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?”


28. chapter 25

To say I was relieved when I finally got my period would be an understatement. I felt absolutely horrendous in every way possible – my whole body ached, my stomach was in knots, and I had the heaviest flow ever. After hours of persuasion, I managed to get Harry to run to the store (whichever store had the least amount of witnesses) so that he could buy me tampons. He scared me when he sprinted into the apartment and breathlessly slammed the door shut, clutching the tampons to his chest like he was running away from the police with a secret that had to remain hidden.

“They’re just tampons…” I said, taking the box from him and rushing to the bathroom.

Harry’s head poked around the doorframe fiercely as I sat on the toilet. “Do you know how humiliating it is for a man to be buying those nasty things for his woman?” He asked, his hands on his hips.

“Would you rather me just lay in bed and bleed it all out?” I asked, raising my eyebrows at him.

He grimaced crossed his arms sassily. “You didn’t even say thank you,” he informed me as I peeled open a wrapper.

I shot him a toothy grin and waved the tampon at him. “I looooove yoouuuuu.”

Harry frowned before walking away. “Mhmm.” I loved his hissy fits.

Thankfully, I was feeling better by the end of the week when Bonnie came back to the studio for her photo shoot. Nerves were no longer an issue (for me, at least) and I greeted her like I would greet any other friend. I could tell that Niall, Louis, Liam, and Harry were all stunned by the casual nature of mine and Bonnie’s interactions, but since Zayn had seen it before, he occasionally dared to join into our playful banter and ended up gaining Bonnie’s favor of all of the boys.

Bonnie couldn’t stop beaming about the pictures that I had taken that day of the boys in her clothing. I knew they weren’t the best that I had ever taken, but the boys looked so full of life in the pictures that I didn’t think anyone would be paying attention to the angle of the shot that was a little bit too high or the shadow that appeared in two or three of the frames. I hoped those were things that only I noticed anymore because it was my job to. Bonnie didn’t notice. Unlike anyone else I had ever worked with before, she laughed along with the boys and even took a few pictures with them in her clothing. She demanded that we take a “dance break” at one point during the day and asked the boys to show her some of their “club moves.” She may have been old, but she certainly knew how to have a good time for no reason.

It was strange not having Anna there, but I hadn’t told her about the rescheduling of Bonnie’s shoot. I didn’t feel like it was necessary. We managed a shoot without Anna before and could certainly do it again. All the while I snapped pictures of the boys and joked about all different kinds of things with Bonnie, I continuously checked the door to make sure Anna didn’t walk in behind me. I wasn’t necessarily avoiding her… I just wasn’t ready to face her again. I didn’t know if I would ever be ready. She hurt me more than anyone else. I couldn’t help but wonder how long she had been wanting to say those nasty things to me.

Zayn, Liam, Louis, Niall, Harry, Bonnie, and I all ended up going out to dinner after the shoot. I was almost stunned to see each of the boys listening so intently to the story of her life; her childhood, the beginning of her career, her plans for the future… I had never seen the five guys so calm and interested in something that didn’t involve sex, drugs, or alcohol. I even found myself getting so caught up in her ideas for the future that I forgot to eat my spaghetti. It was only when Harry called, “Check, Please?” that I realized I hadn’t touched a single meatball.

Bonnie took us to a three-dollar movie theater right out of the city that none of us knew about after that. The Lion King was showing, and Niall and Louis were getting a kick out of the fact that Bonnie claimed this was “an appropriate movie” for all of us “kids.” I made sure to remind Niall that we spent all last week watching Disney Princess movies, but he quickly hushed me as Louis’ ears perked up. It might sound silly that 6 twenty-something-year-olds spent the rest of the night in an empty theater with an old woman watching The Lion King, but it was nice to take a break from adulthood. To be babied. It was nice to feel like I had some sort of mother-figure in my life again.

When we finally broke away from the group and got back to the apartment, Harry tossed the keys to the Celica onto the island and flipped on the hall light. “Your room or my room tonight?”

Harry and I couldn’t go to sleep in separate rooms anymore. If I woke up in the morning and he wasn’t beside me, I felt alone. I mean, I was. But it was more of a deserted mental feeling than a physical one, even if he just went to the bathroom. It sort of scared me how dependent I was becoming.

“Yours?” I suggested, kicking off my shoes and pulling the scarf from my neck as I walked into the bathroom. “We’ll switch it up for once.”

Harry pouted as he passed the bathroom. “I like your bed though.”

“But I like yours! We always sleep in mine. The sheets are probably dirty anyway,” I called. I finished peeing and turned on the faucet to wash my hands and face. I let the cool water from the sink run down over my cheeks and rinse my makeup off. I reached backward for my towel, feeling around with my eyes closed until I felt the fuzzy fabric between my fingers. I giggled when I felt Harry’s hand on the towel too.

“Oh thanks babe.” I took the towel from him and wiped my face.

“There is that beautiful I’m dating! I didn’t even know it was you under all that makeup!” Harry joked, pinching my cheek and turning to use the toilet.

I frowned. “Don’t be mean.”

“I’m serious, I don’t know why you wear that makeup. You’re naturally beautiful.”

“Mhmm,” I hummed, glancing at him out of the corner of my eye. “And you’re a liar.”

“Am not,” he said, smiling at me softly. His eyes looked tired. “You’re a stunner.” He slapped my bum as he walked past me back to his room.

I grabbed some tweezers and began to pluck the stray hairs around my eyebrows. I sneezed a few times – for some reason when I did my eyebrows, I sneezed a lot. Each time I sneezed, I heard a faint “Bless you” from Harry down the hallway, making me grin. After I got done with that, I wiped down the sink (something I realized was becoming a habit) and turned off the bathroom light. I strode down the hallway sexily (though I felt stupid) in my bra and underwear and into Harry’s bedroom, posing dramatically in the doorway only to find that Harry was lying face-down on his bed.

“Asleep already?” I asked sarcastically, hoping that it wasn’t true, but it was. He didn’t respond.

I turned off the light and shuffled to the side of the bed that his body wasn’t completely covering. I crawled under the sheets and tried my best to cover him with the sheets as well without having to move him too much. He didn’t look like it, but he was heavy. As I lifted one of his feet to pull the covers out from underneath it, Harry groaned softly and curled up into a ball, turning on his side to face me. I couldn’t help but grin as his child-like nature and the way his scraggly hair fell over his face as he shifted his head on the pillow. I faced him and scooted close to his body, pulling the rest of the covers up around both of our necks. I wasn’t tired and I didn’t really know why Harry was, but I had nothing better to do but lay in bed and watch him – not like I minded.

I slipped into a memory of us as I watched him there… the memory of the first time that we ever slept together. I had only ever shared a bed with my mom, and that was once – the night my father left us. There was something so personal about sleeping with someone, letting them lay beside you as you slipped in and out of dreams that contained your strongest desires or your deepest fears. I hated the thought that someone could lie close to you and see you twitch when that monster that haunts you in each of your nightmares leapt at you. I hated the thought that someone could lie close to you and watch the corners of your mouth turn slightly upward when the man of your dreams rescues you, once again, and carries you off into the sunset. I hated the thought that someone could lie close to you and study your brow as it furrowed in anger when you hit another dead-end in the cloudy maze within the puzzle of that night’s dream. To me, that’s more personal than having to share a traumatic or life-altering story from your past. At least when you’re talking about it to someone’s face, you can make an attempt to hide the emotion.

The first night that Harry and I slept together (and I mean sleeping on the same mattress – the first time we were in a bed without actually having sex) was the night after one of our first parties.

Todd Larkin, one of the senior boys from the party, had just dropped us off on in front of Harry’s house, approximately seven blocks from my house. Even in our drunken state, we could clearly see Harry’s mother through the front window pacing back and forth and back and forth, occasionally throwing her hands in the air and then dropping her hands to slap her sides. “Where is he?!” I saw her mouth form the words. Through the sheer curtains, we could barely see the outline of Harry’s father sitting on the couch with his arms folded tightly across his chest, his legs crossed tightly, his jaw clenched tightly, his glasses even seemed to be clinging tightly to the sides of his head. Harry’s father was just an overall uptight person.

“They’re going to roast me alive if I walk in there,” Harry said, his eyes a dull, lifeless gray that seemed even more lifeless with the reflection of the flickering streetlight in them. He puffed out a breath that reeked of alcohol. I fanned my hand in front of my disgusted face.

“Climb through the window,” I suggested tiredly and slightly annoyed.

“It’s locked.”

“Break it open.”

Harry rolled his eyes and motioned toward the window where we still watched his parents fretting over the whereabouts of their 9th grade son. “They’ll hear.”

I huffed. “Well then come home with me. Just go home tomorrow and tell them you slept over at Lucas Donovan’s or something.”

Harry squeezed his eyes shut and turned to follow me down the street. We walked 5 blocks down the dark streets to a 7-11 gas station. We dropped into the store, occasionally stumbling into on another and into shelves of chips, earning us disapproving glares from the old man behind the counter. Harry managed to successfully fill up and put the lids on two large blue slurpies before tripping his way to the counter and paying. We sucked on the long, red straws as we made our way around the remaining two blocks to my house. The lights, including the front porch light, were off, so I assumed my mom was asleep. I took Harry’s hand and lead him around the back of the house, opening the large fence and not minding the loud squeak that it made on the hinges. I walked to the double doors on the porch and found my key under the mat, unlocked the doors, and stepped into my room. Harry followed, admiring the freedom that my mother allowed me.

“Your mom loves you, I don’t know why you have such a hard time talking to her,” Harry whispered as I flipped on the light and shrugged off my purple leather jacket. I decided not to say anything.

Harry kicked off his shoes and pulled his shirt over his head as I walked to my closet and searched around for a few blankets. I remembered making a bed for my old dog once: a few layers of padding and then a sheet. The dog didn’t like it much but I was sure drunk Harry wouldn’t mind. However, when I turned around to make the bed on the floor, Harry was already passed out in my bed. Under my sheets. In his black boxers.

I didn’t notice the hall light shining under the crack beneath my door as I watched him, so my mother’s soft knock on the door scared me half to death. I jumped and stood still, clutching the blankets I was holding close to my chest and breathing slowly into them.

“Scotlan, honey? Is that you?” My mom asked, her quiet voice muffled behind the white wood. I waited. “Okay,” she said after a minute. “I just wanted to make sure you were home safe. Let me know if you need anything.”

I waited to drop the blankets until after I heard my mothers small feet tapping against the wood floor in the hall. Once I heard her bedroom door shut, I tiptoed over to my bed, stripping off my shirt and jeans before crawling under the sheets. At first, I kept my distance. His long curls were draping gradually over his eyes and his top lip fluttered slightly as he breathed slowly out of his mouth. Just go to sleep, I told myself as I flipped onto my other side and closed my eyes. But I couldn’t. I flipped back over to face Harry and watched as his eyelids flickered. I reached up and pulled gently on one of the curls laying on his forehead, almost squealing when he reached up without opening his eyes and grabbed my shoulders. “C’mere,” he grunted. He dragged my body close to his and engulfed me in his warm, skinny, tattooless arms.

I giggled at the memory and stared at him now, his hair much less curly than it had been in the past, probably due to all of the product that we usually used in the photo shoots. He was so handsome. I could never understand how someone could be so handsomely perfect and yet so fucked up at the same time. I often thought the same thing about myself. I gently grabbed a wave that laid across his forehead and tugged it lightly. I watched as Harry’s eyes flickered behind his eyelids and the skin on his forehead wrinkled. He groaned and buried his face in his pillow, but not entirely. I grabbed the same wave of hair and pulled a little more lightly, and finally, almost instinctively, Harry stuck his hands out and searched around for my shoulders. When he found them, he dragged my body to him and engulfed me in his arms. His warm, muscular, tattooed arms.

We are fucked up, I thought again. A perfect, fucked up pair of lovers.

I shivered when I woke up that morning in an empty bed. I didn’t bother to put on any other clothes before sliding into the kitchen and living room. I froze when I saw that all of the furniture was shoved to one side of the living room, covered in some sort of plastic. Harry stood in his boxers staring at the blank wall to the left of where the television used to be. He tapped his chin with one finger and squinted at a spot on the white wall where the hole that he punched used to be.

“You finally plugged it up?” I asked, still wondering why all of the furniture had to be moved in order for him to fix that one spot.

Harry turned and smiled at me. “Good morning you beautiful, beautiful woman!” He ran at me and picked me up, spinning us both energetically. He placed me back on my feet and planted a large sloppy kiss on my lips before taking my hands and leading me around the couch. “I know what we’re going to do today.”

It was only after I had walked completely around the couch that I spotted a large bucket of small balloons on the floor beside a tarp and some darts. I frowned and watched Harry as he spread the tarp on the floor and taped it to the very bottom of the wall. “Okay, now I need your help,” he said, picking up a single balloon and reaching for a pile of pins that were lying on the plastic covering the couch. He took the tied end of the balloon and pinned it into the wall. As I picked one balloon up, I frowned at the weight. Some sort of liquid sloshed slowly around the rubbery interior of the inflatable.

“What’s in these?”

Harry grinned. “You’ll see. It’s going to be awesome. Just trust me.”

I helped him pin about 50 of the weighted balloons to the wall. They were scattered all over in no order or pattern at all, all stretching downward toward the tarp. Harry handed me a dart and stood next to me on the tarp, facing the wall.

“Ready?” He asked, his face glowing with excitement.

I squinted suspiciously at him but nodded. He closed one eye and aimed the dart at a red balloon right in the middle of the wall, extended his arm, and let go of the dart. As the dart hit the red balloon, red paint exploded all over the wall and on our feet.

I squealed, partly with surprise but mainly with delight. “What?!”

“I know!” Harry laughed.

“Oh my god!”

“I know!!” Harry repeated, picking up another dart. “Do it, do it! Throw yours!”

I flapped my arms around, trying to relax my eager body and aim. I threw the dart at a green balloon, but missed. I began to pout, but before I could protrude my bottom lip, Harry kissed me on the mouth and handed me another dart. “You can do it, come on!” He nearly shouted, bouncing next to me. I aimed and threw the dart again, aiming for the green balloon but instead hitting a yellow one beneath it. Yellow paint splashed the white wall and flicked onto Harry’s and my bare legs. I squealed once more with pleasure. Harry laughed at me and walked to the wall. He put his lips in the fresh yellow paint and walked to me, placed his lips carefully on my cheek, and pulled away. He wiped the rest of the paint from his lips on the back of his hand and beamed down at me as I stood proudly with a yellow kiss on my skin. I used my finger to take a glob of red paint off of the wall before drawing a red heart on his chest.

“Aww, isn’t that preeeetty…” Harry purred, his eyes twinkling as he looked down at the wet paint. I blushed as his eyes met mine, twirled around his body, and threw another dart, sending blue paint flying all over us.

Harry and I spent the rest of the morning throwing darts at the wall. Apparently the plainness of the wall had always bothered Harry and he wanted to paint it. I didn’t know how much I would like the multi-colored mess that we were making, but I didn’t let it bother me right then. We could always paint it back. Any time Harry hit a balloon, he would kiss the paint and then kiss my skin, and I did the same but with hearts and my finger. By the end of the morning, Harry had swallowed enough paint to make him sick, but he claimed that it was worth it to see me covered in his multi-colored kisses. It was only after we finished painting each other and taking down the remains of the balloons that I realized my camera was placed in the corner of the room. I glanced from it to Harry, who grinned bashfully.

“It was taking pictures the whole time?” I asked.

Harry nodded. “I hope you haven’t forgotten about your Wentz portfolio. Emotional pictures, remember? You should probably do that soon just so you don’t keep Wentz waiting.”

I looked at the paint dripping down the walls as we sat on the splattered tarp in my ruined underwear. “I didn’t forget… I just hadn’t thought about it…” I said, picking at a spot of paint on my bra.

“That’s why you have me,” Harry said playfully, drawing a star on my leg with his pinky and some purple paint.

I flicked a piece of dried green paint from his bottom lip. “What if I don’t want to go work there anymore?”

Harry stopped playing with the paint and widened his eyes at me. “Are you joking? That has been your dream since the 10th grade, Scotty.”

“I know,” I sighed. “But dreams change… don’t they?”

Harry frowned. “Is this because of me? Or the guys?”

I gulped and looked back at the wall. The paint was beginning to run a little more slowly, the colors weren’t blending into each other so much anymore.

Harry put his hand on my knee and ran his thumb over some paint that was peeling off my skin. “Please, Scotlan. Don’t let us hold you back.”

“You’re not holding me back. We’re all such a good team-“

“But the Wentz team is a GREAT team. You deserve to work for them. WITH them. You’re too amazing to hang around with a bunch of duds like us for the rest of your career,” Harry tried to convince me, his green eyes reflecting the sincerity in his tone.

“You duds are my family,” I chuckled quietly.

Harry shifted his body next to mine, sitting up and wrapping his arm around my shoulders before leaning back against the couch. “As your family, we support you 100%. We would all rather see you excel with your dream team than stick around with us.” He pressed his lips to my forehead and pulled a speck of blue paint from my hair. “Just promise me that you’ll at least still turn in another portfolio. Apply again. If you get offered the job – I mean, WHEN you get offered the job, you don’t necessarily have to accept it. It’s just been your dream for so long, I would hate to see you just give up completely.”

I didn’t want to do that. What if I got rejected again? That would be like a shot to the heart all over again, even if I didn’t want it as badly this second time around. However, Harry knew just how to manipulate me. He rubbed my bare shoulders slowly, his voice was low and soft, his hair brushed against the cheek without paint on it before he kissed my temple. I know he just wanted the best for me. “Promise me you’ll still go for it, Scotlan,” He whispered as he kissed down my neck.

I shivered as his hot breath blanketed my skin. “I promise.”

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