Through His Lens (edited version)

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When the party’s over

Well I wasn't expecting that.

'What? Why would you think that? Lucas adores you.'

Taliah roughly wiped away escapee tears with the back of her hand and took a deep breath.

'He's just been really distant lately. Even when we've been together, he's seemed really...distracted.' She sighed and shook her head.
'He'll be fine one minute and then all of a sudden it's like he freaks out. Then I may as well be speaking to a brick wall.'

'Are you sure it's not something else?'
I could understand why Taliah was feeling self-conscious but I've never thought for once that Lucas was unhappy.

Taliah shook her head.
'Trust me I've had a lot of time to try and figure out what's wrong and that's the only reason I keep on coming back to. He wants to break up with me but is freaking out because he thinks it'll jeopardise our friendship. It's one of the things we spoke about when we first got together but I thought we'd moved past that.'

'Ok, now you're jumping to conclusions.' I moved to sit directly in front of her so she couldn't avoid me and look elsewhere.
'Have you asked him about it?'

'I have yeah, but every time I bring it up, he brushes it off and says he wasn't feeling well or some stupid shit like that. I feel so vulnerable Evie, I....I really think I'm falling in love with him and it scares me that he doesn't feel the same way.' Fresh tears welled up in her eyes and this time she didn't even bother to brush them away when they fell.

I took her hands in my own and looked her directly in the eye.
'Taliah I don't think you notice the way he looks at you. He doesn't look at you the way a boy does if he's going to break up with you. Lucas would never hurt you like that.'

'I thought Harrison wasn't going to hurt you like that too.' She said softly.


Hmm I guess she has a point.


I looked out at the lake and focused on the moons shimmering reflection. As I watched the water lap at the shore I thought back to the last couple of months and then spoke honestly.

'If I've learnt anything from what happened with Harrison and I, it's that lack of communication is unhealthy. As scary as it sounds, I think you just need to be honest with Lucas.'

Taliah squeezed my left hand and gave me a small smile.

'Relationships suck sometimes.'

'Tell me about it.' I chuckled but it wasn't long before I remembered the other reason I came over here.

'I'm sorry I didn't tell you Taliah.' My voice was so low it was practically a whisper.
'It was a shitty thing to do but I just didn't want you to worry about me. It seems like that's all you've done for the last month and I just didn't want you to think I was being an idiot for getting back with him.'

Now it was Taliah's time to get frustrated with me.
'Evie I will never judge you for the decisions you make. No matter what, I'm here for you and I'll support you!
No matter how angry I was at Harrison I still love him and want him to be happy. You've both made mistakes before but that doesn't mean I don't think you're right for each other, I actually think you're scarily perfect for each other.
However, no matter if you got back together with him or not, I'm always going to support you both. Please don't feel guilty because of me and my bad moods.'

And that was all it took for tears to make traces down my own face.
'I love you.'

Taliah threw her arms around my neck and pulled me in for a hug.
'I love you too. And now it's my turn to make an apology.' She said with a grimace.

'What for?'

'For almost making you burn Harrison's things. That was shitty of me.'

'That's ok, you didn't know.' I said brushing it off.

'Actually, I had an inkling and I was doing it to be spiteful. I was taking my frustrations with Lucas out on you.'
Shame filled her eyes.
'I know how much those things mean to you and even if you were still broken up I know you'd never want to get rid of them.'

'It's ok you're forgiven. To be honest I probably would've done a similar thing in your shoes.'
I could tell Taliah didn't believe me but she didn't point it out.
'I think as my best friend you deserved to be pissed off.'

Taliah's shocked expression surprised me.
'I'm your best friend?'

'Of course you're are!' I scoffed. If I'd thought before I'd spoken, I probably wouldn't have said it like she'd just asked me the most stupid question.

'Well I don't know..' She combed her hair with her hands which I knew to be a trait of hers when she was embarrassed. 'You're just really close with Paige and you've got this cute brother sister bond thing going on with Joseph and Xavier. I just thought maybe..'

'That their friendship is a higher tier than yours?' Now I really was shocked.
'Don't get me wrong I love them all to death and sometimes I can't quite believe I've been lucky enough to find so many close friends.'
Taliah didn't seem shocked with that statement but it really was true. I didn't have that many friends back in England, I spent most of my time with my sister and then could only name a few others that I'd occasionally hang out with. But we weren't close, definitely not enough to make our friendships last the distance. I considered myself very lucky to have made lifelong friends here.
'No one can compare to our friendship Tali. You're the first person I trusted and opened up to here. I've told you things only my sister knew, hell you practically are a sister and I know Nora would agree with me if she knew you.'

I thought it best not to mention that fact that Nora definitely did agree as she was nodding excitedly in the distance.

God what was it with the pair of us cry-babies? She was looking at me like she was about to break down.
'You really mean that?'

'Of course I do you idiot! Come here.' I wrapped her up in a hug again. 'Now as your sister I'm telling you what you'd tell me. Grab Lucas by the balls and don't let go until he tells you what's wrong. Got it?'

'Yes sir!'

As we got back onto our feet, I was relieved that it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Taliah's my best friend and even though it was only for a short period of time I hated that we were arguing.
All of a sudden, a commotion going on back up by the fire pit caught our attention.

Taliah inhaled sharply.
'Jesus why the hell did we let Zara start a fire? We know how accident prone she is.'

'I know that really was poor on our part.'

'Come on, let's go back before the whole house gets set on fire. Zara really does know how to throw a good party but I don't think her parents will let her any longer if the house gets burnt down.'

As we walked back to the house it became evident what the commotion was.
'Ladies. You've decided to join the party.' Xavier gave us a cocky grin.

'Xavier this is supposed to be girls only.' I said whilst looking around for whoever he'd brought along with him.

'Oh come on but where's the fun in that! We thought you'd all get lonely.' He jutted out his bottom lip but the mischief in his eyes told a different story.

'We?'

'Yeah. Joseph and Lucas are here too.'

'You weren't invited!' Zara whined as she stormed over to where we were stood.

'Come on that's mean.' Just when I thought the puppy dog look he was giving Zara was going to work he had to add on. 'So when do the pillow fights start?'

With a groan Zara pushed him aside and flapped her arms at us.
'This is a disaster!' Ever dramatic Zara is. 'What is it with girls? They bitch about boys and how they want a girls only weekend but then jump at the first chance they get when a penis walks by them.'

Xavier grinned.
'Well only when said penis is attached to a body like this.'

Ignoring him Zara went on.
'The parties ruined.'

Taliah rolled her eyes.
'It's not ruined!'

'Yes it is and all because of stupid hormones. Then to top it off you two are arguing.'

'Zara, I promise you the party isn't a disaster. Actually, apart from our argument, which by the way is forgotten about now, this is the most fun I've had in forever. Watching you sing it's raining men brought me endless joy which will never get old.'

'Yeah I'd happily make this a weekly thing.' I added.

'Really?' Zara said hopefully. My heart strained at the thought that maybe Zara felt a bit neglected by us all.

'Really!' I urged. 'Although as much as I like the rest of the girls here, I'd happily just spend time with you two, Jennifer and Natalie. If you hadn't noticed it's the other girls invited that are going gaga for our guys.'

Xavier, who at this point had thought it best to keep quiet took this moment to jump in.
'Our guys hey?' He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Why did he have to make everything sound so sexual?

'Yes we're immune to your bullshit and your charms don't work on us.'

'Yeah..maybe we should find some other chicks to hang out with.' Xavier grumbled, even more so when Taliah wacked the back of his head.

It was at this point that Lucas and Joseph walked out of the house and joined in on Natalie and Jennifer's conversation.

I nudged Taliah.
'Hey, I think now's your chance.' I nodded to where Lucas was stood. 'Don't lose your nerve.'

'You're right, I'm fired up so if I don't do it now I never will.'
Taliah took a deep breath and strode over to Lucas. The three of us watched as she walked over to him, said something, then took him by the ear and dragged him off much to the amusement of everyone else.

Xavier gave me an amused grin.
'Owp is Lukey in trouble?'

'That depends, has he done something wrong?' I raised an eyebrow to Xavier who ducked his head. Probably best otherwise he'd get both himself and Lucas in trouble.

That was the last I saw of the couple that night. Taliah sent me and Zara a text to say she'd gone somewhere with Lucas and to not expect her back. We all laughed and concluded the chat had gone better than expected.
We'd come in Taliah's car earlier in the evening but both Jennifer and Natalie offered to give me a ride home in the morning if Taliah was still "occupied".
Only a few of us were staying over so once the other girls had gone home and we cleared up the house Zara sent us upstairs to bed where she'd join us after sorting out the fire pit. The rest of us, all as exhausted as each other fell into a deep sleep before Zara eventually climbed into bed.



Zara



A rustling to my side startled me out of my trance, over to where Xavier was standing.

'Sorry I didn't mean to scare you.' He said sheepishly.
'I just didn't want to leave without saying goodbye. Joseph's just left and Lucas has already gone so I thought I'd head out too. I erm took out the trash for you by the way, I didn't want you to have to do it in the morning.'
He was rambling slightly but I was too deep in thought to notice or care.

'Ok sure, see you Monday.' I said without looking up. A few moments went by of silence before a warm body came and sat down next to me.

'What you doing sat out here by yourself?' The softness in his voice took me by surprise.

'Oh.' I didn't really know to be honest. I'd planned to quickly put everything away and then head up to bed where the girls already were, but then I sat down and instantly felt relaxed by the silence and dying embers.
'well I was clearing everything away from the fire pit and then I guess I got distracted.'

After falling into silence again Xavier cleared his throat and turned to me.
'Hey look I'm really sorry if me and the guys ruined your night. We were messing around at mine and heard the music so thought it would be funny to crash. We were being assholes.'

'Don't worry about it. As the girls said, I have a tendency to be a little over dramatic.'

'A little?' He chuckled.

'Yeah alright don't push it.' I shoved him lightly and smiled.
'To be honest like Evie said it probably would've been more fun if I hadn't invited a load of unimportant people.'

There was still some heat coming off of the fire pit but a gentle breeze made a shiver creep up my spine.

'Here.' He went to take his jacket off but I stopped him.

'Don't worry about it, you're about to head home and I'm going inside in a bit.'

Completely ignoring me he continued to take his jacket off and placed it over my shoulders with an eye roll.
'I'm not going to leave you out here by yourself.' After a second of thinking he added on
'Look I know I'm not the girls but we're close friends too. You can tell me things you know.'

I used to tell Xavier everything and to be honest I don't really remember when that stopped. He was the first person I met when I moved here and quickly latched onto him when I found out we were going to be in the same grade. Taliah and I became quick friends during one particularly funny history lesson when our teacher at the time fell into a stack of chairs during a pop quiz.
Xavier added Lucas to our lunch table and I added Taliah. Jennifer, Joseph and Aaron came along the way. I guess the bigger our group got the less I told Xavier all my secrets. I wondered if the sadness in his eyes meant that he was thinking the same thing.

He was right though, I needed to get something off my chest and I didn't want to talk to the girls about it.
'It's stupid really.' I sighed, almost changing my mind but the concerned look on Xavier's face made me carry on.
'It's just the girls have been so distracted lately. Evie's been miserable lately, only recently perking up which we now know is because she's back with Harrison-'

'What?!' Xavier interrupted.

'Oh oops.' I clapped a hand to my mouth but removed it when I realised it wasn't exactly a secret anymore. Not with the amount of gossips that had been around the fire pit when it came out.
'We found that out tonight so don't be pissed that she didn't tell you. I've only just found out myself and I don't think it was the way she was planning on telling us.'
'Anyway she's been occupied, Taliah's been spending all her time with Lucas and Jennifer has her crazy family. I'm so happy Evie and Taliah are happy and Jennifer..well I'm just happy that girl hasn't had a breakdown.
It's stupid but I've just felt a bit left out and I guess a little lonely. I don't want to be that whiny friend that drives their friends crazy because they want attention.'

'I get it. Sometimes I have to fight the guys away from their girlfriends. I know you don't want to but I think the girls would be upset if they realised they were making you feel this way.'

'Yeah I know. If I were in their shoes, I don't think I'd notice either.'

'You know you can always hang out with me whenever you want, and the guys of course.' He added with a rush.
'We used to hang out just us two all the time and It just seems like I hardly spend any time with you anymore.'

I burst out laughing much to his horror although it wasn't the thought of spending time with him that made me laugh.
'Shit, have I been sat here moaning about feeling neglected when that's what I've done to you? God now I'm the asshole!'

'Don't be stupid I'm not saying that! I'm just saying I've always got time for you.'

He blushed and looked away.

'Ok look seeing as were admitting things I'm going to say this before I stop myself. I'm actually a little jealous of Evie and Taliah as well. They're managed to find great guys yet I seem to attract assholes.'

'Did it not work out with the guy you met at the mall last week?'

At the mention of the one who shall not be named I groaned and threw my arms up dramatically.
'Nope, he has a girlfriend! Of course he does!'

'What a douchebag.' Xavier muttered and for a moment I saw a flicker of what looked like rage in his eyes.

'It's not just him..they all are. I guess someday I'm going to have to realise it can't all be their fault, it's me as well.'

'You're kidding right?!' He boomed making me jump.
'Any guy should be lucky to be with you! Trust me you don't need to change at all, you're perfect the way you are.'

'You think?'

'Of course I do! For one you're beautiful but it's not just that. You're funny, you know what you want, you're so clever.'

'You think I'm beautiful?'

'Well yeah.' He said as if he thought he were about to fall into a trap.
'I'd have to be blind not to think that.'

'You know, oh god this is embarrassing to admit. I've never been called beautiful before. Sexy and hot yes but beautiful..'

'Seriously?!' My silence told him the answer. 'Well you're right, those guys are idiots.'

He was talking so passionately and saying all these nice things to me that suddenly and surprisingly I felt the urge to kiss him.

It was as if something had clicked in my head and I was seeing him for the first time again. He wasn't one of my annoying friends but the gorgeous guy I had a crush on when I first moved here. The guy with hypnotic caramel eyes and a body I'd imagined myself pressed against.

I thought back to the night Evie asked if there was anything going on between us and looked at us from an outsider's perspective. We get along so well, incredibly well. He could be insufferable sometimes but so could I. His teasing humour brought out my sharp tongue and we balanced each other out. He stopped talking when he realised I was staring and looked me deeply in the eyes. And that's when I did the unthinkable.

I don't know what the fuck came over me but I looked down at his plump lips and leaned in before I could stop myself.
I cupped the side of his face, turning him slightly until I was able to softly touch my lips against his.
1..2..3

I pulled away realising what I'd done. My eyes wide, as were his, in shock. The next few seconds felt like a lifetime as the air around us felt uncomfortable.

'Shit I'm sorry I wasn't thinking..' I choked out an apology only to be cut of by being pulled back towards him.
A gentle hand took the back of my neck and another holding my waist before he crashed his lips back onto mine with urgency. After a few seconds when the shock had worn off, I leant into him and deepened the kiss.
I was surprised by myself. This was Xavier! I was well aware that this was my friend but it didn't bother me like I thought it would. Quite the opposite actually. My heart was pounding against my rip cage and my skin was tingling under his touch. I was craving him, this feeling was unexpected but I was determined not to miss out on anything.
It was like the first time you visit a country. You've known about it for a long time but it's not until you visit that you realise how spectacular it is. And this...this was incredible.


Eve

The house was eerily quiet for 10am on a Sunday morning. I remembered James had hockey practise and Simon was likely with him but Lindsay was normally around. After dumping my things off I called out and found her sat on the veranda out back nursing a cup of coffee.

'Morning sweetheart. Did you have fun last night?'

'I did although it didn't go according to plan.' I took a seat opposite her and curled myself into a ball on the chair.

'Ok well before you tell me all about that did Taliah come home with you? She's meant to be helping me with a work thing this afternoon.'

'She didn't no. She's gone somewhere with Lucas this morning but she said she'd be back by lunchtime.'

I'd sent Taliah a text this morning to ask how last night went and her reply, although it was short, reassured me that all was ok and she would tell me all about it later today. Jennifer ended up dropping me home after the two of us and Natalie stuffed our faces with pancakes at a cafe in town. We'd asked Zara if she'd wanted to come with us but she was in an odd mood this morning. She said she wasn't feeling well but shooed us off when we offered to stay with her. Either way the thought of pancakes quickly got us moving and out the house and I told myself to check on Zara later.

'Ok good.'
Lindsay crossed her legs underneath her and looked at me like an excited child.
'Now go on give me all the juicy details.'

'Well let's just say things turned for the worse when we let Zara start a fire. Taliah and I had an argument but don't worry it's all sorted now and we're back to being inseparable. Then the boys crashed the party. After that things returned back to normal.'

'Should I even ask what the argument was about?'

'It was my fault really. I'd been keeping a secret from her and she found out about it last night before I could tell her myself. She was quite rightly hurt because of it.'

'I see. Secrets are a funny thing aren't they. We all have our reasons for them but sometimes they like to reveal themselves a little early.'

'Yeah.. Erm about that, it's a secret I actually wanted to tell you about as well.'
Lindsay raised her eyebrows and urged me to go on.
'So...Harrison and I are back together.' I rushed out quickly.

After a few seconds of silence, a laugh bellowed out of Lindsay.
'That's it?! I already knew that! I thought you were going to give me a heart attack by telling me something scary.'

'You knew?!'

'Of course I did.' She said with a chuckle.
'Come on Evie you really thought I would believe you were studying on a Saturday night? Physics of all things!'

Ok she had a point.

She burst into giggles again when she saw my expression.
'You know an art class would've been more convincing. We would've believed that.'

'We?'

'Oh yeah Simon knows as well. We had a bet going to see how long you'd try and keep it a "secret" for. Turns out I won! I told him you'd feel too bad keeping it a secret longer than a week.'

'God you two are so annoying! You're right. Next time I'll come up with a better lie.' I replied cheekily.

Lindsay gave me a stern look before she couldn't help herself and let a smile soften her features.
'You know I always knew you'd get back together.'

'You did?'

'Yeah. You two are meant to be. I thought whether it be today, a month or a couple of years, you two are too special not to come back together.'

'Ok don't get too carried away, we are only in high school. It's not like we're married.'

'Yet.' Lindsay grinned.

'You're as bad as Erika.'

'I know.' She said grinning.
'Oh gosh does she know yet? She's going to be so excited!'

'She doesn't but I was actually thinking of going over there..'

'Go! Out you get. She's going to call me when she finds out and I've got things to do with the rest of my Sunday.'

Much to Lindsay's annoyance it was another half an hour before I actually left the house. Apparently she didn't think it was important that I have a shower and change clothes but I did.

'Evie?!' Erika looked the image of surprise when she answered the front door to me.
'How're you?'

'I'm really good thanks how're you?'

'Well I'm better now I've seen your pretty face. What do we owe this pleasure?'

'Well I was actually hoping I could speak to Harrison. Is he here?'

I'd spoken to Harrison via text this morning but I didn't mention anything about coming over.

Erika's eyes lit up and I could tell she could hardly contain the grin on her face.
'He's downstairs with some of his friends but don't go anywhere I'll go and get him.'

Before I could answer Erika raced away leaving me by the front door. She hadn't exactly said come in but rather than standing on the doorstep like a lemon I came inside and shut the door behind me. To kill some time, I turned my attention to looking at some photos lined up on a table in the hallway. I'd never paid much attention to them before but now I was I noticed they must've been recently added as they included some photos from Christmas. I couldn't stop the smile on my face as I took in the photo we managed to take on a time lapse of us all together. Finally, we managed to get one that everyone was at least semi happy with after about 50 failed attempts.

As familiar spicy musky scent made excitement bubble in my stomach as I turned around to find Harrison leaning against the lounge door frame watching me.
'I thought we'd gone past the stage of you having to use the front door?'

'I know but if I'd gone straight to your room, I wouldn't have been able to do this.'
I quickly closed the gap between us and reached up on my top toes to kiss him. I thought he wasn't going to kiss me back at first and panicked a little but soon enough I felt him lean into me once his shock had worn off.
'Evie my parents?' Harrison whispered when we pulled away.

'I know. I realised last night I don't want to keep us a secret anymore and I know you don't to.'

I could tell he was about to interrupt so I put my hand over his mouth.
'Nope me first. I realised that I don't care what anyone thinks, all that matters to me is you. I want to show you off in public too. I want to hold your hand at school and go on dates without being afraid of people seeing us.' When he didn't say anything I panicked and added on.
'But only if you want that too!' Which made Harrison burst out laughing. He wrapped his arms around my waist pulling me even closer.

He pressed his lips to the skin underneath my ear making my knees go weak.
'That's a shame, I don't think my girlfriend will be too happy about that.' He teased pulling away with a sly smile.

'Well she's going to have to get over it.'

Suddenly I felt the sense we were being watched. I turned to look at the kitchen noticed Erika looking us with an elated expression. I love the fact that she wasn't even hiding the fact she'd been spying on us.
I raised an eyebrow making her beam back at me.
'You two kill me. I can't deal with the cuteness. So, you two are back together?'

'Yeah we are.' I grinned at Harrison before turning back to her.

'Oh gosh Hailey and Lindsay are going to be so excited! I need to call them and tell them the great news.'
Just like before when I arrived, she ran off without waiting for a reply except this time she was excitedly shouting our news to her husband.

'This is all on you know.' He teased.

'I know. What was I thinking?'
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