The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 19 - Olivia (Part 1)

Saturday came quickly, much to Olivia’s delight.

She dropped Chloe off at her mother’s after lunch around one o’clock in the afternoon and spent a few minutes filling her mother in on her plans for the day and when she’d be back on Sunday to pick Chloe up after the open house.

Needless to say, her mother was less than amused and extremely wary about her spending the night in that hotel with Cameron. Olivia assured her that she spent the last week getting to know Cameron well. Going back to the place where it all began could be the ticket they needed to move onto the next step in their lives. To retrace their steps and see if they could pick up where they theoretically could have left off.

The idea was to give Cameron some insight into their past while simultaneously giving her some closure. She needed to put her trust issues with him to bed in order to let go of the past and move forward.

“I want to be open and honest with you,” she had told him over the phone Friday night after they had put Chloe to bed. “If you think I’m holding back on something, push me to open up on it. Ask me hard questions. I want us both to come out of this certain of who we are now, who we were then, and who we could be together.”

As she drove out of the city to the beach town, she reflected on everything that had happened in the last few weeks and that day five years ago. Was Cameron any different now than he was back then? He seemed like the same person. Maybe there were little changes, but if it was one thing she had learned through the years was that nothing stayed the same. Change was inevitable. Change was part of life. He suffered from amnesia and lost his closest friend. That was bound to have an effect on him.

Still, he treated her almost the same way he had back then—especially the last time she met him at the cafe. How easily they were able to converse. The subtle glances and light flirting they exchanged came naturally. There was no tension like there hadn’t been any on that day five years ago.

If it weren’t for the fact that she had to return to Chloe, things could have ended differently last Sunday. She certainly didn’t want the evening to end and she didn’t doubt he felt the same way.

When she arrived at the hotel in Aspen Beach, it was still too early to check in. Cameron hadn’t arrived yet either. To kill fifteen minutes, she wandered down to the beach and kicked off her flip-flops as she walked across the warm sand to test the water with her toes.

She packed a bathing suit in case they decided to go for a dip, although she wasn’t sure she could handle seeing him in swim trunks. If his body looked anything like it did five years ago, she’d be a goner in five seconds flat.

After staring out at the water for five minutes, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Cameron approaching in jean shorts and a white T-shirt. He kicked off his flip-flops and flashed a smile that made her stomach somersault.

He was here. It was really happening.

“Hey,” she greeted softly as he closed the distance between them.

“Hey.” He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her forehead. “I missed you.”

She sucked in a breath, his cologne filling her senses and making her head swim.

“I missed you too,” she whispered, forcing the truth out as much as she wanted to keep it to herself.

He tilted her chin up. His eyes catching and holding hers. “Are you nervous?”

“I’m a little anxious,” she admitted. A blush warmed her cheeks. “Nervous and excited kind of anxious.”

He leaned down and placed a lingering chaste kiss on her lips. “Me too.”.

Her brows furrowed. “You are?”

He nodded but didn’t answer.

“Why?” she probed.

Taking a deep breath in and out, he leaned down and pressed his forehead to hers. “This is my second chance.”

Closing her eyes, she hummed as a smile curved her lips. The tumbling within her stomach ceased. Warmth spread through her. With this simple confession, her fears and anxieties melted away.

This was what they needed.

“How did you find me?” she asked a minute later.

He raised his head and looked down at her. “I saw your car out in the parking lot. I figured you’d be around here somewhere since it’s too early to check in.”

The corners of her lips quirked up higher. “I guess you’re smarter than you let on.”

“I’d like to think so, but someone is always two steps ahead of me, it seems.” He grinned cheekily.

She pulled away, shaking her head lightly at him. “Since we still have time to kill, want to see where we first met?”

His eyes squinted as his grin broadened. “I would love that.”

She reached out for his hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

He clasped her hand with his and she led him away from the water that lapped at their feet. They slipped their flip-flops on and she guided him into the town, past the tourist shops along the beach and into the residential area two blocks in.

The house was about ten minutes away from the beach at a leisurely stroll. She paused in front of it and looked up at it. It hadn’t changed much; the young trees were larger and fuller than she last remembered, the flowers in the garden were different, the yard was still well-maintained, and there was an added birdbath under one of the windows and a bird feeder hanging from one of the trees.

“It was right here,” she said as he stood next to her and followed her gaze. “You were standing right here, looking up at this house when I came out after showing it to my clients. I stepped out and saw you and thought you were interested in seeing the house too, even though it was a private showing—not an open house. I don’t know why I thought to give you a tour of it as well, but I did.”

She smirked to herself as the memories replayed in her mind. “When I think about it now, I think you were playing along with me. I don’t think you were really interested in the house. You glanced at things I pointed out but otherwise, your attention was focused on me.”

He hummed, listening, but said nothing.

She looked up at him. “You know this town well, don’t you?”

He hung his head with a guilty smile. “Yeah.”

“I thought so.” She turned to head back to the hotel. “Even though you told me you were interested in the town, your attention was always on me, even when I took you out on a tour and pointed out the various shops. Every time I would look back at you, I’d catch you staring at me.” Her face heated up. “It was very flattering.”

“Yeah?” he prompted.

She hummed in confirmation, looking down at her feet as she walked. “No one had paid that much attention to me. You made me feel beautiful. Desired even.”

“You’re still beautiful and I still desire you. That will never change.”

More warmth crept up her neck to her cheeks and she tried to brush off his words. “So, if you already knew the town, do you think you pretended not to know anything about it in order to spend more time with me?”

“Most likely.” He scratched his freshly shaven chin. “I must have been smarter back then. Less rash.”

“You could have asked for my business card and then got to know me more on the phone,” she teased.

“Guess I wasn’t thinking that straight.” That cheeky grin was back. “Must have been your fault. I was too stunned by your beauty.”

She smirked and playfully smacked his shoulder. She didn’t say anything right away as she lingered on her memories. “You’re right. You seemed pretty shy at first and let me do all the talking. I talked too much about the house and the town and when you tried to slip personal questions in, I became a little shy too.”

“The attraction was mutual,” he confirmed.

She nodded and turned her gaze back down to her feet as they neared the hotel parking lot. “I couldn’t believe someone like you would look at me like that.”

He paused and pulled her into his arms. His cognac-eyes probed hers as he tilted her chin up. “Why would you think that?”

Swallowing, her insecurities bubbled up to block her throat, making it harder to breathe. “You looked too good to be true. Why would someone like you look at me like I was his reason for breathing?”

“Because you are and you know that now.”

Her heart pounded, beating wildly against the confines of her ribs. Being in his arms when he looked at her like that was a whirlwind of emotions. Through the fear and uncertainty, desire surged forth. His eyes drew her closer. She couldn’t resist the hypnotic pull they had as his pupils dilated.

He lowered his head and kissed her. Holding her tightly against him, he stole her breath with starved lips.

Gasping, she clung to him, pressing her body flush against his, willing him to understand that she felt the same way. As much as she wanted to deny it weeks ago, she couldn’t any longer.

He pulled away, panting, and kissing her between his words. “Every time I see you, it’s like breathing for the first time. You’re breathtaking.”

Was it crazy that she felt the same? Every time she set her eyes on him, her heart would skip a beat and her breath would catch in her throat. It scared her. Scared her so much that she wanted to run away from him to save her heart from being broken again.

This was their second chance. She reminded herself that. She couldn’t keep running away. He wanted this as much she did.

Don’t be scared. Be brave. Let him in.

He backed her up against the fence that surrounded the parking lot of the hotel and planted his legs firmly apart and his hands on either side of her. He leaned his head down on her shoulder, breathing hard as they both fought to catch their breath. After a minute, he took her hand and placed it over his racing heart.

“You do this to me every time I see you,” he rasped. “I’m trying to hold myself back but it’s becoming harder and harder. I need you. And right now, I need you to go inside and check in before I fuck this up.”

She could feel the heat rising off him through his shirt as his heart continued to pound away under her hand. She struggled to fill her own lungs with air as she slipped out from under him. “Okay.”

“I’ll meet you inside in a minute,” he grumbled as he lowered his head and sucked in air.

Her knees were weak and she struggled to maintain balance as she wobbled through the parking lot to the front entrance like a drunkard in the middle of the afternoon.

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