In Our Stars

Charlotte is a musician in her mid-twenties who just got the best gig of her life, opening for the biggest boy band in the world: One Direction. At first, it just seemed like the best possible option for her career. That is until Harry Styles came crashing into her life, changing her to the core.


2. Awkward

I woke reluctantly the next morning. Today was the rare day off and all I wanted to do was catch up on sleep. However, since I had never been to Chicago before, I refused to waste it. I had big plans: Millennium Park, Willis Tower, Buckingham Fountain, and the Cloud Gate, among others. I rolled out of bed, dressed, stumbled down to the Continental breakfast, and ate in what seemed like one long, slow blur before my coffee set in. Then, I headed out the front doors of the hotel to catch the public bus, appreciating that I wasn’t famous enough to rule out that form of transportation.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sights, only pausing a couple of times to wish I had some company; the perky blue sky made me feel a little lonely, but I had already concluded no one would be interested in coming with me. As I was wrapping up at The Shedd Aquarium, I received a call from Big Joe, my bus driver, letting me know we had to move out early. We were leaving for St. Paul tonight, instead of tomorrow morning. He informed me that all of my belongings had already been moved from the hotel room to the bus and I should meet him back at the venue.

I decided to ditch the public transportation and grab a cab, because I was way too tired and burdened with shopping bags to deal with figuring out the directions. After a 20-minute ride, I had the cab drop me off behind the venue. There was no sign of Joe as I headed towards the deserted bus that I had come to regard as my home. I carefully squeezed through the partially closed accordion doors on the bus, hands full of gifts to send home.

I immediately noticed a figure out of the corner of my eye, sitting on the floor against my bed at the back of the bus. I almost screamed, but caught myself, when I realized it was Harry Styles, himself. For a second, I panicked, fearing I had entered the wrong bus, but the purple bedspread confirmed it was indeed mine. His head jerked up towards me when he finally noticed that I was standing there, dumfounded, mouth almost to the floor. Was he just brooding in the dark?

“I’m sorry,” I apologized, even though he was the one on my bus. “Do you want to be alone? I don’t mind giving you some time.”

“Oh, no,” he started, sounding confused. "I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’d be back so soon,” he admitted, his thick British accent making the words somehow sound sexy. I need to remember to talk to him more often, just to hear him speak. “I’m sorry. I’m on your bus, when you’re not here,” he sounded slightly self-conscious. “Mine can just feel so crowded sometimes.” I had heard from the tour manager that Harry shared a bus with fellow bandmates Niall Horan and Liam Payne, while Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik shared one of their own.

I just awkwardly looked at him for a few seconds, shifting legs, trying to think of something to say. I settled on, “I can imagine.” Lame. “Like I said, why don’t I give you some time alone…” and I turned to leave, bags still in my hands. I just wanted to get away from him at this moment, because I was so uncomfortable.

“No, please stay,” he said suddenly, making a halfhearted attempt to move toward me that never left the ground. “I don’t really want to be alone, I just needed to get away from all the madness. Three guys with very different personalities on one bus for hours at a time over months can be really intense. I just wanted some quiet. Your bus feels like heaven.”

“Ok, no problem,” I said, quietly, turning slowly around and attempting to process his rambling explanation. I put my bags on the “kitchen” table near the front as Joe came running onto the bus.

“Ok, time to go, Charlie!” Joe said excitedly in his thick, sometimes hard-to-understand Irish accent. He was running towards me, preparing to lift me off the ground like he always does, because he knows it bothers me. He stopped mid-stride, surprised by the sight of Harry. “Harry! What are you doing here? I’m pretty sure your bus just pulled out. They all thought you were asleep in your bunk!”

“Oh, bloody hell…” he said in a slightly exaggerated, faux-disappointed manner that made me briefly suspect that was his intention. “Maybe I could just ride with you, Charlotte?” he suggested, hopefully.

I really panicked at this suggestion. The idea of spending more than 6 uninterrupted hours in an enclosed space with this beautiful man made it hard to breathe. It felt like an elephant was standing on my chest, as I squeaked out, “Of course.” He smiled. It was a smile too big for this occasion. I was convinced at this point that he had planned this.

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