We've got 6 of the items and it's not even 4:30.
"I think we might win."
"I've heard the first part of the list is easy to get through. The next part takes longer." Finn replies, staring forward.
"Well, it's the fun of being together, right?"
I feel like I'm playing tug-of- war. I look at my calendar instead of talking to him.
"We're here." He says, turning off the car.
I get out of the car and look around.
"A walking trail?" I ask.
"Yeah, number 7. A walking trail with water and animal life. This one is a little far but it has a waterfall that animals love. Shall we?"
I nod and we start walking.
"Do you really want to win?" Finn asks, suddenly.
"No. I just feel like I have to put my all in. It is my first event as the Peyton ward after all."
"Yes. We can't forget you're the ward."
His tone is harsh and I don't reply.
I stumble on a fallen branch. Finn takes my hand and puts me slightly behind him.
How can he be so mean one second and so kind the next?
"Okay." He says as we stop at a cave. "Now we just have to wait."
I sit in the cave and he sits next to me.
We sit in silence while I look around the park. It's beautiful but familiar.
"Got it." Finn says, taking a picture on his phone.
I look back at the waterfall and see birds and frogs sitting there.
"Now we only have three things left."
I stare as he stands in front of the cave.
"Eliza? Are you okay?" His voice is full of concern.
"Of course, I'm not okay. Everywhere I go, I have deja vu. But it's really vague and I don't remember anything. I haven't learned anything about my childhood. I keep getting headaches. And my oldest friend isn't talking to me." I breathe out.
"Lindsay isn't talking to you?"
I put my hands on my temples.
"Sorry for being confused. You have so many titles for people."
"Well, you were my first friend. I met you before Jenn came back. I would look forward to seeing you each summer. I was so happy when you started at Alden for boys. Then, this year you avoided me and have been ignoring me. It's not fair."
"I was right there for you to find me."
"Please. Lindsay finally told me this morning. The girls ran into you all the time and you always said you were busy. But you asked my schedule so we wouldn't be in the same place."
"Fine. I avoided you becasue I realized we probably won't be in the same college, let alone state in a couple years."
"Were you going to avoid me this year too?"
"Yes." He says, looking down.
"And that's why you've been ignoring me the last few weeks. Why did you agree to be my bodyguard if you hate being around me so much?"
"I don't hate being around you. That's not why I've been ignoring you. I started to hope we'd go to the same college."
"So why are you nice one moment and standoffish the next?"
Finn glances at me and turns away.
"We got the picture. Let's go."
"No. We're talking about this. Ignoring it is tearing at our relationship. We need to know why so we can try to salvage it."
"You want to know everything?" He asks, turning back around.
"Everyone's been sharing their opinion on us: the media, the girls, classmates out west. Arthur Simms is over here threatening me. My dad is warning me from the moment I wake up but won't tell me why. You're now the Peyton ward, which is huge. And I don't even know how you feel. I mean your best friend hates me."
"Lindsay doesn't hate you." He rolls his eyes. "She's scared of you."
"She's scared fo me? I should be scared of her turning you against me."
"It's not a one or the other thing. She's scared of how much you mean to me. She's scared of how I like you romantically. She's scared of how much you affect me."
My eyes widen as I realize what I said. I blush and look around the cave.
Finn leans forward a little.
"Did you just say what I think you said?" He asks, looking hopeful.
I can do this. I look back at him.
"I said I like you, a lot."
Finn kisses me. I freeze in surprise.
"I was starting to think you'd never say it." He says, pulling himself up.
He sits next to me and I continue to stare at him.
"Te amo, Eliza."
I love you. What? I love you!
"Eliza?" He asks, sitting back to look at me. "Are you okay with that?"
"I'm fine with it. It's great. I'm just really confused. I mean, it's wonderful but why all the issues then?"
"It felt like everyone had a say in our relationship. But you weren't saying anything so it felt like everyone was mocking my feelings. I shut down a lot to protect my feelings."
"I was saying things." I think about what Allison said. "Okay. Maybe not often or in a sensible manner. But I definitely made it know I wasn't happy with the situation."
"It seemed like you hated me being your bodyguard. I thought you couldn't wait to get back west and be seperate for the year. I thought you'd go to Northwestern and we'd never see each other again."
"No. I hated that you weren't being yourself. I was frustrated because it felt like my needs were ruining your life. I need you around. I need to talk to you."
Finn smiles and wraps an arm around me.
"Okay. Talk, rant, ask questions. Feel free to say anything on your mind."
"Arthur threatened you?"
"Anything but that."
"Come on. Tell me. When did he threaten you?" I ask, leaning back into him.
"Today at the scavenger hunt gathering. He told me to make sure you were safe. And he said that if I broke your heart, he would be the first to confront me." Finn laughs. "He said that his friendship with my family means nothing next to your happiness. He also implied that he could take me even though he's 20 years older than me."
"Yeah. So much for him keeping his opinion to himself."
"I didn't know I was that important to him. It's flattering and overwhelming."
Finn looks at me.
"You're that important to a lot of people. You wouldn't believe the amount of people, including my mother, who told me something along those lines recently. I'm the one who says it the most though."
I blush and Finn kisses my cheek. Which only makes me blush harder.
"Your dad won't tell you his problem either?"
"Nope. He said it has nothing to do with work. He likes you. But he doesn't approve. Wait, when did you talk to him?"
"At the benefit when I left you on the dance floor. Sorry about that, by the way."
"It's forgotten. What were you going to say before you left the ballroom?"
"I was going to say I imagined it would be like a fairytale. I wanted to dance the night away with you, talking about everything and anything."
"And I just wanted to stare at you. The next ball is the 27?" I nod. "We'll dance and talk all night."
"Thank you. We'll make your dad approve."
"I'm sure we can. He may seem a little rough around the edges but he just wants me to be happy."
And I make him happy? This is too much.
"What did you say about headaches?"
"Oh, I get headaches every once in a while." I say breezily.
"Why is this the first I'm hearing about this?" He pauses. "Never mind. How often and how long has it been going on?"
"At least two per week. It started the second week that we were here."
"And you have no idea where it's coming from?"
"I think they come around the same time as my deja vu. I don't know what causes it. Sometimes I feel like there's something locked in my mind. Like it's so close but I can't open the door."
"Why are you being so nonchalant about it?"
"It's just a headache."
"You never get headaches. You get migranes and lie about the severity. You're going to the doctor Monday."
"Okay. I will. Bossy."
"Caring about someone who puts themselves last leads to being firm."
I can't hide my smile.
"I'm glad that makes you happy. We'll start looking into your childhood after you've visited the doctor."
My phone vibrates. I don't want to move but it could be important.
Allison: How's the scavenger hunt going?
"Oh, man. We still have to walk down and drive back. We're not going to finish the list before 6."
"It's fine. I got my prize." I say, leaning up and kissing him.
"And I mine." He says, lifting me out of the cave.
We walk in comfortable silence. I've missed this.
----- ----- -----
"You guys don't understand." Bianca says.
"Yes, please explain why it was necassary for you to prank Jo." Mikayla says.
"I shouldn't have to explain it. Jo is always doing something."
"But that's Jo." Max says.
"That's not fair."
"Lizzie, can you fix this?" Mikayla asks.
"Jo will be graduating in two months. Just put up ---"
"Mistress?" Lindsay asks as everyone stares at me.
"Eliza, you were talking." Finn says, stepping closer.
"No, Bianca was explaining why she pranked Jo."
"Yes, two minutes ago. You were telling her to put up with it."
I narrow my eyes at him.
"If you say so. Are we visiting Jenn or not?" I ask, turning around.
I stumble and Finn grabs my forearm.
"They are. Lindsay, I'm going to take her to the doctor."
"Okay, thank you." Lindsay takes my hand. "We'll tell Jennifer you said hello."
"I'll stay with her until you guys come back. Max, please drive them home."
"Of course. Feel better Lizzie."
I stare out the window and sigh.
"When are we going to see Jenn?"
Finn pulls over.
"What do you remember, Eliza?"
"I remember grounding Bianca for pranking Jo. I remember getting in the car. And I remember Max telling me to feel better. Which is ridiculous because I feel fine. By the way, did the girls drive with him?" I say, looking in the backseat.
"Most of that happened 15 minutes ago. Do you remember getting back in the car?"
"No." I say wincing.
"Eliza what's wrong?"
"It's just a headache."
"Sit back and close your eyes. We're not talking anymore."
I open my eyes. I'm in a white room. The doctor's office?
"Hello, Ms. Gent." Dr. Lillian says, from her chair.
"Hello. How did I get here?" I ask, sitting up.
"Your friend Finn carried you into my office."
"What? But I'm fine."
"Your friends are very concerned about you. Lindsay has already called twice. I told her I had to wait for you to wake up to examine you. Let's just do a brief check up."
She starts my check up.
"You have a slight temperature. Do you know that?"
"No. We check our temperatures every night. I didn't have one yesterday."
Dr. Lillian laughs.
"You're extra cautious, Eliza."
"Well, do you feel sick at all?"
"No. I'm fine."
"Let's go my office to chat."
"I just have a headache." I say, following her out the room.
"On a scale of one to ten how much pain are you in?"
"A seven." I say sliding into the chair.
"That sounds more like a migraine to me."
There's an knock on the door.
Dr. Lillian opens the door slightly.
"Lindsay called. She was wondering how Lizzie was doing."
"He can join us since they need to know so badly."
"I need more than a snarky approval."
"I would like Finn Campbell to join us." I reiterate.
"I meant a signature but have a seat, Finn." Dr. Lillian says, handing me a paper.
I scan it and sign it.
"So have you ever had a migraine before?"
"No." I respond.
"What about 8th grade year when you missed debate team because you couldn't open your eyes from pain?" Finn asks. "And last year when you threw up after the dance?"
"Thanks for those memories. Dr. Lillian, I guess I have had migraines."
"Do you get them often?"
"Not really. Like 10 a year. I've only missed school a couple times and I haven't thrown up since 9th grade."
"What about what happened today? Have you ever fallen asleep?"
"That's because Finn had me close my eyes. I don't fall asleep."
"She didn't know what was going on. She lost about 20 minutes. She paused and forgot she was talking." Finn says.
"Tattletale." I mutter.
"Lizzie, you have to be honest with me. I'm your doctor and I didn't know anything about your migraines. It's a good thing you have friends who care so much about you."
"I'll try to be better at talking to you." I promise.
"Thank you. Now do you think it has anything to do with your past?" She asks, glancing at Finn.
"Finn knows that I don't remember my childhood. I don't know. I just have seasonal headaches." I look at Finn. "Alright, migraines. But I don't think they have a connection."
"You said seasonal. Have you noticed a pattern?"
'I usually get one around the time my mom died and when I went to care. I know the others are grouped together but I don't know how so."
"Ok.This is going to take a while but for the next year I want you to list the dates you get migraines. Can you do that?"
I nod and wince.
"Yes, I can."
"Is there anything she can do now to relieve the pain?" Finn asks.
"You can rest in the nurse's office. Fresh air, medicine and water may help. Just keep to the shade because it is bright outside."
"Okay. Thank you."
"You're very welcome, Lizzie. I hope you feel better."
Finn offers his arm and I take it.
"What do you want to do?" He asks.
"Can we go to our park?" I ask.
We drive to the park we discovered. There's only a few people. Finn spreads a blanket under a tree. I lay down and he reads to me.
----- ----- -----
Finn takes my hand.
"I'm sure you're fine, Eliza. You haven't been ill or anything. I just want a doctor to know."
"I know. It's just Dr. Lillian said flying would be okay. I'm still writing down the dates but I've been getting way more migraines lately."
"You know, you don't have to do all the responsibilities as the Peyton ward. You can still cancel it."
"Oh, no. I'm the ward. You don't like attention. What are we going to do?" I say, frantically.
"Eliza, I'll be alright. We don't have to share our lives with the public. And if they find out, I'll be alright."
He kisses my hand and we pull into the driveway.
The valet opens the door and I pull my hand away.
Finn looks at me confused.
"You said if they find out. That means we have to be a little subtle. That means we can't walk around holding hands."
Finn nods and steps closer.
"Thank you. He whispers.