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Finn Rhodes Forever: Chapter 12

Olivia

FINN’S front door swung open and he stepped back, eyes going wide as he took in my shirt.

“Wow,” he said, rolling his mouth into a thin line, eyes bright. “That is a shirt.”

“Oh, this?” I looked down at myself, pinching the fabric of my oversized polyester button-up and holding it out. It was from my dad’s Halloween costume last year, when he dressed as Guy Fieri, Mayor of Flavortown. “Do you like it?”

I looked up, daring him to say he didn’t.

His mouth curled up as he met my gaze. “I love it.”

My eyebrows lifted. “Really? You love it?”

His gaze raked down my shapeless form. The shirt hung past my butt, it was so long. “Oh, yeah. You look cute.”

“I’m wearing it on our date.”

“I hoped you would.”

We stared at each other. My eyes narrowed and his smile lifted even higher.

Oh my god. Did he know?

He winked at me, grinning, and my chest simmered with nerves, irritation, and bottled-up laughter.

Alarm bells rang in my head. He knew what I was doing.

“It’ll fit you, so you can borrow it. Actually, you can have it.” I stared at him. “And I would love for you to wear it to the bar.”

He shrugged, still smiling that stupid fucking smile. “Sure. Can’t wait.”

Ugh.

The frustrating thing about Finn was that he was totally shameless.

I used to like that about him, but now it was complicating my whole make Finn dump me plan.

Which was why I had planned the worst date possible for today.

My gaze dropped to his mouth and I remembered our weird kiss the other night in the bar. All night, I’d felt his eyes on me, despite my hair looking all fucked up. By the end of the night, I was so wound up, I was itching to get out of there. It had taken me hours to fall asleep because I kept replaying the evening.

I’d never admit this, but I wanted to kiss him. A real kiss. Like we did on graduation night. A kiss like we wanted each other.

Finn used to be a very, very good kisser.

I wondered what kind of kisser he was now.

I needed to get rid of him, fast, before I got attached. Before I was disappointed again.

“Let’s go,” I said, eager to get this over with.


“THE DOILY MUSEUM?” Finn read the sign hanging in front of the little house, hands on his hips. “The doily museum. You want to go here.”

I smoothed out the polyester masterpiece that, along with my hair, was attracting some strange looks from the street. On the way here, everyone had gawked at us. Finn had insisted on holding my hand, and whispers rose up all around us while I tried to act normal.

“I’ve always wanted to go.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Haven’t we been here before? Grade two, right? Mrs. Phung’s class. I feel like she took us here as a punishment.”

Oh, I remembered. It was the most boring field trip we ever went on. This was going to be the worst date ever. My mouth twisted as I tried not to grin. Finn would die of boredom in this dull museum. If I was lucky, he’d slip out the back door within ten minutes.

“I don’t remember that,” I told him, shrugging. “Look, Finn, this is the kind of thing I like to do in my spare time, but if you don’t want to go, I completely understand. Some people aren’t suited for—”

He wrapped an arm around my shoulder and his intoxicating smell filled my nose. God damnit, he smelled amazing. His arm brushed mine and my breath caught.

“Oh,” he laughed. “I want to go. I absolutely want to go to the doily museum with you.”

My teeth gritted.

We climbed the steps to the house and knocked. The door swung open immediately, and our gazes dropped to the tiny, ancient woman in front of us.

Her small, wrinkly face broke into a big smile. “Welcome to the number one doily museum in Queen’s Cove.”

Dot, the museum curator and owner of the home, led us inside, clearing her throat and gesturing to a scrap of garbled white yarn stitched onto white fabric.

“This collection’s first piece is from 1927, and was gifted to my mother when my family lived in Saskatoon. The Miller family lived two farms over and were moving to the West Coast because Mr. James Miller wanted to relocate them to a warmer climate, and so they gifted this piece to my mother, Mrs. Margaret Adams. As you can see by the delicate weave, this doily has been crocheted with a size eight thread, which is more rare than the typical size three or size five threads, which the North American Doily Society cites as the most common during that time. If you’re interested in this style, I’m teaching a seminar on the twelfth on how to…”

My eyes drooped as her soft voice went on and on about doilies.

Dot pointed to the next doily and Finn’s hand wrapped around mine and gently pulled me along. I ignored how nice his hand felt around mine.

“That’s a nice one, Dot,” he said, leaning in to study the doily under the glass case, spotlights on it like it was an Academy Award.

“It’s my favorite in the whole museum,” she said, beaming.

My heart squeezed. Finn being nice to old people should not have been this endearing.

She preened. “I found this one at an antiques sale in Prince George in the seventies. Although it was done with yarn, the delicate pattern lends itself to a very refined style. This type of doily would be placed as decoration on a table or across the back of a Chesterfield…”

I glanced at the clock. We’d been here twenty minutes, we’d seen two doilies, and there were at least forty more around the room under glass cases. Some were framed on the wall like art.

I was beginning to feel like I fucked up.

“Where do you go to find doilies?” Finn asked, and Dot launched into a long story about this time she visited a doily store in Vancouver.

He was supposed to be bored out of his mind, not making friends with the owner.

Thirty minutes later, Dot clapped her hands together. “I’ll go find that map for you, Finn, there’s an antiques store in Nanaimo that may have something similar if you’re hoping to find one for your own home.” Her eyes slid to me while she hid a playful grin. “Or perhaps as a gift for a special someone.”

“That would be great,” Finn said, his arm returning to my shoulder. His fingers played with the ends of my hair, sending tingles down my neck. “I know a special someone who loves doilies.”

Dot hustled out of the room and the second she disappeared, I lodged my elbow in his ribs.

“Ow,” Finn said, laughing and jerking back. “What’s wrong, baby?”

“Stop dragging this out,” I hissed.

He looked shocked. “Dragging this out?” he repeated in a low voice so Dot wouldn’t overhear. “I thought you brought me here because you knew I’d love it.”

I caught myself. Before I could say anything, he leaned in, caging me in against the glass display case behind me.

His mouth brushed my ear. “You look so fucking cute in that ugly shirt.”

Heat flared between my legs at the way his breath tickled me, and the intensity in his voice.

“You’re a pervert.”

He snorted, chest shaking with laughter. Dot hustled back into the room. She spread the map out on the display case and began explaining the store location in detail.

Two hours later, the tour of the doily museum came to an end. Finn’s arm returned to my shoulders and my stomach flip-flopped at the contact.

I had to get home. I had to get away from Finn.

“Thanks, Dot,” I said in a rush, glancing at the door. “It’s been so fun, but we’ve got to get going.”

Dot’s expression fell like I told her I was taking her dog away. “I was hoping you’d stay for some tea and cookies.”

Finn’s arm squeezed my shoulders closer to him and I tilted my chin up to look at him. My eyes begged for mercy. Please, my eyes said. Please don’t make me stay here.

Finn’s mouth curled into a wicked grin and his eyebrows lifted once.

Fuck.

“We would love to stay,” he told Dot. “We’re starving.”

She clapped, elated. “I’ll go set out the doily!”


“LIV, I GOTTA SAY,” Finn said as we wandered down Main Street, a tin of cookies tucked under his arm. “You sure know how to plan a date.”

My gaze met his. My stomach fluttered and I fought the urge to laugh. Despite my best efforts, it seemed like he had fun today.

I’d have to try harder next time.

“If you enjoyed today,” I told him, “you’re going to love our next date.”

His mouth quirked. “Not so fast. It’s my turn to plan a date.”

“I like doing it,” I volleyed back, keeping my voice light.

“Liv, a strong relationship is built off equality.” He gave me a teasing, chiding look and I fought a laugh.

“Been in a lot of relationships, have you?”

He stopped walking and caught my hand, pulling me to stand in front of him. His smile dimmed but his eyes were soft. “Nope. You ruined me, but I’m not mad about it.”

My heart dipped, swooping and dropping in my chest, and I blinked at him. I wished he wouldn’t say things like that. Things that sounded so sincere.

“What about you?” he asked in a low voice, eyes on me. “Anyone serious?”

I had dated in university. It usually fizzled out with one of us getting busy with exams and then going home for the summer, or sometimes we just stopped texting each other. During the first year of my PhD program, I dated a guy in my program, Noah. We broke up at the end of the school year when he told me I wasn’t invested enough in our relationship. That it seemed like I didn’t care enough.

I guess I didn’t.

I shook my head at Finn. “I was busy with school.”

His gaze roamed my face before searching my eyes. The full weight of his attention drugged me, slowing my brain down but making my pulse race. He rubbed light strokes up and down my palm, and it was hard to concentrate. “You ever fall in love with anyone else?”

Like I was hypnotized, I shook my head.

The corner of his mouth turned up into a slight grin. “Just me then, huh?”

He tilted his head, eyes dropping to my mouth. Did he step closer? It seemed like he moved closer.

“What are you doing right now?” I whispered, eyes wide.

His lopsided grin hitched higher, but his eyes stayed locked on mine, pulling me in. “Trying to make a point.”

Clarity cut through my thoughts like a knife. Finn wouldn’t give up until he got what he wanted. He’d lure me in, pull me underwater with his thumb strokes, smirks, and tattoos, and when I resurfaced, he’d be gone. He’d get sick of me and move on to something new.

“I have to get going.” I crossed my arms over my chest and glanced down the street.

He nodded, eyes narrowed while he studied me with a little smile on his face like he had won something. “One more kiss.”

My head whipped up. “What?”

He lifted one shoulder, mouth twitching. “Yesterday was a little chaste, don’t you think? We should try again.”

“I haven’t brushed my teeth today,” I lied.

He looked like he was trying to hold back a laugh. “It’s four in the afternoon.”

“Sometimes I forget.” I never forgot.

His eyes shone with amusement. “I’ll risk it. You know, for love.”

I held back a groan. Seriously, this guy.

Finn’s eyes gleamed. “What’s the matter, Liv? You seem like you’re trying to run me off or something.”

We held each other’s gazes and deep in my lizard brain, I wondered what it would be like if I just kissed him.

I’d like it. I knew I would. I could still remember how he tugged my hair to tilt my head back and deepen the kiss. The slow, consuming glide of his tongue, the soft press of his lips against mine. A muscle low in my belly twinged and I sucked in a sobering breath.

“I think I’m getting sick.” I lifted my elbow and coughed once, turning away from him. “Bye.”

“Oh, and Liv?”

I paused and turned.

“I’ll see you at Miri’s class career day tomorrow afternoon.”

I frowned. Miri Yang taught at the local elementary school and had asked me to talk to the class about forestry sciences.

His eyes glittered. “She asked the fire hall for a volunteer.” His shoulders lifted in a shrug. “I love setting a good example for the kids.”

A laugh of disbelief scraped out of my throat. “You, a good example.”

Something flickered through his eyes but he kept the cocky grin. “Yep. You wait.”

“You’ve broken every limb at least once.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he held my gaze with a look of determination. “I’m turning over a new leaf.”

From the way his smile fell, it was obvious I didn’t believe him. “I bet. See you later.”

As I walked down Main Street, I felt his gaze on me.

You ruined me, but I’m not mad about it.

I shook it from my mind. Finn wasn’t going to woo me. By the time I was done with him, he was going to be so sick of me he was going to wish he’d never come back to town.

Today hadn’t worked like I wanted, so I had to up my game.


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