"You want revenge," I repeat flatly, shifting from foot to foot uncomfortably. I'm not nervous, just irritated and a little confused. How does he even know where I live?
Ronnie takes a step towards me and I fold my arms across my chest, staring him in the eye. Maybe if he sees that I'm not scared of him he'll leave. No such luck. He cracks his knuckles overdramatically and flexes his muscles like we're shooting a scene in a movie, not about to have a brawl in my front yard.
He balls up his hands into fists and closes the distance between us. He swings, aiming for my face, but I duck and his punch flies pointlessly through the air. He growls and I punch him in the stomach before he has a chance to try again. He doubles over in pain, inadvertently taking a step back, and he mumbles,
"I really hate you, Tommo. I really hate you." With that, he turns and strides as proudly as he can muster back to his awaiting car. I roll my eyes. What a loser.
I get in my car once Ronnie has left and drive to the closest bar. It's new and when I walk in the newness is evident. The floor has been polished recently, there aren't many stains on the bar, and the tables have the appearance of ones that haven't been used much at all.
I sit down at the bar and ask for a Scotch. The bartender peers at me closely.
"Rough day, buddy?" he asks, sliding me the tumbler.
Do I really look that bad? "Yeah, pretty bad," I tell him, sighing and taking a sip of Scotch. The taste overwhelms me at first, taking over my senses and making everything unclear for a second but then the taste becomes pleasant and I take another sip.
"I haven't been having good days myself," the bartender replies casually, wiping off the counter with a decrepit rag. I study his features. He's pretty hot, with brown hair that falls in his eyes when he looks down and the bluest eyes I've ever seen; they're a cerulean color with small specks of a lighter blue dotted throughout. I could get lost in them. His eyelashes are long and flutter delicately every time he blinks. When he smiles I can tell he had braces once; his teeth are perfectly straight and perfectly white.
"So what's going on with you?" he continues, smiling kindly at the patron leaving.
"My boyfriend was cheating on me for a while," I say. Each word stabs me in the chest, leaving a near fatal wound that might soon progress from near fatal to just plain fatal.
"Sucks," the bartender responds and I start to laugh at the simplicity of his answer. He stares blankly at me. "Are you okay? You can't be drunk already."
"No, I'm not drunk. I just...I don't know. My life has gone downhill so quickly that it's actually kind of laughable." One week ago at this time, I was in Paris with Harry, probably having the time of my life eating delectable French cuisine or laughing at a dumb face Harry made.
"Your next drink is on me," the bartender informs me.
"You don't have to do that," I reply. "Really. I have the money."
"It's not about the money. It just sounds like you've had a rough day, or couple of days, and I know how it feels to want to get away from life for a while." He tilts his head, looking at me. "Hey, what's your name?"
"Louis," I say, drinking the rest of my Scotch.
"Got a last name, Louis?" the bartender asks, handing me another tumbler filled to the brim with Scotch.
"Got a first name?" I retort. He laughs, a cheery sound that brightens up even the darkest depths of my soul.
"I'm Will," he tells me, sticking out his hand. "Nice to meet you."
"My last name's Tomlinson, and the pleasure's all mine," I mumble distractedly. Why does the name sound so familiar? "Do I know you?" I ask.
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Will comments, furrowing his brow. "Louis Tomlinson. That name sounds awfully familiar. Where did you go to high school at?"
"Pebblebrook High," I say. "You?"
"Same," Will says. "I know! You're a year older than me, I remember trying out for the soccer team and not making it." He grimaces at the memory. "I never was any good at sports. You were the one watching me try out, and after I walked off the field your friends started laughing but you told them to stop." He shakes his head, smiling a bit. "I always looked up to you after that."
I remember the exact day he's talking about. It wasn't long after I started dating Harry. I bite my tongue. I have to stop thinking about Harry. I take a large gulp of Scotch, hoping it'll wash Harry out of my thoughts.
"You still play?" Will inquires, leaning on the counter. He's in such close proximity I nearly squirm.
"What?" I say dumbly.
"Soccer. Do you still play? You were really good."
"No, I stopped after high school. There was no point in playing anymore," I say. I can't help but be reminded of the time Harry brought up my soccer when we were in Paris. Harry, Harry, Harry. I need to stop. I have to stop.
"Oh, that's funny. I thought for sure you would have kept on. Are you still seeing that Harry kid? Harry...Styles?" Will adds.
I swallow some more Scotch and Will begins to refill the glass. "He's the guy who cheated on me," I grumble so gruffly I'm surprised Will can understand what I'm saying.
"Harry Styles cheated on you? No way!" Will exclaims, his face contorting in confusion. "He's too nice of a guy. He would never do something like that."
"The proof is all on his phone," I say bitterly. "Incriminating texts to someone who called him 'sweetheart' and 'baby'." I feel a little sick just thinking about it.
"I can't believe that," Will says, shaking his head. "I guess people change." He glances at the clock that's hanging on the wall not five feet away. "I get off work in ten minutes. Do you want to hang around and then come to my place?"
It hits me like a brick how utterly easy it would have been to get a boyfriend in the four years that Harry and I were apart. I hesitate to respond though. Isn't this what you wanted? the voice in my head taunts me. But there's another voice in my head, a quieter one but definitely still there, that says,
"What about Harry? You can't give up on him. Not yet."
I push the quieter voice away and say decisively, "Yes, I'd like that."
Will smiles, a smile that could shine light in a pitch black room, and tells me to hang tight for ten more minutes. He bustles around behind the counter, pouring drinks and chatting with customers. He doesn't let me think for one second that he's forgotten about me though. Every once in a while we'll make eye contact and he'll smile, or he'll wink cheekily and I'll find myself blushing in spite of myself.
After what seems like an eternity Will clocks out and I hop in the passenger seat of his car. "We can come back and get your car in the morning," he tells me. The way he says 'we' makes me believe it.
On the car ride to his house we play twenty questions to get to know each other better. "Are you single?" I ask for my twentieth question, anxiously anticipating his response.
"Single and ready to not be," Will replies swiftly, making me laugh. He comes to a stop in front of a pristine white house with black shutters, the kind that you pass by on the street without really realizing that functional people live in it. I follow him inside and upstairs into his bedroom. I flop down on his bed tiredly.
"Big place for just you," I comment nonchalantly.
"I guess so. I usually have some people over though, so it doesn't feel lonely," Will replies. "I'm gonna go to the bathroom and change into different clothes, just make yourself comfortable." He pauses and chuckles. "Looks like you already have."
I notice a familiar shirt laying balled up on the floor by Will's TV. It looks like one that Harry has, but they probably just have the same one. Besides, it's just a gray tee with a pocket on the right side, so it's pretty common.
The doorbell rings from downstairs and I trot down the stairs so Will doesn't have to worry about it. I fling the door open grandly, expecting it to be a person looking for directions or perhaps a neighbor. Heck, it could have been Channing Tatum and I would have been less surprised than I am now, staring at the figure outside the door like I'm starstruck.
"What are you doing here?" Harry asks.