A Tragic Wreck
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“I went to Harvard for a semester before dropping out and joining the Navy. I didn’t come home for about two years. At that time, my dad had moved the company’s headquarters here. Originally, they were based out of Providence, which was less than an hour from my family’s house in Mystic. We had a branch of the company located here already. We have offices all over the country. As we grew bigger and bigger, he felt Boston should be the headquarters. There’s more international flights going and coming than in Providence, which is important for clients and it’s not New York. Plus, Carol was working as a cop, and it’s always good to have someone on the police force helping you out.” He looked down at the girl in front of him, knowing that the main reason his father moved to Boston was to keep an eye on Olivia while she attended Boston College. He was still floored at the thought that she was in Boston all those years and his father knew about it, but never said a word. He didn’t think he would ever forgive him for that. Not when he watched Alexander struggle nearly his entire life with losing her.
“Your sister…she’s much older than you, isn’t she?” Olivia asked, bringing him back from his thoughts.
“Yeah. Well, Carol was a mistake,” he smiled. “She’s forty-six. I’m thirty and Tyler is twenty-one. Mom was eighteen when she found out that she was pregnant with Carol. Dad was going to marry her anyway, but that made them marry a little earlier. Then Dad was sent overseas right after she was born. Vietnam and all that. He was lucky to make it out alive. He went to Harvard after that and, eventually, got in with the CIA.” He paused briefly, wondering what Olivia knew about the man she referred to as her uncle. He couldn’t remember the last time he spoke to someone about his father, apart from his siblings. It actually felt good. Maybe he needed to talk about him so that he could begin to overcome his anger toward his father for abandoning and lying to him all those years. But forgiveness wasn’t in the cards.
“He worked clandestine services,” Alexander continued. “He spoke a bunch of different languages. As you can imagine, he was never around. It wasn’t until my mom threatened to walk out on him when my sis was a teenager that he decided to leave the CIA and start his own private security firm. He surrounded himself with the best and the brightest, and built the company up. His thought was that if you paid people enough, they couldn’t be bought, making us one of the most successful security firms. And we still adhere to the same principle.”
Alexander stared out in the distance while he continued talking, Olivia listening intently. For someone she felt so comfortable with, she was surprised at how little she really knew about him and his past. He never opened up to her about his father before so now that he was talking, she didn’t want to interrupt. She wanted to learn more.
“It wasn’t until after the company was started that I was born. I remember hanging out with Dad when I was little. I think I was the only one who was ever close to him. He was gone when Carol was growing up. He didn’t start the security company until she was almost out of high school. And by the time my little brother was born, he was gone again. He was only truly around the first nine years of my life.”
Alexander looked down. He had never realized that he was the only one who really spent any time with his dad. All the memories of their summers on the beach flooded back to him. He remembered holding baby Olivia for the first time. He was only two and she was not yet a week old when his parents took him down the street to the Deluca’s house.
“She looks funny,” Alexander remembered saying to his parents.
“It’s because she’s brand new, Alex. All babies look funny when they first arrive.” His mother gingerly placed the little bundle into his small arms, helping him hold her. Olivia started to cry. Alexander remembered looking at his mother, wondering what to do with a crying baby.
“Alex, darling, just tell her everything’s going to be okay, that you’re going to be friends. Go on…”
Alexander returned his eyes to the swaddled baby and began to rock her. “Don’t cry, Olibia,” he said, unable to pronounce her name correctly. “We’re going to be best friends.”
A tear slid down his cheek at the memory.
Olivia reached for his face, catching his tear. “I’m sorry. I know it’s tough.” She slid into his shoulder and he put his arm around her, pulling her close. He thought how well she fit in his embrace. Just like two pieces of a tragic puzzle.
“Excuse me, sir, ma’am,” Martin interrupted. They turned in unison to see Martin standing in the doorway.
Alexander nodded. “Yes, Martin?”
“The car is ready out front for you.”
“Thank you,” he replied.
Martin quickly exited, leaving them alone.
“Miss Adler, are you ready?” Alexander held his arm out for Olivia.
“Yes, I am, Mr. Burnham.” She slid her arm through his and he led her down to their waiting limousine.
ALEXANDER ESCORTED OLIVIA THROUGH the lobby of the Four Seasons by Boston Common, avoiding photographers as much as possible. He steered her toward one of the large banquet rooms at the hotel, flanked by both Carter and Marshall. Upon entering, servers greeted them, carrying champagne. Alexander grabbed two glasses, giving one to Olivia.
She looked around the room, estimating that there had to be several hundred people there. Everyone milled about, socializing. They all seemed to know each other, except Olivia. Nerves coursed through her body as she tightened up, wondering why she had agreed to accompany him. She knew she was out of her element as she watched him shake hands and pose for photos, leading Olivia across the room to their assigned table.
“Alex, darling.” Olivia watched a woman in her mid-sixties get out of her chair and move toward Alexander, pulling him into an embrace.
“Hello, Ma.” He placed a kiss on her cheek. Olivia hated meeting the parents. She didn’t know how to act. It wasn’t something she had ever had to deal with before. Why did she agree to come? Her heart started to beat rapidly and her hands became clammy.
“Don’t worry. They’ll love you,” Alexander whispered, leaning down and brushing his lips against her neck, having noticed her apprehension.
“Ma, this is Miss Sarah Olivia Adler,” he said, turning toward Olivia. “She prefers to go by Olivia.”