Zara stood still, her brain clouded with contradictory feelings.
Finn’s lips were soft on her mouth. Gentle. His hands held her just above her waist in a firm grip, his thumbs lightly grazing her front.
She didn’t know why she thought about Nathaniel.
But she did.
In the back of her mind, for one crazy moment, she compared the way he had kissed her with the way Finn currently was.
Then there was a slam of guilt in her chest and she shut out that part of her brain.
Slightly trembling from the direction of her thoughts, she lifted her hands and placed her palms on Finn’s shoulders, relaxing her body.
Her eyes closed, she leaned fully into Finn.
She felt her heart flutter when he sighed against her lips.
Then he tilted his head and hesitantly pulled back.
Zara followed him with her mouth.
“Was that okay?“, he asked softly.
Zara froze and her eyes popped open in disbelief.
His eyes were focused on her lips, his mouth inches away from hers.
“I thought I’d crossed the line.“, he breathed.
Zara didn’t understand for a second.
When it clicked, she had to stifle an incredulous laugh.
“There never was a line.“, she cupped his jaw, gazing into his blue eyes, her own breath quickening.
She felt it the moment his shoulders relaxed and he leaned his forehead against hers.
Zara tried in vain not to lift her head. To keep her lips from brushing his.
His arms moved to her waist, pulling her even closer so that she was just short of being pressed into his torso.
Finn ran his lips across hers once.
Zara’s hands wound themselves around his neck, her skin tingling with anticipation.
Then slowly, ever so slowly, he tilted his head and deepened the kiss. Holding her in his arms, Finn touched his tongue to the seam of her mouth, silently asking for permission to enter.
Zara parted her lips slowly, her grip on him tightening in a reflex.
The kiss lingered on and on, Finn’s tongue gently exploring her mouth, his hands running over her back, raising gooseflesh all over her skin.
Zara lost herself in his touch, her mind shutting down completely.
Pleasure coursed through her system, butterflies swirling in her belly.
When he finally pulled back, they were both out of breath.
Foreheads pressed together, Finn ran his hand up her side and cupped her neck.
Zara pressed her warm cheek into the palm of his hand before moving forward and placing her head on his shoulder.
“Can we do that again?“, Finn asked in a hopeful voice.
Shaking her head, she pulled away and looked up at him.
Finn brushed her hair away from her forehead, his lips curved in a smile.
“You’re beautiful.“, he said softly, a hint of reverence in his voice.
Zara felt her breath hitch.
For a few moments, they just stared at each other, Zara’s eyes drinking in his every feature.
“What?“, he smiled, running his finger across her cheek.
Zara’s eyes dropped to his lips and she smiled.
“We should totally do that again.“, she said softly.
Finn’s eyes widened for just a second and then his head dropped down to hers.
Nathaniel shut the door to the room and made his way down the lighted hallway.
It was nine already.
His parents were in the cafeteria, getting dinner for themselves.
He spotted Danielle just around the corner.
She was seated in one of the chairs, her legs crossed as she flipped through the magazines placed on the table next to her.
On spotting him, she immediately tossed it aside and came to him.
“How is she?”
Nathaniel ignored her and sat down, running a hand over his eyes.
He needed to sleep.
He waited just a moment for her to sit down too.
When she didn’t, he cut right to the chase.
“What did you say to Zara?”
He noticed it instantly when she stiffened.
“What are you talking about?”
Nathaniel stood up and glanced around.
There were nurses moving around with doctors. The waiting area was crowded from where he could see.
Nathaniel gripped her hand and led her into the hallway. Stopping in front of a closed door, he turned to her.
“I’ve been asking you the same question for the entire week, Danielle. And I swear I’m losing my patience now.“, he hissed at her.
She stood before him defiantly, her chin tossed high.
“And my answer remains the same. I told you what she said to me. How she couldn’t stop bad- mouthing you!”
His hands fisted at his side.
Had Matt lied to him?
He instantly rejected the idea.
Matt was the most honest guy he had ever known.
He just couldn’t.
“Fine.“, he spat in frustration.
Danielle relaxed and gave him a sympathetic smile.
“Why don’t you come over to my place? I’ll fix you dinner. You really need to sleep, Nate.“, she placed her hand on his arm, her fingers stroking him.
He recoiled from her touch.
If she noticed, she didn’t show it.
“Gran needs me here. I’ll manage. You should go home.“, he said as politely as he could.
Her face fell and he saw it.
Then it abruptly struck him.
“He’s on a date.“, she rolled her eyes. “Poor girl.“, she tried to joke.
Nathaniel felt like a bucket of ice had been emptied down his spine.
“A date?“, he almost choked.
Danielle held up her hand, checking the bright red paint on her nails.
“Yeah. Some chick he met at the bar.“, she seemed uninterested.
Nathaniel couldn’t think straight.
No fucking way.
They were dating?!
“Did he mention anything else?”
His heart was hammering against his ribcage and he felt his skin go cold.
Danielle gave him a strange look.
“No, I haven’t really talked to him in a while. He’s been busy with work and stuff.”
Nathaniel raised his head to the ceiling.
He had to call her.
Without another word to Danielle, he strode down the hallway and ducked into Gran’s room, shutting the door behind him.
Careful not to make a sound, he walked over to a corner and took his cellphone out of the pocket of his jeans.
There were no messages.
Not even from Matt.
He had been giving him the cold shoulder since the last time they spoke and the situation hadn’t improved at all.
Nathaniel hadn’t been over to the apartment for over four days now and Matt hadn’t asked him anything about his whereabouts except for inquiring about his grandmother and dropping by to see her.
Gran was fond of Matt and had been overjoyed to see him again.
Feeling as if he was in a race against time, he dialled Zara’s number.
She hadn’t responded to any of his calls or text messages for the past week and he could only hope that she’d answer him now.
After a few moments when the call went unanswered, the hope in his heart vanished.
Not knowing what he could possibly do, he dialled Matt’s number.
He answered on the fifth ring.
Nathaniel’s head dropped in his hands.
“Is she dating Finn?“, his voice was hoarse, tired.
Silence on the other end.
Nathaniel took a deep breath, trying to calm his frayed nerves.
“Matt I need to know.“, he was pleading now.
After a moment his friend answered, “Yes.”
And with that one word, he could feel his heart break.