Through His Lens (edited version)

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All I want for Christmas is you...

The first Christmas without my family was always going to be weird. Lucky for me though from the instant I woke up on Christmas Day laughter and joy was surrounding me. By the time I'd had a shower and got dressed, Christmas music was booming through the house with a chorus of voices badly singing along to it. As I entered the kitchen a pair of hands took my own and twirled me around until I laughed.

'Merry Christmas baby girl!' Lindsay said giving me a kiss on the cheek.

'Merry Christmas to you too.' I giggled.

The scent of warm spices was coming from whatever Erika and Hilary we're baking, making the kitchen smell like gingerbread.

'Evelyn darling come here and try this.' Hilary beckoned.

I refrained from rolling my eyes at her insistence on calling me my full name and did as I was told, walking over to where they were chopping and mixing. I took the fork from Hilary's outstretched hand and put whatever it was in my mouth. Instantly my eyes went wide at the deliciousness that was the most amazing honey glazed ham.

'OMG that tastes incredible!'

'Not sweet enough, too sweet or just about right?' She asked seriously.

'Definitely just right.'

'Good. Now be a doll and help me with the stuffing.'

Whilst we were waiting for everyone to get up and ready for the day, we finished off preparations for Christmas dinner. Finally when everyone was downstairs, we sat down by the overflowing tree and started opening presents.

I'd just finished thanking everyone for my presents when Harrison pulled me over to sit next to him.

'The first one is a souvenir from London.' I said giving Harrison his to open first. I watched as he unwrapped the paper to unveil the hoodie I'd bought him. When we were back in London, I searched for ages trying to find a jokey but also cool souvenir. After searching high and low I remembered this cool clothing store in Camden market. I'd stumbled across the shop when my sister dragged me there to find some boho style clothing around a year ago. The guy who owned the shop was a local street artist that reminded me a little of Banksy. The jumper I'd chosen was dark grey and had a cool steampunk London scene graffitied on the back. What I thought was the piece de resistance was on the front in one corner was I heart London graffitied in dripping black paint.

'Seeing as I have a hoody with your initials on I thought it was about time to brand you with something of me.' I joked.

'Evie this is so awesome!'

His actual Christmas present was something I was a little nervous about. I'd thought long and hard about what to get him and when I found it I was so excited to give it to him. Now I'm watching him open it though I'm a little nervous.

'Is this what I think it is?' Harrison said with excitement in his eyes like a kid in a candy store. He pulled away the wrapping paper to unveil the Polaroid camera I bought him.

'I hope you like it.' I said nervously.

'Like it?! I love it! I've wanted one of these for ages!' Before I knew it, I'd been pulled into a bear hug.

'Now open yours.' Harrison handed me two presents, the first a large but thin rectangle shape and the second a smaller box.

' This one is from Taliah and I.' He said pointing out the biggest.

'Nice wrapping.' I commented looking between the two of them to see who would own up.

'Don't look at me for that.' Taliah said. 'I forgot when I gave him the job of wrapping how bad he is at it.'

Whatever it was, was quite heavy making me wonder what on earth it was. After battling my way through layers of paper, cello tape and bubble wrap a picture frame lay in my lap. It was filled with a collage of pictures taken over the last 4 months. There were photos from the first party I went to with the girls, the whole gang on Halloween, Paige and I messing around with paint on our faces in art. Then whole football team at our first match, pictures from last week in London and loads of Harrison and I. Looking back at all of these memories made my heart swell with love for everyone, so much so that a tear formed in my eyes.

'Omg don't cry.' Taliah said wide eyed making me burst out laughing.

'They're happy tears. I love it, and I love you guys so much!' I pulled them both into hugs before protectively wrapping the picture frame back up so it didn't get damaged.

'Now here's your actual present from me.' Harrison said handing me a small wrapped box. Now it was his turn to look a little nervous as he sat in front of me and rubbed his thumbs over my legs.

A Silver bracelet with a Ferris wheel charm dangling from it lay in the box. Multicoloured stones decorated the wheel making it look like it was lit up.

'Do you remember the night we went on the Ferris wheel at freakfest?' A smile instantly crept up my face at the memory.

'You totally called Amber out like little miss confident. It was that night that I knew you were the girl for me and I was hooked. I wanted to kiss you that night.'

'I wanted to kiss you too.'

'Ew vom.' A voice said making fake retching noises. I turned around expecting to see Nora but instead it was Taliah making fun at us. My heart sank at the realisation that it had been days since I'd last seen Nora.

Harrison flipped Taliah off which only made her grin more.

'So, do you like it?' He asked shifting slightly at my lack of reaction.

All of a sudden I snapped out of my worrying and glanced at my boyfriend lovingly.

'It's perfect!'

The rest of the day felt like it flew by. We stuffed our faces with amazing food, exhausted ourselves with board games and fell asleep watching films by the dying log fire. All whilst Harrison took pictures of us on his new Polaroid camera.

Christmas had been everything I'd hoped for except that I couldn't help every so often searching for Nora's familiar face.

The more days went by the more I panicked I'd never see her again. I knew she was angry but I thought she would've made an appearance by now.

The more I dwelled on the fact my sister was gone the longer I put off telling Harrison about Adam, to the point where it felt too late to tell him. By the time it was New Year's Eve back home in California, it had been a week of radio silence from her and a week of zipped mouth from me. So many days had passed that I thought maybe it was best not telling him at all. Let sleeping dogs lies as they say. However someone else had other ideas.

At 3 in the afternoon Harrison and I were home alone and I was packing my things for Zara's New Year's Eve party tonight. According to her this was some kind of legendary party that she throws every year for those lucky enough to be invited. To be honest I don't know why I'm even packing a bag because I know as soon as I get there the girls will deem whatever I've packed as unsuitable, and then they'll spend hours finding me something better to wear from Zara's wardrobe.

'God miss popular your phone is going off the hook.' Harrison said glancing over at my phone flashing from my bedside table.

'It's probably Zara wondering where I am. Can you get it for me?'

I watched as Harrison picked up my phone not thinking anything of it until a frown overtook his smiling face.

'It's an unknown number.'

All of a sudden it felt like my heart fell into my stomach and at that moment I realised there was only one person who would be messaging me nonstop on an unknown number. This was confirmed when Harrison's angry eyes met my panicked ones.

'Here.' He said calmly although his expression told a different story. I reluctantly took the phone from his hand and looked down at the screen.

I was right about who the messages were from. I'd blocked his number and unfollowed him on Instagram but he must've used another number to text me. Along with the unfamiliar number were the full messages Adam had sent, displayed mockingly on my lock screen, meaning Harrison had definitely read all or at least part of them.

I sighed as I lowered my phone and looked back up at Harrison who was sat upright on my bed still watching me.

'Not going to open the messages then? Don't stop because I'm here.' His tone was cold making my heart beat quicken out of panic.

'I guess you're going to say there's something you need to tell me.' He said with a haunting laugh.

It felt like one of those moments when time stands still. I was panicking so much that my mind went blank and didn't have a clue what to say. I knew I should've told him! I knew something like this would happen!

I cowardly tore my eyes away from him and sighed.

'I told you about Adam, the boyfriend my sister had before she died.' I said meekly. It wasn't a question but Harrison nodded anyway.

'Taliah and I bumped into him and some old friends at winter wonderland and I told you how he asked if he could see me again. I didn't want to meet up with him, but I politely told him maybe if I had time. Then I spoke to you and Taliah which made me realise how weird it would probably be and I didn't really want to see him anyway.' I looked up at Harrison for confirmation. He again nodded but didn't say anything.

'So yeah, I didn't want to see him and I ignored his messages but one day after visiting my Gran we happened to bump into each other on the street. He asked again if I was free to have a quick chat and I felt bad so I said I had ten minutes. We went to a coffee shop and made polite conversation. I told him about you and everyone here, he talked to me about his girlfriend and my sister. I thought it was all innocent.' I paused taking a deep breath and focusing on my clasped hands.

'After coffee it ended up that we were going in the same direction so he walked me home. It was then when we were saying goodbye that he leant in to kiss me. I pulled away instantly and he apologised looking just a freaked out as I was. I was pissed at him so at that point I told him where to go and I haven't spoken to him since then. He kept on messaging me so I blocked his number but he must be using another phone.' I said glancing down at my phone screen as it flashed with another message.

Harrison stayed silent showing no emotions apart from his clenched fists.

'Say something please.' I squeaked pathetically.

'What exactly do you want me to say? Some douchebag made out with my girlfriend and I'm fucking pissed about it? Plus she fucking lied about it!' He said angrily.

I hadn't lied I'd withheld the truth but I didn't want to point that out.

'We didn't make out, he barely touched me before I pulled away from him. Ask Taliah if you don't believe me.'

I knew then that I'd put my foot in it.

'Taliah knows about this?' His voice boomed. 'What? she was there?'

I'd never felt more relieved at the fact that Taliah wasn't in the house right know. I just hope when she finds out later what happened she won't be angry at me.

'She saw through the window and before you get pissed at her as well just know she was in an awkward position. She was trying to protect both of us. She knows that I have no feelings for Adam whatsoever and that I'm fucking crazy about you! She was there when I was hysterical because I felt so awful about the whole thing!'

'If you felt so awful then why didn't you tell me when it happened?' He said with hurt etched across his face.

'Look at me.' I said taking his hands in my own. After a few seconds he finally looked up and took in my pleading eyes.

'I promise you I was going to tell you. I didn't want to tell you on the phone to then get on an 11-hour flight. I was going to tell you when I got back but I didn't want to ruin Christmas for you and your family. I thought I was doing the right thing by waiting. I planned to tell you when we got back here but being completely honest...I was scared.' I dropped his hands and looked down at my feet.

'It was after Christmas that I realised I'd waited too long and I didn't know how to bring it up. Things have been so good with us and I didn't want that fuckwitt and my stupidity to ruin it. It was me being selfish.'

The room fell deathly quiet. When the bed shifted from Harrison's weight, I thought that was him off but he surprised me by only swinging his legs to the side of the bed so he was directly in front of me.

'You haven't spoken to him since?' He asked.

'No. I meant what I said that night on FaceTime, I have no interest in being friends with him. I thought the only reason he would want to see me was to talk about my sister. I thought he might be struggling or something.' I sighed taking a seat on my bed a little further down from Harrison.

'I guess he was but not in the way I thought he was. I realise now I was being naive.' I felt tears fall from my eyes and my shoulders slump. Harrison's silence made me think I'd lost him. I'd finally fucked up so bad that what felt like the inevitable with me happened. However, after a few seconds I felt a hand under my chin, gently lifting my head so that he could look at me. I blinked away some blurry tears and as soon as I did my eyes connected with his green ones. They no longer looked angry as his eyes raked over my face. His hands now cupped my face and thumbs brushed away the stray tears that slid down my face.

'Yes, you were being naive but it's only because you want to see the best in people. I'm not going to lie to you Evie I'm really fucking hurt that to you didn't tell me, even if you thought you were protecting me. But...what happened happened and mistakes were made.' Harrison pulled me onto his lap, his strong arms wrapped around me as I burrowed down into his chest. The beating of his heart and familiar scent instantly calmed me.

It was safe to say I'd definitely learnt my lesson to never lie to him again. Harrison was understanding and trusting but there was only so much someone could take. We sat there cuddling in silence for a while. The only reason we stopped because my phone was ringing again and this time it really was Zara asking where the hell I was.

'Come on, let get going before Zara has a breakdown.' Harrison joked. I could tell he was trying to lighten the mood again but I knew him well enough to tell when he was forcing it.

I quickly packed up any last things I thought I might need before we headed over to Zara's. Up until earlier I'd been surprisingly really excited for the party tonight but now that was the last thing I wanted to do.

'Are you going to Joseph's now?' I asked as we pulled into Zara's driveway.

'I might head home quickly and then drive over there.' He answered. 'Have fun getting ready with the girls. See you later ok.'

'Yeah see you later.' I reached over and kissed him softly before getting out of the car. I was barely even up the first step of Zara's porch when the front door flew open. She looked like she was about to have a go at me for being late before she took in my foul mood.

'Jesus girl you look like you need a drink.'

Yeah. That sounds about right!
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