Meet Me In the Hallway

We had made love earlier that day with no strings attached, but I could tell that something had changed - how you looked at me then.


A story in which a college student and an ex-performer are brought together at a downtown bar by a twist of fate.

*characters are not affiliated with real people, just their physical appearances and anything stated*

[WARNING: Strong language, Drug abuse, Sexual content]

copyright © justins_only_babe 2017



5. five

= Harry =


My pen taps against the paper of my journal. A cup of hot, black tea rests in my grasp. My eyes focus on the words I had just written and I don't know if I'm satisfied with them. As I read over them again and again, I realize that I'm singing them to a tune in my head. Immediately, my pens scribbles across the page, and the lyrics and melody scratch their way out of my brain. I haven't written music in almost a year and I never plan on writing music - for myself - again.


Every time I try to write anything in my journal, it always turns into songs. Almost every page in my journal is scribbled out, ripped out, blacked out. I can't escape it - I can't deal with it.


My phone vibrates quickly against the table and I see a text from my friend, Matt:


we're going to J's in an hour, you comin ?


I take a sip of my tea and press down on my screen. I type a quick reply:


Yes. I'll be at yours shortly.


I throw my journal closed and put it in my bag. I pick up the lid to the to-go cup for my tea and secure it onto the rim. After I'm out of my seat, I throw my bag over my shoulder, pick up my tea, push in my chair, and leave the coffee shop. The sunlight warms my skin as I step out the door, but a gust of wind takes away that warmth. My hair ruffles and blows all around my head, even as I try to tame it with my fingers.


The walk from the coffee shop to Matt's apartment is about fifteen minutes on a normal night. Since it's seven o'clock on a Friday night, the walk is going to be about half an hour because there are so many people going out or going home. I stop behind a huge crowd of people, waiting for the orange hand to turn into a walking man. I plug my headphones in and put the buds in my ears. My thumb slides up and down the screen, trying to pick an album to listen to. By the time I decide what to listen to, the crowd is walking and I'm following close behind.


As expected, half an hour later, I walk into Matt's apartment building and move to the elevator. I press the button that says 6 and the doors close. I tug on my earbuds until they're dangling from my hand, and then throw them in my bag. The elevator dings and I step onto the floor. Absentmindedly, I make my way to room 634 and knock on the door. The floor creaks as someone walks toward me. When the door opens, I see Jenny - Matt's girlfriend, my ex-friends with benefits.


"Look who decided to show up." Her voice is flat and uninterested. Her makeup is dark around her eyes and her clothes match the look. An old black shirt hangs from her shoulders and stops at her mid-thigh. Fishnet tights are ripped along her legs and - for now - she's barefoot.


I roll my eyes and step inside. Jenny closes the door behind me as I walk to the living room. Matt is leaning over the coffee table, a rolled up dollar bill is in between his fingers and little white lines are on the wood. Once he's done with a line, he sits back up and scrunches his nose.


"Hey, mate." Matt says casually.


"Hey," I sit down next to him and throw my bag next to me. I take the bill from him and mimic his actions. When I sit up, I rub my nose and take a deep breath.


Matt does another two lines and Jenny walks out from the bedroom. She is now wearing shoes. Her arms cross over her chest and she seems antsy.


"You alright there, love?" I tease.


She glares at me and rolls her eyes. "Can we go? By the time we get there it will be eight and Matt has to perform at eight-thirty."


"We'll leave when we leave. No one cares if I'm late. I'm always late anyway." Matt gets up from the couch and steps in front of Jenny. He grabs her cheeks and presses his lips to hers softly. "It will be alright, darling."


While they're having a moment, I do the final line on the table and stand up as well. My bag falls back to its designated place and I run my fingers through my hair. Matt takes Jenny's hand and I follow them out their apartment.


The walk from their room to Jack's is about ten minutes. These ten minutes are filled with nothing but silence and occasional 'sorry's for bumping into strangers. I light a cigarette as we walk. The few lines of coke I did earlier are soaking into my system.


By the time we get to the bar, my cigarette is done for and I'm flying high. Matt and Jenny walk across the small crowded room and to the stage. The rest of their band is there, waiting for Matt. Jenny is the drummer but they recently found a new guy to take her place. She wasn't as pissed as I expected she'd be, but she certainly wasn't happy - especially because she was apart of the original band. But Jenny is a big girl and won't let something as small as being kicked out of a local band get her down.


As Matt and the rest of the band begins to warm up, I scope out the place for someone to possibly take home tonight. I've never been into one night stands, but within the past year they've become more appealing. Getting lost in someone else instead of in your own head makes everything a little easier. Granted, the last time I went home with someone was last week and that whole night just freaked me out. All I really remember about that girl was that she had a weird name that started with an L, stunning eyes, and a nice ass. Her bed was really comfortable, too. It may have been on the floor but fuck it was so cozy, it was like a cloud. I remember when I woke up, I didn't want to leave, it was like I was in heaven and I had found peace. But of course the moment ended when I realized the trap I could have found myself in if I had stayed.


I shake my head, ridding my thoughts of the beautiful bed that held the beautiful girl.


My feet carry me to an empty seat at the bar and my hands drop the bag to my feet. I lean my elbows on the counter and rub my hands over my face. I can't get her eyes out of my head. I need a drink.


I clasp my hands together in front of me and look at the bartenders. Nicole is at the other end, talking to Owen - an old friend of mine. My eyes wander to the girl in front of me - more specifically her ass - and I know damn-well that she didn't work here before. Nicole and some other chick, who always happens to be drunk, have been the only bartenders here for as long as I can remember. This girl is new. This girl has a really nice ass. I move my gaze up her body and I notice a big, black shirt is hanging from her shoulders. Her hair is light brown and fairly long, falling to the small of her back. I catch a bit of her reflection and see the shirt she's wearing. The Rolling Stones logo is worn into the fabric, reminding me of a shirt I have.


Had. I left that shirt at the apartment with the beautiful bed.


I catch another glimpse of the shirt in the mirror and I see a bleach stain right above the upper lip, just like mine.


Wait . . .


The girl in The Rolling Stones t-shirt with the nice ass turns around and I swear my heart stops.


Here, in front of me, is the owner of the coziest bed in Chicago. She glances at me for half a second and takes the drink in her hand to some guy two seats down from me. For a very brief moment, she tenses and peers at me again. I look away this time and in my peripheral vision, I see her walking toward me.


"What can I get for you, Mr. Styles?" Her voice is smooth - so smooth - like she's been rehearsing this moment over and over again.


A smile instantly spreads on my face. My eyes move up to hers and lock in place. The pale jade of her eyes is so mesmerizing and I never want to look away. Her irises are full of twists and turns that all lead back to her beautiful mind.


She raises her eyebrow and I'm taken out of my trance. I blink a few times and scan her face. "Take a guess," I say, mimicking her smooth tone.


She scrunches her nose, "jack and coke? Really?" And the smooth façade is gone. She's back to sounding like the bold girl I met last week.


I laugh as she turns around to get my drink. I bite my lower lip and take in the sight of her in my shirt. It's honestly really sexy. Only one other girl has worn any of my clothes and it was Jenny. The reason being was because hers were in the washer and she didn't bring anything else to wear. I had gotten so wasted that I threw up on her and it was the least I could do - literally, the bare fucking minimum of what I could have done.


Layne - I think her name is - turns around and places my drink in front of me. As she does so, I notice black ink across the skin of her forearms, just below her elbow. Her right arm reads 'Hopeful' and her left arm reads 'Hopeless'. Both are in the same, thin, structured, and capitalized font. She leans on her forearms in front of me and holds her hands together.


I take a drink from my glass and set it down. I take a quick breath and place my hands around her arms. My thumbs run over the tattoos and I feel her stiffen slightly below my touch.


"So," I chirp, "tell me about these. Why is the right arm hopeful and the left arm hopeless?"


She narrows her eyes at me but doesn't pull away. "That's just how it worked out."


I look down at her wrist and see a small 17 scribbled in her skin. It's on the Hopeful side. I move my hand down her arm and to her wrist, picking it up so I can see the ink upright. "Why is the 17 on the Hopeful side?"


This time she shakes her arms from my grasp and grabs a rag from under the bar. She begins wiping the table where her arms just were. "Again, that's just how it worked out." She sounds slightly annoyed, but also slightly flattered that someone is paying so much attention to her tattoos.


As she's wiping the counter, I see a B written on the side of her left wrist. "What does the B stand for?" The high I'm buzzing from is making me more confident than normal.


I'm just asking her random questions at this point because I just want to hear her talk. Every time she talks, her voice settles deeper inside my chest and the feeling isn't pleasant. It's an aching, burning, trembling sensation. Need. I need this girl - so bad.


"Ben. It's my father's name." She says simply.


"Why is a tattoo that represents your father on the Hopeless side?"


She throws the rag under the bar, leans her weight against her hands, and sighs. I know what she's going to say, so I say it with her, "That's just how it worked out."


Her lips pull into a smile and she drops her head between her shoulders, shaking it lightly. I smile with her and take another drink. Her eyes meet mine. I flash her a grin, causing her to scoff and push herself off the bar.


Someone a few seats down from me asks her for a drink. She holds up one finger, letting me know she'll be back in a second. As Layne gets the man's drink, I finish mine off and turn to look at the stage. Matt is at the microphone, everyone else is in their assigned places. They're about to start. Evan, the new drummer, clicks his drum sticks together four times and everyone starts playing their instruments. Matt is dancing with himself, feeling the music within his body. I remember how that feels.


"So," I hear her voice behind me. I turn back to face the bar and Layne is getting me another drink. "Why are you here? I thought you lived across town?"


She slides the drink to me and I catch it in my palm. "I'm friends with the singer," I nod my head to the band. Her eyes flash to the stage then back to me, like she doesn't believe me. "His name is Matt, he lives a ten minute walk away."


Layne bites the side of her cheek and leans on the bar again. "You would be friends with him."


I furrow my brows, "what's that supposed to mean?" I say, taking mock offense to her statement.


"I don't mean that in a bad way!" She holds her hands up in defense. "You guys just look like you would be friends with each other. Like, your clothes and personas."


"That's fair." I take another drink from my glass and she watches me carefully. When my beverage is gone, Layne picks it up and goes to get me another one. Before she turns around, I grab her wrist. She looks back at me. "I'll just take beer, I don't want to get too pissed tonight."


Her lips twitch into a small smile but then it disappears. "What kind?"


I let go of her wrist and cross my arms on the bar, "whatever you think is best."


Layne rolls her eyes and picks out a bottle for me. She opens it behind the counter and sets it in front of me. Nicole calls her over to help out with a crowd that just came in and she gives me a sympathetic smile. I wave her off and turn back to the band.


The second, or third, maybe fourth, song ends and Matt takes a drink from his glass of wine. "Thank you. We're Rylee, and we've been playing here for about a two years now. So thank you for never getting tired of our music. This next one is an old one, written by Mr. Harold Styles over there," Matt gestures over to me and everyone cheers. I raise my beer to the crowd and take a drink. He knows how much I hate it when he gives me credit for the music. I don't want to connect with that part of my life anymore.


"This is How About Then." The crowd cheers again, and the first guitar chords and drum beats begin playing.


I remember performing this song. Every weekend the original group would play this song, and so many others. We played so often that the regulars would sing the songs back to us. Sometimes people would ask us if we had an upcoming album or EP they could buy or download. We would tell them that it would come out soon, that we were working on it, but then everything fell apart and we never finished it.


But that's not my life anymore, and I don't want it to be. I don't want to be the performer, the front man, the heartthrob. I want to be the creator, the producer, the man behind the scenes. It doesn't feel right being on stage, not like it did a year ago.


I need another line.


"You didn't tell me you were a music-man." I hear her voice again and immediately turn around.


Her hair is up now, only a few small pieces hanging around her face. Her eyes stand out more now. They look even more grey than they do green, and the soft black makeup around her eyes brightens them.


"Yeah, I was. Not anymore." I answer, my voice tight.


"Why'd you stop?" Every time she leans on the bar, I want to grab her face and kiss her.


I bring the bottle to my lips and mumble, "not important." I finish off my beer and place the bottle back down. "So, what about you? Are you from around here?"


"I'm from Moline. It's about a three hour drive west from here." She says simply.


"Hm, never heard of it. What do you have there?"


She smiles. "I didn't expect you to, and we have the John Deere World Headquarters. And a river, that's pretty much it."


I shrug, "not too shabby. Why'd you move to Chicago?"


Her smile fades and her eyes cast down. No, no, no. Back up, back up, back up. This isn't something she wants to talk about. Make her smile, say something corny. She likes corny.


"Layne!" Nicole calls as soon as Layne is about to reply. Both of our heads turn to look at her. "Come here."


Layne shoots me a small smile and walks over to Nicole. I don't know what they're saying but Layne perks up a bit and then she exits from behind the bar. Nicole walks over to me and gets me another beer. After she opens the bottle, she gives me a wink and leaves to help another person. When the bottle meets my lips, I feel a hand touch my back. I look to my right and see Layne with her hair down and a bag over her shoulder.


"I'm going home. Thank you for making my night bearable." She gives me a sweet, shy smile.


Wait, don't leave. Stay a little longer. Or take me with you.


I shrug, "it was my pleasure, truly."


Her smile widens, "I'll see you later, Harry."


Before I can say anything, she's walking away. As soon as she's out the door, I can feel my high wearing off and the alcohol starting to kick in.


"She's a good girl," Nicole is in front of me now, pouring me a jack and coke. I look at her when she slides me the drink, she's giving me a look of warning. "You better not mess this up."



harry's first chapter

i hope you enjoyed reading it as much as i did writing it

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