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Page 75 of A Beautiful Mess (Beautiful Mess 1)

“I have to say, Miss Adler. I’m looking forward to christening my yacht with you this weekend,” Alexander said after the waiter dropped off a dozen oysters as they sat at an outdoor cafe right on the water.

“You’ve never had sex on it?” Olivia glanced at him, wide-eyed.

“No. I haven’t,” Alexander replied very matter-of-factly.

“Hmm.”

“What is it?”

Olivia grabbed an oyster and slid it down her throat. “I don’t know. I just figured you would have taken some girl on it at some time and, well, rock the boat.”

Alexander laughed. “Cute.” He exhaled loudly. “No, Olivia. Sadly, she is still a virgin ship.”

“Well, let’s see what we can do about that.” She winked.

Alexander felt his phone buzz again. He reached into his pocket and took it out. It was Martin. It was his fifth call within the hour. “I’m sorry, Love. I should take this.”

“That’s okay. I understand.”

“Thank you.” He pressed the answer button on his cell phone. “Yes, Martin. What is it?… What?!… When did this happen?… Okay… Yes… Handle it for the time being and we’ll discuss how to proceed…” Alexander hung up, fuming.

“I won’t ask if everything is okay, because it does not appear that it is,” Olivia remarked, taking a drink from her wine glass.

“Well, something has happened,” he replied, eyeing Olivia and taking a deep breath. “I don’t mean to frighten you, but the alarm on your system went off about an hour ago.”

Olivia looked down at her watch. “It wouldn’t have been Kiera. She’s at work. She’s not supposed to feed… Oh my God! Is Nepenthe all right?” Olivia looked terrified.

“Yes. He’s fine. A window triggered the alarm. Martin had another agent go over and check the house. They took Nepenthe to my place for the time being until we can sort everything out. I’ll let my pet sitter know to keep an eye on him, too.” He grabbed another oyster and tipped it back into his mouth.

Olivia stared off into the distance, breathing deep, trying to resist the urge to leave the table and run. With every passing moment, things were spiraling downward.

“Olivia, darling. Are you okay? Talk to me.”

“What is going on?” she hissed. “I mean, really going on? I just feel like you’re keeping information from me. And I would really appreciate it if you were straightforward and honest with me. If you don’t think I’ve noticed your little protection details lately, you must think very little of my intelligence. I know you’ve been having one of your guys watching me whenever we’re not together. So why? What is it?”

Alexander stared at her, contemplating what to tell her. “I’m just trying to keep you safe.”

She glared at him. “If you really wanted to keep me safe, you would tell me what the fuck is going on.”

Alexander exhaled loudly, throwing his napkin onto the table in front of him. “I know. I should have told you this earlier. And I wish I had, but I was hoping it was nothing.”

Olivia’s heart began to race.

“Remember that guy from the bar all those weeks ago?”

She nodded.

“Well, he’s the same person that bailed Simon out of jail and probably paid for his attorney as well. He’s using a fake name, but his real name is Mark Kiddish and he is a very bad, very powerful man. He is a professional “cleaner.” Do you know what that is?”

Olivia shook her head as she took in everything Alexander told her.

“A professional cleaner is someone who ties up loose ends, mainly for politicians and other high ranking government officials. Why he’s interested in you, I am not sure of, but he is not a good guy. So, yes. I am absolutely guilty of having some of my protection teams watching you. But I need to know you are safe, okay? This guy is a very real danger. I know no one has tried anything yet, but I don’t want to take any chances with you.” Alexander felt guilty for not telling her everything, but he just couldn’t. Not yet anyway.

Olivia processed his words, trying to make sense of everything. Why would anyone want to harm her? She had money, yes, but that’s no reason for a professional “cleaner” to target her. “I appreciate that, Alex. I really do. But you should have told me. You can’t keep trying to protect me by withholding information from me. If you don’t tell me these things, how can I trust you? I need to be able to trust you. You’ve never given me a reason not to, but you can’t just make decisions based on what you think is best for me without asking.” She still couldn't shake the feeling that he wasn't telling her the whole story.

“So you approve of the additional security?” Alexander looked at her, hopeful.

She thought about that for a minute before sighing loudly. “If it makes you happy, yes. Fine.”

Alexander swooped her hand from the table and held it to his lips. “That would make me extremely happy.” He placed a kiss on her hand as he stared at her. Olivia needed to do something to silence the voice in her head that was growing louder with each passing moment. She knew her time was running out.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Donovan. It’s Cheryl. It worked. She is out of town this weekend with Burnham, but upon her return, I have been assigned to her security team.”

“That’s wonderful news. But we need to continue to give Burnham a reason to think she needs that security, so don’t back off.”

“I won’t.”

“Now that we can get you close to her, I need you to start getting information from her. The old man hid her identity and faked her death. I need to tie up these loose ends. That box containing all those documents is still out there somewhere. We need to get our hands on it. You’ll need to help her try to remember where it is.”

“And you’re certain she’ll know?”

“I’d bet my life on it.”

CHAPTER THIRTY

MEMORIES

THE sun filtered through the master suite, waking Olivia on Saturday morning. She rolled over and looked at Alexander as he slept, a peaceful look across his face. He didn’t wake up in the middle of the night screaming or crying like Olivia did. She wondered how much longer he would want to be woken up every night with her cries. The little voice in her head was back, telling her to run. She needed to quiet that voice. So she did the only thing she knew would dull the pain of her constant nightmares and silence the voice telling her to run before she had fallen too far. She swung a leg over Alexander, sitting on top of him, thinking she may already be in too deep.

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