The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 15 - Olivia (Part 2)

The living room was at the front of the house with the kitchen in the back. She was greeted by Chloe lying on the floor with a big fluffy stuffed bear that stayed at her mother’s house for Chloe to cuddle anytime she was over. A bowl of popcorn was next to her as she watched a Disney movie on the large flatscreen.

Chloe looked up and grinned. “Mommy, you look nice.”

“Thank you, sweetie,” she got down on her knees to kiss her daughter’s head.

“How was your date?” Chloe asked before giggling and half hiding behind the head of her bear.

“It wasn’t a date, sweetie. Just a meeting.”

“But you always wear suits to meetings.”

“This was a different kind of meeting,” she said and quickly changed the subject as she glanced at the TV. “What are you watching?”

Chloe bounced on the stuffed bear. “Fox and the Hound.”

“Oh wow, that’s an old one, even older than me.”

“Really?” Chloe’s eyes were as large as saucers.

“Yeah, but Grandma is even older,” Olivia teased, the knots unwinding slightly within. “She’s even older than the hound’s mean owner.”

She couldn’t remember the names of the characters in the movie—it had been years since she watched it.

“Are you comparing me to that grouchy old man?” Olivia’s mother jeered from the corner of the wall that separated the kitchen from the living room.

“Of course not! I would never do such a thing,” Olivia replied in a playful tone. She kissed Chloe’s forehead before getting up and joining her mother the kitchen. “We both know you’re the wicked witch of the west, anyway.”

Her mother snorted as she went to the counter loaded up with drying dishes and picked up a plate to dry with a towel. “Very funny. So, how was your date?”

“It wasn’t a date, Mom. Just a meeting.”

Her mother looked over her shoulder and gave Olivia a once over and hummed, as if to say, Sure it wasn’t. “That’s not what you called it in your text.”

Olivia grimaced. “Oh crap. I did say that, didn’t I?”

Her mother hummed obnoxiously in affirmation. “You didn’t by chance meet with Chloe’s father, did you?”

Olivia’s mouth fell off its hinges and it took her a moment to snap it shut. How did she know?

Her mother didn’t miss it and let out another exaggerated hum as she continued to dry dishes. “Chloe had a lot to say today. She told me how she met her father last week at the water park and that he sent you both roses. She wasn’t sure if you were meeting him or not, but she thought—and hoped—that you were.”

Guilt gnawed away at her. That child of hers was too smart for her own good. “Um, yeah.”

Her mother set her towel down on the counter with a sigh. “Olivia, are you sure about this? He knocked you up and abandoned you. He’s worse than your father.”

Concern was written all over her face but her words rubbed Olivia the wrong way.

“He’s not like Dad,” Olivia retorted. Before her mother could get another word in, she added, “And what I didn’t know at the time was that he almost died in an accident and was in a coma for five weeks and woke up with amnesia. He had no memory of me or the previous four years and he didn’t get a chance to tell anyone about me.”

Her mother narrowed her eyes. “Is that what he told you?”

“Yes.”

“And you believe him?”

There it was, the part that Olivia struggled with since he found her. The part that she couldn’t answer with certainty because she was afraid to give him the benefit of doubt and trust him. She tried to weigh her reasons why she should and shouldn’t. She had the picture as proof along with the scar that peeked out of his hair on his forehead that he didn’t have five years ago. He argued his case repeatedly and his story hadn’t changed.

More importantly, he wouldn’t keep trying if he wasn’t interested.

“See?” her mother said when she took too long to respond. “I rest my case.”

Olivia scowled. “It’s not like that, Mom. He explained everything to me and gave me a picture of him after the accident. He even has a scar that he didn’t have before.”

Her mother crossed her arms over her chest and raised her brows. “How do you know this didn’t happen last year or a couple of years ago for that matter?”

Now it was Olivia’s turn to cross her arms over her chest. “Really, Mom? That’s the best you can come up with?”

“Hey, don’t give me that attitude when I’m pointing out possible lies and holes in his story. I’m trying to protect you from making another mistake that you can’t afford to make. You have Chloe to think about.”

Anger bubbled up. “Don’t you think I’m aware of that? That’s exactly why I arranged a meeting with him. I don’t know the whole story. I do put Chloe’s needs before my own. I won’t make the same mistake twice, but this time I’m trying—I’m really trying to do what’s best for me and Chloe. He’s her father. And whether you like it or not, if he wants to see her, I want to give him that right, but I won’t if I think he’s going to hurt her in any way.”

Her mother’s hardened eyes tore away from hers and lowered to Olivia’s side and softened. Following her gaze, Olivia’s skin began to crawl with the thought of Chloe overhearing their argument. To her horror, she found her daughter peeking around the corner of the wall separating the living room and kitchen. Seeing that she had been spotted, she disappeared and Olivia hurried after her.

Entering the living room, Olivia found Chloe clinging to the over-sized teddy bear and pretending to watch the movie.

Her shoulders slumped as she eased down to the floor next to her and brushed her hair from her face. “Sweetie?”

Chloe whined like a puppy and buried her face in the bear.

Olivia’s heart hurt. “Oh, Chloe,” she whispered, prying the bear from her daughter and pulling her into her arms. “Grandma is just worried about you and Mommy. That’s all.”

She buried her face in the crook of Olivia’s neck and sniffled. “Is my daddy a bad man?”

“No, sweetie. He was lost for a few years. Mommy is making sure he’s okay before you can see him again.”

“Is he okay?”

“Mommy is going to check again tomorrow.”

Chloe whimpered again. “I want to see him.”

Olivia’s heart squeezed. “Okay, sweetie. We will see him together soon.”

Dammit. She hoped Cameron was genuine. So help her god, if he fucked up with Chloe, she’d never forgive him and he’d never be allowed near her again.

Olivia couldn’t believe she was defending Cameron but her mother was wrong. Cameron wasn’t like her father. If he wanted to abandon them, he would have never sought them out. She wouldn’t be seeing him now and trying to give him another chance. He wouldn’t say the things he said, call her his soulmate, ask about Chloe, and look absolutely dejected at the thought of all the time he lost that he could have spent with them.

Her father never said things like that. He never even asked Olivia to come visit, meet his new wife and family, or see Chloe.

Olivia may have made the mistake of sleeping with a man she barely knew five years ago, but if he was a good and decent human being who wanted to be a part of Chloe’s life, how could she deny him that? How was that fair to Chloe? If Olivia’s father had shown even half the interest that Cameron showed, Olivia would have gone to visit him if he asked.

But he didn’t.

Her mother shouldn’t treat Cameron with the same attitude she held for her ex-husband. Their situations were different. Cameron was a different person. He didn’t intend to lose his memories. He didn’t purposely leave them for someone else.

Olivia needed to remind herself that.

Cameron wasn’t her father.

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