He felt horrible. You mean, despicable, disgusting, person he thought as he picked at his grilled chicken. They were all seated at the hotel restaurant, and Sarah couldn't contain her excitement as she ordered. Lena limited her to two entrees, saying that she could order more if she finished it, but that wasted food was a sin.
He had been so sure that Lena had an eating disorder. Now, looking as she daintily put away her third entree, he realized that it was starvation. She had literally worked herself to the bone, and he wouldn't have been surprised if she suddenly revealed that she gave most of her food to Sarah.
Their ratty dresses too. He'd judged them for that. He felt ashamed of himself. They were definitely from two different worlds. He, they spent a lot of time interacting with rich fans. Or at least middle-class ones. Ones that could afford to pay for concert tickets and meet and greets, or their parents were rich enough to bribe the management.
Frankly, he had no idea how to reach her. And he had no idea why he even wanted to. She wasn't exactly attractive. She looked like she definitely needed more weight, and her hair looked brittle in the sunlight. But something about her character, seeing how she interacted with her little sister drew him to her.
It all reminded him of himself, in fact. His little sisters, how he had to be by their side during all the family turmoil. His mother was now engaged to a new man, and had just given birth to twins. His little sister Lottie had been so angry that she'd run away to his house and spent the night without telling mum, who had been fraught with worry.
"I hate him! I hate her! I hate how she's already had his babies, and she can't even really take care of us," she'd yelled after he had confronted her, phone still in hand.
"What do you mean?" His blood had frozen in his veins at the thought. "Mum takes care of you, of course she does!"
She had groaned and muffled her face into a pillow.
"She has over seven kids, Louis! She can't devote time to all of us and now she has two more newborns and yeah they're cute but so much work. Do you know what it's like? She doesn't have time for anyone. She got a nanny, and expects us to cook for ourselves."
Louis had laughed at that.
"Oh Lottie, I felt the same way when you were born, when I was just a kid! It's ok, Mum's going to get time again for you guys after they're in their terrible twos and toddling all over the place. She loves you, trust me, she just got off of a scorching phone call with me, and I told her you're spending the night."
Lottie had huffed, then raided his oreo collection. Nobody respected his oreos- and then the squeal of knife on plate interrupted his thoughts.
"No Sarah, not like that. Cut the beef like this," demonstrated Lena, chopping it neatly into a number of bite sized pieces. Noticing everyone's attention now on her, she flushed.
"We don't eat a lot of meat at home because it's expensive," she explained. "I never taught her proper table manners, except for how to not slurp soup!"
She laughed at that last bit, a deep laugh from the stomach, and he stared incredulously at her. Such a small waif of a girl, with such a deep laugh? Unable to help himself, he joined in. Zayn, Niall, Harry, and Liam joined in too, and suddenly the whole table was giggling.
Louis caught a look of admiration, or perhaps awe in Liam's eyes. She'd equally captivated his bandmates. Even Niall had ditched the glasses and was shoveling down bacon and other greasy platters to feed his hangover.
"So what are you guys doing after this?" she asked. "Because there's nothing on the itinerary for us until tomorrow."
"We gotta hit the studio," said Harry. "We've got some more recording for our new album." He slapped Niall on the back.
"No more drinking tonight mate, not until that album's finished. We need your golden voice to be whiskey-free."
"Yeah, man, got it," said Niall. He sounded annoyed, but continued eating. Man that little dude could put away food. He was rivaling Sarah and Lena, who had just ordered desserts.
"I think I'll put on, like, ten pounds before I leave here!" said Lena, laughing as she dug into a trifle.
You need it, thought Louis. She needed more than that. She needed help for Sarah. He could see it, though she was too proud to admit it. She looked visibly exhausted. He wondered how much sleep she got. He'd never been a good student, but he bet she was. She had a bachelors in engineering after all.
"So, what are you two going to do today, then?" asked Zayn.
Lena thought for a moment.
"I don't know. Sweetie, do you have anything you want to do?" she asked Sarah.
Sarah groaned in response.
"I never want to eat again."
Lena laughed a little at that.
"Next time don't eat so much. We've got twelve days left, London's not going to run out of food by then."
She thought for a moment.
"To answer your question, Zayn, I think we're going to go to the London Eye."
"What's that?" asked Sarah, worried.
"It's not an eyeball. It's a massive Ferris Wheel," explained Zayn with an amused grin on his face.
"That sounds like fun!" squealed Sarah, and Lena lovingly put her arm around her shoulder. Sarah shrugged it off, and Louis nearly winced at Lena's fallen face.
Later, as they waited in the studio to start recording, Zayn confronted him. Niall, Harry, and Liam were busy recording harmonies first as usual.
"You should ask her out."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Who do you think I'm talking about, you dunce? Lena, of course! You were making fuck-me-eyes at her all day today."
"It's not like that. She and Sarah kind of remind me of...well, me and Lottie honestly."
"Yeah. Ok." Zayn didn't sound convinced.
"She's not even my type," he tried to say. Yeah, ok. Maybe she wasn't like her, not a fashion model, too skinny, but she did seem really nice. Like really nice.
"Do you only date models? Are you still hung up on Eleanor?" asked Zayn, eyes narrowed. "It's been over a year, dude. Harry's a great guy, but he did introduce you to a hell of a whopper with that girl, mate."
"Yeah, ok, you're right," he admitted, frustrated. "She's sweet. But she's also here for twelve days, Zayn! Twelve days!"
"Not a big deal," said Zayn, shrugging. "I asked Perrie the day out we met, and look at us now. Yeah we have to long distance sometimes and we both have different schedules, but we make it work. It's the twenty-first century, you know. Skype dates are in. That is, of course if you ever man up and ask her out."
"Yeah, look at you guys- you haven't even set a wedding date yet!" said Louis, even more frustrated. He hated getting lectures from Zayn, especially about love.
"We eloped," said Zayn, smiling.
"What?" Louis was open-mouthed.
"Last month. We've been married for a month. So I don't really get what's stopping you, mate. Yeah, the distance is hard, but it's not hard for the right girl. Why not just give it a shot? Ever since Eleanor, you've been pussyfooting around girls like a little wimp."
"I'm not a wimp," grumbled Louis.
"Prove it. Ask her out. Tonight."
"I don't have her number!" he protested.
"But you do have her address," pointed out Zayn. "And it's time to sing, so let's go," he added on as the OFF RECORDING button lit up.
And that was how he ended up, staring at the Four Seasons in the wharf breeze twelve hours after meeting Lena and wondering if he was being stalkerish or just plain crazy for taking Zayn's bait. His bodyguard grunted, and taking the prompt, he headed towards the doors.
"Can you stay at the car?" he asked. If it had been lighter out, he was sure he would have seen Jones give him a raised eyebrow, but instead he heard a grunted approval.
"Thanks," he said, turning towards the gilt interior of the hotel. Here goes pure insanity, he thought as he approached the front desk.