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?

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5. Cassie

5 - Cassie 
 

The next day, I wake up nine thirty in the morning and take a quick shower. Everyone is coming over today to spend time together. My dad, as usual won't be home until late so he won't get to meet the boys. Of course, he knows Marley since we have basically grown up together but it's a shame he can't meet the boys, especially Zayn. Zayn is really sweet and very attractive. I have noticed that Ryan, the guy from my Economics class that I kind of like, is slipping from my mind. I don't mind though, Zayn makes me laugh and seems like a really nice guy. They are all nice, but I don't think Niall likes me that much. Yesterday when we were walking in the woods Niall kept glaring over at us. Did I say something to upset him? I really want to be friends with him, and I want to know if he doesn't like me. I didn't mean to make him upset.

After I get dressed and put my hair in a ponytail, pray myself with some perfume and straighten up my room, I text Parker. I got her number, as well as everyone else's yesterday after they dropped me back off. Parker texts me back saying they will be there in fifteen minutes. I take this opportunity to eat something; I haven't eaten since five last night. I was exhausted and went to bed at eight.

"You're having friends over right?" Angie asks me as she enters the kitchen. She goes over to the fridge and pours herself some orange juice. It's almost eleven.

"Yeah. I hope that's alright," I say hesitantly. I don't have people over often and I don't want it to be a problem.

"Of course," she smiles. "You're always welcome to have friends over, Cassie. Are they in a class of yours?"

"Um, no not exactly," I chuckle. "Have you heard of One Direction?" Angie nods. "It's them."

Angie spits her orange juice back into her glass.

"I know," I laugh. "Marley's boyfriend is Louis Tomlinson."

"Oh my God! My friend Jennifer's daughter loves One Direction. Why didn't you tell me?" Angie almost shrieks.

I shrug.

"Well, I can't wait to meet them."

I give her a smile. "They should be here any minute. Please don't embarrass me," I plead.

"I wouldn't dream of it," Angie says and gives me a hug. "What about you? Are you dating any of them?"

"Me? No," I say, my cheeks flaring. Is it weird that Zayn came to mind when she mentioned boyfriend?

"Who knows? That may change." She winks. She is really great.

"We'll see."

A knock on the front door makes me run over and pull it open. The first face I see belongs to Harry. He is smiling, but not that much. He must be really missing his girlfriend.

"Hi, please come in," I say. Behind Harry is Louis, Marley, Liam, Parker, Niall -who gives me a huge smile- and then Zayn is last. He wraps his arms around me. I am surprised but I hug him back, noticing how great he smells. When I pull away I notice Niall's smile from five seconds ago is gone, and is now replaced with a deep scowl. I frown and look down.

"This is a really nice house," Liam compliments, looking around.

"How about you give us the tour?" Zayn smiles, staying close to me. He really is hot.

"Sure," I agree and begin to show them around, but the sound of someone clearing their throat stops me.

"Aren't you forgetting something?"

Angie. "Sorry," I say to her. "Liam, Parker, Louis, Harry, Zayn, Niall, this is my step-mother, Angie. Angie, this is everyone. Parker is Liam's girlfriend and Louis is Marley's boyfriend." Louis and Parker wave.

"It's so lovely to meet all of you," Angie smiles and gives each of them a hug. I put my head in my hands in embarrassment. This is what I was afraid of.

"She's sweet," Parker says as we head downstairs.

"She is," I agree. "Down here we have the gym and the pool. The pool is through those double doors there," I point.

"Woah," Niall says and pokes his head in the pool room. You would think that with all the money all of them have that this wouldn't be surprising.

"What, never seen a pool before?" I tease.

"Not in someone's house!" Niall says.

"He's right, this is wicked cool," Zayn tells me. I shrug.

"We should go swimming!" Louis cries.

"Maybe someday." I just met them and I don't think that would be a good idea right now.

"One day," Louis winks. I roll my eyes and laugh.

We go back upstairs. "On this level is the kitchen, dining room, my Dad's office, a guest room, and a library."

"You have a library?" Harry asks with wide eyes.

I nod. "Did you want to see it?"

"That's what she said," Louis giggles.

"Would you stop with the that's what she said jokes?" I whine, but can't contain the spurts of laughter. Louis shakes his head no.

I walk down the right hand corridor and open the library doors. This is the room I use the most, besides my bedroom. It's so calming. On the wall next to the door and opposite that are two huge windows, both with deep red curtains. The left adjacent wall from the door is a ceiling to wall book self, even with a ladder that slides from left to right. The opposite wall from that is the same. There is also a bar with stools and two round tables with sitting plush chairs. It's something from a movie, yet I feel so at peace here.

"This is so awesome," Zayn tells me.

I feel so self conscious right now with everyone admiring everything I have. My whole life I have been cautious of people becoming friends with me just because of what I have. That's why I got so angry with the people on campus saying I was just there because my dad paid for it. He did, but he wouldn't do that if I didn't deserve it. Maybe that's why I have only a solid group of four friends. I am friendly with lots of other people not particularly close with them. I have Marley, Brandon and my two other best friends.

"Let's go upstairs, we've been in here for ten minutes," Marley complains.

Upstairs, after we climb the winding grand staircase, I take a sharp left. "My room is over here," I say, opening the door and letting everyone inside. "My bathroom is over there. That door there is my bathroom and the other one leads to my balconcy."

"I'm moving in," Liam announces and I laugh.

"Down this hall is my Dad and Angie's room, along with their bathroom and balcony of their own."

"What's that room?" Zayn asks me, pointing to the big white doors on the right.

"That," I take a deep breath, "is the movie theater."

"WHAT?" They all scream, expect for Marley.

"Can we see?" Niall asks.

It's really funny to see them all with wide eyes and huge smiles. "Sure," I shrug and we all go inside. I put in a random movie and we all watch in the recliner chairs. I would make some popcorn in the popcorn machine but I don't want anyone to have a heart attack or try to steal it.

"I think I'm in love with you," Zayn says, shaking his head, looking around. I know he's joking and I can't believe he out of all people is jealous of me.

"I think I'm in love with your house," Harry counters and everyone laughs.

*****

After the movie, I take everyone to the family room and we all disperse around in various couches, chairs and just on the floor. "Do you play?" Niall asks me, pointing to the guitar next to the fireplace.

"No, but my dad does," I answer him from my place on the couch. Zayn is sitting next to me, so close that his knee is almost an inch away from mine.

"May I?" Niall reaches for it.

"No, go ahead," I smile.

Niall takes the guitar and strums it. I open my laptop and log onto Twitter. I am a huge Twitter person, even though I have only about a hundred followers. "I didn't know you had a Twitter?" Zayn murmurs.

"That's 'cause I didn't tell you," I smirk.

"I'll follow you."

"You really don't have to, I don't tweet anything worth reading," I say.

"None of us do," Zayn laughs and takes out his phone. "What's your username?"

I sigh and show him my profile.

"Done," he says a minute later. "You look really great in your icon picture," he says, and then looks down. I have a feeling he didn't mean to say that out loud. I thank him quietly and then notice a song coming from the guitar.

"Hey Niall?" I ask.

"Yeah?" His face brightens.

"What's that song you're playing?"

His face falls slightly. "You don't know it?"

"No, what is it?" Why won't he tell me?

"It's one of ours, actually. It's called Through the Dark. You haven't heard it?"

"No," I answer. "I don't really know your music."

"Oh." He is clearly surprised, and I don't know why. Yeah, a lot of people like their music but not every girl in the world. I'm not saying their bad; I just like other types of music.

"Surprised?" I raise an eyebrow.

"No... well a little," Niall stammers.

"I just like other styles of music, I guess. I have nothing against you guys, your music or what you do or stand for, I just like other bands and I just never really listened to your music like Marley did. It's nothing personal," I explain. I look around the room and see everyone thinking about what I said. Niall, however, is smiling at me like I just told him he won a million dollars. "What?" I ask him.

"Nothing," he shakes his head. "So what bands do you like?"

"I am a huge fan of Lifehouse," I gush. "They're so amazing. I absolutely love every single one of their songs."

"I've never heard of them," Liam says.

"Me either," Louis adds.

"Well you're missing out," I tell them, placing my laptop on the floor. "I really like Nickelback and 3 Doors Down."

"So more like rock music, then?" Parker asks.

"I guess," I shrug. "Most of my friends grew up listening to the Backstreet Boys, I grew up listening to Aerosmith."

"Have you even listened to one of our songs?" Niall asks me.

"Um... I think it was Little Tight Dress. Marley showed me that one." I say.

"It's Little Black Dress," Zayn corrects me.

"Whatever," I roll my eyes. "I listened to that one, and While We're Young or something and uh... Happier."

"Live While We're Young and Happily," Louis laughs.

"Have you listened to a song by Lifehouse?" I ask them. All the boys except Liam shake their heads but Marley and Parker nod.

"Parker and I heard Hanging by a Moment. That's a great one," Liam smiles and wraps an arm around his girlfriend's shoulder.

"I love that song," I agree and pick my laptop back up and search for a song for them to hear. They're all so amazing, it'll be impossible to pick just one. I choose one of my favorites and click on it, ready to play it. "Get ready for awesomeness," I say and they laugh. I press play and hope they can see just how great this band is.

"What's it called?" Zayn asks, looking over my shoulder at my iTunes.

"It's called Halfway Gone," I answer. They seem to like it okay and I meet Niall's eyes more than once. He smiles at me every time. Wow, his eyes are blue. I didn't really notice them before.

"They're pretty good," Harry says.

"Have you seen them in concert?" Louis asks.

"No," I sulk. "I want to go more than anything. As lame as it may sound it's the first thing on my bucket list."

"Too bad," Zayn says and I lean back. He does too, and I am a little shocked when he puts an arm around me shoulder. I see from the corner of my eye that Niall glares at us again. What is his problem?

"I'll get you to like our music, Barnett," Niall says out of nowhere.

"Excuse me?"

"You'll like us, I promise. Even if it's the last thing I do," he says to me and I laugh.

"Good luck, I think you're going to need it." This is going to be funny, I know it.

"Hey, can I see your laptop? I think I want to check out some more of that Lifehouse music," he suggests and I brighten.

"Of course! Here," I grin and hand him my laptop. As soon as it's in his hands a wicked smile grows on his face and I begin to worry. "Niall... what are you doing?"

Harry crawls over and when he sees what Niall is doing he snickers.

"What's going on?!" I ask, but I'm containing laughter.

"What's your Apple ID password?" Harry asks.

"There is no way I'm telling you that!"

"Let's try 1234567," Niall mutters and types in the numbers. Oh no. I lunge for the laptop but Zayn holds me back. "No! Niall! You can't!"

"You'll thank me later!"

"Zayn! Let me go!" I shriek but he tickles me instead. I don't react. I can tell he is surprised that I am so not ticklish. "Nice try," I smirk.

"Done!" Niall shouts and I grab the laptop from his lap. He bought all three of their albums, Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories. He even pre-ordered their fourth one.

I roll my eyes. "Thanks a lot," I say, sarcasm dripping from my words.

"They're really not that bad," Parker tell me.

"Not that bad?" Liam repeats. "Babe, you told me you love our music."

"I do, but I love you more," she smiles and kisses him. They are really good together, I can tell.

Even though Niall spent at least fifty dollars worth of my iTunes credit, I sort of look forward to listening to their albums. I know close to nothing about them as artists. As people, I feel like I know them already. Of course, I have so much to learn as I get to know them, but music is my anchor, I love it so much and I suppose Niall gave me that extra push that I needed.

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