The Cookie Girl. (edited version)

(A One Direction Fanfic) From the author of Cats, Kisses, And Wagon Wheels, here's Liam's story--The Cookie Girl!!! Esmée Minton knows a lot of things. Liam Payne isn't sure he knows anything anymore. When the two of them meet; it’s the worst possible situation and they are the worst people to meet. Or are they? ...

Actual real-life reviews I do not kid you:
"I am so captivated by this story! It's beautifully and amazingly written!" - "[Esmée] is my girl crush and she doesn't even exist!" - "This has to be the most adorable perfect thing I've ever read." - "I'm more invested in thsi story than in my own life. I love this; don't talk to me." - "I'm addicted to cocoa now."

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12. A Seaworld Date.

A/N: This is a very short-ish chapter and I apologize... (only 4k-ish words. shame on me) Also, a huge thanks to Anna who proofread this because I'm lazy. x

 

*.* Esmée *.*

I pride myself on being pretty sure about everything.

I mean, I have dreams and plans, and I work for them. Like my plan of being an author, which I work for by writing as much as I can in my free time and sending things to publishers. Because I’m sure I want that.

I also pride myself on being sure about my routine.

I know that I’ll wake up at seven a.m. on workdays and that it’ll take me exactly forty-seven minutes to get ready, twenty-one if I don’t have to wake Clary up and if I skip breakfast. I know that it takes me three minutes to get to the reception, and two more if I want to go to the kitchens, and that that is made up of seventy-four steps and an elevator ride (or thirty-four flights of stairs, ten steps each).

I know the birthday of every single member of staff here, and all their names and faces. I know most cake recipes by heart.

All in all, I like being sure about things and knowing things.

Since I met Liam that has changed. Because, how could it not? We sort of stumbled into this whole thing like children learning to walk, unsure but still headfirst. And now, I’ve found myself in a position where I can’t say much for sure anymore—I don’t know what this is exactly, I don’t know much about him and I don’t know where we’ll go.

Even worse, while I’m still sure I want to be an author, I’m not so sure about my exact plans—if I want them to involve him, for example. And where I used to spend all my free time writing, I now spend a lot of it with him.

A few weeks ago, that would have freaked me out.

But since I met Liam, I’ve changed as well. In what’s not even two months now, I’ve become surer of myself and I feel like I don’t need to just know everything anymore. And I guess that’s a good thing, really. I’m almost okay with not being sure about everything.

“I’ve been looking for you for ages!” Sam sighs, leaning against the kitchen counter I’m sitting on. I jump a little from surprise and he just grins. “How’re you doing? We haven’t had a shift together for a long time. Oh, also Nico asked me to tell you he saved a jammie dodger for you.” He hands me the biscuit and I smile thankfully.

“Yeah,” I say, “it really has been a long time. Sorry you couldn’t find me.”

“How’s Clary?” Sam asks, because Sam and Brian, Clary’s ex-boyfriend, are pretty good friends.

I shrug. “She’s actually quite alright and that’s me talking about a girl who didn’t leave our flat for three weeks when her goldfish died.” It’s true, though. Clary, after nicely sending what’s-his-name home, has been way better. I think she punched Brian once and then went on with her life like the cool suave girl she usually is (except for occasions just like this one, which makes it such a surprise) and now she’s pretty much back to normal, only sans boyfriend. She’s planned to go out with Justin a lot, and I’m really happy about that, because that means neither of them will make me go. At least I hope so.

Sam laughs and moves a bit closer to me, casually, trying to make it unnoticeable. Of course I do notice, though, but it’s not like I can say anything. What if he didn’t mean anything by it and I make myself look like a prize idiot? Thought so, too.

“It’s really quiet today,” I remark.

“Yea, I’ve been wondering … but really, who wants room service in early June in the middle of the day?”

It’s my turn to laugh. “I guess you’re right…” I glance at my phone and see the missed call, and my mood brightens immediately. “Actually, would you excuse me for a sec? I have to make a call.” 

 

 

 

*.* Liam *.*

“Don’t you find it ridiculous how much of a girl you’ve become?” Louis teases me and I glare at him.

“Fuck you,” I say in a monotone.

He just laughs.

We’re all sitting in the ‘living room’ of our suite, doing … well, nothing really. Actually, I’m waiting for Esmée and the others are being annoying.

“It is kinda funny though,” Harry helps Louis out. Like, you know, always.

“Hey,” I say. “I don’t want to remind everyone of when we had to play a rousing game of Keep Drunk Louis From Snogging His Bandmate every time you had a bit too much to drink for about one and a half years. But that does prove that I’m not the girlish one.”

“If one of us was girlish, it would definitely be between the two of you,” Niall agrees with me, pointing at Louis and Harry. “Because, you know, you have this habit of snogging sometimes when you get drunk.”

Louis pouts. “Whatever,” he grumbles.

I didn’t hear someone knock on the door, but apparently someone did, because Zany leaves and comes back a bit later with May.

Louis immediately perks up. “Am I girlish?” he asks her in a tone that clearly means that he’ll probably murder her if she says yes.

But I don’t pay attention to that because I’m kind of very preoccupied with how good she looks, and I’m almost thankful for Louis being annoying because that means that I get to stare at her almost subtly.

Her hair is pulled back in a high ponytail, making her high cheekbones more prominent and her tawny eyes pop out even more. She’s wearing a dark red lipstick and god I want to kiss her.

“Hi,” I say, and my voice is, embarrassingly enough, a little hoarse. But you can’t blame me. Dark red lipstick! Come on, it’s not fair.

“Hi,” she says back and smiles brilliantly and why, why does this girl exist when all she does is make my mouth go dry and my hands twitch and she has me overthinking everything I thought I knew about me and the type of girl I like because suddenly, the type of girl I like has become her. Her in exactly those jeans and exactly this tight flower-print top with the dark red lipstick.

I cough. “Let’s go.”

When we’re waiting for the elevator, I can hear the lads start laughing.

The taxi ride is short, and the driver lets us out on some dodgy back street. Esmée pays him and produces a key from the back pocket of the skinny jeans—very skinny—that unlocks a heavy metal door.

“Close your eyes,” she says, and I hate not knowing where I’m going but… well, it's her, so I close my eyes.

She leads me through confusingly many corridors. It’s a bit chilly in the building, not cold but not central heating warm either. It’s dark, and the only light has a weird hue.

“Will you ever tell me where we’re going?”

I can almost hear her smile. “Nope. Keep your eyes closed or we’re leaving.”

“I’m going to walk into something and we both know it.”

“You’re such a kid, Liam,” she says. “Nothing’s gonna happen to—oh fuck, I’m sorry.” Because that’s when my shoulder collides with a boulder.

“I hate to say I told you so…”

Esmée snorts and puts her hands on my shoulders to signal me to stop walking. And then her touch leaves me and I nearly open my eyes, but from the way she interacts with Lux, I can tell she’s pretty consequent in what she calls moral education.

Through my eyelids, I can see that she must have turned on some sort of blueish light.

“Okay you can open your eyes,” she says and I’m standing in the darkness looking at a brightly illuminated aquarium with sea turtles.

 

 

*.* Esmée *.*

Liam doesn’t say anything for a while and sod it, Clary told me this was a totally shit idea.

“Don’t you like it?” My voice sounds quiet and timid and, I hate to say it, a lot like a little child’s.

Liam turns to me and oh my, his smile is so radiant it’s blinding. His eyes are squinty and his nose crinkles just a tiny bit and he just looks so unbelievably happy that it fills me with actual sheer joy to look at him.

“This is amazing,” he says, and suddenly I’m lifted up and twirled around and I can’t remember when I’ve ever felt so … alive. “You’re amazing,” Liam whispers into my hair, still holding me in the air but not having me pressed against him.

I smile. “I’m so glad you like it.”

He puts me down carefully; as if he’s afraid I might break. Then, he looks at me seriously, but still with that happy twinkle in his eyes. “Are you kidding?” he says. “I can’t believe you did this!”

I shrug. “Justin knows a guy who knows a guy whose sister works here or something.” I try to make it sound like it’s not a big deal, but I actually have to make a bar-mitzvah cake next weekend (actually two since it’s for twins, but what difference does it make). Then again, I’d bake a thousand bar-mitzvah cakes to see Liam smile like this again. So it actually isn't a big deal after all.

“Don’t play it down,” he says. “You actually thought about it and went out of your way because you thought this would make m happy and … god, it does! I feel like a little kid again. In, you know, a good way.” I’m pretty sure he’s actually glowing from the inside, and I feel like I am, too, because he just looks so happy about this that I can’t help but feel happy for him. And … yes.

“Okay. Do you want to walk around and look at the fish and… stuff?” I get excited again when I remember something. “They have dolphins. You can touch them.”

Liam laughs. “This is the best date of all times, Esmée Minton.”

I smile. “You just wait, Liam Payne. I also brought food.”

So we walk slowly around the aquarium, hand in hand like the couples I always make fun of, smiling and laughing and this is definitely worth two bar-mitzvah cakes, I’m telling you. It’s dark in the SeaWorld building, our paths only illuminated by the aquarium lights I turned on, and for some reason, it feels like we’re in our own little universe. I can’t hear the cars outside, or the sirens, or anything but our breathing and Liam’s voice.

The jellyfish swim in their colourfully illuminated tanks like tiny, weirdly-shaped, alive lava lamps, and Liam reads off a sign that some jellyfish are actually bigger than humans, and that's sort of weird and a little bit creepy, but yeah.

The dolphins are lively, friendly animals and try to eat my scarf. We spend about half an eternity there and I've honestly never touched a dolphin and neither has Liam, so you can imagine how much we must look like five-year-olds. But it's a lot of fun, and I love that we can be like five-year-olds around each other. And that's maybe what makes us, us.

So it really is the best date of all times, I decide when I’m sitting on the floor of the water tunnel with Liam, eating sandwiches and cake and fruit and drinking rosé wine at 12:40 a.m. and watching the fish swim around us. It’s like we’re actually underwater only we’re not and Liam’s being all nice and telling jokes and stories from when he was a kid and I’m genuinely thinking that this is the nicest thing I’ve ever done.

Liam stops with what he’s saying to look at me for a moment, and I can’t really tell the look on his face. Then, almost hoarsely, he says, “I don’t think anyone’s ever looked prettier,” and in that moment, I don’t care that we’ve only known each other for such a short time, I don’t care that he messes up my plans and I don’t care that he’s famous and Liam Goddamn Payne. In that moment, he’s Liam and I’m May and I really want to kiss him, and so I do.

This kiss is different from the others—not that it’s been that many—in so many ways. It's slow and deep and it makes me feel … at home, almost. We take our time, tongues licking and flicking and exploring, and one of his hands is tangled in my hair while the other one presses me into him, and my hands are wandering up and down his sides, and one of my legs in perched up behind his back, and we’re so close. I feel like he thinks what I think and he feels what I feel and like we’ve been like this forever and like I never want to let this go. He tastes of rosé and chocolate icing, and like something else that I couldn’t describe if I had to but that is so utterly Liam.

It's ridiculous really, how, in that moment, we are perfect.

But of course, that's a moment.

"I have to leave again next week," Liam tells me. "Concerts, you know."

I nod because, well, what can I really say? "When will you be back?"

He shrugs. "It'll be a while. Pretty long, actually. We're in Europe now, though--at first." You could come visit, is what he doesn't say. But it hangs in the air between us, less like an offer and more like a question. It's the question of how serious I want this to be, and I know what he's hoping for. I'm hoping for the same thing, I guess--that I'll say yes, that we'll at least try to be ... you know, a thing. But I can't and I don't want to and I feel like I'm letting him down horribly when I say, "Well. We'll try to see each other when you get back, then." It's a clear no. But you can't really blame me. (Actually, you can, because Liam looks so sad even though he hides it, of course, that I feel about as nice a person as Cersei Lannister.) I'm not a person that's made for the spotlight, like Danielle surely was. I can't be that person, and I have to lose my utter fear of the media. Also, I know what the people will say--how this is going very fast, how he doesn't even know me, and how I'm not the right kind of girl for him. Of course they'll say that, they're already saying it now, only without the certainty of him actually liking me. And to be able to overlook them saying I'm not right for Liam, I first have to be sure, completely sure, that I am, in my mind. And I'm just ... not.

"I'm sorry," I add, and he nods. I don't have to clarify what I'm sorry for because he knows, he always knows. That's what makes me feel so shitty about this; I am so certain of how much I like him, but I'm not certain of how perfect we are after all. He is, of course, but us, together?

"It's alright," he says. "I'm more comfortable with you being comfortable than everyone knowing. That's more important, okay? We're more important than anyone else. And it's only been such a short time; how could you know for sure? I like it this way. I like you and you matter. It doesn't matter who knows that, as long as I do and as long as you know it too." 

And I will deny it if you ever tell anyone, but that's when I start crying.

*.*

That's a very, very embarrassing thing, okay? You don't start crying on a date. Nobody does that, except sometimes the girls in Hollywood films, but only when they're out with the wrong bloke and suddenly realize that and start bawling because they now notice what the whole audience has known all along, which is that actually, the boy next door is perfect for them and that they're in love with him. That's when people cry on dates.

It's not okay to cry on an actual date, especially one that you organised, because it's just very awkward. Also, it will end up with you wishing to drown yourself in your shower the next morning, when you remember what has happened. And then pouting into your hot chocolate. Trust me, I would know. Because I've just arrived at the pouting part.

"You're pathetic," Clary tells me bluntly as she pours way too much instant coffee powder into a mug and fills it up with boiling water. "Absolutely pathetic. I go through a break-up but you're the one crying. On a date. On a date with, like, your Prince Charming, no less." I scowl at her. She ignores me and drops two sugars into her coffee. "You are a sad, sad person," she concludes. "Okay, I have to run. I'm already five minutes late. Have a nice day!" She's already opened the door when she turns and looks at me again. "Oh, and Justin's coming over and bringing you some stuff... something about strawberries you probably forgot? I don't know. He called, I forgot to tell you. Oops." And then she's out of the room and gone, so that the show I throw only hits the closed door.

My eyes widen and I unlock my phone to look at the app, and oh. Oh, that's why I was crying. I'm getting my period today. Well. (And yes, I have an app for that. Even though I usually, and yes, that doesn't include today, am perfectly on track with my periods. I'm always super-prepared. Justin is almost as well on track with my periods as me, which makes him an awesome best friend. Hence why he's probably bringing over ice cream and crisps and tampons, or something.) But this just proves how shitty periods are; you always get them when you absolutely do not need them, at all. (Not that you ever need them. But it's always the worst circumstances is what I'm saying.) I got my first one in the middle of an exam. I cried a lot that day.

I'm not prepared for the pain when it hits me. I'm almost prepared for the blood, most of the time. I'm never prepared for the pain.

Which is why I'm basically doubled over on the sofa when Justin finds me, cursing my existence and why I was born a girl. I'm one of those unlucky girls who get really, really bad cramps, and most painkillers don't work for me when it's that time of the month. I'm not joking, that's serious business. My grandma once had to call an ambulance for me because I was in so much pain. An actual ambulance. Clary, I know, is one of those lucky girls who always have their period for about three days and never experience any sort of pain. Her uterus doesn't try to kill itself. Her uterus just sheds some blood and loves her. My uterus hates me.

That's also what I tell Justin when he sets down the Cadbury's bar in front of me. "My uterus hates me," I tell him.

Justin makes a face. "Ew. That's disgusting. Please don't talk to me about your uterus."

I make a whining noise in the back of my throat.

"Because," he continues, taking the Doctor Zhivago DVD out of its case, "I do not like uteruses. You should know."

"I don't like them either," I argue. "You know, unless there's like a tiny child growing inside them. But even then I imagine they suck a bit."

Justin turns to look at me, squinting angrily. "Okay, no more uterus talk!" Someone knocks at the door. He grumbles and I make a dying-whale noise. "Okay, I'm going, god fucking dammit," he mutters and makes his way to the door while I wrench myself into a sitting position and take a look at the ice cream he bought. It's a Doctor Zhivago special. I'm not pulling your leg. They exist.

"Oh, Liam," I hear Justin say pointedly and I immediately dive behind the sofa. This turns out to be an absolutely shitty idea because it results in my cramps getting worse. Why did I move?

It turns out I didn't even have to move because apparently, Justin decides it's funny to take revenge and says, "Oh no, she can't. Mint's uterus hates her right now."

I want to die. It gets even worse when Liam says, incredulously, "She's pregnant?"

I splutter. Justin snorts. "Uhm, no. Opposite, actually... God, do you understand anything? Her vagina's leaking blood." I prefer not to try to imagine Liam's face right now, but he says his goodbyes rather quickly and Justin closes the door. When he comes back, I'm sitting on the floor behind the sofa, glaring at him.

"What the bloody heck did you do that for?"

He shrugs. "I thought you were at that level of the relationship. My bad." Great. Now Liam finds me disgusting and I still feel uterus pain. 

I rest my head in my hands and break off a piece of chocolate. 

 

 

*.* Liam *.*

I walk back to our room and shudder because uterus. Vagina leaking blood. I was not prepared for this. I will never be prepared for this. I'm so glad I was born a boy.

I don't understand Justin, I really don't. I mean, May made it pretty clear once that he, well, drives on the their side of the road, but how on earth can he still be comfortable talking about ... well, that

I shudder again.

"Heeeeeey," Harry greets me when I walk in. He makes it sound like it has at least six e. Also, he's wearing a bandana. 

"Hi, Harry."

"What's up?" Louis asks.

"Uterus pain, apparently," I say, still a bit dazed. I mean, I have sisters, but ... just no.

Louis, however, bursts out in bubbly laughter. "Oh my fucking god," he says. "You look like you've seen a ghost." So, is it now a normal thing to talk about? A look to Harry, who also has a sister, tells me that no, Louis is the weird one. Not me.

"How are you so ... not completely freaked out by that?" he asks.

Louis shrugs. "Sisters. So many sisters."

I shake my head, but decide not to ask. His sisters are younger than him. Two haven't even reached puberty yet. That definitely does not count.

"Okay," I say. "I'm gonna go and talk to the others."

As I close the door to Zayn's room behind me, I hear Harry say, "Why are you so weird?" I silently agree with him.

"Liam!" Niall exclaims from where he's sitting on Zayn's spare bed. Zayn is the only one who got his own room this time, because he's on the phone and on Skype a lot and we reckoned it would be nicer. In retrospective, Niall and his radioactive farts should have gotten their own room because that boy may be sweet, but he is a very awful roommate.

"What are you doing here?" Zayn asks, not looking up from his phone where he's playing Fruit Ninja. That's right. Zayn Malik still plays Fruit Ninja. He's probably the last human being as well.

I just shrug because I don't want to go through the whole uterus thing again. 

"Are we going out tonight?" Niall asks. "Because Clary, you know, Esmée's roommate, told be about this awesome pub in the passage from the temple bar area to the river and I really wanna go."

"I reckon we could," I say because yes, why not? Zayn shrugs, but it's one of his affirmative shrugs.

Niall gloats. "Cool. This guy called Ben Webber is singing--I heard he's really good."

 

A/N: Dun-DUNNNN Ben is back.

 

 

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