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“Thank you.” She blushed as she opened the menu. Alexander chose to take her to Atlantic Fish, a restaurant that wasn’t too far from Olivia’s house. It was one of his favorite spots in the city to grab oysters and a great bottle of wine. As he ordered a bottle of Far Niente chardonnay and a dozen blue point oysters, Olivia glanced around the large restaurant, the mahogany walls adorned with various nautical themed prints.

“I hope I’m not being presumptuous ordering for you.” Olivia snapped her head back to the table, her eyes meeting Alexander’s. He was a man who liked control, Olivia could tell.

“I don’t mind. White wine and oysters go hand in hand, don’t they?” She smiled before looking away.

Alexander recalled one evening from his childhood at the DeLuca’s beach house with his father. They sat on their back deck, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. He was eight years old and the DeLuca’s daughter was six. They were all eating oysters, throwing their shells over the balcony onto the sand below. When the DeLuca’s little daughter saw what they were doing, she snapped her crispy green bean snack in two, ate half, and threw the other half over the edge. Everyone roared with laughter and she continued to do that the rest of the evening. The memory caused Alexander to smile, wondering if the woman across the table from him would remember that. If it was even her.

The waiter returned with their wine, bringing Alexander back from his thoughts. It was a perfect choice, Olivia thought. Light and crisp but not too sweet. The perfect chardonnay.

“So I heard from Detective Wilder today,” Olivia said, breaking a somewhat awkward silence.

“I thought you might. I spoke with her last evening. I want to make sure nothing bad happens to you…” he said, his voice trailing off, remembering his sister’s warning and the promise he had made to a little girl all those years ago.

“Are you okay?” Olivia glanced at Alexander who had a look on his face as though he was searching the back of his brain for something.

“Yeah. Sorry. I’m just having a déjà vu moment, I guess.”

Olivia smiled at his response. “I get those all the time. Mostly I just run into people I should remember that I knew years ago when I went to B.C., but I can’t remember who they are for the life of me.”

Alexander reached across the crisp white tablecloth and grabbed Olivia’s delicate hand, caressing her knuckles. It was such a simple, chaste gesture, but it ignited sparks deep within both their bodies.

The oysters arrived, interrupting their moment. Olivia looked at Alexander, grinning, the corners of her mouth turned up in a mischievous smirk. “Umm, how are you with spicy cocktail sauce?”

“Ah, a woman after my own heart. Do it up, Love.”

Olivia smiled to herself as her heart raced. He called me Love! She grabbed the cocktail sauce and added quite a bit of horseradish to it, as well as some hot sauce. She gingerly squeezed a lemon over the oysters. Once she was satisfied that the oysters were ready, she put a small amount of cocktail sauce on one of the large blue point oysters in front of her and, clinking shells with Alexander, slid one down her throat.

“Mmmm… I love oysters,” Olivia said, relishing the salty taste in her mouth. “I remember watching my parents eat oysters all the time when I was younger. We would spend our summers at a beach house. Mom came from money. It was a family house.” Olivia grabbed another oyster and Alexander stared as she prepared it and slid it down her throat again. The way she ate her oyster was strangely erotic, he thought to himself.

“I remember our beach house. It’s one of the strongest memories I have of my life before the accident. And I remember them having friends over. I was so jealous of them because they would eat oysters on the deck. And it wasn’t because they were eating oysters. It was because they would toss the shells over the side of the deck. And I wanted to do that. I couldn’t wait until I got older and could toss my oyster shells over the deck, too.”

Alexander couldn’t believe his ears. Too many coincidences. He kept telling himself that it was just a story. I’m sure lots of people would throw their oyster shells over the side of the deck.

They finished the rest of their meal engaging in relative small talk. After they left the restaurant, Olivia said she preferred to walk home. She didn’t live far and the temperature had cooled down dramatically. Alexander grabbed her hand and they walked down Boylston Street in relative silence, a light breeze in the air.

“Sorry to bring this up again, but I want you to promise me something,” Alexander said as they crossed over to Commonwealth Avenue and were about two blocks from Olivia’s house.

“What is it?”

“I want you to always let me know that you’re okay. I mean, with Simon out on bail, I just want to make sure he’s not doing anything he’s not supposed to.” Alexander was worried. And he desperately needed to feel in control of her safety. He resented not feeling that control, but he didn’t want to scare this girl off by setting up round-the-clock protection for her. Not just yet, anyway.

“I’ll be fine.” Olivia stopped walking and turned to face him, grabbing his other hand in hers. “And I’ll let you know if I ever need anything. I promise.” She smiled at him and a look of relief washed over his face. He pulled her close, embracing her. His warmth surrounded her. It felt so familiar to her, as if she had known that man her entire life. It felt like home.

“Okay. Can you do me one more favor?” He stroked her hair, not wanting to release her from his embrace. Olivia caressed his back and felt the muscles rippling underneath his shirt. Her thoughts soon went to places that were unspeakable in public.

“What’s that?” She pulled out of his embrace to look into his eyes.

“Can I have a security system installed in your house? You live in Boston. You should have one anyway.” At least if there was a security system installed in Olivia’s house, she would be a little safer, Alexander thought.

“I have a security system and his name is Nepenthe.” Olivia laughed. He simply smiled at her and remained silent, a stern look on his face as he waited for her to agree to his request.

“Okay,” Olivia exhaled. “That’s fine.” How could she say no to those eyes?

“Great. Can I have my team come over Thursday? I have to head out of town later that evening and I’d feel better leaving you, knowing that your house was secure.”

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