Never had she been so nervous while driving a car. Not even during her driver’s license test. But she hadn’t been wearing a cast back then. That probably would’ve caused her to fail the test. Thankfully, she made it to the grocery store’s parking lot without sighting any blue and red lights. Olivia took a good look at herself in the overhead mirror and after fussing with her wavy hair, breathed in deep and got down from her car.
The grocery store was deserted but for a few people who were milling around with their carts, looking like they’d rather be home than here buying some forgotten items like toilet paper or milk and cereal. She started at the back at the fruits and vegetables section, then checked every aisle looking for any sign of Michael.
Maybe it was fate or just damn good timing, but when Olivia stepped at the beginning of the personal hygiene aisle, she spotted Michael right next to the spray deodorant section. He took one little spray can and tossed it inside his cart. He began pushing it towards the empty check-out lines when Olivia made her way to him and touched his shoulder.
Michael had not forgotten what had taken place in this aisle, so he was eager to get out and head home. The holidays were finally behind him and he was more than willing to immerse himself back in work. Anything to move on and forget about Olivia.
He knew he could’ve come with Camie but he wanted to avoid the small talk about her trip to her mother’s. Although they’d had a good time on their skiing trip. Michael’s attention had been absent most of the time. He had thought the trip would be the perfect solution to forget about Olivia, but the skiers and the snow had been a bitter reminder of the day he spent with her. The very same day when they made love for the very first time.
He felt the touch on his shoulder and felt the wind knocked out from him as he stared straight into a pair of brown eyes that immediately made his heart gallop and the muscles in his stomach tighten.
His gaze went from her beautiful face to her arm and the fear and pain he experienced that day at the hospital and before, when he’d realized she’d risked her life to save Camie. It also made him recall how she’d informed him she and Noah were engaged. That cold hard fact put a stop to the flow of emotions being set free inside him. Oddly enough, it was the first time he felt something since leaving the hospital. All this time he’d felt numb and had hoped he would stay that way for a very long time.
“Michael. Camie said I could find you here.”
“I went by your house.”
“Oh, okay. I see you’re still wearing that.”
The thin veil of confusion lifted off as quickly as it had landed across her face. She followed his gaze and realized he was referring to her arm.
“Oh, that! Yes, I still have to have this for several weeks.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Look, Olivia, I’d love to stay here and chat, but I promised I would make dinner tonight. So, it was nice seeing you. Take care.”
Unable to stand being this close to her, he turned around and began moving toward the exit.
Olivia knew he wouldn’t be thrilled to see her, but she’d be damned if she let him walk away before he heard what she had come here to say.
“Michael, wait. I have to talk to you.”
Michael wanted to do more than talk. He wanted to crush her body to his and kiss her until this need that was killing him from the inside went away. She was like a drug and he’d been desperate without his fix of her for the past few weeks. Something in the urgency of her tone made him come to halt and face her again.
God, she’d been practicing the perfect speech on her ride here but it all vanished from her mind the second she laid eyes on him again. All she could think of was of having his arms around her, of hearing him say he loved her like he did that day at the hospital. Of the night they first made love and of their sweet and tender awakenings together. Of how his mere stare sent every nerve ending in her body into haywire.
She winced at his hard tone but kept her chin up and her eyes on him.
“It’s about me and Noah.”
He winced but managed not to groan out loud at the mention of her soon-to-be-husband.
“Look, if you think you owe me an explanation, you don’t. I knew what I was getting myself into and you made your choice. I meant it when I said I wanted you to be happy. I’m sure you and Noah will be.”
“Could you just let me say what I came here to say?”
Part of him melted as she let out an annoyed huff and her cheeks flushed an angry red.
“Go on, then.”
“It’s about the wedding.”
“Please, Olivia I am happy for you but talking about your marriage to another guy is just too much for me right now.”
“It’s not happening.”
Michael froze. He stared dumbfounded at Olivia looking for any signs he’d misunderstood. But her face was blank, except for the way her eyes seemed to study his reaction. He felt the earth moving under him. He gripped the cart’s handle for balance.
“Did you just say….”
“I couldn’t go on with it. Not when my heart belonged to someone else. I do want to get married, eventually, but to the man I love.”
Perplexed, Michael felt like an idiot with his mouth hanging wide open, unable to utter any complete sentence.
God, I am in love with him. And whatever part of her heart that had still not gone out to him, was lost when the meaning of her words hit him and those honey-colored eyes sparkled back to life.
“I love you, Michael Hurst. And if you still love me, I’d very much like to wake up next to you every day of my life.”
The rush of joy was such he grabbed her and lifted her before he took her mouth in his. Her body molded perfectly against his and her good arm clung to his neck as the mating of their lips was like a release of all the feelings he thought he would have to lock away for the rest of his life.
“God, I still love you, and I will always love you, Olivia. I’ve loved you from the very first time I set eyes on you.” He whispered in her ear.
“Good. Because I fell for you that same day, too.”
They remained in each others arms for quite some time before they decided they had better things to do than stand in the middle of the grocery store.
Michael took her hand and after giving her the same disapproving look Jerry had given her when she told him she’d driven herself over here, she said.
“So Camie shanghaied you into doing her errands for her again.” She pointed at the deodorant can.
“Nah, I offered this time. Besides last time wasn’t that bad. At least now I know what the hell she means when she asks for spray deodorant for gym class.”
“You don’t say? Well, Mr. Hurst, it seems you are now well versed in the needs of teenage girls.”
“The thing is, my dear Ms. Becket, I just hadn’t met you yet. Now I have, my life is better.”
“Right back at you.”
It would be a long time before Camie’s errands made it back to Michael’s house. And dinner got served at the Hurst house. Olivia and Michael had some unfinished business to take care of. And doing it all with one hand took Olivia more time than they’d anticipated. Not that either of them minded.
Just before they left the grocery store, Olivia would swear she heard someone shouting. “I knew it!”