April 14, 2015

Tessa's Story

by Zahra Barnes

Finn looked at me expectantly.

Uh, sure, I can come in for a second, I finally said. His invitation caught me off guard. What was I going to do, shove the guys wallet in his face and flee?

Here. I held the wallet out.

He accepted it, taking care not to touch my fingers. Then he stepped aside so I could pass, wedging the door between his back and the wall. I slid past him in the narrow doorway, just barely avoiding brushing his body. The scent of old books and fresh wood greeted me, so full-bodied I could practically taste it. Puffs of dust swirled up through the air with each creaking step I took on the old floorboards. I started firing off sneezes that, in our tense silence and the surprisingly cavernous space, echoed like firecrackers.

You OK? He dusted his hands off on his jeans, then shoved them into his pockets. He clearly didnt know how to deal with what Id taken to mentally referring to as our situation, so he was picking his way through it like he would smashed glass.

Fine, I said as I wiped my watering eyes. I looked around the shop. It was the picture of disorganized chaos. The room Finn and I stood in seemed sectioned off into different areas devoted to various kinds of furniture. I turned around and almost bumped into a dresser loaded down with gnarled driftwood-esque bowls. So, this is pretty different from the world of finance.

It is. I can show you around? Armins pretty strict, but hes gone so its not a big deal.

Despite the weirdness, my interest was piqued. I started wandering, winding my way through the wooden maze, much of it precarious, teetering on something propped up by something else, looking like a whisper would topple it all. The effect was staggering, like a treasure trove that would take years to sort through but would be worth it just for the gems youd unearth.

The entire time, I was starkly aware of Finn trailing behind me at a respectful distance. He was quiet, which wasnt odd for him, but it bothered me nonetheless. I didnt want him to treat me, or our friendship, like one touch would shatter us. This was still Finn. I was still me.

I came to a staircase flanked by thin, reddish armoires that looked like theyd smell of cherries. Whats down there?

Thats where we work. With our workspace downstairs, we can just haul stuff up when were done, Finn said.

I started down the steps. Normally, I would have asked, but his reticence sparked something reckless inside me. Instead of bringing up the kiss, he was retreating into himself. Knowing Finn, I should have expected it, but it threw me off. Another guy might have broached the topic immediately, subtly steering me into feeling whatever was convenient for him. Finn, on the wildly opposite hand, was unreadable.

The final step I took into the basement was muffled, thanks to the sawdust under my feet. Stacks of wood rested on shelves which were bolted to the first wall you saw when you got into the space. I dodged a table piled with works in progress, then jumbles of machinery, finally making it over to the wood. I leaned in and inhaled. With my eyes closed, I could almost imagine that the city above our heads was melting away and we were in a forest somewhere, surrounded by tightly packed, towering trees.

I opened my eyes and turned to Finn. Which ones your favorite? I asked, cocking my head toward the wood.

He paused before answering, his eyes raking through the options behind me before settling on my face.

Walnut. He walked over to the table and picked up a piece of wood a few feet long, then beckoned me over. Its strong as hell, but easy to work with once you get to know it. And always full of surprises. See?

He held it up to the light. When I looked more closely, I saw that the rich brown was interspersed with swirls of lighter grain and golden dabs that almost looked painted on. Theres a lot of unexpected beauty there, he said.

Entranced, I ran a finger over the slab.

Careful!

Finns warning came a second too late. I felt a jolt of pain and yanked my hand back like Id been burned, then flipped it over to see the mother of all slivers embedded partially into the skin under my middle finger.

Finn grabbed my hand with one of his, transferring the block of wood to his other one. His muscles strained with the effort, and I saw a flash of black peek out from under the collar of his shirt. It disappeared when he shifted his weight to get a better look at my finger.

Thats in there pretty good, he said.

Its fine. I pulled away, so strangely, intensely aware of his touch, his hand so hot on mine is almost burned. Using my other hand, I yanked most of the fragment out. A bead of blood pearled up, then slid down the side of my finger.

Shit, Tessa. Let me get the first aid kit.

He set the walnut down and headed to the far edge of the room, where he opened a cabinet and produced a kit that looked about as old as me. He walked over and led me into a chair, pulled up another one opposite me, then opened the kit.

Well, your life is clearly on the up and up, I said. Suddenly nervous for reasons I couldnt quite understand, I prattled on about Bloom, the upcoming party, and how I was quickly falling in love with telling a story through flowers.

You can use them to say absolutely anything in the right combinations. Of course, those definitions vary based on which guide you use, but its pretty special.

Finn nodded, then smiled. I felt like I still had to talk. So, what can you make at this point? I seem to remember requesting a throne.

He shook his head and tore open a package of antiseptic wipes. This was vintage Finn. Hed made me tea for my hangovers years ago, shown up when my apartment was being broken into, and here he was tending to a splinter Id stupidly inflicted upon myself. No thrones yet, but I think my chairs are OK. He gestured with his chin to where I was sitting, confusing me for a second until it clicked.

You made this?! The thing Im sitting in? This actual chair that someone can buy and put in their house? He nodded, a slight flush rising to his cheeks. The one youre sitting in, too? Again, he nodded.

The chairs was simple at first glance, but the details revealed themselves the longer you looked. The arms curved outward, adding a touch of comfort. So did the back. They were small touches, but they made the chair seem thought about. Cared for.

Finn dropped his eyes and took my hand in both of his, turning it up to the light to get a good look at my finger. I could feel the calluses starting to form in a few spots on his fingers and palms.

This is going to sting a little, he warned.

The man didnt lie. He swabbed my finger with the wipe, and I sucked in a breath at the pain.

Sorry. The hard parts done. So, can I assume that the splinters on your middle finger to send me a message? He was still looking at my hand, but I could tell he was being serious.

Maybe.

Look, Tessa, Im sorry. I really am. I know it wasnt the right time for that. I dont have a good excuse for myself.

I know. And I know youre a good guy. I would just never want to be the Sophie in your relationship.

Finns hands stopped moving and he screwed up his face while he processed what I said. Sophie? The girl Grant cheated with? But how could youTessa, did you think I was still with Amy?

Arent you?

A look of comprehension dawned over his face, mingling with relief. Tessa, no, of course not. I wouldnt do that to you or her. I ended it a few days before you and I, you know, kissed.

Well, thats technically better, I said. I left the rest of that thought, that it wasnt actually better in any monumental way, unsaid. I could tell by his wounded expression that Finn understood me just fine.

Our breakup was a long time coming, you know that.

So, what, you were trying to get over your breakup with Amy via a drunken kiss with me?

Are you serious? Finn just looked at me, his jaw set in a way that tipped me off to his mounting frustration. No, Tessa. Thats not it at all. I thought you knew me better than that.

I knew this was the moment I would always look back on as the turning point. I could press the issue, ask Finn what he meant, get to the core of it, or I could ignore it all. The thing was, ignoring just wasnt my style.

My voice trembled. If thats not it, then what? What is it?

Its that I see you! The words exploded from Finns mouth, my hand forgotten in our rush to get everything out into the open. I see everything about you. I see how you tug on your hair when youre nervous, like you are now. I hadnt even noticed. I see how something in you, behind your eyes, lights up when you talk about Bloom. I see you killing it there in ways you cant even imagine yet. I see the lengths youll go to for Marley, and for anyone else you love. He took a deep breath, then the rest poured out. And I see that between Jack and Grant, youre scared. You think theres something about you that makes people leave. But no, Tessa. Its not you. Theyre just blind.

Something broke inside me, or maybe it burst. I flew forward out of my chair and kissed him, full to the brim with the rawness of the nerves hed touched, and the hope that maybe, just maybe, he was right. Finn drew me into his lap, his strong, sure hands moving down my back, hips, the tops of my thighs. I pulled away, breathless, my hand on his chest, almost giddy with emotions that were ricocheting inside of me like I was a pinball machine. Again, I saw a black hint of something just under his collarbone. I tugged at his shirt and was shocked to see a tattoo. Little Bear, it read in elegant script. The Finn I thought I knew would never.

Little Bear? What does that mean?

He smoothed my hair back. Remember those letters my mom left me?

I nodded. How could I forget? Writing Finn letters when she knew she was dying of breast cancer was his mothers beautiful, Nicholas Sparks-worthy gift.

Right, well, she always called me Little Bear. She was Mama Bear. I guess it was our thing. For years I would pull those letters out when I needed her. Sometimes, especially early on, I missed her so much I thought I might die, too. At a loss for what to do, I rubbed his shoulder. The letters are getting pretty old, though, he continued. Theyre falling apart. I took one to a tattoo artist, so I can carry a little bit of each letter around with me instead of damaging them more.

I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat, completely overcome. Wow. ThatsI mean, Finn. Thats beautiful. I traced the tattoo, inked in what was now clearly Finns moms handwriting. Unable to help myself, I dotted it with kisses. I didnt know what was happening, only that seeing Finn in a completely different situation made me feel like there was so much about him I didnt know. But I wanted to.

I dont know how she felt about tattoos, but I think shed have liked this one at least, he said. There was also something really interesting in those letters that I only discovered recently.

Mmm? I was feeling a little dizzy. What?

You sound a lot like my mom, he said.

My eyes widened. And the prize for thing you least want to hear come from a guys mouth goes to

No, he hurriedly added. Not in a creepy way. But you know, when I was trying to decide whether to quit my job, I turned to her letters a lot. Like if I read them for the millionth time, they would say something different. He shook his head and smiled ruefully. But they didnt. They always said the same thing, which was that no matter what, shed be proud of me as long as I lived a meaningful life. To screw the money and chase my happiness.’”

In so many words, you mean.

Nah, she actually said that. Told you you sound alike.

I laughed, then sobered and stared into his eyes. Funny, Id always thought they were just brown. A nice brown, but brown nonetheless. Now, with a close-up view and a whole new side of him revealed, I saw them for what they were. A deep chocolate iris around the pupil, ringed with honey. Flecked with gold all throughout. They were breathtaking.

Finn grinned until his glasses pressed into his cheeks, leaving red indentations as proof that theyd been there, that Id made him that happy. The more I read those words and the more you said them to me, the more it clicked that she was right. You were right. And it made it hard not to feel things.

I peeled his shirt off, resisting the urge to inhale it like the deranged woman Id apparently become. Everything about this new, hidden Finn was intoxicating. He smelled of earth tinged with a bit of sweat. The veins on his arms, which were quickly growing accustomed to their new workload, stood out in stark relief. He pulled me to him, tracing those fingers up my back, their roughness flirting with the smoothness of my skin in a way that made me want to beg for more.

Suddenly, a clatter from upstairs.

Finnegan! A heavily accented voice was yelling bloody murder.

Finn started. Shit. Armins back. Im not supposed to have anyone down here.

I jumped off his lap, alarmed and a little disoriented. Are we going to get in trouble? What do I do?

Finn grabbed his shirt and threw it on, realized it was inside out, and quickly fixed his mistake. Im going to go upstairs and distract him. When I say, uh, when I say The teaks arriving tomorrow, thats your cue to slip out the front door, OK? Hes a little hard of hearing, but still, be as quiet as you can.

OK, got it. I could get into a little seduction with a side of subterfuge.

Finn bolted upstairs and I waited, stock still, for our signal. After a few minutes, I heard the floorboards groan above my head.

The teaks arriving tomorrow, Armin! Yes, the teak is definitely arriving tomorrow.

I crept up the staircase and wound my way through the piles of furniture, peeking around them before I went, Finn chatting loudly the whole time to disguise my footsteps.

I spilled out onto the sidewalk, all electric feelings and racing thoughts. I spun around to orient myself, then set off in the direction of the subway. I touched my lips, smiling with what I already knew was going to become a well-worn memory. All from a secret moment with Finn. Apparently, walnut wasnt the only thing with some surprises.





28 comments:

  1. AHH I LOVE THIS! Ive never commented before but i love your writing, zahra, and the characters you write are awesome. Its great that you have a formula of how you write equally about tessa's work passion and adding romance as well. Very balanced yet satisfactory. The scene between funny and Tessa is amazing and the best romance always comes from deep friendship. We're obviously a long way from any end and I'm sure there will be ups and downs but PLEASE let Tessa end up with Finn. I love their dynamic and bow much friendship is part of it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I liked this a lot! It will be neat to learn a different side of Finn. mum

    ReplyDelete
  3. so I haven't really liked Tessa so much.. however I have continued to read hoping that it would get better. As I was reading todays entry, I couldn't help but notice how amazing the writing actually was as well as how great the entry was all together. Now I cant wait for next week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved this post! The part about the letters Finn's mom wrote gave me the chills. I have always hoped Finn and Tessa would end up together, but I also secretly want a scene where Grant hears about it and gets jealous. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'll be honest and say that I was not for a Finn & Tessa storyline AT ALL. However, after reading this, I'm hooked! Zahara, the writing in this entry was amazing! It made me FEEL the tension, passion, excitement, etc. I experienced nostalgia for times in my life when I've felt exactly what Tessa was feeling here: excitement, surprise, lust... my goodness! My hat's off to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen! When first reading, I was like "ugh, typical friend zoned guy gets the girl!" and not into it at all. But this post was awesome and totally spot on. But I don't think that her and Finn will end up together. She hasn't been writing this blog long enough, so maybe he's not here to stick around?

      Delete
  6. Loved this, definitely want Tessa and Finn to end up together! I hope they take it slow though. I think it would be better for the blog that way instead of them jumping into an intense relationship

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really really love you're writing style.

    This post made me feel the feels.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Amy is going to be pissed! Probably attack Tessa

    ReplyDelete
  9. This may be my favorite entry of this blog thus far. I'm really feeling the Tessa and Finn dynamic. He sounded uber hot in this post too. Something about a man working with his hands made this entire post seem erotic to me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I haven't read in a while, and finally I'm all caught up.. This was my favorite post this was absolutely amazing!! Zhara!!

    http://lifeistooshorttakeitwithagrainofsalt.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  11. Tessa's story got sorta boring, but this post totally captured my attention. Hopefully, things start looking up in her life, and I cannot wait to read what happens next with Finn. My eyes got pretty watery from reading and love love love this post because Finn is so super sweet. (:

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree, best post so far. i guess all we're really looking for is some steamy but good hearted romance. the other romances were just too shallow to get into so we've been waiting for this. however, i'm going to be the devil's advocate and say tessa is being super lame. One minute she's appalled at his actions and the next jumping on him. I mean, it just seems superficial. Okay, the guy has a tattoo and callouses but he's still Finn and if I were Finn and I knew that Tessa's sudden interest in me was based on a few things that make guys seem hotter, I'd be hurt. Isn't he going to ask her, so why the sudden change of heart?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't get that from the post at all. Tessa threw herself at him because he said the things she needed to hear-that she was worthy of being loved and the guys who had dumped her were blind to the wonderful things about her--the things Finn saw all along. That, and secondly that he was single and any involvement with him would not result in any cheating going on--something she didn't want to be a part of after being hurt by Grant.

      Delete
  13. I loved this! I'm so glad that Tessa and Finn are getting back together. The guys she's been with, Grant & Jack all seemed so nice in the beginning but both did really crappy things to her and it's great that Finn seems to know her so well! The bit about him seeing her - that was so romantic and made my swell!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is my favorite post so far. Love it :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Adult dünyasında yani porno dünyasında birbirinden güzel Porno videolar bulunur.
    Bir çok kişi kısa Pornolardan sıkılmış Porno film izlemek için arayışa girdikleri bellidir. Tüm bu Porno zevklerinin sebeplerinden bir
    de pornosikis-izle.com adında bir porno sitesinin açılmasıyla başlayan çok çeşitli Porno videolarıdır. Biz yine her zaman ki gibi
    Türk Pornoları ve buna benzer durumda olan sex videolarını izliyoruz.
    Kullanıcıların tamamı olmasa da arada bir kaç kullanıcı türkçe porno diye arama yapıp bu tarz Porno izlemek istediklerini söyledi.
    Adult videolar tamamen kişisel zevke göre yayılmıştır özellikler hd porno filmler son zamanlarda daha fazla rağbet görmüş ve
    türk pornolarının da bu özelliklere sahip olması beklenmiştir. Tabi birde ateşli fanteziye sahip olan sex filmleri var
    onları esgeçmeyelim. Her kullanıcı mutlaka kaliteli sex filmi izlemek istiyor. Donmadan hızlı açılan sex videoları
    tatmin edebilecek düzeyde olması beklentisi var herkezde. Bir kısım kullanıcı da türk türbanlı pornolar olsun liseli pornolar olsun
    bunların yanında liseli amcık resimleride arıyorlar. Porno izle ve Porno sikiş kelimeleride çok aranan kelimelerden Porno dünyasında zevkler sınır tanımıyor özellikle türkçe porno film izleyicileri
    götten sikiş pornoları arıyor. E o kadar Porno zevkine sikişenler sizce nasıl bir fanteziye bürünsün ki.
    Tüm kullanıcılar bunlardan ziyade bilinmeyen pornoları yani x porno arayışında. Bilinen videoların sanki hepsini izledik tükettik bunlar kaldı birde değil mi.

    ReplyDelete

  16. قصص سكس و صور نيك

    قصص سكس و نيك


    صور سكس و نيك

    نيك اختي .... و لا اروع


    قبول اختي سهام في الجامعة /محارم

    الولد الشقى واخته وهى نايمه (احلى سكس )

    عهد و اخيها انس قصة اخ واخته فى بلاد الغربة

    هيثم وريم اختة

    قصة الجناينى وست البيت

    قصة اللص الذي سرق البيت واغتصب المرأه المتزوجه


    ناك حبيبته المتزوجه فوق السطح


    قصص سكس و صور نيك

    قصص سكس و نيك


    صور سكس و نيك

    نيك اختي .... و لا اروع


    قبول اختي سهام في الجامعة /محارم

    الولد الشقى واخته وهى نايمه (احلى سكس )

    عهد و اخيها انس قصة اخ واخته فى بلاد الغربة

    هيثم وريم اختة

    قصة الجناينى وست البيت

    قصة اللص الذي سرق البيت واغتصب المرأه المتزوجه


    ناك حبيبته المتزوجه فوق السطح


    قصص سكس و صور نيك

    قصص سكس و نيك


    صور سكس و نيك

    نيك اختي .... و لا اروع


    قبول اختي سهام في الجامعة /محارم

    الولد الشقى واخته وهى نايمه (احلى سكس )

    عهد و اخيها انس قصة اخ واخته فى بلاد الغربة

    هيثم وريم اختة

    قصة الجناينى وست البيت

    قصة اللص الذي سرق البيت واغتصب المرأه المتزوجه


    ناك حبيبته المتزوجه فوق السطح

    ReplyDelete