Check, please.

“I knew it was your month to pay the bills, so I made sure to use a lot of hot water.” I watched as he used the towel to dry between his legs and his torso, admiring his cleanly shaven male parts when the towel flicked up just high enough. “And your hair looks fine, Miss Over-Dramatic.” I bit my lip as I looked up and down at the bare and glistening body in front of me. “Been working out?”


19. chapter 18

I would be lying if I said that the next morning wasn’t at least a little bit awkward between us – but it was that kind of excited awkward that you feel at the beginning of a new relationship. I tried my best to push last night out of my head as far as the fight went and just enjoy the little touches or playful kisses that Harry showered me with any time we passed each other in the hallway or bathroom or kitchen as we got ready for work.My cheeks were sore from smiling before we even left the apartment.

I wasn’t paying attention to the time that morning. Harry and I arrived 30 minutes early to the studio. Not even Anna was there yet. I shrugged my coat off of my shoulders and looked around for something to straighten up or mess with until at least the other models showed up.

“So what are we shooting today?” Harry asked, sitting on the black velvet couch in one corner of the studio. My skin tingled as I thought about what happened the last time we sat together on the couch.

“It’s a new line called Christoph and Company. I think the designer is from Austria or someplace just trying to expand his work to America.”

Harry nodded. “What did the clothes look like?”

“A lot of black; that’s really all I can remember.” I laughed as Harry frowned and looked down at his attire: black jeans with his black boots, a black v-neck, and of course, his black beanie. Harry was the king of black.

Harry grinned as he watched me step gawkily around the studio. I pulled at the maroon backdrop tried to look at where it was hooked, just triple-checking that it was still hooked in okay. I pulled my phone from my pocket and looked at the time. We still had at least ten minutes before anyone arrived.

“Maybe I should go get my camera set up,” I suggested, sticking my phone back in the pocket of my dark jeans and picking at a loose thread on my teal silk blouse. I watched the loose fabric as it waved gently in the breeze that blew through the studio as the air came on.

“Just relax a few minutes. The camera takes like, two seconds to set up,” Harry persuaded me. I looked across the studio at him. His eyes burned into my skin as rubbed his chin and gazed at me. Shivers went down my back as he stood up slowly, extending his long body and not taking his eyes off of me. “Scotlan…” He called me, his voice low and raspy.

I couldn’t control myself anymore. I sprinted at him and threw my body into his, hoisting myself up and locking my arms and legs around his neck and waist. He squeezed me tightly between his arms and allowed himself to fall back onto the couch, laying down and brushing my hair back out of my face while we parted our lips and began to play with each other’s tongues. He ran his hands up my back, pulling my shirt up higher around my torso. I nearly bit Harry’s lip off when I heard someone on the other side of the studio cough.

I stood up quickly and straightened my shirt. “Golly, you scared me shitless, Payne-o.”

Liam’s eyes were wide as he looked from me to Harry. “I’m so sorry-” he blurted. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harry’s rigid body stand up straight and tall.

“Can we help you?”

Liam tried to regain his composure but I could tell he was still thrown off by what he just saw. Who wouldn’t be? “I just- Scotlan… I- I mean, we- Mr. Kyrie and I talked about me quitting and coming here.”

“What?” Harry asked, his voice just on the verge of sounding irritated.

I ignored Harry’s annoyance but took his hand to make sure he didn’t think I was ignoring him completely since Liam was here. “That’s great, Liam,” I said, smiling politely.

Liam grinned and looked around the studio. “Mr. Kyrie was really happy that you gave me the opportunity. He said it was probably better that I was here with a newer, fresher group of models than his old people.”

I laughed and nodded. “Well I’m glad you’re here.” I squeezed Harry’s hand.

Out in the hall, I heard the front door open. “No, Tim! I’m not doing that! Why? Because we can’t fucking afford it right now!” Anna was shouting into her phone. Her voice wasn’t as echo-y as she disappeared into our office.

“I just thought I would come early to drop off my paperwork and see if there was anything more I needed to fill out,” Liam said after a short silence.

“Oh!” I dropped Harry’s hand. “Usually Anna gets those things but she seems a little… busy right now…” I took the papers from Liam and flipped through them, walking to the computer desk in the other corner of the studio. I glanced up at Harry who was standing with his hands jammed in his pockets, staring Liam down.

“Um, Liam. Are you set to work the Christoph and Company shoot today?” I asked.

Liam grinned and nodded.

“Good,” I breathed, returning the smile. “Do you want to kinda get set up in the dressing room? Each of the boys have a locker. Here is your lock. We don’t really use the locks though,” I laughed as I wrote down his combination on a small strip of paper. “None of us will steal anything from you.”

Liam took the lock and the combination from me and turned to leave the room. “Oh and Liam?” I said quietly. He hummed and glanced my direction from the doorway. “I’m really sorry you saw all of… that…” I motioned toward the couch.

Liam threw his head back and laughed. “It’s okay, Scotlan. It’s not like I haven’t done that with a girl before.” With that, he left. Once I knew he was out of earshot, I turned to Harry.

“You asked him to quit and come work for you?” He asked, his hands still shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans.

I tried not to roll my eyes. “Yes, last night before we got high. He’s-“ A good model, I wanted to say, but I hesitated, not wanting to say anything more that might officially set Harry off. “-nice.”

Harry didn’t seem to hear me. “Why did you apologize? He walked in on us, he should apologize-“

“Christ, Harry-“ I gritted my teeth and kept my voice down. “If you didn’t have your head up your ass you would have heard that the first thing he did was apologize, which he really didn’t even need to do. He walked into the STUDIO. I’m his boss sitting here getting cozy with one of his coworkers in the office.”

"Oh, so now I’m just a coworker?"

I glared at him. ”You know what I meant. If he walked into our own, private rooms at the apartment or something, it would be different.”

“Not like I get much action at home anyway-“

My face fell. “Harry, we’ve been dating two days! Don’t you dare play that card on me. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you right now?”

Harry glared at me. I couldn’t help but feel like he was trying to come up with things to argue with me about. How had we switched from perfectly lovable to dangerously volatile in a matter of two minutes?

“AHHH!! IT’S THE HAPPY COUPLE!!” Anna screamed. I spun around slowly and was immediately swallowed in an almost-painful hug. Anna bounced up and down with her arms around my neck. “I am almost happier for you guys than I am for myself and Timothy. Actually, I am happier.” She took a step back from me and looked at Harry. “I might be happy enough to actually hug you,” she said quickly. Harry chuckled and stretched out his arms toward her. Anna shrieked and ran into him, nearly knocking him to the ground. When I was least expecting it, she extended her arm out to me and yanked me into the hug with them. “Oh my god, you guys are so perfect together. I’m glad you finally figured it out.”

I buried my face into Harry’s chest, mainly to hide it from Anna, but before I knew it I was sniffing Harry’s cologne – still the cologne I bought him that he hated so much - and kissing the bare part of his skin.

“So now that it’s appropriate, tell me what you love about Scotlan,” Anna demanded, leaving the two of us in a sideways hug and leaning back against the doorframe. Harry took a deep breath and kissed the top of my hair.


Anna frowned. “Really, Harry? That’s horrible. That’s something Tim would say about me. You two are better than that.”

Harry shrugged. “It’s true though.”

I giggled as Anna contorted her face and started to tap her toe on the ground impatiently. “Give me one thing you love about her now. I’ll let you off the hook with just one thing, but later you’ll have to provide me with a list of things you love.”

“Okay, okay…” Harry said, rubbing my shoulder and biting his lip as he thought.

"It shouldn’t be this hard, Harry," Anna groaned monotonously.

Harry rolled his eyes at her. “I love how devoted she is to her work. She’s always been so picky about who works for her and with her because she wants it to be perfect. I shouldn’t – I mean I don’t - doubt her choices when it comes to pictures or models because I know she just wants all of us to succeed.”

I peered up into his face. He gazed down at me, his eyebrows furrowed just a tiny bit and a silent apology scribbled all across the green in his eyes. I knew he was addressing Liam and his overreaction just minutes ago.

Anna sighed. “That’s why I’ve been with her the longest. I am perfection in human form.”

Harry and I burst into laughter. Anna stomped her foot and stormed out of the room. Harry grabbed me again and pulled me to him, pressing his lips against mine forcefully while we finally had another moment alone. “I’m sorry, I just get a little jealous-“

I widened my eyes and kissed his nose. “A little?”

It wasn’t long before the other three boys arrived. Chrisoph called and let us know that he was running a little late, but that was probably a good thing. Niall was more hungover than I even knew was possible and kept throwing up the black coffee that Zayn was pouring down his throat. Louis’ lip wasn’t swollen anymore but the discoloration around the pink corner of his mouth made it look like he tried to pierce his lip unsuccessfully with an old diaper pin. I worked with Anna’s concealer to try and cover up the spot, avoiding Louis’ eyes as I stood six inches from his face.

“What happened to feisty Scotlan? Hmm?” He cooed softly. “Who is this timid and shy Scotlan?” He tried to tickle my stomach but I slapped his hands away.

“Oh, fuck off,” I grumbled.

"Aha, there she is…" He grinned. "You’re not going to apologize for tearing up my face?" He whispered tauntingly.

Niall ran past us into the bathroom and hurled up more coffee. I looked over at Zayn who looked like he hadn’t seen the light of day in years. “You all look like a bunch of fucking duds, do you know that?”

Zayn laughed and ran past me to the bathroom after Niall, kissing me on the cheek as he passed. “I think it’s all almost out,” he said, referencing the alcohol in Niall’s stomach.

I took a step back and admired Louis’ lip. “You all need makeup today. You look like zombies.”

Harry moaned loudly from across the room and stood up shakily. He stepped toward me, wobbling back and forth with his arms stretched out in front of him. Clearly not amused, I watched him approach with my hands on my hips. Only after I allowed him to throw me into a dip and kiss my lips repeatedly in front of Zayn, Liam, and Louis did I hear the front door open.

Christoph’s assistants helped the boys get into their clothes and provided a little bit of makeup help on their own. I was relieved any time Harry grinned at me or blew me a kiss, but I couldn’t help but be worried that he would snap and become angry again for no reason. My worries seemed to disappear as I started taking pictures. I couldn’t tell who it was effecting the rest of the group, but someone’s positive energy was radiating to the other boys – even hungover Niall – and making this photo shoot eighty times better than any other photo shoot I had done before. Everyone was so focused but still managed to have a ton of fun just being together. Even Mr. Christoph himself joined in on telling stupid, cheesy jokes. It seemed like having Liam there completed the group. The pictures looked so much better with the five boys all hanging about and any time I got a picture with just four of the boys, it was obvious something was missing. Through the camera lens, Harry seemed to be glowing. Any time I had the camera on him, he seemed to sense it and would stop and smile at me.

“We will surely be coming back,” Mr. Cristoph’s heavy accent bounced off of the walls of the studio. He shook each of the boy’s hands and beamed before kissing Anna and I on the cheek. “Not only were the pictures phenomenal, this was the most energetic shoot I’ve ever been to.” He sighed and looked around the studio once more. He mumbled something in a different language before grinning and leaving the studio with his assistants.

Anna clapped her hands as the door closed behind him. “Ahh!” She squealed. “You guys looked so fantastic, I cant even- ugh. Let’s go out for celebratory drinks!”

“Noooooo,” Niall groaned, clutching his stomach. “Please noooo.”

Harry wrapped his arm around my neck. “I have a date anyway… so…”

I blushed and looked down at the ground.

“I think I’m gonna go home and sleep,” Zayn said, yawning.

“You need some sun, mate,” Louis said, patting his friend on the back. “Anna, let’s go on a date.”

Anna’s eyes lit up and flickered my direction. I giggled as I tried to watch her sort out the situation in her head. “I’m… married,” she stuttered. I knew she had a crush on Louis ever since we started working together. I mean, who wouldn’t? She never did anything about it though, claiming he was out of her league. I was just as surprised as she was that Louis asked her out, but at the same time I hoped it wasn’t just him asking her out knowing he would get laid tonight.

Louis frowned. “Did I say date? I mean drinks. We need to talk business.”

Anna smiled. “I can do that.”

After a moment of awkward silence between the seven of us, Harry steered me with his arm toward the door. “See you all later then!”

“Lock up!” I called back to Anna who was too busy planning her date with Louis to hear me. I knew she wouldn’t forget though.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit odd that we’re not helping Anna stay faithful to her husband?” I asked Harry as we drove to the apartment.

“Ex-husband. They’re getting divorced.”

I cocked my head. “Already?”

Harry nodded and squeezed my hand. “She asked me about the reunion while you were taking shots of Zayn and then ended up telling me about their divorce. Tim drained Anna’s bank account… of course.”

"Already?!" I gasped. Harry hummed a yes. I shook my head. “She will never learn, I swear…”

“She needs a rich husband-“

“Someone who is really the man in the relationship-“

“Someone not afraid to put her in her place…”

I giggled. “Maybe Louis will be a good thing for her.”

Harry and I discussed potential husbands for Anna all the way home and all while getting ready for the date. Harry wouldn’t tell me where we were going but told me to dress nicely. I snuck into his room while he was in the shower and saw that he laid out one of his sleek black suits with a slim gray tie, so I slipped on one of my gray fitted dresses and some plain black heels. After a full day of work, I didn’t feel like doing much with my hair, so I twisted a few pieces into a loose braid on the side of my head and let some of my natural curls fall down the sides of my face. I sat on the couch and watched the TV as I waited for Harry to finish getting ready. While he was still in his room, I heard a knock on the front door and walked slowly to answer it.

Niall hung in the doorway, a bottle of vodka dangling in his fingers. His blonde hair was a scraggly mess compared to what it was earlier that day and his face was wet… from tears?

“Niall, you okay baby?” I asked, supporting his body and carrying him to the couch.

He sniffled and shook his head. “Bailey threw me out-“ He croaked. I didn’t know much about Niall’s relationship with his ex Bailey. I knew they lived together and fought all the time but then made up like they were still dating. They saw other people and never hung out together unless it was in the house. “She said I was a hopeless drunk and kicked me out…” Niall belched loudly.

“Damn, Scotty,” Harry called from down the hall, laughing. “That was one hell of a burp.” He laughed as he walked down the hall to the living room, all dressed up in his suit. His pace slowed when he saw Niall and realized the burp wasn’t mine. “Niall, you okay mate?”

“Bailey threw me out!!” Niall yelled, clearly irritated that we were making him repeat it so many times. I rubbed his back as he buried his face in his hands. “I just love her so much and I can’t stand to be without her-“ He blubbered. He took a long drink of vodka and sighed. “I don’t want to be alone. That’s why I came here. You guys are my best friends-“

“Niall, we’re going out on a date,” Harry interrupted him rudely.

Niall’s eyes began to water more as he looked up at Harry. “Oh,” he whispered.

“Well, we were…” I breathed. I looked up at Harry. “We can go tomorrow, right?”

Harry’s face fell and he rubbed his temples with his fingertips. I could tell he was pissed, but not at me. Niall had done this once before. Harry and I left him on the couch, thinking he would pass out or be okay alone, but he left the apartment while Harry and I were out and ended up getting mugged and robbed in an alley. There was no way that we could leave him again. Goodness knows where he might wander this time. I stood up and walked to the laundry room where we had extra blankets. When I walked back to the living room, Harry had already grabbed a pillow and a glass of water for Niall. “You can sleep on the couch,” Harry was telling him. “If you need to throw up, throw up in here. NOT on the floor.” He slid a small trash bin toward Niall’s head on the couch. I kicked off my heels and crouched next to Niall.

“Wanna watch a movie?”

Niall nodded and gripped his empty vodka bottle like it was a teddy bear.

“What movie?” Harry asked.

Tears returned to Niall’s eyes. “A happy one…” he whispered, looking past the TV and out the window at the setting sun.

We watched all of the Disney movies that we could. The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty… drunk Niall was completely into all of them. Halfway through Peter Pan, he passed out. Not wanting to move, I stayed curled up in Harry’s arms as we both squeezed onto the small chair beside the couch. He kissed my forearm. “Tomorrow for sure, Scotlan. I’m taking you on a date,” he whispered. I giggled. He picked me up and carried me all the way to my room, not putting me down even when he locked the door and hid the keys from Niall. He covered my stomach in soft kisses as he took my shorts off for me in the dark and undressed to jump into my bed next to me. I thought the night might have been more exciting… but even without the excitement of a surprise restaurant and matching date outfits, I still went to sleep grinning.

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