Chapter 16: Heartless Tiger

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Lola Solemen

“She can’t do that,” Zayn said, his voice low so that only I would hear it. He looked down at me with the saddest expression I’d ever seen him wear. And I hated seeing him that way. I really did.

“Zayn…” I didn’t have the words to say. So I just reached out with my free hand and touched his cheek.

Without hesitation, he leaned in.

I was scared for a second, because I could see Perrie behind him on the couch. We were in clear view, of not only her, but Niall and Liam as well. Zayn and I hadn’t kissed in front of them before, so I stiffened a little in anticipation.

But Zayn stopped a few inches away from my face and stared into my eyes. He understood why I was acting like that. Or at least, I hoped he did. Either way, he just smiled a little and tenderly kissed me on the cheek.

I felt my face burning from the kiss. I stood on my tippy-toes and wrapped my arms around his neck. He wrapped his arms around my waist in return, and put his face in my hair.

“Lola,” he whispered. “You can’t leave.”

“I know,” I said, my face pressed against his chest. I knew that if we continued to talk like that, I was most likely going to cry. And I really didn’t want to cry in front of Zayn. Or any of the boys for that matter.

It made me look weak. It begged for sympathy.

“Let me talk to her,” he said. “You have to.”

I nodded. “Okay.”

There was nothing else to do, anyways. We didn’t have any other option. And going home was definitely not something I wanted to do. I felt so safe and happy around Zayn. I felt so… important. Like I finally had a place in this world.

He pulled his face back but kept his arms secured around my waist. And he looked into my eyes again, his face kind.

“Don’t worry,” he whispered. “I won’t let you go.”

I smiled. “Zayn…”

I wanted to tell him that I loved him too. I should have said it so much earlier. He’d probably been dying to hear me say it. But I was shy.

“What is it?”

I hesitated.

I could just tell him later, when we weren’t in a bathroom. So we could look back on it and smile; not say, “Wish we had been somewhere else.”

“Uh… never mind.” I said quickly.

I pulled my arms away and slid my phone into the back pocket of my shorts. I took his hands from around my waist and wrapped my fingers around his. I led him out of the bathroom, only letting go once to switch the light off behind us.

I walked over to the couch and plopped down on the far corner, away from Perrie and the rest. I pulled him down beside me.

He was a little confused looking. But he smiled nonetheless.

We both leaned back against the softness of the couch. I was trying to relax my nerves. I wanted to prepare myself for the meeting I would be having with my mother later. I leaned my head on Zayn’s shoulder. He smelled amazing.

He stroked the top of my hand with his thumb so delicately that it felt like a feather.

“Is everything all right?” I heard Harry ask.

I pulled my head up to look at him and nod.

“Hopefully,” I said, putting on a small smile.

Harry nodded too. “It will be, Lola. Don’t worry.”

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