Evie breathed in the smell of crushed coffee beans and sweet pastries from her seat in the corner of the Barnes and Noble café. From where she sat, she could see all the other customers completely immersed in their MacBooks and iPads. She let out a sigh and went back to the book she was reading. Her heartbeat was finally beginning to get back to normal.
The table jostled in front of her, meaning someone had sat down in the once vacant seat. She had been going there for years and was use to the guys who would sit down and try to flirt with her. Only one guy had ever been successful, but she wasn't in the mood for the pain that would accompany the thought of him, so she pushed it away.
A polite cough from the person across from Evie brought her out of her memories and back into reality. She caught a glimpse of a familiar purple hat before lowering her book to confirm her worst suspicion.
She was greeted by the camera ready smile of Harry Styles. His curls were beginning to escape the purple hat she had given him just a few minutes ago. He looked completely oblivious to the eye daggers she was shooting him, and to the fact that his pack of fangirls/hunters were still on the look out for him. They were going to be pretty peeved when they didn't find Harry in Starbucks. Evie got straight to the point.
"What are you doing here? You should have left as soon as you got out of my car." She could smell the expensive cologne Harry wore from across the worn, dark table. It was very strong, making her wrinkle her nose. Evie took advantage of sitting across from the millionaire and really looked at him. He did have the good looks that she had seen in magazines, but being this close offered something the magazines didn't share; his flaws. His skin was not perfectly smooth, but marked with little bumps and discoloration, and facial hair trailing his chin. The collar of his shirt peeked out from around his neck, mostly hidden by his peacoat. It had no doubt cost more than Evie had in her bank account at the moment.
But even with all the flaws, Harry was still more handsome than any guy you would just find on the street. Evie found his faults interesting. It proved that the illusions magazines and TVs stuff down your throat were wrong. Celebrities were never as perfect as you expected them to be. Except, maybe Jennifer Lawrence. But Evie decided to keep that thought, along with the rest of them, to herself.
“I wanted to return your hat,” Harry said, his smile growing larger. He reached up and pulled the beanie off his head and laid it down in front of her. His curls were out of control until he ran his hands through it a few times; it quickly returned to rockstar status.
Evie looked around the café. She and Harry quickly became the center of attention, and were surrounded by whispers and stares. The customers were beginning to notice that he didn’t quite belong. Why, Evie thought, must he be so dim-witted.
Snatching the beanie off the table in front of her, she stretches and pulls the hat back over his head. A look of shock replaced the smile on his face.
“What did you do that for?” His voice was gruff. He still wasn’t use to her abrasive ways.
Evie was too busy dealing with damage control to answer. A few tables away, a small group of preteen girls were eyeing the pair, whispering excitedly amongst themselves. His cover was about to be blown.
“What are you looking at?” she said, loud enough for the girls to hear. “Can’t my cousin visit me without getting gawked at?” The preteen crowd instantly got up and scurried away. Evie sighed. Why was she saving him again? Looking back at the pop star, she saw that he couldn’t believe it either. The quizzical look he had on his face earlier was replaced by a cheeky grin. Evie had to stop herself from laughing at his hair sticking out of the hat. She hadn’t done the greatest job putting it back on his head, but she wasn’t going to say anything.
Harry shifts in his seat and reaches for something in his pocket. He brings out a simple leather wallet, but when he opens it, Evie notices just how much money was stuffed into it. It was filled with both British pound notes and American dollars. Before he can finish the motion of pulling out a twenty, Evie interrupts him.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demands.
Harry stammers. “I-I was going to pay you for the hat?” It sounded more like a question than a statement.
“No, you aren’t. I don’t want your money.”
The British native narrowed his green eyes at her, trying to understand her bizarre behavior. Realizing that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with her, he folded his wallet and put it back into his pocket. Evie responded by going back to her book. The pair sat in silence for a few minutes. She almost forgot he was there, when she heard him sigh. It sounded full of grief, remnant of the guy she rescued from the fans earlier today. She lowered her book for a second time.
Harry had his elbows on the table, and his hands laced behind his neck. He looked miserable. “Can I ask you a question?” she murmured. The guy in front of her jerked up at the sound of her voice.
“Ask me anything.” He looked at her mischievously after he spoke, wiggling his eyebrows. Without thinking, Evie laughed. This made him smile even wider. Crap, she thought.
“Why were you strolling around outside by yourself?” she asked. “You must have a few bodyguards to look after you.”
“That’s the thing,” Harry paused. “No one knows I am here.” Right on cue, a faint buzzing started to go off. Reaching into his coat pocket, Harry pulled out his phone. After giving it a quick glance, he ignored the call and set the phone on the table. Evie briefly looked at the screen and saw it was filled with missed calls and text messages. She let out an exasperated breath. She didn’t even know him, and he was frustrating her.
“Okay, I am going to be honest,” she says. He nods. “That is incredibly stupid of you.” Harry raced to his own defense. “I was doing fine at first! I kept my head down and wasn’t noticed by anyone.” As if suddenly suspicious, he looks around again. “But then I made the mistake of passing by some store filled with girls. I didn’t see they had One Direction posters hanging everywhere and was looking to see if I wanted to go inside when I was made.
“I quickly walked away, but you know how determined the fans can be.” He looked up at Evie, a silent plead in his eyes. Evie broke eye contact, and his head dropped down. She couldn’t get over how normal he seemed. Evie expected the panty-dropping confidence that she saw when she watched him on stage. That wasn’t the version she was seeing.
“I just wanted to escape from my life for awhile, you know?” he began again. “My whole life is planned out for me, day to day. I am told when to wake up, when to shower, when to eat.” He was rambling now, and talking with his hands. Evie tried not to laugh at the flustered singer. “We had a little free time this morning, so I took advantage of it. I snuck out without Paul, our body guard, seeing.” He smirked at this, obviously proud of himself. Evie just rolled her eyes.
“That still doesn’t explain why you left without your body guard! What would you have done if I hadn’t been there? Had it been a few minutes later, I wouldn’t have been.” Harry’s phone buzzed again while Evie spoke. He silenced it. She didn’t doubt that a search party would be sent out soon.
“I just wanted to get lost in a place that I didn’t know,” he spoke honestly, searching for her eyes again. “Paul would have taken away from that experience.”
Evie finally made eye contact with him and couldn’t break it. She couldn’t begin to imagine the stress he must go through. He wanted desperately to experience things like a normal person, but he had no chance at that. He was Harry Styles from One Direction. Almost everyone knew his name.
“Fine,” Evie said, standing up. Harry looked up at her, shocked.
“Where are you going?” he said. She could tell he had enough of being on his own for one day.
“I guess I am in charge of you now, because you obviously can’t be trusted to be alone.” Evie smirked, and Harry smiles back. “I am going to drive you back to the hotel before the police are searching all of Wilmington for you,” she finished, pointing at his phone, which was buzzing yet again.
Harry stood up, now towering over her, with a curious look on his face. Evie immediately decided to squash it. “First things first,” she says. “I am nowhere near interested in anything romantic with you, got it?” He holds his hands up in defeat and gestures for her to lead the way. Because her back was turned, she didn’t notice the knowing smile he wore. “What is the name of your hotel?” she asked, throwing the question behind her.
“The Hilton at Riverside.”