The Romantic & The Cynic

Sky Benson is a romantic. She believes in the happily ever after and Prince Charming on a white horse, mostly. And as a wedding photographer, she gets to live it everyday. She could use a few more adventures but who couldn't.

But her life changes with a phone call. Her friend, another photographer, calls to ask her for a favor. He needs someone to cover a job for him and he wants her to do it. She decides to, thinking of it as a romantic adventure she can tell her grandkids.

Then she meets Zayn, the mysterious boy who doesn't think the world has room for romance. Will she be able to convince him otherwise? Or will she become a cynic as well.

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6. Chapter 6: Come On Over

After lunch, the band decided to record for a few more hours before breaking for the day. Sky had realized that today was basically a play day for them with people getting thrown in the booth to test out ideas while others sat around with notebooks and guitars and scratched out the beginnings of songs and ideas. After talking to Louis, Sky had discovered that the band had only been in town for a week and today was only their second full day in the studio. As she began to get an idea of their schedule and lack of privacy from conversations that occurred around her between the men themselves and phone calls with friends and family, she felt honored to be around during the process and told him so.

"Well, we want our fans to get as much of a view of our lives as possible without crossing the line into our private lives, you know." Louis threw a glance towards the couch where Liam was strumming a guitar along with Niall before continuing. "That's whey Liam is so concerned about having you here." His voice became serious for the first time that day. He had been so upbeat and energetic that it surprised Sky. "He was the last one to come on board about it. He was scared that bringing a stranger would mean trouble. We usually keep only a small group around us so to invite someone in can be very intimidating for them and hard to create trust for us."

It wasn't a stretch for Sky to understand why Liam was having second thoughts. He struck her as someone who protected those around him from the glare of the celebrity he had in his life, shadowing them from the intensity of it's lights. She swung her eyes from Liam and Niall to Zayn. He had set the sketchbook down and was looking at something on his phone, the screen casting a harsh shadow on his stubbled face. She decided to talk to Louis about her concerns since he seemed to be the most comfortable around her after such a short time.

"What about Zayn," she asked without looking at him. "He doesn't seem too comfortable with me being here either." That was an understatement and both Louis and Sky knew it.

Louis sighed and leaned back in his chair, knotting his fingers behind his head. "Zayn, my dear friend Zayn." Sky watch a look of concern wash over his face before the happy smile returned. "He hasn't quite been himself since he broke up with Perrie. Or Perrie broke up with him I should say. Told him that she had never really loved him, had only been using him for the publicity. It got pretty ugly and he probably didn't tell us everything that happened."

Sky returned her gaze to Zayn and remembered the article that she had read in the airport. So the breakup was true. It was difficult to remember sometimes that the person being written about was actually real, that their lives were being lived by human beings who had feelings and had to deal with the consequences. And his reaction to her was much more understandable when framed with that information.

"I can't believe someone would say that to someone else." Her heart hurt for him, knowing that it would damage anyone who heard that. "Especially someone they had been involved with."

"Yeah well," Louis' voice couldn't hide the disgust as he spoke. "Not much that she did surprised me. Let't just say that she was not popular with the rest of us."

"Is that the girl that he keeps on drawing?"

Louis nodded. "We can't get him out of that notebook right now. He started the day she left and hasn't stopped since. He always loved to draw cartoons and crap but this is a whole new level. I don't think he's even cried since then."

"He's lucky to have you guys around. It's obvious that you guys care alot about him." Sky had seen that as she had watched throughout the morning and early afternoon. The way that they always placed a hand on the quiet boy's slumped shoulder. How someone tried to stay near him at all times. How they had made sure that she had understood that the boy she was seeing was not the one that had been their friend and bandmate for the last five years. "I'll be sure to be careful when I'm around him. I don't want to make him anymore upset than he already is."

Louis shrugged his shoulder before pushing himself up out of the chair he had been sitting in. "I don't know if anything that you can do will make him any easier to work with but try to go easy on him. I like you already and I think that eventually he will too and we'll all still be one happy family next week."

"Thanks Louis." Sky appreciated the pep talk. It was good to hear someone say what she had hoped she was feeling. "I think that the next two months will be fun." She thought about what Liam had told her when she had first arrived. One week. That might be all she had. "Barring Liam kicking me out."

"He won't kick you out." Louis waved his hand in Liam's direction in a sign of dismissal. "He just needs to show that he's a bit of a control freak but he's a big softy underneath it all. You do your thing and we'll do ours."

With that, Louis left her. Harry wanted some advice on a set of lyrics he had just written. Sky waved him away and adjusted the settings on her camera before starting to take shots again.
Zayn had watched Louis and Sky talk, watched their heads huddled together as they spoke. A few times they had glanced his way and he knew they were talking about him. Was Louis spilling his secrets to her about Perrie? Was he laughing about how silly Zayn was thinking that he had the real thing with the beautiful blonde singer? Would she be laughing at him in her head as she shot her invasive photos? What if Liam let her stay past the week trial? He hardly wanted his time of pain to be recorded for posterity.

Liam was calling him to the booth, wanting to lay down a quick track of the lyrics that Harry had just written. He roughly pushed himself up and made his way there, trying to shake the fears he had just felt coming over him off of his tired shoulders. He was barely able to.

Another couple of hours and the boys were beginning to show signs of creative fatigue. The lyrics were getting nonsensical, the music was getting disjointed and the band was getting on each other nerves. It was Liam who decided to call it quits and the guys started packing up their things as did Sky. They were all staying at a house in Malibu about an hour from the studio and had all driven in the same car that morning so they were all waiting for each other to finish packing up before they could leave.

"Hey, we were going to throw some steaks on the barbecue tonight," Harry said to Sky as he slipped a beanie over his curly hair. "You should join us for dinner. The sunset over the water is beautiful from the deck."

Zayn cursed Harry under his breath. He wanted to crawl into the SUV and head home to his bed. He didn't want to have Sky still hovering around. He could see that she was hesitating but Louis and Niall reinforced the invitation so she accepted. Harry offered to drive her car to the house but Louis insisted he did since Harry was hopeless with directions.

Zayn knew that it would take at least another half an hour before they actually started to leave. They were worse than girls when they tried to go anywhere even when there was no press involved. He decided now was the time to make a break for some peace before they noticed if he slipped out. He grabbed his own bag, roughly stuffed his sketchbook and phone in it, slipped his sunglasses on his eyes and headed out the door alone.

One minute later, Zayn let the cigarette hang from his lips, the smoke rising and teasing his nostrils. He had found a quiet spot at the corner of the building and he leaned against the wall and let his body slide slowly down it. He needed space, quiet, solitude. He needed to get away from the band just for five minutes. Their concerned looks, their hushed words as they leaned in towards each other and looked at him.

And then there was Sky. He had felt his eyes lifting from the sketchbook for the first time in two weeks and watching her. Watching as she cradled her camera like it was a priceless piece of glass. Watching as she laughed while shooting the wrestling match between Louis and Harry, part of the action but separated by the apparatus in her hands. Watching as she had reviewed each batch of shots and her face screwed in an intense glaze. And watching as she had photographed him but tried not to let him see as she did it.

She had entranced him in her movements. And as the afternoon went on, he felt himself unable to tear his gaze away. And unable to stop making comparisons between her and Perrie. Perrie's laugh was harsher, Sky's hair was longer, Perrie's movements were quicker, Sky's were more graceful. Each comparison seemed to scratch at him, make him want to pull out his phone and see her again to validate his memories and comparisons. A specific video came to mine, one he had purposefully stayed away from. He had been able to avoid it for two weeks but he was unable to any longer.

His hand moved down his side and dug into his bag, removing the phone he had just put in it just a few minutes ago. He slid the bar across the screen and immediately went to the videos. He knew what he wanted to see, what would satisfy the craving he couldn't fight anymore. It was relatively new and the one that he had planned on always watching late at night on the bus when he couldn't sleep because it was so special. The one that would always make him feel like she truly cared about him. He hit the play option and it started streaming on the shiny screen.

The sun was shining in the video, shining behind her as she stared at the camera. She had little makeup on and her hair was thrown up in a simple ponytail, just like he liked it. She was sitting on a swing set and softly putting herself back and forth but moving only a few inches each way. Zayn gradually moved closer and kept the camera on her.

"Hey," he said as he came close enough so that her face filled almost the entire frame. "You aren't smiling today and that's just not right."

She looked up at him shyly and he felt like her sad eyes had punched him roughly in the gut.

"I'm leaving today," she said as she pushed herself back again. "I don't want to leave."

"I don't you want to leave either." He pulled her up and set the phone down on the bar beside them. He had been lucky at the time and had gotten them both on the screen even though it was a bit lopsided. He wrapped her thin frame in his arms and squeezed her tightly. "But we'll see each other in two weeks when you return from Rome and before I leave for L.A.. And then you can come visit me there."

"I'm going to miss your hugs. They are the best hugs." He saw himself smile over her shoulder as she said that and remembered that he had felt a warm sensation roll through him at the soft words.
"Then just think of this as the never ending hug," he said as he had held her tighter. "It'll be the hug that continues until the next time that we see each other and do the same."

The video had ended then. As it ended, it stopped with him picking up the phone and framing it on her one last time. It had been the last time that they had been happy, before she had crushed his heart. There was a week gap between Rome and L.A.. He hadn't picked her up at the airport when she had returned, her excuse being that she had wanted to avoid the press but he had expeted her to come right over when she had landed. He had been packing for L.A. when she had arrived. Expecting a week together before they were seperated again, he had immediately wrapped her in his arms. But she had stood stiffly against him. And when he pulled away, she told him she had come over to break up with him. That she didn't love him. That she hated him. Always had. And then she left. He felt his hands drift to the screen and softly stroke her smiling face. How could she had lied, said those ugly and angry words? She had to have been lying. She hadn't wanted to continue anything, let alone the hug. But he had believed in them in the moment. Believed in them right until she had walked in the door with the look of a stranger on her face.

As he set the video to play again, he mouthed the words they had spoken that day. And as he did, he felt the tears build for the first time. Zayn finally let the tears fall, let the sobs wrack his shaking frame.
Upstairs, Sky looked around as everyone packed up and noticed that Zayn was missing. She put her bags over her shoulder and spoke up.

"Hey guys, anyone see where Zayn went?" Everyone shook there heads no with some suggestions that he had gone to the bathroom or already made his way to the car so he could have a smoke. But a second sense teased her brain. She felt like he hadn't simply slipped out but had broken out. "I'm going to put these in my car and then pull up."

The guys told her they would pull their own car in front and meet her there. She waved goodbye and headed out towards her car, keeping her eye out for Zayn as she walked through the halls. When she walked through the lobby and out the doors, she turned the corner and headed to where her car was. And as she did, she was stunned by the sight that she came upon. The sight of the surly boy she had spent all afternoon getting glares from coming completely apart in front of her.
‹ Chapter 5 Chapter 7 ›

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