But I'm in Love With You

If I could burn my memories, I would. If I could take a lighter to a series of photographs and words and music and everything I associate with him, I would. And if I could show you everything I’ve seen, you’d burn them too.

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8. #8

Scarlett

The explosion of bulbs burst in a staccato of pops as we entered the lobby, Maddy first, then Harry and then me. The others were further down the line, wedged between six muscle-bulging bodyguards. As we are surged forward, it is only then that I am aware of who stood at my back: a cool hand overlapped my fingers, entwining them with his in a desperate attempt to feel safe. To feel safe. It saddened me, truly, to find that he didn’t feel safe right in the middle of a crowd; that he didn’t feel safe with lights surrounding him – no darkness to tackle. For where else could you possibly feel safe other than surrounded by people, and amongst those people stood your friends? I swallowed hard and squeezed his hand lightly before we are being pushed forward even further, and suddenly the lights are blinding and I squint away; grip his hand harder. I wished I hadn’t done that: wouldn’t it be easier to let go when the time came? Because I was going to let go – I had done enough hiding. My mother needed me.

But we are shrouded in darkness now, the leather interior of the car only then coming into view. As paps push against the windows, the side of the car, the one open door, I catch my breath as I attempt to slip inside. Harry grabs my arm and pulls me in then, but I make sure that Zayn’s hand is still in mine – the paps would no doubt make something of that, but what did I care? I think they’d said enough already. I pull him in after me, and as the car speeds away he lets out a slight sigh as his phone begins to buzz.

But, before he can answer it, I snatch it from his hand and pass it along to Harry who then passes it behind him to Niall, then Liam and finally it lands in the hands of Louis. He was the only one with big enough balls to answer it, and I suppose everyone thought so too. ‘Hello!’ he half-shouts. ‘How ‘ya doing?’

Zayn is reaching for him but I pull him back and turn in my seat to lean over and watch Louis. His eyes were narrowed as he concentrates. ‘Right, yeah, yeah,’ he says, nodding. There is another moment of pause. ‘Right, okay.’ Yet another, but longer this time: the faint sound of a tinny Russian voice emanated from the phone at his ear. ‘Well, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone at the moment–’

Another babble of Russian, and Louis’ face screwed into something pissed off. ‘Look here, Eugene–’ Slip of the tongue, I guess.

From the other end of the line, I could hear her yelling like she was on the street outside. ‘It’s Eugenia!’

‘Alright, love,’ Louis says. ‘But he still doesn’t–’ There is another babble of the heavy Russian accent, and Zayn reaches for the phone: an innate understanding that that was her last straw.

I attempt to brush his hand away but he catches it. ‘She needs to know.’

‘She already does!’ I snap. ‘The whole bloody world knows!’

‘Not about that,’ Zayn dismisses, shaking his head. ‘I need to tell her the hotel in D.C.’

I pull my hand away then, almost as though I’d been slapped in the face but not quite as sharp. Our eyes meet briefly and it’s almost as though they drill into my soul, spilling every word and sob and laugh and just everything that I’d been holding in onto the leather seat between us. But then he pulls them away, reaches over the seat to Louis and snatches the phone from him. He taps the driver on the shoulder and murmurs several words, to which the driver pulls over and Zayn exits the car. The thud of the car door shatters the silence like fine crystal.

‘What the hell was that?’ Harry demands, turning to face Louis.

‘Harry, please...’ I say, casting a hand across my face. A headache was brewing.

‘You should have just told her to piss off!’ he yells. ‘You should have–’

‘Harry, calm down,’ Liam begins. ‘Shouting won’t help anything...’

‘Calm down?!’ Harry says incredulously. ‘Calm down?!’

‘Harry,’ I say, a little louder this time.

‘She’s a complete bitch!’ Harry exclaims. ‘Why should she know about all this shit? It’s got nothing–’

‘Harry,’ I repeat – a notch louder, too.

‘I don’t like her either,’ Louis chips in, ‘but was I supposed to do? She’s a bloody psycho–’

‘You should have just told her to piss off!’ Harry says again, yelling. ‘He doesn’t need this–’

Dragging in a sharp breath, I push myself against the car door and struggle with the handle. I can feel his hands trying to pull me back but I shove them away; wrench them away. I didn’t want comfort. I didn’t want it. ‘Scar...’ Harry begins.

But suddenly the door has given way and I tumble onto the street, slamming the car door behind me as I go. We are parked in a street off of Times Square, 47th Street, and I shove my hands in my pockets before starting for the main high road.

‘Scar?’ Zayn calls. I ignore him.

I would grab a coffee. Call my mother; tell her I was booking a flight. That I’d quit my job. That I was coming home – but I didn’t want to go home; I didn’t want to leave this place where I didn’t have to deal with my mother’s dwindling health. Where I felt free, or I suppose where I had previously felt free. But I didn’t feel free anymore.

Not anymore.

‘Scar?’ he repeats, louder this time, and soon the light pattering of his shoes on the pavement is resounding. He catches my elbow. ‘Hey...’ I pull away from and continue walking, but he just falls into step beside me. He is trying to peer into my face, trying to pull me to face him, trying to pull my hands from my pockets. He laughs, almost as though it was a joke. A joke.

‘Go back to the hotel, Zayn,’ I say quietly, not stopping.

‘Scarlett,’ he says, and soon he falls behind. My feet are the only ones pattering on the concrete now, and I find relief in that. ‘Scarlett.’

But I wasn’t listening.

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