Wow. It was all Olivia could come up with as she finished showering while Michael was downstairs getting coffee started. She had never felt this way before and had never in her life made love three times in less than a twenty-four hour period. She felt amazing, like she was glowing from the inside.
Olivia caught herself humming Colbie Caillat’s Lucky as she continued to get dressed. She brushed her wet hair and applied some makeup. Although her bright face and red cheeks seemed to suit her just fine.
Close to bouncing as she went down the stairs, Olivia took a deep breath and inhaled the amazing smell of coffee combined with the piny scent of her decorated Christmas tree. She took a step into the living room to turn the lights on when a familiar voice spoke from behind her.
“Well, well, well. Someone is all smiley and chirpy this morning.”
Her scream pierced through the house. In seconds, Michael was by her side, hair still wet from his own shower with a look of concern.
“Olivia, are you okay?”
The history teacher’s eyes widened even more as Michael was standing right next to Emilia. Her eyebrows were drawn up as she surveyed Michael’s post-shower hair and bare feet under his jeans.
“May I ask what is Camie’s uncle doing here, with a look on his face very much like the one saying I had the best sex of my life last night plastered all over yours?”
“You did what?”
“I mean……I am. I just got excited all over again at seeing my finished tree, that’s all.”
“It should worry you that the rest of us in this room wouldn’t find that very hard to believe.” Emilia added, something close to a glint of victory causing her blue pale eyes to fill with laughter.
“You know? This reminds me of when we first met. Like your answer was intended for someone else.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! There’s no one here. Anyway, what do you say I make us some breakfast?”
If Michael thought something more he kept it to himself. He extended his hand and interlaced his fingers with Olivia’s. Still conscious of Emilia’s stare following their every movement, Olivia tried to block out the ghosts “I knew it!” comments, while Michael pressed his lips to her forehead as they made their way back to the kitchen.
“Tell me everything and don’t leave anything out!”
Emilia began jumping up and down as the three of them crammed in Olivia’s tiny kitchen. Good thing one could pass through her if need be, like when Michael stretched his hand across to open the fridge and accidentally made the bottle of milk look like it was sticking from Emilia’s belly button.
Despite her lack of body mass, Olivia realized the kitchen was still crowded.
“Why don’t you go sit and relax? Cooking with more than one person inside this space could end up with severe casualties.”
Michael wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on her neck before he left the kitchen.
“Details, details.” Emilia demanded. Somehow she’d managed to perch up on the counter next to the fridge, across from where Olivia was beating eggs and frying some tortillas chips for the migas.
Wait a second! Did you leave because you knew that Michael and I……
“Were going to go at each other like bunnies? No. If I could tell the future, I would most definitely not use my power to tell you when you are going to get lucky. I would obviously use it to know before hand who would win the next American Idol.”
Of course you would. Why did you disappear, then?
“I just needed to be by myself.”
Knowing she would instantly start worrying she’d returned to her post-burial depression, Emilia hovered over to stand next to Olivia.
“Don’t worry, it wasn’t like last time. It was just…..too much. Christmas got to me.” She reassured her.
Where did you go to? Olivia dropped the whisked eggs onto the hot pan.
“I went to Sam’s.”
“I guess reliving the whole snow thing…I just…..I miss him, Olivia. No matter if we found out we weren’t meant for each other, he was my best friend.”
“Tell you what? I’ll tell you about mine if you tell me about yours. How does that sound?”
Like if I refuse you’ll find another way to yank it out of me.
“Excellent. But we should do it after breakfast. We wouldn’t want your guy out there to starve to death.”
This is the problem with having mental conversations with a ghost. You kind of forget about the rest of the world.
Quickly, Olivia dropped the fried tortilla chips with the cooked eggs and poured some mild green salsa. For the final touch, she added a sprinkle of cheddar cheese to melt on top.
Years of cooking with her mother had made her confident in her cooking. That didn’t stop that slow beam of pleasure when Michael let out a moan of delight the second after he took a first bite of his breakfast.
“This is amazing. I think I am now regretting I was the one who got you sidetracked last night. If this is how breakfast tastes then I can’t start to imagine what you can do for dinner.”
Oh, Olivia agreed, you have no idea.
Olivia sat at the dinning room table, with her second cup of coffee. Emilia sat on the table, while she kept fanning her pale face as Olivia finished telling her about the three times she and Michael had made love. Despite having been there for all those three times, Olivia’s body still melted like wax as she replayed last night for her dead friend.
“Damn it. It makes you wish there was more to you than just….you know, air.”
They were alone, so there was no need to use her mental voice. After they’d finished eating, Michael helped her clear their plates and wash the pans she’d used to prepare breakfast. Another gesture to which her entire body had responded to by going limp with growing awe and desire for the man.
It shouldn’t have surprised her, though. If Michael Hurst had been willing to walk through an aisle dedicated to women’s products for his niece, a couple dirty dishes were probably normal to him.
There had come an awkward moment when Michael suggested he should go home and change into clean clothes before coming back. He’d suggested they go to National Art Gallery and try to get into one of the new exhibitions. Olivia had involuntarily searched for Emilia whose face had remained unexpressive but whose eyes had showed just a hint of wariness at the suggestion.
When she’d caught her stare, the ghost had simply shrugged her shoulders and muttered.
“Might as well face the damn place one day, right?”
Then Michael had stood up to leave and Olivia blurted out.
“You should probably bring back another change of clothes for tomorrow.” To which he had simply gazed at her, with a trace of doubt clouding his honey eyes before a huge grin prompted the appearance of his sexy dimples.
Of course, Olivia was well aware she was currently living inside a very fragile bubble that was set to burst the moment the clock marked twelve at night on Sunday. Monday would not only bring the start of a new week, but it would also mean she would have to face what she’d done.
“You seem happy Olivia. Less…….stressed.”
“I guess. I just……I don’t want to analyze it yet. I know I’ll talk myself out of it if I do.”
“Now, it’s your turn.”
For anyone who barely knew her, the change would have passed unnoticed. Only that Olivia had been living day and night with Emilia for her to miss the way her body tensed up. In a nervous gesture she tucked her long dark brown hair behind one ear, her eyes already peeled away themselves from the now. She appeared to be miles away, probably where she’d spent the night.
After what felt like hours, Emilia began to tell her about her visit to Sam’s.
“I just wanted to see him. I know I may have painted Sam as some jerk who couldn’t care less about me. I suppose I was annoyed at being dead and all.”
“And if I said he didn’t deserve you, it was because that is what friends do.”
“Anyway,” Emilia disregarded Olivia’s comment about their friendship with a wave of her hand, not because she didn’t consider Olivia her friend, she just knew she would go all teary eyed and would feel even more vulnerable than she already felt after visiting Sam. Emilia carried on.
“One minute I was telling you go do the nasty with Michael and the next I was standing in Sam’s living room.”
“How was he?”
“Not happy. Not that I revel in it. I guess he is dealing with my death in his own way. The place was full of boxes. I suppose he is still going to Germany after all.”
“Germany?” Olivia inquired with interest.
“Yeah. It was the reason we fought that last time.”
This was her opening so the history teacher pushed by asking.
“What really happened the day you….”
“Sam had called me on my cellphone. He wanted us to have dinner after work. I remember him saying he wanted to share life-changing news. Obviously, silly me immediately imagined he was going to propose. What could be more life-changing than getting married, right?” Emilia let out a heavy sigh.
“The thing is, we’d been having the same type of arguments you and Noah are having. But I guess that’s what happens when you watch to many damn T.V. series. You make yourself believe what happens there can happen in real life. And I was stupid enough to believe he had let go of his hesitation.”
“You weren’t stupid.”
Olivia was beginning to understand why Emilia got so frustrated every time she agreed to Noah’s reasons for waiting. But Noah wasn’t Sam. This was totally different.
Wanna bet? A mocking voice asked. If it is so different then why did you sleep with another man? She shook her head to quiet the voice. Emilia continued her story.
“Sam was adamant that money was tight and getting married would be suicidal. And since it always looked like Amanda would finally find the prefect excuse to fire me, then all the money responsibility would fall on Sam.”
Olivia winced and felt bad for her friend.
“The first few times I would be all, ‘he is right and I am just being a romantic fool.’ But still I never ceased asking him, until I practically begged him to get married, which I did, by the way, when his life-changing news turned out to be he was moving to Germany for two years.”
“And what about you?”
“Oh, I was supposed to stay and wait for him. Sam had decided that after he came back from Europe then we could discuss a wedding and take it from there. God!”
Annoyed by reliving the hurt from that day, Emilia stood up and began pacing up and down. She could almost see the dimmed lightning of the restaurant and hear the distant chatter of the other tables.
“That’s when I begged him to just do it before he went away so we could go together.”
“Oh, Emilia….” But Olivia’s words were silenced by the ghost’s palm.
“No, I don’t need pity right now.” She pushed back the tears and said.
“Anyway, he said no, obviously and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up and told him I was done waiting for him. That I just realized he was never going to want to marry me, to spend his life with me. Then I stormed out from the restaurant, took the metro to the Mall and instants later was being run down by a car because I was too distraught to take a look at the damn street before crossing it.”
Regrettably, the torrent of tears came and she felt like they were choking the air out of her. Olivia rushed to her side, and even though she couldn’t touch her she stood close to her, while Emilia let all the bitterness and despair wash out from her.
“I didn’t deserve to die! I was supposed to get my chance to find true love, to have a family. It’s not fair.”
Because no amount of reassuring words would help, Olivia waited until Emilia calmed down. With the back of her hand she wiped her nose and eyes, and let a small watery chuckle as she said.
“And to think a few minutes ago I was all revved up by your own adventures with Michael.”
“I already know you can be voluble.”
“Yeah, I can. I used to be. Always the drama queen. Anyway, I went to Sam’s last night while he was packing his stuff. I will never know if he heard me but I wished for him to be happy. To move on.”
“I bet he did.”
“You think we would’ve stayed friends? I mean, once time had passed, would Sam and I have been able to talk again?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. You said so yourself, he was your best friend. Even best friends fight. Me? I couldn’t count the times Tracy and I had gotten into a fight and stopped talking for days.”
“Yeah, maybe you are right.”
Right then, her doorbell rang and Olivia knew it had to be Michael.
“Thanks for listening. I realize now I needed to talk about it with someone. I am glad it was you.” Before opening the door Olivia turned her head over her shoulder and whispered.