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That Summer

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“You sure?” Louis asks Liam. He still can’t believe he’s being invited to spend two weeks with his friend and roommate at the family's summer house at the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Louis has never been outside the UK before.

“Yes, of course I’m sure. It’s pretty awesome over there, we can go sail-boarding and swimming. There are many good restaurants, bars and shops. So what do you say?” Liam asks him enthusiastically.

“Yeah… of course, I’d love to!” 

He finds himself on an airplane in August, flying from London to New York and an additional flight to Norfolk International Airport. He’s a bit nervous, he’s never been on a plane before.

“Relax mate, it’s not so bad.” Liam reassures him. Louis sighs.

“I’m sure you’re right, but I can’t help it.” The plane is taking off, Louis’ feels his stomach drop. He takes a deep breath and … wow, they’re flying. He relaxes a bit as he looks through the miniscule window, it’s only a matter of minutes before London has become a dot in Louis’ opinion. They chat a bit, Liam tells him a bit about the Outer Banks and places they could visit. After two hours Liam falls asleep, Louis smiles and puts his earplugs in to listen to some music on his IPhone. 

His first time on a plane going abroad. The longest journey he can remember is when they moved from Southampton to Doncaster when his parents divorced; that was 9 years ago. He and his mum moved back to her place of birth. He went to a new primary school, went to secondary school, but never really felt at home there. The only good thing was the football pitch; he’d loved playing football, he was good at it too. The first couple of years he really missed his old friends, although things had changed after that summer of 2000. Luke, Stan and Oliver moved on and soon forgot about what happened. Louis never really came to terms with it. He’d been having bad dreams, he'd tried talking to his mum about it, but she dismissed it as being one of Louis’ made up stories. In the end he just stopped trying. The memories of that summer began to fade after a few years. He had other issues to worry about. He had a crush on a cute guy from his football team. He wasn’t interested in girls the way his schoolmates were, but he couldn’t tell them he liked boys better. There had been too many negative comments from his school friends about gay guys, so he just pretended to like girls. He’d kissed girls at parties, but never liked it. When asked why he didn’t have a girlfriend, he just shrugged and said he hadn’t found a girl yet he really liked. Basically that was the truth, he just left out the part “and I never will.”  When he finished secondary school he begged his mum to let him study English literature in London, away from the north of the country. It took him a couple of months to convince her that Manchester wasn’t the right option for him. She finally gave in.

In London he met Liam, who soon became his best friend in uni. Liam came from a wealthy family, he studied graphic design and, like Louis, he loved playing football, they were both on the uni’s team.

 

Liam mumbles something in his sleep, Louis can’t quite understand, but it sounds a lot like a name of a girl called Sophia. Louis smiles, he’d have to remember that. Funnily enough, he still hasn’t found a guy he is really interested in. Liam had set him up with a few guys, but none of them were really Louis’ type. Louis appreciates Liam’s efforts, so far it just hadn’t worked out. Liam broke up with a girl about a year ago, since then he really hadn’t bothered finding a new girl. Obviously Louis has missed something, because he can’t recall Liam mentioning a “Sophia”.

 

It’s late in the evening when they finally arrive in Roanoke Village, a quaint little village at Roanoke Island. There’s something peaceful about the place in the dark.

“Is it always this quiet?” Louis asks Liam. Liam starts laughing.

“No, wait until tomorrow. It’s a thriving village, lots of water sports, fishing boats, nice little shops, bars and restaurants at the harbour and …. tourists. Lots of them at this time of year.” Louis smiles, that sounds good. He is looking forward to this holiday. Liam parks the rental car in front of a white cottage with a porch overlooking the bay.

“Wow” Louis whispers “this is beautiful.”

“Yeah, it is…. come on, let’s get our luggage inside.” Liam jumps out of the car and opens the trunk of the car to retrieve their luggage. Louis picks up his own and walks behind Liam up the steps to the door. Liam opens the door and they walk inside. First thing Louis notices is the theme: nautical. Shells, boats, ropes, fish and anchors dominating the decorations. Louis smiles.

Liam grins “I know…. it’s a bit over the top, but my mum loves It.” he explains.

 “Well, it does fit the area.” Louis answers with a chuckle.

“Okay, let’s put our stuff in the bedrooms and then relax with a beer.” Liam walks upstairs. “You better take the room at the front, it’s got beautiful views!” Liam looks over his shoulder. Louis follows him into the bedroom. Another nautical themed room, but more basic than downstairs. There’s a huge bed, facing the window.

“Thanks mate. It’s beautiful.” Louis thanks his friend. 

The next morning Louis wakes up early; the sun peeks through the curtains. Louis slowly rises, stretches his arms and back and walks to the window, carefully opening the curtains. The view takes his breath away. The water is calm, glistening in the sun, there’s a sailing boat floating on the Roanoke Sound. It’s still fairly quiet. Louis decides to put on shorts and a T-shirt and go for a walk. He leaves a note on the kitchen table telling Liam he’s just gone outside for a brief walk. He sneaks out, not wanting to wake Liam. It feels nice outside, not too warm, a slight breeze coming in from the Sound. Louis walks towards the beach. He passes by friendly people walking their dogs saying hello to him, joggers with headphones on their heads and a guy curling himself in impossible positions, according to Louis. 

He sits down in the sand, arms hugging his knees, not far from the acrobatic guy, and watches the boat on the water. It’s kind of peaceful, he feels relaxed. The smell of the sea reminds him of Southampton, but that’s as far as the comparison goes. Southampton was busy, big ships, fishermen, freight ships and noisy. Roanoke Village is quiet, small, friendly and peaceful. He smiles to himself, so far he likes it here.

 

“Hi” a low voice near him says making Louis almost jump. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” the voice apologizes. Louis looks up and sees the acrobatic guy smiling at him.

“Hi, sorry, I was just daydreaming. I see you managed to disentangle yourself. “Louis answers him. The guy bursts out in laughter. Okay, not a bad sight, Louis thinks as he observes him, unruly dark curls held by some kind of bandana, wide green eyes and … he’s got dimples.

“Yeah, my daily routine, yoga.” The guy explains.

“Aha, I see.” Louis never understood why people liked yoga.

“You sound British.” the guy sits down next to him. Right, Louis thinks, he’s got no sense of personal space, as there’s hardly an inch between him and the guy. He smells nice though.

“Yeah, well that’s because I am.” Louis says.

“I’m Harry, by the way. “ The guy introduces himself as he reaches his hand out to Louis. Louis shakes his hand.

“I’m Louis, nice to meet you.” he says oh so politely.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” Harry inquires. Louis laughs.

“Is this some kind of interrogation?” He can see the blush on Harry’s cheeks.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to, just thought I’d ask. You look kind of familiar though, have you been here before?” Louis shakes his head.

“Nope, very first time I left the British soil. I’m here with my friend Liam, his parents own one of the houses over there.” he points at the houses behind him.

“Liam Payne?” Harry asks raising his eyebrows.

“Yeah, you know him?” Louis is surprised.

“Yeah, we’ve met quite a few times. I work here in the summers at Niall’s pub.” Harry smiles.  

“Niall’s pub? Sounds Irish.” Louis says.

“Mr. Horan, the owner, is Irish. His son’s called Niall, he works there too. I’ve got to go now, it was nice meeting you. Come visit the bar tonight we’re doing a pub quiz, bring Liam, he loves it!” Harry gets up and jogs towards a house near the pier. Louis decides to return to the house, his stomach is making funny noises, time for some breakfast. 

He finds Liam sitting on a chair on the porch.

“Hey Tommo, did you have a good walk?” he shouts when he sees Louis approaching.

“Mate this place is fantastic. I woke up early and looked through the window, couldn’t resist to go outside.” Louis sighs.

“Glad you like it here, I made us breakfast, want to eat outside?” Louis nods. They eat their breakfast outside, having a bit of fun at the mailman’s expense who seems to have trouble, keeping his trolley on the path.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to ask. I met a guy on the beach, he said he knew you. Told us to come to Niall’s pub tonight for the pub quiz, he said you love it? Never knew you did!” Liam grins.

“Yeah, they’re hilarious questions, so you met Niall?” Liam informs.

“Nope, some other guy called Harry, said he worked at the pub in the summer?” Louis doesn’t mention he thinks Harry is very fit.

“Right… Harry.” Liam frowns.

“Uhm, why the frown? He seemed like a nice guy.” Louis asks a bit confused.

“He’s okay. Just a bit strange.” Liam says while he looks at the Sound.

“How do you mean strange? “ Louis asks, not that he’s curious… not at all.

“For instance no one knows his last name or where he’s originally from. He never talks about family or friends or anything from his past really.” Liam explains cautiously.

“Oh, I see. You think he’s been in trouble or something, like in jail?” Louis tries.

“Could be, don’t know. It’s just… odd.” Liam says. 

They go grocery shopping at Food Lion’s, that morning.

“Looks like a Tesco.” Louis says. Liam chuckles. Louis keeps comparing American places to British places.

“You sound like a man of the world, mate. “He teases him. It results in a glare from his friend.

“We can’t all be globe-trotters, Payno!” he retorts. Liam just smiles. 

Back at the cottage they put the groceries away and decide to go to the beach for a swim. Louis in a navy speedo and Liam in black swim trunks. It´s extremely busy when they arrive at the beach.

`See? Told you it’s a lot livelier at daytime.” Liam says. True, besides busy on the beach, there are many surfers and boats on the water. “Come on, let’s get into the water. I’ll race you.” Liam shouts as he throws his towel in the sand and runs to the water with Louis on his heels.

“FUCK!” Louis yells when he’s in. “it’s cold!” Liam laughs.

“Never said it was warm, you’ll get used to it.” Louis looks at him in disbelief. His first hunch is to jump out of the water, but he won’t give Liam the satisfaction, he’ll tease him relentlessly. Liam is a skilled swimmer, Louis has trouble keeping up with him. He has to admit the water isn’t as cold anymore now that he’s been in it for a few minutes. He actually likes it. He turns to float on his back for a while, something he remembered doing in the swimming pool years ago. He feels the sun on his face and he can’t help but smile.

”What’s so funny?” he hears a voice next to him. Louis startles and goes under. He feels two hands lifting him. He sputters and coughs, when he’s above water.

“Payno, what was that for?” he pants, still feeling the taste of salt water in his mouth. He’s still in the arms of his friend.  

“Sorry, it’s me… Harry. Didn’t mean to drown you…” The curly guy apologizes. Louis blushes. So it wasn’t Liam. He’s in a cute guy’s arms.

“Oh… it’s you, again.” Louis says. “You make a habit of startling strangers?” he accuses Harry. The blush on Harry’s cheeks doesn’t escape Louis. Still cute, he thinks.

“No… sorry, again.” Harry says. He sounds a bit shy.

“Well, I’ll forgive you, since you so kindly saved me from drowning too. You can let go of me now.” Louis informs him, trying to keep from smiling. Harry blushes even more as he let’s go of Louis. Louis starts swimming back, after a few strokes he looks back. “You’re coming?” he asks with a grin. Harry smiles and swims after him. Once on the beach Louis walks towards his towel. Liam’s already lying on his’ and watching Louis with a smirk from behind his aviator’s. “What?” he asks.

“Looks like Harry likes you.” he says, just in time before Harry could hear him.

“Hi Harry, long time no see.” Liam greets him.

“Hi Liam, good to see you.”  Harry replies with a smile.

“So you’ve met my friend and roommate already I heard.” Harry nods and glances at Louis, who’s just watching them talk. That is to say, he’s trying. The tiny yellow shorts low on Harry’s hips together with his long wet curls are a bit distracting.  “So it’s quiz time tonight at the pub, Louis said. We’ll be there.” Liam grins.

“You’ll like it. Niall’s made up some hilarious questions. “Harry grins back.

“Ah, can I get some info? Like, what’s the theme?” Liam tries. Harry shakes his head.

“Nope.”  

“Aww, come on… just a tiny bit of info for your British friends. “ Liam begs, puppy eyes and all. Louis bursts out in laughter.

“Mate, you’re pathetic!” he exclaims. Harry is laughing too, a dimple appearing on each cheek.

”I have to go, my shift starts in half an hour. See you guys, tonight.” Harry turns and walks away. Louis’ eyes following him.

“You like him?” Liam asks.

“He’s fit, can’t deny it.” Louis admits as he sits down on his towel next to Liam.

“Think it’s mutual.” Liam smiles. 

That night they walk to the pub, only a short walk from the Payne cottage. It’s still pretty busy in the village, couples walking hand in hand, people sitting on terraces enjoying dinner. The old-fashioned lamp posts illuminating the street in the dusk, flower baskets rocking softly in the breeze. They walk past a small bookshop, tucked away between a flower shop and a coffee shop. Louis stands still.

“Liam, can we go in, please?” he asks softly.

“Sure.” Liam knows Louis has a passion for books and stories. The door’s open to let some cool air in, they walk inside. Behind the counter is a lady wrapping up a book as a gift for a customer. Louis walks towards the shelves with books about the Outer Banks picking a few out and putting them back again, then moves on to the literature section running his fingers over some titles: American editions of some of his favourite books. On the opposite side there’s the children’s section. He sees some familiar titles and smiles as he recognizes a few he’s read as a child. Then he turns around. Liam’s talking to the lady behind the counter. He joins him. “Louis, this is Rosie. She owns the shop.” Rosie holds out her hand and shakes Louis’.

“Nice to meet you Louis. Liam tells me you love books and you study English literature.” Louis nods. “I have some fine books you’ll like.” She offers a few names and Louis is surprised she actually knows all the books by one of his favourite authors. Soon they’re discussing books, forgetting all about Liam. Rosie tells Louis she gets new orders in the next day, quite some interesting titles he might like. Louis agrees to come back the next day.

Outside Louis sighs and confesses “I’d love to own a shop like that one day.”

“Who knows, maybe you will in future.” Liam wraps an arm around Louis’ shoulder and together they walk to the pub. 

Niall’s pub is nestled in a small alley near the pier. They can hear U2’s “Magnificent” from the main road. Liam turns left into the alley. The pub is a typical Irish pub: Niall’s pub in golden letters in a Celtic font on the front. On the left the Irish flag proudly waving in the evening breeze. The door’s open, there are four tables and chairs outside, where a few guests are enjoying their drinks and a cigarette. They step inside. It’s already fairly busy.

“Come I’ll introduce you to Niall.” Liam says as he guides Louis to the bar. A guy with a blonde quiff hurries from behind the bar and hugs Liam.

“Payno! Good to see you. Harry told me you were in town.” Liam hugs him back. “And this must be Louis! Harry mentioned you brought a guest from England. I’m Niall. “Louis wants to reach out his hand, but the Irish guy already has him already in an embrace.

“Nice to meet you, Niall. “ Louis smiles when he’s released by Niall.

“First drinks are on the house, what are you having?” Niall walks back to his place behind the bar.

“A Guinness, of course. “ Liam grins.

“Me too, thanks.” Louis replies. He looks around: pictures of Irish celebs in frames hanging on one wall. Posters advertising Irish whisky and beer on another wall. Loud music from the speakers, Niall singing along from his spot behind the bar.

“Here ya go, lads.” he puts the drinks in front of them and turns to help another customer.

“Is Niall originally from Ireland?” Louis wants to know. Liam nods.

“Yeah, he came here with his parents and brother when he was eight years old.”

“I see: that explains his accent.” Louis takes a sip from his beer. More people come in and soon it’s pretty crowded. Liam is greeted by some of the customers. They get an invitation to come surfing the next day, which Liam accepts enthusiastically. Louis is not so sure; he’s never been on a surfboard before. He tells Liam so when they’re alone again.

“Ah mate, you’re good at sports; I’m sure you’ll do fine. We’ll teach you the basics: I’ve been surfing for years, it really is great.” Liam reassures him. Louis sighs, fine he’ll give it a go.

“Okay people, quiz time!” Niall yells through the microphone. The crowd shouts and Niall grins. Liam enters himself and Louis as team “The Brits”. The questions are hilarious, alright.

“Why is a carrot more orange than an orange? Seriously?” Louis smirks. Liam laughs.

“Told you, Niall has the weirdest questions.”  They miss a lot of questions and end up having only ten answers right, but they have a lot of fun. Liam orders them drinks with another bartender.

 “Louis, this is Greg, Niall’s brother.” Greg nods and smiles.

“Nice to meet you.” Louis replies. He’s wondering where Harry is, he hasn’t seen him yet. “Uhm Liam, have you seen Harry?” he asks.

“No, he’s probably in the kitchen or at the back.” Liam answers him. Louis tries not to show his disappointment. They stay for another half an hour and then decide to leave. They wave goodbye at Niall and walk back to the cottage. It’s a bit chilly so they walk a steady pace.

“You often go to the pub when you’re here?” Louis asks Liam.

“Yeah or go to the Beach Club. It’s great they often have DJ’s and there´s a great dancefloor. I’ll take you there on Saturday, you’ll like it.” Louis smiles, he likes dancing. At the cottage they walk to their respective bedrooms and say goodnight. Louis lies awake for a while. He likes it here; lovely beaches, great atmosphere, nice people. He sighs, too bad he hasn’t seen Harry tonight, he would have loved to chat some more with the curly boy and his beautiful green eyes. 

Louis is learning the surfing basics from Liam and a guy called Daniel. They’ve established he’s a regular foot and he’s been practicing popping up on the board on the sand. According to Daniel he’s a quick learner. Daniel shows him how to fasten the leash and teaches him to watch the ocean, see the waves, when to start paddling and soon Louis is in the water catching his first waves. He actually enjoys it a lot.

Liam grins “I knew you’d like It.” he says when they’re both sitting on their boards in shallow water, taking a break. “I see you have an admirer.” Liam tells Louis while points his head towards the beach. Louis follows Liam’s gaze and sees a curly haired guy sitting in the sand watching them. They wave at him, Harry waves back. Louis hops off the board and carries it under his arm to the beach.

“Hey.” he says when he reaches Harry. The curly boy looks up at him smilingly.

“Hi.” he says softly. “Becoming a surfer boy?”

Louis laughs. “First time. Liam and Daniel just taught me the basics. I like it.” he answers.

“Never learned it, way too clumsy keeping my balance on a board in the water.” Harry admits.

“Didn’t see you last night. You were right though, the quiz was fun; too bad we failed completely.” Louis sighs.

Harry grins. “Yeah, Niall is great in finding the most ridiculous questions for the quiz. I’m sorry I missed you, it was busy so I had to stay behind, clearing away orders that came in late and cleaning the kitchen.”

“How many nights a week do you work?” Louis inquires.

“At least five, sometimes six if it’s extremely busy, why?” Harry looks at him with his eyebrows raised.

“Nothing really, just wondering.” Louis says quickly. “You know the Beach Club? “ Harry nods.

“Yeah, not really my scene, I’m not a dancer.”

“Oh” Louis says, he feels a bit disappointed. “Liam is taking me there Saturday night, he says I’ll probably like it since I like dancing.”

“You probably will. It’s a popular place. I usually go to Number 20, kind of what Niall calls a hipster club with live music.” Harry confesses. Louis nods.

“Sounds cool.”                                                                                                                    

 “I’m off on Sunday night… uhm if you’d like to come along?” Harry looks at him expectantly. Louis blushes.

“Yeah… yeah I’d love to.”

“Great, looking forward to it.” Harry beams.

Louis smiles “Yeah, me too.” 

“So, you’ve got yourself a date?” Liam teases. Louis blushes.

“Not sure… kind of?” he really isn’t sure, but whatever… a night out with Harry can’t be bad. They’re having a late lunch together at the Beach Café.

“What do you mean, not sure? The guy is clearly interested in you.” Liam mumbles with his mouth full.

“You think so?” Louis asks a bit unsure. He’s not bad looking, but he finds himself pretty ordinary compared to some of the muscular guys on the beach.

“I do!” Liam confirms, his tone serious.

“Guess, I’m going on a date then.” he says.

”You’re more successful than I am.” Liam sighs.

“Hmm, how about Sophia?” Louis smirks, remembering the girl’s name Liam so innocently mentioned in his sleep.

Liam turns pink and stutters “How… w-what…? “ Louis can’t help but laugh.

“You talk in your sleep mate. You were mumbling the name on the plane… so …. Care to explain?”

“Oh geez, I talk in my sleep? Uhm… I met Sophia in a club in London, a few times. I kind of like her, that’s all really. We talked a bit. She’s pretty.” Liam tells him.

“Well, that’s good… isn’t it?” Louis raises his eyebrows.

“I suppose so, not sure she really likes me though.” Liam looks at him with sad eyes. Louis pats his friend on the shoulder.

“Guess you need to find out, once we’re back, won't you?” 

They go swimming after lunch and lay on the beach working on a sun tan.

“You lazy bones!” They hear an Irish accent calling out to them.

“Hey Niall!” Liam greets him. “Some of us do have holidays, you know. “He points out to the Irish guy. Niall grins.

“Lucky bastards!” Niall plops down next to Liam. “Didn’t get a chance to proper talk to you last night. How long are you staying?”  

“Two weeks! Doing absolutely nothing but relaxing and having fun. Gonna show Louis some sights and we’re going to the Beach Club Saturday night, dancing the night away.” Liam says in a lazy voice.

“Sounds good. You’ve been to the States before?” Niall asks Louis. Louis shakes his head.

“No, first time I’m abroad. Never been outside the UK before.” he admits to Niall.

“Hope you’ll enjoy yourself, mate. It’s a great place for a summer holiday. “Niall smiles at him.

“He’s already got himself a date. “Liam tells him, smirking at Louis, making him blush. Niall whistles.

“Anyone I know?”

“Oh yeah…. Harry.” Liam grins. Niall raises his eyebrows, looking at Liam.

“Really?”

Liam nods. Niall looks at Louis for more information.

“Uhm… well he invited me over to Number 20 on Sunday night?” Louis offers weakly. Why was it such a big deal, Harry asking him to come along?

“I see.” Niall says. “Well guys, enjoy your day. See ya! “When Niall is gone, Louis decides it’s time to ask.

“Okay, what was that all about? Is it so strange that Harry might want to go out with me? I mean, I’m not that bad looking am I? “

"No, no… it’s not that!” Liam quickly reassures him.

“So what is? Is Harry straight … is that what this is about?” Louis inquires, suddenly aware of the fact that he doesn’t know Harry's preferences. He assumed Harry liked guys. Liam shakes his head.

“Don’t know really. Always assumed he likes both sexes. He seems to get along with everyone.”

“Then what is?” Louis snaps at Liam, he’s becoming impatient and annoyed.

“Harry never dates.” Liam says bluntly.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Louis is really pissed.

“Just like I said. Harry once said he doesn’t date and he sounded serious about it, that’s all. “Liam shrugs.

“Well maybe he’s changed his mind.” Louis snaps.

“Maybe.” Liam says softly. 

By Friday Louis feels really confident on the surfboard; he’s really enjoying it to Liam’s delight, because Liam loves it as much as Louis does. So they spend most of their days on the board, sometimes with Daniel and his friends or Niall and his brother Greg, when they can spare the time. Only drawback is the lack of Harry being around. According to Niall Harry has some private matters to deal with. Louis feels a bit disappointed, he’s not even sure Harry still remembers their date on Sunday.

On Saturday morning he wakes up early and gets up for a stroll along the beach. He just steps onto the sand when he sees Harry sitting on a rock with a camera, taking pictures of a boat that lies at anchor in the Sound. It’s a big ship, reminds him of a tall ship he’s seen as a child. He walks up to Harry.

“Hi.” he says carefully. He doesn’t want to startle him like Harry tends to do. Harry looks up with a big smile on his face, putting the camera in his lap.

“Nice ship.” Louis says as he nods towards the ship.

“Yeah, I like tall ships.” Harry beams at Louis. Louis sits down next to Harry on the rock.

“Only seen a tall ship like that once before. It truly is magnificent.” Louis smiles back. “So you like taking pictures?” he continues pointing to the camera. Harry nods.

“I always have. My brother is a professional photographer. He specializes in nature photography. I learned a lot from him.” Harry says as he takes another few pictures of the ship.

“Ah, so it runs in the family.” Louis smiles. Harry looks up from his camera and stares at Louis and then shakes his head.

“Not really. He’s more of a step brother to me.”

“Oh, I see.” Louis says.

“No, you don’t. “ Harry says curtly as he takes more snaps. Louis sits in silence, not sure what to answer. He didn’t say anything wrong, did he?

“Do you want to become a professional photographer too?”  Louis tries to pick up the conversation again. Harry frowns staring at the water.

“Haven’t really thought about it, but… yes, maybe. I’m not sure if I’m any good.” he answers.

“What do you study then?” Louis asks curiously.

“Nothing, just go from job to job. Spend most summers here. You?” Harry looks at him.

“I’m studying English literature. Probably become an editor. My dream is to write storybooks for children. I always had a vivid imagination. “Louis replies passionately... Harry looks at him with soft eyes.

“That is great Louis. Nice to have a goal. I never had, I’ve always been living by the day.” Louis blushes lightly as he feels Harry’s eyes on him. This is the first real conversation between them and Louis likes it, getting to know the boy sitting next to him.

“You never had a dream of what you wanted to do or be in the future, not even as a child?” Louis asks quietly as he tilts his head a little to face Harry. Harry frowns again, somehow the frown and the look in his eyes remind Louis of someone, but he doesn’t know anyone that looks like Harry.

Then Harry suddenly smiles widely “Oh yeah, I remember when I was very young I wanted to travel the world, going on adventure….like most kids do I suppose. Guess some of it I do…. I travel a lot …. Just not the world, but the US.” He laughs and Louis joins him.

“Have you ever been outside the US? I mean it’s my first time out of the UK …. Ever.” Louis admits.

“No, I haven’t, but maybe… one day I will.” Harry says, then his phone buzzes. “Oops, it’s late I have to go, don’t want to get in trouble with the Horans. Have fun tonight at the Beach Club!”

“Thanks, I will. See you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, meet me at 9 pm outside Niall’s pub.” Harry gets up and smiles at Louis. “Looking forward to show you some real music.” he winks and then leaves. Louis shakes his head with a smile as he watches Harry leaving. He’s beautiful in his cut-off jeans and tight T-shirt, his curls waving in the wind. Louis sighs as he tells himself he’s only here for two weeks, he shouldn’t fall for some American guy he’ll never see again when he leaves, but that’s going to be a tough job. He feels attracted to him, his beautiful green eyes, plush pink lips, dimples in his cheeks, gorgeous smile, chocolate coloured curls. Not to mention his small bum, long legs and toned body. Add a nice dark voice to that and Harry is pretty much Louis’ dream guy.

“Life is not fair! Why can’t he be British and living in London? “He mumbles to himself as he walks slowly back to the house. 

“Isn’t it great here?” Liam shouts at Louis.

“Yeah, it’s fun. “Louis shouts back. They’re at the Beach Club. The music is loud, lots of people dancing and laughing. They’ve been dancing too, but taking a break. They head towards the bar to order drinks.

“Hey Liam, Louis! Over here! “They find Daniel and his friends at the bar. “You like it here, Louis?” Daniel asks.

“Yeah, it’s a great place, nice atmosphere. Good music!” Louis replies with a smile. “Liam loves the place.” he adds.

“I know! This is the place where we met him last year. He loves to dance. “Daniel grins and points to the dancefloor, where….. Alright so Liam was on it again, dancing with a blonde girl. “That’s my older sister. “ Daniel explains with a grin when he sees Louis rolling his eyes at Liam.

“She likes dancing as much as Liam does. Last year they spent two hours straight on that dancefloor dancing as if they were in some contest. “Louis laughs.

“Didn’t know he liked dancing that much!” he confesses.

 “So you’re enjoying your stay so far?” Daniel hands Louis a beer.

“Yeah, it’s great. I really love surfing: thanks for teaching me.” Louis beams.

Daniel grins “You’re welcome, mate. It’s always good to hear someone loves it the way we do. Have you seen the surroundings yet?” 

“No, not yet. Liam’s planning on hiring a jeep next week to show me the area.” Daniel nods approvingly. “You should ask Niall to come along, he knows a lot. You know Niall, right?”

“Yeah, I do. He’s great fun! His pub quiz is hilarious.” Louis grins.

 “Ah so you’ve been to the pub.”

“Yep, tonight the Beach Club and tomorrow night Number 20.” Louis takes a sip from his beer.

”Really? Didn’t think Liam likes Number 20. “Daniel exclaims in surprise.

“Oh no… I’m going with Harry.” Louis corrects him.

“Harry? Curly guy from the pub? “Daniel asks.

“Yeah.”

“Haven’t seen him much this summer. He’s a nice guy, just a little strange sometimes.” Daniel informs him.

“So I hear.” Louis confirms.

“Number 20 has some decent bands and singers, it’s a great place if you want to hear live music.” Daniel says and then grins at someone behind Louis. Liam and his dance partner are panting heavily. “Need a drink Ginger and Fred?” Daniel smirks, Louis grins as he sees Liam leaning his hands on his thighs, bending forward, trying to catch his breath.

“I’m really out of practice.” he pouts. Louis pats his shoulder.

“You two were fantastic, you should get a medal for your effort.”  

“Thanks mate, by the way, this is Prudence, Daniel’s sister.” Liam introduces the girl to Louis. Prudence smiles and shakes Louis’ hand.

“I hear you’re Liam’s roommate and friend, nice to meet you.” she says warmly. “Hope you enjoy your vacation so far.” she says with a smile. They talk a bit and Louis is pleased to hear Prudence likes books just as much as he does. They exchange book titles the other one should read. Prudence gives Louis names of bookshops in the area he should check out.

The boys have a great night out with Daniel, his friends and sister.

“Wow that was fantastic!” Louis says when they reach the house, both not too drunk, but definitely tipsy.

“Yeah, they’re nice people.” Liam agrees as he falls on the couch in the living room. Louis takes his shoes off and walks to the kitchen for a glass of water.

“You want one too?” he yells. There’s no answer. When he returns to the living room, he finds Liam snoring on the couch. He picks a quilt from the chest and covers his friend “Sweet dreams” he whispers smilingly before he walks upstairs to his room. 

“What should I wear? Liam… please, help. I want to look good!” Louis shouts from upstairs.

“What did you bring? Did you bring those red pants?” Liam asks with a grin as he sees Louis’ clothes spread on the bed and a desperate looking Louis sitting between the piles of garments.

“Yes…. they’re good? Not too bright?” Louis genuinely looks concerned. Liam sighs.

“Mate, they’re perfect on you. Add the white striped T-shirt and you’ll look fab.” he reassures him. Louis puts on the pants and the T-shirt, he’s not totally convinced, but Liam’s right: he looks good in them. He sighs.

“Is it weird that I’m nervous?” he asks Liam shyly.

“No, you don’t know the club, you don’t know Harry well. I’d be nervous too, but I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Liam says as he wraps an arm around his shoulder. “Have fun, mate…. I mean it.” Liam smiles at him. “Now, off you go.” he pushes Louis softly out of the bedroom and waves from the door as Louis leaves. 

He walks past the bookshop, waving at Rosie who’s closing the door and left into the alley to the pub. Outside Harry is talking to Greg, Niall’s brother. They smile at him.

“Ready to hear some real music?” Harry winks at him. Greg laughs.

“Sounds like you’re trying to convert him.” Harry grins at Greg.

“It would be a shame if Louis never got a taste of the great live music around here on the Outer Banks and is only exposed to Irish music and club music.” Greg laughs even harder and walks into the pub.

“I take it you’re the only one around here that goes to Number 20?” Louis asks Harry curiously.

“Yeah, Niall comes along when he’s got a night off, but most of the people you’ve met are either going to the Beach Club or to the pub.” Harry informs him with a smile.

“Now I’m curious. Do you know who’s playing? “

“Actually it’s one of my friends. He’s a singer-songwriter, you’ll like him …. He’s British too!” 

Number 20 is just a short walk from Niall’s pub, like the pub it’s hidden in an alley. A black sign with grey letters tells Louis they’ve arrived. Compared to the club and the pub it’s pretty quiet. Inside it’s dark, a small circle in the middle with a barstool and a microphone indicates there’s going to be live music. Harry orders them two beers and they pick a seat near the circle.

“Hey Harry! “ A ginger haired guy with pale skin dressed in black pants and black T-shirt stands in front of them.

“Hi Ed, ready to play?” Harry stands to hug the guy.

“So who’s your friend?”

“Ed this is Louis, Louis meet Ed; he’s going to play tonight.”

“Hello Ed, nice to meet you. Can’t wait to hear you play. Harry tells me this is the place to come to, to hear real music.” Louis shakes Ed’s hand. Ed laughs.

“Sounds like Harry. You’re British?”  

“100 %” Louis admits with a grin.

“I’m part British and part Irish” Ed tells him. “Harry has a thing for the Brits.” Ed winks at Louis. Harry blushes.

“Oh… does he now?” Louis wiggles his eyebrows looking at Harry. Ed smiles knowingly.

“Hey… I like the accent, alright?” Harry says defensively making both Ed and Louis laugh. 

Ed sings a few songs and to be honest Louis is quite impressed. He likes the sound of Ed’s voice and the lyrics to his songs. He tells Harry so. Harry beams as if he personally discovered Ed. Louis chuckles. Ed joins them during his break. Ed tells Louis he’s from Suffolk. Louis tells him he grew up in the south, but moved to the north with his mum when he was 10 years old and that he hasn’t been back since.

 When Ed finishes his gig that night, he drinks another beer with them and then leaves. It’s way past midnight when Harry and Louis leave.

“So tell me, what did you think of Ed?” Harry asks when they walk back towards the cottages near the beach.

“He’s amazing. He deserves to become famous.” Louis knows he sounds maybe a little too excited, but he feels pretty tipsy, he can always blame the booze. Harry grins.

“Told you he’s good.” They’re almost at the Payne cottage  

“I had a great night, thanks for taking me.” Louis smiles up at Harry. He’s feeling brave and leans in, his lips touching Harry’s softly in a kiss. He feels Harry freezing, not returning the kiss. He opens his eyes in embarrassment and diverts them to the ground, quickly stepping back and mumbling

“Sorry.”  He hardly dares to glance up, when he does he sees Harry nervously biting his lip. “See you around, yeah?” he whispers, Harry nods. Louis turns around and quickly walks to the door of the cottage, not glancing back. When he closes the door he leans against it, his hands covering his head. That was embarrassing, he should have known it wasn’t a date. Liam warned him, heck… even Niall had been acting surprised, Harry had not made a move on him all night. How could he be so stupid? Had he been reading too much into their encounters?  He was sure Harry had been flirting with him. He walks upstairs to his room, undresses, brushes his teeth, splashing cold water on his face and slips under the covers. It takes a while before he falls asleep.