4 years later…
This was nothing but a dream. It felt undeniably realistic. The sunlight streamed through the window as I sat up in bed and outstretched my arms. I ran a hand through my hair, then began to tie it up into a pony tail. I stepped out of bed as my feet hit the rough carpet.
Next door, I could hear my neighbors arguing with each other. They were Italian so I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Though their arguments always ended up with the couple having sex. I found it entertaining. I put on my silk bathrobe, then walked outside onto the balcony. It was a warm sunny morning in New York City.
New York. The city of the Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square. It was where dreams came true, dreams of being on Broadway. Below me, there were cars honking and taxi drivers were yelling at other drivers out of impatience.
My mom had moved in with her current boyfriend in Brooklyn while I had found myself an apartment in Manhattan. I exited the balcony area and walked into the kitchen. I became accustomed to living alone now. Since my college days at NYU, I’ve dealt with independence. I hardly ever saw my roommate.
I didn’t mind not having a roommate. Being alone gave me time to think instead of focusing my attention on another person living with me. I poured myself a hot cup of coffee and sat down in the living room, then turned on the TV.
It was slow for a Saturday morning. I started my new job on monday and I might as well enjoy the weekend before the rush hour. I sighed and eventually turned off the TV. There was nothing interesting to watch. I figured that I should watch a DVD.
I searched through the shelf, but none of the selections were of interest to me. Toy Story, The Vow, The Notebook, Nightmare on Elm St- My thoughts were interrupted with a knock at the door. I wonder who that could be. I thought and set my coffee on the table in front of the couch, then walked to the door.
“Hey, I’m Francesca. I live next door.” Francesca was a bit taller than me with hazel eyes and long wavy brown hair. “Next door?” I asked. I thought of the Italian couple next door and she smiled at me. “The other side.” She quickly answered and I just nodded.
“I’m Stella.” I introduced myself.
“Nice to meet you. I’m supposed to go to a club with my friend to night, but she bailed on me the last minute. I was wondering if you’d like to come with me. It’ll be a lot of fun.” Francesca smiled. It wouldn’t hurt to go out tonight. I thought and agreed to go with her to the club. “Great. Be ready by seven.”
She retreated back to her apartment and I closed the door. After four years of living in New York, I never thought I’d make a new friend. I’ve had a few friends in college, but after graduation, they all parted ways but I still kept in contact with them.
By seven, Francesca and I had gotten into a taxi to take us to the club. She was wearing a gold dress and I stuck with red. “I’ll show you what it’s really like to have a night out on the town.” She smirked as we got out of the cab once we arrived at the club.
“Hey Francesca.” The bouncer smiled as we made our way to the front entrance. Francesca smiled and hugged him. “Hey Joe. This is my friend Stella.” She introduced me to Joe as we shook hands.
“Krista can’t make it tonight?” he asked.
“She bailed on me. I found a new replacement for her.” She winked. Joe let us enter the club while the others groaned outside. Music was playing at a high level, but the beat was great. We headed over to the bar and sat down on the stool. “Francesca, the regular?” The bartender asked her.
“Yeah, that’d be great. Get her one too Mac.” Francesca motioned towards my direction. Mac, I assumed that was his name, nodded and went to make our drinks. “That’s Mac. He and I grew up together, but obviously we went separate ways.” she told me over the blasting.
“Here you go ladies. The drinks are on me.” Mac smiled. “Who’s your friend?”
“This is Stella.” she answered.
While they were immersed in conversation, I spun around to face the dance floor with the drink in my hand. There was no guy of interest to me, not since prom. It was then his eyes caught mine. I knew I’ve seen them somewhere before.
I turned away and focused my attention on the drink in front of me. “Stella, you okay?” I heard Francesca’s voice beside me. I just nodded and gulped down the drink. It burned my throat a little, but the alcohol wasn’t enough to calm my nerves.
“I’m looking for Stella. Do you know if she lives here?” I heard his voice from the other room. My mom was talking to him. Of all people, why him? “You’re looking for my daughter? Yes, she’s here.” I heard my mom say. Please don’t let him in. Please don’t let him in. “Come in.”
Why mom? She had to welcome him into our apartment. “Stella, someone’s here to see you!” My mom called out and then the door closed. My mom had left for work and she left me alone with Zayn. It was the week after everything that had happened between Zayn and I.
I didn’t think I’d be able to face him again. Slowly, I emerged from my room and walked down the hallway to enter the living room. Zayn was admiring the pictures on the shelf in the living room. He was dressed casually and wore a varsity jacket.
He turned towards my direction and smiled, “Hey.”
“Stay away from me.” I said and maintained a safe distance from me. I didn’t want him anywhere near me, or touch me even. “What’s going on? Is everything alright?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes. “Like you don’t know. Stop acting like you have no idea what I’m talking about.” I scoffed. Zayn furrowed his brows together and looked at me, confused. “What are you talking about Stella?”
“Cut the act Zayn.” I said.
“What act?” Again, I rolled my eyes and it was at that moment he pushed me against the wall. His hands clasped around my neck, almost suffocating me. “This won’t be the last time Stella. I’ll find you, and I won’t stop until you’re mine.”
“Stella Taylor?” No. It can’t be. Not him. I turned and saw that he stood beside me. His jet black hair, piercing brown eyes, and that charming smile. He, of course, wore the signature black leather jacket and white t-shirt underneath. Though he aged a bit since the last I saw him, at Louis' house. This time, he had grown out some of his facial hair which made him look more attractive.
Out of all people from my past, why did it have to be Zayn Malik? "Yeah, that's me." I said, not knowing what else to say. I considered a lot of things, but I was still in shock from seeing him before me. It reminded me of the day I saw him at Louis' house.
Zayn smiled and sat down on the stool beside me. Francesca was too busy talking to another guy to notice Zayn. "Hey, how've you been?" he asked me. I could see past the kind eyes, the friendly smile. It was all just an act, a game that he played.
"I've been good." I said.
"I see New York's been treating you well and that you've made a new friend." He motioned towards Francesca who stopped talking to the other guy. "I'm Zayn." He reached his hand across to greet hers. Francesca smiled and shook hands with him. "Francesca. Are you a friend of Stella?" she asked.
I didn't want to be in the club right now. Not with Zayn and Francesca starting to get along. "Acquaintance, more or less." He smiled, then retreated to pull his hand away. "Mind if I steal Stella?"
Please say no, please say no. "Sure. You seem like a fun guy." Francesca smiled. Dammit. I added silently in my mind. Zayn smiled and stood up. I reluctantly stood up and he said, "It was nice meeting you Francesca. Have a good night."
"You too." she smiled. I walked towards the entrance with Zayn and turned my head to see Francesca waving back at me. I threw her a small smile, then proceeded out the door with Zayn. We walked down the side walk and entered a parking lot.
I recognized the '68 blue Camaro. "Louis is driving my car." He replied casually as he slid into the driver's seat. What were Zayn's intentions? I asked myself as I got into the car along with him. What was his reason for being in New York?
It seemed that everywhere I went, he was there. How did the know I was in New York? "What brings you to New York?" I asked as he began to drive down the highway. "The sights. I've never been here before, so I might as well enjoy it while I can." Seems like a possible answer. "You?"
"Same. I dreamt of traveling the world once." Once. I remember before my parents had split, I had talked with my dad about seeing the world with him. It was my dad's dream to see different countries and it sounded like such a great idea at the time.
He parked the car in front of another apartment complex, but still in the city. We both got out of the car and headed inside. We got into the elevator and the doors closed. Neither of us moved from our respective places as we rode the elevator to his floor.
I knew something was a little off. Zayn was unusually quiet, nervous it seems. I wanted to ask if he was alright, but I didn't bring myself to ask him. The elevator reached the tenth floor and we stepped out.
1017. That was his room number. We entered the apartment room as he closed the door behind us. Zayn's house. It was his house when we were alone together for the first time. Those events continued to play back in my mind. They scarred me and there was no way I could forget about them.
"Want anything to drink?" He asked as he made his way into the kitchen. I shook my head and retreated into the living room. Why was this suddenly familiar?
"I have a reputation to keep. I break girls' hearts and new ones come flocking to me. You are the first girl that's only pushed me away. I have never wanted a girl more. No matter how many times you try to run away from me or turn away before we kiss, I'm always going to chase you.
"When I came to your apartment that night, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I care about you Stella."
Harry's voice appeared in my mind and I thought about that day before winter break. I care about you Stella. Those words kept replaying in my mind. "Really? Why are you in New York?" I asked as I turned towards Zayn's direction.
Zayn walked towards my direction with a mug in his hand and said, "I came for you Stella. Your mom-"
I knew it. I shook my head and stormed out the door. Of course my mom would tell Zayn. I stepped into the elevator and quickly pressed the button to take me to the lobby. I wasn't fast enough.
Zayn's arm slipped through the doors as he entered. Once the door closed, he pressed the button to stop the elevator. "Stella, look at me." He said as I turned my face away. I couldn't look him directly in the eyes.
I couldn't bring myself to trust him. "Stella…" The tone his voice had changed and I knew what would come next if I didn't look at him. I continued to look away. Immediately his hand wrapped tightly around my neck as he pushed me against the wall.
"Look at me when I talk to you." I kept my eyes averted towards the floor. I couldn't give in. Not now. Even if it means that he'll kill me in the process. His hand wrapped even more tightly, almost to a point where I couldn't breathe.
That got me to look at him. "I can't live without you." he said. "I've searched every city for you and now, I've found you." His hand was still wrapped around my neck. He wouldn't let me go, knowing that I'd probably run if he did.
"You are mine and I want you to know that. It's getting late, so come back to the apartment with me and we'll have a chat." He grinned. I wanted to say no. I wanted to kick him. I wanted to do my best to get away from him, but I was unable to.
I just nodded and his hand was released from my neck. I went into a series of coughing fits. He pressed the button to the tenth floor and the elevator resumed to climb. "So, how about that glass of water?"