Nathaniel stared at the door, his hand poised to ring the doorbell.
He had come here to make amends with Zara, hoping she’d give him a chance to explain.
How had he fucked up so badly?
The sound of laughter had halted him in his tracks.
He’d recognize it anywhere.
The deep voice that spoke next made his eyes widen in disbelief.
What the heck was he doing in her apartment?
He felt the stirrings of anger rise in him.
Anger and the first stab of jealousy.
He took one step back, his breathing labored.
Raking his hand through his hair, he forced the thick strands back.
No fucking way.
He had got to have misheard it.
She couldn’t be with Finn.
She couldn’t be with-
He stared up at the ceiling, a dull ache beginning to rise in his temples.
He imagined Finn sitting with her. Finn holding her hand. Finn looking at her like only he did.
Finn kissing her-
He squeezed his eyes shut, a growl threatening to erupt from his throat.
Where had all this anger sprung from?
His features hardened as he made his resolve.
Jerking forward, he rang the doorbell.
He couldn’t concentrate on anything.
He just needed to see her.
The sound of footsteps making their way toward the door.
Then it was opened.
His mood escalated from bad to worse when he saw the smile on Zara’s face before she realized it was him.
The smile vanished and her face lost its color.
Just as quick, her expression turned cold.
She didn’t say a word.
He took in his fill of her.
Her hair was left down, her face devoid of any make up. She was wearing the same shorts that she’d had on when they had made out for the first time in her apartment.
The anger tripled.
“Where is he?“, his voice was rough, sharp.
She didn’t flinch.
“Why are you here?“, her voice was like a physical slap, ice cold and disdainful.
Nathaniel took a step forward, invading her personal space.
She didn’t move.
Those grey eyes that had sparkled each time she laughed now looked distant.
He hated it.
“What the fuck are you doing with him?“, jealousy laced his every word and he heard it clearly.
She stared at him like he had lost his mind.
“What is it to you?“, she hissed.
He couldn’t stop his reaction.
He grabbed her arm, none too gently.
Her eyes widened, fear settling in for just a second before she shut it out and pushed him hard.
Taken by surprise, Nathaniel stumbled.
“Don’t you dare touch me.“, she snapped.
“Don’t ever touch me.“, her voice cracked at the end.
He found it difficult to take his next breath.
“Is this your way of getting back at me?“, he asked, his voice accusing her, wanting her to fling herself in his arms and hold him like she had that day.
Zara gave a humorless laugh.
“I couldn’t care less about who or what you stick your tongue into. I’m just glad it isn’t me anymore.”
It was as if she had stabbed him in the chest.
He couldn’t form a reply.
She moved inside as if to shut the door, but then she paused and shot him a glare.
“Do you know what’s the only thing I regret?“, she asked in a soft voice.
Nathaniel felt his skin go cold.
“The fact that I trusted you. The fact that I thought you were different from the rest. The fact that I believed you were honest with me.“, she looked on the verge of tears.
Finally finding his voice he said, “Zara let me explain-”
"No.”, she said vehemently. ”You listen to me. I don’t want to have anything to do with you. Get it?”
Then she slammed the door in his face.
When she sat back down on the couch, she took a steadying breath, trying to calm her nerves.
Good work, Zara.
Her head turned toward the bathroom where Finn had disappeared just moments before Nathaniel had appeared.
She laid her head in her hands.
Her heart was beating viciously.
Her palms were sweaty and she felt drained.
This was exactly why she hated confrontations.
Her head snapped up when she heard Finn’s voice.
When he caught sight of her face, he stalled.
“Are you alright?“, he asked, his face concerned.
Zara couldn’t help smiling.
“Yeah. Just tired I guess.”
Finn sat down beside her, his eyes searching her face.
Zara took the chance to observe him.
He had just a slight trace of stubble growth on his cheeks. With high cheekbones that made her wonder what it would feel like if they kissed, and eyes that reminded her of the sky on a clear day, Finn was quite a looker.
What exactly did he see in her?
He reached out and placed his palm flat on her forehead.
Zara felt a pleasant coolness on her skin.
“You look unwell.“, he said, still worried.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Zara nodded her head, slightly dislodging his hand.
“Yes, I’m sure.“, she said in a deceiving voice.
Shit, she felt out of breath.
Standing up, she went toward the kitchen.
“Let’s have dinner.“, she tried sounding cheerful.
Her voice was strained.
When she began emptying the cartons of food, she felt Finn behind her.
She didn’t stop.
“I was gone for just more than a minute. Are you really okay?”
She turned to face him, her legs suddenly feeling weak.
Why did she have to meet Nathaniel?
Why had she let him break down her defenses?
Why had she fallen so easily?
She felt a finger under her chin.
Finn lifted her face to his.
“Is it because of what I said?“, he asked softly.
Zara shook her head.
He smelled of aftershave.
She liked it.
“Then what is it?”
He was standing close to her. Just one step more and they’d be touching.
“It’s nothing, Finn.“, she lied.
He didn’t seem to believe her.
“You know you can talk to me right?“, he said in a solemn tone.
She liked the way his eyes focused on her completely. It was nice to be paid attention to.
She had almost forgotten what it felt like.
“Yeah, thank you.”
He gave her a hesitant smile.
Suddenly feeling immeasurably vulnerable, Zara closed the distance between them and laid her head on his chest.
Finn stilled for a second and she thought she had made a mistake.
But then his arms lifted to wrap themselves around her.
Zara blinked back the tears in her eyes, lightly placing her hands on his waist.
He hugged her to him, smoothing his hand over her hair.
“You’re a really nice guy.”
A silent chuckle rumbled in his chest.
Zara felt the corners of her mouth lift.
“You’re a really nice girl, Zara.”
Hugs were so not overrated.