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?”


21. chapter 20

Something that I loved to do - aside from watching strangers in public and trying to guess their story with Harry - was sitting back and remembering how I met people.

I was just emerging as an accomplished photographer, especially in the fashion world. I recently graduated from NYU, Harry and I had just bought our apartment just a few minutes away from the studio I just created and only a little ways away from my mother’s grave. I was happy and full of excitement for the bright future that I could spot off on the distance. I had a camera, some new money, sobriety, and my best friend by my side.

The one thing I didn’t have was a lamp. No matter what kind of light bulbs we used for the ceiling light, the living room was dark as ever. I blamed the random brick wall behind the television. I remember leaving Harry early that morning when he was still asleep to go out shopping. Just outside the city was a small, inexpensive furniture store where Harry and I purchased most of our basic furniture for the apartment – beds, dressers, mirrors… all that jazz. The place was dark and dusty, obviously not a place that many people came. Once you got past the moldy smell of the building, it wasn’t bad. The quality of the different pieces of furniture was surprisingly good. I looked around at the selection of lamps that they had on display, lifting each of the colorless cloth lampshades and peeking under them like there was some sort of surprise waiting for me. I flipped over the price tags and read the numbers despite the fact that I had just gotten paid from my first shoot with Calvin Klein… and I really had nothing to worry about monetarily for a few years, at least.

“Are ye looking fer a certain kind of lamp?”

The man’s strong Irish accent caught me off-guard. “No,” I said quickly, grinning and turning to face him. “Just looking.”

He was cute. His little blonde spiky hair stood up all around his head and his blue eyes glimmered playfully despite the dim lighting of the building. “Well just let me know if I can help ye.” He leaned closer to me. “I really need to make a sale today though, so if ye could help me out in any way I would love you forever. M’name is Niall.” As he grinned, I spotted some clear braces lining his teeth.

I laughed shook his outstretched hand. “Scotlan.”

His eyes widened. “Scotlan Ray?”

In a studio, having someone recognize my name wouldn’t have been anything weird, but having the furniture salesman outside of the city in a run-down store was. I nodded slowly. “Yes… How did you know?”

“It’s not every day you meet a girl named Scotlan in New York. Oh my god,” Niall began to hyperventilate. “Holy shit it’s my lucky day.”

“Niall!” Someone shouted from across the empty store. From the looks of his stiff suit and graying hair, I assumed it was the supervisor. “What have I said about that language in here??”

Niall bounced up and down. “I don’t remember, I’m a bit hungover right now and also in shock-“ He looked back at me and lowered his voice. “I’m Niall Horan,” he told me again quickly, shaking my hand over and over. “I’ve been watching for your name in the magazines. My dad called me a pansy when I told him I wanted to be a model and then he kicked me out of th’ house and I left the country and came here and I’ve been trying so hard to find someone who might give me just a chance. Please let me prove myself to you, I’m really good at posing and-“ he stepped back and jumped on the bed behind him. He stood tall and tore his button-down shirt open, revealing a nice 6-pack and some rather attractive chest hair.

“NIALL HORAN!” His supervisor shouted as he rushed around benches, chairs, and desks to get to us.

Niall jumped down and took my hand again. “Please, I swear I won’t let you down. I’d be forever in your debt. I’ve seen your recent work with Harry Styles and I can just tell you’re going to go so far and to be a part of that with you-“

“I’m so sorry for his behavior, ma’am,” the supervisor said, taking my hand forcefully from Niall’s and stepping in front of him so that I could no longer see the frantic, bare-chested Niall. “I promise, it’s not a reflection of the rest of the staff. Is there something that I might be able to help you with while Mr. Horan is taking his break?” The supervisor tried to shoo Niall away inconspicuously.

“Actually,” I said, “He was being very helpful.”

Niall’s head perked up over the shoulder of the supervisor.

“I needed help finding lamps and Niall was showing me how the lighting of this one… uh… made his chest look… more tan,” I stuttered. “Especially when he was standing on the bed.”

The supervisor turned and peered disapprovingly at Niall. “That doesn’t excuse the language, Mr. Horan. Once more and you’re out of here.” The supervisor nodded at me apologetically as he turned on his heel and left us. Niall stuck one of his fingers in his mouth and looked at me. “Thank you so much. Ye saved me.”

I giggled. I loved his accent. “I’m going to take a chance. I need another model. You’re a handsome guy. Sometimes, it’s the people who have the most passion who are the most willing to learn and you seem pretty passionate.”

The color drained from Niall’s face. “Is this a joke?”

I shook my head and took his face in both of my hands. “No, I promise. But if you mess up or maybe just aren’t as good as I feel like you might be, I’m going to have to let you go. Also, I’ll need you to sell me a lamp before we leave. This one, perhaps?” I nodded to the small lamp with the light blue shade beside me without taking my eyes off Niall.

Niall’s cheeks spread in my hands as he smiled harder and harder. Before I would say or do anything else, he leaned forward and kissed me on my lips.

“WOoooOAH, okay,” I said, laughing and pulling away. “Don’t make me regret my decision already.”

“NIALL HORAN, DAMMIT-“ The supervisor was heading our direction with steam coming out of his ears. “WHAT HAVE I SAID ABOUT KISSING THE CUSTOMERS??”

“I quit, ya lout!” Niall yelled, jumping up on one of the beds around us and jumping from it to another. “I’m on my way to fame! Fuck you and your furniture!”

I couldn’t help but laugh as I watched him. Something in my gut right then was telling me that he would be an essential part of our team, and that feeling was right. I stared at Niall from across the living room of our apartment as he drank a beer and thought of how we met.

“What?” Harry asked, interrupting the memory as it came to a close.

I twisted my body to look up at him. “Hmm?”

“You’re sitting there grinning,” he said, running his fingers through my hair and shifting so that I was leaning back against his chest again.

“Nothing,” I replied, blinking and looking back over at Niall. Next to him stood the lamp with the light blue shade. It didn’t match anything in the rest of the apartment, but it helped with the lighting issue. I looked back at Niall. For as much as I loved Niall, he was driving me crazy at the moment. He had been with us for a week. Bailey refused to let Niall come even close to the house that they usually shared. When Niall went back over to try and talk to her halfway through the week, he found her helping some other guy move in to Niall’s old room. Heartbroken, he came back to us and we took him in, letting him remain in Harry’s room… but we were beginning to regret letting him stay here. Harry and I felt like we couldn’t do anything without Niall interrupting. Any time we would tell him we were going on a date, it was as if he would deliberately drink enough to become impaired and needy and make us stay home with him.

Harry and I tried multiple times to escape up to the roof, but most nights it was rainy or too cold. Any time we were close to having sex in the bedroom, Niall would knock on the door and ask if we would watch a movie with him – even if it was two or three o’clock in the morning. It was like he was a needy little puppy. Harry and I attempted sex in the shower, but Harry ended up slipping and banging his head on the wall. We even tried in the Celica, but it was way too small for Harry’s long body, and when I tried to ride him I kept hitting my head on the roof of the car. Harry and I were both about to lose our minds (Harry more than myself), but neither one of us had the heart to send Niall away or leave him by himself.

“Why don’t you buy your own place?” Harry urged Niall. “Maybe then Bailey will see you’ve matured or something and then she’ll come back to you.”

Niall took a sip of his beer and looked at Harry and I, curled up on the couch together. “You think so?”

“Yes-“ I said a little too quickly. “You could even get a place close to here. Then you wouldn’t be so far away. You know Louis lives right down the street and so does Zayn.”

Niall sunk back in his chair and surprised us by putting his beer down. That’s a first. “I dunno. I really liked my place with Bailey.”

Harry groaned just loud enough for me to hear. “But Bailey kicked you o-“

I elbowed him in the gut. “Harry-“

Harry sighed underneath me. I ran my thumb over the skin on his arm and stood up. “I’m going to the bathroom. My stomach kinda hurts.”

“Are you okay?” Harry asked, taking my hand and looking up at me.

I smiled down at him and watched as his soft red lips pressed barely to the back of my hand. “Just my period, probably.”

Niall grimaced.

I walked to the bathroom and pulled down my underwear, looking at the cloth as I sat down on the cold seat. I frowned when I saw it was clean and looked at the date on my phone. “I’m late…?” I whispered to myself. I was never late. Stress could mess up my cycle… but I wasn’t stressed. Or at least I thought I wasn’t. There was no way I could be pregnant.

As soon as I thought the word in my head, my heart leapt. I dropped to my knees in front of the toilet and threw up.

“Babe?” Harry knocked on the door. I clutched my stomach and looked down at the full toilet bowl. “You okay?”

“Don’t come in-“ I blurted, feeling a second round of vomit on its way. “I’m okay.”

“You sure?”

I tried to keep quiet as more vomit spilled out of my mouth, but to no avail.

Harry opened the door and rushed to my side. “Do you want water? Some crackers?”

I shook my head.

“Was it something you ate? Maybe the fast food from last night?”

I shook my head again. “I don’t know.” I wiped my mouth with my towel and took a moment to breathe, making sure nothing else was coming up. Pregnant? “I need to run to the store-“ I stood up quickly and tried to hurry past Harry. He grabbed me and brushed my hair out of my face.

“I’ll go for you-“

“No, I need to go-“

“You need to stay home and rest-“

“Harry, please let me go-“



Harry’s green eyes widened at me as I covered my face and sighed. “Okay,” he said quietly. “Are you going to be okay driving?”

I nodded. “I’ll be fine.” But I might be pregnant?

He bit his lip. “I’ll get you the keys.”

I was out the door before Harry could say anything else. I knew he was confused and probably a little offended that I wasn’t letting him help me but this was something I needed to do alone. I ran into the nearest Walgreens and bought the first pregnancy test that I saw. I ignored the judgmental look that the cashier girl gave me and hurried off to my next destination.

“Scotlan?” Louis asked, squinting into the sunlight that his open front door was letting in. “It’s like, 11 in the morning, what are you doing here?” He rubbed his eyes, a clear indication that I had just woken him up with my frantic knocking.

“I need to come in and use your bathroom.”

He frowned. “Is yours broken?”

“Dammit Louis, just let me in-“ I pushed past him into his apartment and was a little surprised to see Anna walking out of his bedroom, half-dressed.

“Scotty?” She asked, grinning sleepily and pulling at the bottom of Louis’ tee, which was draped over her skinny body. “What are you doing here?” She pulled me into a sloppy hug.

I gulped. “I just needed to talk to Louis… about work.”

“And use the bathroom,” Louis added.

“Is yours broken?” She asked.

Louis slapped Anna’s bottom harshly and kissed her on the cheek. “Same thing I asked.”

“Look,” I said, gripping my purse tightly. “I just really need to talk to Louis.”

“Okay,” Anna said, sitting down on the couch. Louis sat next to her. They both looked at me and waited for me to speak. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. I had never kept anything from Anna.

“Uhh… alone,” I added.

Anna and Louis both eyed me curiously. “About work?” Anna asked. “Is it about the shoot next week?”

I shook my head. “Just… uh. I just need to talk to Louis. You know, about a thing.”

Anna’s eyes flashed a hint of irritation, but she stood up from the couch and turned to Louis. “I need to go anyway. Got some stuff to take care of with Tim.” She passed me to get dressed.

“I’m going to go pee while she’s doing that…” I said. Louis frowned and crossed his arms over his bare chest. I ran to the bathroom and peed, making sure to aim for the pregnancy test while I tinkled. When I was done, I carefully placed the test under the sink and ran back out of the bathroom, bumping into Anna before I got to the living room where Louis was.

She didn’t look happy. “What’s wrong, Scotlan?”

I tried my best to smile. “Nothing, why?”

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost and I know you’re not telling me the truth.”

I gasped. “I’m not lying to you about anything. Nothing is wrong.”

“Well what do you have to talk to Louis about?” She asked jealously.

I sighed. “Really, it’s nothing. It could be your surprise birthday party for all you know.” I stuck my tongue out at her. She glared at me, but before long was smiling with me.

“I know you would tell me if it was important.”

I took her hands in mine. “Exactly.”

She hugged me tightly and lowered her voice. “We’re like, a thing now – Louis and I. Louis really treats me right. I finally understand and you were right about love. I didn’t really see before what it was like to have someone who doesn’t just use you all the time. Louis and I… we’re perfect for each other.”

My stomach plummeted but I grinned. “I’m glad Anna.” I followed her back to the living room where Louis was and watched them kiss each other goodbye before Anna walked out the front door.

“Why did you never tell me how great of a catch she was?” Louis asked, sitting back on the couch across from me. “God, she’s great.”

“Great?” I asked, knowing that Anna would do the same. “Surely you can think of a better word.”

Louis rolled his eyes and rubbed his face with his hands. “I just woke up, fuck off. Now what is the big secret?”

I gulped. “Louis, I might be pregnant.”

He frowned. “Might be?”

“I just took a pregnancy test.”

He raised an eyebrow? “Just now? What did it say?”

I shrugged my shoulders and looked at the time on my phone. “I have to wait another minute.”

He nodded. “Are you trying to hide it for some reason?”

I furrowed my brow at him. “I mean, I don’t know how well everyone else would handle it… Especially Anna and Harry… with our current situations…”

Louis sat back. “Nonsense. I think Harry would be thrilled. He seems like a daddy kind of guy. And why would it matter to Anna?”

I shook my head slowly. “Louis… Harry and I haven’t really had sex in the last couple of weeks. The last person I had sex with was you.”

A tense silence filled the room as it all sunk in. Louis’ tan skin paled as he sat back and blinked at me.

“You did finish in me, right?” I confirmed.

He nodded slowly. “I think so. But you’re on the pill.”

I raised my eyebrows. “I had a cousin who got pregnant three times, all while she was on the pill. It doesn’t work every time. I had morning sickness and my period is late.”

Louis puffed out his cheeks and ran his fingers through his hair. “What the absolute hell…” He groaned. “Well that really just…” He picked up a pillow and buried his face in it. “How late is your period?”

“About a week.”

“You should have waited a little longer to panic, you’ll probably get your period tomorrow.”

I scowled at Louis. “Why the fuck would I wait? I’m always on time. This is serious.”

Louis threw the pillow across the room. “Dammit, I don’t know, I’m just trying to make myself feel better.”

I closed my eyes and sat still, listening to the clock hanging by the door as it ticked for each second that passed.

Louis growled. “Anna is not going to be happy.”

I rubbed my temples. “And think about Harry.”

Louis chewed his lip. “You could have sex with him and just tell him it’s his.”

I shot a piercing glare in Louis’ direction. “That is the definition of a dick move, Louis Tomlinson. That is absolutely horrible of you.”

He looked at me matter-of-factly. “It was a joke. Not a very funny one, obviously… Has it been a damn minute yet?”

I leapt up and rushed to the bathroom. I kept my eyes closed as I picked up the small stick carefully from under the sink and walked out of the bathroom. My thumb covered the results. Louis gripped my shaking shoulders as he stood in front of me and we both looked down at the test in my fingers. I lifted my thumb slowly and groaned when I saw the small, pink happy face.

How could this happen to me?

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