The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 17 - Olivia (Part 1)

Not sure how long her meeting with Cameron would be, Olivia told her mother not to set a place for her at the table if she didn’t text her by five-thirty. She didn’t expect to receive approval, and as long as she didn’t say anything in front of Chloe, there would be no heated words exchanged between them.

Her mother was allowed to worry, but at the same time, she needed to trust Olivia with her choices and not shovel Cameron into the dung heap with the other scumbags of society. She hadn’t even met him yet.

Olivia also refused to reveal to anyone that she was actually excited about this meeting with Cameron. An anxious-excited, but excited nonetheless.

Knowing that parking was always an issue downtown, she opted to leave her car in the visitor parking lot of the apartment complex and walk the few blocks to the Italian cafe after switching out of her black heels and opting for cute black flats instead.

The sky was gray and threatened to rain, but it wasn’t enough to dampen her spirits. She knew this would be the last time she’d get to see Cameron until next weekend. The very idea of not seeing him again until then made her realize the impact he had made on her in the last two weeks, even though they saw very little of each other. Especially yesterday. She couldn’t stop thinking about him and how hard he was trying.

You miss him, she chided herself as she walked the few blocks to the cafe.

So, what if I do? She chewed on her thumbnail for a second, smiling to herself, before pulling her hand away and brushing back the loose strands of hair that escaped her bun.

You’re thinking about him and smiling. Blushing, even, she told herself. Admit it. You’re still in love with him.

That was it, wasn’t it? The part that terrified her the most. Letting go of the hurt that shielded her heart and letting him back in.

She caught herself chewing on her thumbnail again and stopped as Cameron appeared out of an alley twenty-yards ahead. He stopped and looked around. Her heart picked up speed at the sight of him. As did her pace. A smile spread across her face as her eyes met his that mirrored her own.

He waited for her to catch up. Dressed in a black leather jacket and jeans, he slicked his hair back with his fingers while holding his motorcycle helmet under his arm. He looked good. So good that she wanted to rub her hands over his body.

Where did that thought come from?

A blush warmed her cheeks as she closed the distance between them.

“Hey, Gorgeous,” he greeted and reached for her hand.

“Hey,” she greeted back, almost shyly as he kissed her knuckles.

Releasing her hand, his smile spread wider. “I missed you.”

“Did you?” she asked coyly.

“You know it.”

More heat rushed to her face as they turned and walked toward the cafe. “Me too.”

It was a whisper she half hoped he didn’t hear.

And half hoped he did.

He cut in front of her, stopping her in her tracks and looked down at her with wide eyes that gripped her heart.

“What did you say?”

She looked at his lips as another wave of heat crashed over her. Raking her teeth over her bottom lip, she tried to look away but he caught her chin and tilted it back up. His eyes held hers.

“Don’t tease me, Olivia. I can’t handle it.” His voice was firm with husky undertones that released a dozen butterflies within and made the hairs rise on her nape.

People cast looks at them as they passed on the sidewalk, but he didn’t seem to care and neither did she.

He looked at her with the same hunger he had five years ago. The edge of his voice stirred a part of her that had been dormant ever since that night.

“Did you miss me too?” he demanded softly.

“Yes. I can’t lie to myself anymore.” Or to you and Chloe, she mentally added, knowing that the truth started with herself first and foremost. If she couldn’t be honest with herself, who could she be honest with?

Heavy breaths blew against her face as dilating eyes held her captive.

Dammit, why did he have to be so freaking hot and look at her like that? It was looks like that that got her pregnant in the first place.

“So,” he rasped, his voice becoming thicker and heavier with a timbre that reverberated within her blood, “you’re ready to face the truth now?”

She swallowed, fighting against the effects his voice and touch had, and yet, she drank it in like a shot of espresso. Warm and jittery. “Yes.”

“Damn you for picking a public place.” He placed a lingering kiss on her cheek before drawing away. The hand that was once touching her cheek brushed down her arm and entwined her fingers with his. “Let’s go, before I do something indecent,” he muttered before flashing her a sinful grin.

With her hand in his, she let him take the lead as they stepped up to the intersection where the cafe was on the other side. A crowd had gathered waiting for the light. They paused for a second before it changed. He glanced back at her, still grinning broadly. They wound through the incoming crowd of pedestrians and when they had crossed, he pointed to the cursive font on the sign above the door. “Here?”

“Yeah,” she replied before he reached for the door and held it open for her.

The air-conditioning struck her and she realized how hot she was. While it was hot and humid outside, she knew Cameron had an effect on her as well. He always did.

He stepped close behind her as they waited to be seated.

The cafe was modern-elegant and high-taste with a black and white theme. White-wash walls with bold pieces of modern art in mostly black and white with little pops of color adorned the walls. The tables were black, the booths and chairs black with white cushions. Large cylindrical light-fixtures in white-frosted glass hung from the ceilings over the tables.

“Fancy,” he whispered into her ear, drawing a shiver to dance up her spine. “You sure you don’t want to go back to my place?”

She swatted him, earning a chuckle as the heated tension between them dissipated.

A young man came to seat them at a small booth in the corner next to the window overlooking the street.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee and baked bread and pastries filled the air. She inhaled the pleasing aromas as she took her seat and sighed before glancing at the menus placed before her.

“Smells good in here,” he commented as if reading her mind.

She hummed in agreement as he slipped out of his leather jacket and set it down next to him.

“Do you like coffee?” he asked, making small talk as he glanced over his menus.

“Yes, I love coffee.”

“And tea.”

She smirked. “Yes, and tea. I’m not picky. How about you?”

“I like anything bold and rich.”

“So, what will you be getting?”

“An Americano.”

“Seriously?” she asked. “Out of everything on the menu, you want that?”

He nodded. “How about you?”

“I’m debating between a chai latte or a hazelnut latte.”

“And to eat?”

“Well,” she hesitated, glancing at the food selection on the back of the menu, “I guess that depends on how long you want to stay here and chat.”

“Are you suggesting we go back to my place as soon as we’re done our coffees?”

She looked over her menu at him and narrowed her eyes. “Cameron.”

He grinned cheekily at her. “Yes, honey?”

“It’s not going to happen today, so drop it.”

“So… It’s not totally out of the question, just not today is what you’re saying?”

She shook her head, pressing her lips together to keep from smirking. “You’re impossible.”

“You’ve said that to me before, and yet—”

“Are we ready to order?” the waiter came and interrupted them.

“Yes, I think so,” she answered and quickly made up her mind for a chai latte.

Cameron placed his order for the Americano and they were once again alone.

“So, what has made you change your mind all of a sudden?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“You admitted that you missed me and that you wanted to stop lying to yourself. I’m just wondering what’s changed since yesterday. That’s all.”

She knew this was coming but it still terrified her. Terrified to peel back the lies and reveal the truth that risked the safety of her heart. Emotions cast a net over the swarms of butterflies in her stomach and constricted them into a tight ball.

She needed to stop treating him the way she had been, given all he had been through and all the efforts he was making to prove himself worth her investment.

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