Chapter 64: Finn

Back when I passed Benny’s coffee shop every day, watching his sad or frustrated face from the opposite side of the glass, I used to think I wanted nothing more than to talk to him one more time.

But now, I wished he’d stop talking–especially after a lengthy description of his first time with Hamlet Richardson. And his second. And his third.

I was happy for him. Really. I’d never seen him smile so much, or talk so animatedly about anything other than butlers.

So I listened and tried to smile, for his sake.

Hamlet was the perfect boyfriend–the one he’d always been dreaming of. He was an incredibly talented and even more handsome actor. His abs were perfection, his glutes a modern marvel. His tattoos were…tolerable. (Those seemed to be the one thing about Hamlet Richardson that Benny wasn’t too fond of.)

I feigned a yawn and stretched. “Sorry, Benny. It’s getting late–I should probably let you go.”

“But the sun’s still out. I still haven’t told you about Hamlet’s favorite human foods.”

“Sorry, I think I had some bad plasma. Rain check?”

I hated lying to Benny. I already lied to him about so many things. But if it got him to stop talking about his shiny new relationship…

No, that was unkind. For all I knew, it could be true love. A warm, geeky, carefree actor like Hamlet suited Benny far better than I ever could.

That could’ve been you. The thought was like a stake through my heart.

I started avoiding Benny after that–taking too long to answer his texts for any plans to ever coalesce, sending calls to voicemail… Eventually, he only rarely reached out to me (usually with links to news about Hamlet, which I politely praised).

I did pick up when I got a call from my dad one morning, though.

“My boy,” Dad said. I could tell he was outside on his houseboat–probably by the bar–by the sounds of seagulls in the background. “Wonderful news–you’ll start shooting those television episodes tomorrow.”

Good–hopefully filming would take me far away from the apartment. “How’d you manage getting me a gig like that–you mentioned some kind of deal?” Sometimes, I was afraid to ask him questions like that, but I thought it was better to know in advance.

“Your father is a master of negotiation, my boy. I simply arranged a very reasonable trade–the use of one of my many estates for filming in exchange for a few directing credits for my son.” It really was all about who you knew in Starlight Shores.

And Dad did have more houses than any one person needed–that was exactly how I ended up with the one Benny was still working in. “Tell me about the show,” I said. “Have I heard of it?” Hopefully it wasn’t another crime procedural.

“I would imagine so. Surely your sister has mentioned it.”

“Dad. It’s not…Gal’s show, is it?” Gal’s and Rhys’s, but he didn’t like to hear my brother’s name.

“My children, working together,” he said. “I’ll never be a prouder papa.”

How could I refuse him after that, especially after he went through so much trouble to make the arrangements? He knew Gal wasn’t speaking to me…and now he was making her speak to me, in his own way.

The same way that created the rift to begin with…

“Thanks, Dad.” I knew he was trying.

The first scenes I was directing were being shot at the studio…and Gal would be there too. I saw her, but didn’t initiate conversation. I couldn’t help but wonder how she felt about her costume… It wouldn’t have been her first choice.

She stopped short. “Enough with the stalking,” she huffed. So much for my innate vampire stealthiness. “If you want to talk, talk. I don’t have the energy to be pissed at more than one brother at a time anymore.”

“I had no idea about–I didn’t know I’d be working on your show–”

“Yeah, I know. And I doubt you had a choice, either. I guess you’re just as much Dad’s victim as me–and it’s not the worst thing in the world to have you directing instead of whatever bargain bin hack they scrounge up.”

We didn’t talk the rest of the way to the set, but we didn’t have to. I hadn’t realized how sad I’d been that she wasn’t living next door anymore–but I hoped she enjoyed her new place, wherever it was.

I wasn’t familiar with the Alabaster Rose Castle, the filming location for most of the vampire scenes…but I knew by the name alone who the castle was originally meant for: a woman who would never, ever live there.

Wouldn’t it hurt less if you sold it, Dad? But maybe he still held out hope.

The first night there, I wondered why the castle seemed to hold a certain fascination for my brother too…

And then I followed his line of sight.

O. He was transfixed by O.

He never noticed my presence…and apparently, Ophelia never noticed his. That look, so similar to our father’s… The Straud men (and woman, in the case of our grandmother) had a type.

I’ll admit I did my own reconnaissance in the castle too, to my shame. I only had to shoot one episode with Hamlet Richardson before his movie schedule conflicted with the show. During a break, I tracked him down to the kitchen, finding him alone with a cameraman.

I couldn’t help but wonder if…if he’d ever cheat on Benny. People in the industry had brutal schedules, schedules that kept them away from their families and loved ones.

But when I listened in, I distinctly heard Hamlet talking about his boyfriend’s “liquid meal replacement diet,” and how he wished he could take him out to dinner or cook for him sometimes. …Did Benny not tell him about his vampirism?

I smiled bitterly. Please don’t lie to him, Benny. Please don’t make my mistakes.

…What was I doing? Spying on my friend’s boyfriend for no reason. Hamlet was exactly who he appeared to be, unlike me.

I don’t know what compelled me to help a brother I hadn’t spoken to in years. Maybe it was the long hours inside a monument dedicated to unrequited love. Maybe it was the look on Rhys’s face, one I’d seen a thousand times on our father’s. Or maybe it was just a distraction.

I tracked Ophelia down to a rose garden ripped directly from one of her romance novels.

“Finn,” she said, turning. “I missed you.”

And so everything went back to the way it was, more or less. “I had some notes on your next scene,” I told her, pulling out the script. “Before she was a vampire–and married to Lord Harrington–Lady Octavia was Roland’s fiancée. But after her change, she’s forgotten all about him…”

“Was this part of the script?” she asked. “I don’t remember it… As a writer, I try to study them carefully.”

“It’s…subtext.”

“Oh.” She nodded.

“She may have lost her memories, but sometimes, when she sees Roland, she feels a pull on her unbeating heart…like her heart remembers him, even if her mind doesn’t.”

“It’s very romantic, isn’t it?” She smiled gently at me. “Sometimes I wonder if a vampire isn’t capable of forgetting their true love, no matter how much time passes or how many others they meet. Vampires live forever, so maybe their deepest, darkest loves are meant to last forever too.”

…Was she trying to ask me to turn her again? …And then I realized the true meaning hidden beneath her words.

Benny. But a childhood crush was a far cry from the love that existed only in her novels. “It’s a nice thought,” I said, even if it was also a terrifying one.

Talking to Rhys wouldn’t be as easy. He’d been nothing but professional thus far, but I didn’t think a professional director to actor conversation was best for this particular situation. Telling him to fill his performance with more secret longing was already completely unnecessary–and not-so-secret.

“…She likes vampires.”

He didn’t respond at first, but his curiosity–or maybe desperation–got the better of him. “Who?”

“Ophelia.”

“Well, she is starring in a television show featuring vampires. …But how do you know?”

I had to be careful, with Rhys’s pride. “She…she’s the daughter of one of Dad’s closest friends. I used to see her every summer.” That wasn’t a lie…but he didn’t have to know about all the times I’d seen her afterward.

“Her tastes could’ve changed,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “…But is there anything else I should know? I do want to get along with my co-stars.” He coughed dramatically. “All of them.”

“She’s a writer. A passionate one…she writes romance, always involving vampires. She loves to talk about her work.” Would Rhys be willing to listen to her for hours about the many, many details…? At this point, I thought he would.

He moved farther away from me–and closer to O. “…Thank you.” He must’ve known I would’ve heard him, no matter how softly he spoke.

Did my brother deserve a chance with someone like Ophelia? I didn’t know. But O would, and in the end, she was the only one who could decide.

You helped your brother, I thought. Now I’ll help mine.

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28 thoughts on “Chapter 64: Finn

  1. Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
    Make me a match,
    Find me a find,
    catch me a catch!

    This song is going off in my head right now.

    Poor Finn, having to hear Benny gush about Hamlet UGH! Nothing worse. I don’t blame him for cutting him off a bit. But then, he’d wanted them to be friends and now they’re drifting apart. This won’t do! BINNY!!! Darn you, Hammy!

    And that’s so sweet of him to match up his bro with O. And now, poor Finn is alone. 😦 I’m glad he has a job with his siblings. It would be funny if all the kids converged on that show. LOL!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. OMG, I’m gonna have Fiddler on the Roof songs stuck in my head all day and it’s all your fault. ROFL.

      It’s pretty awful for Finn to have to hear about Hamlet constantly…and Benny is so overjoyed he can’t help but gush. He’d probably be more considerate if he was aware of the extent of Finn’s current feelings for him…but it’s easier for Finn to keep his distance.

      Finn is all alone for now. 😦 But hopefully not forever…!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes. That’s it, just yes.
    Finn & Benny / O & Rhys forever, fight me >:D

    I’ll comment properly when I’m out of bed and if these severe thunderstorms pass ❤ But this was the best to read after waking up to torrential winds and lightning!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Noooooo this chapter is ruining my ships even more 😭 But I will be like that annoying Dido song. I will go down with my ships! No surrender and no white flag, damn it!

    I always love Finn chapters, but this one… my heart…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Still together FOR NOW. 😛 I am on to you, woman! Haha Glad Ham isn’t cheating though. That’d break my heart even more! (But now I have a feeling Benny will be the one doing the heartbreaking… 😭🐷)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And we know Finn loves to manipulate when it’s for a “good cause”… 😛 What better cause (for him 😂) than this? I could see him caving to his selfish desires… but I guess we’ll see 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Finn…my heart is breaking for you. All your loves lost. I can totally see Rhys turning Ophelia when they hook up! I think O and Rhys would be good. She can stroke his ego and she can become a vamp. Whether they will be together forever is another story….he is too much like his Dad. But hen if he turns her he will have his Alabaster Dove!

    Oh. And BTW….last chapter since I remembered I failed to comment. Gal’s new evil kitten….Satan himself! That kitten is scary as hell. Feeling bad for Gal but curious about Mr. Puck. Group therapy for the poor screwed up Straud kids.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, Rhys is actually fae, so he can’t turn Ophelia (though you’re right, he’d be happy to). Rhys worries about being too much like his dad too… 😦 But it still would probably weird for Finn to see Ophelia with his brother, even if he’s pushing for it.

      HA, so glad you described Rubbish! ❤ ❤ Satan himself, omg. Just wait until you see him as an adult, if you think he looks scary now…LOL.

      Group therapy would probably go a long way for the Straud kids. ❤ (If they don't kill each other first.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dark WitcHazard: Nothing like the beginning of Straud week to get you in good spirits. dysfunctional gorgeous people always make me happy and the Strauds have it bad!

    Lover WitcHazard: Oh Finn if you want to end Hammy you have to work through the pain they’re going to hit a rift at some point and you’d want your friendship meter to be higher so that when the talk of breaking up happens you can persuade adorable Benny to actually go through with it!

    Shipper WitcHazard: I love Finn orchestrating development between Rhys and Ophelia Karma O Karma!

    Anti: Please it’s just so he can watch him fall flat on his face I mean that’s why I’d do it dude needs a wake up call!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, I guess it is 2/3 Straud week, with Dru on Friday! Rhys would be delighted to be called a dysfunctional gorgeous person, btw.

      “Friendship meter,” I like that, rofl. If only gaining more friendship points didn’t hurt so much. 😦 And hmm, would he encourage Ham and Benny to break up, or try to help them through it despite the pain?

      And ha, Ophelia’s getting a taste of her own medicine, huh? 😉 Though Anti doesn’t seem to have high hopes–then again, Anti never has high hopes.

      Like

  6. Ahh! So much to love here, where do I even?

    Okay, I need to talk about Finn and Ophelia and this amazing, beautiful erotic friendship they have going on.
    It’s so much more than fwb, it’s almost more sibling-like in the way they care about each other’s happiness; I love that they help each other along the way in finding Love. It makes me so happy! They’re both just very Real with one another, but the fact that they’re not in love just makes it all the more amazing? How did you do that! I have mad Finn x Ophelia #eternalfriendship feels. ❤

    I'm excited to see where all these matchmaker plotz lead us, and I can't help but feel like we're being set up for something GRAND 😈
    And poor Finn! LOL, having to listen to Benny go on and on about Hamlet, and then seeing that Hamlet seems to be this genuinely good guy… don't worry Finny, it ain't over 'til it's over bb ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ❤ ❤ ❤ I feel the love! (Even if Finn doesn't, except from his BFFWBAE. Okay, maybe they'll just be BFFAEs–we'll see. 😉 )They really do want each other to be happy. I'm so glad you love their strange relationship.

      LOL, now I'm worried it won't be very grand at all! Or not Grand Enough. But hey, as long as you get boom boom, you're happy, right? 😉

      Benny had to meet the one decent dude in all of Starlight Shores. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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