Picture Imperfect (Niall Horan)

{Book 4} When Niall Horan falls, he falls hard. The moment he lays eyes on Cassie Barnett, he's in too deep. Past relationships —including the one with Amabel's ex best friend— have not gone as planned. Is he the reason for breakup after breakup?

Cassie Barnett has eyes for Niall's best mate, Zayn. Niall's desperate attempts at getting her attention just might be enough for her to fall for him instead. Could she be just what he's been waiting for?


3. Cassie


When I wake up Friday morning, I go downstairs and Angie is in the kitchen. That's the place where I find her most. Angie has a well-paying job too but when I wake up and when I come home from school she's always cooking or baking. She is an excellent cook and I am glad I don't have to fend for myself when it comes to food. If I did, it would be the stereotypical Ramen Noodles and pizza every day. It's one of the many perks of not living on campus.

I fill my plate with potatoes and bacon with some grapes and a glass of juice. My dad is already eating and dressed for work. He leaves about twenty minutes before me. I get home before he does so I park in the garage and he parks behind me. By the time I leave for school he's gone so he isn't blocking me in. We have a system and I guess it just works for us.

I showered before breakfast, so when I get to my room, I change into shorts and a t-shirt. My makeup is done and my sandals are strapped in ten minutes. From my window I can see my dad pulling out of the driveway so I still have twenty minutes before I need to leave. I decide to go anyways; I could use some coffee and a place to finish up some homework.

"I'm leaving!" I call to Angie and then climb into my 2013 silver Toyota Corolla. I don't know much about cars so I went with something simple. I pay for my own gas so I wanted something with decent gas millage.

The bell chimes above the door when I walk into the café that's just down the street from school. It's crowded, so I get a cup of coffee and find a seat in the back. I put my headphones in and blast Lifehouse. They're my favorite band. I also love Three Doors Down and Nickelback. I haven't seen them live but I really want to.

My phone buzzes just as I am about to get a refill. It's from my friend Brandon. He, Marley and I were best friends throughout high school, even when Marley went through her dark times in ninth grade. We prefer not to talk about it.

I'm home sick today, don't wait up. ):

I sigh. When I can, I meet with Brandon after classes are over but looks like that won't be happening today. Brandon is a swimmer, smart and really sweet. I had a major crush on him sophomore year but he didn't like me back so we remained friends and a month later I was over him. He dated a lot of girls during those four years and one might call him a player but he's really not. He has a big heart and didn't have bad intentions with those girls. He is tall, blonde with really blue eyes. Kind of like Niall, sort of. Brandon is more muscular and...tough I suppose while Niall is shorter and seems sensitive. I don't know Niall that well but he seems really sweet.

You're lucky. Feel better. (: I text Brandon back.

It would be nice if Brandon was majoring in the same thing I was, but he's not. I am majoring in Journalism and Photography while he is headed in the Medical direction. Lots of people in high school thought he was a jock that fucked every girl he laid eyes on, but that can't be further from the truth. He was so misjudged, but well liked at the same time. The people that knew Brandon liked him, but if they didn't, then they were missing out on someone really great.

My phone tells me it's time to leave, so I leave a few dollars on the table and leave. I make it onto campus with a few minutes to spare so I check my makeup in the bathroom and turn to see three girls walking in. When they see me, they stop in their tracks and whisper to themselves. I frown. I'm not even doing anything! A bell rings so I stalk out quickly, making sure to glare at them as I go. What's up with the people in this school? It's getting annoying. At first I was confused and hurt, now I'm angry.


When I get home after classes I head straight to my room and turn on my laptop. While I wait for it to log in my user, I change to sweatpants, just like every other day this week. I have a routine, and it gets old sometimes. People may think that because I have a huge house and more than enough money that my life is perfect, but that's not true at all. My dad is hardly ever home and I only have one friend that I can rely on 24/7, and that's Brandon. I have lots of other friends too but for some reason I don't like bringing them here.

I log onto Facebook and check all ten of my notifications, and then I'll admit, do a little stalking of this really cute boy in my Economy class. I'm not even sure he notices me but he wears these really think black-framed glasses that are just adorable. I have liked him for a while now, but it's just a crush. Last year he found out I liked him and decided that it would be totally okay with me to stop all contact whatsoever. He knew how I felt about him and didn't think I would mind if he stopped texting me. It was pretty bad, I liked him a lot. Over the summer my feelings went away but they're starting to flare up again.

No guys I have ever liked as liked me back before. I have had one boyfriend in my twenty years. It was when I was eighteen and the relationship lasted for three months. I liked him, but he only saw me as a friend. He was a bit of a tool and I can't believe I didn't notice it sooner. He was a player, but didn't go flaunting it around like most of the football or soccer players did. Since then, I have had some crushes, but they ignore me, treat me like the plague, or continue to be friends with me but don't like me back. It's so frustrating and I am constantly getting my heart broken. Is there something wrong with me?

The boy I like in my Economy class, Ryan, isn't someone I want a serious commitment to but it wouldn't hurt to have a fling with him right? My junior year I was called a slut for all the guys I was "chasing after." I wasn't chasing after them! I just liked them and people thought that I was offering to have sex. I wasn't. I didn't sleep with every guy because if I did, then we would have a problem. I don't know how I can't be considered a slut if I have only had one boyfriend and had sex only twice, with the same person.

I sigh and log off. My dad pulls into the garage and I head downstairs. When I meet him in the kitchen, he says to me, "your sister called."

My eyes widen. I was certainly not expecting to hear that today. "She did?"

"Yeah, she told me to tell you that she says hi, and that she misses you." He tells me as he looks through the mail.

I smile. "I miss her too."

My dad looks at me. "So do I."

Katie hasn't been home in a long time. With her new husband she hasn't left Phoenix. She never met Angie, which is a shame, she's really great. She moved years before Angie and my dad ever met. She's twenty six, so she's been gone for a while. She comes for Christmas and major holidays but that's it. She sends cards on my birthday but that's about it.


My alarm goes off Thursday morning and I deactivate it before stepping in the shower. After fifteen minutes, I step out and realize I got my period. I groan and get some new panties and a tampon before going to the bathroom again. I dress in black shorts, converse, and a plain pink tank top. I do my makeup and straighten my hair all in twenty minutes. I have just enough time to grab some juice from the kitchen before I have to leave. I give Angie a hug before I run out the door.

I just make it to my first class. The day goes by extremely slow, and after what seems like forever, I make it Photography, my last class of the day. It's pretty unfortunate that my favorite class is the last one. I sit down in my usual seat and take out my binder.

"Starting today, we will be beginning a project. I hope you've all been paying attention, because this will be worth 70% of your semester grade," my professor says.

My jaw drops. Seventy fucking percent?! Is she insane? What's it even about anyways?

I raise my hand, but don't wait for her to call on me before I speak. "Don't you think seventy percent is a lot just for a project?"

People turn to look at me and my teacher raises an eyebrow. "If you have a problem with the way I am running my class, Miss Barnett, feel free to leave."

"Sorry," I mutter. What a bitch.

I have always spoken my mind; it's just in my nature. If I don't like something, I won't keep it in. Marley always tells me that I have a big mouth, but I think of it as a big mind.

"You will have to create a photography book of fifty pictures, using all of the techniques we have covered this week. You will be required to write an analysis on why you chose your pictures. They have to revolve around one theme. Your analysis will have to explain why that element is important not only in your life, but in others' as well. You have four weeks to do this."

I run my hands through my hair. Oh my God, this is going to take forever. What inspires me?

"If I were you I would brainstorm some ideas in your binders, you never know what might come to mind." My teacher smiles and sits down in her desk. I glare at her. How am I supposed to find something that inspires me and do all of the work in four weeks? I can already feel the stress piling up.

I jot down some ideas, but they're all too cliché and I don't like them. The bell rings and I just about sprint to my car. I need all the time I can get on this. It's not going to be easy picking something to take so many pictures off. I guess I should start with just using my camera, right? It's brand new; my dad got it for me when I signed up for Photography class.

I take random pictures all around my house; the fruit centerpiece in the middle of the dining room table, the light hitting the water on the pool in the basement, I even take one of my hairs glowing in the sunlight. None of these are good enough for a project this important to my grade! It's worth a lot of points and I don't want to mess it up. I delete the pictures and skip dinner; I need to brainstorm.

By eleven o'clock pm, I am struggling to keep my eyes open so I turn off my light and fall asleep in seconds. When I wake up Friday, I see that I have a text from Marley. She wants me to come with her and the boys to the "country side" of town as she calls it. This is great! I can bring my camera and see if anything inspires me. I tell her I can come, just to give me the time and place.


When Friday night rolls around I am shocked to see that my phone is ringing, and that Katie's name is on the screen. She hasn't called me in months!

"Hello?" I answer.

"Cassie, how are you?" It feels so good to hear her voice. I miss her terribly.

"I'm great, kind of flustered with school but I'm great," I breathe, smiling.

"That's wonderful! You're going to Tennessee still?"

"That's right," I confirm. "It's just as boring as I remember, and it's only a week into the year."

Katie laughs and I join her. "How's Dad and Angie?"

"They're great. Dad is working twelve hours a day now so it's just Angie and I most of the time around here." I sigh.

"That's too bad," Katie says.

"Are things going alright with Luke?" Luke is Katie's husband.

"Things honestly couldn't be better." I know she's smiling.

"So when am I going to get to be an Aunt?" I tease her. Katie is still young but it would be incredible if I was an Aunt.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," she laughs.

Katie and I talk on the phone for another hour and a half. I honestly love talking to her, I am so glad she called me, even if it's out of nowhere. My eyelids become heavy once more and we say goodbye after I promise to call her soon. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday; I could use some extra sleep. I plug in my camera so it is fully charged for when I go out with Marley and her friends tomorrow. I don't know if I can consider them my friends yet. We have only met once but they're really nice.

Sleep finds me quickly and I dream about Katie and my mother.

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