Zara was too stunned to speak for a few moments.
Finn stood still, watching her, his blue eyes hooded with an expectant but uncertain look.
The silence was too loud, buzzing in her ears till she thought she couldn’t take it.
Was it only yesterday that she had seen Nathaniel with that bitch?
When she finally spoke, her voice was cracked and thin.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Finn looked like he had just been slapped.
“Ouch.“, he said softly, a grimace forming on his lips.
Zara instantly explained, “That’s not what I meant-”
He cut her off by gesturing to the couch.
“Let’s just talk it out?“, he suggested, a look of defeat appearing in those vibrant eyes of his.
Zara felt horrible.
Taking a seat across from him, she immediately began speaking, “Finn, look. I’m really sorry. But I-”
“Zara, wait.“, he said evenly, placing the bottle on the floor.
She pinched her lips and took a deep breath.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
How could this be happening to her?!
She did not want to hurt the guy who had just done her an immensely nice gesture and brought her food!
It was a first for her!
“I just want to let you know what I meant.“, he said, looking straight at her.
Zara felt her heart clench when she saw the way his eyes almost softened and he gave her a tentative smile.
“The day I first saw you at the club-“, he trailed off.
Zara held her breath.
“You stood out for me.”
She felt a small sliver of warmth blossom in her chest, inspite of her resistance.
Finn continued, “I remember thinking that you were the most alluring woman that I’d ever seen.”
Zara saw the faintest tinge of pink appear on his neck.
“And it wasn’t just about the way you looked. It was the way you are, you know. I can’t really explain.“, he said.
“When I spoke to you for those few minutes, or seconds rather, I felt how Mavis felt when she saw Jonathan in Hotel Transylvania.“, this time he turned more pink, but his voice was confident and firm when he spoke.
Zara stopped breathing.
“I know that sounds cheesy and exaggerated, but I felt at least one tenth of what she did. That click, I mean.”
He lowered his gaze from hers.
“There’s more.“, he stopped her.
“When you left that day, I almost followed you out, just to get your number or something so that I could stay in touch? But the most prominent feeling was that I had to see you again.“, he stated softly, his eyes earnest.
“I mean, just one more time. I couldn’t shake off the thought that I would regret it if I just let you go like that.”
He stopped speaking and looked at her.
Zara felt as though she could cry out from sheer surprise.
She grabbed her knees in her palms trying to convince herself that this was not a dream.
The room was silent, except for the occasional sound of a door closing in the hallway.
The moment stretched on and on.
Desperate to explain, she cleared her throat and said, “I-I don’t know what to say.”
Before he could answer she continued, “I really appreciate you being so honest with me, Finn.“, she implored him with her eyes.
“But I-I don’t think I’m in a place right now to get into any sort of relationship or...or anything that requires emotional involvement.”
His expression didn’t change.
She hurried on, “I don’t think I’m ready for it. And I don’t want to hurt you.”
She tucked the stray hair behind her ear.
“In any way.“, her voice softened.
“I’m sorry.“, she said after a pause.
Finn pursed his lips and nodded, his black hair falling across his forehead.
“Is this because of an old flame?“, he asked.
Zara thought about Nathaniel.
“No. It’s just me.“, she didn’t offer any further explanation.
He pushed his glasses up his nose in a manner that suggested it was a habit.
Finn had a thoughtful look on his face.
“You said you wouldn’t want to get into a relationship or anything serious right now, right?”
“So maybe after a while?“, he asked hopefully.
Zara sighed inwardly.
“I don’t know, Finn. I don’t want to lead you on or keep you hanging. It would be cruel on my part and unfair too.“, she said softly, her fingers fiddling with the hem of her shorts.
Taking off his glasses, he pinched the bridge of his nose.
Zara almost felt like a bitch for refusing him.
“But let’s just say that you were in that position.“, he said again, pushing himself up straighter.
“Would you consider going out with me sometime?”
What should she say?
Finn was staring at her with a neutral expression.
Deciding to go with the truth, she nodded.
“Yes, I would.”
His face broke out in a smile.
“Okay I don’t mean to push you but-“, he fixated his eyes on her, “Could we try it out?”
Zara opened her mouth to argue but he cut her off.
“Wait just listen, please.”
Zara shut her mouth and nodded.
“Let’s just have a beta test okay?”
When she looked confused for a second, he elaborated, “When a new app is being tested, to check out the bugs we have to improve on, we require users to use the app and report it to us. Like a trial run. We could try that.”
Zara listened attentively, her heart beating faster at the prospect of something actually happening between them.
Finn’s eyes took on a shine as he spoke animatedly.
“We could hang out and just spend time together, like say for a week or more. And then if you feel that you might be ready for something, anything at all that goes one step further, then we could talk and it and see where it goes.”
Zara bit the inside of her lip.
“But what if it doesn’t?“, she asked hesitantly.
Finn paused but gave her a brilliant smile.
Reaching out he slowly placed his hand on hers.
Zara looked down at her lap where his top of his hand covered hers. His skin was warm and felt really nice.
“You’re worth it.”
Zara felt her throat close up.
“But you don’t even live here.“, she said softly, her voice hoarse.
How could he be willing to do this for her?
“My manager just called today and asked me to check out a few projects in our office in California which isn’t that far away from the USC campus. I need to pitch in some help for one or two. So my stay here is extended indefinitely.”
“What a coincidence.“, she mumbled.
“I swear I didn’t plan it.”
Zara shook her head.
“Yeah right.“, she teased.
His face lit up even more and he gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
“So is that a yes?”
Zara took a deep breath and answered, “It’s a maybe.”