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?


64. Parallel Love (The Third Night)

"No, she's fine Mr. Fuller, I think she just ate some bad shrimp earlier...Yes, I'm sure she'll be able to make tomorrow's meeting...She asked that you please explain to the board members that she's very sorry...Are you sure you don't mind taking this one by yourself?...Alright, thank you so much sir...Yeah, I'll keep you updated. Bye."

Louis ended the phone call to Mr. Fuller and turned around to look at Belle. She was curled up in her hotel room bed, underneath the heavy blankets. Her eyes were bloodshot red, and her cheeks were stained with tear trails. But she wasn't crying anymore, that had stopped about fifteen minutes ago.

Louis' heart ached for the girl he loved. He hadn't thought far enough ahead to even consider Niall seeing the pictures of he and Belle on the street. On one hand, he was ashamed because Belle was cheating on his best mate with him. On the other hand though, he was almost glad and hopeful. Belle and Niall were going to break up, he was sure of that. Belle had chosen him. But now, would it happen a bit sooner? He really didn't want to be with Belle right now if it meant she was hurting Niall. But he also didn't think he could wait any longer.

Setting the phone down and sighing, Louis crossed the room and pulled back the covers of the bed. He slid in behind Belle, in the spooning position. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her back flush against his chest. She immediately relaxed at his touch.

"What did Brian say?" Belle asked in a hoarse voice.

Louis lightly pressed his lips to Belle's bare shoulder before speaking. 

"He said he would gladly take this meeting by himself. He just wants you to feel better." He murmured, kissing her skin yet again.

Belle chuckled sadly. "Bad shrimp?" She asked in a pathetic attempt to be cheeky.

Louis' chest vibrated against Belle's back. "Yeah, bad shrimp."

Belle rotated her body so that she was facing Louis. He kept his arm around her, and pulled her chest against his. Belle leaned forward and put her forehead on his shoulder.

The two were quiet for a moment. Their playfulness just a half an hour ago had now turned somber.

"I'm sorry Louis." Belle finally said in a whisper.

"What could you possibly be sorry for?" Louis asked, rubbing his nose against her cheek.

Belle took in a breath before speaking. "For everything I suppose. I wish I could go back in time to when I left you the first time. Right after Alan died." She shuddered at the memory. "If I had just trusted you then, if I hadn't fallen apart...we would probably still be together. None of this would be happening with Niall, we wouldn't have hated each other for so long, I wouldn't have lived in the States for those 8 months. I would probably be even farther along in my career. But most importantly, I never would have lost you. And we wouldn't have lost ourselves."

Louis was quiet for a moment as he took in Belle's words. Finally, he spoke.

"I'm not sorry you left." He said bluntly.

Belle's eyes flew open in shock. "What?" She asked squeakily. 

Louis chuckled at her reaction. "I'm serious. It broke my heart when you left, I've never felt a pain like that before. But if you hadn't left, then we wouldn't have realized how much we needed each other. I took you for granted Belle. But now I know in my heart that...that you're the one for me. I'm positive that I need you in my life, because I've had to experience life without you. And trust me babe, it sucked." He chuckled, but then became serious again. "I love you Belle, I always have. I don't care how long it took, or that we had to be apart for a while in order for us to be together. All that matters is that you're right here, in my arms, right now."

Belle's bottom lip quivered with held back emotion as she stared into Louis' aqua blue eyes. She could tell he was one-hundred percent serious. This boy-- no, this man, loved her with everything he had, despite all her mistakes. How had she been so blind?

"I love you too Louis." Belle choked out past a smile, a tear sliding down her cheek. 

Louis smiled with both his lips and his eyes before leaning forward and kissing Belle tenderly on the mouth. He reached his hand up and cupped her cheek gently, wiping away the tear. He was always wiping her tears, no matter how many she shed.

When they broke apart, Louis leaned back on the pillow, his head still turned to the side to look at Belle. They were both on their sides, their legs tangled up under the covers, facing each other. Louis was shirtless, and Belle was still in her jean shorts and tanktop. 

A few quiet moments passed, the only sound was the ocean waves coming from the open balcony door.

Belle traced her index finger over Louis' chest tattoo a few times, and she watched his eyes flutter closed. He wasn't sleeping though, just enjoying her light touch. 

Not thinking, Belle placed her palm over Louis' left pec, to feel his heartbeat. As soon as she did, the pace began to speed up. Louis hummed in appreciation and she smiled. 

Then Belle lowered her hand, tracing her fingers over Louis' abs. She could feel his whole body tense up, but he said nothing. Deciding to be bold, Belle ran her hand slowly across his defined v-line.

Louis' hand shot out, grabbing Belle's wrist to stop her from going any farther. Belle looked up with a curious expression, just to see that Louis' eyes were still closed.

"Belle." He said.

She giggled. "Yes?"

"What exactly are you doing?"

Belle thought for a moment. "I'm not really sure." She paused. "Do you want me to stop?"

Louis took in a deep breath, his chest rising and falling. "Of course I don't."

"Then why did you stop me?" Belle asked incredulously.

Louis sighed and opened his eyes, looking down at Belle with a light smile. "Because it's not a good idea for us to be doing that right at this moment."

Belle rolled her eyes and rotated so that Louis was lying on his back and she was on her stomach, half on top of him. She raised her hand and started to comb her fingers through his messy hair. She said nothing for a few seconds.

"Why didn't we ever have sex?" She finally asked.

Louis chuckled, wrapping his arm around Belle's waist and resting his palm about the small of her back.

"Belle we did have sex."

She rolled her eyes yet again. 

"That time doesn't count Louis, we were both drunk and I hadn't even known you a full twenty-four hours. And that was like, two years ago!" 

Louis laughed and pulled Belle's body all the way on top of him, holding her securely to him. Her hair fell around her, framing her face perfectly, eyes still red.

"Well it counted to me." Louis said. "And we didn't have sex after that because you weren't ready and I respected that as a gentleman should."

Belle looked at him thoughtfully for a moment before smiling and ducking her head into the crook of his shoulder, shaking as she giggled.

Louis smiled. "What are you laughing about?"

Belle said something but her voice was muffled, Louis couldn't make out the words.

"What was that, love?" He asked.

Belle sighed and lifted her head up, propping her elbow up on Louis' chest and resting her cheek in her hand. 

"I was definitely ready, Louis." She said with a cheeky smile.

Louis raised his eyebrows. "You were?" He asked. Belle nodded. "Then why did you tell me you weren't?" He asked in confusion.

Belle exhaled and looked down. "I don't know. I was scared I suppose."

"Of me?" Louis asked incredulously.

"No, no, of course not!" Belle said hastily. "I guess I was just afraid that if we had sex again that I wouldn't...I don't know, meet your expectations." She mumbled, blushing bright red and looking away from Louis' eyes.

Louis was quiet for a second before he burst into hysterical laughter, throwing his head back on the pillow.

Belle scoffed, rolling off of Louis and sitting up beside him with a dropped jaw. "Why are you laughing at me? I'm being serious!" She asked, hurt.

Louis opened his eyes and looked at Belle, trying to control his laughter but failing miserably. 

"I'm sorry babe, I-I just," He choked out in between heavy breaths of giggles. He leaned over and leaned Belle on her back again, hovering over her. "I think that's kind of funny. Did you really think that if we had sex you wouldn't be good enough for me?"

Belle averted eye contact again and chewed her bottom lip. "Well I mean, you're a whole lot more experienced than me, and I'm pretty awkward so..." She trailed off.

Louis smiled down at her. "You're so cute." He said before kissing her on the mouth. Belle reached up and tangled her hand in his hair. She wrapped her leg around Louis' waist and dug her heel into his back, pulling him down on top of her. Louis groaned in approval.

The make out session lasted for a couple minutes before Louis finally pulled back. Belle cocked her head at him.


Louis looked down and thought for a minute, his brow furrowed. "If you were scared that you weren't experienced enough and that it wouldn't be good, why do you want to take things somewhere now?" He asked.

Belle's face turned bright red and she blinked a few times, opening her mouth but not saying anything.

"Belle? You and Niall, did you...?"

She looked up at Louis with a guilty expression, saying nothing.

Louis groaned, rolling off of Belle and onto his back, pressing the heels of his hands against his face.

"Louis you have to understand, I--"

"It's fine, it's fine." Louis interrupted as calmly as he could muster. Belle had sat up quickly and was sitting beside him on the bed, a pleading look on her face. Louis just shook his head and dropped his hands, staring at the ceiling. "I mean what did I expect, you guys have been together for like, five months. Of course you two slept together, it's Niall after all." He muttered, mostly to himself.

Belle was quiet, looking down at her lap and twiddling her fingers. Louis sighed and looked up at her, reaching out and taking one of her hands in his own.

"I'm not mad at you Belle, I didn't expect you not to sleep with anyone. Especially not your own boyfriend." He said thoughtfully. "It just kinda irks me that it was Niall." He muttered.

"I know, and I'm so sorry. It didn't happen for a long time though." She said with a plastered on smile, trying to make the situation better somehow.

Louis chuckled. "Oh yeah? How long were you able to freeze him out?"

Belle looked down again. "Three months." She muttered.

Louis laughed, looking up at the ceiling again. "And to think I came so close." He said cheekily, trying to lighten the air.

Belle rolled her eyes and smiled, laying down again and curling into Louis' side. "Trust me, you came a hell of a lot closer than you think. A lot of times." She said.

Louis looked down at her. "Really? When?" He asked.

Belle thought for a moment. "Do you remember when my hand was in a cast before the UK tour started?"

He nodded. "Yeah, when you hurt yourself punching Harry."

Belle scoffed. "Don't remind me. But anyways, I remember it was the day before I got my cast off and we were sitting in your flat together watching The Wizard of Oz because I begged you to watch it with me. We were basically dating at that point, but we hadn't made it official."

"I remember that day." Louis said with a smile. "That was the day I made you a root beer float and you said you would marry me if I made them for you every day for the rest of your life."

Belle blushed. "There's no need to bring up my most awkward moments Louis. But while watching the movie, I remember we were sitting on the couch, and you had your arms wrapped around me and my head was laying on your chest."

Louis smiled thoughtfully and ran his fingers through Belle's hair. "I remember." He said quietly.

"Well at one point during the movie, I think it was near the very end, I looked up at you. You were entranced with the film, and your eyes were doing this cute little squinty thing they do when you focus really intently. You were biting your bottom lip and you didn't even bother to move back the fringe that had fallen in front of your eyes. And yet in all that concentration, while I was looking at you, you reached your hand out to mine and took it."

Belle looked down and took Louis' free hand in her own.

"Just like this." She said, interlacing their fingers and turning their hands over. "You were still reaching for me."

"I'm always reaching for you." Louis whispered.

Belle looked up with wide yes and smiled lightly. "It was right then that I decided I was in love with you. I didn't say it for a long time, not until you said it to me first. But I knew. And it was then that I also knew I wanted to give myself over to you. And I almost did that night."

Louis smiled back at her and leaned down, pressing his lips to Belle's forehead. Her eyes fluttered shut and she sighed in content.

"I wondered why you were acting so funny that night." He finally said, pulling away and resting his chin on the top of her head. "But it's okay babe. If you don't count our drunken night together--"

"Which I don't."

"--then I don't care if it's taken two years or more for us to be intimate with each other in that way. When it does happen, it will be amazing. Because it will be between two people who are in love with each other and have waited a very long time." Belle lifted her head up and looked directly into Louis' eyes as he continued. "Two people who have said a lot of hurtful things to each other, and made mistakes, but have rectified those mistakes. Who want to put the past behind them and just focus on the future."

Belle's eyes glazed over with tears as she listened to Louis' heartfelt words. He was never this serious unless he was telling the truth straight from his heart. She knew him well enough to be sure of that.

"I didn't think it was possible to love someone as much as I love you." Belle said hoarsely. "And I'm sorry it took so long for me to realize it."

Louis smiled thoughtfully and pulled Belle even closer to him, holding on tight. 

"It doesn't matter how long it's taken. At least we're here now." He whispered.

A few silent moments passed, the two just listening to each other's heartbeats. 

"Louis...what are we going to do about Niall?" Belle finally asked, barely audible.

Louis took in a deep breath, his chest rising and falling.

"I don't know, love. But we'll figure it out together."


Meanwhile, in Mullingar, Ireland

"Y'know what Belle, no. Just forget it, have fun in Hawaii, don't worry about me. It seems like you're not anyways."

"Niall don't--"

Niall shut off his phone quickly, throwing it on the bed behind him. He was sat on the edge, his face in his hands. His hair was a wreck from running his fingers through it in frustration.

Of course he had seen the pictures of Louis and Belle on the bench in Hawaii, Sugarscape had them up in just an hour.

He wanted to be furious. He wanted to be livid. He wanted to want to go to Hawaii and punch Louis in the face. And a part of him was.

But how did he have the right to be mad when--

"Hey there babe." She said happily, hopping onto the bed behind him, making it dip. Niall dropped his hands and looked over his shoulder as Riley knelt behind him in just her bra and underwear, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her chin on his shoulder. 

Riley O'Connell. Niall had known her back in primary school, all the way up until he auditioned for the X Factor. They'd never been real good friends, just had a few classes together each year. But he'd always known she liked him, starting back when they were kids. She was always really flamboyant though, and had lots of charisma. So by the time he had grown a pair and gotten up the courage to ask her out, she already had a boyfriend.

So he got over it, it wasn't that big of a deal. Niall moved onto the X Factor, One Direction was formed, and he forgot all about Riley O'Connell. Not to mention he had other girls over the years, and then he got Belle. But just six days ago, when he landed in Mullingar to see his family, he saw her.

She was beautiful, she always had been. She had medium length blonde hair, with brown streaks in it, and she always parted it way off to the side. Her eyes were bright green, and she had the longest eyelashes in the world, light freckles dotted across her face.

When Niall saw her back in their hometown, the first thing he noticed was her eyes. Her normal bright green eyes had dulled drastically, they didn't light up the room the way he remembered.

After talking to Riley for a little while, he found out that while he was off living the dream with his best mates, and getting the girl, she had lost her little brother to leukemia. His death ruined her, she turned to drinking and drugs, and had to go into rehab for six months when she almost died from alcohol poisoning. Now though, she was doing well and was healthy again. Her eyes were still dull though.

When Niall agreed to spend the day with Riley when he landed, she admitted to him that she'd kept up with him and the band over the years, and that he helped her get through some of her hardest times without even knowing it.

Niall's heart swelled. To know that he'd helped someone, someone that was a real part of his life, keep their life together meant the world to him.

So he asked to spend another day with her. And then another.

Belle didn't have to know, it wasn't like he was cheating. They were just hanging out. But then it was cheating.

It happened suddenly, he didn't even realize it. They were just eating lunch at her place, laughing at a story of something that happened when they were kids, and then the next second they were both jumping across the table and sucking each other's faces off. In all honestly, he hadn't even realized it was cheating until he woke up in bed with her the next morning.

Riley knew about Niall and Belle, she was fully aware actually. And she wasn't one to be the 'other woman', but her and Niall's feelings for each other was something she'd never experienced, and neither had he. She didn't want to sound extreme or dramatic, but they were honestly meant to be together. And Niall knew that her feelings for him were genuine because she'd loved him since grade school, before One Direction.

So Niall was planning to break up with Belle as soon as she finished up in Hawaii and they met back up in London next week, and admit to cheating to take all the blame. But it seemed as though he wasn't the only one cheating, and he wasn't sure how to feel.

At that moment though, with Riley's arms around his waist, palms resting on his bare chest, he knew that he felt happiness. That was all he felt when he was with her, much more so than when he was with Belle.

"Was that her? On the phone?" Riley asked quietly.

Niall took a breath before nodding his head.

"I figured. What did she say about the pictures?"

He shrugged. "I didn't really give her a chance to say anything. The weird part is that I'm not really mad, I was just pretending to be because as a boyfriend, I'm supposed to be." Niall rotated so that his torso was facing Riley. "I hate to admit this, but I'm almost relieved. Maybe we can just break up and I can put the blame on her and Louis!"

Riley rolled her eyes. "Niall. You can't do that. We're already cheating, you can't lie to her anymore than that. And you don't know if they're even together or not, that picture could have been photoshopped."

Niall scoffed. "Oh trust me babe, they're together. She's always loved him more than me, she never even got over him."

Riley bit her lip and thought for a moment. "Do you love her?" She asked, looking down.

Niall sighed and reached out, lifting Riley's chin to look at him. "I thought I did." He said quietly. "But then you came back into my life. And I'm not so sure anymore." He leaned in closer to her face. "I'm going to choose you Ri. I was planning to break up with her before I saw the pictures. I care a lot about Belle, she's a great girl. But these few days with you have been too important, too special, to just let go."

Riley closed her eyes as a relieved smile played across her lips. She opened them back up and leaned forward to kiss Niall lightly on the mouth. 

"If you still care about her as a friend, you have to tell her the truth." She said bluntly. Niall sighed and leaned back, but she continued. "If she's with Louis again, you're not going to hurt her as much as you think."

"Yeah I s'pose." Niall mumbled.

He looked back up at Riley's beautiful face and smiled, leaning forward and kissing her again, harder this time. She smiled into the kiss and leaned back on his bed, taking him with her. He braced himself with his forearm to hover above her. They broke apart and smiled at each other, resting their foreheads together.

"Niall, I-I know you're stressed about this but..."

"But what babe?" He asked.

Riley took in a deep breath. "But what's going to happen I'm pretty screwed up, and you're dating another celebrity right now whether you're going to break up with her soon or not. How are we going to be together when I'm here and you're pretty much...everywhere?"

Niall took in a deep breath, finding Riley's hand and squeezing it tight.

"I don't know babe. But we'll take it one day at a time...together."

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