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“No. I just know people.”
OLIVIA CIRCLED OUT OF Boston Common Park, her conversation with Simon replaying in her mind for the remainder of her short run. It was unmistakable that he had changed quite a bit since August when he came at her with a knife. He now seemed like an entirely different person. Maybe being in prison gave him some perspective about where his life was headed if he didn’t get his act together. The pain on his face when he confessed his feelings for her was heartbreaking, and she felt bad for the way she treated him during their brief “relationship”.
Still, Simon’s warning lay heavy on her mind. She always thought that Alexander was simply being overprotective, but maybe he knew something, too. He had mentioned the possibility of Simon having a connection to Mark Kiddish. That must have been the guy who wanted to get to Olivia. Regardless, she was certain that Simon’s apology was genuine. He looked desperate and distraught as he begged for forgiveness. She couldn’t imagine what he had gone through those past several months sitting in prison, having to live with his stupid mistake.
Olivia ran down Commonwealth Avenue, slowing to a stop in front of her house. She looked up at the brownstone that she had grown to love over the years. The three-story brick building was her first home when she moved back to Boston. It was symbolic to her of finally putting down roots, but now she would put down new roots with Alexander on the other side of the city.
They had discussed what she should do with her house. After a few heated arguments, she decided to hold on to the property for a while and perhaps rent it out. The housing market had started to turn back up, but she wasn’t ready to part with her home just yet.
She punched the code into the door and ran upstairs to start packing her things. She was sweaty from her run so she hopped in the shower, rinsing off the salt that had settled on her skin. Once she felt refreshed, she put on a change of clothes and set about boxing up her life.
After several hours of going through her belongings, she heard her phone buzzing. She glanced at the caller ID and saw Alexander’s photo flashing on the screen. Crap. She had forgotten to turn the ringer back on. Hesitantly, she answered his call.
“Yes?” she breathed.
“Where are you?” He knew perfectly well where she was, but he had no intention of telling her that he had been sitting in his office, tracking her every movement as if he didn’t have anything better to do on a Sunday morning.
“I’m at my house packing up some boxes.”
“Would you like some help?” he asked, his voice softening. “I can see if I can get some movers to come and take care of that for you.”
“No. That’s okay,” she responded, glancing around her bedroom at all her belongings, starting to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the job ahead of her. “Some of this stuff is kind of personal. I’d rather do it all myself.”
“Do you want me to come and lend a hand, or would you rather be alone?”
She could hear the hurt in his voice. “I’m sorry about this morning, Alexander. I just feel a little smothered sometimes. I know you’re just trying to keep me safe, and I really do appreciate that but, sometimes, it’s just a little overwhelming.”
“I know, Olivia,” he sighed. If she only knew what he was trying to protect her from. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to scare you off. You just have to tell me how you feel. I can’t read your mind. I promise I’ll try to not be as much of an overbearing asshole.”
Olivia giggled. “Okay. I’ll try to do better, too.”
“So, want me to come over?” His voice was brimming with hope.
“It would be a shame to waste this opportunity to put you to work.”
He chuckled. “Okay. I’ll be there in a bit. Carter and Marshall are out front of your house should you need anything in the meantime.”
“You knew where I was, didn’t you?”
“You’ll have to torture me if you want me to answer that.” There was a pause. “Until then… I love you. Always.”
His words made her want to melt into the hardwood flooring. “I love you, too, Alexander,” she replied before hanging up.
Olivia returned her attention to the task at hand and began sorting through the bookshelf in her study, boxing up books and other trinkets. Occasionally, she stopped to look at various photos from her college years, memories flooding back from all the trouble she and Kiera used to cause. She paused when an old photo album fell off the middle shelf, pictures scattering across the room. Chasing one of the photos all the way to the doorway, she was met with a jean-clad leg.
Her eyes followed the leg upward, meeting Alexander’s brilliant smile.
“Afternoon, beautiful. I brought sushi.”
Olivia straightened up and kissed him gently on the lips. “Thank god. I’m starving and there’s no food in this joint except for cat food.” She leaned down to pick up the photo that had escaped. Her breath caught in her throat and she spun around to hide her face from Alexander.
“What is it? Are you okay?”
She stared at the image in front of her. It was one of the few photos she had from before the accident. She was standing on a bunch of rocks on a large beach, her father behind her, holding her up beneath her arms. They were both smiling at the camera. Her hair was in two braids on either side of her head and she was wearing a long Harvard sweatshirt over her bathing suit. She caressed the photo, her finger lingering over her father’s face.
Alexander walked up behind Olivia and peered over her shoulder. “Is that your father?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied quietly.
“It looks like he loved you very much.”
A tear fell down Olivia’s face. “I think he did. I just wish I could have remembered more about him, ya’ know?”
“I know. I get it.” He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, bringing her back flush with his body. Guilt overwhelmed his conscience for keeping so many secrets from her, especially for not telling her that her father was still alive. He could end her pain right now if he just told her everything. He wanted to, but her father’s warning sounded in his head, reminding him that he could lose the woman he loved if she remembered her past.