A Tragic Wreck
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“So what made you move to Florida?” she asked several minutes later after the server dropped off their crab cake appetizer.
“It just kind of happened. I don’t know if it was any one thing. I always loved growing up in the south and, let’s face it, there’s nothing like good ol’ southern cooking.”
Olivia smiled, remembering her childhood in Charleston, particularly her summers on Folly Beach where the smell of Low Country Boils permeated the neighborhood practically every weekend.
“I wanted to find somewhere I could see myself settling down. I’m not a fan of huge cities. Then I found this quaint little island, and I was sold.”
“Did you go to school around here?”
“No. California, actually. UCLA.”
Olivia took a sip of her wine. “I lived in Cali for a bit.”
“Really? Where at?”
“All over, really. Spent some time in Brentwood and then needed a change of pace from all the L.A. craziness so I ended up living in a cabin in the woods in Big Sur. No cable, no internet. It was wonderful. It was actually when I was living out there that I got more into running. I always loved running, but out in Cali, there were so many races that I couldn’t help but take advantage of it.”
Cam eyed her. “Races? What do you mean?”
“Oh, like marathons.”
“You run marathons?”
“Yup. Actually, I qualified for Boston a few…” She stopped short, the memory of leaving Alexander just after running the Newport Marathon still fresh in her mind.
Cam could sense her growing unease with the subject. He grabbed her hand again.
Olivia looked down at his strong hand clutching onto hers. His touch didn’t send shivers up her spine like Alexander’s did, but she felt a little something. They weren’t huge fireworks. Maybe they were sparklers.
“Hey, Libby. Relax. It’s okay. You don’t have to talk about anything with me that you don’t want to. I’m not going to pry. Whatever you want to tell me, I’m happy with. Okay?”
She sat there, staring into his silver eyes, wishing they were green. “Okay. Thank you.” She took another sip of her wine, desperate for the liquid to work its magic.
“I’ll never hurt you, Olivia. I promise you that,” he said quietly, barely above a whisper.
She sighed. “That’s a pretty big promise. I don’t think anyone can ever keep that promise.”
“You can at least let me try to keep it. Don’t shut me out like you want to. I’m okay if you just want to be friends. I just want to know you. If the only way I can get you is by being friends, then I’m happy.” He gave her an encouraging smile just as their entrees arrived.
“I don’t know if I’m ready…”
“I get it. I do. So let’s just hang out. No pressure. Okay?”
Olivia smiled. “Okay.” She grabbed her fork and dug into her ahi tuna salad, eyeing Cam's shrimp and grits. “You’re going to have to run, like, ten miles tomorrow to work that meal off,” she joked.
“Sounds like a plan. Want to come with me?”
“I don’t know. Think you can keep up?”
“Is that a challenge?”
“Damn straight it is.”
Cam chuckled as he took another bite of his cheesy grits, exaggerating how delicious the rich dish was.
Olivia was happy to finally feel some sort of normalcy in her life since fleeing Boston. It was good. It was what she needed to finally move on. As she took a bite of the crème brûlée that she and Cam decided to share for dessert, she wondered if Alexander had moved on, as well.
ALEXANDER’S JET TOUCHED DOWN at Jacksonville Airport a little after eight that evening. Within an hour, Martin pulled up in front of the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. As Alexander sat in his Gulfstream heading south earlier that day, he debated where he should start looking for Olivia. The liquor store was the key. He figured she was probably living on Amelia Island somewhere and not in Jacksonville. Also, doing a bit of research, he found out that shopping on the island was limited mostly to beach-style boutiques. Knowing Olivia as he did, she needed some sort of fashionable store similar to that which she had become accustomed to shopping at in Boston. It made sense that she would find a mall to shop at so he was putting all his money on her living on Amelia Island. He prayed that he was right.
“What’s the plan, sir?” Martin asked as he began setting up various computers in the large suite.
Alexander sighed. “I’m not sure, yet. She’s got to be somewhere on this island. Maybe we both should get some sleep so we can wake up refreshed.”
Martin finished booting up all the gear and turned to Alexander, who was sitting on the sofa and drinking an amber liquid. “Yes, sir. I’ll see you in the morning then.”
“Thank you, Martin.”
When he heard the door to his suite close, he walked from the couch out onto one of the large balconies overlooking the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Had he made a mistake jumping on the plane and coming down to Florida to find Olivia? Maybe Kiera was right. Maybe she didn’t want to be found.
He downed his drink and decided to go for a stroll out on the beach. Quickly changing out of his suit and into a pair of jeans and a polo shirt, he left the suite, wandering out of the back of the hotel toward the beach.
He walked down to where the waves invaded the shoreline wondering if, at that moment, Olivia was looking out over the same exact waves. If she was there, she had picked a perfect location. The island was small and seemed relatively secluded from what he had found out. It was almost Thanksgiving and there were a few tourists walking about, but it was still uncrowded, unlike so many other Florida beaches.
As he strolled north along the coastline, he thought about everything that had happened over the past several months. He had been so happy with Olivia, but something spooked her and she fled town. It all went to shit in Newport. He should never have let her go run that damn marathon. She started to remember things and it scared her. That Saturday in Newport, she changed. When he stopped to let Olivia run up to Harris House, it was as if the fun, carefree girl he had become so accustomed to during their short relationship had left herself on the side of the road. After that, she was quiet and reserved. He tried to regain control of the situation and he thought he had it. Apparently, he was wrong.