A Tragic Wreck
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“But why?” Olivia asked, her brows furrowed.
“What? Why wouldn’t I?”
“I could give you a thousand reasons,” she mumbled under her breath.
“As friends. That’s all, Libby. Come to dinner with me. Let me be your friend.”
Olivia sighed, petting Nepenthe. “I don’t need any friends. I’m perfectly happy in my little oasis here on the beach.”
“Oh, come on. Don’t make me beg.”
Olivia’s heart stopped. Alexander’s husky voice flashed through her memory… I like it when you beg.
Her lip started to tremble and she quickly jumped off the couch, walking toward the stairs and away from Cam, desperately trying not to fall apart in front of him. She had finally gotten through an entire week without breaking down and crying when she thought about Alexander, but that memory was too much. She couldn’t take it. Her heart was in pieces and she knew it was all her fault, but it still didn’t make it hurt any less.
Knowing that he had somehow upset her, Cam caught up to her and grabbed her arm. He didn’t want to leave on such a sour note. “Libby, please. Whatever I said, I’m sorry.”
She turned to face him, tears running down her face.
“I just want to make you smile. Please. Just come to dinner with me. I promise I’ll help you forget about whatever it is that has you so upset.”
She looked up at Cam, surprised at his height. He was even taller than Alexander, which was a feat at six-foot-five. Maybe he was right. Maybe what Olivia needed was someone to help her forget. She couldn’t possibly go on living her life as she had been. Every day was a struggle to get through. She felt something when she looked at him. It wasn’t sparks and shivers and tremors like it was when she looked at Alexander, but something was far better than nothing.
Cam pleaded with her with his eyes, desperate to find out more about this mysterious woman who had come to the island and captured his attention so quickly.
“Okay. I’ll go out with you.”
A smile spread across Cam's face, and Olivia couldn’t help but giggle a little at the look of excitement. “Great!” he exclaimed. “I’ll pick you up at seven.” He left before Olivia could protest.
She fell back onto the couch. For the first time in weeks, she actually had something to look forward to that evening. She was unsure how to feel about that. Would she just find herself in the same situation as she did with Alexander? No. Impossible. She refused to let it get that far. She couldn’t. It nearly tore her apart when she had to leave Alexander, and she vowed to never do that again…even if it meant spending the rest of her life alone.
“Damn it, Nepenthe. What have I gotten myself into?” Her cat stood up and stretched before settling back down on Olivia’s stomach.
OLIVIA SCOURED HER CLOSET looking for something to wear that evening. She refused to call it a date. It was just two friends getting to know each other. Olivia was done dating. She should never have gotten close to Alexander. It ended horribly. Life was better before. It was uncomplicated. She could fuck anyone she wanted and never get attached. That was what she needed in order to get her life back on track. Maybe Cam would help her with that.
But after she had gotten a taste of what a real relationship was like, could she even think about going back to her old ways? She loved the butterflies she felt fluttering in her stomach when she thought about that special someone. She loved the cute things Alexander did for her, like sending her text messages just to say he was thinking about her. Sending flowers to her office just because. Is that feeling truly worth it when you know it will end in heartbreak? She wasn’t sure.
Olivia fell onto her bed, wishing she still had all her clothes. She left Boston in such a hurry that she barely had much in terms of acceptable dinner attire. Most days she roamed around her house in a pair of gym shorts and a tank top. Other than that and running clothes, she didn’t have much need for anything else.
She glanced at the clock. It was just a little past noon. She had more than enough time to go to the mall and get back in time for dinner. She quickly threw on a pair of shorts and tank top, and jumped in her car, heading toward Jacksonville. Within an hour, she finally pulled off the interstate and into a crowded mall parking lot.
Shit, she thought. Christmas shopping. She had completely lost track of the days and it was a few weeks before Thanksgiving. People were clearly getting their shopping done early. Instead of trying to find a parking spot, she made a bee-line for the valet and threw the attendant the keys to her Audi before running into the mall in search of a store that could have something for her to wear. As she navigated through the swarms of people pushing and shoving their way through the shopping center, she thought about how much she missed Boston and the convenience of living around the corner from a street lined with designer boutiques. She hated shopping malls.
After finally finding a store with clothing that was her style, she scoured the racks, grabbing more clothes than she could ever wear, but she didn’t care. The girls at the store were more than helpful, seeing a huge sale in their future. She would deal with what to wear when she got home.
Olivia reached into her purse, opening her wallet to pay with some of the cash that she had grabbed while she was fleeing Boston. She had been using that money to get by on, not wanting anyone to be able to trace her. She suddenly realized that she left the house without grabbing any more cash from the safe. All she had on her was a few small bills and that wouldn’t cover what she was buying.
Exhaling loudly, she handed the saleswoman her credit card, visibly cringing when she swiped it. Great, she thought. Now there’s a fucking paper trail.
Alexander groaned when he heard a loud banging on the door to his penthouse. He must have passed out on the couch again. He had gone to MacFadden’s the night before and proceeded to get incredibly wasted. His brother left, not wanting to put up with his drunk ass.
He sat up on the couch and took in his disheveled surroundings, clothes thrown everywhere, hoping he hadn’t done anything in his inebriated state that he would regret.
“What the fuck is that?” a female voice called out from the staircase.
“Shit,” Alexander cursed under his breath. “So much for not doing anything stupid.” He rubbed his eyes and made his way over to the door, not turning to look at the tall redhead standing at the foot of the stairs. “Don’t worry about it,” he grumbled, his voice raspy. “Go back upstairs, Chelsea.”