Collection of Prompt-Fics

hallmark got it wrong (or maybe right?)


It’s cliche, she knows it is. But Lena can’t stop herself from watching the film. Typical love story contrived for entertainment and feel-good: Girl meets Boy. They fall disgustingly in love. Boy screws up. Girl realises she deserves better. Boy realises he needs Girl and goes to absurd lengths to win her back. Girl forgives Boy after a grand, nauseating display of love. Film ends with an equally nauseating kiss.

She thought she’d had that. But no. Matt had been anything but Boy, and she was never Girl. The worst part is, he broke up with her over text on Christmas then ‘accidentally’ sent her a picture of him with his new Girl at his family’s holiday get-together. They were wearing matching pyjamas and smiling as if Girl had always been at his side.

Lena Howard is totally over Matt Lopez. One hundred percent. She doesn’t want to win him back. She would kick his ass if he tried to win her back. She is completely, unbelievably, unequivocally over him. No feelings remain in her heart for him—except maybe rage. And disgust.

But it’s Valentine’s Day, and they’d had plans. Amazing plans. Reservations at the four-star restaurant, an evening at the opera because she loves opera, and two nights in a high-end hotel room to have some privacy. Those plans are dust now. At least, they are for her. He’s probably take Girl with him. Except the opera.

Matt hates opera. He only sat with her in the darkened room, hiding his annoyance, because Lena loves opera. He had been kind. Considerate. Sacrificing his happiness for her.

He is the kind of guy everyone fawned over: Popular, a jock, intelligent. And gorgeous. Drop-dead gorgeous. His chestnut-brown hair is always impeccably styled, even after an hour between her sheets before he sneaked out of the house through the bedroom window. No matter how hard she clenched her fingers in his hair, it never looked a mess.

His brown eyes are stunning. Bright and captivating, he makes someone feel as if they’re the only one in the room. He gives his attention fully, and the recipient of that attention is left mesmerised by his charming smile and his eyes. They’re almost Disney-like.

Lena wonders if it was all a facade. He broke up with her through a text message, and a perfect guy wouldn’t do that. She wonders if he was cheating, considering how fast he moved on.

“Darling, don’t you think you’ve moped long enough?”

“Not moping, Mother.”

May sighs and sits beside Lena on the couch. Her fingers card gently through her daughter’s blonde hair. “You’ve not moved from this exact spot all day.”

“It’s Valentine’s, Mom. I don’t have a Valentine. Why should I move?”

“Do you want me to stay home tonight?”

“No,” Lena sighs. She does, but her mother has been looking forward to tonight for a month. “I’ll be okay. Just gonna finish this disgusting Hallmark trash then go to bed. You enjoy your date with Saul. He’s waiting in the car for you. Don’t make him wait too long.”

“He’ll understand.”

Of course he will. Perfect Saul is the perfect man, the perfect stepfather. Always trying to win Lena over and woo May. He’s gross but in a good way. He’s great for May. The perfect man that Lena’s dad never was.

“Mom? Just shut up and go. Tell Saul I still say he’ll never deserve you.”

“Thanks, baby. He loves you, y’know.”

“Yeah. I guess if I have to have a stepdad, he’s not bad.”

“I’ll tell him you love him.”

“That’s despicable, Mother. Go away.” Lena looks away from where Girl is gushing over Boy on the screen. “You’re beautiful.”

And May truly is. The dress she chose is as flattering as a dress can be on a woman of thirty-five after having birthed a seven-pound daughter followed by a ten-pound son. Her hair is a curtain of curls, deep brown made darker by the honey highlights. A thin line of eyeliner brings out the speckles of gold in her hazel eyes. Her red-painted lips twist into a smile.

“Thanks, sweetie. Okay, no more moping after this, hear me? I want you to forget about What’s-his-face and be happy that you dodged a bullet.”

May kisses Lena’s forehead, thumb brushing a trace of lipstick away, and Lena listens to the click of her mother’s heels against the hardwood floor by the front door. A rustle, beeping. Then May is out of the house. The lock slides into place.

Despite what she promised her mom, Lena doesn’t move through the rest of the film or the next. The only reason she moves after that is because she needs to use the toilet—and find Saul’s stash of sweets. Her stepfather pretends he doesn’t notice any missing, and Lena pretends she doesn’t know where he hides them. It’s a game of hide-and-seek between them.

And neither of them say a word when more boxes of Nerds ends up amongst the Mike and Ike’s and M&Ms. Lena refuses to admit it, but she really is happy Saul came into their lives. May hadn’t dated since Lena’s father left—when Lena was twelve, seven years ago.

“Lucky her for finding someone so amazing so easily,” Lena mutters as she carries as many Nerds boxes as she can in her hands.

She’s just settled in on the couch once more when the doorbell rings. The lock scrapes out of place, and the hinges creak as the door swings open. She shoves a handful of Nerds into her mouth, focusing on the film. It’s probably only Pete coming home, even though he said he was spending the night with his girlfriend. Maybe they got into an argument.

It isn’t outside the realm of possibility with two seventeen-year-olds who are in their first serious relationship.

And if it’s not her younger brother, then it’s a serial killer. She wouldn’t mind that. She can’t feel the pain of Matt’s betrayal if she’s dead.

The lock engages again, soft beeping as the security alarm is set. Not a serial killer then, she thinks without looking away from the television.

“You really should be more worried when someone walks into your house.”

That beautifully familiar Irish accent. Lena sighs and rolls onto her back, wriggling until she’s sitting up against the arm of the couch. Niall stands in the archway to the living room, one hand shoved into the pocket of his skinny jeans and a shiny red bag hanging from his other. His signature plaid shirt is unbuttoned, exposing the black T-shirt he wears underneath. It stretches across his chest. It’s the sight she’s used to now. He was a dorky looking kid, but he’s grown into his own.

“What are you doing here, Niall?”

“I came to see my best friend when she’s spending her first Valentine’s Day alone in three years.”

“Gee, thanks for reminding me.”

Niall huffs out a laugh and crosses the living room to sit by her feet. “Hey. I’m spending my evening with you. The least you could do is pretend to be happy.”

Lena winces at his words. It’s been a tradition for him to go to the pub on Valentine’s Day since he was seventeen with a fake ID. He is always single on Valentine’s Day by design: “No one I’ve met has been worth the money for gifts. So why be in a relationship where they expect something?” The nights usually ended up with Lena leaving Matt’s bed to pick her best friend up because he was too drunk to walk a straight line. It was everything she knew for three years.

But Matt broke her heart two months ago, and now, the tradition is gone. It’ll never happen again.

Instead of apologising for ruining his plans, she rolls her eyes dramatically at his bleach-blond hair. “You know you look fucking ridiculous like that, right? Thought you said you’d get rid of it after Halloween.”

“I was gonna but decided to keep it.” He grins and pokes the arch of her foot. “You got all hot and bothered at seeing me as Chef Ramsay, so why wouldn’t I keep it?”

“Don’t let your ego get too big there, Horan. I got hot and bothered because I have a thing for Chef Ramsay.”


“What’s that?”

Niall pauses, glancing down at the shiny red bag by his foot. “I brought you something.”

“I’m scared.”

He groans and leans down. The red string of the handles dangles from his finger as he passes it over to her. Lena frowns but dutifully pulls out the pink tissue paper. Her gaze cuts to his face, and she can’t fight the flicker of anger.

“That better not be a pity rose. Pity chocolate I’ll take, but that’s it.”

“Relax, dummy. You have pity chocolate in there, too.”

“Rude. Why are we friends?”

“Because our mothers are insufferable and forced us to converse seventeen years ago.”

Lena runs her finger along the fabric petal of the rose. A pink bloom tinged in red, it would be beautiful if she didn’t know Niall’s only given it to her out of a sick sense of duty. To make her feel better. As her best friend, he isn’t allowed to let her feel sad. She sets the thin vase on the table and reaches for the heart-shaped box at the bottom of the bag.

Niall sits back in his seat as she pulls the lid off. Four squares are empty. Lena swallows against the sudden lump in her throat. He ate the coconut ones. He knows she hates coconut. He ate them so she didn’t risk biting into one. He knows her so well. She was aware of how close their friendship has always been, but it still overwhelms her when he does something like this.


“They were disgusting, don’t worry.”

“Okay, that makes it even worse!” She giggles and shakes her head, though all she wants to do is cry. He’s unreal. “Niall, you don’t like coconut. And still you ate the coconut ones, even though they were disgusting.”

“I like coconut more than you do.” His hand settles on her ankle. “Len, it wasn’t a hardship. Promise.”

Matt never remembered she hates coconut.

“What’s this?” she mutters, lifting the white envelope that was nestled under the box.

“Read it later. Please, not right now.”

She cocks her head and stares at her name written on the front. Niall’s handwriting has never bothered her. In fact, she likes his handwriting. Even rushed, it is always legible. Loopy and careful. Matt's is chicken scratch. But the writing on the envelope is even neater than usual.

“Why can’t I read it now?”

“Because I don’t want you to yet.”


“Lena, please.” And why does he look so nervous, his blue eyes pleading behind his glasses? This isn’t the Niall she knows. She’s never seen him like this, not even when he was so anxious about asking Molly Ashland to the prom that he nearly threw up in front of everyone. Lena had had to ask Molly for him.

She’d said no. Lena hadn’t even felt bad about going with him instead of Matt. Her friend came first.

“Okay,” she whispers as she drops it onto the table beside her pity rose. “I’ll read it when you’re gone.”

“What are we watching?”

Lena tugs the blankets further over herself and shrugs. She doesn’t remember. She never remembers trivial things when he’s around. She remembered everything with Matt. Niall laughs, pushing at her knees until she scoots to the edge of the cushion so he can fit himself between her and the back of the couch.

It’s exactly what they’ve always done. Their mothers always joked that no matter what, Lena and Niall were soulmates, that they’d realise it and build a life together. Lena denied it. Life isn’t a Hallmark film. Nobody just wakes up one day and realises they’re in love with their best friend. Besides, she isn’t in love with Niall.

Sure, she loves him. He’s been he closest friend she has ever had. They’ve shared beds and secrets and pints of ice cream. She trusts him with everything she is, and he trusts her. They tell each other everything. But she isn’t in love with him. Because Hallmark isn’t real life.

Lena settles in against him, watching as Girl cries into her pillow. Her attention isn’t on the television screen. Instead, it’s on how quickly Niall abandoned his own traditions of going to the pub for her. He spent money on gifts. For her.

He breathes steadily next to her. His heart thumps against the side of her arm. His hand rests gently on her belly as they watch the film in silence. She said his hair looks awful, but she lied. Niall is the only person she knows who can pull of bleach-blond hair.

She knows if she looks at him, his eyes will be bluer in the glow from the screen. His teeth will be gnawing at his bottom lip as he concentrates. He smells of Guinness and mint and the cologne she bought him two Christmases ago.

Why has he done so much for her? Lena was wrapped up in her relationship with Matt, and her friendship with Niall suffered for it. Niall hasn’t held it against her. Nothing changed between them, as if they hadn’t lost any time through the months of inconsistent contact. He’s always been Niall to her. For him, she has always been Lena Dianne Howard. Longtime friends, but never close as siblings. Closer than siblings.

Lena closes her eyes and listens to the blood rushing in her ears. His chuckle drowns the sound out, and she swallows thickly. This is normal. This is everything.

The film ends. Niall leans across her to grab the remote off the table. His body is more solid than she remembers. He’s been working out, and the results are more apparent. Matt was always in shape—being on the baseball team meant he’d had to be in shape, and he kept up the gym routine after graduation. But he never felt quite as familiar as Niall does now, even with the changes.

He lies back down beside her. “When is your mum supposed to be home?”

“She’s out with Saul, so who knows. You know they like to cut a rug, which means they probably went to Smithson’s which means they won’t be home until, like, two.”



He shrugs. “Just wanna make sure your Valentine’s Day is a good one. How could that happen if our movie night is cut short?”

“You’re amazing, Ni. You know that, right?”

“I know.”

Lena pauses the movie, sitting up. Niall watches her with his lips tugged down. “No. Niall, you are amazing. Really. You didn’t have to come over tonight, but you did. I fully expected the bartender to phone me at half-one to come pick your drunk ass up. But… you’re here instead. You got me a pity rose and pity chocolate. No other friend would do that much.”

She was wrong. Matt was never meant to be the one she lived her life with. Lena draws in a steadying breath and leans down. Niall inhales sharply but doesn’t pull away. She remembers what it was like kissing him at twelve, curious about what the big deal was—why all the shows portrayed kissing as some magical thing. All the older kids gossipping about making out with their partners. It hadn’t felt like much back then.

Her hand shakes as she cups his cheek, tilting her head. She hates the taste of Guinness, but she loves it on his tongue. She hates coconut, but it’s not as bad when he’s the one who tastes of it. His fingers curl around her shoulders, drag up to the back of her neck, and Lena could cry at how natural it feels to be like this with him.

“Lena, what are we doing?” he whispers against her lips, letting her kiss him again.

When she pulls back, his eyes are closed. Lips parted. Then he stares up at her with wide eyes, light reflecting off his glasses, and she wonders why she spent so long denying that he is her other half. Even when it was purely platonic, he was the part that made her whole.

“Do you not want this?”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, Len.” Niall blows out a breath and pushes a lock of her blonde hair behind her ear. “I don’t want you to do something like this just because you’re trying to move on from the prick.”

“I want to spend Valentine’s Day with you. Not-not out of pity, but because you’re special. You’re important to me.”

“And if you end up regretting it?”

Lena doesn’t have an answer to that question. Not really. She reaches for his hand and presses her lips to the knuckles. “I don’t think I will. No matter what, Ni, you’re going to be the one person I’ve always trusted more than I trust myself. How could I regret something like this?”

“Kiss me again.”

She does. His arm wraps around her waist, pulling her closer, and Lena smiles into the kiss. Matt never kissed her like this. As if he wanted to kiss her more than anything else. There was never this desperate edge, the heat and need evident in the way his tongue met hers. Never a too-tight press of his fingers against her spine and sharp breaths ghosting across her face.

Lena squeezes her eyes closed and hopes this never ends.

She pulls away and bites her lip at the dazed look on his face. It’s not a smart idea—none of this is. Niall is her best friend. That’s all he’s been since they were three. She never would have guessed, looking at all the photos of their childhoods together, that she’d ever be kissing him like this. That she would ever want more from him than just a friendship.

Niall follows her down to her basement bedroom. His hands burn on her hips as she shoves his shirt off his shoulders, down his arms. Lena has seen him nearly naked hundreds of times. The perils of growing up together, spending every summer with each other. But here, now, this is far different than the sight of Niall in swim trunks, cannonballing into the pool or sunbathing beside her when the chlorine irritated their eyes. This is her idle musings come to life.

Niall stopped wearing shirts to bed when they were fourteen. He said he got too hot, and Lena hadn’t questioned it. There wasn’t much to see back then—a scrawny boy barely taller than her, with not-yet-defined muscles and wide blue eyes that lit up with the success of making her laugh. Those nights continued well into their later teen years and now adulthood.

Even when she was dating Matt, there were many nights that she crawled into Niall’s bed and whispered her hopes for the future. Her worries about not passing World History or getting fired from her fast-food gig. Her fears that Matt will stop loving her. As Niall grew older, his body hardened, but he was always still so soft with her.

She questions why May and Maura were ever okay with this, especially if they harboured hopes of Lena and Niall dating.


“I won’t regret this,” she whispers as she meets his eye. They’re so blue even in the dim glow from the string of fairy lights tacked along her walls. “Will you?”


She nods, swallows past the nervousness, and steps back. He watches as she pulls her tank-top over her head, dropping it on the floor before pushing down her baggy pyjama bottoms. She thinks they might have been his at some point. She thinks half of her wardrobe was his at some point. Nothing of Matt's ever stayed long.

Niall groans low in his throat and tugs her back toward him. Lena goes willingly, but he doesn’t kiss her. He leans down to kiss her neck, his fingers digging into her skin as they roam along her back. She gasps when his teeth graze along the curve of her jaw, the sensitive skin below her ear, the dip of her collarbone. He guides her toward the bed without relenting. Without letting go of her. Lena prays he never lets her go.

She stares at the ceiling, wide eyes and breathless gasps, when he settles between her legs. When his lips burn into her skin as he fumbles blindly for the box he knows she keeps in her bedside drawer. Lena struggles to remember how long it takes for condoms to expire. She hasn’t needed them in months.

Niall comes up victorious, foil packet in hand, and sucks her lower lip between his. She doesn’t get to relish the slight pain of his nipping, not when he’s moving down her body. Her fingers curl in his hair, and she drapes a leg over his shoulder. He presses a kiss to her thigh.

She should have showered tonight instead of this afternoon. But he doesn’t seem to mind, judging by the way his tongue moves against her. Into her. She cants her hips up, and his hands slide beneath her ass to hold her there. His name drips from her lips, soft and honey-smooth, pleading and reverence wrapped up in one. Matt was perfunctory. Niall takes his time.

“I love you,” she breathes just before she cries out. Her legs tighten, her body on fire and exploding into universes.

“Don’t say that if you don’t mean it.”

He’s begging, staring up at her with eyes so dark. She wonders if he will ever know that it’s always been him. Matt was a long distraction, but Niall is the one her body has needed. His hair is a mess. Where did his glasses go? They’re there, on the nightstand where they always are when he stays the night.

He’s never stayed the night like this.

“Come here.”

He settles over her, and she brushes her lips to his. He exhales into the kiss, though it isn’t much of a kiss more than it is a promise, and keeps his eyes open. She keeps her eyes open to watch him closely.

“I love you.”

She never meant it this much with Matt. She means it too much with Niall.

He doesn’t get the chance to reply; her hand slides between them, fingers wrapping around him. His breathing stutters, then he’s pushing into her grip. It’s awkward, but not for the reason she expected. She was so certain—back when she was sixteen and woke up beside him with a hot damp between her thighs and her heart racing from the dream of his love like this—that if things changed between them, nothing would remain the same.

He’d leave her like Matt did.

Lena closes her eyes when Niall kisses her too roughly before yanking back. She doesn’t open them even as foil tears, he moans, the bedsprings squeak. Matt was her first, her only, and she loathes that Niall wasn’t given that honour.

He presses into her with a slow steadiness. Her stomach lurches, legs quaking, and then he’s still. Her skin ripples with goosebumps at the sensation of being more intimately connected than she’s ever known before.

The pace he sets is shaky, nervous and uncertain, but Lena finds beauty in it. She’s just as nervous as he is. She won’t regret it. Things will change. She stares up at him as he moves. A bead of sweat slithers along his temple, dropping to her cheek. He chews on his bottom lip, and his arms tremble next to her head. She wraps a hand around the back of his neck while her other hand presses against his back.

She doesn’t want this to end.

“I love you.”

It isn’t the right time for these kinds of declarations, these admissions in the face of a goddess long forgotten by humankind. But Lena needs him to know that he’s the one who’s held her heart even when they never knew.

Niall grins sloppily, and she wants to drown in the bright blue of his eyes framed by long, dark lashes. He pants against her lips as his rhythm quickens. The silence around them is broken by skin on skin, heavy breathing and soft moans, bedsprings squealing beneath them. Her blood burns through her veins, and Lena drinks in everything he’s offering.

Matt never made her feel this good—she always had to take care of it herself once he’d rolled off of her and gone to the bathroom to wash up. She went through far too many packs of batteries than she should have in a committed relationship of three years.

His lips form the words ‘I love you’ against her cheek as his thrusts grow erratic. Lena gasps at the twitching, the heat, inside of her. She isn’t far behind, and he groans in her ear when her nails leave half-moons in his shoulder. She doesn’t let him go for a long minute; he feels too much like a dream, even with how solid he is under her palms.

Unfortunately, Niall pulls away, slips out of her, and she struggles to steady her breathing. To slow her heart-rate. Lena watches him cross the room to her desk, relishing the sight of his bare back and ass before her. He drops the used condom into the bin then hurriedly covers it with a piece of paper from her printer. When he turns back toward her, Lena finally lets herself see what she loves.

Who she loves.

She uses the toilet first, running up to the living room while he takes his turn. She hopes her mother and Saul don’t come home early. Neither of them need to see her naked. Dumping the Nerds into the gift bag, Lena adds the pity chocolate and card then grabs the pity rose. She hurries down the stairs and sets the vase on her desk. She carries the sweets to her bed.

“Of course you’re eating chocolates in bed.”

“Shut up, you made me hungry.” She scrunches up her nose and sticks her tongue out at him. “Besides, why shouldn’t I enjoy this delicious pity chocolate that you so lovingly bought for me? Especially since there are no coconut ones.”

He clambers onto the bed beside her, pulling her into his side. “Can I have one that isn’t coconut?”

“Here, have a caramel.”

“But those are your favourite,” he murmurs, and she smiles up at him before pressing the heart-shaped chocolate against his mouth. His lips catch on her fingertips. She exhales shakily when his tongue brushes along the pad of her thumb. “So much better than coconut.”

“I know, right? And anyway, you’re worth sharing my favourite chocolates with.”

“How come I never was before?”

She rolls her eyes at his exaggerated pout, shoving a nougat-filled square into his mouth. “Because I hadn’t had your dick in me. What can I say, it made me stupid.”

Niall laughs and steals a box of Nerds from beside her. Lena watches him carefully peel the flap back—the last time he hadn’t been so careful, she’d found the candies in her bed for weeks. A warmth blossoms through her chest at the sight. He remembered her scolding him for over an hour. Through text messages, of course. Matt didn’t need to know that Niall slept in her bed still, even though nothing untoward was happening.

Looking back, Lena should have seen the end coming. She should have realised that Matt was uncomfortable with her close friendship with Niall. Had he picked up on any signs that she would ever acknowledge that she is in love with her best friend?

“Hey, I’m not your pillow.”

She scoots closer but doesn’t open her eyes as she throws an arm over his lap. “Please?”


“You’re a jerk.”

Niall huffs out a laugh, pushing her away, and she pouts while he moves the sweets to the nightstand. Lena frowns when he hesitates before heading to the desk. Sitting up, she watches him reach into the bag and pull out the envelope.

“You said I couldn’t read that until you left.”

“Yeah, well, that was before I realised the direction the night would take,” he chuckles.

“I don’t wanna break a promise.”

“Lena Dianne, just read the damn thing.”

The card inside bears a cartoon teddy bear holding an enormous pink honeypot, red-foil hearts along the edge. To My Honey is written in glittering red script. Lena rolls her eyes and opens the card. A folded sheet of paper falls from inside, but she ignores it in favour of reading the pre-printed message.

“‘I love you bear-y much’?” She groans and lets her head fall forward. “Even I think that pun is horrible.”

He rolls his eyes as she unfolds the paper. Inside is his beautiful handwriting, as neat and well-planned as her name on the envelope. Lena quirks an eyebrow, but all Niall does is gesture to the paper. She shivers as his fingers run along her spine and begins to read.

Lena, I know this is probably the worst time to say this, and you will probably be angry with me for saying this. But I’m glad Matt broke up with you. I’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen. I hate that your heart got broken by him, but he didn’t deserve you. He didn’t appreciate anything about you.

I doubt he knew you like your hair played with or soft tickles on your back as you fall asleep. That you’re so self-conscious but also the most confident young woman I’ve ever known. That you’d rather watch sappy romantic Hallmark films you’ve seen a dozen times than go out drinking. Or that you used to want to be the fairy queen. Now you want to be a court stenographer.

He didn’t know any of that about you, did he?

At the risk of sounding like a - I can’t believe I’m actually WRITING this word - a complete fuckboy, I’ve wanted more than your friendship since we were 12 and trying to figure out why kissing was so wonderful. I didn’t tell you then but I knew why. Or maybe it was because of you. But I knew as soon as we kissed that kissing wasn’t as gross as we thought. I didn’t understand it, but I knew. As long as I was kissing you, how could it ever be gross?

Do you know why I’ve spent so many Valentine’s Days alone? Because they weren’t spent with you. You were with Matt - you were happy with Matt. I wasn’t going to destroy that. So I’d go to the pub, occasionally have some fun. But mostly, I’d just wait for you to come pick me up. Because I knew you’d come.

It’s been so easy yet so hard to deny we’d ever be anything more. I think Ma knew it was a matter of time. I think I hoped for the same. You’ve been the most amazing friend I’ve ever had, but Len... I want more than that. I want you, as you are. Everything you are. If you decide that isn’t what you want, I can deal with that. If you go back to Matt, I can deal with that, too. It’ll hurt, but I’ll survive. As long as I get to keep you in my life somehow.

I love you, Lena. Happy Valentine’s Day.

“I fucking hate you.”

The surprise on his face vanishes when she drops the letter on the bed to kiss him. Niall chuckles and snakes his arms around her, pulling her onto his lap.

“You totally sounded like a fuckboy, but in a good way,” she murmurs. “Wanna be my fuckboy?”

“I’ll be whatever you want me to be.”

Lena grins, though the edges are too soft. “Then be mine.” She pauses before groaning, resting her forehead on his shoulder. “Stupid Hallmark and their stupid correctness.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Never mind. My brain’s being dumb.”

She kisses him again then flops to lie next to him. He pulls the comforter over the both of them before stretching out along her side. His hand settles on her belly, but then he murmurs for her to roll over. Brows furrowing, she does, folding her arms under her pillow. A shuddering breath escapes her lips when he starts tickling her back just the way she likes it.

The way he’s done since they were sixteen and she couldn’t sleep because of an upcoming exam. Niall is the only one who has ever done this for her. He is why she likes it.

She falls asleep to his gentle touch, the warmth he’s provided for as long as she can remember, and the thought that maybe Hallmark isn’t always so wrong.