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“What are you talking about?” Tyler asked, laughing.

“Olibia. She sings. I followed her to Open Mic at Johnny D's last night before I drove here. And she sings. It brought back a lot of memories.”

“Alex, we don’t have to talk about it tonight. I mean if you want to, we can, but you don’t have to.” Carol placed her hand on top of his.

“I know, Carol. But it helps sometimes. I know it’s her, but it still doesn’t feel real, ya know. And I mean, this is a girl who is so scared to get close to anyone. I’m just worried that finding out the truth will ruin her.”

“But Alex, I don’t know if that’s your decision to make,” Carol replied. “Imagine how she would feel if you keep that information from her. What’s worse? Her learning about her past and needing some time to process the information, or her learning that you withheld vital information from her? I know you want to protect her, but I think you need to tell her and let her deal with the information as she chooses.”

“Yeah. What Carol said,” Tyler slurred.

“She’s singing in a band tonight. I should have stayed in Boston to see her, but I just had to come here. It was weird this morning. I was talking to Olivia’s gravestone as if she was still dead. And I was telling the young Olivia about the woman she’s become. It’s almost as if they’re two different people. But they’re not. They’re the same person. And I know they are. But to me, they’re two separate people. One girl died when she was six. And this new Olivia is who the other Olivia grew up to be, but I wasn’t around to watch her grow up. And I think what’s so heartbreaking for me is that I missed her all those years when she was so close to me.” He looked at his brother and sister and felt the world starting to close in on him. “I need to go guys. I’ll see you back at the house.”

Alexander got up from the table and threw down several large bills to cover the tab and more drinks. He knew what he needed to do. He walked the quarter mile back to his house and headed straight to his bedroom. Sitting down at his desk, he pulled out his journal and wrote his daily letter to Olivia.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

GAMBLING THERAPY

“SO, have you heard from him yet?” Kiera asked Olivia as she lounged on the couch in Olivia’s living room on Saturday morning. Olivia had performed with Mo’s band the previous night and had been in a rather snarky mood since then, having not heard from Alexander.

“No. I haven’t. And it’s killing me. It’s so weird. He secretly watched me Thursday night at Open Mic. He said he had to go out of town this weekend for something. I texted him a few times, but I don’t want to be that clingy girl, ya know?” Olivia took a sip from her coffee mug and glanced over at her friend.

“Fuck him. What kind of arrogant bastard is too wrapped up in himself that he can’t at least send a quick text just to say hi? Men and their fucking mind games. And they say women are bad.” Kiera flipped the cover on her iPad and starting browsing the latest gossip websites.

“I think I’m just worried that he freaked when he heard the songs I sang. But he called me his girlfriend. And now he’s just not talking to me. It’s just… well, weird. I don’t play games. This is why I don’t do relationships.”

“Holy shit!” Kiera shouted. “That fucking douche!”

“What? What is it?” Olivia asked, getting up from the table and running over to the couch to see what Kiera was looking at on her iPad.

“I’m not sure you want to see this, Libs,” she said sullenly.

“Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad.” She pulled the iPad out of her friend’s hand and turned to look at the screen in front of her. Her jaw dropped and she sank onto the couch. She felt her heart shatter into thousands of tiny pieces.

There was a photo of Alexander entering what appeared to be a country club, accompanied by a strikingly beautiful, tall blonde woman wearing a tight white sundress that accented her huge chest and tiny waist. Olivia continued to read the caption underneath the photograph. “Alexander Burnham spotted entering New London Country Club with Miss Adele Peters. Burnham and Peters have been involved in a tumultuous on and off relationship for the past decade.”

“So this is why he couldn’t be bothered to text me and why he was so secretive about where he was going this weekend,” Olivia said quietly. She sat there for several long moments, Kiera knowing her friend well enough to not say anything. Sometimes saying nothing said everything.

How could I be so stupid? Olivia thought to herself. She finally let herself fall for a guy only to find out he was already dating someone else.

“See. This is exactly why I don’t put myself out there, Kiera. Because this fucking hurts.” Olivia stood up, tossing the iPad back to Kiera, and walked back to the kitchen table.

“Wait, Libs. I mean, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Maybe there’s a perfectly simple explanation for the photo.” Kiera grabbed her iPad and looked at the photo headlining her favorite gossip website. She looked at Alexander and the woman beside him. They were smiling at each other and Kiera could almost see the affection between them. She did a quick image search and was bombarded with photos of the couple. “If it makes you feel any better, Libs, it looks like they’ve known each other since like forever,” Kiera said.

“What are you doing?” Olivia asked.

“Just Googling your boytoy. Oh, that sounds so dirty.” Kiera laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

“Kiera, I love you, but I am so not in the mood,” Olivia said dryly.

“Libs. Stop it. Stop shutting down. You can’t get like this. It’s one photo on the internet. It doesn’t mean anything.”

Olivia stood up, walking over to the couch, and grabbed Kiera’s iPad from her.

“One photo on the internet?” Olivia shouted, looking at the screen with all the photos of Adele and Alexander in recent history. “There’s hundreds of them together. Hundreds! And I am so not the jealous type, but I do not stand for being left in the dark. Even in my fucked up version of relationships pre-Alexander, the one thing I made damn sure of was that it was exclusive. I will not be strung along.” She collapsed onto the couch.

Kiera hated to see her friend so upset. She knew how fragile Olivia could be at times and the last thing she needed was for her to retreat back into her shell. The shell that she struggled to get her out of for years.

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