Mixed Feelings

Icon is the biggest boy band in the world. They're even more popular than One Direction at this point. Liza Nelson can't get enough of them, but Erin Frederick absolutely detests the band. What happens after a chance encounter with one of the band members? Erin's life definitely won't ever be the same.

*the guys are based on the boys in One Direction*

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1. ~Erin~

“This just in: the hot new boy band, Icon, has announced the dates for their world tour, including fifty cities in the United States,” the lady on the radio drones on.

Ugh, I think, reaching over to turn off the radio.  I cannot stand Icon or their crazy fans, Iconanators.  I like ballads and country music; Icon is pure pop.  Plus, who could stand five guys who don’t mind being fawned over by millions of girls everywhere?  Give me Carrie Underwood any day.

My cell phone trills, and I lazily reach across the kitchen table to see who is calling.  It’s my best friend since the fourth grade, Liza Nelson.  She’s peppy, outgoing, and a big Iconanator—everything I’m not.  But most of that is why we get along so well.  Our personalities oppose each other, so we’re definitely attracted to each other in a friend way.  And we have a deal that Liza lays off the Icon talk when we hang out.  Otherwise, I’m afraid I couldn’t stand the girl.

“Oh my gosh, Erin!” Liza squeals when I pick up.

“Hey, Liza,” I say, covering a smile.  Seriously, she can tell when I’m grinning, even over the phone.

“Erin, get this—Icon is coming to our town.  It’s their first tour stop, and it’s happening in just five months.  I know you absolutely hate them, but if I can get tickets, will you come with me?” Liza pleads.

“Let me think about that,” I say sarcastically, pretending to think. “How about no?”

I know my words are harsh.  That’s why I quickly add, “Liza, girl, I love you, but going to an Icon concert?  I’d rather dye my hair jet black before doing that.  Now if it was a Carrie Underwood concert…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You’d be all over going,” Liza replies with a sigh. “Well I’m going to keep working on you once I get tickets.  I think you’d hate to pass up going.”

“I’m sorry, but you’re wrong,” I respond, pressing the phone between my ear and shoulder as I finish up my peanut butter toast.  I have to be to work at the bookshop in just thirty minutes, and I’m not quite ready to go. “Listen, Lize, I’ve gotta go.  See you tonight at the usual place?”

“Sure,” she says. “I get off work at five, so I’ll meet you there.”

“Sounds good!” I say quickly before hanging up.

I finish getting ready, grab my purse, and jet out the door.  I’m lucky my little cottage is just down the street from the downtown area where the bookshop is.  I absolutely love my job.  Books are my life—I want to be a children’s writer—and getting to be around them almost every day is fabulous.  Plus, my boss is great.

---

“Oh my gosh, Erin!” Liza screams when she calls me a week later.

I have to hold the phone away from my ear because my best friend is so loud.

“What’s up, Liza?” I ask, knowing it’s probably something to do with Icon.

“I got tickets to see Icon,” she babbles with excitement. “Two of them.  I know you aren’t a fan, but I really want you to come with me.”

A customer brings a few books up to the sales counter.  I tell Liza to hold on, and I ring up the purchase.

“Thank you for shopping with us!” I say cheerfully. “Have a nice day.”

The customer says thank you and then leaves, so I pick up my phone again.

“What will you do for me if I come to the Icon concert?” I ask Liza.

“Um…” she hesitates, obviously trying to think of something. “How about I’ll redecorate your living room for free?”

Liza works with an interior designer as a paid assistant, and my best friend actually has a great eye for design.

“Deal,” I agree. 

My living room could seriously use a makeover.  I only moved into this house six months ago, and I don’t exactly have a lot of money for furniture and better décor.

After we hang up, I rub my forehead.  An Icon concert.  What the hell am I getting myself into?

---

Five months go by, and it’s now the week after Thanksgiving.  Icon’s concert at the arena near our town is this weekend.  Liza just finished fixing up my living room on Monday, and I’ve had two blissful days to enjoy it.  Right now I’m at work, as usual.  It’s almost my lunch break, and I’m figuring I’ll head to the sandwich shop next door when my co-worker, Brandon, arrives to relieve me.

A guy wearing a fedora, an Avengers T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers approaches the counter.  He sets a biography about one of the presidents down, as well as a book about Icon.  I’m a bit surprised, to be honest.  Who knew guys could be Iconanators, too?

I ring up his purchases and tell him, “That’ll be twenty-three fifteen, sir.”

He reaches for his wallet, and when he hands me a credit card, we make eye contact.  My gaze flies down to the book about Icon in front of me and then back up to this guy.

“Am I imagining things, or is that you?” I say, poking at one of the guys on the book’s cover.

His eyes widen.  “Please, don’t tell anyone!” he whispers frantically. “I’m trying to fly under the radar here.”

I flip through the book and find the page about him.  “Noah Somers, huh?”

“Look, I’ll give you concert tickets, backstage passes, just please don’t scream!” Noah pleads.

I laugh and meet his blue-eyed gaze again. “Dude, I’m not a fan.  Seriously, you’re over-hyped, and all the screaming girls get on my nerves.”  I pause. “To put it simply, if you were on fire, and I had a glass of water, I’d drink the water.”

“Ouch,” Noah responds.  He looks very surprised, and I don’t blame him.  He’s probably used to girls throwing themselves all over him.

I hand him his credit card back, along with the books and a receipt in a bag.  It doesn’t look like Noah’s ready to leave yet, though.  He leans on the counter, and I can tell he’s about to turn on the charm.

“Have you even heard our music, or did you just automatically hate us?” he asks in that charming British accent.

“I’ve heard, like, two songs, and I heard enough to know it’s definitely not my style.  Pop isn’t real music,” I tell him.  Hoping he’ll get the hint to leave, I turn away.

Suddenly, Noah’s hand is on my wrist and pulling me back.  I stare into those blue eyes that almost mirror my own.  I lean closer.

“If you don’t let go of me,” I whisper, “I will definitely scream your name, and everyone outside the store will be able to hear me.”

That does the trick.  Noah’s hand is swiftly back at his side, and we’re both standing up straight.  I smile politely and then turn to go see if Brandon’s in the back room and ready to let me go on my lunch break.  He is, thank goodness.  I head out to the sandwich shop, already forgetting about Noah.  I didn’t see him when I clocked out or when I was headed to the front door, so I can only assume he left.

I am so not looking forward to the Icon concert on Friday night, I think to myself as I bundle my coat closer around me.

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