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“Well, what’s the problem? Send someone with her.”
She exhaled loudly before lowering her voice, and walked out of Olivia’s earshot, still keeping her eyes trained on her. “Sir, with all due respect, she feels smothered. Let her have this one run unaccompanied. It might make her feel better.”
“What?!” Alexander shouted, jumping out of bed. “Are you out of your fucking mind?!”
“Sir, please. We’ve been keeping an eye on her the past several months and haven’t come across any threats to her safety.”
“Of course you haven’t!” he fumed. “That’s because you’ve been around her! Once there’s a window, someone will take the opportunity!” He found a pair of shorts and quickly threw them on before grabbing a running shirt, socks, and a pair of sneakers, dashing down the stairs and into the foyer, anxiously pressing the elevator call button as he dressed himself.
“I’m not second-guessing your decisions, sir,” she continued calmly. “But perhaps if you clue me and Carter in so that we’re aware of the threat you seem to think exists, maybe we could have a better understanding of what’s going on.”
The elevator dinged, announcing its arrival. Alexander lowered his voice. “I can’t do that. I wish I could, but the less anyone knows about this, the better. I trust you. You’re one of my most valuable agents. That’s why I assigned you this job.”
“You’re going to lose her for good if you don’t give her some breathing room,” Marshall explained cautiously.
Alexander stepped back and the elevator doors closed, letting it leave without him. He stared at the wall in front of him and contemplated Marshall’s words. He knew she was right and that he was smothering Olivia. Perhaps one run unaccompanied would go a long way. “Okay. Let her go for a run.” He sighed in resignation. “But keep an eye on her from a safe distance,” he warned.
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” She glanced at Olivia, giving her a thumbs up sign.
“I want constant updates. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir. I can do that.” She hung up and walked back toward Olivia. “Okay. Off you go. Don’t make me regret sticking my neck out for you. Be safe.”
Carter walked over to the SUV idling on the side of the street and opened the passenger side door, grabbing something out of the glove box. Turning back to Olivia, he handed her a small can of pepper spray. “Take this with you.”
“Oh! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!” Olivia squealed, wrapping her arms around Carter’s neck and planting a quick kiss on his cheek. “You guys are the best!” She put the pepper spray in her pocket before heading off on her run.
“Um, Miss Adler?” Carter interrupted.
Olivia turned around, removing her ear buds. “Yes?”
“Keep that in your hand. If you’re attacked, you won’t have time to reach into your pocket. Sometimes one second can be the difference between life and death.”
She glared at him, her irritation returning.
“Or…I can call Mr. Burnham back and have him accompany you,” Marshall threatened.
“Fine,” she spat out, dramatically grabbing the can of pepper spray out of her pocket. “Happy now?”
“Very. Enjoy your run,” Marshall said, grabbing her cell phone and searching her contact list. She watched as Olivia ran off down the streets of Boston. “Excuse me for a moment. I need to return a phone call.”
“You got it, Cheryl.”
SIMON WAS SITTING AT the counter of a diner, drinking a cup of coffee early on a Sunday morning when his cell phone began to ring. “Hello?”
“It’s me, Simon. She’s out for a run. You know what to do. I was able to give you a wide berth so don’t fuck it up. I’ll text you the location.”
“Okay, okay. I got it.” He hung up and glanced at a text that had just come in. It appeared as though Olivia was heading toward Boston Common Park. Perfect. He threw some money on the counter and ran out of the diner, hailing a cab.
OLIVIA TURNED ONTO TREMONT Street, crossing over to Boston Common Park past the old Granary Burying Ground, enjoying her momentary solitude. She would finally be able to stretch her legs a bit and really push her pace. It was always difficult running through city streets, having to stop every few seconds at another crosswalk.
She entered the park and opened up her stride, basking in the morning sun. She had finally gotten her legs back after running in the Boston Marathon. The week following the marathon had been a tense and scary time in the city. Olivia was one of the lucky ones who had crossed the finish line before the bombs ruined the event for thousands. She had just returned to Alexander’s place when she turned on the news to see what had happened at the finish line. Her heart sank, wondering why someone would possibly do something so hateful at an event that inspired millions. It still broke her heart to think about it, but what those cowards didn’t count on was the spirit of runners and the city of Boston. She had a new drive to run, desperate to continue on for all those who no longer could.
That’s what she thought about as she made her way through Boston Common. Every time her legs started to feel tired, she reminded herself that at least she still had the ability to run. She still had legs. Dozens of people who were injured on that tragic day would do anything to be in her position right now so she ran on.
Running past the swan boats, a wide smile crawled across her face as she thought about the day she bumped into Alexander at that very spot. She came to a stop and gazed out over the crystal lake, replaying that fateful day in her mind.
“Olivia? Is that you?” a voice called out from across the path.
She turned, her brows furrowed. “Simon?” She took a few steps toward him. “Wow. I hate to say it, but it looks like prison was good to you,” she remarked, taking in his appearance. He looked like an entirely different person. He was skinnier, but more built than he was before. His usual attire of dirty jeans, t-shirt, and work boots was replaced with a crisp white polo shirt, dress khakis, and loafers. His hair was much shorter and he was clean shaven. For the first time in his life, he looked like someone you would be proud to take home to meet your parents.