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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6. Six (1)

Approximately one day after the photos were released, I was followed down the street by paparazzi and aggitated Strand's superfans. By the end of the first week, I had a a rather derogatory Tumblr blog dedicated to me and endless amounts of fanfiction describing my death in numerous, gory ways. At first, it was enough to get me into a serious panic. I desperately wanted to be liked by everyone in my daily life; so to have hundreds of people dislike me, for no other reason than my choice of boyfriend, was a difficult adjustment to make. 

 

Nevertheless, by the end of the week, I grew more accustomed to being, quite frankly, despised by the general public. Don't get me wrong, I in no way enjoyed having my photo taken whilst visiting the post office or supermarket but I tried to ignore it to the best of my ability. I decided that if I had to be photographed constantly to be with the wonderful Lex Langley then that was a pretty good trade off to me. And he was wonderful; everytime I was with him, I was on top of the world. Conversely, everyday without him, I tried not to miss him too much. It was terrifying me how much I was beginning to feel for another individual; feelings that I never thought were possible before. My Mum was right; I would know when I had met the right person because it was finally happening now I had found Lex.

 


Unfortunately, my mother did not see it that way. She was horrified that I was involved with Lex Langley, after reading about his antics in the news, and she and Dad had blanked me the whole week after the photos were released. I had to admit that her ignorance hurt me but I knew they were simply judging Lex the way I had in the beginning. In contrast, my big sister, Lyndsey, was thoroughly impressed with my choice of suitor and was never done boasting to her friends about it over Facebook. That's another thing; I was forced to temporarily disable my profile as I got so much abuse on it. At first, it was a real sting to my ego but again, when I realised I was the one going home to Lex at night, I didn't mind so much. 

 

It may amaze you that I handled my new found, and unwanted, fame so well; it certainly amazed me. But I felt too far too blissful with my relationship status and really struggled to care about much else. That struck me as a truly brilliant feat considering I was someone who lived inside their own head so much and I wasn't going to argue with it.

 

 

Slowly but surely, Lex was beginning to remove every single one of my insecurities. When you lay down next to someone, stripped of make-up, hair sticking on end and embarrassing pyjamas on show, and they still thought you were the bee's knees, then you knew you were onto something special. It had never occurred to me that I could be so comfortable another person so quickly.

 


"What in God's name are you looking at?" I asked one day, when Lex was watching me intently. We were stretched out on his bed in the midst of another legendary Netflix marathon. 

"You're wearing glasses," He commented. "That's new."
"Oh, yeah," I touched them, self-consciously. I hated my glasses and usually wore contact lenses but my prescription had run out. I figured I had known Lex well enough to let him see me in my most hated state. "Sorry."
"Why are you apologising for wearing glasses?" Lex laughed and chucked a pillow at me. 
"I dunno. They're stupid-looking. I'm sorry for my defective eyeballs."
"You wanna know what I think about your glasses? Honestly?"
"Not really," I winced, waiting to hear his reply. He would probably confirm he hated them as much as me.
"I probably should have mentioned...glasses are my weakness. I think they're pretty darn sexy, in all honesty."
"Stop making fun of me," I threw the pillow back at him with force.
"I'm not!" He caught it, laughing. "I'm being deadly serious. Glasses are my kryptonite; especially on you. I haven't watched a single bit of this film for the past hour because I've been thinking about it."
"Please stop," I was trying to stop myself from laughing uncontrollably. "I can't be around you if you're going to use the word 'sexy' unironically."
"Well, I'm just saying...the way you're looking right now, you are lucky I excellent have self-control."
"Really?" I pushed my glasses ever so slightly down my nose now and rolled over to face him. I was also wearing one of his shirts. I knew he had a sordid obsession over me wearing his clothes as he was constantly offering me items of clothing to wear casually.

 


Honestly, I just wanted to see him squirm. Lex was usually the one making me go all giggly and shy. So, in a rare bold moment, I climbed onto his lap; wrapping my arms around him.

 


"How is your self control now?" I whispered in his ear. 

 


There was still no sign of going anywhere further than kissing but often, it felt like we were pushing the boundary. Sometimes, I even surprised myself when I wanted to go further as, in the past, I had been about as sexual as a wet mop. In translation, I had literally never considered ever reaching that stage with anyone. But something about Lex drove me up the wall and made me do and feel lots of things I hadn't before. Perhaps it was because he had found my most hated quality apparently "sexy" - I had no idea. Regardless, we were both equally shocked that I had made the first move upon him. 

 


"It's been better," He smiled, wryly. "So, as much as I like you sitting here, you should probably lie back down far, far away from me before I do something we both regret."

 


I stood up and sashayed away from him; feeling like a million dollars because I had been the one to disturb him physically for once. I had to admit that I did feel fantastic and powerful afterwards. Finally, I understood why Parm enjoyed using her sex appeal as a tool. But I could also see that there was a fine line between being "desirable" and manipulating people into doing whatever you wanted using your body. It felt a little shameful and dirty in the end, but then I had to remind myself it was reasonable to care deeply about someone and want them in every way. 

 

Perhaps that was the point; sometimes, you like someone enough to bring out new parts of yourself. Inevitably, they help you to grow. Lex Langley was certainly helping me grow. So much so, that for the first time in my life, worryingly, I was beginning to experience a weird phenomenom called "a lack of self control".

 


---

 

When I strolled into class on Monday, the whole room fell silent and people pretended not to talk about me. However, I knew they were discussing my love life and, probably, how I wasn't even slightly good enough or attractive enough for someone like Lex.

 


"Not-your-boyfriend has been Lex Langley this whole time?" Simon whispered over my shoulder when class had began. "Unbelieveable!"

 


I blushed and buried myself into my work. Milly drew everyone murderous looks all day, as usual; especially Simon. There was definitely a lot of unsaid things odd lingering in the air between those two; they had become major frenemies whilst I was doing my own thing and hanging out with Parm and Lex alternatively. Sometimes I hung out with the rest of the band too because they were genuinely fun and drama free to be around. I was happy as things were, putting all the media attention aside, but wasn't optimistic enough to think the adjustment to my new life would always be so easy. Trouble would turn up at my door eventually; I'd just have to handle it like a big girl when it arrived, I decided.

 


After being assigned the end of year project initially, my classmates and I were in the studio most of the time. Our lecturer gave us free creative reign and sometimes, wouldn't show up to our cubicle sessions at all, where we would all sit in our own cubicles and create art respectively. 

 

I hesitated on whether to attend Lex's gig at the Roundhouse as our love affair might have taken the attention away from his music. I had already been the subject of a few "who is Lex Langley's new love interest?" articles which completely eradicated all details of his hard-earned spot at the Roundhouse. Thankfully, as I hadn't really told people around me too much about myself, nobody had any dirt on me...yet. Nevertheless, my name and the fact I was an art student had been leaked but I wasn't sure who was the culprit. Obviously, it was the same kind of scum who had sent photos of me half-naked into a newspaper to make a quick buck.

 


Parm:
I am buzzzzzzing for tonight.

Liv:
ME TOO! Can't wait. :o)

Parm:
Jonesy is coming home with me, whether he likes it or not. Now I know how it feels when I make boys chase after me - it's awful.

 



Parm and Jonesy's blossoming romance had been progressing extremely slowly. I couldn't tell if Jonesy was simply not interested or whether he was just so chilled out that he didn't function in the way other boys usually did. Saying that, Jonesy had taken Parm to dinner a few nights earlier. He had kissed her at the door and said a quiet goodnight, like a gentlemen. Unfortunately, that wasn't moving fast enough for Parm. She was an all or nothing person and threw herself into love headfirst. So, someone as relaxed as Jonesy was a new experience for her. They looked so comical together; both very attractive people in their own ways but totally mismatched. Yet, I was desperately rooting for it to work. Parm was so erratic at times that I figured maybe Jonesy could balance her out. I worried about her constant partying and the times when I wouldn't see her for days at a time. Selfishly and naively, I thought that Jonesy could fix all of that and give me peace of mind.

 

 

My cubicle was starting to take shape but I had only stuck up a few rough ideas to the walls before making anything permanent. Anna, another girl in my class, had complimented it quite a few times and as the days went on, she would come hang out in my cubicle and watch me paint. Sometimes, I would do the same for her. Anna seemed nice enough; she was a redhead with porcelain skin who liked to wear stripes a lot. She quickly became my new art class friend as Simon and Milly looked on in dismay. I still couldn't figure out what was going on with those two but I made a mental note to do so eventually; their two volatile personalities mixed together were bound to be a recipe for trouble.

 


Anna finally broached the topic everything wanted to talk about, as she helped me cut out tiny love hearts and stick them to the walls of my cubicle. It was her turn to sit in on me doing my art work. "Lex Langley, huh? What's that like?"

 


I had been awaiting the question since day one. It wasn't lost on me that she would never have spoken to me if I were not going out with Lex, most likely. He had made me infinitely more interesting to others even though I thought I was interesting enough as a standalone counterpart. Just not interesting enough to outshine a borderline celebrity like Lex, unfortunately. Luckily, I didn't like being centre of attention so, to have a boyfriend who outshined me in every way, was actually a fortunate turn of events.

 


"Uhh, I don't really like to talk about that," I replied, politely. 
"Sorry for being nosy," Anna seemed genuinely apologetic. I felt like a total bitch but I was getting a bit tired of people constantly asking questions about Lex.
"Sorry if that came across as snappy. It's just that he has a severe lack of personal life as it is and I figure he should have at least one secret to himself."
"Of course! You're totally right. I'm super jealous though. He's gorgeous."
"Yeah," I blushed. "But also a brilliant person and that's what really matters."
"In that case, I'm even more jealous! I can only find total idiots these days. Nobody fancies me."
"Oh, come on. I'm sure that's not true!"
"It is! Simon asked me out on a date but he pretty much shags anything that moves. That's not really my style."
"In fairness, I don't think Simon is anyone's style!"

 


Anna and I laughed together and Simon shot us a look from across the room; like he could hear what we were saying, even though we were whispering.

 


"Do you have any single friends?" Anna asked. The look of pleading in her eyes made me feel awful.
"Not really," I said, apologetically. 

 


She looked so sad and forlorn that the next words came out of my mouth with instant regret afterwards. 

 


"I guess...I could introduce you to the band," I said. "They're all single. Apart from Jonesy; my friend, Parminder, is sort of into him at the moment."
"Would you really do that?" Anna touched my arm warmly. 
"No problem at all," I replied, through gritted teeth.

 


Why had I agreed to introduce her to the band? It was presumptuous of me and Lex wouldn't be happy about it. Honestly, I had just felt so terrible looking at her sad, freckled face that I had offered up the only group of guys I really knew in London. It just so happened they were kind of famous. Jeez, Liv, I sighed. Do you ever think before you speak?

 


"When can you introduce me?" Anna urged.

"Well, they have a gig tonight," I replied. "It's sold out but maybe you can get tickets somewhere?"
"I'll have to ask around. But if I can get tickets then it's a go and I'd love to meet them. I actually think the drummer is quite cute."
 

 

I waited until Anna had gone back to her own cubicle and decided to text Lex to tell him about my poor decision making process:

 


Liv:
I've done something bad.

Lex:
...how bad are we talking?

Liv:
There's a girl in my class who gave me some sad puppy dog eyes so...I offered to introduce her to your single band members.

Lex:
no big deal...so long as she actually wants to be your friend and isn't hanging out with you for the wrong reasons. that's all i care about. 

Liv:
<3

Liv:
How do you always know the right thing to say to make my muddled head feel better?

Lex:
i'm a songwriter, words are about the only thing i'm good at!

Liv:
I beg to differ. You are good at many things.

Lex:
like what?

Liv:
Like making my life a thousand times better!

Lex:
:) need to head back to the studio. i can't wait to see you. only 6 more hours...counting down the minutes. i have a feeling this will be a memorable night X

 


---
 

 

 

Parm and I got ready together at the flat and caught a taxi into the city. I invited Anna with us, out of well-meaning kindness, but she hadn't been able to score tickets to the gig so said she would meet us at the pub afterwards. She was so excited to meet the boys that it made me feel anxious incase she didn't like any of them or vice versa.

 

The Roundhouse was completely mobbed and I didn't really want to step out of the taxi into the crowd. It was even more bizarre to see people wearing t-shirts with Lex's face on them. As I got out of the taxi, a few fans yelled torrents of abuse over at me. Parm loved it and felt like the superstar she had always wanted to be. Instead, I ducked my head away from the flashing of paparazzi cameras and shouts of concert-goers and went inside through the stage door like Lex had instructed. 

 


"That was intense," Parm grinned, when we thankfully got inside in one piece. "Is this gonna be your life all the time now? Ace!"

 

 

The only thing that could make me feel better was the sight of Lex striding down the corridor towards me with the biggest smile on his face. He picked me up easily, like I was light as a feather, and spun me around. As usual, he looked ridiculously handsome. He was wearing a baby blue shirt and had actually styled his hair for once. I reached out to touch it because it looked so soft and lovely, just like the boy who wore it, and he gave me a kiss which went on for an inappropriate amount of time. 

 


"Alright, you two," Parm prised us apart. "Break it up. Yuck!"
"I'm not allowed to show my lady how much I've missed her?" Lex acted wounded, but was actually amused. "You've got a heart of stone, Parm." He had draped his arm around my shoulder.

"Is Jonesy in there?" Parm pointed to the room behind us.
"He's waiting for you."
"If you'll excuse me, I have work to do."

 


She blew me a kiss, adjusted her dress and strutted into the band's dressing room like the most confident being alive. I certainly admired her steadfast confidence within herself. Lex was officially my boyfriend and I still felt silly around him sometimes.

 


"I've missed you too," I said, finally, after gazing at him for a long time. "Like, alot, alot."
"Alot, alot?" He chuckled. "I'm obviously glad that you get to see the band in action. But honestly, I just can't wait to spend time with you afterwards. Does that make me sound ungrateful?"
"No," I replied. "I know exactly what you mean."
"How was everything outside?"
"It's pretty intense out there. How do you live like this all the time?"
"You get used to it," He shrugged. "Is it messing with your head?"
"A little," I admitted. "But I came for you tonight. It's not about me. This is your big night!"

 


A tiny man wearing a headset hurried down the corridor towards us, carrying a clipboard in his hand.

 


"Lex," He announced. "We need you on stage now."
"One second," Lex said to the man and then turned to me. He looked like he was about to have a nervous breakdown.
"You'll be amazing!" I grabbed his hand. "You always are."
"Why do I only believe that when you say it?" 
"It's true."
"I'll be waiting for you afterwards. Don't leave, ok?"
"I won't. I'll be with you every step of the way. Break a leg!"
 

 

He gave me a quick peck on the cheek then took off down the corridor with the rest of the Strand's boys following. Parm emerged from the dressing room and was back by my side; her arm knitting through my own.

 


"Looks like it's time to break your Strand's virginity," She grinned, wickedly. 

 


 

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