"So, feel free to correct me if I'm getting this wrong," Lena said, trying to piece together the puzzle. "She cheated, you caught the dude so she made up some story about being attacked. What clued you in on her lying to you?"
"I have security footage. Cameras installed in every room but the bathroom and bedroom. I saw that she invited him in, and what they did in the kitchen. I was trying to figure out how he got in..and I guess I found out."
"Lena, I'm paranoid as hell. There's a panic room installed in the basement in case a crazy fan does try to invade my home."
Lena simply reached out and patted him on the shoulder. He was opening up to her in a way nobody else had.
"Is that why you have a bodyguard? Why all you guys have bodyguards?"
"Yes," he shuddered. "I didn't want to tell you this because I thought it might scare you away, but I'm a public figure. Fans feel entitled to me, even though they don't realize that what I project is an act for them." He paused. "If you were to date me, seriously, IF," he added for emphasis, "that could put you under fire. That could put Sarah under fire."
"I know," said Lena simply. "Even agreeing to this prize puts us under fire. Hell, life in general puts people under fire. I have to protect Sarah, but that doesn't mean I need to be afraid of every last thing. I know there's a reason you posted your most trusted bodyguard as her babysitter. You've got Lennox and the others right now just outside, but you gave her the one you trust the most to protect her."
She took a deep breath.
"Louis, I'm not naive. I weighed the risks before ever stepping outside that hotel room. I knew this wouldn't be easy, and frankly, the more I get to know about you, the more I realize that it will never be. And I think I'm ok with that. I'm not exactly an easy girl to date either Louis."
Tears sprung to her eyes, yet she didn't wipe them away.
"My only real relationship was ruined because I couldn't get over my parent's deaths. It was too much for the guy. He ran away. That and when you have a seven-year-old that you need to tuck in every night and feed and wake up for school, it's not exactly glamorous."
Exhaling slowly, she continued.
"I guess what I'm trying to say is, we're not perfect. We both have problems. You're paranoid. I've got a lot of baggage. We both have baggage. But what I need to know is can we be a team together? Can we overcome these things together? I'm not going to lie, Louis Tomlinson, I really like you and I don't think I'm going to be able to say goodbye in ten days."
He stared at her, and she stared at him, and then they were grabbing for each other in a furious frenzy of tangled limbs, kissing, feeling, and the coffee was forgotten for a long moment, until Louis accidentally knocked it over, spilling it on the pristine carpet.
"You know, I know how to get coffee stains out of carpet too," murmured Lena.
"No more getting stains out of anything," growled Louis. "Lena, I can't say goodbye to you in ten days. This is it. I need to figure out a way to have you and Sarah here, by my side. You can work here, in London, if you're ok with that."
Lena sat up as cold reality washed in. How would they make this work?
"What if we broke up?" she said. "Not to be a Debbie Downer, Louis, but it's been two days. Two amazing days, but still, just two days. The last thing I want to do is uproot Sarah for this, make her move to a new country for school and then if things not work out, force her to move back. I'm not saying we wouldn't work out, just that it's awfully soon for us to be thinking of anything like this."
He didn't speak for a moment, and she could feel the pulse of her heart thrum with each passing second.
"We could do long distance," he said. "It's the twenty-first century after all, as someone once told me. If, after a year we're still together, why don't we revisit this?"
"You like deadlines, don't you? Twelve days, now a year," teased Lena. "Alright, sir, I accept your terms and conditions, but I'll have to run it by Sarah too later of course."
"Now, where were we?" asked Louis softly. He met her eyes with an unyielding gaze, and she could feel her body start to burn with longing. She wanted this as much as he did. It felt right.
The carpet was forgotten, as were the coffee cups, and everything else for the night. Outside the darkness peeked into the rooms and the moon began to wane, and the crickets chirped but nothing else mattered to the two of them as they slept peacefully in each others arms.