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?


7. Cassie


A few days ago I went to the movies with Zayn and Niall. Zayn was really funny and we had a great time. Throughout the movie Niall kept glaring at us. Maybe he doesn't like me too much? I don't know, he seems really sweet and he's cute so I just thought he was having a bad day. Zayn and I have grown close in a very short amount of time. He's so attractive and funny and really sweet. I'm glad I met him. I actually like him quite a bit. Hopefully he doesn't have a girlfriend. I think that I would have met her by now if he did.

Anyway, it's Friday already. The weeks are going my so quickly! This morning the boys left to go to England to drop their fourth album, and they will be gone for about a week. Marley stayed here, wanting to spend some time with her sister, Violet. Violet is pregnant and due in three weeks. Marley told me she didn't want to be away from Louis, but her sister needs her more than ever. Violet recently moved back in with her parents after being away for two years. It's a long story, and for as long as I have known the Pennington's, they have never spoken about it. They're like a second family to me.

Now, as I sit in my American History class, my phone buzzes in my pocket. When I look at the screen, I see I have a text from an unknown number. It says, 'hey it's Zayn, Marley gave me your number :D'. I smile and text him back with a simple, 'hey (:'. My stomach forms butterflies and I already miss his smile.

In class we are assigned partners to write a ten page essay about the development of America's government within the past three hundred years that is due in a week. I groan. How am I supposed to do this in a week? My partner walks over and sits down next to me. Her hair is brownish-red and in soft waves. She is pretty, and seems nice.

"Hi, my name's Lauren," she says, giving me a smile.

I return it. "I'm Cassie. Are you a sophomore?"

"Yes, but I am a transfer student. Last year I went to The University of Kentucky but this school offered me a scholarship for my gymnastics."

"Wow." I raise my eyebrows. "That's amazing, congratulations." She looks like she would be a gymnast, her body shows it.

"Thanks. How old are you?"

"I'm a sophomore too. I'm turning twenty-one in Decemeber."

"So am I!" Lauren smiles at me. I really like her. "What's your major?"

"I am studying photography and Journalism."

"Wow, that's great!"

"Thanks, what's yours?"

"Gymnastics," she laughs. Of course. If this school is giving her a full ride she must be amazing. Lauren takes out her notes and laptop. It's loud in the room and class is over so I don't know why we're staying here. "I think we should get right to work on this paper. I think it'll be a killer."

"I agree," I say. "Did you want to get out of here? We could go to my place and work on it. I have a few ideas already."

"Sure," Lauren nods. We pack up our things and leave. "I'll drive myself and follow you to your house. I can only stay about an hour and a half since I have gymnastics at six."

I like her already. Normally I don't to have people over but I really want to get this assignment out of the way, I already have that project for Photography that I haven't exactly been on top of. I give her a nod and she follows me in her car as I drive home. When I get out of the car in my driveway, she is standing there next to her car with her jaw dropped.

"You... live here?" She gapes.

"Um, yeah," I say awkwardly, stuffing my hands in my back pockets. "Let's go inside."

When I open the door I smell something coming from the kitchen. Lauren follows behind, looking around like she's in a museum. "I really like your house," she compliments.


"Cassie? Is that you?" Angie calls.

"Yeah, it's me," I confirm as we walk into the kitchen. Brandon is with her too. I wasn't expecting to see him here! "Hey," I say to him. He jumps down from his place on the island and gives me a hug. When he pulls away, I say, "this is Lauren, we are working together on a paper for American History."

"It's nice to meet you, I'm Angie, Cassie's mother," Angie smiles, wiping her hands on her apron.

"You too," Lauren shakes her hand.

"I'm Brandon, I'm Cassie's best friend and the tester to make sure the food tastes good," Brandon says and we laugh.

"Hi," Lauren flushes.

"We'll just be in the dining room," I say to them and Lauren and I leave. I set my things on the table and sit down.

"So is Brandon your boyfriend or something?" Lauren asks, giving me a smile.

I choke on my own breath and then start laughing. "Wh...what?" I gasp.

"He's not your boyfriend?"

I shake my head no over and over. "No! No way! Brandon and I have been like brother and sister forever. No, he's not my boyfriend and never will be. What made you think that?"

Lauren shrugs. "I don't know, he hugged you and smiled, he was here when you got home and he seems pretty close with your mom."

"Oh," I frown. It might seem like we're together but we're not. "Nope, not my boyfriend."

She nods and we start outlining the paper. This is harder than I thought. Who assigns this paper two and a half weeks into the year? After about an hour of work, Lauren asks, "Does Brandon have a girlfriend?"

When I look over at her, her cheeks are flushed and she's fighting a smile. "Yeah."


"Why are you asking?" I grin.

"No reason," she shrugs, but her pinks cheeks give her away.

"You like Brandon!" I laugh.

"No. No I don't."

"Yes, yes you do!"

"Alright I do! So what? I met him for like two seconds, okay? But he's so hot and I haven't been in a relationship for a year," she rambles.

"I know it might be horrible for me to say this since he's my best friend, but his girlfriend is kind of a bitch," I admit.


I nod. "He seems to like her but we hate each other. She gets super jealous of me and has this insane idea that Brandon and I are more than friends. Who knows, if you keep coming around here you might have a chance with him."

Lauren shakes her head but I can see her smile. After fifteen minutes, Lauren has to leave for gymnastics, but I am sure to give her my number first. We already wrote two pages and I'm sure that if we keep at this, we can finish early, giving us time to edit and polish our paper. She's very smart and I am glad I was paired with her. I walk back into the kitchen and sit next to Brandon at the island.

"When did you meet Lauren?" he asks me.

"I just met her today. We have to get this ten page paper done in a week so you'll probably see her around a lot. Why?" I pop some grapes in my mouth that were sitting in the fruit bowl.

"I was just wondering." He avoids eye contact and I know something's wrong.

"Is everything okay with you and Jen?" I ask. Jen is his current girlfriend.

He sighs. "Can we go talk somewhere?" he whispers, glancing over at Angie, who I know is pretending not to hear out conversation.

"Sure," I nod and we walk upstairs to my room. I close the door behind me and he sits down on my bed and runs a hand over his hair. "What's wrong? Did you guys break up?"

"No. No, we didn't. But I think she wants to, though."

"Why's that?"

"I don't know," he sighs again, "it's just that we don't talk like we used to. Every day we spent together and just talked for hours. I know you don't like her but I do... Well I guess I did. I feel like she doesn't even care anymore. Every time I call or text her she says she's busy but I know she isn't."

"Did you tell her these things?" I ask. He shakes his head no. "You need to talk to her about these things, Brandon. If you don't start communicating then things will just end terribly."

"You're right. I'll go over to her place and see if she's there. I know if I call her she won't answer."

"Good luck." I give him a weak smile.

"Thanks," he wraps his arms around me.

"What else are best friends for?" I tease and wave before he leaves my room, closing the door behind him.


The weekend and half the week flies by. Before I know it, it's Wednesday and the boys are coming back from England Friday. Lauren and I worked a little bit at a time on the American History paper and we finished earlier today. It's great, the two of us working together made the writing so much easier.

Classes ended at two this afternoon so I got to come home early. I am bored and Angie is out shopping with a friend, and of course my dad is at work so I am home alone. I don't mind being alone, but I prefer to be with someone who I can talk to all the time. Don't get me wrong, I love being alone once in a while. Who doesn't like dancing around in their underwear to their favorite songs?

As soon as I came home I changed into pajamas and put my hair in a bun on top of my head. I really need a haircut, the ends are getting stringy. I sigh, staring at the ceiling. I look over at my phone and my mind goes to the day that Niall bought all of his band's music on my phone. I've only heard like two of their songs so I might as well see what all the hype is about. If Niall spent forty-five dollars' worth of songs, I might as well listen to them, right?

I plug my phone into my chord that connects to my speakers. Under "artists" I find One Direction, and right there, as promised, are all three albums. I choose to put them on shuffle and see which one comes on. The first one is a song called "Last First Kiss." I am actually really like the song, it's so romantic and I would love it if my boyfriend sang it to me. Well, if I had a boyfriend.

When that song ends "One Thing" starts playing and this one sounds familiar from the many times that Marley showed this one to me. I skip the remainder of it and "Midnight Memories" is next. I am surprised by the change in sound from their first album to their third. "Midnight Memories" is much heavier sounding, almost rock. It's really good; I like the variety that they have. It's obvious that they have come a long way musically. They've improved, I've got to give them that much. For the next three hours I listen to every single one of their songs. Honestly, I feel thirteen again, back to the days when I swooned over Jesse McCartney. But that was back in 2006, I have changed my tastes musically, obviously.

I have learned something today. I learned that just because they're a boy band that attracts young-and sometimes older-teenage girls, doesn't mean they aren't talented. I never thought they didn't deserve to be where they are, I just never really took the time look into them. Now, I feel bad since I am becoming close to them personally. I have to give them props for not diving off the deep end from all the hectic fans and schedules.

When I finish listening to all three albums, I have chosen my favorite from each. From Up All Night, my favorite is "More Than This"; from Take Me Home, I am torn between "Last First Kiss" and "Loved You First"; and finally from Midnight Memories my favorite is "Through The Dark." Although I am becoming to love these songs, I would never admit to Niall that I do. He was so smug about it-and it was kind of cute-and I won't let him have that satisfaction. What are friends for?

I wash my face and brush my teeth before climbing into bed, Zayn coming into my mind. I really like him, the boy from my class long forgotten. For a second I almost forget his name. Zayn is funny and actually seems to want to get to know him. All the boys are really sweet but besides Zayn and Niall, they are otherwise occupied with their girlfriends, whom I hope to get close to. I am already basically sisters with Marley, but I still have to meet Amabel, Harry's girlfriend. Liam's girlfriend, Parker, is really nice. I haven't seen my friends from Uni in forever. I was never super close with them but now all I really have is Lauren from American History. That's alright I guess, I like her a lot. Just as I am about to turn out my light, I get a text from Zayn.

Sleep well. See ya in a few days. (:

I smile and text him back saying I'll see him soon before falling asleep.

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