Fighting Redemption
Author:Kate McCarthy

“Tripping over again, Fin?” Ian said down the phone with a sigh.

 

“Just the cat,” she muttered, watching him trot ahead of her down the hallway and into the kitchen, checking behind him repeatedly to make sure she was hot on his heels.

 

“Jeff, Ray, and Becca are having a barbecue over by the beach today. Let’s go, okay?”

 

Fin cringed as she reached for her cat’s Fancy Feast Royale. “Actually, I have to go into work.”

 

“Dammit, Fin.” He was obviously irritated and Fin paused to rest her hip up against the kitchen bench. “You’re leaving for six months soon. Don’t they get enough of your time?”

 

“I’m sorry. There’s just so much to do …” she trailed off as Crookshanks head-butted her leg.

 

“Well, I’m going anyway then.”

 

“That’s good,” she replied, bending over to spoon food into the cat bowl on the floor by the fridge. “You should go. Tell them I said hi, okay?”

 

Ian exhaled loudly into the phone. “Fin …”

 

Shoved out of the way by her cat, Fin stood and rinsed the spoon in the sink. “Hmm?”

 

“Nothing. I’ll see you tonight?”

 

“I’ll give you a call,” she told him.

 

“Yeah, sure, okay,” he replied and hung up.

 

“Well that went well,” she muttered to the cat and tossed the spoon into the sink with a clatter. Turning around, she realised she was talking to herself; Crookshanks was already gone.

 

Later that afternoon, Fin was sitting at her desk at the DEC putting the finishing touches to some reports for the research project when her phone buzzed, startling her out of a paperwork coma. Seeing Jake’s name on the display, she picked it up with a frown.

 

“Hello?” she answered cautiously.

 

“Fin!” came the shout down the line.

 

Fin frowned, wondering why Jake was ringing on her mobile. He only ever rang the house phone when he was away.

 

“Jake?”

 

“Wow, are you quick this morning or what? I thought you were the smarts of the family.”

 

“But—”

 

“I’m home!”

 

“You are? Like Australia home? Or home, home?”

 

“Home, home, Fin. I’m looking into Crookshanks’ evil mastermind eyes as we speak.”

 

Fin’s heart leaped in excitement. The urge to throw all her paperwork to the wind and rush home was overwhelming. She grinned like a maniac instead. “Oh my God, Jake. I can’t wait to see you! Does Mum know? And Dad? What about—”

 

“Whoa, whoa, Fin. Don’t tell anyone we’re home early. We both want a couple of days to get some sleep before the entire family descends, okay? Please?”

 

Fin nodded, adding an “of course” when she realised he couldn’t actually see her nodding. She was used to talking to him on Skype. Then her brow furrowed. “Wait a minute … We?”

 

“Yeah, me and Ryan. He’s staying here in the guest room. That’s okay, right? You’re gonna be gone most of the time we’re here, honey, so I didn’t think it would be a bother.”

 

Fin spun around wildly in her swivel chair at his words, knocking a stapler flying. It whacked the wall divider between her and Paul, a fellow researcher. He bobbed his head up like a meerkat at the clang, and she smothered a laugh. She shook her head at him, and he bobbed back down with an eye roll when he spotted the stapler on the floor.

 

“Fin?”

 

“Yeah, that’s like umm, cool. Okay.”

 

There was a pause. “Are you okay? You sound odd. You’re not getting sick, are you?”

 

She hadn’t been, but the thought of seeing Ryan again after six long years had her stomach churning. She exhaled deeply. Why was Ryan suddenly deciding to re-enter her life now?

 

“No. I’m fine.” She cleared her throat and checked her watch. “I can’t get out of here until after five. I have so much to get through. I’m sorry. Do you want me to pick something up for dinner on my way home?”

 

There was a pause where she could hear Jake conferring with Ryan. She didn’t hear what Ryan said, only catching the murmur of a deep voice that sent shivers down her spine.

 

Jake came back on the line. “Okay. That would be great.”

 

“Alright. Message me what you want me to pick up. Jake?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Can’t wait to see you.”

 

“You too,” he replied softly. She went to hang up when he called out, “Oh, was Crookshanks fed this morning? The evil ball of fluff keeps head-butting my leg and I don’t believe it’s because he missed me.”

 

“Yes he was so don’t let him fool you. Just shoo him outside.”

 

“Okay. See ya, Fin.”

 

“Bye, Jake.”

 

Fin hung up the phone and spun her chair back around, flinging the phone on her desk and staring blindly at the paperwork in front of her. How was she going to concentrate now?

 

 

 

 

 

Heart pounding, Fin stumbled through the front door weighted under by an armful of paperwork and dinner. After hearing from Jake, focusing on her reports had been a lost cause. She would have to work through Sunday now. She winced at the thought, realising that would irritate Ian even more. She hadn’t had a chance to call him yet and cancel on tonight.

 

Kicking the door shut behind her with the shiny, four inch heel of her shoe, Jake wandered out from the kitchen.