Someone To Look After

Louis Tomlinson is about to change her life in a big way. And then he's gonna fall in love with her. He makes her dreams come true, but can he win her heart?

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1. Ale and A Pretty Girl with A Voice

 

            Louis glanced around the bar, taking a sip of his ale and wishing the guy on stage had a bit more talent. He needed a distraction from the terrible music. He felt so entitled when he had thoughts like that—just because his music was a huge hit all over the world didn’t give him the right to criticize other peoples’ music. This guy….well, he just really sucked, though. It made Louis feel a little less bad about thinking so. Especially with how obvious it was that no one else in the pub was interested, either.

            Then his eyes landed on his distraction: a girl with short, brunette hair and shiny green eyes. She was sitting alone at a table in a corner near the stage, and there was a cloud of smoke around her that was emanating from the cigarette dangling between her thin, pale, candy-colored lips. She was scribbling on a napkin with what looked like a fine-tipped sharpie. Louis thought idly how hard that’d probably be to read. He also thought, as he began to make his way over to her table, that he hoped she wasn’t writing down her number for some guy she wanted to pick her up. He vaguely, in a selfish way, hoped she’d been stood up so that he could take advantage of the situation. Not her, mind you, he wasn’t that type of bloke, just the situation.

            “’Llo,” he greeted, slurring a tiny bit. It was only his first drink, and Louis wasn’t a lightweight, but his alcohol always seemed to mess with his speech, especially when he was tired like he currently was.

            “’Ey,” she mumbled distractedly, still scribbling on that napkin.

            Louis’ eyes strayed to her unrelenting scrawls and he realized she was jotting down what appeared to be song lyrics. “Whatcha writin’?” he asked curiously. He was pretty confident in his idea; he really just wanted confirmation that he was right.

            “Song,” she replied shortly.

            Louis frowned. He’d recently gotten through a break up with Eleanor, it was the last night of his break, and no one was around to celebrate his last night at home with him. That was fine with him, he didn’t mind coming to the pubs alone to drink, but when he tried to make conversation to pretty girls, he’d assumed at least they would respond. Not because he was the Louis Tomlinson, one-fifth of the X Factor-originated, pop phenomenon that was the boy band One Direction, but because strangers almost always took to him right way. And if they didn’t warm up immediately, it never took long. Louis was just used to people loving him—for him and his talent.

            “Care to let me take a look?” he requested.

            Finally—finally—the girl looked up at him. Her lips parted slightly, like her jaw was ready to drop in surprise, but she simply gave him a curt nod and slid the napkin over the table top to him. “I don’t let anyone read my songs until they’re finished or I’m performing them, but I suppose you do deserve to be made an exception to that.”

            The corner of Louis’ lips quirked up as he took in what she’d said and his eyes skimmed her messy words. “You’re definitely a natural for lyrics, love. Are you here with anyone?” he asked, sliding the napkin back over to her and looking into the green orbs across from him.

            She shook her head. “I’m not.”

            “Meeting someone?”

            She paused. “I guess you could say it’s something like that,” she shrugged.

            “I’m Louis Tomlinson, by the way, if you don’t know,” he continued, introducing himself just to make sure she was aware of who he was. Louis had grown accustom to people just knowing who he was, but he didn’t want to make the same assumption with this girl.

            After she exhaled the smoke from her cigarette, she nodded at him. “I know. One Direction. That’s why I made an exception for you.” She held out her hand, then, revealing four perfectly smooth, finely painted purple nails, and one less so: it being obvious that she chewed the nail of her ring finger, but seemingly only that nail. “Owlette Ackles. Yes, that is my real name, and to any comments you have about it: I know. I’ve heard them all. But you can just call me Owl.”

            “I think that’s a lovely name! Quite interesting, much like yourself,” he added. Louis took her hand and when her hand gripped his, he could feel callouses on her finger tips: the ones that were practically identical to Nialls’ whenever he played his guitar without a pick.

            “I think it’s weird, and I think my parents had it out for me. But I guess it explains why owls are one of my favorite animals. Those and penguins.”

            Louis chuckled. “So Owl—“ he started before being interrupted.

            A guy walked out from behind the bar and nudged her shoulder. “Hey Owl, you’re on in five. You ready?” he asked her, cutting Louis off.

            She nodded. “I’m ready, Murphy. That loser comin’ off stage?”

            “Yeah, soon as he’s down, you’re good to go,” Murphy told her.

            Owl gave the guy, Murphy, a short nod, then hopped off her bar stool and knelt down to the floor. Curious, Louis ducked his head under the table to see what she was doing.

            “You play guitar?” he asked, watching as she unlocked her case and pulled out an acoustic.

            “I do. I can play electric, too, but I prefer acoustic. And you, Mr. Louis Tomlinson, are about to witness me at work,” she explained.

            “I’ll wait her and let you know what I think, then. Good luck,” he told her.

            “Not about luck, Lou, it’s about talent. We’ll see if I’ve got any; this is my first live gig.”

            Louis blinked in surprise. “You’re awfully calm then, wouldn’t you say?”

            Owl shrugged. “I don’t really get nervous. If I’m doing something in front of an audience, I just single someone out that doesn’t intimidate me, I focus on them, and I go for it.” With that, she left Louis at the table and headed for the side of the stage, guitar slung across her back.

            She adjusted the little stool that sat on stage and positioned herself in front of the microphone, making sure it was at an appropriate height for her when she was seated. Then she brought her guitar around and began to strum a few chords.

            Owl leaned into the microphone and said, “Hey guys, I’m Owl, and I’m gonna be playing some covers for you guys tonight. The first song I’m going to be singing tonight is an old one. Let’s see how many of you know what it is.” Then she began to play the opening chords to Lily Allen’s “Smile”.

            As she began to sing, Louis drew in a deep breath. This girl….she was fantastic. She was an alto with a beautiful, husky voice. She vaguely reminded Louis of that Australian singer Orianthi. He found himself unconsciously tapping his foot and drumming his fingers against the edge of the table. Even singing along. But he swore he only knew the words because he’d been forced to take Lottie and Félicité to one of her concerts so his mum would agree to let him go to the X Factor auditions. She was one of those parents that told him “You still live under my roof, so you still do what I say” and that was the only way he’d been allowed to go for the auditions. Not that he was complaining; that concert had been well worth it to end up where he was now. Plus, Lily Allen wasn’t too bad on the eyes, if he was being honest.

            Owl finished the song just as well as she’d started it, then followed it up with a brilliant cover of The Wanted’s “Gold Forever”. This girl was blowing Louis’ mind. He’d only expected to come out, drink for a couple of hours, maybe meet a girl, and go home drunk. She continued her set, covering “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran, “Lost It All” by the Backstreet Boys, and “Fuckin’ Perfect” by P!nk. Not once did Louis lose interest in her performance.

            “Alright guys, this is my last song of the night. This one has been pretty popular lately, so I’m sure most of you will recognize it. I know most of my songs haven’t been exactly what you’d come to a pub to hear, and I’m not sure this one is either, but it’s definitely something you can get up and dance to.”

            And that’s when Louis realized she was playing their newest single, “Live While We’re Young”. He half choked on the swig of ale he’d taken, oddly taken aback by her choice. And she sang each part, even the chorus, like a damn pro. Louis was amazed.

            When Owl had finished the song, she thanked the audience with a gorgeous, slightly crooked smile, and strode off stage with her guitar slung across her back. She returned to the table where Louis sat slack jawed in awe.

            “You’re—you’re amazing. Fantastic,” he told her, stuttering.

            Owl cleared her throat and felt her cheeks heat up. Louis Tomlinson telling her she had a good voice? Her luck had never been that good. She shrugged, trying to act casual and nonchalant. “So I’ve heard.” Lie. “People are always telling me I should try to get signed.” Big lie. “But I have no idea how to even go about that sort of thing.” Truth. Lie. Why else would she be saying it to Louis Tomlinson? He had to have some kind of connections. Simon Cowell, for instance. But she shouldn’t get her hopes up. That would be silly.

            “Listen….do you….would you want my number? You know, so I could maybe help you with that? I think you’re really good, and it couldn’t hurt to try, could it?”

           Silly? Who said that? Louis loved her voice! She was set for life. Owl clamped her eyes shut for a quick moment to clear her mind before she over analyzed this. “Oh really?” She studied her nails like she got asked that sort of thing all the time. “Sure, why not.”

           Louis grinned and grabbed a fresh napkin, using the sharpie she’d left on the table to scrawl his number across it. “Here, that’s my cell. Call or text whenever. If I don’t answer, I’ll do it as soon as I can. My break ends tomorrow, so I might not be able to get back to you right away.”

           “Gotcha. I understand.” Owl reached across the table and snatched up the napkin with her lyrics written on it and flipped it over. On the back, she wrote her cell number, then handed it to her. “If you’re serious about this, you can show those lyrics to whoever you talk to. See if they’re interested in my original stuff, not my covers.” She bit her lip. “If you’re serious. If this is some joke and you’re gonna go back home and joke with the guys about the musician chick you met at the pub who you tricked, that’s fine, too, since this seems a little too good to be true anyway.”

           “Well….don’t you need these lyrics? To finish them, I mean?” he asked.

           “I got it all up here, no problem there,” she told him, tapping her temple with two fingers.

           Louis nodded and they stood in silence for a few beats before Louis spoke up again. “Well then, I guess I should be off. Go back to the studio to start recording again tomorrow.”

           Owl nodded in understanding. “Cool, cool,” she mumbled. The silence had given her time to get distracted by his good looks. She’d ignored it before, knowing she had to have her head in it to play, but now that she’d done her thing, nothing was stopping her from staring into his gorgeous blue green eyes.

           “So….”

           “Oh!” she squeaked, feeling her cheeks redden. She dropped her gaze to study her shoes. “Yeah. So. I guess I’ll talk to you….sometime.”

           Louis took a step toward her, definitely invading her personal space, and intoxicating her with his wonderful scent. He leaned in toward her ear, “Sometime soon, love,” he whispered. Then he brushed passed her, their shoulders colliding ever so slightly, and he exited through the back door, she assumed so he could avoid the paparazzi.

           On the walk home from the pub, Owl kept her cool and let it all sink in. She’d just met Louis Tomlinson. The one who had gone on the X Factor and become a huge success in the boy band Simon Cowell had created just for the five of them. One freaking Direction. That had just happened to her. Owl Ackles. She never had luck like that. It just wasn’t in the cards for her.

           She threw open the door of her flat and screamed.

           “What? What is it?” her brother yelled, running out of his bedroom clad only in his boxers and looking for all the world like the concerned brother she knew better than to think he was.

           “Cobey! I just met Louis Tomlinson from One Direction when I was at the pub playing my gig and he said I was good and he’s going to talk to someone about giving me a chance so I might get signed and then I might be famous and oh my god, Cobey!” she gushed, aware that her voice a good three decibels too loud.

           Her brother Cobey, which is short for Cobra, which he detests, blinked and stared at her like she’d grown another head. “Slow and separated, sis.”

           She rolled her eyes. “Go toss on some more clothes, get DuPray out here, and I’ll tell you both.”

           Owl went to put her guitar up in her room, then walked back to the living room where she found her brother and his girlfriend, her best friend, Georgia DuPray, sitting on the couch and waiting for her.

           “What’s this I hear about One Direction?” Georgia asked immediately.

           Owl laughed. “Nothing gets passed you, does it, Georgie? Well, I had a show at the pub tonight playing some covers. I actually met Louis while I was there, and he thought I was really good. When I came off stage, he gave me his number and said he’d see about talking to someone for me.”

           Georgia’s jaw dropped and Cobey broke out into a huge grin. “That’s great, sis!” Cobey cheered, jumping up and wrapping his arms around her in a bear hug that pushed all air from her lungs.

           She flailed her hand to get his attention and he laughed, letting her go.

           “Are you bloody serious?” Georgia asked.

           “Completely so,” Owl said with a huge grin.

           “I hate you,” she said, smiling widely. Then she jumped up and pulled Owl into her arms. “I love you, I love you, I love you!” she chanted.

           “Yeah, yeah, you can meet them,” she laughed, hugging her back. “Just as soon as I have.”

           Georgia pulled away from Owl and pinched her cheek. “That’s why we’re best friends, darling.”

           Owl rolled her eyes. “Yes, even though you’re dating my icky older brother and using my chance at a big break to meet five ridiculously hot guys, we’re best friends.”

           After a few more minutes of excitement over the possibilities that were now laid out in front of Owl, Georgia and Cobey went back to the room they shared, and Owl went to hers, ready to jump into a pair of pajamas and crash.

           She rummaged through her drawers and pulled out an oversized Oxford t-shirt and a pair of sweat pants. While she was in the bathroom glowing in light of her recent good fortune, she could hear her phone go off in her bedroom. Owl hurried with the rest of her late night routine, then scurried back to her room and picked her cell phone up from her night stand.

           I texted the guys your lyrics. They loved them. (: I’m gonna talk to Simon tomorrow, sound good?

           Owl wasn’t familiar with the number, but knew right away that it had to be Louis.

           That sounds great! Thank you so much! :D

           Owl hit send so quickly that she made her phone flip out of her hand, sending it tumbling down to her purple and blue checkered comforter. Despite there being no one around to witness her clumsiness, Owl blushed in humiliation—and then shame, because who was there to see her humiliation? No one. God, she was either ridiculously excited about her night, or deliriously tired. Probably both.

           So Owl settled into her bed, and snuggled into the blankets until only her head was visible above the top of the blankets. But when her phone went off with another text from Louis, she ducked her head under the covers and texted him the way she used to when she smuggled books and a flashlight under her blankets at night. And just like when she was a kid, she ended up awake until the early hours of the morning.

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