We were about 5 minutes into the 10 minute car trip when I finally broke the silence. I had spent the 5 minutes looking at the road in front of me, while Zayn kept turning to look at me as if he was about to say something then thought better of it. I ignored him but after the 20th time, I got annoyed.
“Spit it out Zayn!” I sighed, not looking at him.
I wasn’t angry at him but about how I feel about him. I had no idea how I felt about him and that frustrated me because I like to be certain of things and I had never been nervous around anyone before.
“You have something to say then tell me. Don’t keep turning to me with your mouth wide open like a gaping fish and then back out. So what is it you want to say?”
Zayn sighed. “I know you don’t like me” He began.
“Not true, I like you but I don’t like how I feel around you”
“How do you feel around me?” He asked curiosity in his voice. Why does every expression on his face have to be so damn cute and sexy? I thought angrily. And why does he have to know every single thing!?
“Nervous, you make me feel nervous – like I’m taking the HSC’s again. And that is an experience I would not like to relive”
“I make you feel nervous?”
“Yes. Now can we move on, okay?”
“Alright, fine. And I know you don’t want me to be with you in this car with you right now”
Zayn ignored me. “But maybe if you gave me a chance you could get to know me more. You could get to know the real me”
“The real you” I repeated, biting my lip. I pulled into the Woolworths car park and looked at him. Maybe I should give him a chance. I only just met him anyway, so it seems harsh to not give him a chance.
“Please” He said, looking at me. I sighed.
“Alright, I’ll give you a chance”
“Oh my god, thank you so much” He said, smiling. “Am I allowed to hug you?”
“Duh” I said. He gave me a hug and I hugged him back. “Alright, let’s go shopping” We got out of the car. “Hey, what would you have done if I didn’t let you hug me?”
“I’d probably sit there looking awkward”
“Yeah, it’d be weird not to hug, wouldn’t it?”
We stepped into the elevator and I turned to him.
“So Zayn, where are you from?”
“I’m from Bradford, England. I moved out after high school to London. But I was getting tired of the same old thing. I needed to go somewhere new and explore”
“So you decided to come down here?”
“Yeah, heard the lads were down here and thought ‘why not?’ and it sounded like the place I needed”
“Yeah, well, it’s not much. A few shops, a few restaurants. Mollymook/Ulladulla is a small town. But you don’t expect much from a town like this”
We walked out of the elevator and I grabbed a basket. But after considering Niall, I put it back and got a trolley.
“Niall still got a huge appetite?” Zayn asked, chuckling.
“Huge would be a massive understatement. Not even massive covers it”
“How do you manage to keep up? Back when they were in London and we were mates, Niall told me once his mother didn’t feed him so he left home for three days!”
I laughed. “Oh my god, that’s too funny! I will have to talk to him about that later. If he runs away from home again, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. I manage to keep up by being the money maker of the group. I earn the most money because I work more hours. Eleanor and Sophia work too but their jobs are at small businesses. Eleanor works at a café and Sophia works at a music shop but they’re never really busy and their pay is not much. So I took the full brunt of Niall’s costly, very costly appetite. Of course he does thank me on numerous occasions – with his mouth full of food – but it doesn’t help the financial end of things” I said, grabbing two bags of fresh bread rolls of the rack.
“Why don’t you just tell them to get a job?”
“Oh believe me, I do. And they all nod and assure me that they’ll hand in their resumes and it’s all good and well until I have to shop again. Liam is the only one though and Louis that have actually done something to help – with some persuading thanks to their girlfriends. But like I said, I earn the most”
“So where do you work?”
“I work at a chemist in Milton. It’s a good job. I clean and help out at the counter at times and the hours are good. I finish late though. I finish at 6 pm – closing time. And I work every Wednesday and Thursday, and occasional Saturdays”
“Well, I promise you Ashley. When I get settled in and familiar with the town, I will hand out resumes immediately and help with the money”
“Thanks Zayn. It’s nice to know that there are some boys out there who don’t think only of their gut and not the money it costs to feed it”
“Ha-ha, trust me. I grew up with three sisters and a Mum. And I don’t see how that is relevant but just thought you should know”
“Wow, three sisters and a mum. You must have lived in a very feminine environment”
“Yeah, well, don’t be surprised when you see me in the bathroom spending hours on my hair. And putting on make-up”
“Oh, don’t worry. I won’t”
“So, what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Do you have any siblings?”
“Oh, yeah. I have a step-brother who lives in Queensland and a little sister. Sam and Julia”
“Oh yeah, that’s cool. You must love them, hey?”
“Yeah, but when I was back in high school, Julia could get so annoying and I had those days where she frustrated me so much that I’d want to kill her. I’d scream at her and hit her occasionally but then there were days when she was the best sister in the world. But when I moved out to live with the boys, we got over our petty fights and reconciled. We are now besties and we keep in contact regularly”
“What about your step-brother?”
“Oh, Sam never got on my nerves. He’s older than me so he understands how I felt about Julia. He was and still is the coolest brother ever. He’d lend me his PSP and give me hugs. I love him so much like I swear; we’re the world’s best bro and sis. There have never been any fights between us but then again, he lives in Queensland and he’s visits are rare but we still love each other”
“Aw, cute. I’d love to meet him one day. He seems like a nice guy”
“Yeah, but he’s like really tall – taller than Dad. So don’t play basketball with him if you’re expecting to win because he will always have his height as an advantage”
“I’ll keep that in mind”
“Good” I said, grabbing a carton of milk from the fridge and then some frozen meals. “Hey, what’s your favourite meal and I’ll cook it tonight as a welcome present?” I asked.
“Well, samosa’s really. My mum made some wicked ones when I lived with her. Man, I miss her and her samosas. She’d make them for afternoon tea and then, if there were any leftovers, she’d pack them for me to take to school” He said, smiling as he remembered. I smiled too at the bond between him and his mother.
“You guys were pretty close then, huh?”
“Yeah, what my mum and I had was more than what other boys and their mum had. My mum and I were like besties. I told her everything and she told me everything. There were no secrets even when I did stuff she didn’t approve of I got her permission first and she would eventually let me do it. She understood that I was teenage boy in the stage of being rebellious and doing stuff I shouldn’t. Like getting tattoos, mum never liked them because they weren’t attractive and was permanent and defaced my body but she let me get them. I still remember her saying that they’ll just be smudges of ink not pictures when I’m old and wrinkly”
“Well, Zayn, you’ve convinced me. Samosas it is. I’ll look up the recipe and get the ingredients I need. I can’t let you stop having samosas when you’re mum made them. I will make them at least once a month”
“Thanks, Ashley. That’s really sweet of you”
I winked. “Hey, anything for a pretty face. So tell me what the deal is?”
“What’s the deal with what?”
“You got a girlfriend?”
“Ha-ha, nah. No one has particularly caught my eye. I mean, sure, there are very beautiful girls out there and they have asked me out but they just weren’t… it was nothing special. They didn’t have that special thing. They weren’t the person I was looking for. They weren’t my soul mate or the one”
“Are you sure? Surely, someone with a pretty face like yours should have a girlfriend”
“Nope, I’m single and ready to mingle with a finger lickin’ fruit tingle. What about you? Someone as beautiful as you must have a special someone in their life?”
“Ha, I wish. Nah, like you, no one has caught my eye. And boys have asked me out but I politely told them I wasn’t interested. I felt nothing special when I was them so sadly, I’m single too. But there is nothing wrong with being single. It means that I can do whatever I want and hang with whoever I want too with no annoying boyfriend stopping me from doing so”
“Alright then, I have an idea. Let’s make a pact, a deal, that if by the time we’re 25 and we’re still single, we get married”
I paused from grabbing pastry from the shelf. Married?! I thought, panicking. How old am I now? 20? That’s 5 years. I recovered and put the pastry in the trolley. Surely I’d have a boyfriend by then. And it wouldn’t do any harm. I shrugged.
“Sure, why not?”
“So we have a deal?” He said, smiling.
“Sure, if we’re single when we’re 25, we’ll get married”
I realised then that what he said was another form of proposing and I had just said yes. But it didn’t bother me. It will only begin to take effect if I didn’t have a boyfriend by 25 so in order to make sure that it didn’t take effect, I had to get a boyfriend. Yeah, good luck with that Ash! Let me know when it happens a sarcastic voice said in my head. I ignored it. I was happy right now with me and Zayn being friends. And I was looking forward to having him around the house.
“Great” He said. I stopped at the spices and looked at the recipe on my phone.
“Did your mum use any specific kind of curry?”
“Uhm, I think she used cumin?”
“Okay, it says cumin on the recipe, so cumin it is”
“Hey wanna hear a joke?”
“What did the spices say to the herbs?”
“I’m cumin to get ya” I rolled my eyes.
“That is so lame”
“Wanna hear what the herbs said back? Not if I’m as fast as rocket”
I shoved him. “If you’re gonna live with us, you need to come up with better jokes”
“Hey, I’m insulted! That is one of my finest jokes. Everyone at home thought it was funny”
“Who was your audience?” I asked.
“My mum, sisters and friends”
I shook my head. “Oh, my poor boy” I said, sadly.
“They didn’t think it was funny. They pretended to think it was funny so then they wouldn’t hurt your feelings. Lucky for you, you have me now to save you from further humiliation” I said. I grabbed a couple of soft drinks and looked at Zayn. “Hey, do you drink?”
“Good because I’m stocking up on beer anyway. But you have to watch for Niall. You know how the Irish love their liquor”
I said. I walked into Liquor Land and purchased three cases, then a red and white wine for me and the girls. Once I paid for everything, we walked back to the car and loaded everything in.
“I’ll drive back seeing as you paid for everything”
“Thanks. You can definitely stay if you keep doing this”
Zayn starts the car once we are both buckled in and drives back to the house.
“It’s official then. I’ll have to let everyone know that Ashley finally agreed to let me stay here. ‘Good news lads, it’s official. Ashley said yes which means that I can stay’”
I laughed. “So if I said no, you’d go back to London”
“When you put it that way… yes”
“You better not make me regret letting you stay then. Now shut up and drive so we can tell everyone you passed my approval”
He chuckled. For the rest of the drive, we talked about life in London and life in Mollymook. And everything else and it was nice.