24: Fights and Families

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C H A P T E R    T W E N T Y F O U R

Fights and Family

(25 days til' Christmas)

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                  AT THE SUDDEN sound of a ringtone that didn't belong to himself, Louis startled from the duffle bag he was currently shoving his favorite jeans into. Although it wasn't his, he recognized it all the same and leaned across his bed for Harry's phone.

                  A familiar name glared at him from the top of the screen, but it wasn't any of the lads. Still, Harry has told him a bit about the guy. Louis smiled, deciding right then that he'd become Ed's new best mate right under Harry's nose. He hit the green button.

                  But as soon as he pressed the phone against his ear, a voice was speaking too quickly to interrupt.

                  "Harry! Mate. Okay, so I can't talk long as I'm about to be late for work, but I wanted to tell you I think I've found that girl's dad. Olivia? Olivia. Olivia's dad," Ed rushed out in one breath. After clearing his throat, he went on. "Yeah, so, you're going to have to tell me what to do next. Am I meant to talk to him? Do you want a picture? Are you going to come talk to him yourself?"

                  Louis' brow wrinkled at the idea of Harry possibly having plans to travel back home and not telling Louis about any of them. That isn't necessarily what Ed is saying, but... What is he saying? This conversation is too bizarre for Louis to make sense of.

                  "Oh, speaking of that," Ed continued, taking a deep breath as if it's the first one he's been allowed to take since Louis picked up the phone. Was the lad running or something? "You really have to come speak with your mum, mate. Harry. She isn't angry, but she's been upset and persistently tries to deal with those old hags since you won't do it, and I just... I just think you should visit more often for her sake, man."

                  Head heavy with all kinds of new thoughts, Louis lowered himself onto the end of the bed beside his duffle bag, pressing his fingertips against his lips to keep from making any noises that would alert Ed to who was actually on this end of the line. He didn't seem to realize Harry hasn't spoken a single word yet, and it feels like the conversation went too far for Louis to chime in now.

                  Luckily, it seemed Ed was just about finished. "Ah, bloody - " he sighed. "Look, H, you'll have to call me back asap or text or something, but I've got to run. Just about there. Bye, mate."

                  Ed's timing was superbly impressive as the water from Harry's shower cut off at the same time Louis lowered the phone into his lap. He waited for a few minutes before Harry came waltzing into the bedroom in just his black skinny jeans. The skin of his chest, shoulders, and arms shone from an after-shower glow, and Louis felt all of his concerns melt away for the moment.

                  Harry was towel drying his hair, the shirt he intended to wear draped over one shoulder. Louis tried not to admire all of the edges and curves of the poet's naked torso for too long and tossed him his phone. "You packed up?"

                  After just barely catching his phone, Harry slid it into his pocket and began getting all up close and personal in Louis' space, and, well. This is something he still hasn't gotten used to, but honestly, he's sort of glad about it. He loved the rush flooding through every inch of his body whenever Harry did things like this, loved the heat beneath the skin of his cheeks and the absolute puddle he imagines himself becoming after just a few moments of this proximity.

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