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“About a date…” Olivia took a sip of her chardonnay, nervous to be discussing plans for her upcoming wedding.
“Yes? Have you given any thought to what I suggested?” he asked.
“Actually, I have and, well… I just want to make sure that this is something you want to do. Get married then, I mean.”
“Of course it is. I wouldn’t have suggested it if I wasn’t serious about it,” he said firmly.
“It’s just…” She trailed off, looking down at her fingers fidgeting in her lap. “I know how difficult that day is for you, and I want to make sure that you only have happy memories of our wedding day.”
“Olivia, look at me.” His voice was forceful and demanding.
She quickly raised her head to see Alexander smiling at her. “Darling, that’s exactly why I want to do this. I didn’t realize it, but my life didn’t truly begin until I met you. Marrying you on that day will erase any bad memories from early on. I need to close this chapter in my life, and start a new one.” He reached across the table and grabbed her hand. “With you.”
His words sent Olivia’s heart soaring. She loved how passionate he could be at times. She still couldn’t believe how far they had come from their first meeting when he whispered in her ear, “People only call me Mr. Burnham in the bedroom.”
“So what do you think?” he asked, interrupting her thoughts of Alexander in the bedroom.
“Okay. August twenty-fourth it is then.” She smiled. Up until that moment, it hadn’t sunk in that she was going to marry Alexander. Now, with a date, it all began to feel real, and she couldn’t be happier.
“Good.” He thought it was fitting, marrying the girl who was taken from him on the exact date twenty-two years later. It was romantic.
“That’s less than four months away,” Olivia said, staring out over the boats on the waterfront as a gentle breeze blew. “I guess I better find a dress.” She dreaded the thought of going to bridal shops with the hopes of finding the perfect wedding dress. She immediately considered asking Alexander to elope.
“You could show up naked and I wouldn’t care.” He raised his eyebrows and gave her a devilish grin.
“Of course you wouldn’t.” She giggled.
“God, angel, all these months and I still love the sound of your laughter,” he said, making her blush. “Now, where would you like to get married? Any idea?”
“At a casino in Vegas,” she muttered under her breath, looking toward the sliding glass door. She laughed at the sight of Runner standing there, begging for table scraps from the other side of the glass.
Alexander grabbed her hand across the table again, getting her attention. “Olivia, if that’s what you want, I’ll support it. I just want to marry you. I don’t care if it’s in a crappy Vegas casino or an ornate cathedral. All I care about is you saying those two words to me.”
“I do?” Olivia asked, smirking.
Alexander rushed to the opposite side of the table and swooped her in his arms.
“No, Olivia,” he said quietly, kissing her neck. “I will. Always. I will.”
Olivia’s heart raced at his gentle voice whispering those two words in her ear. “Alex,” she exhaled as he ran his tongue down her collarbone. “Don’t start anything you have no intention of finishing.”
She felt Alexander’s mouth turn up into a smile. “When have you ever not finished?”
“I can think of a few times that some dominating prick wouldn’t let me come,” she joked.
He pulled back and stood up, planting a chaste kiss on her cheek. “Sometimes, Miss Adler, delayed gratification is worth it.” He turned and walked back to his seat.
She closed her eyes, trying to regain her composure.
“So, tell me. Where would you like to get married?” he asked, his voice serious once more.
“Well, I’ve always imagined getting married on the beach somewhere,” she responded, opening her eyes, trying to ignore the desire flooding through her entire body. “I’d like to keep it casual, you know?”
Alexander thought about her words. He immediately recalled the beach house where he spent nearly every summer with her all those years ago. It was a massive estate with its own stretch of private beach. After finding the storage room beneath his office containing all the documents pertaining to his father’s cover-up, he found that Olivia still owned that property, although she did not know it. The beach house had been maintained beautifully over the years, ready to be handed over to her when it was safe to do so.
“I think I have the perfect place.”
THE FOLLOWING DAY, OLIVIA woke up early, pried herself from Alexander’s arms, and quickly changed into her running clothes before descending twenty-five stories to the lobby.
“Miss Adler,” Carter said, intercepting her on the street as she exited the tall building.
She looked up and saw Carter standing next to Marshall outside of the SUV parked in its usual spot. “Where to this morning?” he asked, scanning the sidewalks.
“I’m just going for a run and then back to my place. I’ll be fine by myself.” She began to walk away.
“Miss Adler, please wait for a moment!” Marshall called out nervously.
Olivia exhaled loudly before turning around, her irritation evident by the scowl on her face.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but Mr. Burnham is our boss.” Carter surveyed her demeanor, debating how to proceed.
“Fine. Go ahead and call him to tell on me. All I want is one fucking day where I can go for a run by myself. Is that too much to ask for?” she huffed as she plopped down on a bench, glaring at her protection detail. Is this what her life would be like once she married Alexander? Would he always have one of his agents following her, protecting her from some invisible threat that he made up in his head? All because he lost his best friend when he was young?
Agent Marshall stared at her, an appearance of sympathy about her. “Just one moment, ma’am. I’ll see if I can convince him that you’ll be okay on your own.”
Olivia glanced up, a smile creeping across her face. “Thank you.”
ALEXANDER WOKE UP TO his cell phone ringing. Opening his eyes, he noticed that Olivia wasn’t in bed next to him. He became alarmed when he saw the name flash on his caller ID. “Marshall. Is everything okay?” he asked frantically.