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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16. >Noah<

 

I seem to have a talent for eavesdropping at just the right moment.  I fell asleep around eleven, but when Derek, Lucas, and Joe got back, I woke up.  I was about to go get a glass of water when I heard Erin and Lucas talking in the living room.  I kept my ear pressed against the door the whole time, and I overheard pretty much every word.

They’re not a couple.  That’s taking awhile to sink in.  Not to mention that Erin likes someone else and I want it to be me badly.  I feel like there’s no one else it could be, since she didn’t realize she liked this guy right away.  Plus, there were those two almost kisses, and it’s not like I was the only one initiating.  But then I remember that Erin said something about a long distance issue.  She wouldn’t want to date me, either, even if she did like me.  And to be honest, I get it.  Relationships don’t always work when the couple can’t be together in the same room very often.  Erin doesn’t even live in my hometown, so it’s not like I’d be coming back to her anyways, when the tour is over.

I sigh and turn to crawl back into bed.  At least Lucas and I can go back to being friends.  That’s a definite plus.

---

I wake at eight and roll over, extending my arms over my head in a stretch.  My cheerful mood fades when I remember that we’re leaving today, and Liza and Erin are going home in just two hours.  If I was bolder, I would get down on my knees and beg Erin to come on tour with us.  But I’m way too shy for that.  Besides, I could hardly expect her to leave her job and drop everything for a guy she barely knows.

Erin’s in the kitchenette with Joe when I head out to grab some breakfast.  She’s flipping pancakes, and he’s laughing.  I smile.  They’re just good friends, nothing more, and I don’t mind.  Erin needs friends who will treat her like Joe does.  Dessa mews from her little pen when she spots me, and I head over to say hello to her.  She really is a sweet kitten.  I can see why Joe caved and decided she needed to be Erin’s birthday present.

“Hey,” Erin calls.

I turn to look at her.  She hands the pancake turner to Joe, wipes her hands on a napkin, and comes over to join me.

“So, this is the last morning…” she says hesitantly, crouching down to pet her kitten.

“Yup,” I reply.  Then I inwardly beat myself up for such a stupid response.

“I’m really going to miss you guys,” Erin continues, her eyes serious. “It’s kind of surreal that I started off the weekend by absolutely hating Icon and you and your band-mates.  Now look at us.”

I laugh.  “Yeah, it’s definitely crazy.”

Suddenly, Liza runs out of hers and Erin’s room.  She’s holding her phone.  Her face is panic-stricken.

“Erin, you have to go on Twitter.  Now,” she says.  There’s no room for noncompliance in her voice.

I grab Erin’s iPhone off the coffee table and hand it to her.  She enters the passcode and opens Twitter.  I lean over her shoulder to look on.  For one thing, she has a ton of notifications on the social network.  Several of the Tweets mention articles, and Erin opens one.  Her face turns pale as we read the article.

“‘Who is Icon’s mystery girl?” I read the title aloud.

The article goes on to talk about a girl who mysteriously starting appearing with the band over the weekend.  Pictures are included from Saturday afternoon when we’re coming back from the hospital, from Sunday at lunch with Joe, yesterday at the park and the ice skating pond with me, and last night with Lucas.  The article’s writer included a poll for her readers to vote on who they think the mystery girl is dating.  I reach over and click the button to check the poll results.  Seems like I’m winning, which makes sense if the readers are basing their choice on the pictures they feature.

There’s a newer article, too, mentioning a so-called insider who confirmed Erin’s identity.  When we’re done reading the gossip, Erin scans over the many Tweets.  There’s a lot of hate, unfortunately.  My heart aches for Erin.  She doesn’t deserve this.

One Tweet says, OMG, what a slut.  She’s been spotted with @joe_foodster, @NoahOfficial, and @Lucas_the_Apple!

I quickly move on from that Tweet, just so Erin will stop staring at it.  She’s one of the purest, most innocent girls I’ve ever met.  No way is she a slut.

There are a lot of nicer Tweets that simply ask something like, Just curious which @IconOfficial member you’re dating, @e_rose_frederick.  Care to share?

Suddenly, I notice the tears silently sliding down Erin’s cheeks.

“Hey,” I say, taking her hand. “Ignore them, Erin.  It’s all just rumors.  There’s always going to be haters.  We all know you’re not anything that they’re saying.  We can get our publicist to release a statement, saying whatever you’d like and asking for your privacy.”  Then I take Erin’s phone and scroll through the Tweets.  “Hey, read this one!  It’s nice.”

@e_rose_frederick Whichever guy you’re dating, you’re a lucky girl. And hope the guy knows he’s lucky, too.

Erin smiles through the tears.  Then she takes her phone back.

“I’m going to Tweet something,” she says. “You don’t need to have your publicist do damage control.”

A few minutes later, I check Twitter, and Erin’s message is up.

Just to make it clear: I’m single.  The guys in @IconOfficial are just good friends.  Please respect my privacy.

“Perfect,” I say with a high-five. “And that’s all you can do, really.  Some people are going to continue to believe the rumors and be haters, but we just have to put up with it.”

There’s a long silence as Erin calms down.  I hand her a tissue.  Joe brings over a plate of pancakes drizzled with syrup.  She smiles and gives him a quick hug.

“Thanks, guys,” she says. “I appreciate the support.”

Breakfast goes way too quickly.  I don’t get a moment alone with Erin.  Someone else is always nearby.  Ten o’clock comes too soon.  Erin and Liza bring their bags out of the bedroom and set them by the front door.  Joe, Derek, Lucas, Jared, and I stand in a line and face them.  Then it’s a mad tangle of hugs and good-byes.  I smile softly when Jared lightly kisses Liza, but I wish I was brave enough to kiss Erin.  Speaking of whom, her hug with Lucas was extremely awkward for them.  She kept it brief, but I could tell he was struggling not to kiss her.

I’m the last one in line.

“Bye, Erin,” I murmur in her ear as I hold her close.

“Bye, Noah,” she replies.  When she pulls back, her blue eyes search my face. “Text me at some point, okay?  I hope the rest of your tour goes well.”

“Thank you,” I say.  Inside, I’m freaking out in a totally unmanly way.  Erin wants me to text her.  I’m practically over the moon now.

The girls give us one last wave before they pick up their bags and Dessa and her things, and then they head out the door.  We decided it would be best if they left without us coming downstairs.  If the fans are gathered around the hotel entrance again, it could cause a scene.  Plus, hopefully Erin will be able to slide under the radar if we’re not around.  I can’t help but worry, though, that the paparazzi are staked out and waiting for her.

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