Jamie McLaren lost her entire family in the shooting last year—even her twin brother. Nobody knows why the McLarens were targeted, or why Jamie is the only one who survived, but they all think she’s next.
Niall Horan is worried about Jamie. Ever since her brother—his best mate—passed away, she’s been avoiding him and getting herself into all sorts of trouble. Niall blames the crowd she’s been hanging around, but Jamie insists that she isn’t good enough for anything better.
All Niall wants to do is protect Jamie and maybe even make her laugh again, but all Jamie seems to want to do is avoid Niall as much as possible.


7. Ch. 7

  So the boys were gone. The months dragged by painfully. Snow came and went. Before Jamie knew it, school was out and it had been almost a year since the shooting. She missed her family so much--so much it hurt, but the only times she ever let that show were those last few minutes at night before she drifted to sleep.

  Most of her spare time was spent with Seamus. He made her somewhat happy, even if they ended up getting into a lot of stupid, stupid trouble together. He'd gotten Jamie into the habit of drinking--a lot. She soon discovered how beautifully numb everything was when she downed enough alcohol, which resulted in many unpleasant mornings and mad rushes to get to school while looking sober and presentable.

  The boys would next her endlessly...all the time. Niall was the worst. Most of the texts Jamie would ignore, but she would reply to the ones that only required a one or two word answer, and maybe the occasional emoticon. The calls she would completely ignore.

  At the end of May, Jamie got a text from Niall saying they would be back in Mullingar for a few shows in June, and then a two-week break. The others would most likely go back to England, but he was planning on staying in Ireland with his family.

  "...can't wait to see you!" the text read.

  "Brilliant." Jamie muttered sarcastically. She didn't quite know why she was trying to avoid Niall...maybe she was afraid that seeing him would bring back memories of better times...times she could never have back.



  Thursday afternoon, Jamie sat in orchestra rehearsal, trying to keep herself from driving a pencil through her eye. Apparently EVERYTHING she was playing was wrong, and she was in very near danger of getting moved to the back of the violin section.

  Rehearsal finally ended and Jamie was instructed to go backstage and practice her music for an extra hour. And that's what she was doing when she heard a familiar Bradford accent screaming out, "Vas happening, Jamie?!?" and just as she fears, all the memories came back, then Niall had to go and mention Damian, and the whole encounter ended with her storming away. She felt a little bad about it, but why couldn't Niall just stop worrying about her? Eleven months and nothing had gotten better...it was a never ending madness.



  Jamie got home from rehearsal, stumbled up the steps and shoved her key in the door. She swore under her breath as she struggled to get the door unlocked. John and Sarah weren't home yet, otherwise she wouldn't have had to waste her time with the dumb lock.

  Once inside, she prowled through the kitchen looking for something other than the crisps (which Niall had mostly devoured), but gave up the search after a while. She trudged upstairs and stowed her music case by the desk, then pulled out her phone and called Seamus.

  "'Sup, babe?" he answered.

  "Hey. What time tonight? We're still going to the club, right?" she opened her closet doors and frowned.

  "Yeah, does 8 o'clock? And yeah, we're still doing the club, why?"

  "I had a shitty day and I'm looking to get wasted." she growled, then frowned as soon as the words were out of her mouth. That didn't even sound like her. Seamus laughed.

  "Oooh, what have I turned you into?" he joked. "I'll be by to pick ya up then."

  Jamie hung up and sighed. It would be nice to get out tonight...drink some, forget about life for a bit...the idea sounded blissful. But surely, there had to be another way to deal with the pain without getting sloppy drunk every other night?

  The guys in Jamie's life had never been fans of Seamus. Ryan always said he seemed like an idiot and claimed that he saw him smoking weed behind the school one day.

  "You've seriously fallen for a pothead??" Ryan exclaimed one day when they'd all gotten back from school.

  "SHHH!" Jamie hissed. "Mum'll hear ya, so she will!" her voice had gone up about three octaves in her panic.

  "Let her then!" Ryan shouted. "You--you just deserve so much better, sis." he sighed.

  Damian on the other hand was a little gentler. Whenever Seamus was the topic of conversation, Damian would sit there quietly and frown at the floor.

  "I can just see you getting hurt, Jamie." he said one time, "Emotionally, and physically." Jamie shook her head.

  "Seamus would never hurt me like that, ever." she insisted.

  "I don't know, Jamie. I've just got a bad feeling about this guy."

  "You should really listen to your brothers, Jamie." Niall told her one night. Jamie had called him to vent, but only got frustrated when she realized that he wasn't on her side.

  "Ahhhg what is wrong with you guys?!?" she cried out in frustration and had ended up hanging up on him. They'd made up the next day, but the issue was far from resolved.

  Jamie and Seamus didn't see much of each other for a while, but then Jamie lost her family, Niall went on tour, and Jamie had run to the first time that had promised love and happiness--Seamus. But was he living up to that promise? Jamie pushed that thought to the back of her mind and started sorting through her closet instead. What to wear to the club tonight?


  "I shouldn't have mentioned Damian." Niall said again. He was sprawled out on his bed back at home, staring at the ceiling.
  "Eh, don't worry 'bout it, mate." Zayn said while scrolling through his Twitter feed. "She's not mad at you, you know that right?"

  "Yeah but..." Niall trailed off. "...she's not as strong as she leads on."

  "What d'ya mean?" Zayn looked up from his phone.

  "I mean--she's real good at convincing you she's ok, or she's got something under control. But in reality, she just plain out doesn't want your help. I don't get it."

  "Jamie's a very proud girl, that's for sure." Zayn said. "And knowing Jamie, she probably feels like she's bothering you by accepting your help."

  The door burst open and Louis slid in on the hardwood floor before collapsing on the bed next to Niall.

  "You want me to call her?" he asked. "I think we've all got some free time after Friday's show if you wanna meet up."

  "No, no. You'll screw the whole thing up. I'll call her." Liam walked in and straightened the rug which Louis had knocked out of place during his grand entrance.

  "I don't care who calls her, just don't make her anymore upset." Niall sighed and rolled over onto his stomach. The others exchanged looks and Liam pulled out his phone.



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