Eleanor’s voice shattered both Charlotte’s and Harry’s fantasies. “Where’s Louis?”
Harry cleared his throat. “I dunno…I reckon he left some time ago.” He ran his fingers through his tousled mane and yawned again, his long arms stretching towards the ceiling.
The buzzing of Charlotte’s phone startled her. She quickly fumbled to silence it, and saw that she had four new messages from Jackson. She sighed and slipped the phone back into her pocket. Out of sight and out of mind.
Eleanor muttered something about calling Louis and departed for the hallway, leaving Charlotte and Harry alone.
“And then there were two,” he laughed softly. She smiled, more in an effort to put herself at ease than to settle the awkwardness lingering in the air.
She wondered if she'd eaten something at Jean-Georges to make her stomach churn and tingle the way it was that day. But one thing was certain: it wasn't nerves. It couldn't be. She never got nervous especially not when it was a trivial as seeing a few British guys in a boy band. The other dancers in her company even joked that a tsunami warning couldn't shake her, but this wasn't a tsunami. It was so much worse.
“Zayn and I were just watching a movie…if you’d like to join us for a bit.” He spoke timidly, his cheeks flushing a gentle red. She nodded, and he gestured to the left.
He led her into a room, which was unkempt to say the least. Harry’s plain white t-shirts and black jeans were wrinkled, and his shoes tossed around the room haphazardly. Charlotte considered herself a neat freak, but easily made her peace with this mess. She knew that the chaos was a likely result of his fame.
When her father’s law firm became more renowned, handling the affairs of numerous troubled celebrities, she’d watched as his slightly peppered hair, turned completely gray. He began to come home each night at sunrise, only to shower and change his clothes. He would head back to the office toting a coffee in one hand and his briefcase in the other.
Zayn Malik was sprawled out on the left side of the bed, fiddling on his iPhone 6 plus. Harry towed a leather chair to the clear area opposite Zayn and motioned to the empty side of the bed before seating himself. “Make yourself at home.”
Reluctantly, Charlotte sat, the bed hardly shifting under her weight. Zayn glanced up from his screen momentarily and smirked. “I’ll try not to bite.”
Harry felt himself growing increasingly rattled in her presence and searched for a reason to excuse himself. “I-I’m going to make us some popcorn. Can I get you anything…Charlotte?” He stammered nervously.
“No thanks,” she beamed. He nodded and rose slowly. As he left, he paused briefly at the door, opened his mouth as if to say something, but closed it. When Charlotte looked at him curiously, he offered only a cheeky grin as an explanation and hurried out.
She turned to face the flat screen and attempted to make sense of the edgy British teenagers’ lives, but to no avail. “So…what are we watching?”
It was obvious he had heard her, but had chosen to continue tapping furiously on his phone. Eventually, he abruptly slammed his phone onto the bedside table and looked her dead in the eye. “I don’t like you.”
It was the first time he had spoken to her, and she was caught off-guard by how his emotionless his words were. “Excuse me?”
Zayn chuckled coldly. “I know you heard me, but I said that I don’t like you.”
She let out a shaky sigh. “I’m not sure I understand.”
He hardly blinked. “What’s to understand?”
She felt herself growing angry, and her face flushed. “Any reason you might have to dislike me?”
“You’re just too damn pretty for your own good.” His words were harsh…probably because Charlotte knew that they rang true. “You destroy everything you touch.”
Charlotte blinked back tears. “You don’t know a thing about me.”
At this point, Zayn’s blood was boiling. Every fiber in his body was desperately attempting to keep him calm in spite of the raging fire below his surface. “I know that everybody’s an act. Including you…and that’s enough for me.”
He stared back at the screen, pretending to watch whatever dramatic TV show Harry had selected and ignoring Charlotte’s shocked and offended expression.