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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19. >Noah<

For a moment after I wake up, I’m in a state of confusion.  Where am I?  Then I remember: I’m at Erin’s house, and she’s curled up in my arms.  I smile softly.  Eighteen hours—that’s how long we’ve been a couple.  I flashback to what happened last night after we finished watching our movie.

Erin stood and stretched.  “I am so tired,” she said. “But today has been wonderful.”  Then she froze. “Oh, crap.  Noah, where are you going to sleep?  I only have the one bedroom.”

“We’ve slept in the same bed before,” I pointed out. “And we fell asleep twice on the couch together.”

“But we’re a couple now,” Erin responded.

I roll my eyes.  “So?  I’m still not going to take advantage of you.  If all you want to do is sleep, then that is all we’ll do.  I’m prepared to wait until you’re ready to take the next step.  Please, just let me share your room.”

Erin sighs heavily.  “Fine.  But if you make one misstep, you’re sleeping on the couch.  Or I’m dumping you, depending on what you do.”

I hold up two fingers, scout’s honor-style.  “I’ll be on my best behavior, I promise.”

I gently shake Erin’s shoulder as the memory ends.  “Hey, Sleeping Beauty,” I whisper. “Merry Christmas.  Time to wake up.”

Erin stirs.  Her eyelashes flutter like little butterflies, and then her eyes open.  She looks befuddled for a long moment, just like I was, and then her expression clears.

“Merry Christmas,” she replies, her voice laced with sleep.

Damn, she’s sexy, even without trying.  I mean, she’s wearing flannel PJs, for goodness’ sake, and I still find her attractive!

“What?” Erin says, with a soft giggle.  A blush floods her cheeks.

“You’re just so beautiful,” I tell her before kissing her on the tip of her nose.

“Not really,” Erin responds, shaking her head. 

Her hair falls across her face as she sits up.  I scoot out from under the covers, so I don’t start to make out with her.

“Yes, you are,” I argue.

“You’ve had tons of actresses, and singers, and models practically throw themselves at you.  They’re all way more beautiful than me.”

I take Erin’s hand.  “If you could only see yourself from my eyes.  You’d think you were the most beautiful girl in the world.  No actress, singer, or model can hold a flame to you.  But I didn’t choose you because of your appearance.  That’s just a bonus.  I chose you because I fell for who you really are and your quips and your personality.  It’s amazing how you can be so shy and vivacious all at the same time.  All of that matters so much more than what you look like.”

Erin sniffles.  Her eyes look awfully bright.

“Okay, wow, way to make me cry, Noah!” she exclaims. “But thank you.  That really means a lot to me.”

We sit in silence for awhile, just enjoying each other’s presence.  I’m still trying to take it in that Erin likes me as more than a friend.  Of course I hoped she did for so long, but I didn’t even know for sure until yesterday.

I take a deep breath.  I need to ask Erin something, the something I should’ve asked her three weeks ago.

“Erin…” I begin. “I have to leave for New York by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.  We have concerts in Boston on the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth.  Do you want to come with me?  The guys would love to see you, and Liza could come along—Jared really misses her.  You could stay for however long you want.  I mean, we’re going back out on tour after New Year’s Day, but you’re welcome to—”

Erin cuts me off by placing her pointer finger on my lips.  “I appreciate the offer, but I have my job here.  I can’t leave that.  I know you’ll say you can provide for me, but I can’t leave just yet.  However, I think I can get time off through New Year’s Day to come to New York and Boston.  How does that sound?”

My heart sinks with the rejection.  I should know by now that Erin would never let me take care of her just yet.  She’s too independent for that.  But at least she’s going to be with me for a bit longer.

“We’ll have to talk about our relationship at some point,” I say carefully. “I’m going to be on tour until the end of May.  And if you won’t be coming with us, we won’t get to see each other much.  We just became a couple, so I’d hate to see things fail quickly.”

She nods.  “I want to come with you,” she responds.  Her tone is equally cautious.  “But I don’t want to drop everything for a relationship that’s just starting up.  You understand, don’t you?  I want us to work out, but if we don’t, it’s too soon for me to leave my life here for you.”  Then Erin reaches out and gently touches my cheek.  “But I still have feelings for you.  I still want to be your girlfriend.  Let’s just take it slow, okay?”

I nod.  “Yeah, I get it,” I respond.  Then I give Erin a quick kiss.  “Ready for some breakfast?  If you show me where everything is, I’ll cook.”

“I can cook,” Erin replies.

I refuse to give in, though.  I’m cooking, and that’s that.  Erin sits on a stool in the kitchen and watches me make scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon.  I allow her to set the table and pour juice, but otherwise this meal is entirely a Noah Somers creation.  As we eat, we hold hands, and talk, and laugh.  I’m able to push Erin’s words from earlier to the back of my mind and just enjoy the time we’re spending together.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a Christmas present for you,” I say at one point.

Erin sets down her fork and reaches for my hand.  “Noah, I don’t mind.  Besides, if I’m your birthday present, then you can be my Christmas present.”

I duck my head.  She’s really sweet.  But when we get back to New York, when I get a spare moment, I’m going to get Erin a Christmas gift.  Her New Year’s Eve will be amazing.

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