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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3. ~Erin~

 

This is all so surreal.  I’m still definitely not an Iconanator, but it’s pretty crazy to be surrounded by three—okay, I’ll admit it, attractive—guys that are captivated by me.  Well, Lucas and Noah are captivated.  Joseph doesn’t look head-over-heels for me, something I’m glad of.

Suddenly, I check the time on my phone.  It’s after ten o’clock at night.

“Liza,” I call across the room.

She raises her head like she’s coming out of a dream.  “Hmm?  What is it, Erin?”

“It’s after ten.  We should go,” I tell her.

The boys start to protest, and I raise an eyebrow out of surprise.  How are they that attracted to me already?  Or do they just like me as a friend?  I really hope it’s the latter of the two.  No way do I want to think about dating a celebrity.

“Please,” Lucas says, “come hang out at our hotel with us.  We’re staying up late tonight to do a webcam for the fans who couldn’t come to the concert, to at least tell them how it went.”

I peer at him curiously.   I know he’s a womanizer.  Is he trying to get Liza and me in his hotel room for a particular reason?  I look over at Jared to see what the most sensible boy here thinks.  He’s nodding enthusiastically, and I notice how his gaze is focused on Liza’s face.  Liza turns to me with a pleading look on her face.  She’s leaving the decision up to me, knowing I’m the more grounded girl in this friendship.

With a long sigh, I finally agree.  “But only for a bit,” I say.

Noah smiles happily.  Then we head out to the guys’ cars.  I remember that I drove Liza and myself here, and I’d like to have my car so I can leave whenever I want.  After a quick scramble, it’s decided Liza will ride with Derek, Lucas, and Jared, while Noah and Joe will come with me so I know where to go.  Noah ends up in the passenger seat.

“It’s kind of weird,” he comments, “to be sitting where the driver normally does back home.”

I chuckle.  Joe’s lounging in the backseat, and shortly, I hear him humming.  It doesn’t sound like a song I heard tonight, though.

“What’s that you’re humming?” I ask him, making a right-hand turn.

“Oh, nothing,” he says hurriedly.

I notice Noah gives him a look in the rearview mirror.  He’s acting kind of possessive, and I’m guessing he knows the song Joseph was humming.

“Maybe you can get Joe to tell you someday,” Noah says.

“Someday?” I question. “You’re acting like this is going to become a regular thing.  You guys are on tour right now, and after tonight, Liza and I have to go back to work and our regular lives.”

“What if I don’t want you to go?” whispers Noah so softly that I’m not sure I heard him correctly.

When we get to the hotel, security surrounds our car since crazy Iconanators are swarming the entrance, screaming, and waving signs.  I slip on sunglasses, just so I won’t be recognized.  Noah puts a protective arm around me.  My heart practically leaps out of my chest, and I feel my stomach do a flip-flop.  A valet comes to collect my car, and we push through the crowd to get inside.  The others are already in the lobby waiting for us.  Liza is wearing sunglasses, too, although they look kind of big for her and sort of masculine.  Jared or one of the other guys probably loaned them to her.

“Let’s get upstairs,” says Lucas.

I notice he’s glaring at Noah, who still has his arm around my waist.  Noah quickly removes his arm, and I feel sort of…sad.  Good gracious, did I want him to keep touching me?

Please, God, tell me I’m not falling for Noah Somers.  I send up a silent prayer, hoping God will answer this one.  I don’t pray much, but I have Christian friends who insist that God really does listen.

The guys have a giant suite with five bedrooms surrounding a living room-type area.  I can tell boys are staying here because the band has only been here since Wednesday (or maybe Tuesday), and the place is already a pigsty.

“Okay, who’s the one making all the messes?” I say with a laugh.

Noah and Joe point to Lucas, while Lucas and Derek point to Jared, who just stands there sheepishly.  Who knew the quietest one could create giant messes?  Liza giggles.

“Not sure who I should believe,” I say. “Maybe I’ll just blame Lucas and Jared.”

“Anyways, let’s hang out,” says Joe. “We don’t have to do the webcam for another half hour.  Are you two hungry?”

I shrug, but Liza nods.  Joe grins and heads to the kitchenette while Derek groans.

“You do not know what you’re getting yourselves into,” he tells my best friend and me. “Joe is a huge food freak.  He’s totally going to create some masterpiece now.”

“Not true!” Joseph retorts. “I’m just in the mood for quesadillas.”

My eyes light up, and Noah notices.

“Oh-ho, Joe, I think you just mentioned Erin’s favorite food!” Noah says.  He laughs and elbows me.

“I love bagels more,” I joke around, “but quesadillas are definitely awesome.  As long as they’re cheese or chicken and cheese.”

Joe turns back to look at me.  His icy blue eyes are sparkling, and I have the sudden realization that he just might be falling for me, too.

“Mild, medium, or hot salsa?” he asks.

“Hot, definitely,” I say.

“Don’t look now, Erin,” Derek jokes, “but I think Joe is going to ask you to marry him soon.  He hasn’t met a girl yet who asks for hot salsa.”

Joe and I blush in unison, which just makes my cheeks flush even more.  While Joseph cooks, Noah pulls me over to the couch, and I plop down between him and Lucas.  Derek flashes a peace sign and disappears into his room.  I can’t help but smile at Jared and Liza.  I think they’re moving too fast, to be honest, but it’s hard to not think they look cute, squeezed into the same armchair.

I talk with Lucas and Noah about random things, like movies and video games and music.  Lucas learns that I’m really not an Icon fan—well, he learns the extent to which I dislike their band—and they both get to hear about the artists I do like and the styles I prefer.  And they find out my middle name, Rosalie.  Finally Joe brings a plate of hot quesadillas over.  I take one immediately but wait to take a bite until it won’t burn my mouth.

Joe watches me as I chew and swallow.

“How is it?” he asks anxiously.

I launch myself off of the couch and tackle him to the ground.

“It’s insanely good,” I tell him as we laugh. “Why are you in a boy band when you could be at culinary school?”

He shrugs sheepishly when I let him up.  Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the jealous looks on Noah’s and Lucas’s faces.  Joe tentatively takes my hand and leads me to the kitchenette.  I sit on a bar stool and listen attentively as he explains his recipe.

“We should exchange some recipes,” I tell him. “I’ve got some that you might like to try out.  My mom always said my cinnamon rolls were to die for.”

Once again, Joseph’s eyes light up.  It’s like I’m the girl of his dreams.  He and I exchange phone numbers and e-mail addresses.  Then I head back to the sofa with him trailing after me.

“So this is going to sound totally random, but how old are you, Erin?” Lucas asks.

“Eighteen,” I reply.

Liza pipes up, “Her birthday is on Monday.  She’ll be nineteen.”

“No way!” says Joe. “Happy early birthday.”

He hugs me, and I hug him back.  It’s brief, though.

I learn that Lucas and Derek are nineteen, Jared is twenty-one, Joe is eighteen, and Noah’s birthday is Christmas Eve.  He’ll be nineteen then, so I’m three weeks older than him.

As we talk, Derek calls out from his room to say he’s about to do the webcam, but the other guys tell him to do it alone.  We keep chatting for quite some time, and I lose track of time.  My eyes start to flutter shut multiple times, and I try to keep them open.  I don’t mind when Noah slides his arm around me, and I snuggle into his shoulder.  He kind of smells like my dad, so I feel at home.  I barely notice as Lucas gets up off the couch and heads off, presumably to his room.  Joe leaves, too, I think.  I don’t hear him talking anymore at least.  My eyes open one more time.  Jared and Liza are gone, as well.

“Where’s Liza?” I whisper.

Noah shifts, and my head is suddenly on his chest.

“Jared told Liza to go ahead and take his room.  He’ll sleep in Derek’s room,” Noah replies in a low voice.

“Okay,” I reply, and I feel myself drift off to sleep.

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