Close the Door, Throw the Key {n.h.}

“What are you trying to say?” I ask, sitting up.

“Niall, I’m trying to say,” Zayn says with a sigh. “That there’s no way to know how much longer she’s going to last. One of these times, I guarantee that she’s going to need serious medical care. And hearing what you said about her father - Niall, he’s not going to be the one to take her to a hospital. And what if you’re not there either?”



~*Maci's P.O.V.*~


I uncurl myself from the covers as my alarm buzzes from my phone. I hit the snooze button, burrowing back under my sheets. I'll just sleep for a few more minutes. It seems like I've just closed my eyes before the alarm is buzzing again. I sigh heavily check the time, 6:30. I drag myself out of my bed and look through my closet, picking out a simple outfit for work [Polyvore].

I quickly brush my teeth in the bathroom and go to leave, but then something stops me as I look in the mirror. A bruise has formed on my left cheek in the place that my father hit me. I pull out the tube of foundation that I always keep under the bathroom sink just in case I do end up bruising when my father strikes me. It's pretty heavy duty, so it should stay on all day unless I wash it off sooner. This is the only type of makeup that I do use, but only when I get a bruise. I wince a little as I touch it, but I cover up the bruise and climb down the stairs.

My father has fallen asleep in his chair, and snores heavily as I creep into the kitchen, careful not to wake him. I quickly throw together a quick meal for myself and my father, leaving his in the microwave to stay warm. I stuff my phone in my back pocket and slip quietly out the door with my toast at 7.

The morning mist is a little chilly, but I can stand it. After all, I've been living in Florida my whole life. I actually quite like it here. The summers are hot and humid, but not too bad. The winters get a little chilly, but it's really something that I can handle. For being such a small girl, I can stand a lot. Right now is the transition between spring and summer, and it's actually relatively warm.

I get to the end of my street and turn the corner. It's a Saturday, so not may cars are out on the road at this time. A jogger heads my way and I shyly move to the edge of the sidewalk to get out of her way. She gives a small wave as she passes, and I smile a little at her. I move back to the middle of the walk way and continue on.

You know the smell of a heavy fog after a rain? I love it. I take a deep breath, inhaling the wonderful smell. It also looks really cool when the fog lays over the road like it is now.

I get up to the street that the shop is at and turn onto it. It's always really quiet this time on Saturday. I always work the first shift on Saturdays, so I'm usually the first one awake at all on this street. I pull out the keys that my boss had given me and unlock the door. The pups are just waking up now, so I get only a groggy bark from each of them. I smile to myself, walking to the back to clock in.

I'm about ten minutes early – my shift starts at 7:30. I pin on my name tag and head into the shop. I only have to feed the animals today, another person cleans the cages and tanks later in the day. I make my rounds, and finally end with the dogs. After I've put food in their bowls, I pull out the gate that we keep behind the counter. We use it to put in front of the main shelves and the counter, to allow the pups to run around in more space than their pens, but without getting into all the toys and treats.

I open up the dogs' pen and smile to myself as they clumsily scurry out. They jog around the area before jumping into one pile on top of each other, playfully nibbling at ears, tails, and legs. I smile again, stepping over the gate. I unlock the register behind the counter and turn on the radio, hoping for the song that I heard yesterday to come on. Only a talk show is on right now. I'm just about to turn the station when I hear the announcer say that One Direction is on the show this morning.

One Direction is the band that sings the song I heard yesterday. It's also the band that Niall asked me about yesterday. I decide to listen to it, to learn a little about the band. Leaning against the counter, I watch the pups play while listening to the radio.

“Good morning Miami, and thanks for listening to Westly in the Morning!” the announcer says. “My name is Westly Timbridge, and on the show this morning we have the boys of One Direction. The teen heart throbs – Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan – met on The X-Factor UK after entering as individual contestants. There, they formed a boy band and continued on to place third in the competition.” Wait, Niall? No, that can't be the Niall I met yesterday. I'm not that lucky – I don't just meet famous boys.

“I'm sure,” the announcer continues, “that all of you girls out there have heard their singles; What Makes You Beautiful and One Thing. The boys have just recently arrived in Miami, and are here on the show to tell us about themselves. Welcome, Liam, Zayn, Harry, Louis, and Niall!”

I hear all the boys say a 'hi'. I listen for Niall's voice, but I can't pick it out. See? Nothing like meeting a famous boy happens to me, I don't deserve it. I walk around the counter and climb over the gate. Sitting down to play with the pups, I still listen to the radio playing in the background.

“Now boys, tell me a little about what it's like to be you,” Westly says. “Zayn, you get a lot of girl attention – what's it like to have girls go nuts when they see you?”

“I think it's actually really cool to have people that like seeing us do what we love to do,” the boy who I assume to be Zayn says. He has a British accent, since the boys are from the UK. “Singing is our passion, and having people support us like they do – that's amazing, ya know?” There are several sounds of agreement from the boys.

“So Liam, what's it like being in the United States? Is it similar to the UK?”

“Well actually,” the boy – Liam – says, “it really is a mix of both. I mean, the fans are very similar here to the UK. The only thing that really changes about the fans is their accents.” The announcer chuckles a little, and Liam continues. “But the weather is so much nicer over here,” he adds with a small laugh. There are another several sounds of agreement.

“So, speaking of the fans,” Westly says, “some of you boys have girlfriends, and most of the fans are girls. How tough is it to stay in a relationship while you're in a different country with girls throwing themselves at you? How about you, Louis?”

“It's not really too hard,” the boy – Louis – says. “Sure, there are all of our beautiful fans out here, but you've just got to trust in each other. Plus, most of the fans are super supportive of Eleanor and I, and Liam and Danielle, and that's really nice.”

“I see,” Westly says. “Now boys, we know that Louis and Liam are off the market. But Harry, Zayn, and Niall, is there anyone special in your lives at the moment?”

“Single!” one boy replies, but I don't know who.

It's quiet for a second, but when one of the boys starts to talk, all of the sudden the voice who belongs to Zayn blurts out, “Niall met someone last night!” Then my eyes go wide and my heart literally skips a beat. Don't kid yourself, Maci, he doesn't mean you.

I compose myself quickly, listening closer. “Zayn!” one boy shouts as the rest of the boys laugh loudly.

“Oooh,” Westly teases. “Looks like Niall is getting a little defensive! Since it's already out, why don't you tell us about this girl?”

Zayn,” one of the boys whines. “Why did you do that?” Then my skips several beats. The boy talking has an Irish accent. Oh my God.

The boys continue to laugh, but Westly interrupts them. “Come on, Niall! You've got to tell us now! What's the story?”

“Uhm...” Niall says. “Well, we met when I ditched the lads for a bite last night. I was being chased by a bunch of fans,” there are a bunch of chuckles as he says this, “and I darted into a bakery to a table in the back – and there she was.” Oh God. Now I'm sure it's the Niall that I met last night. “We talked for a bit, and I walked her home, and that was that. We're friends.”

“Do you like her?” Westly teases.

“Yes!” I hear one of the other boys say. Oh my God.

“Liam!” Niall whines again. Wait, Niall likes me...?

“Well boys,” Westly says, breaking the tension, “looks like we've only got time for one more question. I had a final question planned, but I'm throwing that one out and replacing it with this one. What's the lucky lady's name, Niall?”

The boys snicker in the background and I hear Niall groan. Please don't let it be me. That is what the logical side of my brain says, even though I already know whose name he is going to say. But then there's this small part of me that yearns for it to be me. Why do I feel this way?

“Do tell, Niall!” Zayn says. “What is her name?”

Niall sighs heavily. “Fine,” he says. My full attention is now on his voice. What is he going to say? It feels like forever before he says something again. “Maci.” My heart does stop. “Her name is Maci.”



~*Niall's P.O.V.*~


Are you kidding me?!” I shout at Zayn as we leave the radio station. “Why did you do that?!”

“Relax, mate! Just having a little fun!” Zayn chuckles along with the rest of the lads.

“This isn't funny!” I say, stomping my foot like a two-year-old. “That was seriously embarrassing! What if she heard that? What if she doesn't like me back? Then what? She won't want to talk to me anymore!”

“Relax, Niall!” Liam says, resting a hand on my shoulder. He frowns as I shrug it off. “You're exaggerating! It's not like she'll stop talking to you because you said you like her-”

“She doesn't know who One Direction is, Liam!” I interrupt him. I see Louis put a hand over his heart and twist his face into mock astonishment, and I have to hold in a laugh. I'm supposed to be angry! “She doesn't know me as 'Niall for One Direction', she knows me as 'Niall, the boy she met in the bakery'. I liked to know that she wasn't just talking to me because I'm in a famous boy band! Oh, and by the way, you said I like her, not me!”

“Niall, relax,” Harry says, and I pull my eyes over to him. “Look, she was going to find out who you are soon enough anyway. You didn't honestly expect to have a relationship with her without telling her you're in a famous boy band, did you?”

I look down at my shoes as we walk to the car at the end of the parking lot. I haven't really thought about it. But wait a minute... “Harry, I only met her yesterday!”

“Yes, but you fancy her already,” he says, and he has a point.

“But if you were a girl and you just met me, but had no idea that I was in a famous boy band, and the next day you heard on the radio that I'm famous and that I like you, wouldn't you be a little weirded out as well?”

Harry seems to think about this for a little bit as we pile into the van – Louis and Liam in the front and Zayn, Harry, and I in the back. Louis pulls out of the lot and starts back for the hotel.

“I suppose it would be a little strange,” Harry says at last.

I start to say something, but Zayn interrupts. “Niall, you don't even know if Maci heard the broadcast. Just chill out and text her, you have her number! If she did hear it, then try to explain to her. If she didn't, then so be it. But mate, you do know you've got to tell her sometime, right?”

I nod my head and look at the floor of the van. How will I explain it to her, though? Oh well. I guess I'll just have to wing it. I pull out my phone and search her contact name, pulling her up and sending her a quick message.

To Maci W.: Hey Maci!

She replies quickly, and I smile as I remember what I put my name in her phone as.

To Nialler;) : Hi Niall.

To Maci W.: Did you hear this morning's broadcast on Westly in the Morning?

There is a little delay in her reply and I start to worry, but then Maci finally answers.

To Nialler;) : Yes...

Uh oh.

To Maci W.: I'm sorry about that... I guess I have a little explaining to do

To Nialler;) : Just a bit...

To Maci W.: It's better hearing it in person. When are you free?

To Nialler;) : My shift gets off at 6 tonight, but I have to be home around 10.

To Maci W.: Perfect, I'll take you out for dinner and we'll talk then.

To Nialler;) : You don't have to, I don't want to bother you.

To Maci W.: No trouble at all. I owe it to you. Where do you work, I'll pick you up from there.

To Nialler;) : Chloe's Pet Shop, but just meet me at the bakery from last night. Do you remember where that is?

To Maci W.: How could I forget? :) I'll see you at around 6, then.

To Nialler;) : Sounds good.


“What's going on, Niall?” Liam pipes up from the front, breaking my concentration. “You're typing like mad!”

“Nothing, just talking to Maci,” I reply quietly.

“What did she say?” Louis asks.

“She did hear the broadcast,” I say, turning my head to glare at Zayn for bringing her up during the interview. He holds his hands up. “I'm picking her up for dinner around 6 to explain.”

The boys nod. I click the button on my phone, locking my screen. I look up to find Louis grinning like an idiot at me in the rear-view mirror.

“What?” I ask, getting defensive.

“Oh, nothing!” he says innocently, but he continues smiling. “It's just that our Nialler has a date!”

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