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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23. Rotten Olive Eyes

Sundays. What was the point of them? Most would relax on the last day of the weekend before they'd start their daily routine of waking up, going to work then going back to sleep until the next one came around. For some, the point of Sundays was just to prolong the inevitability that their freedom was limited, so they cherished it. For me, I just wanted Sunday to be over.

     I'm not sure how I picked myself up from the kitchen floor last night and dragged my empty body into bed. The perks of being home alone meant my cries didn't have to be stifled by my pillow, but even my wails scared me too much to do otherwise. Loneliness killed me just as much as a broken heart.

     Oh, how pathetic I was. After a year of guarding my heart from the fear of it being broken, I now lay with that exactly done by none other than Harry Styles. Even saying his name made me feel sick. The worst part was I actually fell for it; I actually let myself believe that someone I'd come to admire could ever return the feeling. I was just an object, a toy in the twisted game he played. But only I was to blame for falling stupidly for a member of a boy band.

     Why did it take me until last night to wake up to my feelings? Why couldn't I have just admitted to myself weeks ago of the possibility that, yes, I may have just found an attractive boy that kept me on my toes. Maybe then, I'd have enough time to build a resilient skin in case he rejected me. Yet, I foolishly allowed my instincts to believe that staying ignorant was the safest, until last night when I realised I was doomed anyway.

     I didn't even dream. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear him snickering and he probably thought he'd let my pain slide, for I was being tortured enough. Now I was an empty shell, not even bothering to move my blank stare or wipe my drizzling nose. A girl couldn't care less if she looked attractive when a boy blatantly admits she isn't what he's looking for. So, she allows herself to drown in chocolate and ice cream and simply let the mascara-thickened tears paint her reddened cheeks. I didn't even have the energy to do that. I just wanted to be a sappy, melodramatic teenager and mope in self-pity until Monday arrived, and I could go back to pretending I was okay.

     Hunger defeated the strike to torture my body. So, reluctantly, I dragged myself out of my bed of tissues and tears and walked zombie-like to the kitchen. A simple meal for a particularly dreary day was a cup of noodles, and I boiled the hot water and allowed it to merge with the packeted mix of chicken flavouring. I decided to eat outside, where the temperature deemed chillier than I'd expected. Since I was acting like a despairing teenager who didn't care, the cold helped by numbing my hollow body.

     As much as I wanted this Sunday to end, I'd rather it not be spent constantly interrupted. The knock at the door sent my heart racing and my fear faster. What if it was Harry?

     I set my cup down and walked slowly to the front door, were I expected to see Harry's stupid frizzy hair and rotten olive eyes, but instead Louis Tomlinson greeted me at my doorstep. Upon seeing my messy state, a sincere smile broke out on his face.

     "Hi, love," he said, giving me another once over before asking, "May I come in?"

     "Sure," I said, opening the door further and allowing him to enter. "But if you're here to talk about him, forget it. I bet he told you to come over, but your words aren't going to convince me to talk to him."

     "Oh, I guess I'll just go then," Louis said, heading for the door. I groaned involuntarily and said, "Don't go- fine. What do you have to say?"

     "Harry doesn't know I'm here, but he's seriously cut up. He hasn't left his house and he refuses to speak to any of us. He missed a meeting today too. I'm not quite sure what's going on, but all I know is that you two had a little tiff and things haven't been the same."

     "Little is an understatement," I muttered. "He practically told me how completely usable and worthless I am. Why is he upset when he's the one who hurt me?"

     "That doesn't sound like something Harry would do to you," Louis murmured, and he came closer to reach for my face, smearing away some wetness on my cheek with his thumb. I hadn't realised tears of frustration were falling from my eyes. "Do you think that maybe you said or did something to get him fired up?"

     "Are you actually defending him right now?" I asked incredulously, shaking my head and scoffing. Louis sighed and said, "You know that's not what I meant. It's just that I know how sensitive he is, especially around you. The lads and I have seen the signs."

     "He was thinking with his dick and took advantage of me, but I knocked him back. Perhaps he isn't sensitive. Perhaps he just can't handle when a girl has her own mind," I said a little too loud for comfort. Now I was fully aware of the angry tears and wiped them away furiously. "He doesn't care about me," I muttered after taking a few deep breaths.

     "Yeah, that's why he's sulking in his room right now," Louis said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

     "What, can't he face humiliation?" I scoffed, turning on my heel to walk back outside. I felt Louis following suit. He joined me on the bench and I stared away from his eyes.

     "Maybe he's humiliated because you just rejected him," Louis said, nudging my shoulder. I reluctantly looked at him, and when I saw his eyes were full of playfulness, I snapped.

     "So it is my fault, huh? I'm the bitch who rejected Harry Styles, right?" I jumped up from my seat again before Louis could grab hold of my hand.

     "Stop twisting what I say!" he groaned, rolling his eyes and approaching me carefully. When he reached out to me, I took a step back, and repeat. I took one more step backwards, and Louis' eyes widened before he called out my name. It was too late to react to it; my foot slipped off the edge of the pool and I fell in, the frosty chlorine water meeting my clothed body. First there was the initial shock of the chilly liquid encasing me, and I allowed my body to sink to the bottom. It was as if I was suspended in time, the icy water freezing my existence and breaking me away from reality. I wished I could stay down at the tiled bottom until my lungs failed, but two frantic hands grabbed me by the waist and ripped me back to the surface. Once I emerged, my harsh existence did also, and I took large sharp breaths to revive my starved lungs.

     "Don't scare me like that, Ellie!" Louis said after spitting away the excess water from his mouth. His shirt was sodden and sticking to his tensed muscles, and I resisted the temptation to feel them beneath my fingertips. His hair dripped over his forehead, so instead I smoothed it, my eyes never leaving his soft aqua ones.

     "I'm sorry," I whispered, bringing my face closer. His eyes trailed to my lips and he licked his own, making a soft groaning noise. I knew this was what he wanted, as did I, so I grabbed his neck and pulled him in, our lips crushing together on impact.

     I ran my fingers delicately through his wet hair, and he had one hand on my lower back and the other tracing circles on my jawline. I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted to feel again, but the only thing that stopped that from happening was that his kiss didn't bring the same heart-wrenching passion I'd felt with Harry. It didn't feel right.

     Louis sighed into my mouth, placing two hands on either side of my shoulders and disconnecting our kiss. "We can't do this," he croaked.

     "God, why does this keep happening to me?" I snapped, my heart tearing just that little bit more. "Why can't you just kiss me without all these complications? Why won't you just let me want you?"

     "Because I'm not the one you actually want," he retorted, his eyes tracing every inch of mine. I could see it hurt him to say it, but both he and I knew it was the truth. I fell for the wrong boy.

     "But he broke me, Lou," I sobbed, holding on to my heart like it would burst out of my chest without restraint. I took a risk when I opened it up, but I realised now that it was just a pile of shards on the ground.

 

***

 

The warm, crackling fire flickered and glowed from the fireplace as I snuggled into Louis' shoulder on the couch. We'd both gotten changed out of our sodden clothes, and I let him borrow one of Noah's shirts and pair of jeans. Louis was twisting locks of my still wet hair in his fingers, and we were comfortable in each other's silence. I hadn't said anything since I told him what happened last night and poured my tears into his already drenched shirt when he carried me from the pool. Finally, I found the motivation to speak.

     "Do you think I'm easy?" I whispered, my voice mingling with the soft snaps and pops of the burning wood as the flames consumed it.

     "Hmm?" Louis mumbled, the hoarseness in his voice clearly indicated he was dozing off.

     "Am I easy? I mean, Harry thinks so-"

     "Harry does not think you're easy. And I don't either," Louis stated, lightly stroking the top of my head.

     "But he does! He even said it. When we had our fight, he said that I was convenient and that he could have any girl, but by getting with me he wouldn't be going through all that effort."

     Louis started laughing. I sat up from my position and frowned at him. Those aqua-blue eyes of his scanned mine and he shook his head, continuing to laugh more as my frown deepened.

     "You're kidding, right?" Louis said between chuckles, bringing his thumb up to press it against my forehead and smooth the creases. I swatted his hand away and the frown wrinkles were back once more. He sighed, his complexion softening to seriousness.

     "As much as it makes me sound like an ass, Harry can tie a fair portion of girls in his little web. But that hardly requires effort on his behalf."

     I scoffed, but before I could question Louis' point, he continued. "How long has it been since you met Harry?"

     "Nearly two months? Louis, what does it matter-?"

     "Nearly two months," he repeated softly, very close to my face. His breath brushed against mine, and I was so mesmerised by the closeness that I only just acknowledged his words. "It has taken Harry Styles nearly two bloody months to try it with you? And you're telling me he didn't put any effort in? I've known him to get bored with a girl within a week, but you're insanely stubborn and I think it keeps him trying. He's wanted you more than he led on."

     I finally realised what Louis said. In a way, he was right; Harry didn't make a move until last week too, and even then I had knocked him back out of my own fear of rejection. Immediate guilt waved through me as I remembered the hurt in his eyes. But, then again, that memory still held my own heartache as a result of the words he spat at me.

     "Then why did he feel the need to say that to me?" I whispered, fresh tears threatening to spill. Louis immediately noticed them and began to hush me before bringing me back into his arms. He stroked my hair again, his hand then trailing down to my side to rest on my waist. It felt comfortable, and I grasped that I did love him, but not in the way we both may have wanted.

     "Because he's an arrogant ass," Louis said. A chuckle escaped my lips involuntarily. Only Lou could make me laugh in these situations and allow me to feel so calm. "And I think he got a little jealous when we kissed the other night."

     "Jealous? That boy is way too complicated. Why couldn't I have just fallen for you first?" I murmured into his shirt material. Louis merely whispered, "Because fate directed you into Harry's path, and I think, deep down, you accepted that from the very start."

     I wanted to retort, to defend that cliché, but I knew there was some truth in his words. More than I wanted to admit.

     These past months, I'd been denying my feelings for Harry, but all along, the frequent encounters and crossing paths hadn't annoyed me as much as I enjoyed them. It was just painful knowing that I'd never get the chance to feel that way again.

     "Do you think he'll talk to me?"

     "If he doesn't, I'll make sure he'll get a right smack in the jaw," Louis teased, lightly bumping my own. It then turned into a soothing touch to my skin as he traced it delicately. The sensation was so soothing that I couldn't help but doze off in his arms, only to find that when I woke, I was in my bed- Louis must have carried me there and left silently into the night.

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