Seconds later the door was opened by Kayleigh.
"Hello. Please come in," she said, making a gesture with her hand.
Josh kept close to me as we entered the house and the kids were walking slowly behind us.
"I come for Niall," Kayleigh said and then she was already gone.
"The Ninja?," Josh asked and I just nodded. As soon as she was gone, we heard quick steps. Taylor came to us running with a big grin on her face.
"Selena," she said, and I knelt down to embrace her properly.
"Hey, Taylor," I said and then smiled at her. "These are Carol and Collin, my siblings," I put them in front of her. "Col, Car, this is Taylor."
"Hi!," Taylor said and hugged them both.
"Um, hi," said Carol surprised.
"Is that your boyfriend?," Taylor asked and looked behind me.
"Oh, that's Josh," I said and he waved at her briefly. "We're-"
"They're best friends," Niall said and came down the aisle.
"Hey, guys," he said as he arrived at us. Josh nodded to him, but Niall didn't notice. He had already knelt down and held out his hand for my siblings.
"I'm Niall, Taylor's brother," he introduced himself and the two quickly shook his hand.
"Let's go to my room," suggested Taylor, took my siblings on their hands and dragged them with her. Laughing, they ran the big stairs up and were gone.
Niall stood up with a broad smile and asked, "Shall we plant the seeds?"
We followed him into the garden, entered the garden shed and had planted the seeds within minutes. Then we washed our hands, wrote on the individual flower pots the music direction and then sat in the gazebo. Niall sighed.
"Maybe I should tell you that-," he began, but at that moment the doorbell rang.
Josh and I braced ourselves. We knew what would happen now.
Seconds later Kayleigh stood on the lawn and announced "Mr. Payne."
In this moment, Liam came running out of the house and then stopped when he saw us.
"Thank you, Kayleigh," said Niall and stood up. Kayleigh disappeared and Liam pierced us with his eyes.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Nialler?," he finally asked. "First this thing in class, then I hear a rumor that you've dumped Aly for her!" He pointed at me. "And now I come here and they are here? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"Sit down," Niall said with a sigh and Liam snorted, but did it anyway. With folded arms he sat opposite Josh, while Niall took his place opposite to me again.
"Now the ball's in your count," said Liam and looked at us, but Niall shook his head no.
"It's not. You are here for a reason," he said, and we looked at him.
"I can't do this anymore" Niall began. "We behave like absolute assholes and mop everyone up who can't harm us anyway."
Josh and I raised our eyebrows and looked at him with a pardon?-look.
"Wasn’t meant like that," he assured us and Liam snorted again.
"Where is your problem? We did this so many years. You never complained, but participated every single time. The girls are falling for you, if you can say that you are the king. And we are the kings, man!," Liam said and put his hand on Niall's shoulder, while I rolled my eyes.
"Let me guess, you're the reason Selala. What did you have to give him that he does all this?," he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"You're disgusting," I said and he laughed.
"Believe me, not everyone thinks so. The girls even like this most about me," he said confidently, and I rolled my eyes again.
"Oh yeah? How long did you have to contort yourself until you finally fit in, Liam?," Josh mingled now. "How long have you persuaded yourself that you are someone else, someone better now, as the people who bullied you in the past?"
Liam stiffened and dug his fingers into Niall's shoulder.
"You've told them" he realized and clenched his teeth. Niall looked briefly angry at Josh, who leaned back with a satisfied smile.
"Look, Liam. Josh, Aly, Selena and I were once best friends. Then I turned into an asshole and betrayed them because I wanted to be cool. Because of Taylor I saw how wrong and stupid that was. I want to be a good brother to her, a better person and that is only possible if I change me. And I haven't dumped Aly for these two, but because she didn't love me and this didn't work out. I told you that she has cheated on me all the time" Niall said. Liam exhaled slowly and visibly calmed.
Slowly he eased his hand from Niall's shoulder and asked, "You still don't know who this bastard is?" Niall shook his head and Liam closed his eyes.
"What am I doing here, Niall? Are you telling me that you want among the victims now? That we should also beat you up? What do you want?" he asked.
"I want us to stop. It is our last year, Liam. Probably our ways will separate. We will grow up. If we are working later, we can't beat anyone up just because they're in our way, except we work as hatchet man. What I don't intend and I know that you also don't, Paynee." Niall threw a quick glance of his eye to me and then went on.
"You know, what Nic and Ruth would say, if they saw you like this. They wouldn't be proud. It would tear their hearts. They would be negatively surprised, because they know that this isn't you. I'm tired of being someone I'm not. And I know that you're not doing differently."
I had to admit that Niall was very good with his words. He knew exactly what he had to say. Liam opened his eyes slowly and looked at the table.
"What exactly do you expect from me now?," he asked.
"I expect that we stop be the attacks. The other still know us as a party kings, as the coolest guys in the school. It will not change because if we stop beating and scaring others. We might even be more popular. It has only good sides. On the one hand we gain their trust and on the other we don’t have to hurt anyone anymore and we can even look in the mirror," he said.
"This all sounds too easy. You also forget our girlfriends," contradicted Liam and then grimaced. "My girlfriend and Louis’ and Zayn’s. Sorry," he corrected himself.
"No problem, I'm almost over her. The girls... This will be hard. Especially when it comes to Aly and Eleanor. Let's put it frankly: Perrie is pretty stupid and a follower," Niall said and Josh and I had to giggle. Niall smiled slightly and also Liam's mouth twitched.
"You have Sophia under control, I know. You guys are together for ages. She jumps when you snaps. It's the same with Eleanor and Louis, but this time it's bad, because Zayn got his back and Louis does what he wants without batting an eye. Maybe you could talk to Sophia. With you we would be five and the others only six. So we could definitely change something." Liam nodded.
"At best we two are talking with Harry. But then this time without you," he said, and now looked up. His eyes were clear and lay calm in his face. "We don't want to overwhelm anyone again the way you did this to me, right?" He smiled slightly, but Josh and I looked at him with a neutral expression.
"Dinner is ready!," cried Kayleigh and Niall sighed.
"Let's don't make them wait," he said and stood up.
We followed him to the big house and ran a precaution with a safety margin to Liam. But he hardly noticed us, not as we walked in the house, nor yet, as we ate. He just sat there, ate and looked thoughtful.
The kids talked and Carol and Collin looked pretty happy. Taylor seemed to be a good friend of both.
Niall spoke about the project and that we should meet every second day, which means, I should come to him after school and even on weekends. I took a deep breath and told him that I agreed.
Josh looked exactly like Liam very thoughtful. I knew him for so long and so well that I knew what was going on in his mind. He weighed the possibilities. Whether Liam and Niall would now be really nice. If they'd be able to convince Harry, Sophia, Perrie. Whether they pull it off or will relapse. How the rest of the students would react.
"When do I have to be out of the house saturday?," Taylor asked and pulled me from my thoughts. I looked away from Josh and confused at her.
"Best yet noon, finally I have to prepare the house," replied Niall and I now looked at him. He smiled at her and she nodded.
"I don't want to sleep at Gramp's house. Can't I just stay here?," she asked and Niall laughed.
"We have spoken about it before, Tay."
"I know, I know, this is a party for adults, not for kids."
Oh, right. It was time. Time for the party of the year. A tradition introduced by Zayn.
Every year all the young people of the city and the surrounding area had traveled to celebrate a huge party in Niall's huge house. Anyway, I had heard so. It was hard to believe, but most of the students were even Monday, when school was again, still too drunk to appear.
I reached out my hand and took a sip of water.
"I have an idea. Can't we just make a sleepover?," Tay asked and looked up at me and my siblings. I thought of my home and choked. Taylor would get a culture shock when she would see our house. I coughed and Josh hit me lightly on the back.
"Um, well, I-" I began, but Carol interrupted me.
"Pretty please, Selena! We hadn't had a sleepover for like forever," she said and the twins looked at me with great anticipation.
"Um, I'll ask dad if it's okay if you come this weekend and even bring a friend," I said, and now shone all three children over their faces.
Collin said, "He will definitely have no problem with that!"
I smiled slightly, hoping that my father would take the kids on the weekend to his home.
"Selena, I'd say that we'll meet Thursday at my house again and bring the flowers Saturday in safety, not that they'd be messed up from the loud music. Then we could throw them directly away. The best way to do that is Saturday morning, then you have plenty of time to get ready for the party," he said and looked at me smiling.
"That's perfect," Liam said smiling and I looked between their faces back and forth. I understood the words slowly.
"You- you invite me to the party?," I asked incredulously.
"Yep, you and Josh. Finally, you're now one of my friends again," he said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"To the party? The one- the one you do every year?"
"The one everyone talks about all months long until the next one is?"
"Exactly," he said and nodded proudly.
"Us?," I asked in disbelief and could only stare at him.
I had never been on such a proper party. Finally, no one invited us.
Josh and I celebrated our birthdays together and the only way was that we got somewhere something to eat and then made us conveniently in his TV room, watched our favorite movies late into the night and got drunk a little.
"Seriously?" Josh asked.
Liam exchanged glances with Niall and said curtly, "I hope they don't act all the time like this."
Niall laughed shortly and shrugged, while Liam smiled at us.
"Of course it's serious. You belong to us now. And everyone who belongs to our friends, comes to the party. Josh, Selena, we are now friends. Friends come to our party, so you come to this damn party and will hopefully light up," he said.
I exchanged glances with Josh and could see how Josh made a decision.
With a smile he looked at the boys and said "I'm in."