My Brother's Best Friend | One Direction (13+)

The name's Amber. Amber Tomlinson. Yes, I'm the sister of Louis Tomlinson, the biggest player in school. That's about all I'm known for, and all I'm seen as. Although I'm attractive, I've never had a boyfriend. Wanna know why? Because Louis tells all of the guys to stay away from me, even his best mate, Harry. Louis says I'm "too nice" for my own good. And Harry . . . well, Harry's even worse. He's the most arrogant, egotistical player I've ever met. And he flirts with me constantly! I could kill him sometimes.

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6. Just Hold Me

I must have stood there with my jaw dropped to the floor, staring like an idiot, for an entire minute. I couldn't believe Liam Payne, the boy who had asked me out all the way back in seventh grade, and then got beaten to bits by my brother, was actually standing in front of me. 

I didn't even recognize him at first. He was way taller; obviously he'd matured, but he'd gotten more muscular and broad-shouldered- it was obvious he'd worked hard for this body, but he pulled it off effortlessly. He actually looked like a freaking Abercrombie supermodel, now that he had cut off all his curly brown hair, leaving only a buzz cut. The only thing that made me realize it was him was those sweet brown eyes and shy smile. It was the same shy smile, I realized, that he'd worn so many years ago when he'd asked me out. 

"Well?" he countered, smirking a little. I shook myself out of my daze and broke into a smile; I couldn't help it. 

"Liam!" I finally could speak. He opened out his arms and I rushed into them, breathing in the smell of his t-shirt. We released from the casual hug quickly, and he drew back and smiled at me again, his brown eyes sparkling. 

"How are you?" he asked. 

"I'm...," I blanked out. I didn't know what to say. I laughed at myself, gesturing with my hands. "I'm good! I just... wow! I can't believe that you're actually here." He laughed. "How about you?"

"I'm good, my girlfriend's in the bathroom and I'm waiting for her." He jerked his thumb behind him towards the ladies' room. 

"Ooh, girlfriend. So you've moved on?" I joked, swatting him playfully. 

He rolled his eyes and chuckled. "Yup. Sorry, Amber. After what happened with Louis that day when he kicked my arse for talking to you...," 

"Oh, god," I winced at the memory, flashing him an apologetic smile. "Sorry about that, by the way." 

"Eh, it was ancient history," he replied, waving me off. 

"Yeah, you seem much better now," I teased, looking him up and down. 

"Oh, shut up," Liam smirked. 

"So what have you been up to?" I asked, quickly changing the subject as I shifted my bag from one shoulder to the other. "What made you leave so suddenly? Intimidated by my brother?" I said with a smile, trying to make a joke out of it. I really did feel bad, even though it seemed it would be an equal, if not winning fight on Liam's part if he and my brother decided to go at it again. Not that it would ever happen, though.

"Ha-ha. No, actually, I moved to London to try out for X-Factor." 

My eyes widened. "Are you kidding me? Liam, that's amazing!"

Unlike me, Louis had an amazing voice. He'd always wanted to try out for The X-Factor, but he'd always been so busy with sports and keeping up his grades so he could get into a good college. Becoming famous was one of his dreams, because he loved being the center of attention. Another thing about him that was totally different from me. 

"Thanks." Liam blushed and looked at his shoes. "I didn't make it past tryouts, though. I've been training these past few years to get really, really good, so I can knock their socks off the next time I try out. I'm visiting in Holmes Chapel for a while, because my aunt lives here." 

I did a little pout. "For God's sake, it seems like everyone can sing except me. Even my own twin brother can!" I gestured back to where my brother and our friends were, gathered around the crane machine. "And now you? Sheesh. I'd love to hear you sing sometime."

"Thanks. Louis is here?" Liam craned his neck to see if he could spot my brother. Once he did, he smirked and waved. "Looks like he's giving me the evil eye," he laughed, pointing towards Louis who was glaring at both of us, looking like he was contemplating going over here and kicking Liam's ass for the second time. It occurred to me that Louis might not have even recognised him. 

I waved my hand dismissively. "Don't mind him, he won't beat you up here in front of everybody. Besides, it seems like you can take it now," I teased. He laughed. "He's just pissed because I'm naturally an outgoing person, and I happen to talk to a lot of guys. He just doesn't understand that not every one of them wants to fuck me. I mean, you have a girlfriend, for Pete's sake." I gestured towards the bathroom. 

"I wouldn't want to fuck you anyway," Liam teased, making me laugh. I shoved him playfully, causing him to laugh as well.

Suddenly, my phone beeped. I grimaced as I pulled it out of my back pocket, having no doubts as to who it might be. Just as I suspected, Louis' name flashed across the screen. 

To: Amber

Who the hell is that?

I turned back to Louis, giving him a look before typing a message back.

"Sorry, my brother's being an ass as usual," I apologized to Liam while typing. "He probably doesn't have the balls to come over here."

Liam just laughed. "You're cool."

I smiled, satisfied at my text, before I pressed send.

To: Louis

Calm your man titties, bro. It's an old friend.

"So where's your mystery girlfriend, huh?" I asked, raising an eyebrow as I slid the phone back in my pocket. "She's been in the bathroom for a long time. Or do you even have one?" 

"Ha-ha, very funny, Amber," Liam said, rolling his eyes. "No, she should be coming out pretty soon..." he looked behind him, and his face lit up. "There she is!" He waved a pretty girl with medium-length light brown hair over. She smiled cautiously at me as she approached, glancing from me to Liam.

I studied her as Liam snaked an arm round her waist. She was petite, around 5'1, with a cute round face and sparkling green eyes. Freckles dotted her small, ski-slope nose, and she smiled with her mouth closed. There was something so familiar about her, but I couldn't put my finger on it. She wore a polished blazer over a cami with a floral scarf tied around her neck, and the cutest high-waisted shorts I'd ever seen. On her feet were some killer combat boots, folded down so you could see the inner floral pattern. Her clothes seemed expensive, and she had this air about her that set me off, but I couldn't place it. 

"Amber, this is my girlfriend, Hanna. Hanna, this is one of my old friends from a long time ago, Amber." 

"Hi," I chirped, waving at her. She smiled back, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. 

"Hello," she said quietly, looking down at the floor. Ok, that was weird. Why couldn't she just look me in the eyes? Maybe I'd read her wrong; maybe she was just shy. 

Liam seemed to sense the tension, and he filled up the following awkward silence with words. "Right, well, Hanna's a model," he said, smiling proudly. 

"Oooh, Liam, you've got yourself a keeper," I teased. I turned to Hanna. There was still something so familiar about her that I couldn't place, and it wasn't the fact she was a model and I'd probably seen her around in the magazines. It was more like... I'd seen her somewhere else in my life. And by the chilly vibe I'd been getting, I didn't think we'd gotten on. But why couldn't I seem to remember it? 

"Where do you model?" I asked, looking her up and down. 

Her eyes were hard and steely, her mouth unsmiling. "Abercrombie," she told me stiffly. I resisted the urge to snicker. Jeez, what did this girl have against me? 

"Oh, cool." I said, shifting from foot to foot. I felt my phone buzz again, and I resisted the urge to groan, knowing it was Louis telling me to hurry my ass up and join back with the group.

 Hanna snaked her delicate hand into Liam's, and he kissed the top of her head. I knew then it was my cue to go.  

"Well, this has been sufficiently awkward," I joked, "and I can feel my twin brother's gaze burning like a freaking laser in the back of my head, so..." 

Liam nodded. "You have to go then?" 

"Yup, I think so. I'll see you guys around?" I started to walk off, not yet turning on my heel.

"Sound good," Liam called. I waved goodbye and then turned around, walking back to my group of friends.

Well, that was . . . weird. And really, extremely awkward. I wondered what the hell Liam's girlfriend had against me. I decided to focus on the positive, and think about how good it had been to see Liam again.

When I reached my group of friends, Harry walked up to me, with his hands on his hips. "So, Dots, I see I've been replaced," he joked, feigning hurt. 

I laughed. "Please, Styles. He's a childhood friend." 

"Childhood friend, right." Harry waggled his eyebrows. "And to think... I just lent you my hoodie, paid for your movie ticket and half the popcorn...," 

I snorted. "You're full of it."

He leaned in close to me, and I felt my heart beat a little faster as I breathed in that familiar smell.

"Cozied up to you in the theater...," he whispered in my ear, sending shivers down my spine.

"Harry...," I whispered, unable to say more. My knees felt weak for some reason; I felt lightheaded and my heart was racing a million times a minute.   

What was going on? I think I must be coming down with something.

Pull yourself together, Dots!

Immediately Styles pulled away, stepping away from me like I had the plague. Immediately after, I understood why.

Louis sauntered up to me, an angry expression on his face.

"Lecture time," he spat, grabbing my arm and pulling me away.

Geez! Before I could even reunite with the rest of my friends, too! He practically dragged me away until everyone was out of earshot. I rolled my eyes, wanting to scream. Not again!

"Great, another fucking lecture," I groaned as Louis crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at me like I'd just killed Santa Claus. 

"Why were you talking to him?" he asked, clenching his teeth through his words. 

"Talking to who?" I fluttered my eyelashes innocently, playing dumb, even though I tensed up inside. Wait, is he talking about Liam or Harry?

Louis took me by the shoulders and shook me roughly. I squealed and pushed him off of me. 

"Ew, get your filthy hands off of me!" I cried teasingly, giving him a disgusted look. 

"You're avoiding the question. Why were you talking to that Liam kid?" 

I sighed. So he did recognize him. And he wasn't talking about Harry. I felt a sense of relief at that, and I didn't know why.

"Lou, I haven't seen him since freaking seventh grade. We were just having a normal conversation. What, so suddenly it's a crime?"

"I'm not saying it's a crime, but-" 

"You always do this, Louis! Every single time I talk to one of my guy friends, you think it's flirting," I accused, crossing my arms over my chest.

"I just want you to be careful!" 

"Be careful, my ass!" I shouted sarcastically, suddenly angry, and a couple people looked over. I ignored them and clenched my fists, staring my brother down. "You don't let me have any freedom!" 

"Amber," he growled, getting up in my face, "you don't know what happened between Liam and I that day." 

"Yes I do!" I exploded, throwing my hands up in the air. "You beat the crap out of him just because he asked me to the movies. Asked me to the movies! The most innocent thing ever! I get that we were going through a hard time and all that, but-"

"It was for your own good," Louis said, his voice shaking with extreme anger. His face was getting red, and it looked like he was about to explode, right here in the cinema lobby. 

"Please," I scoffed. I realized I was dragging this on a bit, but I couldn't stop. I just kept rambling on, my anger getting the best of me. "You don't realize how many opportunities I might have missed. Finding a guy that would treat me like a princess. It's every girl's dream, and I just might have crushed it! All because of your stupid, protective rules!" I stomped my foot.

"They're not stupid, they're to protect you!" 

I snorted. "Protect me. Right. Shouldn't I be protecting you? After all, you're the one who screws a new girl practically every fifteen minutes! You're gonna get someone pregnant after all that. And you don't even care! You treat women like freaking objects!" I yelled, getting even more worked up. I couldn't help myself; I was spiraling up, and from the looks of it Louis was too. "Hypocrite!"

People were starting to stop and stare, my friends caught on and gathered around, watching us intently, with concerned looks on their faces.

"And so does every other guy! It's what we do! Guys suck! You're never going to find someone who treats you like a princess or whatever. They're all after one thing!" Louis roared, throwing his hands up in the air.

I gasped. I couldn't believe him sometimes!

"I mean, who do you have in mind, exactly, that you think would treat you like that?" Louis asked, lowering his voice a little. His blue eyes studied me intently, and I dropped my gaze, my cheeks flushing for some reason. 

As I stared at the floor, wanting to disappear, one name popped into my mind. 

Harry.

As soon as the thought entered my brain, I pushed it away. Jesus. Was I high or something? Did Harry put something in this hoodie? Because there was no way that thought had just popped up into my mind. 

No. Freaking. Way. 

I hated Harry! Absolutely hated him! He was a total man-whore! He was just as bad as Louis, if not even worse. 

I mean, it was Styles we were talking about here! The definition of asshole! The reason for flipping the bird! He was such a man-whore, he was an insult to man-whores everywhere. He was so arrogant, and conceited, and obnoxious... there is no fucking way he'd ever even consider treating me like a princess.

Yeah, maybe to get in my pants, but...

Sure, he was gorgeous, with those tattoos and muscles, and that way he smiled at you that made you feel like you could fly...

And those eyes...

And that laugh... 

And that voice...

Wait. Hold up.

Something was definitely wrong with me. I resisted the urge to lift a hand to my head to see if I had a fever. Instead, I looked back up at Louis and looked him square in the eye.

"No one," I said. "No one at all." 

"It doesn't seem like that. I saw that blush." Louis said angrily. "What's his name? What's he done to you, Amber? Has he hurt you?"

My eyes widened and I tightened the grip on my bag so hard my knuckles turned red, then white. "For God's sake, Louis! You can't keep doing this! It's like you're... delusional or something! I swear, ever since Dad died...," 

"Don't you fucking bring Dad into this," Louis threatened. 

Harry stepped forward, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, man, calm down." 

Louis shrugged off Harry's grip, glaring at him intimidatingly. Harry backed away, raising his hands in surrender. Louis could be extremely scary when he wanted to be. 

"I can if I want to! I just did!" I screamed, hot tears of anger and frustration springing to my eyes. I blinked them away. "Stop trying to replace him! He's never. Coming. Back." I whispered the last part.

Something in Louis' face broke. His face softened and his eyes grew sad, and he dropped his gaze to the floor. 

I couldn't take it anymore. Holding back a sob, I turned away from the group and ran straight to the bathroom, letting the tears flow freely down my face, not caring who was watching me. 

"Amber!" I heard Pietra and a few of the others call out from behind me, but I just ignored them.

This wasn't about the guys anymore. This was about something far deeper, something I'd hidden deep inside my soul. 

The grief I felt for my dad's death still haunted me as if it happened yesterday. I just kept it bottled up inside. And right here, in the freaking movie theater, the bottle broke, and so did my heart. 

I was so close to him. I'd always been a daddy's girl. And there's always been an empty space in my heart after he died. Louis, he'd really done the best he could trying to be the only male guy left in my life. But our father's death had really scarred him. He was the one that watched him die, in front of his very eyes. He'd been in the car when the accident had happened.

Maybe that's why he was so protective of me. He never wanted anything like that to happen to me. He didn't want to lose me. Aside from our mom, who was barely even here anyway, I was all he had left.

I tried to avoid thinking about it, because the feeling of grief was as painful as a piercing knife right in the chest. 

But here I was, thinking about it again. 

Luckily, no one was in the girls' bathroom when I burst in. I slid off one of my heels and jammed it into the door so no one else could get in. Then I walked in front of the mirror, and stood in front of my broken reflection.

My face was stained with tears and makeup. My nose was red like a pig, and my cheeks were still red from all that angry yelling. 

I hadn't meant to yell at Louis. I knew he was just doing the best he could, just trying to protect me. 

But underneath it all, I was broken too.

I could laugh. I could smile. I could joke. I could seem like the happiest girl in the world. But underneath it all, I was just a mess of blurry sadness. 

I closed my eyes and let the tears just fall down my face, letting a sob escape my lips. I couldn't believe I'd almost broken down in public. I never cried; not in front of anyone, anyway.

I just missed my dad so much. 

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. 

"Fuck off, it's occupied," I called out, my voice husky from crying. 

"Dots, it's me, open up." Harry's voice floated out from the crack in the door. 

I froze, my heart hammering in my chest. I yanked some paper towels from the dispenser on the wall and ran them over warm water, frantically rubbing them over my eyes to erase all evidence of my tears. I just knew Harry would laugh at me.

But then, I realized that I had to laugh at myself. He couldn't even go in here if he wanted to. It was the ladies' loo, for God's sake! 

"Dots, come on, don't be a party-pooper," Harry complained, banging on the door again. 

"It's the fucking girl's bathroom!"

"You know you want me to come in here."

"Heck no!"

"Fine. You asked for it." 

A second later, the door burst open, much to my dismay; it actually caused my shoe in there to break. I stood there, mouth wide open, as Harry stood there in the doorway, a smirk on his face. 

"Just wanted to make sure you were okay." 

I swiped at my eyes and glared at him angrily. 

The only thing I could think of to say seemed the most appropriate.

"Damn you, Styles."

He didn't even laugh. He just walked up, not even caring that he was setting foot in the girl's bathroom, and flung his arms around me. I melted into his arms, breathing in his scent, immediately feeling safe. 

"No," he said. "No. You don't have to put up that front anymore, love." 

Tears filled my eyes. How had he known? 

"Just hold me," he said.

And I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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