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Olivia looked across the street and met Marshall’s eyes as she kept watch in the parked SUV. She gave her a thumbs up, indicating that she was fine and did not need any help. Marshall simply nodded. Olivia was grateful that she had begun to ease up on the ropes a bit. Any of her other assigned agents would have been out of the SUV immediately, making a scene. At least Marshall treated her like an adult and let her fight her own battles on occasion.
“Olivia,” Adele said softly, her voice changing from harsh and trite to warm and sympathetic. “I’m just trying to warn you before you get in too deep. Alexander is keeping secrets from you.”
“What the fuck are you doing here, bitch?” Kiera said rather loudly as she approached Olivia’s table. Several restaurant patrons raised their heads, aghast at hearing such language, and gaped at her.
“Kiera, please. People are staring,” Olivia said quietly, her expression wide as she scanned the other tables to see them gawking in her direction.
“Whatever,” she said, her green eyes wild with fury. “When have I ever cared what someone thought of me?” She turned to Adele. “We have a lunch date, so if you would please excuse us.”
“Okay. I’m sorry for interrupting.” Adele’s eyes met Olivia’s gaze. “Olivia, please. I just want to talk to you about something important. Can we get together for a coffee, say, next Tuesday? Then I’ll never bother you again. I promise.”
“Libby,” Kiera hissed, glaring at Adele. “Why the fuck would you listen to anything she has to say? She’s been nothing but a pain in the ass from the beginning.”
Olivia faced Kiera. “I understand that,” she admitted, trying to figure out what game Adele was playing. The promise of never having to see or listen to her again was rather tempting. “Okay, Adele. I’ll listen to what you have to say,” she reluctantly agreed. “Starbucks by Alexander’s building. Tuesday. Four o’clock.”
“Perfect,” Adele replied, clapping her hands. “I do appreciate it. Have a wonderful lunch, ladies.” She walked down the street and hailed a cab, taking the burner phone out of her purse.
“Hi. It’s Adele. It’s going down on Tuesday.”
“Wonderful. We’ll be ready.”
“ALEXANDER?” OLIVIA CALLED OUT when she arrived at her place several hours later after a fun lunch and shopping outing with Kiera.
There was no answer.
Wondering if he was home from work yet, she walked down the hall toward his office, thinking he may be in there. It was after seven and he never worked that late. As she approached the door, her run-in with Adele came rushing back to her mind. Was he keeping secrets from her? Olivia knocked gently. “Alex? Are you in there?”
Still no answer.
She tried the handle even though she knew that it was useless. She could see the numbered keypad on the door. If there was one thing Olivia had learned over the past several months, it was that Alexander was diligent with ensuring everything was locked and secured. He would never leave without re-securing that room, or any room for that matter.
Defeated, she tried the handle one more time before turning around to head back into the kitchen, thinking about what to cook for dinner.
“What the fuck do you think you're doing?” Alexander yelled, storming down the hall. He had just gotten home no more than a minute ago, planning to drop off a few files in his home office, when he saw Olivia standing at the door, attempting to get in.
Olivia looked at him, wide-eyed at the tone of his voice.
He closed the gap, glaring down at her, his eyes wild with fury. “Answer me, Olivia. NOW!” His face was red with rage.
“Nothing, Alex! I wasn’t doing anything, alright?!” she shouted. “And, unless you’ve forgotten, this is my house now, too! If I want to go somewhere, I’m damn well going to do so! So if you’d please get out of my fucking way, I’d appreciate it!” She pushed him away, storming down the long corridor, seething with indignation.
Alexander closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He placed his head in his hands, angry at himself for having such a knee-jerk reaction to seeing Olivia at the door to his office. He knew there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. She was not a nosy person. Opening his eyes, he slowly followed her down the corridor, apprehensive about how to calm her down. He walked into the kitchen and found her standing in front of the refrigerator, perusing its contents.
He carefully placed his hands on her upper arms as she continued to stare into the refrigerator, keeping her back to him. The silence was deafening as both of them stood there, neither one saying anything.
Alexander sighed, breaking the tension-filled room. “Olivia, love. I’m sorry. I may have overreacted a bit before…”
She spun around quickly, slamming the refrigerator door shut. “Oh, ya’ think, Alex?” She glared, her eyes shooting daggers. “You think that you may have overreacted when you nearly chopped my head off for standing in the hallway, knocking at your office door to see if you were home?” She was furious, partly because she did feel guilty for being somewhere that she knew was off-limits.
“I’m sorry, Olivia. It’s just…”
She crossed her arms over her chest, her normal indication that she was waiting rather impatiently to hear a good explanation for his behavior. He had gotten quite used to seeing her in that pose over the past several months.
“What is it, Alex? Why do I always feel as if you’re not being honest with me? Why does it always feel like you’re keeping things from me?”
Alexander searched her eyes. With each passing day, it was becoming harder and harder for him to finally tell her the truth. He wanted to tell her all those months ago, but that was before her father reappeared out of nowhere, imploring him to keep her ignorant of her past. Could he really listen to a man who had ruined Olivia’s life? What should he do? Is this the moment of truth? He smiled at the pun.
“What’s so funny, Alex?” Olivia hissed, her anger growing with each passing minute.
“Olivia, I’m sorry,” he said, his smile disappearing from his face. “I didn’t mean to be a jerk. There’s just a lot of work that I do that has to remain classified, even from you. I pride myself on our company’s work ethic in maintaining the highest level of confidentiality. I only know how to work one way, and this is it.”