We won three to one. Not bad for our virgin game. Rod hit two home runs over the back fence. He definitely is our best hitter. I would know. Though, I don’t think the other team liked it much when he did lewd dance moves over home plate. Finn even mumbled, “Good job,” to him once.
When I got home, I called Morgan. She said she couldn’t make dinner with me that night since she still wasn’t feeling well. I guess morning sickness is different for everyone, but she’s having a hard time, it seems.
“Yo, Hadders! How was the rest of your weekend?” Rod asks, scampering over to my office window.
I return to my paperwork. “It was okay.”
“Did you talk to Wilder last night?”
“Yeah. I called him, and we talked for a few minutes.”
I glance up at him, confused and uncomfortable. “No.” I don’t think I could ever do that. Finn has never asked anyway.
He smirks. “You said a few minutes, so…”
I roll my eyes as I pick up another stack of reports to merge with the other. “I see they’re installing a new sign over at the boneyard.”
I organize my papers and giggle. “Oh? Did they run it by you first?”
“No, they did not. Assholes.” He turns from the window. “How did things go last night?”
I open my drawer for a folder. “It was fine.”
“Is he still mad?”
I nod. “At himself, mostly.”
“He should be mad at himself. He was an idiot.”
“Pretty much, but I ruined his surprise.”
“He’ll get over it. Where’d you go during the game? We came in to bat, but you and Wilder weren’t there.”
“We had a blowout at the tennis court. I can’t believe you didn’t hear us from there.”
“Fuck. What did he say?”
“He assumed you and I were… you know.” I can’t believe Finn thought I was cheating on him with Rod, of all people.
“Did you set him straight?”
“Do you still love him?”
I look back up at Rod. With all my heart. “I’ve never stopped. I’m just hurt and upset with him.” I just don’t know if it’s enough for either of us.
“Do you think you’ll forgive him?”
“Yeah. I know it’s not major to other people, but he promised he wouldn’t do it anymore. He then did it and kept it from me. He even lied about having to work. That hurts. A lot.”
“You two will be okay. Then you’ll fuck like jackrabbits again.” I glance at the door to see if anyone heard Rod’s mouth. He asks, “So, Finnigan Wilder won’t be accompanying you to Morticia’s bloodletting. I suppose that means I’ll be sharing your suite?”
“If you sleep in the bathtub.”
“Amos called me a drain on society, so okay.”
I search for my stapler and grumble when I can’t find it. Reaching over my desk, Rod digs into a pile of papers and presents the stapler. I huffily snatch it, and he asks, “Will he be okay with me as your date?”
I shrug as I align papers. “I don’t care. He already knows you’re my backup. It’s not a secret like the ones he keeps.”
His voice falls. “Gee, thanks, Hadders. I feel so fucking used. Are you now giving me a happy ending?”
Stapling papers like I’m on crack, I reply, “Not a chance. Is Morgan here?”
“Yeah. I saw her car, but she’s in her office with the door closed.”
Pushing the stapler aside, I stand and walk around my desk. “I want to see how she’s doing.”
Rod follows me, annoyingly close, down the hall to Morgan’s office, pulling my ponytail and telling me to giddy-up. I swat at him repeatedly, but nothing deters him.
He lets go of my hair when I knock on Morgan’s door. When she answers, I pop my head in. “Hey.”
She looks up, but only briefly. “Hey.”
“You okay?” I walk in, and Rod saunters over to her window. I roll my eyes and turn back to Morgan.
She flips through some papers and keeps her head down. “I’m better. Thanks.”
“Are you busy tonight? We can grab dinner.”
“Uh, I can’t. Ivan and I are baby-furniture shopping.”
“Oh. We can do it sometime this week before Friday. Just let me know when you’re free.”
She mumbles, “Okay.” She’s not acting like herself. She hasn’t even mentioned Finn’s on-air antics since our phone conversation.
“Is there something wrong?”
Morgan looks up at me, but then quickly down at her papers. “Just tired. I have so much to do this week.”
“Well, I’m here to help with anything wedding-related. Do you need me to handle something?”
She says to the desk, “No. Your dress?”
“I’m picking it up tomorrow. Anything else?”
“Not that I can think of.”
I nod, though she doesn’t see me. “Well, I’m always here.”
She inhales. “Hadley, I… I just want you to know you’ve been such a big help. Thank you for being an awesome friend. I hope I can return the favor someday.”
“No problem. I’m happy to do it. It’s been fun.” Some parts, not so much.
She nods at my stomach. “How’s your bruise?”
My hand automatically goes there. “Better. There’s one area of nagging pain, but it seems to be going away. I already warned Rod I’d be working his butt off when we dance at your reception.”
“Work it, girl!” Rod shouts and spanks the air. Morgan looks to the window, and I cover my mouth with my fist.
“Gross,” Morgan mutters as she turns back to her computer. She then shakes her head. “Wait. Finn isn’t going?”
I peer out the window, so my disappointment isn’t that obvious. “He’ll be out of town.” Catching Rod’s knowing gaze, I widen my eyes at him over Morgan’s head, silently begging him not to say anything about my argument with Finn.
She scoffs, “He can’t take the day off?”
I look back at her with a shrug. “I guess not.”
“He’s seriously pushing his luck,” she huffs, slamming down the pen she was holding. “He needs to talk to you.”
“We will talk.” I make my way to the door. “I’ll let you get back to work.”
“Wait! Don’t leave this jackass here!”
I giggle as I leave her office. “There’s a no-return policy. Sorry!”
I hear her mutter, “Bitch,” making me laugh.
Monday at the gym, Shane accused me of losing two more pounds. He told me he didn’t want me to continue working out until I see my doctor. Oh, well. No loss, really.
Tuesday, I picked up my dress, and it fit looser than it should. Fucking Shane.
Wednesday evening after work, I call Finn, and he answers on the first ring, “Hey.”
I smile at the sound of his sexy voice. “Hi. What are you doing?”
“Arranging a dare. What about you?”
“Talking to you.”
“You want to have dinner?”
“Um, I don’t know.” Morgan was busy tonight so that date’s out.
He hastily adds, “Just dinner. I promise.”
“I can pick you up.”
“It’ll be faster if I meet you there.”
He agrees, and after we hang up, I get ready. I let down my hair and fluff it up some, but I hate it. Maybe I should just put it back up in a ponytail. I undo another button of my white blouse to loosen up a bit, and my key peeks out from my shirt. Picking it up, I run my fingers over it. Sighing, I give up on my appearance and put on my shoes.
I meet Finn in the restaurant’s parking lot. Wearing a short-sleeved, brown V-neck shirt, it accents his key necklace, his muscular chest, and barbed-wired biceps. Damn him. His hair is a light brown and is close to my hair’s shade in the waning sun.
Finn walks over to my car but keeps a slight distance from me, and when he smiles, I melt. He says, “You look beautiful.”
I try a small smile in return. “So do you.” His grin amplifies, and I smile back.
“Shall we?” he asks. When I continue to gape, he nods to the restaurant to clarify.
I laugh. “Oh. Yeah.” We walk up to the entrance, and Finn jumps in front of me to open the door. I give him a bright smile, and his gaze instantly drops to my lips before he swiftly looks past me.
The hostess offers us a table inside or alfresco. I shrug, and so, we’re led to the outdoor covered patio, overlooking the James River and downtown Richmond. Once we’re seated at a table next to the railing, he asks, “How are you?”
“Okay, I guess.” The waitress takes our drink orders. I ask for a lemonade, and Finn orders an iced tea. What no alcohol?
When we’re alone, his solemn brown eyes scrutinize me, which makes me self-conscious, so I look out over the river and watch a clump of trees in the middle of the water, fluttering in the breeze. Without averting my attention from them, I ask, “Can you tell me something?”
He’s guarded, and he hesitates. “What do you want to know?”
“Did you go to Pennsylvania for work?”
“Did your friend offer you a job up there again?”
Clearing his throat, Finn shifts in his seat. “Yes and no.”
“What do you mean?”
“He pointed me to a job, but it’s not at his station. He said there’s an affiliate in Baltimore that wants me since their lead sports anchor retired. They want to go in a different direction to draw more viewers.”
“What did you tell him?”
He absently rolls his bundle of silverware side-to-side beneath his palm. “I told him I’d think about it. When I got back to my office here, they had left me a message, saying they want to meet with me.”
“I wanted to talk to you about it.”
“I want you to be happy.” I really do.
The waitress brings our drinks, and I’m so glad for the distraction.
As I take a long sip of my lemonade, he stops playing with his silverware and leans forward. “Wherever you are, I’m happy, but I wouldn’t want to go, and you not be.”
I shake my head, exploring his somber face. “I’d understand. It’d be hard, but we’d work something out, hopefully.”
The waitress stops to take our dinner orders, but I’m not hungry anymore. I pick the first thing I see, which is chicken alfredo. I’ll be eating it for the next couple of days.
When she leaves, Finn asks, “Why do you think we’d have to work out something? You’d be with me. That’s the only way I’d go.”
I anxiously bite my lip. “You’d really want me to go with you?”
“You’d really think about not going with me?”
“I’d want to be wherever you are.”
“Do you mean that?”
Feeling the sting from his question, I sigh heavily and peer over to the river again as an escape. The train and car bridges in the distance look like latticework traversing it. I wonder if my boyfriend has jumped off any of those. Probably not. They’re probably rookie shit like Fenwick Lighthouse.
I hear him sigh. “How was work?”
I shrug and play with my straw. “Same as usual. Morgan’s acting weird, though.”
He shoots up an eyebrow. “How so?”
“She hasn’t had lunch with me for a few days, and she says she’s too busy to have dinner with me before Friday.”
He glances down at the table. “Maybe she is busy.”
“I know she’s nervous about getting married. Who wouldn’t be?”
“That’s probably it.”
“Do you think?”
His eyes slide up to mine. “Yeah. Like you said, who wouldn’t be nervous?”
“You. You’re unflappable.”
He scowls. “No, I’m not. I told you I was nervous, asking you out and when I asked you to be my girlfriend.”
“Do you get nervous before you skydive?”
His smile falls, and his eyes expand on my question. “No. It’s an exhilarating rush.”
“What do you think about anything up there?”
Sitting back in his chair, he’s pensive, gazing at the river. I watch the sun’s reflection off the water highlighting blond in his hair as it dances above his forehead in the breeze. “At first, my mind goes blank. The feel and the sound of the wind shake my mind clear of everything. That doesn’t last long, and I think of only one thing. Every time.” He tilts his head away from the scenery, and his ruminating eyes are on me as he answers my unasked question. “You, Becks.”
Locked again in his brooding stare, I ask, “About how mad I’d be?”
“Yes. I wanted to tell you. I wanted to stop, too.”
“Why didn’t you stop?”
His expression is sheepish as he shrugs. “It’s like an addiction.”
“Oh.” I glance down at the table, feeling wholly inadequate.
“But then, so are you.”
Lifting my gaze, our eyes meet again, and he says, “I need my ecstasy from each one, and the highs are so different from the other. But I know which one I can quit.”
Trying not to appear panicked, I ask, “Which one?” I hold my breath and hope he’s not breaking up with me, especially here in a public place. I might have to fling myself over this railing. That would be awkward for the wait staff, but probably more so for the people below on the sidewalk.
He slowly shakes his head, and his eyes pierce my soul. “Not you.”
Rubbing my arms from the sudden goosebumps, I quietly sigh in relief, but grudgingly say, “I’m not making you quit skydiving. Even though you lied about it, you risked ending us.” I study his reaction. “I can’t decide if you’re extraordinarily daring or exceptionally stupid.”
“It’s not daring. I took that risk, and I’m an absolute dick for it.
“Not true. You knew I didn’t want you to do it, yet you did it anyway.”
“Becks.” He sighs and again toys with his silverware. “I won’t.”
“I’ve done research. BASE jumping is more dangerous than skydiving.”
He takes a drink of his tea. “Yeah. It is, but I’ve done it a lot, and I know what I’m doing. Yes, accidents happen.”
I fold my arms on the table and sigh. “It’s a part of you. I can’t deny you of it. I don’t want you to resent me anymore.”
“I know you worry about me. I’ve never resented you for that, baby. I don’t want you to resent me for doing them, though.”
“Maybe we can reach a detente?”
He cocks a dark eyebrow with a cautious gaze. “Like what?”
“Maybe the number of times you do them?”
“I can agree to that. And maybe I can convince you to skydive with me one day?”
I shiver. “Only if we negotiate taking another kind of leap.”
He smirks. “We’ll see.”
I offer a challenging grin. “Yes, we shall.”
Game on, Wilder.
After dinner, Finn walks me to my car, and he says, “If I don’t see you before the wedding, have fun, and you look stunning.”
“You don’t even know what my dress looks like.”
Stopping at my car, I open the door, and he leans his arm on the doorframe. “I don’t have to.”
Anxiously, I tuck my hair behind my ears to distract myself from the strong need to kiss him. “Have a nice trip.”
I notice his fingers grip the metal tighter. “I’ll try, but I’ll mostly think of you.”
“I’ll be thinking about you, too.” Our eyes lock but then float down to each other’s lips. We look back up into each other’s eyes, but we can’t hold the stare for long before we’re at our lips again. He slowly drifts closer, and I want him to, but then his kiss will do so many things to me.
Right before our lips meet, I avert my head, and his mouth grazes my cheek. I close my eyes and revel at the feel of him on my skin. His lips sweep against me as he says, “I’m sorry.” He softly kisses my cheek and moves away. “You said Sunday. I didn’t mean to…” I tentatively glance at him, and he sighs, swiping a hand into his hair.
“It’s okay.” Impulsively, I reach up and stroke his strained jaw, causing him to bite his lip and close his eyes.
“I…” Upon opening his eyes, he looks uncertain, which concerns me. “I miss you.”
I smile. “I miss you, too. Thank you for dinner.”
He reluctantly smiles back. “Anytime. Thank you for the date.”
I nod. “Anytime,” I mirror him. “I’ll see you Sunday.”
His eyebrows pull together, and he glances down at the car door. “Yeah. Sunday.”
Unable to resist him completely, I hold on to the frame and stretch to kiss his coarse cheek. My stomach hurts, but not as bad as it did. I hear him swallow, and a low hum rumbles through his throat. I quickly get in my car before I totally admit defeat. Again.