To be a Luna

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Shraddha - Chapter 3

Finn was looking at me.

I mean, obviously, he was looking at me. Who else would he look at in a park full of strangers? I was probably making myself look like a fool with the fluttery eyelids I gave him, but it wasn’t completely on purpose. To be fair, I was blinking the vinegar water Angoor had sprayed on my face, but he didn’t know that.

Or did he?

There was always something about Finn’s eyes that struck me as odd. Sure, they weren’t oval or anything, but since when does anybody have golden eyes? Granted, they could have been contacts or something, but Finn seemed to have impeccable vision, especially when it came to answering questions from the back of the classroom.

His eyes reminded me of the sun. Bright and welcoming, but also dangerous and plotting. In the damp light of the sleepy sun, he looked like a predator ready to pounce on me. Like a lion, or a wolf.

I bit my lip, feeling queasy underneath his judging eyes. Now, with the way the glimmering orbs shifted in the pools of white, I wasn’t too sure if he was looking at me or not, but I don’t know why I cared anyway. We had a project to do. We didn’t have any time to waste on it.

Clearing my throat, Finn’s eyes swiveled sharply to meet mine, and I nearly took a step back at how powerful his eyes felt, wrapped around me. It was like he was controlling me suddenly, reeling me towards him with possessive strings.

“What?” He asked, sounding a bit disgruntled. His eyes looked hard, and I winced at how upset he sounded.

“Nothing. You just asked me where I worked then you went quiet,” I narrowed my eyes. “Is everything alright?”

Immediately, Finn’s eyes widened, and he ducked his head sheepishly. “Um, yeah, sorry. I guess I just got distracted, that’s all.”

I raised my eyebrow. “Distracted? By what?”

Finn shook his head. “Nothing really. I just thought I saw someone. It was probably a streetlamp, though.”

“You sure you aren’t seeing ghosts?” I teased, crossing my legs underneath the table. I could feel my sneaker brush against his, the motion sending a flurry of tingles kissing up my spine.

He scoffed. “You wish,” he said, winking at me.

I forced a laugh out of my mouth so that we wouldn’t dive into an awkward silence, but with the way his head titled and his lip curled into a devilish smirk to add to his wink, I was pretty sure we would have.

All because of me and my raging adult hormones.

I made a mental note to give myself a pep talk about boys to my brain when I went home, but in the meantime, I managed to let a smile fall on my lips. “So...where do you want to start?”

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Finn replied easily, stretching his limbs above his head and giving me an excellent view of his thick muscles. “Which battle would you like to do?”

“Well...” I mulled it over silently, humming to let Finn know that I was thinking. “Maybe we could do Saratoga? I mean, that was a big turning point in the war.”

“It was?” A blush tinted Finn’s tan cheeks. “Um, do you think you could give a recap of how? I-um...I was exactly paying attention during that lesson.”

“I saw,” I deadpanned, starting up my computer. “But that’s okay. Saratoga was the turning point in the war because it was after we won the battle that France decided to help us. From that, we began to win way more battles than we did before Saratoga.”

“Oh, that’s where I fucked up on the test,” Finn mumbled under his breath, bringing a small giggle out of me. “I mean, I thought it was the battle of Yorktown.”

“That was the final war,” I filled in quickly before even realizing what I was doing. Heat rose to my cheeks, but Finn smiled.

“You really like history, don’t you?” He asked.

I nodded. “Yeah. I wanted to be a historian before when I was younger, but now I don’t want to.”

“Oh?” Finn looked up from the paints he was mixing. “Why’s that?”

Shrugging, I moved my mouse to the tab I saved for Google Docs. “I guess it’s because it doesn’t make enough money. I also got into drawing and writing.”

“Do you want to go into the arts field?”

“Maybe. Or maybe I’ll be a children’s author,” I said, regarding his face from the top of my screen. “What do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Of course, not,” Finn agreed, his eyes shifting from my frame to the woods behind me once again. “I work in real estate. I manage properties and find people to rent or sell them too.”

“Really?” My eyebrows shot up. “I thought you were a model?”

Finn laughed, a deep rumble in his chest, and I blushed at the words that had inadvertently blurted out of my mouth.

“I do model in my spare time, but not as much as I used to,” he said, grinning at me. “When I was younger I did more than I do now.”

“What changed?” I asked, pulling up websites and other documents full of notes that I would be able to use on the essay part of the project.

“I’m not too sure,” Finn admitted slowly, rolling the brush gently on the stock paper he was using. “I suppose it was boredom? Being a model is also pretty harsh, especially on the food aspect.” He chuckled bashfully, and I giggled. “But when my cousin—I think you know her—Anne?”

“Yeah.”

“She and her fiance lost their house and it took them a long time to find another one, including crappy realtors,” he explained. “After that, I decided that I wanted to help other couples or families find houses quickly and easily. Also...um...it was an easier workload than what I already had.”

“That makes sense,” I agreed, nodding to his words. “I—um—I don’t really speak to Anne.”

“Really?” Finn sounded appalled. “Because she always talks about you. Mostly about your looks, but also about your grades.”

“My looks?” The words came out sharper from my mouth than for how I intended for them too. My eyes shot up to Finn’s. “What do you mean about my looks?”

Finn’s mouth opened and closed, like a goldfish out of water. Then, he looked away, his chest rising up and pulling on his shirt. “Um...she said you were pretty cute. It wasn’t anything bad, if that’s what you think!”

“Oh,” my shoulders collapsed. “Okay. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound rude.”

Finn laughed. “No problem. I would have probably acted the same if someone told me that they spoke about me behind my back.”

“Yeah...” I nodded, then paused. “Wait, she said I was cute?”

The brush Finn was using paused on the stock board, and in the pinkish-orange sky, I wasn’t sure if the tinge on his cheeks was the sky reflecting on him, or that he was actually embarrassed.

Finnegan.

Embarrassed.

He took a few moments before replying to me, his words somewhat hoarse. “Actually...I was the one that said you were cute. She...she just agreed with me.”

I tilted my head to the side, absolutely positive that I myself was blushing by now. “Oh? If you don’t mind me asking, why do you find me cute?”

“What’s there not to be cute?” Finn blurted, immediately meeting my eyes. “You have big, doe brown eyes, gorgeous magenta hair—!”

“And very wide hips,” I added bitterly. “And not a very flat stomach. I don’t see anything cute about that.”

Finn’s shoulders rose and fell with indifference. “I don’t care about body type. Round, curvy, slim. It doesn’t make a difference for me. And...” he looked away, the magnet holding my eyes to his frame releasing me. “I find you very attractive. Everything about you is beautiful, Shraddha.”

“Really?” I never had a guy compliment me before, especially for my magenta hair. Usually, if a boy ever did come up to speak to me that wasn’t on school terms, it would be with questions as to why my hair wasn’t black, or brown. Or why I wasn’t slim.

But Finn...Finn was different.

Reaching over the table, his large hand encompassed mine, sending tingles down my arm and shivers down my body. “Really.”

He didn’t say anything after that, and neither did I. Honestly, I couldn’t find any words to muster to him after he spoke. It was like he ended our conversation, but not on a bad note. It was more like he wanted me to think about something.

Or someone.

Try as I might, all that plagued my mind was Finn. Was his large stature, his bulging biceps, his striking features. Everything about him screamed: DANGER! Yet, a tiny part of him, a very, very, very small part of him screamed:

COME TO ME.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand my own feelings, I groaned internally, attempting to focus on the essay at hand. Luckily, I had managed to finish most of the text in class, so all I really had to do was proofread and add proper MLA headings. It wasn’t very difficult.

At least, not until Finn entered my life.

His hand occasionally drifted from mine to mix paint or add a new shade to the paper, but it always found its way back to mine, warm and hard at the same time. I didn’t mind it. In fact, I basked in it. His touch made me feel like I was back at Graham and Cassie’s. Like I was back in front of their fireplace with my adopted brothers and sisters opening Christmas presents.

He felt like home.

“So, what do you think I should draw for the project?” Finn asked, his warm but booming voice snapping me out of my reverie.

“Um, I was thinking of showing the British and American troops getting ready to fight on each side. You know, to give a new perspective,” I suggested, controlling the stammer in my words.

Finn hummed, nodding, his eyes staying on my face. “Okay. I have to wait for the paint to dry, but I can easily do a background and some soldiers.”

“Do you like to paint?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah. Between work and school, I don’t really get much time to do so, but when I do, it’s always a pleasure.”

“It is,” I agreed. “It’s a good way to calm your mind, especially after a rough day.”

“That’s true,” he said. “That’s the time when I paint the most.”

“Really?” I looked up from making my citation page. “Do you often have rough days? I thought you said being a realtor was easy?”

Finn licked his lips, looking towards the fading horizon with uneasiness in his eyes. “It is, but there are always days when people stand you up, or you end up fighting with someone else for miscellaneous reasons. I can’t really pinpoint a good example right now, but yeah, that’s mostly it.”

“Yikes,” I grimaced, glancing at the bottom of my computer. “That sucks. But honestly, it’s life, right? We just have to live it.”

“I suppose so,” Finn grumbled, resting his cheek on his palm.

“Isn’t graduation the day the project is due?” I asked, shutting my laptop down after saving all of my work.

“It is, but we won’t be walking across the stage.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not sure. It’s some precaution for the disappearances that have been going on recently,” Finn said shortly, as if his tongue were eager to move onto another topic. He shifted on his seat again, and realizing that I was probably making him uncomfortable with all my questions, I moved to clear up my supplies—

—But I forgot that Finn was still holding my hand.

With a yelp, we both scrambled apart, meeting each other’s eyes almost impulsively. I held my things to my chest, and Finn looked like he had almost fallen from his seat, which wouldn’t be too hard to believe.

“Forgive me,” he murmured, gathering his bearings before I could. “Did that make you uncomfortable?”

“No!” I shouted before I could realize what I was saying. “No, not at all, Finn. It was completely okay! I...um...your hands are really warm.”

Finn chuckled, a deep, resounding chuckle that vibrated from his chest. “I’m glad. Your hands are cold but soft. I like that.”

I didn’t know what to say at that point, so I just settled for a shy laugh, avoiding Finn’s predatory golden eyes. It was like when I looked at them, the whole world around us stopped, and suddenly, it was just the two of us, a girl and a boy, a senior and a senior—

A predator and its prey.

“LOOK OUT!”

And just like that, our dream was shattered.

Finn reacted quicker than I did. He leaped to his feet and pulled me out of the way of the incoming ball, pulling me behind him in his haste.

I gripped his arm to balance myself on my feet, checking briefly to make sure our things were okay and (shamelessly) running my eyes over him to make sure that he wasn’t hurt before facing the matter at hand.

A hard, obviously new basketball bounced on the ground by our feet, stopping at the front of my shoe. I bent down to pick it up, but Finn was faster, grabbing the ball and tossing it back to the group of lean looking boys that approached us.

“Watch the fuck where you’re throwing!” Finn growled, his reaction unexpected to me. His sharp eyes had narrowed, his once easy smile now twisted into a deep scowl.

The tallest boy (although not nearly as tall as Finn was) haughtily stuck his chin in Finn’s space, his own eyes showing no remorse.

“Oh, yeah? Well, watch where you’re sitting, asshole!” The boy shot back, his magenta hair falling in strands around his shady eyes.

Finn tensed, his muscles contracting underneath my fingertips, and I squeezed his bicep, coming to stand by his side.

“Finn...” I murmured, trying to pull him back, but he stood his ground, glaring at the boy.

“Who are you calling a—!”

“Arjuna,” a quiet, but eerily powerful voice called from what seemed to be the back of the group. The boys parted, revealing a stiff, tall man who resembled the man from The Godfather.

He had calculating brown eyes and greying magenta hair, just like mine. He had no volume, though, the strands captured back in a pool of gel. He wore a dark suit and a pair of shiny dress shoes. His hands were clasped behind his back, his shoulders just as stiff as Finn’s.

“Father,” Arjuna mumbled, backing away from Finn immediately and bowing his head. The man regarded him for merely a moment, turning back to Finn. Something sparked in both of their eyes. Maybe it was recognition? I wasn’t sure, but Finn and whoever this man was definitely knew each other, if Finn once again standing in front of me answered anything.

“You know better than that, Arjuna,” the man said, his voice just as strong as Finn’s was. “Apologize to this...young man right now.”

“Actually, it’s her that you should be apologizing to,” Finn snarled, stepping away slightly so that I could be seen. I waved shyly, and most of the boys ignored me, except for this one boy with glasses and a book tucked under his arm. He waved back, equally as shy, but the man stepped in front of my view.

“Arjuna,” He said again, sounding impatient.

Arjuna rolled his eyes, trudging in front of me. “I’m sorry,” he grumbled.

“Good,” the man said. He ignored Finn’s hard, inquisitive eyes, turning to me instead. “I must apologize for my so—!”

He broke off as soon as his eyes met mine, and if he was holding a plate in his hand, I was positive that it would have collapsed onto the ground. His eyes widened comically, his hand’s frozen mid-air.

“Um...are you okay?” I asked, stepping closer to him. Finn’s handheld me back, though.

“Dad? Dad, what’s wrong?” The boy with glasses came forward, shaking his father by the shoulder.

“Oh, wonderful,” Arjuna groaned. “Maybe now he’s finally dead.”

“Don’t say that,” a buffer boy growled.

“Well, he’s definitely not dead,” Finn grumbled. “Or else he’d be on the ground.”

“Finn!” I jabbed my elbow into the hard plains of his stomach and Finn chuckled, seemingly unfazed by my scolding.

“Y-You...” the man stared slack-jawed at me. “You...”

“Me?” I took another step forward. “Is everything okay? Do you need help?”

“Shraddha...” my name came out as a whisper from the man’s lips, and Finn’s grip on my wrist was so tight by now that I was sure he had cut off my entire blood circulation.

“Yes, that’s my name,” I said, trying to sound calm despite panicking at how he had known my name. Perhaps he had heard Finn say it? But when had Finn said my name today?

“Shraddha...” again, my name came out as a stammer. The man took a step back from me, and I took a step forward, attempting to wring myself out of Finn’s grasp.

“I can’t believe it...” the man looked over me again, then his jaw closed, the stiffness once again returning to his shoulders and eyes. “I suppose I can’t say I’m too surprised. I knew that Lucien would make sure you were in good hands, after what happened to his wife and all.”

What the hell is this guy blabbering about? I thought to myself. Why isn’t he surprised? Who’s Lucien?

“Um, I think you have me confused for someone else...” I laughed awkwardly, but neither Finn nor the man were laughing. In fact, they both held the same expressions. Hard. Cold. Empty.

“No. I know who you are,” he said. “But I never expected to see you again...after all these years...”

“I-I really don’t know what you mean, sir...?” At this point, I was starting to get a bit freaked out. I mean, was he supposed to be in a mental hospital or something? What guy goes off telling other women that he knows them?

“I think you should leave,” Finn stepped in, pushing the man away from me.

“You think? You aren’t the boss of me, Finnegan. I am much older than you are,” the man stated, straightening his suit.

“I’m pretty sure that I am, considering that I’m of higher status than you ever were, Duke,” Finn growled. “And don’t you dare say that it’s because of Lucien. I earned my right!”

This isn’t going so well, but they definitely know each other, I thought.

“Pfft.” Duke scoffed. “You think that this is over, but you’re far from wrong, you hear me, pup?” He narrowed his eyes again, pulling his sons aggressively away from Finn’s breathing space. He glared at me, and in his eyes, there was no warmth or comfort, nothing like Finn’s eyes.

“This is far from over.”

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