“I believe I am,” the familiar Doncaster accent rung out. “And you must be the infamous Ms. Charlotte Tate.” Louis reached out to shake her hand, but before Charlotte could comply, Jackson took her hand and held it in his.
“The one and only,” Jackson answered for her, his hand heavily brushing back a strand of hair from her face.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” Charlotte greeted shyly. “I must say though, it’s strange to meet you in person. Everything I know about you is on the news or from El, so I feel like I already know you. Only now, I have a face to match the description,” Charlotte admitted, already having approved of Louis years ago.
“Well don’t believe everything you hear…particularly from this one,” Louis joked, poking Eleanor’s side.
“I never do,” Charlotte laughed along. Liam smiled when she smiled. Unable to remove his eyes from her slender frame, he felt a connection to her that he couldn’t quite describe.
It was obvious to all that Charlotte’s boyfriend Jackson was uncomfortable. While the rest chattered and laughed together he was silently bruiting. He shifted, placing more of his weight onto her.
Harry looked to both of the couples in front of himself and Liam. Eleanor rested her head on Louis’s shoulder, her hands combing through his hair as he spoke. And then there was Jackson clinging to Charlotte like a barnacle while she struggled to pick up the pieces. It was a waste. It was a waste and a damn shame.
Setting his thoughts aside, Harry tuned back into the conversation. “Eleanor says you’re a student in the city. Which university do you go to?” Louis looked to her earnestly, his hands still smoothly running over his girlfriend’s hair.
“I’m a prelaw student at Columbia,” She replied, her voice strained by the amount of effort she was putting into holding Jackson up.
The longer he was faced with the couple the more frustrated he became by their dynamic. Something about the two was simply not right, and he promised himself that tonight he would tell her so.
“What’s your major?” Liam asked loudly enough to be heard and `quietly enough to not pry. As Liam spoke, Harry managed to catch Charlotte’s eye and shot her his legendary cheeky grin, certainly aware that Jackson was watching.
Jackson scoffed under his breath, and Charlotte considered him in disbelief. “I’m majoring in Political Science and Comparative Literature,” she spoke, unable to look away.
“We’ve got a brainiac on our hands, mates.” Louis looked directly to Liam, raising his eyebrows as coolly as he could manage. “I’m officially impressed.”
“As am I,” Harry smiled, digging his hands in his impossibly tight jean pockets.
Charlotte felt Jackson tense beside her. “Where are my manners?! Everyone, this is my boyfriend, Jackson Langley.” She expected Jackson to smile or at the very least offer a nod to the group. But it was too late. She was too late. Or perhaps he was simply fixated.