part 2

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Ni,

I have a day off on Thursday. Can we squeeze something in then?

Miss you too.

Cody

——-

After San Francisco, we head to Portland, where Ray has half a dozen restaurants and bakeries and ice cream shops identified as must-sees before we even cross into Oregon. We haven't talked about the conversation we had before the show, but she's given me quite a few meaningful looks.

It's okay that we haven't talked about it, because I know Ray well enough to know what she'd think about my plan.

First, she'd think I shouldn't wait until Chicago to break up with Seth. She'd say I need to tell him as soon as possible, because that's the most fair thing to him. Putting off the inevitable isn't being kind, she'd say. It's just delaying the pain.

Then, she'd think that I need to tell Niall how I feel as soon as possible. Rey got this idea from one of her podcasts that you shouldn't hold back your feelings. "Feelings don't do well in captivity," she'd say. She'd tell me I need to clue Niall in right away, because there's no right time for conversations like that. Waiting for the right time is just an excuse, that's what she'd say.

Maybe if I'd talked to Ray about this ages ago, I could've avoided this whole mess. But then again, Ray thought the fake relationship thing was a good idea.

The sky erupts in thunder as we pull up to the hotel where we're crashing for two nights, which doesn't do anything to brighten my mood. At least the hotel looks nice. Portland seems like a strange place for a day off, but my tour manager insisted it's a great city to spend time. Maybe it is, but I'm not sure I'll be able to pay it much attention.

Twenty minutes later, we're in my hotel room. I collapse on the bed as Ray begins unpacking my suitcase. I manage to count to thirty before her speech begins.

"I know you can't control who you fall for, Cody, but Niall Horan, really? He's, like, such a good kid. You're a good kid too, obviously, but he's a different kind of good kid. Like, so fucking wholesome. You've been sarcastic since you started talking. I bet he doesn't have a mean bone in his body."

I don't bother trying to say anything. She doesn't really want a response; she just needs to get her thoughts out there.

"You're going to break poor Seth O'Conner's heart," she says. She goes into the bathroom and draws the shower curtain aside. I hear the plunk plunk as she sets my shampoo and conditioner in the shower. "He's definitely gonna write a breakup song about you. I'm sure he knows this fake relationship mess can't last forever, but that boy's an idiot if he hasn't realized he's in love with you already. You're gonna have to be straight and to the point when you dump him. No lollygagging or trying to make him feel better. Just rip off the bandaid."

I grab a pillow and smother my face with it. I know hotel beds are supposedly hotbeds for all kinds of disgusting bodily fluids and germs and bedbugs, but right now all of those options are preferable to listening to Ray repeat all of the things I've already thought through in my head a hundred times.

"And then, back to Niall. This whole secret friendship is really bizarre, kid. Do celebrities do secret friendships a lot? I guess we wouldn't know, since they're secret. Oh my God, is Niall in love with you too? Have you talked about it? Because you're gonna have to wait a while to start dating him publicly, or else we're gonna have a hell of a scandal on our hands."

Ray leaves the bathroom and opens the closet, the sliding door bouncing back off the wall before rolling to a stop. She grabs a handful of hangers and starts hanging up my dresses and jeans.

the other side of fear // n.h.Where stories live. Discover now