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Page 79 of A Beautiful Mess (Beautiful Mess 1)

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Olivia exclaimed, staring at the woman in front of her.

“Oh, it’s…” The woman stopped when she saw Olivia. She stood still for several long, uncomfortable moments.

“Are you okay?” Olivia asked. The woman was probably in her seventies. Her graying hair was pinned back, keeping her gentle facial features clear. She was just a few inches shorter than Olivia. Her eyes seemed so familiar, but Olivia couldn’t place where she could have possibly seen the woman before. But nothing that day seemed to be making any sense. Everything had spiraled out of control almost overnight.

The woman snapped out of her thoughts. “Yes, I’m sorry. You just remind me of someone.” A smile spread across her face, touching her eyes as if thinking of a fond memory. “Do you live around here?”

“No. I’m in town for the marathon. I live in Boston.”

“I see. I have some family members running tomorrow as well. Gosh, you just look so familiar. Are you sure you’re not from around here?”

Olivia thought the elderly woman looked familiar, too. “No. I grew up in Charleston. This is actually my first time in town here.”

“Well, welcome to Newport. My name is Rose. Rose Harrison.”

“Olivia Adler,” Olivia replied, extending her hand. Rose looked at Olivia, a look of surprise on her face.

“I’m sorry. What did you say your name was, dear?”

“Olivia.”

The older woman’s face went pale.

“Are you okay? You don’t look too well. Do you need to sit down?” Olivia held her arm, walking her to a chair in the vanity area of the restroom.

“Thank you, dear.” She sat down, her hands shaking.

Olivia sat next to her. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you want me to help you back to your table?”

“I’m fine, dear. I was just reminded of someone I knew long ago. My little granddaughter was named Olivia.”

“Was?”

“Yes. She passed away. And you look just like her mother.”

“Oh. I’m sorry about your loss, Ms. Harrison.”

“Please, child. Call me Rose.”

“Okay, Rose. Can I help you back to your table?”

“Would you?”

Olivia reached out, helping Rose stand up, and walked her back to her table where her husband sat. After making a little small talk with both of them, Olivia excused herself to return to her own table.

“Well, that was interesting,” she said dryly, taking her seat.

“What was, Love?”

“I nearly toppled some poor woman over in the restroom and then when she heard my name, she looked as if she had seen a ghost.” Olivia looked out at the harbor, the lights of the yachts twinkling on the dark ocean.

“Oh, really? Why’s that?” he asked, taking a drink from his wine glass.

“She had a granddaughter named Olivia who I guess passed away, and apparently I look like the girl's mother.”

“What was her name?” Alexander asked. Olivia looked at him with a questioning look. “Reason I ask is I spend some time here and I’m just wondering if it’s someone I know.”

“Her name was Rose Harrison.” Olivia returned her gaze to the marina, wanting to shake the feeling that she was supposed to know that woman for some reason.

Alexander remained quiet, his face showing no emotion at the fact that Olivia had just met her grandmother.

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

THE VOICE

OLIVIA woke up at five the following morning so she could have enough time to get ready and walk the mile to the start line. Alexander continued to sleep while she got ready. As she went about her routine, she kept glancing at him, sleeping so calmly and peacefully. She wondered if she should really push him away. But she had to. Ever since she made her decision, the voice had gone away. It was the only way. She had to regain control of the situation and the only way to do that would be to leave him. And eventually he would move on and be happy. Happiness wasn’t in the cards for Olivia, but that didn’t mean Alexander couldn’t be happy. So she needed to leave him. And she knew the only way to do that would be to leave Boston as well.

Looking at her watch, she saw it was time to head to the start line. She grabbed her race stuff and walked over to the large bed. Alexander stirred, opening his eyes and looking at Olivia.

“Getting ready to leave?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“Yes. I should get a move on,” she replied.

He threw off the covers and stood up. Olivia gaped at his naked body. God, I’m going to miss looking at that, she thought to herself. He found a pair of shorts and slid them on before walking over to Olivia.

“Good luck, darling,” he said as he pulled her into his arms. “You’ll do great.” He gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Olivia returned the kiss, deepening it and kissing him as if it would be the last time she ever kissed him. Because she knew his kisses were numbered and she wanted to remember every single one.

She pulled away and walked out of the master bedroom, leaving Alexander behind. She would have to get used to walking out on him, thankful that she had already worked out an escape route that the additional security she had agreed to would not be aware of.

The weather was a bit chilly on her walk to the start line, but the crowds of people congregating on Newport made her excited. There was something about the buzz of adrenaline at the start line of a marathon that Olivia had become addicted to over the years. She loved the feeling in the crowd of runners right before the starting gun went off. There were people who were running their first marathon and there were runners who were running their hundredth. Everyone had their own story about why they ran. And she loved it.

She got to the starting line area and encountered thousands of runners already milling about in the darkness of the early morning. She found a spot to sit down and ate her bagel as she waited for the race to start. She relaxed and mentally prepared herself for what she was about to do. Before long, they were calling the runners to line up in the starting corrals. It was a sea of people and Olivia loved it.

“This is it,” she said just before the starting gun went off. Once it sounded, she made her way to the starting line and began running at a conservative pace, not wanting to go out too quickly and burn out halfway through.

She had a lot to think about on her run. Many times, she tried to talk herself out of leaving Alexander. But every scenario she came up with only ended in him leaving her in the end. She just had too many issues and it would be inconsiderate for her to make anyone sit around and wait for her as she dealt with them. The voice grew louder every time she began to reconsider fleeing. She knew she had to leave. She had gotten too close to Alexander. And her feelings petrified her. She needed to leave before she could no longer silence the voice.

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