"Attention passengers," the Pilot said, coming on the intercom. "We have just been advised that we are heading toward some weather patterns that might cause a little turbulence. We are turning on the fasten seatbelt signs. Please return to your seat as soon as you can. Thank you."
I looked at Harry as he gathered his things. The younger lady came by to collect the empty cups and trash as he stood up. "Excuse me," Harry said, stepping around her.
"It's no problem," she said. I smiled as she looked over at me, the blush on her face evident even in the dim light of the cabin. I just smiled and gave her a single, quick nod before looking back at Harry.
"We'll continue this conversation in a bit," he said. "I should probably get some things done anyways. And you have to get to your Christmas movie." He was for sure judging me. I could hear the sarcasm in his voice and the way he dropped his natural accent on the last word.
"Christmas movies are totally acceptable year round," I chimed in defence. He shook his head as I pushed the table top back down, allowing for more space. I curled up in my seat. The TV turned on to the same screen with a list of movies I'd been contemplating earlier.
I heard Harry sit down in his own seat a few seconds later just before I put my earbuds in. I realized just how accommodating the first class seats were. The same stewardess- I never did catch her name- brought me a pillow and a new, thicker blanket as well. She also showed me how to lift the foot rest on the seat, essentially creating a little bed within the confines of the walls.
"You won't be able to put it up yet with the seatbelt sign on," she explained. I noticed that she was giving me a lot more friendly service after our little chat by the bathroom earlier. "But when it goes off you can. We will be bringing around lunch in an hour, if we can do so safely."
Even if Harry hadn't been sitting beside me and was now going to be coming to hide away at my house for a few days, this alone would have been worth the extra money for the upgrade.
I used the little remote to scroll through and find something to fall asleep to. If I slept a couple hours now, I would be rested enough for the four hour drive home when we landed. There were hundreds of options, both American and British films. I smiled when I saw The Holiday come onto the screen.
I settled down into the pillow and focused on the movie as the opening scene started. I hadn't seen this movie in so long that it felt like I was watching it for the first time. I smiled as the scene of Cameron Diaz on her first class flight came on, realizing I was in much the same position as she was.
I could feel my eyes start to get heavy as Diaz's character was just meeting Jude Law's. They were about to kiss as I drifted off to sleep.
My eyes fluttered open to bright lights. The cabin was much brighter now than the dim light my eyes had grown accustomed to. The movie was still playing, but I knew it was close to the end. I'd slept for at least an hour and a half and felt well rested. I stretched my arms and legs, letting a quiet sigh escape my lips. I realized that the earbud I had in earlier was no longer in my ear.
I pulled my arms out from under the blanket and sat up straighter. That's when I noticed Harry was once again leaned over toward my seat. The window was more like a large section of wall that could be pushed down and essentially opened up a large viewing area where we could see each other's screens. We just couldn't see each other if we both sat back in the seats.
He wasn't looking at me though; his eyes were fixed on the movie. I smiled to myself when I saw that he'd been the culprit of the missing earbuds. I didn't think he even realized I had woken up yet.
His chin was resting in his right hand, his eyes fixated on the film. I wasn't sure why he hadn't just put it on his own screen. I reached up and poked his arm, just above his elbow.
I had to stifle a laugh as he jumped, his head dropping a couple inches as his arm slipped from where he had it perched. His eyes shot over to me as I failed to contain my laughter. "I'm so sorry," I said, taking a deep breath. "I didn't mean to scare you so bad."
"I didn't even see you wake up," he said. "How long have you been up?"
"Just a minute," I said. "Long enough to realize you stole my headphones when I fell asleep."
"Sorry about that," he said. He took the earbud out and handed them back over to me. "I just looked over and saw what you were watching. Then saw you had fallen asleep. I watched about ten minutes of it in silence before I realized those had fallen out of your ear."
"I thought Christmas movies weren't in style yet?" I teased, sitting up straighter. I ran a hand over my hair, realizing I would need to redo the bun it was in. I was sure my hair was sticking up everywhere.
"I make an exception for some," he said. "This one was popular with my sister and mother growing up. I haven't seen it in a while; forgot how good it was."
"Same," I said. I pulled my hair out of the hair tie and shook my head. My vision was blurred by strands of hair as it fell in every direction, across my shoulders, and settled down my back. I ran my hands through it, getting the little knots and tangles out. My hair was mostly straight but it turned into full curls at the end.
"Your hair is really long," Harry said, stretching out the word. I laughed at his obvious observation. "How long have you been growing it out?”
"About four years, I believe?" I decided to leave it down for now. "I got my hair cut back then and the lady absolutely butchered it. I hated it and vowed I wasn't going to cut it again aside from little trims here and there."
"I remember getting mine cut," he said. "It was weird after having long hair for so long."
"Ever think about growing it back out?" I asked. I didn't have anything to do with my hands so I pulled my hair to the side and started aimlessly braiding it.
"I can't," he said. "I have some things I'm in contract for that I have to have short hair for."
"Oh," I said, teasing. "Anything I'm allowed to know about?"
"Not allowed to say," he said. I dropped the section of hair I was holding and snapped my fingers, a playful smile growing on my face.
"Damn," I said. "What's the point in sitting next to you for eight hours if I can't get the inside scoop?"
Harry made a noise that resembled something between a laugh and a scoff. "How do I know I can trust you?" He raised his eyebrows, trying to give off a serious expression. It wasn't working.
I moved to the edge of my seat where I could lower my voice and he'd still hear me. "I'm trustworthy enough for you to stay at a stranger's house but not to know what your next project is?"
"You have a point there," he said, his whisper level matching my own. "I'll tell you about it when we aren't confined in a small space."
"How are we going to do this anyways?" I asked. The realization that I had no clue how we were supposed to sneak one of the biggest celebrities out of a crowded airport in the middle of the summer hit me.
"I was thinking about that," he said. "You said you're going to rent a car, right?" I nodded. "We'll be separated through customs and immigration anyways. I'll head to the VIP lounge while you get the car. Just call me when you are parked out front and I'll come out."
"Just park out front? Won't that leave you kind of... exposed?"
"Usually there's special parking, but you can't exactly get away with that with a rental. It'll be fine. I've learned how to dodge a crowd. Let me have your phone. I'll go ahead and give you my number. Just call me when you are parked."
I pulled my hands out from under the blanket and looked around for a moment, trying to remember where I put my phone. I turned to the left and opened the little storage compartment where I had found the blanket and pillow. Before putting the movie on, I had stuck most of my carry on items in there.
I left it turned on so I unlocked it and handed it over. My phone immediately dwarfed in his hand once again. It was only a couple seconds before he handed it back.
"I just put it under H," he said. "Also, I don't believe I've actually asked your name? You gave me your initials, but not your name."
I thought back quickly. I guess I hadn't. "Savannah," I said. "Savannah Jade."
The stewardess came by and grabbed my attention. I made a point to actually look at her nametag. Her name was Elsie. "I didn't want to wake you earlier," she said. "Would you like something to eat?"
I was in the middle of folding up the blanket and tidying up my little space. As soon as she mentioned eating, my stomach reacted. I looked at my phone. It said after one-thirty already. I hadn't eaten really since seven this morning.
"I would love something, please." I shoved the blanket back in the cabinet and turned my attention back to her. Harry is still leant forward to where we can both see him. I can see her eyes flicking between the both of us. "What are the options?"
I tried to hide my confusion as she listed off the different items they had available. I didn't know what half of the meals consisted of. After she listed everything, I thought for a second. I wasn't much for seafood so the crab and fish options were off the table immediately. "Can I just get the Four Leaves salad please? Thank you."
"Could I happen to get the cheese plate?" Harry asked, grabbing Elsie's attention. She nodded her head.
"I'll be right back with both of them," she said with a smile. "Do you want anything to drink?" She pulled her eyes away from Harry to look at me.
"Can I get a Gin and Tonic?" I asked.
"Of course," she said with a smile. "I'll be right back with that."
"Hey," Harry said, grabbing my attention. "I noticed you had your phone on Airplane Mode. You know with First class you get free Wi-Fi, right?"
"I did not," I said, hearing the surprise in my own voice. I reached for my phone. It was still on the screen where he added his number to my contacts.
I went to my settings as Harry told me how to connect it. I immediately started getting notifications from Serena as she continued sending more photos that she had taken over the Facebook messenger app. It was the easiest way to keep in touch. There were also a few messages from my mom. She was just checking that I got on the plane without any issues. I guess my lack of answering told her.
"Someone's popular," Harry commented. I looked up at him and my eyes followed a new line of sight as I realized he was now standing up. I had to tilt my head up to meet his eyes. He was leaning against the edge to the entrance of the little cubicle. He had one elbow propped on top of the wall and had his hip popped out, like he was standing with all his weight on one leg. He was wearing the hoodie again. His jeans had been changed to a pair of basketball shorts, paired with a pair of Nike tennis shoes. If the lady sitting opposite him by the window looked up, she would get a full view of his bum. I smiled as I thought the word. The British word was just more classy than 'butt' in my opinion.
"What's funny?" Harry asked, derailing my train of thought. His eyes were searching mine for what I was thinking. I just shook my head, certainly not willing to admit to him what my last thought was.
"Nothing," I said. "If you want to come back over here, feel free. I got the sleep I needed."
I turned my attention to my phone, pulling up my mom's message. I messaged her back, letting her know we were a little over halfway done with the flight and that I didn't realize I had WiFi included with First Class. I promised to call her when I landed and got on the interstate to head home.
The pictures from Serena were still coming in. I started scrolling back to the beginning of them, wanting to see what she was sending me. I knew she'd taken a lot of candid photos of me throughout the week. She knew I wasn't a fan of having my picture taken, but a few of them actually seemed pretty good. I had looked through and saved about ten of them before glasses clinking caught my attention.
Harry was standing with two glasses balanced in one hand as he reached to pull the table out. It seemed effortless for him. "Sorry," he said. "Elsie was making your drink and getting our food. I ended up signing something for her and just grabbed our drinks."
"Thanks," I said, taking my drink from him as he sat down. I didn't drink much, but I always imagined sitting on an airplane sipping some type of alcoholic beverage. I felt quite classy. "I'm sure she enjoyed that."
I set my drink down and looked at Harry's. I didn't have a vast knowledge in the different alcohols, but I was pretty sure he had a Scotch on the rocks.
"She kept it professional," he said with a shrug. "It happens all the time."
"Does it ever get annoying?" I asked. I used the armrests to pick myself up and tuck my feet underneath me. I wasn't too sure where my sandals had gone after falling asleep earlier. "The constant getting recognized?"
Harry looked around, like he was making sure no one was close enough to hear him. He nodded his head ever-so-slightly, closing his eyes as he did. What he said, though, was different. "It's okay. I don't mind it."
The words sounded rehearsed and I easily realized why. I had been a fan of One Direction and watched their interviews. It was the same words he'd been taught to say in response since day one. Of course, a lot has changed since then. Fan base grew, crazy fans came out from the woodworks. I'd seen videos and photos pop up of fans determining his exact location within minutes of a new photo being posted.
I just nodded and dropped the subject. I could see he didn't feel comfortable discussing it in a semi-public setting. I tried to think of something to change the subject. "So," I said. "What does the Harry Styles do on his days off?"
His smile returned. "Mostly just relax. It depends on where I get my day off."
"You're at home, no public, no phone calls. What are you doing?"
Harry opened his mouth to say something but held back his words as our food was set on the table for us. The salad was larger than I was expecting for a plane meal. She set a packet of Italian dressing beside my plate, along with real silverware for both of us.
"Thank you so much," I said, smiling up at her. "It looks amazing."
"Is there anything else I can get either of you?"
"I'm good," I said. I glanced over at Harry as I picked up the fork. "Need anything?"
"I'm also good," he said. I realized then how different his voice sounded from talking to me to talking to someone else. His voice didn't get any higher or lower, but his accent became thicker when he spoke to the stewardess. I laughed to myself as I observed him. Harry must have seen my expression because he tilted his head just slightly, a half grin on his face.
"Nothing," I said, dismissing his questioning stare. "Back to the question. I'm honestly curious what an international superstar does on an honest-to-God day off."
"As little as possible," he said without missing a beat. "I don't get to often, but I sometimes make myself take breaks. I'll stay home, watch some telly, maybe play a bit of guitar."
I listened to him continue talking about different things he does just for fun or to relax as I took another bite of my salad. I hadn't realized how hungry I was until the second bite. The salad was in a plastic container, much like at a take-out restaurant, so I picked it up and sat back in the seat again.
I was focusing on getting a baby tomato to stay on my fork when I caught something he said. "Wait," I said, confused. The tomato fell once again back into the salad. "What is Tenpin?"
"Bowling," he said, matter-of-fact. "You've never heard it called tenpin before? It's an American word."
"I apologize for being an uncultured American," I said in the most serious, 'my condolences' voice I could muster. I even crossed my hand over my chest to outdo my own voice. "But that's not something I expected you to say. I love bowling but don't go near as often as I'd like to."
"We should go," Harry said. His words threw me off for a second. I hadn't actually thought about what we would do over the next couple days or if he was even planning on staying the whole time I had left.
"It's a date," I said with a smile. I shot him a playful wink to let him know I was kidding about the date part. "I have to warn you though; I'm quite the pro bowler. There are times where I even hit over a hundred."
If we hadn't been conscious of the fact that we were on a plane, I'm positive both of us would have laughed a lot louder at my terrible joke. I finally got the tomato on the fork and popped it into my mouth, trying to not choke on it as I struggled to keep a straight face.
"In all realness," I said. "I haven't been bowling in two years, I believe? I don't do it for a league or anything; just for fun. A couple rounds, a beer, some air hockey. It's a pretty cheap night out."
"I don't think I've been in about a year," he said. I set the now empty salad container on the table and picked up my drink. There was only a sip or two left so I downed it quick. It wasn't strong at all, but I knew that would be the only one I drank. On the plane at least. "What is there to do in your hometown for fun?"
"Umm," I lost all track of thought then. I didn't get out much just for fun. Between work and school, I barely had time for myself. My type of fun was more staying at home or long drives. "The downtown scene is okay. There's a couple good bars that have live music. Movie theaters, bowling alley-" I shrugged that last one as an obvious pastime. I tried to think of less public outings. "Surrounding areas, there are a lot of good hiking trails with amazing views."
"I want to do that," he said. I smiled at his tone of voice. He sounded more excited about hiking than I'd heard him in the last several hours about anything else. "Are the views good?"
I thought about it. Which one would I suggest? A shorter, easier hike with a decent view or something a little more challenging but definitely worth it? I've hiked all the main ones around Roanoke at least once before.
"I peg you as more of the challenging type so I would say McAfee's Knob. It's absolutely beautiful, especially if you catch the sunrise. You have to start hiking at like three in the morning though, depending on the time of year."
I watched Harry as he grabbed his phone and typed a few things. I assumed he was looking up photos. I watched his eyes grew wide as the results popped up.
The photos started a steady conversation about what the hike was like, how long, and what the other trails around the area were like. The stewardesses came around a couple times, handing out snacks and drinks in an almost constant rotation. We changed topics several times as Harry shared more about his experiences and travels.
I loved listening to him talk and watch his hand motions. He loved to use his hands a lot, making motions as he described the way different things looked or worked. I was more than content to just listen to him, but it made me realize just how little of the world I had seen. I wanted to travel more.
"Attention passengers," the pilot's voice came over the intercom just as I was telling Harry a story about my little sister.
"Finish this in the car," he said, holding back more laughter. "I want to hear the end of this."
"We are now turning on the fasten seatbelt signs. We will be landing in approximately fifteen minutes. Please find your seats, set your tables in the upright position, and thank you for flying with British Airways today. If you are visiting America, please make sure to fill out the immigration form and thank you for flying with British Airways."
I watched as Harry gathered his things to head back to his seat. He tossed back the last sip of his drink before stacking it beside mine for the stewardess to pick up. I made sure to stuff all of my things in my bag. I took off my hoodie, shoving that on top of everything else. It was the middle of July and I knew the weather was going to be hot when we landed.
I turned the TV screen off and focused my attention back to my phone. I already turned the internet off on it just because I wanted to save my battery. Elsie came around a minute later to take the empty cups.
"Thank you for flying first class with us," she said, sounding rehearsed. The smile on her face seemed genuine though. Her eyes flashed, once again, over to Harry and back. I almost didn't catch it staring right at her. "I hope you had a pleasant trip."
"I did," I said, smiling back. "Thank you so much for everything."
"My pleasure. Have a safe trip home."
I smiled, but her comment also had my brain running. Had she overheard Harry and I talking about him coming with me? I was pretty sure we kept our voices low enough that even those in the other seats couldn't hear us. Maybe she saw him put his number in my phone. She had come up to my side as he handed my phone back to me.
"I will," I said with a final smile. She moved on to the guy sitting by the window without another word.
My favorite part of flying was definitely takeoff. Feeling the plane land this final time meant that I was really back in America. Of course, vacation wasn't over yet, but it still meant I was that much closer to going back to the reality of my life.
First class was ushered out before anyone else. We agreed to ignore each other- it was more his idea, actually- when we stepped off the plane. It felt like another day as I thought about the old man. I wondered if he was doing okay.
I tried to keep my eyes glued to the signs leading me toward the car rental area. Thankfully, we arrived in Terminal B, which wasn't too far away from where I needed to be. Once I got through security and baggage claim and into the main part of the airport, I allowed myself to take everything in. I'd never been to the Ronald Reagan Airport before.
I grabbed my phone and turned on my internet. I had to send a picture to Serena. Everything was colorschemed in her favorite shade of yellow from the ceiling to the stair cases. It wasn't even noon yet here on the East Coast. The windows to my right were floor-to-ceiling and the still-rising sun was glinting off the shade flaps, casting shadows across the floors as well.
I decided to walk outside and go to the rental area from there. The weather felt as beautiful as it looked. I felt the sun warming my skin almost immediately. There was not a cloud in sight and no breeze. I snapped another photo of the blue sky to send to Serena, jokingly asking her how the weather was over there. I knew it was set to rain most of the day today for her.
She'd just responded to me as I opened the door to the car rental place. I ignored her for a moment as I found the email confirmation I had saved in my bag. There were four other people in front of me. I wasn't sure why, but my nerves started acting up as I pulled up the contact simply labeled 'H'. I wanted to let him know that I was in line to get the car. I noticed that there was a short term parking area just behind the rental building that led to a walkway directly from the airport. I figured that would be the easiest instead of trying to get through the drop off/ pick up lines.
Hey, it's Savannah. In line to get car now. Best bet to take walkway outside Terminal A. I'll be in the parking lot there. Will let you know car type and color when I confirm and get keys.
I read the text in my head three times before my thumb finally hit send. I heard the little whoosh sound and it popped up as delivered. It was a real number at least, I thought to myself.
"What can I do for you?" the lady behind the counter smiled and took my confirmation sheet from me. I also handed over my driver's licence so she could make a copy. My anxiety started rising as I thought about the possibility that I wouldn't be able to get the car. It wasn't ready, they gave it to someone else, they didn't have it. "Everything looks good. If you can just sign these two sheets and I'll get the keys for you."
I relaxed my muscles as I picked up the pen and signed on the solid line. I'd already read the documents when I made the reservation. My phone dinged with a text. I glanced at it and saw it was from Harry. I unlocked my phone as I waited for the lady to return with the keys.
"Okay." I read the word aloud, but knew no one could hear me. Changing ticket over now. I will be ready in a couple minutes. I kept that part to myself. So this was really happening.
"Here you go," the lady said with the same smile. "I have the drop off time set in Roanoke for tomorrow morning. Is that correct?"
"Okay. I'll just confirm that in the system and you're good to go. The car is located outside the building and to the left. It should be in the first row of cars. Maybe the second. Have a great day."
"Thank you. You too," I said. I balanced the keys and my phone in my hand as I rolled my suitcase back outside.
Relief flooded my veins as I saw the car exactly where she said it would be. I unlocked it and opened the back hatch, lifting my suitcase into the vehicle. I set my carry on bag next to it, remembering to grab the dashboard mount for my phone and the charger before closing the hatch. I wasn't sure how many bags Harry had, but we had the entire backseat as well.
I turned the car on and pulled forward out of the space. I would park first to let him know exactly where I was. The short-term parking lot wasn't too large, but it was almost full. I found a spot three lanes away from the walkway, a little more than halfway down.
I'm parked. Row C, about twenty cars down from the walkway. White Toyota.
I started fiddling with the car buttons while I waited for him to either show up or text back. The AC blasted cold almost immediately as I turned it on. I adjusted the steering wheel level just a bit so it was more comfortable.
My phone rang. It was Harry. I put it on speaker phone and attached it to the dashboard mount. "Hey," I said, not sure how else to answer when Harry called.
"I'm about to walk out the door," he said. "Could you meet me as close as you can to the walkway?"
"Of course," I said. I put the car in drive and looked around to make sure it was clear to pull out. "I'm pulling up there now."
"Thank you," he said. "I'll see you."
The call ended before I could say bye, but I wasn't concerned about it. I figured he was trying to just get out as soon as he could. I recognized his hoodie as he walked out. I made sure the door was unlocked for him to get in. I watched around him too. The airport was busy and the walkway was no less crowded than inside. I could see a few people glance in his direction, but between having his hood pulled up around his eyes and his sunglasses on, he wasn't totally recognizable. I'm sure he usually had security and people around him as well that drew attention. No one would think twice about someone pulling their own suitcases. He had two of them.
I saw a group of girls walking toward the airport turn around and do a double take. "Please don't stop him. Please don't stop him." I chanted the prayer to myself until they finally turned back around. I could see one of them pull her phone out though. I made a mental note to myself to check social media later to see if the pictures surfaced on any fan accounts.
I gave Harry a quick wave just to confirm he saw the vehicle. He set his things in the back and slid into the passenger seat. I took my foot off the gas and started inching forward into the line of cars.
"Shit," Harry said, his hands flying toward the dashboard. He relaxed again, laughing, as he sat back into the seat.
"What was that?" I asked, my heart rate probably matching his right now from his sudden outburst.
"Forgot I wasn't behind the wheel for a second," he said, his breathing returning to normal. "I'm used to sitting in the backseat or driving."
I laughed at that as someone flashed their lights to let me go ahead of them. I shot a quick wave to them as a thanks. "Do you drive when you're in America?"
"I do. You know I have a house out in California, right?" he asked. He wasn't using a condescending tone or anything, but I still glanced over at him. He had yet to take the hood or glasses off. I realized he was probably waiting until we got on the road where there weren't people milling about that could spot him.
"I did." I said it matter-of-factly, but shot him a quick smile to let him know the next words were a total joke. "I'm like your number one stalker, don't you know?"
"Funny." It was just one word, but I could hear the sarcasm in his voice.
"Honestly, yes, I did know you have a house in California. I read it in an article somewhere. I just assumed you have people that drive you around everywhere."
"A lot of time we will use a car service, but I like to drive as well. Or if I'm in one place for a length of time, I will just for small runs. If it's business though, I'm picked up just because it's easier to have all of us in one car. My team, I mean."
"Wasn't assuming you meant anyone else," I said. "Which lane do I have to go through to get out of here?"
Harry and I both took a second to look at the different lanes. There were several booths that were for exiting. Two were for long term parking tickets, one for short term and another that was just labeled 'Other Services'.
"I think it's the last one," Harry said. It was one lane over. I glanced in the side mirror to see if I could get over. There were already lines of cars behind me in all four lanes.
"Just a heads up," I said as I switched on my signal and waited for someone to let me over. I kept inching up slowly, allowing more and more space between us and the car in front of me. "I hate driving in heavy traffic and big cities so until we get to the interstate, you get to experience my slight road rage."
"You're a good driver though?" Harry asked, looking over at me. I moved my eyes from his to behind us to make sure I had the space to move over.
"Never been in a wreck if that's what you're asking." I sighed when I was safely in the correct lane and pressed in the brake to wait in line. There were at least six cars ahead of us to exit the airport parking lots. I finally looked over at him. "You really took a big chance on just leaving with me. Second thoughts?"
"No," he said with the smile that stretched more on one side than the other. "I feel that I should be worried."
"Nah," I dismissed his words. "I love to drive so you're good. I'm just not used to driving in big cities, but I have the GPS on to get us home so I'll be fine. And as far as you staying at the house, I'm not going to grill you with questions or post anywhere online that I met you or anything. That's your business. You may not feel the same way-" I looked over at him after I pulled up another spot. Just four more cars now. "But I get secondhand pissed when I see videos of paps or even fans just bombarding celebrities wherever they go. Like just have a conversation."
"You're quite passionate about this," Harry commented. I nodded my head, not denying it. Even I could hear it in my voice. It was true though. I couldn't stand when people were so set on getting a picture or taking a picture without someone's permission. It made me mad.
There was one more car in front of us. I reached in my bag and grabbed the little ticket thing that the rental lady told me to hand them. It allowed me to get out without having to pay the rates. I noticed that Harry turned his face away from the person in the booth. My smile faded when it dawned on me how many little things he had to do just for something as simple as leaving somewhere unnoticed. I really hoped no one recognized him back home, I thought to myself as I handed the card to the man and he let us through.
"It's only four miles to the interstate and we'll be set. Are you hungry or anything?" I looked over at him. He took his hood off but kept the sunglasses on. I didn't blame him though now, because we were facing the sun now. I flipped down the visor, realizing I still had my own sunglasses packed away in one of the suitcase pockets.
"I'm good," he said. "How long is it to your place?"
"If we don't stop, GPS says we'll get there in just over four hours. I can order food for us when we get there. I don't have much at the house right now so I'll have to go to the store at some point tomorrow."
"What restaurants do you have there?"
I put my signal on as we came to a red light. The GPS informed me that I would take this turn and one more before merging onto the interstate. Someone honked their horn, but I couldn't tell if it had been directed at me or not. The turning lane light was clearly marked with a "No Turn On Red" sign.
"We have a lot. Of course, all the basic fast food places. Then we have the cheaper sit-in restaurants like Cheddar's and Applebees. Then more fine dining experiences like Carlos- which is a Brazilian restaurant. We also have places that serve Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, International." I could see from my peripheral vision that he was focused on me as I was talking but I didn't take my eyes off the road. "I haven't been personally, but if you want to go all out there's a place called Frankie Rowland's that I've heard nothing but good things."
"Why haven't you been if it's good?" he asks as I take the final turn. I can see the ramp to the interstate just ahead. The GPS lets me know as well.
"It's a little out of my price range. You easily drop over a hundred dollars for two just for a main course. More if you want an appetizer and dessert."
"We should go," he said. "I'll pay. Do they do reservations or just walk-in?"
"You don't have to do that," I said, looking over at him. I knew my face was scrunched in refusal. I realized that a couple hundred dollars wasn't a big deal for him, but I would feel bad if anyone else spent that money on me. He was no exception.
"Why not? I'd like to try it if it has good reviews. Maybe the night before I leave."
"I really don't want you spending that much money on me," I said honestly. "I can pay my half at least. I still have some money set aside I didn't use-"
"I don't mind paying," he interrupted. I remained silent, trying to figure out how to word why I didn't like people paying for me. I spent the last two years relying on my family to help me through rough patch after rough patch. I was finally in a place where I could afford everything and save money. It just made me feel like I would owe him money as well. And owing Harry Styles money is something I didn't want to have to worry about. "You can consider it as a thank you for letting me disappear at your place for a couple days."
"I didn't invite you to disappear so you would spend money on me," I said. Thankfully, I had to merge onto the interstate so I couldn't look at him.
"I know," he said. I could tell we were both feeling frustrated with each other. Cool, arguing with Harry Styles. Bucket List complete, I joked to myself. "It's something I want to do. It's not just for you. I'll be eating as well."
"Fine," I said, relenting. I somehow knew I wouldn't win this argument anyways. Evenso, deep down I still enjoyed the banter. It was the British accent. I would have to keep that to myself so he never used it against me in the future if we were in a similar disagreement. "But I'm paying for bowling and food if we get it delivered to the house."
"Sounds like a deal," he said, knowing he won. I settled into a steady speed as he started fumbling with the radio screen. My phone was still mounted with the GPS direction but I could see he was connecting his phone to the Bluetooth radio. "Are you a music person or silence when you drive?"
His question seemed concerning, like he was worried he just assumed something without asking. I smiled at that thought. "Definitely a music person. Even some podcasts. Put on whatever you want. Turn it up as loud as you want."
My smile turned into a full grin as I heard the first notes of Fleetwood Mac's "Gypsy" start playing. I nodded my head along, listening to Harry sing along. I mouthed the words, but there was absolutely no way I was singing in the car with him. The traffic was thinning out the further away from the airport we got. We were already almost out of D.C. itself.
The next song was "You're Still the One" by Shania Twain. He started singing and I couldn't help but fangirl a little bit.
"I've listened to the cover of this you did with Kacey Musgraves so many times," I said. "It's my second favorite behind Girl Crush. I've loved that song since it came out."
"I like performing that one," he said. Neither of us spoke again. He slowly started going back to singing and I just listened to him. The songs played automatically. It was a range of everything: from Stevie to newer pop music to singers like Elvis. I knew most of the songs he played which passed the time a lot quicker.
I'd been focused on a song I didn't know when I realized Harry had gone quiet. I glanced over and smiled. He was fast asleep with his head against the window. It was already past one-thirty. I still had over two hours to drive, but I was okay with it. I reached to turn the music down but the song was interrupted with his phone ringing. The screen on the car flashed with the name Jeff. I wasn't too sure who that was, but I let it ring through and go to voicemail.
The name popped up again a second later. I looked to see where Harry's phone was. He had set it in the cup holder. I contemplated waking him up to answer it. If they were calling back to back, it had to be important. Or it could be someone that was wondering where he was. Would they know right away if he missed his next flight?
I poked his shoulder lightly, figuring if he was in a deep enough sleep I didn't want to disturb him. I waited a second before laying a hand on his shoulder, shaking gently. I flashed my eyes between him and the road. Nothing.
I waited for the call to run to voicemail again before holding down the power button and sliding my finger across the screen.