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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10. “Enough sibling affection”

"Stop!" I screamed, clutching the duvet until my knuckles were white. Sweat trickled down my brow, my head burning like a fever. I looked at the clock that illuminated the dark room. 11:27pm; I'd only been asleep for two hours. I was waking up earlier and earlier from these nightmares, and this time my head was thumping heavier than ever before. The memory of the pain, the torture this Harry put me through...my mind was having enough.

     I fell back on the pillow, closing my eyes and trying to concentrate on falling back asleep. But the headache that wracked my brain and the buzz in my ears was preventing that from happening. Looks like it's going to be another sleepless night.

     I sighed and turned my lamp light on, filling the room with a soft golden glow. Getting out of the duvet, I felt the urge to occupy my time with some sketching, so I pried my set from my desk and got back into bed.

     The white page seemed so daunting. Nothing inspired me; not even looking around the room triggered my creativity.

     The ache in my head was getting worse, and the buzz had turned into a high pitched scream. Frustrated, I gripped my pencil and started etching dark lines, desperate to express the pain in my body. It was rushed and sketchy, nothing like the detail and precision I tended to take when drawing. But this new found technique was working to release whatever was burning inside of me.

     Once again, I drew the Harry of my dream I just had, and I paused for a moment to realise it. In that moment, everything stopped. The thumping, the buzz, the pain; it all disappeared as I finished my distorted creation. I was released.

     A certain weight dropped from me, and I collapsed onto my back with exhaustion. Now the drowsiness had returned, and within seconds of closing my eyes, I was knocked from consciousness.

 

***

 

I didn't see Harry for the rest of the week. There were no random encounters, or knocks on my door. Ever since the weird tutor lesson Tuesday night, ending the way it did, he hadn't spoken to me at all. I suddenly felt like I did something wrong, but then again it was him that approached and seemingly rejected me. Did he actually reject something I never gave? He was way too complicated, and we'd only met a couple of weeks ago.

     Pushing Harry aside, my mind focused on more important things; like Noah's gig. It was at a pretty nice venue, the performance in a small pub with a restaurant. I assisted Lottie in putting up banners and setting the lights around the room all of Saturday, ready for the night. It was a nice distraction from my neighbour.

     "This gig could be a turning point in Noah's career," Lottie said as I helped stick flyers on the telephone poles outside the venue. "This record label has seen his work and is considering signing the band. They are coming tonight to see what they're like in front of a live audience and if they can handle a tour."

     "A tour?" I gasped. "I hope they aren't stupid to let this slide."

     "They definitely will be stupid if they don't sign my hot, guitar-playing, rock-singing boyfriend."

     "For me it's just my considerably obese, instrument-smashing brother."

     "I guess I'm to blame for feeding him," she winked.

 

All of the restaurant seats were filled by 6:30, and even more people crowded around the bar.

     "Excited?" bounced Lottie.

     "A little too much, I think," I replied over the booming voices and laughter of the gathering. I hadn't seen Noah play since he was in Australia, even though I do have his demo cd that he sent us a few months ago. This would be the first time live in a long while. I was curious to see how much he'd changed from the school talent quests and small bars whilst at university.

     The screech of the microphone as Noah tried to talk into it pierced my ears. "Thank you all for coming out tonight!" he said, his voice beaming through the speakers. He was responded by cheers from the crowd, and Lottie did her own fist-pump in the air.

     The band got straight into the music, and it blasted violently from every speaker in the room, changing the mood instantly. Everyone merged with the instruments, dancing and bumping and managing to hold their drinks at the same time. What caught me by surprise was how much Noah's voice had matured. It was deeper and more controlled, something that mine wasn't. Growing up singing together, he was always that step ahead of me, and I couldn't help but remain envious listening to him now.

     "Dance?" Lottie shouted to me over the music. I let her take my hand and we joined the group of dancing people, intertwining their sweaty bodies with ours. I enjoyed the type of music Noah made, for it reminded me so much of the stuff I listened to back in Australia. Of course, his was much softer in terms of rock, but all-in-all I was having a great time.

     When it was all over, Noah jumped off the stage and breathlessly made his way over to Lottie and me by the bar.

     "Wow, Noah, your band is incredible!" I said, punching my sweaty brother on the sleeve of his shirt.

     "Thanks, El. We've worked really hard," he said, shaking the dampness from his spiky hair and taking a swig from his water bottle.

     "And worked hard you have," added a man in professional attire as he approached us, patting Noah on the back. I noticed that he was with the record label when Lottie pointed them out earlier. "I want to see all of it pay off when you and the band come into the studio tomorrow. I have a proposition that could potentially see you succeed in the future."

     Noah nearly choked on his water, coughing as he scanned the man's face for any cracks in his serious expression. When Noah finally registered what he said, he took the man's hand. "Thank you so, so much, sir! I'll go tell the boys!" he said, his smile almost as broad as Lottie's.

     I watched from a distance as Noah told the boys, and there was a sudden stillness between them before they snapped into human-formed apes. There was roaring and bear hugs and then, as if realising how animalistic they were behaving, they collected themselves entirely. Probably so they didn't get concerned stares from their potential signers.

     The manager of the restaurant approached Noah, shaking his hand and making conversation that was inaudible to my hearing. But there was no mistaking the two pairs of eyes that came to focus on me. Noah said something else, in which the manager nodded and once again shook my brother's hand.

     "What was that all about?" I asked as Noah came back over to me.

     "The manager was just telling me how successful tonight was, and how he thinks it's a good idea to continue holding gigs here. Except that he doesn't have much staff in the restaurant..." Noah trailed off, giving me a small smirk.

     "And...?" I said, wanting him to elaborate.

     "And I just got you a waitressing job and you start training Monday night!" Noah announced, clearly chuffed by his negotiation for my employment and his now smaller rent pay.

     "Oh my gosh, yes! Thank you!" I cheered, wrapping my arms around his torso. The smell of sweat and the clamminess of his shirt made me reluctant to hug him longer, and I said, "I think we've shown enough sibling affection for one day."

     "Right," he said, pressing his knuckles to my head and shaking.

     I start training on Monday, I recalled in my head. I'd never had a part-time job before, let alone as a waitress. It also meant that I'd miss after school tutoring with Harry, not that he'd actually show. After his absence this past week, I started to think it wasn't worth waiting around for his unreliable presence.

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