My anger at Finn should’ve lasted longer than it did. He made a fool out of me, hiring me as a butler for a man who didn’t exist–and for months.
Why? It didn’t matter–I would never forgive him.
And yet…I waited for him to return to Fangs Island. To explain, to apologize again. To beg for my forgiveness.
But days turned into weeks, with no sign of his return.
“Finn disappeared,” I told Ophelia. “He admitted his wrongdoings and disappeared.”
“If you’re so mad at him,” she said, “wouldn’t you want him to disappear forever?”
“Y-yes, but…he should apologize. Again. Until I’m not mad anymore.”
“Finn isn’t good with fights, Benny,” she said sadly. “He’ll retreat instead of pushing. If you want to see him again, you’ll have to seek him out…”
The last time we fought, I hadn’t seen him in years. “Who says I want to see him?”
“He–he probably toyed with me as Leonidas, all those years ago. Laughed at me, as I remained ignorant of his true identity…”
“In ButlerQuest?” Ophelia said. “Finn never played–I tried to get him into it once, but he doesn’t like multiplayer games. I think I got his sister to play though, after I noticed her dark, terrible crush on Leo. ”
“Finn never played ButlerQuest…?” And someone on this earth had feelings for Leopold?
Leopold…Leonidas… Then… Could Mr. Strider have gotten it wrong–and was it Gabriella Straud, not Finn, who played my long-ago love?
“Sorry Benny,” she said. “I have to go–I disobeyed three of Lord Blackthorne’s direct orders. Eheheh…”
If Finn wasn’t Leonidas…why did I still want to see him? Why did I still feel as though I owed him any loyalty at all?
And why, when I cast aside my anger, could I picture him as the butler of my dreams?
Well, if he wouldn’t come to me…maybe I could go to him. And demand another apology.
For some reason, when I passed the coffee shop I’d loathed working at so much, I thought not of the permanent stench of that bitter liquid or the endless persnickety orders, but of Finn passing by every day.
…How long after I’d gotten the job had he moved into the apartment above my workplace?
“And when those braces come off and your fangs come down,” he’d once said to me, “I think it’d feel really good to kiss you.”
Had he pined for me all this time? Surely there were more productive uses of his time–and I couldn’t imagine anyone pining for me. I’d been a smelly teenager whose fangs were hopelessly stuck in his gums…and as an adult, I was a pathetic wannabe butler.
But when I knocked on his door, I found myself wondering how it would feel to kiss him.
But no matter how long I waited, he didn’t answer.
I came back the next day and the next, to no avail.
Where else could he be? Mother had said he was no longer staying with his father–probably because his houseboat was so close to Fangs Island.
I had my suspicions–and then, an idea.
I’d forgotten to return the key to my old workplace to Miles Bingham-Long–or whatever his real name might be.
“Benny?” Finn said. “What are you doing here…?”
“I…I wanted to see you.”
He only looked at me as I tilted his chin upward.
And then he wrapped his arms around my waist. “I–I thought you’d never want to see me again.” His voice was muffled, but I could still make out the words–and the emotion behind them.
When I made him look at me again, thoughts of kissing him invaded my mind. He was a beautiful man, his blue eyes so striking against his pale skin. (Skin untainted by Voidcritter tattoos.)
Why had it taken me so long to see him in a different light? Maybe I needed a new glasses prescription.
“Of course I’d want to see you again,” I said. “And…we have unfinished business.”
“You paid for a butler’s services,” I said formally, “now allow me to serve you…”
It was strange, to see Finn caught so off-guard. “What–what about Hamlet? And your father–Benny, it’s too soon…”
“Hamlet and I are no longer together.” Hadn’t I told him that, or had I only complained about my mother and Leopold? “And…my father wanted me to be happy. You make me happy, Finn.”
He responded by kissing my white-gloved hand.
And I responded by kissing him.
And then…I proceeded to serve him to the best of my ability.
“…Easy on the fangs, Benny.”
Maybe it would’ve been easier if my fangs had never dropped.
I very much enjoyed the sounds Finn made, as well as certain other things it would be improper for a butler to mention…
I wiped my mouth (with a handkerchief, not the back of my white glove) and looked up at him. “…It was a pleasure to serve you, Master Straud.”
A needle of fear pierced by unbeating heart. “You don’t like it?”
“It’s just–that’s what butlers always called my dad. But…I don’t mind it.” He smiled. “One of the perils of loving a butler.”
Loving a butler…
“…Shall we retire to the master suite?”
“…I think I’d like that, Benny.”
It was awkward, at first. I’d never been with anyone but Hamlet…and Hamlet enjoyed doing things a certain way. His body was different too, whereas Finn’s was as unmarred and burnished as the 20-foot bronze butler statue that a successful alumnus had gifted to the Blackwell-Lyons Butler Academy and Finishing School.
I never had the courage to suggest this to Hamlet, especially when he’d seemed slightly intimidated by the sheer size of my family curse, but Finn…Finn was different. I didn’t have to hide anything from him. “Are you sure you don’t mind…? Am I hurting you?”
“You–you don’t have to worry about that. I’m a vampire. And…I definitely don’t mind.”
And then there were no more questions…
…For a time. I’d now experienced two very different but equally appealing types of pleasures, and all I knew for certain was that I’d very much like to see Finn in a butler uniform. “I’m not sure which I prefer…”
“You don’t have to–choose, Benny,” he said. “Not–with me.”
How pleasantly accommodating…he had the nature of a butler, if not the uniform and training.
But even if he never donned the uniform–and especially if he donned nothing at all–I would want him, I realized.
As a friend. As a lover. As Finn.
This time, I wouldn’t let him go.