Status: Active, seeking feedback.

Searching for Estelle.

Goodbye, Finland...

When I got back to my hotel my head was throbbing and my cheeks were tear-stained.

The apathetic teenage concierge's eyes widened in shock as he watched me nearly run through the lobby, my head down and clutching my coat around myself.

I stepped into the lift and slammed the second floor button. Leaning against the wall I held my hands to my temples and began to massage my sore head.

When the lift stopped on my floor I rushed out the door, nearly knocking over an elderly couple.

“I'm so sorry,” I choked out before making a break for my room.

When I was safely inside I slammed the door shut and then leant back against it, sliding down so that my bum was on the floor.

A fresh wave of tears started streaming down my face and I put my head in my hands, content with just sitting on the floor and bawling like a three year old.

As I battled with whether to leave Finland and never look back, my phone buzzed in my hand where I was still clutching it after calling Dani. I looked down at the screen through my tears and saw that Jyrki was calling.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and hit the answer button.

“Hello?” I said, my voice sounding surprisingly calm yet strained.

“Estelle? What's wrong?” Jyrki asked, sounding concerned.

I felt warmth begin to flood through my body but quickly squashed it. It's not genuine, Estelle. It's all been an act and you were stupid to believe it I told myself angrily.

“Nothing, I'm fine. Just not feeling well,” I lied, clenching my eyes shut and forcing the tears to stay at bay.

“You don't sound okay. Do you want me to come over?” he asked.

“No,” I replied quickly.

“Estelle, please tell me what Novak said to you.”

My eyes flew open. How did he know that we'd even spoken at the bar?

“N-n-nothing,” I stuttered.

“Please don't lie to me,” Jyrki said quietly.

I scoffed, I couldn't help myself. “I'm not the liar here.”

There was a moment of silence before Jyrki spoke again, sounding confused and hurt.

“I have no idea what you're talking about, Stell, but I'm really worried.”

I took a deep breath. “Novak told me the truth. I'm not staying and I won't be coming back.”

I hung the phone up.

I leaned back against the door and drew my knees up to my chest. I felt sick to my stomach and was furious at myself for ever believing that any of this was real.

I felt my phone buzz again and I groaned, fighting the temptation to just throw it across the room.

The screen flashed Ville's name this time and I felt my heart begin to rip. I quickly pressed the dismiss button. I couldn't bring myself to speak to him, like I had Jyrki.

Ville had actually had a chance at winning the bet. And that made me feel humiliated, betrayed and furious all at the same time.

Realising that made my decision for me. I stood up and grabbed my suitcase, placing it on the bed of the hotel.

I began to gather my clothes and belongings and cram them inside with no real rhyme or reason. Usually everything was folded and immaculately arranged, but now I just wanted to get out.

I zipped my suitcase up and quickly glanced around the room. I spotted an envelope on my beside table and frowned.

I picked it up and opened it, realising it was the photos that had been taken on my night out with the guys. I felt my eyes sting again, but fought it off, as I thumbed through photos.

Me and Jussi.

Me and Jyrki.

Me and Ville.

I shoved them back into the envelope and stuck them in my handbag. I took a deep breath before gathering my suitcase, coat and handbag and walked out of my hotel room before shutting the heavy door behind me for the last time.

When I got to the empty lobby I made my way over to the reception desk.

“Hi. I just wanted to check out early.”

The sour-faced teenager looked up from his magazine and began speaking in a bored voice.

“Sure. Do you understand that you will be billed for the remainder of your stay anyway?”

I nodded. “Yes. That's fine.”

“Great. Is there any particular reason you've decided to cut your stay with us short and is there anything we can do to convince you to stay?” he continued in his monotone.

I smiled bitterly and shook my head, pushing my room key towards him.

He tapped a few keys before looking back up at me.

“Thank you for staying with us, Ms. Jacobs and we look forward to seeing you again,” he said sounding as though he really couldn't care less.

I turned to leave before remembering something.

“Oh! Is it possible for me to leave these with you?” I asked, pulling the envelope of photos out of my bag.

“Why?” he asked, like it was the world's biggest inconvenience.

“Because I want to leave them for a friend who will probably come looking for me here,” I explained, holding them out.

He raised an eyebrow and took them from me. “Okay. I'll see what I can do.”

I smiled. “Thanks.”

I turned and left, walking into the cold Helsinki street, haling a taxi that happened to be passing.

With the help of the friendly taxi driver I loaded my suitcase into the boot and climbed into the back seat.

I watched out the window as we drove towards the airport.

I saw no logic in my actions, but at the same time it seemed to be the only choice.

I couldn't even decide if I believed what Novak had said but it seemed like too extreme a lie to have constructed. It also explained a lot- why the three guys had befriended me so readily, why Novak had hit on me so frequently; I guess he wanted a shot at the pool.

I sighed and rested my head wearily against the window of the taxi. I was exhausted from crying and thinking and wanted nothing more than to curl up and sleep, waking up to find that I was still in Paris with Dani and that the entire Finnish trip had been a wonderful dream with a very wicked ending.

When we got to the airport I paid the taxi driver and walked inside, heading straight for a travel agency. It was late at night and I knew my chances of finding a flight any time soon were slim, but it beat sitting in my hotel room feeling sorry for myself.

I wanted Dani and I wanted to be somewhere other than Finland- for the first time in the last week.

The bubbly travel agent searched every airline for me before declaring that there was a flight leaving for Stockholm in just under two hours.
“Perfect,” I said with a sigh of relief. Assuming Dani had gotten my voicemail and hadn't boarded her flight to Finland I would be in Sweden with her in the morning.

I left the agency, gripping my tickets, and headed for the gate figuring I could maybe nap until boarding. I felt my phone buzz in my pocket and glanced at it, noticing it was Ville again. I hit ignore and settled in an uncomfortable airport seat.

The routine of my phone buzzing, me looking at the screen and hitting the ignore button continued for a little while and I accrued a solid number of missed calls from Jyrki and Ville, a handful from Jussi and even a couple from numbers I did not recognise.

It buzzed again and I lazily glanced at the screen. This time it was Dani and my stomach turned, wondering how I would explain my sudden change of heart.

I decided that less was more and that I would just lie through my teeth.

“Dan?” I said, holding my phone to my ear.

“Stella! Are you okay? What's wrong? Why are you leaving? Are you still coming here?” she rambled at me, sounding breathless.

“I'm fine. I'm just bored and Finland's not all it's cracked up to be,” I said with a bittersweet smile.

“Oh... okay,” she said and I could sense the doubt in her voice “I'll cancel my flight to Finland then?”

I nodded before realising she couldn't see me. “Yeah, I've booked one to Sweden. Leaves in a couple hours.”

“Okay... I'll meet you at the airport then, I guess.. text me the details.”

“I will. I'll see you soon, Dan. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I hung up with a sigh and closed my eyes for a moment.

The next time I opened them it was because a flight attendant was shaking me.

Madam, the flight is boarding,” she said softly, gesturing towards the queue that was forming at the gate.

I blinked, confused before remembering what was going on.

Kiitos,” I replied, standing up and slinging my bag over my shoulder, grateful I'd checked in before my nap and not missed the flight.

I walked through the gate, offering a poor excuse of a smile to the lady who was checking boarding passes and began to make my way up the stairs into the large aircraft.

I found my seat and sunk in to it, closing my eyes again immediately. After a few long moments of waiting the plane began to move and I settled back, clutching the armrest with my characteristic nervousness.

I opened my eyes again once we were in the air and looked out over the bright lights of the city of Helsinki.

I smiled sadly and whispered “Bye.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Three nights in a row, can you believe it??? A bit of a sad and silly cliche chapter here, but it's very important, I promise! You've all been very hateful towards Novak, too... what if he's telling the truth?? =P

Thank you all for your feedback, it was truly wonderful for the last chapter and, as always, means a lot. More of the same? Keen to see what you all reckon about this one and your predictions on what's to come! I'm also exhausted and have a toothache right now, so I apologise for any errors that might be present.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy. Also, a heads up: This story is likely to finish on chapter 30.