Second Chance

Emelia Richardson is on the X Factor. She wasn't meant to make it; she was the extra extra person, added to the girls competition. Emelia is just trying to survive and prove her place on the X Factor.

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9. Chapter 9

We were going to a fancy restaurant in downtown London and Carolynne convinced me to ride separate from the rest of the group.

"You have to make a grand entrance," she urged me. I finally gave in, with some encouragement from Louis. He assured me that he'd cover for my tardiness.

As Carolynne and I huddled in our empty limousine, she laid out a strategy for the evening.

"I'll walk in before you so that everyone for sure sees you walk in," she instructed me. "When you walk in, walk as if you're walking down a footpath; don't stop until you reach the table. Make sure you smile and look approachable and flip your hair as you walk." Carolynne was shooting out instructions like a drill sergeant, so I just nodded like a bobble head. Once we arrived, she quickly kissed my cheek. "Make sure you come out a minute after I do," she said, giving me an encouraging smile. "You'll do great." I smiled back at her and then she left me.

I counted to sixty before I grabbed my clutch and reached to reopen the door. I ducked out of the limo and shook out my hair. I took a deep breathe and smiled at the doorman, who gave me a bored look and opened the door for me. Before stepping out into the restaurant, I took another deep breathe and hoped for the best.

I walked out into the bright restaurant with purpose. I kept my chin high and a smile on my lips. I peeked over at Josh and saw his jaw had dropped. I snagged a look at Liam and saw that he wore an identical expression. I giggled as I let them take me in. I was wearing a black cocktail dress with bright red pumps. Carolynne had somehow managed to flatten my hair until it was pin straight, something I'd never been able to do, and make it voluminous. I slid into the seat between Josh and Liam, throwing a grin to both of them.

"Sorry I'm late," I said casually. "You know how we girls are."

"All for a good cause," Josh commented.

"Is there any reason why my little girl looks so particularly stunning tonight?" Jaymi joked.

"I'm sorry daddy," I said, pouting my stained and glossed lips at him. "I hoped you would approve."

"Jaymi!" JJ laughed. "Don't smother the girl! Let her be pretty without the teasing!"

"There's a dance floor," Louis commented, shooting a look at me. "Wouldn't you like to dance Emmy?"  I looked him straight in the eye.

"Why, yes, I would, Louis," I said, standing up. I walked to him and grabbed his arm before either of us could think twice about what I was doing. A slow song was passing, so he and I swayed together, grade school style.

"What are you doing dancing with me?" Louis asked, clearly amused. "You should be dancing with your lovers over there."

"They'll come here when their ready," I said, meeting his amused gaze. We looked eyes, and simultaneously giggled.

"Might I say, you look stunning tonight," Louis commented, lazily spinning me.

"Why, thank you," I said, not helping but to blush in spite of myself.

"You're really making those two jealous," Louis noted. "You're really playing it up here, blushing, and giggling, and being bashful."

"It's hard not to be with you!" I guffawed.

"Don't look now, but Liam is coming our way," Louis said, quarter turning me so that my back would be to where we were seated.

"Mind if I step in?" Liam's low voice still startled me even with Louis's warning.

"Go right ahead," Louis's amused voice said. They were speaking above me, so I had to crane my head up to see their faces. Louis flashed me an unbelievably amused look that made me want to kick him. Liam twirled me once into him, me hitting the hard flat wall of his chest. I let out a surprised noise.

"Sorry," he apologized, sliding a hand down to the small of my back.

"You're fine," I said automatically.

"And you are stunning," Liam said. "Absolutely stunning."

"Oh, stop it," I said, turning my face from him.

"I mean it," he protested, putting a hand underneath my chin. "You are absolutely gorgeous Emelia."  I adverted my eyes from him. "Emelia, you showed those people who you were yesterday. I know today was tough, but you have to come back swinging." I reluctantly allowed my eyes trail back to him. "And you clean up mighty fine."

"Stop it!" I giggled.

"Only if you let me continue to praise you," Liam said.

"Mind if I cut in?" A new voice joined us, startling both Liam and I. I looked up. It was Josh.

"She's yours," Liam said, shortly. Josh quickly claimed me, and again, I was swaying to the soft music of the restaurant.

"You are absolutely amazing," Josh said.

"And you aren't?" I asked, taking a new approach on the shower of compliments.

"Not nearly as much as you," Josh said, twirling me. I giggled despite myself. "And you're much more beautiful than I could ever wish to be." I looked down at the ground to hide my blush.

"Remember Nandoe's? Josh said, suddenly. "All those snobs, the mean girls."

"Yes," I said, bitterly.

"Well, you proved to them that you deserve your spot on the X Factor," Josh said. "None of them can say that they impressed all of the judges, contestants, fans in the crowd and One Direction themselves."

"I doubt I really impressed anyone with the song," I mumbled.

"That standing ovation wasn't a gimmick," Josh pointed out. "You deserved it. We were all standing for you backstage. You were amazing." I hid my face in his chest.

"You kids going to join us?" Louis called over to us. We looked up to the table. The waitress was waiting standing near Louis, who was childishly propped on his chair.

"We'd better get back," Josh said, sounding resigned. I nodded to him, not meeting his eyes. We headed back to the table, walking near each other, our fingertips barely touching.

"Did you kids have fun?" Louis said, sounding amused, as usual. I narrowed my eyes at him, willing him with my eyes for him to shut his mouth.

"You are an amazing dancer, Emelia," Liam commented, as the waitress stood by, seemingly still starstruck in seeing so many people.

"Thank you!" I said, suddenly blushing at the compliment.

:I don't know what you were saying that you couldn't dance to saver your life," Louis said. "You looked fine while you were dancing, and even seemed like you knew what you were doing."

"I'm going to have to dance with you," Zayn said suddenly. "If you claim that you can't dance and you look that great, I'm going to see if I can jump in on that offer."

"I'd happily obliged to that offer," I said, primly.

"Are you guys going to order?" the waitress said impatiently.

"Excuse you!" Louis admonished her, loudly. "You're lucky I'm not calling the manager, or anyone else to shut this place down." The waitress stared at him, fearful and regretful. "Oh," Louis chuckled. "I'm just teasing you!" It was amazing the relief that flooded through the girl's face.

"Don't take him too seriously," Liam advised the waitress. "He's a lot more talk than he is walk."

Everyone ordered and the waitress left again. Rylan turned his attention towards me.

"Emmy, dear," he said. "You are absolutely stunning. Last night you were amazing. You're performance blew me away. And now look at you!" I blushed at Rylan's praise. "You look absolutely gorgeous and you are a complete rock star!"

"Thank you very much," I said, embarrassed,

The food came, faster than I expected it to come. But the, I realized, we were like royalty. I picked at mt food, barely eating it. Don't get me wrong; it was amazing, but I wasn't in the mood to eat anything. I was lost in thought when Harry's voice snapped me back.

"Is it my turn to take a dance with the princess?" Harry joked. I giggled at him, rising from my seat. Harry lead me to the center of the dance floor, giving me a cheeky grin. Once we stopped, I put a hand on his shoulder and joined hands. "So why haven't you made a move on one of those two yet?" My jaw dropped in astonishment.

"How do you?" I spluttered, but I clamped my mouth shut. The answer was evident: Louis. "Neither of them have made any allusion that they like me for more than a friend."

"You're all either of those two talk about!" Harry said. "Never around each other though," he assured me. "But they both comment on little things that you do that I would've never picked up on. One day, Liam said how much the blue in you're plaid shirt was bringing out your eyes." Harry leveled me with a look. "Their was barely any blue on your shirt." I laughed.

"And the other day, Josh noted how you nibble on your glasses without noticing." A new voice joined us, causing us both to jump.  It was Zayn. I couldn't help but laugh at our reaction.

"Zayn!" Harry said, clearly embarrassed. "You scared me!"

"And me too!" I added.

"I believe it's my turn," he said, simply. Harry transferred me to Zayn and nodded before leaving us.

"An eager one," I commented with a giggle.

"Maybe," Zayn said with an easy shrug. "What are you thinking about?" he asked. "And don't sat nothing, because I saw how you were picking at your food, and you usually eat a little more." I chuckled.

"I miss Trey," I admitted. "He always told me that throughout this whole thing, no matter how long I stay here, I have to stay true to who I was when I came here."

"That's really sweet," Zayn said, giving me a grin. "Have you raised that with Tulisa to see if he can come over here?"

"I don't want to put her off," I complained. "I'm already a late comer, and I don't want her to regret taking me back." Zayn snorted.

"Regret taking you back?" he repeated. "You've got to be kidding me. Especially now, why would she ever regret taking you back? Haven't you listened to any of the commentary you've been getting on your performance? I can't say that I've heard any negatice feedback come from your performance. You got a standing ovation on your first day for Pete's sake!"

"Still," I said. "I don't want to be too much work..."

"Tell Tulisa that you want to see your brother," Zayn said firmly. "You haven't seen him all week and you miss him. That's normal." I looked at him unsure, but we were interrupted.

"Might I step in here?" a chippy Irish voice joined us. Niall.  I instantly grinned.

"Why, of course you can!" I said happily. I looked up at Zayn. "I will," I assured him. He grinned at me and left me with Niall.

"You are an amazing dancer," Niall commented. "You even made Zayn look like he knew what he was doing." I couldn't help but giggle at him. "You're also a great friend," he commented. "You're genuinely nice to everyone, and you don't care what people say about you. You are truly inspirational." I blushed.

"I'm being complimented by everyone, and I haven't had the chance to return it at all!" Niall laughed.

"You don't have to!" he said with a chuckle. "Everyone's complimenting you because you did amazing! You're the hype everywhere! You deserve it, too!"

"Thanks," I said, grateful.

"Do you want to go back to the table?" Niall asked, twirling me.

"Sure," I said, happily. We walked back, arms linked, giggling like the idiots we were.

"You look happy," Josh commented as I slipped into my seat next to him.

"The boys are such a tease," I said, putting a hand on on his shoulder.

"Not me though," Mickey said, with a joking tone. "Right?"

"Of course not Mick!" I said, my tone matching his.

"Everyone wants to dance with the beautiful girl," Ella commented, kicking my foot underneath the table. "I'm a bit jealous now." George instantly sat up straight.

Don't be!" He said. "You shall dance with me!" He took her hand and lead her to the dance floor. I giggled and noticed as Niall narrowed his eyes at him. My giggle turned into a yawn that surprised me.

"Are you tired Emelia?" Liam sad, surprised.

"No!" I said quickly, but a yawn burst from my lips before I could add anything else.

"I'll bring you back," Josh said, quickly rising from his seat.

"Don't be ridiculous," Liam said. "Enjoy your night. I'll take her back."

"I'm not being ridiculous," Josh retorted. "I'm just offering to bring her home."

"I'll bring her home," Carolynne offered.

"No!" both boys said, leaving Carolynne with a surprised look on her face.

"For Christ's sake!" Louis said. "Zayn, Harry and I will bring her home!" Liam opened his mouth to protest, but Louis cut in. "We can take care of it, and no one is losing their night."

"Aren't you three?" Josh asked. Louis shook his head. Zayn took my hand and led me through the restaurant.

"You can already see the press that will come up tomorrow," Harry said, grinning at me. He took off his jacket and put it on my shoulders. "That should add at least two stories to the mix." I laughed, pulling the jacket closer around my shoulders. A limousine drove up in front of us.Louis pulled open the door for me and gestured for the seat inside.

"After you malady." he said with a grin.

"What a gentlemen," I mused, fluttering my eyelashes at him.

"The paps are going to love this!" Louis said, gleefully.

"I can already see it now," Zayn said, raising his hands. "'Members of One Direction escorting a beautiful, young girl into a limousine.'"

"And again at the hotel," Harry added, lifting his hands. "'Members of One Direction leading a beautiful, young girl into a hotel.'"

"You guys!" I admonished.

"Don't act like you don't like it," Louis said, winking at me.

"I'm more concerned about the death threats from the Directioners," I admitted, stretching my legs across the floor of the limo. I yawned again. "How adorable was it when those two were fighting over who would take me home?" I asked, drowsily.

"That was probably the pinnacle of my night," Zayn said.

"I almost burst out laughing," Harry said. "It was, honestly, one of the only times I've seen Liam almost get angry."

"I thought one of them was going to throw a punch!" Louis admitted. "Or that they were going to snap Carolynne's head off!"

"When she offered to bring Emmy home, right?" Zayn said, more animated than before.

'It kind of scared me when they snapped at Carolynne," I admitted. "I was a bit scared for her even."

"We had to intervene then," Harry said. "Niall will tell us everything that happened after we left."

"Don't you think that it was a bit harsh leaving him alone?" I asked, suddenly concerned. Admittedly, I hadn't thought twice about leaving Niall at the restaurant at first.

"He'll be fine," Louis said, with a wave of his hand. "They couldn't hurt that angel face." I chuckled nervously.

"He's fine," Zayn said, catching onto my uneasiness. "I'm texting him him right now." That relieved some stress.

"Don't be so dense about it," Louis advised me. "It's not like you left because you wanted to. You looked like you were going to fall asleep."

"If zombies were pretty and wore make-up, you could pass as one," Harry added. I narrowed my eyes at him.

"As if I wasn't self-conscious to begin with," I said, dryly.

"You do look as if you're about to pass out," Zayn said, carefully. I tried to nod and say that I felt as if I would too, but a wave of tiredness came over me. My eyelids felt as if they were being pulled down by pieces of lead.

"Do you want me to carry you in?" Harry asked, his voice sounding far away.

"Harry, don't flatter yourself," Louis said, his voice ever so joking. "Everyone knows that I have the biggest biceps." I felt myself tilt over towards Zayn as the limo lulled to a stop.

"Imagine this headline," Zayn's soft voice said. "'One Direction Members Carry Sleeping Girl Into Hotel.'"

"I've got her," Harry said. "You guys have girlfriends and this won't look so hot with the press if you take care of this." I felt arms take me from my seat, cradling me into the owner's chest. I felt the cool night wind and saw little light bursts from behind my lids like the flashing of cameras.

"Boys! Boys!" A voice yelled. "Can you tell me what is going on?"

"Neither us nor Emelia are available for questions now!" Louis voice yelled. "Come on boys," he said at a more reasonable level. The yelling behind us was the last thing I heard before I fell into deep slumber.

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