That Direction


How exactly do we pick our favorite boys in boy bands? Its weird, if you think about it. We just point at a face on the album cover and say that one is mine. With no real claim, having never met the boy, we choose. And then we fall in love. And then we obsess.

We thought we were getting too old for One Direction, but still we shamelessly listened to their albums and bought tickets for their tour we simply could not afford.

I don't know if I believe in fate, or true love, or any of the other crap that is written about in my favorite novels. They said we had a one in a million chance of meeting them, and a one in a billion chance of them falling for us. But I guess, sometimes, you just get lucky.

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12. Chapter Twelve

“I may still be recovering,” I admit to Nadia as she makes Mariah, Ella and I drinks.

 

“The party was two days ago,” Ella laughs.  We all take our normal seats and sip the coffee I have now become addicted to.  It’s been two days since the party, two days since I met Perrie and our small family was complete for a night, and yet I can still feel the effects of staying out until the early morning hours.

 

“You looked awesome by the way,” Nadia says.  There were about a million articles that surfaced that night and the next morning.  Our clothes were nitpicked, our group photo was praised, and pictures of all of us stumbling back into the limo were laughed at.  My twitter notifications have not stopped.  Girls have sent the group photo to me about a million times, saying how they love that all of us are such good friends.  Good and bad pictures have been sent to me, saying that I looked stunning; saying that I looked like a slut.

 

It’s a lot easier to ignore all of the bad than I thought it would be; the good so heavily outweighs the bad.

 

There are so many people that have not jumped on the Layla and Marry team, but it doesn’t even bother me the way I thought it might.  There are a few accounts that are dedicated to Layla and there are accounts waiting for the destruction of Layla.  It’s all more humorous than hurtful.  I was one of those girls that hated every time Liam got a new girlfriend; I never took it to the sending hate level, but still I had the same thoughts.

 

My phone rings, pulling me out of my trance and I look at the unknown number before answering.

 

“Kayla Villano,” a man says.  “This is Jordan from Radio 1, we met a week ago at the One Direction interview.”

 

“Oh hi,” I say, remembering the tall nerdy guy with the great voice.

 

“Listen I am just going to get straight to the point,” he says and I appreciate it, awkward small talk on the phone is not my thing.  “I was wondering if we could get you and your friend Mariah in for a show?”

 

I am stunned speechless for a moment.  Why would he want us instead of Liam and Harry?  Doesn’t the world want to hear what they think instead of what we think?  It’s pretty obvious what we are thinking: how the hell did this happen?

 

“Um, sure?” I say unsure if I am going to get in trouble for this.  But then I remember I really don’t care what One Direction’s management has to tell me.  I wouldn’t allow my own management team to mess with me so why should I allow his?

 

“Great!” Jordan says.  “Would tomorrow morning work for the two of you?  I want to get this in as soon as possible if you don’t mind.”

 

“Not at all,” I tell him.  “What time do you want us?”

 

“Five in the morning would be perfect,” I internally groan at the way to early time but agree.  “I will have a car pick you up and all you are going to do is give your name downstairs and they will direct you to our room from there.  We can’t wait to have you.”

 

“Thank you,” I say before hanging up, unsure if the situation needs thanks.  “We have an early wake up call tomorrow.” The girls are all looking at me, no doubt trying to keep up with the conversation I just had.

 

********

 

No amount of coffee in the world could have me awake for five in the morning.  I threw on a pair of leggings, a plain white shirt and one of my huge wool infinity scarves.  Makeup I kept minimal and I simply tied my hair back.

 

A town car was waiting at the curb to the apartment when Mariah and I got downstairs.  I was not surprised when she stepped out of her room in nearly the same outfit; it is going to look planned but neither of us could care less.

 

“We are here with Kayla Villano and Mariah Hudson, the other halves of One Direction’s Liam Payne and Harry Styles and old best friends,” Jordan is now saying into the microphone.  Mariah and I are both seated with him, a single microphone between the two of us and large headsets covering our ears.

 

“So when did you two become best friends?” Jordan asks.

 

“We met our freshman year of high school,” I say, hearing my voice echoed back to me through the headphones.  It throws me off for a moment to hear my own voice so clearly but I push on without paying much mind.  “I decided to play water polo last minute and she was on the team.”

 

“I hated her that first day!” Mariah laughs.  “Okay, not the whole day.  During the warm up she was swimming in my lane and she had never swam like workout swimming and she was in the middle of the lane!”

 

“I wanted to die!” I laugh.  “Swimming is the hardest sport and I will argue to the death with anyone about it.”

 

“She’s not kidding,” Mariah and I are both laughing.  “But I guess we realized we were best friends after graduation.  You know, everyone goes off in their own directions and you only keep in constant touch with a handful of people.  We were really close in high school, but I think it was at that point when we realized we would always be really, really close.”

 

“I love it,” Jordan says, his smile is genuine as he transitions into his next topic of conversation.  “Now you two are American, obviously.  What brought you to London?”

 

“We have wanted to come to London since at least our junior year of high school,” Mariah says.  “We both new we wanted to travel the world at some point and study abroad in London just seemed like a good move.  Its so much cheaper to travel around Europe once you get here so we figured England was a good idea because everyone speaks the same language as us.”

 

“Have you gotten to go anywhere else yet?” Jordan asks.

 

“We went to Paris like two weeks ago with our world cultures course, its mandatory for study abroad students,” I explain, remembering the quick weekend trip to the romantic city. 

 

“Paris or London?”

 

“London,” Mariah and I both answer at the same time, making all three of us laugh.

 

“Alright, alright,” Jordan says when he regains composure.  “Now down to the heavy; how did the relationships with Liam and Harry start?”

 

“That’s all you,” Mariah says, leaning back in her chair.  I stand up and sit back down on the chair with my legs crisscrossed. 

 

“Timeout,” Jordan chuckles into his microphone.  “For anyone listening, Kayla is now sitting in her chair with her legs tucked under one another and it is probably the funniest thing I have ever seen.  Karen take a picture of her!”

 

“HEY!” I laugh as Jordan’s assistant snaps a quick picture of me.  I sit like this all the time and am always teased for it; its simply more comfortable.  “Okay, so, um…It was kind of a one in a million chance honestly,” I say.  “I was sitting outside after eating a sandwich and I was writing on my laptop and he just sat down next to me, making fun of me for being outside in such cold weather.

 

“From there it was just normal I guess.  There was an obvious mutual attraction and spark and then after our first date I was a goner and I would like to think that Liam was as well,” I smile at the memory of our first official date, remembering the comfortable feeling I got whenever he was close to me.  The last time I fell so hard so quickly, I had known the guy for years ahead of time.  This time was different; this time was real; this time was more than a childhood crush; that much was obvious.

“And did you set Mariah up with Harry?”  Jordan asks.  Mariah is laughing, leaving answering this up to me as well.

 

“Not exactly,” I say honestly.  “Last time the boys were here, actually, I was here and Harry wanted to know about my ‘hot friend.’  Apparently boys talk more than all of us girls think they do.”

 

“When we were in Paris Harry stole Liam’s phone and drunk dialed Kayla asking for her to come out and bring me with her,” Mariah adds with a chuckle.  “Then when we got back here, they showed up at our apartment.  Harry wanted to meet me and Liam just wanted Kayla.”

 

“Nothing happened that night!” I defend myself for the millionth time.

 

“That’s because Harry walked in on you!” Jordan is cracking up as he watches our exchange.  I am sure everyone listening in, or everyone who will listen, will be laughing hysterically as well.   We are quite the duo.

 

“Whatever,” I hold my hand up to her as we all try to stop laughing, again.

 

“So the picture that was taken at Harry’s birthday party over the weekend,” Jordan begins.  “All of One Direction, all of the 1D girlfriends, Ed Sheeran, everyone is in the picture.”

 

“Anyone who is anyone,” Mariah says, flipping her hair over her shoulder, which makes all of us start cracking up all over again.

 

“Stop distracting me with your cuteness!” Jordan yells as he laughs.  “So, so this picture.  It looks like you all have a little family going on?  Is this one of those posed things or is this real life.”

 

“Well obviously the picture is posed, but we wanted the picture.  Everyone was actually in one place at one time and its kind of one of those ‘we have to take advantage’ moments,” I say.  “That being said, it really does feel like a family.  The day I first met all of the boys I felt like I had just gained four brothers and the second Eleanor and I met we bonded.”

 

“We actually had just met Perrie and Ed that night,” Mariah adds.  “We bonded with Perrie over all of our coordinated killer outfits and we bonded instantly with Ed over taking shots.  Hi mom!”

 

“Oh my god I hope our parents hear this,” I laugh thinking of my mother’s reaction to hearing the dialogue.

 

“Oh that would be great because we were just talking about having sex!”  We are all laughing hysterically again, unable to hold it in and we get yelled at to cut to some actual music so we can calm down a bit.

 

“You girls are something else,” Jordan says as he takes in long calming breathes.

 

“We’re just getting started,” I wink, sending a friendly warning to him and whoever else wants to know.

 

********

 

There is nothing worse than sitting outside of an office knowing that the people in the office are yelling about you.  Well, maybe serious period cramps.

 

Mariah and I sit silently outside of Rachel’s office while Harry and Liam argue on our behalf.  I am not so sure how happy I am to have them fighting my fight.  Really they aren’t involved, this is between Mariah, Rachel, and me.  Well and I guess the entire public relations team, which must be pretty big.

 

“This is about your image!” The wall between us softens the words but I can hear bits and piece of the conversation every so often.  Mariah sighs, she is staying quite even though it’s killing her.

 

“They shouldn’t have to hide themselves for us!” Harry’s deep voice argues back.  He was pissed.  Pissed that Rachel had the audacity to call Mariah and I and yell at us for doing a radio show without letting anyone know.

 

How were we supposed to know that we have to clear everything with her; One Directions PR manager?  We don’t have anyone to answer to, not yet and hopefully never.  I don’t do well with people telling me what to do.  We don’t do well with people telling us what to do.

 

One Direction was never good with listening either; at least not in the videos posted to YouTube.

 

“She wants to control us too,” Mariah mumbles, slumping down into her chair some more. 

 

“Let her try,” I say. 

 

“This should be good,” Mariah chuckles. I shrug innocently but she knows better. 

 

The door to the office opens and Liam nods his head to tell us to come in.  Rachel looks utterly spent, sitting in her small office behind her even smaller desk.  Harry is leaning against the desk, looking the tall sexy self he is.

 

“I am sorry for yelling at the two of you,” Rachel says when Liam closes the door behind me.  His hand is on my lower back; the charge at the contact dimmed by the clothing separating his palm from my skin.  “I am going to assign someone from the team to handle your images in accordance with One Direction of course.  This way we have everything under control and no more surprises.”

 

Mariah and I both look at each other, neither of us liking the idea all too much, but we both nod in agreement.  We will just have to show whoever this is who is boss in this little relationship agreement.

 

“For now,” Rachel pulls two packets of paper out of a drawer in her desk, a self satisfied smirk on her thin lips, and pushes them towards both of us.  “We need you to go over these and sign the highlighted areas so we know that we are all in agreement.  There are certain things we expect from you two, now that we see you two aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and there are things you can expect from us.”

 

She looks up at the two of us, triumph clear in those dull blue eyes.  I so badly want to grab the packet and start ripping it up.  I have a very good idea what is outlined between those pages and as I think over all of the restrictions she wants to place on me I can feel my blood pressure begin to boil.

 

Liam’s hand wraps around my arm and pulls me closer to him.  He grabs the packet off of the desk and nods to Rachel before pulling me out of the room.  Harry does the same to Mariah and soon all of us are in the hallway, walking down the pristine hallways to the elevator that will take us down to the waiting car.

 

“You know I’m not signing that right?” I ask Liam when we sit down in the silence of the car.  Mariah agrees and crosses her arms over her chest stubbornly.

 

“Just read over it?” Liam begs.  “Maybe it’s not all that bad.”

 

“Oh it is, I am sure of it,” I sound like a three year old but I could really care less.  I knew that a relationship with Liam would end up somewhere like this, but I am not about to give in and change who I am in the public eye.  If I can’t be me all the time well then we are going to have serious problems.

 

“We will look over it and you can make any changes you want,” Harry says.  Something about his tone seems final and we drop the subject, leaving the ride silent.

 

********

 

“Have you looked over that stuff yet?” Mariah asks out of nowhere while we are on the checkout line at Charlie’s.  I have given up on trying to budget the money I have saved up.  I’ll have to go find a freelance writing gig to pay for groceries for the coming months.

 

“Nope,” I say, browsing the magazines on the side of the line.  I grab People magazine, seeing familiar green eyes and a killer black jumpsuit staring back at me next to a rail thin girl with long dark hair.  “HOLY SHIT!”

 

I flip to the Who Wore It Best page and sure enough, there I am.  In the other frame is Selena Gomez, wearing the same jumper, her long hair falling over one shoulder, and her thick lips painted a red that matches her heels.

 

“I BEAT FUCKING SELENA GOMEZ!” I scream as I look at the three percentage point difference between the two of us.  Mariah looks over my shoulder and there we stand, in the middle of a grocery store, flipping out like crazy people.

 

“Are you ready?” we both stop screaming as the young cashier looks at us, eyes half open as he watches us.  I throw the magazine on the conveyor belt and point to my picture.

 

“That’s me,” I tell him.  He looks at the picture and then up at me. In my sweatpants, messy bun, and no makeup the resemblance is scarce I am sure.  The kid just nods, placating me, and rings up our items.

 

“You’re in People magazine,” Mariah laughs when we get outside with our bags of groceries.  We begin the walk back to the apartment as we talk about how weird and ridiculous that is.

 

*******

 

“So we will meet here for class Monday and leave right from here,” Will says over the noise of the end of class.

 

“We should brush up on our Spanish,” I tell Mariah as we walk past the front of the room.  Will smiles up at us and we both give him a placating smile still unsure how to feel about the casual basis our professor wants to be on.

 

Mariah looks over at me with an eyebrow raised.

 

“We never studied for Spanish when we were taking Spanish,” She laughs.  “Why start now?”

 

I nod as I think over our four years of taking Spanish together.  Cheat sheets and essay’s about Enrique Iglesias kept the two of us going.  I wouldn’t say I learned nothing, but I didn’t learn half as much as I should have in four years.

 

“They say you have to be immersed in it,” I remind her.

 

“Yea, well I will be immersed for four days.  I don’t need to study for the immersion.”

 

When I open the doors to the apartment I nearly scream; I jump, cover my eyes and turn around when I see Harry standing very naked in our living room.

 

“LIAM SAID YOU WERE GOING TO HIS PLACE!” Harry screams while I laugh hysterically, my hands gripping my knees before I fall to the floor laughing.  Mariah is laughing as well, but she is actually on the floor, pounding her fist against the hardwood.

 

There is a bunch of rustling behind me and I allow him to cover-up before I turn again.  I turn a moment later to see him holding two of our throw pillows against himself. Ew.

 

“You horny little boy!” Mariah is in hysterics and gets me laughing all over again.

 

“I’m twenty-one!” Harry attempts to defend, but that pushes Mariah and I both over the edge.  I fall to my knees, unable to breathe while Harry curses us both out as he walks back to Mariah’s room to put the appropriate amount of coverage.  

 

Mariah follows him a moment later, still laughing, and I am quick to pack an overnight bag so I can give the two of them some obvious much needed alone time. 

 

When I grab a cab down by the curb I cannot help but wonder why Harry thought to give a little surprise showing at our apartment was a good idea.  He could have very easily told Mariah to come to his house and greeted her with his full frontal; minimizing the risk tremendously.

 

When I get up to the penthouse Liam greets me warmly, wrapping his arms around me tightly and pressing his sculpted lips to mine.

 

“So how was your day?” he asks, directing me to the couch.  He takes a seat and pulls me into his lap. 
 

“Uneventful until the last half an hour,” I chuckle.  Never will I be able to forget walking into the apartment to see a completely naked Harry Styles.  The fact that he felt he had to stoop to such levels is humorous in itself.  “Will reminded us that we are going to Spain next week and I got to see way more of Harry than I ever thought I would.”

 

“What do you mean you are going to Spain next week?”

 

“Our world cultures class is going to Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia next week,” I reach over and grab the remote off of one of the couch cushions, flicking through the channels.  I didn’t realize how much different British television would be, it honestly has thrown me off.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me that?” Liam pouts.

 

“I honestly forgot,” I say.  I am not the kind of person to forget trips like this, or anything really.  I am not an over planner, not by a long stretch, but I do believe in the calendar. 

 

“You bite your lip when you are thinking,” Liam points out, pinching me chin between his forefinger and thumb.

 

“Sorry,” I whisper, suddenly very uninterested in the topic of conversation.  He smiles his arrogant smile and moves his hand to the back of my neck before kissing me.

 

********

 

Why do they get to travel the world?

They are on study abroad dumbasses. . .

What the hell are they wearing?

You guys are awesome

Can we be friends?

What do they see in them?

They’re awesome! Duh!

Can I have your life!?

 

The sudden spike in my social media presence throws me off but is one of the coolest things to happen to me.  A very stupid and yet somehow awesome video Mariah and I posted to Instagram got more likes than I ever thought imaginable, girls and guys alike taking a sudden interest in our lives.

 

Who would have thought a video of two clumsy girls running through a Spanish courtyard would get so much attention?

 

“We need to hit up the town,” Ella says as she applies the third color of paint to her nails.  It has been a long day full of tourist attractions and serious cultural immersion.  Mariah is lying across the other bed, flipping through the Spanish version of Cosmo and pretending she can actually understand the entire thing.  I am sitting with my legs up against the headboard with Ella’s feet probably too close to my face.

 

“I’m too tired,” I mumble, nearly half asleep as it is.  My phone vibrates on the bed next to me and I don’t bother opening my eyes until I have it in my hand and hovering over my face.

 

*i miss you why do you feel the need to travel without me*

*you know i could literally take you anywhere*

 

I laugh as the texts come in back to back and both Mariah and Ella tease me as I reply.

 

*required course babe, you can take me anywhere you want.  I won’t complain*

 

I tuck my phone under my thigh and continue tapping my own rhythm on the headboard.  Tomorrow we are taking an early train to Valencia before flying back to London early Saturday.  Its been a nonstop week but one that I would never complain about.

 

There is a knock on the door and the three of us stare one another down before I finally get up to answer the door.  Jessica and Laura both smile widely when I open the door, holding two bottles of Spanish wine.

 

“Social hour?” Laura asks, shaking one of the bottles in my face.  I laugh and grab the bottle; I walk back into the room and plop back down in my spot on the bed as Jessica and Laura awkwardly join us.

 

“Have you slept with Will?” I ask, flipping over onto my stomach and looking at Jessica.  She is sitting, hands folded in her lap like she is unsure what exactly to do as Mariah passes the bottle of wine to Laura after a long sip.

 

“No, he’s our professor,” she answers, her face heating up under the sudden pressure.

 

“You totally have,” Ella laughs, throwing a cotton ball at Jessica. 

 

“No judgment,” Mariah laughs, scooting closer to the conversation. 

 

“Intrigued,” I wink at her, making her blush even stronger as we all probe for information.  “Is he big?”

 

“Oh my god,” Jessica covers up her face as we all tease and laugh, her face burning as she looks up at the ceiling.  Girls night, even with girls I barely know, is one of my favorite nights. 

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