The Night We Met

Liv has never felt at home in the Northern seaside town she grew up in. So, she moves to the vibrant city of London to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Along the way, she encounters a group of fellow colorful misfits and the alluring Lex; a beautiful musician reaching the peak of fame, who lives every day like it's his last. Seeking a quiet life, Liv struggles to accommodate the interesting nature of Lex's career, the lives of the people around her and her own ever-growing anxieties whilst trying to become the version of herself she has always wanted to be...

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9. Seven

Anna:
couldn't find u last night. saw the news. u ok???

Mum:
Call me. We need to talk.

Milly:
I know we haven't spoken lately but I saw the news. Hope you are ok?

 

 

When I eventually awoke the next morning to a flurry of concerned texts, my head was still physically attached to my body but my mind was elsewhere. I lay there and watched the hands of the bedside clock tick by slowly. Finally, when I climbed over a sleeping Lex, I felt that my feet weren't really carrying me. Instead, I was simply floating around without much awareness of what was really going on. Lex looked so peaceful whilst asleep that I still couldn't fathom he was capable of an outburst like the night before.

 


I headed to the bathroom. The door was closed tightly and I could hear retching coming from inside.
 

 

"Parm?" I rubbed my tired eyes. "Is that you?"
"Don't come in!" She yelled, followed by yet more retching.
"What's wrong?"
"I said DON'T COME IN!"

 


Something deep down in my gut told me that Parm was in trouble and everyone could see it, apart from her.  So, I decided to disobey her and opened the bathroom door. Parm was hunched over the toilet seat; her hoody pulled up around her face. Her hair was matted and some strands were stuck to her cheek thanks to, what seemed to be, fresh vomit. 

 


"Ugggggh!" She screamed with frustration. "Why do you never listen to me?"
"Oh, shut up!" I pulled her hair back as her head disappeared into the toilet again. "Stop being such a brat and let me take care of you."

 


Parm didn't fight me but she didn't condone my help either; her reply was simply more barfing. Finally, after it seemed like the previous night's mixture of cocktails and sugary drinks had been evacuated from her body, she slumped down next to the toilet and rested her head on the bath tub. 

 


"You better tell me what is going on with you, Parm," I said, folding my arms across my chest. "Or else I'll have to call your parents."
"Pah!" She laughed, bitterly. "Like they would care. They're in New York, probably having a wonderful time without me."
"They're your parents, Parm. They love you, no matter what. They certainly wouldn't be happy about the way you are acting right now."
"I'm pissed off, ok?" She said, angrily brushing a hand through clumps of her messy hair. "I'm so fucking pissed off with everything."
"Things with Jonesy aren't that bad. I'm sure you could sort it out --"
"It's not Jonesy, for Christ's sake."
"Then what is it?" I took her hand in my own. "We can handle this, whatever it is, together."
"You think so?" She said, skeptically.
"I'm sure of it. Just tell me what I can do to help --"
"I think I'm pregnant, Liv."

 


The silence was deafening. Parm's admission had certainly not been what I was expecting AT ALL. I'd thought she had an alcohol or drug problem; not that she was potentially growing a tiny human inside her. The thought terrified me and I couldn't imagine what it felt like to be her in that situation. For once, I was utterly speechless and had no advice to provide.

 


"My thoughts exactly!" She said. "I'm screwed."
"No, you're not," I finally snapped back to reality. "There are options for people in your situation..."

"Like abortion you mean? Shall I add being a baby killer to my list of dazzling qualities?"
"There's adoption too. You might want to keep the baby when it's born..."
"Liv, I can barely take care of myself, never mind a baby. I'm a total mess."
"Have you taken a test?"
"Not yet. But I'm late and I'm being sick every morning."
"You are drinking alot lately, to be fair," Then, all of a sudden, I felt ferociously angry. "Actually, what the hell are you doing drinking if you think you're pregnant?"
"Hoping I can do some permanent damage to myself or the kid, quite frankly."
"Parm!" I shot her a horrified look. "You're worrying me. I think we need to take you to the doctor."
"I don't want to go to a doctor!" She moaned. 

"Is everything alright?" Lex's voice wafted through the door. Parm's yelling had evidently woken him up.
"Never been better," Parm shouted and signalled me to shut up. Understandably, she didn't want anyone else to know about her predicament until she knew the truth herself.

 


Taking that as his cue to show his face, Lex peeked around the door. Parm gasped when she saw the blood stained shirt and injuries from the previous night. Obviously, she hadn't seen the news that morning considering she had been locked inside the bathroom since the previous night. Oddly, I looked the best out of all three of us and that was saying something as they were both ten times more attractive than I could ever hope to be. 

 


"What the fuck happened to you?" Parm asked, grabbing her glasses from the sink and pushing them onto her face to get a better look. "That's a shiner you've got there."

 


It was true; Lex was developing a rather prominent black eye. He looked somewhat embarrassed when Parm pointed it out too. It seemed that he still hadn't gotten over the shame of his behaviour from the previous night.

 


"I got into a fight with a pap," Lex mumbled.
"Did you win or lose?" Parm laughed. "Judging by your face, I genuinely can't tell."
"Very funny!" He screwed up his face at Parm and she stuck out her tongue at him. They could both be so childish and felt more like my badly behaved children than my best friends sometimes.

 


Lex leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. I got a sudden flashback to the night before where he had told me he loved me. In that moment, I decided to never bring it up again in the event that it was actually a wonderful dream and what I wished had occurred instead of reality. Admittedly, looking at the mess both Parm and Lex had gotten themselves into, I realised that there wasn't much time to worry about declarations of affection anyway. We all had much more important things to consider that day, like unplanned pregnancy or a possible jail sentence. 

 


"I've got one of your shirts in my drawer," I tried to distract myself from the worrying. "If you want to change."
"I probably should," He looked down at the blood spattered mess that used to be one of his favorite shirts. "I was gonna go out for coffee before the paps show up. Do you two want anything?"
"A new liver," Parm groaned, ducking her head into the toilet again.
"Nah, I'm good," I replied. "I'm gonna stay here and take care of Parm though."

"Of course," He smiled weakly, then bent down to whisper in my ear. "We'll talk about last night later."

 


I wondered if he meant the part where he had beaten the shit out of someone or the part where he had admitted he loved me. Either way, I couldn't think of anything worse than having a discussion about it. The front door clicked behind Lex as he left; again, leaving only Parm and I to our own devices.

 


"Get your head out of that toilet," I said to Parm, firmly. "It's time to sort your life out."

 


---
 

 

When Lex eventually returned to the flat, I told him that Parm and I were going into town to run a few errands. Luckily, he seemed to believe it. However, he was in no hurry to go back outside again as the paparazzi vultures were finally beginning to crowd outside his apartment, ready to attack. So, the best option seemed to be that Lex would hide out out in my flat all day and I would give him my key, just incase he did have to venture outside. 

 


Parm and I found our way to the nearest chemist and picked up a pregnancy test. I make this experience sound incredibly simple but it was actually a lot more testing than I thought. The truth is, nobody (especially not a teenager who can barely care for themselves) wants to be caught buying a pregnancy test. Parm actually wore sunglasses, for fear of being recognized, and made me pay for the test, much to my disgruntle. I tried to slip it under a bundle of magazines but the sales assistant shot me a look of recognition, then disgust. 

 


"You're lucky I love you," I hissed at Parm, who was hiding by a magazine rack.

 

Things got a whole lot worse when the chemist door opened to reveal the worst person I could hope to see in times of stress - Simon. Weirdly, he was always popping up in the same places I frequented but then the uni campus was pretty small so I decided not to worry too much about it. 

 


"Oh, look!" Simon smiled, regarding Parm and I. Annoyingly, even as one of the most horrifically arrogant people alive, he was handsome. Even the sales assistant turned into a giggling wreck when he winked at her. "It's my two favourite girls!"

 


Parm was too nauseaous to appreciate the compliment and turned completely grey in colour. I thought that she would vomit into the bin next to her but, thankfully, she managed to keep it contained.

 


"Sorry, can't chat! We are in a rush!" I tried to push by Simon but he blocked our exit and took me squarely by the shoulders.
"Now, now. You should be careful running around like that, Liv. You don't know what you might leave behind!"

 


As Simon said those words, the stack of magazines in my hand dropped to the floor...along with Parm's pregnancy test. It all seemed to happen in slow motion as Simon swooped down to pick up the box and Parm ducked down behind the magazine rack. My eyes closed tightly and I bit my lip so hard it almost bled. Fuuuuuuuck. I hoped that he wouldn't read the description but he was far too perceptive. He looked at it, then raised an eyebrow coolly, before handing it back to me.

 


"Interesting," He smiled, slyly. 
"It's for a friend!" I said, in a panicked state. Parm shot me a look of genuine rage when she realised I was about to rat her out.
"Do I know this friend?"
"I don't think so."
"You mean she's imaginary?"

"No --"
"Well, c'mon. She must be! If she's not imaginary, just gimme her name."
"It's none of your business --"
"It'd be a shame if this info got into the wrong hands, don't you think?"
"IT'S MINE, OK?" I yelled, then instantly regretted it. "NOW WILL YOU JUST PISS OFF?"

 

There was an appalled silence that stretched on for ages. Simon was as shocked as Parm and I but her shock seemed to manifest into mild rage.


"Has anyone ever told you what a waste of space you are?" Parm said angrily to Simon. She balled up her fists by her sides, trembling with anger. "You are literally one of the worst people I have ever met and any girl with an ounce of dignity wouldn't touch you with a bargepole. I wish I had realised that sooner."

 


Simon didn't really know what to say to that and exited down one of the aisles, fuming. I would have laughed had the situation happened to anyone else but in reality, it wasn't funny at all. I had just started a life-changing, completely untrue rumor about myself in order to save Parm. Not to mention, the sole person capable of spreading that rumor was the worst gossip on the planet and liked to taunt people for fun. 

 


"If this baby really exists then I feel sorry for it," Parm stood next to me and watched Simon disappear. "It's gonna have a total twat for a Dad."


---
 

 

When we finally got back to the flat, there was an excited crowd of paparazzi outside. I shoved by them, evidently not in the mood for chat, and we ran up the stairs as quickly as possible. Lex was fast asleep in my bed; he looked completely and utterly drained so I didn't disturb him. He probably needed some sweet dreams to balance out the nightmare that was his everyday life.

 


"Quickly!" I told Parm, handing her the box we had gone to great lengths to buy. "Do it now before Lex wakes up!"

 


Parm took the box begrudgingly and headed off to the bathroom. I heard the tap running and waited for a good ten minutes. She was silent the whole time. I rapped on the door and asked her if she had finished the deed yet.

 


"Come in," She said, almost in a whisper.

 


Immediately, I bounded into the bathroom and grabbed the test from her hand. In bright, blue block capitals were the words:

 


NOT PREGNANT
 

 

"Thank God for that!" I collapsed into a relieved heap next to her.
"Yeah," She mumbled, but actually sounded quite sad about the result.
"Don't tell me you actually want the baby now you you're not having it? Bloody hell, Parm!"

"I don't. It's just...it would be nice to have something to focus on. Like sometimes I do feel like a selfish bitch who needs a reality check."
"Parm, a baby is not a band aid. It won't fix everything for you - only you can do that. I will gladly give you a reality check any time you need. You don't have to force me out of your womb either."
"Thanks," She laughed, then looked away from me. "I'm sorry you have to put up with me, Liv. I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm all over the place."

"I worry about you, Parm. I think that we should still go to the doctor and get you checked out."
"Fine," She agreed, finally. "But not today, ok? I'm just so bloody exhausted."
"Ok, not today...but soon. I won't tell anyone about today either. Your secret is safe with me."

"What are you gonna do about the rumour though? Simon will most definitely spread that around."
"I know. I'll need to figure something out..."
"Well, don't worry," Parm squeezed my hand. "Remember, we are in this together."

 


When Lex eventually woke up, Parm had went back to bed and I was skimming through a book. I was pretending to read but my brain was too busy sorting out flashbacks from the previous night.

 


"Good evening, sleeping beauty!" I said to Lex when he finally woke up.
"Hey," He smiled and stretched his arms out wide, yawning. "What time is it?"

"6 o'clock. You were out like a light for hours."
"I must have needed it."
"After last night, I should think so. Any news on the charges front?"
"I've spoken to my lawyer. He thinks that because there were so many witnesses claiming it was self defense on my part I should be ok. We'll know for sure tomorrow."
"After all this is over, are you going to stay out of harm's way? Between you and Parm, I don't know how much more I can handle."
"I promise," He nodded. "But trouble seems to follow me around."

 


Lex grabbed my hand and pulled me softly towards him, wrapping his arms around me. I never got tired of that feeling and the way his legs were so massive compared to mine that they overlapped my own when we lay side by side. 

 

"When was the last time anyone took care of you, Olivia?" He said, seriously.
"I don't need anyone to take care of me," I replied, firmly. "I've always taken care of myself."

"Everyone needs someone to take care of them sometimes. You're pretty badass but you're not wonder woman."
"Are you offering your services?"

"I'd like to be that person for you...if you'll let me."
"Only if you promise not to punch anymore people in the process."
"Hmmm, let me think," He was silent for a moment. "What about if I only punch the people who deserve it?"
"That's not exactly the answer I wanted to hear...but I'll take it."
"That was just a warm-up. The next time anyone talks to you like that pap did, I don't know what I will be capable of..."

 


I couldn't tell whether he was joking or not but either way, I didn't like the dark tone in his voice.


"Please don't do anything stupid," I pleaded. 
"I won't," His voice was soft again. "But the thought of anyone disrespecting you like that again kills me. I couldn't stand back and watch it happen."

"I know. I'm grateful for that. But I kinda like having you around and if you go to jail, that's not going to be possible anymore. Do you see the dilemma?"
"I promise to be on my best behaviour from now on. So, you kinda like having me around?"
"Ok," I sighed. "I like having you around alot. Is that better?"

"Much better," He laughed. "I won't disappoint you again. I kinda like having you around too..."

 


---

 


A couple of weeks later, the September weekend finally arrived. I locked my cubicle, packed away all of my art supplies and got ready to take a much needed break up North to Lex's hometown. I had seen Simon often in class and thankfully, he had avoided me. It seemed that he hadn't told anyone about what he had seen in the chemist but I knew Simon well enough to know that he was probably saving up the juicy morsel of gossip to blackmail me later.

 

Parm had been reasonably well behaved but again, I hadn't seen much of her since the pregnancy scare. She had told me she was busy concentrating on the violin but I didn't trust her. I decided to let her pursue her old antics if she really wanted to - there was only so much you could do to change another person's life. I often forgot that individuals made their own choices so there was no way I could alter Parm's. As much as I wanted to take her under my wing and show her another way, she was way too stubborn for that. Saying that, I was still allowed to think about her and worry about her. She was one of my best friends, after all.

 


Liv:
You ok?

Parm:
Great. At rehearsal. How are you? :)

Liv:
Brill. Heading to Lex's Mum's for the weekend. See you when I'm back?


Parm:
Ok. Have fun.

Liv:
Take care of yourself, ok? Promise me you will.

Parm:
:-)

 


That was as good as I was going to get, in terms of a promise, from someone like Parm who lived each day differently and like it were her last.

 


Lex and I bundled our stuff into his car and headed up North for the weekend. I hadn't even realised that he had a car because everything at uni was within walking distance but it was a nice, shiny black number and unsurprisingly, he looked super chic whilst driving it. He obviously only saved it for special occasions which made me feel very nervous as that day was evidently special to him. I hoped that his Mum liked me as Lex had admitted she didn't like his infamous ex and had made it clear. 
 

 

It also wasn't lost on me that in order to reach Lex's hometown, we would have to drive past my own. Mum and Dad still weren't happy with me but we had spoken briefly at least. Saying that, it still felt far too awkward to drop in on them; especially with Lex by my side.

 


"What's on your mind?" Lex squeezed my knee when we stopped at a red light.
"I'm totally bricking it, honestly," I bit my lip. "I hope she likes me."
"Don't be daft. She'll love you!"

 


We both cringed at the use of the "L word" because we hadn't discussed the "I love you" situation that had happened a few weeks earlier. Why was it so easy for him to say his Mum would love me but he still couldn't say that he loved me in regular conversation? To be fair, I had pretended to be asleep to avoid replying to his declaration. So, what did that say about me?

 


After a couple hours of driving and a few pit stops along the way, we reached Lex's hometown of Brinkley. I had never been before but it struck me as eerily similar to Clackton-Upon-Sea;  another deadbeat town lined with cobbled streets, pubs and a beach. Lex pointed out a few tourist spots as we drove around but promised me a full tour later when we had settled in. 

 


Lex's family home was an average semi-detached building in a quiet town outside of the main city centre. The garden was coloruful and pretty and stuck out in the area as the neighbour's gardens were filled with skeletal flowers and browning grass. Lex's house was a lovely, homely place but I wondered mostly if that was because of the people who lived in it. 

 

As soon as the car pulled into the driveway, the front door opened and a woman stepped out onto the garden path.

 


My first impression of Lex's Mum was that she was an attractive lady. I could picture her as a teen and imagine she resembled a beauty queen back then. She still did as she had aged but she looked more sophisticated and womanly.

 


Don't be weird, don't be weird, don't be weird, I told myself, vigorously.

 


"You must be Olivia!" Lex's Mum greeted me with a warm hug and all of my worries disappeared. In that moment, I knew I would be okay. Obviously, a lady as lovely as she had to be the reason she produced a son as equally lovely. "I'm Jackie but you can call me Jac."
"It's great to finally meet you," I exchanged the relevant pleasantries.

 

 

Lex nodded to Jac but had turned self-conscious around his mother. It was funny to see him acting so vulnerable and eager to impress.

 

 

"What's wrong with your hair, Alex?" Jac shook her head. "Honestly, you look like something from the 1970's. Is that what's in style these days?"
"Shall we go inside now?" Lex widened his eyes at his Mum as if to signal her to shut up.
"Of course!" She put an arm around my shoulder and led me inside. "Where are my manners? I've made us lunch, Olivia. I hope you like sandwiches!"

 


I stared back at Lex, who was grabbing our belongings from the car, and he gave me a thumbs up. I had gotten the worst part out of the way, at least; they say first impressions always count and I seemed to have made an ok one up until that point.

 


It turns out that Jac's idea of sandwiches was more like a three course buffet. Her dining room table was covered with every picnic food you could imagine. 

 


"Bloody hell, Mum," Lex laughed. "Are you trying to feed the five thousand here?"
"I didn't want you two to get hungry after the long journey," She reddened. "Don't pretend you don't miss my cooking."
"Yeah, yeah," Lex grumbled.
"I taught him everything he knows about cooking," Jac smiled, proudly, and suddenly, his expertise in the kitchen made more sense.

 


We sat down to lunch together and thankfully, the conversation flowed easily. By the end of the day, I wished Jac was my surrogate Mum as my own mother was quite serious and not encouraging at all regarding most things. In contrast, Jac asked me lots of questions about my art and my life back home. She also had some interesting stories herself; she had been an air hostess back in her youth and had travelled the world. Lex's Dad had been someone she met along the way but he hadn't wanted to be part of Lex's life, sadly. 

 


Lex and his Mum were obviously extremely close and I felt flattered to witness love like that. He stared at her with real respect and she spoke of his accomplishments with equal pride. Jac was constantly laughing and joking but once, when Lex got up to go wash the dishes, the conversation did verge on serious territory.

 


"You are obviously a bright and beautiful girl, Olivia," Jac leaned in for the kill when Lex had gone. "But you see that boy in there? He's my world. Honestly, he's all I have. So, if you ever do hurt him, I have to warn you that I am not going to be happy."
"I'd never do that," I replied, horrified. "I care about Lex very much and would never want to see him hurt in any way."
"Good answer," Jac smiled. "You see, I've been Alex's Mum long enough to know when a girl is after him for the wrong reasons. I don't get that impression from you but I always think it's best to be cautious. Alex is a hopeless romantic and sometimes he gives the wrong girls the right chance. I've told him time and time again that so many girls just want the fame and everything that comes with it..."

 


I nodded and downed my glass of water, desperately. 

 


"I'm not with him for fame, I swear," I replied, shakingly. "I can't think of anything worse than being famous, quite honestly."
"I thought as much," Jac said, honestly. "You're certainly different from other girls he has liked before."
"Have you met a lot of them?"
"Only one. His ex-girlfriend, Kim. But I have heard enough stories to know that he hasn't had much luck with meeting genuine girls, like yourself."
"Is Kim the one who still lives on campus?"
"Yes. She's a nice enough girl, Olivia. But at the end, she did enjoy the fame a bit too much."
"How so?"
"Alex will never tell you this and you didn't hear it from me. But she cheated on him."
"Oh. I didn't know that."
"I did suspect it but he didn't tell me either, until a couple of months ago. Funnily enough, he only told me when he met you. You've opened him up, Olivia. I'm grateful for that."
"Oh, I don't know about that," I replied, modestly. "I'm not doing anything extraordinary. Just being me..."
"Well, whatever you are doing, it's working, love. I have never seen him like this with a girl before. That's why I had to meet you!"

 


She reached over and grabbed my hand urgently.

 


"I need you to make me a promise," She said, solemnly. "I'm not always going to be here. So, if anything ever happens to me, can you take care of my Alex? Even if you split up in a week's time, he really values you in his life and I think you put him on a good path. I'd appreciate someone being there to see he is ok in life and making sure he doesn't squander his talent."
"That's a lot of responsibility," I replied. Jac was turning out to be just as intense as Lex; they were both very good wordsmiths. "But I can try my best to do that. I won't let you down."

"Thankyou, Olivia," She smiled. "You don't know much that means to me."

 


She looked sad in that moment and I tried to cheer up the vibe in the dining room by bringing up another story from her past. Eventually, Lex returned to the dining room and we had dessert. By the end of the night, I was completely knackered and my eyes were sliding shut on their own.

 


"Might be time to call it a night," Lex said, finally. 
"I think so," I agreed, yawning. "This has been a lovely day though. Thanks so much, Jac."
"Anytime," Jac smiled. "Make yourself at home, Olivia. There are spare towels in the downstairs cupboard if you want a shower in the morning."

 


She got up and kissed Lex on the forehead, like he was her little boy again, then gave me a supportive squeeze on the shoulder. Before she reached the top of the stairs, she shouted down the staircase to Lex:

 


"Remember, Alex, just because you're twenty two doesn't mean you can close your bedroom door when there is a girl in your room," She cackled. "The same rules still apply! Keep it open...or else."
"Blimey," Lex blushed. "Does she have to embarrass me at every given opportunity?!"

 


I laughed and he grabbed my hand.

 


"Do you want to see my room though?" He said, mischievously. "I haven't asked a girl that since I was fifteen."
"In that case, I feel priveleged," I smiled. "I'd love to see it."

 


Unsurprisingly, Lex's old room was covered head to toe in band posters. It was a typical teenage boy's room; complete with dark walls and a bed that was only slightly bigger than a single. I wondered, with amusement, if he had always been tall and why a family would choose such a small bed for a tall person.

 


"I can sleep on the sofa tonight if you want the bed to yourself," He added, noticing me eyeballing the matchbox-sized mattress.
"I'm ok with sharing," I replied. I realized the smaller the bed the closer I would be to Lex and that wasn't something I was going to turn down.
"Are you ok with my Mum being able to hear every word we say though?" He rolled his eyes at the open door.
"What were you planning on happening that your Mum could hear?" I joked. "In fairness, your Mum has probably heard a lot of that already."
"Ouch. What do you think of me? That I was bringing girls home at the tender age of fourteen? No, no. That didn't happen until I was eighteen."

"Really?"
"Yep. My ex was my first - right here in this room actually."

"That's kind of warped. We're about to sleep on the same bed."
"I got a new mattress afterwards, if that helps at all."
"Not really," I laughed. "But it's reassuring to know you were a late bloomer like me."
"Oh, Olivia," He sighed. "Why do you care so much about that stuff? It's not a race."
"Well, it's a bit hard not to care when I hear all of the stories about your past experience."
"I don't remember half of those experiences and the other half are probably made up stories. I was off my face on drugs or booze half the time and I'd wake up feeling shitty and alone in the morning. The girls would usually be gone. They'd take a photo of me and send it to their friends or the newspaper. Does that sound romantic to you?"
"Not especially, when you put it that way," I admitted.
"I think, when you decide to have a physical relationship with someone, there has to be an emotional connection first. I've only had that once. Until I met you."
"So, you're not going to sack me off if we have a night of passion and it's terrible on my part?"
"No, definitely not," He laughed and pulled me towards him. "Your brain makes me laugh sometimes. How do you know for sure it's going to be terrible?"
"I don't know what I'm doing, that's how I know."
"Does anyone? We're all clueless. We have waited for a reasonably long time now. The anticipation is half the fun."
"I just hope I don't let you, or myself, down when the time comes."
"You could never let me down," He rested his chin on the top of my head again. 
"If you say so," I replied, my face muffled against his chest. "Can I wear one of your shirts to sleep in? It relaxes me."
"Say no more," He bent down and opened his stuffed rucksack to show me the contents. "I brought three extras, just incase."
"Sometimes, I swear you know me better than I know myself." 


---

 


The smell of grilled bacon woke me up the next morning. Lex and I were crammed into his tiny bed and my nose was pressed uncomfortably against the wall. It made me chuckle watching his long legs stretch well over the end of the bed. He was sprawled out and his limbs were everywhere, as usual, which really didn't help me feel less claustrophobic.

 


"Good morning," Lex said, suddenly, and pulled me close. I didn't know if he had been awake the whole time I had been staring at him but he was probably used to it by now. I kept looking at his face and thinking it would be a nice face to draw some day. I wanted to remember every curve and every line because deep down I believed couples who lived in different worlds like Lex and I were never bound to last.

 


"Good sleep?" I asked, laying my head on his chest.
"The best," He smiled, with his eyes closed in contentment. 

 

There was something extra kissable about him that morning that I can't describe. Maybe it was the fact I had seen how well he treated his Mum the day before or the cute little expression on his face as he lay there, looking more blissful than ever. I only knew that with each passing day I became more desperately infatuated with him and wanted him in every way. So, although I was paranoid about my morning breath, I practically threw myself upon him.

 


"Well, I must say that's a nice way to be woken up!" Lex laughed, eventually coming up for air. His hair was sticking out all over the place and his lips were pink from my enthusiastic kissing. 
"I don't know what came over me," I replied. "You're right about this room - there is something about it that drives the girls crazy."

 


Jac appeared at the door and I almost flew off the bed. Lex and I hadn't been doing anything apart from kissing but I still felt like a guilty school kid who had just been caught doing something forbidden. Jac gave us an amused glance then passed us a little tray with two bacon sandwiches on it. Breakfast in bed too? Jac was turning into my favourite person ever.

 


"Thanks, Mum," Lex grinned and frantically hoovered up the food, whilst I tried to nibble elegantly. Not for the first time, I wondered how much food he had to consume to sustain such a large body. Jac looked like she was thinking the same thing.

"Well, I'll leave you both to it," She said. "Any nice plans for today?"
"I'm going to take Olivia on a tour of the magnificent Brinkley," He said, sarcastically.
"It's not the place that matters - it's the company. Haven't I always told you that, Alex?"
"Yes, Mum," Lex rolled his eyes.

 


Jac finally left the room. I turned to Lex, red faced, but he was already staring at me. I didn't like when people watched me eat so that made me even more embarrassed.

 


"It sounds weird but...there's something about watching you eating a bacon sandwich that is a massive turn on to me," He tried to fight down the laughter.
"Is this another one of your weird fetishes, like glasses?" I said, coyly.
"Well, if it is, I've just discovered it. But I think that really it's just you and everything that you do that I'm obsessed with."

 


I had heard about that weird phenomenom from other people regarding their relationships; how, apparently, the most ordinary of things could become your new favourite things when someone you loved did them. I had to admit the same went for Lex; even the way he simply blinked with those super long eyelashes made my heart race sometimes.

 

 

"I think the same about you," I admitted. "You'd probably laugh at half the stuff I think about you when we are together."

"Like what?" He seemed curious now. 
"I love your personality, obviously, but it has to be said...you are insanely hot. You make me feel physically sick sometimes - you're that hot."

 


He laughed so much he choked on a piece of bread then set his plate down next to us; coughing and spluttering.

 


"I'm being serious," I punched him on the arm, feeling a little self conscious. I had never been good at complimenting boy's looks; there were guides all over the internet teaching boys how to compliment girls but there was no explanation for the opposite.
"I don't really know what to say to that," He said after a long silence and turned a funny, beetroot colour. 
"Aw, look. You're blushing!" I pinched his cheek.

"No, I'm not," He tried to argue back but couldn't keep his laughter in. "But I do appreciate that you think that about me. It's always nice to hear."

"Don't get a big head about it though. It's the first and last time I'll ever call you insanely hot to your face. I'll only think it from now on..."
"How did I get so lucky?" He laughed and ruffled my hair but then actually seemed quite serious. "You're the best person to be around. Period."
"You're alright too," I blushed. "Sometimes..." 

 


---

 


Brinkley reminded me of my home town except there were more beaches. It was almost like a minituare version of Brighton with lovely piers, people taking paddleboats out for the day and loads of ice-cream shops. We walked around whilst Lex narrated the more interesting town spots I should know about it. Some of those included a little library he used to call a second home, where the librarian shushed us numerous times, and the old chip shop he had worked in. He still knew the staff and they were delighted to see the legendary Lex Langley come to visit; except, everyone in Brinkley called him Alex. At first, it was weird because I was so used to knowing 'Lex'. But it was nice to see that he hadn't always been super famous and intimidating. 

 


After some very nice chips, which Lex insisted on paying for even though they were offered for free, we finally took a stroll down to the beach. By that time in the day, the sun was getting lower in the sky and the breeze was finally starting to come back on an otherwise roasting hot day. It was nice being able to walk around with no paparazzi or people lurking in the bushes. The whole town was deadly quiet and the beach was empty apart from us. So, we took full advantage and ran the whole length of the beach - up and down, front to back - until we collapsed onto the wet sand, exhausted.

 


"I don't think I said yesterday that I love your Mum, by the way," I turned to look at him. His eyes were closed to avoid the burning sun rays but he happily opened them when I said that.
"She loves you too," He replied. "I wish I could meet your parents."
"It'll happen...one day. I want you to meet them but things aren't the best between us right now, unfortunately."

"I understand their concerns. I don't think I'd be ok with my daughter dating someone like me either, purely from the newspaper articles."
"But they don't know you --"
"Yeah. Unfortunately, that's the world. Everyone judges. Sadly, my judgements are just a lot more public."

 


He sounded disheartened when he said that statement but we both knew, much to our dismay, that it was true.

 


"Well, I'm gonna bring them round," I cosied into his side. "You'll see."
"I hope so," He wrapped his arm around me and squeezed my shoulder, but didn't sound convinced.

 


How long could the tension with my parents really last? I knew they were hoping if they cut me out for a while that I might come to my senses and ditch the "bad boy" rockstar that was evidently possessing me and making me do lots of strange, terrible things. But unfortunately, that was never going to happen. I was in too deep with Lex; I had met the most important woman in his life for christ's sake. He had taken me home and trusted me to see where he, quite literally, began. How could I ever give that up? Those kind of connections didn't come around often. I knew if my Mum and Dad got to know Lex the way I did that they would love him just as much. 

 


"I have one more place to show you," Lex said. "It's the best stop on the tour!"

 


He took my hand and we walked from the beach into the centre of town. We found ourselves outside a crumbling building. It was covered in graffiti and litter and looked practically deserted. But Lex remained steadfast in his optimism and presented the old shack as a grand gift to me.

 


"You wanna see where the real Lex Langley started?" He smiled and pointed to the building. "This is it. Do you trust me?"

"I think so," I hesitated. I did trust him but it depended on the situation. Hanging out in scary-looking buildings that were falling apart felt certainly felt like something one should at least weigh up first before jumping in headfirst.
"Try to forget where you are for a minute and go with it. I'll look after you."

 


He pulled down a rusty fire escape ladder and I stared at it, horrified. It looked ready to break in two.

 


"You want us to CLIMB that?" I said, appalled. "We'll never make it up alive."
"I've been doing it since I was fourteen!" He defended. "It's safe, honestly."

"Yes - it certainly looks that way. I like the fact it has duct tape holding it together..."
"Olivia," He took my hands in his and gazed at me, very seriously. "I'd never let anything, or anyone, hurt you. Ok?"

 


He knew that when his eyes turned molten like that it was my ultimate weakness.

 


"Dammit," I sighed, then stepped onto the ladder. "How do you keep convincing me to do so many crazy things?"

 


---
 

 

"Ok, SO," He gave me a little nudge up at the top of the ladder. "This is the place where the obsession with music began..."

 


It was a pretty non-descript looking rooftop and didn't exactly scream inspiring. I looked to Lex for reassurance. He led us over past the chimney to the very edge of the building and I suddenly got vertigo looking down. 

 


"I don't get it?" I said, uncertainly.
"Look to your right," He pointed and I obliged.

 


Once you got past the chimney and crumbling bricks, from the spot we were standing there was the most beautiful view of the whole of Brinkley and the sun going down. I could see the tide coming from the beach and the soft waves hitting the shore. The air was salty and filled with, what felt like, pure magic. I was on a magnificent holiday I didn't want to end.

 


"I used to come up here with my guitar," Lex explained. "Taught myself from scratch. Now, here we are years later."
"Wow," I smiled. "I get it now. You're probably the most inspiring person I've met in a long time."
"Me?! I don't know about that. I'm just a guy who plays some songs. I'm not saving lives, am I?"
"Well, you're wrong. You've saved my life, in a weird way. I was a total anxious wreck before I met you. I mean, I'm still an anxious wreck but you're making it better. You're brave - that's why you inspire me."

"Honestly, you make me feel a lot less brave sometimes. Nothing else really phases me but sometimes, when I am around you, it scares the shit out of me."

"Ditto," I laughed. "Love, huh? It makes the world go round but it is truly terrifying."
"Did you just use the L word?"
"I think so," I nodded.
 

 

I figured that moment, on a beautiful rooftop that meant so much to him, was as good a time as any to have the conversation I had been dreading. Lex didn't say anything; he just looked at me and nodded too, like he understood.

 


"So... what are you trying to say exactly?" Lex raised an eyebrow. 
"You're gonna make me say this out loud, aren't you?!" I laughed, exasperated. "You know I'm not good at being mushy..."

 


He was staring at me now, completely serious, and his eyes were practically clear under the moonlight.

 


"Why is this so hard?!" I was beginning to get frustrated. 
"You don't have to say it," He said, softly. "I already know."
"No - I want to. You are so open with me all the time and I don't know why I can't be the same back."
"Everyone is different, Olivia. You're perfect as you are."
"NO, I'm not!"

 


He opened his mouth to say something but I clamped my hand over it.

 


"I'm not finished yet!" I said. "Let me get these chaotic thoughts out and STOP looking at me with those bloody gorgeous eyes!"

 


Immediately, he scrunched his eyes tight and I could tell he was smiling wryly under my hand. I could concentrate a lot better when I didn't have to look at his eyes. Finally, I felt I could be open with him and say all of the things I had wanted to say around him before. I had nothing to lose.

 


"Since I met you, I have adored you and been terrified of you in equal measure," I said, calmly. "You terrify me because you actually show up and to have someone show up means they might leave eventually. I'm always thinking one step ahead and that includes with you. But ever since the night we met, I've been thinking less about those steps and thinking about the 'right now' in life. Like, hanging out on a rooftop with you having the time of my life or meeting your Mum."

 


He still had his eyes closed, thankfully, because my speech was going deep.

 


"So, yeah, obvious terror aside, I said I adored you and I meant it," I admitted. "I LOVE YOU, OK? THERE - I said it. Out loud and for you to hear this time because I know you heard me last time. I heard what you said that night. I pretended to be asleep because, honestly, I don't know how to let someone love me. But after tonight, I am willing to try. That's all I can promise. What do you have to say about that?"

 


Finally, I released my hand and he opened his eyes, dazzling me as usual.

 

"I say...this is the happiest I've ever felt in my entire life," He grinned. "I know that was hard for you but it's the most touching thing anyone has said to me."
"It's not gonna happen again, so treasure it."
"I do - more than you know. Oh, also...for the record, I adore you too."
"You do?" I stared at him through my eyelashes, blushing madly.
"I am pretty much obsessed with you, in the least creepiest way possible."
"There's no way that can not sound creepy."
"Let me put it another way," He smiled and my heart thudded at his sheer beauty. "Olivia Gartland, I am in crazily, ridiculously in love with you. So, I'd appreciate it if you could stick around because I'm about to write some awesome songs about you."
"What about a whole album?" I mused, jokingly.

"That sounds good to me," He chuckled and traced his fingertips across my own. "But I gotta start at the beginning. How about I call it 'The Night We Met'?"

 


We sat there, looking over the little town of Brinkley and holding each other, until the sun finally descended in the sky. In that moment, I felt untouchable; there was enough love to keep me indestructible.

 


In years to come, I'd look back to that moment with both happiness and sadness. Sitting on the rooftop with Lex was the moment where I finally allowed myself to fall deeply in love with someone and have them love me back. However, it also marked the moment where everything would change, for the worse...

 

 

 

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