The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 4 - Olivia

Olivia trembled as she climbed into the car and tore away from the man that haunted her every night in her dreams and every time she looked at her daughter.

Chloe reminded her so much of Cameron that it physically hurt her. She had his dark brown hair but Olivia’s green eyes. His skin tone that tanned easily and a light dusting of freckles across her nose that she got from her mother. Every now and then, she stopped Olivia’s heart when she flashed the same smile he had that brought Olivia back to that day she spent with Cameron in Aspen Beach.

The moment she discovered she was pregnant five years ago, she was shocked but never did she think about terminating the pregnancy.

Even though she had never heard back from Cameron since that night, a part of her couldn’t bring herself to resent the little being growing within her.

When she heard Chloe’s heartbeat at her first ultrasound appointment, a love and protectiveness filled her and only intensified the moment she was born.

She couldn’t hate Cameron for what he had done when that one night had given her the most beautiful little girl she would ever set eyes on. Every day from thereon out, she cherished her time spent with her and watched her learn and grow with pride. Her love grew stronger and fiercer than anything she ever imagined.

She vowed to make Chloe her number one priority as her own mother had. No client or man would ever come between her and her daughter.

Each day as Chloe grew, Olivia marveled at her spirit and intellect. She was bright, warm, loving, and so much fun to be with. Olivia found herself growing as a person and a mother. She learned something new every day and had a better understanding of the true meaning of love and family.

She had refused to return to the beach town but when her clients expressed an interest a few days ago, she couldn’t say no. She couldn’t find a babysitter for Chloe either and asked her clients if they minded her daughter tagging along. The young couple, about the same age as Olivia, was expecting a little one of their own, so they didn’t mind at all. They even asked Chloe if she liked the room they were planning to turn into a nursery and smiled when Chloe approved wholeheartedly and pointed out where the crib and the baby’s toy chest should go.

After the showing, the couple decided to put in an offer. Olivia sat in her car with Chloe in the back seat watching a children’s cartoon on a tablet while she put the offer in. Once that was done, she drove a few blocks to the public parking lot behind the strip of shops that lined the beach and bought Chloe an ice cream cone. She couldn’t bring herself to eat one. The town brought back too many painful memories.

She thought Cameron was “the one.” How could she not when he appeared out of nowhere, swept her off her feet, smiled that smile that made her heart melt, and worshiped her body like a temple for hours that night?

The chemistry was surreal. The sensations and emotions he created within her were like nothing she’d ever experienced. Even the boyfriend she had for a few months last year didn’t compare.

She questioned if maybe it was all in her head—that her memory was exaggerating how powerful the chemistry seemed to be.

Nevertheless, she ended the relationship after a few months before introducing the man to Chloe. He wanted to take the relationship to the next level but she couldn’t see herself sleeping with him or sharing her life with him.

Even though he was a good guy, it had to end.

Everything came back to the man that disappeared from her life just as quickly as he appeared.

And the moment she saw him standing there through the crowd at Aspen Beach, staring at her, she froze. Her heart jumped into her throat. Her mouth went dry. A whirlwind of emotions rushed through her—but fear drove her to take Chloe and run.

She couldn’t let him back into her life. He would only hurt her again and she couldn’t let that happen. She had to be strong. She had to set the example for her daughter.

He would only break her, like he did the moment he disappeared and wouldn’t return her calls and changed his number. She had managed to put herself back together again after the birth of her daughter but never again, she told herself, would she put herself in a compromising situation to risk her heart as it would directly affect Chloe as well.

As amazing as that day and night she spent with Cameron was, it nearly destroyed her.

He was too risky. Too dangerous.

Too goddamn tempting.

“It’s okay, Chloe-bear,” Olivia told her as she looked at her daughter in the rearview mirror, the town disappearing behind them.

The four-year-old sniffled, rubbing the tears from her cheeks, and mumbling about her ice cream cone that had fallen to the ground.

“I know, honey, and I’m sorry. I’ll get you a new one when we get home.”

“What happened, Mommy?” she asked, wiping her nose on the back of her arm.

Olivia hated to lie to Chloe, but she didn’t know how to explain Cameron to her. “Didn’t you see the two dogs fighting?”

“No...” she mumbled reluctantly.

“There were two dogs fighting. I was scared they would hurt you.”

“What about that man?”

Olivia froze. Her grip on the steering wheel tightened as she inhaled and exhaled slowly, trying to think of another lie.

This was why she hated lying. One lie was never enough; it always required more to reinforce it.

“He was the owner of one of the dogs. He was trying to apologize but I told him to go away.”

Chloe accepted the lie and fell silent, but the silence gnawed away at Olivia.

The sooner we get home, the sooner we can pop a Disney movie in and curl up together and forget about ever seeing Cam on the beach.

Dammit! Stop thinking about him!

Despite chiding herself, she couldn’t help thinking about him. He looked even sexier now than he had five years ago—if that was even possible.

From what she could see, he had filled out more. He had muscles five years ago but they were larger now. His T-shirt was tight across his chest and shoulders. His arms looked thicker. The stubble along his jaw was sexier.

She cursed herself out mentally again—ordering herself to stop thinking about him. Reminding herself that he knocked her up and left her after a one-night stand and refused to return her calls. He didn’t deserve even a minute of thought or a single tear, despite the thousands she had shed over him these past five years.

He didn’t deserve any of it. She deserved better.

Maybe it was time she really looked for someone else? Someone who could take her mind off him. Someone worth thinking about. Someone who would hold her while she slept and would be there beside her when she woke up in the morning.

Someone who was worthy of her heart and love and everything she had to give.

And Cameron was, without a doubt—no matter how freaking hot he was—not worth it.

She repeated her mantra the entire drive home. The highway into the city clogged up before her exit like it always did. Pedestrians huddled in the four corners of the city street intersections, waiting for the traffic lights to change. A few high-rise apartments popped up among the cluster of smaller, older buildings with shops lining the ground level and trees planted every ten or fifteen yards along the sidewalk.

She turned down a narrow side road into an older, relatively safe neighborhood. A two-bedroom apartment was called home and plenty big for the two of them. She had always dreamed of living in a nice house in the suburbs to raise her family but that was a dream she could aim for in the future. She was only twenty-six—plenty of time still to make that dream a reality.

Chloe had fallen asleep during the latter half of the drive like she always did and was groggy when they left the parking lot and took the elevator up to their unit on the fourth floor.

They had an hour to kill before it was time to start dinner, so Olivia put in one of Chloe’s many Disney princess movies and they snuggled up with a dozen pillows on the living room floor.

A few days passed and life resumed its usual course, and yet, no matter how much Olivia tried to not think about Cameron, he still managed to sneak his way into her mind and taunt her with his cheeky grin and sexy body.

She also couldn’t stop thinking about the look on his face before she grabbed Chloe and ran.

He looked broken.

Good, she thought as she settled into bed one night. She wanted him to hurt as much as she did. It was his fault anyway. All this pain and heartache was his doing.

If only he had called back...

She scowled at herself. Well, he didn’t, so get over it already!

She couldn’t let that little encounter throw her off. She’d gotten this far without Cameron, picked up the broken pieces of her heart, put herself back together, gave birth to a beautiful little girl, and they were doing great without him.

So why couldn’t she stop thinking about him? After all this time, why did a part of her long for him? Why was she constantly thinking, ‘what if?’

The ‘what ifs’ of that very brief encounter followed her everywhere. She caught herself looking over her shoulder as if expecting to find him there. The mental scoldings that followed should have corrected the issue, but didn’t.

“You need closure,” her older sister told her on Skype when she called to confide in her.

Olivia heaved a sigh. She knew her sister was right, but how? Not only had she misplaced his number over the years, but she doubted it worked anyway. What were the chances of running into him again?

That thought made her shiver.

It terrified her. Not only was she afraid of what he would tell her, but she was also scared of how she’d physically react to him. He was still the sexiest thing on two legs.

She secretly hoped he was married and everything had been a fling. But what if he wasn’t? What if he tried to put the moves of her again? She had to be strong, she had to resist, but she knew how fucking amazing it felt to be in his arms and his body claiming hers.

Dammit, Olivia! You’re stronger than that!

She shook her head to clear it.

She had to be strong. She had to resist. She had to forget him and move on. She had to—for Chloe. She couldn’t fuck up.

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