In Perfect Harmony

Grace Masciale is a young waitress trying to get by on her meager salary in busy NYC. Her true passion is music, so she works hard playing open mics and doing whatever possible to "make it" as a musician. When Grace meets Liam Payne, she is thrown into a life in the spotlight. Can she manage a relationship with Liam, while attempting to follow her own dreams?

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29. Prep

Liam's POV

I was startled awake by the sound of my phone vibrating. As I rubbed my eyes, I looked around; based on the wall clock, it was 2:45 am, and I was still on the couch, the telly showing some infomercial. Glancing down at my phone, I opened the text from Harry that had woken me up. It was a photo, more specifically a smiling selfie, of a seemingly very drunk Harry and Leah.

"Heydhj mateeee, yoghlfg shoullld comsfhje and jooooin us down attr the clkybbbbb"

Yup. They were definitely wasted.
I typed a quick reply, "Thanks but no thanks. You woke me up. Get home safely."

I sighed and put down my phone. I was about to go to my room when I remembered Grace was here... I wasn't sure if she had ever gone to bed.

I padded down the hall to the library and opened the door. Sure enough, there was G, fast asleep on the floor, her guitar and songwriting journal next to her. I put away the instrument and tidied her things before gently lifting her up in my arms and carrying her towards bed.

"Hmm, Liam," she mumbled, semi-waking up.

"Shhh, go back to sleep," I whispered, kissing her cheek as I laid her down and pulled the covers over her.

"Goodnight, Grace."

I crawled in next to her and lay there, thinking. This was a big weekend for her. She didn't mean to ignore me... She was just anxious. It wouldn't always be the music first and me second, right?

****
Grace's POV

I opened my eyes to the sound of voices. Looking around, I realized that I was in Liam's room; the long white curtains on the windows were pulled tightly closed, with just a little bit of sunlight around the edges. I didn't remember going to sleep... hmm. I yawned as I looked at the clock on the bedside table. I did a double take as I looked at the blue digits. 1:15?! In the afternoon?! Wait a minute, wasn't I supposed to spend the day with Perrie? Why hadn't Liam woken me up?

Suddenly anxious that something had happened to Liam, I shot out of bed, opened the door and raced down the hall. To my surprise, the brown-haired boy was standing in the kitchen.

"Oh my gosh Liam! Why didn't you wake me?!" I exclaimed, bursting into the room.

"Well look who it is! Little miss popstar!" A female voice with a thick British accent spoke up.

I jumped when I realized Liam wasn't the only one there. Standing across the center island from him was a petite young woman with light lavender hair.

"Oh my gosh! Perrie!" My cheeks instantly reddened. Here I was, face to face with not one but two international celebrities, and she was calling me a "popstar." I was beyond flattered.

"Grace! Don't you look lovely!" She greeted me.

"Hmm?" I looked down; I was still in my shorts and t-shirt from the day before! I could only imagine what my hair and face looked like... "Ah! I'm so sorry! I'm a bit disoriented..." What had happened to me?

"I was just telling Perrie about last night," Liam helped me out. "You fell asleep after spending all night working on your set list."

Oh right, the set list. Now that my brain was beginning to actually wake up, it was all coming back to me.

"I didn't wake you this morning because I knew you needed the rest," Liam continued.

Perrie nodded in agreement. "We'll have to have girls' day another time, because now we have to get you prepped for tomorrow!"

"As in make sure my songs sound decent?"

"As in hair and makeup and wardrobe and photography!"

Whoaaaaa. I didn't know that this was that big of a deal. I mean, I'm a starting out artist in New York City, not a world-famous singer. I looked to Liam, who nodded.

"You've never done a gig like this before, so we're gonna take you to pick out clothing and meet your stylist and stuff. A photographer will be there to take some photos for marketing," Perrie went on. "Leah's on her way over."

This was all too much. To go from playing in a coffee shop to having a celebrity boyfriend and a manager in two weeks was completely crazy; add in two sold-out shows and you have utter insanity. Everything happening seemed so unrealistic, and yet, it was reality. MY reality.

Before I had a chance to respond, a pink iPhone sitting on the counter buzzed. 

"Oops that's me, one sec," Perrie excused herself as she picked up the phone and walked into the living room to answer the call.

I must have been standing there looking pretty dumfounded, because Liam looked at me and grinned.

"Liam, this is so much... I'm just a girl with a guitar and a dream. I'm no rock star... I just feel like you guys are making such a big deal..."

Liam chuckled as he walked over to me and lifted my chin so that my eyes met his.

"Grace, as much as I'd like to keep you my little secret to save you from the vicious world of the media and jealous fans and stupid haters, you are already pretty much an international celebrity. And even if you weren't, you still deserve to be treated like a princess."

Awwww. He was too sweet. I couldn't help the blush that spread through my cheeks. 

Oh my heavens. What was I saying? My boyfriend was LIAM PAYNE. I was helping to write an album for ONE DIRECTION. I wasn't the girl in the coffee shop anymore; I had to understand that, as crazy as it was.

Just then, there was a buzz at the front door. 

"That must be Leah," Liam said, walking out to let her upstairs. I was left in the kitchen, still overwhelmed by my life.

Liam returned a few minutes later, a smiling Leah and Harry in tow.

"Grace! We've got so much to do! Why aren't you dressed?" Leah was in full manager-mode, not even giving me time to greet her and her boyfriend. Harry just stood there and smiled at me, knowing better than to interrupt.

"I, um, had an interesting morning," I replied with a sheepish grin.

"Well then what are you waiting for now? Go!" Leah shooed me towards the bedroom, and I obediently scampered off. As I ran down the hall, I'm pretty sure I heard Liam and Harry laughing hysterically.

****
"No Harry, it's this way!" Leah shouted at him as we drove through the crowded Manhattan streets twenty-five minutes later. She was riding shotgun in Harry's black Range Rover, while Liam and I were in the middle row, and Perrie was in the back.

"Leah! I know where I'm going!" Harry snapped back, his grip on the wheel tightening as he made a quick turn.

"Obviously not, because the studio's in the oppsosite direction!" Leah pouted, knowing it was useless to try to argue with him.

We rode in silence for a few minutes before pulling up in front of a worn-looking building.  Harry stopped the car and turned to Leah with a smirk.  "We're here."

The look on Leah's face was priceless.

Liam took my hand and looked me in the eyes. "You ready?"

I nodded as I grinned. "Definitely."

We all piled out of the car and once inside, made our way up to the tenth floor. We were met at the wooden door by a young woman barely older than me, wearing a royal blue tank top, white shorts, and bright green sandals.  She was tall, with dark eyes, and dark brown hair pulled back with a hair clip. 

"Leah! Fantastic to see you!" The woman exclaimed.

"Great to see you too! Are we all ready?" Leah replied.

"We're all set! This should be a great shoot! And you must be Grace!" she said, turning to me. "I'm Katie, your photographer."

"Great to meet you, Katie!" We shook hands. "And this is Liam, Perrie, and Harry," I added, introducing each member of my "entourage." 

"I've heard all about you guys. It's an honor and a pleasure to have you here today," Katie smiled, shaking hands with everybody before leading us into her studio. Along the right wall was a white backdrop and a large amount of photography equipment. To the left was three racks of clothing, and a second young woman.

"Hi guys! I'm Nikki!" The dirty-blonde, tall, thin girl greeted us.

After about 20 minutes of introductions, in which we also met my hair/makeup artist, Stephanie, we were ready to get started.

"Okay, Grace, you're going to start off with Nikki in wardrobe, then when you're ready, Steph will get you all ready for me to snap some pics!" Katie told me. I watched as the rest of the group began mingling to pass the time; it was so nice that they were here to support me, but I felt badly that they didn't really have much to do.

Nikki looked me up and down. "Okay, I think for you, we'll start off with shorts and a blouse." She held up a light pink top and lightwash blue denim shorts.

"And then we can try a fun summer dress..." she shifted through the racks some more. "And maybe this skirt with this top..."

After holding about 20 articles of clothing up to me, her arms overflowing with hangers, Nikki led me to the changing room. 

"Okay, let's see these on you."

Thinking she was going to leave to give me some privacy, I stood there waiting.

"Everything ok?" Nikki asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah... Like, I mean, you don't have to stay. I can dress myself."

She gave me a kind of "are you serious" look. "Hun, there's nothing to be insecure about. I'm a girl too. I really don't care if I see you in your bra.  And you need to love your body. Embrace what God has given you." She put her hand on my shoulder. "I mean, if this is because of something else, I completely respect your privacy, but I just want you to know that nobody here judges you.  As a fashion intern, I've worked with everyone from Adele to Taylor Swift to Victoria's Secret angels. We do tons of quick changes, sometimes right in the wings of the stage, with no dressing room at all. You've gotta love the skin you're in."  

I was instantly comforted by Nikki's words. Either she spoke the truth or she just knew the right things to say; either way, I felt that she was someone I could trust. I took off my shirt and put on the blouse Nikki handed me. 

"See? Was that so bad?"

I couldn't help but smile, that is, until I looked in the mirror.

"I look like a fat marshmallow."

"You do not! Grace Masciale, we just went over this. You are beautiful."

"No, I'm not, Nikki! The fans think I'm ugly! The media says Liam is going out with me as a publicity stunt! Like I'm a charity case! And they're right! I'm just a fatass who was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, and now I'm known worldwide! As a charity-case fatass!" At that point, I completely lost it. All of my feelings, all of my emotions that had been building up inside came exploding out of me. I collapsed in sobs on the floor.

"Grace, Grace! You can't think like that! People say horrible things, but you can't let them get to you." Nikki sat down on the floor beside me and stroked my arm as I lay there, crying my eyes out. "That is the most ridiculous crap I've ever heard, and you know it too."

"What's going on?" I heard a male voice coming from the doorway. No, not Liam. I didn't want him to see me like this.

Nikki quickly caught Liam up on my outburst. I think she thought she was doing so quietly without me hearing, but even though I was sobbing, I could tell they were having a conversation.

"No, Liam, go away!" I blubbered. "You can't help me."

A few seconds later, the door clicked shut, and I glanced up to see Liam sitting next to me where Nikki had been. I assumed that she had left the room. The look on his face was absolutely heartbreaking.

"Grace, how can you say these things about yourself?" he asked.

"They're true, Liam. Dozens of people have told me how ugly I am. How overweight I am. How I don't deserve you. And it's all true."

"I can't believe you. None of that is true. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever met, Grace. Even when you have black makeup running down your eyes."

I couldn't help but crack a smile. My mascara and eyeliner were likely completely destroyed. Liam smiled too, and pulled me into his lap, cradling me in his arms. "I am so blessed to have you in my life. You need to realize that. You've seen me on tv before. Do you really, think, if this relationship was really so-called "fake," I'd be able to keep it up for this long? I'm a horrible actor."

I started to protest his opinion of his acting skills, but he cut me off. "If this is about your weight, you need to realize that you are none of the things these so-called "fans" and "supporters" call you. I bet none of them are toothpick thin themselves! You need to understand that in my eyes, you are absolutely perfect. Come on." He stood up and made me stand in front of the mirror.

"Look at you, Grace. You are exactly what every girl wants to be. Your hair is shiny, you have perfect, white teeth, your skin is tan, you have curves." 

 I did as I was told. Liam was right. I really did have a lot to appreciate about my body.

"But that's just it, Li, my belly." I looked down at it.

"What belly? Babe, Santa Claus has a belly. You do not."

I sighed. "But I really do."

"I'll tell you what. It's useless trying to argue with you. You are beautiful, in every single way. But in addition to ignoring what stupid people might say, you also have to be comfortable with yourself. If you want, I can have a personal trainer come over to my flat. For me, excersise is a great way to de-stress, so maybe it could help you too."

Hmm...That wasn't such a bad idea. 'Would you really, Liam?"

"Of course. I'd do anything to make you happy."

"Thanks, Li. You're the best." I leaned in for a kiss.

"So how about we do this photoshoot?" He chuckled.

"Yes. I think I'm okay." At least for now...

"Alrighty, then. Nikki!"

Within five minutes, I was dressed and being in every which way pampered by the crew. Stephanie, a short blonde who was probably in her early thirties, was super nice, and seemed to be really motherly. She had my hair curled and hairsprayed in no time, and was soon working on my makeup, while Nikki was painting my nails. I wasn't a megastar by any means, so I didn't have a 12-person glamor team, but this was all I really needed.

"Okay, you are done," Stephanie said, spinning me around in the chair so that I could see myself.

I nearly gasped as I looked in the mirror.

I was no longer the red-eyed, miserable being I had been thirty-five minutes before. 

I was a woman. 

My medium-length hair was curled into tiny ringlets, and my makeup looked fantastic. I had smoky eyes, but they weren't overdone, and the blush on my cheeks highlighted my cheekbones. Stephanie had finished it off with a pink lipstick.

"Wow. Thank you so much, guys. I'm speechless."

They just stood there, smiling, admiring their work.

Katie popped her head in the room. "You look fantastic! All set to start?"

"Yup!" I stood up and followed her into the main room. When Liam saw me, his jaw dropped.

"You like it?" I grinned, twirling around in my sundress.

"Like it? I love it!"

The smile that spread across my face wasn't one that would be coming off anytime soon.

"Okay, Grace, stand with your hand on your hip. Face sideways, and turn your head towards me. Good."

"Grace." Harry stood behind Katie. "Like this." And the twenty-five year old guy struck the sassiest pose I'd ever seen. The entire room erupted with laughter. 

After what seemed to be hundreds of poses and shots, in about ten different outfits, some with my guitar, some with a flower or other prop, my mouth was really aching, and  my feet were beyond killing me.

"Okay, Grace, I know you're tired but one shot with Liam would be perfect. And then we'll let you go home." Leah too seemed worn-out, although all she had done was watch me.

Liam, after getting a light powdering from Stephanie, wrapped his arms around me and we smiled for the camera.

"I think that was my favorite picture of the night!" Katie exclaimed. Before we knew it, everyone was posing for the camera, with the funniest faces and silliest poses. And I loved every second of it. 

After we finally called it quits at 9:00 pm, we said goodbye to everyone at the studio and made our way home, stopping for Chinese food on the way. Harry dropped us at Liam's penthouse, and I managed to make it into the bedroom before I completely collapsed.

****

A/N

OMG I AM SOOOO SORRY! I know this chapter was suposed to be up like two weeks ago, so thank you for being patient with me! But, because I took more time to write it, I was able to add a lot to it.

I hope you like it! Please comment/like/favorite!

Question (Just cuz I'm curious): How do you envision Grace? Does she resemble a celebrity, or is she have her own appearance in your mind? I want to know! :)

Also, if anyone would be interested in making a cover and/or video for this story, I would be so grateful! I'd be sure to give you all necessary credit (plus, I'd just love you a lot).

Thank you for sticking with me!

Much love,

Katie

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