"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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18. Stressed

 

 

Chapter 18:

Stressed

 

 

I spend the next few hours laying in bed, texting Noah. He tells me how nothing's really changed apart from me leaving. He mentions a few times about how he's missed me, but doesn't give any leads that he actually has feelings for me. Addelyn doesn't know what she's talking about. He's the same old Noah. I look at the time sitting in the corner of my phone and read 1:00. My stomach growls and I realize I never got to finish my cereal. I yawn and stretch, sending Noah one last text before I make my way back downstairs.

Well, Noah, it was great talking to you, but I think I better head downstairs and see what's on the agenda for lunch. I hope to talk to you again real soon! Miss you! xx

I hit send and run a hand through my hair. I sit on the edge of my bed, waiting patiently for Noah to respond. Within seconds he does.

Noah Anderson -- Lunch?! I haven't even thought about breakfast yet. ;) It was good talking to you too. I will definitely contact you again soon. Miss you too, Rae! <3

My face scrunches as I read over his message. He hasn't thought about breakfast? Huh-- and then it hits me. Shit! Time zones. I think for a moment. It has to be at least six in the morning back in Colorado! I begin feeling bad, thinking I distracted Noah from sleep, but then I realize.. he texted me first. Three. Hours. Ago. A warm feeling spreads over me as I think about Noah getting up at 3:00 AM just to send me a good morning text. I smile foolishly and almost text him back. I read over the message once more, and catch the small heart that I looked over the first time. Maybe Addelyn was right. I bite my lip, letting out a big sigh. This so isn't fair. In exactly one week I will be seventeen years old. Up to this point my so called "love life" has been nonexistent. Not one male has shown any real interest in me for seventeen years. Unless you count Brent Richardson. Though, no one ever does, because Brent will suck face with anything that walks. And now, the one guy that means the world to me might have feelings for me, and he's 5,000 miles away! Not to mention, Liam. Oh God, Liam... It's so wrong, but I really have developed feelings for him. He's been there for me since I arrived at this place; always comforting me and trying to keep me happy. But I can't shake the age difference from my head, and I know no one will be able to overlook it. Sixteen years is just too much. Especially since I'm still in high school. I sigh, again, heavier this time. This is a major problem. He looks so young for his age, and I act much older than mine. In fact, I'm actually going into my senior year at seventeen. I'll graduate before I turn eighteen. I can't even imagine what's going on in his head. Just the thought of him kissing me could have him thrown in jail. Oh no. I don't want Liam to go to jail! My good mood fades quickly and I shake my head. I don't know what to do. 

I drag myself down the stairs and toward the kitchen. The television is blaring in the living room and as I glance in, I see Zayn cheerfully watching "Keeping Up with The Kardashians." You've got to be kidding me. I notice a bit of dirty-blonde hair peeking over the edge of the couch, and assume Niall's in the exact place I left him. Oh, Niall. The least of my worries. I frown, thinking back to our fight earlier this morning and think about apologizing. I have enough things to worry about, I don't need my only friend mad at me. I reach the kitchen thinking about what to say, and find Harry leaning over the stove cooking God-knows-what. Whatever it is, it smells heavenly. He's smiling brightly as I enter, but as he takes in my facial expression, he begins to frown. 

"Something wrong, Rae?" he asks, a touch of concern in his voice.

I shrug. "Nothing worth worrying about." His frown deepens and I know he's trying. 

"You sure about that? That face tells me otherwise," he says, hoping to get some kind of answer out of me. All I manage is a nod. Admittedly, I don't hate Harry as much anymore. I was rash in the beginning because of all my unanswered questions and emotions. Can you blame me? My father left me, and my mother died. Faced with my father once again, I didn't know how to feel. Although, I know he tries. He doesn't know what to do with me either. He has no idea who I am, or what I like. He doesn't have a clue about being a father, and he doesn't know how to act. I get it. And yet, I have no sympathy for him. I know I can't hate him, because he's trying to fix it. I give him credit for that. But I don't want to know him. Over the years, I convinced myself I didn't have a father, and soon enough, I became okay with it. I didn't waste time coming up with false hope that he would come back. I made myself understand that it would never happen. I was happy, because I didn't set myself up for disappointment. And now he's here. Right in front of me. And as much as I respect him for trying, I don't want anything to do with him. Don't get me wrong. I'm not heartless. I'll humor him. I'll talk to him. But I will never let him mean anything to me. He doesn't deserve it. 

His frown remains put on his face, but just to be safe he lets it go. "Okay," he mumbles, going back to his cooking. "You have any big plans for the day?" he says trying to keep the situation from getting awkward. Plans? Where does he think I come up with all these plans?

"Uhm... no. Not really. I never really know what to do." He nods, understandingly, but his frown doesn't fade. I think he feels bad. "What ever happened to Rylee?" I blurt out, trying to get the spotlight off of myself. He blushes.

"Oh...erm... she's around," he mumbles, avoiding my eye contact. 

"Around? What do you mean?" I ask, curious.

"We talk," he says quickly, focusing on his cooking.

I smirk. "Talk? or 'Taaaalk?'" I say, putting air quotes around the second phrase. He looks up at me momentarily as if questioning my motives. I smile at him, eagerly waiting for his response.

"Erm...." he starts, not knowing how to respond. "Not sure what you mean."

"Does she like you?" I ask bluntly. He flushes a light tint of pink. 

"Uh-" I cut him off.

"Do you like her?" He looks up at me surprised. 

"Er.. yeah. She's fit," he says glancing around the room. Fit?! Is that all you care about?

"Fit, eh?" I look at him, questioningly.

"Y-yeah," he swallows hard. "Very sweet too." 

Hmmm. I ponder. How far can I take this? "Where'd you guys go the other night?"

He hesitates before speaking. "The pub." 

"Aahh, right. With Zayn?" I ask as if I didn't know. He stills, looking up at me. 

"Yes," he smiles sarcastically, gritting his teeth. "Anymore questions?"

I shrug, shaking my head. "Nope." He nods, going back to his cooking. "I think he likes her," I blurt out, searching Harry for a reaction. He pauses a moment, not looking up, then continues to stir whatever's in the pot. 

"Oh, really? And what gave you that idea?" he asks, dryly.

I shrug again, sarcastically. "Oh, I don't know.. maybe the fact neither of you could keep yourselves from drooling last night."

He looks up, offended. "I was not drooling!"

"Oh, please! You two couldn't take your eyes off of her." I fight back. He rolls his eyes, keeping quiet. I pause a moment before speaking again. "Are you going to see her again tonight?" 

He lets out a large sigh, and instantly stops what he's doing. He places both hands on his hips, staring at me, and for a moment I feel like I'm going to be lectured. "Why are you suddenly so interested in Rylee?" he asks, not quite glaring at me.

I sit back, holding my hands up in defense. "Can't a girl make conversation?" I ask innocently. 

He stares at me a moment, and a hint of a smile crosses his lips. "I suppose she can." He shakes his head, failing at hiding his smile and returns once again to his cooking. I smile back, rolling my eyes, and spontaneously make the decision to go apologize to Niall. As I get up, though, Harry looks up in surprise.

"Where are you going?" he asks, confusion displayed across his face.

"The living room...?" I look at him questioningly, unsure of why it matters.

"Oh..." he frowns, looking back down at the pot. "Okay." I hesistate a moment, taken back by his disappointment. Finally, with one last glance in his direction, I make my way into the living room. 

As I walk in, Zayn is unaffected by my presence. Niall glances at me momentarily and then looks back at the television sadly. I frown knowing I was a little too harsh on him earlier.

"Hi.." I whisper, sitting down next to him in the same slouched way he is. 

"Hey," he mumbles, not giving me a second glance. 

I sigh, my frown deepening. "I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier.. I was just... embarassed."

"It's fine. You had the right to be. I'm sorry," he says, but his tone is unconvincing.

"Don't be mad at me," I pout sticking out my bottom lip. He glances at me for a split second then looks away. "Niaalll...." I whine, resting my head against his shoulder. He doesn't react. "I'm sorry," I groan, burying my face in his shoulder. I wait, listening for some kind of response. "Seriously?" I say, pulling my face out from inbetween the couch and his shoulder. "Are you really going to be mad at me for yelling at you when you tricked me into going in there?" I scowl at him. 

"I didn't trick you!" he defends himself, finally speaking. "You went in there on your own!"

"You didn't stop me!" I fight back.

He sighs. "I said I was sorry. Multiple times!" 

My eyes get wider with frustration. "I know! I'm not mad at you. I apologized for yelling at you earlier. I don't understand why you're still upset." He breathes out heavily, not answering me. "Seriously, Niall? What's been up with you?" He looks at me questioningly, but doesn't say anything. "You've been acting really.... emotional the last few days. When I first got here it was all fun and games. Laughing and joking. Now though, you get mad at me so easily. Like the other day when I 'ignored you for Liam.' What was that about?!" He looks at me shocked, but quickly begins to glare. 

"Just don't worry about it!" he finally speaks, and storms out of the room. I sit wide eyed, with my lips parted, completely dumbfounded. What the hell did I do? I glance over at Zayn who is completely oblivious, still wrapped up in his show. I let out a deep breath and sit back, staring at the television. I have no idea what is going on though, because I'm too busy thinking about what I've done to turn Niall against me. A few short moments pass and suddenly the front door swings open. I hear them before I see them. 

"You cheated!"

"How did I cheat?! It was one on one!" 

"You tripped me!"

"I did no such thing!" 

Instantly, I hear the door slam shut and vigorous footsteps sprint up the stairs. Not a second a later I hear a deep sigh escape the lips of whom I assume to be Liam. I sit up slowly, and look back behind the couch confirming my suspicion. Liam stands, panting in the doorway, sweat dripping from his brow. As he wipes the moisture from his face he glances up and meets my eye contact. He smiles softly, but takes note of my expression and suddenly his smile vanishes. Quickly he glances around the room, I assume to check if anyone's watching, and pads his way over to me. 

"Everything alright, love?" he whispers, giving no thought to Zayn who is just inches from us. 

"I could ask you the same question," I respond softly.

He half smiles rolling his eyes. "Oh, you know Louis. Sassy as ever." I nod, returning his half smile, as he continues. "He's convinced that I cheated by tripping him, when clearly he's just clumsy and stubborn," he lets out a small chuckle, but too soon his face is serious again. "Now, it's your turn. What's wrong?"

I shake my head knowing I'll have to tell him eventually, just not now. "Drama with Niall. You could say he's just as sassy as Louis. I'll tell you more later." I sigh, looking into his beautiful caramel colored eyes. 

He nods. "Okay. Well, I look forward to hearing about it." He straightens, and lifts my chin so that I'm looking up at him. "I'm going to grab a shower. Don't let it eat at you. It's probably nothing." He smiles warmly and gently lets go of my chin. I nod, faking a smile, and though I know he's not convinced, Liam heads up the stairs. Once more I glance at Zayn, but he shows no sign of movement.

"Hi, Zayn." I say clearly, expecting no response.

"Hi, Rae," he smiles, replying a bit too quickly. Oh shit. Was he listening? To everything?

"How much of that did you hear?" I ask, a bit nervous. His smile reaches his eyes and shines suspiciously. 

"Not a single word."

I surpress a giggle, but begin feeling nauseous all at the same time. That little shit. I sigh, knowing I've got enough to worry about without letting Zayn get to me. Secretly, I hope he keeps what he heard to himself. I mean, Liam didn't say anything different.. did he? He called me love. Nah, all British people do that. He touched my chin... Yeah.. thats a little suspicous. But maybe Zayn wasn't paying that close of attention. I shake the thoughts from my head not being able to handle anymore stress. 

"Good." 

***

Shortly after my awkward chat with Zayn, Harry calls us all for lunch. It is unexpected, because usually we only eat dinner together. I take my usual place in between Zayn and Louis, waiting patiently for everyone else to arrive. Liam enters shortly after I do, his hair still damp from his shower. I smile up at him, almost too excitedly, though am relieved when he returns my enthusiasm. Niall trudges in moments later wearing his "leave me the hell alone" expression that he'd been showing off since he left the living room. I glance to my right, at Louis, who seems to have calmed down from his quarrel with Liam. Harry enters last, carrying his large pot of who-knows-what, and sets it down on the table. 

"Dig in," he says nonchalantly, and before anyone can move a muscle Zayn has the ladle in his hand. We all stare at him, amused, but he very easily ignores us. I surpress a laugh, and patiently wait my turn. I glance up at Liam whose also surpressing a chuckle and smile. Just seeing him puts me in a better mood. 

Lunch is quiet and fairly quick. As soon as everyone's finished their meal, they all stand and head in different directions. I tell Harry that I'll clean up, and Liam nods saying he'll join me. Harry smiles appreciatively and wanders off to do his own thing. Niall's the last one eating, and as he finishes, he shoots me a quick glare. Immediatly, I glance at Liam and gesture to what I've been trying to tell him. Liam takes note and calls him out on it.

"What's your problem, Niall?" he snaps, expecting an answer.

"Fuck off, Liam," he snaps back and abruptdly leaves the room. 

"See!" I turn, looking at Liam.

He nods, understandingly. "I don't get it, either." He frowns, walking toward me. I take a step back, knowing what he's doing. He looks at me, and raises an eyebrow. I stare back at him and he sighs. 

"Raegan.. no one's watching." 

I shrug, and keep quiet. He walks toward the entrance of the dining room and glances both ways out the door. 

"No one is even in the hallway." He looks at me expectantly. When I don't respond, he walks back over to me and wraps his arms around my waist. I respond mechanically, wrapping my arms around his neck. "When are you going to tell me what happened?" he mumbles in between my neck and shoulder. 

"Later.." I sigh, cherishing his hug. 

"Later as in today?" he asks softly, his breath hot against my neck. 

"Yeah. Later as in today," I repeat.

I feel his smile against my skin. "Good." 

"Now let go. We have a dining room to clean, and dishes to do," I command, though I don't release my arms from his neck. 

"Okay," he smiles, but doesn't move a muscle. I pull my head back looking into his eyes and smile. 

"Seriously," I giggle, and he lets me go. I move to grab the dishes from the table and look up at him. "I wash, you dry?" I ask.

"Sounds good to me."

***

As soon as we finish the dishes, I begin making my way upstairs. I notice, however, that I have a follower right behind me.

"Something I can help you with, sir?" I ask Liam as we reach the top of the stairs.

"Was I not invited to come with you?" he looks at me, his eyebrow raised.

"To my room?" I look at him a bit surprised.

He nods. "Why not? I was in there the other day?"

"Yeah, but that was before--" he cuts me off.

"Raegan, no one said anything then. No one's going to say anything now. Besides, Niall doesn't want to see anyone, and Harry's probably going out. Louis and Zayn will do their own thing. Trust me, they don't care what you or I are up to. Think about it. Does anyone usually bother you after dinner?"

"No.. but this is lunch, it's much earlier in the day. Not only that, I'm usually in the living room after dinner." 

He rolls his eyes. "You live here now. You're allowed to be alone in your room if you want." 

"But I wouldn't be alon--" 

"They don't know that!" He sighs. "Raegan, if you don't want me to go with you, then just say so."

"No, Liam. It's not that." I frown. "I just don't want you to go to jail..."

"Jail?" he looks amused. "Where did that come from?"

"Don't laugh! It's serious. I'm underage and you could get in big trouble for this."

"For what?! Sitting in your room with you and talking?! Raegan, you are blowing this way out of proportion. Nobody's questioning us."

"Zayn might be.."

Now he's really confused. "What?"

"Zayn was listening to everything that was said earlier."

"Okay..." he pauses. "So he knows that Louis threw a fit, and I took a shower?"

"Liam, you touched me."

His brow furrows and I think I've upset him. "The chin thing? Really? You think Zayn knows about us because of me touching your chin." 

"It's not everyday when your dad's best friend touches your chin."

He rolls his eyes. "You are being ridiculous." 

I sigh. "I just don't want to mess things up!"

He steps forward and graps my shoulders, looking me dead in the eye. "Listen. The oak tree outside is louder than Zayn. He's not going to say anything to anyone. Louis couldn't care less about our lives, because he's dealing with his own. Harry's oblivious, and Niall-- who even knows what Niall is dealing with. You're not messing anything up, because no one has a clue. I'm not going to jail. I'm not going anywhere. Not unless yout tell me to."  I stare at him, silently, soaking in his words. 

"Okay.." I whisper. "I'm sorry." He pulls me into his arms, confident that no one is paying any attention. I decided not to fight it and hug him back tightly.

"Don't be sorry. Just don't let it bother you." He stands back and grabs my chin between his fingers. "I never pegged you as the type of person that let things get to them." 

I shake my head. "I'm not. I don't know what's gotten into me." He shrugs, and takes my hand. I glance around to make sure no one is watching, and he rolls his eyes. 

"C'mon, love," he says softly as he heads toward my room. 

 

Once we're safe inside my room, Liam shuts the door. 

"What are you doing?" I ask, a bit suspicious. 

"Shutting the door? Would you rather I leave it open?" 

"Why does the door need to be shut?"

"Well, Ms. Paranoid. If the door is closed then everyone will think you want to be alone, and do your own thing. If it's open then Harry could walk by and see us. ....and then I could go to jail," he teases.

"That's not funny, Liam!" I say, glaring at him.

He chuckles, rolling his eyes. "Calm down. You still want the door open?"

I shake my head, defeated. He's right. I don't know why I'm so paranoid. 

"Good," he nods, stepping away from the closed door. I lay back on my bed, letting out a deep breath as Liam joins me. He sits lightly at the end of my bed, his legs still firm on the ground.

I roll my eyes. "You don't have to sit like a statue. Get up here." He smiles, and pulls his legs up on the bed, crossing them in front of him. I lean up on my elbows and stare at him. He stares back, his smile not fading. We sit like this for a long moment, before he breaks the silence.

"So now are you going to tell me what happened with Niall?" he asks. I nod and let myself fall back on the bed. I stare blankly at the ceiling as I tell my story of getting trapped in Harry's room, and shouting at Niall.

"And You apologized for yelling?" he asks as I finish up.

I nod. "Yes. But he's still angry."

He sighs, shaking his head. "That's weird. I wonder what's bugging him."

"Should you go talk to him?" I ask, and Liam ponders the thought.

"Yeah. I should." He pauses. "But not right now."

"Why not now?"

He stretches out on his stomach, looking up at me. "Because I'm with you right now." I smile, shly and look back at the ceiling. I feel his eyes on me as I lay there. 

"What are you thinking about?" He whispers, watching me. 

"Nothing," I answer him, softly, staring at the dull white ceiling. 

"Thats the biggest lie I've ever heard," he snorts.

I smile because he's right. "Okay. Everything."

"Like what?" 

"My friends. Harry. Niall. You..."

"Me?" he asks curiously.

I nod. "Yeah.. A lot about you."

He smiles. "Good things? Or bad?"

I sigh, rolling over on my side so I can look at him. "Both." He frowns. I pause a long moment before explaining myself. "I really do like you Liam... but this is so wrong on so many levels."

He looks down momentarily and a dark thought crosses his face. "I know.."

"I can never tell Harry..."

He looks up. "I don't expect you to."

"Never, Liam."

"I heard you."

"That means there's no future for us."

He frowns. "Rae, you're not going to be seventeen forever."

I look at him, thinking about what he said. "But with Harry... It wouldn't matter if I was thirty, he would never approve."

He looks at me, his eyes serious. "Since when do you care what Harry thinks?" I pause, knowing he's exactly right. I don't care what Harry thinks. I'll be free from him forever in just over a year. I nod, Liam's words hitting me like a ton of bricks. 

"You're right.. Maybe there is hope for us after all."

He smiles wide, his caramel eyes gleaming with promise. "You don't know how amazing it is to hear you say that." I smile back at him, but too quickly it fades. "What's wrong?" he asks, concerned.

"Does the age difference bother you? I-I mean, do you feel bad for liking me?" I whisper.

He shakes his head. "Of course not. Rae, I don't see you as some little baby girl. I see you as this beautiful woman who has caught every bit of my attention." I smile softly. "Does it bother you? Do you feel wrong liking some old geazer?" 

I giggle. "Liam, you're not a geazer! You don't look a day over twenty-two. Of course it doesn't bother me. Just the sound of it though.. Sixteen years is a long time, Liam." 

He nods, understanding. "Rae, there's a lot of.. issues.. with what we're trying to pull off here. That's very obvious. But we can't waist our time worrying about it. We'll figure it out as we go. Well.. I mean, if you want to."

I nod, knowing that is the answer to all my previous questions. What are we going to do? Figure it out as we go. "I do. I do want to." 

Once again he smiles wide, his eyes shining bright. "Me too. Now if you excuse me, the last time I was in here I made a very bad decision, and I'd like to make up for it now."

I raise my eyebrows, searching his face for an explanation. Realization sinks in when he begins leaning forward, and I am soon captured under his soft, pink lips. He prolongs the gentle kiss, pulling away slowly and staring into my eyes. I stare back completely mesmerized by him. He leans in again once more repeating the gentle action, and for the first time all day, I feel relaxed. 

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