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Wake Me Up (Chapter Three)

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"Amber," a hushed voice attempted to drag me from my sleep. I shifted slightly on the pillow I was on, then silently listened for the noise again. I felt a bump beside me that made me open one of eyes to sunlight pouring in from the window on the wall.

"Wake up," the same soothing voice called again and I rubbed my eyes with cold hands and moaned from sleepiness. I found the sheets that were hopelessly covering up only the bottom half of my body and I pulled them up and over my head in rebellion to the new day.

"Hey, Love," I recognized Ed's voice from behind me, on the other side of bed. I replied with a heavy sigh and rolling onto my back. My hair plastered on my cheeks and tickled my neck but I was too lazy to brush it off. I was about to close my eyes when something dragged the sheet off my face. I looked over to my left with blurry, morning vision, and saw Ed's eyes looking back at me. I shut them again and let me head fall to the side and back on the pillow.

"Something tells me you are not a morning person," Ed joked and I smiled weakly to give him credit.

"Come on, Love, wake up so we can go do something today," he tried to persuade me, but I shook my head in disagreement.

"Yea, you need to get out of the house," he argued with me. I knew there was no way I was going to get away with staying in bed, Ed was determined, and I found that out earlier on.

"Where?" I asked in a sleepy voice, still not opening my eyes.

"Well, I'd like to show you the studio," he answered me.

"Where you sing?" I asked again, not sounding anymore awake.

"Yea, it's pretty cool there, I think you'd like it," he explained to me while I rubbed my face with my chilly fingers to wake up.

"And you'll get to meet Charlie, he's a good guy," Ed continued telling me. I could sense the bit of excitement in his tone and was amused by how passionate he was about bringing me there.

"But, we'll never get there if you don't get out of bed," I felt him yank all the sheets off my body and I groaned at him, letting my hands search the mattress for them. With no luck I pulled my legs closer to my body and rolled completely to the left. My eyes opened all the way to Ed laying in bed next to me. He was fully clothed in garments for the new day, and laid on top of the sheets, looking over at me with a mysterious grin.

It was a bit of a surprise to wake up to him next to me. All the other mornings I had awoke to him missing. I would be on my own for breakfast, and finally see him around lunchtime. I enjoyed the time I had alone, it helped me prepare myself for talking.

Talking to Ed, however, was getting easier and easier. By now we could ramble on without any awkward silences. He would make me smile, and even laugh here and there, and at the same time he was enjoying seeing the new side of me. I was coming out of my shell quicker and quicker, but I knew I still had one large step to overcome. I wasn't sure if I was strong enough for it yet, but I was feeling closer to the moment everyday.

The nightmares I was experiencing had disappeared completely, but no nice dreams replaced them. I would usually sleep through the night without any dream and wake up around nine in the morning to silence. I liked the schedule, because, like Ed said, I'm not a morning person, and having to interact with people right away wore me out. It was a feeling I was going to have to get very used to, I feared.

"Last night you flinched and smacked me on the back," Ed suddenly said and shook me from my thoughts. I frowned at him and wondered why he was smiling at that.

"I'm sorry," I said in a small voice and he just propped his head up on his hand and set his elbow on the pillow under him.

"You don't have to be," he mumbled back. We laid there again in silence, staring into each other's eyes, thinking about what the other one might be wondering. Then, randomly, Ed got up from this laying position and slipped off the bed. I sat up and watched him gather his mini guitar that leaned up against the wall and hold it by the neck near the dresser.

"We'd better get going, Charlie hates it when people are late," He told me, and at that, I got up and off the bed.

"I'll go makes us some tea, you can come out whenever you're done," he told me before exiting the room and shutting the door, leaving me alone. I sighed and wandered over to the dresser and found the pile of t-shirt and a few shorts shoved in the right corner of one shelf. I chose a random shirt and pair of shorts, then began stripping down.

I stood in the middle of the room in only my bra and underwear for a second and looked at myself in the mirror that hung just above the dresser. I admired myself and how I was was finally getting some meat on my bones. Having access to almost unlimited food was something I still hadn't adjusted to, and I found myself eating way more than I should. It did feel good to have something in my stomach, and it filled in that feeling of emptiness for a bit.

I was quickly getting addicted to any food I tried. This pasty called Pop Tarts quickly found a place in my heart. The first time I discovered them, I ended up eating at least seven in one sitting. I immediately regretted it later when I got a hideous stomach ache, however, I still ate them, just in more controlled portions.

One day Ed brought home a pizza from who knows where and I got too overly excited over it. I only had pizza a few times ago when I was very young, at just the sight of it made me smile uncontrollably. I ate most of it, only leaving Ed with a few pieces, but I think he was too busy being amazed by how much I could fit in my stomach at one time to be too mad at me. I also noticed how he was bringing groceries home everyday, which was something very different for me.

We hardly had food at home, and seeing groceries was a rare thing. I was lucky to get at least one meal a day at home, and my mom would sometimes give me her food. It hurt, and I would often go to bed with an empty stomach. The hunger took over my body, caving in my cheeks and making my bones stick out. I avoided the mirror as much as the fridge because I knew they were both filled with disappointment. I knew I never wanted to go back to that way of life, there was no way I would survive after living here.

I sighed deeply and pulled the shirt over my head and threw on my shorts quickly, then made my way out of the bedroom and into the bathroom just down the hall. There I brushed my teeth and hair and got ready for the new day. I combed my brown hair so it laid over my shoulders like my mom's used to. That and the few freckles I had across my nose were the only features I got from my mom. Whenever I looked at myself, I only saw my dad staring back. We had the same face, same nose, and same eyes.

My eyes were bright blue and outlined with a darker shade, just like his, although I never saw them like that. The only time I looked him in the eyes were when they were black and full of anger, where I could see my scared reflection staring back in horror. I wondered if mine did that when I was mad, or if it was only the alcohol taking over his body. I hoped madly that of all the things I did inherit from him, I wouldn't get his eyes. Those eyes had seen their share of fear and pain and I never wanted mine to.

I eventually made my way from the bathroom and into the kitchen where I found the front door to be wide open. I peered out in time to see Ed shutting the back door to his car and turn around to return inside. It was a nice day, and the sun shining down on him made his usually red hair even brighter. The t-shirt he wore had sleeves high enough up on his arm to show off his tattoos to the public, and despite the warm weather, he still wore a pair or long jeans.

"I made you a cup of tea," he told me when he got close enough, he squinted his eyes against the sun and made his nose wrinkle.

"It might help you wake up," he brushed by me and to the stove. On the counter beside it was a mug with steam pouring out the top of it. He wrapped his fingers around it and carefully handed it to me.

"Thanks," I mumbled and took the warm cup from him. Without thinking, I held it up to my face to take a sip, but I pulled it away quickly when the hot ceramic scorched my lips.

"Careful, it's hot," Ed said jokingly, then winked at me. I rolled my eyes and him and turned to go sit at the table nearby, but his voice stopped me again.

"Do you know how to braid?" He asked randomly.

"No, I don't think I do," I said back. I remembered seeing my mom's hair pulled back in a braid often, but I never thought to ask her to teach me how.

"I can show you," he said a with an excited tone, "come on," he led me through the kitchen and into his room again where he sat on the bed, so his feet hung off the side of it. He patted the space I between his legs on the bed. I clutched the hot mug with two hands and tried my best not to spill any tea as I took a seat on the bed, close to Ed. He let his legs rest next to mine and I felt his hands pull all of my long hair to my back.

"My old girlfriend showed me how to do it," he started talking again, "she made me practice on her hair a ton," I looked up at his face in the mirror across from us and could see by the way he smiled that all those memories where flooding back into his head. His eyes were focused on his hands work, and I could feel slight tugging on my scalp.

"She said I would need to know how to do it so when my daughter asked me to braid her hair, I could," he explained, "I'm surprised I still remember how to."

"You're not with her anymore?" I asked vaguely, then let my eyes wander across the top of the water that the mug held.

"My old girlfriend? No, we haven't been together for a while," he said in a quieter voice, "it never worked out."

"Are you still friends?" I asked, a little hesitantly. He shrugged and sighed deeply.

"We've gone our separate ways," he said a bit bummed, "but all of it made for some good songs."

"Those songs you write are about her?" I couldn't help but ask.

"Yea, but I hope that I can start writing new ones for someone else. Maybe they'd be happier," he laughed slightly. I could tell his mind was wandering, and I wondered where too. I had never head him talk about his past like this, it was almost if he was covering up his sadness. Maybe wasn't the only one with a dark past. Maybe I wasn't the only one hiding things.

"What about you?" He suddenly asked.

"What do you mean?" I perked up again and met his eyes in the mirror.

"Have you had a boyfriend?" He asked, then looked back down at his hands.

"Oh no," I answered right away, "I didn't ever... Get out enough too... Meet anyone," I hesitated. I stopped going to school after the seventh grade, and even when I was going, I tried to lay low and hide my bruises. I wondered if anyone noticed it when I suddenly disappeared, and I'm pretty sure neither my mom or dad called in to let the school know I wouldn't be attending anymore.

"That's surprising," he chuckled, "you would think someone as pretty as you would have boys following them everywhere," he compliment me and I could feel my cheeks burn up again at the compliment. I looked down at my hands again to hopefully hide my embarrassment. No one had been complemented me like that, and I wasn't sure how to react.

"There you are," Ed said before the silence between us could get too stiff. I felt something heavy drop onto my back and I reached behind to feel my hair wound into a tight knots. I ran my fingers down the smooth bumps that the braid made and I brushed into Ed's hand at the bottom.

"I don't have any hair ties, I hope rubber bands work," he apologized. When he let go I hopped off the bed making the braid fall over my shoulder. I looked at myself and turned my head to the left. I sighed quietly at the sight of my scar on my right cheek, usually my hair covered it up, but now it was sticking out, in plain daylight.

"I think you look smashing!" Ed jumped off the bed and stood next to me in the mirror. He was excited about the new hairstyle and I decided to keep it in, hoping nobody would point out my flaw.

"Are you ready to go?" He asked me and I smiled, trying to brush off any worries. It was going to be a good day. Ed was excited to share his life with me, and maybe it was time for me to share mine with him.



















~*~



After a short car ride that was filled with Ed singing along to whatever was on the radio and him laughing uncontrollably at a guy on the side of the road dressed in a ridiculous outfit, we finally parked in front of a small wooden building with a even smaller parking lot. With every minute that passed Ed was getting more and more hyper, he acted like a small child who'd drank an entire cup of coffee.

"Come on, Nigel," He mumbled as he pulled his guitar out of the backseat of the car.

"Who?" I asked. After he pulled it out, he held it up by its neck in front of me and nodded at it.

"Nigel," he replied with an attempted expressionless face.

"The guitar?" I smiled.

"Yep!" He couldn't hold back his smirk as we made our way towards the building. I walked beside him until he opened the door for me, then I stepped into a long hallway that was dimly lit and poorly decorated. I could hear a few voices echo from deeper inside the building, but I waited for Ed to venture in any further. He walked in confidently and quickly, his shoes tapping slightly against the tile flooring.

"Sheeran? Is that you?" A loud voice startled me from deeper inside the building.

"Sorry I'm late, Chuck," Ed said back, but in a quieter tone. I stepped closer to him the further we walked into the building.

"Late? You screwed up my entire bloody schedule!" The voice said again, sounded closer than before. Ed suddenly took a sharp turn to the left and into an open room. I stayed right on his heels not wanting to be left behind. Honestly, I didn't understand why Ed liked it in there. It was a cold, dark place with very noisy people inside. The atmosphere made me nervous and jumpy.When I entered the room, I immediately took my place behind and somewhat to the left of Ed, just so I would slightly see the two people sitting before us.

My eyes quickly examined the first man, who's voice I recognized from the yelling when we first entered. He was sitting with one leg on top of the other and a slight hunch forward. He was awkward looking with a big nose and thinning hair, but the big beard he wore made up for the lack of hair on the top of his head. He was tall, even sitting down, and had a skinny frame with large hands. He looked approachable, with a big smile and kind, brown eyes. I could tell he was older than Ed, and the person sitting beside him in a swivel chair.

The first thing I noticed about the next guy was the large, curly, brown hair that sat on his head, the curls were arranged in no particular order, but still looked neat brushing across his forehead. He too was wearing a wide smile to show off his perfectly straight teeth. His eyes were an attracting bright green and they met mine from behind Ed. I looked away and down at my feet, hoping he wouldn't notice me.

"Glad you finally decided to show up, mate," The awkward man said in a hefty voice. Ed shifted slightly beside me and I could feel my heart beat faster with anticipation.

"I would have gotten here sooner if I knew Harry was going to be here," Ed replied.

"I heard you were gonna record something, so I thought I should drop by," the curly haired one spoke in a deep British accent, "and I brought you some doughnuts!"

I found a box sitting on a stool nearby, it was open and a few doughnuts with orange frosting and black sprinkles were sitting inside. I had suddenly forgot all about being nervous, and now all my attention was on the delicious pastry that was placed in front of me. Ed walked over to them and laughed.

"Thanks Harry," he chuckled, then picked two up. I stood now without Ed to hide me, and I let my two hands join each other in front of myself. I played with the end of my finger nails, trying to resist diving into the entire box of doughnuts. I hadn't hadn't had a doughnut in so long, and I tried my hardest not to get as excited as I did for the pizza.

"I'm pretty sure they're left over from last Halloween, but they were half off and matched your hair," the deep voice echoed through the room and into my ears. Ed nodded and held out the second doughnut for me to take.

"Want one?" He asked in a small voice, looking right into my eyes. I bit my lip and nodded lightly, taking the pastry with shaky hands. A couple of the sprinkles fell to the floor but I was too concentrated on the delicate frosting and fluffy base to care much.

"By the way, this is Amber," I felt Ed wrap his arm around my shoulders, but I only blushed at the sound of my name on his lips.

"That's Charlie," Ed pointed at the awkward man with the doughnut in his hand, then moved it towards the curly haired one, "and that's Harry Styles."

"Hello Love!" Harry said in a welcoming tone and winked at me. I smiled weakly back, somehow knowing that I was going to like this guy. I then took a small bite out of the doughnut in my hands. The sweet flavor immediately took over my senses and brought back memories of when we could afford sweets from the bakery. I didn't finish chewing my first bite before I was already taking another mouth full of the soft baked batter. At that moment I could careless about how old they might have been or whether I would get sick or not, I jut wanted the moment to never end. Ed had let go of me and was now wandering closer to his friends. I still stood in the same spot, not knowing quite where to go, until Harry spoke up again to me.

"Here, you can sit in this chair," he stood up and I was instantly shocked by how tall he was. Now that he was standing I could see his broad shoulders and long legs. The hands at his side could easily hold both of mine and a few other objects at the same time. I hesitated at first, but then made my way over to him, trying to avoid eye contact. I sat down in the chair he was previously sitting in and saw how my feet could hardly lay flat on the ground, while Harry had his entire leg extended out and resting on the ground by his heel.

I felt small sitting in between Charlie, Ed, and now Harry who had moved the box of doughnuts and used the stool to sit closer to us. Ed was sitting on a large control panel filled with flashing buttons and lights that rested just below a large glass window. Beyond the window as a whole new room with gadgets I didn't recognize. I could only name the few guitars and keyboards scattered about and the microphone that was perched on a long stick.

I drowned out the noise that Ed and his friends were making and let my eyes wander about the area at last. In the dim lighting I could see the red walls and the many records that were framed and hanging on the wall nearby. A few headphones lay on what looked likes giant, black box and a door that lead to what must be the room behind the glass. Ed guitar was laying against the wall near the door we came in and a small table with a pitcher or water and a few paper cups stood next to it.

"Should we get going so maybe I can get home sometime today?" Charlie's voice pulled me from my own thoughts and I watched as Ed walked over to retrieve his guitar.

"What sing are you going to sing?" Harry asked as Ed walked by and towards the open door I found earlier.

"Probably Hold On first," Ed said, took a pair of the headphones off the box, then disappeared into the room, shutting the door behind him. He reappeared behind the glass again, and slung the guitar over his head so it hung across his chest. I watched as he pulled the headphones over his red hair and positioned them over his ears.

"Pardon me, Love," Charlie made me jump as he dragged the stool he was on around me and closer to the control panel. I was now in between him and Harry, alone in a room I didn't consider comfortable yet.

"Can you hear me now, Ed?" Charlie asked in a loud tone after twisting a knob on the panel.

"Yea," Ed's voice replied through what must be speakers in the panel before us. He was speaking into the microphone that was held up by the stand in front of him.

"I don't know if you've heard him sing yet, but he's got quite the voice," Harry suddenly spoke to me. I looked up at him to see him staring back at me with his green eyes. I smiled and nodded, trying to get myself to say something.

"Yea, I've heard a bit of him," I said in a very shy voice. Harry's smile got larger when he heard me speak, like he had just accomplished something great.

"I love the accent," he said in a higher voice and I smiled at the strange comment.

"I don't have an accent, you do," I said with more confidence. He laughed at me, then tried to brush the hair off his forehead.

"Now I believe Ed when he says you're something special," He said, not trying to mean much, but I was blown away by what came out of his mouth. Ed never said anything about me being special, different maybe, but not special.

"He said that?" I could help but ask. And Harry nodded, turning his attention to Ed in the other room as he played a few chords into the speaker while he played with the knobs at the top of his guitar. He was rocking slightly back and forth on his heels while he worked.

"He's said quite a few things about you," Harry finally replied, "on the phone, he gives me a sort of update everyday," I was confused but what he was saying, but my head was putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Harry must have been the person he was talking to that one night I discovered he was planning to send me back home. Although I hadn't heard him say anything else about me while talking in the phone, that could explain where he was going every morning, away so he could talk in privacy. But why? Why couldn't I hear what was being said?

"I think he's getting attached to you," Harry finished his thought, "I don't think he'll be getting rid of you anytime soon."

"Whenever you're ready, Sir," Charlie's voice interrupted our conversation. I watched him work, keeping his fingers hovered certain buttons, ready to push them when the time came.

"Alrighty," Ed finished playing with the top of the guitar and strummed one long chord, followed by a tune with a beat. Soon after he stepped closer to the microphone and let his voice take over.

"It's alright to cry, even my dad does sometimes. So don't wipe your eyes, tears can remind you're alive. It's alright to die, if that's the only thing you haven't tried. But just for tonight, Hold On. So live life like you're giving up, cause you act like you are. Go ahead and just live it up. Go on and tear me apart," he closed his eyes tight as he sung, but the words that ran off his lips struck at my heart.

What he was singing came from his own mind, his own heart, and he somehow got it out on paper. Somehow his own hands let him play the tune his voice could match, and tell a story at the same time. Somehow I knew there was more to Ed Sheeran. He might be revealing in the flesh, but there was more to him, deep inside, and the only way he shared that was through his music, through every individual word he sung.

I hadn't seen half of this man, and just like him, I was hiding things. I knew right then, right there, that it was time I tell him. It was time that I share my past with him, because maybe he could help me. Maybe I should learn to trust a man, and maybe I'd live life like I should. My heart ached to know Ed, I wanted to be a part of his life, and he needed to be part of mine.

"It's okay to shake, even my hand does sometimes. So inside we'll rage, against the dying of the light. It's okay to to say that that's the only thing you haven't tried. But just for today, Hold On. So live life like you're giving up, cause you act like you are. Go ahead and just live it up. Go on and tear me apart, Hold On."



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