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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5. >Noah<

 

Lucas hurries out from his bedroom, probably to make sure I’m not making my move on Erin.

“Hey, are you and Liza ready to go?” he asks.

He leans down over the back of the couch and hugs Erin.  She looks startled, but she hugs him back.  Now I’m resisting the urge to go jump out the window.

“Um, pretty much,” she replies. “Liza is getting dressed, and then she has to eat breakfast.”  Then she looks at me. “Hey, since I’m ready to go, and Liza isn’t, how about Noah takes me to get my stuff, and you or Jared takes Liza?”

If this was a cartoon, my jaw would hit the floor right about now.  Did Erin seriously just say I should drive her to her house?  Why does she want me and not suave Lucas over there?

“No, that wouldn’t work,” Lucas replies quickly.  I realize I’ve lost my chance to jump in and say I’d love to do that. “Noah owes the fans a webcam from last night—”

And you don’t? I think crossly.

“And he should do that this morning.  But I could take you, and Jared can take Liza,” Lucas continues.

Erin shrugs noncommittally.  “That’s fine by me.”

She stands and crosses the room to me.  I notice Lucas watching her the whole time, as if he’s afraid she’s about to kiss me or something.  But all Erin does is lean down and give me a brief hug.

“Have fun with your webcam,” she says.

She straightens and heads to the door where Lucas is waiting.  As they step outside, I watch as Lucas puts his hand on the small of her back.  He’s my best friend, but he’s such a flirt and I’ve seen one too many girls get hurt by him.  Why can’t Erin see that he’s not good for her?

“Had my chances/could’ve been where he is standing/that’s what hurts the most/girl, I came so close/but now you’ll never know/baby, I loved you first,” I sing under my breath.  It’s a song by the British boy band, One Direction.  And it’s one-hundred percent true.  I feel like I’ve lost my chances with Erin.  Last night or this morning, I could’ve told her how I felt.  I could’ve kissed her.  Erin could be mine by now.  Instead, I’m stuck singing a song and probably looking like a total idiot.

---

Lucas and Erin are slow in returning.  I start to worry about Erin.  What if Lucas has taken advantage of her?  What if he’s taking her out on a date?

Chill, Noah, I have to sternly tell myself. You told Lucas he could hang out with Erin today.  If that means a date, then so be it.

The TV is on, but I’m not really paying attention to it.  The door to the hotel suite opens, and I practically wrench my neck when I turn to see who it is.

“Ow!” I mutter, rubbing the sore spot.

It’s only Jared and Liza; they have Starbucks cups, and Liza’s hand is tucked in Jared’s arm.  I smile grimly.  One happy couple is back.  Now where’s the other?

Liza comes over to the living room area and smiles brightly at me.  Then she looks at the television and laughs.

America’s Next Top Model?  Really, Noah?  I know you’re a guy, and I’ll bet you want to just stare at the girls, but that show sucks,” she teases.

I smile sheepishly.  “I wasn’t really paying attention.  Change the channel, please.”

She obliges.  Although my eyes are on the television, I keep an ear trained, hoping I’ll hear when Lucas and Erin get back.  They’re still not here.  All I can hear is Joe and Derek playing a raucous game of checkers, Jared on the phone with his mom, and Liza humming to herself as she tidies up the kitchenette.

Then there’s the sound of a key card sliding into the lock on our door.  I hear a soft laugh; that’s definitely Erin.  I could recognize her giggle if she was clear across the city.  I hear Lucas say something in his husky voice.  There’s no way that Erin hasn’t fallen for him.

They come in.  His arm is around her waist, and she’s smiling up at him.  I can’t help but stare, but only because Erin looks amazing.  While she was at her house, she braided her hair, and the wispy ends brush her shoulder.  She’s wearing a dark navy blue peacoat over a jeans and ankle boots.  Now I know why jealousy can eat you up.  Here I am staring at my best friend and my crush falling in love.

Lucas takes Erin’s suitcase and asks her, “Where do you want this?”

“Um…” she replies, biting her lip.  She looks around, and our eyes meet.

“Put it in my room,” I say. “I’ll sleep out here on the couch or bunk with one of the guys.”

“Are you sure?” Erin asks with surprise.

“No, you can take my room,” Lucas interjects.

“Dude,” I say, forcing a laugh. “You’ve seen the mess in your room, and you saw how Erin reacted to just the living room when she got here.  She’d probably have a heart attack if she went in your bedroom.  Mine’s the neatest.  She can stay in there.”

“Fine by me,” Erin says with an indifferent shrug.

I feel like shaking her and shouting that she should just make up her mind which guy she wants.  But I don’t, because I’d be a jerk if I did that.  Besides, she’s known us for one day.  That would be crazy to make her decide now.

Liza and Erin go to hang out in my room and chat.  I can’t help but walk by on my way to Derek’s room to ask him if I can stay there for the weekend.

“He did what?” Liza squeals, and I stop in my tracks.

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