“Dude, you should totally call him!” Kiera shouted excitedly. She bounced up and down on the couch with an infectious smile on her face. Olivia worried that she would spill wine on the red sofa. “Come on. Do it right now so I can hear his voice, too.” She giggled.
“I think after my last failed ‘relationship,’” Olivia said, quoting the word relationship with her fingers, “I’m off men for a bit. Maybe the whole no-strings-attached thing isn’t such a smart idea, anyway. When I don’t get to know the person, I am blind to whatever propensities they have, you know?”
She paused for a moment and looked at Kiera who remained silent. She didn’t have to say anything. Olivia knew what she was thinking just by looking at her eyes. Kiera was happy that her friend had finally realized her approach to relationships had been anything but healthy.
“Anyway, I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” Olivia said, breaking the growing tension in the room. “Let’s rent a cheesy movie and drink wine, okay?”
“Okay.” Kiera relaxed into the couch. Their food arrived a few minutes later. They watched a few chick flicks, drank a bottle of wine, and ate almost half of the Chinese feast Olivia ordered.
At midnight, Kiera left to go home. Olivia, however, was wide-awake, having slept most of the day away. So, she did what she had wanted to do all night. She grabbed her MacBook out of her bag, powered it up, and typed “Alexander Burnham” into the search engine.
Olivia was surprised at the magnitude of hits that were returned, her heart beating rapidly as she started to get an overall picture of the beautiful man with green eyes.
Alexander Burnham dropped out of Harvard after a semester and joined the Navy. He eventually passed SEAL training and had been deployed on a variety of special ops around the world. After his father died five years ago, he left the Navy to take over his security company at the age of twenty-four. He was able to use his SEAL training in building his company into one of the foremost private security firms in the world.
His firm provided security and military services across the globe. Its contractors had trained local militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Africa and South America. In addition to training local militaries, its contractors often provided protection services for key staff members traveling abroad and domestically, as well as protection of important natural resources, such as the oil fields in the Middle East.
Apparently, it also assisted various government and private entities in conducting certain classified operations, which Olivia deducted was a nice way of saying covert and clandestine services. Further, his company had recently expanded its services to include military aviation support, offering air support, medical evacuations, and armed air escort to any location on earth.
In addition to its vast overseas presence, his company also provided security for a wide variety of clients on domestic soil, from dignitaries to celebrities. What caught Olivia’s eye was the amount of pro bono work his firm did, offering protection services for victims of a variety of crimes, including new identities. He had offices all over the country and abroad, although he made the Boston office his home. All that and he hadn’t even hit his thirtieth birthday. Her research showed that he was successful and compassionate at the same time. It was a unique combination of qualities that most men she came across didn’t even come close to possessing.
Sighing, she got up from the couch and looked at the flowers he sent, reading the card again. She was about to put it back into the envelope when writing on the back of the card caught her eye.
Please call me. Anytime.
So he did send them himself and didn’t just have his secretary send them, she thought to herself. Olivia glanced at the clock in the kitchen, observing that it was after one in the morning. She debated calling him. But what would her reason have been for doing so? To thank him for sending flowers maybe? But it was late. She decided to call him the following day.
Olivia closed her laptop and went upstairs to settle into her bed. Her mind raced thinking about Alexander Burnham. She closed her eyes and thought about what it would be like to actually have a relationship with someone who genuinely cared about her.
She recalled all of Alexander’s accomplishments and her subconscious instantly told her that he was so far out of her league. He was beautiful and successful. And, while Olivia was attractive enough, she was still trying to figure everything out. Her past haunted her. She had trouble just making it through the day sometimes. She didn’t have anything to offer any relationship. She wouldn’t even know how to act in a relationship. With that thought, sleep enveloped Olivia.
In the South End of Boston, a man answered his cell phone, his deep voice reverberating through the room. “Donovan.”
“Mark, um, I mean Donovan, it’s me. Simon,” he said nervously.
“I thought I made it rather clear that you were never to call this number. Not unless you had good news. Do you have good news?”
“Well, no. Not really. I tried to get the information you wanted, and the bitch fought back, and, well… I’m in jail. I need a lawyer, man, and you’ve got to get me out of here.”
A BEAUTIFUL SOUND
THE sun seeped into Alexander’s bedroom, waking him up on Sunday morning. Finally, a full night of sleep. He looked at his nightstand and glared at the envelope. “Not yet,” he said to himself. “Soon.”
Alexander picked his cell phone off the charger and saw that it was eight in the morning. He reluctantly got out of bed and made a cup of coffee in order to prepare for his morning run. Coffee in hand, he made his way into the study to get a few e-mails out of the way before going out.
As he sat at his desk, his thoughts were consumed by one woman. Olivia. His feelings for her confused him. He was attracted to her. That much was evident. But there was something more there. And he wasn’t sure whether it was because he desperately wanted her to be her, the girl he failed to save all those years ago, or because they connected on a deeper level. Normally, Alexander would ask her out, sleep with her, and then never see her again. But something about Olivia made him want more than just a quick fuck.
After throwing on some running clothes, Alexander left his three-story penthouse apartment and ran toward Boston Common Park. Olivia lived right around the corner from the famous Boston landmark and he secretly hoped that she was heading out for her morning run at the same location.