Always In My Head: A London Calling Series
I Was Made For Loving You (Tori Kelly featuring Ed Sheeran)
“So…what are we gonna do when you leave?” Niki asked as we laid in bed. We were both covered in sweat, bodies draped across each other. The blanket barely covered us. A breeze from the ceiling fan blew over me chilling me almost instantly as it dried my damp skin.
“I mean we keep trying, right?”
“We can, but is that really what you want?”
“I don’t know what I want. I like you, and I like hanging out together, but you don’t deserve to have to sit around and wait for me to come home. I’ll be gone most of the year.”
“So either we just say that we can see other people or we are just done?” She was so nonchalant about this. We had a lot of fun together, we liked a lot of the same things, and here we were minutes after sex, and she just asked me if I wanted to see other people when I was on the road.
“I think this is more based on what you want. So what do you want to do while I’m gone, date other people?”
“I mean it only makes sense, right? You’ll be gone for most of the next year. We will see each other when we see each other, but if you meet someone, then you meet someone. If I meet someone, then I meet someone.”I rested my head on my hand as I propped myself up on my elbow to look at her, with my free hand I brushed a strand of her hair out of her face.
“I want you to date. I want you to have fun. We are both so much alike that I know how this will go. We say we can see other people and you won’t do it. You’ll feel guilty to date while I’m on the road. So here’s my thought, we make a clean break, end as friends right now. And if I end the tour and come home and both of us are single then we see if we can make a go of it. And if either of us meets someone in that time period then we are friends. I feel like it will get messy if we don’t make a clean break. That our friendship will be ruined, and your friendship means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to Annie, and I don’t want us to put a strain to either of those relationships.”
“Makes the most sense to me,” she replied. She leaned up and kissed me softly on my lips. “We need to get ready now. It’s the going away night.”
“Yeah, Harry’s probably texted me 20 times to remind me that we need to be at O’Brien’s by 7:00 for Annie’s last night.” We both climbed from bed and started to get dressed. I threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and watched as she pulled the dress she’d been wearing today back on. “Do we tell everyone tonight?”
“Do you think it will depress everyone?” She pulled her panties on under her dress.
“No, I think that our friends are pretty used to us just doing things. This might not surprise anyone. We have basically been like best friends who sleep with each other.”
“True.” She shrugged her shoulders before running her fingers through her hair. “You ready?”
“Yeah, are you?”
“Yup, I can just come over tomorrow to get my stuff that’s here. There shouldn’t be much. I’ll just stay at my place tonight.”
“Sounds perfect.” We headed outside and climbed into my car. We drove across the city until we arrived at O’Brien’s. Just as I’d suspected, Lizzy went overboard for Annie’s last night. There was even a sign to send her off hanging over the bar. We all knew she would barely be working tonight because Lizzy had turned it into a party, it was also a makeshift party for Lyla. With both of the girls joining us on tour Lizzy was losing her two best employees at the bookshop and claimed she was going to cry every day without them there. She liked to be over dramatic sometimes to get a laugh out of all of us.
“Hey mate,” Frankie said as I walked over to him. “Glad you could make it tonight.”
“You think I’d miss the chance to watch your wife and Annie spend the whole night crying with Annie drinking for them both since Lizzy is pregnant. It’s usually fun to watch you and Harry try and wrangle them into cars at the end of the night.”
“You’re an arse sometimes.”
“Well aware that you think that.” Frankie and I had formed a bond since I met him. He was like an obnoxious older brother, but we’d sometimes play golf or hang out because it was someone else who missed home the way I did.
“NIALL!” Annie screamed as she came running at me. She jumped up to hug me.
“You’re drunk already, aren’t you?”
“Not at all.” She was giggling, and I saw Harry roll his eyes as he walked over.
“You were late, mate,” he said as he practically held his girlfriend up.
“I was here before 7:00,” I replied glancing down at my watch, it was only 6:45. “She was supposed to work until 8:00 right?”
“She and Cam started drinking when she started her shift at 3:00.” He shook his head at her before kissing the top of her head.
“We did. I may have even convinced him to give me a shot of Jameson, oops!”
“Fuck me, this is going to be a long night. Looking for a girlfriend?” Harry asked glancing at me. “Wait who am I kidding? You’ve got Niki.”
“Actually,” I started.
“You didn’t,” Annie practically yelled as she hit my shoulders. “You two broke up?”
“Yeah, I don’t want her to spend the next year waiting for me to come home for a handful of days here and there. We are both young, she should be having fun and enjoying life. She should date and have fun. So we talked before we came here and we decided it was best.”
“You still came together though?” Harry had his face contorted in the funniest way.
“Yeah, we are still friends plus she was at mine, I needed to drive her home. And since her home happens to be upstairs it made sense to still come together.”
“You two are way too chill.”
3 May 2014: Buenos Aires, Argentina
“What’s new Buenos Aires?” Annie sang as she danced in the street in front of Harry and I. Her arm was linked with Lyla’s. They both had several drinks over dinner tonight, and when we made it to the street, Annie burst into song.
“How did we get stuck with these two tonight?” I asked.
“Well, I’m dating the American one. I don’t know what to say about you,” he replied.
“Annie drags me to everything,” I said shrugging.
“She does.” I watched him smile at her. He was arse over tits for her and had been for ages. It was great to see him get to experience tour life with her. He loved the chance to show her the world, I knew she was getting antsy about money and talking about staying in England and working once South America was done. “Have you convinced her to stay yet?”
“No, but Lyla said she’d start helping. They are getting close, and she likes having her on the road. With her staying through the end of the tour in October she would be alone after Annie leaves. I mean she’s getting to be friends with Lou, but she and Annie are practically like sisters. Which scares the shit out of me, but also makes me happy. She’s really enjoying the freedom she has to write and focus on her photography. I love her so much and hate the idea of her staying home. I’ve been secretly communicating with Kim and Lizzy about ideas to calm her down and keep her on the road.”
“I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
“Right now you might have to help me make sure she doesn’t get arrested for singing the soundtrack of Evita at the top of her lungs at 2:00 in the morning.” I laughed. “Annie, Sugar, how about you sing at a lower volume until we get back to the hotel. When we get there, you can sing at full volume, promise.”
“I have the room next to you tonight,” I complained.
“You’re being a fun hater,” Lyla said poking me in the chest. She smiled in a way that made her eyes sparkle despite us only having a few street lamps lighting the night.
“I’m trying to keep you two crazy girls from getting arrested.”
“Who would arrest us? We are just singing. You do it every night, no one arrests you.”
“You know, your brother-in-law warned me that I would have my hands full with you. I told him you’d be fine. He’s going to love hearing just how wrong I was.”
“Whatever,” she said as she tapped me on the nose before grabbing my hand and pulling me towards where Annie and Harry were now dancing in the street to the music coming out of a bar we were passing. “Dance with me, Irish boy!”
“Crazy, you’re crazy.” I laughed as I started to dance with her and wrapped my arm around her waist.
“Crazy can be fun. You should have more fun. You’ve been trapped in a hotel room the entire time we’ve been on the road. Tonight is for fun.”
“And tomorrow is for me having to play on stage again, so I can’t be too crazy.”
“Fun hater. That’s your new nickname, Fun Hater.” She leaned back laughing at her own joke, and I watched as her long blonde hair fell off of her shoulders. It shined in the light. She looked so happy right now that it was hard not to laugh with her.
7 May 2014: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“See how much fun crazy can be, Fun Hater?” Lyla asked as she sat down on the lounger next to me. We were enjoying a day off at the pool on the rooftop of our hotel. Early in the day, everyone had discovered caipirinhas which meant Annie and Harry were drunkenly goofing around in the pool and not caring that other hotel guests could see them kissing and laughing together. As she laid next to me I looked at Lyla, she was in a bright pink bikini, and her skin was starting to get a tan from the amount of time all of the girls had spent at the pools on our days off so far. Her happiness and the excitement she felt about the adventure she was on shown through her smile.
“Crazy can be fun. So how many of those drinks have you had so far?” She had placed the glass to her lips to take a sip.
“This is I think is my fourth, I think. I may have lost count.”
“Did you eat something?” I questioned. It was getting close to the time I would usually want to eat dinner if I wasn’t going onstage for the night.
“I haven’t eaten dinner yet or anything.”
“Want to get dinner together tonight? I think Harry was planning on taking Annie on a date, though she might need a nap first.” We both laughed as Harry lifted her over his shoulder in the pool and then dropped her in the water. Her scream was mixed with laughter as she came up for air and jumped on his back.
“That would be nice. I’ll need to shower first.”
“We could just get room service if you want.”
“You are amazing. Room service, pajamas and pay-per-view tonight?” She was smiling at the idea.
“Meet in your room in 30 minutes?” she asked.
“Deal.” We both headed down to our rooms to shower. Exactly 30 minutes later there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find Lyla in cat pajamas. Yes, cat pajamas. Her black sweater said meow with ears and whiskers, the grey sweatpants with tiny white cat heads printed on them. I looked down to see that she even had on cat slippers before laughing. “You look adorable.”
“Thank you. I figured that living on a bus for most of the year meant I should have cute pajamas but I’ve also realized that because we’ve flown everywhere the only people who ever see my pajamas are Annie and Harry when I go bother them every morning. So I thought you deserved the cat’s pajamas tonight.” I started to laugh at her harder as she walked into my hotel suite. We sat down the couch to look through the room service menu and pick a movie.
“So are you homesick yet?” I asked. The movie we’d picked was a bit boring, so we’d started to talk.
“A little bit. I hate that I’m missing out on my sister being pregnant and having a boy, but she wanted me to come. She wanted me to have this experience and see the world, which I’m doing. And I’m learning so much from Louise. But yeah, I’m a little bit homesick. Do you ever get homesick anymore?”
“Sure, but it’s weird. I’m so far from home all of the time that I can get homesick when I’m technically home. I haven’t been back to Ireland since Christmas. So I’m a bit homesick for there. I’m glad we get to spend some time there on this tour.”
“I’m excited too! My sister said that she and Frankie were coming up to Ireland, I think Niki is coming too. You’re probably excited to see her.”
“Yeah, I guess. But we aren’t together anymore, and she’s dating and enjoying it. I just want her to be having fun and be happy. And right now she seems it.”
“That’s good. You two are so chill about your split.”
“We are still friends, it isn't exactly that hard to imagine. We didn’t date very long, and we make better friends than anything else.”
“So are you dating?” Lyla asked. She threw a piece of popcorn into her mouth before throwing one into mine. We were laying with our heads on opposite ends of the couch.
“You would know if I was dating. We are in a traveling city. The only people I could possibly date are people on the tour. Though Harry tried to convince me to download some app to meet people. I figured that was just a terrible idea.”
“That might actually be hilarious. Can we do it tonight? Let’s get you Tinder!”
“Absolutely not. I am not letting you set up a Tinder profile, whatever that is.” I saw her on her looking down at her phone clicking away.
“Harry votes yes,” she said showing me her phone where he had replied ‘FUCK YES. DO IT.’ Not only did I not want a dating profile but I didn’t want a girl nearly this cute being the one that made it for me. That would just be stupid.
“No, we are not setting up a Tinder profile for me. Let’s do one for you.”
“Nah, I’m not interested in online dating. I’m holding out on something else.” She smiled at me before glancing back down at her phone.
“What are you holding out for?”
“Nothing.” I playfully kicked her.
“Nothing is not an acceptable answer.”
“I just, there’s someone I sort of like, so I’m holding out for it.”
25 May 2014: Dublin, Ireland
There was a knock at my hotel room door. I looked at my clock, it was 2:00 AM. I stood up and headed to the door. I glanced through the peep hole to see Lyla, Annie, Kim and Lizzy in matching pajamas. I opened the door and started laughing when I realized they were all in green onesies that had shamrocks over their breasts. I tried hard not to stare at the shamrocks on Lyla’s onesie but knew I was failing miserably.
“Were you actually sleeping, Fun Hater?” Lyla asked. The O’Brien’s group had taken over the hotel bar after the show, and the three who weren’t pregnant had obviously found beer.
“I was trying to. It is 2:00 AM and I left the party at 1:00.”
“See his nickname is perfect, Fun Hater,” Lyla said smiling at me. It was that same smile I’d seen in Buenos Aires, the one where her eyes sparkled. This time though the smile didn’t just make me smile in return it made my stomach fill with butterflies. What the hell was that?
“There are some cute girls downstairs. Maybe we can find one for you.”
“Yes, Niall needs a new lady friend,” Kim said.
“Niall does not need a new lady friend. Niall needs sleep and for his four friends who happen to be ladies to leave his hotel room.” Annie had decided to let herself in and had started to look through the mini fridge for a bottle of water. I noticed the back of her pajamas said ‘Kiss Me I’m Lucky’. “What are you doing short stack?”
“I need water. Harry actually is asleep, and if I smell like beer when I get in there, I’m pretty sure I’m in trouble. And when Dimples is mad Sugar is sad.” Well, Dimples would at least get to laugh at her being a bit drunk when she finally crawled into bed.
“I was supposed to be in charge since I’m the sober one, obviously didn’t work. It’s fun to watch the three of them act a little stupid, especially when I can’t,” Lizzy said laughing as she grabbed her very pregnant belly.
“I’ve learned that about Lyla and Annie over the last few weeks.”
“I hear you’ve been taking care of my sister.”
“I promised you and Frankie that she would be taken care of. So I’m doing what I can. She’s trying to get me to date though. I think it’s so she can have time alone without either me or Annie and Harry. We haven’t really let her explore any cities on her own yet.”
“She wants you to be happy. It’s not about time alone, though thank you for not letting her explore South America alone.”
“She doesn’t want to date. Says she’s holding out for something.” Lizzy smiled a bit.
“She is. She’s doing a good thing by holding out for it too. I think it will be worth it.”
13 June 2014: Stockholm, Sweden
“Your room in thirty?” Lyla asked as we all filed off of the hotel elevator after tonight’s show.
“Perfect,” I replied. I high fived her as we parted ways towards our own rooms.
“When are you going to do something about that?” Louis asked nodding his head towards Lyla’s now shut hotel room door.
“Do something about what?”
“The mutual crush you and Lyla have on each other,” Harry chimed in.
“It’s cute,” Annie said. “You’re cute together.”
“You three have lost your damn minds.”
“No, they haven’t,” Eleanor said. “She’s got a crush on you, and it’s obvious to everyone except you.”
“And if you think we haven’t figured out you have a crush on her then you are the one who has lost their damn mind,” Annie added.
“Whatever, goodnight you four.” I opened the door to my room and went in. A quick shower and I changed into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. There was a knock at the door, and when I opened it, Lyla came walking into the room. Tonight’s pajamas were another new pair. The pants had a cartoon donut print, and the top said ‘Bed Hair Donut Care’. She was dragging her favorite blanket with her. She had started bringing it with her because I always kept my hotel rooms extra cold.
“So I was thinking that we should start a TV show tonight instead of watching a movie. We do this every night. Let’s find a show.” She was texting on her phone as she walked past me. I smiled at how she functioned this way, she could walk around any obstacle and not spell a word wrong. I’d watched her do it in multiple countries now.
“Sounds good to me.” She sat on the bed and pulled her blanket over her lap as she yawned. “Are you sure you don’t want to just go to sleep?”
“No, I think we need to pick a show. Lizzy was texting me the list she’s built for maternity leave. Take a look at it.” She handed her phone to me so I could read the list Lizzy had sent her. I saw a text pop up on the top of her iPhone.
Lizzy: Have fun with Niall tonight.
Okay, maybe my friends were right, and it was mutual. I’d been trying to do my best to hide the way I felt about her, but I was clearly failing at it. They’d all figured out how I felt and noticed the way I looked at her. It had changed over the last few months, and I’d been worried that I’d get caught. Ever since that first night in Rio de Janeiro we had started spending off nights together, hanging out and watching movies. Then we started to hang out after shows as we came down off of the adrenaline rush we felt from the night. We had literally spent time together every night since the start of the UK leg of the tour. I noticed the biggest change in the way I felt in Dublin. Watching Lyla play with her nieces and Theo had melted my heart. She was so good with them, and Theo was clearly smitten by her, and I was becoming smitten myself.
“So which show do you want to start?” she asked. I hadn’t even actually looked at the list.
“Let’s do Mad Men.” It was the first one on the list that I knew anything about.
“Perfect,” she said. She was cheerful as she picked the episode on my laptop that was sitting on the bed in front of us. “I really wish we could watch this on the TV. I knew I should’ve packed my Apple TV to bring with me to hotels.”
“We will survive,” I replied. Next time we are in a city with an Apple store and time for me to make a visit I’m gonna go buy one so that this girl gets her TV the way she wants it. It wasn’t long when I realized that Lyla had fallen asleep with her head on my shoulder. I moved slowly and laid her down before I put a pillow beneath her head and covered her up with her blanket. I wasn’t sure that I should sleep in the same bed as her. I didn’t want her to feel like I was taking advantage of her. I grabbed my pillows and a blanket and fell asleep on the floor.
“Niall, wake up,” Lyla said. I could hear how tired she was in her voice. When I glanced at the clock, I saw it was about 1:30 in the morning. “Why are you on the floor?”
“You fell asleep on my bed, and I didn’t want you to think I was taking advantage of you.”
“Just get in bed, I’ll go back to my room.”
“No, stay in here. I’ll stay on the floor. You are exhausted.”
“Well, at least get back in bed. I don’t want you to sleep on the floor. Hotel floors are probably gross.” I stood up and climbed back into my bed. “Friends can share a bed, right?”
“Right,” I replied. “Get some sleep, Ly.” I brushed her hair out of her face.
“You too, Ni.” It wasn’t long before she had fallen back asleep. I laid there for a while watching her before I finally fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, she was still asleep next to me, but in our sleep, she had moved into my arms.
“Lyla, wake up,” I said. She stirred a little bit before stretching and hitting me in the head. “Ow!”
“Oh shit, sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.” She looked down at my t-shirt and started to laugh. “Or drool on you.”
“A beautiful girl drooling on me is better than when I used to have to share a bed with Harry. Actually, Zayn was worse.” She continued to laugh.
“I need to go get ready.”
“I’ll see you for breakfast,” I said as she got her stuff and left my room. “What the fuck?” I rubbed my face and fell back onto the bed. “What the fuck am I doing?”
The day went by like it normally would. Breakfast. Workout. Press stuff. Sound check. Meet and Greet. Show. We were headed from Stockholm to Copenhagen tonight with tomorrow off. I’d made plans with my security guard to go to an Apple Store and it we were back by 11:00 AM. I put it in a bag sitting on the bed in my room knowing that because I’d just sent a text message to Lyla that she’d be here any minute. And there it was. The knock at the door. I opened it to see her smiling. Unlike most of the time she showed up she didn’t have on pajamas, she had on tight black jeans, a white t-shirt and a plaid shirt over it.
“So I think today we should explore. Let’s go have fun, Fun Hater.”
“Okay, but first I have a gift for you.” I handed her the bag, and she opened it.
“You bought me an Apple TV?”
“Yeah, so our nights can have the shows on TV and not on my little laptop screen.” Her arms wrapped around my neck hugging me. Her hair smelled incredible, like flowers.
“You are the best, Niall. Absolutely the best.”
“Well, I thought you deserved a gift.” She hadn’t moved her arms from around my neck when I glanced into her eyes. This was it. This was the moment. I bent down and gently touched my lips to hers. It was a soft kiss, innocent even. I pulled back and watched as she slowly opened her eyes.
NotesI have had this story in my head since the very beginning. My intention when I started writing London Calling was ALWAYS for Niall to end up with Lyla. So this has lived in my mind for years at this point. I’m glad it’s finally out in the world to share with everyone. I was clearly ready to do it too as I wrote all of this in one sitting.
I also am so happy to hear that people are excited for the return of London Calling’s world! I am still accepting requests for what you want to hear. Perhaps this little bit of Niall and Lyla will help spur ideas for people. Please submit any ideas you have to me and I will add them to my ongoing list of requests.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little visit back to London Calling as much as I have. I can’t wait to hear what you think.