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?”


2. chapter 2

There are a lot of terrible noises in the world, but I’m almost positive that one of the worst is the sound of an alarm in the morning. Some people hear their alarm and dive straight into the day with energy and excitement – and I just don’t understand those people. I will never be excited to wake up for anything. Never. The alarm could be the sound of angels singing and I would still struggle to open my eyes and seize the day.

Coldplay blew through the speakers of my phone as 8:30 flashed on the screen. I slapped my hand down on my phone and rolled back over for 5 minutes before the alarm started to play again. I groaned loudly and flopped around on my bed completely aggravated, kicking the covers off of the bed and rolling around to wake myself up. When I eventually slinked out of the bed and into the hallway, I knocked on Harry’s door.

“Get up loser, it’s 8:45.”

I waited a moment to see if I could hear him rolling around. Nothing.

“Harry. Harry. HARry. HAHAHAHAHAHARRY.” I beat on the door like it was a drum, creating stupid beats with my fists while I sang his name. “WAKE UP HAHAHAHAHARRY-“

“SCOTLAN,” Harry groaned from the other side of the door. He hated mornings just as much as I did.

After I heard him rolling around in bed, I trudged along to the bathroom and turned on the water in the shower. I unhooked my bra and slipped out of my underwear before hurrying out of the air conditioning of the apartment and into the steamy shower. I let the water sprinkle and flow over my body for a few minutes before massaging some shampoo and conditioner into my hair and lathering up my skin with soap. After yanking my towel off of the wobbly towel bar and drying myself off, I swiped the steam from the mirror. Like I always do, I finished off by flipping my towel over my head and twisting my wet locks up into the towel.

The apartment wasn’t as cold on my bare body as I stepped out through the living room and behind the island. I opened the refrigerator and grabbed a wine bottle from the fridge, uncorked the top, and took a swig. I let the cool liquid flow down my insides before opening my eyes again.


I jumped and clutched the bottle to my naked body. The blonde from the night before was sitting across the island from me looking rough. Her blonde curls were stuck to the side of her head and her makeup was smeared down the side of her face. She was wearing the dress from the night before but didn’t have her shoes or purse with her.

“Can I get some water?” She squeaked.

I hesitated but grabbed a glass from the cabinet and poured out some of the liquid from the wine bottle. The blonde frowned as she watched me. “I said, water…”

I slid the glass to her. “It is water. We don’t drink.”


I shook my head.

“Well why not?”

I shrugged. There was a reason, I just didn’t feel like explaining it to her.

She picked the glass up from the island and smelled it before taking a sip. “Well thanks…”

I turned back to the fridge and stuck the bottle in the door before turning back to the blonde.

“Does Barry usually have his maid naked?”

I contorted my face as I tried to understand what she was asking. Was this a test? Or a puzzle?

“Who? Wait, what?”

The blonde looked around the apartment. “You’re Barry’s maid.”

“Harry?” I corrected, crossing my arms across my bare chest and tilting my head at her. She looked puzzled as she tried to remember last night. Maybe she was more drunk than she looked when Harry and I got to Wet Seal. “I’m not his maid, I’m his roommate.”

The color rushed from the blonde’s small face. I could never understand why people got so frazzled when they found out that Harry and I shared an apartment. I guess I just didn’t think about it because of how close we had been for the last 9 years. When the girl didn’t say anything else, I rolled my eyes and turned to walk down the hallway. “Harry!” I yelled, annoyed with the morning. “HARRY!” I called again as I approached his door. The door flew open and he stood in his black Calvin Klein’s, running his fingers over his tired eyes and through his wild hair.

“Wha-“ He stopped when he saw I was nude. “Let’s have sex.” He snaked his arm around waist and pulled me gently. I made sure my feet were planted firmly on the ground and frowned at him.

“I would probably be up for a morning quickie if we didn’t have company.”

His eyes widened and he looked down the hall. “The blonde?” he mouthed. I nodded slowly. He barred his teeth and pulled the corners of his mouth downward.

I raised my eyebrows. “You’re breaking the 9 o’clock rule Harold.”

“What’s the 9 o’clock rule?” A voice came from the hallway, startling both of us. We snapped our heads to look at the girl.

“Uhm, it’s a part of our roommate contract. Visitors have to be gone by 9 in the morning. We just have work and stuff,” Harry explained gently – a little more gently than I would have. I wanted to lift my hands and flick my fingers at her, shooing her away. One of my biggest pet-peeves was when Harry broke the 9 o’clock rule. Deciding it was too early to be a bitch, I turned and disappeared into my room. “Harry, we need to leave in 50 minutes. This is a new client today and I don’t want to be late. We’re taking the Celica.”

I got ready in hopes that Harry would take care of the blonde and begin getting ready. I knew that she was gone when he asked how my night was.

“I was a rebound for a guy who got dumped because he sucked at sex.”

Harry laughed from the bathroom. “Name? Did he really suck that bad?”

“Ryan. He literally only lasted a minute.”

“Was it at least a good minute?”

“No. What about you?”

“Her name was Barbie.”


“Barbie!” He yelled. “She was new to sex. Sucked. She didn’t last very long either.”

I poked my head out of my room as I put one of my earrings in. “You took her virginity!?”

Harry poked his head out of the bathroom, a towel covering his wet hair. “No, I just said she was new to sex. This was like, her third time.” He walked down the hallway into his room with his towel on his head. “I’ve only taken one virginity and I want it to stay that way.”

I blushed and shook my head as I thought of that Halloween party. “IS IT IN!?” Harry recited from across the hall as we shared the memory. I snorted and looked across the hallway at him, watching as he slipped into some light-wash jeans and a black v-neck. I threw on a pair of black leggings and a large black sweater with a red scarf, but only because I was trying to look a little professional. Since the people that we were working with today were new clients, I wanted to impress them a little, even though I knew I didn’t need to do too much. My previous work with big names like Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent had already proven enough.

I huffed as we pulled into the parking lot of the studio and saw that it was empty. Client-less. “They’re late,” I said shortly, looking at the entrance of the parking lot in hopes that maybe they had just pulled in behind us. To my dismay, it was just the rest of my models and, in a second car, my assistant and good friend Anna.

Harry patted my thigh as he put the car in park and shut off the ignition. “Relax. You were supposed to have a good time last night to help you relax this morning.”

“Well hooking up with a guy for only a minute doesn’t exactly relax me.”

Harry’s lip twitched upward. “We should have just fucked each other.”

I lowered my eyes at him. “Thanks for suggesting that the morning after I fucked a sex-noob.”

Harry’s laughter was cut short by Anna’s tapping on my window. I opened the door and threw my purse over my shoulder as she shut the door for me.

“Morning!” She articulated cheerfully, her short brown hair bouncing around her shoulders as she grinned at me. She was one of those morning people that I just hated. I mean, I loved her – she had been my best female friend for the last 8 years - I just wished she was a little less cheerful in the morning.

“Guess whaaaat?” She sang. I watched Harry for a moment as he greeted the other models.

“What?” I turned back to Anna whose hand was extended into my face.

On her fourth finger was a large rock, glimmering in the sun. “Timothy proposed!” She bounced up and down excitedly. I grinned and looked at the massive diamond sitting atop her finger. I could never imagine getting something like that. It was so big. I’d be afraid to bang it on something while moving my hands.

“That’s great, Anna!” I said pleasantly, choking on the last part of her name as she threw herself on me and wrapped her arms around my neck. Harry, Louis, Niall, and Zayn had all heard and gathered around us. They expressed their excitement for Anna (which I know they really didn’t care) and listened for a few minutes as Anna went on and on about the proposal… the candlelight picnic, the moon, the stars, the guitar, the flower petals…

“How was your night?” She asked after Harry and the other three guys disappeared into the studio.

“Fine,” I answered flatly.

“Has Scary happened yet?” She giggled excitedly.

I tilted my head at her. “Scary?”

“Scary! You know, Scotlan and Harry…”

I shook my head and laughed. “You ask me the same question every morning and I give you the same answer every morning. Creating a name for our relationship doesn’t make it any better, especially not if the name is Scary.”

Anna held out my keys to me as we neared my office. “Well you two are scary…” she mumbled.

I grinned at her remark. “What about Harry and Scotlan? Harlan?”

Anna grimaced and put her purse down on her desk. “That sounds like harlot-“ She paused and looked at me. “Which I guess that would fit too.”

I glared across the office at her but quickly turned as I heard a knock on the door. “Scotty, um, I have some bad news,” Harry said.

I crossed my arms. “What?”

“Well, Louis leaned against the maroon backdrop and it tore.”

“Are you fucking kiddi-“ I huffed and slapped my sides. “I have told you guys so many times not to lean on the damn backdrops!”

Harry grabbed me and wrapped in his arms, squeezing my head. The pressure from his embrace relieved the headache that I could feel growing in my skull, something Harry just seemed to know to do at the right times. I couldn’t remember how many times I had asked him how he learned to do it but he didn’t really know. I remember having a mental breakdown in the tenth grade after failing a math test that I studied forever for and he just pulled me into his chest and hugged me almost too tightly until I was calm. It felt good though. Sometimes I would upset myself just so that he would do it. “It’ll be okay, Scotty, don’t get too worked up!” He whispered.

“We’re not even using that backdrop today!” Anna chimed in.

Harry grabbed my shoulders and pushed me back to look at me. “See! Look, we don’t have to worry about it today!” I knew that the grin plastered across his face was just a fake attempt to keep me from stressing out, but it worked. When I allowed a small smile to spread across my lips, Harry’s real smile appeared, he kissed my cheek, and disappeared back into the studio.

“You never answered my question,” Anna said loudly as she unlocked the large safe next to her desk and pulled out my camera bags. I walked over and helped her inspect and clean the lenses.

“What question?”

“Is Harlan a thing?”

“No. It’s not possible. We’ve known each other for so long and been through so much that it would be weird. Us having a thing would be… Scary.”

Anna giggled. “You two are going to wake up across the hall from each other one day and realize how perfect you would be.”

I shook my head. Harry and I? Perfect? More like a perfect mess.

The new clients were half an hour late, which I actually didn’t mind because it gave me time to get set up my cameras and watch Harry, Louis, Zayn, and Niall get their hair and makeup done. When the clients finally arrived with the clothes and one of their own models, Liam, I had the boys change quickly into the new fashions. In the meantime, Anna went over the paperwork and payment with the designer and stylist.

“Won’t we discuss this with Miss Ray?” I heard one of them ask as Anna handed them the paperwork. I assumed it was Mr. Kyrie, the designer.

I shook my head and called to him from across the studio. “I really just snap the pictures.”

Mr. Kyrie walked slowly toward me and shook his head, admiration dancing in his eyes. “You need to give yourself more credit! The angles you get… and the lighting with the shadows and so much more… I just don’t know how you do it.” I smiled kindly at the man but snapped my head at Anna quickly, and catching my discomfort she took the man’s arm and pulled him back toward the office. I knew I was good at what I did, I just hated talking about it. I hated when people fawned over my work when that’s really all I saw it as: work. Granted, I loved what I did, worked hard, and got paid a good amount, but there was a reason I was behind the camera and not in front of it.

I was glad when Harry and the other four boys finally arrived in their clothes. I studied the strange articles of clothing for a few moments. People expected me to know all about fashion since I took the pictures, but to be honest, some of the clothes that I often photographed were some of the ugliest things I had ever seen. My least favorite times to shoot were fall and winter because all it really seemed like was unnecessary layer after layer after layer. I could tell Harry was uncomfortable in the four layers he had on, but he didn’t say anything. That was part of his job and he was good about not complaining.

“Ohhhkeeeey… why don’t I have you guys stand over here…” I said, grabbing Liam and Harry and pulling them aside. “I’ll shoot you first and you three next,” I added, pointing to Louis, Niall, and Zayn. “We’ll do individuals after.”

Liam and Harry stepped into the little snowy town that one of my set constructors, Racquelle, designed that weekend. I always admired the work that he did. He meticulously placed certain objects and specially designed the set based off of the clothes I would be taking pictures of, and nearly every time the sets were perfect. I growled as Harry kicked some of the fake snow, getting flecks of it on his gray corduroy pants. He grinned at me apologetically but also mischievously.

“Alright guys, think COLD.”

Liam and Harry suddenly became very serious, showing off the ridiculous fashions as the lights flashed around them. I knew Harry’s game face. When he wanted to work, he would. I could tell from his and Liam’s first couple of frames that this was going to be a good day.

“AAAAND I think we’re all set!” Anna yelled from the computer, what seemed like just moments later. I put the camera down and blinked a few times, my eyes adjusting to both being open again. I stretched my arms up over my head as Louis stepped off of the set and immediately shrugged off one of his four coats.

“Why do you keep it so hot in here Scotlan?”

Niall laughed as he slid his arm around my shoulders and under my hair. “She has to have it warm in here because she’s a cold-blooded killer. Like a snake.” He leaned toward me, hissing before he kissed me on the cheek. I cocked an eyebrow and looked at him.

“I am not cold-blooded. And it isn’t warm in here. You’re just wearing layers. You better watch what you say Niall Horan, I can fire your skinny ass in a second.”

He grinned wildly. “You wouldn’t.”

I squinted my eyes at him. “Try me.” I glanced over at Mr. Kyrie and Anna who were going through some of the frames. Anna nodded and thumbs-upped me when they got through all of them. Mr. Kyrie looked more than pleased as he approached me again.

“This was fantastic. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to work together again sometime soon?”

I nodded and shook his hand. “Of course. It was a pleasure and I’d love to see some of your future work as well,” I added to be polite.

His eyes lit up. “Well I actually have a lot of future ideas drawn up! Would you like to maybe get dinner tonight and help me go through a few potential designs?”

“No,” I said a little too quickly. Mr. Kyrie looked hurt. “I mean, I would like to but I have a previous engagement…”

Mr. Kyrie’s smile returned and he shook my hand again. “You are too polite. I know you youth have better things to do than sit around and talk to an old man like me.” He laughed. I tried to keep myself from feeling bad by laughing with him. Harry laughed too, but only I knew he was laughing at me instead of Mr. Kyrie’s statement.

“You young things take care,” He concluded before turning to leave. My stomach clenched. The last time I heard anyone call me a “young thing” was my senior year of high school… my mom would call Harry and myself “young things” all the time. My mom…

“Don’t think about it. Don’t start…” Harry was at my side and whispering in my ear. “Scotlan don’t break down. Don’t think about it.”

I praised the Lord when Mr. Kyrie broke up my thoughts again. “Liam, are you coming?”

Liam shook his head. “I can catch the bus. I might hang out with these guys for a while.”

“Catch the bus…” Louis mumbled and shook his head. “We can give him a ride,” he added, addressing Mr. Kyrie.

“Suit yourself,” Mr. Kyrie said, putting his fedora on and waving to me once more. When he disappeared out of the door, I turned and buried my face in Harry’s chest.

“Just don’t think about it. It’s okay.” He rubbed my back. I took a few deep breaths before lifting my head and looking at the rest of the group.

Liam was the only one who was really out of the loop; the other four boys and Anna all understood.

Zayn patted me on the shoulder. “Are we still going out tonight?”

I tried my hardest to crack a smile and nodded. It was almost three in the afternoon, which was more than enough time to take a nap and still get ready to go out.

“Where to?” Louis asked.

I looked at Harry, who shrugged. “Gravity?”

“OH I LOVE Gravity,” Liam interrupted.

I grinned at him. “Want to join us?”

Louis turned and put his hands on his knees. Bouncing his butt up and down, he backed up into Liam. “Come – with – us – come – with - us-“

We all laughed as Liam pretended to grind on Louis. I locked my arm into Harry’s and tugged on it. He slid his arm down to meet my hand, earning me a suspicious glance from Anna. I don’t know why she always got excited when things like that happened. Harry and I were touchy-feely with each other. That’s just how we were. It didn’t mean a thing.

“We’ll meet you guys at 9,” I said as we walked all walked out of the studio. I waited until everyone was out to lock the doors.

When Harry and I climbed into the Celica, Harry cranked the car and turned to look at me.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Scotty?”

I nodded quickly and didn’t look at him.

“Just don’t think about it,” he said, turning and messing with the air-conditioning.

“Well how the fuck am I supposed to not think about it if you keep telling me not to think about IT?” I snapped, but instantly felt bad. I covered my hands with my face.

Harry took one of my hands in his own and kissed it softly. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I just want to be sure you’re okay.”

I pulled my hand away from his and nodded again, watching out the window as Anna drove away. “I’m fine.”

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