"Isn't She Lovely?"

Harry Styles hasn't always made the best life decisions. When a tragic event results in him confronting his past, emotions stir and his life changes drastically. Follow Raegan, Harry's little secret, as she loses her mother and is forced to meet her father for the very first time. Read along as she learns to accept her life with her newly found father, and faces the complications and advantages of living with five young men.

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20. Bradford Bad Boy

 

 

Chapter 20:

Bradford Bad Boy

 

 

Harry smiles, and nods. "Good plan. How about you go find him, and I'll stay here and make sure these four don't kill each other."

I nod and quickly run up the stairs in search of Zayn. Problem is, I have no idea which room he's in. The upstairs hallway is long and narrow, housing about four rooms on each side. Obviously, I know which room is mine, and thanks to Niall, I know which one is Harry's. However, that leaves me six rooms of complete mystery. I think back to the other night when I watched Liam walk back to his room. I vaguely remember which room he entered and decide to eliminate that one as a possibility. I walk carefully down the hall as if I'm going to be caught at any minute. Though, I don't know what I'm worried for, considering Harry knows I'm up here, and everyone else is too caught up in their argument to notice I'm gone. 

I begin to work my way down the hallway, peeking in rooms of the unknown. As I glance in each room, I notice the different colors on the walls and the diverse arrangement of furniture. My eyes grow big, soaking it all in. I've been here over a month and the house is still a mystery to me. 

After a short time, I find myself on the opposite end of the hall from where I had started. I walked past Harry, Liam, and what I assumed to be Niall's rooms, considering that there was a large Irish flag on the wall and a framed jersey that read 'Horan' on the back. Many of the rooms I pass are unoccupied, though there are still two left. Louis and Zayn's. I stand at the end of the hallway, the remaining doors on either side of me. I continue to be quiet, contemplating which door to open first. Though, my decision is made for me as I hear heavy breathing behind the door on my right. I take a silent step in the direction of the hushed sounds and gently push open the door, creating a gap just wide enough to peek through. I squint my eyes and discover two shapes laying on the bed, their lips connected. My eyes grow wide at the sight of the two figures. One of them is clearly Zayn, though I cannot fully see who is accompanying him. 

"Get it, Zaaaayn," I chuckle to myself, though I know he cannot hear me.

I stand just outside the door, desperate to find out who Zayn's sucking face with. However, after several minutes, the whole situation begins feeling hopeless and uncomfortable. Just as I make my decision to leave the obscure couple alone, Zayn stands, pulling his mystery woman to her feet. Confusion clouds my mind as I observe the girl from head to toe. Long, wavy brown hair hangs over her shoulders, and soft hazel eyes light up as she stares at Zayn. Something inside me insists that I know who she is, though I can't recall why. I rack my brain for some sort of idea, and then it hits me. My lips part as I slowly back away from the doorway. This can't be happening. I shake my head and run down the hallway to my room in shock. I quickly shut the door and press my back against it as I relive what I just experienced. My breathing becomes uneven. 

"No, no, no," I repeat to myself in a panicked whisper. "How could h--" I choke on my words. Empathy and disappointment wash over me as I try to understand the situation. I manage to crawl over to my bed and bury my head in my pillows. Part of me wonders why I feel so emotional about what I've seen, though I don't have an answer. Suddenly, there's a gentle knock at my door and I stop breathing completely. 

Shit. It's Zayn. He saw me. My panic rises. 

I hear the knock again, but I can't find words.

"Rae?" I hear a deep, soothing voice call as my door slowly opens. 

I exhale deeply, gasping for air, as Liam's comforting face appears from behind the door.

"Hey, what are you--" he interrupts himself, "Rae? What's wrong?" In an instant he's by my side looking into my wide eyes. "Rae? Say something. You look like you've just seen a ghost."

My lips part as I try to say something but I end up just shaking my head. 

Liam stills my head by placing his hands on each side of my face, and forces me to look into his eyes. "Whatever it is, you can tell me. You know that."

"Zayn.." I mumble.

"Zayn?" He looks at me confused. "What about Zayn?"

I swallow and briefly close my eyes, preparing myself for what I'm about to say. 

"I just saw Zayn..." I pause. "He was with a girl.."

A look of disgust appears on Liam's face and he looks around the room awkwardly. 

I glance at him. "Not like that," I shake my head. "They were just kissing."

Liam's face relaxes. "Okay," he nods. "Sooo?" He looks at me expectantly.

I sigh. "It wasn't just any girl, Liam. He was kissing ...Eleanor." 

Liam's eyes swell in surprise. He is silent for a long moment before shaking his head. "No."

I nod.

"Like, thee Eleanor? Louis' Eleanor?"

I shrug, looking at my hands. "Looked like Zayn's Eleanor to me."

Liam shakes his head. "He wouldn't." He looks anxious. "No. Not Zayn."

I nod. "I'm surprised too," I whisper.

"No!" Liam shouts. 

I jump, surprised. "Liam.." I start.

"How could he?!" his eyes dart to meet mine. Without warning he's on his feet, pacing the room. Rage consumes him. "Fuck! Louis will never forgive him..." 

I remain silent. 

Liam walks around in circles, cursing under his breath. 

I close my eyes and think about how upset Louis has acted the last few times I've been around him. I think back to the first dinner I had here, where all Louis could do was talk highly of Eleanor. I think about how distressed he was the next night. I remember how troubled he looked when I brought her up at Garfunkel's. I am reminded of the constant look of worry that I see almost daily. 

Eventually, I speak. "Louis knew.... didn't he?" The question stops him in his tracks. 

"What?" Liam looks at me surprised.

"Louis knew Eleanor was cheating. Didn't he?" 

Liam pauses, staring at me. Eventually, he nods. "He's known for weeks.." He grits his teeth and I hear the bitterness in his voice. "But this... he could have never imagined." 

My heart sinks. 

***

About ten minutes pass before Liam finally calms down. The room is quiet as he makes his way over and lays next to me.  I remain sitting, and begin brushing my fingers through his hair. 

I glance at my alarm clock. 8:00 PM. I look down to see Liam with his eyes closed, enjoying my touch. I smile slightly. He's so handsome. 

"So.. dinner?"

Liam hums as I continue to play with his hair. "They're still deciding."

"It's 8:00," I state. 

Liam shrugs. "I'm not hungry anymore." 

I frown, knowing the Zayn and Eleanor situation really upset him. "Liam.. what are we going to tell Louis?" I close my eyes in anticipation of upsetting him again. 

His eyes open, and I feel them land on me. "Nothing."

"Liam, he deserves to know. Plus, you're his best friend. He expects you to tell him the truth." 

I open my eyes to see him glaring at me. "I know.." he says defeated. I can tell it's eating him up inside. "Can we just give it a rest for now? I'll figure it out."

I nod, saying nothing more.

Liam sighs and sits up to stretch. "I suppose we should go find out what's going on downstairs." 

I nod again, keeping quiet.

He sighs. "Rae.." He grabs my chin. "I promise I'll figure it out." His piercing, caramel colored eyes burn into mine. He holds my gaze for a long moment before getting up and walking toward the door. 

"Okay," I accept and follow him downstairs.  

***

As we reach the bottom of the stairs we see everyone is occupied. Louis and Harry sit on the couch talking, whilst Gemma obliterates Niall at FIFA 25. 

I can hear Louis chuckling. "Gee, Niall. Your team's even shit at virtual football."

I try to keep from smiling as Niall shoots him a glare. He looks frustrated. Briefly, we make eye contact and he greets me with a small smile. However, within seconds, his eyes shoot to Liam and his smile is gone. 

My eyes dance around the room from face to face. No one seems to notice I was gone; Liam either, for that matter. I sigh, relieved. 

I follow Liam into the room, but stop and sit beside Louis, as Liam makes his way to his favorite chair. 

"Where have you been?" Louis asks the second I sit down. 

"Well hello to you too, Louis," I say a bit sarcastically.

Harry chuckles. "Get lost?"

I nod. "Kind of. I wasn't sure which room was Zayn's."

"Oh, right. Sorry," Harry responds, his forehead creasing as he frowns.

"No, big deal," I assure him, "Liam helped point me in the right direction."

Liam grins at the sound of his name.

"That's good." Harry's face relaxes. "What'd he say?"

"Oh." I pause. I forgot I went up there to ask him something. "Uh.." I think. "He was asleep. As usual." 

Harry nods. "Doesn't surprise me."

I nod and look over to see Niall has lost the game.

"Harry!" Gemma calls. "Come play. I need some real competition," she smirks as Niall glares in her direction.

"She's just saying that because she knows she can beat me too," Harry says to me as he rolls his eyes and gets up to join her. 

The moment Harry is gone Louis turns to me. "So.. Zayn was asleep, eh?" 

I pause, staring at him. "...Yeah..? Why?"

"Because Zayn entered the kitchen about ten minutes ago," Louis looks at me suspiciously.

I freeze. "Oh?.. Well.. he must have woken up."

Louis nods. "Right. Of course. My only question is where were you?" 

I stare at Louis, thinking as fast as I can for an explanation. "Bathroom," I state simply.

"Mhm." He doesn't believe me. "And Liam?"

I shrug. "Looking for me, I guess." He knows I'm lying. Fuck. 

Louis holds direct eye contact with me for several long seconds before he nods and let's it go. "Okay." He turns his head and begins watching the Styles siblings battle it out on the television. 

I exhale deeply. 

Moments later Zayn enters the room. I inhale sharply and avoid looking in his direction. 

"There you are, lazy. Good nap?" Harry comments, looking over his shoulder.

Zayn stares back, confused. "Uh... yeah." He realizes he doesn't have a better excuse. "You know me," he plays it off, "I'm happiest when I'm sleeping." He fakes a smile.

You're welcome, Zayn. I think to myself. I glance at Liam, but he's already looking at me. We're silent but I can tell we're wondering the same thing. Where did she go?

I continue gazing at Liam, blankly, as I think of all the possible ways she could have escaped without anyone seeing her, but am stopped by Louis's cold, piercing stare. His suspicion is apparent on his face. 

"S-something I can help you with?" I spit out.

He hesitates, soaking in my guilty expression. "Nope." He smirks. 

I swallow. I have enough things to worry about at the moment. I don't need another one.

***

Four hours pass and not a single person brings up the topic of food again. At this point, Gemma has defeated everyone in the room except Zayn and me at Fifa; and that's only because Zayn's too lazy to play, and Gemma's not sure enough about me to ask - which is completely fine with me because, to be honest, I really don't want to play. 

I sit in the same spot that I've been in for the last four hours listening to Niall explain what he did wrong in his last match with Gemma. I nod, occasionally yawning, pretending to understand every word he says. 

I glance around the room. On the other side of Niall sits Harry on his phone. From where I'm sitting he looks like he's texting. I get curious for a moment and then realize it's probably Rylee and roll my eyes. Zayn lays stretched out across the floor, balancing his head on his right hand as he watches Gemma and Louis fight to the death. Directly in front of me sits Louis and Gemma on the floor. Louis cusses under his breath because, once again, Gemma is winning. I honestly have no idea how one girl could be so good at this game. Just left of me is Liam, sitting in the same place he always is, fast asleep. I smile. He looks so peaceful.   

Finally the last match ends and I hear Louis scream, "Fuck!" through gritted teeth. Gemma throws her hands up in the air and lets out a high pitched victory scream which startles Liam awake. Harry, Gemma, and I burst into laughter as Liam tries catching his breath and glares at all of us. 

"Sorry," I mouth as everyone tries to calm down. He shakes his head and waves it off like it's no big deal. 

"I'm starving." Gemma half groans, half chuckles, still calming down from her laughing spree.

Everyone in the room groans in response. Gemma's words seem to remind them all of their empty stomachs.

"It's midnight," Louis complains.

"VQ's is open," Liam mentions.

VQ's. I repeat in my head. Never heard of it.

"I thought you didn't want to go out?" Harry chimes in.

"We didn't, but our options are limited now," Louis replies.

Harry nods. "Then is VQ's okay with everyone?"

I look at Liam and whisper. "What's VQ's?" 

"It's a diner," Liam turns to me. "It stands for 'Vingt Quatre.' You can get pretty much anything. Breakfast, burgers, pasta, and salads."

I nod approvingly. "Sounds good to me."

Louis, Niall, Zayn, and Gemma all nod in agreement.

"Then let's go." Harry urges, and everyone jumps up, grabs their coats, and heads for the car.

***

We return to the house in better moods than when we left. Niall's obnoxious laugh echoes in the night as we all make our way through the front door. Harry blushes as Gemma continues on about his embarrassing moments from his childhood. I listen intently, soaking in every word she says, laughing almost unavoidably. Liam watches me from a far, humored by my interest in Gemma's stories. Of course, he has heard them all before. Louis lingers around Harry taking every opportunity he can get to make fun of him. Harry rolls his eyes, and yet I can tell he's pleased with the way everyone is getting along. Honestly, I'm quite surprised myself. Gemma's great. In fact, I look forward to the next time I see her. 

It's not long after we get home before we start to disperse. I glance at my phone and see it's pushing two o'clock in the morning. I yawn, watching as Zayn and Louis say their goodbyes to Gemma and head upstairs. Niall and Liam start after them but not before they hug everyone in the room first. I watch as Liam goes from Gemma to Harry to me, hugging us each tightly. Niall, finding this act to be absolutely hilarious, follows, chuckling as he hugs each of us. However, I can tell by the small smirk on Liam's face that he's not doing this to get a laugh, he's doing this so he can hug me in front of Harry and not get in trouble for it. Gemma smiles, accepting each goodbye hug without question. Though, Harry stands confused, giving each of them questioning looks. I shake my head as Liam approaches me with open arms.

"See you soon," he whispers, almost as if it was a question, but I know it's not.

"Goodnight, Liam," I state loudly as he pulls away, the smirk on his face growing ever so slightly. 

Suddenly, I feel Niall's arms wrap around me, his deep Irish accent ringing in my ear.

"Goodnight, Rae!" he practically shouts. I cringe. 

"Goodnight, Niall," I reply softly, shaking my head.

Eventually he let's me go and follows Liam up the stairs. Several moments of silence pass as I'm left alone with Gemma and Harry. By this point, Gemma no longer intimidates me, and I've learned to put up with Harry, so the situation isn't as awkward as it would have been a couple hours ago. I turn to Gemma feeling like I should say something but when I open my mouth, nothing comes out. 

"It was really nice meeting you, Raegan," Gemma speaks for me. 

"You too," I say, returning her smile. "I didn't even know Harry had a sister," I add, giving no thought to what I was setting myself up for. 

"I didn't know Harry had a daughter," she replies automatically. 

I bite the inside of my cheek and look down at my feet as the room goes silent. I glance up at Harry and in a matter of seconds his expression goes from 'happy the family is together' to 'I'm gonna be sick.' I'm sure two minutes pass before anyone speaks again.

"I'm sorry," Gemma finally says. "I-I didn't mean that to be offensive."

I shake my head. "N-no, don't worry about it," I reply instantaneously. "There's a lot of things that were kept from both of us." There's an unexpected hint of frustration in my voice that even I'm surprised by. 

Once again the room is silent. So quiet, in fact, that I can hear Harry swallow. This time, however, only a few seconds pass before Gemma speaks up.

"Yes, well.. it's all in the past now, right? I have a niece. That's exciting," Gemma says, trying to lighten the mood.

I nod, desperate for the tension to go away. "Very exciting."

Gemma smiles. "Well, I should be going then. Quite the drive home." 

"Y-you're not staying Gem?" Harry finally speaks, his voice hoarse. 

"No, I've had enough of you boys to last me the rest of the year. By the way, you all really need to work on your footie skills," she jokes and Harry rolls his eyes. 

"I hope to see you soon, Raegan," Gemma says taking a couple steps toward me. "Don't let all these boys get to you," she smiles, hugging me. "If you ever need a breath of 'testosterone free' air, give me a ring."

Once more, Harry rolls his eyes. "We're not that bad, Gem," he whines.

"Whatever you say, Harold," Gemma says, shooting me a look. I laugh. 

I stay put as Harry walks Gemma out giving her a final hug goodbye.

"Don't be a stranger, sis!" He yells after her before shutting the door and turning to me.

"So what'd you think?" he asks.

"Of Gemma? She hilarious." Harry smiles. "I've got to have the coolest aunt in the world." I freeze realizing what I just said. Harry looks at me for a long moment, but before I can correct myself he cracks a smile, brighter than ever.

"I'm glad you feel that way," he says, and I can tell I've made his week. 

I smile back, nodding. Shit. I think to myself. Why in the world did I just say that? To Harry of all people? He better not expect me to start calling him dad. I mentally gag at the thought. 

"Well," I say, faking a yawn. "I should probably get to bed." 

Harry nods. "Goodnight, Rae." He smiles softly and takes a step toward me. I eye him suspiciously and watch as he lifts his arms as if he's going to hug me. I feel my eyes swell as I realize that that is his exact intention and make a break for the stairs. 

"See you tomorrow," I smile and disappear as fast as I can. Once I reach the top of the stairs, I quickly glance back and instantly wish I hadn't. 

I watch as Harry's arms slowly drop to his sides, the expression on his face is almost devastating. He stands silently for what feels like minutes before finally stepping in the direction of the stairs. I watch as he takes a deep breath, and runs both of his hands through his curly hair. 

I find myself frowning as I stand at the top of the stairs. I almost feel bad for him. Though, I do my best to shake the thought away reminding myself that he doesn't deserve my sympathy, and run toward my room before he reaches the stairs. 

As I reach my room, I shut the door behind me, not wanting to see Harry pass by. I stand facing the closed door, feeling an uncomfortable pang of guilt in the pit of my stomach. I shake my head again, but the feeling's don't go away. I sigh, taking the biggest breath I can manage before turning around and letting out a blood-curling scream. 

Liam, who was laying on my bed moments ago, probably to surprise me, is now standing in front of me, his eyes wide. Oh, no. What have I done? I close my eyes knowing that I had attracted attention. 

"Shhhhh. Rae, calm down. It's just me. I'm so s-" he mutters nervously but is cut off by the door swinging open.

I freeze, not daring to look at the face that just entered my room. I stare horrified into Liam's eyes as he stares past me with the same expression. This is it, I tell myself. This is the moment Liam and I are exposed. My heart begins beating rapidly. What's going to happen, now? Will I be kicked out? Will Liam be kicked out? What will Harry say? Did I ruin everything? I can't breathe. I haven't even been here that long. How could I have already messed everything up? I feel tears swelling in my eyes as panic takes over me. 

"Is everything okay in here?" I hear a native Bradford accent say a bit too calmly. I breathe a sigh of relief. It's Zayn. Oh thank God, it's Zayn! 

Moments later the three remaining boys gather behind him asking the same questions, worried expressions plastered on each of their faces. However, before any of them reach the door, Liam repositions himself as if he'd just walked into the room as well. 

"I-I'm fine." I finally spit out, almost gasping for air. "Just a little startled.. t-that's all."

"By what?" Harry asks urgently, no longer sad, but concerned.

"Uh.." I think as fast as I can but can only come up with one excuse. "..a spider.." I say, realizing that's the lamest possible excuse. Even I know my scream was one of pure terror. Freddy Krueger would have been a better excuse. "I really hate spiders," I lie. To be completely honest I'm not scared of spiders at all. 

Almost simultaneously all of the boys, except Liam of course, sigh and roll their eyes. 

"Really, Rae? A spider? You almost gave us all a heart attack!" Niall says, his eyes wide and his breathing uneven.

"I know.. I know. I'm sorry," I bite my lip. "I just figured.. with a house this nice... spiders were practically non existent.." Wait. What? Why did I say that? 

They groan in unison. "Even pop stars get spiders, Rae." Louis spits, sarcastically. I don't think Louis believes a word I've said. In fact I watch as his eyes dance around the room and land on Liam, standing just in front of Zayn.  

"Noted," I smile weakly, hoping he says nothing more. Thankfully, they all turn and head in separate directions. All except Liam and Zayn who stick around a moment longer. 

I stare at Zayn overwhelmed by an abundance of different emotions: anger, confusion, but mostly gratitude.

I open my mouth to say something, but before I can get anything out Zayn speaks.

"I'd be a little more careful if I were you, mate. I don't think Harry would be too thrilled to find out you're making his sweet, little daughter scream." He winks at Liam and then disappears. Liam's face turns bright red, first from embarrassment and then to pure anger at the sound of his words. However, he only watches as Zayn leaves. 

I stand silently as Liam turns to me. We look at each other, but say nothing for a good minute. I watch as the color returns to Liam's face. 

Liam backs up a step, slowly shutting the door, though he keeps my eye contact making sure I wan't the door shut. I nod.

Once it's shut, Liam approaches me cautiously. "I really am sorry.." he whispers. "I didn't mean to scare you."

I nod. "Liam, it's fine. You can stop treating me like a bomb. I'm not angry with you. I was just startled. Girls tend to scream when they're startled." Liam breathes out deeply and immediately closes the space between us, wrapping his arms around me. I hug back, but roll my eyes. "I'm fine. Really." He remains silent and doesn't attempt to move. I begin to bury my face in his neck, but jump back as my mind replays what just happened. 

"Zayn?" I say, staring at him in confusion.

He nods, understanding what I mean despite my lack of words. "I have no idea.." 

"So he knows..." I breathe in sharply as I think about the other day in the living room after Liam and Louis came back from their day of "football." I was sure then that Zayn had heard Liam and I's conversation but chose to ignore it. I bite my lip. "Do you think he'll tell?" I ask, worried.

Liam pauses but shakes his head. "No-- no, I don't think so." He seems unsure, but I choose to believe him anyway. I close my eyes, relieved. "But..." Liam starts, "there's no way we can tell Louis what we know now."

Instantly my eyes are open. "Liam-" I begin to protest.

"Raegan, if we rat Zayn out, he'll rat us out." His voice is stern, his eyes piercing mine. 

"But Liam," I argue, "what Zayn is doing is wrong." 

"And in Harry's eyes this is wrong too," he shoots back in no time at all, gesturing to us.

I fall back on my bed at a loss for words. My stomach churns at the thought of keeping this information from Louis, but there's no denying that Liam's right. If we tell on Zayn, Zayn will tell on us. I feel nauseous. Liam approaches me once again and before I can process what's happening I'm laying on his chest on top of my bed. I focus on his breathing as his chest rises and falls, trying to distract myself from the countless thoughts that run through my mind. My fingers intertwine with his and I close my eyes as his breathing slows. In minutes, I drift to sleep. Though just as I drift off into unconsciousness, just as I finally feel a sense of peace, my mind goes to that dark place I try so hard to avoid and the anxiety sinks in. My nightmares that I thought I had left behind, the same ones I repeatedly had after my mother's death, resurface, and I am left victim to them.  

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