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My Heart Skips A Beat

Chapter 28

It’s been three days.
Three days of watching movies on Netflix, of eating Chinese takeout, and of wondering what the hell the rest of my family was doing. My dad was on some ‘business trip’ somewhere, but I learned a long time ago that ‘business trip’ was actually code for ‘going-to-screw-my-21-year-old-assistant-on-an-exotic-island’. My mom was out pretty much all day every day, and Max wasn’t getting here for another few days, so it was just me.
I mean, I guess I could call some of my old friends, but it’s not like we’ve stayed in touch. We were never really that close anyway.
So, on Monday morning, I made the decision to change out of my sweatpants and go get reacquainted with my New York.
It was freezing, and even with my multiple layers, the bitter air hit me hard. I stepped out onto the always-crowded sidewalk, taking in the scene.
I had to admit, I had missed this city. There really was nothing else in the world like it. I could just walk and walk, watching the people and looking in the windows of all the big department stores and never get bored. So that’s exactly what I did.
I walked to 5th Avenue, where every store was completely decked out for the Holidays with twinkling lights and fake snow.
“Anna Grayson?!” I suddenly heard from behind me. I turned around to see Charlotte Thornman, a girl I used to go to school with, standing in front of me. We had never really been friends, just acquaintances I guess.
“Oh, hey Charlotte!” I smiled politely, and she went in for the hug. I didn’t really think we were at the hugging level of friendship, but what do I know?
“It is SO good to see you! How are you liking London?!” She was giddy and hyper, the way I remember her being for as long as I’ve known her.
“Uh, yeah, it’s great. The school is good-“
“How’s Harry-?” She blurted out. I could tell by the look on her face that she hadn’t meant to say it like that, or maybe at all.
“I’m sorry, I just, I HAD to ask! I love him so much you have no idea. When I first saw the pictures of you guys I flipped, like, I KNOW THAT GIRL!! It’s crazy, right?”
“Yeah, I guess it is. But I mean, he’s great. So how are you? How’s school? How is everyone?” I wasn’t even sure who I meant when I said ‘everyone’. I was just dying to change the subject.
“Well, this year is kicking my ass, but it’s going pretty well. Everyone misses you! Ohmygod, Drew is having a party on Wednesday night. You should totally come! I’m sure everyone would love to see you!” I immediately was trying to think of a polite way to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’, but was coming up blank.
“I’m so serious; I’ll send you the address! You’re coming! I’ve got to go though, but I’ll see you soon.” She smiled, pulling me in for another hug before she pretty much skipped off in the opposite direction.
Well, that was exhausting. Maybe it would’ve been best if I had just stayed home with my sweatpants and cold lo mien.
No one had heard much from Zayn recently. Niall told me that the last time he had even seen him was when they got him home from the party last week. I had been giving him his space, but I was done with that. So, that’s how I ended up banging on his door for the past few minutes with no luck.
“I KNOW YOU’RE HOME MATE! JUST OPEN THE GADDAMN DOOR!” I knocked a few more times, and finally I heard the lock open.
“What the fuck do you want man? I’m tired, hung over, and I feel like I’m gonna puke, again.”
“I wanna talk.” He looked a mess. His usually perfectly styled hair was askew, going in every direction. He wore a grey t-shirt and a pair of blue sweatpants, and he had some pretty bad bags under his eyes.
“Fine, whatever.” He said, pushing the door open. I walked into the flat, which was sort of a disaster. All the blinds were shut; there were clothes and empty beer bottles everywhere.
Was he really this broken up about breaking up with Poppy?
“How have you been? You’ve been pretty silent lately.”
“Yeah, well…”
“Look, mate. I’m really really sorry about everything that happened, with me and with Anna. I know that girl didn’t end up being the person you thought she was, but I’m just hoping that we can get past this.”
“I’m not even pissed at you, or Anna. I’m not even pissed about Poppy. I’m just, I’m mad at myself.”
I wasn’t really sure where he was going with this, “What do you mean?”
“I pick shit girls, Harry, and I always have. I act like all I want is a good time, a quick snog. So that’s the types of girls that I get, but that isn’t what I want; I don’t think I ever really did. I think I’m just, so jealous of what you and Lou and Liam have going for you. You all have these amazing girls and you guys are like, a proper couple. I want that, I just don’t know how.” Zayn sat down on the couch, rubbing his eyes. He was being real with me right now; he trusted me with this. I knew that because it was very, very rare that anyone saw this side of Zayn. He was private and guarded a lot of the time, but now I could tell, that wasn’t really him. So I knew I had to be just as real and open with him too or he would never trust me with something like this again.
“You could get a girl like that! If you opened yourself up to it, I mean. Look how things worked out for me. Who would’ve thought I would find someone like Anna just from jumping into a cab outside some pub. You can’t go out looking for a relationship, you just have to be open to it and let it happen. I’m not a relationship expert by any means, but that’s the best advice I can give you.” He looked at me with blood shot eyes, a slight smirk on his face.
“Harry Styles, when did you turn into a therapist?” I laughed, pushing him over onto the couch.
“Take a shower man, you smell horrid. We’re going out.”
“I’m not sure I’m up to it. All I’ve done is ‘go out’ lately.”
“We’re not going to get drunk; we’re just going out to eat with the boys. Niall misses you.” Zayn just laughed and grabbed an abandoned towel off of the back of a chair, walking into the bathroom and closing the door after him.
“No, honey, this party seems like exactly what you need! GO, have FUN!” My mom said, practically pushing me into my closet to pick out something to wear.
“I’m just not really into the mood mom. And this is the one night you’re actually home-“
“I know, but we’ll see plenty of each other in the next week. Go out and see your old friends!”
“Fine. Whatever.” I finally said, giving in mostly because her nagging was getting annoying. I shifted through my walk-in closet, looking through old clothes I had forgotten I had. I didn’t really pack much that seemed appropriate for a high school party, so I was going to have to make do.
Half an hour later I was dressed in a pair of my old 7 For All Mankind skinny jeans from sophomore year, a plain white long sleeved t-shirt that I wore under a Stella McCartney gold sparkly blazer.
“I’m leaving!” I yelled to my mom, there was no response.
Drew, along with everyone else in my old school, lived on the Upper East Side, so it was just a short walk to his house. Charlotte had texted me the address (Um, I had no memory of ever giving her my phone number…) but I already knew what it was.
Taking the elevator to his penthouse, I felt just a little bit of butterflies in my stomach. It wasn’t about seeing Drew, or any of my old friends, but I was nervous about how many people knew about Harry and me. I knew some would (I mean, Charlotte did). I was just hoping it wasn’t the only thing I was going to be asked all night.
The elevator doors slid open, revealing Drew’s familiar apartment. There was loud thumping music and tons of kids everywhere; drinking, hooking up, attempting to dance on the antique oak dining room table. I was so overwhelmed, but took a few deep breaths and stepped out of the elevator.
As I walked, I could feel a few pairs of eyes on me. I tried to ignore it, and instead search for a familiar face.
Surprisingly, the first person I spotted was in fact; Drew.
“ANNA MARIE GRAYSON AS I FUCKING LIVE AND BREATHE!” I heard him belt when he saw me. He was clearly a little drunk, and when he started to make his way towards me it was made even clearer by the slight tilt to the way he walked. That, plus the half-empty glass in his hand.
“Hi Drew.” I gave a polite smile, making sure to stay out of his grasp. He always did this thing with girls where he would like, put his arm around their waist and pick them up as a greeting.
“Char told me she invited you. Way to tell me you were even in the city.”
“Yeah, well, I just got here, and I’ve needed some time to relax.”
“I’m sure you did. Dating a member of a boy band is definitely a very tiring job”. I think he had meant that jokingly, but it still sort of stung.
“Yeah, okay, I’m gonna go find some people I was looking for. Have a good time tonight, Drew.”
Right then and there is when I decided I would stay for exactly 45 minutes, no more no less. Then after those 45 minutes I would walk home, put my sweatpants back on and pretend like this never happened. I knew it wasn’t a good idea. I just felt out of place here, like I didn’t belong. And I think that’s because I didn’t.
“ANNA!” I heard my name being called again. I saw Charlotte waving frantically from the wet bar where she and a few other girls were holding court.
“I am SO glad you actually came!”
“Hi guys. It’s good to see you.” I lied, trying to remember the names of the people around me.
“So, you’re liking London?” One girl asked.
“Uh, yeah. A lot.”
“And um, Harry Styles…”
“Yes. You MUST tell us every detail. I mean, we’ve all seen some stuff online, but god knows none of that shit is true. SO we’re like, SOOOOO glad to have you here to clear it all up!” Charlotte giggled, flipping her straight light brown hair over her shoulder.
“Oh, I dunno… there’s really not much to tell…” I was starting to feel really awkward.
“How did you guys meet?”
“Was he pissed about those pictures?”
“Was it true about him and that Poppy girl?”
The questions were being thrown at me over and over and I was feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic.
“I just need to go get some air. I’ll be back later.” I said, rushing out towards the 360-degree wrap-around terrace. There weren’t too many people outside thanks to the freezing weather, so I had a moment to take a breath and calm myself down. Then, I needed to do a little math;
It was 2 AM in London, Harry was probably asleep.
I had this sudden urge to talk to him, to hear his voice, but I didn’t want to wake him up. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and scrolled through Twitter, seeing that he had written something just an hour ago;
Dinner with the boys was good. Now off to watch a movie! What should we watch?
So he WAS awake? Without a thought, I dialed his number. He picked up after the first ring.
“Anna!” He said, sounding happy to know it was me.
“Hey, I saw your tweet so I assumed you were still awake. Tell the boys I say hi.” I smiled when I heard the chorus of greetings from the background.
“What movie are you watching?” I said, leaning against the railing.
“Niall wanted to watch Transformers, just for Megan Fox.” He said, laughing at something one of the guys said. “Sorry, one second-“ I heard him say.
A second later, his voice came back. “Okay, I can hear you now. They were all yelling. What’s going on?”
“Nothing. I’m just, at this party this girl I knew from school invited me to. And I dunno, it’s weird.”
“No fun?” He asked.
“Not really.” I decided to leave out the part where I told him that this party was at my ex-boyfriends house. “But you seem to be a very hot topic here.” I said with a slight smirk.
“Oh, really?” He sighed. “I’m sorry about that, but I do hope you’re talking me up well.” He joked.
“Oh, yeah, for sure. I’ll give them ALL the details, don’t you worry.” He laughed.
“I miss you, you know?”
“It’s only been three days.”
“Hmm…feels longer.”
“I know. But, go back to your movie. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay, try and have fun, just not too much fun. I still want to be your boyfriend come tomorrow morning.”
“Trust me; you have nothing to worry about.” We both laughed and I hung up, feeling a pang in my chest that I wasn’t with him right now. Instead I was here, with a huge apartment full of people who seemed to know every detail of my life while I couldn’t even remember their names.
“Anna?” I heard. I knew before even turning around that it was Charlotte.
“Hey!” I said, trying to sound chipper.
“Was that Harry…?” She said, drawling out his name.
“Um, yeah. But, look, no offence, I just don’t really want to talk about Harry. I just – I don’t know it seems strange. I really hope you understand.”
“Um, yeah. Okay, whatever.” Charlotte said, her tone completely changed. I could tell she was annoyed.
“Char, I’m sorry! It’s just that-“
“No, no I get it Anna. You think you’re better than us now. That much is obvious.”
“What?! No! Of course I don’t! I just sort of wanted to keep that part of my life private-“
“Oh so is that why we’ve all seen pictures of the two of you getting it on?” She spat out at me. I was shocked, and hurt.
“I think I should just go.” I said quietly, taking the first few steps towards the door.
“Yeah, I think you should. You don’t belong here anymore.” I didn’t turn back, I just kept walking. I walked purposefully through the crowds, finally reaching the elevator; which, of course I was forced to now wait for. I was desperate to get out of her unnoticed.
“YOU’RE LEAVING, GRAYSON?!” I cringed at the sound of Drew’s loud voice. I felt his hand grab my waist.
“Drew, please.” I said, trying to swat him away. I was feeling overheated and nervous and flustered and I just needed to get out of here. His grabby hands weren’t really helping.
“Don’t go, Anna. I haven’t seen you in forever. I think we have a lot to catch up on…” He said, pulling my backwards with his strong grip.
“Drew, come on, cut it out.” He pushed me against him and I felt like I was going to scream. I could feel my heart beat getting faster.
“Drew!” I said a final time; giving him a fair warning before I did the one thing I could think of - I elbowed him in the crotch.
“Fuck! Dammit! What the hell was that for?!” I didn’t have time to answer. I just ran into the open elevator, dozens of faces watching me as the doors closed.
I practically ran home, taking the elevator to our penthouse, finally exhaling when I stepped into the entryway.
“Mom?!” I yelled, wondering what she was doing. There was no answer, but I heard voices coming from the living room; which I assumed were from the TV. I walked in, gasping when I saw my mom and, a man?
“Oh my god!” I yelped at the sight in front of me. My mom was like, snuggled up on our couch, drinking wine with a guy who I had never seen before.
“Oh, Anna! I um, I thought you were at that party. I uh - I don’t really know what to say…” Her hand went to her hair, which she smoothed back to fit back into the low bun.
“I’m just going to um, go to my room. Carry on with, whatever it was you were doing.” I said, completely flustered. I had no idea what else to say. For now, I really didn’t feel like dealing with this, I just wanted to crawl into bed and watch old episodes of The Vampire Diaries.
The night out with the boys had definitely been a success. Zayn was back to his normal self and we were all getting on just like normal; but, after talking to Anna, I couldn’t really focus on the movie. Something had seemed off about her. I didn’t want to push her too much, or go too far into it or whatever, but I just had the feeling that something was wrong. I looked at the time; it was almost 3:30 AM here, which meant it was about 11:30 in New York. I assumed because she had been out at a party when we last talked that she was still up, so I decided to give her a ring.
“I’ll be right back, lads. Don’t say anything rude about how hot Megan Fox is without me.” I joked, ruffling Niall’s hair.
I walked into my bedroom, sitting on the side of the bed that Anna always slept on. She picked up after about 2 rings;
“Hello?” She said, her voice cracking.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did I wake you?”
“No - Well, sort of. But it’s okay.” I could hear a smile playing on her lips.
“So how was the rest of the party?”
“Um, sort of terrible. But it’s a long story.”
“I’ve got time.”
“I know, but you’re hanging out with the boys. Go have fun, I can just tell you tomorrow.”
“Well technically for me, it is tomorrow. So shoot. Trust me, if you don’t tell me now it’s all I’ll be able to think about until you do.”
I heard her exhale, “Okay, well. Don’t freak out about this, but, the person whose house the party was at was this guy Drew. The guy I used to go out with. He wasn’t even the one who invited me though; it was this girl Charlotte who I was never even that close with. I didn’t even want to go to the party, but my mom pretty much talked me into it. So, I went, and it was awkward and that’s about when I called you last. Then after, the girl Charlotte started saying all this stuff like; I think I’m better than them, or I’ve changed, and – I don’t know, I didn’t know what to say. So then I was trying to leave and the guy Drew, um, he was like, trying to get me to stay or whatever. He’s like, pretty strong, and he sort of grabbed me-“ She paused for a second. “- And then I elbowed him in the crotch.” I couldn’t help but let out a loud laugh at that last part.
“Well thank bloody god for that! I thought for a minute that we were gonna have another Oliver/Poppy situation on our hands.”
“No, no. Definitely not, but wait, I’m not even finished.”
“Okay, go on.”
“When I got home I caught my mom, on our couch, with some guy. I swear, this night couldn’t get weirder.” She said, groaning.
“Wow, and to think Niall was all excited about OUR night after the restaurant gave us free curly fries. I think you win.” I was trying to lighten the mood a little and I think it worked. I heard her let out a small laugh from the other line.
“Thank you.” She breathed.
“What for?”
“For being the only normal person in my life right now.”
“That’s a little mad, isn’t it? That I’M the most normal person you know.”
“I know, right?”
“I’ll let you go back to sleep, but I’ll talk to you tomorrow, yeah?”
“Yeah. I love you, Harry.”
“I love you too.”
I hung up and went back into the room where the boys were watching the movie.
“How’s your lady?” Louis asked. I gave him a quick look to say ‘not now’. I wasn’t in the mood to talk about it; because as much as Anna wanted me to believe it, I didn’t think she was okay with everything that’s just happened. I wasn’t going to bother her about it now.
No, no I would bother her about it tomorrow. Her tomorrow I mean. It was already my tomorrow.
I didn’t leave my room until 12:30 PM the next day. It would have been later if I weren’t desperate for coffee and one of the croissants we always had in the pantry from the Bakery on the corner. I prayed that my mom was either still asleep or out. Really, anywhere but sitting at the breakfast nook, reading a magazine; which, of course, was exactly where she was.
“I don’t want to talk about it mom.” I said in a monotone voice. I already knew what she was going to try and do. She wanted us to try and have one of those Mother-daughter heart-to-hearts, like in movies and stuff. That wasn’t going to happen. We both knew it. That wasn’t the type of relationship we had, we never have, and as far as I can tell we never will. That was okay, I was used to it. I just didn’t feel like having her pretend like it was any different.
“Sweetie, we need to talk about this.”
“No, we don’t. Whatever you do behind my back, when you think I’m not going to be home for hours, is none of my business.” I said as I poured some milk and a packet of Splenda into my coffee and putting one of the croissants onto a paper towel, getting ready to go back into my room.
“Anna, come and sit. Now.” Her voice had the kind of authority she usually reserved for when Max used to come home late and drunk when he was in high school. Or the time Max and I were joking around and accidently shattered one of the glass vases that had been a wedding present from Dad’s great Aunt (Who it was from and what it actually was hadn’t been what mattered. It could’ve been from IKEA and she would’ve gotten just as mad).
“Mom, I’m really-“
“Just. Humor me. Please”. I sighed, sitting down across from her.
“What? What could you possibly say?”
“It’s been a very, very difficult few years. Your dad and I haven’t been normal for a long time, and for a while I tried to ignore it. Then, eventually, neither one of us could do that anymore. Now, I think you’re old enough to know that - your Dad and I had an open relationship for the last 5 years of our marriage.” As she was saying it, my mind suddenly caught onto what she meant.
“Are you kidding me?” I was able to croak out. My mouth felt dry.
“I know it’s, strange. I thought you should know.”
“I don’t- I don’t understand. What does that-“
“It means we were both seeing other people.”
“I know what it means! I’m saying, what does that have to do with the guy here last night. Were you, I mean, have you-? Oh my god” My hand covered my open mouth. I think I was starting to piece everything together. My mom just stirred the coffee in her small porcelain cup. “How long?” I saw her take a deep breath, still not making eye contact with me.
“Three years, on and off. But, still…”
“I can’t, I can’t take this right now. I need to go-“
Thankfully, she was smart enough to let me leave.
I stormed into my room, flinging myself onto my unmade bed. I found my phone buried under my duvet and looked at my contact list.
Harry was headed home today for the first time in months and he was really looking forward to it. I didn’t want to ruin his day by calling him and making him listen to all my drama. So instead I called the one other person that this directly affected.
“Hello?” He said after a few rings.
“Max.” I said quietly.
“Anna! Are you home? I can’t wait to see you on Saturday!” He said, his voice was happy and cheery.
“I need to talk to you.”
“What? Why? What’s wrong - did something happen with Har-“
“No. It’s mom and dad.”
“Oh, god. What now?” He sighed, not really wanting to hear a single thing about his insane parents.
“Did you know that Mom and Dad were in an ‘open relationship’ for the last 5 YEARS that they were married? They BOTH cheated.” Max didn’t say anything for a minute, letting the information sink in.
“Anna? Tell me the truth here - Are you really that surprised? REALLY?”
I stopped for a second then; because he was so right. I let out a long breath, trying to make sense of all of this.
“When are you coming home Max?” I asked, desperate not to be in this house with my mom alone for one more day.
“Well, I was planning on Saturday, but I mean, I guess I could try and get there earlier…”
“No, no it’s okay. Just – I’ll see you when you get here.” I wasn’t trying to be mopey, but right now I couldn’t really help it.
“Hey, you gonna be okay Anna?” He asked. I knew he could tell that I really wasn’t okay, but Max was at UCLA and loving it. He had a whole life out there that we weren’t a part of; I didn’t want to mess that up.
“I’ll be fine Max, I guess I just need a little time to get used to this, you know? I’ll see you soon.”
“Love you sis.”
“Love you too.”


@notarealhipster Who do you imagine anna as?


I'm from the US, outside of Philly :)
Where are you from? My side of the pond (United States) or the other one?
I love this story it's my favorite one I've read so far! :)