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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16. "Home alone, Kevin McCallister?”

"I swear to God, if you burn down the house, I will kill you," Noah said in dead seriousness as he packed the last of his bags in the back of the Prius. I was finally being left in charge of the house while Noah's band started their tour around the UK. "And no Goddamn parties."

     "Me? A rebellious teenager? That doesn't seem like someone I'd be," I said innocently, pressing my hand to my chest.

     "Don't think mum and dad haven't told me why they sent you here," he said. I looked away bitterly at the thought of my parents ranting to my brother about the attitude I'd left behind in Australia. Was he really not willing to give me the chance to change?

     "Don't be mean, Noah," Lottie snapped before taking me into a backbreaking hug. "Oh, you just came into my life and I'm already going to miss you!"

     "Just have a good time, okay?" I laughed breathlessly. Lottie smiled and got into the car, and Noah came around to rattle my hair before getting in too. I stood out on the driveway until the small vehicle was lost down the street.

     "Home alone, Kevin McCallister?" I heard a new voice call from across the road. Harry was standing by his front gate with a duffle over his shoulder and Ray Bans on, unlocking his black sports car. His curls swished in the morning breeze as he made his way across the road towards me.

     "My brother's band are going on tour for the next month, so yeah, I am."

     "Is that an invitation for a party?" Harry's eyes lit up and a devilish smile held complete havoc. There was no way that there was going to be a party held in Noah's house, let alone it being organised by Harry. When he said he'd kill me, I didn't hesitate to call his bluff.

     "Don't you even dare," I warned.

     "What? You can't blame me for wanting to have a bunch of underage drinking teenagers in such a hot, enclosed space-especially if you're one of them," Harry winked, his eyes doing an indiscreet once over of my body. When I said I was grateful for having our relationship back to its casualness, I didn't quite enjoy this enhanced slyness.

     "Don't you have somewhere to be?" I raised my eyebrow.

     "Oh, yeah," he said, turning back to his car. "More White Eskimo stuff! Nothing massive or anything."

     For some reason, I stayed and watched Harry's car roar off just like I had with Noah's. I immediately snapped out of it and stormed proudly back into the warmth of the house. Yet, the temperature was missing one particular comfort; the closure of other humans. Nearly every afternoon I've been home alone, but the knowledge of no one coming through the door after work had me a little nostalgic.

 

The matter of feeding myself became my highest priority. I'd grown accustomed to Lottie's meals as if they were my own mother's-but the absence of both guardian figures sent me into a state of panic. The chances of me not burning down the house weren't in my favour, so I raided the pantry and scrounged what little we had left of 2 minute noodles. What was once my casual snack between main meals now categorised itself as a survival staple. And no, I was not completely disabled to the world of cooking; I could press the "Start" button on the microwave quite well. In fact, I was definitely proud of my watery, fluorescent dinner for one. I settled myself in front of the television and ate quietly to the overplayed infomercials and soaps that would only be broadcasted at the hours when people had accidentally fallen asleep on the couch, worn down from a long day of winning the bread. In my case, I'd just gotten home from my shift at work and had a quick, hot shower before consuming the bowl that was now in front of me. There was a good chance I would doze off too, no doubt. To save myself, I finished and went straight to bed.

     The cool sheets beneath my duvet brought surprising comfort considering my dwelling anxiety just before falling asleep most nights. Perhaps I was too fatigued over the past few weeks that I couldn't even care less what my slumber held-as long as I slept. My mind owed it to me for one dreamless, undisturbed sleep after teasing and prodding and tormenting me since first arriving in England. Sometimes I'd think about my life if I never came here, never had these nightmares, and never met Harry to fuel them. I was still weighing him on the balance to see whether I was glad to have him in my life or if our constant and coincidental encounters were worth it in the long run. But with the question once again left unanswered, I fell into the dark hole of unconsciousness.

 

When I asked for an undisturbed sleep, half of me knew it would be too good to be true. My eyes fluttered open upon hearing a distinct creaking noise in my darkened room. Squinting uselessly, I tried to make out the undistinguished figure moulded into the chair placed in the far corner.

     "Hello?" I barely breathed into the still air, fear of my voice and even more fear of the unknown stifling what little confidence I had. A few heartbeats passed and the figure shuffled in their place, causing me to flinch in reaction. Whoever it was, they began to gather themselves into a stance that doubled in size once off the chair. My first reaction was that this was a dream I'd sunken so deeply in that I didn't even realise it. So, knowing nothing could really hurt me, I pulled the duvet over my head and used it as a protective shield from the monsters outside-just as a child would. I closed my eyes and counted shakily up to twenty whilst reciting 'breathe, breathe' and waited until the darkness left me alone.

     The blankets rattled and an expected voice mused, "Hey, Kevin, how's being home alone?" It was so light and harmless which was a stark contrast to what I'd expected a serial killer craned above me to sound like. I lifted the duvet off and stared straight into Harry's humoured smile. Even through the darkness, I could recognise that this wasn't a nightmare- it was reality and my neighbour was actually in my room.

     "What the hell, Harry?!" I squealed loudly, kicking him back with my feet. Harry merely laughed before groaning into the blow to his chest, for then he started to gasp, "You didn't think I was going to let you off lightly for knowing you're home alone? What am I good for if it isn't for scaring you in the middle of the night?"

     "You're good for being my French tutor, and you should leave it at that," I snapped back. My heart was still beating irregularly despite knowing that this wasn't a figment of my imagination. To be honest, I'd rather wake up to the real, obnoxious Harry Styles rather than the one who wants to kill me-as crazy as that sounded.

     "C'mon, Ellie! I know you're glad to see me; I can see it in your eyes," he grinned cheekily. If he knew the truth about why I appeared so relieved, he'd recommend the nuthouse for sure.

     "Look, you've had your fun, now let me sleep," I sighed, rubbing my tired eyes against the back of my hand in an attempt to rid the fatigued that still plagued me.

     "You don't want me to stay?" he whispered curiously, shuffling his body so it came closer to my bunched up one. I stopped tending to my eyes and they widened at Harry's proximity, and the dampness of his lips reflected off the moonlight from the crack in the curtains. I involuntarily licked my own, my settled heart once again beating fast and heavy. It only took a brush of his soft lips against my own for me to flinch back sharply against the headboard. Harry's sudden advances-being home alone-not knowing how the hell to respond to Harry's freaking sudden advances-it all became too much and my pathetic instincts kicked in.

     Harry sat up, assessed my startled stance and rolled his eyes. "Really? You won't even kiss the sweet, charming, git across the road? How am I honestly supposed to make you mine?"

     His tone had dropped all signs of playfulness only to leave the dark, agitated voice of an alternate Harry I'd come to familiarise myself with.

     "This is a dream, isn't it?" I whispered, clutching the duvet in panic.

     "Wow, I actually had you fooled," he said impressively. "Yet I'm still not good enough for you. Well, I've tried to be patient and soft, but looks like I'll have to go back to doing things the hard way."

     In a flash his face turned to acid and his large hand latched itself around my throat. The unexpected suppression to my breathing gave me no time to catch it, so I choked on what little I had left in my lungs. It only takes about 3 seconds for the oxygen to stop travelling to the brain and I'd be unconscious to Harry's seize, but that's only if I was lucky. Either I died a humane way or had to suffocate until my body decided to let go. I went for option C instead and managed to get my hand up to dig my nails down sharply into the flesh of his tight grip. The sudden pain made him yelp and retract, giving me enough time to break free of the sheets and dive for the bedroom door. With only seconds to spare between my escape and Harry's determination to prevent it, I shot down the stairs to my next checkpoint: the front door. I cursed the locks on it as my sweaty hands fumbled to unbolt each one and ultimately end my dream without dying. Harry was hot on my tail so I had no time to shut the door behind me if I were to start running. Yet, I lost in both circumstances. My body was flung to the front yard grass by the heavy force of Harry's arms, and I was left choking from being winded so powerfully.

     "Kill me! I don't care-this is just a dream!" I spat as Harry pinned me down. Harry's smiles were so complex. With the kick of the corner of his lip and it could be cast as playful, but in another circumstance that crookedness held sinister motives that made you shiver. This was one of those smiles.

     "I think you need to start questioning which one really is your reality," he whispered sharply.

     I didn't even get the chance to witness how Harry ended me before the wrath of darkness swallowed me once again, as if it were a ritual.

 

***

 

I woke to the sound of the birds that only chirp as the sun dawns at the early hours of the morning. With that and the combination of smelling fresh dew, I was almost at peace. Until my body kicked in and I was shivering like mad. My eyes were the next to awaken fully, but there was nothing much to look at except for rough shards, recognisable as some sort of greenery-but more identifiable as grass.

     I scrambled to my knees and scanned my quiet neighbourhood that was still asleep, unknowing to the fact that a young girl just woke up, face down, in her front yard. My eyes then trailed to the front door which was open wide-as if someone had flung it open and disregarded closing it as they ran from the threshold. That someone was me, but that was just a dream...wasn't it?

     Of all my senses to kick in last, it was panic, and suddenly I was taking Harry's advice and questioning if I was even living a life where dreams and reality were in two different worlds.

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