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?


20. Niall


Songs for this chapter are Beast by Timeflies and Broken by Lifehouse.

20 - Niall

Is this really happening? Is Cassie really dancing with me, is she really in my arms, making me fall even deeper for her, if possible? It's like every second she is looking at me she is making my feelings grow deeper for her.

That dress she is wearing is so beautiful on her and I had trouble forming words. It's like all I could see was her, and she looked fucking gorgeous. Honestly, I didn't expect her to agree to dance with me. The alcohol that's in my body is making me braver, more expressive of my feelings. If she doesn't realize that I fancy her by the end of tonight, I'll just tell her myself. I suppose that I have been pretty obvious about it, but she doesn't seem to suspect anything.

"God, I love this song," she says quietly, looking down.

"Who is it?" I ask, keeping my voice just as low as hers.

"Lifehouse. It's called Broken," she says.

I don't waste a moment, pulling her closer to me. She is a little stunned by my actions but I hardly notice. All I can notice is the fact that our bodies are touching and her face is just inches from mine. I am dying to kiss her, it's like something in my body is pushing me to press my lips to hers, but I don't who is watching us. Zayn could have seen us, and I don't want to have her regret kissing me when she realizes that Zayn saw it. Plus, I don't want to be that guy. I don't want to be a horrible friend and kiss my mate's ex.

But fuck, I want to kiss her so badly.

It seems out of my control when I pull her even closer, our bodies slightly swaying to the song that is basically everything I've wanted to say to her since the day I met her. Our noses brush and I'm shocked that she hasn't pulled away by now because as far as I know, she only sees me as a friend. Just as I am about to kiss her, she moves her head and rests it on my shoulder.


I was so close! But this isn't so bad either. I plant a kiss to her hair and she sighs in my arms. We just sway and don't say anything for the remainder of the song. Just as it's ending, she lifts her head and meets my eyes. "Happy Birthday, Niall."

I half-smile at her, noticing that we're still extremely close to one another. I love that she isn't pulling away. "Thanks, Cass." The feeling I get when I can call her Cass, which only I can do, is indescribable.

My eyes dart to where I last saw my friends, but they're not there. I notice someone by the door. It's Marley. I silently ask her where everyone is going and she just shakes her head, giving me a wink. I grin, grateful that Zayn isn't here. Cassie leans in, her lips about to press against my cheek. I am taken back by her actions, so I pull back slightly. What the fuck did I just do? She seems a little hurt my actions, so she begins to walk away. No fucking way.

In the back of my mind, I hear "Beast" by Timeflies start to play and the pounding in my chest only intensifies. I grab her elbow and pull her back to me, and before I can stop myself, I press my lips to hers. Right when our lips touch, the chorus begins and it's like something from a movie. My feelings for this one girl come rushing to the surface, making me unable to stop myself. My hands come up and I cup her beautiful face in my hands.

The relief of finally kissing her has got to be the best feeling I have ever experienced. I want to spend the rest of my life doing this, showing her how much I want to be with her. My lips haven't moved, just pressed against hers, and I pull away.

Her eyes meet mine and they widen in shock. God, I hope she doesn't hate me for doing that. My hands are still holding her face, and I can't believe it when she kisses me again, only harder, faster, more desperately. Our lips move against one another's in the best way possible and I wonder what I could have done to deserve this. One of my hands move from her face to her back, and I pull her impossibly closer. The taste of her lips is addicting and I can't stop, I can't stop kissing Cassie. I don't want to. This is for sure the best present she could give me. I know one of her hands is gripping my t-shirt, pushing my tongue to enter her mouth, and it's everything in my power not to get carried away.

Too soon, I pull away, panting. I press a quick kiss to her lips once more while I still can. She is doing the same and she places both of her hands against my chest, taking a step back. Her lips are a shade pinker from the kiss we shared, her hair is a little out of place, and her dress needs to be pulled up slightly, but she still manages to be the prettiest girl in the place. She meets my gaze but doesn't say anything. All Cassie does is lick her lip, which makes me want to kiss her all over again, and then she walks away.

I am too stunned by what just happened, so I my feet don't move when she leaves the club. I blink a few times, and then finally run outside, hoping to find her there. But all I see is her climbing into a cab with Marley and Parker in her wake.

As it turns out, everyone is out here. "What's going on?" I ask, walking over, trying to contain my happiness. I just kissed Cassie!

"We could ask you the same thing," Louis says, looking just as confused as me. Why did Cassie leave? Did I scare her off?

"Wait...Where is Zayn?" I look around, but he's nowhere to be seen.

"He bailed," Harry shrugs.

"He saw you and Cassie dancing." Liam looks over at me.

I nod, feeling a little guilty. "Did he see us kiss?"

"You guys kissed?" Harry gapes.

I kick at a rock with my shoe, the music slightly audible even from the sidewalk outside. "Yeah. I kissed her, and then pulled away, and then she kissed me again."

"Way to go, mate!" Liam says and Louis claps me on the shoulder.

"I'm proud of you," Ed says.

A smile breaks through. "I really like her, lads."

"We know," Harry rolls his eyes. "It's so fucking obvious."

"That bad?" I cringe, and they all nod.

"Well, it's almost midnight. Let's get back, yeah?" Liam suggests and we all agree. I'm beyond exhausted but even if I do go to bed, I'll just end up staring at the ceiling replaying the kiss with Cassie over and over and over. Just the feeling of her lips finally on mine...

"Niall!" Louis shouts, and when I look over, I see they have a cab.

I just sigh and get in; hoping the trip to the hotel will be shorter than the trip here.

When Harry and I get inside our room, Zayn is laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. He looks up when we enter, and when he sees it's us-or me, really-he looks away and a cold expression takes over his face.

"Zayn..." I start.

"Don't worry about it Niall. You fancy her, okay? I won't be mad at you for liking someone."

I don't know what to say. I look to Harry and he just shrugs, going to the loo. I sigh, giving up. He obviously doesn't want to talk about it. As happy as I am that I kissed her, I feel bad, the guilt piling up from the expression on Zayn's face.

I strip down to my boxers and climb under the covers. Just as I thought; I am not able to sleep. The images and memories of her lips on mine and our bodies touching make it impossible to find sleep. I lay there for what seems like hours, but eventually I fall asleep, still able to taste her lips.


I wake up to find the hotel room empty. Neither Harry nor Zayn is in the bathroom, so assume they are downstairs having breakfast. My phone says it's just past eleven. There's a knock on the door, so I throw on a pair of joggers but stay shirtless. I think it is Harry or Zayn forgetting their room key, but I'm surprised to see Cassie standing there. She is dressed in pink short shorts and a white tank top. Her hair is in a bun on top of her head and her makeup is gone from her face, giving her natural beauty a change to shine. In her arms is the same box that was outside her room.

"Is that...?" I trail off and she nods.

"Um...I know last night was insane, and you probably need your sleep, but did you want to open it?" Cassie doesn't meet my eyes. Instead she looks at her feet.

"Of course. Come on in." I open the door wider for her and she walks by me awkwardly and sits on the bed. I take a seat next to her, but not too close. From the bags under her eyes, I can tell she didn't get much sleep last night. She only had two drinks, so she couldn't have been that drunk, and that tells me her symptoms are not from a hangover.

"Go on," she encourages me. "Open it."

"Which one?" I ask, smiling slightly. There are two parts; a thin, hard object wrapped in paper and a huge box that must weigh at least twenty pounds.

"The small one first," she says and so I open it.

I frown, but then grin at her. "What is this for?" I hold up The Beatles record. On it is the single I Want to Hold Your Hand, the one I loved at the music store we went to that one day. She hides her smile. "I don't even have a record player, Cassie."

She doesn't say anything, but her eyes dart to the bigger package, and my eyes widen. "Open it."

"You didn't," I gape, opening the box. Cassie nods. I take out the old fashioned record player, with horn and all, and look at her. Her cheeks are pink and she's smiling widely. "This is...oh my God. I love it. Thanks, Cass."

"You're welcome. I didn't get a chance to give it to you yesterday, so I thought I might as well do it now."

I put it on the bed behind me and wrap my arms around her. "I love it," I say. "This is the best present I've ever gotten."

She just pulls away and rolls her eyes. When I meet her gaze she just clears her throat and looks away. Are we going to talk about last night? "I'm glad you like it."

I just smile at her, telling her once again that I love it. She stands up to leave, but I stop her. Just like last night, I pull her elbow, spinning around so she's facing me. I take her hand and pull her to my chest, brushing our noses together. "Thank you," I say quietly and I can hear her short, ragged breaths.

I respond immediately when she presses her lips to mine and I think I must be dreaming. Our lips mold perfectly in this slow, sensual kiss. I walk back and sit on my bed, her legs straddling me. My hands land on her hips and her hands cup my face. I love the way her touch is barley there yet I can feel every single inch of where she is touching me.

I only kiss her harder, pulling her bottom lip between lips when her hands run down my bare chest. Then and only then does she pulls away, her chest rising and falling. It's crazy that after only one kiss I am completely wired. Cassie makes my heart race just with one touch and so I press my lips to hers one more time.

I don't know what this is for her, if she cares for me like I care for her, but right now I don't care. All I care about is deepening the kiss even more, tilting my head to the side and cherishing the taste of her lips.

My fingers find the skin of her hips, and she lets out a slight moan, but we are interrupted by her phone ringing. "Hello?" she pants. Someone on the other line talks for a minute. "Um," she says, covering her face with her hand, still on top of me, "Niall's room."

I mouth to her Who is it?

She ignores me and climbs off, standing up. "I'll be right there." After she hangs up, she turns to me. "Um, that was Parker. She needs me for something. I gotta go."

"Oh." I clear my throat. "Okay."

She just nods and then abruptly turns around and walks to the door. Just as she is about to open it, I turn her around and push her up against it, kissing her again. It's only for a few seconds, but it leaves her clearly breathless. When I pull away we both grin and then her grin disappears.

"Bye Niall," she says and then turns around and leaves.

Dead silence fills the room after the slam of the door and I lean against it, sliding to the floor, unable to wipe the grin from my face.


"What's got you so happy?" Harry asks as he walks in the room. I don't answer, but I don't have to because he knows. "What is that?"

"A record player. Cassie got it for me for my birthday." I admire it for the hundredth time. Harry just raises his eyebrows and doesn't say anything, taking off his shoes. "What?" I ask.

"Nothing," he grins, "it just seems like you two..." He trails off when Zayn enters the room, and he notices that Harry and I stopped our conversation.

"What am I missing?" he asks, and then sees the record player. "Woah, sick! Who gave this to you, mate?"

"Um," I clear my throat. "Cassie."

Zayn freezes. "Oh. She did?" I nod. "That was nice of her."

"Yeah," I say awkwardly, and then disappears into the bathroom. I just groan and then leave the room. I hate that things are bad between Zayn and I-we're best friends. It's not Cassie's fault, it's mine. I kissed her and I didn't stop myself from liking her knowing that she's Zayn's ex.

"Hi Niall!" Marley says, passing me by in the hall.

"Hey," I greet her.

"Can I talk to you?" she asks, stopping. I stop too, turning to face her.

"Sure. What's up?"

"Could we go inside?"

I nod and follow her into her room. There are two beds but since she's not rooming with anyone only one bed is being used. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Cassie," she says and sits down. I do the same.

"What about her?" I try, I really do try to keep the blood from rushing to my face at the mention of her name but I just can't. Marley sees it because she grins and pushes my shoulder.

"I know you two kissed!" she squeals.

"What? How?" Did Cassie tell her?

"She just walked into my room red as a tomato. I asked her what happened but she said she didn't want to talk about it," Marley answers.

"How was she acting? Did she seem happy?" I ask.

"I don't really know. She didn't say much, it was like she was just sitting there...thinking. I have no clue."

I frown. "Oh."

"I think she likes you."

I sit up a little straighter. "You think so? Because I really like her, Marley and I don't wanna fuck this up."

She just smiles. "Don't worry, you won't. Trust me. I think you should go tell her how you feel."

"No way," I dismiss, shaking my head. "I'm not doing that."

"Awww, why not?" the blonde haired girl whines. "She might even feel the same way! Like I said before, Niall; she could really use someone like you."

I don't say anything.

"She kissed you back, right?" Marley asks.

I hesistate. "Yeah..."

"Then what are you waiting for? Go get that girl, before someone else does!"

"You're right," I say, standing up. "You're right. I'm going to go tell her how I feel."

"Yes!" Marley cries. "Do it!"

"I'm doing it!" I say, and then march right out of the room before I can really think about this. What am I even doing?

I knock on her door and she answers right away. "Niall? Hi."

I take a deep breath and gather all of my courage and say, "I need to tell you something."


YAYYY! #Nassie's first kiss, plus a cliffhanger! The two songs for this chapter are "Broken" by Lifehouse and "Beast" by Timeflies.

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