Chapter 51 - Knocking knees & tired talk

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The elevator up to Harry's apartment was quiet, and we did not look at each other. After the car ride, I really thought that it couldn't possibly have been anymore tense between us, but being crammed into the tiny space together just proved me wrong.

And of course there was Harry. Harry, with his furrowed brow and cool gaze that didn't falter as the elevator came to a grinding halt, his lips set in a straight line. Harry whose face was void of all emotion except tightness as he gently rested one hand on my lower back and led me out of the elevator.

It was quiet except for the steady clicking of my Louboutins (borrowed from the stock closet, of course) and Harry's leather Chelsea boots tapping in time with my own down the marble hallways, echoes bounding off the empty halls decorated with modern paintings.

In the days that I had spent there, I'd always noticed the occasional sign that someone was actually living in the grandiose, modern apartment, with as a stray pile of papers or a pen or an expensive jacket laying carefully on the couch. But now, it just seemed empty.

I didn't question it because Harry looked like he might snap at my second, his fingers clutched tight on his phone and shoulders taught beneath his sharp black suit. So I just followed close behind because I wasn't really sure what to do amidst of all the tension and silence.

"Sit," Harry said quietly, and it was so sudden, so unexpected in the quiet space, that it made me halt directly in my tracks. He gave me a strange look and gestured to the leather couch. "Wait here."

And, well, considering the fact that my knees were practically knocking together with nervousness, I wasn't sure that I could make out a protest to that (and maybe Harry seemed to intent to even think about questioning). So I sank quietly down onto the seat, legs crossed and hands folded on my knees as he disappeared.

Small clinks and noises floated out of the kitchen for a minute, and then he was back brandishing two glasses of burgundy wine in one of his oversize hands. Dry, tentative fingertips brushed against mine as he handed me my glass with a tiny smile.

"Your favourite," He murmured, sinking elegantly onto the couch beside me, cold and beautiful like a piece of modern artwork with warnings of 'do not touch' practically glowing on his forehead. "I can tell you're nervous."

I gave him a weak grin and raised the wine. "Liquid courage, yeah?"

"Yes. And Niall says it relaxes every situation or some shit, and insists on drinking every time we go," Harry explained. "So I thought it might help."

That statement would have been completely acceptable if it weren't for two things. One, Harry actually managed to mention another human being without a hint of distaste hidden in his voice. And two, Harry said he went out. To drink. Voluntarily. With a friend.

"Niall?" I asked quietly, carefully, lips brushing against the brim of my glass.

"Mr. Horan. We do business now. And we sometimes go to lunch." A pause as he fixed his sleeve. "Or dinner. Both, really." Another pause, and Harry gave an annoyed grunt before shrugging his suit coat off of his shoulders. "I hired an assistant."

Apparently in a week — or however long it had been, because the days of self pity and robot-like movements seemed to blend themselves together — Harry had become an entirely new person. One who goes out and drinks. And hires assistants.

I hid my confusion with a grin. "That's, Like. Cool. That's really cool."

He grinned, rolling up the sleeves to his elbows, revealing bits of tattoos with each inch of skin. "Niall convinced me. Met her this afternoon. And I talked to Malik, since we have full investment now, and he says the deal is going to go through. Everything will be normal. Better, actually."

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