The Direction of Fate

When Ellie Harper's parents ship her off from Australia to live with her brother in Holmes Chapel, England, the arrogant and obnoxious Harry Styles enters her life. Their frequent encounters have them both suspicious, but Ellie shrugs it off as just an irritating coincidence. But the more they see each other, the more she questions if this is something more than just chance. And it doesn't help that she has vivid nightmares involving her quite dominant and sadistic curly-haired neighbour.

Was this the direction of fate, or was the universe honestly burdening her with this pompous boy band member?

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34. “Don’t tease my ego.”

Heavy sighs, taut skin, breathless sweet nothings. The smell of sweat and perfume. Tears of pain and tears of happiness. Two becoming one.

 

My body was undeniably sore the next morning. I dreamt of the intimacy I'd experienced with Harry, and when I woke I was pressed against his side, my bare body indicating that the visions of my subconscious were just replays of a memory. Unfamiliar warmth coated my insides; one that only the combination of another body could create. The sheets had pushed down in the night and barely draped over Harry's waist, and he looked like Eros, the Greek god of love and attraction. If I weren't so tired and sore, I'd kiss every dip and rise of his muscles- but it wouldn't express the love I had for him.

     Slowly, my eyes trailed up his heavily breathing chest and to his lips, which were curved upward slightly. And then I saw his eyes, awake and watching me for who knows how long as I marvelled in his desirability.

     "Hey," he murmured.

     "Hey," I replied, our eyes speaking for ourselves as we acknowledged the previous night's closeness.

     "How do you feel?" he asked, gently stroking the flesh of my thigh beneath the covers.

     "Good." I smiled.

     Harry's smile broadened. "Good. Want to go for a shower?"

     We spent the next hour under the steam and warmth of the hot water cascading down our backs as we shared lazy kisses and kept our flushed skin in contact. I never imagined feeling this close to another human being - especially Harry. There was a time I slammed doors in his face, whereas now I couldn't bear the thought of seeing anything else. I guess that's what being in love feels like.

     This time, we ordered breakfast up to our room and ate assortments of pancakes and bacon on trays in bed, remaining in an indolent haze as midday approached.

     "We've done absolutely nothing," Harry commented, holding me under his arm as we stared at the television on low volume.

     "I like doing absolutely nothing with you," I said.

     "Well, in that case, it's a privilege to do absolutely nothing." He smiled, squeezing me tighter.

     "But, tonight I'm taking you out on the town." Harry winked, as if to make clear of his slang. I merely cringed. "We're meeting Nick and a few other mates too."

     "Nick? As in..."

     "Grimshaw."

     "You're friends with the guy on the radio?" I laughed. Harry looked mildly offended.

     "Oi. I have a wide social circle and he happens to be on the upper end of the friendship scale. Be nice." He teased.

     That's when it hit me. "I don't have anything to wear!" I brought summer dresses and stockings and jeans and coats - but nothing for the midnight life.

     "I expected you to say that. That's why we're gonna go...shopping!" Harry recited the scene in White Chicks, fingers wiggling and all. I swatted his hands away. "You're a dork," I said.

     "Don't tease my ego." Harry smirked.

 

Harry took me to various shops before we settled with a little black dress from Topshop - A store I never saw myself purchasing clothing from. Back in Australia, I dug up my rags from local grunge bins and concerts, but now, with this chiffon halter-neck, I felt further from home than ever.

     Harry lowered my hand when I brought out my cash. "I'm shouting this one," he said. I continued to keep my determination to pay. "It's fine, I can afford it."

     "Why won't you let me buy you things?" Harry laughed incredulously. I pursed my lips and didn't look at him, which encouraged Harry to lift my chin up to his level. His soft eyes requested my answer.

     "I don't want you to ever think that just because you can afford it, I will expect you to pay for it," I confessed quietly. Harry nodded in silent understanding, closing me inside his broad arms.

     "But I love you and I want to," he said into my hair. My heart never seemed to get over the way his love for me fell from his lips. I didn't want our relationship to be based around materialism, but how Harry held me now erased any doubts I may have had of that happening. I appreciated his cologne-infused cotton shirt one last time before we made it over to the cash out to pay.

 

A warm afternoon took over the chilly London day, and Harry and I stayed in bed watching a rental movie as the sun set behind the hotel building. Moments like these reminded me of how normal our abnormal relationship really was. Up this high, I forgot his fame and remembered the frog legs he brought to our first tutor lesson. Things were so simple, just like this.

     "We should start getting ready." Harry kissed my temple and turned off the television. I wet my dry lips and occupied the bathroom to begin dressing up for the night. The whole time I couldn't stop perfecting every inch of my hair and face as the voices of Harry's friends judged my flaws. Though it was all in my head, it did matter how his sophisticated, famous friends thought of me. Coming from a different background and social class, I had no idea what to expect. If they were anything like my self-poised and charming boyfriend, I was close to hopeless.

     When I opened up the bathroom, my mouth fell at the sight of Harry standing at the foot of the bed with his trench coat draped over his long-sleeved arm. As nervous as I was to impress Harry's friends tonight, I was more nervous seeing him dressed like a dark angel in Burberry.

     Because I'd been so caught up in Harry's stature, I didn't realise he was doing the same to me. His heavy eyes were still caught up in my knee-length dress, right down to my feet strapped into the heels he'd picked out.

     "It's taking every ounce of my restraint not to cancel tonight and rip that off you," he said without taking his gaze off my figure. I blushed vigorously, guilty to think that option was much more enticing than the unknown possibilities of the events that would take place tonight. My nerves were settled once Harry took my hand and lead me from the hotel.

     "I'm a member at Aura Mayfair and I got us on the V.I.P list. You're my plus one," Harry said as we walked down London's sidewalks. We passed buildings with music thumping behind their walls and neon signs that only glowed when the world fell asleep.

     As we approached the club, I gazed at the entrance in awe. Back in Australia, I'd snuck out with friends and went to small grunge clubs with a fake I.D, but that didn't compare to the vibe this place radiated just from the front. Harry held my hand and made small talk as we stood in line, but I barely heard it over the beating of my anxious heart. Inside were Harry's elite friends, and in situations like these I crumble under pressure. The best I'd do would stumble on my words - I couldn't imagine what my feet in these heels would be like.

     "Name?" the broad bouncer said as he held his clipboard.

     "Harry Styles, and plus one," Harry said, giving my hand a squeeze.

     "Have a good night, Mr Styles," the bouncer said and moved to the side to let us in. Immediately upon entry we were submerged in the reverberating volume of music and neon-pink ardour. Harry led me to a secluded table against the far wall and said, "I'll go get us some drinks."

     I drank in my surroundings while he was gone. The tipsy occupied the bar; the lovers on the sofas; and the intoxicated swayed on the dance floor. If I could describe the setting in one word, it would be passion.

     "What's a beautiful lady like yourself doing all alone?" a young man said as he came and sat across from me, breaking my muse. His hair stood up in boosted waves, his smile almost as wide and captivating as Harry's.

     "I'm waiting for my boyfriend, actually," I said rather briskly, hoping he'd go off and find another girl to entertain.

     "He must be some git to keep you waiting." He winked. I couldn't believe that he was still trying despite my clear disinterest!

     "Excuse me?" I said incredulously. "The only git here is you!" I was ready to take my bag when I a hand landed on my shoulder. I felt relief to see Harry by my side.

     "Now, Nick, I hope you're making a good first impression," Harry said as he put down our drinks.

     "Wait, Nick?" I said, jaw losing its composure. Nick winked again. "Nice to finally meet you, Ellie."

     "I - I don't actually think you're a git - I mean -" I said, completely flustered. This wasn't how I'd planned to meet Harry's close friend.

     "Don't worry about it. But Harry over here is still the biggest git I know!" Nick punched Harry's arm. "Oi! Easy, mate," Harry grinned.

     We consumed our first round of drinks and Harry shouted the next round, leaving Nick and I alone once more. "So, Ellie," Nick started, and my heart sped up nervously. "Harry tells me you're from down under. I don't think he's ever dated an Australian before."

     "I guess there's a first for everything," I said, trying not to come off as curt. I couldn't hold back the bite of jealousy at the thought of the list of girls Harry had been with before me. I must have conveyed that because Nick then said, "He doesn't shut up about you. It gets pretty annoying sometimes."

     When Harry returned, I kissed his cheek and left him wondering why.

     After the next lot of drinks, I was feeling lightheaded and dizzy with traces of vodka on my lips. Harry was already giggling profoundly at Nick's jokes and stroking my thigh every so often.

     "Harry Styles!" I booming voice said over the pounding music, and Harry was immediately bombarded in a bear hug from a cheery guy holding another round of drinks. A couple of guys followed after and in turn greeted Nick and Harry.

     "Ellie, this is James, Ben and Tyler," Harry introduced to me. In no time they were all swigging down the current round and ordering another. By this point Harry was holding onto my thigh and the table to support himself.

     I checked my phone only to see one missed call from Noah, and a text reading: Please call back - urgent.

     "I gotta go make a call," I said to Harry, who smiled lazily and kissed me with liquored lips. The reception in the club was terrible, so I walked outside and finally got a few bars. Dialling Noah's number, I waited in the chilly night's air for his answer, but it went straight to voicemail.

     Sighing, I went to go back inside, but a thick, tattooed arm blocked me.

     "Name?" the bouncer said.

     "Oh, I'm Harry Styles' plus one- I was just in there a second ago," I said, but the tall man seemed the least fazed by what I said.

     "Yeah, right. No name, no entry," he said plainly, indicating the exit.

     "If I could just get Harry, he can explain -"

     "Miss, please leave," the bouncer repeated.

     I clicked my tongue, pure frustration in each snap. "Fine."

     With less grace and sophistication than I was hoping, I turned on my heel and left, greeting the cold street once more. Digging out my phone, I punched in Harry's number, waiting impatiently as it rang.

     "Hello?" Harry's raspy voice said through the receiver.

     "Hey, I'm stuck outside. The bouncer won't let me back in! Can you come -"

     "How are you? That's good..." Harry continued, and realisation hit me.

     "You cheeky bastard!" I fumed, ending the voicemail message. Of course Harry would be one to trick his callers, but right now was not a convenient time.

     After taking a few breaths, I re-called, getting his voicemail once more, and I decided to leave a message this time. Once I heard the beep, I spoke into it, and then hung up. I also sent a few text messages, all of them getting no response after 15 minutes of waiting outside.

     The night chill produced goose bumps on my skin, and I regretted wearing Harry's stupid, skimpy dress.

     I tried ringing again, but Harry's pre-recorded husky voice responded once more.

     "I'm going home, Harry. I hope you're having a good time without your girlfriend," I said into the phone, frustrated tears starting to bottle in my eyes as I began to pursue our hotel room alone.

     The walk was silent, all but the sounds of revving engines and my heels clicking against the pavement.

     I stopped when my phone started vibrating in my pocket, thinking that it had to be Harry. I was disappointed when the caller ID was just Noah.

     "Hey, sorry I missed your call earlier," I said into the phone, but I was responded with a deep sigh.

     "Ellie, thank God! Where are you?" Noah said rapidly into the phone, his voice breaking at the edges.

     "I'm in London, you know this," I laughed, but there was a slight hesitance behind my tone. "What's going on? What's wrong?"

     There was a silence on the other line, two slow heartbeats passing before he whispered, "It's mum and dad."

     I remember as a child when I went on a thrill park rollercoaster and as it dipped and dropped, my stomach would too and it felt like my heart could burst out of my chest. When it was over, it was the most exhilarating feeling. I got that exact sensation now, as Noah told me about the drunk driver and the collision with our parents' car. It was nothing like the feeling I experienced as a child. This stomach drop almost caused me to vomit and collapse.

     "I coming home now," I managed to say, ending the call and taking off my heels so I could sprint the rest of the way to the hotel room.

     My own speed and adrenaline surprised me, but I was thankful because I threw myself through the hotel door faster than I could imagine. I guessed that if anyone received the news I just did, their body and emotions would conquer all.

     Soon enough, my things were packed, and I traded my luxury hotel in London for a dirty seat on a rickety train back to Holmes. The rest of the night was a complete blur, right from when I collapsed into Noah's arms to getting on the next available flight to Brisbane.

 

     When my mind had a second to itself, I wondered what drink number Harry was up to in the hours it had taken for my world to fall apart.

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