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?


4. Niall


"Where are my glasses?" Zayn asks as we all scramble around the bus to leave. We are going to the country side and Cassie is coming along. This is going to be great.

"Here they are," Parker says, handing Zayn is black and red glasses. They're just for decoration and at a show a fan threw them on stage and Zayn decided to keep them. That part actually made the cut in This Is Us. He loves them.

We have never actually been outside of Nashville while we were here last so I am curious to see what it's like here. America is so great; every new state has something different and unique about it. It's blistering hot so I grab my shades and snapback and we all get into a van to pick up Cassie from her house. When we pull up in her driveway my jaw drops.

The place is a fucking mansion. Not even my house is this big, and I can afford one...but not this one. It looks like something a queen would live in. Cassie emerges from the huge double mahogany doors and looks so beautiful. The breeze blows her hair and I have to close my mouth to keep from drooling. She is wearing white shorts and a blue tank top and it's enough to drive me insane. My heart rate increases when she sits next to me.

"Nice place," Harry says to her.

"Thanks," she smiles slightly.

"How are ya?" I ask her, wanting to know.

"I'm great, thanks Niall." The smile she gives me is enough to knock me off my feet, if I wasn't sitting that is. Louis, who is driving, turns on the radio and a song I don't know starts playing.

"I love this song!" Cassie shrieks and Louis chuckles, but turns it up.

Cassie sings along with every word. It's really adorable since she is a terrible singer but I don't want her to stop. "Who is this?" I ask her.

"Lifehouse," she grins, still bobbing her head to the beat. The band isn't terrible.

"You like them?"

She nods furiously and her hair falls in her face. I refrain from tucking it behind her cheek. Jesus fuck I really need to control my thoughts when I'm around her. If she knew what was going on in my mind she would run away, most likely. "They're okay."

"Okay?" She almost shouts. "They're amazing. I really wish I could see them in concert."

"Maybe you will someday," I shrug. I would love to take her to a concert. That would be a perfect first date!

"I wish," she rolls her eyes and it's just then that I notice the Nikon camera around her neck.

"What's with the camera?" Liam asks before I can.

"Yeah, it's pretty fancy," Parker adds with a smile.

"Oh, I figured since we're going out and seeing some nature stuff that I would bring my camera to take some pictures for my photography class," Cassie explains.

"You're taking photography?" I gape. That is not what I expected her to be majoring in. She is majoring in that, right?

"Yes! I love it so much; I am majoring in Journalism and Photography."

"That's so great!" Marley cries from the passenger seat, swiveling so she can see her friend. "I love to journal! I am going to come to you for some pointers. Watch out."

Cassie laughs but agrees. "I have to find something that inspires me, but is also important to the rest of the world and create a project that is worth seventy percent of my semester grade," she groans.

"That's a lot," Zayn says.

"I know," she whines. "I was assigned that yesterday and I can't find anything yet. I have four weeks to do it but I don't want to wait until the last minute."

"I'm sure you'll do fine," I reassure her, placing a hand on hers. She smiles, and then looks at my hand on hers. Oh. I pull away and flush, she just ignores it since she probably didn't feel the sparks that I did.

For the rest of the car ride Zayn makes conversation with Cassie, and jealousy flares inside me when she laughs at something he says and touches his chest. I want to be the one to do that! They seem to be getting along really well and that bothers me. Can't he see that I fancy her?

"We're here," Louis tells us and I look out the window.

It looks like a forest, but not as green. It's still beautiful but it's so hot that almost everything is dried up. We all pile out of the car and Cassie takes the lens off her camera, snapping some pictures. Zayn stays close by her side and I try to act like I don't care. His hand touches the small of her back multiple times and my fists ball at my sides. I saw her first! But it's not just that, I want to know her. Zayn is a good lad and I'm not saying he has the wrong intentions but I really, really care about her and I am pretty sure I fancied her first.

We start walking and I keep stealing glances at Cassie and Zayn. Harry notices that I keep looking at her and gives me a look and a shrug, silently saying "sorry mate". I don't want to go butt into their conversation but I hate seeing the way he makes her laugh. Of course, I would never miss an opportunity to see her laugh or smile, but I want to be the one to make her happy, not him.

Liam drops Parker's hand and makes his way over to me. "What's the problem, Niall?" he asks.

I nod over to Zayn and Cassie. He is showing her something in the dirt and I roll my eyes. It's probably something stupid, like a rock or something.

"You fancy her?" Liam raises his eyebrows.

I nod.

He claps a hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry. You know Zayn likes her, too, right?"

"Yeah I know," I mumble. I know I'm sulking but I'm upset. "What do I do?"

Liam kicks at a pebble and it goes scampering into the dirt. "Well it's not like you can tell Zayn to not fancy Cassie. Does she know you like her?"

I look around and up at the sky. It's a gorgeous blue and the sun is beaming down in columns, giving the ground and air around us a golden glow. "No, she hardly even talks to me."

"So why don't you talk to her?"

"'Cause I don't wanna mess it up," I reply. I mess up all my relationships. They always end badly and I don't know why. I know there is nothing I can do about it, but was it something I did, something I said? I have had little things here and there with a lot of girls and with every single one of them I thought we had something but they always drop me.

I fell in love with Amabel's friend Sam but she accused me for cheating on her with Parker, and then we broke up after that. I was a fucking mess after that, but I got over her within a month. Everyone was so surprised that I was over her "so quickly" that they started to doubt that I ever loved her. Of course I did! I fall really hard, it's not something I have control over all the time.

"You won't mess it up," Liam reassures me but I'm still paranoid. I don't know about past relationships she's had so I don't want to come on too strong and scare her away. She's too incredible to loose. Girls like her don't come around often.

"Thanks mate," I say to Liam and he goes back to Parker. Harry looks at the way he wraps an arm around Parker's waist and I know he's missing Amabel. There is only a week before they can see each other again. To Harry, seven days might as well be seven years.

Cassie takes some pictures of leaves and sticks and tree bark, and I try to figure out how some dirt can be inspiring. I see that she is alone, so I take the opportunity to go over to her. "Inspired yet?" I ask her, stuffing my hands in my pockets.

"Not yet," she chuckles. "This is harder than it looks."

"That's what she said," Harry not-so-secretly coughs. Louis laughs and we choose to ignore them.

"Can I try?" I ask her.

"Sure," she smiles and places the camera in my hand. It's heavy and expensive so I really don't want to break it.

I don't really know how to work this thing, and Cassie notices so she takes a step closer to me and pushes a few buttons. "Thanks," I mutter, slightly embarrassed.

"I want to try!" Louis shouts and takes it from me.

"Careful!" Cassie scolds us.

"What are you zooming in so far for?" I ask Louis, who is zoomed in completely on a caterpillar.

"I'm trying to find its penis," he answers, giggling like a ten year old.

I roll my eyes. "Hey, Marley, quick question," I turn to Louis' girlfriend. "Do caterpillars have penises?"

The look on her face is priceless. "I don't know! Why do you want to know that anyways?" she asks, scrunching up her nose.

"Louis is trying to take a picture of one."

"Ew! Louis, stop! You're so gross!" Marley goes over to him and tries to take the camera but he tosses it to me. My eyes widen. What is throwing this thing for?! Thankfully I catch it and Cassie lets out a sigh of relief. Louis and Marley proceed to making out against a tree, so we carry on with our walk. They'll catch up eventually.

"What did I miss?" Zayn appears out of nowhere. I didn't even notice he was gone.

"Where did you go?" Harry asks.

"I had to pee," he answers.

"For ten minutes?" Cassie laughs.

"Well, I was picking you this," Zayn tells her, pulling a daisy from behind his back and giving it to her. My nostrils flare.

"Daises? They're my favorite, how did you know?" Cassie grins, giving Zayn a one-shoulder hug. Both of their cheeks flare. You've got to be kidding me.

"Lucky guess," he winks and I want to scream. No! I am supposed to be the one making her like me!

"Let's keep going, there is this spot I want to visit. There is a little creek and the most adorable bridge!" Marley says as she and Louis reappear.

Cassie takes her camera and moves ahead of everyone else. It's very calming out here and I would love to sleep under the starts. Maybe Cassie and I could one day? Speaking of Cassie, I look to Zayn and since he isn't with her, I walk over and try to talk to him.

"So you fancy Cassie?" I ask as casually as I can.

"Yeah, mate, she's so great. Beautiful isn't she?" He looks ahead and watches her. I follow his gaze.

"Yeah, she is," I sigh. "Are you gonna ask her out or somethin'?"

"Maybe, she seems okay. I don't know, mate. There's something about her that I just love. You know what I mean?"

Yes, I do. "Sure," I shrug.

"Thanks for being cool with this, Niall. At first I thought you liked her." He pats my back.

I chuckle nervously and kick at some small pebbles at my feet and choose not to answer. After five more minutes of walking, we reach the spot Marley told us about it and it's actually pretty cool. There is a lot more wildlife the further you go into the forest. Cassie takes just about a hundred pictures and after Harry trips into the small creek and soaks his boots, we decide to turn around and head back to the van

During the walk back, I stare at the ground the whole time and try to ignore the laughs of Zayn and Cassie next to me.

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