210 days after
Instead of taking a taxi from work, I decided to walk home. It´s not that far from the centre of Westminster to Queensborough Terrace. Something about 30 minutes when I hurry myself. The chilly air is tickling my face and I bet my cheeks looks red like I´ve just been slapped. Pulling my coat closer with tighten hands I start to wonder about New Year´s Eve. I am totally against celebrating it like it´s Queen´s birthday. I think I´ll stay home, one hand buried in bowl of popcorn and other one going through TV channels. James and I had plan though. We were supposed to go to his friends´ apartment and celebrate it with them. I haven’t spoken with our mutual friends since his death and I am not going to. Too many memories, too many familiar voices. I just don’t think I would handle it. On the other side, Bennet always comes up with this office party at New Year´s Eve. I think I could just show up, have a piece of cake and bit of champagne. I have never attended it because of James. He didn’t like Becca. He always told me she sleeps with Bennet to have her job. But the truth is Josh or despises her. She is still on her position because no one wants to be my assistant. What can I do.
When I arrive to my apartment I take a quick shower and cover myself to thick bathrobe with large fizzy socks. I always do so, like in these good movies, when the lady is so relaxed, lying on the bed sipping cup of tea and reading a good book. I try to do it but I get bored every time. What´s wrong with me? Suddenly my phone buzzes. Josh Bennet, the display shows. What does he want for God´s Sake.
“Hey” I say to him in my bored tone.
“Have you been asleep already?” He asks, probably terrified.
“No, what you want?” I tell him.
“I want you to join us. Few people from the office are having a drink in West London. Get yourself together and come over” Josh replies, I guess he is drunk a little.
“I don’t want to though” I shut him down again.
“Oh, don’t be such a pussy and come. I´ll send you an address. Bye.” Then after 10 seconds I receive the text with an address and winking smiley face. Douche. Maybe I could go out a little, have a glass of wine, laugh at drunk faces from the office and then go home. I quickly throw the bathrobe away and put on some dark jeans and black blouse. I am definitely not wearing high heels so I grab my black chelsea boots.
It´s not that crowded as I imagined it would be. Then I spot the familiar faces and walk to them. Josh is there sipping red wine with Michelle from the Human resources. Her office is just across to mine and I use to go with her on lunch sometimes.
“Hi you two” I briefly add and look around. They both sip the wine at the same time and gulp loudly.
“How many drinks have you already had?” I ask them with the smirk.
“3 glasses. Josh plays the milionair card again and buys drink to every woman here” Michelle replies and laugh at Josh. She has dark hair with fringe covering the whole forehead. I actually envy that fringe.
“And what´s wrong about that? I will buy you the fourth one, so shut up” Josh states and smirks at us. I giggle and look around again.
“Want one too? I am going to bar” Josh break the silence and I nod.
“White wine though!” I shout at him as he walks to the bar.
“Where´s the assistant of the year?” I ask Michelle. She laughs out loud and I join her. She definitely knows who I am speaking about.
“She left before you. I guess Josh didn’t pay her the attention she demanded” Michelle replies. Her eyes suddenly stick to something obviously behind me.
“What…” I say and look behind.
“I saw him in our building a few days ago…” Michelle states silently still watching Harry Styles having drinks with few men whose faces I don’t reckon. I quickly look away at Michelle.
“He is Coleman´s and Co new manager. Don’t strip him with your eyes, Michelle!” I poke her and giggle.
“You´ve met him? God, I envy you. I guess he has the firm handshake and everything…” she bites her bottom lip.
“Seriously stop. I bet Josh won´t like it” I tell her and we both laugh at my statement. Josh was in love with her for a long time and made it quite obvious to her. She told him not to try so he stepped back and here we are.
“Have you noticed, Styles, the one from Coleman is here…” Josh arrives with the drinks in his hand.
“Go talk to him and introduce us!” Michelle insists and I see her eyes shine when I actually consider to say hi to him.
“I don´t think it will be neccessary…” Josh adds when someone´s hand lands on my shoulder.
“Ms. Newman, what a surprise” Harry Styles is suddenly standing next to me and I feel my heart beating a bit quicker. What´s wrong with me.
“Hey. Err… call me Noel, please, we´re not at work.” I reply and move a little to engage him to our group. I do so just for the Michelle. I give her a quick wink and she giggles quietly.
“Then I am Harry” he replies with a smile and gives me his hand. I shake it for the third time this week.
“This is Michelle and you know Josh, probably” I add and watch Michelle blushing when he takes her hand into his. Josh gives him a friendly nod. Now, Michelle, you got what you wanted. See, he isn’t that fabulous, is he now?
“Can I buy you a drink Noel?” Harry asks me and I gulp loudly. I don’t want him to ask mi this. I want him to debate something with all three of us. This is weird.
“Thank you, but I didn’t finish this glass yet” I smile at him and raise the glass of wine to prove my answer. My eyes randomly meet his arms. He have them tattooed to wrists. I haven’t noticed it ´cause the first time I met him he was wearing long sleeves. He is dressed more casual this time.
“Well, let me introduce you to my friends then” he adds. I see the hope in his eyes to get yes from me.
“Yeah go Noel, we were going on one cig with Josh anyway…” Michelle adds and Harry looks at her with wide grin. God Michelle.
“Ok” I nod and raise my eyebrows to Michelle while leaving them and Josh alone. She winks at me and I just shake my head.
Harry leads me to the booth in the corner. I see three men and one woman there, sitting with full table of empty glasses.
“Everyone, this is Noel. We work on one project together” he adds and I politely nod at everyone. What is the whole point of this?
“Noel, this is Louis, Zayn, Niall and Sue” Harry points at everyone by the name and I awkwardly wave at them. As first one stands up Zayn and shake my hand. He has this cute beard I was trying to James get grow. His raven hair suits to what he´s wearing. It´s a black collar shirt and black blazer.
“Hi, I am Zayn” he says politely and his whole presence calms me down.
“Nice to meet you Noel” the one sitting at the end of the booth stands up and shake my hand. The handshake is more friendly then formal and I smile at him. I suppose that´s Louis. A tall girl with long blond hair stands up and walks to me. She has blue eyes and pale skin. From the look that the third lad gives her, I can tell she is his girlfriend.
“Hey, I am Sue and that drunk one is Niall, nice to meet you!” She smiles at me and I smile automatically back. Her sincere smile tells me she is a nice girl. Then she sits back to Niall and he kisses the top of her hair. Niall just raises his hand and waves at me. He gives me a wide grin and I just wave at him back with the smile, plying on my lips. These people look nice.
“Please, sit with us” Harry tells me and I just nod. I sit next to him, directly opposite to Sue and Niall.
“So, you work with Harry, here?” Sue asks me and cock her head to the side where Harry is sitting. I guess they are all good friends.
“No, my company just work with Coleman on this thing about financial stuff” I tell her and see the surprise in her eyes when I told my company. Zayn mouths goes O after my statement.
“It´s nothing big…” I quickly add. Harry just looks at me and shakes his head.
“It´s a really big company, don’t let her trick you” he tells them and I see the smirk when he do so.
“You must be pretty rich then” Niall suddenly adds and Sue pinches his shoulder.
“Niall-“ she quickly warns him. He just covers his mouth and giggle. I laugh with Harry and Zayn joins us.
“Zayn used to work for Coleman too and now is the CEO of Grincham Corporation” Harry praises Zayn and he just casually sips the beer.
“We used to cooperate with Grincham last year” I tell him politely even though I hate talking about work in my free time.
“Grincham was an old asshole with big dreams and very little money” Zayn adds and I laugh at him. He is right. He was a prick in deed.
“Then they should be happy to have you” I tell him and realise my glass is almost empty.
“Enough of your business crap. Harry you didn’t even notice your lady has an empty glass!” Niall suddenly joins our conversation. Sue hushes him but he just takes her hand and kisses her knuckles. I laugh at the word lady. I think I am half drunk so I let it be.
“That’s alright. I have enough of wine” I tell Harry and to Niall at the same time.
“That’s why you should drink Guinness with us” Niall quickly stands up and I am surprised he didn’t loses balance. He jumps off the table and goes straight to the bar. Sue mouths sorry and joins him. I can tell Niall is Irish. I am not sure if Sue is too, but her accent sounds more Londoner to me. He is wearing black college jacket and vans. Sue is dressed up more formally: dark dress printed with flowers and white collar. Her perfect outfit is combined with black high heels and black tights. As I am watching the two of them waiting by the bar I notice Michelle and Josh waving at me.
“Excuse me for a minute” I quickly add and stand up. Harry gives me a confused look when I walk away from the booth.
“We are leaving. I just wanted to make sure you´ll get the ride home” Josh tells me while putting black thick coat on his shoulders. Michelle is already wearing her leather jacket.
“I´ll take a taxi, don’t worry about me” I tell him and Michelle´s smile goes wider.
“Or Harry could give her a ride” she adds and giggles more loudly.
“Shhhh” I hush her.
“Don’t be long” Michelle winks at me and then they disappear by the door. When about to turn on my heel and go back to the booth someone stops me.
“Louis, sorry I haven’t seen you” I apologise.
“No, that´s my fault. It was nice meeting you, Noel” he says and smiles at me.
“You´re leaving?” I ask him. I am actually sad, because I haven’t speak to him properly.
“Yep. I have work tomorrow. Definitely see you soon!” He waves at me and leaves. Definitely?
I come back to the rest and sit on my previous spot. The glass of black Guinness is put next to me and I smile.
“Thanks” I rise the glass to my mouth and take a sip.
“Sorry for Niall.” Harry suddenly leans into my ear.
“He likes you though!” he adds quietly and I laugh with him.
“That´s ok. They are all very nice people” I whisper looking straight in front of me. I feel his breath on me so I quickly change the subject.
“Where do you work, Sue?” I quickly ask and take a sip of beer.
“I am a photographer. Nothing big” she replies with a smile. I see Niall squeezing her hand on the table.
“And you Niall?” I ask.
“I am a dancer” he tells me with total seriousness. I see Sue giggling after his response. I guess he is not a dancer then.
“He is fucking with you” Zayn tells me with laughter. Harry gives him the look like he shouldn’t be cursing out loud in front of me. I laugh too though. Harry acts like they are couple of teenagers and I am a fucking adult.
“He owns this place” Sue answers instead of Niall. That’s pretty cool. I always wanted to own a bar and have these big reunions with my friends there. But I´ve never had a lot of friends to invite.
The night goes on, with more beers of course and I start to feel drunk when more empty glasses cover the table.