Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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17. ⪻ 17 ⪼

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The say you never truly forget how to ride a bike, even if you haven't done so since you were just a wee child. I suppose dating can be perceived the same way. You never truly forget how to date, though you may be incredibly rusty and nervous as hęll.

Take now for instance. Harry picked me up from my flat as Niall was getting settled with Edward, who has had slightly less of an attitude. My date showed up, dressed to the nines might I add, and drove us down the high street to a beautiful restaurant. Harry drank water and I a glass of red wine and we dined on a magnificent pasta dish that Harry bet I could make a hundred times better without a recipe.

The entire time from him picking me up at my door until now I've been quite quiet. Usually having a conversation with Harry is easy, but the idea of this as a date has put me on high stress alert.

"Are you nervous?" My head snaps up from my empty plate to look across the clothed table at Harry. He smirks lightly over at me, somehow knowing exactly how I'm feeling. "You seem nervous."

"I am a bit nervous." I say with an incredibly long exhale of air from my lungs. "It's been awhile since I've been on a date. Let alone a date with a new person." I admit, feeling my cheeks brighten.

I know Harry's said that he doesn't really like to surround himself with new people or a lot of people, but surely he's been on more dates than I. How can a man with his kindness, talent, and looks go so long without a date?

"A new person?"

"I was in a long term relationship. Wow, I've already broke rule number one of dates: don't talk about your ex." I mutter, chuckling lightly to myself as I take a rather big sip from my almost empty wine glass. I may be in need of another glass.

"Don't worry about it." Harry admits, chuckling to himself as well. "If it makes you feel any better, it's been a long time since my last date."

"Longer than six months?" I ponder, trying to gather a little insight on his last date. It's not that it really matters, but I can't say I'm not the least bit curious.

"Try, since Uni." My jaw nearly drops at his words.

"Since Uni? You finished with university like five years ago. There's really not been one woman in all that time?"

I really don't see how this beautiful, smart, funny, man has gone so long without a female "friend". He's so... so... ugh, how?

"I mean there were one or two interactions, if you can call them that, but never a proper date." Harry admits, taking a large gulp from the water sitting before him on the table.

"I suppose that makes me pretty special."

"Of course it does."

My cheeks automatically turn a shade of scarlet that I hope isn't too obvious. I'm not used to getting complimented so much, at least not in a long time. Every time Harry opens his mouth and throws a compliment towards me I just don't know how to respond.

"Then we should toast," Picking up my nearly empty wine glass I hold it towards Harry. He smiles over at me, the prominent dimple popping on his left cheek as he lifts his glass of water towards mine. "To being someone's special." I announce for the two of us as we clink our glasses together softly.

"So, why haven't you opened a bakery of your own?" Harry questions after our toast.

Before the question of my nerves, I had gone on for a quite some time about why boxed cake batters are a sin. I've never told him that I've thought about it and tried to put my dream into action.

"Uh -"

"I mean you just went on for twenty minutes about why boxed cake batters are appalling, I think surely opening your own bakery has crossed your mind."

"Twenty minutes, aye?" We both laugh, me at my inability to shut up about cake batter and Harry probably for the same reason. Only his laugh probably isn't out of shame. "I thought we said we weren't going to speak of exes."

"Ah, so he's the reason." Harry mutters, leaning back in his seat with his arm slung over the back of the empty chair to his left. "He didn't burn your bakery down, did he?" A loud laugh escapes my lips before I can do anything to stop myself; the other diners giving me glances from across the room.

"God, no. He might as well have done that it, probably couldn't have been worse. Long story short, he was helping me fund and work on opening the bakery and then he was sleeping with another woman. So bye-bye bakery, bye-bye boyfriend."

Telling that is like ripping a plaster off, quick and semi-painless.

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, don't be."

"So, what's stopping you now? You're an independent woman, you don't need his help or anyone's help for a matter of fact." Harry states, again fueling the redness to my cheeks.

Since my ex, the only people who have truly believed in my vision and believed I could rise to greatness, were my parents. It's been a month of doubt for myself. Doubting if I'm truly doing the right thing by working at a nine to five job in which I despise very much.

"I wish it were that simple. But with my parents passing and money being what it is, and Edward needing me, it's just not plausible right now. Maybe someday, but not today."

Harry looks deep in thought after explaining what is stopping me from my dream, but he doesn't say anything to steer me towards my dream. I'm not sure if I want him to or not. The blank stare of his eyes on my face doesn't last long before he's breaking out into a grin and continuing our conversation on.

"What would you call your bakery?" I laugh at the out-of-nowhere question and think back to all the silly bakery names written in journals.

As a teenage girl, and even today, I enjoy planning everything down to a T. So arranging the possibility of opening my own bakery meant everything had already been planned out. I had journals filled with recipes with a twist, bakery names, locations, prices, possible employee numbers, etc. I haven't referred the the journal in a long time.

"I thought about Annabelle's Sweet Treats, but I don't know about it now. I don't know."

"Belle's." The word tumbles from his lips without any context to them, throwing me slightly for a loop.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Name your bakery Belle's; it's short, easy to remember and pronounce, and it's your name."

"Yes, but only you call me that." I say, my words slow like molasses dripping from a spoon.

"Then it's a work in progress. I'll have five new names for you by tomorrow."

His humor towards my imaginary bakery name warms my heart and I can't help but hope he actually does come up with a real name for the bakery that may or may not ever exist.

"I'm holding you to that. My imaginary baker will need a name."

"It's not imaginary, you'll make it happen one day. And when you do, I'll get free sweets because I named the place." With a roll of my eyes I find myself agreeing.

After all he's done for me, free treats is the least I can do.

"Alright, deal."

We settle the deal with another quick clink of our glasses together before my brain wanders. Harry knows a lot about me, yet I still don't know a lot about him and his professional background. Has he always wanted to a doctor like I have always wanted to be a baker/chef?

"Have you always wanted to be a doctor?" Harry shakes his head to my question, my curiosity growing at the short gesture.

"Not always. Like most kids, I had the years of wanting to be a police officer or an astronaut, or even a pilot. One day I remember turning the telly on, expecting to watch some NASA documentary that was supposed to be on, but it ended up being a medical documentary. It was all about the Emergency department and nothing was sugar coated. Everything was real and I was beyond intrigued."

"So, it was just a change of heart then?"

"At first." He answers, just as our waiter comes over and clears our plates from the table.

Once the waiter returns, Harry and I have the small argument of who is going to pay, ultimately I did not win the battle. Harry's excuse of the man typically paying on the first date didn't persuade me, the fact that he told me to save it and buy myself or Edward something, did.

"Where was I?" Harry wonders after the bill is situated and we're in comfortable silence. "Ah, yes, Then I started down a downward spiral into the fascination of the medical field. I spent every moment of my free time studying medicine and reading medical journals. Apparently my brain was just wired for the field."

"How old were you?"

From all that Niall has said, I won't be surprised if he's incredibly young at this point in his life.

Harry lightly chuckles at the question, bringing his glass up to his lips and slightly avoiding the question directly on. I laugh along with him, urging him for the truth. My curiosity gets the best of me at times.

"Eight."

My jaw drops nearly to the table and the feeling of being incredibly unaccomplished for a twenty-two year old kicks in. He's done more before his adult life than I have done in the entirety of my life.

"You were eight! You were studying medicine at eight! At eight, I was still playing with dolls and creating dance moves to silly pop songs."

"I bet they were fabulous dance moves." Harry says, trying to make me feel a little better in my current state of shock.

"Try mediocre at best."

"You're telling me you weren't baking at eight?" I bite my lip and narrow my eyes at Harry. There is no way me baking at eight counts as equal to what he was up to at eight.

"I mean, I was. My mother was teaching me at that point. But baking wasn't my passion back then like it is now."

Just as Harry opens his mouth to say something probably charming or hilarious, a furious buzzing against his chair echoes throughout the room. He curses under his breath, nearly jumping out of his skin at the noise as he begins digging in his pockets for what I can only assume is his phone.

"I'm sorry." He apologizes as he frees his phone from his trousers. I shake my head at his apology and flash a smile over at him as I eye the rest of the restaurant.

Him receiving a phone call or message isn't the worst thing that's ever happened during a date. Plus, it could be important.

"Shįt." He mutters aloud as he reads the words written on the small screen in his hand. He says nothing else before he's on his feet.

"What is it? Something wrong?" I wonder, my heart skipping a beat at an emergency in his family or something severely wrong in his life.

"Yeah, I'm on-call tonight. They need an extra pair of hands in the A&E. Something about a twelve-car pile up." I gulp, the situation reminding me slightly of how we came to meet.

"Oh." Is all I say, really not having any clue of what to say right now.

"I'm so sorry."

Great, now I seem like I'm a bįtch.

"No, don't be sorry! Don't apologize, they need you." I tell the frantic man standing at the end of the table.

"Belle, I cannot believe this. They assured me if they needed me they would leave me to be their last resort."

"Harry, there's nothing to apologize for. This has been a wonderful date." I say in complete sincerity. This has been quite a wonderful date.

"Really?"

"Of course." Harry shoots me a dimple popping grin and in the moment it feels as if he doesn't have to rush off to a hospital.

"I would drive you home but I have to go, right now. Can I get you a taxi?" He asks, reaching back into his pocket for his wallet.

"Stop." I tell him, standing to my feet and placing my hand over his to block his wallet. "I can walk home, there's no issue there. We're not that far."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," I say laughing, "Harry, go." He shoves his wallet back into his pocket, but traps my hand in his before I can pull it too far away. He takes a step closer to me so that our toes are nearly touching.

"I'm so sorry." He says barely above a whisper. "I had a great time."

"Me too."

"Good night, Belle." He says, planting a soft kiss upon my cheek before darting in the direction of the exit.

My feet stay planted to the ground as my cheek burned where his lips had been pressed to moments ago. A grin so wide that it hurt my cheeks broke out onto my lips as I grabbed my bag and looked to the door.

"Good night, Harry."

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