The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 14 - Cameron (Part 1)

She was coming around. He could tell. She was hesitant, but it seemed as though his words were getting through to her.

He reached out, wanting to touch her. Wanting to reassure her that his intentions were true but the table between them wouldn’t allow it.

Chewing on her bottom lip, she stared at his outstretched hand. Her heart thundered as anxiety seeped from her pores. She gathered air into her lungs before letting it out slowly.

Leaning forward, she took his hand and flinched at the electricity sparking between them. He entwined his fingers with hers and brushed his thumb over her knuckles to soothe the foreign, but delightful, sparks.

He couldn’t wipe the shit-eating grin from his face. “So, you’ll give me a second chance?”

The rush of blood to her cheeks squeezed his heart. She nodded, her eyes dancing around them before she found the courage to meet his own. “Yeah.”

“It will be different this time, I promise,” he assured her and smirked. “I mean, I don’t even remember what happened before but I’m pretty sure I won’t repeat the same mistake again. I’ve told people about you already, so if I lost my memory a second time, they would know to tell me about you.”

“Yeah? Like who?”

“Sam, my family, and my boss. I have to return to work on Monday but hopefully, I can see you again next weekend?”

She withdrew, putting her hands in her lap. “We’ll see.”

A deep longing for the current of energy that hummed under their fingertips spread through him. He reminded himself to relax and play it cool. The bond was overwhelming her and she did not fully understand why.

He decided to change the topic and hoped it would lighten the rather tense atmosphere. “So, tell me about yourself. I already told you a lot about me in the letter, but I don’t know anything about you aside from the fact that you’re a strong, brave, and tenacious woman; a Realtor, the mother of my child, and my soulmate.”

A shyness fell over her. “What is there to say?”

“Well, how about you tell me about your family? Your childhood? Your past leading up to today? Whatever you’d like.”

Her cheeks pinched in a smile, her gaze dancing around them. “Not much to say. My mom is great. My dad has been missing in action since I was a kid. I have an older sister who’s been living and teaching English in Japan for about ten years.”

“Wow.” His mind kick-started with this new information. She had endured a lot. To keep things on a positive note, he opted to avoid the topic of her absent father, which was probably another reason why she struggled to trust him. “That sounds cool about your sister. You ever been to Japan?”

She shrugged. “Once, about a year before we met. My sister married a Japanese guy she met there. She comes to visit us for Christmas with her husband and two kids—a boy and a girl. They’re adorable, but very shy and I don’t know more than a dozen words or phrases of Japanese, so it can be a bit awkward. They can speak English pretty good for a two and five-year-old, but it’s very hard to get them to open up. They cling to my sister and her husband too much. They’re good with Chloe for quiet, creative activities. It would be nice to see them more so Chloe could bond with her cousins.”

He frowned. “Does she have trouble making friends?”

Olivia shook her head. “No, no. I think I’m too protective of her and don’t let her out of my sight enough to introduce her to new people and activities. It’s hard, you know? I’m busy a lot and I take her with me as much as I can so she can get out and experience new things.”

He tilted his head. “You realize you just contradicted yourself?”

She stared at him. “Huh?”

He leaned forward. “You said you didn’t think you introduced her to enough new people and activities, and then you turned around and said you take her everywhere so she can get out and experience new things.”

Humming, she lowered her gaze. “Hm. I guess I did say that, huh?”

“Want to know what I think?”

Averting her gaze, she pressed her lips together and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “What?”

“I think, you love her a lot but you’re scared of losing her. And that’s my fault because you think I abandoned you. So you’re clinging to her because I let you—both of you—down.” He reached out across the table to take her hand again. “But I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere.”

She didn’t take his hand this time but instead hung her head. “I know. And it’s not your fault. I can’t…” She heaved a sigh, raking her fingers through her auburn tresses. “I can’t keep blaming you for something that was out of your control. You didn’t mean for it to happen. It was an accident.”

Easing back in his chair, he nodded, hope filling him. “Right.”

She chewed on her bottom lip as she stared off in the distance. Her thoughts seemed to be swirling as silence descended upon them for a few minutes.

“Penny for your thoughts?” he asked.

She sighed, glancing at him and then away again. “Where to go from here?”

“Anywhere you want to go,” he replied, although he knew that wasn’t what she meant.

She shook her head, confirming his assumptions. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” He was trying to get her to dig through the roots of her thoughts and bring them to the surface. He needed to uproot the lies her doubts and fears created and burn them before replacing them with the flowers of truth.

She huffed. “I don’t want to talk about it here.”

“Why not?”

Her eyes shifted around them, taking in the couples that now sat around them at identical tables. “It’s too personal.”

“Alright. Maybe next time?”

“Maybe.”

The corners of his lips quirked up. He couldn’t help it. She was like a kid, uncertain about how to do something important and afraid that one misstep would destroy it all. “I’m all ears, whenever you want to talk about it. Even if it’s on the phone. Better to talk through it than to keep pushing it aside.”

Her gaze fell again. “I know. I… I want to do what’s best. What’s right.”

He nodded in understanding. “Well, I’m here and I want to work through this rough patch with you because I believe it will be worth it in the end. I mean, look at me. How many times have I fucked up with you now? I still haven’t given up. You have to trust yourself enough to take risks and see what unfolds.”

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