A Perfect Stranger

When Lara meets a mysterious stranger in the park, they get to talking and she feels drawn to him. What happens when she finds out who he really is?


11. Friends

“You and I, we’re about to make some memories”


My five closest friends stood bunched in the elevator, blindfolded. I stood in front of them, smirking, giddy with excitement. From my left hand dangled five pairs of cheap earmuffs. As the elevator doors dinged to open, I zoomed round and stuck them over the ears of my friends. I laughed as Jayne joked, “To the rape dungeon!”

“Haha, sure. Now let’s go,” I said, giving the group a gentle push out the elevator’s now open doors. They shuffled cautiously out, coming to a stop after a few paces. I stood for a moment, deliberating how to best navigate the few metres to our destination. I ended up ordering my friends into an impromptu conga line, with me at the front. I stuck Claire’s hands on my shoulders and began to slowly walk towards the door. After about a minute we made it, and I pushed the door open in front of me, latching it open before shuffling through into the sun. Glancing behind me to make sure everyone was through the door, I eased out from under Claire’s hands, and went to shut the door. Turning back I waved silently at the waiting boys, all bearing big, charming smiles. Taking all my friends by the shoulders in turn, I moved them into a line so that they were all facing head on at the boys. I pulled off the earmuffs, and gave them instructions, going to stand next to the boys. “Okay guys,” I directed, keeping my voice neutral, “On the count of three, all pull off your blindfolds. Got it?”

Jayne, Kennedy, Gemma, Lilia and Claire all nodded.

“Okay, 3, 2, 1, GO!” I cheered.

Blindfolds were whipped off, and the biggest shock I had ever seen registered on their faces. Jayne gave a strange sort of strangled cry that sounded like a mix of several expletives and a scream and flapped her hands by her sides like a retarded bird. Lilia and Gemma shared similar looks of disbelief, mouths hanging open and staring at Zayn, Liam, Niall, Harry and Louis unblinkingly. Claire was laughing quietly to herself, and finally after a long pause, Kennedy voiced what must have been on all their minds, “What. The. Fuck.”

I chuckled. “Surprise!” I joked, throwing my arms into the air.

“Lara, that’s One Direction,” Gemma said matter of factly, not taking her eyes off them.

“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” I replied sarcastically, grinning. A choked noise made me look back at Jayne. She looked slightly hysterical, so I decided to take action. “Ah, guys introduce yourselves, yeah? I’m gonna take care of Jayne before she chokes to death,” I said hastily, striding over to her. She gave little resistance as I led her back to the door and inside. I laughed as she stared up at me, like a deer in the headlights. “Jayne, breathe. In and out. In and out. In and-“

“WHAT THE HELL, I MEAN WHO, WHY, WH…AH OH MY GOD!” She choked, chocolate eyes wide.

I clamped a hand over my fangirling friend’s mouth. “Shh. Okay, let me summarise,” I said, looking down at my friend, “Out there is One Direction. We are at a hotel, that’s the pool. You’re going to be hanging out with them for the next like, 24 hours.  This is not a dream, but you do need to calm down. Now. Or I will pick you up and forcibly dump you in the pool to shock the brains back into you. Understood? The rest will be explained tonight, for now, just go with it.” Jayne nodded mutely, seeming calmer, so I took my hand away from her mouth. She scowled comically at me. “You have explaining to do girlie. And you could have given me some warning! Or at least told me to dress properly,” she huffed.

“You look great,” I assured her.  Jayne rolled her eyes. I turned back to the door. “Come on,” I told her, “Let’s get back to the others. I don’t entirely trust them around people, except maybe Liam.” I thought back to our game of truth or dare. “Okay, so not Liam either,” I amended. Jayne made another strangled sound and followed me out the door. My friends had seemingly gotten over their initial surprise, and now stood, making light and somewhat nervous conversation with the boys. I smiled and wandered over to them. I smiled at them all, “Who’s up for a swim?” The girls nodded and I pointed back towards the door. “You can get changed in there if you need to, I had the desk people bring your bags up,” I offered.

“I’m assuming no one is going to come wandering along?” asked Lilia.

I shook my head, “Nah, its private.” They all nodded and headed towards the door again.

Halfway there, Claire turned around and looked at me quizzically, “Coming?”

I shook my head again. “I already have my stuff on under this, don’t need to change,” I said.

Harry’s voice sounded innocently, too innocently, from over my shoulder, “Oh really?”

I bolted forwards as soon as I registered his words. “Don’t you dare Styles!” I yelled, laughing as I ran. I only made it a few metres before I felt my feet leave the ground, and I ended up hanging helplessly over Harry’s shoulder. I struggled half-heartedly, knowing it was pointless. “Guys, help me! Harry, put me down, for crying out loud this IS NOT FUNNY!” I yelled.

“You’re right, it’s not funny. It’s hilarious,” Harry chuckled, right before he threw me into the pool.

I grabbed at him desperately, trying to stop the inevitable or at least drag him in with me. I succeeded in neither, only just managing to take a breath before I plunged, fully clothed, into the cool water. Moments later I surfaced, pushing wet hair out of my face. “I hate you,” I chuckled at Harry.

He smirked, “No you don’t. You love me.”

I concede, smiling at my friend. “You got me. I do,” I laughed. I glared at the others. “Good for nothing lot you are. Don’t even lift a finger when your supposed friend gets attacked,” I accused. the guys just laughed, while the girls looked slightly taken aback by our behaviour. I scrambled slightly ungracefully out of the pool, pulling off my wet clothes and shoes, until I was only in my bikini. Balling up the wet cloth, I lobbed it at the back of Harry’s head as he sauntered back towards the others. I turned back to the slightly lost looking girls as I heard Harry exclaim as I hit my target, “Go get changed, I’ll be waiting.” They all nodded and headed towards the door. As they left I turned back to Louis and the others, “Play nice okay? I think they’re all still a bit delicate.”

Zayn pouted. “How could you ever even dream of us being anything but nice Lara? I’m shocked,” he said, earning laughs from the others.

“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say Zayn,” I replied, “Can’t wait to see how this turns out.”

“It’ll be great,” grinned Niall.

I smiled too. “Yeah,” I agreed, “Yeah, it will.”

Scooping my wet clothes from the floor, I went and stuck them on one of the poolside chair, scowling at Harry as he laughed at me again. “I will get you back, if it’s the last thing I do,” I promised him.

“Ooo, you hear that Harry? It’s on!” joked Louis.

Liam put his five cents worth in, “On like donkey kong!”

I gave a short laugh, “Damn right it is!” I turned back towards the water. “Last one in’s a rotten egg!” I called over my shoulder, taking a run up and leaping into the pool with a splash. The boys, already in board shorts, were quick to pull their shirts over their heads and shuck their shoes to come running after me. Niall, who had been only in thongs and a tank top, was in first, closely followed by Liam, Harry and Zayn. Louis came last, having struggled to remove his TOMS. He dove in, and surfaced, throwing a mini temper tantrum at being last. I smiled and swam over to him. He stopped splashing and pulled a tragic pout, “I lost.”

I slung my arms around his neck, smiling at him. “I love you anyway,” I told him. At this statement the boys behind went wild, whooping and teasing. I shook my head slightly at their show of immaturity and ignored them as Louis pulled me close, hands on my waist under the water. “Love you too,” he murmured sweetly, before placing a tender kiss on my lips. I smiled into it, twining one hand into his hair. Moments later we were interrupted by a surprised exclamation as my friends came back outside. “Something you forgot to mention?” asked Gemma, half laughing, half shocked. I pulled away, pushing Louis underwater and resting my folded arms on his head, grinning sheepishly at my friends. “Um, maybe?” I offered as response.

“Okay, so care to explain why you were kissing Louis?” came the sceptical, shocked reply from Claire.

“Um, beca-“ Whatever I had been about to say was cut short as I yelled and squirmed ticklishly. A cascade of bubbles surfaced, the results of the underwater raspberry Lou had for some reason decided to blow on my bare stomach. Iron hands gripped my waist, preventing escape. “Louis, stop, STOP!” I chided, playfully swatting the top of his submerged head. He surfaced, grinning impishly. I scowled jokingly at him before turning back to my friends. “Um yeah. Sorry I didn’t tell you guys earlier, I really am. But for obvious reasons I couldn’t,” I struggled for words, sincere apology in my voice. “But yeah, me and Lou, I mean we’re um,” I faded off looking down at the water. My faced burned with embarrassment I had no control over and I couldn’t seem to force out the words to finish my sentence, as if voicing it out loud would somehow burst the bubble of paradise I was living. Louis spoke the impossible words, “We’re together.”

My friends stared at me, and I was at a loss to describe their expressions. I smiled ruefully at them from the water. “Come in guys, I’ll fill you guys in tonight,” I gestured for them to get into the pool. There was a brief pause before Claire broke the stillness, racing towards the pool and bombing in with a happy yell. I shook my head and swam towards them as they all piled into the cool water. I splashed at my best friend as she surfaced, grinning, before turning my watery onslaught on the others. They squealed and yelled, clambering into the pool. I laughed and waited for them to appear above the water. The girls paddled over, and I heard the boys behind us growing rowdy. “What do you guys want to do?” I asked them. The boys provided us with an answer before we came to one ourselves.

“CHICKEN!” they roared in unison.

 I grinned at the memory of our last game what seemed like months ago, “I’m game if you lot are,” I challenged, giving Niall a devious look that made him blanch momentarily before he recovered himself. I looked over to my friends expectantly, “Are you guys up to play?”

There was a brief pause from them while the boys carried on behind us. They looked slightly apprehensive at the prospect. “I don’t know, maybe,” Gemma said quietly.

I winked at them. “Come on, live a little! It’s not every day you get to chill with five super-hot international superstars,” I teased.

The bravest of the group stepped forward, beaming. “When you put it like that, I’m in!” Jayne whooped excitedly. I high fived her as she came closer. Looking back at the others I beckoned them closer with a finger. Cautiously Claire stepped forward, looking slightly anxious but eager none the less. I grinned at her, encouraging. Finally, after giving each other deliberating looks, Kennedy, Lilia and Gemma stepped forwards. I fist pumped the air and cheered loudly, causing my friends to laugh. The guys swam over, eager to play. “Who wants to go first?” I asked. They boys hands shot up into the air like excited school children while my friends shook their head vehemently. I sighed in mock despair and turned to the boys. “Looks like it’s just us for this round guys,” I bounced closer to them, beaming. They separated into pairs, with Louis disappearing under the water before surfacing in front of me, grinning. I grinned back, pushing him back under, to clamber onto his shoulders, locking my feet together behind his back. I rocketed into the air as he surfaced. Wet chocolate bangs covered his eyes and I laughed, combing it back with my fingers until, “You look like Elvis Presley.”

There was a pause before Louis made us all laugh, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

Zayn balanced Harry on his shoulders, while Niall sat once again on Liam, tottering around the pool corner, laughing. I pointed dramatically over to them, “Onwards and mush!”

Laughter echoed off the walls that surrounded the rooftop pool but Louis refused to move. I glared down at him, “I said, MUSH!” There was a pause before I found myself struggling to stay above water as Lou flopped backwards into the pool. Laughing, I battled valiantly to keep my head above water, but failed when Louis let himself sink to the bottom of the pool, hands like iron vices on my legs, dragging me down with him. Bubbles streamed from my mouth, the water swallowing the sound of my laughter as I disentangled myself from Louis’s hold, twisting nimbly round in the water to come face to face with his mischievous grin. I pulled a wary face, instinct making me backpedal away from the handsome rogue. Too late. Suddenly, he lunged forward at me, arms reaching out at me, hands locking onto my arms, spinning me round and pulling me close, I struggled, breathless, the little air I had left escaping in streams of laughter, as Louis blew ticklish bubbles of air against my neck, making me squirm. My lungs burned, but I didn’t care, too caught up in the moment. We surfaced both gasping at the air, laughing. I turned in his arms to glare at him, but all too wonderfully soon I found his still smiling lips pressed against mine. Closing my eyes blissfully, I smiled back. “You would make a terrible sled dog,” I murmured into the kiss.

I felt his grin grow wider, “But I’m a fantastic boyfriend.”

I shivered instantly, melting. “Yeah, yeah you are,” I breathed, entangling one hand in his hair and wrapping the other arm around his neck.

Our little bubble was burst by Jayne’s loud exclamation. “Gimme a P! Gimme a D! Gimme a A! And what does that spell?” she yelled, punching the air with every letter.

Harry replied with enthusiasm. “PDA!” he cheered, grinning at my friend. She flushed and smiled at Harry, who winked. From the look on Jayne’s face, she nearly passed out right then and there. I laughed and clambered back onto Louis’s strong shoulders, looking at the others.  “Righto, then. Each team for themselves, everyone against everyone?” I challenged.

The other four all nodded, moving towards us in the centre of the pool. As they approached, I twisted round to my friends as they moved to the edges to make room for the upcoming tussle. “Hey, can you guys ref?” I asked them all, smiling when they all nodded. “Coolies,” I said, facing back to the boys, “Let’s do this poo!”

Harry scowled comically, “Oi! That’s my line.”


We circled loosely, each plotting how to get the others in the water without getting dragged down too. The occasional chuckle escaped someone’s lips as we all tried to get the advantage. Finally, on some silent cue, we all converged on each other with a yell. I ducked low, trying to push Harry and Niall in the stomachs, hoping to send them sprawling. Liam and Zayn dodged as nimbly as possible out of the way. Louis stepped back out of range for a moment, before we all went in for another attempt. This time we all connected with a chorus of yells and laughter. Powerful hands grabbed at me, just as I grabbed at the others, pulling and tugging me in different directions. I locked my legs tightly into place around Lou, who had a firm grip on my thighs. We all laughed until, with a humungous splash and entanglement of limbs, we collapsed into the water as one. Bubbles streamed around as we all fought to get the surface first, while trying to keep the others under. Harry and Lou broke free first, surfacing together, followed closely by the rest of us. The two best friends were arguing over who won, shoving each other playfully. I grinned at them, going to interrupt them, but suddenly found myself pushed underwater again. I pushed up against the hands that held me down, spinning round to glare at the culprit. Liam, Niall and Zayn all stood behind me, grinning impishly. I tossed wet hair out of my face, smiling challenging at them, “Who was it?”

The all looked at each other, none giving the other away. I watched closely, studying their faces, until I saw the tell-tale smirk of guilt in the face of one of my three friend. Laughing, I lunged at Zayn, splashing and trying to tackle him under. He let out a bark of laughter and spun round, running awkwardly through the water away from me. I gave chase willingly, chuckling when he decided to use a surprised Kenney as a human shield. “You’ll never escape me,” I warned him.

“Oh yeah?” Zayn replied, all smirks and cockiness.

I inched gradually forward, plan forming in my mind. “Oh yeah,” I stated, “Kennedy, DUCK!” At the same moment I yelled,  Kennedy ducked almost instinctively out of the way, leaving Zayn unprotected as I lunged, arms reaching to catch him around the chest and sent him tumbling under. Thinking of how to get my revenge properly, I did the first thing that came to mind. I went for the hair. Ruffling and scruffing it up as much as I could, Zayn finally broke free, looking like a very bedraggled, very unsatisfied mop. I choked back a snort of laughter along with my friends, while behind us Niall was laughing outright. I meandered toward the girls, sticking up both hands for high fives.


“Victory!” cheered Harry, waving his arms in the air triumphantly. On his shoulder sat a flushed and flustered Jayne, having just pushed Gemma off Niall’s shoulder and into the water. I sat to the side, refereeing and giving Claire a chance to join the others. I stifled back laughter as I watched Louis and Claire, balanced precariously on his shoulders, sneak up on Harry and Jayne from behind.  Liam and Lilia still battled it out against Kennedy and Zayn nearby, the four of them all laughing, shooting sly glances over at Harry, Jayne and their impending doom. I bit down on my knuckles as my best friend and my boyfriend both reached out, giving one almighty push and sending Jayne and Harry tumbling forwards into the water. Claire and Lou high fived, Claire sliding off his shoulders and joining him in his victory dance. Distracted, Lilia let Kennedy push her into the water, while Niall’s laughter set off Gemma until we were all laughing just for the hell of it. I had the strange urge to capture the moment and keep it in a jar, to savour forever.


The next chapter may be a while away. My mum has recently been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, so things are a bit tough. This chapter is dedicated to all my amazing friends, even the ones who didn’t make an appearance in this chapter. Love ya all! :P I’m working on a bit of a surprise for you all at the moment, so stick around! Please remember to review and follow, it means the world to me! <3 and xxx’s








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