A Beautiful Mess
Page 22

 T.K. Leigh

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“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
His response was like a knife to Olivia’s heart. She had never been rejected before.
Alexander noticed the disappointed look on her face and grabbed her chin, forcing her to look him in the eyes. “If you invite me in, I’m not so sure I can be held entirely responsible for what happens afterward.” His eyes became hooded and he looked as though he was ready to devour her. Olivia’s nerves stood on end from the intense look in his eyes, causing a strange sensation deep down in her stomach.
“I had a lovely time today, Olivia.” He reached down and grabbed her hand gently with his own and, ever so softly, placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles. “Oysters, Tuesday. I’ll pick you up at seven.” It wasn’t a question. It was more of a demand. And before she had time to respond, he turned, leaving her totally unsatisfied and wanting him, standing on her front stoop.
She watched as his car pulled away and noticed him blow her a kiss. Feeling like a teenager on her first date, she caught the kiss. It would have to do for the time being.
OLIVIA woke up the following morning after having the same dream again. The boy with the green eyes was now a permanent fixture. With these dreams returning, she decided it was probably time to talk to her overpriced therapist again and get her take. She made a mental note to call her office sometime that week.
Shortly after nine, she left her house, making her way to catch the subway out to the local animal shelter where she volunteered every Monday. As she waited for the T beneath the busy Boston streets, the screeching sound of metal wheels on the train tracks echoing throughout the dark tunnels, she checked her phone for the first time since the previous afternoon. Mo had called and left a voicemail telling her that the band would be rehearsing on Wednesday and he wanted her to be there. She became excited during her short ride to the animal shelter as she thought about singing with the band again.
“Olivia! Great to see you!” Bethany exclaimed when Olivia walked in the front door of the brick building.
Bethany Jones had been single handedly running that shelter for as long as anyone could remember. Olivia had started volunteering when she moved to Boston for college, wanting to spend some time with animals. And once she returned to the city, she resumed her volunteer work.
“Of course. I couldn’t miss spending time with my critters! Do we have anyone new?” Olivia dropped her bags and followed Bethany toward the kennels, the sound of dogs barking and yipping filling the room. It brought a smile to her face.
“Yeah. We picked up two dogs over the weekend as well as five baby kittens, all in the same litter. We’re running out of room. We need to get some adoptions this week or…”
“Don’t worry, Bethany,” Olivia interrupted. “I can take a few home with me to make some space if I need to. Nepenthe won’t mind.” Nepenthe was a mangy eight-year old cat that Olivia fell in love with several months ago.
“That would be a huge help. We need to get some more foster parents trained and ready to take some of these critters.” She was right. The shelter would be getting into its busy season soon. Winter was always the worst time of year. They had so many animals and just didn’t always have enough room to shelter them all.
“Well, I’m going to take some of these guys for a walk,” Olivia said, motioning to the dogs in the kennel. She did all sorts of things at the shelter from feeding, to helping with adoptions, to playing with all the cats. But her favorite was taking the dogs for their walks.
The morning passed by relatively quickly as she made sure all the dogs in the shelter got some exercise. After a quick lunch break, she got ready to take out the last dog. She always saved Runner for last. Runner was a pointer-terrier mix and her favorite. He was a little older so he wasn’t on the top of anyone’s list for an adoptable dog. Everyone always wanted a puppy, which was unfortunate for all the wonderful dogs available for adoption.
Runner lived up to his name. He loved to run. She always tried to take him out last so they could run a few miles together and then head to the dog park where she would tire him out with a round of fetch.
Olivia quickly changed into a pair of running shorts and a tank top before grabbing a few tennis balls. She threw them into her pack and headed toward Boston Common, Runner taking the lead.
That day, Runner was giving Olivia a good workout. She just did a long run the day before so her legs were a little tired. They ran the mile up over to the Commons where there was an off-leash dog park. Without fail, Runner would always head straight there. They reached the area and Olivia let him off his leash. The dog ran free, sprinting up and down the gated area. There weren’t that many other dogs there, so the pair had fun playing fetch, just the two of them.
After about half an hour, Runner was beat and Olivia was even more so. She pulled out his portable doggie bowl and filled it up from a fountain. He laid down on the ground after slopping up some water. She joined Runner, lying down on her back next to her favorite dog. He snuggled against her and they just enjoyed their moment together, savoring the feel of the cool grass beneath them.
After a few minutes of a rest, Olivia decided to head back to the shelter. She would never forgive herself if Runner missed an opportunity to be adopted. She leashed Runner back up and started to walk back to the shelter. “Come on buddy. Time to go back home.”
Alexander couldn’t believe his luck. He was going over case reports from the previous week, unable to focus, when he decided he needed to clear his brain. That envelope still hung heavy on his mind. He left his office building and wandered the streets of Boston. Before he knew it, he found his way to Boston Common and sat on a park bench looking out over the Swan Boats, replaying the previous day in his head, when he saw her. Again.
He watched with admiration as Olivia leashed up a great looking dog that she had been playing with. She leaned down and gave the dog a quick scratch on the head before she headed in his direction, smiling. He wondered if she would even see him sitting just a few feet away. All her attention seemed to be devoted to the white and brown spotted dog walking proudly in front of her with its tongue hanging out.
As Olivia walked Runner through the Commons, she felt a familiar electricity coursing through her body. It almost felt as if someone was watching her.
No one is watching you, Libby. You just wish he was here. That’s all.
She looked up from Runner and stilled when her eyes met with his, her heart racing from seeing those beautiful green eyes so unexpectedly. She headed in his direction, seeing Alexander’s smile widen as she walked toward the bench he was sitting on, the dog eagerly wagging his tail.