“So what’s up, mate?” Louis finally asked when they were sitting down to dinner once Harry reached LA. Louis’ wife Liz let them go out to catch up, but insisted that the next night, they would be having a family dinner – a good old home cooked meal.
“Why does something have to be up?” Harry asked defiantly. He didn’t know why he was being so difficult. Just the thought of Julia put him in a shit mood and she was definitely what Louis was referring to when he asked what was up. He knew.
“I can tell by the way you’re acting that something is up,” Louis said, looking at him knowingly. Harry forgot that Louis was the most observant person on the fucking planet. He forgot he knew him better than almost anyone.
Harry sighed, preparing himself. He went on to tell him all about his fight with Julia, her surgery he had no knowledge of, and the fact that things were worse off than ever before.
“And to top it all off, she hires a smoking hot nanny. I can’t keep my eyes off of her. She’s just… she’s amazing,” Harry told him.
“Wait, what?” Louis asked confused.
“Niko. She’s amazing,” Harry said, looking up into his mate’s disapproving eyes.
“Harry,” Louis said in a warning tone.
“I can’t help it, okay. I can’t. She’s gorgeous and I can’t stop thinking about her,” Harry sighed, giving up holding back what was on his mind.
“Harry, what are you thinking?” Louis asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t fucking know. I just know that Julia is like, a cold hard bitch and I can’t get anything from her. We’ve hit a brick wall. And I’m stuck,” he grumbled.
Louis’s eyes only got wider, the more Harry revealed.
“And Niko, we’re like, I don’t know. We get along. We have the same personalities and she fucks the shit out of me with her eyes every time she looks at me,” Harry said, his words coming out like verbal diarrhea.
“Harry!” Louis scolded.
“What?” Harry said, stopping to look up at him again.
“Do you even realize what is coming out of your mouth?” Louis asked.
“What?” He questioned.
“You’re contemplating things you shouldn’t be contemplating,” Louis said in a hushed tone.
“What options do I have left?” Harry asked.
“Working things out with Julia,” Louis insisted.
“I just… I guess,” Harry sighed, realizing how messed up it all was.
Julia was his wife – the woman he pledged his life to, for better or worse. And he was sure they were in the worse portion on their marriage. She was his wife and he did love and care for her, no matter her flaws.
But there was so much temptation with Niko – so much possibility. And Harry didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to last with the lack of intimacy from his wife. He was starting to deteriorate from his sexual drought.
After slightly snapping on Louis about his judgmental tone, Louis eased up and let Harry get things off his chest. He began to side with him for the most part, but insisted Harry needed to choose a side – that he couldn’t have both. He either needed to work things out with Julia or he needed to end it before he started straying from his marriage. Harry knew Louis had a point, but life wasn’t always that easy.
After having a very sexual, very wet dream about Niko that night, Harry was certain his urges were about to blow up in his face. He was doomed to break.
The next couple of days while staying with Louis, Harry debated the topic in his head – whether he was going to be faithful to a wife who had no regard to his feelings or needs, or if he was going to fulfill said needs elsewhere. By the time he saw Niko’s face again, he wasn’t so conflicted anymore. He was pretty much decided that he wasn’t going to hold back if things developed between the two of them. And he knew he wouldn’t be able to hold back if they did.
The week Harry got back, Jackson began his summer soccer league. Niko was his designated driver and the poor girl had never been to California before and had no idea where she needed to go, so Harry offered to drive to get her acquainted with the directions.
The fact that Julia didn’t even flinch when Harry told her he was going with Niko – that she didn’t show even the least bit of jealousy, really just went to show how little she had invested in their marriage. Niko was a knock-out and any sane woman would be jealous to have their husband alone with a girl like that, but not Julia. No, she hired her for god’s sake. It was a testament of how little she cared.
“Okay, pay attention now, Niko,” Harry said, smirking over at her once the three of them were in the SUV ready to head to the park.
“Okay, Mr. Styles,” she smiled at him as he pulled out of the driveway.
“Harry,” he corrected her once again.
“Harry…” She breathed, nodding her head. Harry looked at her from the corner of his eye as a smile turned up his lips.
“You’re not paying attention,” he laughed.
“Oh, right,” she giggled, focusing on the road they were traveling down.
Once they got on the highway, Niko was so mesmerized by the ocean that she really wasn’t pay attention. She was in complete awe of it. She couldn’t help but fixate on the brilliant blue water and the palm trees going by. It was beautiful and magical. She loved everything about California – from what little she’d seen, anyway.
“I’m going to have to write down the directions anyway, aren’t I?” Harry asked her. Niko giggled and looked over at him bashfully.
“Sorry… it’s just… I’ve never been to California. I’ve never seen the pacific ocean,” she told him, with a small smile.
“There’s a lot to do here,” he smirked at her.
“I want to do it all,” she said, wonder-eyed and perfect. She was so beautiful in that moment, Harry almost couldn’t handle it.
“You’re cute,” he chuckled, looking back toward the road. He felt her eyes on him, lingering and he secretly loved it. He loved every bit of attention she gave him.
“Daddy, are we there yet?” Jackson asked, breaking him out of his thoughts. Harry’s eyes immediately looked into the review mirror to see his son in the back seat.
“Almost, bud,” Harry told him with a chuckle. He was so excited to get to play soccer and meet new friends.
“Are you ready to have fun, Jack?” Niko asked, turning in her seat to talk to him, giving Harry a perfect view down her shirt. He bit his lip and reluctantly turned his focus back on the road.
“I’m gonna have so much fun! I LOVE SOCCER!” Jackson said, throwing his arms up excitedly.
“Apparently someone loves soccer,” Harry said to Niko, slyly eyeing her cleavage one last time.
“No doubt,” Niko laughed and turned forward again.
Once they got to the park, Jackson was so excited to go get started that he was bouncing in his seat.
“Hey, hey. Listen to me, buddy,” Harry told Jackson as they walked up to the group.
“Huh?” Jackson asked, trying hard to focus on his father.
“Niko and I are going to go, but we’ll be back to pick you up in a few hours, okay?” Harry told him.
“Alright,” he said, not seeming to care as his eyes stared straight ahead at all of the other kids.
“I want you to have fun, buddy. And if you’re not having fun, I want you to call me, okay,” Harry told him.
“Yeah,” he said, nodding his head.
But Harry knew he’d be just fine. He was a friendly kid and had a lot of friends back home. It wouldn’t be any different in California. Harry signed him in and met the coaches and chaperones before their session started. Niko and Harry stood there watching the beginning of it and Jackson was already in animated conversation with some of the kids.
“He’ll be fine,” Harry heard Niko say and felt her hand on his arm.
“I know. I never had a doubt in my mind,” Harry smiled over at her. She smiled back and he watched as she ran her tongue over her lips. It shouldn’t have affected him the way it did, but for some fucked up reason, he lost the ability to control anything when he was in her presence.
“We should go,” Harry told her.
“Sure. Yeah,” she nodded and fell into step with him as he headed back to the vehicle.
Harry really didn’t want to go back to the house. Julia was there and thinking about being in the same house as her was putting him in a terrible mood.
“Do you want to go somewhere?” Harry asked, looking over at her out of the corner of his eye.
“Like where?” She asked, giving him a sideways smile.
“I don’t know. Like the beach or something. Or… ooh the Santa Monica pier. That’s not that far from here,” he told her, feeling excited to be able to bring her somewhere, to show her things.
“The pier sounds awesome,” she smiled widely at him and he knew she was excited.
“Awesome,” he smiled, sliding into the driver seat of the SUV.
The pier was busy, like it always was. There were tourist at all times of the year and the Santa Monica Pier was a big destination for a lot of them. Harry couldn’t even describe the freeing feelings he felt. He only went there one time with Julia. In all the time they spent in California in the seven years they were married, they only went there once together. And without realizing it, Harry mentally added that to his list of bitterness involving his wife.
Harry got both of them a lemonade as they walked the pier to the end. He really enjoyed talking to Niko. They got along so well with each other. Their personalities were like mirror images and deep down inside of him, he didn’t care that he was playing with fire by being there with her. It didn’t matter to him that he was committing emotional adultery with this girl. She made him feel good. She laughed at his jokes, made jokes at his expense, and overall just got him. And the way she looked at him made him feel like twice the man his wife did. He was sliding down a slippery slope, but he just didn’t care anymore.
“Julia would never do this with me,” Harry said, leaning against the railing of the pier, looking out at the pacific. He sighed, feeling the frustration building inside him.
“She probably wouldn’t be able to get cell service and have an aneurism over it or something,” he added with a chuckled, trying to keep things light. He heard Niko’s quiet chuckle from next to him.
“We come here – to California, but she doesn’t do anything but work. It’s so hard to get anything out of her,” Harry started to explain.
For some reason, he felt like he needed to get it off his chest. He needed Niko to know these details, because he felt something between them. He needed her to know he wasn’t going to pull away from her if she wanted this like he knew she did.
“I’m sorry, Harry,” she breathed and he sighed, nodding his head lightly. Her heart broke a little bit as he spoke about his fractured relationship with his wife.
“I miss it here. I used to live here,” Harry said, changing the subject. He didn’t want to think about Julia anymore.
“You did?” She asked curiously. She kind of wondered when and why he moved to the states from England.
“Yeah, in Los Angeles, way back when,” he smirked at her.
“Way back when you were a rock star?” She asked, giving him a sideways smile.
“Way back then,” he chuckled.
“Hmm,” she hummed, intertwining her fingers together as her arms rested on the railing while she looked out over the water, humming a few bars of What Makes You Beautiful.
“Are you sure you weren’t a fan?” Harry asked curiously, eyeing her.
“Are you sad I wasn’t the type of girl to fawn all over you?” She asked, turning her head to smirk at him.
“Maybe,” he said, smiling slyly.
“What kind of fantasy would that fulfill?” She asked, quirking an eyebrow.
Niko’s words shot through him, making him realize this was the time. He couldn’t sit back passively and let the opportunity pass him by. Not when he spent the past seven years letting them pass him by for the sake of Julia and their kids. This was it. He was finally going to do something for him for once.
“One that hasn’t been fulfilled in a long time,” he said, answering her loaded question.
Niko realized how close Harry got to her and turned her body toward his, letting her smile drop off her face. Her hand came up to rest on his chest and he knew… he just knew what she was thinking. Things grew serious in a matter of seconds.
“I’m ten years older than you,” Harry breathed lowly as his hands found her hips.
“We’re both adults,” she replied.
Harry’s entire body reacted to her words. She just consented with those three words. She was giving him permission. She was validating their feelings. His eyes searched hers – giving her an extra moment or two to push him away if she wanted to. But when she didn’t, Harry leaned down slowly and kissed her lips. This was it. There was no turning back.
He was hooked.