Candy Crushing

When studious Isla meets the gorgeous Louis Tomlinson at the British Library, she doesn't have a clue who he is. All she knows is he's cute, friendly, and knows way too much about Candy Crush Saga.

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1. Level 65

The chocolate managed to take over the screen. Again. "Damn it!"

I only realised I'd spoken out loud when the cute guy across the table chuckled. I dropped my head into my hands. "Sorry."

"It's okay." He peered at my latest miserable attempt at Candy Crush Saga. "What level are you on?"

I glanced up. "Sixty-five. I've been on it for three days."

His blue eyes sparkled as they met mine. He seemed sort of familiar but I couldn't place him. "Want some tips?"

"Please!" At this point I was willing to try anything.

He pushed his chair back and stood up. The bottom of his Superman shirt separated from his jeans as he stretched, revealing a sliver of tanned skin. Jealousy stirred my stomach. How could he be so dark when it was snowing outside? He tugged the fabric down and rounded the table to stand behind me. 

"Right, first off, you need to think ahead. The chocolates are a bitch."

"Don't I know it," I muttered.

"They're not impossible though. It's easiest to work on one side of the board at a time. Do you want to give it another go and I'll point out where you're going wrong?"

I bit my lip. If this guy found it so easy, he was just going to think I was stupid for not being able to do it.

"Come on," he said, dropping into the seat beside me. "It'll be faster this way."

He was so close I could feel the heat radiating off his body. I held back a sigh and pushed restart. 

For a moment he just watched, but soon he jabbed at the screen. "Go for the sprinkles and stripes combos. They're hard to get, but they're the best power combo at this stage."

I nodded and he let me play a little more before pointing out a vertical match low on the board. As the candy fell into place, more matches were made. "Always play the lowest move you can. It means it's more likely to cascade."

In no time, the level was complete. I just stared at the screen. How had he made it so simple? 

The boy squeezed my shoulder. "Well done."

He stood up. His arm brushed mine and my skin prickled. I lifted my gaze to find him looking down at me. "Thank you so much." I couldn't hold back the grin lifting the corners of my lips.

He sat down and woke up his Ipad. "It was my pleasure."

I eyed the tablet. "Do you play a lot then?"

His laughter washed over me again. "Yeah, I travel a bit. Candy Crush is a good way to pass the time."

That explained the tan. "Where do you go?"

"Here and there." He took a swig from the water bottle on the table. "I think I'll be in England for a while now though."

"Do you go to school here?"

"No, I'm a bit old for that."

I wanted to sink out of sight. Of course he didn't. "Sorry."

"It's okay. Do you?"

"Yeah, I'll be taking my finals this year." My phone buzzed on the table. A text message from my mum. "Ugh, I have to go."

I stood up, trying to think of some way to suggest we keep in touch without sounding like a stalker. I started packing away my belongings, but as I reached for my phone the boy plucked it from my hand. His fingers barely touched mine. My heart pounded as he tapped the screen, but when he handed it Candy Crush was still there. 

"It was nice to meet you." He smiled up at me.

"You too." I spun and headed down the stairs and out the door. The entire courtyard in front of the British Library was coated in snow. I walked around the edges, to avoid the steps I knew hid beneath the whiteness, until I reached pick-up point.

Mum was already waiting. I slid into the car and as soon as I had my seatbelt on my phone vibrated. I unlocked it and my heart stopped.

'So were you planning on telling me your name? Louis.'

For several minutes I couldn't move. I'd never known a Louis before. Did this mean he thought I was cute too? That was wishful thinking... maybe he just wanted to be friends? 

"Are you okay?" Mum asked. 

I looked up to see her studying me in the rear-vision mirror.

"Yeah, I'm great."

My ears buzzed and I didn't bother hiding the grin on my face.

'Isla,' I replied, 'my name's Isla.'

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