Elle’s obnoxious ring tone woke her from her slumber inside her downtown Los Angeles studio apartment. She tried her hardest to ignore it, but the song pierced the airwaves, bouncing off of the four walls of the little space, annoying the living hell out of her.
She popped her head up from her pillow, squinting to look at the clock, before actually grabbing her glasses from the nightstand and shoving them on her face.
Five o’clock in the morning? Was this person actually serious? The sun wasn’t even thinking about peeking out in the sky yet. Elle swiped up her phone, ready to give the asshole on the other line a piece of her mind.
“What?” She growled into the receiver as she flicked on her bedside lamp.
“Elle! Oh my god, hey,” she heard Charlie’s hyped up voice.
“What the hell, Charlie? It’s five in the morning,” she grumbled, letting her body relax since she actually had respect for this dude – enough to keep her from completely biting his head off, anyway.
“I know, I know. I haven’t slept. I’ve got news!” He said, his voice holding a much higher degree of excitement than her own.
“What kind of news?” She asked curiously, perking up only slightly.
“I’ve just spent the last hour or so in negotiations with TMZ,” Charlie told her. Elle’s eyes widened suddenly, wondering what pictures he had that he could possibly be negotiating with them over.
TMZ was one of the biggest celebrity blogs on the internet – not to mention they had their own TV show that ran on network television, watched by millions of people.
“For what?” She asked confused as she sat up in her bed.
“For the video!” He said excitedly.
“What video?” She asked, getting even more confused.
“The one of Harry Styles,” he told her, letting the excitement drain out of his voice at her lack of comprehension. Elle’s mouth immediately went dry with the turn of events.
“You mean the one of me and Harry Styles?” She choked out.
“Yeah! That was gold, baby!” He said enthusiastically.
“Oh my god, Charlie,” she breathed, running her hand over her face, feeling the anxiety balling in her chest.
“I got a lot of money for it. And I’ve got your cut too,” he told her.
“Oh my god,” she sighed.
“Elle, what’s the matter? I thought you’d be excited,” he said, sounding disappointed.
“Excited? My face is going to be splashed all over the damn TV. ‘Harry Styles hits on camera girl’,” Elle said, allowing the anxiety to continue to bubble up inside of her, leaving her on the verge of a full-scale panic attack.
“I think their working title is ‘Harry Styles hits on hot female pap to prove he isn’t gay’,” Charlie snickered under his breath.
“Oh my god,” she groaned, her face contorting with anguish.
“Cheer up, lady. You’re bringing home the bacon now!” Charlie laughed. Elle grumbled as he told her he had to go and they hung up.
Shit, dude. Her life was about to hit a bit of turbulence.
By the next night, TMZ ran the story on their website and their TV show. Elle’s agent legitimately when nuts over it, saying the publicity for the video was better than her Justin Bieber pictures by far. Elle didn’t think so at all. How was she supposed to show her face around her fellow cameramen? The guys she worked around already thought she got special treatment around Hollywood because she had a vagina. None of this was going to go over well.
“Elllllllllllllle!” She heard her best friend Bonnie’s voice through her apartment door moments before she heard the knock.
Elle sat motionless for a few moments, hoping Bonnie might just go away if she thought she wasn’t home. It was just past seven o’clock on a Saturday night and Elle was sitting in her pajamas watching TV on the couch. Bonnie would never let her live it down.
“I know you’re in there Elizabeth Rose! Open this door!” She heard Bonnie’s voice once again.
Elle pulled herself off the couch, zipping up her hoodie and straightening her hair as she looking in the mirror near the apartment door. Usually on a night like this, Elle would be in the heart of the club district getting what pictures she could of celebrities… and well, searching for Harry Styles. After her share of the payout for the TMZ video, Elle was able to afford to take a weekend or two off. And that’s what she was doing.
With a sigh, she unlocked her door and pulled it open to see her best friend standing in front of her with her hands on her hips.
“Baby girl, what are you wearing?” Bonnie immediately asked, pursing her lips together as her eyes worked down Elle’s body, taking in the worn zip up and sweatpants she was wearing.
“I’m not feeling well,” Elle grumbled as her fingers tugged on the bottom of her hoodie.
“Bullshit,” Bonnie said, moving past her to come inside the apartment.
Elle closed the door and followed her inside. Bonnie was the kind of girl that was naturally beautiful and didn’t really know it. She wore make-up and used sex to make herself more appealing, but in all actuality, she could easily do it without. She had sweeping brown hair, with wild hazel eyes that drew in just about everyone. She stood a few inches taller than Elle and had legs for days, especially when she accessorized with heels. She was stunning, and had a personality to match.
Once she swept past Elle, she quickly spun on her heels and rested her hands on her hips, startling her in the process. She looked flawless in a magenta baby doll dress and black heels, and Elle knew immediately what her plans were.
“Admit it. You’re hiding,” she said, failing at her attempt to give her a sympathetic look.
“No,” Elle squeaked, shaking her head and lying through her teeth.
Truth was, she didn’t want to show her face after what she said to Harry. She felt like a fool. She should’ve just kept her mouth shut. He probably thought she was some lunatic and that fact scarred her ego worse than having the embarrassment of her face splashed across the TV and internet.
“Who cares if you and some celebrity were flirting on TV?” She asked, passively shrugging it off.
“It wasn’t just some celebrity,” Elle told her, sending her a momentary glare.
“I’m sorry—you and the god damn British popstar,” she giggled, sure as hell not acting like the doting best friend she was supposed to be.
“A really hot British popstar that I’ve been practically stalking for months now,” Elle groaned, her face scrunching up with anguish.
“Well, obviously he doesn’t think you’re a complete fuckbag since he was flirting with you,” Bonnie laughed, trying to think positively for her best friend’s sake, in an ass-backwards sort of way.
“But I am a complete fuckbag,” Elle said, plopping down on the couch, still stuck in her self-deprecating mood.
“Alright, alright. You need to get up, shower and come out with me and Lauren to the club tonight,” she told Elle.
“No,” Elle said flat out.
“Yes! What better way to forget about your problems then to get really drunk and have a good time with your girls?” She asked, pulling Elle off the couch by her arm.
Needless to say, Bonnie had quite an influence on Elle, because she got her out of her tiny studio apartment and decked out in a black sequined slip dress paired with her knee-high black boots.
Once Elle had a drink in her hand dancing with Bonnie and their mutual friend, Lauren at the Hyde Lounge in downtown Los Angeles, she felt better than she did in days. She was making much too big a deal out of what happened. And what did happen? Nothing. Except everything happened between the looks she and Harry exchanged. But the camera couldn’t see those looks or feel what they felt or thought what they thought. The camera was so one-sided – but then again, so were people’s opinions.
Elle let the alcohol course through her veins, letting it lower her inhibitions as the music pumped through her body. It was one of the best feelings in the world – losing herself so completely to the music, letting it control her. She just wanted to forget for a little while.
“ELLE!” She heard Bonnie shout, breaking her out of her revelry. She opened her eyes and found her friend standing just a few feet away on the crowded dance floor.
“I need another drink. Come with me,” she shouted, motioning toward the bar. Elle looked over to find Lauren happily grinding with a hottie not far from them.
“Alright,” Elle called back to her and followed her toward the lounge.
As Bonnie moved down the bar to order her drink, Elle stayed put, pressing her back up against the countertop waiting for her. She felt listless, like she was floating. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes trying to keep the euphoric feelings coursing through her body.
“Elle,” she heard a male’s deep, velvety voice, breaking her out of her thoughts.
Elle slowly tipped her head forward, opening her eyes. Her entire body reacted at the sight of him. She had to grip onto the bar in order to steady herself as her body stiffened completely.
“Harry,” she breathed.
He stood there smiling at her – that perfect damn pearly white smile that she couldn’t even tolerate. He was too much, it hurt. He made her entire body rigid and pained just by looking at him.
“W-what are you doing here?” Elle stammered out in awe.
“Thought I’d check it out,” he smirked at her, shrugging his shoulders passively. There was a playful light in his eyes as he watched her.
“But you… you don’t come here,” she choked out.
She shouldn’t have admitted she knew that about him. But, who was she kidding? He knew she followed him. It wasn’t a big secret.
“You don’t know everything about me,” he said, continuing to smirk at her as he cocked his eyebrow.
“Apparently not,” Elle breathed, swallowing back her pride.
“It’s not fair,” he said obscurely, his face contorting in a look of question.
“What?” she asked, feeling sick to her stomach over the fact that she was carrying on a conversation with such a flawless human being.
“That you know so much about me and I know next to nothing about you,” he said, moving in closer so he wouldn’t have to shout over the music.
Harry’s presence was wrecking her. It wasn’t fair that he was affecting her like this and that he was standing there as confident as ever.
“There’s not much to know,” she retorted as her cheeks reddened over the fact that he wanted to know things about her.
“Everyone has a story,” he said, moving closer to the bar, taping his knuckle on it to get the bartender’s attention.
“Can I buy you a drink?” He asked with the slightest of smirks.
“Uh, vodka cranberry,” Elle said, trying to keep her voice from shaking.
He ordered both that and a vodka tonic for himself once the bartender walked up. She looked around, only to find Bonnie down the bar a little ways talking to some random guy, completely leaving her hanging with the one person on the planet she was trying to avoid by not coming out. She put her in this position and now she was hanging her out to dry so god damn obliviously.
“Here you go,” Harry said, handing Elle the drink.
“Thanks,” she squeaked, taking the small glass.
“No camera tonight?” He smirked at her before taking a sip of his drink. Elle shook her head as she took a sip of her own.
“I like you better without it anyway,” he snickered lightly.
“That camera is my life,” Elle pointed out, feeling a sense of over-protection over an inanimate object.
“Hmm,” he hummed, eyeing her.
She stood there, trying to focus on anything but him, but it was incredibly hard because her eyes were so naturally drawn to him.
“I saw the video,” he blurted out, which made her nearly choke on her drink. She coughed quickly, trying to regain her composure.
“Are you okay?” He chuckled, looking mildly concerned.
“Fine. Fine,” she said, setting the drink on the bar top, wiping at her mouth.
“You look good in it,” Harry continued, smirking wildly at her.
“Oh my god. I just—can we… not?” Elle breathed, momentarily placing her hand bashfully over her face.
“What?” He asked with a look of intrigue in his eyes.
“I just… it was stupid. I… I’m sorry,” she said, feeling incredibly embarrassed about what she asked him that night.
“You were doing your job, right?” He smirked at her.
“How can you even say that so casually?” Elle asked him curiously, her eyes widening slightly.
“What?” He asked, entirely amused by her.
“I mean, we follow you around. We hound you just to get a story. You should hate us,” she said simply, lumping herself together with every other paparazzo on the planet as not to single herself out.
“I’ve never minded when it was you,” he told her, looking way too sincere for her to even handle.
Elle froze up. Good God almighty. He really was perfect.
“What?” He laughed.
“You aren’t gay, are you?” She asked, as if she didn’t have a filter from her thoughts to her mouth.
“Did you really think I was?” He laughed outright.
“I… well, no,” Elle said, shaking her head.
“But maybe just a little bit you did?” He questioned, narrowing his eyes.
“I mean, like… you really can never tell these days. You… you dress well. You’re well-groomed. You’re just… you’re fucking perfect, okay,” she stammered with no filter, once again.
“Perfect, huh?” He cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Shit. Did I just say that?” She asked, bringing her fingers up to touch her loose-lips.
“Yeah. You did. And you can’t un-say it either,” he chuckled.
“Shit,” she breathed.
“At least I know I’ve got someone following me around who actually likes me,” he laughed amusingly.
“Well… shit,” she breathed, feeling so incredibly embarrassed. She wouldn’t have spewed out that verbal diarrhea if she were sober. Just, shit.
“Do you want to dance?” He asked, catching her completely off guard.
“What?” She choked out, her mouth dropping open as she stared up at him, all doe-eyed.
“Come on,” he said, grabbing her hand.
Elle quickly grabbed her drink off of the bar top and followed Harry as he tugged her along, out to the dance floor. When he spun around, her body crashed into his. But he didn’t seem to mind, because he pulled her body even closer as they began to dance. And she was almost sure she wouldn’t be able to handle herself much longer. Not with his fingertips digging into her hips and their pelvises grinding into one another’s. Not with the alcohol clouding her mind.
She could feel his hot breath against the skin right below her earlobe and it made her entire body tingle. And when his hand moved up her side, his thumb resting perfectly underneath her breast, she knew she was going to lose it. She pushed closer to him, which caused his thumb and part of his palm to move up over her breast and he did nothing to remove it. He just continued to dance against her and her against him. She was hyperaware of every part of his body that touched a part of hers and when his thumb flicked over her hardening nipple, she let out a low whimper. He moved his hand up to trail down her exposed collarbone and she knew he knew what he was doing. He was doing this purposely to get back at her for stalking him. He was trying to kill her, she was sure of it. She felt his lips drag over the bottom of her earlobe and knew she might actually die from the torment, from her need for him.
“Elle,” Harry breathed in her ear, his voice husky and all sex.
“Hmm,” she hummed, her eyes closed, her tongue flicking out to wet her lips.
“You’re so beautiful,” he breathed low and seductively.
Another whimper escaped her throat as she squished her eyes shut even more tightly.
His lips pressed against the heated skin at her neck and every tiny little hair on her body stood on end from his touch. His hand moved slowly down her side once again as he dragged his lips over the line of her jaw. She could do nothing but let it happen, paralyzed by his touch. And she could swear the beating of her heart could be heard over the blasting bass coming through the speakers. It took what little intelligent thought she had left in her brain to remind herself to keep a grip on the drink in her hand or she would have involuntarily let it shatter to the ground.
When Harry’s lips captured hers, she moaned into his mouth as she kissed him back with everything she had. All of her desperation for him flowed out of her and into that kiss, gripping tightly onto the back of his neck with her free hand.
When they broke apart, they were both entirely breathless, their chests heaving. And she knew she was being reckless. She knew it was so stupid. They came from completely different worlds. She was a fool to think it was anything but a bad idea.
Elle pulled away from him, feeling shell-shocked. He stared into her eyes waiting for her to say something.
“I should… I should go,” she told him as she turned on her heels to flee.
“Elle!” He shouted after her, but she kept going, determined to try and shake herself of him.