When we finally arrive in L.A, we’re escorted to a hotel and then given a suite. With only three double beds.
“I’ll take the couch,” I grumble, crashing on it before placing the ice pack back on my leg.
“Don’t be daft, I’ll take it,” Liam intervenes. “You’re wounded.”
“You’re a celebrity. You need your beauty rest,” I mock.
“Anne I insist.”
I gaze at him, perplexed. What is up with him?
“But I want to sleep on the couch. It’s the only place where I know I’ll be alone,” I reason.
“Well I’m bloody tired, I’m not going to argue with you two,” Zayn declares, yawning. “Wanna bunk with me Nialler?”
“Sure, wait a sec,” the blonde nods, looking at his phone. “And bam. Midnight,” he declares. “Sophie and I won the bet Harold, so the girls can come to a concert.”
“Yes!” my twin cheers, clapping before high-fiving the Irish boy.
“Fucking great,” Harry grunts sarcastically.
“Well if it can lessen the impact of your loss, why not think of it as a birthday gift?” I propose. “After all, it is in a week so it gives you the time to plan your security system,” I trail on sarcastically.
“I swear to God Anne, you’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to us,” Harry scowls.
“You have no idea―”
“Enough. Let’s all go to bed alright?” Louis cuts me off. “We’ll sort all of this out tomorrow when we’re rested and thinking clearly. Anne you’re sleeping with me, end of the discussion.”
“I don’t want to sleep with you: I’m sleeping alone on the couch,” I deny.
“Sorry Anne, but I’m taking the couch,” Liam contradicts, throwing his bags on it.
I groan, rubbing my temples. I don’t want to do this right now. But before I can argue some more, Louis sweeps me off my feet.
“Louis put me down!” I grumble, pushing weakly against his chest.
“I’m not taking no for an answer love,” he sighs, carrying me over into one of the rooms. I exhale loudly as he places me on the side of the bed and I cross my arms over my chest as he moves to shut the door.
“Of course my opinion doesn’t matter, hmm?” I glower. “Nobody cares what Anne thinks or wants because she’s Sophie’s sister who’s a major pain in the ass―”
“Are you quite done?” Louis cuts me off, his voice barely above a whisper. “We have more pressing matters to talk about.”
“Oh really? Are you going to shove your dick in my mouth again to shut me up while you speak?” I mock angrily.
“I’m sorry Anne okay?! I didn’t know what to do or how to react and the boys we’re going to do worse anyways so I just zoned out and did what had to be done,” he whisper-shouts urgently.
“That’s a lousy excuse.”
“I know but I don’t know what to say or do anymore alright?” he sighs, placing his head in his hands as he sits beside me on the bed. “I’m just so lost since you arrived into my life Anne,” he continues, a hint of sadness present in his voice.
I frown, tilting my head sideways to look at him. I realise his eyes are watery, his breathing shaky and uneven.
“I know all of this is terribly wrong Anne. I know it. And seeing you unhappy just pains me more and more as the time passes,” he admits, still talking softly.
I play with my fingers, breathing softly.
“I’m not unhappy, I’m revolted Louis,” I declare. “This whole thing going on with my sister is sickening. Do you even realise how deep she’s in? She thinks Harry is doing all the right things for her, while he clearly isn’t.”
“Harry only wants her safety―”
“I know that, it’s very obvious he’s fallen for her just like she’s fallen for him, but she’s a human being and she has the right to express her thoughts and do what she wants to do. She can’t even think for herself Lou,” I elaborate.
“I know... But see Harry needs her like he needs air. He was so destroyed when you and your father took her away a month ago. He was a wreck. I don’t want to see him like that ever again Anne,” he shivers, shaking his head. “It’s terrifying. But you’re absolutely right, this way of life isn’t healthy,” he shuts his eyes and takes a deep breath. There’s a pregnant pause before Louis starts talking again. “I thought about what you said earlier this morning. All day. About reporting us to the authorities. I was angry and hurt this morning, but more I thought about it, more I realised how right you were. So earlier at the airport, when I woke you up, I was actually readying myself for handcuffs and possibly prison. And then you surprised me when you played along. So this fear started bubbling restlessly inside me: we’re you becoming like Sophie? Did we break you like we broke Sophie?” He inhales, his control shattering. “Anne, I couldn’t bear the thought of breaking your vibrant spirit,” he says, fat tears rolling down his cheeks as his gaze pierces mine. “Because you make me strong. You’re so real and fierce and you don’t let anybody step on you without a fight and I admire you for that because I’m unable to do the same. I let myself get pushed around by the other boys, let their opinions overrule mine because I’m so afraid Anne. So terribly afraid,” he cries quietly, his eyes a teary blue. “But my fear isn’t worth your sadness,” he states. “So I decided while we were on the plane, looking at you and your sister, that I wouldn’t be selfish. That I needed to help you escape more than I needed you to be with me.”
“Are you saying that you’re going to help me get away? Really?” I whisper, emotion filling my voice. “Louis...” I’m at loss for words. He’d help me. I’d have an actual chance to make it out.
“Really,” he nods. “Because I don’t think I could stand messing your mind much more. And seeing you sleep with Zayn,” he adds, frowning. “That quickie in the bus this afternoon was unexpected.”
“Zayn was a onetime thing. It’ll never happen again, I promise,” I tell him. “It was a mistake for both of us.”
“Hmm,” he agrees, not really convinced. “Anyways, I’ll sleep on the floor if you really want to sleep alone,” he exhales, wiping his eyes before standing up and passing his hand through his hair tiredly.
I look at him longly.
“I think you’d be more comfortable on the bed,” I mumble, tucking a strand of my hair behind my ear.
“That I would.”
“Then sleep on the bed with me,” I propose.
“Are you sure?”
“Louis Tomlinson, I almost always speak my mind,” I say, a small smile forming on my lips. “And this time is one of those times where I am.”
He nods, also smiling faintly.
Seconds after, both of us proceed to change into more comfortable clothes for the night. I slip under the sheets with a pair of cotton shorts and a t-shirt as he shuts the light. My fingers clench around the sheets as the weight on the bed shifts, Louis sliding in beside me in a pair of track pants. I bite my lip, hearing him breathe shallowly.
“You should talk to Sophie you know,” I speak softly, turning around to face him. “She’s not broken beyond repair...Speak to her about something else then ridiculous bets or what’s going on here. Deep down, she’s still herself,” I explain. “You were her best friend Lou.”
“How would you know that?” he murmurs, also turning to face me. His shape is unclear in the darkness.
“She talked about you when my father and I took her. When she would feel down, she’d mumble about your weird jokes and lively personality all the time, longing for your company to cheer her up,” my eyes pour into his as his figure starts to appear more clearly in front of me. “In fact, she talked about each and every one of you at least once, depending on her mood. She cried over Niall and Harry numerous times, more than I can count actually,” I recall. “And then she’d ask for Zayn when she was feeling particularly destructive, muttering about how she wasn’t good enough for nobody. And then there was that goddamn plush turtle she couldn’t shut up about, wishing Liam could just come and give it to her all over again,” I sigh. “You guys are the worst and best thing that’s happened to her,” I mutter. “I mean, apart from you guys, nobody really treated her like she somewhat mattered.”
“What about you?” he questions, propping himself on his elbows.
“What about me?”
“Were you treated like you mattered?”
“With my father, yeah,” I nod, speaking carefully.
“How is your relationship with your father? How did it come to be?”
I shift, uneasy.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” the blue-eyed boy states rapidly.
“No I don’t mind... I’ve just never talked about it to anyone since he’s the only one with whom I talked about my feelings...” I exhale softly. “Not long after I was born, I’d been adopted, but then the couple died unexpectedly about two years later, leaving me orphaned,” I begin. “So I was sent from one orphanage to the other for all my childhood years. That’s where I learned that the world was a brutal place, where everybody needs to think for themselves if they want to survive. Where I developed my distaste for nakedness and exposure,” I continue. “I fought my way through life, trying to make someone out of myself while at the orphanages in order to get adopted. At one point, I was so tired of the bad living conditions; I was ready to do anything to get out.”
“You set fire to an orphanage, right?”
“Yeah. I think I was about nine or ten when that happened. But after that incident, no one wanted to adopt a little girl like me. I was about twelve when my father came looking for me. I was so relieved to have somebody to finally help me. Somebody to simply care for me. It wasn’t hard to connect to my father because I had nobody else. Love and care was so foreign that I welcomed it with open arms.” I take a deep breath. “Somehow I think that’s why I understand Sophie. Why I don’t give up on her. Because I know exactly how she feels and I did the same thing when my father came into my life. He’s done some wrong things, Lou. Some dreadfully wrong things, yet I stayed next to him because I had nowhere else to go. I had nothing else to do but support him,” I end. “Even when he tortured my sister repeatedly trying to prove his point,” I add quietly.
He nods. There’s a brief moment of silence.
“Life’s fucked up isn’t it?” he whispers. “It tugs you in so many different directions. No wonder some people end up losing their minds,” he sighs. “Not that this can excuse one’s actions, because I believe we’re all responsible for our actions, but some have it much harder than others.”
“Yeah,” I mumble.
A cold breeze crosses the room and I pull the sheets tighter around my body.
“Anne?” Louis asks after a pregnant pause.
“If we would’ve met in different circumstances, do you think we could’ve... I don’t know... be friends... or maybe, just maybe something more?” he says, stumbling over his words. “Because obviously it’ll never happen because when I do get you out, you’ll do the right thing and report us, but if we had met in a café per se, or at the park?”
I think about his question longly before answering.
“Well that would certainly depend on if you’d be trying to get in my pants or simply trying get to know me like you’re doing right now,” I respond, smiling. “And probably after one or two dates, maybe three or four even, I’d let you get in my pants. Because honestly, I’m not saying this to boost your ego or anything, but sex with you is refreshingly destabilizing,” I admit half-heartedly.
“It is, isn’t it?” he smirks.
“Don’t get full of yourself Tomlinson,” I roll my eyes. “I only have your band mates to compare you with and Niall and Liam we’re far from being pleasant.”
“What about Zayn?”
“It was wet. Too wet. And it was very cold,” I say, shaking my head. “But that’s enough talking for the night alright? I’m so tired,” I yawn.
Louis chuckles. “I’m tired too. So good night Anne. Sweet dreams.”
I wake at the break of dawn. I stay laid on the bed as light slowly fills the room, thinking about what Louis told me yesterday. I gaze at his sleeping form. Why does he want to help me if he’s so afraid to go to prison? Why sacrifice so much, for me? I never did anything but make his life harder...
I cock my head sideways, confused. “You're a complicated one Louis,” I mumble to myself, shaking my head.
“You're not easy to understand either,” he mutters, smiling faintly with his eyes shut. “Good morning,” he chuckles, still keeping his eyes shut.
“About my escape-”
“Lemme take care of that alright? I'll have it planned and ready to be executed on the night of your birthday,” he sighs, finally opening his eyes. “As long as you trust me, everything should turn out fine.”
“I trust you,” I nod. “Thank you so much,” I add.
“It's the least I can do.”
“But you're jeopardizing everything. From your career to that bond you have within the band. It really means a lot to me,” I persist.
“Anne it's no big deal-”
“Louis,” I silence him, placing a finger on his lips. “It is a big deal,” I whisper, my gaze dropping to his lips for mere seconds. His eyes meet mine and he nods.
“Let's stop talking about it alright?” he declares, sitting up and standing. “Let's order some breakfast before the rest of the lads wake up,” he continues, slipping a shirt on. “Maybe we can get something special for Zayn's birthday,” he adds before walking out the room. Right. Zayn's birthday. We're going to a club tonight.