This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Chapter 1 (started 11/29/2015)
Nicole struggled to take pictures of all the sparkling lights below her, she honestly couldn’t believe the sights and things she saw on the plane.
“Hello Ma’am. Would you care some coffee or tea?” A beautiful flight attendant leaned over with a pitcher in her hand, everything about her was perfect. From her long blonde hair, to her perfectly applied crimson red lipstick.
“Tea, please?” Nicole smiled shyly, loving the girl’s nice accent and wondered for a moment if she too had grown up in Oxfordshire where she was born, would she sound like that as well.
The young lady handed her a cup then turned back to trolley in front of her. “Milk and sugar?”
“Two of each?”
“Here you are, Love. Are you traveling alone?”
“Yes, I’m visiting family.”
“Where are you from?” The flight attendant asked somewhat curious.
“I was born in Oxfordshire but grew up in Mississippi.”
“And is Oxfordshire where you’re headed?”
“No, my aunt lives in Liverpool.” Nicole blew on the hot cup before taking a sip.
“Oh, well I hope you have a lovely trip, if you need anything else don’t hesitate to ask.”
“And we should arriving soon.”
Nicole nodded grateful for the hot tea and conversation, it was terrifying traveling so far by herself when she’d never even once been outside the country. But how could she refuse such an offer, her aunt, Leila and cousin, Maggie asked her to stay for two weeks and they would take care of everything. It was time she made the trip instead of Maggie always doing it though it had been almost ten years since the last time they’d seen each other and she was frightened she may not remember what she looked like. She took out the photo of two of them when they were 15 on Maggie’s last visit.
Nicole always felt she was extraordinarily plain compared to her cousin; Maggie had flawless beige skin, full red lips and sun-kissed blonde hair that spiraled into perfect curls, twinkling blue eyes and a waist that was almost nonexistent. Nicole covered her own face in the picture; she had thick, unruly ebony curls that took hours to manage, dark tan skin (a gift given to her from her multiracial family), ordinary pink lips, dull brown eyes and she’d never been considered skinny in all her life.
Even now at twenty-four years old she was still self conscious. She sighed heavily this trip was supposed to be fun and now she was depressed again, she wanted so desperately to call her best friend, Elizabeth, back home but she couldn’t while still on the plane. She looked out the window one last time at the tiny lights shining brightly before deciding a good sleep might help, so closed her eyes and snuggled into the blanket the flight attendant had offered her earlier.
Nicole jumped as the plane shook hard for a moment, when it past she slowly released her death grip on the armrest which she didn’t even know she’d been holding.
" Hello, we’ve arrived safely in Manchester please keep your seat-belts fastened until we’ve made a complete stop. And enjoy your time in the beautiful country of England.”
Nicole stretched her arms and yawned before standing up and waiting for her turn to exit the plane.
“Was your flight okay, Love?”
“It was great thank you,” Nicole at the flight attendant who had offered her tea and hoped everyone she met was as nice as she was.
After Nicole almost stumbled over a toddler ran in front of her to get to his mother, she gasped. People from all walks of life bustled to and fro some hugging others and saying goodbye while others ran off the plane and into the arms of loved ones they’d missed. She bit down on her bottom nervously until she saw her.
" Hey there!!” A tall much older Maggie waved enthusiastically with a sign in her hands, Nicole’s name plastered across in large black marker.
“Mags!” Nicole didn’t care that she didn’t know anyone or the fact people were staring, she ran over to her cousin and hugged her tight. “I can’t believe this is real.”
“We gotta do it!”
“No! We’re too old.” Maggie shook her head and took a step back.
After rolling her eyes, Nicole put her hands on her hips and the two performed their secret handshake they started when they were five. The handshake ended with both girls back-to-back and and their arms crossed over their chests. They laughed aloud and hugged again both happy to see each other and surprised they still knew their handshake.
“So, did you have fun on your first plane flight?” Maggie grabbed her bag and wheeled it out to her car.
“Yes! It was scary but now that I’m here I can’t wait to see everything Liverpool has to offer for the next two weeks.”
“Great to hear, let’s go.”
They drove for what seemed like ages before Maggie pulled up to a small house sandwiched between several others that looked identical.
“Well, here we are.”
“Wow!” Nicole took a deep breath and smelled the crisp autumn air. It literally looked like she’d just stepped into a postcard it was so homey and pretty.
“Come on, Love. Mum will be so thrilled you’re here.”
“Aunt Leila is still up?”
“Why wouldn’t she be?! She runs a pub.”
Nicole smiled she forgot her aunt had indeed invested in a pub when she retired the previous year. Maggie opened the front door.
“Aye, Mum, someone’s here to see you!”
“My beautiful Chocolate Bunny!” A tall woman with long silver curls and blue eyes equally beautiful to her daughter, Maggie’s, came walking up the hallway and crushed her in a tight bear hug. “Oh you look as beautiful as ever! And your girls came in quite nice, didn’t they?!” Leila said looking directly at her niece’s chest.
“Not even my parents call me that anymore,” Nicole couldn’t help but blush, her aunt called her Chocolate Bunny which was a nickname she got because of her obsession with chocolate when she was a toddler. She also put all the focus on Nicole’s breasts which was something Nicole hated.
“Mum, when you’re done terrifying the poor girl do you mind helping show her where she gonna be sleeping Mikey called and I wanna meet him for a pint.”
“Of course, come on love.” Leila grabbed Nicole’s hand and pulled her up a winding staircase to the second floor. There was one door to their right, one directly in front of them and two off to the left down a small hallway.
“This door to your right is gonna be your room,” she leaned into Nicole. ”That way if you want to bring yourself home a bloke, you’ll have your privacy.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that.” Nicole insisted. It’d been too long since she ended things with her last boyfriend and she was happy being single for a while. Though it did get lonely not being able to trust anyone with her heart.
“It's no problem. We’re down the hall and the bathroom is straight ahead.”
She nodded and the two entered the dark room so that Nicole could put away her bags then they headed back downstairs. Leila took off the scarf she had on Nicole was surprised she was wearing a Coldplay t-shirt and tight black jeans which made her look at least ten years younger. Bangles covered her wrist and a tiny pink and orange butterfly could be seen on her ring finger, a tattoo her aunt had got when her husband passed four years prior.
“You wanna cup of tea?”
“Mum, she came to have fun not drink tea. I was thinking she would come with Mikey and I.”
“Oh, I suppose your right but you look after her ya hear?” Leila put her waist length hair in a messy bun atop her head and hugged both girls before leaving them alone in the living room. “While you're here make yourself at home, okay Chocolate Bunny.”
Nicole face-palmed. “Yes, auntie!”
After getting a good chuckle Maggie started fiddling with her hair in a nearby mirror. “You gonna get ready?”
“My boyfriend Mickey is coming and we’re gonna head out to the pub for a couple pints at The Treehouse.”
“Oh, you can go.”
“He brought his friend, Tagg.”
“He has a friend named Tagg?!” Nicole struggled to keep from laughing.
“Yeah, so put the nicest thing you’ve got on and let’s go!”
Nicole sighed she headed upstairs and looked through her suitcase, most of what she brought were t-shirts and jeans nothing ‘nice’. She settle on a flannel shirt she had where the shoulder and back was lace and a navy blue camisole to match it along with a pair of faded blue jeans.
“Cute!” Maggie grabbed her when she made it back downstairs and began figuring what she was gonna do for Nicole’s make-up and hair. Nicole pulled the band that was keeping her hair up and sighed, she hated her hair.
“Oh my.., gosh!”
“What?!” Nicole looked into the mirror wondering if there was something in her face or in her hair.
“No, I-I’m not.” She looked down at her shoes while Maggie grabbed her chin and pulled her head back up.
“You are, I mean you could get away with just eyeliner a touch of mascara and lipstick.” Maggie then pulled Nicole hair from behind her and watched as the long Raven locks fell down. “Your hair is so soft, I miss the curls and it’s gotta be waist length now, huh?”
“I don’t miss the curls.” Nicole muttered under her breath.
After about twenty minutes there was a knock at the door and two guys walked in. Nicole figured the guy Maggie jumped on and kissed was Mikey and the other guy who looked like he couldn’t be bothered was Tagg.
“Hey, I’m Nicole,” she offered the guy his hand to shake which he just looked at and sighed.
“Aye, can we go?!”
“Yes Tagg calm the fuck down!” Mikey said smiling at Maggie before they headed out the door.
“Don’t mind him, he’s like that with everybody.”
“Yeah, he’s charming alright.” Nicole took a deep breath it was her first night and already she was ready to go back home to Mississippi.
Luke plopped down on the sofa completely exhausted, he loosened his tie then tossed it to the floor. The band he was in had just finished a world tour and needed a bit of a break but with their hectic schedules he knew kicking back was a rare treat. Especially when the band he was in was topping the music charts and popping out hit after hit which made them a pretty big deal.
“Cassandra, please tell me we don’t have anything scheduled for tomorrow because I’m beat.”
“Let me check,” Luke sighed there was always something about their publicist that rubbed him the wrong way, if only he hadn’t slept with her things wouldn’t be so awkward. “No, you guys don’t have anything planned.”
“Yes!” Darrel and TJ high-fived before plopping down next to Luke.
“Finally,” Zach grabbed a water bottle off the table.
“He’s got a fever so the doctor is gonna check him out because you guys have a busy couple days ahead and we need you at 100%.”
“I thought we we’re getting a couple weeks off?!” Luke wanted to go home and spend time with family, even though he loved his fans from all over the world he hadn’t been home in months.
“You are... in Liverpool.” Cassandra ran her fingers through her long bottle-blonde hair. “You guys have days of interviews and photo shoots here as well as a few fan meets then a stint in America before coming home and getting some time at home.”
“Okay well, I’m going out since we’ve got tomorrow off. You guys wanna come with?”
“Nah, gonna finish some lyrics I’ve been workin’ on.” TJ said and Darrel leaned back resting his head.
“I’m gonna catch a ride to see the missus.” Zach yawned before heading out the dressing room.
“I can go with you if you’d like,” Cassandra leaned over the armrest, her lips were only inches from his and he hoped they were at least ten feet away.
“I think I’ll be alright on my own. Darrel didn’t you say there was a nice pub around here last time we were in Liverpool?”
“Yeah, I think it’s called The Treehouse. I’ll give you the address.”
Luke ordered a pint of lager then sat at the bar, cursing that Cassandra had texted him yet again when he’d only just left her and the guys fifteen minutes ago.
“Gosh!” He shoved his phone into his pocket after turning it on silent mode then he turned towards the door ready to leave when something made him stop - well more like someone.
A fit girl wearing a short black cocktail dress walked up to Luke and instantly started hanging off him and chatting in his ear but that wasn’t the girl he had his eyes glued to. A short gorgeous girl with dark tan skin who'd just entered the bar caught his attention. She had thick black hair flowing down to her waist wearing a blue flannel shirt and faded jeans that fit her thighs like a glove, her red full lips giving off a beautiful smile. She looked around the bar and Luke actually hoped she’d seen him but when the guy behind her put his hand to her back he sighed. Of course a girl that alluring had a boyfriend already, a little pissed Luke gently pushed the girl in his lap back and excused himself to the men’s room.
The place was getting crowded so it took him at least five minutes to get there and once he’d finally made it he forgot why he’d gotten up in the first place. He turned around to leave wondering why he was acting out of sorts, maybe he just needed to get back to the hotel and sleep off this funk he was in.
“What the fuck, mate?!”
“What?!” The taller of the two men said pushing the guy Luke had seen put his hands on the mysterious girl he’d seen walk into the pub just moments before.
“Why is it I’m always saddled with the grenade.” The guy had a look of disgust on his face.
“What the bloody hell are you on about she’s cute. Definitely better looking than most the trollops you’ve brought to the flat!”
Luke balled his fists he hated when others disrespected women especially in front of him but he didn’t really wanna get involved with these guys. He stepped forward to push his way through the guys and start his next drink when the bathroom door opened and the guy who had a scowl on his face barked.
“Come on! That girl is a cow and a right minger!”
His jaw dropped looking straight at the three of them was the young girl the guys had walked in with along with a tall blonde. He growled when he saw tears fall from her glimmering chestnut eyes. She’d heard what he just said. She fled even when the other girl tried to stop her. Luke did the only thing he could of at the time, he punched the guy in the face and cursed.
“Who the fuck?!” The guy he punched fell to the floor holding his nose which Luke knew was probably broke seeing his hand was killing him from the punch.
He chased after the girl that peeked his curiosity.
“Come on, stay! He’s just an idiot!” Maggie snagged Nicole’s jacket trying to get her to stay.
“An idiot?! AN IDIOT!” Tears of rage and anger fell down her cheeks. Nicole didn’t even want to go out and to boot the guy she’d been set up with had just humiliated her. “I’m the idiot, Mags, to ever believe you! Look at you, you’re a goddess and I’m... I’m just a fat, ugly cow!”
“Of course, I just look like a cow compared to you. You know what thank you and Mikey for inviting me but I’m leaving.”
“You can’t! I’ve got the house keys and Mikey drove.”
“Grr,” Nicole was pissed. “Fine!”
“Hey, you okay?” A tall guy of almost six foot came up to Nicole and Maggie. He had short brown hair, soft honey eyes and a sympathetic smile on his lips.
“We’re f-,” Maggie’s eyes grew large when she realized who had just walked up to them.
“I think she meant to say ‘we’re fine’ and I was just leaving,” Nicole said looking down at her feet she recognized the guy from the bathroom, he was standing behind Tagg and Mikey when Tagg humiliated her.
“Wait!“Luke was in shock he usually wasn’t this forward towards a girl he hadn’t even met yet but something was telling him that letting her leave would be a mistake. “Don’t go yet.”
“Sit with me. Forget that guy he’s the minger, not you.” He placed a hand to her warm cheek and brushed a tear that had fallen.
“Okay,” Nicole smiled and followed the guy over to the bar where he ordered two pints of cider for them. She sat down next to him unable to make eye contact and scared to speak, she hated when she got shy because it usually resulted in awkward silences.
“Does the young lady have I.D.?” The bartender asked furrowing an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” she took out her passport and he nodded handing her one of the glasses and handing the guy the other.
“How old are you exactly?!” Luke asked when the bartender left also furrowing his brow.
“Twenty-four,” she handed him her passport.
Luke smirked she was actually older than him by a little more than two years but she looked like she could pass for sixteen or seventeen which was probably why she was I.D.’ed as well she was adorably short no more than five foot one. So, you’re name is Nicole?”
“Mine is Luke. Luke Mercer.”
The guy looked at her for a moment wondering if she might say something or as if he waited for her to notice something when she didn’t he spoke again.
“Oh my gosh,” Nicole had never even been interested in a guy that was younger than her and here she was blushing because one was talking to her.
“Come on, give me a chance it’s only two years difference.”
Nicole took a swig of her drink, then smiled shyly. “I really didn’t come here to meet someone.”
“Then what’d you come for because I know he wasn’t part of your plans.”
Nicole turned to see what Luke was looking at. Tagg stood in the back of the pub looking quite miffed with a split lip and bloody nose.
“Did you do that?!”
“Y-yeah,” uh oh, will she hate me? he thought. Maybe he shouldn’t have jumped in?
Nicole hugged him tight and kissed his cheek. Then she blushed and looked down at her feet again. He grinned and touched the spot where she kissed him, she was too cute. They drank some and he ordered them another round while she told him about her life back home in Mississippi and her interests in writing. Then about visiting her aunt and cousin which she hadn’t seen in over a decade. He sat and listened not able to take his eyes off of her; the long dark hair he brushed behind her ear with his fingers, her impeccable smile that played at her lips when he spoke and her enchanting eyes that was just a shade darker than his own but still had flecks of warm gold.
“Lez make a toost,” Nicole slurred they’d had about four pints each and obviously she was a lighter drinker than him.
“What are we toasting exactly?” Luke leaned in close amazed that she smelled as good as she looked.
“Us silly.” She leaned in close to him.
Nicole looked at Luke but he wasn’t looking at her, exactly. She followed his gaze and immediately sat up straight, her shirt had unbuttoned and he was looking at her chest.
“Sorry,” Luke’s cheeks turned red.
“I get to look at chest. Yours!”
“Huh?!” Luke giggled.
“It’s only fair,” Nicole could barely keep a straight face and soon Luke was laughing too.
Everything seemed to be going great until Nicole glanced to back and saw Tagg with a red head dancing on him.
“No, he’s not! Nicole, you’re gorgeous!” Luke wobbled a bit grabbing her cheeks in his hands and pulling her close.
“I am?!” Nicole was sick of everyone lying to her but what would Luke have to gain from lying to her? She smiled and closed the distance between them kissing him hard on...the chin.
Luke smiled and maneuvered so that her lips slipped perfectly into his. Her breath was a mix of mint and apple, her lips felt so inviting but he didn’t wanna rush things, he wanted to know where things would head. He also needed to know how she’d feel once she knew he was a part of T.O.U.C.H. or as their manager would refer to them early in their career, The 'O'mazing Up and Coming Hotties. It didn’t bother him that she didn’t seem to know who he was or about T.O.U.C.H. for that matter, it was how she’d react once she found out. Most girls fawned and drooled once they knew but some girls he’d known were pure, loving and devoted even when things got hard. He really hoped she would be one of those girls because it would mean months apart, fans always around and a little thing called ‘the paparazzi’ which Luke got tired of some days. Nicole chased those thoughts away when she parted her lips and Luke instinctively slipped his tongue into her mouth. The two were so distracted by the heat behind their kiss neither had noticed a squat of a man walking on stage and grabbing one of the microphones.
“Ladies and gentlemen it’s time to start our karaoke night and boy are we in fer a treat. The lovely Maggie has asked to perform with her equally lovely American cousin, Nicole!”
Nicole thrust Luke back and turned beet red. She looked over to the right, Maggie was standing up and smirking while giving her the thumbs up sign.
“What the hell?!” Nicole whispered through clenched teeth.
“Don’t worry, Luke will love this!” Maggie smacked her cousin’s bum as they made it on stage. “Don’t think I didn’t see that kiss,” she winked.
“I’m too drunk for this!” Nicole groaned.
Most people in the crowd cheered and clapped while Luke put his fingers to his lips and whistled loudly. The short girl that had him head over heels looked too cute standing on stage looking so nervous.
Nicole tried to block out the spotlight overhead, she smiled when she saw the boy who’s spell she was under. She may have been nervous as all hell but part of her was ready.
“Wait? What song are we-”
Nicole was cut off by her favorite song, she couldn’t sing I Love Rock 'n' Roll?! Maggie always made her sing as lead vocals for this song.
“I’m not singing this!”
“Yes, you are.”
Maggie spun her back around to face the crowd after she’d turned to get off the stage. They struggled for a bit before Maggie pushed her forward towards the microphone closest to the stage.
The upbeat tempo started and Nicole immediately looked down at her feet terrified of looking anywhere else for fear she’d choke, vomit or fall flat on her face. Maggie pushed her forward some more and Nicole finally opened her mouth to sing but only after shutting her eyes tight. Oh shit! Here goes nothing...
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