Status: active;;

Right Now

Make a Change, and Breakaway

I freeze, stare at the bowl of pasta in front of me. The silence in the room weighs heavily on my shoulders, and my heartbeat pounds in my ears. My chest aches as Louis’s words echo in my brain. Luckily enough for me, Brianna takes mercy on me and clears her throat.

“That’s enough, guys. Koty will be here for a while, so that’s plenty of time to get to know her.”

The boys seem to accept this, and someone starts a new conversation. I don’t pay attention to what’s being said, too intent on finishing the meal. Brianna protests, albeit halfheartedly, when I gather up the dirty dishes and carry them to the sink. I roll my eyes; she's forgetting that I've known her long enough to never believe that she would honestly have a problem with me doing clean-up. She's always hated to clean after cooking. Niall appears at my side, sleeves of his sweater pulled up to his elbows. The others head to the living room while we wash, dry, and put away the dishes in a comfortable quiet.

I've just finished sending a response to one of my professors back home when a knock sounds on my bedroom door. I look away from the screen and rub my eyes, blinking owlishly at Louis. He grins and holds up a gift-wrapped box. My head cocks to the side.

“Mind if I come in?”

“Yeah, go ahead. What's up?”

“This is for you.”

I take the box hesitantly. “Uh, okay. What is it?”

“Just opens it and find out!” he says with a laugh as he plops down on the edge of the bed.

“Why, why are you giving me a phone?”

He shrugs. “Because the mobile you have is set for the United States. This way, if you decide to go out, you'll be able to contact any one of us without international charges. Everyone's number is already in there, including Paul’s.”

“Thanks, I guess. No. I mean it. Thanks. I do appreciate it. Has Bri ever mentioned I'm awful with accepting, well, anything?” A thought occurs to me, and I glance up at him. “Wait. If you're famous, how can you get a cell phone without people getting your number?”

“He has a fantastic French accent,” Brianna announces from the doorway. “He’s Henri DuFort, and I am Chantal Boudreaux.”

I chuckle softly, turning the box over in my hands. “I guess if it works…”

Brianna kisses my hair and pulls Louis from the room, leaving me alone with my new phone. It's easily a step up from the one I've had for the last four years. For the next hour or so, I check out every feature of the phone; there are phone numbers in the contact list, true to Louis's word, but the Name boxes were just emojis, and there were eight numbers instead of the six I was expecting. I stare at the symbols, trying to decipher them. The only ones I’m pretty sure of are the bomb and explosion (Brianna), the man lifting weights (probably Paul’s), and the chipmunk and four-leaf clover (Niall), but the other five, I have no idea. I come to the conclusion that I’ll just have to get to know the guys better if I want to figure out who’s who. A pop comes from my laptop, and I lean over to see who has sent me a message.

Jacob says: hey dj where u been

DJ says: Hey, J! Kind of family emergency. How’s school going? Have I missed much?

Jacob says: oh im sorry to hear that
Jacob says: not really u still trying to keep up with classes?

DJ says: Absolutely! I still wanna graduate even tho I can’t be there right now. Don’t wanna be a waitress for the rest of my life lol

Jacob says: when u gonna be back?

DJ says: No idea, honestly. Why?

Jacob says: no reason
Jacob says: gotta go. dad needs help in the shop

He logs off before I can respond, and I stare at the screen in confusion before shrugging it off. Unlocking my new phone, I open the messaging program and compose a new text.

Hey, what are you up to?

Is this Koty?

Indeed it is. Uh. Quick question. Who is this?

??????

Louis gave me a new phone but set everybody's name as emojis so I have no idea who is who.

What does he have me as?

A mushroom and music notes…

I guess it's not as bad as it could be.

That doesn't answer my question! lol

Sorry! It's Harry.

I laugh quietly as I change his contact information, then send back Thanks followed by So what are you up to?

From: Harry Not up to much, sitting around my flat bored out of my mind. You?

To: Harry Basically the same thing, except just in my room. Waiting for my professor to email me back. They never responded before I left about whether it’s okay that I correspond via email for the rest of the term.

From: Harry Well, I know of a perfect way to get us both less bored.

To: Harry Yeah? What’s that?

From: Harry Would you want to go bowling tonight?

I hesitate and re-read his message a few times over. I know next to nothing about Harry, besides the fact that he’s in a rather famous boy-band and the random tidbits of information that Brianna has mentioned over the last eight months of her being friends with the guys. It honestly feels weird with him asking me out, even if it’s not a date, after having just met him this morning. My phone vibrates again.

From: Harry It won’t be just us. It’s a thing we all do as a group every couple of weeks.

The awkward tightness in my chest loosens, and I send back a text agreeing to go. That’s why Brianna finds me not even thirty minutes later. She watches as I dump my suitcase out onto the floor and dig through the pile of clothes I’ve brought. Finally, I look at her over my shoulder, sighing at the amused smile on her face. Her head is cocked to her side, and she leans against the doorframe with her arms crossed over her chest.

What are you doing?”

“I, uh, I can’t find anything to wear.”

“You realise tonight isn’t a date by any means, right? You don’t have to impress anyone, Koty.”

The flat tone in her voice when she says my name causes me to stop sifting through the numerous jeans on the floor. Her entertained expression is gone, replaced by a confused - almost bitter - one. Her brows pull tight over her eyes. I sit back on my heels and stare down at my hands.

“Bri…”

“Look, all I wanna know is why. Why are you trying to be someone you’re not?”

“I’m not. I’m just… I just want a new start, even for a little bit. I want to explore what life outside of Tennessee is like, and I can’t do that if I’m exactly the same as I was when I left. I want excitement, I want life. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with reinventing myself while I’m here.”

“I guess you’re right.” She exhales sharply and claps her hands. “All right. Now, you’re not going to find anything comfy yet stylish in that stuff. Let’s go shopping.”

“I ain’t got any money, Bri.”

“Louis and I do.”

“’Louis and I’?” I echo with a wide grin, and she waves a hand at me.

“Not together! Jeez. I meant, he won’t mind letting you borrow one of his cards or something. Or we could use my bank account. Either way, we’re getting you clothes.”

“Okay, but I don’t have the money to pay either of you back.”

She lets out an inelegant, unladylike snort. “Think we care? Come on, just accept.”

“Fine. But only one outfit.”

One outfit somehow turns into five: two pairs of skinny jeans, a plaid pleated skirt, dark-wash flared jeans, and a pair of stretchy grey yoga pants; seven tank-tops: two white, two black, one grey, and one pale blue; and a couple of shirts in a variety of styles. I have to admit, I still feel guilty about accepting the bags of clothing, but that guilt isn’t nearly as overwhelming as I anticipated. We make our way back to the house, stopping by a Starbucks on the way for iced coffees. Once we’re in my room again, Brianna digs through the bags until she comes up with a bright yellow T-shirt with the silhouette of a giraffe on it. She tosses the shirt, black skinny jeans, and a pair of flats (that I didn’t even know she purchased) at me and flops onto the bed. I change into the outfit she’s chosen while she scrolls through whatever social media on her phone.

Niall waves excitedly at me as Brianna pushes me into the backseat of the SUV. I smile back, but I’m more focused on the nervousness that’s suddenly sprouted into life and is threatening to swallow me whole. Why the Hell am I so anxious? Bri made a valid point - this is most definitely not a date. It’s just me getting to know and making new friends. I breathe in deeply, hoping to calm my nerves. The music that pumps through the speakers is catchy, upbeat; I close my eyes and try to concentrate on the beat instead of how I really, really want to throw up. Eventually, Paul slows to a stop outside of a large building, and Bri squeals before shoving the door open. Louis gestures for me to exit the vehicle first, and my best friend latches onto my hand, tries to skip toward the entrance. She pouts when my sedate pace prevents her from going any faster. With a sigh of acceptance, she slows down and walks beside me, her mouth going a mile a minute as she chats over our shoulders with Louis and Niall.

Harry and Zayn are sitting at a table down near the opposite end of the bowling alley. Harry sees us first, standing and waving, and Brianna releases me to run down the length of the building with Louis to join the others. Paul asks me what size shoe I wear then heads to the counter to get them, and Niall leads me toward the group; it isn’t until he sits upright from lacing up his shoes that I even notice the third person at the table, and I nearly trip over my feet at the sight. He is, and there’s no other way to put it, incredibly beautiful. My breath immediately catches in my throat when he glances in my direction. I lose myself in the deep brown of his eyes, something in my gut tightening at how quickly my brain starts screaming holy shit I want.
♠ ♠ ♠
title credit breakaway kelly clarkson