That night, I checked into a hotel in Atlanta for the night. Surprisingly, the guys of One Direction were at the same hotel. I knew this because I saw them getting off the bus to check in.
“Hey, Niall!” I called, getting out of my car.
Upon hearing his name being called, Niall looked at me and smiled. He walked over to me and asked, “What are you doing here, Cockatoo?” he asked.
“I’m on my way to visit my aunt and talk her out of suicide.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. You know, you’ve gotten incredibly fit over the years. It seems like it was just yesterday you had frizzy hair, glasses, and braces.”
“Are you trying to say you like me?”
“You could say that.” Niall laughed. “Wanna have dinner?”
“Sure. I don’t have to be in Columbia, where my aunt lives, until tomorrow, anyways.”
“Brilliant! We passed by a place called Ryan’s Buffet on the way here. The five of us were gonna go there, but I could convince them to go somewhere else so we can be alone.” Niall got the attention of the guy with curly brown hair. “Harry, would you and the lads mind going somewhere else for dinner? Val and I are going to Ryan’s on a date.”
Harry took one look at me and wolf-whistled. I blushed. “Sure, we can go elsewhere,” he said to Niall.
“Thanks, mate.” Niall and I got into my car, with me in the driver’s seat. “Sorry about Harry. He’s a flirt.”
“That’s okay,” I said as I started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. “I like the attention.”
Niall told me to take a right and look for the “Ryan’s” sign on the left side. I did as told, and we found it in two minutes. The parking lot was pretty full, but we managed to find a spot in the front, in place of a car that was pulling out.
As expected, there were several people either eating or standing in line at the buffet. When it was finally our turn in line, Niall and I assembled our salads and found a table.
“So, what have you been doing since I left?” Niall asked after he took a bite.
“Soon after you moved back to Ireland, I met a guy who’d moved in from Lexington, Kentucky, named Joel Baxter. I lost my virginity to him when we were sixteen, and that’s how I got Amber.”
“Are you still in touch?”
“Do you miss him?”
“Hell no! I broke up with him after he said he wasn’t ready for a baby. Sarah was there for the birth, and she’s been helping me raise Amber ever since. What have you been doing, other than auditioning for ‘The X-Factor’ and joining One Direction?”
‘Well, relationship wise, I also have an ex…HAD an ex. Her name was Amy Green, and she stole my virginity when we were fifteen. She soon got pregnant, but she had a fatal miscarriage at four months. She died shortly after she was hospitalized.”
“Aw, I’m sorry. Do you still miss her?”
“Yeah, a little bit. But she’d want me to be happy and find someone new. And then I found you.”
“Aw…” I blushed. We finished our salads and went back for the entrée. “How are your parents holding up?” I asked when we sat back down with our dinner.
“They divorced again after my ‘X-Factor’ audition. Since then, my mum has been dating a bloke called Chris Gallagher. He’s nice, and we get along well. Oh, and he just proposed.”
“That’s cool. When’s the wedding?”
“Next January. Would you like to come?”
“Sure, I love weddings.”
After dinner, we got back in the car to head to the hotel. When we got there, Niall leaned in and kissed me on the lips. “I had a good time tonight, and I wanna see you again,” he said.
“Me too. When’s your tour over?”
“In a few days, and then we go back to London, but we can Skype each other.”
“Okay.” Niall and I exchanged Skype names and went inside.