"You've got some definite strength mate," Axel said to him, Finn taking another drink from his cold Scottish beer. "Where are you even staying?"

"A run-down flat, about ten minutes from here…" he said. His mind was starting to become foggy. It was near two in the morning and his mates were definitely drunk. With the exception of Axel who, of course, was the designated driver. They were all from St. Andrew's and he felt like he was starting to get used to their uni life skipping from bar to bar. He even felt himself integrating into their routine despite being the oldest one. Friends of family that had been good to him upon arrival. Axel, his younger cousin, had been the one that had taken upon himself the job of helping his Scottish-turned-American cousin adjust to their life.

"You know you could stay with me, right?" Axel said tentatively, "We have a spare bedroom. I mean, it ain't got much but a bed and bathroom."

"I know, man, I know… I'm trying to get used to the feeling of being alone right now." He sighed when a certain pink-haired girl crossed his mind. He tried to ignore the feeling wanting to know what she was doing that moment. She was probably asleep, he concluded.

Axel straightened, knowing they had approached a taboo subject for Finn, "How long were you with her?"

"A few years," Finn laid his beer back onto the table and cleared his throat. He avoided Axel's eyes while staring straight ahead, his fingers mindlessly playing with the top of his beer. "But, you know, it's quite hard trying to come home from work to an empty bed."

"Was she… good? Is that what you're saying?" Axel laughed a little, trying to ease the tension that had accumulated between them. They had approached the subject of sex, in which Axel considered himself a PhD expert in.

At other times, when touching the subject of sex and Lee, Finn's anger built up because it was something that stayed between them two. It was something that was purely theirs and it usually infuriated him when his friends probed him with questions about her that he knew was supposed to be his only: How big are her breasts? Does she give a good head? Is she kinky? This time, however, Finn laughed. He didn't know what had changed but he knew that Axel was genuinely intrigued and that he was slowly falling into the abyss of dizziness.

"Oh, come on, Finn… she had to be good, right?" Axel asked, with a smile on his face.

"Good is probably an understatement…" Finn confirmed, "She had this enthusiasm about her, man, that just made everything she did truly beautiful."

"I love some enthusiasm," Axel laughed, "there's something about a woman that's just eager to please that makes it so damn irresistible."

Finn joined him in laughter, "I couldn't agree with you more… she was definitely quite amazing."

Axel sobered up, "Why'd you let her go?"

Finn felt his smile disappeared because her memory was still too much to bear. Even with thousands of miles between them, her eyes and her mouth and her hands and the way they traced figures on his back and her face when he came in through the door… it was still too much. Something inside him feared that it would always be too much.

Axel immediately regretted asking something he knew he would probably be hit for.

"Life," he said and with that he closed the conversation.


They watched the toddler arranging the berries by color. He placed the blue ones into the basket, the red ones into the small round plate and the black ones into his lap. He separated them with his chubby fingers, always having one in his mouth. The smell of summer was so consuming that neither one of them could avoid stepping outside to bask in the absorption of golden sunlight. The toddler sat on a red blanket in the meadow that led to the stream. The grass was such a lively green that you could hardly believe it was only watered with the summer rain.

"I wish I was that young again," Lee said, as she stared at her godson who kept on arranging.

Miranda laughed, "He has no control whatsoever of when he poops, Lee."

Lee barely let out a laugh. The child's face reminded her of the future she had once dreamed of. She could still see it, but it was starting to wither. What was strangely there, was Finn's face, and that never seemed to fade. It was hard for it to fade when she saw him everywhere. She could almost feel the tears start to build themselves up in her eyes, she was no stranger to the sensation, but she did not feel like crying.

"Oh honey..." Miranda said. Lee tried to swallow the knot that had formed in her throat but she couldn't ignore the feeling of emptiness and knowing that Finn was somewhere else. "Don't you think you should call him?"

"He doesn't want to talk, he said I had to figure myself out..." Lee trailed off, remembering the hurricane she felt inside when Finn had packed his stuff. Nothing had ever ripped her apart or broken her inside quite like that. What was even sadder, was that that initial pain had only turned into a gradual slow burn inside her body. She could repress the feelings for days, weeks even, but there was always that triggering factor that unleashed the ever-so-painful memories of a person she used to hold in her arms.

She was here, now, Lee had to keep reminding herself. She was here and she had to be mindful of her surroundings and what was happening and those that were interested in her. Miranda, for example, seemed to be the person that aimed to distract her. Yes, it had been almost six months since she had seen Finn and yes, she still cried in the shower. Was it honestly so painful to know that he was no longer hers?

Yes, it was.

Maybe that same knowledge was the only one that pushed her forward. She knew Miranda had it hard pushing her best friend (who had a bad case of HSP) forward without being too pushy. So, eventually, she was the only one who could push herself forward. Finn was gone, and that was all there was to it.

"I honestly feel like you should leave it all behind," Miranda said, "There are other men in this world, Lee, he can't be the only one…" Lee couldn't avoid feeling like the words of her best friend seemed to dissipate into thin air. Other men? For her? Hardly… Finn. He was the only one. And he was gone, she reminded herself.

"Miranda, please stop…" Lee almost begged. She wanted to be the only one pushing herself. Miranda hadn't been there when she met Finn, or when they moved in together, or their first fight. She had been miles away and Lee didn't blame her. It was just the way life worked.

Miranda's blue grey eyes only nodded at her. She pressed her lips into a thin line that made Lee sigh. The toddler stood up and started to wobble towards them. He had the juice of the berries stuck to his chin and his golden curls bounced as he walked, in the best way he could, to the two young women. Lee held her arms out and Miranda smiled.

The child walked freely into Lee's arms and Miranda let out a small laugh. She touched the child's curls and placed her caring hand on her son's back. She observed Lee grace the child with kisses on his cheeks and wipe the berry juice of his chin with his bib. Then, the child leaned its head into the crook between her shoulder and neck. Lee placed her hand on the child's nape of his neck.

"You're a natural," Miranda said, with a smile on her face. She observed her best friend play with her young toddler son, whom had inherited his father's eyes and her champagne hair. "Lee, I do wish you would let it all go. At least while you're here in Italy."

"I know. I'm trying," Lee assured her, her voice like a soft whisper in the sweet vineyard air.

"We should probably go inside."

Lee only nodded, as she carried her godson in her arms and Miranda followed soon after, carrying their blankets and their picnic basket filled with cheese and wine, leaving behind the heartbreak.


Lee had had enough of airports. She did not like how people pushed themselves around like they were the only ones that needed to get to their destination. It sounded almost absurd to her how every single person seemed to be in a rush to be somewhere. Then again, she couldn't deny how she sometimes become one of those zombie-like creatures who ran after flights and chased behind lost luggage.

And she couldn't be the only one that argued that the worst thing was having a flight delayed. First, there was the couple that couldn't really be a couple anymore because it was clear as day that they were going through a divorce. Lee had had to take up the seat next to them on her flight from Italy to London. She couldn't deny that their fights got to her a bit and even had to excuse herself to go to the bathroom for a while. She wanted to tell them, don't give up, you can try. I see it in your faces. But there was too much pain and too much hurt that invaded the air between them that she almost ran down the aisle when the plane landed.

That was when she learned that her connection flight had been behind on schedule and her next flight wasn't until two in the morning. Yes, because that was the one she had decided to buy for a cheaper price. She couldn't very well sleep so she took out her phone and listened to some music to put her in a better mood.

Then there was the very long line at Starbucks and she was dying for some coffee. She hadn't slept for more than 22 hours and she felt like her organism was slowly decomposing. Her eyes were rimmed-red and the long line made her stress so much she forgot the time. And if there was one thing you couldn't do while at an airport was not pay attention to the time that dictated boarding. But the coffee line was too long and she needed coffee… She ended up staying four minutes too late and when she arrived at her gate, they were already boarding the next flight to Munich.

She couldn't avoid crying. It was a helpless cause and not to mention that her luggage was already on her next flight. The one she missed. The one she would now have to figure out how to get on another freaking plane to get to New York City. It was while pondering on where she could discuss this with an airline attendant that the young child bumped into her. The espresso spilled all over her white Italian blouse. Her white new Italian blouse that had been given as a gift from Miranda.

The young child stared at her and ran away. She cursed herself for being so distracted that she made things go wrong.

Oh how she detested airports.

Her anger was building up. "Excuse me miss, when is the next flight to New York City?"

"I'm sorry ma'am but flights are delayed due to the electric storms currently occurring but I will make sure to put you on the next flight which is currently in… 16 hours." The young airline attendant stared at her. She had very well-kept hair that Lee envied. As soon as she got back, she was dying it back to her natural color.

"16 hours!?" Lee tried to dissipate the anger and frustration from her voice but it was entirely too difficult.

"Yes, miss, I'm sorry, we will try to accommodate you in first-class due to your technical difficulties with the airline," this did nothing to ease Lee's anger. She was too tired to argue but it would do. She would just have to find a comfortable place to sleep with her purse hugged to her chest. The airline attendant looked at her computer and made a few clicks. Her lips formed a small frown and she opened her mouth, "Oh, Miss Insley, it looks like that flight is already full."

"No, please don't say that, there has to be space somewhere," her voice filled of desperation. Her pink hair was hung in a messed-up pony tail and her blouse was ruined with coffee stains. The bags under her eyes were physically begging her to lay down for a second, but she couldn't because she had just learned there wasn't a seat available.

"Well… I could give you a first-class seat in flight 951 which will be leaving in 32 hours. So that is at 11:45 on Friday." The airline attendant said all this with a straight face so Lee knew she wasn't kidding. But she really wanted her to be. She couldn't believe what was happening, this was all too much. She had to take a seat and breathe in. "I've assured you a seat, Miss Insley."

Lee nodded in thanks, unable to say a word. Why did this have to happen to her? She had been good, she swore. Always putting others first… She tried not to cry, she really did. When the burning sensation between her eyelids became too much she couldn't help but let it all out. It started small, like a delicate whimper, and became full-blown crying. First the couple, then the delays, the coffee, the blouse, now the time.

Time. Time. Time.

What was she supposed to do in London for 32 hours? She knew nobody! Well there was this distant cousin of whom she couldn't quite remember his name… But still, he didn't really even count. And she had 27 dollars that she had saved for her snacks on the way. This would in no way pay for a hotel. She had even been stupid enough to place her credit card inside her bag because she didn't want it to get lost. Oh how she had been stupid… She had to call somebody. And that was when she learned she had no battery left. Of-fucking-course. She had used it all up while listening to music.

The crying turned into sobbing. Into sobbing with snot and everything that she couldn't even have the dignity to feel ashamed. Oh no, let the world feel her pain, she thought.

"Excuse me, are you okay?" She lifted her head to peer into dark brown eyes. He was staring at her with genuine concern. She couldn't quite place his accent but it did seem somewhat British. He had brown hair that looked fresh, as if he'd just taken a shower. He looked alert and awake and composed, everything that Lee at the moment, was not. She envied him. He was handsome too, in a certain way, Lee couldn't help but feel a budding attraction.

"I'm fucking lost," Lee almost never cursed so she surprised herself with the use of language that sprung out of her like fire. She wanted to burn everything in her wake, she wanted to burn herself. This was nobody's fault but her own and she couldn't handle it.

The young man's eyes widened, "Well we're in the London Heathrow Airport but if you want to be more precise-"

"No, no, I mean first there was this couple and they couldn't stop fighting and then the flight fell behind schedule, then I used up all my battery, missed my next flight, spilt my coffee on myself and now I'm stuck in London for 2 days and almost no money," her rambling did not lose the young man's attention. At first his eyes were concerned and then, halfway through her story they changed. They started to look… amused?

He couldn't help the laugh that accidentally escaped him.

Lee frowned, "Forget it." Why was he even laughing at her? What kind of sick man was he? She was just a girl who needed a helping hand and he came here to-to… laugh at her. She could just do this on her own. She'd find a place to stay, cheap enough and find a way to survive this never-ending city that would consume her.

He kept on laughing and so Lee stood up and hugged her purse to herself. She started walking towards the exit. The electric doors waiting for her. How bad could it be to actually be completely and absolutely alone in an unknown city?

This question circled through her head as the young man chased after her.

"Hey, wait," he said, his voice still full of amusement. "Wait." Lee stopped but didn't face him. He stepped to stand in front of her, at her eye level. He was a few inches taller but not that much. She could face him perfectly well and she kept her face stoic. "You look like you need some help."

Lee couldn't avoid rolling her eyes, "You think?" It came out completely rude and she hated herself even more for it but at this time with these problems on her back, she couldn't care less.

"I'm sorry for laughing at your story… Its just so full of irony," he said to her and the amusement still winked at her behind his firm lips. "But you know what, I'll make it up to you."

Lee rolled her eyes.

"I'll lend you my phone, so you can let someone know," he smiled at her and Lee appreciated what he was doing. She still hated him for laughing and she hesitated to take the phone, "Come on, you got to call someone."

"I'm in a bad mood so as much as I appreciate this, I'm still angry over that laugh back there," Lee told him with serious eyes. She thought he deserved it, and as much as he was a stranger to her, she knew he wouldn't mind a little fire.

Truth was, she was infinitely grateful for the phone but she couldn't deny that she did not want to give his ego another boost. He looked like he was full of it. His smug grin let her know how even though his concern was genuine, he knew how girls like her functioned. And she knew how boys like him functioned. She couldn't care less anyway. She had one purpose in mind and one only: get back to NYC as soon as possible and get this day over with.

She tapped in Miranda's number. After three rings and realizing that the cost of the call could be a great one, she dialed her mother instead. She didn't pick up. She dialed one of her friend's numbers to let her know the flight had been delayed and she would be staying for two more days in London. And that she had no battery or money whatsoever. The call fell. "Damn it."

That was when the phone started vibrating in her hand. It was an unknown phone number and Lee knew it was most likely her mother or her friend calling back from an unknown number. It wasn't her phone but she had been the one using it and she knew it was someone trying to call back from the United States or Italy, maybe. She pressed the green button and placed it next to her ear.

"Hello?" She asked into the microphone. She fumbled with her sweater and stared at the coffee stain on her blouse. She'd have to hand wash it as soon as she found a room.

Maybe it was the exhaustion or the way in which the man stared at her as if he was taken by her, it could have even been the rawness of her emotions, but when the other voice answered, it sounded all too familiar. "Axel?"

"Oh... who is this?" Her heart began to thump and her eyes took in every detail around her. The young child she had bumped into earlier was dragging a small rolling suitcase around. The airline attendant was fixed on her computer. Lee noticed that the light was too bright and businessmen with alert eyes walked around with indifference.

There was a pause on the other side of the line. Lee's breathing became shallow waiting for his response, "Who is this?"

And that was how she knew. How couldn't she? It was the raspiness in his voice, how everything sounded all too familiar in the slight absence of the R, how it all came back to her in seconds. Her breath caught in her throat… months and months of not seeing him and now, she had him on the phone. As if it could have been that easy. What were the possibilities of hearing him again this way? Close to none. She knew it; this was something that had never happened to her. Too many coincidences and yet…

She could never explain this. It seemed like the universe would constantly pulling her towards him. As if everything she ever did or said would lead her back to him. The knot that formed at her throat was as tight as the eternal connection she would always feel for him. She wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, because honestly what were the true chances of encountering him like this?

"You still there?"

She gulped and laced her voice with bravery, "Finn?"

There was another pause on the other side. She thought he had hung up for a moment and noticed how the young man stared at her with a curious face. She wondered what she looked like: coffee stained, shocked-expression, dark eyes… "Lee?"

She tried to not lose herself in the way he said her name. She had always loved it coming from him; as if he tried to say it extra careful. As if he tried to cram and fit everything he felt for her in a single word. She nodded to herself, "It's me."

"Damn…" That was all he said as Lee's heartbeat sped up. Her hands started to sweat. The way he talked was so unguarded, she treaded through careful territory. "I never thought…"

"I know," Lee said very softly.

"So why do you have Axel's phone?" He had built his walls back up, she noticed. She had tried not to hope for a few seconds but it had become inevitable. The rush of emotions felt like a tsunami had decided to take over her body. Everything made no sense and absolute sense at the same time.

"I… don't know," she said quite honestly.

She heard him laugh and her heart constricted, "Well, where are you?" This was all too much. Lee felt her breath catch and her throat close and she was trapped. Trapped because she knew, in that moment, that she would never love anyone the same way she loved Finn.

"I'm at the airport and I'm, uh, a bit lost I guess and they've made me switch flights," she told him and as heartache laced itself through her voice, Lee realized that the universe was too big to dare call this a coincidence.

"Switch flights? Why?" Finn asked honestly, "You don't have to tell me but, uh, where are you staying?"

She wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell him everything: how she missed his hair when she woke up, his playful hands and his raspy voice and how he knew which Kleenex she preferred and how much he loved oranges. "No where, really, I'm trying to figure that out since my flight leaves on Friday and Axel, your friend I guess, leant me his phone."

"I'm picking him up actually…" He trailed off. Silence.

Did she dare hope?

"I have a spare bedroom at my place if you want to come."