“And Niall?” I ask, about to end the call.
I giggle. “I love that nickname. It’s so British!” I hear all the boys laugh.
“But I’m Irish!” Niall laughs.
“Oh well, but anyway,” I continue. “Niall, it’s true for me, too.” There’s a long pause, and I let my words sink in a bit, hoping that Niall understands. “Well, good night, boys!” I say, hanging up.
I soon as I’m off the line I let out a groan that I had been holding in. Pretending to be okay is so hard. At least I get to see Niall tomorrow. Luckily, the only bruise I’ll be needing to cover up is the one on my face that’s been renewed to purple. I pick out an outfit for tomorrow that will cover the ones on my shins, and the one on my stomach will be covered by my shirt.
I unzip my sweatshirt to look at the bruise starting to form on my stomach. It was a hard blow, harder than he’d ever hit me before. He must have been pretty angry. The middle of my midsection is a dull purple already, and fanning out from there are alternating colors of green, blue, and yellow. I quickly zip my sweatshirt back up, not wanting to think about it anymore.
Sometimes I wish that I could just leave my home. I hate being here anyway. But then I think of my father... He doesn’t have a job, can’t stay sober for ten minutes, doesn’t know how to cook much anymore. He’s helpless without me. And he says that I’m weak... I would like to see him go two weeks in this house without me.
Wait, what am I doing? I’m disrespecting him... I’ve never done that before. Not until I met Niall... I don’t know if I’m changing for the better or for the worse. Yes, my father does deserve a taste of his own medicine, but I can’t do that to him - he’s my father!
Oh well. I won’t think about that right now. It’s not like I’m leaving any time soon - or ever. Right now, I’m just going to sleep away the pain I’m going through.
Waking up in the morning is easy. All I have to do is listen to the screaming pain in my stomach, and I’m wide awake. I’ve only woken up about five minutes ahead of schedule, so I attempt to get out of bed. Thank God I have the extra five minutes.
I prop myself up on my elbows, groaning even at this small movement. I try moving my legs, my stomach muscles tensing, and I just end up falling onto the floor, whimpering as I land on my stomach. I roll over to my back and use all of my tolerance for pain to just stand up. Once I’m standing it’s a little better, but not by much.
I grip my dresser for support, using one hand to unzip and slip off my sweatshirt. As it drops to the floor I stare at my reflection in the mirror. The middle of the bruise has gone a mix of purple and red in the middle, panning out to ugly mixes of red and blue, red and green, red and yellow.
I’ll have an easy time covering it, but a hard time playing the part. Hopefully as the day goes on my muscles won’t be so stiff, and I’ll be able to clean the guys’ rooms like I promised. I don’t want them to think that I can’t do anything.
I change as fast as the pain will allow [Polyvore] and head to the bathroom. I have to go slow when I brush my teeth because the shaking is jarring around my stomach. I put the foundation on my face but it doesn’t cover up the bruise completely. There’s still a little bit of darkness showing, but oh well. Niall’s already seen it, and the boys probably already know from what Niall has surely said about me. I don’t mind, they’re his best friends, and anyone that Niall trusts, I will too.
I come out of the bathroom and turn down the hallway, coming to my worst enemy. Stairs. I end up having to go down sideways because forward put to much strain on my stomach muscles. My father has once again fallen asleep in his chair. I quickly whip up some toast and eggs, reluctantly leaving some for him. I see some Advil in the cabinet and put some in my pocket in case I need any. I’m out the door by 7:05, walking as fast as I can’t without it hurting to badly.
I get to work a little slower than I had anticipated, but I’m still on time. I go through the regular routine, feeding all the animals and putting up the gate for the pups. It’s about 8:00 when I turn on the radio. No One Direction songs are on, so I lose interest quickly. I lean on the counter, watching the dogs play, and after a while my phone buzzes.
To Maci W.: Good morning, Love :)
I smile uncontrollably, ignoring the pain in the left side of my face.
To Nialler ;) : I feel bad that I don’t have a nickname for you!
To Maci W.: Nialler works :)
To Nialler ;) : Nialler it is, then! :)
To Maci W.: Am I still picking you up after work?
To Nialler ;) : I wasn’t informed of any change.
To Maci W.: Great! When do you get off? :)
To Nialler ;) : 3:00. Home by 10 tonight, though.
To Maci W.: Don’t worry, Love, I’ll have you home safely and in plenty of time.
To Nialler ;) : Thank you so much. For everything :)
To Maci W.: Anything for you! :) I’ll drop by a bit early so we have time for a chat before we head back to the hotel.
To Nialler ;) : Sounds good! And please tell me that you boys didn’t trash your rooms more just because I’m cleaning them?
To Maci W.: Mine and Zayn’s? No, we kept it the same. I’m not positive on Daddy Direction’s room just yet.
To Nialler ;) : Daddy Direction?
To Maci W.: Liam. He keeps us in line, so we call him Daddy Direction.
To Nialler ;) : Can’t wait to meet them all!
To Maci W.: They say the same for you!
To Nialler ;) : See you in a bit, Nialler :)
To Maci W.: Bye, Love :)
Is it safe to say I have it bad? Niall really is something, you know? I haven’t dated anyone before, but I’ve seen couples in the hallways at school, smiling at each other non-stop, that look in their eyes. I have always wanted something like that, just never had the courage or care to push my way into the social world. And now that Niall is here... Is this what those other people have?
I herd the pups into their smaller kennel as I see people starting to walk up and down the streets. I have a little trouble pushing the gate back into its compartment in the wall, so I leave it slightly hanging out to deal with later. I go through the rest of the day, tending to the needs of the pups and other animals. It’s nearing 1:30 when I decide to deal with the gate again.
It’s still stuck tight, and I have to get behind it to push. I use my leg for most of the middle part of the gate, my feet pushing steadily behind me. I can feel the gate is almost in when my foot slips, send me falling forward, the corner of the gate digging into my stomach.
“Gahh!” I scream, clutching my stomach and falling to the ground. I groan, feeling the pain rocket through me. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.
“Maci!” I hear someone shout in fear, and my eyes fly open to see Niall rushing through the door and over to me. I quickly squelch most of the pain, my groans pushed back down into my throat. “Maci, are you alright?”
He wraps one arm around my waist and holds my arm with the other, helping me to my feet. I nod, trying to smile, but he sees right through it. “You cannot tell me that right now you are not hurting.”
I take a deep breath and look him in the eye. “I am not hurting,” I attempt to say, but it only comes out a whisper. Niall shakes his head.
“How bad is it? Where are you hurt?” he asks, scanning my arms and face. I shake my head but he ignores it. His blue eyes search mine for any kind of falter, and I stop him before he finds one.
“Would it kill you to give me a hug?” I manage to say sarcastically. He laughs and pulls me into a tight hug. A little too tight for me to handle. “Uhnn,” I groan, making him jump back.
“Oh my God!” he says frantically. “I’m so sorry, Maci, I didn’t mean to hurt you! That’s it, you’ve got to tell me where you’re hurt, or else I’ll just end up doing that over and over!” I sigh because he has a point.
I grab his hand and lead him to the back. He laces his fingers through mine, and luckily I’m in front of him so he can’t see me blush. When we get to the back, I face him.
“It’s going to look really bad,” I say, “and I’m going to be honest, it hurts a hell of a lot worse. Just promise me you’ll stay right here, but don’t say anything about it.” Niall hesitates for a moment, but nods his head. “Okay,” I breath, closing my eyes.
He lets my hand drop and I take the bottom of my shirt, lifting it up slowly, letting him see the whole bruise. He does a sharp intake of breath and I wince, waiting for him to yell or do something, but he doesn’t. I just feel Niall drop my hands down to my sides for me and pull me into a gentle hug. He buries his face in my hair and I take in his smell from his comforting body.
I reluctantly pull away, telling him that I still have to watch to shop. We come back and I step behind the counter while he leans on it in front of me. We talk about little things, just random topics that happen to pop up. Before we know it, it’s time for my shift to end.
Today there’s a guy who’s shift is after mine, and he strolls in to clock in. Niall goes to clock out with me, and then we’re on our way.
“So,” he says as we approach the hotel. “Are you going to clean the rooms first, or right before you leave? Or not at all?”
“Oh,” I say, “I’m cleaning them. Before I even sit down to talk to anyone, I’m cleaning those rooms.” Niall laughs.
“We’ll help you,” he says, but I stop him there.
“One thing about me,” I say matter-of-factly, “is that when I’m cleaning, I’m to be left alone. I need to concentrate on organizing, or it either doesn’t get done, or doesn’t get done right. So just stay in the lobby or something while I clean the rooms.” Niall chuckles and we enter the hotel.
When we get up to their rooms, Niall knocks on his and Zayn’s door - he claims that it’s the cleanest and the other boys don’t even go in their room until they have to sleep. At first there’s no answer, and Niall begins to knock repeatedly until someone answers the door.
“What do you want- Why, hello there,” a boy with curls says, seeing me. “And what might your name be?” I feel Niall’s arm snake around my waist and I can’t help but smile.
I roll my eyes at the boy. “I’m Maci.”
“Harry!” the boys says in the same voice he did last night. I giggle and look around his should for the rest of the boys.
Niall leads me into the room. I don’t even notice the boys sitting on the beds, though. I’m more focused on the piles of debris scattered around the room. It’s disgusting. I wrinkle my nose and the boys laugh.
“I’m Zayn,” one of the boys approaches me.
“Out,” I say flatly, pointing toward the door. He gives me a confused look.
“She’s going to clean,” Niall explains, “and she wants to be alone.”
“But we haven’t even met her yet,” a brown haired boy says.
“Oh well,” I say, shrugging.
“Just really quickly,” Niall says, pointing to each of the boys. “Harry, Zayn, Liam, Louis. Satisfied, Liam?”
“I’m Maci,” I say politely, elbowing Niall lightly. “And I am actually very polite, and usually very shy. Obviously being shy doesn’t apply to you five for God-knows-why. Since this is the case,” I say, pointing toward the door of the room, “I am asking you all politely to leave.”
“Ooh, I like her!” the boy that Niall said is Louis pipes up. “She’s got some of my sass!” I smile, and again point to the door.
They put their heads down and walk toward the door. I stop Liam as he walks by. “I’m assuming since you’re the responsible one, you have the room key to yours, Harry’s, and Louis’ room?” Liam grumbles and pulls the key out of his pocket.
“635,” he says, walking out the door. As soon as the door closes I run over and lock it, ignoring the pain in my stomach. I quickly take an Advil and get to work.
I’m not sure whose stuff is whose, so I just put all collectively clean clothes folded neatly into one pile on the table. I fold the dirty laundry too, setting it on the floor next to the table. I head back out into the room, putting my hands on my hips to see what’s left. Food. Everywhere.
There are chip bags all of the floor, Twinkie wrappers strewn about, pop bottles all around the room. I pull two trash bags from the bathroom, putting recyclables in one and trash in the other. I have two fairly good sized bags by the end, and I’ve still got a bit left with the room. I organize the bathroom, throwing drying towels over the shower curtain rod and drying extra water on the sink. I organize the products on the counter - shoving all of the hair-care stuff to Zayn’s side because I know that Niall doesn’t groom his hair much.
Before I know it, I’m taking the trash and recyclable stuff to the drop-off bins down the hall. I’m finished with Zayn and Niall’s room. That took me, what, all of five minutes? And they said it was bad. The other room is probably not bad at all. I slide the key in the door and open it, knowing as soon as I see the room that I’m dead wrong. I nearly faint.
Piled up as high as my waist were heaps of dirty clothing. Food wrappers are stuffed into pockets of dirty clothes, clean clothes are strewn all over, leftover everything on the floor. This is going to take some work. I get straight into it, following the same procedures as I did for Niall’s room. It takes me long enough but I finally finish. I drag the recyclables and trash down the hall and let out a deep breath.
“That was easy enough,” I say aloud, joking to myself. I head down to the lobby to fetch the boys.
To my surprise, Louis, Harry, Zayn, and Niall are talking to the hotel manager - Liam is no where in sight. The manager looks angry and the boys look guilty, but all of them still share silents jokes with each other. I walk over to them and stand next to Niall.
“What’s going on here?” I ask the manager kindly as Niall puts his arm around me. He doesn’t have time to answer before Louis pipes up.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “we will never have chicken fights in the hotel lobby again.” My eyes widen.
“You did what?” Liam asks and we turn around to find him jogging up. “I was in the bathroom for three minutes and you lot are already in trouble?”
“Lord almighty,” he manager breaths. “Not another one!” The boys and I all laugh, but the manager stays serious. “How about you all just go back to your rooms and try not to be too disruptive.”
“That’s a good idea,” I pipe up. “I’m done with you’re rooms.”
I get five wide-eyed stares and I look down. “You’re done?” Liam asks. I nod and look up at him. “How in the world... You were only up there for twenty minutes!”
“What can I say?” I ask, shrugging. “I work quickly.” The boys laugh at that while we pile into the elevator, Niall’s arm still around me.
“I want you guys to see Niall and Zayn’s room first, because it wasn’t that bad,” I say with a smirk as we hop out of the elevator.
They all nod and Zayn pulls out his room key and hands it to me. I slide it in the reader and the door unlatches. I grab the handle, turning it, and open the door slowly to build suspense. I lose patience half way through and just throw the door open. There are several gasps behind me and Zayn charges past, doing ballerina moves in the middle of the room.
“So much space!” he shouts.
Louis sprints past me to join Zayn, and they proceed to do the tango, Harry, Niall, and I laughing the whole time. When they get to the dip part, Louis puts his left leg behind Zayn, so when Zayn leans back, Louis flips him completely and tosses him onto the bed.
“Well, then!” Zayn jokes.
“Harry, darling, come dance with me!” Louis exclaims.
“You have to see the other room!” I say, stepping in front of Louis before he can reach Harry.
Louis gives me a pouty face, but nods his head. The boys follow me out into the hall and I pull out the room card that Liam had given me. I slide the key and and open the door a crack so that they can’t see anything just yet. I hand the card back to Liam and turn to the boys still holding the door slightly open.
“This one was a little harder to crack,” I admit. “This one was not only bad, it was disgusting. I can not believe people can eat and go through so many items of clothing. So, I think you boys owe me one. Without further ado, I give you, a cleaned room!”
The door swings open and I step inside, taking in the now spotless room. This time I don’t hear anything from the boys. I turn around to find them all open mouthed. They slowly file in, and I step a little in front of them. I smile uncontrollably.
“What do you think?” I ask.
“Bloody Hell,” Louis breathes.
“I can see the floor!” Harry shouts.
“What are you?” Liam sighs jokingly.
“I’m a female,” I reply simply. They all laugh and walk further into the room, each of them kissing my cheek as they walk by.
By the end I know that my face is bright red. Niall brings me into a tight hug. I hug him back, but stop when a burst of pain shoots through me. I make a strangled type noise and flinch away from his grasp.
“Are you alright? I’m sorry, I totally forgot!” Niall says apologetically.
“It’s aright, I did too,” I laugh a little, putting a hand on my stomach lightly.
“Forgot about what?” Harry asks, pausing his happy dance with Louis.
I look at Niall. “They already know, right? I assume you told them.” Niall nods but looks guilty. I put a hand on his arm. “It’s alright, I’d rather have had you tell them before I got here than for me to explain it.” He nods and I turn to the boys.
“Well,” I say. “I have a really bad bruise. And it doesn’t sound bad, but it is.” I pause, slowly going over my stomach with my hand. “I’ll show it to you, but you all have to promise not to say anything about it while I show you. And don’t say anything about my father either, please.”
I get a unanimous ‘okay’. Taking a deep breath, I take the edge of my shirt and slowly pull it up. I close my eyes, not wanting to look at the state it’s in. I hear 5 collective gasps, including from Niall, so it must have gotten worse. I drop my shirt and smooth it out.
“So there it is,” I say quietly, looking at the ground. I don’t hear anything for a while, and I can feel the atmosphere start to get uncomfortable. Thankfully, Niall speaks up.
“So where did you put the food?”