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?


8. Niall

8 – Niall

The flight back to the U.K. was really short and before I knew it, we were home. It feels great to be here, even if it’s only for a week. The fans are really excited for the album almost as much as the lads and I are. This album is so much more different than our first three. If people thought Midnight Memories was a change, then they’ll certainly enjoy this one. We feel musically stronger every time we begin a new album and it just boots our confidence.

 We got our hotel last night and the album is dropping any minute now. We are all nervous for many different reasons. We hope to get a positive reaction from everyone, especially the fans. Yes, other critics have an impact on us but it’s the fans that truly matter. They’re the ones that come to concerts, put us at number 1, buy the music, and watch the videos. Everyone but the fans could absolutely hate us but it wouldn’t matter.

It’s time! In 5... 4… 3… 2… 1! Hello album number four! I really hope the fans like it; they mean the world to us.


The next day we have loads of interviews to do. Twitter was flooded with tweets and DMs that reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s not only for myself and because I love singing, but it’s also for them. I am so glad they accepted our new sound. The lads and I are really proud of it.

Backstage for our first interview, I am handed clothes but I don’t even know what they are. I can’t even concentrate; I’m too excited.  Time is going by so quickly and everything is a blur. Before I can catch my breath we’re walking on stage and waving to fans. They cheer and scream for us, and I smile at every single one of them.

“Hello, boys. Thanks for joining us,” Summer Worthington, the interviewer, welcomes us.

“Thanks for having us,” Harry smiles.

“So, obviously, your new album came out yesterday. How is different from the rest of your albums, especially Midnight Memories? We thought that was different, but now after listening to this, we were proved wrong.”

“Um, well it’s different because of what the songs are about. Before, when we were writing some of Take Me Home and even Midnight Memories, we used mostly feelings from relationships,” Liam explains, “but this time we chose not only that part of writing, but also what we’ve learned from being in One Direction. We’ve come a long way and we hope that we can express that through our music.”

Summer nods. “What did you guys think?” The audience erupts in screams and applause. I smile at them.

The rest of the interview goes really well and I am in such a good mood. I make everyone laugh—twice—and I think that nothing can bring down my good mood. That is, until Summer asks who is single. We are asked this in every single interview, I swear it.

So, when asked who is single, I raise my hand, unfortunately. I am not the only one to do so, and I look at Zayn with wide eyes.  I know that he likes Cassie and I thought for a minute he would say that he’s dating her. Zayn keeps his life very private, but I know how much he fancies her. All the boys are looking at him and he shrugs.

“Well, looks like nothing’s changed,” Summer says.

“Not for long,” Zayn says under his breath. If he’s going to ask her out, I don’t know what I’ll do.

The rest of the interview I try to take my mind off of that but I just can seem to. Does Zayn even know how I feel about Cassie? I reckon he does, but then again he’s never talked to me about my feelings for her. Fuck, that bastard doesn’t even know I fancy his probably-soon-to-be-girlfriend. A little part of me feels guilty, but how can I? I liked her first and I still stand by that. I really want to tell her how I feel, but I also care about Zayn and I know he likes her.

Once the interview is done we go outside to meet some fans. This is the part I really look forward to. I wish we could stay at this place for hours on end, talking to every single one of them. But we can’t. As soon as we step outside they scream and I walk over to a girl with brown hair. She smiles at me and I look behind her to see the posters and signs saying “I love you” and “Marry me Niall”. These make me smile, but the grin is soon gone from my face. My thoughts drift to Sam and I have to tell myself to smile at our fans. They’re all wonderful, but I can’t help but think: Am I the problem for every single one of my breakups?

With Sam, that was a whole misunderstanding, and no matter how many times I tried to tell her the truth, she wouldn’t believe me. I was with Parker and I was standing in the ocean, shirtless. We were just talking, that’s it. I suppose that it might have looked bad. It’s my fault right? I guess I didn’t try hard enough. I loved her, and I sometimes I wonder if she ever loved me. Loads of times I almost ask Amabel since she and Sam were such close friends, but end up biting my tongue. I know it bothers Amabel to talk about her ex-best friend, but I find myself laying awake at night wondering if we would still be together today.

I have had a decent number of girlfriends, but the breakup always happens one of two ways. Option one: She dumps me because of the rumors going around and she believes them. Option two: The breakup is mutual because of my demanding job and the little amount of time we get together. I like these girls, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have put such an effort into the relationship.

Is it my fault? Is it something I do? I has to be, I don’t break up with them because I don’t like them anymore, or because I get bored, or because they’re a bitch. If I like a girl, I’ll ask her out.

Except Cassie.

I want her to be happy and from what I can tell she is more than happy with Zayn. Everything is different with her. The way I laugh, the way I smile, it’s all different with her, in the best possible way. She’s smart; she likes rock bands, funny and beautiful and doesn’t pretend to like our music so Zayn will date her. Why couldn’t she have liked me?

“Thank you so much!” A blonde girl thanks me as I hand her the camera back.

“You’re welcome, thank you so much for coming out,” I tell her and feel a hand on my shoulder. It’s Harry.

“Time to go, mate,” he says and I nod, wishing I could stay here and talk to more fans. It’s my favorite pass time, to be completely honest. They have done so much for us and it breaks my heart knowing I won’t be able to thank every single one of them for changing my life, for the better of course.

We hop on the bus and it takes us back into the city. We’re going to stay here for a few more days and do photoshoots and interviews and things like that before we head back to The States. Time is going by so slowly lately. I can’t wait to get back to Cassie, even though she’s not mine to get back to. I remember her telling me—I mean us—about a paper she is writing with her partner for American History. She should be completed with it by now, I wonder how that went.

Before I realize what I am doing I am pressing her number and it’s ringing. We have never been particularly close with one another so she is probably wondering why I’m calling. As soon as I decide it’ll be best to hang up, she answers.


I wipe my free hand on my shorts, a habit I have when I’m nervous. “Hi, Cassie.”

She probably thinks I’m a weirdo. “What’s up?” she asks, obviously not expecting my call. “Are you enjoying going home?”

“Yeah, yeah everything’s great over here. I just wanted to see how you’re doing with that um… history paper?” It comes out as more of a question. I’m pacing back and forth. Thankfully no one can hear me back here.

“Oh,” she says. “I didn’t think you’d remember me telling you that.”

“Of course I remember,” I say quietly. “So did you finish?”

“Yeah, I did,” Cassie tells me. “It took forever, though. It was a killer but I had a great partner.”

“What was her name again?”


“Right,” I sigh. “So you like your school year so far?” Why am I asking all these questions? I want to show her that Zayn isn’t the only one who cares about her.

“Yeah, I guess.”

I frown. “Is something wrong?”

“It’s nothing, Niall. Really. I’m fine,” she reassures me, but I’m not buying it. If something is bothering her I want to know about it so I can fix it. I don’t want her to be upset.

“Tell me. Please?” I ask.

“Fine,” she sighs loudly. “It’s just that people at school are spreading rumors about me that…I don’t really like. They’re not true and no one is really talking to me all that much.”

Anger boils inside me. I don’t know why I’m getting this upset but is she’s upset, then I’m upset. “What are they saying?”

“They’re saying I just got into this University because my Dad paid for it, not because of my grades.” She sounds really upset. I wish I wasn’t halfway across the globe.

“That’s not true,” I say immediately. “I don’t know you very well, Cassie Barnett, but I know that is further from the truth. You’re smart, funny and a good person, I promise you that. Ignore them, their all dicks.”

She laughs, and it’s the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard, even if it’s only over the phone. “Thanks, Niall. That means a lot.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” I grin.

Then Cassie asks the thing that makes me wish I never called her: “So how is Zayn?”

My jaw clenches. Just when I thought we could talk for hours! “He’s great, we’re on the bus heading back to London.”

“When are you coming home?”

“Four days, I think.” These will be the longest ever.

“Well, see you soon then?” I can tell she’s smiling.

Hell, so am I. “See you soon then.”

“Oh, and Niall,” she says when I’m about to hang up. “I have a surprise for you when you come back. Also, thanks… for the school thing. I haven’t really told anyone else yet. I needed to hear it.”

“You’re welcome,” I say. “Anytime.”

As soon as the call ends I do something pretty embarrassing: I jump around in circles pumping the air with my fist! Yes! She has a surprise for me? I am going to be going insane wondering what it is. She said that she hasn’t told anyone about her troubles at school. That means she hasn’t even told Zayn yet! What made her tell me? I don’t care, I just love the fact that she opened up to me and that I made her smile. That’s a bonus in my book. Slowly but surely, I’m catching up to Zayn. He’s in the lead by a lot but I am willing to fight for Cassie.

When I join the lads back on the couch, Zayn asks, “Where were you mate? You’re missing the Liverpool match.”

“I just had to make a phone call,” I say, fighting a smile. Before I can stop myself, I ask, “You’re going to ask Cassie out right?”

“Yeah,” he grins. When he notices the frown on my face he laughs, “What? It’s not like you fancy her, too?” While Zayn chuckles to himself, the rest of the lads give me worried looks. I just shake my head at them.

“Good for you,” I force out.

“I just really like her. It’s not something I can explain. I just plan on asking her out as soon as we get to America. Have you talked to her recently Niall?”

My name catches my attention. “Hmm?”

“Have you talked to Cassie recently?”

“Oh yeah,” I say casually. Remembering our conversation, I chuckle. “She finally finished that History paper that she’s been complaining about to all of us.”

“What History paper?”


In case you didn't realize what I was trying to say when Zayn didn't know she was writing her history paper, is that Niall knows her better than anyone and pays attention to what's going on in her life more than anyone else. Of course, Zayn cares about her, but this is a story about Niall and Cassie, not Zayn and Cassie. :)

Alli, x

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