“Oh my God! What happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Kiera. Just a little shaken up and minus a pair of my favorite underwear. He attacked me. It was so weird. I’m such an idiot.” Olivia proceeded to tell her what happened the previous night. “I’m just lucky I got away and that a guy who works in my building saw me being chased and caught him.”
“So he kicked Simon’s ass for you?”
Olivia laughed, thankful her friend had lightened the mood a little. “He definitely did. I didn’t get too close of a look at Simon, but he was unconscious, so…”
“Who was this mystery man?” Kiera interrupted.
“Just someone who works in my building,” she said quickly, not wanting to get into any details about the gorgeous man she met the previous evening, excitement coursing through her veins just thinking about him. “Listen, I’m starving. Want to come over for a girls night? I’ll order some Chinese. We’ll pig out.”
“Fine, but I swear to God, if you order anything with tofu, I’m no longer your friend.”
Olivia laughed at her friend’s response. Kiera despised tofu. Olivia loved it.
“Okay. Grab some wine on your way over, please. I think I’m out. Give me about half an hour to take a bath.” She hung up and walked downstairs into the kitchen, grabbing her binder full of various take-out menus and finding their favorite Chinese Bistro. Thankfully they delivered.
Twenty minutes later, after a nice relaxing bath, Olivia was lounging on her couch on the first floor of her house, dressed in a pair of black yoga pants and a green tank top, when her doorbell rang. It couldn’t have been Kiera. She didn’t knock or ring the doorbell. She had a key to Olivia’s place and usually just let herself in. And take-out wouldn’t be arriving for another half an hour or so.
Olivia got off the couch, walking across the large, airy living room and into the hallway toward the front door. She looked out the peephole, a confused look on her face when she saw a man holding a bouquet of flowers. She opened the door and thanked the man, searching for a clue as to who they could be from. No one had ever sent her flowers before. There had to be a card somewhere.
“Who sent you flowers, girly?” she heard Kiera shout from down the street as Olivia turned to head back inside.
“I don’t know,” she replied, walking through her front door. She placed the vase on the kitchen island and found the card that was with the beautiful floral arrangement of calla lilies and yellow tulips. She opened the envelope and pulled out the card.
Just wanted to send you something to
brighten your day and help you forget
about last night.
A. T. B.
A smile crept across Olivia’s face as she read the card.
“Who is A. T. B.?” Kiera asked, peering over Olivia’s shoulder at the card.
“He’s the guy who kicked Simon’s ass last night,” she replied dismissively, grabbing the Willamette Valley pinot noir Kiera clutched in her hand.
“Okay. I can tell there’s more to this story than what you’ve been telling me. I mean, look at the type of flowers he sent you!” she said, toying with the arrangement.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Why does it matter what type of flowers he sent?” Olivia grabbed a corkscrew and quickly opened the bottle of wine, needing the alcohol at that moment.
“Libs, he sent you yellow tulips and calla lilies. Calla lilies mean beauty, and yellow tulips symbolize hopeless love,” Kiera replied with a dreamy look in her eyes.
Olivia rolled her eyes as she handed her a glass of wine. “Please don’t read too much into the flowers. He probably just had his secretary send them or something.” They made their way into the living room, separated from her kitchen by a simple archway. Olivia loved the open floor plan of her house. It was an old brownstone house, but she had updated it with her modern and simplistic style. They sat down on the couch and Olivia turned on the television, hoping to distract her friend. “He helped me last night and just wanted to bring a smile to my face today. That’s all.”
“So what was he like? There’s definitely something you’re not telling me based on that stupid grin on your face.”
Olivia looked at her friend and couldn’t help it. “He’s the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on,” she blurted out.
“Aw, Libby!” she exclaimed, hugging Olivia and nearly spilling her wine. “You’re actually attracted to someone! I didn’t think I would ever see the day this would happen!”
“Hey! I’ve been attracted to guys before! I don’t just sleep with anyone. They’ve got to be good looking.” Olivia took a hearty sip of her wine, needing some liquid courage to get through that conversation.
“Yeah, but it’s easy to have sex without feeling any connection to someone. Hell, that’s all you’ve ever done. And there’s a difference between finding someone good looking and finding them attractive. You can be good looking and not be attractive. Being attracted to someone isn’t just digging them on a physical level. It’s something more. It’s opening your soul to someone, letting them in. Telling them your hopes and dreams and fears. Letting them know the real you. I know you have trouble with that, Libby, but don’t you want to have that connection with someone so you know you’re not all alone in this fucked up world?”
Olivia’s older and wiser friend definitely had a point. “He sent shivers throughout my body every time he touched me,” she gushed. “I had no idea what was going on. Maybe it was because I was just attacked by Simon and he saved me. Maybe I’ve got like Stockholm’s syndrome or something,” she joked.
“Libs, Stockholm syndrome is when you get kidnapped and want to bone your kidnapper. You definitely don’t have Stockholm syndrome. What you’ve got is a bona-fide crush on a man!” She oozed excitement over the thought. “So tell me,” she crossed her legs, turning to face Olivia. “What happened after he kicked Simon’s ass?”
Olivia proceeded to tell Kiera all about Alexander taking her to his office, patching up her head, calling a detective to take her statement, and then driving her home. She left out all the details about him owning the building and having a posh penthouse office, as well as a personal driver and/or badass bodyguard.
She made a mental note to do some research on Alexander later when she had some privacy. She was intrigued to know more about him and how he could have such a successful company when he appeared so young. He seemed relatively quiet the night before, simply listening to her ramble on about her sex life. And he was so gentle when he took care of her. But then she remembered his husky voice saying, “People only have to call me Mr. Burnham in the bedroom.” It almost seemed like there were two very different sides of Alexander. Snapping out of her thoughts, she told Kiera that he left his cell phone number with the specific instructions to call if Olivia ever needed to talk.