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“Then why didn’t you call me or anything?”

“I don’t know, Love. I really don’t. It was weird. I was at my friend’s grave telling her all about my life and all I could talk about was you. And I know this may not make sense, but I just needed to focus on the weekend. On my friend. And I felt guilty, I guess, if I didn’t devote the weekend to her memory.”

Olivia took a step forward, placing her hand on his shoulder briefly, a look of compassion on her face. “I truly am sorry, Alexander. I know how difficult it is to lose someone you’re close to. And it’s wonderful that you still return home to honor her memory. It takes a strong person to do that. I know. I’ve never been able to pull myself together enough to visit my parents’ graves. I don’t even know where they’re buried, to be honest. My uncle did, but he passed away.” Olivia gazed off into the distance, a pensive look on her face.

“Hey,” Alexander said, interrupting Olivia’s thoughts. Her face snapped back to meet his eyes. “It’s okay. We all mourn in our own ways. And this is my way. The Adele thing just kind of came out of nowhere. I thought maybe going to the event at the country club would help me take my mind off things, seeing old friends and what not. Then my brother and sister showed up, knowing I would be home that weekend. We ended up going to the casino Saturday night. And then when I saw you and I saw that guy with his hands all over you…” he trailed off, his face becoming red with anger, recalling how he felt when he saw another man with his hands on her body. “I lost it. I absolutely lost it, Olivia. The thought of anyone else touching you drove me crazy.” Alexander lifted his hand and cupped Olivia’s cheek, thankful when she didn’t brush him away.

“Then why did you just let Adele drag you away? Didn’t you see how hurt I was?” she asked quietly.

“I did. I’m so sorry. And if I could get a do-over I would take it in a heartbeat to spare you of that pain. The last thing I ever want to do is to hurt you, Olivia.” He ran his thumb across the old scar on her forehead.

“Well, you did hurt me, Alexander,” she said with a lump in her throat, her chin quivering. “More than I thought you could.” A tear fell down her cheek.

Alexander exhaled loudly, dropping his hand. “I know, and I’m so sorry.”

“You seem to be saying that a lot tonight.”

“Well, I guess I have a lot to be sorry for. But I mean it. And I should have told you sooner, but…” Alexander hesitated. Should he tell her the truth or just some version of it?

“What is it, Alexander? I can handle it, whatever it is.”

“Well, I don’t know how to say this, and I don’t want you to run or anything…” He paused, unsure of what to say.

Olivia looked at him, anxiously waiting for what words were about to come out of his mouth.

“You see,” he exhaled. “My best friend when I was little, her name was Olivia, too.” He decided against telling her the truth, at least for the time being. “And I didn’t want Adele to know that you had the same name as her. I didn’t want you to think the only reason I’m dating you is because of your name. And Adele knew my other Olivia and hated her. She was so jealous of her because I would always spend time with her instead of Adele.”

Alexander looked at Olivia, trying to gauge her reaction. “Alexander, you could have told me. It’s not that uncommon of a name. Hell, my first name is Sarah anyway. Not Olivia.”

“I know. But the way Adele was looking at you, I was just worried she would do something spiteful. And I wanted to protect you from that. I will always protect you, angel.” Alexander tilted Olivia’s chin up, staring into her deep, dark eyes.

“Alexander, you can’t always protect me. But you can just be honest with me. That’s all I care about.”

“And I will. I promise. From now on. I will be honest with you.” Alexander regretted those words the minute he uttered them, knowing that keeping the truth from her was just as bad as lying. But he was doing it to protect her. “So, do you forgive me?”

She thought about it as she studied his vibrant green eyes. She exhaled. “Yes.”

Alexander grabbed Olivia around her waist, pulling her body flush with his, crushing his mouth to hers. It was a fevered, passionate kiss, tongues dancing, communicating how much they had missed each other during their one week separation. Olivia’s body was on fire from the closeness of Alexander to her once again, his mouth pressed against hers. She grabbed his head, running her fingers through his hair, not caring that people roaming the streets were whistling at them.

Alexander pulled away, grinning. “God, I missed your lips, Love,” he whispered against her neck as he gently grabbed onto her hips, lifting her up and playfully spinning her around before planting her feet back on the ground.

“I missed you too, Alexander,” she said, completely breathless from that kiss.

“Want to come back to my place? You can see Runner.”

“Well, as long as I can see Runner. If not, you’d have to provide some other sort of incentive for me.”

“Oh, Miss Adler,” he said, leaning toward her ear, his husky voice sending shivers throughout Olivia’s body. “I can definitely provide some sort of incentive.” He pressed up against her and she gasped at his erection. He nibbled on her ear lobe and neck, making Olivia almost lose her balance.

Alexander held onto her hips, helping to steady her. “Is that a yes, Love?”

“Yes,” she breathed out, her mind reeling from the overwhelming feelings coursing through her body from Alexander’s touch. “Always. Yes.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

LET LOVE IN

ALEXANDER slammed Olivia against the back wall of the elevator when they got to his building after leaving MacFadden’s. He had been thinking about those lips ever since he got a sweet taste earlier that evening. He devoured her mouth, his tongue tangling with hers. The kiss wasn’t gentle. It was greedy.

Alexander lifted Olivia, his hands on her ass, and she wrapped her long legs around his mid-section, feeling his erection. “God, angel. I want you so bad right now.” He dove in for another impassioned kiss, groaning. The elevator dinged, announcing its arrival on the twenty-fifth floor of Alexander’s building.

Olivia walked out of the elevator into the foyer. Alexander punched a five-digit code into the keypad and the solid black door buzzed, sliding open and allowing them access to his home.

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