- XLIV -

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I had lost track of how long I had been talking to Brooke. I think it has been close to an hour.

My mind wasn't stuck on moping over Lia anymore. I was having so much fun with this new girl.

She is hilarious. She has the greatest jokes. And she loves to talk about food, just like me!

We talked about our favourite foods (hers is spaghetti and meatballs), school (she is studying to be a psychologist), more food (she also really likes French toast), work (right now she has a job at McDonald's), and more food...

It's great to have someone I can talk about food with. No one else understands the art of eating.
Brooke's face was the prettiest when she laughed or smiled. Her eyes light up so brightly and she smiles so wide. Her short hair bobs up and down when she laughs really hard. It's cute.

I was so engaged in our conversation that I didn't even see the rest of my friends coming towards us.

"NEIL!" I hear Louis' voice shout from up the trail a bit.

I turn my head to see them heading our way in a large group. Brooke has a confused look on her face.

"Hey guys," I say awkwardly as they come closer.

"Who's this?" Lia asks in a curious tone.

"Uh, this is Brooke, everyone," I say, gesturing. "Brooke, this is Louis, Kaia, Harry, Lia, and Liam. We're having a bit of a photo shoot today."

"That's nice," she says smiling. "Shouldn't you be taking photos with them?"

"Yeah I was," I reply. "But then I went for a walk and ran into you."

"Oh," she says, a guilty look coming across her. "Sorry if I kept you away from them. Maybe I should go..."

"No it's OK!" I assure her. "I enjoyed our chat!"

"You did?" she asks hopefully.

"Yeah!" I smile.

"That's great," she says happily. "I really do think I should leave though. I have work to do at home."

"Oh OK," I say, kind of disappointed. "Give me your phone. I'll give you my number so we can chat more."

She takes her phone from her pocket to give me and I give her mine. We take a few moments to exchange contact information before passing each other's phones back.

"See you around," I say.

"Yeah," she replies with a smile. "See you around."

And with that, she turns around and walks in the other direction.

I almost forgot about my other friends who were standing in front of me. I jumped when I saw them there.

"Niall's got a girlfriend," Louis chants in a sing-song voice.

"Shut up," I say, feeling my cheeks reddening.

"She's cute," Harry whispers to me, earning him a slap from Lia, who could hear him.

"Yeah she is," I smile to myself. "By the way guys, did it actually take you an hour to find me? I hadn't gone very far."

"Well we started looking for you," Kaia starts. "But we got distracted by the scenery and took a lot of pictures."

"Glad I'm your number one priority, guys," I roll my eyes. "What if something really serious had happened?"

"Hey!" Lia cries in protest. "They were some really nice photos!"

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