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Finn Rhodes Forever: Chapter 31

Olivia

ONE MORNING THE FOLLOWING WEEK, I zipped my pack up and stood in my kitchen, staring off into space.

We were just hiking. No big deal. We went hiking before and nothing happened.

That was before the shower. Before Finn made my brain disintegrate while he touched me. He had made me come so hard I couldn’t think. Every night this week, I’d crawled into bed and slipped my hand between my legs thinking about Finn in the shower, towering over me with that smug expression, like he knew I was going to come.

Years ago, I thought my first time with Finn was a fluke. Losing your virginity was supposed to be awkward, fumbly and uncomfortable. With Finn, though? It had been hot and fun, and the second he touched me, it felt like he knew me. He knew exactly how and what and where. None of my later hookups had compared, and even when I dated that guy for a few months in school, the sex never got to that level. It always felt unsatisfying, like eating a bowl of popcorn and still feeling hungry.

But in the shower with Finn… holy shit. Maybe it was the buildup, his height over me, or him being in control. Maybe it was him telling me I was his girl.

In my kitchen, I shivered and shook it off.

I’d been avoiding him all week and he knew it. The morning after, he had been so warm against my cheek when my head was on his chest, and his fingers played with my hair, light and gentle. I’d made an awkward excuse about needing to use the washroom before kicking him out. When he sat at the bar in the evenings, I had the other staff wait on him while his eyes followed me, heated and intense.

He was giving me space on purpose, and that irritated me even more, like he was being careful with me or something. Like I’d snap on him.

I already felt like I’d snapped. His gaze lit my skin on fire, his smirks and smug, knowing looks made me squirm, and the slow, cocky way he said hi, Liv in passing made me shiver. He was still leaving me cartoon doodles of the bird. The bird reading a textbook, with an A+ in the corner and a graduation hat on its head. The bird eating Cheezies by a campfire. The bird throwing wine in another bird’s face, which made me chuckle.

I really wanted to fuck Finn Rhodes.

Today, though, we were just hiking.

I hauled my pack on and stepped into the hallway. Usually, Finn was at my door a few minutes early. He liked watching me move around my apartment, getting ready, tugging my boots on and checking my pack to make sure I had everything. I knocked on his door and listened to the slow footsteps on the other side. I frowned. Something was off.

The door opened and Death himself stared back at me.

“Oh my god.” I grimaced. “You look like garbage.”

Finn gave me a half-hearted, wry smile. His skin was pale but shiny, like he was sweating. A dull, tired glaze replaced the usual spark in his eyes.

“Sorry, running behind today.” He turned and gestured for me to come inside before he sat down at the table.

“Are you hungover?” I asked.

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Just tired. Long night at the fire hall.” He took a deep breath like he was steeling himself and began to lace up his boots.

I frowned. A warning twinge, like something was wrong, lodged between my ribs. “I forgot you were on shift last night.” He would have gotten home early this morning. “We should go tomorrow instead so you can get some sleep.”

He shook his head and gave me a weak smile. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine once we’re outside.” I chewed my lip, hesitating, but he stood and hauled his pack on. “Let’s hit the road.”

I followed him downstairs and out of the bar to my car in the alley.

“You want me to drive this time?” he asked.

Drive? The guy was about to keel over. “I’ll drive.”

In the passenger seat, Finn sat back and closed his eyes while I drove through town and merged onto the highway. A few minutes in, he reached out and gripped the door handle.

“Liv?” He rubbed a hand over his face.

“Yeah?” My gaze whipped between him and the road. “What’s going on?”

“Pull over.”

The second I pulled onto the shoulder, Finn threw the door open and threw up on the pavement. I winced as he heaved, digging out a water bottle and some napkins.

“You’re sick,” I told him when he sat up again, breathing hard. His forehead was damp with sweat and his skin had a gray tinge.

“I’m fine. I think there’s something going around at the fire hall. Let’s keep going.”

“No.”

It zapped his energy just to turn his head. “We have to keep searching for the flower. I promised you.”

“You’re sick. We’re not going today,” I snapped, putting the car in drive and doing a U-turn on the empty highway.

“Liv.”

“Shut up.” I frowned at the road. My chest felt weird and unhappy every time I glanced at him looking all shitty like that. “We’re going home and you’re going straight to bed.”

He closed his eyes but the corner of his mouth kicked up. “Worried about me?”

“No. I just don’t want to haul you down the mountain when you keel over.”

“We both know you’d leave me there.”

I snorted. “Shut up.”

We arrived back at the bar and even though I forced him to leave his pack in the car, he was still winded at the top of the stairs. Inside his apartment, I waited for him to kick his boots off before I guided him to his bedroom and pulled back the covers.

“Get in.” My voice sounded more authoritative than I felt. “You’re going to sleep this off.”

“Worried about nothing,” he mumbled, settling against the pillows.

I walked over to the window and pulled the blinds closed. His room had a wooden bed frame in a dark stain, a bedside table, and a lamp, and that was it. His clothes were neatly hung in the closet. My lip curled.

“Dude, your room bums me out.”

“What do you mean?” His eyes were still closed.

“You need some art or something on the walls.”

He sighed. “I won’t be staying long,” he mumbled.

I blinked like I’d been slapped. “Oh. Right.” My stomach knotted.

Of course. I studied his face. Did he realize he had said that? My stomach sank. He was leaving, and that stuff in the shower the other night had just been us messing around.

It hadn’t meant anything.

Ugh. I felt so stupid and embarrassed. I knew this about Finn, and yet I couldn’t help myself around him.

I set a glass of water on his bedside table before I returned to my apartment and pulled out my laptop to work on my thesis. Except for finding the flower, my research was done, and now I just had to finish writing the thesis itself, organizing the data to explain my work. I opened the document and stared at it, mind wandering to Finn’s apartment.

A minute later, I went back across the hall and sat down at his kitchen table, an old table from my parents’ house when I was a kid that my dad stored here. From my spot in the kitchen, I had a view into Finn’s room so I could see if he needed anything.

I was editing a graph when I heard the rustle of sheets. My head whipped up to see Finn throw the bathroom door open and heave into the toilet.

Oh god. I ran to the bathroom.

“Liv, go home,” Finn gasped in between rounds.

“No.” Fuck. I didn’t know what to do. “You’re sick.”

“I’m fine. It’s just a stomach bug.” He leaned over and threw up again.

I put my hand on the back of his neck. His skin was so hot. “You’re burning up.” Nerves twisted in my stomach. “I’m calling Beck.”

Finn sighed. “Liv, I’m fine.”

In the kitchen, I scrolled through my contacts until I found Beck’s name. He answered on the third ring. There was noise in the background, people talking. He must have been at the hospital.

“Hey. What’s wrong?”

Guilt nudged my stomach. Beck was the guy people called when something was wrong.

“Finn has a fever and he’s throwing up.” I glanced at Finn sitting on the edge of the tub. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Sounds like the flu. What’s his temperature?”

“I don’t know.” I should have taken his temperature before calling.

“It’s okay, just take his temperature after we hang up.” Beck’s voice was calm and steady and a couple knots loosened in my stomach. “If it’s above 102 Fahrenheit, call me back. He needs sleep and fluids. If he’s throwing up for more than six hours, call me. If he has a hard time breathing, call me. Does that make sense?”

“Yep.” I sounded breathless. “Got it.”

“Olivia, don’t worry. He’s healthy. I did his routine checkup for the fire department last month. He’ll be fine. If you get freaked out, call me.”

“Yep. Okay.” I nodded to myself. “Thanks, Beck.”

We said goodbye and I followed Finn back into his bedroom. I helped him into bed before I just sat there, watching him fall asleep, broad chest rising and falling softly. The guy felt like absolute garbage but he had been ready to endure a two-day hike to help me out.

I couldn’t leave him to fend for himself. I had to take care of him.

He’d do it for me.


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