that" another voice ensured.

"Great" I replied.

 

A good half-hour, a few snacks, and a good time staring outside the window later, I was pulling out my personal planner to cross out the day,

"So you hate Valentines day" the guy with that vaguely familiar face said, I turned to face him noting a pair of incredibly cute dimples on his face. I pursed my lips thoughtfully,

"Well..." I began before his Irish friend cast me an all too knowing look from in front of him causing me to shrug.

"I've just never been one to celebrate it..." I said,

"Single?" that voice from behind interrupted me,

"Yes, and happily" I replied.

"So no girl events? I mean, I know the ladies do have single-valentines day events and all..." dimple-guy asked,

"Look, not meaning to be rude but I don't really know..." I began sighing,

"Harry"

"Niall"

"Liam"

"Louis"

"Zayn"

"And I'm Rachel. Okay well I'm going to take a nap and we may continue later" I said.

"Okay then" they all replied in unison. Leaning back I closed my eyes and tried to ignore my irritation as the seat stretched out into a single bed and swiftly pulled a blanket over myself turning away as I let myself drifted off to sleep.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Waking up slowly, I sat up abruptly at the sound of clattering wheels. For a second I flashed back to the memory of my brother at the age of 13 taking off down the back ramp of our house on the neighbor's lunch trolly. But, fortunately, snapping my head to the right, saw that it was dinner. So much for a nap. Sitting up, I sat back, fixed the bed back into a seat, and shoved the blanket to the side, quickly wiping my mouth getting rid of the dribble on my mouth as my eyes locked on the trolley, okay, and I was pretty hungry.

"Chicken or fish?"

"Chicken" Zayn said,

"Chicken or fish?"

"Chicken" Liam said,

"Chicken or..."

"Fish" I replied quickly. The hostess handed it over, and God be amazed, it was little-miss-glare. I took it, and bit my lip as the foil touched my finger tips and scalded them before I let it drop onto the table before me. I chose to ignore the fact she put tissues beneath other peoples, but didn't do the same for mine.

"Thanks" I said, straining a smile before she tottered off butt swaying in my face. Turning my face away, I forced down the urge to roll my eyes and opened up the dinner tray. Mixing the fish with some weird sauce, I ignored the pointed stare of Harry's as I stabbed the biggest chunk and shoved it into my mouth. All fishy and creamy it was perfect, I'd be sure to be food poisoned by the time I woke up with good enough grounds to sue the airline - just kidding - kind of.

"So you don't like Valentines day and you'd rather eat fish than chicken" Harry mused between mouthfuls, I shrugged, keeping my eyes on my food which was disappearing alarmingly quickly.

"Valentines day is over-rated, just like chicken is. People think chicken is the best meat in the world, but then again everyone knows New Zealanders would pick fish and chips any day over a leg of chicken" I replied,

"So your a kiwi?" he asked, his boyish charm and English accent, something I'd only just then notice (yeah, I know, I'm slow) as I looked up at him.

"Defiantly not, but I wouldn't mind being one" I replied with a shrug, before returning my attention to the meal at hand.

 

A few moments passed and I relaxed at the feeling that the conversation was over, not that I didn't like talking to him but I knew inevitably the topic would go back to the name of the day. Oh how I was correct,

"What did you do last year?" he asked suddenly causing me to jump, startled for a moment my mind then chose to flash to those memories. Knowing it was safer not to embaress myself, I decided to play down the truth,

"Walked my dog"

"What breed?"

"Great Dane"

"Where?"

"At the park"

"What did you do there?" I paused. For a moment before giving in,

"Let her loose to chase ducks" I said looking up to watch his face momentarily freeze, a stunned expression causing me to feel slightly uncomfortable as a wide grin spread across his face.

"More like hunting ducks" Liam muttered hitting the nail on the head,

"Is that even legal?" Niall started laughing,

"Great Dane your a nutty one aren't you?" Zayn chimed in stressing his English accent, causing me to blush as they began to chuckle and laugh.

"And the year before?" Harry asked curiously.

"Hired an ice-cream truck and parked it outside a Ben and Jerry's down in Manly" I replied quickly, hoping to get it over and done with,

"Tough competition" Louis smiled,

"How many flavours?" Niall asked suddenly, causing us all to look up at him.

"What?" I asked, momentarily stunned and confused (it was a wonder I wasn't immidiately relieved).

"How many flavours of ice-cream?" he asked,

"I think twelve...?" I guessed, smiling warily.

 

A good hour later after we discussed ice-cream, deserts and Louis's plans to dis-invent carrot flavoured ice-cream after deciding he didn't like carrots anymore (for some unknown reason) desert came around and low-and-behold there it was: ice-cream.

"Oh my god, oh my god..." Harry gasped opening his mouth and waving his hands around his mouth sounding like he was about to lay an egg.

"Brain freeze?" Niall chuckled,

"Stick your tongue to the top of your mouth" I told him smiling helplessly, he looked at me weirdly brown furrowing his mouth still open ice-cream on show. I bit back a giggle,

"Swallow it quickly and stick your tongue to the top of your mouth and it'll go away quicker" I explained,

"Really?" Zayn asked surprised,

"Yeah I suggest you try it now Harry before your brains freeze up" Louis teased. As is suddenly spurred into action Harry forced it down before shutting his mouth. Watching as his face twisted into an expression of the utmost concentration I laughed as he held the same face for another 5 seconds before grinning and sitting back calmly.

"That's awesome, thanks" he smiled at me. I smiled back blushing lightly before turning back to my ice-cream.

 

*     *     *     *     *

The next morning things were looking better sitting back we exchanged embaressing stories and the like as the air hostess announced we'd be arriving in London in a few short hours.

"So business or pleasure?" Harry asked his voice dropping down into a sexy drawl, I blushed.

"Kind of a forced holiday. A gift to my mother she decided to give to me" I answered,

"Awesome where you staying?" Harry asked, I looked through my bag and pulled out the peice of paper wincing slightly at the name of the hotel.

"The Landmark London Hotel" I said. A whistled ensued behind me,

"Nice..." Liam agreed with Zayn's obvious approval,

"Is it? I wasn't too sure, I didn't do much research given the shortest amount of time to prepare - really - I'm more focused on how I'm even going to manage going home to Sydney" I mused,

"One way ticket?" they all asked momentarily stunned, I nodded.

"And alone. I honestly don't know how long I'll last I've only got the suite booked out for two weeks"

"Long enough to visit the sights" Louis grinned,

"Long enough to have fun" Zayn agreed,

"How about we take you on a tour of London? We are having a little break when we go back and I'm sure Harry wouldn't mind showing you around" Niall asked, pointedly glancing at Harry who I couldn't help but notice had gone a few shades of pink I blushed in response.

"That'd be awesome, really..." I smiled.

"It's weird you know, since you don't really seem to know us it makes me feel like wanting to get to know you more" Harry mused still blushing as he admitted this. I sat back momentarily stunned before smiling gently,

"Really?" I asked believing him completely.

"Yeah being in a world famous band and all..." Zayn sighed dramatically. Realization dawned on me.

"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry I didn't know..." I began quickly remembering how familiar they'd looked when I'd first saw them by-pass me in the customs line.

"It's okay" Niall grinned,

"It's refreshing really" Liam admitted.

 

Before getting off the plane they each handed me their number before I scribbled down the hotels number and handed it to Harry. Before leaving the plane he asked for the air hostess's number also causing her to blush as she scribbled it down and handed it over the expression of pure awe on her face causing me to momentarily stare stunned at the sudden change of character. Leaving through the tunnel Harry elbowed my side gently casting me a small smile,

"I only asked her for it so I know when not to answer my phone, she was peeking at our number over your shoulder earlier" he informed me. I relaxed both physically and mentally not knowing really why it seemed to mean so much to me, or why it seemed to mean something to him for him to let me know - but somehow I was comforted by this. I cast him a small smile certain my eyes were way to lovey-dovey all of a sudden for this comfortableness to last.

 

Saying good-bye at the beginning of customs we hugged and kissed cheeks promising to call each other. It was kind of funny because unlike the unfulfilled promises of my mother and brother, for once I was certain I would call them and they would call me, and walking to join the line at customs I was momentarily surprised that it was the first Valentines day I hadn't spent doing something monentarily crazy. Instead of constantly dwelling on my dislike for the day, I'd some how learned how to relax and enjoy the time as I did most days with 5 handsome (almost) strangers who'd somehow eased passed my protective wall I hadn't even noticed was up until now, one in particular. Smiling to myself I lugged my luggage along behind me, heels tapping as the line sped up quite a bit. Something told me, things could only look up from here...

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