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!

Mini Post About Nothing #22: A Pep Talk to Myself

Ahhh this is driving me nuts! The reason I haven’t posted anything on here in a while is because I am trying to finish up a project I promised both you guys and Rupee a long time ago. But either I get distracted or I don’t have any inspiration whatsoever to write/edit said project. 

You might know what I’m talking about, but just in case you don’t I’m going to keep it to myself until I post the rest of it because it’s embarrassing.

You don’t have to read this post any further if you don’t want to, it’s mostly just a pep talk to myself to finish this gosh darn dji4iwjhkd project!!! 

For some reason over the last two weeks it has been excruciatingly hard to get anything written down, let alone a full idea. As soon as I pass the seven page mark on any project I attempt to work on it’s as if I have suddenly realized everything I’ve written up till that point is trash and I must get rid of it immediately! Except I can’t do that because deleting something feels too permanent so I just have sixteen documents saved under the same name in the same file and I’m starting to lose my mind!

BUT NO MORE! Today I will finish the rest of my project, post it for all of you to see, and cringe only a little– (a lot kind of little). It’s going to be great! No more internet, I’m shutting it off after I post this; I almost did it just now but that wouldn’t have worked out in your favor. Because this is thrilling.

I know. 

Really this rambling bit of procrastination is really putting “useless” in the title of this blog. 

Okay, I’m going to do it. I really am. And if I don’t complete it by tonight…

Rupee, if you’re reading this, I will clean the bathroom in our apartment for a month! 

Ew, that’s true incentive right there. I hate cleaning bathrooms :(

TO WORK! HUZZAH!

Mel

Since When Did England Have a Desert?

Hey guys, sorry! I know I promised this post a couple of days ago but I have been sickly (the best way to enter back into your home country if you ask me) and have barely left my bed for the last two days. Perhaps that shouldn’t have affected my writing schedule, but the tons of cough medicine surely would have. On second thought, maybe those posts would have been funny.

Incoherent but funny :)

This post is part 2 of my tips on weather and packing: the story part(s).

Whether or not you read the tips post doesn’t really matter, you just have to know that during my time studying abroad in England, it was much hotter than what I had anticipated. I planned for 65 degrees (Fahrenheit–otherwise we would be burning alive) and rainy. Did I look at the weather forecast before leaving? No, but I’m notorious for not doing that… I forget it’s a resource that I have. I’m more of a sticky-my-hand-out-the-window-to-see-if-it-will-freeze-or-burn-off kind of a person. Weather the old fashion way! 

Anyhoot, you can imagine that when I finally showed up on English soil, I was rather surprised at the 80 degree temperatures and unforgiving sun. You see, I burn very easily, so the sun is not typically a friend of mine. It led to some immense creativity in the clothes department as I had not packed for this kind of weather. It cooled off a little after that and I could begin utilizing the cute outfits that I had planned for the colder weather, but I stuck out like a sore tourist thumb that first weekend. T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Oh no…

Packing-wise Rupee and I had a little bit more trouble. Or should I say, trouble with the things we packed in. And by we I mean Rupee, because I’m flawless *cough*. We hadn’t even stepped foot into the Detroit airport the morning of our flight to England when SNAP: the handle to her new suitcase just pops right off. And it was not the kind of thing you could just reattach either. There required welding of some kind, maybe some new screws. Basically, it was b-r-o-k-e-n and we hadn’t even gotten past security! Let’s be honest with each other for a moment: everyone over-packs when flying international. The bag was heavy. And we–again I mean Rupee–had to drag it along until we got to bag-check, which albeit wasn’t that far away, but far enough to be a nuisance.

After checking our bags we didn’t have trouble again until getting off the bus in Oxford. Because now there was a bag with no handles and cobblestone streets. Really uneven cobblestone streets. And 3 people (because our friend Hannah was there too) who had gotten no more than 3 hours of sleep on average.

It was a very pathetic sight. At least it was 6:30 in the morning so there weren’t too many people out who could judge us because… yikes. There was a lot of starting and stopping and dragging and panting and cursing. But we finally made it to our college where we had to proceed to carry this luggage up four flights of narrow stairs (but at least we had been warned about this first). Still, not fun.

Skip ahead to when we arrived back into Oxford after our journey to Edinburgh, Scotland (pronounced Eh-din-bur-uh). The trip was awesome and the city was gorgeous.

And then we get off the bus in Oxford.

Rupee had her carry-on piece of luggage and I had my backpack.

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. SNAP!

The handle to her carry-on snaps off. TWO BAGS! Luckily this bag was way lighter than the first, but I still thought she was going to start wielding the handle of the bag as a weapon and spear anyone who came too close. Once again there was a lot of dragging and swearing. Little to say, she bought new luggage before coming home. Nice luggage. Silent luggage. Truly silent; it took those cobblestones like a pro. 

And now we’re back home; plagued by no other luggage issues. Except for the fact that I still haven’t fully unpacked mine yet…

Where’s the motivation? It doesn’t exist!

I’ll just keep telling myself I’m sick (true) and that it’s preventing me from getting any work done (yeah, not so true…) Good excuse, right?!

Chat with you later,

Mel

Tips and Tricks for Studying Abroad: Weather and Packing

*Warning: long post ahead*

For those of you who are new and/or just visiting my blog, I have just recently returned from a study abroad trip to Oxford, England. While I was away I was also able to visit Scotland, Ireland, and France, so these are my tips and stories for packing and weather

Unfortunately, weather wasn’t exactly on my side for this trip. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say the weather was bad, it just wasn’t very trustworthy. Something I found that was standard throughout all of Europe. Don’t believe the meteorologists! I thought they did a poor job of predicting in Michigan, but over there it’s just guesswork. And don’t ever believe them when they say it’s not going to rain. It is. It’s going to rain. Umbrella, raincoat: bring them! 

In fact, bring them wherever you go in Europe, because if I learned anything at all, it’s that Europe loves rain. If anyone is planning to go over that way in the near future, the department store Primark (or Penny’s in Ireland) has 9 pound parkas-in-a-pocket. Best investment I made while I was over there! There is a variety of patterns and styles, and I highly suggest picking one up if you don’t have something like that already. Primark is very popular, you can find one in almost any big city, and aside from that it’s just super awesome. New favorite store? Quite possibly. And it’s not even in America… great. (Parka + Umbrella = Best Solution). 

As far as packing goes, less is always more. Unless you are on an extremely tight budget, anything you won’t need immediately DON’T BRING! Soap, shampoo, other common toiletries, I would suggest buying when you get there. If you are planning to stay for a month or longer like I did, three pares of pants, a pair of shorts, a dress or two, and a variety of tops should be enough to last you. Bring layers, outfits that are interchangeable. You would be surprised at the amount of outfits you can make with a small variety of shirts, tank-tops, and pants. I also bought several outfits while I was there because I just left the shampoo and any other disposable item(s) over there when I was done. Why bring home what you’re not going to use/need?

That’s another thing: plan for stuff you won’t need any longer/ souvenirs you’re going to want to bring home. Depending on how long your study abroad/trip is going to be, you may find yourself wanting certain treats from home you won’t be able to find in England or Europe. If you pack food and/or toiletries in your suitcase on the way there that you know you are going to either use up or leave behind, this provides you extra room at the end for bringing stuff back. I know that I had about 7 pounds excess on the way there to put souvenirs in my bag, and–like I said before–I just left stuff there I wasn’t going to need upon my return to create more space. 

Shoes: make sure you have a pair that are comfortable to walk in, some that are waterproof/decent in rain (these might be the same as the first), a pair of sandals for warmer days, and maybe a pair of nicer shoes for more dressy events. This list is a bit biased toward girls, but guys can just morph these to fit their own closets; the idea is basically the same either way. I did end up having an issue with shoes because England happened to be quite warm when I went, and my walking shoes were the same as my rain-proof ones: a pair of tennis shoes. Now, you can’t really get more tourist than running shoes, so I didn’t like to wear these very often. In England this wasn’t much of a problem because it didn’t rain too awful much, but outside of England I ran into a lot of problems with this (I continuously forgot to bring my sneakers on my excursions because they’re bulky and ugly and then it would rain and I would be like aaarrrggghhh!) 

What ended up happening was that I invested in a pair of flats that were still cute looking but did a better job of blocking out the water. I would also recommend that you keep in mind that whatever shoes you are planning to bring are going to get, well, utterly destroyed. Europe is all about walking places, which is great! But cobblestones and sandals don’t particularly get along so well when you’re using them constantly. A fewer amount of shoes (while most convenient for packing) = more wear-and-tear on them. So if you have a favorite pair of sandals that are one-of-a-kind and you can’t live without, yeah, don’t bring those. 

As far as technology goes, the most important things to remember are chargers and converters/adapters. While phones and computers (specifically) are all becoming more universal as far as being compatible in all countries voltage-wise, you still need the charger it came with (from your home country) to charge these properly. If you can find a multi-adapter with transformer built in (for different energy sources and sockets) that is probably your best bet, but these can be expensive. The plug port in the UK vs. England are NOT THE SAME, so you need to make sure you have the different adapters (or one unit that has both). 

The UK looks like this:

European adapter looks like this:

Along with these you are going to need a transformer unless it is built into the adapter(s) you buy. You can go to almost any tech store to buy these things (suggestion: do NOT go to Radio Shack! Theirs tend not to work as well/at all. Sorry if you’re a RS fan…)

For the record, here’s one that has both:

(This one has a US adapter too).

Now, these are things that you can buy when you get to England/Europe, but they are vastly cheaper in the States! 

Basically, the best advice for packing I can give you is this: you think you need more than you do. It’s something that everyone does and something everyone regrets. England/Europe are both well-endowed with stores (even though it always feels like you need to bring everything you own–just to be safe). For the vast majority of things that you will need, they will have them too! So DO NOT panic if you forgot something! Essentials would be chargers. If you are unsure if something exists over there or not, Google it. That seems like an extremely basic piece of advice, but at least for me, I got really caught up in packing and packer’s panic would set in before I could really think things through. Google is a great resource. Google is a good friend :)

I think that’s about it. In summary: never trust the weather, and less is more! Look forward to the stories post for weather and packing coming soon! If you want a list of tip/story posts I’ve already written about my study abroad experiences (or ones that are coming soon), feel free to check out the Stories From Abroad page at the top of this blog! 

Cheers!

Mel

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