Chapter no 83

If He Had Been with Me

Finny is supposed to leave in a few minutes. He’s in the shower, and I’m in his room, dressed and waiting. I made his bed and tried to cover up the blood stain, and now I’m sitting in the middle of it with my knees curled to my chest. The sky has clouded over, and even though it is still early evening, it looks almost dark out.

I hear the shower stop; I rest my chin on my knees. It takes forever for me to hear him in the hall. He comes in fully dressed and rubbing his wet hair with a towel. He looks at me.

“It’s going to be okay,” he says. “Can’t you wait until tomorrow?”

“I want it to be over,” he says. “I want it to be just us.” He drops his towel on the floor. He takes a baseball cap off his dresser and covers up his wet head, then takes it off and runs his fingers through his hair. He turns back to me.

“Walk me out?” he says. I nod, and he holds out his hand to me. I follow him to his car, and then we stand looking at each other.

“I promise you,” he says, “I’ll come back as soon as I can. It may take a while though.”

“Please don’t go,” I say. He puts his hands on my shoulders and pulls me to his chest. “I have to do this,” he says. “You know that, Autumn.”

I can’t answer him because I know he is right. He lays his cheek on the top of my head.

“Here is what we’ll do,” he says. His voice is soft and light, as if we are making the sort of mischievous plan we made as children. “When The

Mothers get home, you go to bed early, and when I get back I’ll sneak in your back door and come to your room. And then I’ll hold you all night.”

I raise my head to look at him.

“Okay,” I say. He smiles and leans down to kiss me. He kisses me once, and then I lean in for another. We kiss for a long time after that. I lean back against his car and he presses into me. Both of us are breathing harder. If I can just keep kissing him, then he’ll never leave.

A car door slams. We both look up but we don’t separate. The Mothers are in the other driveway, unpacking cases of wine from the trunk. They are pointedly not looking at us.

“Do you think they saw?” I ask. “Definitely,” he says.

“Oh God,” I say.

“I think my mother has a special bottle of champagne hidden away for just this occasion,” Finny says.

“Oh God,” I say again. Finny looks down at me and smiles. “I’ll be back to help you fend them off.”

“Okay,” I say. This time I resist the urge to tell him not to go. His smile slowly fades and he takes a deep breath. My arms drop from his neck reluctantly. He kisses my mouth quickly and takes a step back. He turns to open the car door and I take a step back too. He looks at me again, and just before he gets inside, he smiles again.

“After this,” he says, “things are going to be the way they were always supposed to be.” Then he climbs inside and closes the door.

He starts the engine without looking up at me again. I stand in the yard and watch his car until it is gone.

It begins to rain.

You'll Also Like