That Direction

How exactly do we pick our favorite boys in boy bands? Its weird, if you think about it. We just point at a face on the album cover and say that one is mine. With no real claim, having never met the boy, we choose. And then we fall in love. And then we obsess.

We thought we were getting too old for One Direction, but still we shamelessly listened to their albums and bought tickets for their tour we simply could not afford.

I don't know if I believe in fate, or true love, or any of the other crap that is written about in my favorite novels. They said we had a one in a million chance of meeting them, and a one in a billion chance of them falling for us. But I guess, sometimes, you just get lucky.


4. Chapter Four

When I wake up the next morning, I am not surprised Mariah is not awake.  It’s our second Saturday in London and I still am not able to sleep past nine o’ clock in the morning.  Not even after being out until three the night before.


I grab my laptop off of the floor next to my bed and open up my email.  Nothing from my mother yet, which surprises me, but she did promise to not make me miss home too much.  I send her a quick message over Facebook, asking if she is busy and if she has time to talk.


Face time opens up a second later with a call from her.  I click the green button and I am greeted with all of my siblings crowded around my mother with her IPad.


“Hello!” they all fight to say the loudest and I laugh as I wave at all of them.


“How’s London?” my seventeen-year-old sister, Grace, asks from off the screen.


“It’s great,” I tell them.  “Everything we imagined it would be.  I wish you could all see it.  It’s absolutely amazing.  Last weekend Mariah and I walked around so that we could get to know the area and it is unlike anything I have ever seen.”


“It’s just another city,” my mom says.  I roll my eyes at her blasé attitude towards the place I am falling more and more in love with.  I catch up on all of the daily activities going on at home, it has been rather dull the last week except for the foot of snow that just continues to accumulate.  It’s odd for them to be getting so much snow so early in the New Year but Cincinnati is not known for its tame and constant climate.


“Well have a good day!” Mom says as we prepare to say goodbye.  She lets each child say goodbye to me and we make plans to chat again next week if our schedules line up so well again.  “Love you honey!”


“Love you too mom,” I say before hitting the end call button.  


I hang up with my mom and decide to get dressed after checking the weather.  It’s supposed to be a nice day and I might as well take advantage of the somewhat mild temperature for January in London.


It seems as though the rest of the city has the same idea as me.  The streets get more crowded the closer to the center of the city I get.  The street side markets are open and bustling with customers.  I look through a few tables and end up buying a necklace and a pair of earrings from an older woman.


Mariah texts me as I take a seat on a quite curb just outside of a sandwich shop.  I tell her that I am out and about and tell her to come meet me.  Clouds have begun to roll into the sky and I decide to tell her to not worry about it because I will be heading home soon.  Hopefully before the surprise rain or snow rolls in.


I pull my laptop out of my purse and open it up.  I am never going to get published if I cannot finish a book.  I get lost in my own world as I type and ignore the cold around me.  People walk in and out of the sandwich shop behind me and I don’t realize how much time is passing.


“You do know its negative four degrees, don’t you?” I look up and stare at the man looking down at me.  His chocolate brown eyes bore into mine with nervous humor.  I can’t find my words as I stare up at Liam Payne.  He runs a hand through his hair nervously.  “Can I sit here?”


“Of course,” I say after finding my confidence.  I scoot over an inch as he takes a seat next to me, a coffee in his hand.


“Liam,” he offers as if I don’t know who he is.  I raise an eyebrow at him and he chuckles beside me.  “You never know,” he shrugs and takes a sip of his coffee.


“I would have to live under a rock to not know who you are,” I tease light heartedly.  He smiles at me and I want to faint from the proximity.  The image of him flying above my head last summer replays in my head, I nearly fainted at that concert and that was nothing compared to this.  “Oh, I’m Kayla.”


“Nice to meet you Kayla,” he laughs at me again and then looks down at his designer shoes.  I am at a loss for what to say and that does not happen often.  What do you say to a twenty-year-old international super star?  “So, you’re American.”  I look at him and raise my eyebrows again.  “I had nothing else,” he admits and I start laughing.


“Yes,” I say after laughing.  “I am here with my best friend for the next eight months or so.  We have been here about a week now.”


“Do you like it so far?”


“Love it,” I explain for the second time today.  Liam listens intently as I tell him all of the things we have done and seen so far.  He seems to think it is absolutely ludicrous that we have not yet gone to any of the tourist attractions.


“Come on,” he stands up and dusts off his jeans.  He holds his hand out and I look up at him for a second before grabbing his hand.  I stuff my laptop back in its case and allow him to grab my hand again as he leads me away from the curb.


“So where exactly are you from?” he asks as we walk across a crosswalk.  Above us, the snow has not yet begun to fall but the clouds have taken over the sky giving everything the famous gray tint.


“Cincinnati, Ohio,” I tell him.  He raises an eyebrow at me and I just laugh.  “It’s not too important.”


“I disagree, I want to know about you.  I will have to look at a map later,” he winks at me and stops.  I turn to see that we have made our way to the end of a line.  I look up above us to see the London Eye turning slowly and no doubt giving the best view of London.  “I cannot believe you haven’t done this yet.”


“We haven’t really thought of it yet,” I admit.  “We have been more focused on going out and drinking.”  I feel my cheeks get warm as I admit our adolescent behavior.  It doesn’t seem to come as a surprise to Liam as we take another step forward in the long line.  His hand is still wrapped around mine as we stand and wait patiently.  I wonder briefly if he could use his name to just bypass this line and conclude that he definitely could as girls walk past us and start whispering.  


“Well now you are going to,” he smiles and squeezes my hand.  “So do you miss home yet?”


“Not as much as I thought I would.  I talked to my mom and siblings this morning and I miss them like crazy but I am actually okay,” I tell him.


“How many siblings do you have?”

“Eight,” I smile up at him and his jaw drops.  “I know it’s a lot!  But there is never a dull moment so I can’t complain too much.”


“That’s insane.  I only have two older sisters and whenever they start ganging up on me I wish I was an only child!” he laughs just as we get to the front of the line.  Liam pays and then we wait in yet another line before boarding one of the pods along with a few other lucky tourists.


“You are Liam Payne, correct?” A young girl asks with a heavy Spanish accent as the Eye begins to rotate.  Liam nods with a lazy smile and the girl squeals.  “Can I get a picture with you?”  Liam nods with a smile and bends down to fit into the selfies frame with the short girl with the voluptuous Spanish frame.


“Sorry about that,” Liam sighs as he returns to me.  Our pod is just reaching the highest point of the Eye however, and I am walking over to the glass to look out over the city.  From up here, I can see everything that needs to be seen.  The view is unreal, something one only sees in movies, and my breath is taken away.  Liam points out all of the important buildings in just enough time.  “As I said,” he says as the Eye continues rotating, “I cannot believe you have not been up here yet.”


“I understand,” I sigh.  The picturesque view is etched on my mind and I doubt I will ever forget it.  “Thank you so much.”


“You needed to see it,” He shrugs with that shy smile of his.  “And I wanted an excuse to spend more time with you.”  The pod stops and the doors open.  The other tourists step out of the pod before us.  Liam keeps ahold of my hand as we push past a larger crowd than before and suddenly people are calling out Liam.


“Shit, I am so sorry,” He says before nearly ripping my arm out of my socket as we push through the crowd.  Someone grabs ahold of my hand and I am pulled in two directions before Liam’s strength wins out.  The crowd opens and we are sprinting down the sidewalk.  A black Audi R8 jumps to life and Liam is pushing me in through the driver’s side.  I fall across the center console as Liam shuts the door before jamming the key into the ignition.  The car roars to life and Liam starts to pull the car away from the curb just as a few lone girls catch up to us.


“Holy shit!” I start laughing as the run catches up to me.  I am breathing in and out and trying to keep my mentality in check.  “That was exciting.”  I smile over at Liam and he is giving me the most incredulous look.


“Exciting?” He asks with a chuckle.  “Not terrifying?”


“I mean yeah when I almost got split in half I was kind of scared to death, but that was one hell of a rush!” I cough over my words as I try to calm my beating heart. 


“You are incredible,” Liam starts laughing.  “Now where are we going?”




“MARIAH HUDSON!” I scream as soon as I figure out how to unlock our red door.  My hands are shaking and I cannot stand still with my adrenaline pumping at such a rapid pace.  Mariah comes running out of her bedroom, still in her pajamas, as if a murderer has just broken down our door.  “I just met Liam Payne, and he held my hand, and took me on the London Eye, and held my hand, and we got mobbed, and he drove me home, and asked for my number and he held my hand Mariah!”


I take a huge breath after getting my spastic sentence out.  Mariah stares at me for a second as if she is debating sending me to a shrink, and then she screams.


“You what?” she screams.  I pace back and forth as I tell her, in detail, about my spontaneous meeting and date with the boy band member.  I want to faint all over again after I finish my story but instead I fall onto the couch dramatically.  “What the fuck?”

“I know right?” I exclaim, covering my eyes with my arms.  The entire afternoon just keeps playing on repeat and I feel every rush of emotion all over again.


“No,” Mariah says.  “I mean, what the actual fuck?  We have been to two of their concerts, stayed up for three days straight for that stupid One Direction GPS twitter account, and he just takes a seat next to you on the curb outside of a sandwich shop?”


We both stare at each other.  When she puts it that way, the entire thing is hilarious.  I start cracking up as she continues asking what the fuck is wrong with the world. 


My phone vibrates in my pocket as we are laughing and we both stare at the text from the unknown UK number.


*It’s Liam* the text reads with a smiley face emoji.  Mariah grabs the phone from me and just stares at the text message.


“This is really happening?” she asks as if in a daze.  All I can do is nod as I take my phone back from her.  The phone vibrates in my hand again.


*I almost texted you the second you got into your building, but I didn’t want to seem too desperate* I laugh out loud as I read his second text message and the next second I receive a winky face from him.


*It hasn’t even been an hour* I text back and then put the phone down.  I stand up and shake my hands out.  I just had the most exhilarating experience of my life and I need to let things play out without seeming too excited. 


I pay no attention to those thoughts as my phone vibrates again.




Liam and I text back and forth all week, and he calls me nearly every night.  Every time my phone makes any noise I jump on it like a lovesick adolescent.  I wonder what happened to my cool, calm and collected demeanor when it comes to men as the week goes on and Liam pulls me in.


Pictures of our impromptu date surface on the web and theories on who I am begin to circulate.  One journalist congratulates Liam and I for keeping a relationship secret for such a long time even though we had just met that day.


Face time opens on my laptop as I am finally getting somewhere on my story line.  I hit the green button and my mother’s darling face shows up on the screen.

“Why do I see your doppelganger all over the internet?” she asks without saying hello.


“It’s nice to see you too mom,” I roll my eyes.  “I don’t have a doppelganger that I know of.”  I push my hair out of my face and tuck the strands behind my ear.  Mariah joins me at the island and waves to my mom.


“Hello Mariah, are you keeping an eye on this trouble maker?”

“Yes ma’am,” Mariah laughs.  “She has been angelic.”


“That is not what it looks like!  Kayla please explain what you have gotten yourself into,” She sighs as if she is carrying a huge weight on her shoulders.  She rubs her temples with two fingers and closes her eyes.  Next to me Mariah laughs and leaves me to deal with my mother on my own.


“How do you even know that it’s me?” I ask with a laugh.  “You can barely see my face!”  My mother looks at me with an eyebrow raised.  I almost forgot she knows everything.  I quickly tell her everything about my simple, budding relationship with Liam Payne before she pops an aneurism.


“Only you,” she sighs as I answer yet another text from the topic of conversation himself.


“How are things on your end?” I ask, desperately hoping to take the focus off of me.  My mother goes on to tell me about the project Maryann has to put together for her history presentation.  We both argue over the first year I had to do such an involved project and never reach a conclusion or middle ground of any sort.


“Mom!” a door opens back at home and someone yells for my mom.  All of the kids flood the kitchen and I sit and watch the chaos unfold.


“Kayla!” Luke sees me on the IPad screen and trips over his backpack as he runs over to get on one of the stools at the island.  All of the kids fight over the IPad and nearly drop it on the floor before mom screams at all of them to go wash their hands before their after school snack.


“I miss you honey,” Mom tells me, “but I am going to kill these kids.  We will talk soon! Love you!”


“Love you too!” I promise before hanging up.  I shake my head and laugh, feeling an ache in my stomach from not being there with them. Leaving three weeks ago, I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be there to help my mother out.  I didn’t think about the fact that she raised the first four of us without any problems.  Plus, dad’s job now allows him to be home more often than he is gone.


“How’s the home front?” Mariah asks, joining me in the living room again.  Her hair is wet from her shower and she is now in a t-shirt and yoga pants like I am.


“Chaos like always, what’s new,” I tell her. “Have you talked to your parents?”


“Not really,” she shrugs.  “Dad texted me the other day asking how I was, I said good and that was the conversation.”  We both laugh.  Mariah’s father was always the punch line at any sporting event or get together.  The George Clooney look-alike was always cracking jokes, which were really not that funny, and cracking himself up.


My phone vibrates again, I have not been this attached to my cellphone since high school.  Mariah laughs as I smile at the text message.


“When are we going out with prince charming?” she asks with a wiggle of her eyebrows.  I have been wondering the exact same thing. 

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