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?


18. Niall

18 - Niall

I still don't know what to think as I sit down on the couch, holding a cup of coffee. Cassie came here and left with Zayn and hour and a half ago and I decided it would be best to stay awake and talk to one of them, whoever was up for talking. It was clear in Cassie's eyes that it was something urgent, and I hope it was nothing bad.

Just then, Zayn comes in and I stand up immediately. "What happened?" I ask, but he ignores me and brushes past me to get to the bunks. "Zayn!" I don't care that we'll wake everyone else up. "Is everything alright, mate?"

"I don't feel like talking, Niall," he snaps and I stop walking. What she say to him? Could she have...

"You know you can tell me!" I protest and Zayn just explodes.

"She dumped me alright? Cassie dumped me and I would appreciate to be left alone!" he yells.

"What's going on?" Liam asks, rubbing his eyes.

I look at Zayn to tell everyone what happened but he just clenches his jaw and leaves the room. They all look at me, expecting something, but I am speechless. Cassie broke up with Zayn.

Cassie broke up with Zayn.

The words finally sink in, and so many emotions are swirling in my head. One, I am ecstatic because Cassie is single and I may finally have a shot with her. On the other hand, she broke my best mate's heart and now he probably won't talk to anyone. The thing with Zayn is that he has a really big heart and he's sensitive, although he denies it and doesn't let anyone see that about him. When he hurts, he hurts badly and he cares deeply.

"Well," Harry says suddenly, "I'm sure you're happy about this."

"I...I don't really know," I say honestly. Before I can even think about chasing after Cassie to convince her that she made a good decision and that she should be with me, I have to be there for Zayn. A car starts in the parking lot, and I immediately know who it is. Before I can even blink, I am running out and I just catch her before she leaves. "Cassie!" I call.

She looks up and then she looks down. I see tears brimming in her eyes and I jog over to where she has rolled her window down. "I can't talk right now, Niall. I'm sorry but I have to go." She takes a deep breath and I rest my hand on her car, leaning in so I can see her better.

"Zayn told me what happened," I say. "Are you okay?"

She nods. "Yeah. I'm fine, but I have to leave. I can't stay here. I'm sorry."

I keep my eyes on her car until it's out of sight, and then I walk back inside, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.


"Do you have everything packed?" Marley asks me, zipping up one of Louis' suitcases.

"Yeah, I think so," I answer. We're leaving for New York. My birthday is in three days and so we're taking a private plane to New York City. I am excited, but I can't stop my mind from thinking of Cassie. Is she coming? Maybe she won't come because she doesn't want to be around Zayn. That's understandable, but I still want her there. It's about three in the afternoon, so she should be finished with classes. Even if she isn't coming with us, I hope she'll stop by and say goodbye. I'll miss her while we're gone.


It seems like every five minutes I am checking my phone to see if Cassie texted me, telling me if she's coming or not. Evenutally, I just ask Parker if she's talked to Cassie recently.

"I'm sorry, Niall, she hasn't mentioned anything to me," she answers as we are loading things onto the plane. I see Marley from the corner of my eye smiling like a fool and I wonder what's up with her. That smile is getting creepier by the second.

"What are you smiling at?" I ask her after a minute.

All she does is point behind me and I so I turn, and when I see what the sight is, I drop my bag and start running. It's Cassie. She's here, she's really here. A smile takes over my face and she returns it, setting down her suitcase the second I wrap my arms around her.

"You made it!" I say when I set her down, my arms still around her waist.

"Of course I did," she grins. "How could I miss your twenty-first? It's a big birthday here in America."

That's right, as of Saturday, I'll be able to legally drink in America. "Well, I'm glad you're here. Let me take that for you." I take her suitcase and walk to where everyone else is. My eyes search for Zayn but I don't see him. He must be on board already. Cassie gives her blonde best friend a hug and I put Cassie's suitcase with the rest of out bags.

"Ready?" I ask the two friends.

"Let's go! New York here we come!" Marley cheers and Cassie grins.

"Have you been to New York before?" I ask Cassie as we climb on board.

She shakes her head. "No, I haven't left the southern hemisphere," she says but stops when she sees Zayn sitting in a seat, facing away from us. I sit down in an empty on facing him and Cassie-to my absolute pleasure-takes the one across from me. "I've always wanted to travel, though."

"Where would you like to go?" I ask.

"I don't know," she shrugs, looking out the window. "Anywhere, really. I've always wanted to go to New York, now I'm finally getting to go."

"I could take you anywhere you know," I tell her quietly, being completely serious.

Cassie laughs though. "Yeah, okay Niall." She doesn't believe me. She doesn't think that I could take her anywhere in the world. If she was with me then she could go anywhere she wants. We've been all around the world and seen such amazing things, and I would love to explore with her. I want to be the one to show her all the things she wants to see.

I decide to drop the subject, but I remind myself to bring this up to her again. I am serious about this, and I will make her believe me. So I bring the topic to something else. "Did you want to talk about Zayn?" I whisper.

She looks at me with sad eyes and shakes her head. "No."

"Well you can, you know," I assure her. "You know...talk to me about him."

Cassie gives me a small smile. "Thanks Niall." She looks out the window and doesn't say anything else. I can tell she's caught up in her own thoughts, so I stay silent and think of reasons why Cassie would break up with Zayn.


"Welcome to New York City," I say to Cassie as we step out of the plane.

She laughs and continues down the steps, her carry-on bag in hand. All of our suitcases will be delivered to the hotel we'll be staying at for the weekend.

When we get inside the actual airport, security guards make sure we all stay together and keep our heads low. "Just follow me," I whisper to Cassie and she just nods, slipping on a pair of sunglasses.

Cameras flash and I just keep walking, making sure Cassie is close to me at all times. I see Zayn sneak a peek behind him at us, but he quickly turns back around. Cassie's eyes are hidden because of her sunglasses so I don't know if she noticed Zayn looking at her. The paps get in a little closer, and my eyes widen in surprise when Cassie hooks her arm with mine.

I look down at her, a little startled by her actions, but when she smiles at me, I return it, pulling her closer.


"Be careful, it's heavy," Cassie says to me.

"I got it," I assure her, taking her bag from the trunk of the taxi we just took. We're outside the hotel and we don't have long before the fans figure out where we are, so I hurry her inside. Once everyone has arrived we're assigned rooms. Same old routine whenever we're staying somewhere.

But this time it's different.

This time we're here not for interviews, or signings or shows-not that I don't enjoy all of that-but we're here to celebrate my birthday. I am looking forward to it, and having Cassie here makes it all the more amazing for me. I don't know how much of school she's missing, but I can't bring myself to care at the moment. All I do care about is that she's standing right next to me.

"Alright," Paul says, a handful of room keys in his hand. "Cassie and Parker. Louis and Liam. Harry, Niall and Zayn. Marley and Ed get their own rooms." Ed is with us, as well. He met us here when we landed.

I grimace when I notice Marley giving Louis a suggestive wink. I don't think Liam will be seeing much of Louis in their room with Marley having her own. Gross. I'm exhausted from the plane trip here and all I want is to crash in bed. It's kind of nice having rooms assigned to us because when we get some place the last thing we want to do is decide who we're sharing a room with. The easiest thing is to just get a room and crash. It's not that late, only 8:30 but I'm knackered.

I take the room key and we go upstairs. I'm a little disappointed to see that Cassie's room is two doors down from mine. I give her a smile and she replies with a wave before she disappears into her room. Harry and Zayn are right behind me and I plop my stuff on the bed before I fling myself onto it, sighing in exhaustion.

Well, it looks like Harry and Zayn are sharing a bed. Whatever, works for me. Harry goes to the loo and Zayn just sits there, staring at his feet. I know it's about Cassie, and I feel guilty despite the sense of happiness I feel now that Cassie is single.

"You okay, mate?" I ask, sitting up and looking at him.

Zayn laughs once, but I know it's fake. "I don't know. It's like...I don't know what to feel."

"Want to tell me what happened?"

"Well," he sighs, "she just said she didn't like me like that after all. Really blows, doesn't it?"

I don't reply, for I'm letting the information just sink in. That reason was one I didn't come up with. I thought he cheated, or she cheated, or the fact that Zayn will be away most of the time, or she liked someone else-that would have hopefully been me-or anything of the sort. But just that she didn't like him? It was a simple yet legitimate reason to dump someone but I thought it would have been more complicated than that.

"I'm sorry mate," I finally answer Zayn. Harry returns and runs a hand through his hair.

"Woah, what's with all the tension in the room?" Harry laughs.

"We're talking about Cassie," I fill him in and his mouth forms an o, and he just sits in a chair. At the mention of her name, Zayn closes his eyes and bows his head. I feel bad.

"That sucks, I'm sorry." Harry claps a hand on Zayn's back.

"Did she say something to you?" Zayn asks me suddenly. I frown, instantly confused. Why would she mention something to me? On the plane she said she didn't want to talk about the break up. Does Zayn know I fancy Cassie, and quite a lot actually?

For his sake, right now, I hope he doesn't.


Everyone ends up crashing, the flight having drained us from any energy we might have had. The next morning, however, we all seem to be fully awake and ready to explore New York. Of course, the lads and I have been here before but it's always nice to revisit. It's a wonderful city. Harry loves it the most out of the rest of us.

A knock on the door brings me out of the bathroom, my toothbrush still in my mouth and toothpaste still around my mouth. I open it, and Cassie is standing there with a smile on her face. She's wearing jean shorts and a white t-shirt that says "The Beatles" in big black bold letters. That's what I like about her; she doesn't need to wear fancy or revealing clothes to be beautiful. "Good morning!" she smiles.

"Good morning," I say, opening the door wider. "Come on in."

She basically skips into the room. "Thanks."

"You're in a good mood today," I point out and spit into the sink.

"We're in New York City!" Cassie yells from where she's seated on the bed. "Why wouldn't I be in a good mood?"

I chuckle and enter the room. She runs over to the curtains and throws them back, sunlight filling the room. "Good point."

"Are you excited for Saturday?" she asks, looking over her shoulder. Saturday is my birthday, and today is Thursday.

"Yeah, I am. Are you?"

"Yes!" she squeals and jumps up and down. "Wait," she says, as if noticing something. "Where are Harry and Zayn? Aren't you sharing a room with them?" Cassie looks around and sees their things on the bed and floor.

I nod. "They just went down to get some breakfast."

"Good," she says, and grabs my wrist. "Let's go. Parker said she would meet me down there. Come on!"

I laugh at her eagerness; It's quite adorable. But I don't say anything as she pulls me out the door, all I can feel in this moment is her hands touching my wrist.


"There you are!" Marley says when Cassie and I come down to breakfast. I see Zayn's eyes flicking back and forth between Cassie and I but I just look elsewhere and try not to notice.

"Sorry," Cassie says, taking a seat. I choose one between Harry and Liam.

"Where were you guys?" Harry asks in a low voice, glancing over at Zayn, who is at a table with Louis and Marley and Ed.

"We were in our room," I answer.

Their eyes widen and Liam says, "Mate..."

"We weren't doing anything, I promise. She just came into my room to get me, is all. She doesn't like me like that anyways."

"You don't know that."

"Yeah, I do," I say. "She broke up with Zayn because she didn't have feelings for him. What makes you think that she would like me?"

Harry runs a hand through his hair. "Don't beat yourself up, Niall. She seems to really be comfortable around you. She hasn't talked to Marley about it as much as she has talked about it with you."

I feel my eyes widen. "What?"

"I just spoke to Marley this morning, and you know more about the breakup than her, and Marley and Cassie are best friends. She trusts you."

"See mate?" Liam claps a hand on my shoulder.

I sigh, hoping Harry's words are true. But I don't want to think about that right now, so I change the subject. "What are we doing today?"

Liam and Harry look at each other, shrugging. "I don't know," Liam replies. "I kind of wanted to take Parker to see The Statue of Liberty."

"Yeah! Let's do that!" Harry says enthusiastically. "I want to pretend to hold it, like I did with the Eiffel Tower."

"But you failed at that," I laugh.


"So we're going?" Liam asks and I nod.

"I'll go," I say. I see Cassie standing up and walking to the elevators, so I jump up and jog after her. "Cassie!"

She turns around when I call her name. "Hi Niall! I was just going upstairs to get my purse."

"I'll come with you," I offer as we step in the lift. "So Liam, Parker, Harry and I are going to see The Statue of Liberty today. Did you...did you want to come?" I scratch the back of my neck nervously.

"That would be awesome!" she beams and I sigh in relief. "We can go as soon as we get back down."

"This is a great city."

"I know you're right," she says, meeting my eyes. "I've seen pictures, but I never thought I would actually come here."

"You'll love it." I nudge her playfully, and she pushes my shoulder, laughing. When we get to her room, there is a huge brown package sitting in front of the door. "What is that?" I frown.

She picks it up and smiles. "It's your birthday present, and it's very heavy."

My jaw drops. "What? You got me a gift?"

"Of course I did," Cassie rolls her eyes like it's obvious. "You think I would come all the way here and not get you anything?" She unlocks her room and walks in and I follow her.

"Well I'm just glad you came, you didn't have to get me anything," I mumble.

She laughs. "Don't be silly, Niall. We're...friends, and friends get each other birthday presents. And I think you'll like this one."

I raise an eyebrow teasingly. "Oh really?"

"Yep. It'll be the best gift you've ever gotten."

"You seem pretty confident," I grin.

"It's a pretty great gift, if I do say so myself."

I laugh out loud, and then shake my head. "Well, I can't wait to open it."

Cassie grabs her small purse, putting it over her shoulder. "Ready?"

I nod. "Shall we?" I offer her my arm and she giggles, taking it.


"Oh. My. God," Cassie gapes, staring wide-eyed at The Statue of Liberty right in front of her.

"Pretty amazing, isn't it?" I ask, stuffing my hands in my pockets.

"This is so cool."

I grin and burst out laughing when I notice Harry trying to "hold" The Statue like he did the Eiffel Tower in This Is Us. Liam is holding the camera and telling Harry where to place his hand. "A little to the left," he says. "Your other left."

"What is he doing?" Parker asks, the three of us watching in amusment.

"Ask him yourself, I'm sure he would love to tell the embarrassing story." I laugh a little. "So have you been here before Parker?"

She shakes her head. "No. I've only left Miami once before, and it was to visit my Aunt in Virginia."

Liam told us Parker has a dark past, and I want to know what it is, but I also don't want to upset her by asking. "We'll I'm glad you're here now," I say to the brunette girl. She just nods, her long brown curly hair blowing in the warm breeze.

"We didn't get to travel much," she smiles weakly and I give her a one shoulder hug before she walks over to Liam, who puts an arm around her waist.

"Is she okay?" Cassie asks.

"Yeah," I sigh. "She's just been through a lot, no one talks about it. Liam's been helping her, he's good for her, and she's good for him."

"That's so sweet," she smiles.

Silence falls between us as we watch the couple smile and laugh. "Let's get a picture," I say suddenly.

"Okay. Harry!" she calls. "Could you get a picture of us?"

I hand him my phone and he makes sure The Statue of Liberty is in clear view behind us. Once it's taken I thank him and look at the photo. "It's a good one," I say, and text it to Cassie.

When I think she's not looking, I take one of her just as she's about to sneeze, The Statue behind her as well. She hears the click and looks at me. "Niall, what are you doing?"

"Nothing," I say behind laughter, taking more pictures of her. Some are really embarrassing. Most girls would tell the person to turn the camera off, but not Cassie. She just makes funny faces and does different, ridiculous poses. I throw my head back laughing and take some more, loving how carefree she is.

And all the while, in the midst of all this, all I can think about is how much this girl means to me.


Hi guys! I know this is a filler, and I'm sorry, but shit will get intense soon, I promise! :)

Please vote and comment! This chapter is 3.4K words :O

Alli, x

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