Deep Surrendering: Episode 1 by Chelsea M. Cameron

  Deep Surrenderings

  Copyright © 2014 Chelsea M. Cameron

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are use fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. All rights reserved.

  Cover Copyright © Chelsea M. Cameron

  Edited by Jen Hendricks

  Copy Editing by Kara Malinczak

  Interior Design by Novel Ninjutsu

  Heartbreaker. That was the first word that came to mind when I met Fintan Herald. The second word was tall. If he were to kiss me—something I thought completely improbable at the time—he would have to bend in half to get our lips to meet. Or I’d have to use a ladder. But then he looked at me with eyes that were like sapphires, and I forgot about him being anything other than stunningly attractive. The crazy part was, he seemed to be interested in me, too.

  I thought he was crazy for my friend Rory. After all, their parents had matched them up since birth. They had an easy relationship that made my heart sink. But after exchanging a few words, he’d turned to me and said, “Well, Marisol Everly. Tell me about yourself.”

  Even in the dark of the bar, I could see his eyes glowing, and that his full attention was on me. Our first conversation hadn’t been anything memorable like in the movies. I’d talked about my graduate classes, he’d talked about his job, and then he’d given me his number.

  Nothing about it had been special, but when I got home, all I could think about was Fin. His eyes, his hands, his glorious hair, and the way he could block out all the chaos of the bar to listen to me drone on about my classes. Nothing about me was riveting, but still. He wanted to see me again.

  “I don’t care what you say, how many times have I told you that if you were on my team, I would have gone for you the first time I met you?” Chloe said the next morning as we had brunch. She’d gotten a little bit drunk the night before (I’d been mildly tipsy), so her usual hangover breakfast of lobster eggs Benedict was in order.

  “I know, Chlo. I’ve heard it,” I said, rolling my eyes and sipping my orange juice. In my relationship with Chloe, I was the moderate one. The cautious one. She’d say the boring one.

  “So why can’t you accept the fact that some guy would see how incredibly awesome you are? He’d be a moron not to.” Like a true best friend, Chloe was the captain of Team Marisol.

  “I know, I know,” I said, rolling my eyes. Chloe glared at me.

  “So, do you like him?”

  What wasn’t to like? If I wrote a list of top qualities I’d want in a man, Fin had all of them, plus bonus points.

  “I barely know him.” A few hours with someone didn’t make a relationship. It might have gone against the grain to not jump right into bed with a guy after barely a hello, but I guessed I was just old-fashioned that way. Chloe was always telling me my standards were too high and that all my rules were just an excuse not to get close to someone. She was probably right, but that didn’t mean I was going to change my dating policy overnight.

  “There are a lot of ways to get to know someone. One of those ways is by getting naked. You can learn a lot about someone by having sex with them.” I was sure you could. It seemed to have worked for Rory.

  But there was another reason Chloe was concentrating on my relationship instead trying to find her own. Harmony had completely destroyed her. I’d seen it coming from miles away, but I didn’t want to upset Chloe. When it ended, I couldn’t say I knew it was going to happen, I could only offer my shoulder and tell her that I was on the lookout for eligible lesbians.

  At the talk of sex, Chloe stared off into space, and I knew she was thinking about Harmony again. Those moments had become few and far between, but they still happened now and then.

  Not that she was going to get over Harmony with a snap of the fingers and some rebound sex, and that was as it should be. You didn’t get over someone you loved that quickly.

  “You okay?” I asked. It seemed to break her out of it. She shook her head and then tucked her hair behind her ears.

  “Yeah, sorry. I’m back.” She gave me a tight smile and I reached out to rub her arm. “It’s just because I’m hung over,” she said, resting her head on the table.

  “It’s okay, sweetie. You will get through this. You’re the strong one.”

  “You mean I’m the bitch,” she said, raising her head and wiping her eyes with one hand.

  I pretended not to see her tears. I was about to say something else, but then my phone buzzed with a new text message.

  “I will bet you ten thousand dollars that text is from Fin,” Chloe said, her mood going from depressed and bitter to excited at the prospect a boy might have texted me.

  “As a matter of fact it is,” I said, picking up the phone and scanning the message quickly. That was fast. I wasn’t expecting him to contact me this soon. Wasn’t there something about a three-day rule for communication after a date? But last night wasn’t technically a date, so maybe that was why he texted me only a few hours after we’d last seen each other. It was only three words, but those words still made my heart flutter.

  Good morning, Marisol.

  It was a simple, seemingly sterile text, but I could hear his voice saying it to me with a little bit of a smile playing on his face. I had no idea what to say to him, and I didn’t want to sound to eager, so I went for formal.

  Good morning, Fin. How are you? I texted back.

  “You definitely like him. You’re smiling as you’re texting him. That is definitely a sign. So, what does Mr. Fin have to say?” I shook my head and waited for his response.

  I’m doing well, Marisol. I was just thinking that maybe I’d like to see you again.

  I couldn’t help the little leap of excitement in my stomach when I read those words. I wanted to see him, too.

  “What is he saying?” Chloe reached out and got a hold of my phone, and read our text exchange. “Oh, babe. He wants you. You’d better not say no.” I had no intention of saying no. Well, to the date. I would definitely say no to anything more. I could say no to Fin. I would say no to Fin.

  I would try to say no to Fin.

  “So what are we doing today?” I asked as Fin opened the door of a rented black Town Car, complete with driver. Tres fancy. I was glad I’d worn one of my nicer dresses and favorite boots, even though Fin had been very cryptic about what we were doing. Spontaneity was sexy, and so was he.

  He got in next to me and shut the door with a wink.

  “The Prudential Center, please Carl.”

  “Right away, Sir,” Carl said. He was even wearing one of those chauffeur hats. It gave me flashbacks to my childhood when my mother had a driver. I definitely didn’t want to think about my mother, so I sat back on the leather seats and tried to figure out what we could be doing at the Prudential Center. There were lots of shops and restaurants, but it was the middle of the afternoon. Too late for lunch and too early for dinner.

  “You’re not going to tell me what we’re doing, are you?” I said as Fin stared out the window. He turned to me with a smile.

  “You’ll see,” he said, and slid closer to me, the leather of the seat creaking. “And can I say that you look stunning today?”

  “You can. I’m not going to stop you.” I knew I was grinning like a schoolgirl, but I couldn’t help it. It had been a long time since I’d felt such sweet flutters in my stomach. Being with Fin was like having a high school crush, when every glance cast
your way set you on fire.

  “You look pretty good yourself, sir.” He did, in a crisp green shirt and dark jeans with a set of boots that looked like they were much loved, judging by the scuffmarks. I liked that. Most of his clothes looked fresh from the cleaners, but those boots were worn-in.

  “Why thank you.” We lapsed into silence as Carl navigated the snarly Boston traffic. I hadn’t grown up here, but I’d adopted the city and it felt like home now. Even after living here for years, there were still nooks and crannies I hadn’t yet explored.

  Fin was quiet until we pulled up in front of the Prudential Center, but he smiled as he held the door open for me and thanked Carl. I wondered what he was going to do to occupy himself while we were doing whatever we were doing. I hoped he at least had a book or something.

  “Ready?” Fin asked, holding his hand out.

  “Sure,” I said, taking it and feeling a spark go up my arm as my skin touched his. I had no idea what I was ready for, but it didn’t really matter.

  “Did you know that I was born in Boston but I have never taken a Duck Tour?” Fin said as one of the famous Boston Duck Boats pulled up in front of us. I’d understood when we didn’t go inside the Prudential Center that it wasn’t our final destination. Just a starting place.

  “I haven’t either,” I said. It was one of those things that I always told myself I’d do but never followed through on.

  I looked at the purple-painted contraption idling in front of us.

  “This is it? We’re doing a Duck Tour?” I asked just to make sure.

  He nodded. “And then dinner, if the tour goes well. If it doesn’t go well, then I’ll have Carl drop you back at your apartment. But I’m hoping it will go well.” He squeezed my hand and led me toward the boat-slash-bus. Long and open-air, it looked nothing like a duck, but the name referred to its ability to go from land to water.

  It was empty.

  “I, uh, booked a private tour. Hope that’s okay.” I didn’t know what to say to that. The expense of renting it out was probably nothing to him, but as a grad student, that would have bought nearly all my textbooks for a semester.

  “It’s great,” I said as he led me up the steps and the tour guide greeted us. We sat in the very front seat and Fin put his arm around me.

  “I’m really glad you’re here with me,” he said. “I feel like when I travel so much I never get to actually see anything. That’s what I’m going to do, wherever I go.”

  “How many places have you been?” His hand started making its way up and down my arm as the Duck Boat turned into traffic and the tour guide started talking.

  Fin didn’t answer for a little while, and I thought maybe he hadn’t heard me, or he was just interested in the little-known facts of Boston.

  “I don’t even know, Marisol. I’ve forgotten. It’s all blended together in a haze of hotel rooms and conference rooms and meetings and suits and ties.” He shook his head, and for the first time, he looked downcast.

  “So what are you going to do about it?” He pulled me closer as we barreled through the streets.

  “I’m going to pay attention to the things that matter. Like this.” His hand went under my chin and pulled my face up. “I’m going to pay attention to you and the way the sun catches the darker streaks in your hair, the pink in your cheeks, and your beautiful eyes. That’s what I’m going to pay attention to. Right here, right now.”

  I nearly melted off my seat.

  “But you don’t even know me,” I said. This was too much, too fast. Even though I’d been hearing about him from Rory, I still didn’t really know what mattered. The important things. Life was all about the little details.

  Like if he was a morning person, what his favorite breakfast cereal was, what song always got stuck in his head, how his relationship was with his mother.

  He shrugged one shoulder and pulled my face closer.

  “I know that right now I’m paying very close attention to your lips, and I’d like to pay even closer attention to them.” I turned my head at the last moment so he missed and got my cheek.

  “I’m sorry,” I said, hoping he wouldn’t hate me. “I have a no-kiss-on-the-first-date rule.” It sounded even worse out loud. I sounded like some sort of stick-up-her-ass prude.

  “No kiss on the first date?” Fin said, turning his head to the side as if he was fascinated by me.

  “Is that a problem?” God, I hoped not.

  He grinned at me and flicked my hair over my shoulder.

  “Not at all,” he said, but then he started laughing.

  “And what’s so funny?” He shook his head, his shoulders shaking. “Hey. What is so damn funny?” I poked him in the chest.

  “Ow!” Now I was laughing as he rubbed the place on his chest where I’d poked him.

  “Shh. You’re being rude to the tour guide,” I said, turning away from him and focusing back on the fellow driving our Duck Boat who didn’t seem upset in the slightest that we’d been ignoring him. He could probably do his spiel in his sleep, sans audience.

  “In 2010, these vehicles were used to transport flood victims in Wayland, Massachusetts to safety,” the guide said.

  “Did you know that in 2010 these vehicles were used to transport flood victims in Wayland to safety?” Fin said, parroting the tour guide.

  “No, I did not know that. Thank you for sharing that fact with me, Fin Herald.” I was glad to have a distraction from the kiss conversation. I couldn’t tell how he felt about it, but he didn’t try to kiss me again the whole rest of the tour.

  I tried not to scream when we splashed into the water but failed, and Fin held me close. The sun danced off the water, and the harbor bustled with traffic, just like the city streets.

  “It’s so beautiful out here,” I said, leaning against Fin as we chugged along. “Are you paying attention to this?” I pointed at the city around us.

  “I’m trying to. You’re very distracting.”

  “How am I distracting? I’m not doing anything.” Well, I was blushing now.

  “How long have you two been together?” asked the tour guide, interrupting what Fin might have said.

  “This is our first date, actually,” I said.

  “And how’s it going so far?” he said with a grin. I let Fin answer that one.

  “Best first date ever,” he said, squeezing my shoulder.

  “Aw, give her a kiss now. Come on!” I couldn’t get out of it now.

  Fin turned to me.

  “We have to do what the man says. He might make us walk the plank if we don’t. How about it?” I had willpower. I had standards that I’d lived up to (for the most part), but all of those things vaporized when Fin smiled at me and cocked one eyebrow.

  “What the hell,” I said, and puckered my lips, hoping he would get the hint and just give me a quick peck.

  It was the briefest of brief kisses. Before I knew it was happening, it was over.

  “There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Fin asked, licking his bottom lip. No, it wasn’t bad. It was just…it was too quick to judge. I needed a second opinion. If we counted last night as a date, then this was technically our second date, and completely in the realm of kiss territory.

  “I’m not sure. I think we need to try it again. Later, though. Maybe at the end of the night.” His face broke into a smile.

  “What about the no kiss rule?”

  I shrugged one shoulder. “Screw it. We’ll call this the second date.”

  “Well you know what they say about the third date.” There was a devilish twinkle in his eye.

  “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said, even though I knew perfectly well that the rule was that you put out on the third date. Fin leaned close, and I thought he was going to kiss my ear, but he spoke instead.

  “They say that on the third date, the girl has to…receive flowers.” He chuckled and his breath on my neck made me shiver. I turned my head to see if he was kidding.

  “What kin
d of flowers?”

  “Whatever are her favorite.” I tapped my chin, pretending to think on that.

  “Most girls would probably say roses.”

  He nodded. “That’s true. Most girls would. But I’m inquiring about one particular girl.”

  “Oh, in that case…. Lilacs. Either purple or white. My grandmother had a row of them outside her house and we’d sit in the garden and have tea parties and she’d read to me. When I smell them, it’s like traveling back in time, and I can see her face and hear her voice again.” Fin looked at me for several minutes before he said anything. I’d probably said too much. I wasn’t normally like this. There were things about me even Chloe didn’t know.

  “Lilacs it is,” he finally said.

  Fin took me to an early dinner at a chic restaurant in the Prudential Center. One of those places with terrible lighting and tiny portions. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I didn’t want to make any waves.

  “The chef here is supposed to be world class, but I’m not seeing anything that great on the menu,” Fin said, his eyes skipping back and forth. I definitely didn’t see anything I wanted and I wasn’t a very picky eater.

  “Oh?” I said, trying to gauge whether he was thinking of leaving, or if we’d stay anyway.

  “Yeah. Do you see anything?” I looked around at the place. It was cold and impersonal. Sparse furnishings, poor lighting and oddly shaped chairs that looked like they’d hurt your back. It was supposed to be “modern,” but it came off pretentious.

  “Not really.” Honesty was best, right?

  He slapped the menu down on the table. “Then what are we doing here?” he asked, pushing his chair, standing and giving me his hand with a smile. “Come with me.”

  “Now this, this is perfect,” I said twenty minutes later when we were sitting on a bench in the park, eating fish tacos purchased from one of the many food trucks that seemed to buzz around the city like bees.

  “Mobile food is one of the best creations, don’t you think? No reservations, the food is good, and they’re always in a different location.” He bit into his taco, getting a little bit of sauce on his chin.

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