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Olivia hated how much everyone in her life seemed to be crying lately, including herself. She clung to Bridget, never wanting to let her out of her sight, afraid that something horrible would happen to her, as well.
“Come on, Libby. Everyone’s here. We need you. We can’t go through this without you. You can’t go through this alone, either, okay?”
She nodded and allowed Bridget to lead her to the waiting room, hoping that Alexander had left. As soon as she entered, she couldn’t keep from feeling guilty for how Tyler was feeling, his normal exuberant stature gone. All that was left was an empty shell of a man.
Giving Bridget a reassuring look, she made her way over to him. “Tyler…?” She wrapped her arms around the younger version of Alexander. “I’m so sorry. This is all my fault,” she sobbed.
He looked at her through his blood-shot eyes. “It’s not your fault, Libby. And it's not my brother's fault either. He told me everything,” he whimpered. “If Mel was in your shoes, I’d do the same thing. I love her…” He took a steadying breath, trying to get his emotions under control. “I guess that’s one of the things I learned being with her. That it’s not worth it to hold grudges. Life is precious, Libby. Don’t use this as an excuse to push Alex away. He loves you. He won’t survive without you. Don’t blame him for this. He didn’t kill Mel. That fucker, Lucas, did. If there’s anyone you should be angry at, it’s him. Not the person who worships the ground you walk on. I’ve just lost the one girl I thought I could spend the rest of my life with. I wish I told her that while she was still alive.”
Olivia watched in shock as he stood up and walked away. As she processed his words, she was unable to shake the thought that, had Alexander been honest with her from the beginning, Mel would still be alive.
“Miss Adler?” a voice whispered, bringing her back from her thoughts. Olivia looked up to see a couple in their late fifties standing in front of her. They had obviously just been crying.
“My name is Harold Brooks,” a man with gray hair said. “This is my wife, Sandra.” He gestured to the tall blonde woman standing next to him. “We’re Melanie’s parents.”
Olivia stood up and embraced them as she tried to find the words that told them that their daughter’s death was all her fault.
“We just want to thank you for everything you tried to do for our little girl today,” Melanie’s father said, his voice shaky as he surveyed Olivia, noticing his daughter’s dried blood on her clothes.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks.” Olivia sobbed even harder, knowing that Melanie would still be alive if it wasn’t for her.
“Enough with the tears,” Sandra said, releasing her hold on Olivia. “Melanie would hate to think that we were all here crying over her. She would never forgive herself if that was the case. She’d want us to only think of the happy moments we shared with her, and that’s exactly what we’ll do…” She trailed off, unable to follow her own words.
“She’s always been a little demanding, hasn’t she?” Olivia asked as she laughed through her tears.
Harold Brooks smiled. “She sure is…or was.” His face became overwhelmed with emotion once more.
“It was wonderful to meet you. I’m sure you have friends and family that you want to be with, but please let me know the plans for her services whenever you know of them.” Olivia gave them a compassionate look, her expression soft.
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you and your friend, Mo, about that,” Sandra said, glancing at Mo standing just a few feet away. He immediately walked over.
“We were hoping that your band wouldn’t mind playing a memorial show at the bar. She always loved going there to watch you perform, and it would mean a lot if we can pay our respects to her in a way that she would have wanted, with laughter instead of tears, at a place she felt at home. We both grew up in New Orleans and this is how we like to say good-bye…a celebration of her life, not a sad reminder of her death.”
Olivia glanced at Mo. “What do you think?” she asked. “I mean, what about Kiera…?”
He stopped her. “Livvy, Kiera would want us to do this. For Melanie.”
Olivia nodded her head in agreement. “For Melanie.”
AFTER LEAVING THE HOSPITAL that evening, Olivia stormed through her house, slamming doors. She knew full well that it wasn’t going to fix anything, but it certainly made her feel better. She was so angry with Alexander. She gave him a choice…tell her what she wanted to know or risk losing her. She couldn’t believe that he continued to keep secrets from her, not when it nearly tore them apart. She wanted to scream. Then she heard her mama’s words again: Music is the best solution to any problem. Olivia leaned her head back and looked at the ceiling as if talking to the sky. “I sure hope you’re right, Mama. I could really use a solution to this chaotic world I’ve found myself in.”
She ran up to the third floor of her house, sat down at the piano, and did what she did best. She lost herself in the music and, for a minute, everything was okay.
When Olivia finally came out of the music room, she had no idea what time it was or even how long she had been in there. Time always seemed to stand still when she surrounded herself with beautiful lyrics and melodies. It was the only thing that made her forget about everything. But outside the walls of her music room, the cruel reality of what had happened set in.
Reluctantly, Olivia walked down the two flights of stairs and into the living room. Her stomach growled loudly and she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually eaten. After the past several days, she had no desire to cook so she ordered take-out from her and Kiera’s favorite Chinese bistro.
She grabbed her purse and started to head out to pick up some wine. As she walked down her front steps, she purposely ignored the black SUV sitting outside of her house…or, at least, she ignored it for about two seconds, her hard stare softening when her eyes met Alexander’s. She was furious at him but, deep down, she knew that she was still madly in love with him.
After selecting a few bottles of wine at the local liquor store, she walked back to her house, arriving just as her food was being delivered. Alexander stood on the doorstep, paying her regular delivery guy. She snatched it out of his hand before turning away from him and entering her house, slamming the door behind her.