When he was with Lena, time seemed to fly, noted Louis. He checked his watch. Already it was 11 pm and they were strolling along the river again. She had loved dinner, laughed at his jokes, and made him feel alive.
He could hear it again.
"Is everything all right?" asked Lena, concerned.
It wasn't a bug, it wasn't a car, it sounded suspiciously like a camera. He strode towards the bushes.
"What are you doing?" called Lena, starting to get upset. He felt upset too, sickened.
There, in the bushes, was a member of the paparazzi.
"Dude, what are you doing?" he asked, exhausted. "Get out of here. Can't a man go on a proper dinner date with a friend anymore?"
"Say cheese!" said the man, blowing the flash in his face. Lena screamed, running over, and grabbing him.
"Are you ok? Are you hurt?" She turned towards the man who was now fleeing. "What the hell is wrong with you?" and then screamed "Someone call 911!"
Louis was too stunned to respond as she tore at his clothes, searching for something.
"Lena, Lena, Lena, LENA!" he yelled finally. "Stop! I'm ok! What the hell?"
He saw that she was crying.
"Oh, Lena, Lena, I'm sorry baby, what's wrong? It's ok."
"I t-thought you'd been shot!" she wailed. "What are we doing out here without a bodyguard?" Her sense of security had been shattered, thought Louis.
"I wasn't, it was just the paparazzi. I'm so sorry. I've been so careless, Lena."
She was trembling.
"Is everything ok?" asked a passerby. "Should I call the police?"
"We're good, thanks man," said Louis, dismissing him. He got to his feet.
"I'm s-sorry," Lena's voice wobbled. "I really t-thought you'd been hurt. I'm s-so sorry."
"Let's get back to my place again," he said. "It's safe there, and you can calm down. I just don't want the night to end like this." She agreed, leaning on him for support as though she'd lost all the strength in her legs.
Lena was silent the entire ride up, and Louis was a ball of nerves. Everything felt ruined, first the night before with Lottie and now with the paparazzi. What was he doing? This wasn't her world. She wasn't used to gossip mags and rags predicting her pregnancy and destroying her for what she chose to wore to go down to the corner store. She wasn't used to people following her, stalking her every move, crazed fans. His house had a panic room for christ's sake. His last girlfriend- well, he didn't even want to go there.
She was asleep by the time they arrived, so he scooped her up in his arms and the chauffeur opened the door to the house. Putting her on the duvet, he went upstairs to find a blanket for her, but when he came back, she was sitting up, rubbing her eyes and blinking in the yellow incandescent light.
"I'm sorry for waking you," he said tenderly. "I brought you a blanket, in case you wanted to sleep. This was a bad idea, I'm sorry."
"No," yawned Lena. "I want to talk. We need to talk." Those words ran cold in his blood.
Louis, we need to talk. Ever since my attack, I don't feel safe with you. Which is why I need to tell you-
He pushed it away.
"Can I make you some coffee?" he asked, trying to procrastinate the inevitable it's not you it's me talk. He just didn't want to hear it was over already. His heart was thudding against his ribs and he felt like he might vomit.
"Sure," said Lena, sleepily. "I really want to talk to you though."
Damn. He only had instant coffee too, and he had boiled water on tap so it wasn't like he could delay the impending discussion any longer.
"Milk or sugar, love?" he asked, barely able to choke out the words. He felt like he might cry.
"Just milk please, thank you." She sounded calm. He guessed that was the way it always was in the end. Detatched. Calm.
He returned back to the living room with their cups.
"What can I expect from dating you?" she asked him seriously. He nearly spat out a mouthful of black coffee, coughing.
"is that all?" he asked incredulously. She stared at him, eyes wide.
"That's going to stain, take it off," she ordered in a mommy-like tone.
"Your shirt, it's white, coffee stains. Get it off, I can get it out in no time."
"No no no, that can wait- Lena, you aren't going to break it off?" he asked, shocked.
Lena took a deep breath.
"Why would I have you take me back to your house an hour away, just to break things off with you?" She smiled at him, and shook her head. "Seriously, dude. I intend to be here with you for all ten days we have left. I gave you my word, didn't I? I wouldn't make my final decision until the last day.The paparazzi aren't scaring me away though, not this time. Now give me your shirt."
"B-but, but," Louis sputtered.
And that's how Lena ended up in his laundry room, running cold water over his shirt.
"Now you just let it sit, and voila, no stains!" she said, smiling at him. He just shook his head, unable to believe what had just happened.
"I usually have my help take care of stuff like this for me," he mumbled, "but I've given them the week off."
"Well, now you know," she said cheerfully. He turned to her.
"I think we should talk though."
"I agree," said Lena.
They sat back down and sipped from their, now considerably cool, coffee cups.
"I need to let you know the extent of things. If tonight unnerved you, well," he paused. "I guess I just didn't want to let you know how bad it was because I was scared you'd run away. It's not exactly a first date kind of thing. Do you read tabloids?"
Lena shook her head.
"I'm not a fan. My sister is though."
"Basically, my ex-girlfriend claimed that she was attacked by a fan hiding in my closet. I freaked out."
"Oh my god- wait, claimed?"
"He was actually the guy she was cheating on me with."