Loading...
Menu
Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Romance  ➡  Contemporary

Billionaires Meet Millionaire

Billionaires Meet Millionaire

 

 

 

By

 

Jason Vasha

 

 

Copyright 2016 Jason Vasha

All rights reserved.

Published by Shakespir

 

 

 

 

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other person. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please delete it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

Disclaimer

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Books By Jason Vasha

 

I’ve Been Waiting

My Prince, The Billionaire

Billionaires Meet Millionaire

Millionaire Pick Billionaires

 

 

 

 

 

This Book is for

 

Olta, who is my millionaire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

It was typical to see Olta with her mother. She’d never leave her, as she considered her as her rock. You could say that a smile who never leave her mother’s face.

 

“Oh my dear sweet mother, have I ever told you that it is utterly insane for you to install this rule?” Olta said, while looking at her mother’s back hanging into the refrigerator. In Albania, you only learn British English. To Britain it seemed normal, perhaps Olta was British… But in America it’s plain boring.

 

“Olta, we’ve gone over this. Your English is truly up to par, but your sister’s is not. Until she is as eloquent as you are, my sweet darling, we are speaking English in this household. Now, drop it.” Her mother answered with only the slightest hints of sarcasm here and there. Removing herself from the fridge, she held some zucchini and sweet pepper.

 

Olta’s mother knew English since she was young. She truly wanted the best for her children.

 

“Now, my dear sweet oldest daughter.” her voice now dripping with sarcasm,

 

“Mother, just call me Olta. We seem too weird when you say it like that.” Olta said, trying to cover her face with the vegetables.

 

“Alright, have I ever told you that you are truly gifted with a knife and vegetables.” She looked pointedly at her daughter over the kitchen counter and placed the vegetables, a cutting plate and a knife in front of Olta. Then she turned at her heels and walked out.

 

“Yes, actually you have…. Could you do me a favour?”

 

“Of course darling.”

 

“Stop giving me compliments! It’s, embarrassing!” Olta called after her in a sing-song voice. As she started on the zucchini Olta contemplated her first real day in the U.S. of A and she sighed.

 

She’d known of that this moment would come for over a half a year and yet it still had come as a surprise to her. At first she had been delighted about it, the prospect of moving away. No more memories of her father to haunt her every step in the house, a fresh start in a new school.

 

Yes, it would be great to move away to a country were nobody even knew where on this awful planet Albania were, let alone the city of Tirana. But then things had changed over the past few months. The memories of her father were still there, they would never leave her, no matter where they lived. But a fresh start in a new school didn’t seem all to necessary. The bullies had started to lay off and on the fifth grade annual trip to Rome, she even found that she could talk and interact with those same bullies at a whole new level. Had that only been three weeks ago, she wondered, yes it had.

 

Only three weeks ago she had been baking under the Italian sun and now here she was in upstate New York. But she had made one decision, though, the mistakes she apparently had made in her old school, she would not repeat. The thoughts of Albania appeared in her mind.

 

She always loved the beautiful culture with the music and don’t forget the beauty of Vlore, Skrapar and even Shokder!

 

Her mind was blocking her movements. The knife accidentally peeled some of the skin on her finger.

 

Olta yelped as she felt the knife cutting her index finger and she looked at the cut in dismay, before sucking on wound. “why oh why,’ she thought to herself, “wasn’t it possible to get trough even one day without some truly stupid act of self mutilation.”. Thankfully, Maggie just came bouncing, there was no other word for describing her movements, into the kitchen.

 

Olta always loved Maggie, but they were typical sisters that fought a lot.

 

“What you do, cut yourself?” She asked, sitting herself down behind the kitchen counter and looking attentively at her sister sucking her finger. Olta slowly removed her finger and caught Maggie’s eye.

 

“Yes indeed Maggie, I did cut myself. Meg! Wow, it’s no wonder that I’m smarter.” Not taking her eyes off her baby sister she slid the plate of the partially sliced zucchini towards her.

 

“Now why don’t you be a dear sweet sister and cut the rest of the veggies while I go in search of a band-aid.” Maggie narrowed her eyes just slightly and said in tone that sounded very much like her mother’s.

 

Maggie couldn’t say no. Olta always helped her, she was like a warrior. However, she didn’t want to “work”.

 

“Of course, no just run along and try not to hurt yourself, Alright?” Olta tried to glower at her, but she knew there was only amusement on her face.

 

 

 

“I’m not a child, Meg… Just stop it… No wonder you haven’t gotten any friends.” Olta said, finally releasing her anger.

 

“Alright.” Maggie said trying to act like a woman my shoving her flat breasts up,

 

“Why thank you, my dear sister, and please note that you’re a cheeky little brat.” They smiled at each other knowingly.

 

“Do not push it!” Maggie replied, trying to hide her emotions.

 

“A normal person would say DON’T PUSH IT!” Olta replied, now tired of this conversation.

 

With that Olta went in search of a band-aid.

 

 

—————

 

Niall flipped through his notebook. Again and again and again. He tried to read the words but he just couldn’t concentrate on them. The pain in his upper torso and abdomen were seriously distracting him. Annoyed he slammed the book shut and pushed his chair away from his desk. He laid down on his bed, flicking his television on.

 

“Why the fuck do it now anyways”, he whispered to himself, “I’ve got a whole weeks worth of detention to catch up.” And with that he decided on watching some rerun of Harry.

 

Niall and work simply don’t go, at all.

 

Chapter Two

 

Olta sat in the principal’s office. She noticed herself getting more and more nervous by the minute. Here she was on her first day in a new school in a new country. She had been here already, the week before. She hadn’t been nervous then, going through the motions of admittance talks with principal and the guidance counsellor and who not, but that had not included any interaction with other students.

 

Olta had never set foot in an office. Maybe I should get in trouble, that way I’ll look cool, am I right? She wondered. Everything was new to her. In Albania you’re cool if you break the rules and don’t cry if the teacher slaps you.

 

Now, she actually had to go into classes and introduce herself. Already she felt their looks of their disapproval and disgust and then there was that damned band-aid on her finger. She ripped it off in one motion and not seeing a waste basket around, she put it in the pocket of her coat.

 

“Olta, dear,” the principal pulled her out of her trance and she looked up at the dark-haired woman. Mrs. Rume reminded her of her old principal; the main difference being the latter had gray hair already. The principal smiled.

 

Mrs. Rume seemed a bit shaky. Olta was nervous, seeing a crazy woman talking to her. Hopefully first impressions are false.

 

“Now, you’re guide will be joining us shortly and he’ll take you on tow, so to speak, for the rest of week.” Mrs. Rume says. Olta now knew this lady had a heart.

 

“Excuse me uh principle but I’m not great with English, so what does guide mean?” She asked, trying not to look embarrassed.

 

Mrs. Rume thought it was actually sweet. Her lips curled up while patting Olta on the back. She didn’t know how to describe a guide.

 

“Well, a guide is a a person who advises or shows the way to others.” She replied.

 

As Olta smiled her eyes got bigger.

 

 

 

“You know, to help you get a handle on this place. I understand your former school was quite small?”

 

Olta nodded politely; she was nothing, if not polite.

 

“Yes, Mrs. Rume, it was.” Just as she was to elaborate on the matter, the door swung open. A boy her age stepped in. He walked straight towards Mrs. Rume’s desk, not noticing Olta.

 

“You called Mrs. Rume?” He said and Olta noticed his playful tone of voice.

 

“That I did, that I did, Mr. Foy and seeing as that you have seriously tainted your record by last week’s actions, I really don’t see why you are so vivacious this morning.”

 

Olta noticed Mr. Foy shifting his weight slightly and caught herself thinking that the boy had a nice ass, actually from the back the Mr. Foy looked fine allover.

 

“No, no, no,” Olta berated herself silently. “You’re not going to checking any boy out. Before you know it you’ll get crush on someone and get your stupid little hopes up and we all know where that will land you.”

 

She decided to heed her own advice, but not before checking the guy out just once more. He wore a baggy pair of jeans with a dark green long-sleeve on top and a pair of simple sneakers beneath.

 

“God, if his ass looks good in this outfit, he really must have a nice ass.” She caught herself thinking as Mr. Foy replied.

 

“It’s a new day,a new dawn, Mrs. Rume.” Mrs. Rume smiled as he quoted some lyric even she knew.

 

“Indeed it is Mr. Foy and seeing as I am in very forgiving mood this morning, I am willing to give you a clean slate.” Mrs. Rume was still smiling at Mr. Foy and as if in an afterthought, she added: “In return for a favour, of course.”

 

“But of course Mrs. Rume. And what would I have to do this time?” Mr. Foy replied instantly.

 

Olta smiled as she was listening to this exchange. The boy had gotten himself into trouble, boy could get himself out of trouble by.. And then it hit her. Boy would be getting himself out of trouble by being her guide. Could she be any more dense, she asked herself. Confirming her fears Mrs. Rume said.

 

“By showing Miss Mehmeti around and helping her out for the next week.”

 

 

Niall’s expression fell.

 

“Showing around some new student, great, just great.” He thought to himself. He had not counted on a job that was actually going to deprive him of spending extra time in school. And especially something as down grading as babysitting some new student, Christ, only certain people did that.

 

“Now, Mr. Foy, if you would as kind as to introduce yourself to Miss Mehmeti.” Niall looked at Mrs. Rume and watched as she pointed her finger at the wall. Following the finger Niall slowly turned around and glanced at the girl standing in front of him.

 

“Hi,” she said softly barely meeting his eyes. He noticed her outstretched hand.

 

“I’m OltaMehmeti.”

 

He looked from her outstretched hand to her face and to her hand again.

 

“Hi, I’m NiallFoy.” He said, finally shaking her hand. He caught her eye for a moment, before she drew back her hand and turned towards the principal’s desk. He looked her over and noticed they were quite similarly dressed. She wore dark green baggy pants with a black long jacket and black sneakers.

 

“Mr. Foy.” Mrs. Rume said, directing his attention towards her again, her face looking a little too serious. “I understand that this job.” Mrs Rume let a pause. Was the principal being sarcastic here or was he imaging things, Niall wondered.

 

“Is beneath you, of course.” Another pause and now Niall knew she was being sarcastic.

 

“However.” Mrs. Rume continued, “Miss Mehmeti is in most of your classes and her assigned locker is in the general vicinity of your locker. That and you’re little detention spell this week, seemed to me a good enough reason for you to do this.”

 

Mrs. Rume looked at Niall expectantly and when she failed to get an answer she added.

 

“Or would you rather be put on sweep detail again, Mr. Foy?” Niall got the hint and answered.

 

“Of course not, Mrs. Rume. I’ll be happy to show Ms…” He briefly glanced over sideways to catch the girl’s eyes but she was staring at a seemingly very interesting spot on the floor. “Mehmeti, was it?” He asked and she slowly and very shyly, he noted, nodded her head.

 

He turned to face Mrs. Rume again and smiled, slightly forced.

 

“I’ll be happy to show Miss Mehmeti around.” A smile returned to the principal’s face as she handed both of them sheets of paper.

 

“There you go, Olta, Mr. Foy.” She said as she handed the girl the one set of papers and handing the other set to Niall.

 

“This is your schedule and your locker and initial number code. Mr. Foy, Niall, will show you how to personalize it. Now of you go, or the two of you will be late for class.”

 

Niall nodded to the principal, making his opinion about situation known to her by not greeting her politely.

 

“Thank you, Mrs. Rume.” He heard the girl say softly. She got her bag from under the stool where she apparently been sitting and headed out the door. Niall made to follow her, when Mrs. Rume said.

 

“Niall, you take care of her now, she’s from Europe.” Niall nodded again, unsure what to do with that bit of information. As he closed the door behind him, he found the girl waiting for him, looking at some interesting spot on the floor again and shifting her weight. Well, at least she looks nice, he thought to himself before saying.

 

“Come on, I’ll show you where you’re locker is.” Looking at the number he saw that ‘general vicinity’ had been a slight understatement on the principal’s part. It was the one next to his.

 

“This can’t be real! I’ll kill you if you gaze upon his blue eyes… which are like the sea… I’m lost at sea when I look at them… stop it Olta!” She thought to herself.

 

“Is there something wrong?” Niall asked her, not caring but he simply wanted to seem polite.

 

“Never better.” Olta replied with a fake Barbie smile on her face. She knew she had blown it.

 

Chapter Three

 

Olta barely looked at Niall as he told her to follow him.

 

“Bleeding, bloody hell.” She thought to herself, straightening herself as she walked one step behind him. Had she not decided to show a different version of herself, had she not decided to no longer live life in the shadows, had she not..Oh to hell with all the good resolutions. She was the same girl she would always be, no 4800 kilometre relocation could change that.

 

And Niall clearly wasn’t too pleased about her, so there went that daydream. Well, she berated herself again, that’s what you get from swooning all over a guy just by one look at his face. But he did have a gorgeous face though and from what she had seen quite beautiful eyes. And now she noticed that he walked pretty quickly as well and she had troubling keeping up with him.

 

They went up a corridor, down a corridor. Left into a hallway and left again, and then a right. All the time Olta had the distinct feeling of being looked at by everyone else in the corridors and she could swear she heard people mumbling.

 

“They’re not mumbling about you. They’ve got better things to do than that.” Olta told herself. She was so intent on not losing Niall somewhere along the way that she almost bumped into him when he suddenly stopped. “This is your locker.” He pointed at a red metal locker.

 

“Umm, ok” Olta said hesitantly, looking at the lock system “And how does this work exactly?” She asked glancing up at Niall. Only now did she notice he was about a head taller than her.

 

He looked down at her with a surprised look and she felt slightly embarrassed by it.

 

“What’s wrong!?” Niall asked with frustration.

 

“ We didn’t have them in my old school.” She replied, her tone surprising herself.

 

“Ok, ok, so you really are from Europe then aren’t you. You’ve got the accent and all.” Niall looked down at her and Olta felt a slight blush creeping up. The amusement was back in his voice. He really did have a beautiful face and mesmerizing hazel brown eyes, she noticed. He was hot, no doubt and he was making fun of her, no doubt about that either.

 

“Pardon?” She said. Niall’s amusement spread to his face and he smiled at her.

 

“Pardon,” he repeated her words mockingly, not taking his eyes of her. “I mean you have an English accent and around here we don’t really use ‘pardon’ anymore. Where you’re from anyways? London, Manchester, Liverpool?”

 

Olta kept his gaze and she was proud of herself. Even though she had felt her blush deepening she hadn’t looked away. And she was proud of the compliment Niall had unbeknownst bestowed upon her.

 

“I’m not from Great-Britain actually, I’m from Albania.”

 

The surprised look returned as he asked.

 

“Albania? I’ve never heard of that country before.” He says, realizing he flunked geography.

 

Olta was used to that. Maggie had once said that some Albanians are undiscovered creatures, but Olta as proud to be Albanian.

 

“Mother Theresa was Albanian. Don’t you know who Skenderbeu is? May I add that my ancestors were the first people in Balkans!?” Olta roared, defending her country.

 

“Sorry, I’m not good at geography.” He replied, not ashamed at all.

 

“And the reason why I say thing like pardon is because they teach British English.”

 

 

Olta couldn’t help smile slightly as she heard Niall recount his extensive knowledge of her country. Still Stone his gaze and feeling her face turn a nice deep shade of red she said, not without sarcasm.

 

“Yes, that just about sums it up.” Niall smirked slightly as he pulled out one of the sheets Mrs. Rume had given him. He broke their stare and turned to the lock on her locker.

 

“Now, this is how it works.”

 

And, with little over a foot distance between them, he explained the locker to Olta. Not five minutes later she had her own lock number, which Niall also knew as he had set the lock. Niall then went to the locker beside hers and opened it.

 

“Ok, his locker is next to mine, ok.” Olta thought to herself, trying to keep her face as studious as it had been during the locker explanation. And then, without a word, they were off to their first class. This time Olta needn’t to try and keep up with Niall as he quite leisurely sauntered through one corridor after another.

 

Olta wondered how she was ever going to find her way on her own and she was glad that Niall was around. Their staring match of just a few moments earlier had cured Olta off her uneasiness towards him. She knew that he didn’t want to do this, his behaviour had made that quite clear, but she also felt that he didn’t really mind anymore. Or at least she thought she felt that. Then again she wasn’t too good a judge of character.

 

She noticed Niall was watching her timetable and wasn’t looking at where he was going. Yet any student who might be in his way quickly made room for him and glanced her over just as quickly. And sure enough, when they walked by, Olta could hear buzzing starting behind her. So, she hadn’t imagined things on the way to their locker after all.

 

Then she caught sight of three very pretty girls standing idly against their locker. As they saw Niall coming up all three faces broke into a smile and the girl in the middle straightened herself.

 

“Good morning Niall,” She said with a flirtatious overtone that both surprised and nauseated Olta.

 

“Good morning Altea.” Niall replied in a very dull tone not looking up from Olta’s schedule and not slowing down. The display interested Olta, but then she saw the three girls caught sight of her and the instant fading of smiles. Olta knew those girls would never be friendly to her.

 

“Indeed, Mrs. Rume was right about our timetables, except for the fact that you take Latin. Why in the world do you want to do that? You do know only geeks do that, don’t you.” Olta looked from the girls to Niall. He looked at her with a mingled look of bewilderment and that same amusement Olta felt herself readily growing accustomed to.

 

“Well, in that case, I am a geek. And to add injury to serious insult I would have taken Ancient Greek as well, except for fact that the school doesn’t offer it.” Olta had no idea where that just came from.

 

She was talking easily to a very, very cute guy and she wasn’t embarrassed about it in the least. If anything, the look Niall was giving her now was a reward. His eyebrows had risen and he now looked utterly bemused.

 

“You, Albania, are weird.” He said as he turned into a classroom, which was already completely full. Before Olta had time to react she heard a voice calling.

 

“Glad you decided to join us this Monday morning Mr. NiallFoy, but I understand you bring a new recruit to our legions so you are excused for your tardiness.”

 

Niall quickly and silently moved to his seat and left Olta in the doorway. She felt herself the spectacle of the entire classroom and looked around nervously. She saw the teacher who had called upon them as he was furiously scanning the sheet in his hand. He looked up at her, apparently having found what he was looking for.

 

“Ah, Miss Mehmeti, Welcome to this school and into this class.” He nodded at her with the slimmest of smiles and beckoned her forward.

 

Olta felt the gaze of everyone on her and she nodded in some random direction, not smiling or anything. Oh god, how she loathed this. She looked over at Niall for support, but he had taken out his books and seemed a little preoccupied. Olta slapped herself mentally for a second as she realized that she had letting herself taken in by herself again. Niall was a hot, irresistibly cute guy who had dropped her as soon as he could.

 

“Truly now, Olta, did you think for moment that this guy might actually notice you? stupid, stupid you.” She mentally chastised herself. But then she heard his last comment in her head again. His tone had held that same amusement and he had called her Amsterdam, hadn’t he?

 

“Miss Mehmeti, if you please you can seat next to Mr. NiallFoy.” She heard her history teacher say.

 

Quickly and quietly she made her way to the desk next to Niall, not paying any attention to the other students in the class. “Today we are going to discus Greece and its independence. Please open your books at page 283.” She heard the teacher say.

 

“Well,” she thought “at least my first lesson is going to be cool.” She thought, trying to get in the mind of a punk teenager.

 

 

 

Niall looked over at Olta as Mr. Took began his story about Geece. He frowned as he noticed that she was completely inattentive to story being told. Instead she seemed very preoccupied with doodling. He had imagined her to be the studious kind, hell everybody was studious in their first hour in a new school. At least the first five minutes. Then he noticed she was mouthing the teacher’s words as if he was singing a song she had heard a million times over. Of course, he suddenly realized, she was Albanian; Greece took a part of Albania. Hell, she probably was part of their anthem or something.

 

“Class, who can tell me first step of independence for the Greeks?” The teacher asked.

 

One third of the class was silent, one third kept biting their pencil, one third kept sliding down their seats… Only Olta kept her hand up.

 

A smile was born on the teacher’s face.

 

“Yes! Miss. Mehmeti!”

 

“Well… It started in 1814 with the shoqeria e miqeve.” She said. She wanted to delete the last three words that she said in Albanian.

 

“Excuse me?” The teacher asked. He knew what she said.

 

“The group of friends? She said nervously with her tongue in between her teeth.

 

The teacher smiled at her for a moment.

 

“Continue Olta.” He said with joy.

 

Niall looked at her time-table again. Latin, who in their right mind would take Latin, he didn’t even know they gave the class in school. He glanced at her once more. He pictured her face as she had looked up to him by the locker. He had felt himself feeling drawn to her eyes. They reminded him of the Mediterranean, not quite bleu and not quite green and very alluring.

 

“I like her.” He caught himself thinking. He shook his head slightly as if to rid himself of the thought. “A bit early in the day for that, isn’t it. Hell, you’ve only known the girl for five minutes and you like her.” Niall corrected himself. “Not like her, just like her as in she seems to be a nice girl, who happens to look good with beautiful eyes.” He told himself. She seemed different from the usual girls, like the wonderful Altea.

 

A kick against his chair that shoved him into his table shook Niall out his reverie. He let out a small hiss of pain as the table connected with the bruises on his body. The painkillers had numbed the pain, but this they couldn’t block out. Niall recouped himself and leant back leisurely.

 

“What do you want?” He asked his brother behind him coldly.

 

“So, this new chick is kinda hot, think you can introduce me later?” His brother’s voice was the typical combination of malevolence and glee. Niall felt his stomach churn. He hadn’t wanted his brother to notice her.

 

“I think you can do that perfectly on your own.” He replied with the same coldness.

 

“Mr. DanielFoy and Mr. NiallFoy, please refrain from talking while other people, most importantly me, are speaking.” Mr. broke of his monologue and expectantly looked from the one to the other. Niall pushed himself forward and gave Mr. a slight nod.

 

Mr. picked up where he had left of and Niall glanced at Olta. She had turned to face him, mildly surprised and then she looked behind him. Niall watched as he saw her expression change instantly.

 

The mild surprise vanished and for a split second he feared she would break out in a stupid grin. Girls usually did when they were around his brother,or him for that matter. Instead her face seemed to darken and he couldn’t place the look she was giving his brother. But it was definitely not swooning and admiring.

 

Olta swiftly turned back to face the teacher. She had lost all interest in her doodling, instead she started to stare into nothingness. Niall couldn’t help but be pleased to notice her discomfort, knowing exactly how she felt. Turning back to his textbook he tried to tap into his teacher’s endless stream of words. Some minutes later he still hadn’t succeeded at it.

 

But Olta apparently had, for he heard Mr. say in a bored tone: “Yes, Miss Mehmeti, you have a question?”

 

Chapter Four

 

 

Olta couldn’t believe herself. She was actually consciously drawing the attention of the entire class to herself. She felt her face redden, but what this man was saying, well it simply had to be questioned.

 

“A hot geek. You don’t see that, that often.” Daniel thought for a moment.

 

“Ehm, yes sir,” she started hesitantly. “Isn’t it so that George Bajron more a symbol of the non-resistance and even rampant collaboration of the Osman population, rather than of an illusory heroic image of resistance?”

 

Mr. looked at her with great surprise. Olta noticed a soft murmur going through the class room. She tried to ignore it and kept her gaze at her teacher, who was clearly contemplating her words. The murmur grew stronger.

 

After what seemed a minutes he finally said.

 

“And how do you figure that?” Christ, had it taken him all that time to come up with just that.

 

Olta cleared her throat and replied.

 

“Miss Mehmeti, you should be teaching the class.” He said rummaging through some papers and having found what he was looking for he continued. Olta bit her lip with fear. Everybody was watching her, she that she was a goddamn bitch.

 

“What do they teach you in Albania?” Mr. asked with pleasure. Olta hadn’t spoken to anyway about her home.

 

“Everything… We start biology, history in grade 3, physics in grade six as well as geography and in grade 8 we start chemistry.” Olta said in a breath. She remembered all the good times she had.

 

“I actually had you pinned for a British girl. You’re English is actually very good.” Again Olta nodded, this time grinning inwardly. It didn’t have anything to do with her question, but praise was always welcome.

 

“I also see that you have yet to make up for having missed the first two months here. So I propose you write an essay on the matter and I’ll make it count. Good now let us proceed to the battle of Kapodistra.”

 

“Ok,” Olta mumbled completely taken aback.

 

He actually was not going to go into this? She understood that in the greater scheme of things the matter was quite futile, but he could at least give some kind of feedback.

 

“Whatever.” she muttered to herself, glancing over at Niall for some kind of confirmation. He however seemed to be engrossed by something on the wall behind the teacher. Returning to her doodling she thought of the fact that there were two Foy’s in the classroom. As she had glanced over to the guy behind Niall, Daniel if she remembered correctly, she had indeed seen some resemblance. Twins perhaps or cousins. Daniel had smiled at her broadly when he noticed her looking at him, but Olta thought it anything but pleasurable or appealing.

 

There was a glint in his dark eyes which she couldn’t place exactly but it had made her very uncomfortable. The mere thought of it shot an icy shiver down her spine. The rest of the lesson she spent doodling in her notebook. She had wanted to keep it clean and tidy, but as she looked down at it as the bell rang, it was a mess of incoherent pen stripes. She really couldn’t draw to save her life.

 

Standing up she looked over at Niall’s seat, only to find it empty. Looking around she didn’t notice him among the other students.

 

“Figures.” She thought to herself bitterly as she was overwhelmed by a feeling of being utterly lost. She headed out and stopped in the hallway. She fished her timetable out of her notebook. She started cursing Niall under her breath for ditching her.

 

“You lost?” She heard someone say behind her. She turned around and saw Daniel leaning against the wall, with two other guys next to him. He had same smile on his face and the same glint in his eyes. Feeling very uncomfortable she shifted her gaze from Daniel back to her timetable. Before she could respond she felt someone grabbing her arm lightly and pulling her along.

 

“Come on, you’re going to be late.” She heard Niall say. She immediately fell in line with him, greatly relieved to leave Daniel’s presence and find Niall beside her.

 

“I had to talk to some people.” He said and Olta figured it was his explanation for leaving her alone.

 

“Bro, at least introduce me to her.” She heard Daniel calling after him. Looking up at Niall she saw a look of great discomfort and displeasure. He responded to the call by putting his right hand up in the air for just a second.

 

“So, your brother then?” Olta asked while again making their way through the maze of the school’s hallways. She needed to get a map of this place.

 

“Kinda. By the way, nice going with in there.” Niall said not looking at her, but with smile on his lips.

 

“ doesn’t like taking questions, especially one’s that question his teaching. Tends to give out essays instead of answers.”

 

“Ah, well that explains a lot then.” Olta said, thinking of the murmuring in class, Mr. ‘s reaction and the fact that Niall actions and evasive answer probably meant the brothers didn’t get along too well.

 

“By the way, keep talking with . In his classes you’ll never remember the beginning and you’ll die at the end.” Niall told her.

 

As they walked Niall was greeted by virtually everybody on the way. Olta noticed she was getting glared at by all of the greeting girls, quite like with that Altea girl earlier.

 

“Mr. Popular.” Olta heard herself mumble and she hoped Niall hadn’t heard it. Unfortunately, she heard him speak.

 

“Excuse me?” Looking up at him shyly and meeting his gaze, Olta repeated herself:

 

“Mr. Popular.”

 

“You seem to be a popular guy around here, the ways clear as the Red See and hoe everybody seems to be or at least want to be your friend.” She added. Niall kept her gaze a little longer, his face serious.

 

“Yeah, I think you could call me that, sort of.” And he turned to look forward. Olta noticed his tone had lost his amusement. Some sort of silent defeat seemed to ring through.

 

“So how does the system work around here anyways. I mean all I know about this kind of thing is from what I’ve seen on television and that didn’t look all too promising.” Niall let out a small chuckle and the amusement had returned to his voice as he answered.

 

“That will have to wait ‘till after French, Tirana.” And with that he turned into another class room. Olta felt herself blushing once again. She really liked the nickname.

 

“How do you know the capital of Albania?” She asked.

 

“Anything for a hot girl like you.” He though to himself

 

 

Niall was still chuckling as he took Olta over to introduce her to their French teacher, who was writing things on the blackboard as the class was filling up. He liked Ms. Aliton a lot. Well every guy liked Aliton a lot. She was one of the few teachers under thirty and was exceptionally fair, both in teaching and appearance, so what was there not to like. As Ms. Aliton turned around she smiled warmly at Niall and Olta.

 

“Ah yes, you’re the new girl, OltaMehmeti, right?” Olta smiled and nodded. “Says here you’re from Albania. I’ve been over there a couple times, you see.” Ms. Aliton asked with genuine interest.

 

Feeling no longer needed, Niall sauntered off to his usual table. He felt a familiar hand on his shoulder. Turning around he saw Peter grinning at him.

 

“Peter, my man. Missed you in history. Monday morning getting to you?”

 

“Well..” Peter said, scratching the back of neck and still grinning.

 

“ Not quite, I spent the night at Alice’s.” Niall started grinning too as he slapped Peter on his arm. They took seats behind their tables and Niall wanted to ask more but Peter started.

 

“So, that’s the new girl? Buzz is you’ve taken her under your wing.”

 

Peter was pointing at Olta. She and Ms. Aliton were still talking and it looked more like conversation between good friends than between a teacher and a student. Niall smiled, that was Ms. Aliton for you.

 

“Yeah, that’s her, OltaMehmeti. Rume thought it funny to give me baby-sit duty. Sponges the record clean and all. But she’s ok. Think I’ll be calling her Tirana.” Peter raised his eyebrows slightly, but he was still grinning like crazy.

 

“Two things.” He said.

 

“One, why in the world does Rume keep going out of her way to keep you record clean and two, you’ve given her a nickname already? What’s with that? You liking her?” The last thing he added in a slight conspiring tone as he leant in towards Niall.

 

“Yeah, I like. I think she’s ok.” Niall replied, not taking his eyes of Olta’s back. Her dark blonde hair swayed around her shoulders as the conversation between her and Ms. Aliton became even more animated.

 

“Yeah, you like.” He heard Peter say beside him.

 

“And if she is as fine in front as she is from behind, I can see your point.” He chuckled and leant back into his seat.Out of blue, a tall blonde girl swooped herself unto Peter lap; accidentally hitting Niall in the head with her knee.

 

“Ow, that hurts Al.” Niall moaned scornfully while he leant back rubbing his forehead. Alice leant over from her boyfriend’s lap and gave a quick peck on Niall’s sore spot.

 

“There now, mommy kissed it all better.” She then turned her attention back to Peter. Giving him anything but a small peck on the mouth.

 

“Well, actually I ‘m bruised allover, you need to kiss them too.” Niall replied playfully. He got a glare from both Alice and Peter, but before they could say anything they heard Ms. Aliton cry out.

 

“But this is fantastic!”

 

As everybody turned their attention to the front of the class they saw Ms. Aliton hug Olta. Niallraised an eyebrow and exchanged looks with his no longer intertwined and equally surprised neighbours. Looking back at their teacher and Olta he saw Ms. Aliton had let go and looked at the class with a flush of embarrassment on her cheek. She quickly and with a big smile motioned to Olta to sit down and moved behind her desk.

 

“Ok class, let’s begin.” And so the lesson started, well overdue. Niall looked at Olta and pointed at the empty seat in front of him. Her face was a mix of utter surprise, confusion, and merriment. She sat down and quickly picked out her notebook. Niall leant forward trying not to put too much pressure on his bruises and asked whispering into her ear.

 

“What was that all about.” He could smell lavender on her.

 

Olta shot up as if something had bitten her.

 

Then she turned around and mouthed “later”. Niall saw her look away from him and smile shyly at someone. He followed her gaze and saw Peter, again grinning broadly. He turned back to Olta, only to find that she turned her attention to Ms. Aliton. The rest of the lesson Niall found himself paying more attention to Olta than to Ms. Aliton. He was just dying to know what all the fuss had been about, he convinced himself.

 

Him leaning over to Olta every fifteen minutes or so and asking the same question in the same whisper had absolutely nothing to do with fact that his nose would brush her hair ever so lightly. Nor was her mock glare she would throw back and the mouthing of “later” any reason. Although it did make him notice her mouth. She had an enticing mouth, he suddenly noticed by the third time she had responded. But before he could assess what it was exactly he found so attractive she had already turned away again. He resisted the urge to repeat his actions immediately.

 

“Ok,” he confessed to himself silently. “It is safe to say that I think she’s attractive, very attractive even. And that, from what I’ve seen so far, I think she’s nice. Yeah, I like.” He pondered his own confession for a couple minutes.

 

Girls liked him, they swooned over him. Not because of him personally per say, but because of what he or more accurately his family symbolized. Money and Power.

 

Daniel popped into his head and he recalled the incident in the hallway. Daniel had now definitely noticed her and Niall hadn’t handled that situation too well. He decided that he would worry about his brother’s shit later. Now it was time to give in to temptation and he leant forward once more.

 

This time however she didn’t react immediately and Niall felt his ego bruise very slightly. Hadn’t it been a fun game? He was just about to repeat the question when Olta did turn around. She put some five or six notes on his table.

 

“Voîla, monsieur.” she mouthed and she turned back again. Niall heard a laugh escape his lips. Every one of the cards read ‘later’ in a different language. He looked at Olta’s head and the slight rocking of her shoulders he could tell she was enjoying her own joke. He felt a nudge from Peter, but a loud “ahem’ from Ms. Aliton halted Niall’s reaction. Shortly after the bell rang and as soon as he could muster Niall was standing beside Olta’s desk. He stepped on Alice’s toes in the process and she yelped.

 

“Sorry, want me to kiss it better?” He asked suggestively with his back turned to Alice and looking down at Olta.

 

Olta seemed completely oblivious as she calmly noted down the homework and packed her books. Alice pushed Niall teasingly in the back. Caught off-guard he stumbled forward. He landed with one hand on Olta’s shoulder and one on her desk and found himself looking at a surprised Olta with just some eight inches between them. There was a small smile on her mouth. He could clearly see why her mouth was so nice.

 

Her lips were nice and full and with the smile they were a little perched, which made them very inviting. Niall saw no reason to break this contact and he traced his gaze over her face, before settling on her eyes. A deep crimson blush was covering her cheeks. Olta met his gaze and Niall managed to suppress a blush on his own cheeks. Her eyes seemed greener than earlier and they were full of surprise and something Niall could only read as insecurity but it was very deeply rooted.

 

“So, Tirana, please tell me what that was all about.” He said in a low and soft voice. Olta kept his gaze for a couple of seconds and said glancing down at his hand on her shoulder.

 

“I think that is better discussed outside of this class room. So if you please.”

 

“It’s discus Albania and… Okay.” Niall said and left the classroom in under a second. Alice and Peter were waiting outside.

 

“These are my friends, Alice and Peter.” Niall said as he felt Olta come up next to him. He had to fight the urge to put his arm around her.

 

“Hi I’mOltaMehmeti.” Olta said, stretching her hand out.

 

“PeterJane.” Peter introduced himself shaking her hand rather roughly.

 

“Peter, I think she might need that intact a bit longer.” Alice reprimanded, before stretching her hand out.

 

“Hi, AliceStone. If you have any questions Niall can’t handle, you just come to me.” She said smiling and Niall could see it was genuine. After ten years of friendship he could tell those things.

 

“But please, first you must tell us what that was all about.” Alice finished.

 

Olta smiled at three of them with that same shy smile and the look of confusion returned. “It seems Ms. Aliton and my brother a sort of seeing each other.”

 

“Excuse me?!” Niall, Peter and Alice all yelled together.

 

“But how does that work, you just moved here and she is like over ten years older than us.” Alice was the first to ask the questions popping up in their heads. Olta shook her head in confusion as she said.

 

“No, the age difference isn’t a big deal, my brother is 28, so no Ms. Aliton is no pedophile. Apparently they met in Paris over the summer. He was there with friends and she was there on holiday. Apparently they hit off and they’ve kept in touch since. He did mention something about an American girl but….” Olta explained, although the last part seemed more of a personal reflection. They all were silent for a moment pondering this bit of cosmic coincidence.

 

“Weird.” Niall finally muttered and the others only nodded.

 

“Okay, chow time.” Peter exclaimed, putting the issue to rest. As they started walking towards the cafeteria, Niall noticed Olta wasn’t coming along, twisting her fingers together. He stopped and held his hand out.

 

“Come on.” He said softly, smiling at her.

 

“No, that’s okay. I’ve brought my own lunch. I’ll just go and roam this school on my own a bit, trying to get a feel for the place.” She said, smiling nervously.

 

“Shall we say we meet back at the lockers at one o’clock?” she added. Niall nodded.

 

“Sure, you sure you’ll be ok?” Olta frowned slightly and the nervousness disappeared. “Yeah, I think I’ll manage. But if I’m not there at one fifteen, feel free to launch a rescue mission.” She said as she started off in the other direction.

 

Niall watched her go, feeling somewhat unsure of himself but pleased with her show of independence. He turned to meet his friends waiting for him down the hall. “Is she joining us later?” Alice asked, slightly puzzled. “Nope.” Niall said, smiling.

 

In the cafeteria line Peter asked “You like?”

 

“Yeah, I like. But not a word to the others.” Then he spotted Daniel sitting at one of the tables and was relieved to know Olta wouldn’t be running into him.

 

Chapter Five

 

Olta was astounded that she didn’t get lost on her way back to her locker. Probably beginners luck, she thought. She checked the clock on the wall. Twenty past noon. Well that left her ample time. First a visit to the ladies room was required.

 

As she entered Olta saw Altea and her girlfriends doing their make up. Ignoring them, she went into one of the cubicles. She suddenly heard Altea saying loudly.

 

“Now, my poor Niall has to take that new kid every where he goes. And she’s looking around likes she owns him. As if he’d even seen her if she wasn’t shoved down his throat. Stupid foreigners.”

 

Olta listened to the bashing intently. “Bitch.” She thought. It surprised her that it didn’t disturb her as much as she thought in the slightest, if anything it made her laugh. This girl really could learn a thing or two when it came to putting people down.

 

Having been put down on a regular basis she knew how it had to be done, but unfortunately she had no clue as to how to do it herself. She stepped out of the cubicle and her face was passive with disinterest. Altea and her friends were still there.

 

They were glaring at her in the mirror but stayed silent. As Olta washed and dried her hands she heard them giggle and felt the looks they were exchanging. Ignoring them she headed out of the washroom. But standing in the doorway she turned back.

 

“I’ll be sure to convey your sympathy to your poor Niall.” With that she let the door fall shut behind her. She had no idea on whether she had just done a smart thing but at least she had showed her no fear.

 

“God, that girl is a whore and still you worry. How priceless you are.” She scolded herself as she took her lunch out of her locker.

 

She decided she would go outside; it was a sunny autumn day. As she wandered the school grounds she came across a big oak on a small mound. It looked ideal for a spot of lunch. She nestled herself against it and began eating her tuna pasta salad. She marvelled over the past morning.

 

She marvelled over the fact that her brother Dennis was dating Ms. Aliton. That was just too weird to give much heed to. Perhaps when she spoke to him later it might become real, but right now she let the issue be. She marvelled over her own behaviour. Although some mess-ups here and there she thought she had done ok.

 

She particularly marvelled over her behaviour towards Niall and Niall himself. She could still feel the tickle of his breath on her neck and his hand on her shoulder. Unconsciously she placed her right hand with fork and all on her left shoulder. Had she been flirting with him, she wondered. Had he been flirting with her? Right, there was the getting carried away bit again. Realizing what she doing she quickly returned to her food.

 

It was just friendly bantering, nothing to get all whirled up about. But he did look so hot with those eyes and that brownish hair and that face. She saw his eyes looking deep into hers and the questioning look they held. She knew no guy had ever looked into eyes like that. And the way he had held out his hand just now. He seemed like a nice guy. Granted he had been a bit standoffish at first, but he had gotten over that. And then there was the rescue from his brother. She took the last bite from her salad and as she pictured Daniel’s eyes she shuddered remembering the icy shiver it had shot trough her spine.

 

Closing the lid of her lunchbox, she heard a familiar voice.

 

“Lost again, are you, miss Mehmeti, was it?” As she looked up she looked straight into Daniel’s eyes and she felt that same shiver.

 

“Not really, no, Mr. Foy.” She said getting up. With Daniel now standing in front of her, instead of loitering against a wall, Olta noticed that he was slightly taller than his brother and bit broader too it seemed. He was commanding presence, she’d give him that. He was in the company of the same two friends and a mischievous smile played on his lips.

 

The sun suddenly disappeared, which made half of Daniel’s flawless face in shade. His lips were out, more than ever.

 

Olta felt apprehensive as she realized that Daniel probably hung out under this tree. “Let’s drop the formalities shall we. Seeing as my brother didn’t bother to introduce us we might as well do it ourselves. I’m DanielFoy.”

 

Olta heard the same amusement in his voice as she had heard in Niall’s but it was traced with something else, something far less amusing. A new born smirk appeared in her face.

 

She certainly did not want to get of on the wrong foot with this guy, so she politely stretched out her hand.

 

“OltaMehmeti, nice to meet you Mr… I mean Daniel.” Well that didn’t come out without a sarcastic undertone, why couldn’t she just hold her tongue. Daniel didn’t seem to notice however; instead he looked down at her outstretched hand. He took, shook it and looked at Olta as if he was indulging her latest whim. He then turned to his two friends and introduced them.

 

“Jason Pettles.” Daniel said pointing at a tall blonde guy on his right. “And Chris George.” He said pointing at the black haired guy on his left. Both stepped forward to meet her hand, without any amusement or pleasure on their faces. After a short shake they both fell back to the spot where they had been standing.

 

“Friends or Dobermans?” Olta heard herself say jokingly. She slapped herself mentally. Daniel’s expression changed instantly to an icy glare.

 

“Funny.” He said, his voice devoid of any emotion and now held a true sinister undertone. The uncomfortable glint in his eyes had now filled them. It was a cold and truly menacing look. So much for getting on his good side, Olta thought.

 

Daniel took a step forward and Olta intuitively moved backwards, only to feel herself back into the tree. Daniel took another step and leaned forward, putting his left hand next to Olta’s face for support.

 

“Now I know Niall is supposed to show around and all, but I assure you that hanging around with me would be much better for your social life..and you.” He almost whispered into her ear. Olta had to suppress the urge to bark at him, indicating a fake obedience to his order. What did expect her to do, follow him around like some bitch? Ok, she had to stop the canine metaphors.

 

Daniel leaned in a bit further and she felt his hipbone pressing against her left hand. The cut in her index finger began to throb heavily. She tried to withdraw her hand but as she did she felt the pressure of Daniel’s hip increasing. He was pinning her against the tree, she realized, in manner nobody looking at them would notice. Daniel was seriously starting to freak her out. Turning her head she saw that his appearance had softened. The amusement was back, but the malevolence lingered.

 

“I’m sorry, but I assure you I really think that is not such a good idea and Niall has been doing fine so far, so I think I’ll stick with him for now.” She had trouble with keeping her voice steady and sound cool and collected. Daniel’s face slipped back to his icy demeanour. Olta started to tremble as he moved even closer to say something else.

 

But before Daniel could say anything she heard Niall calling.

 

“Mehmeti, finally.” Looking away from Daniel, Olta saw Niall coming towards him.

 

“Fuck girl! I’ve been looking all over for you. Not the way I like to spend my lunch break. Understand!” He was speaking loudly and there was true anger and menace in his voice. But contrary to Daniel, Niall didn’t manage to be truly threatening.

 

“Niall.” Olta exclaimed almost enthusiastically, but successfully managed to curb it into a more submissive tone of voice. “Yeah sorry about that. I got lost. Look I told you I need a map or something.” She jerked herself away from Daniel and walked over to Niall as quickly as she could without breaking into an actual sprint. When she was a couple of yards away from Niall he turned away and stalked of towards the entrance.

 

“We’ll talk later Mehmeti.” Daniel called after her, with the same icy voice.

 

“Hope you’re rightFoy.” Olta called back over her shoulder.

 

She quickly followed Niall inside. She knew she had done something very stupid by turning Daniel down the way she had but she couldn’t help but feel proud of herself. Twice today she had withstood intimidation. God, if she found anything more to take pride in she was going to need bigger shoes.

 

She only caught up with Niall as she arrived at their lockers. He was busy getting something out of his so she decided to put her lunch things back in. She almost bumped her head as she heard and felt Niall slamming his locker shut. She felt him leaning over her.

 

“What the fuck did you think you were doing there Tirana?” She heard the question, but what caught her attention were the residual anger and the traces of despair and defeat in his voice. She knew she had fucked up.

 

“Alright, you know what… Stop acting like a goddamn dick.” Olta roared. She couldn’t believe she swore on the first day of school.

 

 

Niall leaned back against his locker as Olta slowly closed her locker. “Fucking bastard.” Niall yelled silently at both himself and his brother. “Why did you have lunch on her own? She knows nothing, nothing about the way things work in this school. Stupid, stupid, stupid.” Well, Daniel had definitely noticed her now.

 

Olta had turned to face him and he looked at her expectantly. As he looked into her eyes he felt the need to wrap his arms around her and just to hold her.She had that same deeply insecure look in her eyes, but there was also insight. It was as if she knew. As if she knew everything about him, his deepest fears and secrets. He had to swallow deeply.

 

She broke their gaze and leaned back against her locker.

 

“I just figured that it be a nice day to lunch outside. I wandered around for a bit and saw that beautiful spot. No one was there so I just sat down and ate my lunch. That was the only fucking thing I was doing there. Ok?” She glanced at Niall, biting her lower lip.

 

Niall noticed the strain her voice and he thought she looked a little pale. Olta stared at the clock again.

 

“And?”

 

Again she turned her eyes to him before lowering them to the ground this time.

 

“And as I had just finished eating my lunch. Which, by the way, was very good, thank you for asking.” She interjected herself. Her reluctance made Niall suddenly fear for what had played between Olta and Daniel. Olta picked up again.

 

“And out of nowhere there was Daniel, asking me if was lost. So I say no and get up. He makes a big deal about you not having properly introduced us so we get that out of way.”

 

Niall looked at her intently as she started to ramble.

 

“Then I comment on his friends being Dobermans and he didn’t like that. He backs me into to tree. Or actually I backed myself into tree but he leans over and whispers that he assures me that it be better for my social life and me personally if started hanging out with him. He looks his most charming self as pins me to the tree with his hipbone. I reply that I assure him that is not such a good idea and that you’d do just fine. And then you entered with your drama act.” She sighed deeply as she finished her ramblings and looked up at Niall with that same insecure and knowledgeable look.

 

“I fucked up, didn’t I?” Niall looked down at her and he felt relieved that he had stepped in when he did. But that didn’t answer her question.

 

“Yeah, I’m afraid so.” He said losing himself in her eyes again.

 

“I’m sorry.” She said softly and a voice full of guilt. Niall frowned and shook his head, a minute smile touching his lips.

 

“Don’t you apologize.” He said berating her softly and he really couldn’t restrain himself any longer.

 

He turned towards her and traced her jaw line with his hand. He saw the knowledge leave her eyes and they became filled with insecurity as she started to tremble. She straightened herself and moved passed him.

 

“Pain. finger.” He heard her mutter just as she all but fled to the girl’s bathroom.

 

He looked after her in utter confusion. He hadn’t meant to scare her; he just wanted to comfort her.

 

“Find her?” He heard Peter ask behind him.

 

“Yeah, she just went to the bathroom. She’ll be right back.”

 

“ So anything happened to your sex salve?” He heard another familiar voice say. As he turned he looked and nodded at Bailey.

 

“Yeah, she was had lunch under the tree.” He saw the unpleasantly surprised looks on his friend’s faces. “And Daniel formally invited her and she declined, not al together respectfully.”

 

His friends nodded in understanding of the gravity of the situation. Alice joined them and before she could say anything Peter whispered her up to speed. A small “Oh” escaped her lips.

 

“But I do make a mean lunch if I do say so myself.” Niall almost jumped as did his friends as they heard Olta’s voice behind them. Niall turned around and tried to catch her eye, as she clearly knew she had been the topic. Her eyes met his for a fraction of second before she looked at the others.

 

“Hi, I’m Olta.” She said stretching her hand out once again.

 

“Bailey.” Bailey said quickly shaking her hand.

 

For a moment it was as if nothing had happened and the group dispersed to their respective classes. Niall and Olta were the only ones in the same class for the next double period. Even though he still felt an overwhelming need to take her into his arms Niall decided that it would probably be better to keep his hands to himself for the time being.

 

“Niall, is Daniel more popular than you?” Olta asked as the walked towards Geography. Niall looked at her and she met and kept his gaze.

 

“He isn’t more popular per say, but he is more powerful. He likes to wield power.”

 

“That I noticed” Olta said with a slight grin.

 

“You really do need to explain the power structure here works, before I make matters worse than already are.” Niall nodded.

 

“Let me give you a ride home, and I’ll start explaining.” Olta nodded her consent as they walked into the geography class.

 

“Geography, the worst class.” Niall said in horror.

 

“You’ll be lucky if you find the Pacific Ocean.” Olta said with a smirk on her face.

 

Chapter Six

 

The first period of Geography left Olta contemplating the latest events in her new school life; prompted by the fact that Daniel and Jason were in this class as well.

 

As Mrs. Anila had introduced her to the class she had noticed Daniel looking at her with a look that was meant to convey complete boredom. Only it didn’t.

 

She knew she had fucked up alright but she wasn’t all too sure of what or how or why she had fucked up exactly.

 

Sucking on her finger cut she understood she knew she had fucked her new life in her new school. She knew she had done so by getting on Daniel’s bad side. And she knew she had done that because she had disliked him from the moment she laid eyes on him. What bothered her was that she didn’t understand Daniel’s motives.

 

Niall popped into her head. She felt his hand tracing her jaw again and remembered the way he had looked at her; so intently, so sympathetic. She had never been touched by a guy like that before. She felt her face turn red again and started to suck harder on her finger causing it to throb even more.

 

The only non-familiar male affections she had known were the not so affectionate pulls and pushes from bullies and the occasional drunken kisses from guys who figured her for an easy target. And she wasn’t easy, never had been and never would be. Although if Niall kept this up, she couldn’t vouch for herself. But she knew he wouldn’t. It had just been a friendly pat and she had freaked on him. And now he pretended not to know her. Ah well what you reap is what you sow, Olta thought.

 

Daniel’s icy glare popped back into her head and she heard Niall’s voice calling out for her again. She felt Niall grabbing her arm when she was staring at her timetable to avoid Daniel’s eyes after History class and she remembered Niall ignoring during the first double period.

 

Slowly it dawned on Olta. Niall, Daniel; Daniel, Niall; she had herself gotten mixed up in some sibling rivalry thing.

 

Niall had spent the first hour of Geography trying to focus on Mrs. Anila’s teachings. He had failed miserable. Occasionally he glanced at Olta. She was sucking on her finger and it was quite a nice picture; most enthralling actually. Tomas tried to keep his glances to a minimum however as he was convinced that Daniel and Jason were observing them. He had caught Daniel’s expression as Mrs. Anila had introduced Olta to the class. The look on his brother’s face had seemed disinterested enough. But Niall knew the shimmer that was prevalent in his eyes. It was only there when Daniel was confronted with ‘special cases’ as he liked to refer to them. Olta really had managed to rub him the wrong way.

 

Niall couldn’t help but smile at the thought though. In his head he replayed fragments of Olta’s rambled retelling. She had called Vasha and George Dobermans, which was funny but not smart. She had rejected Daniel’s invitation, which was simply unheard of and then she had proceeded to favourNiall over him, which was really, really nice, even it was a tad suicidal. He heard his brother’s voice calling after Olta again. It was a tone Niall knew only too well.

 

He had never known anybody to decline an invitation by Daniel. It was considered an honour; it meant finally getting somewhere in the world. And those who truly didn’t care about it, well they usually didn’t get invited. But Olta didn’t know about all of that, now did she. He silently cursed Mrs. Rume for the baby-sitting assignment. There was a good reason for letting the geeks and other social out-casts do those things. They could explain the inner workings of the system whilst observing it from the outside. New students had some time to adjust before deciding which path to follow. Olta’s path had already been chosen for her in the first fifteen minutes. Antagonizing the most powerful guy in school had only blocked any other direction of even further.

 

As much as Niall hated to admit it Daniel was higher up the social ladder. Daniel was the reigning King and Niall was, well, the brother of the king. Daniel held a tight grip on school life. He was a star player in the basketball team, president of student council and had started to date the captain of the cheerleading squad, Sarah; even though she was a senior and he a mere sophomore.

 

Niall didn’t do anything in particular to maintain his status. It simply was. He had tried dating high ranking cheerleaders and popular girls though. The wonderful Altea had been one of them but he had tired of her rather quickly. If only she had brought something more substantial to the table than being easy. Unfortunately she seemed to think that their fates were sealed because he had spent some nights in her bed.

 

“NiallFoy, did you catch what I was saying?” Mrs. Anila harshly called Niall’s attention back to the lesson. He shook his head at her, smiling his sweetest smile. The teacher was unimpressed and came walking over to his table.

 

“Honestly boy, sometimes I do wander where you head is at. I’ve just explained the group assignment for the second period. Now, seeing as it is Olta’s first day here I think it best that you paired up with her. Your country will be Belgium.” She turned to Olta.

 

“I don’t want to make you first day too difficult, but not too easy either.”

 

“I think we’ll be fine with Belgium ma’am. Thank you.” Olta said politely, giving Mrs. Anila a small nod. She had stopped sucking her finger Niall noticed.

 

“So, what are we supposed to be doing?” Niall asked as he moved his chair over to Olta’s table. He felt rather embarrassed about having to ask her.

 

“Don’t know exactly. Something about discussing about a country, write down everything you know about it and handing it in.” Olta said shrugging her shoulders.

 

“Ah yes, of course it’s Monday. It’s ‘how much do you know of world’ period. Next class will be spent on discussing just how little we know of the world. Nobody takes it seriously.” Niall explained as he sat down beside her. He probably could have created a bit more distance between them than the current foot or so but he didn’t really want to. Niall noticed Olta was writing down facts about Belgium already. Without looking up at him she asked something that left Niall feel completely gutted.

 

“Did I get mixed up in some sibling rivalry thing between you and your brother?” Olta’s tone was rather flaccid and Niall wanted to look at her face to see just how she had intended that question. She however kept her herself directed at her writing. His mind raced as he tried to think of a suitable answer.

 

Olta, however, saved him from her own question.

 

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. So fill me in on the power structure.” She added in a lighter tone as she kept on writing.

 

Niall pretended to be pointing at things she had written as he explained the system. He started by explaining who the outcasts were and slowly made his way up the social ladder. He hadn’t yet finished when Mrs. Anila came around to collect the papers. Glancing over Olta’s writings she only nodded approvingly.

 

Niall quickly put his chair back and got his books.

 

“Come on, I’ll give you that ride.” He said walking Olta out of the class room.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Olta noticed Niall drove the same Mercedes as her mother. She remembered her mother saying that if she was to drive to work from now on she might as well pamper herself a bit. Olta didn’t disagree with her there. Her mother deserved a lot of pampering after last years events.

 

“So Tirana, where to?” Niall asked as he pulled out the parking space.

 

“Prokop Myzeqari 31.” Olta replied smiling at his nickname. She hadn’t noticed she had given him her old address, in Albania.

 

“I don’t think I can do that. Even if I understood it.” Niall said smiling at her.

 

Olta looked at him realizing her foolish mistake. She felt yet another flush come to her cheeks. “Right, I mean 25 Froster Lane.”

 

“25 Froster Lane?” He asked with surprise. Olta nodded. “Well that’s funny, seeing as I live on 2 Froster Lane.” He said driving out of the school car park.

 

“Another coincidence, albeit less cosmic than my new French teacher dating my brother.” Olta said smiling faintly. Niall smiled at her before returning his eyes back to the road.

 

Olta rested her head against the seat and looked outside. Not only was Niall her designated guide and did he own the locker next to hers, now it turned out that they lived less than half a mile apart. There was no denying she liked Niall and most certainly didn’t mind spending time with him. But she didn’t want to give him the feeling she was forcing himself upon him; even if he didn’t seem to mind her company. Besides, there was that sibling rivalry thing. Niall reluctance to answer her question earlier had only strengthened her in her suspicions.

 

She decided that she would give him his space. She glanced over at him and saw his bangs fall into his eyes as he intently was watching the road they were about to turn into. She wanted so much to touch his face and for him to touch hers again. She sighed deeply looking out of the windshield. Fuck, Niall had probably heard that.

 

“What is it?” Niall asked pulling into the road and up at her house in one movement. He cut off the engine and turned to face her.

 

Olta stared at her hands. “Look Niall, I understand if you’ve got better things to do with your time then having me on tow or spent your lunch breaks looking for me. So if you want out…” She let the sentence trail away. Meeting his eyes for a fraction of a second she smiled a small smile before getting her bag and opening the side door.

 

“Tirana, do you want me to keep my record?” Niall said in amused disbelieve. Olta turned to him. She hadn’t really thought about that.

 

“No of course not.” She answered quickly. “I mean why would Rume know?” She made her way out of the car.

 

Niall leaned over the passenger’s seat and looked up at Olta through the passenger seat. “Tirana, we share practically all our classes and we live on the same street, so it really isn’t a problem.” He said smiling. Olta shrugged her shoulders and braved another smile.

 

“If you’re sure. I’ll see you tomorrow then, bye.” And with that she turned a walked to her house.

 

As she opened the front door she could hear Niall drive off. She walked into the kitchen and poured herself some juice. She rested herself on the kitchen counter and suddenly she felt completely drained and spent. She put the glass down on the counter and made her way to her new bedroom.

 

Her mother had decided that not only she was entitled to some pampering, but her children as well. So Olta had been given this huge bedroom in this truly large house. Her bedroom was at least triple the size off her old one and she now had a twin bed instead of single and a walk-in closet and private bathroom. Her bed was the only thing on her mind however. Just a little nap until her mother and sister came home, she told herself. Then she’d tell them about her first day. But perhaps not everything, she thought. She threw herself on her bed and as soon as her head hit the pillow she was out.

 

 

 

As Olta headed to her house Niall murmured a soft goodbye. He flung himself back into his seat. He started the car and drove the short distance to his house. Even though this was a wealthy area his house was clearly the most prestigious around.

 

“Stupid, stupid stupid.” He thought to himself as he drove up the driveway. No there was no denying it anymore. He liked a girl. He, who couldn’t consciously remember actually liking a girl, any girl. Except perhaps for Alice. But that had been just a short spell when his hormones had first introduced themselves. Here he was, Mr. popular, going all gaga over the new girl. A girl who seemed so insecure the one moment and so confident the next; who hadn’t joined him for lunch; who all but fled when his needs had gotten the better of him and who had just offered him a way out. As he parked his car he knocked his head on the steering wheel a couple of times. Was it possible that she didn’t quite like him as much as he did her? Well, that would be refreshing and he smiled at the thought. He walked into the kitchen and was greeted by their live-in maid/butler/cook/counsellorMatilda.

 

“Good afternoon young Niall.” She said smiling handing him a glass of lemonade. Matilda was in the habit of having everything ready for him before he could ask for it or do it himself. Being trapped in a similar situation had forged a bond between them. It had taken ages for Niall to make her stop addressing him as ‘young master’. Eventually she had dropped the master bit, but she had insisted on keeping some kind of formality between them. Finally Niall had simply given up.

 

“Good afternoon Matilda. Thanks” He said smiling broadly and overstating his greeting slightly. He took the drink from her and seated himself at the kitchen table and gulped it down. Matilda took a seat across from him sliding a plate of sandwiches towards him.

 

“So how was your day, you seem to be in high spirits.” She said looking at him knowingly. She knew him well.

 

“I got to baby-sit a new girl today and…” he said taking a bite from the avocado tuna sandwich. “She is from Albania and she’s witty and smart and pretty and she doesn’t like Daniel and…” he swallowed the bite. Matilda’s face had broken into a big grin.

 

“Has the great Niall finally found himself a girl, other than Miss Stone of course, who he actually likes?”

 

Niall looked her shocked at first but his look swiftly melted into a stupid grin. This woman really knew him too well. Matilda looked pryingly and Niall began to tell her about most of the days events.

 

And once he started he couldn’t stop. His story was rather incoherent but Matilda listened patiently as she refilled his drinks and prepared dinner. It took him well over an hour before he had finished. Matilda smiled at him from behind the kitchen counter.

 

“I didn’t know there’re so many ways to incorporate someone’s eyes and mouth into a story.” She was smirking.

 

Then they heardDaniel’s car pull up the driveway. Her smile faded instantly and Niall got up. As he was about to leave the kitchen Matilda caught his arm. She looked at him intently.

 

“I don’t know whether she likes you or not, heck how could I. But she does sound like a very insecure girl who needs to find her way in a new country, so take it easy. Besides, he could complicate matters.” She said nodding her head in the direction of the garages. Through the window he could see Daniel get out of his car. He had brought Sarah and Chris with him. Niall nodded smiling ever so slightly as he felt a sense of dread creeping up on him. He quickly left the kitchen and made his way to stairs. He could hear Daniel and company making their way to the television room.

 

“Matilda, sandwiches and drinks in here!” He heard Daniel yell through the hallway and he could only imagine the look Matilda was given his brother from the kitchen and smirked at the thought.

 

He walked into his bedroom and picked out his notebook. He started on his homework only to find himself distracted. Flashes of Olta went through his head, accompanied by his brother icy voice calling after her. Was she really that insecure? Niall wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it in her eyes. On the other hand she had stood up to Daniel. Niall felt nauseas at the thought that Daniel would bring Olta up at some point during this evening. He tried to figure out what would be the best course of action. Denying any interest in her would mean that Daniel expected him to cut her loose after this week and that simply was not an option. Having Daniel know of his fledging feelings was also absolutely out of question. The hell with it, Niall thought, we’ll just see how it plays out. The nausea increased and Niall realized that it probably had something to do with his bruises. He popped a couple aspirin back as he heard the dinner bell ring.

 

Niall made his way to the kitchen. His father was out of town so Matilda saw no use to for the dining room. As he entered Daniel and party were already seated.

 

“Hey Sarah.” He gave the senior a small smile. She smiled back. He ignored his brother but gave Chris a small nod.

 

“Hey Niall, so what this I have been hearing about you showing some exchange student around?” she asked, true interest in her voice. “Altea wouldn’t let it go; she seems to think she’s after“her man”.” Sarah smiled warily at him. Niall was glad that it was Sarah who broached the subject. It gave him some leeway.

 

“Maybe you could explain to her what being dumped means exactly. I can’t really seem to get that through that thick skull of hers.” He really was sorry about wasting a month of his life on that girl. That’s where drunken parties would get you.

 

“I tried trust me. You know Alice has simply stopped talking to her altogether. But the girl just doesn’t get it.” Sarah shook her head in dismay. In a lighter tone she added. “But what of this exchange student?” Niall took a bite of his salad.

 

“What of her? Nothing to tell really. Only she has moved here, she’s no exchange student.” Niall said flatly matching his expression to his voice. Daniel was looking at him attentively and Niall slowly met his brother’s eyes. They were full of amusement, but of course that was entirely superficial.

 

“Now, bro, sure there isn’t more to that? I mean you guy’s seemed to have a little bit of moment in the hallway during lunch and during Geography you really were practically sitting on her lap.” A smile played on his lips. Niall’s face didn’t give anything away but he hoped his brother hadn’t seen the flicker of surprise in his eyes. He had forgotten about the grapevine and the general buzz his actions generated, no matter how trivial.

 

“So? As you stated in History she is kinda hot. She might be fun.” He idly played with the food on his plate as if to underscore blandness of his remark. His eyes were still locked on his brothers.

 

“You have fun with her then, bro.” Daniel said neutrally. Even his usual malice didn’t ring through. His eyes didn’t seem to convey anything either. Daniel broke the eye contact as he leant into Sarah to give her a small peck on her cheek. Niall was relieved for it. He was unnerved by his brother’s reaction and it concerned him that he was unnerved. It had a while since he had been unable to read his brother.

 

“Do think you could give me hand with my Calculus later on Niall?” Chris asked.

 

Niall had forgotten about Chris being there. Chris wasn’t too bad a guy. He was one of the old pack. There had been a time when Niall considered him a friend and it was out of respect for this friendship that he occasionally or rather regularly helped him out with calculus homework. Chris never had been the brightest, due to some kind of oxygen lack at birth.

 

“Sure.” Niall said and with that a silence settled over the kitchen table as they finished their dinners. As promised Niall helped Chris out. It was shortly after ten when they had finished. Chris apparently had been saving up for a while.

 

Niall was lying on bed lazily zapping through television while actually thinking about Olta. Daniel bounced on his door. Niall leaped up; thankfully he had long ago learned the advantages of keeping his room locked.

 

“Niall, out now!” Daniel called in his icy cruel voice from the other side.

 

“What do you want?” Niall called back forcing his voice to be lighter than he actually felt. Niall decided he didn’t feel like dancing tonight and he fell back on his bed.

 

“I want to talk to you, now” The volume had gone down but the cold malevolence was still there.

 

“How about, no!” Niall called back. He knew he was going to regret this but right now he didn’t want anything to do with his brother. Then it occurred to him however that it might have something to with Olta and he decided to swallow his pride.

 

Niall opened his door. He knew Daniel would be waiting in the hallway. They had been through this before. And surely enough Daniel was there leaning comfortably against the opposite wall. Niall matched his pose.

 

“And I didn’t even have to call again. You do know you’re a spineless bastard, don’t you?” Daniel smirked without amusement, shaking his head. Niall was unfazed by his words; it was all part of the dance.

 

“I’ve heard it before. You had something you wanted to say to me?” He said nonchalantly.

 

“Yeah, I’d really like for you to never ever speak of my judgments on other women when Sarah or any other future significant others are present.” Daniel didn’t move. His eyes said it all. They held same look as when he had checked Olta out in Geography. But then again Niall of course was and always had been his brother’s ‘special case’.

 

“Sure, whatever.” Niall shrugged and turned back into his room. He closed the door quite leisurely but locked it quickly. As he readied himself for bed his mind was on Olta again and unfortunately his brother too. His behaviour really did disconcert him. As he pulled the covers over himself he realized he hadn’t even offered Olta a ride for the next morning. If he showed up at eight he could catch her by surprise. Smiling at the thought of her surprised face he slowly drifted to sleep.

 

Chapter Eight

 

Walking down the stairs Olta could hear her mother and sister chatting merrily in the kitchen. Olta didn’t feel that merrily. She felt like she had major hang over. When her alarm clock had so crudely awoken her it slowly dawned on her that she was dressed in her t-shirt and underwear from the day before. She had figured her mother had undressed her but she no memory of it.

 

In the shower she had had flashbacks of her dreams. It had been some weird and unsettling jumble of almost everyone she knew and events she hoped wouldn’t relive anymore. She had been back in Tirana and her father, Niall, her brother, Daniel and some old friends had been there, and it been all felt so suffocating, so inescapable. She had washed her body vigorously, trying to wash away the images and the anxiety they left behind. Slowly the images had faded but the anxiety remained. Olta had steadied her breathing and the feeling had subsided. Only to return full force as she was applying her mascara and she thought of seeing Niall again.

 

“Hopeless.” She had muttered at her reflection. “You’re hopeless, babe.” She tried to smile bravely at her reflection but it didn’t feel convincing. She decided she’d keep out Niall’s way as much as possible and most certainly stay clear of Daniel. She really didn’t feel delighted to be going to school.

 

“Good morning Sunshine.” Her mother sang as she walked into the kitchen. Olta kept her wavering smile as she sat behind the kitchen counter next to Maggie. Maggie leant over and gave her a peck on the cheek.

 

“What was that for?” She asked her sister. Her sister just shrugged. As annoying as thirteen year old sisters can be Maggie really did have her good moments. Her mother handed her a cup of tea and a bowl of cereal.

 

“So, the jet-lag finally caught up with you? I don’t think a round of cannon fire could have awoken you and trust Maggie tried her best.” Her mother looked at her youngest in mock anger. Then she turned back to Olta and her look changed from playful to worry.

 

Olta was surprised to hear her mother inquire after her well-being in Dutch. She just nodded warily and her mother gave her a kiss on her forehead.

 

“How was yesterday?” Her mother was wonderful at the art of changing the subject.

 

“Right, yesterday. Well yesterday was overwhelming.” Olta began. She didn’t want to tell her mother anything about anybody just yet. Suddenly she remembered David and Miss Aliton. She started laughing partly at herself for forgetting about it and partly in anticipation of her mother’s and Maggie’s reaction. They looked at her expectantly and slightly worried. Olta stopped her laughter and went to get the phone out of the living room. She dialled David’s number and as she waited for her brother to pick up the phone she walked back to the kitchen. The look on her mother’s face was already priceless.

 

“Just you wait.” She whispered to the both them. Finally her brother answered.

 

“David.” He sounded a bit groggily.

 

“Hey David, this is your long lost sister calling. Have I disturbed you?” She smiled, knowing very well she had awoken him. David always worked all night and slept well into the day. The advantage of being self-employed he called it.

 

“Olta, why are you calling me at…” Olta heard some rustling on the other end of the line. “At one o’clock in the afternoon?” he asked in English.

 

Olta smirked. Miss Aliton hadn’t spoken to her brother yet, but apparently he had gotten used to switching languages whilst being barely awake.

 

“Were you dreaming of beautiful American girls kissing you in Vlore, by the sea side?” Olta saw her mother was seriously starting to question her daughter’s sanity. Maggie was just staring at her with blatant curiosity.

 

“What!” Well, David was awake now. “How, what. Olta how do you know about that?” he squeaked, he actually squeaked.

 

“You mean you were actually dreaming of my French teacher kissing you…” She asked innocently her smile growing ever wider and she saw some sort off comprehension dawning on her mother’s face. Suddenly her mother leapt over the counter and grabbed the phone out her hand. Olta started laughing again.

 

“David, you’re sister apologizes for calling you this early but what in the world is she talking about?” Her mother voice was slightly accusatory. She didn’t like to be kept out of the loop. Neither did Maggie for that matter as Olta felt an elbow connect with her ribs. She yelped. Maggie tried to look angry, but the curiosity won out.

 

“Tell me.” She simply stated. Olta quickly whispered the story into her sister’s ear. Another priceless look was the result.

 

“Nooo.” Maggie whispered incredulously.

 

“You better believe it sister.”

 

Her mother had moved out earshot as she was prying information out of her firstborn or, judging by her expression, rather giving him the first degree. She really didn’t like being kept in the dark.

 

Olta finished her breakfast and checked her bag; all the while being badgered by Maggie. Her mother hung up and looked at her daughters with a satisfactory smile.

 

“He’ll be coming over next Friday to explain himself properly.” She stated as if it was an every day occurrence.

 

“He’s coming over, as in flying here?” Maggie finally managed after the both of them had been momentarily paralyzed by the information.

 

“Yes Maggie, seeing as we now live on the other side off the Atlantic I do imagine it will involve some flying. Now , this girl is your French teacher, I understand. How did you figure out she’s involved with David?”

 

“Yeah, well she was asking about Tirana and everything because she had been over there and then she asked whether I knew a David Mehmeti. She explained she sort off was having it on with him after she been to Paris this summer. I remembered David having been to Paris and figured we were talking about the same person, so I told her he was my brother. And she practically screamed “That’s fantastic” and she hugged me. In front of the entire class, mind you.” Olta remembered the whole class staring at her as she made her way to her seat and she felt some her earlier anxiety return.

 

“Sounds like she was just pleased to meet you.” Her mother said playfully. Olta knew that her mother was fully aware of the discomfort attention caused her. Olta, however, had never talked about the nature of most of the attention she received or the extent of her discomfort. Putting the dishes in the sink her mother glanced at clock on the microwave.

 

“God, it’s already eight, we’ve got to run. I’ll just get my briefcase and Maggie get your bag.”

 

Olta picked up her bag and headed towards the front door.

 

“Amanda.” Her mother called out just as Olta had opened the door. Olta turned her head around and as she did she collided headlong into something or rather somebody. She slowly turned her head back and looking up she looked straight into the surprised and amused eyes of Niall.

 

“Good morning Tirana, thought you might need a ride.” Niall said smiling and Olta felt the knot in her stomach tighten.

 

 

Niall had arrived at Olta’s house at exactly eight. Just as he was about to ring the bell the door opened and Olta walked into him. She looked up with a confused look. For a moment neither seemed willing to break the close contact between them. Niall knew he didn’t he want to and he was glad to notice that Olta didn’t seem too eager either. Just like the day before he felt himself drowning in her eyes. The confusing disappeared and was replaced by a combination of mild interest and indeed again insecurity. He had to suppress the urge to pull her even closer. After what seemed an eternity, but was more likely a second or so Olta took a step backwards. From within the house Niall heard a woman’s voice calling. Olta turned her head to face the voice and Niall looked up in the same direction. A woman came towards them followed by a girl.

 

“We need to hurry” she said but as she saw Niall, Bona stopped in her tracks. Niall saw the family resemblance. Olta’s mother had a darker complexion though. It was the look on the older woman’s which caught his interest. It was as if she had never seen a boy so near her daughter before and he saw curiosity and protectiveness overcome the smug smile she had been wearing before.

 

“Hi,” she said briskly but with a big smile coming around Olta. “I’m BonaMehmeti.”

 

“Good morning Mrs. Mehmeti. NiallFoy. I thought I’d give Olta a ride to school.” He said shaking the hand she put out. The girl popped up next to her mother. Blushing fervently she too held out her hand.

 

“MaggieMehmeti.” Niall looked at the girl. He figured her to be around twelve. She and Olta clearly were sisters but Maggie had a set of black curls and her mother’s brown eyes.

 

“Excuse me for asking but how long have you had a driver’s license for, Niall? And please none of that mrs business.” Mrs. Mehmeti said sternly but with a small smile. Olta scolded her mother in her own language and Niall needn’t to understand a word to notice the great discomfort the situation was causing her. Niall thought the situation was rather funny. He usually didn’t meet the family while all hurled up on the doorstep.

 

“For well over a year now, Mrs. Mehmeti.” He said stretching the truth a bit by including the time he had had his driver’s permit and ignoring her request. She glanced over his shoulder and her smile widened as she spotted his car.

 

“Well, ok then. And please do call me Bona. You’re not one of my clients. Now run along, I’m still running dreadfully late even if you picking Olta up does save me time.” She smiled at Niall and nodded to her daughter. Niall thought he could hear a sigh of relieve escape Olta’s lips.

 

“Good morning then, uh Bona.” Niall said hesitantly. “Maggie.” He gave the girl a small nod and smile and the girl positively beamed.

 

“Thanks for picking me up like this and sorry about that. My mom strongly disagrees with sixteen year olds getting a driver’s license.” Olta said as they got into his car. In the rearview mirror Niall saw Mrs. Mehmeti or Bona as she preferred, pull out the drive way. Pulling alongside them she and Maggie gave them a small wave and then they drove off. Driving after them Niall looked to Olta as he heard her sigh heavily. She was resting her head against the headrest in much the similar fashion as the day before. She looked at him and she was clearly thoroughly embarrassed. But Niall noticed she wasn’t flushed. He gave her his best reassuring smile and turned to face the road.

 

“Ok. So you have a mother, a sister here. Your brother and father are back in Albania?”

 

“My brother is, but my father isn’t.” Niall heard Olta’s voice tighten and glanced at her. She was looking out the passenger’s window. She cleared her throat.

 

“He died last year; it’s the reason why we came out here.” Her voice was still tight but it held no emotion. Niall was unsure how to proceed. He wanted to know more but didn’t want to make her any more uncomfortable.

 

“I’m sorry.” He said, complementing himself for his astounding creativity. Olta kept staring out the window.

 

“Thanks.” Her voice was still flat. He heard her clear her throat again and she looked over at him. Glancing over he could see her eyes had darkened but there was a smile on her lips. One that didn’t reach her eyes.

 

“I forgot to tell you but that Altea girl sends you her sympathy. She seemed greatly stricken by the fact that, now how did she put it, ah yes that I’ve been forced down your throat.”

 

Niall looked over at her in shock and the car swirled momentarily. Quickly regaining his control he said. Altea really was becoming annoying or better said becoming even more insufferable than before. Apparently she hadn’t just been complaining to her girlfriends.

 

“When did you talk to her?”

 

“Yesterday at lunchtime. She your girlfriend or something?” Olta fished and Niall liked it. Having admitted to himself that he after just one day was genuinely interested in Olta it bothered him that to no end that he was actually insecure about her feelings towards him.

 

“No.” was all he answered not wanting to go into Altea or give himself away.

 

“You know, you never did get around to explaining the system in this school any further. I take it that Daniel and this Altea girl and your friends and you are the top of the pyramid?” Niall realized that Olta had just in one statement effortlessly separated his brother and his ex-girlfriend from him and simply changed the subject.

 

“Yeah, I guess so. Altea doesn’t really count though. She and her friends and many others are just sort off hangers on.” It had been easy enough to explain the other groups who weren’t considered good enough by Daniel and his crowd. But to go into his own position and just how that related to his brother and his family was not something he wanted to analyze. Olta was looking thoughtfully and Niall knew she wasn’t going to let it drop.

 

“Hangers on you say. So what you’re saying is that your friends and you and your brother are popular simply because of your family’s position.”

 

Niall cringed at her all too accurate description and he felt annoyed by it. It wasn’t as if they didn’t do anything productive to insure their status. Well he personally didn’t do anything but he honestly didn’t care about it. He and his friends just happened to be at the top of the food chain. Why? Simply because they were the children of some of the most affluent and important people in the region. Her assessment of the situation was correct no matter how harsh or disrespectful it sounded. Even though it had been just a day since they had met she seemed more aware of the way things worked than she let on. Prime example being how she had played along with him when he caught her with Daniel. She had played along and hadn’t questioned him. Maybe she had just been too scared by Daniel or maybe she truly believed Niall had been looking all over for her. Which of course was true but he had been looking for because he had seen Daniel leave not because she had annoyed him in any way.

 

“Pretty much, yes.” Niall finally conceded rather harshly as he pulled into his parking space.

 

“I’m sorry.” Olta said softly. “I didn’t mean to say that you guys ….” Niall wanted to dismiss her apology as Olta’s voice trailed away but she continued “It’s actually not that different from my old school. Although we never did have someone extending invitations and things actually seemed to be rather egalitarian, seeing as pretty much everybody’s parents were important one way or another. But other than that things were pretty similar.”

 

He looked at her with slightly raised eyebrows as he grabbed his bag from the backseat. What had she meant by that? He wanted to ask her about it, but Olta was already making her way out the car.

 

Niall noticed she did so in a seductively slow and graceful manner and felt himself swallow. No touching her today, he reminded himself, or at least no noticeable and will-send-her-running touching. Olta slamming the passenger side door shut shook Niall out of his reverie and he quickly got out. Olta was already heading towards the entrance. He sauntered after her just watching her walk in front of him.

 

“Niall, my man.” He felt Bailey jump on his back. “So a little birdie, well quite a tall one actually, tells me you like the little thing walking in front of us.” Bailey said quietly as he jumped of his back and started to walk alongside Niall. Niall merely shrugged, but he just couldn’t stop himself from grinning ever so slightly. Bailey noticed and matched the grin with one of his own. He leisurely threw an arm around his friend’s shoulders.

 

“And to think I actually didn’t believe her. ‘Al babe’ I told her ‘no way in hell is Niall liking a girl in this school. It’ll be the day that I will profess my undying love for Jason’. But apparently all it takes is some new blood and we can say bye-bye to Niall. So thank you very much.” Again Niall merely shrugged but the grin widened. Just then Alice and Peter joined him on his other side. Alice gave Niall a peck on his cheek.

 

“I just think it’s cute.” Alice stated sweetly tossing up Niall’s hair. Niall wanted to glare at her. However he couldn’t manage to make it very convincing which caused both Alice and Peter to chuckle.

 

There were many reasons why the four of them were still friends after ten years. One of them being that Niall knew that all the joking aside this bit of information was completely safe with them. Even if Peter hadn’t hold his tongue.

 

They didn’t know any of the particulars but they knew that Niall and Daniel loathed each other. So they knew that no good could come from Daniel being aware of Niall actually liking a girl. Both this and the situation between said girl and Daniel the day before were clear causes to be cautious. Niall knew they knew and so wasn’t surprised but grateful when Peter started about some basketball game as they came within earshot of other students.

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

As Olta sat on the bench on the porch she debated her options. It was Friday afternoon and she had successfully managed to lock herself out of the house by forgetting her keys. In her mind’s eye it could see them lying on the kitchen counter, next to her mobile phone. And of course they didn’t have a spare key buried somewhere and of course her mother was having drinks with her new colleagues and of course Maggie was spending the night at a friend’s place. Her predicament left Olta with two feasible options: she could either wait for her mother to return or she could be truly daring and go over to Niall.

 

The fact that she was slightly underdressed for the chilliness of the autumn air and the promise of rain were great incentives to seek Niall out. However it would involve actually going over to his house and not only having to face Niall but in all likelihood Daniel as well. And Olta really couldn’t stomach seeing Daniel anymore than necessary. Oh yes, the fates had been kind to her. Not only did she share practically all her classes with Niall, no of course his brother had to be in half of them too. Thankfully nothing similar to Monday’s events had happened but it was evident that Daniel was keeping his eye on her, literally. Every time she was around him she felt his gaze. Occasionally she would catch his eye. And every time that same eerie glint would be in his eyes. Olta had to hand it to herself, only she could manage to completely fall for some guy in less than a week and grow to despise his brother at an equal rate.

 

Her intention had truly been to try and avoid them both as best she could. Niall had, however, decidedly thrown a wrench in her plans. He had given her rides to and from school every day, even when he himself wasn’t going home. She had tried to assure him that she could walk just fine but he had insisted. Olta secretly enjoyed these rides. They would talk about this and that or the ten minutes were spent in a comfortable silence. She learned that Niall really did not like talking about himself. If Bailey or Alice or Peter came up he’d readily share stories. But as soon as Olta asked something about him he would clam up. His answers would be curt occasionally bordering on harsh. Olta had already noticed this on her first day but it continued to surprise her.

 

Niall seemed to be a rather laid back guy. But there was definitely something going on and if Olta suspicions were correct it had everything to do with Daniel. She hadn’t discussed Daniel or anything concerning him since Monday but she had continued to observe their behaviour. A blind person could see the loathing between the two. Even at the height of the Cold War there had been more warmth between the Russians and Americans than there ever was between the two brothers.

 

Niall only considered Alice, Peter and Bailey his friends. Anybody could come up and strike up a conversation but it seemed to be an unspoken understanding that these talks never lasted longer than five minutes. The four of them shared a table at lunch and nobody else would sit with them. Just like hallway encounters anybody could come up and chat but nobody would join them or hang around for long. Olta had been asked to join them but she figured that was just for the week’s duration. On Tuesday she had insisted she would have lunch by herself again but even her promise to choose a more sensible spot was met with an adamant refusal. So Alice had accompanied her back to her locker for her lunch and then she had joined them in the cafeteria. It actually proved a good place to learn more about the student body and its inner workings.

 

As she had observed during the Tuesday morning ride it wasn’t all that unlike from her old school. There were generally the same divides amongst the students. Her school had its jocks, preps, geeks, punks, skaters and so forth. The great difference was the rigidity of the divides. She was used to people mingling. Sure, people hang out with their own cliques but there was a common practice for different cliques to hang out together. Popularity was a rather non-existent concept. Here, it was clear, popularity was a commodity and DanielFoy was its most important broker.

 

During lunch he would sit at the table next to theirs and well, Olta could only say that he held court. His table would filled by everybody he deemed worthy. The fact that Niall and friends ate at a different table appeared to have nothing to do with their status. All four of them would readily talk and banter with Daniel’s table but never with Daniel. Sarah and Alice were sure to include Olta in their conversations, much to the displeasure of any single girl in the vicinity, especially Altea and company. Olta wondered what the hell Sarah was doing with Daniel. When he was with SarahDaniel seemed a completely different person. He appeared congenial and pleasant. But Olta would still catch the glint in his eye and she could help not but admire his acting skills.

 

She shook her head to rid herself of Daniel. Niall readily took his place again. Oh God, what she gotten herself into. But those eyes and that mouth and just well, him. But it was not meant to be, surely it wasn’t.

 

It wasn’t as if Niall or Alice or Peter or Will seemed to mind her. They talked and joked with her and seemed genuinely interested in her, and always there too. Olta really liked them but she didn’t kid herself. Altea, no matter how stupid she was, had been right about one thing. She had been shoved down Niall’ throat by Rume and down his friends’ throats by default. Though, for time being it was nice to think she had succeeded in making friends so quickly. But when they had invited her to tag along to some café or shop or whatever yesterday and the day before Olta had, of course, declined, only half-lying about homework. Her girlfriend Mortis had reprimanded her strongly for not going with them. And thank the Lord for the invention of the webcam, because Sarah had really needed the visual endorsement of the uttered words. Really she hadn’t.

 

Essentially Mortis had screamed several distinctive profanities and assured Olta that they might actually like her, seeing as she was a very likeable person. Or did Olta think that Mortis and the guys had been pulling her leg all this time? And from what Olta told it sounded like that this Niall guy at very least liked her if not more. Had he not given her a nickname, had he not touched her, had he not saved her from his ogre of a brother? Olta’s reminders that it was pretty much a given that if she liked a guy the feeling wasn’t mutual her friend were literally waved away.

 

“Easy for you to say” Olta scoffed, kicking some none-existent pebble away, wrapping her arms around herself as the wind was picking up. “You always were the pretty and fun one.” Olta kicked the air again and as if it was a starting start sign the rain came down, hard. Olta glanced at her watch. Five fifteen. Niall probably wasn’t even home anymore. Usually people did things on Friday; even she herself was known to not come home until early Saturday morning. The wind was turning truly foul now and Olta knew that she wasn’t going to last out here on this bench.

 

“Right, so now you’re going to look like something the cat dragged in. Well you’ll just sweep him of his feet.” Olta said to herself as she ran up the street, clutching her bag against her chest and just hoping that somebody would be there.

 

As she came up to number 2 Olta recognized the house. It was the place Maggie and she had gawked over when they first arrived, not even two weeks ago. It was an abundantly decorated Victorian mansion with a driveway fit for two cars running up to it. Being thoroughly drenched by the hard rain Olta really didn’t care for the driveway or the exterior of house right now. All she wanted was to be inside.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Niall was slouching in the television room. Friday afternoon was the only time of the week nobody was home and he enjoyed it. It was usually the quiet for the storm but he did savour it so. On Friday both his father and Matilda were out for the evening. Father would be with his mistress and Matilda would visit her sister. This meant that there was no adult supervision. For Niall, however,this meant that he usually went out before seven, which was when Daniel would return from basketball practice. After basketball practice Daniel liked to indulge in some dancing with Niall and Niall begrudgingly had to admit that he was the lesser dancer of the two. Whether it was because Daniel was two months older or better genes or his overall better fitness, Niall didn’t know. All Niall knew was that Daniel always had the upper hand. That was why he was the King. Tonight, however, Niall intended to dance a little. Daniel’s behaviour was still very disconcerting. Nothing remarkable had happened over the last couple of days, neither at home or at school but Niall noticed his brother’s eye wander to Olta continuously.Niall feared that she was indeed a ‘special case’ and that would only mean trouble. He needed to know what his brother was up to.

 

In school Niall had made sure that Olta didn’t leave his sight. And Alice had taken it upon herself to escort her to the ladies room to make sure that the other menace didn’t get chance to scratch Olta’s eyes out. From what Alice had heard that seemed a true possibility.

 

If Niall had thought that he liked Olta on Tuesday morning, he hadbeen sadly mistaken. The last week he spent by either looking at, thinking about or dreaming of Olta. He had it bad and the worst of it was that he didn’t seem capable to do anything about it. It seemed that he been rendered totally incapable of even the most basic conversational skills let alone any prowess of seduction. Alice, Peter and Bailey hadn’t missed this change in their friend and they were having a field day with it. Being the butt of their collective joke was not what he wanted to be. Bailey held that position and was comfortable there. Niall, he knew now, was not.

 

As far as he and his friends were concerned their quartet had become quintet, regardless of the fact that Olta seemed hell bent on spending as little time as possible with them. They had invited her along to hang with them yesterday and the day before and she had simply declined, saying she needed to do her homework. “Tirana doesn’t take kindly to invitations.” Niall thought with a wry smile.

 

He wondered why though. Didn’t she like them, did she really not like him or were Alice and Matilda right. Was it a case of truly severe insecurity? Alice seemed convinced that Olta thought that they just tolerated her because she was Niall’ job.

 

“Haven’t you noticed how she excuses herself all the time. How she doesn’t know how to handle a compliment. How she doesn’t really share anything.And come on, homework? That’s just the lamest excuse.” Alice had said on Wednesday afternoon, drinking one of those fruity mixes she always drank.

 

"I just figured she doesn't like us, me enough." Niall had muttered. Alice had snorted in very un- lady manner and followed it up with loud laughter. Niall had glared at her, people from neighbouring tables had looked at them and from their spot at pool table Peter and Bailey had looked up in surprise. Alice had put her hand on his shoulder, her laughter slowly ebbing away.

 

“Gods, who would thought. Niall, you’re positively endearing when you like a girl. It’s just too funny.” And that was when he became the butt of their jokes.

 

“Anyways, Olta is a walking and talking insecurity complex. I think she’s trying her hardest not to get attached to us, so she won’t get hurt when your job is done. So just be careful with her.” Niall had arched an eyebrow at this. Alice echoing Matilda. Creepy.

 

“I’d like her be our friend and that won’t happen if you fuck up, so don’t.” Niall had merely nodded mulling over Alice’s words.

 

Still Niall was convinced that Olta couldn’t be completely unaware of the fact that they truly liked her company. Someone who had proved herself very perceptive on more than one occasion could not be that blind. She couldn’t be that insecure. That was simply impossible. On the other hand, until Monday he had thought it impossible for him to become an utter fool.

 

The ring of the doorbell pulled Niall out of his musings.

 

“Tirana?” he said in surprise as he opened the door. A thoroughly drenched Olta looked up to him. Expect for her front where she was clutching her bag every inch of her was soaking wet.

 

“I’m really sorry, but I’ve forgotten my keys. Maggie is at a friends’ place and my mom is having drinks with friends and….” He heard her speak but couldn’t honestly he was listening. Her bottom lip was quivering and her eyes were shining with residue droplets in her eyelashes. She looked absolutely mesmerizing and it was Friday afternoon and nobody was home and she really needed to get out of those wet clothes. He slapped himself mentally and shook himself out of his reverie.

 

“Well don’t just stand there.” He said, swallowing hard and shifting his position slightly. Olta stepped inside taking baby steps looking at him apologetically. She looked down at her feet and Niall followed her gaze.Slowly but surely there was a small puddle forming on the parquet flooring.

 

“Right, yes, well Matilda is going to kill me for that. Come up to my room. You can dry up there and I’ll have some clothing for you.” He said quickly beckoning her forward. Silently they made their way to his bedroom. Niall tried out several questions in his mind but none of them actually made it out of his mouth. Instead he walked two paces in front of her. He unlocked his bedroom door and showed Olta in. As he locked the door he heard Olta putting her bag down.

 

“Daniel?” she asked tentatively.

 

Ah yes Daniel, Niall vaguely remembered him. “Fuck” he thought to himself. Daniel would be back in an hour and a half. Niall couldn’t have Olta around when he would be back. Nobody knew of his dancing sessions and he’d be damned if Olta found out. And he’d be damned to have Daniel find her here.

 

“He’s out.” Niall said quickly. Olta stood a few feet away from him and she smiled shyly and nodded. She was shivering all over and her bottom lip was still quivering.

 

“Do you have a towel or something?” she asked quietly.

 

“Of course. Wait, why don’t I get you some clothing and you can change in my bathroom. Of course if you want you could take a shower. Maybe catch a movie or something. What do you think?” Yes, his most basic conversational skills were gone and rambling had taken its place. He rummaged through his closet until he found an old pair of sweat pants and an old t-shirt. It might just fit her. He turned back to Olta, who hadn’t moved from her spot but was busy admiring the décor.

 

“Yes, that sounds like a plan. Thanks.” She said, not meeting his eyes as she gingerly took the offered clothing from him. He noticed the blush on her cheeks.

 

“This is the bathroom. Fresh towels are over there.” He said quickly. Olta nodded, still smiling her small smile and she walked into the bathroom. As she closed the door behind her Niall sat down on his bed staring at the bathroom door. The girl who had turned him into a sucker was presently in his bathroom changing into his clothing. Admittedly, it had been preceded by a thunderous rainstorm instead of more pleasurable activities but still she was in there doing that. He slumped back on the bed and thought of Daniel. That was one sure mood killer.

 

Chapter Ten

 

 

Olta sat down on the edge of the bathtub and started to undo her shoes. Why again had this been a good idea?

 

Not that this situation in itself was all that novel. She did have male friends. Or rather Mortis had male friends but they didn’t mind Olta tagging along. But still it wasn’t the first time she would change into a guy’s clothing after being soaked by the rain. She seemed to have a thing for being caught in the rain.

 

Actually, the last time she had been doing this was a little over three weeks ago. She had been invited to Dean’s place for an impromptu goodbye celebration. But on the way over she had been caught by a sudden downpour. The situation had been similar to this one with the great exception that there hadn’t been any guys she had been crushing on and that had not felt self-conscious or nervous, only stupid.

 

As she put the sweat pants on she contemplated whether it was possible to stay in this bathroom, preferably forever or at least until her clothes had dried. She rolled the waistband down a couple of times and put the t-shirt on. Dark green and red, well at least the colours suited her. But there was no way in hell she was going to go out in public dressed like this. Again the thought of just staying in the bathroom was ever so appealing. Looking into the mirror over the sink she noticed her cheeks were tinged red but thankfully her mascara proved truly waterproof. That was something at least.

 

“Just keep breathing.” Olta said silently as she opened the bathroom door.

 

Niall was sitting on the edge of his bed as Olta walked into her room. He just looked at her but Olta thought she saw something like a smirk starting around his lips. She braved a smile and walked a little into his room.

 

“Hey, these are your clothes. They’re not supposed to look good on me.” Olta said trying to cut off the snide remarks and jokes she knew he was considering.

 

Niall smirk grew wide as he rested his elbows on his knees and cupped his face. He looked her over intently for a good second and Olta felt her blush deepening. It was as if he was checking her out.

 

“From where I’m sitting they look just fine.” He said teasingly, his smirk firm in place.

 

The smirk and his tone made his intention clear and Olta glared at him turning the left side of her mouth up in a mock grin. She saw the smirk fade from his face. He kept looking at her though and their eyes locked for a couple of seconds. Why was he looking at her like that. She didn’t look that bad, did she?

 

“Do you want me to throw your things in the dryer or something?” Niall suddenly leaped up. He ran a hand through his hair. Olta let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding.

 

“Yes, that would be great.” She said, quickly walking back into the bathroom. She had haphazardly thrown her clothes over the edge of the bath in order for them to dry. As she heard Niall following her, Olta realized how she had claimed Niall’ bathroom by her actions. She quickly grabbed everything and looked up at him apologetically.

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to …” She let her sentence trail off, unsure of what else to say. Oh, how interesting the wall was right now.

 

“Nothing to be sorry for. I’ll just go and throw these into the machine.” Niall said as he took her clothes from her and walked out of the bathroom. Olta sat down on the edge of the bath, again. She heard Niall unlock his bedroom door and locking it behind him.

 

“Thanks.” Olta murmured.

 

Sighing she got up and walked back into the bedroom. Unsure of what to do she simply took a stand in the middle of the room and looked around her; appraising the room for the first time. It was roughly the same size as hers and if it wasn’t for the posters on the wall and some books and notebooks strewn around his desk and the bookcase nobody could have told it was teenager’s bedroom. It could be a very nicely decorated guest room, with its dark blue and white colours.

 

A framed picture in the book case caught Olta’s eye. It was the only picture around. She picked it up, rather gingerly she noticed. Somehow she felt she was invading Niall’s privacy. It was a picture of two beautiful women hugging each other and laughing happily. They looked alike, sisters perhaps. The women on the left had undefined brownish hair like Niall and sparkling hazel eyes, also like Niall’s. His mother, Olta realized. She wondered if she or his father were actually home at the moment, if they were around at all.

 

Olta returned her attention to the picture but as she started to take a closer look she heard the lock being turned. Quickly putting the picture back in its place she dived to her bag, kneeling down beside it. Pretending to be looking for homework was better than being caught snooping around.

 

Niall walked in and locked the door behind him again.

 

“It’s Friday afternoon, Tirana, hardly the time to do homework. Even a girl like you must take time off once and while.” His tone was full with its usual amusement and looking up at him Olta saw he was grinning.

 

“A girl like me?” she asked.

 

“Yeah, you know the studious kind. You’re really living up to your aspired geekiness.”

 

Olta glared at him. Something about his comment irked her. Sure she had joked about being a geek on her first day and during the week she had made it clear that she actually liked to pay attention in class, and yes, she had used homework as an excuse for not going out with him and his friends after school. What annoyed her, however, was the way in which he was judging her.

 

“Hey, you’re words, not mine.” Niall said raising his hands defensively but still grinning.

 

“Right, my words.” Olta all but snapped. Okay, maybe he hadn’t judged her per say. But he had made assumptions.

 

“And my words and actions wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that not only have I just started a new school but I have moved across the ocean a little over a week ago and suddenly have to breath, sleep and eat a foreign language.Even if I give the impression to be fluent at it, it really isn’t that easy to pull off. So if that makes me studious or boring or plain, then so be it.”

 

Olta shook her head wearily. Way to go. Nothing wins a guy’s heart quite like some bitchiness.

 

“Point taken..” Niall started, sounding rather sheepishly. He was sitting backwards on his desk chair resting his arms and head on back rest. He looked slightly puzzled but amused nonetheless.

 

“I’m sorry, didn’t mean to snap like that. But…” Olta interrupted him quietly, keeping her eyes on her hands in her lap.

 

“You do that a lot, don’t you?” Niall was interrupting her now. He must have read the confusion on her face.

 

“Apologize.” He added.

 

Olta was still confused. She didn’t apologize that often did she? Just when needed, like just now. She shrugged slightly in denial, looking up but not meeting Niall’s eyes.

 

“Yes, you do. But never mind. I was only yanking your chain a bit. I never meant to imply anything bad. Least of all that you’d be boring or plain, because I don’t think you are.Quite the contrary.” Niall said seriously.

 

Olta shifted her gaze back to her hands and she was blushing, yet again. She really had to thank her grandfather for her pale skin. How unfortunate that he was dead.

 

“So, who’s Matilda?” When unsure of how to react, change the subject. Her mother swore by it and now, so did Olta. She looked up at Niall and this time did catch his eye.

 

“Huh?” Olta could only smile at the picture of dumbfounded Niall made right now.

 

“You mentioned her when I was creating the indoor pool downstairs.”

 

“Right, she is our housekeeper.” Niall answered and he waved in Olta’s direction. “Aren’t you getting uncomfortable?”

 

Olta smile wavered a bit. There was that curtness again but this time he matched with his own attempt at changing the subject. It was nicely done too; he would make her mother proud. Seeing a small smile she decided to let him have his way.

 

“I can keep this up for hours; have done so on far less comfortable flooring.” Olta said, stroking the plush carpeting around her.

 

“And why would you have done so?” He replied, mimicking her accent. Olta raised an eyebrow at this.

 

“It’s standard when one practices jiu-jitsu, karate, silat or judo.” Olta said. She knew she was bragging but she couldn’t help herself. It was the one thing she knew she could impress guys with, until she had to demonstrate it, of course.

 

“You’re into all of those?” And Niall did sound impressed.

 

“Have been, yes. Sucked at all of them though. Are your parents home?” Olta felt slightly queasy by the look Niall gave her. He was trying to glare at her but his smile and a very distinct twinkle in his eye gave him away. This could be a nice game.

 

“My father is out. So could you show me some moves?”

 

“I’m already doing that, like I said I sucked. Never really got any further than this position. How old is this place?” That wasn’t exactly what Olta had wanted to ask but she figured that she had better go for a slow built up. That and she was honestly interested in the house.

 

“It was built in 1902. You kept up a range of martial arts even though you sucked at it?”

 

“Pretty much. My brother has a black belt in karate and my father figured that it was only proper for me to do some self defence. Who built it?”

 

“My great-grandfather. What’s the highest belt you received?” Olta was silent for a second contemplating both the answer and the question.

 

“You know how the system works?” Niall nodded smiling.

 

“The highest I got was a blue belt in karate. Ever done martial arts?”

 

“No, watched a lot movies though.” Olta couldn’t help but roll her eyes at that. Niall chuckled. Their eyes locked again.

 

“Why is there such a big age gap between you and your brother?”

 

“My parents got together in university. David was an accident. Paternal or maternal grand-father?” Niall cocked his head to the left.

 

“Paternal. Why do say you suck at martial arts when you clearly don’t?” Olta frowned.

 

“But you have not seen me in action; trust me, it’s not a pretty sight. My karate instructor was biased. What’s the family business?” Niall frowned and his smile widened.

 

“A lot of things. Primarily investments of various kinds. Why did you come here? I mean this afternoon.” Now Olta frowned. Where was Niall going with this?

 

“Why didn’t you go to your next door neighbours or something?” Niall clarified.

 

“Oh bloody fuck.” Olta thought. “Please don’t mean what I think you mean.”

 

“Don’t know them really and they weren’t home anyway. I’m sorry to have been a bother.” Olta said instead. She wanted to break the eye contact but somehow she couldn’t. The amusement made way for disbelief and the twinkle faded. It was a pity the light mood all but evaporated.

 

“I just wondered, is all. Why do you apologize so often? And don’t deny it because in the few days I have known you, you must have apologized over fifty times.” Niall was stern.

 

Olta shrugged, unsure of what to answer and feeling rather uncomfortable. Why did he have to bring this up, again?

 

“I haven’t really noticed. I mean, do I really?”

 

Niall nodded, the disbelief was melting away. It was replaced by a look like the one he had given her at their lockers on Monday. Reminding herself that she had to keep breathing Olta decided to try to jumpstart the game again. Hopefully Niall would drop it.

 

“Guess I have a lot to apologize for then. So, these various kinds of investments are they all legal?” Niall didn’t seem fazed by her actions and the smirk came back.

 

“Don’t think I would tell you if they weren’t but yes to my knowledge they are.What does your mother do?” Olta smiled at him gratefully. The game was back on.

 

“She works as strategist for an international marketing firm. When is your birthday?”

 

“January 1st and yes, I’m always happy about ringing in the New Year. Yours?” Olta snickered lightly as she recognized his automated answer to the unasked but inevitable question.

 

“Mine is worse. April Fool’s day and no, I’m not joking nor am I a joke.” Niall looked at her incredulously before he smirked a very big smirk.

 

“That is far worse.” He said, laughing. Olta nodded solemnly before joining his laughter, covering her mouth as she did but not breaking the eye contact.

 

“Do you think my clothes are dry?” Olta asked as their laughter faded. She was worried that if they continued the game she would go tread on more serious matters. Better to quit while you’re ahead.

 

Niall looked at her questioningly and Olta could have sworn she saw disappointment flash through his eyes before some sort of realization took its place.

 

“I think so.” Niall said, glancing at his watch. “Should be, I set the timer for thirty minutes. That should be enough, shouldn’t it?” Olta nodded as Niall got up and walked to the door.

 

“Be right back.” He said, unlocking his door and walking out.

 

Olta let out a deep sigh as she heard the door being locked behind her. Smiling to herself she wondered whether she should be offended by the fact that Niall had locked her up, twice. She decided she wasn’t and instead let her mind replay the last half hour.

 

Talking about an emotional roller-coaster. She had gone from nervous to relaxed to uncomfortable to giddy and back again. She had learned more about Niall in half an hour than she had all week, albeit it more from the things that had been left unsaid than his actual answers. Perhaps she shouldn’t have played it so safe.

 

Niall, on the other hand, hadn’t played it safe with his questions about her apologetic behaviour. What had that been about anyway? And the only thing he had managed to do was very nearly kill the mood. Thankfully only nearly. Maybe they could talk a little more. They were going out after all.

 

Suddenly realization hit Olta, hard. She was going to go out with Niall. She felt her hart quickening and was hit by a full attack of the butterflies in her stomach.

 

He wouldn’t have proposed it if he didn’t like her, would he? They were still on, weren’t they? The past half hour had been fun, hadn’t it? She hadn’t made a complete fool out of herself, had she? Could it really be that he might like her? As a friend, of course.

 

Before Olta could explore any of these doubts properly she heard a loud voice calling through the house.

 

Daniel.

 

He was calling for Niall.

 

Olta sprang up. She felt a wave of gratitude towards the locked door.

 

Then the lock turned and Niall quickly entered the room. Olta took her clothes out his arms. He looked at her grimly and only nodded as he turned to lock his door. This was a bad situation.

 

“Niall, do not close that door. Out. Now.” Daniel’s icily calm voice came through the door.

 

Niall locked his door and rested his forehead against it. Olta stood frozen in her spot, shivers running down her spine. She realized she was afraid; she only froze up like this when she was truly afraid. The last time she had frozen up like this very bad things had happened. This situation was really bad.

 

“How about no.” Niall said matching his brother’s tone.

 

“Out. Now.” Daniel repeated. Olta heard Niall sighed softly.

 

“No.” Still calm but less firm.

 

Mentally willing herself to move Olta finally found herself heading for the bathroom.

 

“Really not in the mood for this.” A voice filled with menace and cruelty.

 

“Fuck you, bastard.” Niall spat.

 

“We’ve been over this a million times. You’re the bastard, not me. At least pretend you have half a brain cell.” Daniel sounded exasperated.

 

“Now. Out.”

 

“No.” Niall sounded calm and defeated.

 

“Niall.” Daniel said warningly.

 

Olta had made it to the bathroom. She dropped her clothing unceremoniously on the floor and turned to look at Niall. He was still leaning into his door.

 

Olta closed the door quietly and copied Niall stand in the bedroom. The bedroom door lock turned and the door opened.

 

“Finally.” She heard Daniel say, before she heard the door close and the lock turning again.

 

“Well, suspicions confirmed.” Olta muttered dryly.

 

She pushed herself of the door and started to undress. Her hands were trembling uncontrollably. Taking a couple of deep breaths she tried to steady herself.

 

A loud thump sounded from the hallway, quickly followed by another. And another. Olta looked at the wall in horror. Another thump, this time right outside the bathroom. And then silence.

 

Olta needed to get dressed, now. She had half a mind to go and break the lock and throw herself between them but she knew that would be stupid. Not only would she probably not be able to break the lock but throwing herself between Daniel and Niall didn’t sound like such good idea. Sure, she could use some moves but she doubted whether she would able to take Daniel on. She feared that Daniel would not take kindly to finding her here. And yes, she was simply afraid of Daniel.

 

Olta was also scared of Niall’ reaction. She understood perfectly well that this was the reason why he had wanted to go out with her. He had wanted to get her out of the house. How was Niall going to handle this? Hell, how was she going to handle this? The last she wanted was for Niall to cut her off because she had lousy timing. just when it seemed they were getting somewhere.

 

Apparently something in her brain had been bypassed as she was suddenly aware of lacing her shoes. Her hands were still trembling but they were getting the job done. Sighing deeply she straightened herself. She opened the bathroom door and positioned herself against the door frame, waiting for the lock to turn yet again.

 

Chapter Eleven

 

 

 

“You fucking little shithead, you almost broke my nose.” Daniel growled, kneeing Niall in the stomach.

 

Niall grasped for breath and tried to keep his balance by leaning against the wall. Daniel, however, kneed him again and Niall sagged to floor.

 

Daniel was exceptionally angry. He hadn’t even bothered with the usual insincere niceties. As soon as Niall had locked his room and turned to face his brother the first punch had hit his stomach. And he had taken to hitting the face, a sure sign that things were very wrong.

 

Niall didn’t have to ask what had brought this anger on. If he had been wondering what his brother had been up to, he sure was getting his answer now. All he could hope was for Olta not to alert Daniel his presence. Niall knew his brother wasn’t above hitting girls. When it came to exercising his power Daniel wasn’t really above anything.

 

Why oh why had Daniel come home early.

 

For a moment there, life had been going great. Olta had been in his room, looking so good in his t-shirt and with his sweats hugging her hips. They had been playing that silly questions game. Olta laying off of anything too personal and him rattling her cage. He had been a bit pushy with her, he knew that. But the girl kneeled down on his carpet with her straightened back , her hair all curly from the rain, and her eyes on his was a mystery he wanted to understand. Alice and Matilda were right, he had to admit that now. He doubted whether he had to be too careful with her though. Olta was clearly capable of defending herself if she felt need to. Okay, so he shouldn’t make her feel like she had to. Great job he was doing there.

 

Because instead of having dinner with him, Olta had learned about the dancing. Nobody was supposed to find out. Ever. Hell, the only person who suspected that there was more going on than an occasional fraternal brawl was Matilda. And she only suspected it. Now, a girl he really, really liked, the first girl he had ever liked like that, knew after knowing him only a couple of days. And as if that wasn’t enough his dancing partner didn’t particularly care for her. Somebody really had it in for him.

 

But maybe he could still spin it. Tell her that it been just a fight. Maybe then he could keep his dignity intact, what was left of it anyway. Niall figured that probably wouldn’t work though. After all, this was Olta he was thinking about. The very observant Olta, who had a complete blind spot when it came to herself. Niall would have smiled if he wasn’t in so much pain.

 

“Fuck. Why.” Niall heard himself mutter. He then realized that Daniel had stopped his moves since was he down. Instead he felt his brothers’ eyes observing him.

 

Daniel squatted down beside him.

 

“Let me answer that for you.” Daniel all but whispered, his voice thick with his cruel ice.

 

Niall felt Daniel grabbing his hair and jerking his head up. He turned it so that Niall had no choice but to face his brother. Niall tried to push him away but the angle his body was in hampered any effective movement of his arms. Daniel chuckled swatting Niall’ attempts away.

 

“Pathetic.” He said wearily.

 

Niall scowled but kept silent. He hadn’t seen this look in brother’s eyes since their father had decided to take Niall instead of Daniel along to London last year. And yeah, that had been a nice little dance too. Daniel was beyond furious.

 

“Anyways, as to your question. I’m actually interested in why you think I’m more than a little upset right now.” Daniel said.

 

He kept scowling at his brother; no way was he going to answer him.

 

Daniel tightened his grip on Niall’ hair and yanked his head closer.

 

“Waiting.” Daniel simply stated.

 

As best as he could, Niall shrugged and his scowl gave way to feigned indifference.

 

“Do you think it could have anything to do with your new friend? You know, the little Dutch girl, not too bad looking, kinda hot even. You had to show her the ropes this week. Ring any bells?” Daniel yanked Niall’ head again.

 

Niall kept up his show of defiance but he knew that he wasn’t very convincing. Still, it was better than giving in.

 

“You know, the disrespectful bitch who doesn’t know what’s good for her. The fucking whore who not only has her lunch in the cafeteria but at your fucking table. The slut who doesn’t go anywhere without you or one of your fucking friends.” Daniel paused for a moment. Niall was working hard not to let Daniel get to him and failed. He snarled and Daniel grinned.

 

“The little tramp who you have given a sweet little nickname. The tease who has got you drooling all over her like a fucking sick moron.” Another dramatic pause and Daniel grinned again as Niall angrily tried again to push him away. He only got his head yanked, again.

 

It was unpleasant that his brother knew of his feelings but not very surprising. Had he honestly thought Daniel wouldn’t pick up on that? No, even if he hadn’t realized the mammoth mistake it had been to invite Olta to sit at his table, Daniel would still have known.

 

“The bitch you are going to cut loose on Monday and let sink into the depths of oblivion where she belongs. Am I making myself clear?” Daniel pulled Niall face so close that their noses were touching.

 

Niall had known that this been coming as soon Daniel had started talking. It was the logicaloutcome of his rant.

 

“No.” Niall was surprised at how firm he managed to sound.

 

Daniel cocked an eyebrow in surprise.

 

“No? No, I haven’t made myself clear or no, you’re not going to cut her loose?” He asked.

 

“No, I’m not cutting her loose. You’ve made yourself perfectly clear, though. Both your meaning and your capability to use a thesaurus are very clear to me.” Niall said calmly. He really sounded far more confident than he felt. Apparently he still had some spine left. He briefly wondered where his common sense had gone to, though. Insulting his brother was never a smart thing to do but right now it was downright stupid.

 

Niall braced himself for his brother’s next move but to his surprise Daniel let go and got up.

 

“Okay, so don’t cut her loose. Listen I need to take a shower and then I’ll be heading over to Jason. Be seeing you, bro.” And with that he walked down the hall to his room leaving Niall looking after him, completely stunned.

 

Any thoughts about Daniel actually being okay with Niall refusing him were immediately dismissed. Daniel was far too angry to leave it at that.

 

If anything Niall had just gone and dug a very deep hole for himself… and Olta. Niall had a sinking feeling he had just made the worst call in his life. But there was no going back now.

 

Getting up proved a rather painful affair and Niall wondered just how much damage Daniel had done. As he tasted his own blood on his tongue he guessed quiet a lot.

 

As he fished his key out of his pocket he took a deep breath. Pain shot through his body. Turning the key he softly murmured to himself.

 

“Time to face the music.”

 

He didn’t see Olta as he entered the room. At soft gasp alerted him to her position. She was standing in the doorway of his bathroom. Niall cast his eyes down and didn’t say anything. What could he possibly say?

 

Instead he locked his door, switched on his lights and slowly made his way to his bed and sat down. He kept his back towards his bathroom and Olta. Fuck, it hurt to sit down.

 

He heard Olta rummaging in the bathroom and wondered what she was doing. Maybe she was getting some aspirin, that’d be really cool.

 

He sighed again and winced at the pain. He hoped Daniel hadn’t actually broken anything or caused any internal hemorrhage. Going to the hospital wasn’t really on his wish list. He doubted he could even drive right now.

 

Niall heard Olta approaching him softly and slowly. He kept his eyes on his lap and his hands. It reminded him of how Olta had looked down when he had upped the game earlier. How long ago was that? It felt like forever but glancing at his watch he saw it was just six thirty. Tickle thing, time.

 

Olta was standing in front of him now. She didn’t speak but squatted down in front of him. Niall felt torn between wanting to look at her and not wanting to see any of the pity or dismissal or maybe even disgust on her face. Thank you Daniel, with any luck she would cut herself off. That would probably be a blessing in disguise. Niall really didn’t want her to but he couldn’t blame her if she did. But he didn’t want a pity act either. He kept his gaze firmly on his hands.

 

Niall saw her left hand take his right and she turned the palm upwards. She had small hands, he mused, soft too. And they were trembling. Her other hand came up and it put a couple of aspirin in his. She had actually gotten him aspirin. She drew back her hands and she took his left hand and put his toothbrush cup filled with water in it. If the dancing been less intense he would probably taken offence to her motherly actions but as it was he couldn’t help but be grateful for it. He’d be lying if he said that Olta touches didn’t feel good or that he didn’t want them.

 

She got up and walked back to bathroom.

 

Niall downed the pills, emptying the cup. God, even that hurt. He stared at the cup in his hand wondering absentmindedly why he heard the water running.

 

Olta again squatted down in front him. She took the cup from his hand and put it down.

 

“It needs to be cleaned.” Niall heard her say.

 

He didn’t miss the way her voice slightly faltered. But before it registered he felt a trembling hand on his chin, tilting his head upwards a little. His eyes landed on her face. She was pale and looking intently at his mouth. Suddenly he felt a cool wet cloth on the corner of his mouth. Ah, a split lip, that would explain the blood he tasted. He studied Olta’s face as she cautiously cleaned his wounds. He felt her hand tremble through the cloth but she looked concentrated and concerned. Niall didn’t see any of the things he had feared. He heard himself let out a sigh of relief and winced at the pain it caused. Definitely a bruised or cracked rib or two. Great.

 

The cloth now moved close to Niall’ right eye. He flinched slightly at the contact. Funny, he couldn’t remember that move. But then he did remember hitting the wall, face forward.

 

“If you’re ever bored or something and your friends are busy or something, you’re welcome to come over. My mother is cool like that. Just don’t come by any later than eleven in the evening.” Olta said softly.

 

Niall didn’t react. Largely because he had been looking at trying to catch her eye and hadn’t really heard what she had said. He wanted her to look her in eyes. He needed to see what they said. He had heard her voice falter again. She was pale, trembling and her voice was faltering. She was scared, Niall concluded. For a moment he felt oddly proud that his deductive abilities still worked between the pain on the one hand and Olta’s ministrations on the other. But the fact that Olta was scared wasn’t good and feelings of pride vanished.

 

Then he registered exactly what she had said. And now he didn’t react because he didn’t know what to do. He really should do something, though.

 

The cloth disappeared and Olta moved away from him. He heard her walk to bathroom. Again water started running and he hoped Olta would come back with a fresh cloth. It had felt good.

 

Olta did come back but unfortunately she didn’t have a fresh cloth. She only squatted in front him once more. Niall was once again staring at his hands.

 

“I’ll leave you alone now. The bath is running and I’ve left your clothes are in the bathroom.”

 

At this he looked up and did catch her eye. Yes, she was definitely scared but there also was her usual combination of insecurity and knowledge. Well, she sure had the knowledge. But still, no pity and no rejection.

 

She got up and turned towards her bag.

 

Suddenly he realized what she meant by leaving. Niall didn’t want her to and his mind was working hard to find the right words but he drew a blank.

 

Footsteps were heard in the hall. Niall saw Olta froze up at the sound.

 

“Going now. And oh, I of course got to watch Fight Club, should anybody ask.” Daniel called through the door, his voice light with amusement. And then his footsteps faded away. Niall kept his eyes on Olta but he did take notice of cover his brother going to use. Fight Club, good one, he thought sarcastically. Of course last time it had been Godfather II.

 

Olta was still frozen in her spot her gaze fixed on the door. Niall got up, slowly. He wanted to take her in her arms and tell she had nothing to worry about. That it had been just a fight. That Daniel was his problem, not hers. Even if that was a lie and even if Olta would probably know that.

 

As Niall stood, however, Olta snapped out her trance. She turned and looked at him. Now she just looked scared. But as Niall walked over to her, she took a couple of breaths and the fear subsided. Niall was shocked to see something very akin to guilt take its place. What the hell!? Why in the world would Olta feel guilty? No, he was reading her wrong.

 

Olta’s eyes darted all over his room and she was biting her lip nervously.

 

Niall stretched his hand out to do something, anything to put her at ease but Olta stepped away and grabbed her bag from the floor.

 

“Your bath… ready… overflow.” She mumbled as she headed for the door.

 

Olta unlocked the door and left his bedroom without looking back at Niall.

 

Niall stared at his bedroom door in shock. He had done it again. He had managed to send Olta running, again. He kept staring at his door for some time before he realized he hadn’t said one single word to Olta the entire time.

 

“You stupid fuck!” He shouted at himself, regretting it instantly as he cringed in pain.

 

He slowly walked to his bathroom and found he was just in time to keep the bath from overflowing.

 

Chapter Twelve

 

Olta wasn’t entirely sure how but she had done it. She had finished all of her homework. As she gave her essay on Greece a final once over she almost cracked a grin. The therapeutic qualities of homework never seized to amaze Olta.

 

Putting the essay aside she took a deep breath and landed herself on her love seat. She picked up the remote of her stereo set. Letting the comfortable sounds of Saint Germain wash over her Olta went over the last days’ events, yet again.

 

Her mother was harassing her continuously. All out of love, of course, but that didn’t make it any less annoying. After she had found her daughter sitting on the bench on Friday evening her mother had been worried. She had bought that Olta’s paleness and shivering were solely due to being out in the cold for four hours. That, however, didn’t explain Olta’s rather evasive and skittish behaviour. Knowing her mother would press the matter until satisfied Olta had been forced to come up with something that would be convincing enough. When telling a lie, always stay close to truth. Her father had taught her that.

 

“I don’t know, I’m not quite here yet, you know. I miss Mortis and John and the guys and well just, haven’t got male friends here yet. And I, you know, keep thinking about…” Olta had said, trailing off. She had seen her mother’s worry and heard it her voice as she spoke. She had bit her lip. It hadn’t been a lie, more an omission of sorts. But still.

 

“Olta, I understand, really I do. Hey, I’m not settled yet either and I don’t think Maggie is either even if she seems to be her happy self. Sweetie it whasn’t even been two weeks. And besides I think you can consider Niall a friend. Looks to me like the boy went a bit beyond the call of duty this week. And when next time he and his friends ask you to hang out with them, you really should just go.” Olta had glared at her mother and all she had gotten in return was a sympathetic smile.

 

“If?” Olta had corrected.

 

“When.” Her mother had responded and Olta had rolled her eyes. Remembering her open invitation to Niall she decided to give her mother a heads-up. No matter how doubtful Olta was he would actually drop by.

 

“Well, maybe. I did tell Niall he could drop by any time. I don’t think he’ll will but if he does, please lay off him. Just treat him as if he was Deanor possibly David ok?” Olta had said quickly, looking at her mother pleadingly. Her mother’s smile hadn’t wavered but it had turned more and more into a smirk.

 

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” Her mother said in mock innocence.

 

“Mamma!” Olta had wailed and the serious mood had dissipated and they had shared a comfortable silence.

 

But it had only lasted a minute.

 

“Sweetheart is he your boyfriend?” Her mother asked with a bright smile on her face.

 

“Ma, no! Just friends, besides I’m not the dating type.” Olta replied with a sour grin on her face.

 

“Now Olta, about..” her mother began cautiously.

 

“No.” Olta had said harshly, cutting her mother off.

 

“Olta, I really think it would do you good.” Her mother had implored.

 

“Mam, I don’t want to. I’ll deal with it myself, in my own time.” Olta had sighed and her mother had shaken her head in defeat.

 

With that Olta had retreated to her room, hoping her mother would let it rest. Unfortunately, she didn’t. At regular intervals the subject about Olta’s need to go and talk to someone was brought up and Olta had simply stopped talking to her mother.

 

Maggie had tried to soften strained atmosphere and Olta’s bad mood. Olta appreciated the gesture but not the way she gone about it.

 

“You’ve got a boyfriend, you’ve got a boyfriend.” Maggie had teased bouncing up and down the sofa in the reading room on Saturday afternoon. Looking up from a book she had pretended to be reading Olta had shot her sister a glare.

 

“No I don’t.”

 

“Yes you do. Niall so is your boyfriend. He gives you rides to school.”

 

“How old are you, six? How does Niall giving me a ride make him my boyfriend?”

 

“Well, Susan said that is what boyfriends do over here, so I just figured. Besides I see how look at him. You so totally like him.” Maggie had said with a smug smile.

 

“Ra, I don’t. He’s just a friend.” Olta had let out a frustrated sigh. Cannot kill my sister, cannot kill my sister. Especially not for telling the truth.

 

“Do too.”

 

“Do not.”

 

“Do too.”

 

“Do not.”

 

“Enough!” Their mother had yelled from the living, not looking up from her book. “Maggie, stop harassing your sister. Niall is just like Dean. Now go do your homework.” Olta had glared at her mother.

 

Olta sighed as she changed the music and threw herself on her bed with a loud wail.

 

Her mother was siding with Maggie and had used her own words against her. Just bloody great.

 

If she was that transparent, it was no wonder Niall hadn’t said anything. But then again he had given her that look again and he had approached her, sort of. Maybe she should have stuck around.She was such a stupid twit.

 

All she had wanted to do was to put him at ease. She understood how painful her being there must have been for him, really she did. But she had found it impossible to find the right words. So she had acted instead. Encouraged by his silent acceptance she had braved to extend him her invitation. But he hadn’t reacted to that, at all, and Olta had regretted her words instantly. She had avoided his eyes, not wanting to see the silent disapproval. So she decided to leave him be, forgetting that the reason of the fear in her body was still in the house.

 

But then she had heard footsteps on the landing. Daniel’s footsteps and her body had again frozen up. She had barely heard what he said, only heard the amusement in his voice. Then Niall had been standing and his eyes had been completely filled with that look. But that didn’t do. That wouldn’t do at all. She had breathed deeply, both for oxygen and to regain her faculties. And then she had run out. When completely at a loss, run. No-one had taught her that but Olta was starting to swear by it.

 

Slowly Olta got up from her bed. Putting Gorillas on she decided some dancing was in order to lose herself for a moment.

 

 

 

Saturday hadn’t gone like it was supposed to.

 

On Saturday morning he had been awoken by his father banging and on his door. Niall had crawled out of bed, his body aching all over, but surprisingly enough it hadn’t been too bad.

 

But in his groggy state he had forgotten he was only wearing his boxer’s.

 

As he had opened his door his father had looked ready to kill but then he had stepped back and taken in his son’s appearance and his look had softened for a moment only to have the rage return immediately.

 

“Daniel, get your butt over here. Now.“The old man had called through the hallway not taking his eyes of Niall’ body.

 

Niall had followed his father’s gaze and looking down he could see the number of swellings and bruises grazing his body. He had wanted to go back into his room to put on some clothing but a slight shake of his father’s head had halted him. Waiting for Daniel they had looked each other over. His father had looked at him wearily and questioningly, with a good dose of disappointment. Niall had shrugged indifferently at this and his father had scowled ever so slightly. This whole silent exchange of minute gestures was their equivalent of a conversation.

 

The rude awakening meant his father already knew what had happened from Daniel. Daniel had undoubtedly pointed towards Niall as the aggressor. His father had then come to Niall for corroboration and in this silent exchange his father had made his displeasure clear and Niall had told him that whatever Daniel had said was the truth. The problem now was that his father had seen the bruising on his body, which meant that the fight had quite clearly been more than an exchange of a few blows.

 

Daniel had come down the hall sauntering. Upon seeing his brother in his state of undress his face had darkened for a flick of a second before facing his father with the same look of indifference. Niall had smirked ever so slightly at the swollen nose and large purple bruise on his brother’s face.

 

His father had looked his oldest son over with a doubtful eye.

 

“Strip.” Their father had commanded. Daniel had obeyed without question.

 

Niall was glad to see that Daniel was sporting a fair amount of bruises, even if it didn’t come close to Niall’s.

 

Their father had stepped back for a moment, taken in both his sons’ injuries.

 

“Niall, what happened?” He’d been cross referencing their story. Niall shrugged again.

 

“We had a minor disagreement about what to watch. So instead of letting Daniel watch Fight Club, I decided to give him a preview and Daniel decided he liked the preview better than the actual movie.” Niall explained calmly, knowing that his story should comply with Daniel’s.

 

Niall had been rewarded with a look of utter skepticism. Okay, their father was not buying their cover. He looked at Niall and then turned to Daniel.

 

“Let me see if I get this straight. Niall disagreed with your choice of entertainment and decided to throw a punch?” Daniel had nodded, seemingly unfazed by his father’s sarcasm.

 

“And then you thought it only right to beat the crap out of your brother?” He spat the last part of that sentence. Their father had been angry but it seemed to more directed at Daniel. Niall had been pleased by that.

 

Daniel had opened his mouth to retort. One pointed look, however, and Daniel had closed his mouth.

 

“The two of you are sticking to this story?” Both sons nodded.

 

“Just like last time when the two of you claimed you couldn’t seem to agree on which instalment of the Godfather trilogy you wanted to watch?” They both shrugged.

 

“Right. I’m taking you both to the hospital. Be ready in half an hour.” Giving them one more pointed look their father had left them alone. Daniel had given Niall a very vicious glare and Niall had given a slight smirk. Daniel wasn’t going to believe that Niall state of undress had been accidental, so why bother with it. Daniel had picked up his cloths and had briskly walked back to his room.

 

Back in his room Olta had popped into Niall’ head. His memories of after the dance were a bit vague and muddled. But he still felt like a moron for the way he had chased her away.

 

When he had come down into the kitchen Matilda had been standing behind the counter and his father had been reading the morning paper. Matilda had looked at him worriedly and wearily.

 

“Tell me young Niall, why couldn’t either of you simply watch a movie in your own room?” She asked. Niall frowned. His father not inquiring after his well being, okay. But Matilda not showing any sympathy, that was just wrong. And was with the two of them acting all parental unit like?

 

Niall had stayed silent as he devoured the sandwich in front of him.

 

“Do you honestly believe that your father and I are actually buying your lousy cover up?” Matilda had said accusatory.

 

“Apparently not but you should.” Niall had shrugged, glancing over at his father. The man had his eyes fixed on the paper. Matilda had given him a final disbelieving look before returning her attention to her duties.

 

Their father had had no trouble to get their family physician to come in on his free Saturday. This meant that their visit didn’t last for longer than an hour. As Niall had expected by his surprising mobility the damage wasn’t that bad. He didn’t have anything broken and his ribs weren’t hurt too badly. The doctor had advised him to take it very easy, even take a few days off.

 

“Doctor Washington, would it be too much if I went to school?” Niall had asked. The way he felt now, he surely would be up to it and he wanted to go to school on Monday. He couldn’t appear weaker than Daniel.

 

“You mean to tell me that you want to go school?” The doctor had asked the unbelief clear in his voice. Niall had nodded.

 

“A teenager who doesn’t seize the opportunity to lounge about the house, wonders will never cease.” The doctor had mused and as an afterthought he had added.

 

“No wonder you make your father proud.”

 

Niall felt his eyebrow arch. His father was actually proud of him, was that what the good doctor was saying? Who would have thought? It wasn’t as if he and his father had a poor relationship or anything. Niall loved his father and he was pretty sure his father loved him but being proud was a very different matter. Niall had felt a stupid grin form on his lips.

 

As the doctor had handed over a prescription he had noticed Niall changed look and he had smiled.

 

“I should advise you against attending school but if you take enough rest this weekend, you should be able to do a half day. But try not to push it though. It will take you longer to recuperate fully.” Niall had nodded, unable to stop grinning and leaving the doctor to return to his game of golf.

 

“What’s with the face, bro?” Daniel had asked on the ride back. Niall had looked at his brother, completely undisturbed by the foul glare he was giving him.

 

“Nothing, must be painkillers kicking in.” Niall lied lightheartedly. He had looked at his father in the rearview mirror and hadn’t missed the minute smile and smallest of nods he had given him.

 

Back at the house, however, their father made it clear that things weren’t over just yet.

 

After they had had lunch in utter silence both Niall and Daniel had been summoned to the study.

 

“Good, I’ll ask you two one more time. You’re sticking to your story?” Their father had asked calmly, after taking a seat behind the antique mahogany desk. Niall and Daniel had nodded.

 

“Fine,” He had still been calm but then the bottled up rage had exploded.

 

“Have you both absolutely lost your minds?!” He had bellowed. “If you can’t get along, fine but you’ll keep your feelings to yourself. I will not tolerate you beating each other to an inch of the hospital.” The tirade had paused for a moment as their father had look from one son to the other. Shaking his head in despair he had continued.

 

“I will not tolerate any violence between you two again. I thought I had made that clear last time. The next time I get as much as a whiff of you two going at each other again the consequences will be very serious. For now I’ll consider your pain punishment enough. Am I making myself understood?”

 

“Yes sir.” Niall and Daniel had answered in unison.

 

Their father had waved his hand dismissively while turning towards some papers on his desk.

 

“Well off you go then. The pair of you need your rest.”

 

Niall and Daniel had curtly nodded and left the study. In the hallway Daniel had stopped Niall by grabbing his upper arm.

 

“I will be seeing you, bro.” Daniel had said in his usual voice.

 

“I’d guess that would be at dinner?” Niall had asked innocuously.

 

Daniel had tightened his grip on Niall’ arm for a moment before letting him go.

 

“Funny.” He had said, walking away.

 

Up in his room, Niallhad popped a couple of the prescribed painkillers and made himself comfortable on his bed. Niall had replayed Friday’s events over and over in his mind and finally fell asleep with a decision on his mind.

 

So, now on brittle Sundayafternoon stood in front of Olta’s house and finally rang the bell. It had seemed like a good idea. She had invited him, after all, and they did need to talk. So going over and talk to her had seemed like the best plan. Then why, even under the hazy influence of his meds, had he been standing in front of her house for over five minutes before actually ringing the bell. Because Niall honestly couldn’t recall having ever been this nervous before.

 

The door was opened by Amanda. Right, Niall had never considered the fact that perhaps Olta wouldn’t be home alone.

 

He noticed Amanda’s slight frown as she took in his appearance but she covered it quickly with a sympathetic smile. Niall wondered what Olta had told her.

 

“Niall, hadn’t expected to see you here on a Sunday.” Amanda said ushering him in. Niall tried to smile but he couldn’t help to grimace slightly as he walked in. Amanda’s smile faltered.

 

“What happened to you?” She asked with true concern.

 

“I had a bit of an argument with my brother, mrs…Amanda.” He said with a wry smile figuring he might as well stick to the story everybody would be hearing. Amanda’s frown returned and for a moment Niall feared she’d go all motherly on him.

 

“Yes, and Vietnam was a quarrel.” She scoffed instead with a small smile and Niall looked at her nonplussed.

 

“Never mind. Olta is up in her room, just follow the music.” Amanda cast her eyes on the staircase and shook her head with a slight smile as she returned to wherever she had come from. Niall nodded with a small smile, relieved she wasn’t pressing the matter. Making his way up the stairs he understood why ‘follow the music’ had been enough of a direction. Somewhere down the left loud music could be heard. Niall had heard the song before but couldn’t really remember the song.

 

The door to Olta’s room was open. Niall had his hand ready to knock on her door to announce his presence but as he saw Olta he quickly withdrew it. Instead he leaned into the doorframe, trying not to put too much pressure on his bruises.

 

Olta was facing him. She was dancing to the music, her eyes closed. Obviously to anything she moved with the teasingly slow beat as she half mouthed and half sang along with the lyrics the emotions flickering over her face. Niall was completely captivated by her and the fact that she was wearing a small red camisole on her green baggy pants didn’t help matters. God, she looked good. As the music slowly faded away she let out a sigh of contentment.

 

Niall saw her slowly opening her eyes and before he had the presence of mind to let himself known belatedly he saw Olta’s eyes go wide when she saw him standing there. A blush unlike any he had seen before spread from her cheeks down to her neck and chest. Niall finally broke the silence between him.

 

“I got bored.” He said with a small, apologetic smile.

 

Chapter Thirteen

Olta’s mind was reeling. Niall was standing in her doorway with a small smile and that look. That and he looked a little sorry. Sorry? Oh bugger it all, he had seen her dancing and now he was feeling sorry for her. Just great.

 

But what was he doing here in the first place? He was supposed to be..

 

“In bed.” Olta finished her thoughts out loud. “You’re supposed to bed, or at least resting on a couch or something. But you shouldn’t be up and about.” She rambled, desperately clutching to her remote control. Somehow she managed to turn the volume of the music down. Breathe girl; this is only one of the most embarrassing situations ever.

 

“The damage wasn’t that bad, nothing some good painkillers couldn’t handle.” Niall smirked.

 

Olta didn’t respond, still stuck on the embarrassment of the situation.

 

“But if it’s a bad time?” Niall suddenly sounded and looked less secure.

 

Olta shook her head and motioned for him to enter her room.

 

“Why don’t you sit down or lie down or whatever. Just make yourself comfortable. I’ll get us something to drink.” She rambled, darting past him and down the hall.

 

In the kitchen Olta poured two glasses of lemonade and, steadying herself against the kitchen counter, she gave herself a small pep talk.

 

“You can do this. You were in his room now he’s in your room. You invited him after all. This really is no big deal. Really it is not.” Breathing deeply Olta made her way back.

 

Walking back into her room she noticed Niall hadn’t made himself comfortable. Instead he stood looking closely at her picture tableau on her wall. It had been a going away present from her friends.

 

“So this is the Tirana posse? Seems I wasn’t too original.” He asked, whilst going over the pictures.

 

Olta chuckled as she read the banner above the collage. In Mortis’s calligraphy it simply said Tirana Posse.

 

“Why do you think I never objected?” Olta said as she handed Niall his drink.

 

“Thanks.” He said and emptied the glass in one big gulp.

 

“Meds are making me thirsty.” He added with a sheepish grin.

 

Olta handed her his glass and he looked at her questioningly.

 

“You’re the one who’s thirsty, not me.” She offered by why of explanation, shoving her glass towards him. With a grateful smile Niall accepted as he handed her the empty glass. Again he downed it in one go.

 

“Thanks.” He said, smiling at her.

 

Olta now took the time to look at him carefully. His eye was slightly swollen and a nice shade of purple, as was the spot at the corner of his mouth. Suppressing the urge to touch his bruises Olta backed away little.

 

Niall returned his attention the pictures and Olta put the glasses down on her nightstand. As she watched Niall study her pictures she suddenly felt increasingly vulnerable. She hadn’t realized it but her room was actually an open diary of her life. And if Niall wanted to he would be able to read it by asking a few well placed questions.

 

“So Tirana, tell me about these pictures.” Niall said looking at her. Olta sighed softly and she joined him keeping a good foot between them.

 

“Well, they’re pictures like any other, really. I’m sure you’ve seen them before. Because if you haven’t you’ve really been missing out on something.” Olta said. She felt a grin playing around the corners of her mouth but tried to suppress it. The emotional rollercoaster was riding again and right now she was passing the flighty corkscrew.

 

She felt Niall looking at her but she didn’t dare look up at him. Instead she focused on one the most recent pictures in the collage. It was John and Mortis relaxing under an olive tree in Ostia. It still felt ridiculous to think that that had been as little as a month ago.

 

Niall had apparently followed her gaze as he pointed at the same picture.

 

“Rephrase, who are the people in this picture?” Niall asked and Olta was pleased to her his usual amusement in his voice.

 

“That’s John and that’s Mortis. They’re the ones who made this.”

 

“And this is you?” Niall asked incredulously, pointing at a picture in which Olta was wearing a long emerald dress with spaghetti straps. Olta was slightly affronted by Niall tone. She actually thought it was one of the few pictures in which she looked good.

 

“It was for the Christmas Ball last year.” She replied.

 

“You looked good.” Niall replied and Olta couldn’t detect any dishonesty in his comment. She kept her eyes on the photo. Okay, so he thought she looked good. Right.

 

“So you were redhead back then?” Olta nodded. She had dyed her hair red ever since she was thirteen but had stopped after her father’s death.

 

Niall, apparently, had moved on the next picture.

 

“This guy is your boyfriend?”

 

Olta was surprised by the edge in Niall’ voice and it took her a second to find the picture he was talking about. It was the only other picture with her in it. It was of her and Sam, on the bus ride to Rome. Somewhere during the ride they had ended up next to each other and had fallen asleep together. She was leaning into his chest and Sam had his arm wrapped her waist as his head rested on top of hers.

 

“Sam?” Olta said, laughing softly and shaking her head at the thought. Sam, being interested in her, sure.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous.” She added, her laughter dying away to soft giggles.

 

Looking up at Niall she saw him looking down at her. He had stepped closer and Olta felt her breath catching in her throat. Damn that look, damn those eyes and damn that mouth, Olta thought. Niall shouldn’t be doing this, acting like he might… Acting like that would only make her crush even harder, if that was possible. She stepped away.

 

“You really should sit down. I’m going to get to more drinks.” Olta said as she walked out of her room. Running away was a good policy, Olta decided but not too practical when one was in one’s own home.

 

Taking the bottle of lemonade with her, Olta decided that since Niall was asking questions, she might just as well. Perhaps they could start the questions game again, only this time she would raise the stakes.

 

Back in her room she saw Niall had finally decided to sit down. She closed her door behind her and headed to the nightstand to refill the glasses. Handing one to Niall she noticed the bemused confused look on his face. Olta took a seat on the cushion seat across from the seat. Olta thought she might as well go in for the kill right away.

 

“So, you get into a fight or something?” she asked looking at Niall’ bruises. Olta hadn’t really given any conscious thought on how exactly to broach the subject but as she spoke she figured that feigned ignorance might not be a bad way. Judging by the smallest of smiles Niall gave her it worked though.

 

“Yeah, with my brother. He wanted to watch some movie which I really didn’t so it came to blows.” The small smile lingered.

 

“So, the two of you do that often then?” Olta asked.

 

“Nah, not really.” Niall said gazing down at the empty glass. The smile had gone.

 

“What does ‘not really’ mean?”

 

“Ah fuck, that means that it’s complicated, okay. My brother and I, it’s difficult to explain. Let’s just leave at that you now know just how we don’t get along.” Niall snapped but he looked up at her with a pleading and guilty look.

 

Olta nodded, knowing that the spell had been broken.

 

Niall broke the gaze and let his eyes wander the room.

 

“So, what is that?” He asked in the same casual tone Olta had used before. He pointed towards the mural above her bed.

 

“Well that’s the weapon, no the crest of the city of Tirana. Ra made it, she’s got the same one.” Olta said.

 

Niall grinned. It was a shield, coloured red but with a black stripe with three x’s running down the middle.

 

“Not to dis your sister’s artistic abilities but it doesn’t seem that hard.”

 

“No dissing my sister. I have dibs on that.” Olta glared and she threw a pillow towards him. It missed him by a mile and dropped on her desk.

 

“Hey, injured guy here.” Niall called out as he ducked for a pillow that was never even close to hitting him. Olta saw his playful expression change into grimace as he moved.

 

“You okay?” She asked, rising from her position a little. Niall was breathing deeply. As he nodded he tried to smile a little but it got screwed up in the effort.

 

Olta now rose fully and picked up the offending pillow for desk. Moving over to the love seat she put against the armrest.

 

She pulled Niall backwards, putting her hand lightly on his shoulder. He let himself recline but he kept his legs on the ground. Olta used her free hand to nudge his knee. Niall got the hint and laid his legs on the seat, the end of them hanging over the other armrest. All the while he looked at her and she avoided his gaze. It felt oddly familiar.

 

“Sorry about throwing…” Olta started as she reclined back into her pillow seat.

 

Niall looked sharply at her but then grinned a little.

 

“You’re doing it again.” Niall warned her teasingly.

 

Olta figured the pain had subsided as his smile was back again. That smile didn’t help her efforts to suppress her blush. She looked at him shyly and shrugged.

 

For a moment they just looked at each other and Olta felt like they were assessing each other, in the best possible meaning of word though. It actually was a very comfortable. Olta realized that despite everything she had never felt truly uncomfortable around Niall. Nervous beyond belief, yes but not uncomfortable.

 

A knock on the door broke the silence.

 

“Ja?” Olta questioned and the door opened slowly.

 

Olta looked at Niall bemused as he tried to manage himself into an upright position but failing miserably. Grimacing Niall fell back.

 

“You guys alright in here?” Her mother asked as she entered the room.

 

“What’s up doc?” Olta said in her best Bugs Bunny accent as she leant backwards to gaze up at her mother. Her mother glanced down at her before turning to Niall.

 

“Niall, would you like to stay for dinner?” Her mother asked.

 

Olta’s head snapped back up at Niall. Niall, still slightly in pain, looked from her mother to Olta and back again. Olta thought it funny that he looked somewhat embarrassed. It wasn’t a look she had seen before but it was decidedly cute.

 

Niall looked at Olta again and back at her mother.

 

“If it’s no inconvenience.” Niall asked politely.

 

“Now that would defeat the purpose of asking, wouldn’t it?” Her mother answered with laughter in her voice. Niall smile widened.

 

“True, in that case I would love to stay for dinner, Amanda.”

 

Olta relished in the familiarity of the display. Her mother and John always went through this. It was their little ritual. Looking up at her mother Olta saw that she too recognized the play. For the very first time since her arrival Olta truly felt at home.

 

“Good.” Amanda smiled and left the room, closing the door behind her.

 

Niall looked at Olta

 

“I need to call Matilda, though. Do you have a phone I might use? I forgot mine.” He stated.

 

Olta got up and picked up her mobile phone from under some papers on her desk.

 

“There you go.” She said as she tossed it over at Niall.

 

“You’ve got a cell phone?” Niall asked.

 

“Yeah, isn’t it the weirdest thing?” Olta mocked.

 

“It’s just, I haven’t seen it on you before is all.” Niall shrugged.

 

“It’s more for emergencies anyway; it isn’t like anyone else besides mamma or Ra might need the number.” Olta shrugged back.

 

“I’ll let you make your call, be right back.” She added and she walked out her room.

 

Niall needed his privacy and Olta needed to have a little chat with her mother and sister before dinner. There would be no embarrassing story telling this evening.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Niall was glad for the privacy Olta had given him, seeing as his father and Matilda expected him to be in his room.

 

Hearing the phone ring he felt the numb thumping ache of his bruises increase. The painkillers were loosing their effect. Still, he hadn’t felt this good in a very long time, if ever. Although her mother walking in had embarrassed him.

 

The situation was completely innocent, of course. The scenario running through Niall’ head, however, hadn’t been.

 

“Foy residence.” Matilda’s voice brought him back down to reality.

 

“Hey Matilda, it’s me. I’m just calling to say I won’t be home for dinner.” Niall said quickly.

 

“What do you mean? Aren’t you up in your room right now, resting?” Matilda asked challengingly.

 

“Um, No?” Niall asked nervously. An upset Matilda was a scary thing, even over the phone.

 

“NiallFoy, where are you?!” Matilda demanded.

 

“I’m at Olta’s. You know the girl I told you about?” Niall explained quickly.

 

Matilda’s tone softened immediately.

 

“You really should be resting, you know.”

 

“I’m fine, really.”

 

“Well, you have fun then, young Niall.” Matilda said before disconnecting the line. Niall was sure she’d used her title for him mockingly.

 

He looked at phone in his hand and smirked. Quickly he entered his own name and number and then gave himself a ring. Now this phone could be used to actual use.

 

Laying down the phone Niall glanced around the room again. His eye fell on the collage on the other side of the room. Niall had been pleased with Olta’s reaction about that guy, Sam or something like that. Niall had never realized that she might already have a boyfriend. The thought just hadn’t occurred to him.

 

So when he saw this guy holding Olta like he himself wanted to, Niall had felt a wave of jealousy and possessiveness, only to be replaced by some weird giddy joy when he heard Olta’s derisive words and laughter. Niall was pretty sure that her words had been directed at herself and not that Sam guy and he briefly wondered what that meant.

 

But the fact that Olta would snuggle up to a friend like that, now that was promising. Maybe he could get her on this seat beside him and have her snuggle up to him.

 

Oh, who was he kidding, he was in way too deep to just be friends with her. And if he wasn’t a complete idiot Olta wouldn’t want that either. But that was assuming that he wasn’t a total idiot and these days that was quite an assumption. She had, after all, run away again when he spotted a clear opportunity.

 

And snapping at Olta while she had addressed the very big elephant waltzing around them was pretty stupid. It had, after all, been the excuse for him coming over. But if he could avoid talking about his brother, he would, regardless of Olta’s tact in the matter.

 

Olta reentering her room shook Niall out of his reverie. She had a cheeky grin on her face and Niall frowned at this.

 

“It’s alright then? You staying over for dinner?” Olta asked and the cheekiness disappeared. Niall nodded and he noticed that this time she didn’t close door.

 

“You okay, can I get you some aspirin or something. My mom has some stronger stuff too.”

 

“Stronger stuff?” Niall asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

Olta giggled softly.

 

“I don’t think my mother deems a couple of bad bruises painful enough to crack open the morphine though.” Niall looked at her wide eyed. Her mother kept morphine in the house? Okay.

 

“No I’m all right, thanks. Tell me more about your friends back home. I mean it’s only fair isn’t it?” Niall said composing himself.

 

“Fair?” Olta asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

 

“Yeah. You know far more about me and the others than we do about you. You haven’t been really sharing or anything.” Niall stated and he saw her blush return but he was more caught up in the emotions flashing over Olta’s face.

 

He saw shyness followed by bewilderment. Then he saw a flash of what he could only describe as anger only to be quickly replaced by fear and, who would have thought, insecurity.

 

“I’ve shared things.” Olta said, slightly defensive. Niall tilted his head and looked at her intently.

 

“Sure and I’m glad to know that you like science fiction and period drama’s and that you’re trained ninja and that your brother’s got an excellent taste in women.” Niall was glad to see a smile edge its way on Olta’s mouth.

 

“He’s coming over on Friday.”

 

Niall didn’t understand who she was talking about.

 

“My brother.” Olta explained with a faint smile. “He’s coming over coming Friday to explain himself to his mother.”

 

“So he’s hopping on a plane to come and tell his mother what he has been up to?” Niall chuckled. The guy was like twenty-eight or something. It didn’t sound all too healthy to him.

 

“Well I think the fact that he’ll be seeing Miss Aliton.. God that really doesn’t sound right.” Olta laughed. “Do you know her first name because it sounds to me like my brother is having it on with Mrs. Robinson and that just doesn’t sit right.”

 

Niall smiled at her and shook his head.

 

“No, can’t help you there. But come on Tirana, something a little bit more substantial.”

 

“Substantial? We’ve known each other for less than a week.” Olta clearly wasn’t too pleased with his current course as Niall saw a flash of annoyance cross her face.

 

He wanted to back paddle right away. He hadn’t meant for Olta to get annoyed with him. He wanted Olta happy, laughing and blushing. Well, he got her blushing but it seemed for the wrong reasons. Niall opened his mouth to start his retraction but Olta never gave him the chance.

 

“Coming from Mr. I-snap-when-someone-asks-me-anything-remotely-personal, I think that’s rather rich.” Okay, so Olta had picked up on that. Right. And she was giving him a very harsh and rather scary look.

 

All right, back paddling and grovelling starting now.

 

“Yeah, okay, see your point. It’s just that Bailey, Al, Peter and I, we go way back and you’re the new kid. Me, not talking about myself is taking for granted. They know enough as it is. You on the other hand, we know nothing about.” Niall smirked. So he wasn’t grovelling but then again he wasn’t used to doing that.

 

Olta’s harshness dissipated and the insecurity returned. She looked at Niall questioningly and was biting her lower lip.

 

Did she know just how absolutely adorable and well, simply hot she looked right now?

 

If it wasn’t for the dull pain in his body and the small technicality of Olta not actually being his girl, he would have leapt over at her and kissed her for everything he was worth. Instead Niall only shifted slightly.

 

“Well then, shoot. But I might take a page from your book though.” Olta said, still sucking on a part of her lip. The slight smirk and the definite spark her eyes, however, told Niall she was daring him.

 

Now all he needed to do was come up with a question. But Olta was rather distracting him at the moment.

 

“Okay, how many boyfriends?”

 

Olta might be all insecure and shy but there was no way in hell that guys in Holland were too blind to see through that.

 

Olta tilted her head to the left as if she didn’t know what to make of the question or of Niall himself. The blush that had never left her face grew darker.

 

“Dinner’s ready!”

 

At Maggie’s voice coming from the hallway Olta leapt up and Niall saw relieve wash over her face. Apparently Dutch boys were that blind. Niall really couldn’t feel too bad about that, quite the opposite actually.

 

Niall carefully rose from the love seat, pain shooting through his body. Seeing Olta’s obvious concern he gave her wry smile. He really didn’t feel too good right now.

 

“Perhaps you should go home.” Olta said softly. “My mother could give you a ride.”

 

Niall shook his head in dismissal. It might be a good idea but it wasn’t particularly fun.

 

He slowly followed Olta out of the room.

 

“Ah, there you two are.” Amanda said as they entered the kitchen. She was standing behind the stove. The scent of the food was mouthwatering and Niall realized he was hungry.

 

“Just take a seat.” Olta said, pointing at the round table in the corner. Taking a seat between Niall and Maggie she continued.

“It’s actually only the second time we’re eating here. Usually we just take our plates and eat in…”

 

“Olta.” Amanda said warningly as she put the plates in front of Niall and Olta. The food looked as delicious as it had smelled. It was steak with what seemed to be stir fried rocket salad.

 

“Mom, honestly you’re obsession with guests finding out we usually eat in front of the telly is getting way out of hand.” Olta said as she took the water pitcher and filled the glasses on the table without asking. Amanda returned to the table with the plates for Maggie and herself. Maggie, meanwhile, had cut up the two loaves of Italian bread that were in the middle of the table.

 

Niallmarvelled at the silent understanding between the women. Niall had never been present to anything like it. Whether it was at home or at his friends’ places, Niall was used to being catered for by the staff. Here Maggie and Olta simply went about their tasks, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

 

“Enjoy.” Amanda said and started on her steak.

 

“You see, my mother here thinks it ‘improper’ and ‘impolite’ to tell guests we usually eat dinner in front of the telly.” Olta said turning to Niall with a sly smile.

 

“Yes, and Papa always said that having family meals together was in no way a guarantee for pleasant or stimulating conversation.” Maggie piped up.

 

An uncomfortable silence settled around the table.

 

As Niall took a bite he didn’t miss the reproachful look Amanda sent Maggie or Maggie’s muffled apology. Olta seemed engrossed in nibbling on her bread.

 

“Niall, have you ever been to Europe?” Amanda asked, just a tad too cheery.

 

“Yes, never to Albania though.” Niall answered.

 

“Shqiperia. The name of the country is Shqiperia. Albanets is only a culture.” Olta corrected absentmindedly. Niall looked at her with a slight confusion.

 

“Olta is a bit of a purist about it.” Amanda explained with a soft smile, ignoring Olta’s scowl. “So where have you been then?”

 

“I’ve been to London last year and to France a couple of years ago.” Niall answered politely.

 

“Ever been to Rome?” Maggie asked. The question was innocent enough but Niall noticed Olta stiffen slightly beside him.

 

Niall shook his head.

 

“Olta has. Just before we came here. With school. She got their whole year kicked out of a church there.”

 

Niall looked at Olta with a slight smirk and raised eyebrows. Getting herself kicked out somewhere was not something he expected Olta to do.

 

Olta gave her sister a dirty look before turning to Niall.

 

“Don’t pay any attention to her. Maggie has an unhealthy need to embellish things. Some idiotic German old folk got us kicked out. I nor my friends had anything to do with it.” She said evenly.

 

Niall kept his eyebrows raised but Olta didn’t get a chance to elaborate.

 

“I so do not embellish.” Maggie all but whined.

 

“How do you say in your language… Stop acting like a brat?” Niall asked. Maggie’s annoying voice kept bothering him. His ear drums were practically bleeding.

 

“Mos u be si idiot!” Olta told her little Brat of a sister. Maggie understood and showed a slight smile.

 

“Sorry.” Niall said.

 

“Look who’s saying sorry a lot.”

 

“I have?” Niall asked, afraid he was turning into Tirana.

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Olta only felt two sensations going through her body. Actually it was only one sensation, originating from two places. Her mouth and cheek tingled and the feeling spread through her entire body.

 

Niall had kissed her. He had kissed her. And she stood in doorway staring after him dumbfounded.

 

It was more like a peck on the lips really and actually not all that different from the pecks Sam and Dean gave her occasionally. But it was Niall who had done the pecking and between the kiss and the caress it was a completely new experience.

 

She liked it, a lot.

 

But it still was only a friendly peck, wasn’t it? Even with his thumb and the look in his eyes. The whole thanks bit had only confirmed that.

 

Niall was grateful to her. For what exactly Olta didn’t know and she didn’t particular care.

 

However, Olta was convinced that Niall did consider her his friend. And he had implied that his other friends considered her such as well. NiallFoy, whose few friends all dated back to primary school had accepted her into their midst within a week.

 

And he had kissed her.

 

It was a kiss out of gratitude, Olta reminded herself. Not unlike those Sam had given her for doing his Greek translations or the ones Dean had given her for explaining the more intricate workings of certain historical processes. And not unlike the ones she had given them for helping her out with any subject which had to do with formulas and numbers.

 

Olta sighed deeply as she resigned herself to the facts. Part of her was elated by the turn of events and part of her was saddened by them. Still, it was better to be friends with Niall than to be just one of the countless girls who made mooneyes at him every time he passed them in the hallways. Now she could just do that while she sat beside him, jolly.

 

Olta smiled as she touched her lips. He had kissed her.

 

“Are you okay?” Olta nearly jumped as she suddenly heard her mother beside her. She looked up at her mother with her index finger still lingering on her lips.

 

Her mother smiled down at her. She wore her understanding smile and Olta withdrew her finger self consciously.

 

“Come on, I think he’s home by now.” Her mother gently tucked Olta’s arm.

 

Olta regained the movement of her limbs and she turned inside and closed the door behind her.

 

“We’ve just put Dr. Strange love on, want to join us?” Olta’s mother asked as they made their way to the living room. Olta shook her head in denial.

 

Then she remembered Maggie’s behaviour during dinner. She had promised not to bring up anything that could be remotely considered embarrassing, which in Olta’s case was everything. Yet she had gone out of her way to try and tell about Olta getting drunk on school parties, Olta’s monumental failures during the Easter Tournament, and Olta being stoned during French class.

 

“No, but I’m going to kill your youngest child. Want to join me?” Olta said with fake cheeriness as she passed her mother into the room.

 

“Now Olta.” Her mother said and Olta stopped in front of the couch. Maggie looked up at her with big innocent eyes but the smug smile she sported gave her away. Olta glared down at her sister as her mother continued.

 

“I think that might be a bit excessive. So no, I don’t want to join you.”

 

Sitting herself down next to Maggie, her mother eyed both her daughters before returning her attention to the movie.

 

“You.” Olta breathed.

 

“Ah, come on. I was not trying to put you down, I was building you up.” Maggie said not taking her eyes of her sister.

 

“Right.” Olta snorted. “And I would believe you because?”

 

“Because I chose to tell cool stories about you. I mean even mamma thought so, didn’t you?” Maggie looked at mother for confirmation.

 

“I wouldn’t say cool but yes, it was funny. Nothing you should try, though, and probably not something to brag about.” Their mother said, not taking her eyes from the screen. Olta gave her sister a smug look.

 

“Too much.” Her mother added and Olta’s smugness faded.

 

They were doing it again, the teaming up against her. Couldn’t they see that there was no such thing as a cool Olta story? Niall apparently liked her enough to be her friend and all this story telling would only destroy that.

 

With a frustrated cry Olta left the room.

 

She went into the reading room and picked up the book she had been reading. Reclining on the sofa she started to read.

 

Three hours later Olta was in bed, wide awake. Trying to sleep turned out to be just as much a waste of time as trying to read had been.

 

Her mind was on the lingering touch on her cheek and lips. Olta imagined it had been more than just a friendly peck. That even if the kiss hadn’t been deepened, it had lasted just a bit too long for an ordinary peck. And then of course there had been his thumb on her face, before, during and after the kiss. She knew she hadn’t imagined that or the look in eyes. Those beautiful eyes. Damn NiallFoy.

 

Olta was awoken by an unfamiliar bleeping sound. Dazed she looked around room trying to determine the origin of the sound. Finally she figured it came from her sitting corner.

 

Getting out of bed the bleeping stopped but Olta figured she might as well check it out.

 

Beside her love seat she found her cell phone. It showed her that she had received one text message and that it was six thirty. Her alarm wouldn’t go off for another half an hour.

 

If this was Maggie’s idea of a joke, she was going to pay dearly. For once Olta had been having very pleasant dreams and she had wanted them to continue just a little longer.

 

The message wasn’t from her sister, though. It was from Niall.

 

‘Rise and Shine, Tirana, Rise and Shine.’

 

Olta sat down on her seat staring at the display.

 

What in the world had possessed him to send her a message? For that matter, how had he gotten her number?

 

Olta smiled as she remembered parts of her dream. Niall had not just been her friend in her dream, oh no. Olta knew this friendship thing was going to be hard, to say the least. But those kind of dreams made it just a little harder.

 

And Niall sending her text messages wasn’t really helping.

 

But there were still the others and if she was indeed considered their friend as well, she might as well start focusing on them instead of Niall.

 

Olta did decide that some pay back was in order, though. Unfortunately she was rather bad at giving it.

 

Getting ready Olta wondered if Niall would pick her up today. She wondered if he could drive at all. Probably not.

 

It wasn’t even seven yet when Olta went downstairs. An idea came to Olta’s mind. She’d have a quick breakfast and walk to school. Getting there early would give her chance to roam the school some more, something she hadn’t been able to do since her first day. Even though she knew her way around well enough, she still needed to familiarize herself more. And the upside was that if Niall did want to give him a ride to school she’d be standing him up. It wasn’t a particular inspired payback but it was payback nonetheless.

 

The school was still virtually deserted. If it wasn’t for the few cars in the parking lot, Olta would have thought she was the first to arrive.

 

Examining the inside of her locker Olta was surprised by the mess she managed to make of it in just one week. She’d thought it would take her at least a fortnight.

 

“Olta, right?”

 

Olta jerked around. Behind her there were a girl and a guy she both knew from a couple of her classes but she couldn’t remember their names. The girl was inconspicuous enough. With her no-nonsense jeans and sweater she reminded Olta very much of herself. The guy was a different matter. His hair was dyed black and he had a lip ring. Olta had seen Niall talking to him on several occasions.

 

“Ehm, yes.” Olta started uncertainly. “I’m sorry, I know your faces, but I can’t remember your names.”

 

“That’s okay. It’s not like we’ve been introduced.” The girl smiled.

 

“I’m Josie and this is Sam.” The girl said, nodding her head back to the guy behind her dismissively.

 

“Hi.” Olta replied smiling a small smile at both of them.

 

“So what brings you around this early?”

 

“Oh, I kind off woke early this morning and decided to roam a little.” Olta said, feeling rather stupid right now.

 

“Figured you could do that all by yourself now, did you?” Sam said eyeing Olta with even look. Josie only rolled her eyes.

 

“Pardon?” Olta asked confused and slightly affronted. Why in the world was he talking to her like she was a toddler?

 

“Didn’t need Niall then, did you?” Sam said by way of an explanation.

 

“To walk? No, I am perfectly in control of my own legs.” Olta retorted. Some people really should learn to mind their own business.

 

Sam chuckled.

 

“See why he likes you.”

 

Olta was starting to get really confused now and looked at Josie questioningly. Josie just shrugged.

 

“What Sam is trying to say in is own unique language is that we are rather surprised to see you around on your own when you’ve been tied to Niall’ hip all week.”

 

“Have you been watching me or something?” Olta asked, a little harsher than she intended.

 

“What did you think? That a new edition to Niall’ group would go by unnoticed? You’re sitting at his table, girl.” Josie said, laughing lightly.

 

“And this is of interest to you, because?” Olta already knew the answer but she needed it to be spelled out. Even though Niall had explained the social structure to her Olta had thought herself a bystander. She really hadn’t given any thought to her own status within the pack. She was a non-entity.

 

“Hello, where have you been? NiallFoy allowed you, some new girl to sit at his table, after knowing you just one day. That gets tongs rolling around here.” Now Josie sounded just a bit exasperated.

 

“Not quick on the uptake, are you?” Olta glared at Sam. Could he be any more condescending? He did have a point though. Apparently she was anything but a non-entity. That was a strange epiphany

 

“Apparently not, no.” Olta shook her head wearily.

 

“Now, this roaming. How about we show all the good spots?” Josie asked. She seemed shy all of a sudden. Sam even gave her a small smile.

 

Surprised but pleased by the offer Olta smiled.

 

“Please do.”

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Niall parked his car in the school parking lot. He took his meds out of his bag and swallowed them down with some discarded Gatorade. Then he banged his head very lightly on his steering wheel. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. But then again, his life just wasn’t going his way.

 

The idea had been simple. Send Olta a text message and pick her up. This would serve several purposes. It would make clear to Olta that his cowardly exit the night before had nothing to do with her. Because after that kiss, which really hadn’t been more than a good peck on her lips, he knew for once and for all that he had it bad, truly bad. Hopefully the message had been able to convey everything he felt about her, even if he hadn’t said in so many words.

 

And then there was the matter of making sure that everybody in school, Daniel first and foremost, understood that Olta was the truly his friend and no longer some sort of assignment. And well, that she was his. Although he figured that was an established fact by now.

 

However, the plan had pretty much been shot out of the water when Olta hadn’t been home.

 

Sandra had clearly been surprised to see him and had informed him that Olta had already left, on foot. Apparently she had assumed that he wouldn’t able to drive.

 

Admittedly, forgoing his meds in favour of driving was a painful affair. Matilda had shaken her head in bemused dismay when he had declined her offer to give him a ride.

 

Tapping on the windshield brought Niall out of his reverie. Looking up he saw Bailey grinning at him broadly.

 

“Didn’t get enough sleep?” Bailey joked, loud enough for Niall to hear him through the window.As Niall looked up at him, Bailey’s face clouded over. He had noticed the bruises.

 

Niall got out of his car slowly. It would a good time for his meds to start kicking in.

 

“We couldn’t agree on a movie.” Niall said without preamble. Bailey looked skeptic.

 

“Sure.” Bailey’s tone amplified his incredulity tenfold. Niall knew the excuse sounded lame but as long as they just went with it, all would be well.

 

“So where is the movie, sorry, Olta then?” Niall winced at the words. Why was everybody being so fucking difficult about it? And why did the guy have to choose today off all days to be astute?

 

“She walked.” Niall snapped. The throbbing pain was incessant, his plan had been foiled, Bailey wasn’t cutting him any slack and he hadn’t even seen Olta or Daniel yet. Today was going to be a bad day.

 

Perhaps he should have taken the good doctors advice and never gotten out of bed.

 

“And she wasn’t supposed to do that, I take it?” Bailey asked lightly. Niall groaned inwardly.

 

“I kissed her.” Again Niall groaned. Now his mouth was committing treason.

 

Bailey stopped dead in his tracks. Niall walked on, trying to pretend he hadn’t said anything.

 

“Oh no, you don’t. You’re going to spill.” Bailey smirked, holding out his arm to prevent Niall from walking along.

 

Niall looked at his friend wearily. He really didn’t want to discuss this or anything else right now. Had he mentioned the fact that this was a very bad day?

 

“Ry, I’m in no mood to discuss my pathetic attempts at getting a girl.” As briskly as possible Niall moved around Bailey’s arm and continued on his way inside. After a few steps Niall turned around. Bailey hadn’t yet moved.

 

“Look, Ry, sorry. But really, not now, okay.” He gives his friend a wry smile.

 

The sympathetic nod Bailey gave him were enough to take the edge of his foul mood. Silently they made their way inside.

 

Niall hadn’t missed the looks he was getting. In his bathroom mirror he had seen just how bad the bruises on his face still were. Hell, they were still there, so they were bad. Before lunch everybody in school would have a theory on how he had gotten them. Throw Olta and the state of Daniel’s face into the mix and all the gossipers were bound to have a field day. He wondered how many theories would be close to hitting the nail on its head. Quite a few, probably.

 

“So, Peter is hkipping first period again?” Niall smirked as he got his things out of his locker. Bailey shrugged but matched his smirk. Right then a girl, who Niall recognized vaguely, walked by and obviously caught Bailey’s eye. She smiled shyly at him and Niall noticed Bailey’s smirk turning into a shy smile as well. Shy and Bailey weren’t usually things that went together. Niall leant into Bailey.

 

“It seems that I’m not the only one who needs to spill.” He said with a knowing smirk of his own.

 

Bailey looked at Niall like he did when he accidentally broken Niall’ favourite Action Man some years ago. It only served to improve his already rapidly mellowing mood. His meds were kicking in, no doubt about that. Now if only Olta would turn up at her locker and life would just be dandy.

 

“It’s nothing.” Niall heard Bailey mutter and now it was Niall’ turn to look skeptic.

 

Just then the bell rang. Niall patted Bailey’s shoulder.

 

“Sure.Whatever you say,man.” And with that Niall took off for Took, unfortunately without Olta by his side.

 

As Niall entered Took’s classroom he spotted Olta immediately as she was chatting amiably with Josie and Alice. It was an odd sight.

 

At seeing Niall enter the classroom both Olta and Alice looked up at him but they’re faces darkened immediately as their gaze moved to something behind him.

 

Niall was knocked forward. Daniel.

 

“Oh, hey bro, didn’t see you there, sorry.” Even if Daniel had actually managed to sound apologetic Niall wouldn’t have cared. As he righted himself he caught his brother’s eye and was shocked by what he saw. Outside of their private encounters, Daniel had never before looked at him with such blatant hatred . But at least his face was bruised too. As Daniel walked over to his seat, he looked from Niall to an unaware Olta and back at Niall again. Niall felt the hairs in the back rise at the small twisted smirk Daniel gave him. Well, let the games begin.

 

Niall gave Olta a small smile as he made his way to his usual table. Just as he was about to his books on the table Alice slipped into the seat.

 

“I think you should take my seat. Too much light isn’t good for eye, slows the healing process.” Alice said in her mothering voice but a wink contradicted it. Niall looked at her confused until he realized that it would mean he’d be sitting behind Olta instead of next to her.

 

“Why, I didn’t know you cared.” He purred with a smile. Alice swatted his arm lightly.

 

Niall turned and took his seat behind Olta. She seemed to have forgotten all about his presence as she was scribbling something on a piece of paper. Niall followed her movements as Olta took the note and leant over to Josie.The girl accepted the note with a grateful smile.

 

Then Olta turned around in her seat and cocked her head at him thoughtfully. Niall only smiled while he regarded her face. A strand of hair which had fallen forward was particularly entrancing.

 

“How are you?” Olta asked. Her voice was laced with concern but there was something else too.

 

“I’m okay.” Olta smiled at his answer.

 

“Good. I thought you might have had a bad night’s sleep.” Now there wasn’t any concern in her voice. Niall saw a twinkle her eye. She was teasing him. He wondered just where she was going with this.

 

“No, I slept very well. Very pleasant dreams, it was a pity to have to wake up, really.” Niall said as he took and twirled the loose strand between his fingers. Olta started to blush but thankfully she didn’t pull away.

 

“Yeah, I slept very well too.” She said with a coy smile and her blush deepened.

 

“Until some git thought it funny to send me a wake-up message, that is.”

 

Niall looked up from his fingers and into Olta’s eyes. He couldn’t help but notice how green they were today.A slight blush creep up. Niall was about to say something bordering an apology but was cut off by their teacher.

 

“Miss Mehmeti and mister NiallFoy, if you two could disentangle yourselves from each other. I really would like start right now.”

 

Olta spun around in her chair and Niall knew she was thoroughly embarrassed right now. Niall wasn’t exactly embarrassed, he felt more proud, relieved and downright giddy. But that was due to the drugs. Niall didn’t do giddy.

 

He leant back in his seat and couldn’t help but grin widely at the girl in front of him.

 

Today was going to be a very good day.

 

Chapter Fifteen

 

Olta only felt two sensations going through her body. Actually it was only one sensation, originating from two places. Her mouth and cheek tingled and the feeling spread through her entire body.

 

Niall had kissed her. He had kissed her. And she stood in doorway staring after him dumbfounded.

 

It was more like a peck on the lips really and actually not all that different from the pecks Sam and Dean gave her occasionally. But it was Niall who had done the pecking and between the kiss and the caress it was a completely new experience.

 

She liked it, a lot.

 

But it still was only a friendly peck, wasn’t it? Even with his thumb and the look in his eyes. The whole thanks bit had only confirmed that.

 

Niall was grateful to her. For what exactly Olta didn’t know and she didn’t particular care.

 

However, Olta was convinced that Niall did consider her his friend. And he had implied that his other friends considered her such as well. NiallFoy, whose few friends all dated back to primary school had accepted her into their midst within a week.

 

And he had kissed her.

 

It was a kiss out of gratitude, Olta reminded herself. Not unlike those Sam had given her for doing his Greek translations or the ones Dean had given her for explaining the more intricate workings of certain historical processes. And not unlike the ones she had given them for helping her out with any subject which had to do with formulas and numbers.

 

Olta sighed deeply as she resigned herself to the facts. Part of her was elated by the turn of events and part of her was saddened by them. Still, it was better to be friends with Niall than to be just one of the countless girls who made moon eyes at him every time he passed them in the hallways. Now she could just do that while she sat beside him, jolly.

 

Olta smiled as she touched her lips. He had kissed her.

 

“Are you okay?” Olta nearly jumped as she suddenly heard her mother beside her. She looked up at her mother with her index finger still lingering on her lips.

 

Her mother smiled down at her. She wore her understanding smile and Olta withdrew her finger self consciously.

 

“Come on, I think he’s home by now.” Her mother gently tucked Olta’s arm.

 

Olta regained the movement of her limbs and she turned inside and closed the door behind her.

 

“We’ve just put Dr. Strangelove on, want to join us?” Olta’s mother asked as they made their way to the living room. Olta shook her head in denial.

 

Then she remembered Maggie’s behaviour during dinner. She had promised not to bring up anything that could be remotely considered embarrassing, which in Olta’s case was everything. Yet she had gone out of her way to try and tell about Olta getting drunk on school parties, Olta’s monumental failures during the Easter Tournament, and Olta being stoned during French class.

 

“No, but I’m going to kill your youngest child. Want to join me?” Olta said with fake cheeriness as she passed her mother into the room.

 

“Now Olta.” Her mother said and Olta stopped in front of the couch. Maggie looked up at her with big innocent eyes but the smug smile she sported gave her away. Olta glared down at her sister as her mother continued.

 

“I think that might be a bit excessive. So no, I don’t want to join you.”

 

Sitting herself down next to Maggie, her mother eyed both her daughters before returning her attention to the movie.

 

“You.” Olta breathed.

 

“Ah, come on. I was not trying to put you down, I was building you up.” Maggie said not taking her eyes of her sister.

 

“Right.” Olta snorted. “And I would believe you because?”

 

“Because I chose to tell cool stories about you. I mean even mamma thought so, didn’t you?” Maggie looked at mother for confirmation.

 

“I wouldn’t say cool but yes, it was funny. Nothing you should try, though, and probably not something to brag about.” Their mother said, not taking her eyes from the screen. Olta gave her sister a smug look.

 

“Too much.” Her mother added and Olta’s smugness faded.

 

They were doing it again, the teaming up against her. Couldn’t they see that there was no such thing as a cool Olta story? Niall apparently liked her enough to be her friend and all this story telling would only destroy that.

 

With a frustrated cry Olta left the room.

 

She went into the reading room and picked up the book she had been reading. Reclining on the sofa she started to read.

 

Three hours later Olta was in bed, wide awake. Trying to sleep turned out to be just as much a waste of time as trying to read had been.

 

Her mind was on the lingering touch on her cheek and lips. Olta imagined it had been more than just a friendly peck. That even if the kiss hadn’t been deepened, it had lasted just a bit too long for an ordinary peck. And then of course there had been his thumb on her face, before, during and after the kiss. She knew she hadn’t imagined that or the look in eyes. Those beautiful eyes. Damn NiallFoy.

 

Olta was awoken by an unfamiliar bleeping sound. Dazed she looked around room trying to determine the origin of the sound. Finally she figured it came from her sitting corner.

 

Getting out of bed the bleeping stopped but Olta figured she might as well check it out.

 

Beside her love seat she found her cell phone. It showed her that she had received one text message and that it was six thirty. Her alarm wouldn’t go off for another half an hour.

 

If this was Maggie’s idea of a joke, she was going to pay dearly. For once Olta had been having very pleasant dreams and she had wanted them to continue just a little longer.

 

The message wasn’t from her sister, though. It was from Niall.

 

‘Rise and Shine, Tirana, Rise and Shine.’

 

Olta sat down on her seat staring at the display.

 

What in the world had possessed him to send her a message? For that matter, how had he gotten her number?

 

Olta smiled as she remembered parts of her dream. Niall had not just been her friend in her dream, oh no. Olta knew this friendship thing was going to be hard, to say the least. But those kind of dreams made it just a little harder.

 

And Niall sending her text messages wasn’t really helping.

 

But there were still the others and if she was indeed considered their friend as well, she might as well start focusing on them instead of Niall.

 

Olta did decide that some pay back was in order, though. Unfortunately she was rather bad at giving it.

 

Getting ready Olta wondered if Niall would pick her up today. She wondered if he could drive at all. Probably not.

 

It wasn’t even seven yet when Olta went downstairs. An idea came to Olta’s mind. She’d have a quick breakfast and walk to school. Getting there early would give her chance to roam the school some more, something she hadn’t been able to do since her first day. Even though she knew her way around well enough, she still needed to familiarize herself more. And the upside was that if Niall did want to give him a ride to school she’d be standing him up. It wasn’t a particular inspired payback but it was payback nonetheless.

 

The school was still virtually deserted. If it wasn’t for the few cars in the parking lot, Olta would have thought she was the first to arrive.

 

Examining the inside of her locker Olta was surprised by the mess she managed to make of it in just one week. She’d thought it would take her at least a fortnight.

 

“Olta, right?”

 

Olta jerked around. Behind her there were a girl and a guy she both knew from a couple of her classes but she couldn’t remember their names. The girl was inconspicuous enough. With her no-nonsense jeans and sweater she reminded Olta very much of herself. The guy was a different matter. His hair was dyed black and he had a lip ring. Olta had seen Niall talking to him on several occasions.

 

“Ehm, yes.” Olta started uncertainly. “I’m sorry, I know your faces, but I can’t remember your names.”

 

“That’s okay. It’s not like we’ve been introduced.” The girl smiled.

 

“I’m Josie and this is Sam.” The girl said, nodding her head back to the guy behind her dismissively.

 

“Hi.” Olta replied smiling a small smile at both of them.

 

“So what brings you around this early?”

 

“Oh, I kind off woke early this morning and decided to roam a little.” Olta said, feeling rather stupid right now.

 

“Figured you could do that all by yourself now, did you?” Sam said eyeing Olta with even look. Josie only rolled her eyes.

 

“Pardon?” Olta asked confused and slightly affronted. Why in the world was he talking to her like she was a toddler?

 

“Didn’t need Niall then, did you?” Sam said by way of an explanation.

 

“To walk? No, I am perfectly in control of my own legs.” Olta retorted. Some people really should learn to mind their own business.

 

Sam chuckled.

 

“See why he likes you.”

 

Olta was starting to get really confused now and looked at Josie questioningly. Josie just shrugged.

 

“What Sam is trying to say in is own unique language is that we are rather surprised to see you around on your own when you’ve been tied to Niall’ hip all week.”

 

“Have you been watching me or something?” Olta asked, a little harsher than she intended.

 

“What did you think? That a new edition to Niall’ group would go by unnoticed? You’re sitting at his table, girl.” Josie said, laughing lightly.

 

“And this is of interest to you, because?” Olta already knew the answer but she needed it to be spelled out. Even though Niall had explained the social structure to her Olta had thought herself a bystander. She really hadn’t given any thought to her own status within the pack. She was a non-entity.

 

“Hello, where have you been? NiallFoy allowed you, some new girl to sit at his table, after knowing you just one day. That gets tongs rolling around here.” Now Josie sounded just a bit exasperated.

 

“Not quick on the uptake, are you?” Olta glared at Sam. Could he be any more condescending? He did have a point though. Apparently she was anything but a non-entity. That was a strange epiphany

 

“Apparently not, no.” Olta shook her head wearily.

 

“Now, this roaming. How about we show all the good spots?” Josie asked. She seemed shy all of a sudden. Sam even gave her a small smile.

 

Surprised but pleased by the offer Olta smiled.

 

“Please do.”

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Niall parked his car in the school parking lot. He took his meds out of his bag and swallowed them down with some discarded Gatorade. Then he banged his head very lightly on his steering wheel. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. But then again, his life just wasn’t going his way.

 

The idea had been simple. Send Olta a text message and pick her up. This would serve several purposes. It would make clear to Olta that his cowardly exit the night before had nothing to do with her. Because after that kiss, which really hadn’t been more than a good peck on her lips, he knew for once and for all that he had it bad, truly bad. Hopefully the message had been able to convey everything he felt about her, even if he hadn’t said in so many words.

 

And then there was the matter of making sure that everybody in school, Daniel first and foremost, understood that Olta was the truly his friend and no longer some sort of assignment. And well, that she was his. Although he figured that was an established fact by now.

 

However, the plan had pretty much been shot out of the water when Olta hadn’t been home.

 

Sandra had clearly been surprised to see him and had informed him that Olta had already left, on foot. Apparently she had assumed that he wouldn’t able to drive.

 

Admittedly, forgoing his meds in favour of driving was a painful affair. Matilda had shaken her head in bemused dismay when he had declined her offer to give him a ride.

 

Tapping on the windshield brought Niall out of his reverie. Looking up he saw Bailey grinning at him broadly.

 

“Didn’t get enough sleep?” Bailey joked, loud enough for Niall to hear him through the window.As Niall looked up at him, Bailey’s face clouded over. He had noticed the bruises.

 

Niall got out of his car slowly. It would a good time for his meds to start kicking in.

 

“We couldn’t agree on a movie.” Niall said without preamble. Bailey looked skeptic.

 

“Sure.” Bailey’s tone amplified his incredulity tenfold. Niall knew the excuse sounded lame but as long as they just went with it, all would be well.

 

“So where is the movie, sorry, Olta then?” Niall winced at the words. Why was everybody being so fucking difficult about it? And why did the guy have to choose today off all days to be astute?

 

“She walked.” Niall snapped. The throbbing pain was incessant, his plan had been foiled, Bailey wasn’t cutting him any slack and he hadn’t even seen Olta or Daniel yet. Today was going to be a bad day.

 

Perhaps he should have taken the good doctors advice and never gotten out of bed.

 

“And she wasn’t supposed to do that, I take it?” Bailey asked lightly. Niall groaned inwardly.

 

“I kissed her.” Again Niall groaned. Now his mouth was committing treason.

 

Bailey stopped dead in his tracks. Niall walked on, trying to pretend he hadn’t said anything.

 

“Oh no, you don’t. You’re going to spill.” Bailey smirked, holding out his arm to prevent Niall from walking along.

 

Niall looked at his friend wearily. He really didn’t want to discuss this or anything else right now. Had he mentioned the fact that this was a very bad day?

 

“Ry, I’m in no mood to discuss my pathetic attempts at getting a girl.” As briskly as possible Niall moved around Bailey’s arm and continued on his way inside. After a few steps Niall turned around. Bailey hadn’t yet moved.

 

“Look, Ry, sorry. But really, not now, okay.” He gives his friend a wry smile.

 

The sympathetic nod Bailey gave him were enough to take the edge of his foul mood. Silently they made their way inside.

 

Niall hadn’t missed the looks he was getting. In his bathroom mirror he had seen just how bad the bruises on his face still were. Hell, they were still there, so they were bad. Before lunch everybody in school would have a theory on how he had gotten them. Throw Olta and the state of Daniel’s face into the mix and all the gossipers were bound to have a field day. He wondered how many theories would be close to hitting the nail on its head. Quite a few, probably.

 

“So, Peter and Alice skipping first period again?” Niall smirked as he got his things out of his locker. Bailey shrugged but matched his smirk. Right then a girl, who Niall recognized vaguely, walked by and obviously caught Bailey’s eye. She smiled shyly at him and Niall noticed Bailey’s smirk turning into a shy smile as well. Shy and Bailey weren’t usually things that went together. Niall leant into Bailey.

 

“It seems that I’m not the only one who needs to spill.” He said with a knowing smirk of his own.

 

Bailey looked at Niall like he did when he accidentally broken Niall’s favourite Action Man some years ago. It only served to improve his already rapidly mellowing mood. His meds were kicking in, no doubt about that. Now if only Olta would turn up at her locker and life would just be dandy.

 

“It’s nothing.” Niall heard Bailey mutter and now it was Niall’ turn to look skeptic.

 

Just then the bell rang. Niall patted Bailey’s shoulder.

 

“Sure.Whatever you say,man.” And with that Niall took off for Took, unfortunately without Olta by his side.

 

As Niall entered Took’s classroom he spotted Olta immediately as she was chatting amiably with Josie and Alice. It was an odd sight.

 

At seeing Niall enter the classroom both Olta and Alice looked up at him but they’re faces darkened immediately as their gaze moved to something behind him.

 

Niall was knocked forward. Daniel.

 

“Oh, hey bro, didn’t see you there, sorry.” Even if Daniel had actually managed to sound apologetic Niall wouldn’t have cared. As he righted himself he caught his brother’s eye and was shocked by what he saw. Outside of their private encounters, Daniel had never before looked at him with such blatant hatred . But at least his face was bruised too. As Daniel walked over to his seat, he looked from Niall to an unaware Olta and back at Niall again. Niall felt the hairs in the back rise at the small twisted smirk Daniel gave him. Well, let the games begin.

 

Niall gave Olta a small smile as he made his way to his usual table. Just as he was about to his books on the table Alice slipped into the seat.

 

“I think you should take my seat. Too much light isn’t good for eye, slows the healing process.” Alice said in her mothering voice but a wink contradicted it. Niall looked at her confused until he realized that it would mean he’d be sitting behind Olta instead of next to her.

 

“Why, I didn’t know you cared.” He purred with a smile. Alice swatted his arm lightly.

 

Niall turned and took his seat behind Olta. She seemed to have forgotten all about his presence as she was scribbling something on a piece of paper. Niall followed her movements as Olta took the note and leant over to Josie.The girl accepted the note with a grateful smile.

 

Then Olta turned around in her seat and cocked her head at him thoughtfully. Niall only smiled while he regarded her face. A strand of hair which had fallen forward was particularly entrancing.

 

“How are you?” Olta asked. Her voice was laced with concern but there was something else too.

 

“I’m okay.” Olta smiled at his answer.

 

“Good. I thought you might have had a bad night’s sleep.” Now there wasn’t any concern in her voice. Niall saw a twinkle her eye. She was teasing him. He wondered just where she was going with this.

 

“No, I slept very well. Very pleasant dreams, it was a pity to have to wake up, really.” Niall said as he took and twirled the loose strand between his fingers. Olta started to blush but thankfully she didn’t pull away.

 

“Yeah, I slept very well too.” She said with a coy smile and her blush deepened.

 

“Until some git thought it funny to send me a wake-up message, that is.”

 

Niall looked up from his fingers and into Olta’s eyes. He couldn’t help but notice how green they were today.A slight blush creep up. Niall was about to say something bordering an apology but was cut off by their teacher.

 

“Miss Mehmeti and mister NiallFoy, if you two could disentangle yourselves from each other. I really would like start right now.”

 

Olta spun around in her chair and Niall knew she was thoroughly embarrassed right now. Niall wasn’t exactly embarrassed, he felt more proud, relieved and downright giddy. But that was due to the drugs. Niall didn’t do giddy.

 

He leant back in his seat and couldn’t help but grin widely at the girl in front of him.

 

Today was going to be a very good day.

 

Chapter Sixteen

 

Niall took a deep breath.

 

“Once upon a time there was this only son of a very wealthy and important member of society. This man lived in New York and worked for one of the family businesses. Life was good . Then one day he met this girl in the park. It was love at first sight and for a while they were blissfully happy. Life was wonderful. But the love they shared wasn’t enough. They were from different worlds. When their families found out, they were forced to break it off. Or rather the girl was shipped of to Europe and disappeared for quite some time. The man was left behind, heartbroken and feeling betrayed. He thought that she hadn’t cared enough to stay and fight for what they had.”

 

Niall paused for a moment wondering whether this had been good idea. He hadn’t thought that telling everything would prove to be so difficult. Even in this overly detached manner it still proved hard. A small squeeze in his elbow, however, reassured him to continue.

 

“Meanwhile the man’s father was getting anxious. He wasn’t getting any younger and the mansion in which he lived was starting to feel like a mausoleum for the living. So he introduced his son to the daughter of an equally wealthy and important family. Actually they already knew each other. She was a friend of both him and the girl. The man and the woman cared for each other very deeply.The man figured he had lost the one love of his life and the woman admitted that she might be in love with the man. So out of familial duty and hope they decided to get married. The man’s father was overjoyed and had them move into the mansion. He hoped that the mansion would come alive with sound of children soon enough. And indeed, after only a few short months of marriage the woman found herself pregnant. Again life was good. Then, one day, the man ran into the girl who had broken his heart. She had been well and was now engaged. But there were a lot of things unsaid between them and the two ex-lovers engaged in a one-day affair to put the past behind them. The man confessed everything to his wife as he came home and promised her that it would be a one time deal. She forgave him and called their meeting serendipity. The wife then knew for sure that her husband did love her but would always be in love with the girl.”

 

Again Niall paused. His voice had started to falter.

 

“Two months later, however, the girl showed up at the mansion, distraught. The wife was home alone. The attempt to put the past behind them had backfired severely. The girl had ended up pregnant. She knew for a fact that her old lover was the father for she hadn’t seen her fiancé in months. When her family had discovered they had cast her out, saying she was a disgrace to the family. The girl swore to the wife that she hadn’t meant for any of it to happen and that she had come to them as a last resort. The wife assured the girl that things would work out just fine. She called it serendipity. The wife brought the girl to a hotel and set about to deal with this situation. They were both pregnant by the same man and now the girl had nowhere to turn to. According to the wife the solution was very simple, if a little problematic. The girl would just have to move in with them. The only true problem was that her father-in-law would probably never agree to such an arrangement. Surprisingly enough, it only took her husband and herself two weeks before the man begrudgingly agreed. The wife had been happy with the girl in the house. The three of them had been friends before and they managed to be friends again. The grandfather to be, however, called the whole deal an abomination and withdrew himself in a secluded part of the mansion. Four months later the wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Soon after complications arose with the girl’s pregnancy and on New Years Eve she had to be rushed to the hospital. The doctors managed to deliver the baby safely but the girl never made it.”

 

By now Niall was a little hoarse. He looked down at Olta.

 

Sometime during his monologue she had turned around. Both her arms squashed between his side and her chest. She had teary eyes but the look she gave him was soothing and consoling. It didn’t surprise him. Olta had this way of calming him. That was if she wasn’t making him feel like an incompetent nervous idiot.

 

For a moment he wondered if his mother had had such an effect on his father. What exactly had been the difference between his father’s feelings for his mother and Victoria? Their marriage had been a truly good one. Niall didn’t think he was looking back on his childhood through rose coloured glasses. There was little cause for it.

 

Suddenly Olta’s eyes were so close that he could see the blue rim around her irises. To his amazement Niall felt her kiss him lightly on the lips while keeping her eyes locked on his. Stunned, Niall didn’t react. And almost too late he noticed the glimpse of dejection in her eyes as she moved back to lie down him.

 

Before Olta could reposition herself, Niall flipped them over. Pain washed through his body at this sudden movement but he ignored it. Planting his hands on either side of her upper body and hovering above it Niall looked down.

 

Olta looked slightly shocked but it was mingled with sadness and his favourite mixture of knowledge and insecurity. And of course she was blushing. Niall couldn’t suppress a stupid grin from breaking through. This was his girl, his Tirana, his Olta.

 

So what if he was getting a little territorial.

 

Again he realized that the balance of knowledge between the two of them was skewed to her advantage. She was about to know the innermost secrets of his life and here he was with little to no knowledge of hers. Since their conversation that last Sunday he, and the others, had pried but Olta had not been forthcoming. Oh sure, when it came to inconsequential superficialities or facts and fables about Holland, sorry the Albania, she was a fountain. But when it came down to it she was just like him.

 

She wasn’t going to get away with it though, she might stall it a little longer but then it would be her turn.

 

Right now, however, it was time to enjoy the intermission.

 

This time his kiss wasn’t tentative, it was a possessive kiss. A kiss to make clear just how much he cherished her. Because, gods above, he was falling and he was falling hard. Maybe he was already there.

 

And what a kiss it was. That first kiss hadn’t been a fluke; it had only been an appetizer.

 

Contrary to his previous thinking, kissing was truly an excellent way to spend the time. Niall felt he could do this forever.

 

And breathing was a true spoil sport. On the other hand,a thoroughly kissed Olta was a sight to behold. Just looking at her was something Niall could do forever too.

 

His arms were starting to complain about the weight and Niall gave Olta a quick peck on her lips before he lay back down. Instead of snuggling up to him, Olta turned on her side, facing Niall and resting her head on her hands. Niall matched her pose, only one of his hands somehow got busy playing with her hair. His hands really liked her hair.

 

“What happened to the baby?” Olta asked softly.

 

Niall sighed. Playtime was over, time to move on with the story.

 

“Well, after the girl had died both the man and his wife mourned. The man’s father however was almost pleased with the girl’s death. He said that it was a good that it ended the way it did. Now they could give the child away, to the girl’s family or to an adoptive family and none would be the wiser. The Foy name wouldn’t befall anymore harm. You see, nobody knew the whole truth about the situation. They knew that the girl was a friend and some people knew of the history between the man and the girl. But nobody knew that the man was the father. It wasn’t that the man hadn’t wanted to tell the truth but the wife and the girl had insisted on keeping things silent. For the time being anyway. However, during their pregnancy the women and the man had discussed several possible scenarios for how to proceed after the babies were born. And when the complications arose the girl had insisted that they also worked out something in case she’d might not make it. But both the wife and the man refused to discuss the possibility of death. Now it was never a point of discussion for the man that he would acknowledge the baby. It was his after all. The wife decided that the only sensible course of action would be for her to adopt the child. Against the express wishes of the grandfather they did just that. The wife and the man accepted, loved and cared for both boys, never making a difference between the two. And they lived happily ever after. The end.”

 

Niall said, smiling wryly. If only that had been the truth.

 

Olta raised her eyebrows at him but said nothing. Instead, she gave him another soft kiss. If this was her way of comforting him, well then she could just comfort away.

 

“Now tell me the epilogue to this tale of sadness.” Niall quirked an eyebrow at Olta’s phrasing. Wasn’t it Bart Simpson who had said something like that?

 

But true, it was a sad tale and there was no happily ever after.

 

“Right, okay. Now I’ve never told anybody about most of this, just like nobody knows the truth of the situation. Even Peter, Bailey have only heard bits and pieces and they were around for most of it. So just bear with me, okay?” Olta nodded.

 

“Right, well Daniel could never deal with having to share Victoria’s and father’s or anybody’s attention for that matter. Matilda told me once that when he was about six months he started to notice that I was around as well. As soon as anybody would give attention to me he’d start wailing. Eventually even going as far as to get angry at someone who had been giving me attention. Now, after a couple of months they all wised up to this so it didn’t work anymore. But Daniel quickly adapted and became more manipulative in his tactics to get attention and more importantly to make sure I got less. And he was good at it. He would use different tactics. And not all of them were to my disadvantage. Sometimes he’d make deals with me. For instance I could play with some of his favourite toys if I gave up on a bed time story. But even as toddlers and in kindergarten he would occasionally use violence against me. Well I don’t remember as toddlers but I do have early memories of a violent Daniel. Actually I’ve a lot of those, period.”

 

Niall let out a humourless laugh.

 

“Anyway, We didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until one time in class that because of some stupid reason Daniel got angry with me. In front the entire class he called me a bastard for the first time. You know what it means, right?” Olta nodded.

 

“Same word in Dutch. Except for an extra a. So he meant that literally then?”

 

“What?” Niall asked, unsure for a moment what Olta was referring to. Right, of course, it had been tossed around during the last dance.

 

“Oh yes, it’s his favourite. He likes to rub it in. But at the time I didn’t have a clue what he was on about. The teacher did, of course, but she thought he was just calling me names. So she scolded Daniel and he yelled that Mommy wasn’t my mommy and that grandfather had told him so. I felt like the whole world had just been pulled from its axes.”

 

Niall paused again. It still hurt. It had been the first time Daniel had spoken with that now trademark spite and evil glint in his eyes.

 

“The teacher informed Victoria and father of the incident and that night Victoria came to my room and explained the story as best she could. It was the first time she told me the story, albeit a much simpler version. She made it very clear that she loved me very much and that nothing would ever change that and that she would always be my mother.”

 

Niall breathed deeply and Olta gave him a soft smile.

 

“But Daniel had other ideas. He told me I couldn’t call Victoria mommy anymore. I, of course, didn’t care for it. Even though I had gotten curious about my real mother, Victoria was still my mommy. So I didn’t stop. Daniel was stupid enough to throw a tantrum about it in front of father one time. I have never, to this day, seen my father that angry. It shocked Daniel into obedience for a couple of months. He didn’t even dare threaten me about it behind their backs.”

 

Niall briefly chuckled at the memory of Daniel’s ashy white face after their father was done.

 

“However, things weren’t meant to last. By the time we were in second grade Daniel had decided that Victoria and the Foy legacy were rightfully his. That last part wasn’t his own idea. Our beloved grandfather, who still lived in a secluded part of the house doted on Daniel but despised me, he simply denied my existence. Daniel adored his grandfather and I’ve no doubt that’s where his ideas on family pride and honour come from. Simply because I know father loathes the whole concept. He’s a bit hypocritical about it, though, but that’s beside the point. Anyways where was I?”

 

Niall tried to refocus. He noticed he was getting tired and his throat was slightly parched. But he was getting to the end and he wanted it over with. Dragging out this painful trip down memory lane really wasn’t fun anymore. He felt his eyes tear up. Now that was one thing he was not going to do. Telling her pretty much everything, okay, but crying in front of Olta wasn’t on his to do list. Ever.

 

“Right, so Daniel became obsessed with this idea of doing the family name proud and keeping me away from Victoria. Victoria became an issue we fought over, again and again. She wasn’t my mother. I’m nothing but a bastard son who never was entitled to her love and affection or worthy of the Niall’s name. Shit like that. And slowly but surely it became a ritual. By the time we were ten we would get into a fight about every month and every month we would get in trouble at home over it. We’d both keep our mouths shut about it. Daniel because he didn’t want a repeat of father’s anger and I well,didn’t want hurt Victoria’s feelings.

 

Daniel would use an assortment of more, shall we say subversive techniques to get me so riled up that I would actually fight him. But to the parents we became two unruly brothers who just didn’t get along. Finally father flat out forbade any violence between us. That of course didn’t stop us. We simply started to avoid doing visible damage. Then Victoria got sick and died. Daniel blames me for it. I don’t know why. All I know is that ever since he finds reasons, however small or insignificant, which will let him take his anger out on me by any means possible. And guess what, I hate him for it.”

 

Niall gave Olta another wry smile. He felt a couple of tears running down his cheek. Fuck, why couldn’t things just go his way. Just this once.

 

Olta shuffled closer to him and kissed him softly. But she wasn’t kissing his lips. She was kissing his tears away. That felt pretty good actually. Maybe breaking down in front of his Tirana wasn’t so bad after all.

 

He let Olta placate him with another couple of kisses before pulled her into a fervent kiss. God, he could really get used to this. It even took him a couple of moments to realize that tears were still running down his face.

 

He drew back quickly to wipe the tears from his face.

 

“That picture in your bedroom, is it..” Olta asked in a shaky voice, wiping away a missed tear from his cheek.

 

Niall knew instantly which picture she was talking about. He only had the one. Niall nodded with Olta’s hand still on his cheek.

 

“They were beautiful.”

 

Niall smiled sadly and leant down to kiss Olta’s forehead.

 

“That they were.” Niall said before kissing Olta’s cheek. He slipped his arm underneath her so he could pull her closer.

 

“Do you miss her?” Olta seemed unperturbed by his latest move. She caressed his cheek lightly.

 

“Yes, I do. Just like Daniel does.” Olta nodded and Niall knew she had caught his meaning. Daniel might be a sick psycho but he had loved his mother very much. It was the only reason Niall had some understanding for him.

 

“What happened to your grandfather?”

 

Olta hand moved to his hair before she withdrew it.

 

“Oh, he died a year after Victoria. Cardiac arrest.” Niall kissed Olta lightly on the lips and drew back again.

 

“Tirana, you’re asking far too many questions. I just told you everything and you still have questions?” Niall said with mock sternness as he tapped her nose lightly.

 

“Oh but I have. But I’m just full of questions; you know being the studious kind and all.” Olta said playfully but then she turned serious.

 

“Thank you for telling me.” Niall heard in her voice and saw the sincerity in her eyes.

 

“Thanks for listening.” Niall said in all seriousness before returning to his mock sternness.

 

“Now I appreciate that you’ve been such an attentive audience but now it’s your turn Tirana. Time to give up some give up something substantial.”

 

Niall realized too late the double entendre in his last words. He expected Olta to look up at him with mock resentment or maybe true indignation but she was still serious. She hadn’t picked up on it. Good.

 

“True, I do owe you a story myself. But not tonight, alright? I think we’ve had enough for one night.” Niall was surprised by the solemn tone in Olta’s voice. This didn’t bode well for the story she was going to tell him. No of course it doesn’t, you stupid ass, Niall screamed at himself silently, her father died not too long ago.

 

Outwardly Niall only nodded.

 

“I didn’t mean tonight. I think we’re done for tonight. What time is it anyway?” Niall said trying to suppress a yawn.

 

“It’s six thirty. My mother won’t be home for another hour. We could go downstairs and get something to drink and to eat. Maybe put a movie in. What do you think?” Olta said as she too tried to not yawn.

 

They smiled sheepishly at each other.

 

“That might not be such a bad idea. But first I’d like to steal another kiss from my girl.”

 

Niall drew Olta’s face closer to him and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips. Closing his eyes he murmured against her lips.

 

“You are my girl, aren’t you, Tirana?”

 

The silence was killing him.

 

“Yes, Niall, I do believe I am.”

 

Niall could feel her smile against his lips and he kissed her again. Passionately, urgently and possessively.

 

Life was wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPERT FROM MILLIONAIRE PICKS BILLIONAIRES

(THE SEQUEL)

 

 

Chapter One

 

Life was wonderful. Absolutely, undeniably, marvellously so. As was Niall, by the way. Niall was even better than life. Because Niall had told her he liked her. Liked her like he had never liked a girl before.

 

Olta hoped that he’d be on his medication a little while longer, because she was sure that was what had made him say it.

 

Because a drug-induced altered state of mind had to be the cause for Niallbehaviour. They had lowered his defenses and had made him more affectionate. It was perfectly acceptable explanation.

 

Not that Olta was complaining, Lord no. Last night would be a moment she knew she’d always treasure. The way he had opened up to her and the way that he had touched, looked and held her. Like she was truly someone special.

 

But she had to be realistic and face the fact that Niall current affectionate state wouldn’t last long. Sooner or later he was to come back to himself and realize just who he had been lavishing his affections on. Until then, however, Olta was going to savor every single moment of it.

 

Because Niall’ hands on her hips and his peppered kisses everywhere on her face, well that was something she could get used to and it made her forget all her worries. It made her forget everything.

 

Olta had always discarded stories about kissing and electricity and fireworks. Her experiences so far were more along the lines of repulsion and disgust. But after Niall she had to admit that she had been wrong. God, even the slightest touch of his finger caused her body to tingle, let alone his the way his lips and tongue made her feel.

 

“Finally!” Olta heard Alice’s voice echoing through the hallway and somewhat embarrassed she tried to push Niall away. Niall wasn’t being cooperative, though. He merely chuckled lightly.

 

“Just. One. More.” He said between the butterfly kisses and chuckles before returning to her lips. He planted a soft kiss on them before stepping aside, giving her an mischievous smile. Wanting to avoid Alice as long as possible Olta ducked into her locker to gather her books.

 

“You know we were discussing whether we should lock you two in a room together already. But thank god the two of you figured it out.” Alice said excitedly and Olta could hear her smile.

 

That was the only hitch with her drug-induced euphoria theory. It seemed everyone was on it. Including Olta herself.

 

Maybe she was still sleeping, in which case she really didn’t want to hear her alarm clock just yet.

 

Olta closed her locker and looked up into the indeed very bright smile of Alice. She was positively beaming.

 

“Right, I’m only going to say this once, so listen up.” Alice said and all of sudden she seemed to be channeling Mrs. Husk. Her smile had vanished instantly.

 

“You hurt him, you’ll regret the day you were born.” Alice said giving Olta a pointed look. Olta eyes widened. Alice didn’t seem to be kidding. Then she turned to Niall with the same look.

 

“You hurt her, I’ll have Peter and Ry make you regret the day you were born. So just do us all a favor and don’t hurt each other.” Alice gave Niall the same look and Niall gulped audibly.

 

He gave Olta a weak apologetic smile and opened his mouth but before he could say anything Alice had grabbed Olta’s hand.

 

“Now I’m going to steal her for a moment. We’ll be right back.”

 

And with that Olta was pulled in the direction of the girl’s room. Olta only hoped Alice wasn’t going to press Olta to spill because Olta wouldn’t know what to tell her.

 

“Sorry about that but that just was a little well deserved pay back.” Alice said as they walked into the rest room. Olta gave her a questioning look but Alice ignored her.

 

“Now about tonight. What time does your mother expect us?”

 

Olta needed a moment to recall what Alice was talking about.

 

“I think she just figured you’d come along straight out of school. If that’s alright with you guys?”

 

Olta said timidly. She had completely forgotten about her mother using David’s arrival as a sort of general introduction evening for all her children’s friends.

 

“Sure, cool. You know I’m really excited to meet your family. It’s silly I know but I’m just really curious. Like do you wear wooden shoes around the house and stuff like that.” Olta decided that Alice couldn’t possibly be serious and just nodded.

 

“But anyways, is your costume ready for tomorrow?”

 

Actually Alice’s famous Halloween party and David’s arrival were the reason for tonight’s get-together. For the past two years Alice had been throwing a Halloween party and by the sound of it, it was one of the most important social events of the year. When Olta had been invited last week she hadn’t paid any heed to it. But as Alice had started nagging her about her costume Olta had realized that she had been serious.

 

And now her mother had found the perfect excuses for having Olta invite her new friends.

 

“No, everything should be arriving tonight.” Olta said, smiling to herself.

 

She had considered several costumes. Going like a parody of a red-light district prostitute had been one of them but she been too much of a coward to even think that one out properly. No, she had opted to go for something a bit more respectable. And John had just the thing in her wardrobe. Now wasn’t Olta just lucky that she had a personal courier service at her disposal.

 

“Oh, will you just tell me. I mean the way you’re keeping a lit on it; you’re building the suspense far too much.” Alice pleaded.

 

“No, I won’t tell you. But if you’re nice and lay of the threats I might give you a peek tonight.” Olta said playfully and Alice brightened at the idea.

 

“Okay, no more threats, got it. Be better get back, Niall will want to walk you to class.” Alice said her bright smile in place once again.

 

Now that Olta didn’t understand. They all had Math their first period, wouldn’t they be going there together anyways? Olta shrugged.

 

“You know.” Olta heard Alice say behind her as the walked out of the restroom.

 

“He likes you. As in really, really likes you.” She looked up at Alice and noted that she wasn’t joking even if she was smiling. Olta smiled shyly. She hoped against hope that Alice was right.

 

As they returned to her locker Niall was leaning against it. Peter and Bailey had arrived and were talking but Niall wasn’t paying attention to them. Instead he was staring into her direction with a small smile on his face. When he spotted her his smile widened and Olta could swear she saw his eyes lit up.

 

Olta joined him keeping some distance between them. She was unsure about how to act. Sure, only a couple of moments ago he had her pretty much pinned against her locker but the corridor had gotten a lot more busy during her absence.

 

Niall, however, looked at her oddly for a moment before putting his arm around her waist lightly and pulling her closer. It was then that the Bailey and Peter noticed Olta and they both gave her almost identical sly smiles.

 

“Sorry to hear that we won’t be locking you two up. Would’ve made a good story.” Peter said with a grin as he drew Alice to his side. And did Bailey just give her a wink?

 

There was something to be said for everyone being on meds or for her to be still dreaming. Whichever one it was that was causing her life to be momentarily wonderful.

 

They were the last to arrive in class and Olta noticed Daniel and Jason sitting in their usual spots at the back. Daniel looked up at them and Olta felt the unpleasant but unfortunately familiar shiver run down her spine as their eyes locked for a second. Niall’ small squeeze in her side, however, displaced the sensation immediately. Another small squeeze and Niall let her go so they could to go their respective places.

 

As Olta got her seat she heard Niall speak and looking over her shoulder she saw he wasn’t anywhere near his seat.

 

He was standing next to Daniel and he was slapping him on the back.

 

“Thanks, bro. You really put in a good word for me. I owe you one.” He didn’t even sound sarcastic or malicious, he sounded …happy and sincere. Was Niall taunting Daniel?

 

Olta didn’t miss the way Daniel’s eyes darkened but he showed no other signs of his irritation.

 

“Anytime, bro. Anything to make you happy.” Okay, and the Oscars go to.

 

Olta turned to the others to see what they were making of it. She caught Bailey’s eye and he shook his head at her with his eyebrows raised and shrugged. He was just as clueless as she was.

 

Niall sauntered to his seat looking decidedly smug. Sitting down he gave Olta a reassuring smile.

 

Olta had all but forgotten about her encounter with Daniel the day before. Even if his name had come up rather frequently. She hadn’t told Niall about what been said. She simply hadn’t wanted to talk about it. And thankfully he hadn’t pressed the matter.

 

And now Niall had been flaunting their encounter in Daniel’s face. And instead of feeling uncomfortable Olta felt an odd sense of pride.

 

Class went by swiftly after that. Olta was really in no mood to pay attention to already dreaded formulas and equations.

 

Instead she was thinking of her morning because funnily enough they had never made downstairs. Instead Olta had woken up in the middle of the night only to find herself cuddled up against a solid body, still fully dressed and covered with the duvet from the guest room. In her sleep addled mind she hadn’t given it much thought. She had only snuggled closer into Niall embrace and gone back to sleep.

 

It was when they woke up at around six-thirty and realized their position that a sudden awkwardness arose. Niall had been holding her tightly nuzzling her hair. Olta had felt the excitement of his body at their proximity against her buttocks. Surprising herself she wasn’t disturbed or scared by it. She had known that Niall was awake when he had let out a very content sigh followed by stiffening completely.

 

Olta had turned her head to see his face. He had looked guilt-ridden, embarrassed, petrified and roguish all at once. It was adorable and her stomach had done some major flipflopping. Stumbling out of bed quickly he had muttered a lot things hoarsely and he had been out of her room before Olta had a chance to say anything. She had only made out the words shower, mother, later and mother again.

 

Olta had taken a quick shower assuming and hoping that Niall had meant something like that he was running home to take a shower before her mother found them and that he would pick her up later. She had smiled to herself as she guessed that Niall had never realized that it had been her mother who had put the duvet over them in first place. So it was safe to assume that she already knew.

 

And with that realization Olta had felt mortification wash over her. She had quickened her pace, hoping to avoid her mother herself.

 

On her way downstairs she had been greeted by the smell of pancakes, telling her that escape was futile. She had swallowed deeply and had entered the kitchen. She had stopped dead in her tracks and almost burst out into hystMatildal laughter as she had seen Niall sitting at her kitchen table drinking orange juice. He had looked up at her with same look he given her earlier but minus the roguishness. Her mother had greeted her brightly from behind the stove. She had told her that she expected them to be hungry seeing as they had missed dinner the night before. Then she had joined them for breakfast telling Olta that she had to run to pick up David from JFK. After her mother’s sudden departure Niall and Olta had finished their breakfast in silence. Niall had then gone home and picked her up later.

 

Olta had been afraid that Niall was simply going to ignore the night before as he hadn’t said a word to her during the entire ride and been tapping his dashboard and steering wheel frantically. She had been so very pleasantly surprised when she had moved to get out of the car only to be pulled backwards and have her neck nuzzled. He had whispered into her ear whether they could forget that morning had ever happened and Olta had nodded emphatically.

 

The school bell put an end to her reminiscing. Just when she was getting to the good part, Olta huffed silently.

 

As she was putting her notes away Niall sat down on her desk with a jump.

 

“You didn’t seem your usual attentive self, something bothering you?” Niall asked with a knowledgeable grin, brushing a strand of hair out her face.

 

Olta faked a dreamy smile as she looked up at Niall. Okay, she had intended to fake it but it had turned real as soon as she felt his fingertips brush over her ear.

 

“Mmm?” she murmured. “Oh, I was just remembering my tenth birthday party.”

 

She got up and felt Niall’ hand on the small of her back as they left the class room.

 

“Must have been quite a party if it kept you distracted for the past two hours.” Olta shivered a little as she felt his breath on her ear.

 

“It was Math. Thinking about turnips would be more interesting.” Olta said as if it went without saying.

 

Moving his hand to her hip Niall drew her slightly closer.

 

“Liked your little display, though.” Olta said with a small smile as she caught his eye for a moment.

 

“Did you now?” Niall said teasingly as he tickled her side lightly. Olta swatted at his hand but to no effect.

 

“Now tell me what is so interesting about turnips.” Niall asked, trying to sound serious and he stopped his assault.

 

And talking about the always fascinating turnip Niall walked her to Latin.

 

Olta could have sworn she had only blinked her eyes once but all of a sudden it was Lunch period.

 

She and Niall were enjoying the pancakes her mother shoved into their hands before making off to the airport. The fact that the two of them had identical lunches was met with raised eyebrows but no questions were asked. Instead they talked about the party and costumes. Alice was put out to hear that Bailey and Niall would be wearing their usual mobster tuxedos.

 

“Why change a good thing?” Bailey said and Niall smiled in agreement.

 

Olta was silently rejoicing. As coincidence would have it, Niall and she would actually wear something close to matching outfits. There hadn’t been a good bout of coincidence around this place for quite some time now. She actually started to feel excited about the party.

 

Suddenly Olta heard Altea’s voice rise above the general noise of animated chatter and the clattering of cutlery. There was no doubt she wanted an audience.

 

“It’s just so sad, the way she throws herself at him. Then again, what can you expect from such a Eurothrash ho-bag.”

 

Olta snorted but the rest of her table more accurately chocked on their food and drinks. She could hear similar sounds coming from the tables around her.

 

Sure, Altea had just publicly insulted her. But come on, the girl was so delusional it was funny. A bit sad but funny none-the-less. Besides when bullied, feigning ignorance and bad hearing were always the best policy.

 

One glance at Niall, however, told her he didn’t agree. Before Olta could properly register the angry twitch in his jaw, Niall had gotten up and turned towards Altea.

 

“That’s it!” Even though Niall sounded pretty collected, his voice was trembling slightly. The whole cafeteria was shocked into silence.

 

“Let me make myself clear for those of you who didn’t get the memo. Most importantly you, Altea.” He spat her name with venom.

 

An angry Niall really was not a pretty sight. Actually it was downright scary. And by the looks of things he was only getting started.

 

From her vantage point Olta couldn’t see Altea’s reaction but she imagined she couldn’t look good right now. Olta felt sorry for her.

 

“We broke up. Six fucking weeks ago. Will you finally get it through you thick skull that I don’t want you.”

 

So, it was like she had thought. Niall and Altea had dated. Olta decided to put that down to a severe case of temporary insanity on Niall’ part. Even if the girl was very pretty.

 

“You have some fucking nerve to call Olta a ho-bag. I strongly suggest that you take a long, hard look in the mirror before you start throwing such insults around. And I suggest you do it now. And when you return I would greatly appreciate it if you were to keep at least three tables between you and me. For a very long time. “ A collective gasp went through the cafeteria.

 

Olta could only sit in shock as she listened to his words. Did this mean Niall was sort of banning Altea from Daniel’s table? He could do that?

 

She braved a glance at Daniel.

 

He was watching his brother with something akin to bemused anger.

 

Apparently Altea had acted in some way because Niall continued.

 

“And don’t you dare turn to Daniel. Sitting at his table does not give you the right to bash me or mine so openly nor does it protect you from the consequences of such blatantly stupid behaviour. Now. Get. Out. Of. My. Sight.”

 

Olta could hear Altea let out a strangled cry and she saw the back of Altea as she literally ran out of the cafeteria.

 

Niall glanced at Daniel before sitting back down; studiously ignoring everybody at the table. He blindly reached out for Olta’s hand and grabbed it tightly.

 

Olta and the others just looked at him, still too stunned to speak.

 

Slowly the cafeteria came back to life with hushed but furious murmurs.

 

“That was..” Peter started slowly looking at Niall intently.

 

“Necessary.” Niall finished for him, slowly meeting his eyes.

 

“I was going for ‘a first’ and ‘harsh’ but necessary will work.” Peter said thoughtfully.

 

“Remind me never to get on your bad side.” Bailey muttered, seemingly engrossed in his peas.

 

“You couldn’t if you tried.” Niall said throwing him a rueful smile before turning his attention to Olta’s hand. He had loosened his grip and was now lightly running his thumb over the back of her hand. His anger seemed to have vanished.

 

“I actually thought it was sort of funny. Sad..but funny.” Olta said, glancing around the table.

 

She was met with four incredulous stares.

 

“You thought it funny to be called names in front of a greater part of our year? To be humiliated so publicly?” Alice asked. Olta shrugged.

 

“I just think she made greater fool of herself than me, is all. I mean as far taunts go I’ve heard them far more imaginative and accurate. “

 

Olta realized a little too late what she had implied. And by the looks of even greater disbelief her friends had picked up on it. Not good. Those things were in the past, where they belonged.

 

“I just believe that you shouldn’t have let her get to you like that.” Olta added quickly, looking at Niall. Surely that would deflect the attention from her earlier words. And it did.

 

Niall looked at her intently as if searching for something. Then he just squeezed her hand, smiled a little and shook his head almost wearily.

 

“Olta, do you know what just happened?” Surprisingly it was Bailey who spoke. Niall was still only looking at her intently.

 

Olta had the distinct feeling it was a trick question.

 

“Hmm, yes?” She asked hopefully. Why did she all of sudden feel like an ignorant child?

 

“What you saw wasn’t just Altea insulting you and Niall getting angry about it and standing up for you.” Peter explained patiently.

 

“It wasn’t?” Olta heard herself ask stupidly and slapped herself mentally. That they were treating her like a child didn’t mean she had to adopt the behaviour of one. Of course she knew there was al lot more to Niall’ outburst than met the eye. She just couldn’t read the subtext properly.

 

“Look guys, how about we move this some place else.” Niall said with a short jerk of head towards Daniel’s table.

 

And all of a sudden the subtext hit Olta like an anvil. Like a very large anvil with ‘dense much?’ written all over it in big bold letters. Daniel. Niall. Niall. Daniel. How nice that it all came back to that, once again.

 

The realization must have shown on her face because Niall gave her an almost sage smile.

 

“That’s my girl.” He said, with a definite hint of pride. Olta sure did like the sound of that. ‘My girl’. Giving her a peck on the cheek he took his tray and got up.

 

Olta followed suit but not without a final glance at Daniel. He seemed to lost in a deep conversation with Jason.

 

“How about a nice stroll across our beautiful school grounds? What do you guys think?” Niall said as they had cleaned away their trays.

 

Olta was about to agree when she noticed the questioning looks the others gave him.

 

“Sure.” Peter answered unsurely and the other only nodded.

 

Olta felt Niall wrap his arm around her waist and he turned towards the terrace.

 

People they walked by looked up at them and their conversations got more vibrant once they had passed. Even though she knew there was no helping it Olta didn’t like all this attention. She didn’t like the scrutiny. And right now she was being scrutinized severely. Judging by all the glowering girls she passed right now she thought about ninety-nine percent of the female population, single or not, hated her right now. Not that she could blame them. At least half of these girls seemed to be a better match for Niall, and that was only at first glance.

 

Olta realized again that Niall drug induced affections weren’t going to last. Trying to block out the sad thoughts she snuggled tighter into his embrace and she was rewarded by Niall tightening his grip on her. And as she felt his lips brush her hair swiftly Olta just had to grin. She was going to have her hart shattered to a million pieces but there sure would be some awesome memories.

 

As she passed Josie she gave her a smile which was returned with a broader one and accompanied by a mouthed ‘told you so’.

 

Niall suddenly stopped in his tracks causing Olta to stumble slightly. Shooting her an amused and not quite apologetic smile he swirled around back to Josie.

 

“Josie.” Niall said politely with a grin. Olta quirked an eyebrow at him.

 

So Niall knew Josie. Olta wondered what other revelations were in store for her today.

 

“Niall.” Josie acknowledged slightly surprised but her smile was still firmly in place.

 

“I was wondering whether and your friends liked to drop by Alice’s party tomorrow.” Niall said.

 

“That is of course if Alice doesn’t mind.” He added looking over shoulder grinning at Alice.

 

Olta looked over her own shoulder to see Alice’s reaction.

 

Alice glared at Niall mockingly and stepped forward.

 

“Of course I don’t mind you inviting people to my party.” She said giving Niall a pointed look. She then turned to Josie and she flashed a bright smile.

 

“But if you want to drop by, you’re more than welcome.”

 

Gaping like a fish suddenly got a visual as Olta looked at the girls at the table.

 

Only Josie and her neighbor had their mouths closed. The neighbours was completely engrossed in her peas, much like Bailey had been earlier. Her face was a deep shade of crimson. Josie, however, just kept on smiling her smile even though her eyebrows had vanished under her bangs.

 

“If everything else falls through we might drop by. Thanks for the invite.” Josie said with a small nod.

 

“Cool.” Alice said and with that she turned and they resumed their route outside.

 

“Niall.” Bailey said as soon as they were outside. He was almost growling. Olta involuntarily took a step backwards as Bailey came towards Niall. She looked to Alice and Peter for some kind of explanation. They just stood aside and watched the scene unfold itself. Olta decided to join them. No need to get in middle of this, whatever it was.

 

“What?” Niall said innocuously raising his hands in surrender. Olta could see he was working hard to suppress his smirk.

 

“Just because you’ve got Olta now doesn’t mean you can go and play matchmaker for the rest of us.” Bailey said his voice was still dangerously low but he had stopped his advance.

 

“Just you, Ry. Me and Alice aren’t exactly single.” Peter decided to throw in. Bailey shot him an evil glare over his shoulder before returning his attention to Niall.

 

“I only invited Josie because Olta knows her and otherwise she wouldn’t know anybody besides us.” Niall was still playing the innocent victim. And doing a very poor job of it.

 

Olta watched as Bailey looked about ready to pounce Niall. He looked pretty brassed off.

 

Who was Niall setting Bailey up with? Surely it wasn’t Josie. She was single but from what Olta had seen Monday morning she had a soft spot for Sam.

 

“Right, and what if she hadn’t been sitting with her sister, would you have been so magnanimous towards Olta then?” Bailey asked sardonically.

 

“She has a boyfriend you know.” He added and all anger seemed to have left him instantly. He sounded defeated.

 

Olta looked at Alice and she was sure she mirrored the look of dawning realization and the widening grin that followed it.

 

“No she doesn’t.” They all but yelled in unison. Bailey turned around slowly. A nice myriad of emotions played across Bailey’s face. Confusion, doubt and hope were all there. He looked like a small boy.

 

Before History on Monday Olta and Alice had been talking with Josie about her sister’s crush on some sophomore. For the past month or so he would frequent the video store where she worked and they would talk about nothing and everything. Josie said that her sister had blurted out that she had a boyfriend on one his visits to protect herself from crushing any further.

 

“She doesn’t?” Bailey asked. Olta and Alice shook their heads, again in unison.

 

“But she told me, well not exactly told me. But you know one of those casually tossed in things so that a guy knows he doesn’t need to try. So if she doesn’t have one, then we all know what that means.” He sounded utterly crestfallen as he moved to slump down to a low brick wall.

 

“And you have been making fun of me?” Niall smirked broadly. Bailey snapped his head to Niall. Niall raised his hands in surrender again and wisely replaced his smirk with a look of concern.

 

“No it doesn’t you stupid fool. She has major crush on you. She didn’t want get her hopes up.” Alice explained as she sat down next to him and put her hand on his arm.

 

“Really?” Alice only nodded. Bailey looked to Olta for confirmation and she nodded with an encouraging smile. He looked like a boy who just got told Interclass would be giving him presents after all. Of course in Bailey’s case that would be Santa Claus.

 

“Not that I’m not enjoying all of this. But who, what and how?” Peter asked, clearly exasperated by being the one out of the loop.

 

Olta figured he and her mother would get along just fine.

 

Alice turned to her boyfriend and opened her mouth to explanation but Niall cut her off.

 

“Short version, Bailey likes Josie’s sister and she likes him. Long version will have to wait.” Niall glanced at his watch before turning to Alice.

 

“Her name is Chesla.” Olta heard Bailey mutter. She couldn’t resist a roll of her eyes.

 

“Look, Alice. I need a favour.” Niall said. Alice looked at Niall unsurely.

 

“I’d like to invite Sam and a couple of his friends to the party tomorrow as well.” Alice looked horrified. Bailey and Peter looked at Niall disbelievingly.

 

Olta was sure that she was missing something here.

 

“What?!” She almost shrieked. “You want to invite Sam to my party. Need I remind you that he caused the Pairos’ house to be almost burned to the ground?”

 

Niall shook his head.

 

“Niall, what are you playing at?” Peter asked.

 

“Yeah, man, what is this all about?” Bailey piped up, having forgotten all about his love life for a moment.

 

Niall ignored his friends as he continued.

 

“First off, what happened at the Pairos was an accident. Secondly, I don’t think he’ll go rampaging through your house, seeing as he wouldn’t be exactly crashing the party and thirdly if he does do any damage I’ll pay for it. Okay?” His voice was very business like except for the slight pleading note at the end.

 

Alice thought it over for a moment and then nodded her assent.

 

“Okay but they break it, you buy it. And you better be sure what you’re doing.” She said. She was clearly not too pleased about this.

 

“Thanks. Right let’s get going then.” Niall said throwing an arm around Olta’s shoulder and steering her across school grounds.

 

Olta mulled everything over. She knew Sam was kind of a punk, both in lifestyle and attitude but Olta found that after he had gotten over his condescending attitude towards her, she liked him, just like she did Josie. Before she could think any further about things she heard Bailey’s voice.

 

“You know he’s going to throw a fit, don’t you?” Olta didn’t need to ask who Bailey was talking about. So, this too was a way to get at Daniel. What was Niall playing at?

 

Niall nodded. Olta noticed he was grinning, once again. Bailey sighed.

 

“Alice is right, are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

 

“Just playing around. Nothing serious.” Niall answered and Olta couldn’t help but think that that wasn’t all there was to it. Bailey obviously didn’t think so either.

 

They found Sam and his friends lounging at a secluded part of the grounds. As they approached them, the group stopped their activities and rose almost like one man.

 

Olta glanced over the group. They definitely were the punk group of the school. Most of them Olta had seen around the school but there were some unknown faces there. They were decidedly suspicious of them.

 

Sam stepped forward. Where his friends were suspicious Sam was clearly intrigued.

 

He swept his eyes over them swiftly before focusing on Niall and Olta.

 

“Told you he liked you.” He smirked at Olta and she couldn’t help but smirk back.

 

She felt Niall mouth near her ear.

 

“Sam told you I liked you?” he asked quietly, genuinely surprised. Olta nodded, not taking her eyes of Sam.

 

“Should listen to him, he’s a smart man.” He added in a stage whisper, loud enough for Sam to hear. Sam acknowledged this with a small nod in Olta’s direction before turning his attention to Niall.

 

“So what brings to this neck of the woods?” He asked, not trying to hide his surprise.

 

Somehow this felt like a business meeting between two gangs who weren’t rivals but weren’t quite allies either. And both Niall and Sam were playing the role of leader with vigour. The image of Niall as a mobster came to life.

 

All of a sudden Olta’s nose caught a very familiar scent. Someone was smoking grass. And not just any kind. She recognized the kind of grass that was being smoked but couldn’t put her finger on it. She looked in the direction where the scent came from and spotted a guy with green hair holding a joint leisurely.

 

“I would appreciate it if you and a couple of your friends made an appearance at Alice’ party tomorrow.” Olta heard Niall ask but her eye was on the joint. She shook her head wearily. God, Americans really didn’t know how to roll a proper spliff.

 

“And shake things up a bit?” Sam asked although it sounded more like he was musing out loud.

 

The green haired guy had apparently noticed Olta’s gesture and mistaken it for some sort of moral indignation. He made a show of taking a puff and blowing out the smoke into her direction wiggling his eyebrows.

 

“It might make things fun.” Niall replied.

 

Olta rolled her eyes at the guy’s antics. She was, what, supposed to be impressed or shocked now? Right, better leave him be. Olta returned her full attention at the conversation.

 

“Sounds like it could indeed.” Sam said and his smirk grew even wider. Then he turned to Alice, who wasn’t hiding her apprehension about the whole situation.

 

“Don’t worry Alice, we’ll be on our best behaviour.” Sam said sincerely giving her a crooked smile. Alice relaxed visibly at that and gave him small nod. She seemed rather subdued.

 

Then Olta finally placed the scent.

 

“Northern Lights.” She blurted out and kicked herself mentally for doing that. Great, why not take an add out in the paper why don’t you.

 

Sam smiled at her appreciatively but Niall and Alice looked at her with her confusion.

 

“The grass he’s smoking, its Northern Lights.” Olta explained softly, pointing at the guy in question. He, in turn, looked at her bewildered.

 

“Right, well we need to get back.” Niall said still looking confused. He looked at Sam once more.

 

“So, see you tomorrow then?” he asked, his confusion was readily replaced with a smirk.

 

“Sure thing.” Sam said and he was smirking too. It seemed like they had were sharing a private joke. They probably were too.

 

As Niall ran his hand over her back all Olta could do was wonder whether he wasn’t getting himself into a shitload of trouble.

 

 


Billionaires Meet Millionaire

Its hard to be the new girl at school from a country nobody has heard about. Olta Mehmeti is a foreign exchange student who's guide to school is the bad boy Niall. After the two seemingly get caught in a friendship relationship, Niall's brother takes a interest in the new girl. While Niall is seemingly the better man, he gets caught in sibling rivalry with his brother. Olta struggles with school after finding a family secret but is also caught up with Niall's girlfriend. She'll have to make a choice in the end, one that could hurt the two billionaires but also herself. With its love triangle, struggles and humour... Billionaires Meet Millionaire is no ordinary love story, it's truly a classic.

  • Author: Jason Vasha
  • Published: 2016-04-15 15:05:26
  • Words: 48904
Billionaires Meet Millionaire Billionaires Meet Millionaire