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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4. >Noah<

 

I wake up when someone starts rustling around in the kitchen.  Slowly, I raise my head.  My cheek was resting on someone’s head… Then I remember who I’m holding in my arms: Erin.  It’s kind of hard to believe; although, I think she just got so tired she didn’t really realize where she was.  Otherwise, I’d bet my spot in the band that she would have wanted to go home instead of sleeping here with me.

“You two look comfortable,” someone grunts.

I look up at Lucas, who is standing behind the couch and staring at Erin in my arms.  I shift, and she stirs slightly but doesn’t wake up.

“Look, I don’t think Erin likes me like that,” I firmly tell Lucas.  He’s my best friend, and I don’t want things between us to get weird. “I told you what she said to me at the bookshop.  She may be starting to like me as a friend, but nothing more.  She doesn’t think of me any differently than she thinks of you, or Joe, or Derek, or Jared.”

“Well, that’s great to hear,” mumbles Joe as he wanders over.  He was the one I heard in the kitchen.

I gingerly stand up and make sure Erin’s resting her head on a pillow.  I shove my hands in my jean pockets—I never changed last night, unlike the other guys—and stare at Joe and Lucas.

“Look,” I finally say, “I was thinking of asking Erin to stay here all weekend.  Then we could all do something special for her birthday.  From our conversation last night, I gathered that Liza is her only friend, and she isn’t super close with her parents anymore.  I know we just met Erin and Liza and that we have to leave Tuesday, but I’d like to become good friends with them.”

Joe and Lucas exchange a glance.  They both shrug.

“Okay,” Lucas says.

“I can hear a ‘but’ coming,” I reply.

“You’re right.  There’s one condition: you let her hang out with me today, and Joe gets to hang out with her tomorrow,” Lucas tells me.

I give him a look. “Oh sure, and do I get to hang out with her at all?  I sincerely want to be friends with Erin, so it’s not fair if I don’t get to see her much.”

“You can have her on Monday until her birthday celebration,” Joe says.

I sigh and then stretch out my hand.  “Deal,” I say. 

We shake on it, and then I head off to shower and change my clothes.  When I’m done, I head back out to the kitchenette for breakfast.  I hear laughter, and I almost stop short in my tracks at what I see.  Erin is sitting on the kitchen counter while Lucas pours juice.  He’s said something that’s made her laugh.

I can’t help but frown.  Then my frown turns into a glare as Lucas puts his hands on Erin’s waist.  She grabs onto his shoulders, and he lifts her off the counter before setting her back on the floor.  He says something I can’t hear, and she laughs again.  Erin takes a glass of juice and turns to head this way.  When she sees me, her face turns serious.  I feel like we’re back to how we were before last night, like she’s forgotten how we talked and laughed.

“Hey, Noah,” she says nonchalantly as she sits cross-legged on one of the couches. 

Lucas comes over and hands her a plate with toast on it.  She smiles up at him, and I’m overwhelmed with jealousy.  Lucas is my best friend, like I’ve said before, but all I want to do right now is punch him.  Of course he getting Erin first is to his advantage—she’ll fall for him, obviously.

“Oh, Lucas asked me to stay here for the weekend,” she tells me, “and he said you guys would like to do something for my birthday.”

Okay, I definitely want to punch Lucas now.  He’s making it sound like this weekend is all his idea.

“Um, yeah, I’m fine with that.  Do you want to stay?” I fumble over my words.

Erin’s gaze is curious now.  “Yeah, I actually do,” she says, as if she’s even surprising herself. “Can Liza stay, too?”

“Of course,” Lucas says quickly.

“She and I will need to go home and grab some of our stuff.  Clothes, toothbrushes, that sort of thing,” Erin goes on to say.

Lucas volunteers, “I can drive you two.  We have most of the day off, just warm-ups and then a concert tonight.”

I hold back a growl.  Lucas is definitely making his move.  I can hear the flirtatious note in his voice that he often uses on girls.

Erin shrugs.  “Sure.”

She finishes her breakfast, and Lucas heads off to shower and dress in actual clothing besides a T-shirt and sweatpants.  Behind Erin’s back, he makes the ‘I’m watching you’ sign at me.  I can’t make a face, so I just give him a quick glare.  Liza stumbles out of Jared’s room, yawning.  I smile, bemused, when I realize she’s wearing a pair of Jared’s sweatpants, along with one of his hooded sweatshirts.

“Breakfast, please, now,” she says, collapsing on the couch beside Erin.

“Well good morning to you, too,” Erin teases. “Why in the world are you so tired?”

“Too much excitement last night,” Liza replies. “Between the concert and coming back here after, I’m just wiped out.”

“Well guess what?” Erin says.

Her eyes flicker to me as I settle into the armchair.  I decide to keep my distance from her, just to show Lucas how much I honor our agreement.

“Lucas invited us to stay the weekend, and then they want to have a party for me on Monday for my birthday,” Erin tells Liza. “I’d like to stay.  How about you?”

Liza is definitely awake now.  “Really?” she squeals. “I’d love to stay!”

“Lucas is going to take us to our houses in a bit to get stuff we need.  So go ask Joe to make you some breakfast and then get dressed,” Erin continues.

Liza bounces off the couch to go get dressed.  She looks much more awake now.  Joe is still hanging out in the kitchenette, and of course he heard Erin.  As he cooks, Erin and I sit there in silence.  I can’t think of anything to say that Joe probably wouldn’t repeat later to Lucas, just to piss me off.

“Why aren’t you sitting over here?” Erin questions.

So she doesn’t hate me.  I resist the urge to dive across the room, run my hands through her hair that’s the perfect mix of red, brown, and blonde, and kiss her.  That would break the agreement with Lucas, and Erin would totally hate me if I did that, I’m sure.

“Um, I think I’ll stay here,” I reply finally.

She shrugs.  “Suit yourself.  You should know, though—you make a really good pillow.”

I laugh.  “Well, gee, that’s good to know.  Maybe I should market myself as a human pillow, or at least tell pillow scientists my secret.”

“And that secret is?” Erin asks playfully.

I lean towards her, although the gap between the armchair and the couch is too wide to be closed.

In a low voice, pretending it really is a secret, I tell her, “I work out, but I still eat plenty of junk food.”

She laughs, and I’m completely hooked.  I feel like Erin’s the only girl for me, even though I’ve known her for so short a time.  I’m not saying a word to her about my feelings, though.  Not until Monday at least.

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