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When You Know

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Through friendship, heartbreak and sexual encounters, Clio struggles with the everlasting question of how do you know real love?

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Chapter 1

The words just slipped out. My brain hadn’t even registered what was happening. I felt like I had absolutely no control over my mouth. I knew my feelings towards him had changed but, what was it about this moment that I felt an urgent need to tell him?

Things were never easy between us. He was the kind of friend I knew I could call when I wanted attention. I also knew I could call him if I had had an unsuccessful night out, not having kissed a single guy. I always knew that he liked me and I could use that when I needed to. And sometimes I led him on because I couldn’t bring myself to say “Finn, I’m really not that into you.”

But he knew. He knew I was keeping my options open. Sometimes, he even used that against me and would flirt with other girls in front of me. And that made me so fucking mad because he was mine. I didn’t even like him but he was my guy who I could call up when I wanted and we both knew he would be there.

And what was worse was that he knew me, like really knew me. He played along with my messed up games. He would let me use him and then he would still be there for me. The really messed up thing was that he would actually comfort me and hug me after all the shit I put him through. Was that the reason I never really liked him? Because he couldn’t respect himself enough to say, “stop messing with my fucking head Clio!”

We were so different and yet exactly the same. I could see he was trying to be someone he wasn’t and maybe recognising that in myself I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. But I couldn’t stay away from him. Finn. The leader of his nerdy pack of friends. Finn. The average looking guy. And why was I so shocked when he would actually get a girl? Why was I so insanely jealous?

I remember the first time I met him. Evie and I were going to the Spain for a three-week “language exchange”. It was just the two of us because the other girls’ parents knew it would be a summer of binge drinking and hooking up in filthy clubs.

Our parents weren’t stupid; they just weren’t as prudish as all other Irish catholic parents. In fairness to them, they actually believed we would learn some Spanish. And we did too until we arrived at the airport and realised that at least two hundred other Irish people were on their way to the exact same place as us.

And that’s when I saw Finn and his geeky friends. I actually groaned when I realised they were allowing “uncool” people on this trip. They were all laughing and eagerly looking around to see who else heard their stupid-ass joke. I certainly wasn’t going to entertain their starved need for attention.

“Evie, don’t look now but I think I know one of those guys. This is so embarrassing but when I was like eleven years old I dated a guy for one day. See the tall one? That’s him,” I said.

She nearly exploded with laughter, “Clio! What were you thinking?”

“I know, right? He’s called Jamie. Let’s just make a deal, okay? Those guys are losers so let’s not waste our time on them. Deal?”

Evie, being one of the sweetest girls I know, wasn’t going to let my need to be cool decide how she spent her summer. Anyway, she already had a boyfriend so she didn’t care who she became friends with.

“Clio, don’t be so harsh. Let’s just see what happens. We have three weeks here and those guys could turn out to be the greatest guys ever.”

She was right and not only did they turn out to be the most decent guys I’ve ever met but they also became our friends. In fact, I think they saved me. I still wanted to be the popular girl but these guys brought me back down to earth. Especially Finn.

The first time we spoke was outside a Subway in Barcelona. It was so hot out but I was seriously hungover and craving a meatball marinara. I had seen Finn a few times up to this point but I’d never spoken to him because I was trying to quiet a part of me that was attracted to him.

I didn’t want to fancy him because I’d never gone for a guy like him before. I usually went for rugby guys - the type with bulging muscles, dark hair, tanned skin and a cocky personality to match.

Finn was like me – he looked pure Irish with his pale skin and freckles. Instead of my red hair, he had dark hair - almost jet black. He also had green eyes. Oh my God, his eyes. When he looked at me nothing else existed. Just me and those eyes that gave all of his emotions away. I always knew when he was happy because his eyes would shine a vivid emerald. When he was angry or sad, they swirled into a yellow-brown. Muddy like his mind.

They were green when I walked up to him and asked if I could try his roll.

“I'm sorry, what?” He asked.

“I usually get a meatball marinara but today I feel like something different. And yours looks really good. Can I try some?” I asked for the second time.

I could see he was struggling between his want to be assertive and his need for me. I knew he wanted me and I liked that. So without waiting for an answer I grabbed the roll from his hands, took a bite, handed it back to him and with a smirk, I watched him.

He watched me too. In that moment as we looked into each other’s eyes we realised we had met our match. A silent agreement took place between the two of us as if to say “I like you but I'm not going to make this easy.”

And we stuck to that agreement. Stories spread around the group that a girl had got Finn drunk and taken advantage of him. Not the type of advantage that you’re ashamed of but the kind that you make sure everyone hears about. Apparently she got him alone, took her clothes off, took his clothes off, jerked him off and gave him head. She wanted sex but he said no.

Like what the fuck? Here’s Finn, this uncool guy who isn't even that hot, with a girl begging him for sex and then there’s me, the girl who dates a string of rugby players but has done nothing other than kiss a guy. Don’t get me wrong, I was a shit-hot kisser but if a guy asked me to touch him I would literally run a mile, or break-up with him.

So I carried on doing what I did best. I kissed every hot guy I could find. Then one night I met Rocky, this insanely cool guy whose dad was a famous musician back home in Dublin. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him. My parents loved him too which is the kiss of death for any teenage relationship. Even though we met in Barcelona we continued seeing each other in Dublin for six months. He wanted to take the relationship further, aka, he wanted sex. I didn’t. I broke up with him.

For the next year I dated other guys on and off but when I had a dry patch I would call Finn. We did everything together, as friends, but I still refused to admit I liked him. When I kissed him everything changed. He really fucking hated me after I kissed him. Not for kissing him but for the “talk” that came after.

It was so stupid. I hadn’t got with anyone in months and then here we are on a night out together and I looked at him and thought, I could have you. So I did, but then it came with too many expectations. He thought I was his girlfriend. I didn’t want that.

“Look Finn, it was a mistake. Let’s just be friends.” That’s how I broke it to him when we were at a friend’s party.

And he agreed. The idiot actually agreed with me because he needed me in his life. That was the moment I knew I could do anything to him and Finn would always be there. He needed me but I didn’t need him.

Then he met Fiona and she was everything I wasn’t. She was the type of girl that guys think are pretty because she was tall and skinny. But that’s all. She didn’t have a pretty face.

Fiona was good to Finn. Even their names sounded great together and I bet that cow spent every day writing stupid poems about the two of them and their future babies, which of course would also have Irish names. She was such a “good girl” that it almost drove me insane. But what made it worse was that she was actually a kinky bitch underneath it all. Finn made sure I knew that.

“Hey Cli, how r u? Free to tlk?” the usually evening text from Finn. I called him.

“Hey, Finn. How are you?” I asked.


“You sound happy. Spill the beans,” I said, reluctantly.

“You’ll love this Cli! Fiona cycled over to mine today (that’s why she’s so bloody skinny, I thought) and left a little box full of love notes outside my door,” Finn said with pure glee in his voice.

“That’s a little sad, isn’t it?” I replied.

“No, it’s actually super cute.” Since when did Finn like cute? But he seemed hurt so I apologised.

“Sorry. Anyway, did you get up to anything exciting for the rest of the day?”

I could actually hear him purring on the other side of the phone; he couldn’t contain his excitement. I immediately regretted my question.

“Well yeah. I did. Fiona’s notes were so sweet and it made me want to see her so I called her up and asked if she wanted to watch a movie. I said I could pick her up but she wanted to cycle. Anyway, we were watching Star Wars and she was like feeling me up and stuff. Seriously Cli, she’s like super horny all the time. Then she just got naked! Like, full on took her clothes off… Also, licking girls out isn’t as bad as I imagined. Do girls really moan that much or was it just her? … Hello? …. Cli, you still there?”

“Yeah. Sounds great. Bye.” I hung up.

I couldn’t even see straight I was so angry. All I could do was picture her perfect skinny body naked on his bed. And Finn, going down on her. I started shaking. Then screaming. I wanted to throw up. How could he do that? How could he enjoy pleasing another girl when he was my guy. He was mine.

The screaming turned into crying. I couldn’t breathe. I thought maybe I should go find Fiona and tell her what a slut she was but I didn’t want to. I didn’t care about her. I wanted to go to Finn’s house and I wanted him to tell me everything would be okay and that he was sorry. I needed him to hug me. I needed him to kiss me. I couldn’t think but all I knew was that I needed him.

I text him. “Hey, I need to talk to you. Meet me at the pier in 30 minutes? Cli”

We walked down the pier, neither of us saying a single word. I was still shaking. Finn thought I was cold so he put his coat around me. It smelt like him and I felt dizzy. My body was reacting to his smell and to him in a way I didn’t want it to. I had no control over myself. It felt like something had invaded my thoughts. Nothing was in sync and nothing made any bloody sense. Apart from Finn.

It just came out.

“I’m in love with you Finn.”

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