Brush With Fame

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Chapter 10

Sarah picks me up at the airport and drives me home. On the way there, I call Ryan to let him know I made it back ok. I can barely speak. He tells me not to be sad, that I should just remember our special weekend and how happy we are. He reassures me of his feelings for me. Reminding me that we’ll talk all the time and that he’s going to make time to come and see me before London.

When we get to my house, all my misery of missing Ryan flies out the door and is replaced with anxiety. The police and my neighbors are in front of my house. My neighbor saw the woman who had been bothering me throw something through my office window. He tried to stop her but she fled too fast for him to catch up. He called the police, told them everything.

I let the police in to check out my house. A big rock is lying in my office. On it is painted “BITCH”. Awesome. Well, she has me freaked out, which I’m sure is what she was after.

There isn’t a good enough fingerprint on the rock to be able to use. So, we still have no clue who this woman is. Or why she’s stalking me, although I have my theories and the police tentatively agree. Obviously, she’s mad at me for something. Is it because I went to the Oscars with Ryan?

Sarah called Taylor right away and she came rushing over. Between Taylor, Sarah and my other friends, one of them is going to be staying with me every night for a while. I’m ok with that. I’m too scared to want to be at the house by myself. I know I’ll be petrified by every little sound I hear for a while wondering if it’s her and if she found a way inside my house. We get some plywood and nail it in over the window until I can get someone to replace it. Olivia and Taylor say they’ll clean up the mess. I need to call Ryan.

“Hello, Love,” Ryan answers.

“Hi,” I reply reluctantly and hesitantly.

“What’s wrong?” He detects my somber mood right away.

“Something happened, but I don’t want you to freak out. I’m already freaked out for the both of us.”

“Don’t tell me not to freak out. What happened? Are you ok?”

“I’m fine.” I explain the scene when Sarah and I pulled up to the house and everything we found out since.

“Fuck!” Ryan explodes. “This is my fault.”

“No, it’s not. Why would it be your fault?”

“Olivia, when did this all start happening to you?” Apparently, that is a rhetorical question because he continues, not letting me answer. “Right after you met me. She was out in Vegas and knocked you out of the way, basically after we went public. And now her stalking turned violent after the awards show. Because you were with me at the show and I thanked you. Anyone who saw that knows how much you mean to me.”

“This is not your fault. We don’t even know who this lady is. Do not take the blame for this. I’ll be fine.”

“Olivia, you know I hate that bloody word,” he interrupts.

I know he hates ‘fine’. But that is exactly what I am – fine.

“Taylor, Sarah or one of the other girls will be staying with me every night for a while. And to be totally honest, I’m glad because I would be terrified to stay by myself right now. Plus, my neighbors are watching out for me, too. Thank goodness I have nice neighbors.”

“Thank God your friends are staying with you. I don’t want you by yourself until that psycho is caught. Are the police going to be doing anything more?”

“They are going to have some officers do drive-bys every so often and make sure everything looks ok.”

“Not great, but if that’s all they can do. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“Trust me. We’re all being safe.”

After calming him down, I finally get off the phone with Ryan. Taylor is going to stay with me tonight. I go back to my bedroom and unpack since I was too preoccupied to do anything with my suitcase earlier. Taylor comes and sits on my bed.

“So, hell of a welcome home party,” she smirks.

I snort but don’t say anything.

“Other than the shitty welcome home, how was your trip?”

My mouth breaks out into a huge grin.

“Oh Taylor! My trip was wonderful. I met so many celebrities and most of them were so nice. I met Leslie Day. She’s awesome, by the way. She took my number and said she would call me sometime. She’s already texted me a couple times. The awards show was amazing.”

“And what about Ryan? His little comment about ‘my Olivia’ was intense.”

“Yeah, Ryan,” I sigh. “I am one hundred percent in love with him. But I haven’t told him yet. I don’t know why I chickened out. And he hasn’t said anything either. I think he might have been about to say something a couple times but stopped. Oh, Taylor. We had the most amazing, wonderful weekend. I didn’t want it to end.”

“Yay! I’m so happy for you! And after that speech of his on Sunday, I’m sure he’s in love with you, too.”

“You think so? I should have told him this weekend, but I’m so damn scared of being rejected. Stupid Craig. I let my fears rule what I said. I’d tell him on the phone, but I’d rather tell him in person so I can see his reaction.”

“I agree with you there. I’d rather tell someone that I love them in person, too. When are you going to see him again?”

“I don’t know. I hope soon. He has to leave for London in a few weeks. He talked about maybe coming out to see me before he goes.”

A quiet and uneventful week and a half passes. On Saturday, the weather is warm. Any leftover snow from the previous weeks have melted. Since the day is so nice, I decide to work in my yard. Sara leaves for an appointment and Taylor is coming over in about an hour. I make sure I have my cell phone on me and I go outside. I kneel to clean out the dead plants from my flower gardens. About fifteen minutes into it, I hear someone approach behind me.

“You made it over earlier than I thought,” I say, thinking it’s Taylor.

When she doesn’t answer, I turn to look behind me. The smile on my face fades quickly when I see it is not Taylor. I am looking at the woman who has been stalking me. It is the same woman from Las Vegas.

Oh, God. What do I do? Try being nice to her? Start screaming?

“Can I help you?” I ask her. My hands are shaking terribly.

She actually looks crazy. She could be pretty but it looks like she’s been sleeping in her clothes and hasn’t taken a shower for a while. Her rat’s nest of hair is hastily pulled back into a ponytail. She didn’t look this way when I first saw her out in Vegas.

“You can’t have him,” she says so quiet that I barely heard her.

Ohmigod. We were right. This is about Ryan. She’s stalking me because of Ryan. What the hell am I supposed to do? I try playing dumb?

“Can’t have who?”

“You…can’t…have…Ryan… you bitch!”

As I scramble to get off the ground, she lands a punch to my side, knocking the breath out of me, making me fall right back down to the ground.

“You bitch! He’s mine! You can’t have him!” she is screaming at me now. Then she kicks me in the ribs. I think I hear a couple cracks. I scream, it hurts so bad, but I’m too angry up to just give up. She is not going to win this.

I lay completely still until she gets a little closer to me. As she comes closer, I’m able to kick her hard in her right knee. She backs up a few steps and looks at me as if she cannot believe I kicked her. While she is slightly distracted, I get up, run up and tackle her. I pray my neighbors have heard one us screaming. I get a good punch to her eye, knocking her head back. Her craziness must make her stronger because I start losing ground. She gives me an uppercut to my nose. I stagger back a few steps while blood pours out of my broken nose. That’s when she kicks me hard in my calf. I crumple to the ground withering in pain. I try to grab my calf but all of a sudden something hit me on my head and everything goes black.

There’s a steady, rhythmic beeping coming from somewhere around me. My alarm is set for radio, so it’s not that. Wonder if it has anything to do with the new alarm system. I can’t figure out what it is but it’s loud enough that it wakes me up. I open my eyes. I can’t focus in on anything. It’s too bright and blurry and my head hurts. What is going on? I close my eyes again, willing them to focus. I take a breath in, which makes pain shoot thru my rib. I wince and groan quietly. I open my eyes again. I see a tiled ceiling. I’m not in bed at home. Where am I? The beeping increases with my racing heart. I turn my head to look around. Oh, I’m in a hospital room. That’s when my memory of the psycho comes rushing back to me. My stalker attacked me!

Ryan is sitting in a chair next to the bed. Ryan is here! I gaze at him. I am so happy that he is here. He has dozed off, still holding my hand. I try to squeeze it to wake him up. I’m too weak because Ryan doesn’t even stir. I concentrate and try again. This time Ryan’s eyes fly open.

“Olivia! Oh my God. Oh, Sweetheart!” He grabs my hand with both of his. “Thank God you’re awake. You’re going to be ok.”

He stands up and leans over me to kiss my forehead.

“What are you doing here?” I’m very hoarse so it comes out in a whisper.

“You end up in the hospital because of me and you don’t expect me to come be with you? I don’t think so. As soon as Taylor called me, I made arrangements. Unfortunately, the press heard about it too. They’re all over.”

I groan. “How long was I out? What day is it?”

“It’s Monday. You were out for two days.”

“Wow. Two days.”

“Yep. I’m just glad I was able to be here when you woke up. Are you hurting?”

“All over,” I barley mumble but Ryan sharp ears hear me.

“You should. You have a couple broken ribs, a broken leg, a broken nose, a concussion and lots of bumps and bruises.”

“Was she caught?”

“She uh… she won’t hurt you anymore.”

I know he’s not telling me something but my head hurts so much I can’t think about it.

“What happened? I mean when everything went black?”

“She knocked you out with your garden spade. After that your neighbor scared her away. He heard you scream and called police. He had to stay on the phone to give them information otherwise he would have been out sooner to help. He’s been beating himself up over that. Anyway, you have been out for two days now. You had swelling of the brain and kept you in a coma until it started going down. I’m so relieved you’re finally awake. You’re going to be ok.”

I’m quiet, thinking about what Ryan told me happened.

“She was crazy,” I mumble.

“Delusional. Well, like I said, you don’t have to worry about her anymore.”

“I hope she rots in jail.”

While watching him, his eyes kind of cloud for a second before he clears them. He smiles at me, running his knuckles down my face.

“I can’t believe you’re here. I know it hasn’t been long, but I’ve missed you,” I say.

“Oh Sweetheart, I’ve missed you too. So much has happened in that short time we’ve been apart.”

A nurse comes in to check on me. Ryan lets go of my hand so he can move out of her way. She’s surprised to find me awake. She takes my vitals, says everything looks good but that I need to get more rest. She also tells me that the doctor will be in to see me in the morning. He will be able to tell me when I can go home. She puts something in my IV, tells me to sleep, gives Ryan an intense look and walks out of the room.

Ryan comes back to sit by me after the nurse leaves. He takes my hand in both of his, brings it up to his lips and kisses it.

“I’m so relieved you’re going to be ok. When you’re able to go home, I’ll feel much better. I’ve canceled the couple interviews I had so I’ll be staying here with you until I have to leave for London.”

“Really?” I ask, already feeling the effects of whatever the nurse put in my IV.

“Yes, really. Everyone has heard what’s happened to the girl I’ve been seeing, so they were very understanding. I might need your help going over my script with me. But I don’t see that being a problem. Honey, you look like you’re extremely tired. Go to sleep. Get better.”

“Rrryan,” I slur.

“Baby. Just go to sleep. You need to heal.”

“No, I should have told you out in Los Angeles, but was too scared.” My eyes drift shut and I fight to open them again. “I love you…” I whisper and I pass out.

The next time I open my eyes, the sun is shining in through the window in the hospital room. Ryan is gone, but my parents are here, quietly talking to each other.

“Hi guys,” I croak out.

“Olivia!” Mom rushes over to me and lightly hugs me. “Oh, I’ve been so worried about you. I don’t know what was wrong with that woman.”

“At least she won’t be bothering anyone again,” dad says. “How are you feeling, Baby Girl?”

“Better than I felt last night when I woke up. I guess that’s good.”

“Yes, that’s good. The doctor told us that most likely you’ll have to stay here again tonight, but might be able to go home tomorrow,” Dad informs me. “And I need to go tell the nurse that you’re awake. They want to check on you and then get you some breakfast. See if you can keep anything down.”

He’s out the door before I can say anything. On the table beside the door are a bunch of beautiful flowers.

“Who are all the flowers from?”

“The beautiful red roses, your favorite, are from Ryan. The daisy/rose bouquet is from the girls. This bouquet is from your father and me. That one is from that actress, Leslie Day and the rest Sarah said are from your work and clients. Oh, and the plant over there is from all your wonderful neighbors.”

“Wow. That was really nice of everyone.”

“They’re worried about you too,” mom says. “You look better today - more color in your cheeks.”

I smile at her. “Thanks for coming to be with me, Mom.”

“Of course we would be here. Nothing and no one was going to stop me from coming. I was so worried when Taylor called. Your dad had to stop me a couple time to tell me to breath. If only I could have been alone in a room with her.”

I laugh at her comment.

“Don’t laugh. I would and so would a lot of other people. Olivia, you have some really good friends. And a very special guy that really cares about you.”

“I know. Ryan’s great isn’t he?”

“Yes, he has been wonderful and supportive and doesn’t want to leave your side. In fact, I’m sure he’ll be here soon. He only left because we badgered him in going back to your house to take a shower and change clothes.”

“I love him, Mom. I know it’s so soon, but I can’t help it.”

“Honey, I don’t blame you. And I’m pretty positive that he loves you, too.”

The nurse and my dad comes back into the room. The nurse records my information and then brings me a breakfast tray and tells me to eat as much as I can and to let her know if I get nauseous.

I eat while mom and dad talk about things going on in their life. I think they’re busier now that they’re retired than when they were still working. I hope they are enjoying retirement. I am about half way through my breakfast when Ryan walks through the door. He pauses to look at me intently. He smiles and comes over to me.

“You’re awake!” He gives me a kiss on my cheek. “Hi, Beautiful. You look much better today.”

“Hi,” I reply, grabbing his hand. “I’m glad you’re here. I missed you.”

Still looking into my eyes, he runs his knuckles down my cheek bone to my jaw and chin. It sends a shiver throughout my body. I love it when he does that, makes me feel so special.

“I missed you, too,” he says. “What do you have for breakfast?”

“Eggs, toast, fruit and juice. But I’m full.”

“You should eat more, Honey. You’ve got to get your strength back,” mom says.

“I just can’t eat anymore. My stomach is too upset yet.”

“It’s ok, Sweetheart. Your appetite will come back,” dad replies. “Donna, let’s go get some coffee in the cafeteria. We’ll be back a little later.”

As soon as they leave, Ryan sits on the bed with me, staring intently at me.

“Sweetheart, please tell me again what you said last night before the medicine knocked you out,” he begs.

I smile. Good, I want to talk about that, too.

“I love you, Ryan.”

He closes his eyes for a few seconds then opens them and put his hands on either side of my face. “I love hearing those words come from you. Olivia, I love you, too.”

Thank God! My heart soars. Ryan leans in to kiss me. It’s very gentle and sweet.

“She’s supposed to be resting, not getting all worked up,” I hear Sarah say from the doorway.

Ryan pulls away and I can see both Sarah and Taylor standing there grinning at us.

“But then Ryan gets anybody all worked up. You should see how the nurses do anything Ryan asks,” Taylor says.

I smirk. It looks like they got to know Ryan much better over the past couple days, enough to feel comfortable teasing him.

“Hi Taylor, Sarah” Ryan says.

“How you doing, Sweetie?” Taylor asks me.

“Better today. I’m still waiting for the doctor to come in and check on me. Dad said the doctor was in earlier while I was still sleeping and told him that I would most likely have to stay tonight but if everything looked good, I might be able to go home tomorrow.”

“Yay! You’ll be more comfortable and will re-coop better at home,” Sarah says. “Oh, and don’t worry about work. They said you should take as much time as you need. We’re all pitching in to cover your accounts. We just told your clients that you had to take an emergency medical leave. Most of them have already heard what happened to you, though. I’m surprised everyone doesn’t know with all the reporters outside.”

“Yeah, I got flowers from a few clients. That was very nice of them.”

We are interrupted by a man at the door. I assume he’s the doctor since he’s in a white coat. He’s cute and I catch both Sarah and Taylor checking him out. He isn’t wearing a ring so they might be ok.

“Well, Miss Sterling. Good to see you awake. I’m Dr. Kyle Bruce,” he says as he enters the room. “You look much better today.”

“Feel better, too.”

“We’ll be back in a little bit,” Taylor says. She gestures to Sarah and Ryan.

Ryan’s still sitting on my bed, holding my hand. “Ryan, would you please stay with me?” I ask him, keeping a tight hold of him.

“Of course I will. But I will get out of Dr. Bruce’s way.” He gets up and moves to the window.

After looking at my chart, Dr. Bruce checks my ribs and leg and checks out my eyes. He says everything looks good. He wants me to stay at the hospital one more night to make sure there are no complications from the concussion. If there’s none, he will release me tomorrow. Before he leaves, Dr. Bruce gives Ryan some instructions about what to look for if problems arise once I am home.

Dr. Bruce leaves and Ryan comes back to sit on the bed with me.

“So, I guess I’m staying at your house with you? I wasn’t sure with your parents here.”

“Yes, please stay with me. Mom and Dad can deal with it.”

“How can I say no when you ask so nicely?” he teases and kisses me again.

There’s a knock on my door. Both Ryan and I look towards it and see Craig standing in the doorway. Ryan growls under his breath and curses. I squeeze his hand.

“Hi, Craig.”

“Hi,” he says apprehensively. “Sorry to bother you. But I heard about what happened to you and… well, I was already here so I…uh… just wanted to make sure you’re ok.”

“I’m going to be just fine. Thanks. Why were you already here?”

He looks down and seems almost sad. “Annabelle had a miscarriage.”

“Oh. I’m sorry Craig. Is Annabelle ok?”

“Yeah, she’s doing ok.” He pauses, uncomfortable with being here. “Well, I’ll leave you alone now. Hope you get better fast.” He smiles and lifts his hand in a small wave, turns and leaves.

I turn back to Ryan; he’s watching me.

“What?” I ask.

“No regrets of leaving him?”

I snort loudly, then wince from the pain in my ribs. “Ohmigod, Ryan! No! Do you not remember all the crap he put me through? How could I have any regrets over him when I have you?”

He leans over to hug me gently. “Good. Just checking.”

Laughing, I hug him back. “I love you, Ryan.”

“I will never tire of hearing you say that. I love you too, Olivia.”

The rest of the day passes quickly. Ryan stays with me all day while visitors come and go. That night I’m given more pain medication so I can sleep well. It totally knocks me out.

The next morning, Dr. Bruce says I can leave at eleven. I am ready to go. One of the hospital orderlies brings a wheel chair to my room and wheels me to the exit doors. Ryan drives me home. It’s super hard to get around with a broken leg and broken ribs. Ryan picks me up and carries me into the house. On the counter are more red roses.

“You got me more roses?” I ask Ryan.

“No, I didn’t,” Ryan replies as he sets me on my foot.

“These arrived about an hour ago,” mom says as she walks to me with something in her hand. “Here’s the card. It was sealed so I didn’t think I should open it.”

I take the card from mom.

Ryan picks me back up and take me to my bedroom, which is where I will be the most comfortable. He gets me settled in bed - TV remotes, cell phone and laptop all close to me so I can do whatever I want. I have a feeling I’m going to get bored extremely fast.

I still have the card from the flowers in my hand. On the outside, it said ‘for Olivia only’. Oddly, I have a creepy feeling about this. I look at Ryan. He’s watching me. He must see that I’m uneasy. He sits down on the side of the bed and rubs his hand up and down my thigh lightly, meaning to comfort me, I guess. I tear open the envelope and take out the card. The words are typed instead of hand written, which makes me even more uncomfortable. A feeling a dread surges through me.

Get well soon Olivia. You don’t need to worry about that crazy

bitch again. I took care of her – for you.”

Chills encase my body. All the hairs on my body feel like they are standing up. My breath catches, I start shaking and I gasp.

“What’s wrong, Olivia?” Ryan asks, concerned. “Are you hurting?”

I can’t answer him. I cannot get my thoughts out through my mouth.

“Olivia! Are you hurting?” Ryan exclaims. He moves to sit in front of me and grabs my face so he can look into my eyes.

I shake my head. I realize I so scared that I can’t answer Ryan. My hand shakes terribly as I make myself lift my arm to give him the flower card. He looks confusingly at me. But he releases me and takes the card. As soon as he reads the card, I see the confusion slide away and in its place is horror and anger.

“What…what…” I try to get out.

Ryan pulls me so I’m sitting up and then pulls me into his arms.

“It’s ok, Olivia. You’re ok. I’m here.”

“What does he mean that he took care of her,” I finally whisper.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

“Ryan.” I pull back and wait until he looks at me. “Please tell me what’s going on?” I plead. “What happened to that woman? My stalker?”

He grimaces. I know he doesn’t want to tell me what happened to her, but I don’t think he really wants to lie to me either. He gives me an exasperated look and sighs.

“I didn’t want to tell you this yet. It’s too soon. I don’t want you to be afraid.” He stops and sighs again. “You assumed the police caught the woman and that they have her in jail and we…, I, let you believe that. But the truth is the police found her back in the trees behind your house a little ways. She was already dead when they found her.”

I shake my head back and forth - confused.

“She…she’s dead? She killed herself?” I ask. I’m so confused why Ryan wouldn’t want me to know that. What difference does that make?

Ryan looks down at our joined hands. “No, baby,” he whispers. “She didn’t kill herself.”

Then all the pieces of the puzzle fit for me. I look at the card from the flowers and know exactly what happened.

“She wasn’t my real stalker,” I say.

“Well, she was your stalker, or one of them.” Ryan shakes his head.

“He killed her,” I whisper. Then I hold up the card. “This person killed her.”

“Yes, it seems that way.” He sighs, “I need to call the detective in charge of the case and tell him about this card.”

While Ryan calls, I think about the woman and this other person that is now my stalker, too. I guess he was before too but I just didn’t know it. That woman deserved to be caught and punished for what she did to me. Some small part of me is relieved that I won’t have to deal with her any more, but she didn’t deserve to die. I wonder how she died. Did she suffer? Or did it happen fast?

In my mind, this other person has to be a guy. I suppose that in a crazy obsessive way he thought he was protecting me by killing her. That is unnerving. To what extent would he try to protect me? Now I have a whole new person to worry about. But I have no clue who it is. It could be anyone. I might pass him on the street and not even know it. How the hell am I supposed to be safe?

I shudder. Ryan rubs my back when he feels me shiver.

Ohmigod. What am I going to do? How am I going to live? How can I function knowing someone is probably watching me?

Ryan gets off the phone and tells me the detective is on his way over. He wants the card and envelope to test for prints and DNA.

“How did she die?” I ask Ryan.

“Bloody hell, Olivia. You do not want to know the details.”

“Yes, I do. Please tell me? I need to know what kind of person I’m dealing with now.”

He growls and scrubs his hands over his face. “Don’t you want to get better? Aren’t you hurting enough? You want to add being terrified to everything else you’re dealing with?”

“I already am terrified. But you are here to protect me. I know I’m safe with you here. Please tell me.”

I’m afraid he’s not going to answer me. He been quiet for so long.

“She was stabbed fifteen times. Carved in her back were the words ‘DIE BITCH’.”

I have tremors now. Ryan tightens his hold on me. Holy shit! What kind of psycho is this? And what does he want from me?

“Did she die right away or did she suffer before she died?”

“Jesus, Olivia.” He whispers disapproving.

I wait for him to answer. I think I know what he’s going to say.

“They didn’t find her until the morning after your attack. Police said she didn’t die right away. She suffered.”

Tears trickle down my face.

“She didn’t deserve to die that way.”

“No one deserves to die that way, Love.”

We sit there quiet for a while in silence. I find myself feeling sorry for this woman, which is so stupid. She hurt me; she tried to kill me. But to have suffered so much before she died is inhumane.

The doorbell interrupts my sorrowful thoughts. A little bit later, dad brings the detective back to my bedroom. He takes the card and envelope, hoping that there are fingerprints or DNA on the saliva from the envelope. The detective tells us that the woman’s name was Lauren Haase. She was 28, from Las Vegas. She had stalked other women before. She would get obsessed with someone; she would convince herself that the guy she was obsessed with was hers. When she felt threatened, she started stalking whatever woman she felt was a threat. She had never gotten this involved before, especially enough to leave Las Vegas and follow someone to the middle of the country.

They found a sister in San Francisco who was coming to identify her and take her home to be buried. The sister said Lauren was supposed to be on medication to help her.

Ryan walks the detective out and comes back with some cheese and crackers that he tells me I’m supposed to try to eat a little. I feel like I’ll throw up if I try to eat anything right now. Ryan sits down on the bed beside me. I look at him and sigh.

“So, I have another stalker.”

He puts an arm around me and pulls me to his side.

“Don’t you even worry about that now. I’m here. I’m going take care of you. And when I leave, I’m going to hire a body guard.”

“No, no body guard. I don’t need another person following me around – whether he’s paid to or not.”

Ryan kisses the top of my head.

“You liked Jeremy, didn’t you? This body guard would be like him. My love, I can’t have anything else happen to you. I just found you.”

I get choked up by his statement. It’s so wonderful to have someone tell me this. It makes me feel so cherished. This was what was completely missing from my marriage with Craig.

“We’ll… we’ll talk about it later.”

In order to get my mind off of the picture I’m seeing in my head of the woman with stab wounds all over, I turn on the TV, trying to find some romantic or funny movie. As I flip through the channels, I glance over at Ryan. He’s watching me.

“What?” I ask. He has a silly grin on this face. He must be amused by my bruises. “Oh, I must look hideous. Right? Black eyes and all? I didn’t have anything to try to cover it up with at the hospital.”

“Sweetheart, you look beautiful. Naturally beautiful even with the bruises,” he replies. “Even with all this going on, I have this overwhelming feeling right now. I am content. I haven’t felt content for a long time. I’m happy knowing that you’re ok and will heal without many scars. And I’m ecstatic because you told me that you love me, too.”

“I do love you, so much, Ryan. We really are perfect for each other.”

“I never expected to find the love of my life this early on. I was prepared to wait a long time for you. And now I don’t have to wait. I’ve heard of love at first sight, but this about knocked me off me feet,” he tells me.

I think he’s trying to take my mind off the woman. And I’m ok with his distraction. I love hearing what he felt when we first met. Plus, I always get emotional when he talks like this. He grins as he wipes my tears away and continues talking.

“When you bumped into me that first night, it almost felt like an electric shock zipped through me. It was weird. I didn’t know what had happened. And I couldn’t stop thinking about you. Wondering how I could find you again. Then the next morning, in the elevator, I was still thinking about you when the doors opened. There you stood, all pissed off until you saw me. My heart started beating like crazy and for no reason other than just being near you. Then it was my luck again when I saw you out shopping later that day, I knew that fate was putting us together. I went with it and now I’m so glad I did.”

“I’m glad you did, too, because I would never have had the courage to come up and talk with you. I had some of the same reactions to you. I’m surprised you couldn’t hear my heart pounding sometimes.”

“We have to figure out where we go from here,” Ryan says. “I know where I want it to go.”

What? He wants to talk about our future. Can we just stay in this happy bubble we have right now?

“Ryan. I’m terrified of our relationship failing – and I hate Craig for that.”

“Sweetheart, you know that what we have is extremely different from what you had with Craig. There’s no comparison, right?”

“It is completely different. But I’m still scared.”

“I understand you’re scared and I know exactly where that comes from. You have every right to feel that way. But we have something so special. Something most people don’t ever feel in their lifetimes. And you having to go through all this crap with the stalkers makes me realize that I can’t just go on without you knowing how much you mean to me and have us at least thinking about our future.”

“I know…,” I choke out, more tears escaping down my cheeks.

“Baby, don’t cry.”

“They’re happy tears,” I smile.

That night I ask Ryan to sleep with me in my bed. He’s hesitant at first because of my parents. But when I admit that I’m scared to be by myself, he immediately agrees. Ryan slips his arms around me, protecting me, as much as he can without hurting me.

“I love you, Olivia. Sleep well. Sweet dreams, my love,” he whispers in my ear.

Time flies by. My parents go back to Arizona a week after I was released from the hospital. I have to go back to see the doctor a few times. I get a walking cast instead of having to use crutches. Much easier to get around. Except for my broken leg and ribs that would take more time to heal, everything else was back to normal. I go back to work but always come home right away to be with Ryan.

I hear nothing from my unknown stalker since the roses he sent when I first got home from the hospital. I start to relax but am still cautious, wondering when he will surface again.

Ryan tries to keep me entertained and busy. I help him rehearse his lines. He jokingly tells me that I shouldn’t quit my day job. Too soon he must leave to start filming in London. I am dreading that day. I have gotten so used to him being around for me and don’t want him to leave. I am scared to be by myself, but I also don’t want a bodyguard. I’ve won that little argument and no bodyguard will be hired.

So, I keep my worries to myself because there is no need for Ryan to feel guilty about leaving or for him to bring up the bodyguard again. I suck it up and put on a brave face for him. Even when he asks if I have any apprehension about him leaving, I pass it off like it’s nothing.

Taylor and Sarah aren’t as easily deceived. They know I’m getting depressed about Ryan leaving. They also know I’m still terrified from the whole stalker situation – both of them. Petrified that this unknown person will come back for me.

The day before Ryan leaves for London, I am completely downhearted, but still trying to hide it. I find my heart racing one minute and on verge of tears the next minute. I am constantly taking long, deep breaths to calm down. Ryan catches me doing this a few times, gives me funny looks, but doesn’t say anything. Maybe he’s feeling the same way.

We’ve been sitting on the couch watching whatever was on TV. I honestly haven’t been paying attention. I’m lost in my own pity, mourning Ryan leaving and panicking about the stalker. Ryan turns off the TV, picks me up and carries me toward the bedroom.

“What are you doing?” I ask, smiling a little.

“We’re both so depressed about me leaving tomorrow. I’m going to take both our minds off the dreaded event.”

Being careful of my walking cast, Ryan places me on the bed. I sit up to watch him. He steps to the windows to pull close the drapes. Then he lights some candles and turns on music. He comes back to the bed and sits down next to me, locking eyes with me.

“I love you so much, Olivia.” He kisses me gently, like I’ll break. Actually, I feel like I’m going to shatter into a million pieces but not from him being too rough with me. Just the opposite. If he doesn’t touch me I might explode. He’s been extremely cautious and gentle since the hospital.

“I love you, too, Ryan. But please don’t treat me as if I’m breakable,” I beg. “Not tonight. I’m better except for my leg. Make love to me that will last for the all weeks that you’ll be gone.”

He groans. I bring his mouth back to mine, bite his lip gently and dragging him into a kiss. Ryan grabs me and gently pushes me back on the bed, still being cautious of my ribs.

Yes. Halleluiah! About damn time.

His hands travel all over my body. Every spot he touches seems to light up and come alive. He grabs the bottom of my t-shirt, pulls it over my head, tossing it aside. His searing touch feel as though he’s leaving marks as he traces his fingers around the bra on my chest.

I try to peel off his shirt, but Ryan has to help and throws it on the floor also. I run my hands all over his well defined pectorals. He found a gym close by and has been working out every day while I’m at work. He needs to keep in shape for the movie and I’m ecstatic to be able to reap the benefits of his hard work.

Ryan’s hands are all over me, stopping first at my beasts, toying, massaging and teasingly pinching through my bra. Then his hands move down to my shorts. He unzips and gently starts pulling them down my leg, gets them over my cast and completely off me.

He kisses his way back up my body, my knee, my outer and inner thigh, my underwear right between my legs, my stomach. When he gets back to my bra, Ryan unhooks it and gets rid of it. His kisses continue on my breasts. My nipples become so hard and stand erect for him. He takes one in his mouth and sucks.

“Oh God. Ryan!” I call out.

He kisses his way to the other breast and does the same thing. Sucking and biting, hurting a little, but seducing me even more. Eventually, he comes back to kiss my mouth. His hand moves down and covers me and gently caresses. Pleasure shoots through me as I move into his palm.

“Sweetheart, you’re so wet for me,” Ryan whispers in my ear. He grabs my right hand and moves it down to his erection. “Feel how hard you make me.”

“I want you inside me Ryan,” I moan, grabbing the band of his boxer-briefs and push them down. Ryan quickly takes them off and smoothly removes my underwear.

“Shit!” he curses under his breath. “I don’t have a condom. I really didn’t think about it since you were hurt.”

“Shh. It’s ok. I’m anal about taking my birth control.”

Ryan lets out a sigh of relief and kisses me. “Oh, thank God.”

He shifts his weight on top of me and pauses just before he enters, my desire growing. His eyes capture mine and I can’t turn away from him - as if I would ever want to.

“Olivia, I love you. You are mine now,” he says as he pushes inside of me.

I want to tell him that I love him and I’m totally his, but my world explodes, again. Every time we make love, it’s just like it is the first time. How can that be? I hope it never stops being like this. He starts pumping inside me. With the wonderful friction we cause, you would think the bed would catch on fire. He keeps whispering things to me as we make love; I love you, I’m going to miss you so much, Olivia you’re perfect for me. I feel so cherished, but I’m so emotional I can’t say anything. A few tears escape because I feel so loved.

“Don’t cry, Sweetheart. Everything will be fine. We will be ok,” he says. “My god, you feel so good.”

He starts pumping harder.

“Come for me, love,” Ryan grumbles.

I call out and explode. My vision blurs; I think I see stars. He slows the rhythm down again, slowly pushing in and pulling out. I can’t stand it. But that doesn’t last long. He speeds up again, makes me come once more before he goes over the edge himself and comes inside me. He collapses next to me, being thoughtful of my ribs.

“We can stay like this all night as far as I’m concerned,” I say.

“Yeah, I can handle that.”

While waiting for my breathing to calm down, I’m quiet thinking of him leaving tomorrow. He must have heard me catch my breath, because he lifts his head to look at me. He must have seen the tears in my eyes or the sadness on my face.

“Oh, Sweetheart, don’t.” He gathers me in his arms. “I promise we’ll be ok. I’m only going to be gone for a few weeks.”

“How am I going to get through them without you here with me?” I cry.

“You just have to be tough and think about when I return. I can’t believe you waited until tonight to break down on me. Let’s not think about that now. We have all night together.”

We talk and make love all night. I know I’ll feel horrible tomorrow, but I figure I will feel horrible anyway so why not stay up all night.

Then the dreaded morning dawns. Ryan gets up to take a shower. I’m doing alright at first. Then I start thinking about what it will be like without him here and just how long it’s going to be before I see him again. That’s when the dam breaks and I bawl hysterically. I hear Ryan turn off the shower and try to calm myself and stop crying. He comes out of the bathroom, takes one look at me and rushes right over to me, putting his arms around me. I start bawling again.

“Olivia, what’s wrong?”

“N…nothing” I sniff.

“Please tell me what’s wrong. This can’t be just because I’m leaving, is it?”

I tried my best not to put all this on him. Part of it is him leaving, the other part is because I’m terrified to be by myself again.

“Really, it’s nothing. I’ll be fine. You need to get ready.”

“Sweetheart, you know you can tell me anything, right? I want to know what is bothering you so much. I want you to be open and honest to me. Are you still terrified of the other stalker?”

I can’t get any words out so I just nod my head.

“Oh, Honey. That’s right. Let it all out; you’ll feel better. We haven’t heard anything from this other stalker, if we should even call him or her that, for the four weeks you’ve been out of the hospital. Why did you wait until today to fall apart on me? I could have been helping this whole time. Now I have to leave and can’t do anything.”

“I didn’t want you to know at all,” I squeak out. “You need to concentrate on your acting. Promise me that you won’t worry about me.”

“No. I won’t promise that. But when I call you and ask how you’re doing, you’d better tell me the truth. If you’re scared silly being by yourself, tell me. I don’t want any secrets, no matter how well intended they are. I don’t care if they are trivial, I don’t want anything to come between us. Got it?”

“Ok.”

Ryan glances at his watch.

“Shit. I’ve got to get going otherwise I’ll miss my plane. Will you please promise me that you will talk to your parents or Taylor or Sarah about this? Get help. I don’t want you being so stressed out about this anymore. I swear I’ll hire you a bodyguard if you don’t do something about it.”

“No, no bodyguard. I’ll talk to someone.”

“I love you, Olivia, with all my heart. I will miss you so much. Maybe you can come over for a visit while I’m there.”

“I could do that.” At least that will give me something to look forward to. “I’ll have to see when I am free and able to come.” Suddenly, I’m feeling better. The prospect of going to London to be with him in a few weeks lifts my spirits.

Ryan leaves for the airport, promising me that he’ll call whenever he arrives, even if it’s the middle of the night for me.

I’ll probably obsess about my trip now, but at least I’m not crying anymore. Who knew that Ryan would come to mean so much to me in such a short amount of time?

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