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Paths - Chapter 7

"Elliot thought he wanted to hog the spotlight for a while."
- Taylor -

I smelled the hazelnut coffee feeling the warmth on the tip of my nose. I watched him as he searched the wardrobe for a shirt. I burrowed myself back into his huge bed full of pillows and sheets.

"Now," Elliot turns around, flipping the t-shirt over his head, "Don't move. They can't know you spent the night here." I nod obediently. We didn't sleep together if that's what you're thinking. The paparazzi camped out last night, so he let me take the bed while he slept on the couch downstairs. I borrowed some of his old sweats to sleep in while my clothes were in the drier. Thankfully, Libby covered for me with bed checks and today was Saturday so we had classes off. Elliot was afraid that his roommates would get mad he let me sleep over, so we had to keep it a secret.

I was curious to see what was happening, so I slipped off the bed and scanned the hallway but no one was there. I decided to venture to the stairs, so I settled on a step and observed the kitchen scene.

"You fell asleep on the couch again," Henry tells Elliot as he pours himself another cup of coffee.

"Didn't you just bring a cup up to your room?" Charlie notices.

"No," Elliot mumbles.

"So, what happened last night, I heard lots of yelling before some doors slammed. Did you and Taylor fight?" Timothy asks.

"Yeah, but don't fret over it," he says taking a sip, though I see smile creep onto his face.

"You are awfully cheery for someone who got into a fight last night," Henry tells, taking a seat next to Charlie at the table. There was a slam near the front door.

"What in bloody hell is this," their manager Daniel walks in rage towards the boys.

"What are you talking about, Dan?" Timothy groans.

"Have you not seen the papers or magazines yet today?" Daniel asks in irritation.

"No." Charlie sits up. Daniel slams two magazines and two newspapers on the tables, each different prints, but all the same picture.

"Elliot thought he wanted to hog the spotlight for a while." The boys look at the evidence. On the cover of each one was a picture of Elliot and I kissing but my face was hidden. But, in big block letters above, it said something about Elliot being in love.

"Is that Taylor?" Timothy chokes on his cereal.

"No wonder you're so cheery this morning," Henry pats Elliot's back. Elliot's face is filled with shame.

"These are only a few of the many press releases," Daniel yelled at him. "You know what you did to this girl?! You know what you did to us?! The record label wanted you guys to please the audience, not come out with a scandal!" He stops, making the whole room go quiet. He takes a deep breath, still upset, "Where is this girl anyway?"

"Well-" Elliot began, but the coffee slipped from my hands out of a nervous shake, making me drop the hot coffee down the stairs.

They spot me.

Daniel slaps his palm on his face out of frustration while all the boys look between Elliot and I as if we are in trouble.

"Hi," I try to smile and wave.

After cleaning up the mess, Daniel sat us down on the couch. He paced in front of us.

"Is this really that big of a deal?" I ask Elliot but Daniel answers for him.

"Yes, of course it is."

"Don't fret," Elliot whispers.

"Please say she isn't a one night stand," Daniel quickly turns to us.

"Of course not," Elliot snaps. "I'm not stupid. I actually have feelings, Dan." Daniel only shooed away Elliot's remarks.

"Here's what we are going to do," Daniel comes up with a solution. "You two are going to go on television with Hillary again. We will tell her it is an exclusive. She can't refuse it. You'll tell them that she is a common school girl, a fan. You saw her in the crowd at one of your concerts and couldn't resist her. Love at first sight."

"No," Elliot stand defensively.

"Elliot, you have to," Daniel hissed.

"I'm not having her lie for me," he shakes his head.

"You've gotten yourself in this mess, we've got to get you out." Daniel gets into his face.

"Do I have to do this?" I ask from the side. They both answer.

"Yes."
"No."

Then glare at each other.

"You are a vital key to this, Tiffany."

"Taylor." I correct Daniel.

"Yeah, whatever. The audience must love you. If they don't, it will screw up the bands reputation. If they think you're a stuck up American girl, they will think lowly of the boys, you get it?" Daniel tells me, making me nod.

"Taylor," Elliot sits beside me, "You don't have to do this. I won't make you do anything."

"No, I want to. I don't want to ruin anything for you." I put my hand on his cheek. Daniel was already on his cell phone, calling up the station where Hillary hosted her show. Elliot put his hand over mine and smiled painfully before kissing me.

They got me home safely, setting up a time, they would pick me up tonight to drive me to the station.

I spent the afternoon in the room typing away on my computer a paper for my Advanced Theory class.

"Taylor Harris!" Libby bursts through the door, quickly closing it behind her, holding the magazine up to her chest to show me. "You scandal."

"Not now Libby," I try to dismiss the subject.

"No," she comes over to my bed, sitting next to me. "You are the most popular girl in the UK. Everyone is talking about you. I saw a commercial on a television in someone's dorm on my way here, they said you were going to be on Hanging with Hillary tonight. Everyone is going to watch."

"Sure..." I close the laptop, pushing it aside.

"You don't seem very excited," she calms down.

"Libby, they want me to lie. To lie about how we met, how we feel about each other." I spill.

"Oh cheer up, mate. It'll be okay. You guys are together, isn't that what matters," she pats my hand.

"But, I want it to be real. I want it to be all real. I don't want to form into something I'm not just to be with him." I explain.

"Then don't." She shakes her head. "Tell the real story about how you two met. Trust me, they will love you." She smiles at me. "Come on, I want to make you over for tonight."

So Libby worked her magic, putting me in an innocent looking yellow dress and a pair of white wedge heals, trying to make me look likable and approachable. She wished me luck, telling me she would be watching.

When the car pulled up, I expected it to only be Daniel and Elliot, but all the boys were there.

"We weren't just going to throw you to the wolves," Henry smiled, scooting over to make room for me. Their support meant more to me than I could explain, so I just returned the smile before taking the spot. They teased me all the way there about how I looked like a sun, but brighter.

Once arriving, people shuffled me from station to station, fixing strands of hair and touching up, make up before practically shoving me onstage where I met Hillary and Elliot.

"So you're the mysterious girl," Hillary grins.

"Yes, Taylor." I hold out my hand.

"Hillary, as you guessed." She takes it with a light shake. A man came out, counting down from five. "Ready?"

"I think so," I nod taking my seat next to Elliot who whispered how beautiful I looked. Good thing I was already wearing blush, otherwise it would have been obvious how much the comment touched me.

"Welcome back to Hanging with Hillary. Tonight we have an exclusive interview with Elliot from Chet and his girl, Taylor!" She introduced us, as the crowd cheered. I suddenly felt the heat of all the lights coming down on me and the pressure of the camera as I watched it zoom in on my face.

I was revealed, exposed even. All I wanted was to run out of stage and find a dark corner to hide in, just so people couldn't see me and my every flaw.

"Taylor?" Hillary gives me a confused looked.

"What?" I asked out of a haze.

"I was jut asking how you two first met," she smiled at the audience. I glanced over at Elliot, who looked pained to have me in this position. But, I straightened my posture and put on a gentle smile.

"Well, the first time we met, I was working in a cafe and he rudely budged in line but I got back at him by spilling coffee on him," I honestly tell. Everything and Everyone froze in that moment, unable to believe my statement. I staid true to it however and in a matter of seconds, Hillary recovered laughing, while the audience followed behind her.

"You are such a laugh, isn't she?" She asked the camera. I played along just enough. "Elliot, what made you realize you liked her so much?" We both turn to face him and he just smiles at me.

"Well, I admired everything about her. I couldn't get her out of my head," he give the audience a smile when they all "awe".

"Now, tell me a little about yourself, Taylor." She acts as though we are old friends, talking over a cup of coffee. Talk about myself? I'm not good at this. I begin to panic, feeling my palms become sweaty, I make my expression go blank. This was my defense tactic. But, when I felt Elliot's hand slide into mine, letting our fingers intertwine, I'm able to face the question.

"I'm just a farm girl from Louisiana. Here on a scholarship." I confess generally.

"What about your family?" Her questions make me get more and more nervous, but his grip tightens, reassuringly.

"I have an older brother, Jason, he's 19, and a mother," I tell.

"They must be so proud of you. To get a full scholarship and move halfway across the world," she brags about me.
"What an amazing young woman you have here, Elliot."

"Don't worry, I'm going to keep her," he smiles at me.
"Well thank you for coming on the show, so last minute. We will be back soon with the new star of the upcoming movie Love Sick, stay tuned," Hillary smiles at the camera before they tell us that we are out. Hillary thanked us for coming before escaping the bright lights.

"What did she do!" Daniel greeted us as we exit the studio.

"She told the truth." Elliot mumbled, walking straight to the car with his hand still in mine.

"She screwed up everything." Daniel yelled. Elliot let go of my hand, getting up in Daniel's face.

"Don't talk about her! Don't look at her! Don't get near her! Don't even think about her!-"

"Don't act like I'm not here!" I bark at the two of them. They both turn to me, realizing their fault. "Can I just go home, please?"

"Of course," Elliot uses a soft tone, wrapping an arm around me to lead me to the car. The ride was silent, neither of us were happy about the situation, but we both knew we were happy to be together. Once stopped in front of the dorms, Elliot turned to me, quickly kissing me. I push him away.

"I'm so sorry," he pleaded with me.

"It's okay. You still have a lot to prove though, Elliot." I remind him. He nodded and I gave in to kissing him one last time before exiting the car and heading towards the front door, not looking back.
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Published: 5/8/2012
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