Stella Jones in Love

When Stella meets Nathan, a sweet aspiring actor, in the shopping centre, her life changes forever... he's not like all the other guys. But will his dreams destroy them? And will his mates ever stop getting in the way of their relationship?


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1. First Sight in Footlocker

It was Saturday, and we were trailing round the shopping centre, partly because it was raining out, and partly because it was too early in the afternoon for Kaylee to suggest drinking - thank god. I tried to keep up with her as she strode along, one headphone in her ear (which was getting tangled up with her brown hair), her shoes squeaking on the dirty white floor, the bag in her hand flying.

                “C’mon, I wanna look at some trainers!”

I scurried after her as she rushed into Addidas. She turned and waited for me to catch up, and then started examining all the trainers. The staff looked at her suspiciously as she picked up each one she liked, squinted at the sole, turned it over, fiddled with the laces, tugged at the tongue.

                “S’cuse me, can I help you?”

But Kaylee ignored the bored shop girl with the nose piercing and held a pair up to show me.

                “Stell, look! What you think of these ones?”

I turned away from the green hoodie I’d been looking at (not touching) and watched as the member of staff tutted and went to speak to the security guard. I made a face.

                “They’re a bit tacky, no? All them flippin' spangley bits...”

                “Alright!”

Kaylee rolled her eyes and thumped them back onto the shelf. “Let’s go upstairs. Looks at the men’s bit...” She sidled up to me, smiling, and linked her arm through mine. I pursed my lips.

                “What, and go and look for some balls?”

She giggled.

                “Cheeky! But seriously I could actually use a new football, my brothers been going on at me since I burst his last one...but, y’know, if he will keep kicking it about while I’m trying to watch X factor...”

She shrugged, and we started up the stairs.

For some reason, it seemed like every kid in town ended up in the shopping centre at the weekend, and especially this shop. The staff didn’t like it one bit, but this had become our local meeting place, and crowds of teenagers flocked there to check out the stock, and, if I’m honest, each other. So that’s what me and Kaylee were doing - seeing if there were any guys we knew upstairs. Turns out, there was only one group up there, of about 10 guys. We didn’t recognize any of them. I headed straight for the footballs, and Kaylee skipped after me, hissing in my ear.

                “They’re all looking!”

                “I know...”

It hardly helped that we were both wearing crop tops. I regretted my outfit choice hugely as the boys started whooping and bellowing unintelligible comments at us. Kaylee basked in it, smirking disdainfully at them and flipping her thick hair over her shoulders. Suddenly, she violently grabbed my arm, almost knocking me over.

                “What the...?”

                “Oh my god. Turn around. The fittest guy ever is in this shop!”

Her brown eyes seemed to be popping out of her head. I raised an eyebrow, but she just bit her lip and gestured in the direction of the group of lads. I turned around. Most of the guys were nothing special. 

                “Which one?” I was still confused.

                “Look! There, you dumb bitch!”

She was pointing at a boy who was facing away from me. Suddenly, he turned around. And my stomach lurched. Even in the shadow of a huge cap, his face was still gorgeous. A pair of green eyes burned out from under the brim. Kaylee turned away, giggling.

                “Stop staring!”

But I couldn’t. He had a dangerous yet innocent kind of beauty that was so rare. Even from where I was standing, I could easily assume that he smelt amazing, and was hiding a banging body under that big puffy coat. I turned back to the balls before he could get a good look, and grabbed Kaylee’s hand tightly.

                “Sexy, right?” She poked my waist.

I closed my eyes. He was better than sexy. Shock was turning into excitement. I shivered with anticipation, willing him to come up behind me, tap my shoulder, and murmur a greeting into my neck. This never happened. Guys that hot never hung around the shopping centre. They were always some place else, with a gorgeous and loyal girl on their arm, doing coupley things. The lads that were usually here were overconfident, and had to make up for what they lacked in looks with swagger, a loud and distracting crew of guys around them, and fresh clothes. A girl could so easily be dragged in by the excitement of it, all the shouting, the heady scent of lynx, and before she knew it, she’d be hanging round the shops with an average-looking guy and his mates, wondering where she’d left her girlfriends.

But this one, he was different. He didn’t need all that. He was quieter than the others, which only made him seem more assured. Although I could still see, I felt blind. Nothing registered. All my senses had been dulled, and I could only hear my own breath in my ears. I could sense the loud gang of boys moving towards the stairs - were they leaving? Kaylee had gravitated towards them, and was flouncing about in front of the ring leader - a short, dark haired, cocky little git, who wouldn’t stop leering at her boobs. Scowling, I prepared to drag her away and out of the shop, but the guy, seemingly pre-empting my exit, chose that moment to approach me. He strode over and spoke softly, a lop-sided yet serious smile on his face.

                “Alright?”

                “Y-yh.”

                “I just wanted to...”

He paused to laugh awkwardly, nervously fixing his cap. I smiled encouragingly at him, trying to hold his gaze.

                “Yeah? Go on?”

                “Well, I was gonna ask what you thought of these...”

He produced a pair of trainers, seemingly out of nowhere.

“You look like a girl with taste.”

I giggled, surprised.

                “Um, yeah. They’re nice.”

                “Cool. Might get ‘em then”

He replaced the trainers.

                “Nah, what I really wanted was your number.”

                “...Yeah. Go on then!”

He got his phone out, and I did the same.

                “Oi Nathan! We’re leaving! Leave dat alone and get your arse over here!”

It was the cocky little git. I gave him a dirty look, and ‘Nathan’ told him to “jam, man, gimme a second!” When we were done, he threw me a last little smile, and then disappeared into his gang of mates, now just one hat in a bouncing crowd of many. Kaylee sauntered over to me, looking a bit miffed.

                “That little dickhead didn’t even complement my hair! Am I that disgusting?”

We both laughed.

                “And you got a number, eh? Lucky girl! He’s proper sexy, that one!”

I sighed.

                “I know...”

                “Wanna follow him round the centre?”

Kaylee winked. I just slapped her arm.

                “No! I’m not bloody desperate!”

Although, for that guy, I could be.

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