Louis couldn't keep his eyes off of her. He had to act sad for the sake of the song but it was so hard when it felt his heart was practically bursting into pieces in the sand for her.
She was amazing. He kept replaying the memories from the night, from the morning over and over. He never wanted to wake up again without her by his side.
No fighting. No screaming. No throwing. No guilt, no wailing. She was calm, confident, and secure. Stronger than she looked.
"CUT," yelled the director. "Louis, get your head together, you're off sync with your lip syncing."
"Sorry," he yelled over the crash of the waves. Oops, he had to get it together. If having Lena here distracted him...well, Mr. Managerie-poo looked like he was already ready to throw a fit. He was right about one thing though- it was crazy that he was already feeling this way about Lena, crazy that he was already this invested in their relationship. He had never felt so wildly passionate about someone else before. God, it made him feel alive!
He finished his take seamlessly the second time and went for a seat while Zayn and then Liam filmed their lines.
Usually he hated filming music videos. He wasn't much of an actor, and he hated how long each cut took. But with Lena here, the time was breezing by as usual.
He checked his phone again. He felt horrible about what had happened with Niall. Niall hadn't called but texted.
10:00: Yo man u still on ur date
10:11: feeling worthless
10:14: I need somebody ur lucky to have lena man
10:17: ur probably on ur date
10:24: I just downed a whole bottele of aI think itw as grey Gose vodka
10:50: y does anone like me im such a loser
10:59: even uarejnt wresponding man
12:29: just gortkicketd out fo the bar. someone tried 2 fite me so iahad a go at ihm but he hit me pretty hard. gona go slepe it off now c u 2morwo
The texts got less and less legible. Louis winced. He wish he'd been there for him. Niall was a trainwreck on a destructive, hellbound path. At first he'd thought like the other guys that Niall just loved the party scene, but now Louis was suspecting something else. Alcoholism ran in Niall's family. His father had been an alcoholic and now it seemed like Niall had it, or if not was dangerously close.
The problem with Niall, he mused, was that he took every single rejection personally. He was a sensitive guy, and couldn't deal with it. Not to mention the band marketed him as "cute" and "Irish". So he kept drinking his feelings away and he was going to drown his talent away with his sorrows if he wasn't careful, thought Louis. What a mess.
Lena waved at him, dragging out of his thoughts, and he broke into a broad smile. He was going to take her out to a movie tonight. He'd reserved the entire theater so they wouldn't have to deal with crazy fans. The night before with the paparazzi had nearly given her a heart attack.
She didn't seem like the type to watch movies or have fun. He was having fun pulling her out of the cocoon she'd created to shelter Sarah. Sarah had a lot more gumption in her than Lena liked to admit, and he thought that now maybe she was realizing it.
Chuckling to himself, he remembered how frantic she'd been in the morning about leaving Sarah alone overnight. He'd anticipated that and taken care of it. This wasn't just Sarah's vacation. This was Lena's too, and she definitely deserved some time off from parenting. Seemed like Sarah could use some breathing space too.
He could see the love between the two. Sure, sometimes Sarah was a little bit...all over the place, but so were most kids. She clearly had admiration and love for her elder sister though. And it was beautiful to see. Having them in the house...well, it hadn't felt so empty anymore. They'd kind of felt like family. His own family though, not the motley mess that his mother had made with her multiple husbands. He loved mum, but she was driving his siblings insane with each relationship.
Later that night as they walked hand and hand into the theater, he studied the curve of her chin and the graceful fall of her hair. He touched her hair, unable to resist.
"It's so soft and smooth," he said, surprised. When he'd first met her, it was thin and brittle. It now seemed fuller.
"It's the hotel shampoo and conditioner," laughed Lena. "It works insanely good. I usually just buy the dollar stuff in the USA, which doesn't really work as nice."
"You're beautiful," he said, and he'd meant it. He felt guilty for not noticing her beauty in the beginning. He'd dismissed her as anorexic or bulimic, thinking she was too skinny for his taste. But she was shining now, her big brown eyes sparkling, her olive-colored complexion fresh. How could he have ever thought of her as anything less than gorgeous?
"I've gained weight," said Lena.
Oof. Louis didn't want to say anything. Lena looked so much better with the extra weight, but he remembered how gaining even half a pound would send Eleanor into a tizzy. She was a model, after all, and after he'd discovered she'd had an eating disorder, his attraction to her had waned. They couldn't go out to eat, they couldn't go to Starbucks or Nandos (thank god he hated Nandos) and every time he brought something home that she couldn't eat like oreos she would throw the most massive fits...he cringed at the memory.
"I'm so glad," she added on, surprising him. "I used to give almost all my food to Sarah. I barely had lunch, I wasn't on a meal plan at school because it didn't count as part of my tuition. I used to have some peanut butter, maybe the smallest amount, spread so thinly on a single slice of bread, whatever I could get for the week."
He knew it. She put her own health in danger for the little girl.
"Lena, I know you're not a charity case, but I want to make sure you're eating enough," he said firmly.
"I know," replied Lena stubbornly. "And I will. I've got a job lined up for me at a firm that I've interned for over the summer. Starting salary is 60k, and I've got no student loans so we'll be able to move into a better place when the apartment sublease ends in two months."
He had to admire her strength as well, her will and determination to survive without help, but Jesus, did she ever ask for help? Suddenly, he remembered the first night where she had collapsed, sobbing. She did ask for help when she needed it. And he was giving it to her. Help didn't need to be monetary, it could come in the form of emotional support, like how he was helping Niall. She was still leaning on him.
It was a huge relief, though. She wasn't treating him like the billionaire he was. She was treating him like a regular human being. That was a rare find, he thought, and smiled. Usually only other entertainers and famous people could understand each other, but Lena had bypassed that gap.
The movie was starting, so he put his arm around her and stole some of her popcorn. She let him. Yep, she definitely was a keeper.