Eleanor glanced at her watch for the third time in five minutes. She had been sitting alone at a table in Jean Georges, quietly sipping some white wine for twenty minutes. She whipped her iPhone, favoriting a few fan tweets and then texting Louis an update.
At last, the restaurant door swung wide open, and Charlotte stepped inside. The maître de, an unattractive man by any stretch, greeted her. But Charlotte didn’t bother engaging with the maître de, let alone search for her friends. Instead, much to Eleanor’s surprise, she twisted around to face the one and only Liam Payne.
She watched as the duo chatted for a bit, timidly blushing and giggling at one another. Liam drew her close and whispered something presumably hilarious, as she threw her head back laughing genuinely.
He gestured to the door and pulled Charlotte in for a hug, grinning like a fool. When they pulled apart, Charlotte blushed and turned to watch him leave. He paused at the door momentarily and faced her again. His smile widened. He waved goodbye to her and glided back into the city.
Charlotte shook her head, turned to face the maître de, and followed the pepper-haired man to her table. When she sat she removed her coat and ordered cucumber water. “Late again are we?” Eleanor scolded.
Charlotte feigned a worried look. “I hope I’m not pregnant.” She removed her napkin from the table and laid it across her lap.
Ivy entered the restaurant aggressively, brushing past the maître de and plopping beside Eleanor. “Love sucks,” she breathed out, dropping her Chanel shopping bags to the floor.
“I’m getting that tattooed on my face.” Charlotte peeked inside one of the bags, and Ivy slapped her hand away.
Eleanor smirked. “Well that’ll keep the boys away.”
“I doubt it.” Ivy removed a pocket mirror from her purse and coated her lips with a wine colored L’Oreal lipstick. When she was finally satisfied, she tucked the gold tube away and studied her two friends. Almost right away, she detected her foreign friend’s unusually smug expression. “What did I miss?”
Eleanor whispered eagerly, “Liam dropped Charlotte off.”
“He just gave me a ride is all,” she defended, slightly exasperated.
“A ride on what?” Ivy chuckled, her eyebrows rising in inquiry.
Charlotte’s face burned a deep crimson. “It wasn’t like that,” she mumbled.
“Hop off it, C!” Eleanor rolled her eyes. “What’s so outrageous about going out with him?”
“Or at the very least, making out with the guy?” Ivy added, grabbing her napkin from the table and dragging it across her lap.
They leaned closer to the mortified brunette. “If Liam Payne is into you, you should be into him.”
“So to speak,” Ivy clarified. Their waiter approached the trio timidly, his cheeks flaring red.
“Forgive us darling, we don’t censor here,” Eleanor apologized.
“No apologies necessary, Ms.” The waiter cleared his throat, introduced himself, and took down their orders. Their food came in a timely manner, and the trio spent most of their time teasing Charlotte about Liam until finally, Charlotte spoke up.
“Okay, okay!” She exclaimed. “So what if I think he’s cute and sweet and funny! It’s too soon.”
“Or maybe not. Maybe he’s just what you need. I know if I had someone that made me smile like you’re smiling now, I’d at least give him a shot,” Ivy confessed, a sad smile playing on her lips.
Charlotte’s face crinkled in worry. “Aww, Ivy. What’s wrong?”
Ivy bit her lip and paused before she spoke. “Can I be totally candid here?”
“It’s not like you do anything else,” Eleanor joked. Ivy elbowed her gently.
“It’s just me and Mason. We obviously have incredible sexual chemistry,” Ivy began.
“Good to know,” Charlotte mumbled sarcastically.
“Which is why I don’t understand how he can be so stiff around me outside the bedroom. Inside, like I said he’s plenty stiff,” she explained sincerely. She paused to sip her smoothie. “Right now, I feel like our relationship is on its death bed.”
“Wait,” Eleanor began, pretending to be confused. “I thought you too were the dog’s bollocks in bed?” Charlotte laughed.
“C’mon ladies! Seriously,” she whined. “I was hoping one of you losers would have the answer.”
Charlotte stirred her butternut squash soup. “Normally I would, but I can’t help you there.”
“Useless as always.” The two girls quietly giggled at their irritated friend. “I’d better get going. I have to meet Allison anyways.” She stood, collected her things, and pulled on her coat. “Ciao.” She wiggled her fingers and dashed out the door.
The door clicked behind her, and immediately, Ivy began to dial furiously. She brought the iPhone to her ear and waited. He answered, and she spoke immediately. “I need to see you, Jackson. Right away.”
He didn’t hesitate. “Armani on Madison in 10?”
“I’ll be there,” she confirmed. She hung up, cleared her throat, and strutted to her car. She instructed her driver, and they sped off towards Madison Avenue.
Back in the restaurant, Charlotte signed off on the bill and gathered her things. She and Eleanor made their way outside the restaurant and walked along the sidewalk. “So where to next?”
Eleanor paused and smiled nervously. “Why don’t we go to my hotel? Louis will be there with the boys, and I want you to get to know them. They’re a huge part of my life now.”
“If that’s what you want, then let’s go.” Charlotte smiled and the two hurried to an idle cab.