☠ Chapter Forty-Six ☠
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
"I know you like it, babygirl."
He smirks when he feels my pulse racing wildly against his fingertip.
And then he leaves my room without another word, leaving me with weak knees.
I stand in the middle of my bedroom as Zayn closes the door behind himself, completely and utterly flustered. What the hell just happened? He just called me his old pet-name for me, and it immediately has me wondering if he does, in fact remember me. But then again, these small doubts rise to the surface and I'm suddenly wondering if he calls every girl the pet-name. What if I was never special in that way, which I always thought I was?
I ignore it. I push the negative thoughts as far as I can; into the furthest, darkest shelves within my brain. Fuck Kit, she isn't here today, and with the way Zayn just flirted with me, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't say anything if I end up reciprocating.
I pick up my panties from where they hit the floor after Zayn shot them at me. I finish drying off my body and quickly put my clothes on. Before I leave my bedroom, I run a little bit of product through my hair to tame the waves that will appear as my hair dries.
I have to take a moment to regain some sort of composure before I turn the door handle and step back out. I immediately spot Zayn from the hallway. He's standing in the living room, enveloped in laughter with Louis, holding a beer in his left hand. The second I step out, his eyes find me and he slowly blinks while staring at me and curling his lips into a small smirk. His eyes rake up and down my body, taking in the sight of my body in my little shorts and tank top.
I watch Louis-curious as to what Zayn's staring so intently at-lean over to find me standing in the hallway. When Louis realizes that it's me that Zayn's focused on, he tears his gaze away quickly, scratching awkwardly at the back of his neck.
I'm forced to break eye contact with Zayn when Zoe suddenly steps towards me and quickly hugs me tightly. It nearly scares the living shit out of me, and I end up exhaling heavily over her shoulder. "I haven't seen you in forever! I missed you!"
"Yeah, no kidding." I reply. It's true, it feels like I haven't seen her in forever, but there's been so much shit going on that we've only really had the time to talk over the phone, and not in person. She knows all about Zayn's memory loss, and she knows not to interfere, or bring me up around him, but she doesn't exactly know why. I don't trust that she won't interfere-because she's infamous for sticking her nose where it doesn't belong-but I hope and pray that she doesn't. "I missed you too. How's school been?"
"Same old," she comments and I know exactly what that means. That means she's still skipping school, which means that she's probably still scraping by, barely passing each course. "How's the internship been since we last talked?"
I sigh while nodding my head, "it's been really good, actually. My boss is great, and my co-workers are awesome. They're so helpful and they're super nice."
"That's awesome, I'm happy to hear that. Look, I need to tell-"
"Zoe?" Louis' voice breaks us apart as she turns to face him. When she makes eye contact with him, he waves her over, signalling that he wants to have a private word with her.
I can sense Zayn staring at me as I walk to the kitchen and grab a drink. "You alright?" He asks from behind me as I'm gazing into the fridge. I grab a bottle of water and turn to face him.
Nodding my head, I respond, "why wouldn't I be?" I assume he's referring to the fact that I'm clearly hungover, but when he smirks, I doubt my own logic.
"You seemed a little flustered earlier, s'all."
"Don't flatter yourself."
Zayn chuckles. "Flatter myself? Arielle, love, don't be coy."
"I'm not. You snuck into my room and shuffled through the clothes on my bed like a pervert." I cross my arms and stare at him with a glare. Despite the fact that he's standing a few feet in front of me, my pulse is already racing and my self-control is slowly slipping away.
"Who says I just looked through the clothes you'd placed on your bed?" He smirks and raises an eyebrow. I release a small gasp and dart towards him.
"What the hell did you take from my room?" I'm standing just inches away from him now, trying-and failing-to intimidate him into telling me what he's stolen.
He smirks, shrugs, and places his beer to his lips. He turns to walk away from me, and I'm about to run forward and grab hold of his arm, but Louis and Zoe appear and it distracts me enough that I'm unable to.
"Sorry about that," Louis announces as he steps past me and grabs another beer from the fridge. Since I'm the only one standing near him, I'm the only one that hears the heavy sigh fall from his lips as he twists the lid off the bottle and takes a sip.
"Oh my God! Zayn, come look at this!" Zoe says from across the living room. She seems to be staring at some car magazine that Louis was reading a few days ago. She's got it open to a page and she's pointing at it frantically as she waits for Zayn to walk over. He does so, but not before rolling his eyes.
Louis and I stand together in the kitchen, with him leaning up against the cupboards. "Everything okay?" I ask.
He takes another sip of his beer, before looking at me quizzically, "yeah." I watch him as he looks off at Zoe, who's still talking away at Zayn, and I'm positive he's zoning out because he's just staring off into space while she yammers away.
"You sure about that?"
Louis sighs again. "It's just-" He looks down at the flooring for a moment before continuing. "She's a lot to handle, y'know. I think I'm ready for someone a little more . . . relaxed."
"Oh," is all I can mutter out because did he just basically tell me that he's going to break up with my best friend? A little part of me is still suspicious of him because of him emerging from that hotel room this morning, but this just heightens the suspicion. Is he breaking it off with her because he feels jealous about cheating?
"Oh shit, I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget that the two of you are best friends. You're both so opposite, how do you deal with her sometimes?"
I take a sip of my water. "I know what you mean, but if you really love her, then her little quirks wouldn't bother you this much, and I totally hate to say that because it sounds like I'm encouraging you to break up with my best friend, but it's true. I don't want you leading her on if you're not in this for the long run. If you don't see some sort of future with her, then please don't lead her on." I pray that if he really doesn't want to be with her, that he breaks up with her now. Please let him break her heart now, when she's not madly in love with him, and not a year from now when they have a child or something. Better yet, break up with her now before you actually cheat on her because you're in a loveless relationship.
It's so weird that their relationship has changed so much since all four of us met. Zoe and Louis were crazy about each other at the beginning. Hell, he basically tracked her down after we first saw him during that race-the one where the finish line just happened to be on our front lawn, and Louis hit on me with his dumb ass pickup lines. Speaking of which-
"Why did you act so weird when we first met?" I blurt out.
"What?" He asks, confused as to where this came from and where it's going.
"Well, when we first met, you were using those stupid pickup lines on me-" He smirks. "-and then you somehow tracked us down on campus, and I remember this because it bothered me for a while afterwards, but you kept looking at me funny. Like, I introduced myself and you gave me this odd look and I couldn't figure out why because we'd basically just met."
"Oh, that. Yeah, I can explain that."
"Zayn sent me. Somehow in the sea of bodies he managed to spot me talking to you that day, and he wanted me to track you down. And it was obvious that you went to the school because I watched you two run out from the dorm, and it was just a matter of hanging around campus until I saw you two. It took forever, but finally I spotted you two sitting at the tree, so I introduced myself."
"So that's how he got my number," I mutter under my breath. It's like all of the puzzle pieces come together, and I can see clearly how much Zayn went out of his way just to get to know a stranger like me. Does that mean he knew about the party too? That night when I danced with him and he slipped the cigarette in my shorts pocket-did he plan all of that as well? I mean, I've always known Zayn to be a closeted romantic, but did he really do all of that . . . for me?
It occurs to me that I'll probably never know the answer to those questions because he's forgotten all of those memories. I desperately try to ignore the pain in my chest at the thought.
Louis hears my epiphany and replies, "yeah, I quickly managed to send it to myself without raising any suspicion and then I passed it along to him." He nods his head in Zayn's direction. Zoe's still rambling on about something, and Zayn looks over at us as if he's screaming save me!
But then something occurs to me, "wait. Hold up. When you came and introduced yourself, you said you weren't interested in me, but you were actually interested in Zoe. But yet, the whole reason you came was to get my number. You weren't even into Zoe, were you?"
Louis shuts up at that, looking at the ground. It occurs to me that I've stumbled upon the truth, and I end up closing my eyes because it pains me. The two of them basically used Zoe to get to me, and she must never know that.
"I hate to say it, but yes. But that's not to say I didn't develop feelings for her!" He instantly is defending himself. "She was-still is-hot and as we started dating I thought she was cute, funny, intelligent, caring, and all that. If I'm being completely honest with you, it was you I was interested in at the beginning."
Before I can shut myself up, I'm asking, "well why didn't you do anything about it?"
His blue eyes look at me differently then, and though I can't quite pick up what's different about them, internally I know. It's because I'm positive that he probably still likes me, but he's not going to act upon anything because of Zayn. "It's different now, besides you know why," is all he responds.
"What's all serious over here?" Zayn suddenly breaks the intense conversation that's going on in the kitchen.
"Nothing, we were just talking about food. Who's interested in ordering out?" Louis says, almost instantaneously changing his mood.
"Sure," Zayn and Zoe respond at the same time.
"Here, I'll pull out some menus. Anybody feeling anything?" Him and Zayn begin to walk away from us and I follow, but Zoe pulls my arm, effectively stopping me.
"I need to talk to you."
"So talk," I respond.
"Not here, it's private." She looks over at Louis, but he's not paying attention. Obviously she's got something to tell me about him. My face instantly pales because maybe she knows about the affair that I suspect him of having. Shit.
"We'll be right back," I announce to the boys, but they aren't even paying attention, they're overlooking Chinese food menus as if they're making the biggest decision they've ever had to make.
I drag Zoe to my room and shut the door quickly behind us. "What is going on?"
"I'm going to break up with Louis," she says quietly. She starts frantically pacing across my room-like the hyperactive individual I know her to be-and it instantly makes me a little irritated. Why do these two have to put me in the middle of their shit. It's your shit, you deal with it!
What? Why? "What are you talking about?"
She sighs before pinching the bridge of her nose. "I've started developing feelings for someone else."
What is it with these two? I open my mouth to speak, but I'm rendered a little speechless. Once upon a time, these two were crazy over each other, they could never keep their hands off one another, and now they both are interested in ending the relationship? "Who?"
"It's not important. All that matters is what am I going to do?" She stomps her foot down and bites at her nails. "Louis is crazy about me! How am I supposed to end things with him?"
I almost scoff aloud at her statement. Clearly neither of them are crazy about each other so why are they even together anymore? Some people really confuse me when it comes to relationships.
"What even happened with you two? I thought you two, like loved each other."
She shrugs her shoulders, "dunno what to tell you, maybe it was just lust. I mean, we did have a lot of sex." She smirks at the thought and it instantly brings up old memories of the two of them bragging constantly about their sex life. We get it.
I wince. "Too much information."
"Well, it's no different than you and Zayn! What the hell happened with you two? Why are you being so weird about it?"
"That's totally different! Besides, it's none of your business! Just stay out of it! And don't mention me to him," I respond harshly. I'm not even sure if Zoe realizes that Zayn's forgotten who I am, but she's not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I severely doubt that she's figured anything out.
"God you two are strange," she comments.
"Oh, we're strange?"
She nods her head, and I end up rolling my eyes. "Whatever," I bite. "I'm done with this bullshit. Break up with him then, don't fucking lead him on."
"That's exactly what I'm going to do," she says as she stomps towards the door. She reaches for the knob, but I grab her arm, jerking her away.
"What are you doing?"
"Breaking up with him," she responds with her head high.
"Not now!" God! "At least have the decency to break up with him more privately, not in front of his friends. Jesus, Zoe!"
She shakes her arm out of my grasp, "fine. I'll do it tonight."
We both step out of my bedroom and we're practically fuming. It's obvious that the boys heard something because they're both standing at the end of the hallway, near the kitchen, staring at us as if we've grown extra heads.
"What was that all about?" Louis asks.
Zayn doesn't say anything, he just smirks at me. Fuck, why do I want to kiss that damn smirk of his face so badly?
"Girl stuff," Zoe responds with a harsh glare in Louis' direction. Yeah, more like listening to the two of you secretly share how much you truly dislike each other.
I hate this. It's horrible being stuck between the two of them. I can't piss either one off, and yet they're both putting me in a position where one of them will be upset. I can't make Louis angry because I live with him, and who knows, maybe he'd get so upset he'd end up kicking me out. I can't upset Zoe because she's my best friend, and I know her well enough to know that when she's angry at someone, she retaliates by fucking something up. And I know that she'll fuck up something between Zayn and I. I hate that she always does that, but that's the type of person she is when she's angry. She doesn't think.
"Thanks for clearing the air," Louis whispers under his breath sassily. As he's turning, I can see him roll his eyes but lucky for him, Zoe's just out of sight of it.
"Alright then," Zayn responds awkwardly trying to break some of the tension in the air. We all have some sort of problem with one another and it's making this friendly gathering all that more awkward. I have an issue with Zayn, because we can't be together, despite how badly I want to be with him. Also, he doesn't remember me. Zoe is fighting with Louis because I'm positive that she's cheated on him, however, whoever it is with, I'm stumped. Louis is fighting right back with Zoe because he doesn't have the balls to admit that he's attracted to me-I'm not stupid-and to break up with Zoe, who he's clearly only dating to not hurt her feelings. And I'm mad at both Louis and Zoe for being so fucking stupid and naïve when it comes to relationships. If you don't like each other, don't stay together! If you do, then fucking be together already!
"Did you gentleman choose what we're having?" I ask.
"Chinese has already been ordered." Alright then, at least someone around here can make a damn decision.
But then I realize that someone else around here has made a decision, and that's Zayn, and it's about me . . .