2. Say (All I Need)

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You're a lonely soul; Cause you won't let go; Of anything you hold - OneRepublic

8:14 a.m. Saturday, October 2, 2021

Sure, he's an international rockstar, actor, model, and heartthrob. But does that mean she shouldn't have a simple cup of coffee with him? Michele can't seem to stop her mind from running in forty different directions at one time. What were they to talk about? What could they possibly have in common? Crossing Ballard Street, Michele grasps her left hand with her right, purely to stop the shaking. Is he following? She doesn't dare to look backwards to find out. If he's back there, how will she talk to him? If he's gone back to the inn, how will her ego survive?

Jogging with him had been oddly comfortable. Having picked up running as a habit in high school, Michele prefers to hide with her headphones while she races around the park, the track at the high school, or the streets of town. With neighbors as...friendly...as the residents of Nowhere, it's rare to find quiet time to retreat and think.

Harry had interrupted her solitude, and she cannot fathom why it hadn't felt like an intrusion.

Opening the door to Brainwash, Michele waves at Lee before making a beeline for the washing machines. Moving her laundry to the dryers, she inserts some quarters from the stash on her wrist wallet, starting the clothing spinning round in the hot air.

She doesn't know whether to be surprised, sad, or excited that Harry entered the shop too. He's watching her from the front counter where he's whispering with Lee. It shouldn't make her nervous, yet it does. What are they discussing?

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8:18 a.m. Saturday, October 2, 2021

"I see you've met up with our Chele there, H," Lee comments as he rings up the sale of two cups of coffee and two Autumn Muffins.

"It's about time, I would say. After getting to know the Moore children, I expected I would meet her sooner." Harry states, wondering how it's possible that he hadn't run into her during his time in Nowhere until last night.

"She's a wonderful woman," Lee reveals. "I always thought Nowhere was too small for her, you know? She's smart, witty, caring...."

"And gorgeous," Harry adds, glancing at her quickly.

Lee's eyebrows raise at the comment. "Oh? I hadn't noticed."

Harry's eyes bounce up to meet Lee's laughing ones which causes them both to burst into laughter.

As Harry lifts the two coffees by their handles, Lee leans over, "She likes to be near her laundry."

With a nod of understanding, Harry carefully carries the hot liquid towards the woman who has captured his imagination this morning. Setting down the cups, he admires her bum once more in her running pants. She turns and catches his glance, her eyebrow raised as she silently calls him out. Sheepishly, he shrugs, heading back to the counter to pick up the two plates of muffins. Embarrassment heats his face, and he hopes she will credit the redness to the exertion of the run and the heat of the coffee.

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8:22 a.m. Saturday, October 2, 2021

Okay, that hadn't been her imagination. Harry Styles had been gazing at her rear end as she moved her laundry to the dryers. What the hell? He's making her feel things, and there's no time in her life for that. Not with him for sure since their paths are unlikely to meet again after he leaves Nowhere, deserting the friends he's made in the small town.

Settling at the table where he's sat, she picks up the mug in both hands, breathing deeply of the scent of the elixir of life, as she calls it. How will she survive in the world beyond Nowhere without Lee's amazing coffee?

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