Reservation

This is my late Valentine's Day present to all my fans, and to my faithful 'The Time of My Life' readers. A oneshot continuation of my unfinished One Direction fanfiction. Zayn makes an important reservation.

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1. Reservation

 I sighed as I gazed out of my study window at the winter wonderland.

This February was unusually cold, and it had been snowing.  A lot.

The large pond on my parent’s property had frozen solid enough that you could skate on it.

Dad had told me only yesterday that this was the most snow he’d seen since he was a boy.

I tore my eyes from the beautiful scene outside my window to the framed picture of my boyfriend stood which stood by my computer monitor.

My boyfriend.  It had been seven months since we’d started dating and I was still giddy at the thought of it, like I was in an amazing dream that I never wanted to wake up from.

I turned to look at the framed double page spread of my winning competition entry on the wall behind my desk.  It hadn’t been the first competition I’d won, but it had been how Zayn and I had met and my first story to be published.

I entered a writing competition in which the prize had been a date with a member of One Direction, a popular boy band.  I had chosen Zayn as my date.  I wasn’t expecting to win so I was pleasantly surprised when I received the e-mail from the magazine’s editor telling me I had.

I’d had no expectations for the date but I had lots of fun with Zayn, and I think I developed a little crush on him, even though he is two years younger than me.

We’d struck up a friendship after that and not long after that he asked me to be his girlfriend and it seemed like life couldn’t get any better.  Even after I started my third year at university and he’d gone on tour to promote One Direction’s new album.

Most girls think only about how glamorous it would be to date a celebrity, not of the emotional ups and downs.

Zayn and been photographed with other girls during his tour, and though I knew better I couldn’t help feeling insecure.  But I comforted myself with the thought that I was the one he called at the end of a busy day, to tell me how his day went and ask me about mine, or just to say he wanted to hear my voice and says good night.

As much as I had been determined not to be one of those girlfriends that obsess over their boyfriends, as soon as the latest single was out I went and bought myself a copy at the nearest HMV rather than waiting for the album like I usually did.

The crowd at HMV was unbelievable!  I hadn’t been aware how many One Directions fans there were in Oxford.  Most of them were teenagers and some were university first and second years.

I was half afraid that someone would recognise me from the picture that had been snapped of us in the Jeunesse magazine.  Zayn and I agreed to keep our relationship out of the public eye as much as possible, and because of this, I never put any pictures of the both of us or of me with One Direction on any of my social networking sites.   Not for entirely for selfish reasons, I certainly didn’t want anyone harassing me for my connection with my boyfriend and his band.

Not long after we officially started dating, I received an offer from a book publisher called Scarlet Romance.  One of the publishers had seen the story I’d written in Jeunesse and asked if I would be interested in writing a series of short romance novels for them.

I was very flattered, but I asked them if I could think about it for a bit.

I immediately sent Zayn an e-mail.  I didn’t want to call him in case he was in the middle of something.

He later replied that he was very pleased for me and I should accept the offer.  So I did.  Under the condition that the deadlines they set me wouldn’t interfere or coincide with assignment deadlines for my university courses as I am still a student.

Next, I wrote up a proposal, outlining the plots for five short novels.  Each could be read one after the other or on their own.

The first book was coming out for Valentine’s Day.

I didn’t let Zayn read it whilst I was writing because I wanted it to be a surprise.

I couldn’t help wondering what Zayn would be getting me for the ‘most romantic’ day of the year.

I was pulled out of my thoughts by the sound of my iPhone playing One Direction’s They Don’t Know About Us.

Zayn’s caller ID photo grinned up at me from the screen.

“Hi Zayn,” I said, hoping that I didn’t sound too eager.

“Hey, Cassie,” Zayn replied.  “Boy, is it good to hear your voice.”

I laughed at that.  “So, what’s up?”

“I had a free moment,” he said.  “And I wanted to tell you that the guys and I all have a couple of days off around Valentine’s Day this year.”

“Oh, I would have thought you’d be busy,” I said, knowing that One Direction would be in high demand on the most romantic day of the year.

“No, our manager managed to get us a couple of days off,” he replied.  “And I wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with you.”  He paused.  “Especially since it’s also our sixth month anniversary.”

I could have sworn that my heart skipped a beat.  I hadn’t expected him to remember.  “So, what would you like to do?” I asked.

“Err…I don’t know,” Zayn replied.  “That’s actually what I was calling you about.”

“Well, why don’t we have Valentine’s Day at my house,” I suggested.  “We don’t have to go anywhere particularly fancy.  Unless you want to?”

“That would actually be really nice,” he replied.  “And you know I can’t resist your cooking.”

~~~

The snow had melted by the time Valentine’s Day came a week and half later.  It was a Thursday, and unfortunately it was still a school day for me though I only had two classes; both of which were in the morning.  It was also the final deadline for my Creative Writing assignment, but I’d managed to finish it early and had already handed it in.

As soon as my last class was finished at twelve, I drove home as quickly as I could without breaking the speed limit.  I wanted to finish making lunch before Zayn arrived.  Thankfully my Valentine’s Day present to him was already wrapped and hidden in the bottom drawer of my desk in the study.  I was certain that he would love the surprise.

Zayn arrived in the early afternoon with a couple days’ worth of clothes and some toiletries in a duffel bag.

We slept in the same bed sometimes, but we didn’t do anything else.  There was an unspoken agreement that neither of us were ready for an intimate relationship.

I made us a light lunch of freshly baked bread, Italian hams, cheese and salad.

While we ate, we caught up on what we had been doing in the last couple of days.  Zayn also told me about some of the antics of his bandmates.

I laughed at his telling of one of Louis’s practical jokes.  Having met Louis in person I knew it wasn’t always fun when he pranked you, but you had to laugh in spite of yourself.

After clearing the table, Zayn went up to the guest bedroom for a nap, and I went to the study to do some more work on my second book.

At about half past five, I started making dinner.  The smell of my authentic Italian cooking enticed Zayn to come downstairs again.  He seated himself at the breakfast bar and sipped on sparkling white grape juice while I worked.  We chatted about random subjects, even touching on politics and the horsemeat scandal.

For dinner I made linguine and meatballs with Neapolitan sauce and for dessert we had crepes with my mother’s homemade chocolate and coffee gelato.

“That was delicious, as always,” Zayn said, as he helped to gather up the dishes.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” I replied.  I’d been worried that the dinner had been a bit unspectacular.

I wondered if this was what it would be like if we were married.  That made me pause.  Where had that thought come from?  I wasn’t ready to even start contemplating marriage.

We decided not to bother with the washing up tonight and retreated to the living room, where I brought out my gift.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I said.

“You didn’t have to get me anything, Cassie,” he said.

“I didn’t exactly,” I replied.  “Open it.”

Zayn quickly tore off the packaging.  I had got him an advanced copy of my book, ‘Idol of My Heart’.

“Your first published book,” he said in wonder before skimming the pages.

I’d written a message on the cover page.

To my very own Idol of My Heart

All my love on Valentine’s Day,

Cassandra Holmes

XXX

“I’ll read every word,” he promised.  Then he briefly disappeared upstairs and came back with an awkwardly-shaped package tied with a red ribbon. “Here’s my present to you.”

“Aw, thank you, Zayn,” I said as I untied the ribbon.  The wrapping fell apart easily.  Inside was a stuffed brown teddy bear holding a red satin heart-shaped pouch.

“There’s something inside it,” Zayn said.

Curious, I untied the pouch.  Turning the teddy upside down, I let whatever was inside to dip onto my palm.

It was a pearl ring, not one from a jewellers’; rather it was one those more common artificial pearls that you see street vendors selling semi-precious jewellery.  It was simple, but pretty.

I often to stopped looked at them whenever I passed by the stalls in Oxford.  In fact, that’s what I did the last time Zayn and I had been together in Oxford.

“I bought it the same day ,” he said, knowing I'd know which day he meant.

“But, Zayn, I said it wasn’t something I really wanted,” I protested.

“I know,” he simply said.  “But I wanted to get it for you.”

Taking my left hand, Zayn picked up the ring and slipped it onto my ring finger.

My left hand…surely he wasn’t—

“I’m not really proposing.  Not yet,” Zayn said, quickly.

He’d said ‘not yet’.

“Think of this as…a reservation.  We’re both still young and getting started in our careers, so I think we have a long way to go before we can really consider marriage.”

I smiled and said, teasingly, “Well, bear in mind that you don’t make me wait too long, or the reservation will be cancelled.”

“Oh, I won’t,” he promised, sealing it with a kiss.

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