Breaking Free

Ever felt smothered by everyone else's idea of what your life should be like? Have you ever just wanted to say "Stop! It's my life!" to those closest to you? We all have, haven't we? I bet you were too afraid to do it though. So you kept your mouth shut, and did exactly what you always told yourself you would never do: you followed the rules set by people who don't really know you, and let THEM control your life. But what could happen if you finally just said no? If you decided to follow your own dream? Would something amazing happen? Would you fall in love? Would you find what you've been looking for your whole life? What could happen if you just...broke free?

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19. "I See Why He Likes You"

One Week Later...

"Alright Anabelle, could you step up a little bit more?"

Matt, the light and sound manager's voice rang out across the empty arena's sound system and Belle rolled her eyes.

"Call me Anabelle one more time Matt and I swear to God I'll come up there!" Belle yelled out.

"Sorry, sorry, I meant Belle!" Matt replied.

Belle exhaled in frustration and moved her stool about three steps closer to the edge of the stage before sitting down on it, guitar in hand.

"Better?" She called out sarcastically through the eerily quiet arena.

"Yeah, much! Now just stay there while we fix up the lights for you."

Belle relaxed her shoulders and looked around. It had been a week since she and the boys had landed in Heathrow and she was just now getting to do some rehearsal work. She'd been at the arena every day, but mostly she was just in more meetings with management. They had three and a half weeks until the tour kicked off, and this arena was where they were doing rehearsals for each concert until that point. The place wasn't that big, and it wasn't even half as large as the concert halls she would be performing in for the boys soon, as it still scared her to death.

Management was paying for Belle to stay in a really nice hotel just two blocks away from the arena, and the boys all had their own flats, all close to each other, in London. The boys had invited her over three or four times since they arrived, but she had come up with an excuse at each offer, not wanting to let anyone notice her awkwardness when she was near Louis.

She had not spoken to Louis or Zayn about what had happened on the plane a week ago since then, and for that she was grateful. She assumed Zayn was keeping his mouth shut, since the other boys didn't know. Niall had been trying to get her alone so he could ask her out on the date that she wasn't supposed to know about, but she kept making up excuses to postpone the inevitable. She felt bad, she really did. Niall was a great guy, and he was incredibly attractive, and nice, and sweet, but...Belle felt something for Louis no matter how badly she wanted to deny it.

Louis on the other hand was completely ignoring Belle. He hadn't made eye contact since the plane incident, and the only things he ever said to her was "hi" and "bye". It was driving Belle nuts but perhaps it was for the best. Management had specifically said that she wasn't to affiliate with the boys in any romantic fashion. Niall obviously didn't care about that rule though.

Suddenly a spotlight came on and blinded Belle. She hissed in pain as it hit her sensitive eyes and threw her arm over her face. "Matt! Too much!" She called out.

"Sorry Belle, give us just a second!" Matt's voice boomed over the arena as he scrambled to shut off the main spotlight. Belle continued to hold her arm up as a shield and a few seconds later it was finally shut off.

Belle exhaled in relief and blinked her eyes a few times to make the spots go away. She shook her head to regain her focus when she heard someone chuckling behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw that it was Zayn. He was standing with his feet shoulder width apart, wearing black skinny jeans, white high tops and a black and red concert tee.

Belle smiled. "Hey Zayn, what's up?" She asked.

Zayn just shrugged his shoulders and gave her a crooked smile. "Eh, not much I s'pose." The cool attractive guy grabbed another stool from the stage and brought it up beside Belle, sitting on it and looking at her suspiciously.

Belle leaned back. "What? Why are you looking at me like that?" She asked, touching her hair and her face, worried that she looked funny.

Zayn just laughed, "Relax Belle, you look fine." Belle sighed in relief and dropped her hands. She really did look good, she was wearing ripped skinny blue jeans, black combat style boots, and a white cropped tank top that exposed just a sliver of her toned stomach. Her brown hair was in a fishtail braid thrown over her shoulder, with her side bangs pinned back away from her face.

Belle laughed nervously. "Geez, you had me scared for a second, I thought I had a booger in my nose or something!"

Zayn leaned his head back and laughed. "Dude that's gross!" He replied. Belle just smirked and shrugged her shoulders.

It was quiet for a moment and Zayn finally said, "So you getting nervous for the tour?"

Belle bit her lip and looked at him. "Eh, I guess so. I'm not so much nervous as I am excited. I'm just ready to actually start, y'know?"

Zayn nodded. "Yeah, I know. But you're going to be great, everybody is going to love you."

Belle rolled her eyes. "You mean everybody is going to love you. You guys are the internationally famous boy band, I'm just the opening act. They'll forget about me the second you guys come on stage."

Zayn scrunched his eyebrows. "Don't say that, you're going to do great. Being an opening act is just a stepping stone to something greater, trust me."

Belle looked down and murmured, "Yeah, I guess."

Zayn put a hand on Belle's shoulder. "Hey look at me," he said, and Belle looked up, "You're going to be amazing on this tour, I promise."

Belle blushed and smiled. "Thanks Zayn, I appreciate it."

"Hey Belle?" Matt's voice rang out across the theater again and Belle rolled her eyes. She had been doing light and sound check for the past hour and she only sang two songs before the boys came out.

"What now?" She yelled back at the light and sound guy, and Zayn chuckled.

"I need you to scoot over just two steps to your right please."

Belle rolled her eyes and cursed under her breath, making Zayn laugh harder. She smiled at him and they both scooted their stools over. The lights began to alter and they went back to talking.

"So uh, have you talked to that Alan guy anymore?"

Belle froze. Truth be told, she hadn't spoken to Alan. He had called her multiple times since she arrived in London, and she always let it go to voicemail. She never replied to his tweet either. What could she say? 'Sorry Alan, I know you love me and all, but I like a famous celebrity that I had drunk sex with right after we met and I'm also working with him and we're technically not allowed to date'? Something told Belle that that wouldn't be the brightest idea.

"Nope." Belle replied bluntly, looking up at Zayn with an unreadable expression. "No, I haven't talked to him."

Zayn just nodded and looked away. An awkward silence fell over the two of them and Belle reached down to take a drink from her water bottle she had set down on the stage.

"So you had sex with Louis huh?"

Belle choked on her water and basically did a spit take, water flying everywhere. She swallowed what was left in her mouth and coughed hysterically to catch her breath.

"Zayn what the hell?" She asked hoarsely, starting to cough again.

Zayn just chuckled mildly and shook his head. "I'll take that as a yes," he said.

Belle's cheeks were bright red and she put her face down in her hands. "How long have you known?" She asked without looking at Zayn.

"Since we arrived." He replied simply. Belle exhaled and lifted her head up to look at him. He looked amused by the situation.

"Oh quit smirking Malik," she scolded him, just making him laugh even more.

"Don't worry, your secret is safe with me." He said quietly, leaning in towards her.

Belle smiled meekly. "Thanks," she muttered under her breath.

Zayn let out a breath and jumped off of the stool, sliding it away from him back to where it had originally been. He wrapped an arm around Belle in a friendly manner and kissed her on the cheek, making her blush and purse her lips to hide a smile.

He leaned back and looked at her intently, and she met his gaze equally. "What now?" She asked incredulously.

Zayn laughed and said, "I see why he likes you."

Belle's jaw dropped and Zayn just chuckled before turning away and putting his hands in his pockets as he walked off the stage.

"Wait what?" Belle said after him. "Zayn! Who are you talking about? Zayn, who likes me?!" She shouted at him, but Zayn just ducked his head and chuckled, throwing his hand up in the air as a way to say goodbye.

Belle sighed in frustration and relaxed back in her stool. Had Zayn been talking about Niall? Or was he talking about Louis? And was he really going to keep her secret? This situation was getting more and more complicated by the minute.

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