When She Turned 20

This one-shot is chapter 20 of the story "How to Catch a Falling Star" (soon to be published). It is an abridged version for the contest. Just thought I'd give one-shot writing a try again since the contest inspired/motivated me so much.


1. When She Turned 20

It's 5:30 in the morning. I haven't slept much today. I was too excited. There was a brief moment where I fell asleep but three hours and thirty minutes later, I woke up again. It was pointless to go back as I was too keyed up to sleep.

It's my birthday, I thought to myself. My damn freaking birthday. Today. On a Tuesday. This would not be such a big deal but I just turned 20 years old five hours ago. Well, since yesterday if I'm running on an Asian timezone. But I'm not.

I spend almost the last hour getting dressed and putting on my make up. I stare for the most part in the mirror, unsure of how I look. I keep biting my lower lip, unsure if leaving my long dark hair straight instead of letting it fall in soft loose waves was the best idea. My eyes, almond in shape, could use a good dose of eyeliner to make it bigger. My round face...well, I can't do anything about that now. Ditto my height, which barely reaches past his chest, or my huge figure. Even the outfit I'm wearing, a sleeveless floral sundress, might be too much. My only saving grace would probably be my lips, plump yet pale, nothing that a few strokes of lipstick couldn't fix.

I sigh heavily as I finish putting on the last touches, like jewelry and such. Today is going to be a good day. It's your birthday. You're allowed to do whatever you want. I could hear my conscience screaming at me to be more positive today when I am done preparing. After getting my stuff ready, I sit outside in the backyard and wait for the sun to rise.  

Honestly, I'm not even worried about turning 20 years old. In fact, I'm actually excited. It feels like my life is just starting. Maybe its the fact that I finally am in close proximity with the guy I have been obsessively infatuated with for the last three years. To be not only in his presence, but in his inner circle gave me a sense of peace most people dream about. Suffice it to say, he inspires me.

The sun slowly rises, the light streaming across the small yard. I close my eyes and let the warm light wash over me. I stay like that for several minutes, just soaking up the rays as I settle on the lounge chair. I smile as I remember the time last week that led up to this day's existence.


"Are you doing anything next week?" His raspy voice cuts through my thoughts.

"No...I don't think so. Why? Are you doing anything next week?" I glance at him.

He shakes his head. "No. Just thought..." He rubs the back of his neck. "Maybe you want to go and spend the day with me?"

My eyes light up. OMG!! Is this real?! "Um, yeah! Sure!" I hope I don't sound too eager. "When?"

His lips slowly curl up, breaking into a smile. "Great! Is Monday okay?"

"How about Tuesday? I think that would be better." I feel like clutching something. His smile is so beautiful, I can feel my knees weakening and my body starting to melt.

"Sure, Tuesday then." His hazel eyes glance at me briefly. He reaches out and squeezes my hand gently.  "I'll see you then."

"What are you doing out here?"

I jump to, shivering as I wake up. I push my dark hair away from my eyes. "What...?"

"Did you sleep out here the whole night?" I slowly open my eyes and look up to find my cousin's husband, Alex, peering down at me.

"Oh, hey. Um, no. I woke early to watch the sun rise and...I guess I fell asleep?" I slowly sit up, raising my arms to stretch.

"I can see that." He turns around and heads back into the house. "Oh, by the way," he calls out from the doorway, "Happy Birthday Erin! What is it, 20 now?"

"Thanks!" I yell back. I stand up and shake my head repeatedly. I pick up my phone from the lounge chair. I glance at the screen to find that its ten minutes before 7:30. I need to get ready. He'll be here in a few minutes.

I rush towards the restroom downstairs, dragging along my tote bag as I step in. I stare in front of the mirror and wince. I try as fast as I can to brush my teeth and re-touch my make up. I brush my lips with some lip gloss and some face powder. Not too much, just enough to cover the dark circles under my eyes.

The doorbell rings as soon as I come out of the restroom. "I'll get it!" I scream as I run towards the door. Okay, okay. Take a deep breath and relax.

I squeal when I find Alex already at the end of the hallway, his hand reaching for the doorknob.

"Wait! Alex, NO!" I grab the doorknob from him and turn it around. He opens the door to find a pair of hazel eyes staring right at him.

"Oh..." Alex stands there in his house robe, his jaw hanging open in shock. I guess he did not expect a member of a famous boyband standing on his front porch.

I carefully pull him back so I can stand in front of him. I can feel my cheeks heating up. Oh Dear Lord... wait until my parents find out about this.

"I'm sorry about that." I pull up the door behind me. "That was my cousin's husband. This is their house." Oh man. Why am I explaining this? I feel like hiding my face right now.

He chuckles. "Good morning Erin." A huge grin breaks out on his face.

I swing the door back out. "Good morning Zayn." I'm so happy I can't help but smile back.

He leans forward, his lips brushing softly against my cheek. "Here." He pulls back and brings out a boquet of flowers from behind him.

"Oh, thank you!" I take the flowers from him. "It's beautiful." I lean forward and kiss him on the cheek.

"Are you ready?" He holds out his hand for me.

"Yeah, let me just get my things and we can go." I turn around and step back into the house. As I grab my bag and my jacket, I see Alex standing there, staring at me.

"I'm spending the rest of the day with him." I murmur. "He's a friend. We go to the same university." As if that should explain everything. I left all the necessary information at the fridge in case of emergency. I added Mrs. Montgomery's number there. They're neighbours." Mrs. Montogomery is a former co-woker of Alex. I thought he might appreciate this. "Don't wait up."

He raises his eyebrows at me, daring me to give him an explaination but I avoid his stare. Please do not make a big deal out of this, I mentally plead. I swiftly turn around and walk out the door, closing it behind me.

"Let me take that." Zayn takes my bag and the flowers from me. He holds it on his left hand as his right hand takes mine. We walk down the steps towards his car.

I feel like I'm in a dream. This is too good to be true, I thought to myself as he opens the door for me. I climb in carefully, but it's hard when I'm wearing a skirt. Maybe that was not the best idea.

He runs around and climbs into the driver's seat, placing my stuff in the back seat. With our seatbelts in place, we take off for the road. In moments, we are past the town proper and driving into the Kent countryside.

I watch as the large green fields appear before my eyes. I stare in awe, amazed at the beauty before me.

"Where are we going?" I turn to ask him. It was then I noticed his outfit. Just a simple graphic shirt, jeans and a denim jacket. It was nothing, but on him it looked so sexy. I bite my lower lip to keep myself from reaching out and running my hands through that slicked-back hair and pressing my lips against his. I take a deep breath and try to calm down. He's just a friend.

"It's a surprise." A small smile appears at the corner of his lips.

"Okay...a good one, I hope." I laugh nervously. Somewhere in the back of my mind, there's a tiny part of me that worries he might do something...hurtful to me.

I shake my head and shudder. He won't. He's not like that. Just for today, I want to enjoy this day.

"Thank you for inviting me to go out today. I'm glad we did this." I place my hand on his arm and squeeze it gently.

"You're welcome." He clears his throat. "We're almost there." He turns around a corner and drive down a off-beaten path.

I let my hand fall and straighten up in my seat. We eventually arrive to our destination. He manuevers the car around and parks it at a side. I gasp as I glance around. We ended up on the edge of a forest, somewhere beyond which is a grassy field.

I quickly unbuckle my seatbelt and climb out of the car. He follows me, going around the back to take something out of the trunk.

I grab my bag and jacket from the back seat. I close the car door and walk over to him. He closes the trunk and sets down two picnic baskets, along with a long rolled up mat.

It finally dawns on me. "We're going on a picnic?" Wow, way to be stupid Erin.

"Uh, yeah." He smiles shyly at me. "Surprise!"

"Oh, wow..." There are no words left. I have apparently lost my ability to talk. I stare at him in amazement before snapping out of my daze. "Here, let me help you." I take the mat from him, slinging it over my right shoulder.

We start walking, with him leading the way as he carries the baskets. As we walk, I can hear angels singing love songs in my mind. Someone pinch me. I must be dreaming. This isn't real...

We come out of the forest and into the field. I cover my mouth with my hand as I stare at the view before me. The sun shining down on the field and the blooming flowers...it was breathtaking.

"This is...amazing." I say as we walk down the field and settle on a spot in the middle.

He sets the baskets down and takes the mat from me. We keep busy laying everything out. I take off my sandals and sit down after we're done, rubbing my feet. He sits across me, arranging the baskets between us.

He opens one and pulls out a small golden box from it. He sets it on top, along with two forks, a cigarette lighter and a small candle stick. He carefully opens the box.

I stare at the box, then at him, then at the box again. "Strawberry cake? That's my favorite! How did you - "

"Know?" He gives me a sly grin. "I have my ways..." He places the candle stick on top of the cake and lights it up. He starts singing me the Happy Birthday song. "Make a wish." He says after the song ends.

Wait, he just sang "Happy Birthday" to me. My mouth is hanging open in surprise. "You knew today's my birthday?" I shake my head in amazement as he nods at me. This is just unbelievable.

I close my eyes for a moment. Thank you God. I couldn't ask for anything better. I open my eyes and blow out the candle.

"Happy birthday babe! I hope your wish comes true." He looks straight into my eyes and starts singing some lines from Bruno Mars' song "Just The Way You Are". "You are amazing. Just stay as you are and I hope you never change for anyone but yourself." He says softly to me.

"Thank you." I whisper, my heart caught in my throat.  I take the forks, handing him the other one. We eat silently, talking in between about our activities during the summer holidays. We continue to eat whatever's inside the basket, from sandwiches to grilled chicken, drinking from soda cans in between.

After a hearty meal, we set aside the baskets and lay down on the mat. It was quite uncomfortable, with the flat surface beneath me and the rough surface of the fields. I take my jacket and fold it up, trying to make it into a make-shift pillow.

I lay back down again and turn my head up to find Zayn with his hands behind his head. I feel guilty and quickly sit up, glancing back down at him.

He notices me looking. "Something wrong?"

"Are you okay?" I place a hand on his leg. "Take my jacket. Use it. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable." I give him a small smile. "Please?'

"What about you?" He sits up, pulling up his knees to his chest. "No, it's okay, I'm fine. Besides, its your birthday."

I move my hand to his shoulders. "Please. For me?"

His eyes narrow slightly, before he blinks a few times. "Fine. Since it's your birthday, you can do whatever you want. That's my gift to you."

I give him a sly grin. "Whatever I want?"

It finally dawns on him what he just said. "I didn't mean - "

I burst out laughing. "Oh dear God! You should've seen the look on your face!" I point at him. "No, of course I know what you meant. Anything I want, just within reason. Got it. I'll keep it PG-13, I promise."

He makes a face and grabs my jacket, placing it behind him. He lays back down on the mat, stretching his legs. I take his left arm and move it up. I lay back down onto the mat, his left arm under my head. I squirm a bit, still feeling uncomfortable.

"Here, let me." He shifts me a bit, moving me with his left arm. Next thing I know, he gently places my head on his chest, just right below his shoulders. My hand moves to his stomach as I curl up next to him. I squint my eyes as I get comfortable.

For this day, I'll pretend that he's my boyfriend. Just for today, he's mine. We stay like that, staring up at the clear sky, the clouds hanging over us.

Eventually my eyes go heavy, my body feeling relaxed. My eyelids fall down as the warm breeze washes over me. I could feel his arms tightening around me as sleepiness threatens to overtake me.

He moves beside me. I could feel his body turning around underneath my hand. He takes my hand again and places it around his waist. At once, I feel him laying on his side, my head resting on his arm. He pulls me close, molding my body against his. Rough skin brushes gently against my cheek, stroking my face repeatedly. A low, contented moan erupts at the back of my throat.

I slowly open my eyes to find him watching me intently. His eyes are focused on my face, his gaze intense. I tilt my head up to look into his eyes as his fingers softly brush strands of my hair away from my face, tucking it behind my ear. His fingertips trace the back of left ear, down to my neck before stopping at my shoulder. I open my mouth but no sound comes out. I press my lips together, fearing that if I so much as make a sound, the moment, this moment between us would be ruined.

We stay like that for who knows how long, just staring at each other. Then he wraps his right hand around the back of my neck. He leans down, moving closer. His fingers press harder around my neck. He yanks me forward, his lips touching mine.

I let out a small squealin surprise. But he kept on kissing me. I find myself closing my eyes and relaxing. I fall into the kiss, my mouth going all soft and slack. He took this as a sign, his fingers tangling into my hair and gripping me slightly. His mouth opens, devouring mine, his tongue sliding past my lips. His tongue dance against mine, a slow and gentle caress. I move closer, my hand clutching his waist, as I kiss him back.

He pulls away carefully, leaning back slightly, his mouth a few inches from mine. I let out a heavy breath. My heart is beating really fast, like I just ran a marathon. That was...that was...

 A wide grin breaks out on his lips. He leans forward and plants a soft kiss on my forehead as he holds my hand, clutching it next to his chest.

"Happy Birthday Erin."


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