Things are awkward, which is about the best that I can put the entire situation. The original plan was for me and Ashton to have a room to ourselves, but I'm honestly so confused right now that I asked to room with Calum and Mikey instead. And all that did was upset Ashton, who has been quiet the entire trip so far.
"What's going on?" Cal asks, taking a seat next to me on the windowsill. The hotel we're in is beautiful, unsurprisingly. Simon Cowell had personally paid for everything. Also, we're meeting One Direction. And, though Kara is hardly speaking to me right now, I did promise her an autograph from Niall Horan. So, we'll see if she forgives me after that. Honestly, the only time that we even talked this week was in English, but even then she wasn't her normal self. Of course, our group included Calum.
"In general or with Ash?" I ask, my cheeks heating up from embarrassment. I truthfully never wanted to hurt Ashton. But I don't want to hurt Luke, either.
"With Ash. He's not himself now. Did he do something? We're just all trying to understand. Is it about Luke?"
I laugh at him a little. "You're talking way too much right now, Calum." His face remains hard, and I sigh. "It's about Luke, yeah." I look around the room, avoiding his face, and finally settle my eyes on a generic painting of the vase. "He loves me, or he thinks he does or something. I don't want to hurt anyone."
"You're hurting Ashton," Calum says, his eyes solemn. "Do you have feelings for Luke?"
I shake my head, "No, not at all. I just don't want to hurt him, you know?" I focus my eyes on the portrait again and appreciate the simplicity of it. Remembering that two short months ago, my life was just about as simple. "But I guess I'm hurting both of them now, huh? I just don't want to be that girl that breaks up the band."
"I guess it's a bad time to tell you that I have a thing for you, too, then?"
My eyes widen and my mouth drops. But when I look at Calum, he's laughing. "I'm kidding. But, Luke has to get over it. You three need to talk this out. And I suggest you do it now."
I look at the clock, noting that we have to leave in just a few minutes. Looking back at Calum, I sigh. "I'll talk to them after we go meet Simon. I'm sure they're both already pissed enough, who knows how our talk will go over. Don't want anything to go wrong at this meeting."
He nods and I hear a knock on the door. It's Luke and Ashton, obviously. Luke gives me a small smile, and I know in that moment that whatever happens, Luke will still be my best friend in the end of this all. I stare at Ashton, willing him to look my way. He doesn't.
"The car Simon sent is here," he says, looking directly at Calum. I sigh, silently saying, over and over again, "LOOK AT ME!" But he doesn't.
We all stand and Luke waits back to talk to me. "Lil, I'm screwing everything up. I just need to know that you don't want me. I'd really like to kiss you."
I stand silent, wondering what harm it could do. I'll kiss him, feel nothing, and hopefully he won't think that it's anything either. "Sure, yeah, okay."
So he leans in, and kisses me full on the lips, and as I expected, I feel nothing. I don't feel inclined to kiss him again. Unfortunately, Ashton bursts in at that moment. "Sorry to interrupt whatever this is, but we're all waiting." And even if I shouldn't, I smile, because I know that Ashton only came back in to make sure that nothing romantic was happening between Luke and I.
The five of us sit in a surprisingly small office. Most of it is silver and black, and it's very disorganized. Simon Cowell sits across from us, behind a desk, with pictures of some of his famed artists, such as West Life and One Direction.
"The boys and I really like your demo," he says, a quirky smile on his face. "Would you like to meet them?" I nod excitedly as I think about the poster of Niall in my backpack, hoping that I can salvage at least one of my friendships in this whirlwind of drama that I've somehow managed to get into this year.
Simon laughs a little. "Are you a fan?"
"No, my best friend is. She asked me to get her an autograph," I explain, feeling like he probably doesn't believe me.
"I'm sure the boys will be more than happy to give one out. Or, two, for your best friend also."
Five boys saunter into the room, all of whom I've studied for the last few hours to ensure that I don't make a fool of myself in front of the most famous boy band in the world. They all give some form of "Hello" as they take seats on the small couch sat by Simon's desk, probably placed there beforehand for the convenience of this meeting.
I give a small wave back to them, and we all introduce ourselves. "We love your sound. It's a little too punk for our kind of tour, but if you just do covers, we could use you as an opening act," the boy called Liam says, a warm smile present on his face.
"Wait, opening act?" Calum inquires, his eyes wide.
But Mikey is quick to counteract his awe. "Too punk? Do you want us to be pop?" I watch as all five of them take in Mikey's appearance, which is the most clear distinction among the four of them. "We don't want to change into something we're not."
Simon takes this time to interrupt. "Of course not. No one does, but you must understand that to sell records, we need more of a pop sound from you. Your fan base will likely be a lot of teenage females." No one speaks for a moment, the boys look back and forth between one another. Just as Ashton begins to open his mouth, Simon speaks again. "We'll revisit the idea tomorrow, okay? You can come in, see what our recording studio looks like, and decide then."
We all say our goodbyes, and I have a small, awkward encounter with Niall Horan where I stumble to explain that this autograph is not for me. He laughs but signs the picture anyways.
We arrive back at the hotel not too long later. I grab Ashton's sleeve to pull him back to me. "Can we talk?" I ask, hopefully. I can tell that he wants to say no, and for a second, I'm sure that he will, but he surprises me by saying, "Okay."
The three boys in front of us turn around, standing at the elevator. "We'll be up in a minute." Various nods come our way as they step onto the elevator. Luke gives me a smile that I return.
"Ash," I say, quietly. "I'm sorry about how I've been acting."
"Is it because Luke likes you?" he asks, his voice cracking slightly. "Because I like you, too, Lil."
"I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but then I realized that all I was doing was hurting yours. And mine. Because, I just want to be with you. I don't like Luke. I like you." I say, realizing that this isn't something that he or I have said aloud before. We sort of just skirted around the pronouncement, allowing ourselves to feel freely without labeling or defining anything. But I guess there's a point where you have to make solid lines of definition.
"You do?" he questions, a small smile appearing on his face.
I can't help but to smile back. "These last two months haven't been nothing to me, Ash. And I really hope they haven't been nothing to you."
He doesn't say anything, but I know they haven't. And for the second time in about two hours, I am kissed by a member of Five Seconds of Summer. But, unlike the first time, I can tell that there is so much more that will come from this kiss. We take the stairs up to the rooms and I tell Ash that I'm going to stay in Calum and Mikey's room still, because I don't want to be rude. Also, I've actually had a lot of fun with them the last twenty-four hours.
"Hey," Luke says, after I've said goodbye to Ashton but before I entered my own room. "Did you tell Ashton that you only want to be friends?"
I smile, relieved that he feels this way, too. "Yeah, I did. And I'm so glad that you feel the same way, Luke."
"He's taking it really well," Luke says, a puzzled look on his face. "I suppose knowing that there is no hope is better than hoping."
"I'm just glad that Ashton knows that you want to be with me," he says, smiling confidently before entering the open door to my room.