The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 8 - Olivia (Part 2)

Her open houses the next day were a success and on Monday and Tuesday, she was caught in the middle of bidding wars for two of the properties while a third one was quickly settled. A new client reached out to her and was hoping to sell in a few weeks as well.

Her work and family-life ate up her time as the week progressed.

Cameron messaged her early every morning, asking to meet up with her for coffee or lunch. Even offered to bring coffee or lunch to her but she ignored him.

When Thursday came, it was calmer. Friday, she knew she’d have to prep for open houses on the weekend, so she allowed herself a breather on Thursday. Taking Chloe to a nearby waterpark spelled fun and quality time together before Chloe started school in the fall.

Chloe splashed around the pool in a pink life-jacket, doggy-paddling around her mother, hanging off of Olivia’s back, and climbing out of the pool to slide down the two-foot-tall slide and into Olivia’s waiting arms. When she got tired of swimming, Chloe pointed to the splash pad a few yards away and asked to go play over there.

They stepped out of the pool and grabbed their towels sitting on the ground nearby. Olivia unbuckled and removed the life-jacket before offering Chloe her towel, but Chloe shook her head and scampered off. Olivia called after her, reminding her not to run across the pavement as she ambled after her with her towel tied around her waist.

A chuckle next to her caught her attention and she made eye contact with an attractive blond man standing ten yards away, watching over his kid somewhere on the splash pad.

She ducked her head and turned her attention back to Chloe. A bench under a tree at the edge of the splash pad became free so she meandered over with their stuff and sat down.

Goosebumps rose on her arms as the man followed her.

“She’s a cute one.”

Olivia hummed in response as she rubbed her arms to smooth the crawling of her skin.

He eyed her in her black tankini with a crooked grin. “I don’t see a wedding band. You single?”

She gaped at his forwardness but before she could reply, there was a growl behind her.

“She’s taken.”

Her heart jumped in her throat as Cameron appeared and plopped himself on the bench next to her. He draped an arm around the back of the bench behind her and glared at the man. The coward retreated without a second glance. She turned on Cameron as he continued to stare the man down.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded in a hushed tone.

“No matter what I say, you won’t like it,” he grumbled before turning to her.

She shrank away from the hurt that splayed out on his face.

“Why haven’t you responded to my texts? I’ve been waiting…” He trailed off, swallowing. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down with effort.

She looked away, watching Chloe laugh as she danced around the sprinklers. Deep breath in and out. “I told you. I can’t. I can’t see you and I can’t be with you.”

A tightness in her chest constricted with those words.

She had to resist. She had to be strong. For Chloe.

Damn, he’s so fucking hot!

Silence hovered in the stillness between them broken only by the laughing and screaming children in the waterpark. She focused on her breathing. His closeness made her heart race.

He didn’t move. Didn’t come any closer, nor touch her, and he didn’t pull his arm away from the back of her bench.

Finally, he broke the silence with a simple, “Why not? You said you would consider it.”

Didn’t he get it? He left her.

“Because of her.” She held herself firmly, her eyes watching Chloe playing. “You’re fire, Cameron. And I can’t get burned again.”

“Whatever happened five years ago won’t happen again. I promise you.”

Actions speak louder than words. “Your promise is meaningless and I can’t have people like you around her.”

Or me.

Olivia had to set the example for Chloe. Had to show Chloe how to be strong, how to spot bad men from the good and not get herself involved with the former.

“I’m proud of you,” he said, catching her off guard.

She gaped at him but his eyes were watching Chloe.

He continued his train of thought. “It kills me to know how much I hurt you and how much you hate me. I don’t blame you. I really fucked up. But I am very proud of you. I mean, look at you.” He tore his eyes away from Chloe and looked into her eyes, baring his heart and soul to her. “I destroyed your life, and yet, you managed to get yourself together. You gave birth and raised a perfect, well-adjusted, little girl, maintained your career, and refuse to let risky guys come near her. How can I not be proud of you?”

She couldn’t tear her eyes away from his. Emotion swirled within her, wrapping tightly around her chest and knotting in her stomach. She felt drawn to him again, the way his eyes had always pulled her toward him and she couldn’t bring herself to look away.

“I told you,” he said, “I was in an accident, in a coma, and lost part of my memory. I lost you. I didn’t know you existed and I didn’t get the chance to tell anyone about you either. I wish I could go back and change everything but I can’t. I’m here with you now, though, asking for you to give me another chance because if you say no…”

He tore his eyes away and gazed out at Chloe again. Deep grooves cut across his furrowed forehead. He closed his eyes, brows pinching together, and heaved a heavy breath.

“It’s because of her that I can’t take any chances.” Her voice was faint.

“I know. I don’t like it, but I respect it.”

“And… I understand that you couldn’t help what happened with the accident, but…” she hesitated, “I… It’s not easy for me to forget what happened and move on. I…” She trailed off, brushing her fingers through her wet hair.

“I understand.”

“You really hurt me.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Why did you leave?” she asked, even though she knew the answer.

“You know I don’t remember.”

She sighed. “Yeah.”

Leaning back, she tilted her head up and looked at the branches of the tree extending over her head and the cracks of light seeping through between the leaves. Shivers danced up her nape as she leaned against his arm, but didn’t pull away.

“You left a note,” she said.

“I did?” There was a hint of hope in his voice.

She hummed in affirmation. “You said something urgent came up and had to run but wanted to meet with me again later. You ordered me breakfast and left me a phone number to call but you never returned my calls. And you never showed up. I was confused. And hurt.”

I thought you were the one.

Tilting her head back down, she set her eyes back on the little girl she treasured more than anything.

As painful as that entire experience had been, she couldn’t bring herself to regret it because she had Chloe because of it. She would cherish that little girl every day of her life.

As true as those thoughts were, she didn’t dare tell him that.

“So, how can I expose her to someone who ran out on me after a one-night stand?” she asked.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a one-night stand, but an every night occurrence for the rest of our lives.”

She huffed, thinking that she caught him now. “How do you know? You said you don’t remember?”

“Because I know me. And the hotel records said I booked that room for a second night. And like you said, I ordered breakfast for you. I left you a note and my number. I fully intended on coming back to you as soon as I could’ve.” He leaned in. “And the way I feel around you, I would’ve made damn sure I repeated that night over and over. I’d never stop because I’d never be able to stop.”

Her breath hitched in her throat.

Flickers of memories from that night flashed before her. Her body alight under his touch. His mouth exploring every inch of her. The sensation of him between her legs. Thick. Throbbing. Thrusting.

“How many times did you come that night?” he asked, his voice low and raspy.

His hand was on her thigh and she smacked it away. Heat rushed to the surface of her skin as she tried to shake away the fragmented memories and squeezed her legs together to cut off the moisture building between them.

“None of your business,” she snapped.

“No? I think I have a right to know since I was there and don’t remember.”

The look in his eyes was challenging and lustful.

He wanted to play? Fine. She was game. “It was satisfactory. Could’ve been longer. I’ve had bigger.”

He chuckled. “I highly doubt that. Besides, that’s not what I asked.” He leaned closer and lowered his voice. “If you give me a chance, I don’t think you’ll be able to walk the next morning. I could go all night.”

She swallowed, her mouth going dry as more memories crashed over her before she pulled herself together with her next comeback. “Well, that’s more than I can say about your performance that night.”

She stood up to call Chloe over and get the hell out of there, but he had other plans.

“Have you had sex since?”

She scoffed at him. “No.” Then immediately clamped her mouth shut.

He didn’t need to know that.

His smirk broadened.

Crap.

Grabbing her stuff, she turned away and hollered at Chloe.

Chloe ran over, dripping wet and Olivia reached for her hand to pull her away from Cameron when Chloe looked behind Olivia with a bright smile on her face.

“Hi.”

“Time to go, Chloe,” Olivia said firmly, but the girl stood rooted to the spot and stared up at Cameron.

Olivia stared on in horror as Cameron got down on one knee before her daughter and smiled right back. “Hi, Chloe. I’m Cameron. I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you.”

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