The Pros and Cons of Being a Writer- Part II (Kind of)

*This post, unlike the first one of the same name that I published over a year ago, will not consist of a list so much as the struggles I’ve experienced recently with writing and what I am attempting to do to overcome them, etc. 

Hey it’s me. I know, weird, right? How long has it been since I’ve written an actual post? Way too long, that’s what. To be completely frank, here’s what’s been up with me:

I gave up.

Writing is hard; extremely reward, but very hard. Even writing this post for me is hard because in my head I know there are the things I should be doing (reading 50 pages of the Odyssey–fabulous text, by the way–for my Mythology class tomorrow, preparing a potential novel for NaNoWriMo, looking for internships, reading 100 pages for my Algorithms and Complexities class (also due tomorrow); and, no, I will not tell you how I landed myself in a class that sounds, at least for me, like it emerged from the bottom most pits of hell (trust me, the professor makes all of the difference), but I will tell you that it is not as bad as it sounds.) All of these things I should be doing.

And what do I really want to be doing? Writing.

But then I don’t do that either.

Why?

I’m not sure if this happens to any of you, but for me, I’m not so great at balancing my work with my writing; as a young writer, this is probably the #1 thing I struggle with most. Here’s why: when I want to write (which is an urge I experience multiple times every day; I think it just comes when you’re passionate about something, be it writing or something else), it tends to distract me from whatever I’m doing at the time. It’s why I have sticky-notes lying EVERYWHERE in my room, on my desk, in my backpack. If I have a sudden thought, I write it down. I even have a binder that is solely dedicated to sticky note ideas–whether they be about the editing of my novel, or an idea for a new one, a short story concept, etc.–that I keep tucked under my bed.

However, and this is a big however, it makes it hard for me to do the work that I don’t want to do (but needs to be done), which leads me to do nothing at all. Theoretically, you might think that if I was being so distracted by my writing, I would write instead of doing my homework.

If only. At least then I might feel a bit more accomplished than I do now.

No, what happens to me is that I get so caught up in the idea that there is work I must do that I’m not (because of various writing and non-writing distractions), that I freeze up and can no longer write. It’s a catch-22 that drives me insane: I’m too busy thinking about writing to work, and then when I try to write, the thought of the work that I have to do stresses me out to no end and I feel that the only thing I can write is complete and utter crap.

One of the things that used to help me out a lot with this was this blog. I didn’t have to worry about character progression or plot holes or bad grammar. If I wanted to write a supper long sentence with no punctuation whatsoever that would probably make an editor cry but that made me explicitly happy because it was simply my thought process and nothing else I could write that.

But life always seems to get in the way, doesn’t it?

So then there was no more daily writing, which admittedly sent me into a writing depression, and all I could think about was how life is hard and maybe I’m not meant to be a writer, even though it’s what I love, and maybe I am going to have to get a job with people who hate what they do for one reason or the other, and that’s what I would do. Forever.

A terrifying thought if you ask me.

For me, a person who relies a lot on “vibes” and how I, as a human being, am sensing those around me (which sounds corny, but I don’t know how else to explain it), the thought of being around negative people for long periods of time is daunting. And worse than anything, I was becoming a negative person, which just added to the dragging feeling that was taking over my life.

Now, I’m not telling you guys this to be all “woe-is-me,” because reading stuff like that pisses me off, so I know it must be frustrating for you too. What I’m trying to say (and I have no idea if this is even going well or not), is that this experience–if this is happening/did happen to you–is something that is common.

I just now came back from a presentation where author Steven Gillis, a literary fiction writer, was talking about the various novels and works he’s published in the past (he’s now a publisher himself: Dzanc Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan; he’s a really interesting guy, even if his work isn’t what you like to read.) The point he kept emphasizing over and over and over again is this: write the best book/ poem/ short story/ screenplay/ etc. as you possibly can, and then try to get it out in the world.

For me, I know that the idea of getting an agent, getting published, having people read my book; yeah, well, for a long time that’s what was stuck in my head, not the story I wanted to tell.

That is NOT the way to do it.

And that’s what I’m going to be working on now: writing the best novel I can write. Getting the characters, so many of whom are stuck in my head and won’t leave me alone, written down on paper, and then rewriting the crap out of it until I’m confident I’ve completed something I am proud of and that I think stands for something.

And, especially for me right now, after a long period of having nothing written down whatsoever, I think just getting some different ideas and novel concepts (that have been spinning in my head forever) written down on paper–first drafting them–will help me immensely with figuring out where I am and where I want to go.

If you are at all feeling the same way I am, or if you’re a young writer looking at this (thanks for making it this far with me, by the way, I really appreciate it :) ), please don’t give up. Especially young writers. Like I said, writing is not easy, but it’s very rewarding. Creating people, places, situations from nothing can be taxing on your psyche and your mental fortitude. Why do you think so many famous authors were alcoholics or ended up committing suicide (something you SHOULD NOT DO–if you are ever feeling like you are having such a hard time you would turn to one of these extremes, please talk to someone. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and more people do it than you might think. If you are a university student, there are almost always clinics on campus where you can meet with someone and discuss what’s happening in your life and why you are feeling so badly. They are there to help you, and more students take advantage of these programs than you know. You are not alone!)

I don’t want anyone to read this post and feel bummed about writing. For me, my struggle is keeping my life balanced, but this is something that comes with everyone who has a passion/ life goal that they are working toward. There is always going to be stuff that you want to do and stuff that you have to do, and these two things might be worlds apart as far as scheduling and, for lack of a better word, “funness” are concerned.

Just keep writing. That’s the advice that I hear all of the time from other writers (published and not published), professors, editors, publishers. It’s how you are going to find your voice and it’s how you are going to, eventually, be able to discern the gems from the shit.

This is what I am going to attempt for myself; something I am working on incorporating into my daily schedule, and NaNoWriMo will be a test of it.

P.S. If you don’t know about National November Writing Month, it’s an awesome organization that challenges writers to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. You join, are set up with a support group of other writers taking on this challenge, and you can track your progress throughout November to, hopefully, reach that 50,000 mark at the end. There’s also awards given out at the end of the whole thing to people who have accomplished the (super daunting) task; but to be fully honest, I’ve never made it quite that far :)

BUT THIS IS A NEW YEAR AND BY GOLLY I’M GOING TO DO IT!

Perhaps I will share my progress with you guys too to help keep me motivated :)

Okay, so now I really have to do my homework, but this is something I’ve been wanting to write for a while and I felt like I needed to sit down to do it. Expect more lighthearted posts (and potentially more pieces of writing) coming your way in the near future. I’m also trying to get back on a weekly blogging schedule, but that’s a lot at once, so we’ll see.

I love you all, thanks for sticking with me!!!

Your average friend,

Mel

Gentleman Prophet

This is a short story I have been working on here-and-there over the last month or so. It was based off of a conversation I had with my friends that slowly spiraled into…um…whatever exactly this is. It’s unedited and I have no idea if any of it even makes sense, but I think it’s amusing. Please forgive me if the tense changes or if there are any basic mistakes, I didn’t really do much to make sure it was consistent, it was more of an exercise to just write.

Anyhoot, that was my disclaimer. Enjoy!

Mel

P.S. I’m not a huge fan of the very end so I might edit that later. Might being the key word.

~~~~~

I am a gentleman prophet.

How do I know?

It might have started with the visions. Or it might have started before that.

How long before that?

Maybe it started when I was young. Yeah, it probably started then. Some people say that weird shit starts happening to you when you hit puberty. You know, that’s when Superman got his powers. Or was it Spiderman? Either way, puberty messes with your shit, and then you don’t know which ways up, or how you got so many zits, or why that guy from third period science won’t answer your texts.

Probably because he never actually gave you his phone number; you just happened upon it when he left his phone on his desk and you ‘accidentally’ picked it up. And kept it.

And only returned it half an hour later when you’d had a chance to add him to your contacts.

Technicalities, really.

Or maybe it started at birth. Maybe I was born weird. I mean, it doesn’t sound too awful far from the truth if I’m being honest. I think it was the eyes.

You see, the thing people hate more than something they can’t explain is something they can almost explain; something that is just strange enough to cross beyond normal, but not bizarre enough to warrant true suspicion.

My eyes, for example. One is brown, the other is hazel. But not ‘kind of’ hazel—like the ‘oh, it just got a little screwed up in the making process’ hazel—but orange hazel. Like a cat; a freaky cat with orange-yellow eyes. And one brown one.

People don’t like it; they don’t know where to look. Should they semi-stare at the normal brown one, or fixate on the eye that they’re truly interested in? If I’m being truthful, I have the same reaction when I look in the mirror; like somehow I’ve forgotten since the last time I saw myself that I am half-cat.

And yet, somehow, this strangeness gives me the ability to do something most people can’t. I say most because that way I am not completely alone. I don’t really know either way, but this way makes me feel a bit better, so that’s what I’m going with.

To reiterate: I am a gentleman prophet.

What does this mean?

It means that no one is going to tell me a (successful) lie. Not if they are of the gender that involves a significant amount of outdoor architecture in the lower region of the human physique. Don’t get me wrong, they can certainly try, but as of 2:53p.m. two years, seventeen days, and thirteen and one-sixth hours ago exactly, I have been boy-vincible.

And yet, as of seventeen hours, forty-six minutes and twelve seconds ago, I cannot for the life of me read Bloomfield Parker’s mind.

~~~~~

Bloomfield Parker was named the way many rappers are named: the city you live in, and the name of your first pet. That’s his shtick. He doesn’t go around telling people that, of course, that’s just what I was able to draw from the darker recesses of his mind one day during Algebra.

(What? I wanted to make sure he wasn’t an axe-murderer or something!) He’s not, by the way.

But he does make it known to his friends every-so-often (aloud for all of our homeroom to hear) that his not-so-normal name is not the strangest in our school’s history; and thus, is not one to be made fun of.

Take Michelle Blewhymn for example.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Bloomfield Parker is special in other ways, too. Like how you can’t just say one piece of his name, you have to say the whole thing all at once or it’s not right. Or how he has silver eyes—silver!—did you know that was a color eyes could be? Because I certainly didn’t until I met him. But he’s most special when it comes to knowing stuff about rocks.

He knows a lot about rocks.

It sounds really lame and, I mean, it kind of is, but he knows so much about them that I can’t help tuning into his mind channel every so often just so I can listen to the prattle that is his rock-train-of-thought.

Petrology is what it’s called, the study of rocks, a sub-field of geology, and that’s what he wants to specialize in when we graduate high school. I can’t help but wonder if that’s even a thing. At the very least it would be a peculiar conversational piece.

What is your major?

Liberal studies. How about yours?

Geology with a specialization in petrology.

Oh, um, cool. What’s that?

It’s the study of rocks.

Oh, that’s nice.

Nice: the words you use to describe the things you actually couldn’t give less of a shit about. Oh, you went on vacation to the Bahamas? That’s nice. Your favorite color is mauve? Ooh, nice.

I sometimes wonder how far that kid will make it, but then I catch myself and remember: it’s Bloomfield Parker. Where won’t he make it?

It’s not just his looks—the stick-straight auburn of his hair, just dark enough to make his silver eyes shine at a peculiarly high velocity—or his passion for science that will get this kid places. It’s just…him. Bloomfield Parker isn’t just his name, it’s his way of being.

Bloomfield Parker just is. And he’s great at it!

It’s just that sometimes I wish he would be a little less great at it, and maybe that would give me a chance to understand his thoughts. You see, other than the rock stuff, there is something peculiar that happens every time I try to listen in on the mind of Bloomfield Parker.

It’s empty.

Not completely empty, there are thoughts there, but it’s like they have been shielded by a door, a thick oak door with a small man, kind of ugly and surely unhappy with the state of his life, standing behind it, and I don’t know the password.

In the two years since I woke up with this aching nosiness in my head, this is the first time thoughts have been denied to me.

I don’t like it.

I wouldn’t say that I used my newfound superpower for either good or evil, because in the moment how are you really supposed to know? (A rhetorical question that doesn’t really work for murder, but we’re not talking about murder). I would simply say I use it to my own benefit, including things that I think will benefit others, make of that what you will.

Like two weeks ago, for example, I overheard Mike Micklewadd (another one of the unfortunate names that plague our school) thinking about how the local amusement park is getting a surprise performance from Green Day in two weeks (his dad’s the CEO, not that managing the chief executive officer position of Wild Walley’s is surmountingly difficult). The tickets would be given away via a call-in to the local radio station. I spent an entire week working out my telephone dialing strategy and working with my friend, Janine. We were going to get these tickets if it killed us. Now guess who is taking her best friend to see Green Day backstage?

The performance sold out in under a minute. I was the second caller, right behind Mike. Ironically, Amber, the girl he had meant to impress with this information, was the one hundred and twenty-seventh caller. She didn’t even get a seat.

It just so happens that Mike also got backstage passes, four of them, and so of course he invited Bloomfield Parker, seeing as how they’re friends and all. So now, here we are: the day that will probably lead to the best night of my life. Two straight hours of Green Day and Bloomfield Parker; in the same room!

I can hardly contain the girlish giggles that threaten to burst from my throat in English class. It gets even worse when the final bell rings and Janine and I head to the bus—she’s coming over so we can plan outfits and make-up strategy—and it just so happens that Bloomfield is going home with Mike today, too. And Mike rides my bus! Things are falling into place.

On the way home I try to listen in on the boys’ conversation, and what I can’t hear myself (they’re two rows behind us and buses are noisy), I manage to etch-a-sketch from their thoughts. Mike is easy to read, it’s all BLTs and Sports Illustrated, but once again, I am stumped by Bloomfield Parker. What about him is so special?

What about him is not special?

I’m about to give up hope when Janine nudges me in the side and wiggles her eyebrows, our sign for: did you just hear that? Which, of course, I didn’t because I was too busy eaves-dropping on people’s thoughts; or trying to, at least.

“What?” I mouth silently and she sighs, rolling her eyes.

She leans in close to me, her voice rising in pitch as she excitedly squeals, “They were just talking about you.”
“Like what? What did they say?” There were loads of things they could have said about you, and seeing as how Mike’s thoughts were still on the Miss December Sports Illustrated model—about half a year belated seeing as how it’s nearly June—it couldn’t have been all that important, but I strain harder to hear anyway.

“—tickets too,” Mike is saying, and my chest gets all befluttered. They must be talking about the concert. “There were only eight sold, so that’s us, Billy, Joel, them—cause she’s probably taking that blonde friend of hers—and two other people.”

“Who are the two others?” Bloomfield Parker asks and my inflated heart sags ever so slightly. Why does he care who the other people are?

“Dunno,” Mike says, sighing and flipping the page of his not-so-secretly hidden magazine; he makes a noise, somewhere between a chuckle and a grunt and it gives me uncomfortable goose bumps. I mean, really, can you not? This is a public space that you’re reading that magazine in and you’re sitting next to Bloomfield Parker; how could you possibly be doing both of those things in the same sentence?!

“Do you think your father could find out?”

“Dunno,” Mike says again. “Why? Are you hoping they will be some hot models or something?”

Bloomfield Parker doesn’t say anything, but the way he doesn’t say anything sounds a lot like a shrug. Did he shrug? I’m not sure. I don’t dare turn around or he’ll for sure know I’m staring at them. I guess I could pretend I’m staring at Billy Ferterno in the row behind them, but I wouldn’t want to give him false hope. It wouldn’t be fair to Billy, and frankly, I don’t need that kind of stigma attached to my name. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Billy is a good guy, but he’s also Billy Ferterno. So, like, ew.

My stop is next so I don’t know what happens next in the conversation. Already Mike is distracted with Miss April and I don’t need those kind of thoughts in my head, so I pull out of his brain quickly before launching myself down the steps of the bus and onto the sidewalk that leads to my front drive. Janine is right behind me and as the bus pulls away, I glance one more time in the general vicinity of where we were just sitting. There’s the empty bench seat, the ugly gray leather just as depressing from outside the bus, and two rows back, there is Bloomfield Parker, perfectly perfect and staring right at me.

~~~~~

I’ve been stared at many times in my lifetime, all sixteen years of it. Only twice has it been by a boy. The first time was in the third grade when Andrew Milson swore in front of the whole class that I was, in fact, the girl that played Hermione Granger in all of the Harry Potter films. While I concur that, like Emma Watson, I do possess a sort of subtle elegance, I’m not sure I would go as far as to compare myself to her. Although, at the time I was completely fine with Andrew thinking so, I just never approved it myself.

But only once have I ever been stared at by someone I truly cared about, and my stomach gets all tingly thinking about the fact that Bloomfield Parker—the Bloomfield Parker—had been caught staring at me!

And now I only have four short hours to put together the best hair, makeup, and ensemble combination that will not only win me the attention of the cutest boy in Wingsburry Park, but also outshine those trampy models that Mike so uninspiredly guessed are also going to be in attendance at tonight’s concert.

Whatever, models or not, my silver-studded leather mini-skirt, Green Day baggy-enough-to-be-chic t-shirt, and (my mother’s) Louis Vuitton heels (that she doesn’t exactly know that I’m borrowing) are going to be the stars of a one-lady runway: me.

Janine looks great but not quite as glamorous as me. We both decided that if I want to get Bloomfield Parker’s attention, I am going to have to stand out in the best way possible. She has a turquoise shirt on with a pair of black skinny jeans and ballerina flats. Altogether, it’s a cute outfit, and it really emphasizes her long blonde hair, but not too much that it outshines the awesomeness of my legs in these shoes.

I tie my hair up in a loose makeshift braid, ponytail, bun thing that looks messed in all the right ways without seeming like I put in a bunch of effort into it. I didn’t really. It took about five minutes. Whoever originated this style should be given an Emmy. Here’s to you lazy high-school student who didn’t have time to wash her hair in the morning! I feel her on a spiritual level.

But not as much as I feel the anticipation of backstage passes and Bloomfield Parker! It feels like I haven’t even breathed a full breath before the long handle on the clock is swinging dangerously close to the seven, as in o’clock, and it’s already time to go.

~~~~~

If my spirit had a physical representation in this world, I can’t help but think that I would be a cheese platter. Here me out. Cheese platters are universal, kind of like rocks. They are the first thing on the list for an organized event, because really, what screams formal more than a stinky platter of cheese that only the truly snobby pretend to like, but really, does anyone? But still, it’s a necessary ingredient for every necessary get-together. That is not to say that I am arrogant or stinky, but instead, that I am a necessary part of any quality, big event.

Green Day has a cheese platter.

And so far, I think I have eaten half of it.

Janine and I arrived exactly on time to gain entry into the backstage with our passes, which I guess is still an hour too early, because it’s been a while and still no one of any really importance has shown up. Sure there are some other girls with mini-skirts just high enough to cover the space undoubtedly covered by a tramp stamp. But, like I said, no one of real importance.

“Stop eating,” Janine scolds and I flick the edge of a cracker toward her. It’s one of those expensive ones that taste like cardboard but cost fifteen dollars, and I plan to eat every single one of them. I spent more than two weeks’ salary at the ice cream bar on this outfit, and I don’t plan on missing out on anything.

“I can’t,” I hiss back and she frowns at me. “I’m nervous.”

“Then drink water.”

Could she have made a dumber suggestion? I make sure this is clear in my tone when I say, “But then I’ll have to pee.”

She shrugs, giving me the semi-defeated look of: Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.

Our bickering is suddenly halted upon the entry of Bloomfield Parker. As usual he looks magnificent. He’s wearing a black leather jacket that makes his sleek auburn hair look the perfect amount of edgy without being douchebaggy. He’s wearing a black v-neck, dark gray skinny jeans, and converse. All in all, Bloomfield Parker looks like a rock god.

His entourage is all right, I suppose, and Janine keeps whispering in my ear that she never thought of Mike as hot until right now, but I can’t tug my eyes away from the truly handsome of the bunch.

“I think he’s looking at you,” Janine says excitedly and I don’t dare look over at the approaching group of guys. “Oh my god, they’re coming. What do we do? They’re coming—” She cuts off abruptly as the guys finally make their way across the room to where we are standing at the refreshments table. If she hadn’t been so nervous I could have easily told Janine to just be cool, but sometimes I wonder if that’s even a thing she’s capable of.

Mike is the first one to speak; which, as gang leader, makes sense. “Hey Janine.” That’s it, no group hello, just Janine, and she giggles. Giggles!

She resembles a deer in headlights when she whispers back a startled. “Hi.”

I almost get mad, almost, but then the unthinkable happens. Before I know it, Bloomfield Parker is standing next to me, smiling, and nodding a shy, “Hi Penelope.”

Bloomfield Parker. Bloomfield Parker knows my name!

“Hello Bloomfield Parker.”

His eyebrows pull together in an expression of mild confusion and I realize my mistake. “Sorry,” I say quickly, “it’s just that…” What? That your first and last name are so perfectly in sync with one another that it’s just not possible for me to say one without the other?

I don’t want to freak him out!

So, instead, I say the next most brilliant thing that comes to mind. “Yeah.”

He laughs. At me!

Maybe not the greatest thing in the world, but it is progress from nothing, so I will take it.

“So, you’re a fan of Green Day, huh?”

Well no shit, but I’ll let it go since he looks so good right now.

“Yeah, the American Idiot album was my life for years. The entire thing is just one massive jam.”

“Agreed.” He smiles at me and I’m pretty sure my heart has frozen in place. No, really, how many seconds are supposed to come between beats? Because I’m pretty sure too many are passing at once for my heart to still not be beating.

Oh, wait, there it goes.

No!

Okay, no, yeah, it’s fine.

That’s all the conversation that passed between us for a good solid three minutes. And then the inevitable happened. No, inevitable is not the right word. Inevitable implies some sort of expectation. This requires a whole new set of words. It was maximally  horrendous. Excruciatingly hideous. Abominably abhorrent.

And it all came in the shape of a five-foot-two, blue-eyed, strawberry-blonde haired angel-devil. She was the first of her mini-posse to walk in the room, and immediately the group of guys could look at no one else. Her heels (Prada) could have caked dust on my semi-stolen Vuittons without even receiving a scuff mark, but what’s worse: her dress, all-leather with a flash of blue satin on one side, is a perfect match in edginess to Bloomfield Parker.

I could have moved on, I could have blocked her from my mind. I would have, too, if it wasn’t for one tiny little detail: and that is Bloomfield Parker himself.

The moment she walked in his face lit up like a thousand fireflies dancing behind his eyes. That’s the lamest simile ever, but it’s the best way of describing the sudden light emanating from him. He smiled and she sauntered over, wrapping her arms around his neck which required her, first, to lean up on her tip-toes, pressing her chest against his to do it.

I didn’t need to see the next part to confirm my suspicions, but I couldn’t help but watch it, like I was witness to some horrible accident and the morbid fascination was just too real. He leaned down slowly to place a kiss on her forehead.

My Bloomfield Parker.

It takes him a minute before he remembers proper manners; though I’m not really sure if he has any of those in the first place. That is, until he says, “Penelope, this is my sister, Laura.”

Sister. Right. I didn’t know he had one of those, but it’s Bloomfield Parker—the only mind I can’t read—so who’s to say he doesn’t. Still, I narrow my eyes suspiciously at her until Mike, who had up until now been in a rather enthralling discussion with Janine (judging by the twittering giggles that would emerge from the back of her throat every minute or so), came springing up behind her, and giving her a half-bear hug.

“Laura, the famous sister makes an appearance, I see.”

She slaps his arm, unphased by the sudden bombardment of teenage male flesh, and extends a hand to me. “Hello Penelope, it’s nice to meet you.”

I smile and take it; if there is still anger on my face, it isn’t from the immense betrayal I had just felt, but because I had no idea he even had a sister. I’m supposed to know everything about Bloomfield Parker!

“You too,” I say, and I mean it. She smiles up at me and I can already tell we’re going to be friends. Call it a gut feeling.

But then the really bad thing happens.

She claps her hands together excitedly and her eyebrows shoot up, like she’s just remembered something great. Laura tugs on Bloomfield Parker’s sleeve. “Oh, and Justin is here too.”

His beautiful face falls immediately.

“Oh, yeah? So?”

She wiggles her eyebrows up at him, poking a finger into the corner of his mouth in an attempt to lift it into a smile. “So, I heard he broke up with—” She clears her throat. “You know who.”

Wait, I don’t like where this is going. You know who who?

“Really?” He perks up a little, his shoulders rolling back just a little bit further than usual, broadening his already perfectly broad shoulderline.”

“Is that a good thing?” I ask, inserting myself into the conversation, and both Mike and Laura laugh rather maniacally.

“It is for Bloomfield,” Mike says with a smirk.

“Shut up,” the auburn-haired god says with a slight blush. Blush!

No, I’m definitely not liking this at all.

Okay, so…what is going on? I ask the first thing I can think of. “Why? Do we not like Justin?”

Laura frowns. “No. We definitely don’t.”

I nod. “Okay, and that’s because…?”

Two more guys, the second more attractive than the first, enter the room (I thought there were only supposed to be eight of us!) The first is a tall blond, and judging by the way that Laura is frowning at him, I’m guessing he’s Justin. The second guys is even taller, at least six foot three, with dark brown hair, florescent green eyes, and a smile that could very well be just as heart-stopping as Bloomfield Parker’s.

Laura side-steps until she’s close enough to whisper in my ear. “We don’t like Jason, we like Jack.”

We.

The way she says it implies that it is not we at all, but rather he.

He.

As in Bloomfield Parker.

As in the boy that is absolutely, one hundred percent, beyond a shadow of a doubt, supposed to be irrevocably perfect for me.

As in the boy who is currently staring at Jack just like I’m sure I stare at him; awed and a little open-mouthed.

This is it.

This is the end of me.

I want to read his mind; I want to know what he’s thinking. No, screw that, I already know what he’s thinking, but I want confirmation. I want to make sure that I know that he knows what he’s thinking.

He does: I don’t have to read his mind to confirm that.

But still I try.

And this time something goes through. There isn’t the white-noise void that I usually get when I try to pick at Bloomfield Parker’s mind waves, and neither is there a lecture on rocks—the other of his brain’s favorite pastimes.

No, instead there are memories. Lots and lots of them like still-shot pictures hanging up on a wire. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful face inset with stunning green eyes. Pictures that aren’t meant for me, I’m sure, but when has that ever stopped me from snooping?

Pictures from years ago, with faces a little more round, arms just a little more gangly. Pictures of baseball, smiles, kisses, warm hugs, open fields, birthday parties, repeated ‘I love you’, and, worst of all, two happy faces that leave no room whatsoever for me.

Janine comes up behind me, tugging at my arm, but I don’t want to meet her pity look. It can’t be worse than the self-pity look that’s surely sprawled out over my face.

I sigh.

So much for being a Gentleman Prophet.

 

What To Do When You Are Stranded On an Island With an Idiot

First and foremost, I want to apologize for being so absent lately. This semesters workload (plus the current addition of the fact that I am sick) has given me no free time to breathe let alone post. Sadly, it doesn’t appear as though my schedule will be opening up any time soon, so I am not sure how quickly (if at all) I will be able to get out my study abroad tips and tricks.

I really do feel so horribly bad about it, so today I will be telling you the story of something that happened to me while I was away in the hopes of entertaining both you and myself; because, frankly, I’m going a little crazy over here.

If you are in the same boat as I am–swamped with work and responsibilities–I hope this cheers you up a little bit, or at least makes you laugh :)

Mel

~~~~~

 

Paris, France

It’s true that Paris is a beautiful city. Historically, there are countless numbers of monuments, museums, and locations of extreme importance to the country’s past as well as the history of the world. These things are all great.

But what’s not great is travelling the city with someone who, in almost every way, is completely unprepared for life as an adult; even if s/he is age 20. For the sake of a gender-neutral name, we will call this person Jamie.

Now there are a lot of things I could tell you about Jamie that would help you to understand what I should have prepared myself for prior to my trip to Paris. Like the following conversation that occurred while in England:

[Two guys we met from Oklahoma]: Yeah, we’re going to Paris on the weekend for Bastille Day, I think it will be really fun!

[Jamie]: Oh my god, Bastille?! I love them! I didn’t get to see them perform when they were in Detroit, though.

*Long awkward silence*

[One of the two guys]: Um, no, not the band. Bastille Day is France’s national holiday…

Okay, do you get it now? No? Okay. How about I begin by telling you the first thing that happened to Jamie when s/he arrived in Paris. Jamie arrived a couple of days ahead of us and we had agreed to meet up after our arrival (close to midnight on a Tuesday) at our hostel–Rupee and I were travelling together.

So what happened to Jamie when s/he first landed in France? Jamie got in the back of a man’s car. Why? To be completely frank, because he was Arab, and Jamie assumed this meant that 1) he was a taxi driver, and 2) he was, thus, trustworthy. Let me make something completely clear to you: this man was not a taxi driver whatsoever. Jamie literally got in the back of some random man’s car! And then he took her places! And by took her places, I really mean that he drove around in circles for half an hour and then charged Jamie sixty euros for getting him/her lost.

So this is what happened previous to us meeting up. (I should have taking this story as a sign, but apparently I wasn’t that insightful at two o’clock in the morning.)

The day after our arrival in Paris was the day we had planned to do the majority of our sight-seeing. This meant that there would be a significant amount of walking to typical tourist destinations: The Eiffel Tour, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, etc.

Rupee and I had planned originally to go to Paris on our own, but when Jamie had asked if s/he could tag along, we agreed, not thinking too much about it. We had a meeting before leaving for Europe about exactly what it was we planned to do, showed this idea-sketch to Jamie, and s/he agreed to it. Let me make this clear: we were never once wishy-washy about our intentions; it is not in either of our personalities to be that way. We stated firmly that these were the things we intended to do, and that if Jamie would like to come along, that was fine, but we really had no intention of deviating from this.

We said this countless times. Literally so many times. So many.

Fast forward to Paris. The first half of the first day progressed pretty smoothly. Then it started to rain. We were wet, lost, and profoundly unhappy. Why? Because during the time we weren’t trying to find our way through the water-logged city of Paris, we were arguing with Jamie about precisely what was coming next on our to-do list.

And why were we arguing?

Because Jamie was so flighty s/he couldn’t keep her/his mind on one thing for more than five minutes. The only thing I can compare it to is babysitting a three year old. It’s the age when curiosity is in high gear (and they can walk.) Every six minutes or so you have to circle back, reclaim the kid from whatever “fascinating thing” had caught its attention this time, and steer it back into the direction you are trying to go. Except, instead of a three year old, it’s a twenty year old.

I think the majority of our first day was spent simply trying to get Jamie to focus on what was in front of us instead of veering off to “go shopping” (at a place none of us could afford), “look at this building” (why, Jamie? That’s an apartment building), “let’s buy macaroons” (no, we’re buying those on our last day in France so we can take a few back to Rupee’s sister in London)–I don’t know how many times that last one came up.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking that none of what I am explaining sounds annoying to you. For that I take fault in my own writing. 1) That I’m pretty out of practice so my descriptions are not doing justice to the situation. And 2) it’s been quite a while since this actually occurred, so some of the finer details have faded from my memory. Still, you might have picked up…you know…just a tad…that this whole thing made me, I don’t know, livid.

My personality is not a very patient one. But, surprisingly, if you met me, you might think I’m very patient. This is because I have grown very good at masking my impatience. So the issue only truly arises when people can begin to see my irritation through this shield of fake-patience.

Which is exactly what began to happen.

I think I may have scared Jamie a bit, but to be frank, that’s fine with me. I was so angry by the end of the trip (though I have to say I really enjoyed my time in Paris as far as the city is concerned) that I’m pretty sure you could see steam coming out of my ears. At one point during these many rounds of babysitting I was ready to simply take off with Rupee and leave Jamie behind. That’s when I was scolded by Rupee that it is rude to abandon people in foreign European cities.

Still, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done it if Rupee hadn’t of been there.

So, really, what do you do when stranded on an island with an idiot?

I would like to advise you to swim away. But the best answer, and what we probably should have realized from the start, is that it’s best not to go to an island with an idiot in the first place.

It’s Been a While, Huh?

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted, and I wanted to write this to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about my studying abroad series! There will be more posts coming soon, along with some new short stories I have been working on (based off of things that inspired me while abroad, and things that have happened so far this school year).

College really is all about jumping right into it, and for some reason, English majors seem to get the brunt of out-of-class work. That isn’t to say that other majors don’t get a lot of work too (I know there are majors in the math and science fields that require students to work in labs and things; if that is you, I’m sorry).

But I am also sorry for me.

Because English majors are always saddled with A LOT of reading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m good at it, but at the rate the professors want it, it doesn’t leave a ton of time for everything else. And that includes writing blog posts. But that is no excuse, and so as soon as I can get over this hump of reading and paper writing that is going to plague me for the next couple of days, I will hopefully be able to get out the next few posts to you (that have been in mid-creation for probably two weeks now!)

Good luck to those of you starting the new school year, and for those students just now beginning to wrap up their years–have fun with them finals! Woot, woot!

Talk to you soon. Promise.

Mel

In a State of Denial: Final Chapter & Bonus!

TEN-Final

 

Three months later

Niall’s back is against the picture window that looks out over the whole of Miami, twenty-seven stories high. His eyes are focused on the television set; some soccer game (or ‘football’ as he often scolded you these days) involving two teams you have never heard of. You check your watch, fifteen minutes before he’s needed for staging practice, and quickly cross the room, climbing onto him until you are straddling his lap. He cocks an eyebrow and you shake your head mischievously, placing a warm kiss on his forehead.

“Last show,” you say quietly and he nods. You both have been trying not to think about it too much, but now you are kind of out of options. “I was given an offer to be the overseer of security for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour. It will probably be easier since there is only one person and not five.” You find yourself beginning to ramble but it’s so hard to stop. “I told them I would have to think about it, I mean, I’m not really sure what I want to be doing. I mean, I want to be doing this, but do I still want to be doing this by this time next year? I don’t really know. It’s not like I want to work for the president or something, besides I’m not sure I’m qualified enough for—” He cuts you off with a sudden kiss.

His lips are warm, insistent, and it takes no time at all for you to kiss him back. He scatters small pecks along your jawline and down your neck, his hands sliding over your back, pulling you closer toward him until your chests are pressed tight and you swear he can feel your heart racing.

He pulls away suddenly and you can’t help but notice his lips are red and slightly swollen. The thought makes a blush rise to your cheeks in satisfaction. “Paul knows,” he says.

Your face falls. “What?”

“He figured it out,” Niall continues and you slide quickly from his lap onto the sofa cushion next to him, earning you a frown as he turns to look at you.

“H-how long?” You can’t believe what you’re hearing. Or, for that matter, how you weren’t fired long ago. You are pretty much breaking the number one cardinal rule in every book: don’t get involved with the person you are protecting.

Duh.

World’s worst bodyguard, that is what it will say on your gravestone, because you are pretty sure you are about to die.

“And why am I not buried six feet underground?”

Niall runs a hand through his blonde hair, making the back of it stick out sideways, slightly resembling a bird. He looks ridiculous and you slyly attempt to slide the ends back into place against his head. He gives you a questioning look but does not interfere as he continues, “He came to me about six weeks ago. Said we were spending a lot of time just you and me. I tried to play it off, saying it was just because you’re my personal bodyguard so of course we were, but he’s not stupid. Then about three weeks ago he told me…” He trails off and you can feel your heart skip a bit.

“What, Niall?” you press, attempting to keep the anxiety out of your voice, but it isn’t working.

“There’s was a camera I didn’t know about.”

A camera…?

Your expression remains blank and he continues. “Outside of the recording studio in Chicago, there was a CCTV camera that was on 24 hours.”

Oh. No, no, no, no. You’re beginning to pick up where this is going.

“That night…a few weeks ago…there’s footage…”

“Oh god.” The words slip from your mouth as you bury your face in your hands. You can feel your face growing red, and judging by the uncomfortable way Niall keeps clearing his throat, you have no doubt his is just as painfully rouge. “You mean he saw us…” You don’t know how to finish that sentence. Well, you do, but you just can’t bring yourself to it.

“No!” Niall nearly shouts, making you jump. “He just saw, uh, the before and after.”

Your mind flashes to that night.

It was just after the finish of the second Chicago performance and the boys had a week off to do whatever they wished until they were expected in California. There were still some last-minute songs that needed recording for the upcoming album and the boys had all gathered at a studio picked out by their producer.

            The recordings took until close to two in the morning, and when the boys weren’t singing they were sleeping. You remember feeling bad for them, enjoying the feeling of the warm cup of coffee in your hands as you ran your fingers through the hair of the blonde boy sprawled out next to you on the studio couch.

            And then recording was over and the boys were being shuffled back to their hotel rooms. Well, almost. Niall had insisted on working on a song he was composing just a little bit longer, much to Paul’s chagrin, but the large man just nodded at you before steering the others away. You were amazed it had been that easy, and even more so when you felt a pair of strong arms wrap around your waist, pulling you back toward a warm chest, as Niall slowly began to nip at the skin of your shoulder.

            “You don’t have a song,” you guessed and he chuckled deeply.

            He spun you around, pressing his lips to yours with a sense of hunger that made your breath catch in your throat. Sliding his hands down over your hips to your thighs, his fingers clenched around the back of your legs, hoisting you up until you could wrap your legs around his waist. Just like that he carried you into the recording room, placing heated kisses all across the sliver of exposed skin on your collarbone.

You bite down on your lip. Even if that’s all that is on the tape, the evidence is pretty freaking damning; definitely enough to have you permanently removed from the security team. So why haven’t you been?

“He says it is different because you are my personal security,” Niall says, interrupting your thoughts. “It’s not a danger to the other boys. But it still has to stop.”

You nod. “He’s probably right.”

Niall looks at you and his frown deepens.

“As the person who has been assigned to keep you safe, personal involvement interferes with my ability to make clear judgments,” you try to explain. “If someone has a weapon I can block you, but the risk is that you might try to block me in return. Or that if I have to make the decision to force you into an uncomfortable position in order to save your life, to protect you from people who are there to hurt you, I won’t be able to do it.”

“An uncomfortable position,” he mutters to himself, a mischievous smile creeping along the corners of his lips. “Like this?”

You don’t have a second to process before he has you pinned against the couch cushions, hovering over you just close enough that you can feel his breath brush up against your ear but without feeling his body against yours.

“No,” you say quietly, finding it suspiciously hard to breathe. “Like this.”

He doesn’t expect you to move as quickly as you do, and he certainly doesn’t expect such force. He has joked several times about your ability to beat him in a boxing match, but until now, you have never really showed him exactly how badly he would be beaten. Now he is on his back, the air forced from his lungs as you once again straddle his lap, but this time his focus is not on the television, but on you, and his hands come up to grip your waist tightly, holding you in place.

His fingers find the edge of your black t-shirt, tugging at the hem before sliding underneath, trailing lightly over the soft skin of your stomach. “What are you planning?” he asks breathlessly, but you only smile.

“Nothing,” you say as your watch begins to beep, and you smile down at him. “Time’s up.”

 

 

ELEVEN- Bonus One-Shot (because it took me so long to write this)

 

3 months laterer

The scent is familiar and you settle against the aged leather couch with a sigh. It’s green except for the worn patches in the middle that are tinted gray, and the small slit on the arm that exposes the tan cushioned interior. It envelops you easily and you spread your arms wide as someone places a warm kiss on your temple. He walks around the side of the couch to perch on the arm, smiling down at you. You grin like mad; happy to see those kind blue eyes after such a long time.

“I’ve missed you,” Niall says softly, his gaze taking your breath away. His eyes are heavy with something that, if you didn’t know any better, could have been adoration. The thought makes your chest squeeze and tears threaten to prick your eyes.

“I’ve missed you too,” you somehow manage to say and he slides down to meet you on the seat of the couch, his hands coming up to cup your face gently, lips hovering just inches from yours.

“Eleven weeks is too long,” he whispers and you nod into his hands, agreement pulsing through your body. Slowly, gently, as if he’s not fully sure that you are actually here sitting in his apartment, Niall leans in, his lips just barely brushing up against yours. You make a noise in the back of your throat that lets him know that teasing is not okay, and the kiss instantly deepens.

You have spent almost all of the fall season following various artists around as a tour security consultant, and though you love your job, you did regret that it didn’t give you the freedom to visit more often. Not that your boyfriend—boyfriend, the word still makes you giddy—had a much more lenient time of it. The boys are still non-stop preparing for the onslaught of media appearances and performances that come hand-in-hand with a new album release. This one is no different.

Niall breaks the kiss, burying his face in your hair and sighing contentedly. After a long moment of silence he mumbles something that sounds vaguely like “the other boys are going to want to see you.”

You have to bite your lip from saying “screw the others,” but that isn’t true and you know it. As troublesome as the lot was when you were their security, you miss them. All of them. And you are just as eager to get to hang out with them.

Just not quite yet.

You pull away from Niall so that he is forced to look at you, to meet your eyes, and a warm smile stretches across his face. He tugs on a strand of your hair, admiring it between his fingers. His eyes trail down to the sapphire toned dress that you had selected just for him; sleek fitting with a cut front just deep enough to be enticing. Or so you hope; dresses aren’t really your strong suit.

“I really like the blue,” he says in a whisper, forcing you to lean in closer to make out the words, giving him an even better view of your exposed cleavage. “It’s different.”

You force a laugh, chagrined. “Yes, well, black is my signature color.”

A sudden pressure against your shoulders has you leaning back until your spine is flush with the seat of the couch and he’s hovering over you.

“I like it,” he says, dipping down to steal a kiss, and you can’t help it; you giggle.

The sound only infatuated children make and you just produced it!

You groan in both embarrassment and shame, but the sudden darkening of his features tells you he has taken it in a much different way.

He whispers your name as he places soft kisses on your ear, then down further, marking a path from your neck to your shoulder. He lowers more of himself on top of you and the sudden added weight pushes air from your lungs.

“Niall,” you say in warning as his kisses continue to explore further down. Guests are going to be arriving soon—the party was his idea (a welcome back sort of thing)—but you know he is regretting the idea now. Especially when he forcibly detaches his lips from your collarbone, sighing dramatically as he settles onto his side next to you, arms pulling you close until you are flush with his chest.

“I can cancel,” he says. “It’s not too late.”

You glance at the clock on the Blu-ray player; ten minutes before the earliest guests will probably start showing up. You are not sure if the ‘fashionably late’ rule applies to London, England, but you certainly hope so.

“I could say I suddenly caught the flu and you have to take care of me,” he continues, and you smile into his shoulder.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t see through that whatsoever.”

Suddenly the kisses are back; more insistent this time. “We could just leave here,” he mumbles against your lips. “There can’t be a party if no one lets them in, right? The boys will understand.”

His hands begin to explore again, sliding under your shirt as his fingers softly skim up and down your spine. His hands graze over the clasp of your bra and you narrow your eyes at him.

“It will be quick,” he says innocently, batting his blonde lashes at you. But you know him; just like you know that quick is not his style.

He slides the tips of his fingers over your stomach, causing the sensitive skin there to twitch and you bite down hard on your cheek in an effort to stay focused.

“No,” you say with as stern of a tone as you can manage. “But if you can wait until after the party…” You trail off and Niall lifts an eyebrow expectantly, waiting to hear what you will promise him.

You arch an eyebrow in return and lean forward with a smirk. “I guess that all depends on how well you behave.”

~~~~~

Okay, so the bonus one-shot didn’t really have much of a plot, I just thought I would provide a little more resolution than Chapter Ten gave.

Here you go, Rupee, the last of your birthday fanfiction. Almost a year too late…

Please don’t ever make me do this again!!!

Like I said a long time ago when I posted the first chapter, I apologize to any One Direction fans if I got any of the facts wrong, I was just kind of winging it. This is my first and last fanfiction. Ever.

Ever, ever, ever.

Whew, I did it!

HAPPY SUPER DUPER BELATED BIRTHDAY RUPEE!

Mel

In a State of Denial: Chapters 8 & 9

EIGHT

“You are lying,” Victoria says simply. “I know everything about Niall Horan. I’ve watched all of the YouTube videos, I follow all of the official Twitters and Instagrams, even the unofficial ones, and I am the co-founder of the One Direction fandom website. There has never been one hint of a relationship with anyone before. And you expect me to believe—”

“Yes.” Niall’s voice seems to spook her because she gives a small lurch backward as he slowly makes his way to his feet, wincing several times as his hand comes to rest on the knot at the back of his skull. “Secrets are only secret if you don’t tell anyone about them.” He nods in your direction but never meets your eyes. “She is my girlfriend.”

Victoria’s brow creased until the line down the center of her forehead was so deep you could have mistaken it for a canyon. “I still don’t believe you.” There is hesitance in her expression but her voice is unwavering.

“I don’t know what else to tell you. It’s true.” Niall sighs as Zayn shifts onto unsteady feet, followed quickly by Luke who must have decided to give up the charade when you did.

“What about you?” the girl asks gesturing to Zayn with a flick of her strawberry hair. “Does he really have a girlfriend? I will know if you’re lying to me. All of your fans, your true fans,” she corrects herself, “know your tells.”

A pair of nervous brown eyes dart toward you, both panicked and calculating. “To tell you the truth,” he says at last, “I didn’t really know.”

“Ha.” The girl smiles viciously, revealing two identical rows of overly symmetrical teeth. It is quite an alarming smile, you have to admit. Almost like dentures. The thought itself is hysterical, but you don’t dare laugh.

It is four against four as far as you can tell, and you have three grown men on your side; but you went to public high school—you know there is no counting for the strength of a young teenage girl when something gets in her way; especially when the object of her affection is of the opposite-gender-who-happens-to-have-tons-of-money-and-fame variety.

“It doesn’t surprise me though,” Zayn continues, startling both you and Victoria. “I always suspected something was going on. After all, the first night she joined our team and was introduced, yeah, Niall didn’t stop staring at her once. We made fun of him for hours, but he just kept saying ‘it’s nothing’, ‘it’s nothing’. He stared at her a lot, though—more than just that first night.” He looks at Niall and shrugs, an expression of mild guilt on his face as he swings a hand out to clap Niall’s arm. “Sorry man, I guess…secrets…I guess they’re just not my thing.”

Now it is Niall’s turn to look annoyed. But the thing is he actually looks annoyed.

“Thanks a ton, mate,” he says under his breath and now the guilty expression you had thought you had seen on Zayn is fifty times more pronounced.

“Prove it.”

You wince at the girls nasally words; not because you haven’t been expecting them, but because you have. And you know that this isn’t going to end well for anyone.

She pulls something out of the pocket of her denim shorts and you can see the easily recognizable shape of an Iphone. “If you are in a relationship like you say then you won’t mind posing for the camera. You know, so your fans can support your love.”

“You think they will be supportive?” Melanie pipes in, and the other girls frown at her with obvious distaste. Their glares all say the same thing: it doesn’t matter.

Funnily enough, your first thought is whether or not she can even get signal. This is your first time looking around at your surroundings (something you truly ought to be ashamed for, but you can’t seem to be able to make yourself angry at your own lack of awareness as a bodyguard. There is something more pressing on your mind.) The walls themselves are cement, as are the floors. A basement perhaps? Maybe the boiler room of the hotel? But how would they have gained access? You are certainly still in the city of Boston. It has that Boston smell; you don’t know how to explain it, it just…exists. Something like rust, pollution, and salt water. Not necessarily a good or bad smell, just a familiar one.

“I don’t know how to prove to you that it’s true,” you say, but this is a lie. You know exactly what she’s thinking; or, at least, you have an inkling where this is about to go.

Her lips lift into a smile that makes you want to punch her in the face a little bit. No, correction, a lot a bit. “Kiss.”

“Kiss,” you repeat. Yes, this is it exactly. The thing you knew she would say. The thing you were hoping she wouldn’t.

That’s why it is such a surprise to you when you hear Niall say, “Okay.”

“Okay,” she repeats slowly and he nods. “Of course.”

“And you would be willing to show that to the entire world?” She lifts her phone higher and he swallows.

“I guess that’s up to her.” He finally meets your eyes. Guilt. That is what you saw. Guilt and something else. Is that hope?

Over Niall’s shoulder you can see Luke watching you carefully. Clearly he hadn’t been expecting this. Well, none of you had been expecting this, but the information about your ‘relationship’ with Niall seems to be throwing him off.

It’s not like it’s the truth, you remind yourself. After all, you are not in a relationship with Niall Horan. You just…made out once. That is a thing that people do, right?

But not you.

You don’t casually kiss people, and certainly not when you have been given a job to protect them from people like, well—you look around—like these lovely ladies.

“I will lose my job.” You are not sure what makes you say it, maybe the small hope you have left that the girls will put their phones away and act rationally, or maybe your subconscious wants—needs—you to hear this at least once. So you will finally admit that it is true.

You have to make a choice: the guy or the job.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to invoke Victoria’s sympathies.

“Then I guess you are going to be fired. Of course, that’s if you do kiss him.”

“And what if she doesn’t?” Zayn’s face ripples with frustration and you want to smack him on the arm. Doesn’t he know not to antagonize the teenage terrors? “What could you really do to us? You realize there are three grown men against you four…” He trails off when Victoria starts laughing.

Laughing! And it’s the maniacal kind!

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she snorts. “Of course I realize that physically you could easily overpower us. And we don’t want any harm to come to you both,” she gestures only to the bandmates. “We are only here because we love you so much. You have to understand that we did this because that’s how much we—”

“What? Love us?” Zayn scoffs. “Now you’re being ridiculous.”

With a subtly angry expression that is almost worse than if she had started screeching, Victoria crossed her arms over her chest.

It isn’t Victoria who responds but Melanie as she stomps one foot on the ground and cries, “Just do it! A kiss isn’t that hard, right? Stop being such babies about the whole thing.”

“Yeah, we don’t have to publish it,” chirps another—a girl who has yet to be named. Piper, you discover, as two of the other girls begin to scold her.

You make eye contact with Luke who shrugs. He says nothing to you, but his gaze winds its way toward Niall and stays there, his lips setting into a hard line. “Niall,” he says suddenly and the blonde turns toward him, stepping forward. “It is my suggestion as one of your protection team you tread very carefully. Perhaps it would be better to kiss her now.” His eyes shoot toward you and then back again.

“Fine,” he says, his voice low, and he covers the few feet between you in what feels like less than a second. “Close your eyes,” he commands; bizarre, but you comply.

Your mind immediately vaults back to Niall’s hotel room…what, several hours ago now? The feeling of his lips pressed against yours, the warmth of his hand on your back. Your heart begins to beat a little faster and you hope that he cannot feel it. Humiliation rises to your cheeks in the form of a blush and you mentally scold yourself, but it isnt’ an honest scolding. Because if you are being truthful with yourself, you will admit that you are beyond caring.

There is the sound of a scuffle, of side-stepping, a grunt—Niall’s maybe?—and a hand clamps over your eyes as a deep voice says, “Keep them shut”.

“What is hap—?”

Your question is cut off by a kiss. It’s rough, lips tugging at yours insistently. Your heart sinks. It’s almost calculating the way he is kissing you; unfeeling; for show. And then it’s over.

The hand is removed from your eyes and you blink rapidly, hoping to find some answers in his eyes. Anything in the mix of blue that can tell you what has changed between then and now. But you find no answers, at least none in Niall’s eyes, because the blue has been replaced by deep brown. Eyes that you know.

Eyes that belong to someone who should not be kissing you.

You practically choke on his name as you gasp out, “Zayn?”

 

NINE

A wave of girlish screams nearly topples you over and you jerk to the side, away from the source. There are more girls—more than just the four you had seen—and it appears the sight of you kissing Zayn has pulled them out of hiding. It is like they live in the walls, crawling out of the woodwork like pests. Or…cement work, you guess. Ugh, expressions.

“What a-a-are you doing?” Someone shouts as Victoria pushes her way through the crowd of girls that has emerged (maybe there is a trap door you can’t see?), but you don’t get a chance to look around because the sting of a hard slap soon lands on your cheek and you draw in a sharp breath.

“How dare you, you home wrecking tramp!” Victoria’s eyes are huge, burning into your skin like flames. Zayn attempts to step in front of you, but he can only manage to half-block her path. She can still reach you if she tries hard enough, but at least he has caught her attention.

“Why would you do this to Perrie?” she cries, eyes brimming with tears. “How could you do something so low? Was it because she tempted you?” Her glare shifts to you and the air goes cold. You have dealt with plenty of angry people in your line of work, but never this…this crazy. “Hmm?” she presses. “We can get rid of her if you want, we won’t ever tell!” There is desperation in the way the words spill from her lips, and if you remember anything from the three days of hostage training you received almost a full year ago, it is that desperation is dangerous.

Without warning her hand reaches for something in her pocket, only this time she does not pull out a phone. There are a variety of yelps as a few of the girls jerk backward, clearly unaware that this kidnapping plot was going to turn into anything more serious. The glint of the small knife in her palm as it reflects the florescent lights above says otherwise.

Training kicks in and you immediately step forward, reversing your positions and shoving Zayn behind you. He begins to protest but you shush him with a lift of your hand. This is not the time or place for either of them—you glance toward Niall whose face is flushed red as he glares in your direction—to act the part of hero.

“Drop it,” you growl but she doesn’t.

She smirks, taking a step forward. “Or what?” Her next steps take her in a new direction, her shoulder moving backward just enough so that her knife is now edging closer and closer to Niall.

What happens next is some kind of strange blur.

You don’t know how you do it, but as soon as the idea comes to you, you are already at his side, wrapping your arms around his torso and hugging tightly. Perhaps it is wrong of you to choose one boy over the other, a good guard would not have. But for you the choice is just so easy, and this frightens you a little.

There are shouts, screams, the sound of weapons being drawn, a flash of light, but through it all you never once take your eyes away from the girl with the knife. You can hear Zayn’s breathing falter behind you as Niall shifts to the side, rather forcefully, toward something you cannot see.

Stop moving, you want to say. It’s dangerous!

When a hand, large and warm, clamps down on your shoulder you do not wait; you lunge. With the full force of your body, you round on the person behind you, slamming them forward onto the cement floor—Victoria and her crazy eyes momentarily forgotten as the large man looks up at you, blinking and choking.

“What is going on?” you demand as Paul slowly rises himself into a seated position. It takes you that long to notice that both Victoria and her knife are gone.

And so is Niall.

You spiral around, head snapping from side to side as you observe the commotion that was happening behind you. There are girls with their wrists bound by plastic zip ties, others lying unconscious on the ground at their feet that the guards aren’t even bothering to tie up, and one other—a little bit further away from the rest—whose wrists and ankles have both been detained by the plastic restraints. You recognize the red hair immediately.

“Niall?” you pant out, but there is no response.

“I’m fine.” You feel him before you see him as he wraps his arms around you from behind, pressing his face to the center of your back where your shoulder blades are bunched up with tension.

“Careful,” a voice near you hisses and Niall lurches backward. Zayn’s eyes are shadowed but you can see there is something like annoyance in them. His words are barely a whisper as he says, “I didn’t save your asses just so you could throw it in my face.”

It takes a little longer for you to dawn the meaning of his words, but Niall immediately stretches out a hand. “Thanks, mate. But what about you? Mate, Perrie—”

“Perrie will get it when I explain it to her. But Paul…” All three of you glance over at the large hulk of a man who has already picked himself up off the floor, and is staring at you with a compressed brow. “He might hear you out, but you won’t be able to work together again.”

“Yeah, but that Victoria girl was threatening to go public with the image,” you protest. “If that had been you and me—”

He shrugs. “We could have lied; told ‘em all she made us. Which she did. But I guarantee Paul would have been ten times more suspicious if it had been Niall you had been snogging and then suddenly you keep showing up places—”

Niall grunts in protest, crossing his arms. “No one was snogging.”

“Wha’ever. I’m just saying, I did you guys a favor and now you owe me one.”

You smile, though with the circumstances you have a feeling it looks rather forced. Zayn must take pity on you because he smiles back. “Thanks,” you say and he nods.

“Good luck,” he whispers before allowing himself to be shuffled out of the basement (there is a door, hidden behind an alcove in one of the walls that you hadn’t notice), with twice the normal amount of security surrounding him.

They come for Niall next and Paul grabs hold of your elbow, steering you along with the group as the last of the security team exits the basement and the Boston PD take over.

“Are you alright?” he asks gruffly and you nod. His lips press into a thin line and he shakes his head, sighing sharply and lowering his voice. “I don’t know what happened, but for the safety of the boys there needs to be additional security for the time being. I will be hiring in new guards but until then would you mind staying as Mister Horan’s personal bodyguard? I realize it is not in your job description, but after this incident I do not want to take any unnecessary risks.”

Your stomach clenches and you bite down hard on your lip. A happy dance would be suspicious, you think. Yes, definitely suspicious.

“Only for the North American leg of the tour?” you ask and he nods in assent.

“Just until I can find someone trustworthy to guard each of the boys carefully; it should be weeks at the most.”

You note he omits exactly how many weeks, but you don’t press the issue.

“Yes,” you say after a rather long silence. Niall has disappeared up ahead, probably tucked safely inside the tour bus with the others—or maybe to get medical attention—there are ambulances everywhere, crowds of panicked hotel customers surrounding them. By now it’s obvious to everyone that there never was a real fire, and the hotel staff is beginning to organize the chaos.

You clear your throat, trying again. “Yes, I believe I can manage that.”

In a State of Denial: Chapters 6 & 7

Ha! Part 1 of 3 of my project-that-must-be-finished-today project complete!

 

SIX

You’re thankful for the distraction, it kick-starts your brain back into bodyguard mode; a mindset you never should have left to begin with. Except—

Niall is running a confused hand through his already bedraggled hair (part of which may have been your fault) and his wide eyes dart quickly around the room, finally landing on the door as a loud fist beats an unsteady rhythm into the wood.

“Mate, let’s go, something’s up,” comes an equally accented voice from the other side that you recognize as Harry’s.

You grab a sweatshirt that’s been draped across the chair nearest you and throw it at Niall, immediately walking in the direction of the door. “Let’s go.” Your voice is surprisingly authoritative and Niall’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise, but he does not hesitate to follow you, tugging the sleeves of the jacket on as you pull the door open. A surprised Harry Styles stands on the other side and his gaze darts quickly to the boy behind you who—though he’s fully dressed—appears slightly disheveled. He says nothing, but you can almost swear that there is a slight curve to the shape of his lips that isn’t normally there.

“What’s happening?” Someone else asks, Zayn, as he and Louis emerge sleepily from one of the rooms across the hall. They also glance at you with curious expressions, but the whirring of the alarm and the frantic rush of other guests pouring from their rooms doesn’t give them much time to ponder the fact that you aren’t a member of their usual security team.

“Stay close,” you order as several more guards form a half moon shape around the boys. There is no clear path to an exit as streams of guests pulse into the emergency staircase, and a bottleneck quickly forms in the stairs as the guests trying to exit from above floors collide with those from your own.

A horror story for a bodyguard.

Paul isn’t among the men currently surrounding the boys—there are four of you total—but a blonde guard next to you (Geoffrey is his name) volunteers the information before you can request it, his finger pressed to the communications piece in his ear.

Shit, you silently curse to yourself. Your coms unit is still sitting on the dresser in your room. You never put it on after being woken up earlier.

“Paul is down in the parking garage,” Geoffrey says, referencing the four story underground parking lot located directly beneath the hotel. “The elevators are not an option; they’ve been shut down for safety reasons.”

“Is this real?” you ask and the other guards share a communal look—it’s the same question that’s running through all of their minds. “Is there really a fire?”

Geoffrey’s face stiffens and you notice a vein at his temple pushing toward the surface of his scalp. “We have to treat it like it’s a real fire, whether or not it is.”

“So what does that mean?” Zayn asks, his dark brows furrowing. “You think someone might have done this to—?”

You can feel the anxiety building up in the small crowd around you, and you know there is only one option.

Judging by Geoffrey’s expression of immense displeasure, he has also figured that out.

You whistle, gathering the attention of the boys and your fellow bodyguards over the nervous yammering of the crowd. “The stairs are the only option.”

Geoffrey nods. “Paul is in the process of getting the bus pulled around the side of the hotel so the boys can board. I’ll take lead and try to clear some space.” He gestures to the relentless swarm of people in the staircase. “Stay close and stay together. For the sake of saving time, each of you—” he points to the guards standing around the bandmates. “Stick closely to whoever’s room you were just in. Liam, Harry, you both will be with me. Keep the boys next to the handrail and form a barrier on the outside.”

Everyone nods and Geoffrey straightens his shoulders, gesturing for you to follow as he guides the group into the onslaught of human bodies that make up the emergency staircase. He uses his wide frame to jostle people around, forcing space for the boys and their guards. You are squished somewhere in the middle of the crowd; Harry and Liam’s backs are pressed closely to your chest, Zayn and his bodyguard Luke—like you, one of the younger members of the staff—following close behind. And to your right is Niall, his blonde hair shoved into his hood, his blue eyes wider than normal as adrenaline and nervous energy pulse through his body.

Your eyes are alert, rapidly scanning back and forth over the crowd in front of you as you keep tightly pressed against your charge, daring anyone to try to get any closer. The jostled collage of browns, blondes, reds, and blacks of people’s heads, and the pounding echo of hundreds of footsteps against tiled stairs, is disorienting to you.

It’s no wonder you almost jump when you feel something soft and warm press into your palm, fingers lacing with yours.  You wonder if it is more dangerous than not to be attached like this, but you disregard the thought when Niall’s hand squeezes yours tightly.

He’s  afraid.

They all are.

Without a second thought’s hesitation you squeeze back.

 

SEVEN

It’s almost unsurprising when the lights go out.

Almost, but not quite.

Niall’s hand tightens around yours and you jerk forward, stumbling down a step as the crowd behind you begins to panic. The emergency lights continue to flash, but otherwise it is complete darkness; darkness, rampant breathing, the scream of the alarm, and the beginnings of mass hysteria as people attempt to merge with the already body-flooded hallway on the ground floor. Soon the railing that is blocking the boys on one side is going to run out and you are not sure how four guards are supposed to keep them protected on all sides.

“W-what do we do?” Niall pants in your ear and you have to stop yourself from letting out a panicked yelp. You don’t know. This isn’t exactly a situation you are prepared for. As a bodyguard you are supposed to be ready for anything, but the anything that you are used to is screaming girls on car hoods and excited mobs of pre-teens. It certainly isn’t making out with one of your charges and then leading an understaffed charge away from a possible fire and down the emergency staircase into a mob of unknowns.

“Just stay by me,” you instruct. You can tell the rail ends when Niall makes a noise of panic before pressing closer to you in the darkness. The boys’ voices grow in mumbled alarm as your group condenses even further. By the flashes of the fire alarm, you see the other guards move to flank the boys, covering them on each side as they are forced even closer together. Niall is still tucked close to your right side and you make sure to whisper, “Don’t let go of my hand.”

You think you see him nod but you can’t be sure.

The doorway comes into view and you know this will be the hardest part—getting the boys through all together. “Door,” you say loudly, hoping the other security guards behind you can hear, and then you are through, jostling people aside with a bought of rough shouldering and a sharply wielded elbow.

You are about to shout ‘clear’ when something with a hard edge comes slamming down on the back of your skull. And then all you see is darkness.

~~~~~

Waking up is anything but a walk in the park. A splitting pain shoots through your head and you can see lights sparking at the back of your eyelids. Not the most reassuring of side-effects.

A grunting sound off to your left makes you instantly tense and you are unsure you want to discover the source; although you think you might already know. You can only hope you are wrong.

“So what do we do?” a soft female voice murmurs and your stomach tightens. You aren’t expecting that. Female assailants are uncommon but not unheard of. Truthfully, the thought had crossed your mind, but you were hoping you were wrong. “Just leave them?”

“He shouldn’t be lying on the floor like that,” says another voice. “I think we hit him too hard. Oh my god, what do we do?”

“Why would you hit him, Victoria? He’s going to be pissed when he wakes up! This was supposed to be about getting the boys to fall in love with us, remember? Not to give them concussions!”

There’s a second groan, this one deeper than the first, a different voice, and your heart is officially sinking in your chest. No, no, no… Everything you had been trying so desperately to avoid—to protect the boys from—you had failed.

Maybe, you remind yourself. It isn’t over yet.

You slowly open your eyes to peer cautiously through your lashes, but not wide enough to catch the attention of the girlish preteen voices. There are three unmoving figures on the floor next to you; their silhouettes slowly coming into focus. The nearest one has a blue sweatshirt, gold locks sticking out the top, but his face is shielded from your view. The other two are harder to make out. Both have dark hair and one is wearing a black and yellow…what is that? A batman t-shirt.

Zayn.

Damn.

Next to him is Luke, the first of the figures to shift, moaning something incoherent, but his eyes never open. This immediately causes a ruckus with the smattering of nervous voices, and the first girl—Victoria was it?—gives a resigned sigh.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now, I guess. I just don’t get why you grabbed those two—” There’s a good chance she’s pointing at you right now and you make sure to keep very still. “—instead of the rest of the members. Weren’t they all together?”

“Yeah but there were two other guards and I think the big blonde one might have seen me. I don’t know. But by the time we could hit the first four, the others were too close. Even in the dark they would have—”*

“Yeah, whatever, fine,” Victoria spits. “Just make sure Niall and Zayn don’t have any permanent damage done.”

“H-how do we…” another girl starts and the voice named Victoria scoffs.

“Wake them up, stupid.”

There is the sound of shuffling feet and suddenly a pair of pink ballet flats are hesitantly nudging Niall’s head. “Um, excuse me?” a timid female voice says. Try as you might, through squinted eyes you cannot see her face, only her short, tanned legs and the edge of her white lace skirt that doesn’t quite reach her mid-thigh. “N-Niall?”

He groans, turning over just enough that his face is pointing toward the ceiling, and his blue eyes flutter open. “W-what…?” he starts. He jerks to the side, wincing. A hiss escapes from his lips because of the sudden movement and he puts a hand to the back of his head. When he pulls it away there is no blood, at least none that you can see, and relief floods through you. But it’s not enough to keep your chest from convulsing as the girl leans down toward him. She has jet black hair that hangs past her shoulders in long, dark curls. There is a blue ribbon in her hair, tied into a tight bow near her temple, and her make-up is intense: thick black eyeliner that comes to a point at the edge of her lash lines, and sapphire lipstick that looks like it belongs somewhere in the twenties, and not here…Wherever here is.

She can’t be more than seventeen.

“I’m Melanie,” she says gently. “Do you know your name?”

“I-I’m sorry,” Niall stutters, propping himself up on his elbows and crab-crawling a few steps backward. “Who are you?”

“Melanie,” she says again, as though this is the only explanation required of her.

“Hello Melanie, I’m Niall.” He slowly lifts himself until he’s sitting forward, legs crossed in front of him. You resist the urge to give an indignant snort; haven’t they already covered this? And why is he introducing himself? You don’t say anything (for obvious reasons) and he continues. “Is there something I can do for you?”

“W-we just want to make sure you are alright,” Melanie says hesitantly. Her voice is irritatingly soft.

“We?” For the first time he glances around at the others in the room, the others you still cannot see, and he nods. His face is stiff and slightly pained but not panicked. At least that is a somewhat good omen. “Hello,” he says to the others, and is replied to in a chorus of quiet greetings.

Now Zayn begins to stir and you can sense that Luke is not far behind (if he is even unconscious at all; you have no way to tell). Melanie shifts her weight so that she is standing between the two boys, her eyes glued to the now moving Zayn as he pulls himself into a semi-upright position, a stream of air forcing its way from between his lips as he, too, is confronted with the nasty ache of his skull.

“Niall?” he asks, eyes darting to the girls standing before them.

“This is Zayn,” Niall says quickly, and for a brief moment his eyes flash over to you. The you who is—for all intensive purposes—still unconscious. The you that was supposed to have protected them from this exact scenario. As quickly as the thoughts come they are gone, and you have the overwhelming urge to wrap yourself in your own guilt and not get back up again. You force that last one from your mind; it will not help you now.

“Hello, um, ladies,” Zayn says, rolling his shoulders gingerly and wincing when the muscles near his neck cramp. There is a high-pitched refrain of squeals before the group is vehemently shushed by a single voice.

“Hello, Zayn, my name is Victoria. It’s nice to meet you.”

“And you,” he says, meeting Niall’s gaze. The blonde can only give a minute shake of the head; something to say, I have no idea what is going on.

“Like I said before,” Niall interjects before Victoria can go on. “What is it that we can do for you?”

“Nothing in particular,” the girl says, stepping forward. You can see her shoes now: black Mary-Janes with a pair of jet black stockings tucked inside. “We just want to know about you: your likes, dislikes, favorite food, preferences in a girlfriend—”

Zayn is visibly upset by the last thing they list. “I have a fiancé.”

“Yes, but he doesn’t,” says one of the girls, and you can see her finger pointed at Niall whose blue eyes are growing wider by the second. “He can pick one of us.”

“You weren’t even really supposed to be here anyway,” Victoria confides in the darker haired boy, and a hand set with long, elegant fingers runs its way through his hair. Or more accurately, it attempts to, but he jerks away quickly. “Testy,” she snaps. “That’s not very nice.”

You should interject now. No, you have to.

The girl in the Mary-Janes crouches down to face-level with the boys and now you can finally see her. Red hair, like strands of flame, is tucked back into a neat French braid that weaves its way down the center of her spine. There is a black headband pushing her bangs from her face, and her green eyes are quite large as they stare (with a surprising lack of empathy) at her two captives. Everything about her features from the freckles that outline her nose to the small dimples in the lower corners of her cheeks would have one believe girl-next-door. Everything but her eyes; those are a freakish kind of empty.

“Niall, you don’t have a fiancé. You don’t even have a girlfriend. I think I can help you with that. What do you say to me being your girlfriend?”

No. Absolutely not.

You don’t realize you have said this aloud until everyone in the room, including Zayn and Niall, are looking at you with wide eyes. Oh well, you knew the charade wasn’t going to last forever, you just wish it could have been a little longer than this.

“I’m afraid you’re wrong,” you tell the girls, slowly shifting until you are able to crawl onto your knees, and then from there make your way to your feet. “Niall does have a girlfriend.”

His blue eyes meet yours but you can’t tell what’s in them—not right now. Panic, sure, but something else; something familiar that you can’t quite put your finger on.

“A girlfriend?” Victoria sneered mockingly. “Are you going to tell me it’s you then?”

“Yes,” you say simply and her mouth drops open just a hair. “It’s me.”

 

 

*Author’s Note: I realize that logistics wise this is inaccurate seeing as how I described the female character as being behind Liam and Harry when they’re on the stairs and that gets switched up when she’s kidnapped, but I’m just going to ask you guys to go with it. K, cool? Thanks! If there are any other mistakes that you notice, though, feel free to comment and I will correct them!

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 403 other followers