Head in hands, sniffling in the bathroom, Lena cried silently while the water from the faucet ran and her sister watched the television.
The day had been a disaster. An absolute, horrible disaster. After the celebrities had left, she had tried to get Sarah to leave to go sightseeing. At first, Sarah was excited, but wanted to watch television first. Lena had let her, and after a couple of hours, she had reminded her that it was time to leave.
"We only have twelve days! Don't you want to go out and see the city?"
"NO! I'm tired, and I want to watch television!" screamed Sarah.
"Sarah, you're ten, you can't act like this! You're growing up, and sometimes growing up means realizing that you can watch television back in the USA, but you can't see these sights anywhere else but London!" Lena's voice had risen hysterically towards the end, despite her best efforts.
"You're not my mother!" Sarah had yelled, knowing full well that nothing hurt Lena more. "You never will be either! You take horrible care of me! I miss mommy and daddy! I wish they'd never died. I wish you had died instead!"
Lena had regained her cool, and said, "Well, fine. If you don't want to go out today, then we won't, but there's nothing stopping me from going. I'll call the front desk and have them get someone to watch you. I'm not leaving you unsupervised."
Sitting in the bathroom now, she dried her red, watery eyes. She had been bluffing. She wasn't going anywhere. She loved Sarah, but god help her if she didn't resent her too. And as much as she resented her sister, she wasn't going to let her rot in a foster home. No, her sister deserved better than that. Lena would have never been able to live with herself if some other family had put her hands on her or ordered her around or any of the other horrible things she heard from neighbors.
It wasn't fair. She never got to do anything if Sarah didn't want to and usually Sarah didn't want to. But if Sarah wanted it, she bent over backwards for her. The little girl was spoiled rotten. A sweetheart sometimes, but spoiled rotten.
I can't discipline her, thought Lena bitterly. She's right. I'm not her mother. I'm her sister. And I can't say no to her because I feel like it's all my fault.
Even though she knew it wasn't.
Suddenly, someone on the door knocked. She turned off the water, and smeared the makeup under her eyes. She looked like a panda.
"Is it the babysitter?" asked Sarah, anxiously, turning off the TV. Oh, ok. Now her sister was listening.
"I don't know," said Lena. I never called the front desk...
She answered the door, and to her surprise, saw Louis Tomlinson scratching his head and staring at the ground.
"Hi," she said, somewhat confused. "What's up? Why are you here?"
"Uhhh..." he replied eloquently.
"Who is it?" called Sarah.
"Your favorite," said Lena, dryly.
"Louis Tomlinson?" squealed Sarah. "Did he come to visit me?"
"Actually," said Louis, clearing his throat, "I did. And I came to ask your sister out on a little date." He smiled down at her, and Sarah pouted. Lena froze. A date? What? Why? Dear god, she still had panda eyes and she was in a T-shirt and jeans, for Christ's sake!
"Why does she get to go on a date with you, when I'm your biggest fan?" Sarah complained. "Lena said this vacation was for ME!"
Lena sighed, and looked at Louis. Save me, she thought.
"Can I come in?" asked Louis. Lena nodded. He sat down on their couch, next to Sarah.
"Now, Sarah, you and I are going to go on a date tomorrow together. We're going to go shopping with all the boys. Lena's coming too, of course, but you get a thousand pounds to spend on whatever your little heart desires!"
Sarah giggled and Lena felt a rush of...something for Louis. Gratitude, appreciation, and also admiration. He had just deflected a major tantrum and Lena definitely did not have the energy to deal with another one of Sarah's outbursts. And he was asking her out? She still felt like she was dreaming.
"But, I have an important thing to ask. See, your sister is really kind of cool."
"Lena's not cool," interrupted Sarah. "She has no friends, and her last boyfriend left her."
God damn you Sarah, thought Lena, covering her face with her hands. She felt like crying again.
"Ah, but yes she is," insisted Louis. "And normally I would ask the parents for permission to date their daughter, but since it's just you two, I'm going to ask the next best thing."
"Me?" asked Sarah, awestruck.
"Yes, you. So, can I take Lena out for the night? I'd really, really like to get to know her better. You are super lucky to have her as a big sister and she's by your side all the time so you know her well, but I don't."
Sarah thought for a moment grinning.
"Yes," she said finally. "But only if you give me a kiss riiiight here," she said pointing to her cheek.
"Sarah," said Lena warningly, but Louis winked at her.
"But of course," he said, and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
"You forgot one thing," said Lena pointedly. "I can't leave her alone here without a babysitter."
"You're right, you can't..." replied Louis, looking panicked. Then he laughed.
"Hey Sarah. Remember the guy who kept eating donuts earlier?"
"He's going to come and watch the TV with you."
"Is he going to bring more donuts?" asked Sarah hopefully. Lena rolled her eyes.
"No, but maybe he can in the morning...let me just make a phone call really fast." He pulled out an iPhone and excused himself into the hallway.
Sarah looked at Lena.
"Lenny, I'm really sorry about today," she said quietly, in a tone that surprised Lena. "Have a good time with Louis please. You don't have to worry about me."
Lena was stunned by the sudden display of maturity.
"Goooo Lenny, if you marry him it means I get Louis Tomlinson as my brother-in-law!"
Oh. Now she saw where Sarah was coming from.
"And also you have panda eyes. You look funny."
Lena didn't even know what to think about Louis showing up out of nowhere. She didn't really know him, but the way he handled Sarah impressed her. It couldn't hurt to get to know him a little better, but frankly, she wasn't looking for a romance or a relationship, and she'd make that clear this night. She quickly donned some jeans and cleaned up her make up to the best of her ability before joining him in the hallway.
"Did it work?" asked Louis, finishing his phone call.
"Yeah," said Lena, impressed. "Thanks. I really need a night off, like you wouldn't believe. I haven't had one in three years."
"I can tell," said Louis, as Jones approached them.
"Jones, this is Lena. You will be guarding her little sister."
"I'm not a babysitter," said Jones stiffly. "I'm a bodyguard."
Lena's heart sank. This was his idea? A bodyguard babysitter?
"Now, Jones, you work for me, and you owe me after eating all my oreos."
Jones didn't contest that, but sighed.
"Where's the spare room key?" he asked.
"Hold on," said Lena, "let me grab it, and then we'll be off." She felt giddy. Even if she wasn't interested too much in Louis, this was her night of freedom. For once, she wasn't a parent. She was twenty-one. And she wanted a goddamn drink.