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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9. ~Erin~

 

I wake up in the morning to someone jumping on the bed.  I blearily look up and squint through the sunlight coming in the window.  Then I sit up and start to laugh.  It’s Joe, acting like a little kid.  Liza is awake and out of the room.  Joe grabs my hands and pulls me up.  Feeling like I’m five again, I start to jump on the bed with him.

The door opens, and Noah steps in.  I grin at him and then I jump off the bed, knocking Noah to the ground.  He lands with an “oomph”, and I can’t help but laugh.  I’m sitting on his stomach; it probably can’t be comfortable, but he isn’t making me get off, I notice.  Noah sits up slightly, and I slide into his lap.  My legs are wrapped around his waist.  As he sat up, my arms slid around his neck for balance.  Our faces are inches apart.  My eyelids flutter shut as we lean in.

Then Joe clears his throat, and Noah and I jolt away from each other.  I scramble off his lap.  My cheeks flame; they’re probably bright red.

“So, um, I’ll leave you two alone…to talk,” Joe says awkwardly.

He hops down off the bed and heads out of the room, shutting the door behind him.  I forgot the door was open; hopefully, no one else saw what happened.

I climb up onto the edge of the bed and pull my legs up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them.  Noah stays on the floor.  He leans back on his hands.

“Listen, Erin, about that almost kiss…” he begins.

“Let’s just pretend it never happened,” I say hurriedly.

Noah looks surprised, but he recovers just as quickly as I said the words.

“I mean, I’m kind of with Lucas, and I don’t want to make things confusing as I try and figure that out.  You know what I mean?”  I’m practically babbling now, just to try and erase the moment from my mind.

I can’t.  It’s seared in there for all of eternity.  The feel of the hair at the nape of Noah’s neck—it was velvety soft.  He smelled like deodorant and faint musky cologne.  I could hear him breathing, and it was controlled yet anxious, like his racing heart.  Not to mention that our lips almost, almost touched.

“Yeah, I get it,” Noah replies, almost roughly.

He stands and leaves, the door practically slamming behind him.  I sink further into the plush bed.  This is not how I imagined the weekend going.  Of course, I didn’t think Lucas would kiss me.  I figured I’d maybe become friends with all the guys, but things would be rockiest with Noah.  Instead, I’ve fallen asleep with him twice, and now we’ve almost kissed.

---

I still end up going out to lunch with Joe.  We have a good time just talking and laughing.  I clear things up with him, though—I don’t have feelings for him.  I just want to be friends.  He sounded okay with that.  We’re on our way to becoming extremely good friends.  I’ve already started to teasingly call him Salsa.  He gets extremely hot salsa on his quesadilla—I stick with medium on mine—and he eats practically the whole dish of salsa that comes with the appetizer tortilla chips.

Afterwards, we hop in my car.  Somehow, we’ve managed to evade crazy Icon fans.  I’m very glad of that.  After all, I’ve been spotted with Lucas, and someone’s probably figured I’m the girl Noah’s been seen with.  If I’m spotted with Joe, people are going to get it into their minds that something’s going on with all four of us.

“Should we head back?” I ask.

“Actually…” Joe says slowly. “Is there an animal shelter around here?  I love to play with the dogs and cats, even if I can’t adopt any.”

I smile.  “Definitely.  I know of just the place.”

We drive through town, and I pull into my favorite animal shelter, the no-kill one.  I take a quick look around at the other cars in the parking lot.  There aren’t too many people here, so hopefully there won’t be any crazy Iconanators who will alert the paparazzi.  Joe and I hop out of my car and head inside.  I talk to the woman at the desk for a moment, and then I lead Joe into the kitten room.  We follow protocol and wash our hands.

Several of the kittens are sleeping, but a few are circling in their cages and mewing.  I’m immediately drawn to a pale gray tabby.  Her belly and paws are white, and she’s pretty fluffy.

“Oh my gosh, Joe, look at this one!” I say.

I open the cage carefully so neither the little darling nor her siblings can escape.  Then I carefully pick up the kitten and hold her close.  With Joe’s help, I wrap my sweater around her.  The kitten’s purrs rumble through my chest.  While I cuddle with the kitten, Joseph opens the same cage and takes out a black male.  Although his coloring is different, his facial shape and eyes are identical to the female kitten’s.

After a bit, Joe puts the black kitten back.  He finds another kitten to hold, but there’s no way on earth that I’m going to return the pale gray kitten to her cage.  Not until we have to leave at least.

“Hey, I have to make a phone call,” says Joe as he lightly touches my shoulder. “I’m going to step out to the lobby, so be right back.”

I nod.  A few minutes later, he returns with a giant grin on his face.

“What are you so happy about?” I ask with a laugh.

“Well, the guys and I have been trying to figure out what to get you for a birthday present.  I think we’d almost decided on something, but then I saw how much you loved that kitten there,” he tells me. “I called Lucas, and he talked to the others, and if it’s okay with you, we want to give you the kitten.”

My jaw drops.  “Are you serious?  I’d love to have her, but it’s awfully expensive to adopt a kitten, and you guys just met me, and—”

“Shut up, Erin,” Joe says teasingly. “We want you to have the kitten.”

Careful to not squish the kitten, I throw my arms around Joe.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I exclaim. “This is the best birthday present ever.”

“C’mon,” he replies. “Let’s go get to work on adopting her.”

I carry the kitten out to the front desk, and we speak to the receptionist.  She gives us the necessary papers to fill out.  While Joe holds the kitten, I write in what I can.

Then we wait while the papers are reviewed by the manager.  Joe holds the kitten up to get a good luck at her face.

“What are you going to name her?” he asks.

“Dessa,” I decide finally. “It’s kind of short for December, since that’s my birth month and that’s when I met you, Noah, Derek, Lucas, and Jared.  And you know I started out hating you guys and your music, but you’re really great guys.  I’m proud to be your friend.”

“Aw,” Joe says.  He gives me a brief side-hug.

Soon, Dessa is mine.  Joseph and I stop at a local pet shop to get supplies for her.  Well, I go in, and I buy them with my own money.  He stays in the car with my kitten.  Then we head back to the hotel.  I can hardly wait to introduce my darling kitten to the boys and Liza.

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