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Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share. Jill Rowe has edited this whole book, offered critique and content and designed the questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. Her commitment to. PDF | On Mar 1, , Mary Beth Mannarino and others published A Beautiful Mess: Embracing the Complexity of Ecopsychology.
What happens when you lose everyone that promised they would always be there for you? How can you protect the few pieces of your shattered heart that remain? Olivia Adler is a woman with a troubled past. After losing her parents at the young age of six and being raised by an uncle who she lost years later, she refuses to get attached to anyone, including friends. For the past decade, she has been able to remain unattached to any man, too worried about losing someone to get too close. Until Alexander Burnham walks into her life one night and changes everything. But he has issues of his own.
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The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Used under license from Shutterstock. All rights reserved. And the only one I'll ever want to throw oyster shells off the deck with. Leigh All rights reserved. In exactly one week, her parents will have been dead for twenty-one years. Twenty-one years seems like a long time, and it is. Twenty-one years is a dreadfully long time to have no family.
As she was contemplating her life on that Friday in mid-August, she heard her cell phone buzzing on her desk, bringing her attention back from the heartache she still felt from losing everyone she had ever cared about.
Kiera: Where are you? She groaned, wondering why she had agreed to meet a few of her co-workers and Kiera that evening for drinks.
Going out was the last thing she wanted to do. Most nights, she preferred to stay at home, snuggle on the couch with her cat, and drown herself in a bottle of wine. It made her forget everything, even if for just a minute. Walking into the en-suite bathroom of her office at the posh wellness center she ran, she checked her reflection. For once, her dark, curly hair was cooperating. Placing a bit of gel on her locks, she framed her pear-shaped face with loose ringlets, the rest of her hair cascading down the middle of the open back of her red silk halter-top.
She applied a hint of makeup, needing only a little eyeliner around her big brown eyes and some lip gloss. She rubbed lotion on her lengthy olive-toned legs and finished the look with a pair of black wedge sandals that made her even taller than her five foot, nine inch frame.
She glanced in the mirror one last time before grabbing her purse and running out of her office and into a waiting elevator. See you later on. Her light green tank top brought out the deep emerald hue of her eyes, which contrasted nicely with her vibrant red hair. Although she was shorter than Olivia by about six inches, only hitting five foot, three inches on a good day, her confidence made her seem so much taller. Olivia had met Kiera during her freshman year at Boston College.
She moved into the apartment across the hall in the building where Kiera had been living. Kiera was a few years older than Olivia, and had been her rock for the past decade.
She was the only family Olivia had left. It was a beautiful evening in mid-August and the humidity that had been present earlier in the afternoon had faded. The sun illuminated the tall buildings of the city Olivia had grown to love over the past decade, casting the sky a beautiful pink color.
A slight breeze blew through the air and all was right in the world. The was a buzz on the streets and she started to look forward to spending a Friday night with friends. Olivia scanned the huge room in order to locate her co-workers. You should take the weekend off. You push yourself too hard. You need time to enjoy life.
You made it! Bounding off the couch and nearly tripping over the coffee table, she hugged Olivia with all the enthusiasm of a woman who was already a few drinks in. He came over to say hi so I let him know that you were probably going to be here. Did I do something wrong? I thought it was cute. Are you guys not dating anymore? Far from it. You just refuse to be in a relationship. With anyone. I just find relationships to be full of disappointment.
Life is disappointing enough without the stress of a relationship. It was good the first few times, probably because I was drunk.
And the other night, he wanted to stay over. Olivia smiled at her much younger friend, debating whether she should tell her about her relationship rules, hating for her cynicism to rub off on Melanie when she was just twenty-one. Should I be taking notes? I get my own space. I hang out with my friends. I have no desire to meet their friends. If they happen to meet mine, so be it.
Once you do, they will disappoint you one way or another. I choose to not get close in order to avoid the inevitable heartache that accompanies every relationship. What do you want? Anyone else need another drink? There were quite a few people standing there, so she got in line to wait for her turn to order. Pulling her phone out of her purse to make the wait less boring, she checked her e-mail.
Suddenly, she felt two hands on her waist. She turned around and met a pair of glossed-over hazel eyes. It was obvious he was drunk.
Since he was in full Red Sox fandom gear and his breath reeked of cheap beer and hot dogs, she assumed he had gone to the game earlier. Returning her attention to the bar, she tried to ignore him. He was a good-looking guy, his blond hair kept messy in a sexy kind of way, but she felt nothing when she looked at him.
She wondered if she would ever feel anything for anyone. Facing the bar once more, Olivia remained silent for several minutes while her irritation grew from Simon caressing her back.
She hated public displays of affection, but she let him touch her. She had learned that relationships, even her fucked up version, were all about give and take. He slipped his hands in through the side of her shirt and slowly made his way up to her breasts.
She could feel the erection in his jeans. After finally placing her drink order, she made her way back to the table with four tequila shots in one hand and two beer bottles in the other, her years of working as a bartender helping her with the delicate balancing act.
The girls followed suit. If we should ever disagree, fuck you. She felt the warmth in her stomach and immediately started to relax. Life is too short to waste it on shitty alcohol.
I can tell.
Heading past the bar and toward the bathroom, she was met with a line snaking around the long corridor. Scowling, she decided to go see whether the line was any better on the second floor, where a band was scheduled to perform later that evening. She climbed the stairs, which proved to be slightly more challenging than usual because of her chunky heels and the drinks she had consumed. She made her way down the dark back hallway, thankful to see no line at the bathroom.
When she finished up and exited, someone grabbed her arm, pushing her against the wall. Using both of his strong and calloused hands, he pinned her arms on either side of her head. Simon had never been this aggressive with her before. She had always held the upper hand in their relationship and, given her current predicament, she was unsure whether she should tell him she was done with him. He looked down at her and licked his lips like an animal stalking his prey. I know I have. You really are beautiful when you beg.
His strength was no match for her. She snapped her head toward the source, and a wave of relief as well as surprise washed over her.
Stupid whore. She let out a long breath and adjusted herself, staring into the dark eyes of one of her old college friends. While she hated when people called her Livvy, Mo was the exception to the rule. The only other person who ever called her Livvy was her father, and Mo reminded her so much of him, right down to the name… Giacomo. Everyone called him Jack, but Olivia called him Mo. Really good. Olivia worked at an area bar where his band played. One evening, before the bar opened, she had finished her prep work early when she noticed that the band had already set up their gear.
The place was empty so she stepped up to the piano and sang one of her favorite songs. It was a song that reminded Olivia of her parents.
Something about that moment made it seem like the right thing to do. Maybe her parents were looking down from above because, unbeknownst to her, Mo had been watching the performance. He must have been impressed with her voice since he asked her to sing a few songs with his band.
She agreed and, throughout her years at Boston College, she always jumped on stage for a few numbers with the guys. Five years, if I remember correctly. Shrugging, she lowered her head, feeling guilty for never getting in touch with him once she came back to the city.
And for pushing him and everyone else away after graduation in the first place. At least not until the band performs tonight. I know. You know that, right? Get back on stage with us. Sighing, she thought about the last time she sat in with the guys. Her mind flashed back to that awful time in her life.
Graduation… A day that was supposed to be marked with celebrations and smiles was, instead, a painful reminder of what it felt like to have everything ripped out from underneath her feet. You need to start playing again.
And in front of bigger crowds than at Open Mic night. Of course. Kiera must have told him about Open Mic. She totally planned this, she thought. You have to stop shutting down and pushing everyone away.
As she approached the stairs, she turned and met his gaze once more, sending him an apologetic look. In the audience tonight is our good friend, Miss Olivia Adler! Kiera grabbed her hand, knowing that she still got nervous before she performed. What do you all think about getting her up here? Olivia walked through the crowd and climbed onstage, looking over the sea of people standing in the large, dark room that was illuminated only by the bright stage lights.
The room was packed with hundreds of people, all standing shoulder to shoulder, enthusiastically cheering for her as she made her way to the center of the stage. Standing there, she wondered what had possessed her to agree to get on stage with Mo and the guys again. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and shut everything out, finding her calm. A tranquil feeling finally enveloping her, she slowly opened her eyes and smiled as she walked up to the microphone.
For those of you who came to watch us when we gigged at a great little bar called Scotch, this will bring back some memories. Scanning the crowd as she sang, she noticed Kiera, Melanie, and Bridget enjoying the performance. The entire bar rocked out to their rendition of the classic tune. Losing herself in the song, Olivia felt oddly at peace for the first time in years. Even if for just a small sliver of time, she could forget about her past and live in the moment of the music.
Growing up, her happiest memories revolved around music. She could barely remember her parents, but she did recall sitting with her mother at the piano in the great room, playing and singing together. Even at a young age, there was something about certain melodies that spoke to her. It almost felt as if she could be someone else for a short period of time. The song came to an end and Olivia took a quick bow, thanking the audience for their enthusiasm.
Olivia was fairly certain she began it. Who am I to disappoint my adoring fans? She conferred briefly with Mo about what to perform next. When he told her what he wanted to do, she laughed, glancing over at the enthusiastic crowd, knowing that they would thoroughly enjoy what he had planned. The crowd danced and sang along, the men singing with Mo and the women singing with Olivia.
The atmosphere was charged and she ended up finishing the set with the band Afterwards, the bartender sent a round of tequila to the stage and they took their shots. Besides Kiera, they were the only family she thought she had left. As she walked through the large dance floor area and searched for her friends, people kept stopping her, saying how much they loved the performance. At that point, they all had more than enough liquor in their systems. It felt good.
I need to go to the office really quick to grab my laptop. I promise! Walking the few blocks from the bar to her office, she was in her own little world. She kept replaying the night in her mind, thinking how she was finally starting to feel happy for the first time in years. Maybe it was okay to start letting people back in again. Continuing past the front doors and turning the corner, she rummaged through her purse for the keycard that would grant her access.
Out of nowhere, someone grabbed her around the waist and pinned her body, face first, against the brick building opposite her own office building, slamming her head against the wall. Even drunk, he was stronger than she was. They know who you are! And they want their stuff! All the proof! Replaying his words, confusion washed over her.
He was completely irrational. Dread overwhelmed her when she felt the cold metal against her skin, tears streaming down her face. I swear. Before she had a second to react, he pushed her skirt up. Her hair stood on end as she shivered through a chill. Simon grasped onto her panties and ripped them painfully from her body. She screamed from the shock of it. He easily outweighed her by a hundred pounds, but he was drunk.
All she needed was a few seconds to get away from him and run. She opened her eyes, her vision slightly blurry, but all she could see was the brick of the wall he had her pressed against.
Her face flashed red with anger, and she refused to give up so easily. She had every intention of fighting. When she tasted metal, she knew she had drawn blood. Fucking bitch! She kneed him in the groin and he fell to the ground. She started to run away, but Simon was fast. He reached his hand out and grasped onto her ankle, pulling her to the ground, her cries becoming desperate and loud from their struggle.
With her free leg, she kicked him repeatedly. Finally landing a hard blow to his head, he released his hold on her other leg. He moaned in pain, clutching his head as blood streamed down his face. Olivia quickly raised herself off the ground, desperate to get away from him, and fled onto State Street. She frantically ran down the cobblestone sidewalk, crying out for someone to help her.
The silence around her was deafening as fear consumed her body, her hands shaking. The normally busy street was barren, the last of the bar patrons long gone for the evening. The clouds in the sky created an ominous feel. All of the buildings were eerily dark. Street lights dimly illuminated each corner, casting shadows on the vacant street. As she tried to find someone to help her, she heard a noise coming from the direction of the night entrance, and she started running again, adrenaline coursing through her entire body.
He had trouble sleeping, which happened from time to time, so he decided to head into the office to check in on a few of his security operations. Why, after all these years, was she haunting his dreams again? Needing to clear his head, he left the leggy redhead in his bed and walked the empty streets of Boston to his office. As he neared his destination, the sound of a woman screaming in the general direction of his building startled him. His instincts kicking in, he sprinted toward the cries for help.
Closing in on the building, he observed a tall woman with long, dark wavy hair bolt out of the alley where the night entrance was located, frantically running as if her life depended on it. He slowed, not wanting to scare her even more than it appeared she already was.
Then he observed someone chasing her.
He doubled his efforts, his SEAL training kicking in. Spying the knife her attacker had clutched firmly in his hand, he shuddered at what the man had done to the woman already.
Within seconds, he caught up to him a block away from his office building and quickly incapacitated him, knocking him to the ground. Hearing a commotion behind her, Olivia glanced over her shoulder and saw a man in a gray suit attacking Simon, punching him repeatedly. She stopped abruptly, her heart racing and her breathing labored. She sank to the ground, shaking and relieved to have gotten away.
Curious, she watched as the man in the suit restrained Simon with a pair of zip ties. She wondered why he would need to carry such an item with him. Turning his attention away from the man, Alexander walked over to the frightened woman as she sat on the ground, trembling against a storefront. This must be a trick, he thought. He had just seen those eyes in his dreams and here he was, staring into what appeared to be the same eyes. He could recall only one girl ever having wide brown eyes like those, and she was long gone.
He had given up hope years ago. She felt his hands linger on her shoulders for a brief second and a tingling sensation permeated her body. Completely dumbstruck, she met his beautiful green eyes, a calm feeling overtaking her. He stepped back again and Olivia was unable to take her eyes off his six foot, five inch frame.
He smiled in a comforting manner, bringing attention to the boy-like quality of his face. She licked her lips, staring at his muscular torso, soft little tendrils of dark hair escaping from the top of his crisp white button-down shirt.
Her eyes made their way lower, her breathing increasing as she ogled the dark gray pants that fell nicely from his hips.
There was a smirk on his face, which fell into a different sort of look…maybe compassion and something else, like he was searching his brain for a piece of information that was missing at a crucial moment.
I can have a detective come and meet us up in my office. She had just been attacked outside of her office building by someone she thought she knew, and now a total stranger asked her to go with him, alone, to his office. Her brain flashed back, recalling those words from a childhood memory. I need you to send someone down around the corner of the night entrance on State and detain the individual you see restrained.
Please call Detective Wilder and escort her to my office the moment she arrives. Snapping out of her daze, she quickly realized that he was asking her name.
Alexander reeled back, trying to maintain his composure as that name hung in the air… Olivia. The last name was completely different. Plus, she was taken from him over twenty years ago. If she was alive, he would have found her already. He took her outreached hand, the feel of her soft skin against his sending electricity through his veins. Can I help you up, Miss Adler? After swiping his keycard, he held the door for her.
The penthouse. She immediately turned to him, an inquisitive look on her face. Olivia quickly brushed it off. Melanie clearly read too many romance novels. He simply smirked at her with a sparkle in his eyes as the elevator continued to ascend to his office.
The Alexander Burnham? He led her through the foyer and into a small reception area. Several modern black chairs surrounded a coffee table in the waiting area with large black-and-white art prints adorning the gray walls.
It was understated and elegant at the same time. Alexander made his way to a large black door just past the reception desk and punched several numbers into it before placing his thumbprint on a scanner. The door buzzed and he opened it for Olivia. So he is a Super Spy, she thought. The door buzzed and he held it open, allowing Olivia to enter. Lights sprang to life, illuminating the enormous and palatial room.
Floor-to-ceiling windows covered three of the walls. She walked to a sitting area to her right, running her fingers against the leather of a black couch. Glancing at a wet bar, she wondered how much entertaining he did in his office. The main offices of the company are on the five lower floors. This office is not the entire floor. I have a few other private rooms up here, too. Entering the room, she gawked at the opulence, thinking it was larger than her entire bedroom.
The gorgeous white tile contrasted with the deep black of the dual vanity. Her eyes settling on the large tub with multiple shower heads, she thought how she would give anything to use his shower to clean Simon off her. Have a seat. Running one of the towels underneath the faucet, he gently removed the now caked-on blood from her face.
With just one look, she was convinced he could peek into her tortured soul. Words escaped her as her eyes remained glued to his, thinking how he seemed so familiar, but she would have remembered captivating eyes like that. They were full of something she had never seen in another person before, but she could not put her finger on what. Something about his kind green eyes and messy but sexy dark hair made her want to open up to him.
She refused to make it appear like she was a helpless victim or a weak person. She was much stronger than that. Why am I telling this total stranger about my sex life? Wiping a washcloth over her face, he remained silent, the corner of his lips turning up slightly in amusement. He tilted her chin up, forcing her to gaze into his green eyes again. Leaning down, his lips were only inches from hers. Not only did his proximity have her on edge, but his husky voice forced a reaction from her that she had never experienced before.
Opening her mouth slightly, her breathing increased, her breath dancing on his lips. He rubbed a little cream over the cut on her forehead and Olivia felt her skin flush when his eyes roamed from her face to the rest of her body. All rationale leaving her, she leaned toward him so there was barely a whisper between them.
His fingers gently brushed one of her curls behind her ear and placed a small bandage on the wound. His hand lingered on her face, gently caressing her cheek and chin as he closed the distance between them once more.
A buzzing sound echoed in the room, breaking the growing tension, and Alexander quickly removed his hand from her face, leaving to answer his phone in private. Shaking off the exchange, Olivia reminded herself of the reason for keeping everyone away, the fear of getting close to someone and losing them resurfacing in her subconscious.
She turned to look at her reflection in the mirror and examined her injury. Even with the bandage, it was clear there was a slight bump where Simon slammed her head into the wall. She spun to face him. A smile spread across his face. She appeared to be in her mid-forties and in good shape. Alexander filled in the blanks as best he could. She told her about her relationship, as it were, with Simon, how they met when he was working construction, how he pestered her for nearly a month to go out with him, and his strange words that evening.
Detective Wilder acted in a very professional manner throughout and did not make Olivia feel uncomfortable with anything. When they were done, Olivia signed her statement and gave it back to Detective Wilder. It was nice to meet you, Miss Adler. Burnham, can you walk me out, please?
Sighing, he reluctantly followed her down the hallway. She died. Dad said she died in the hospital from a head injury. That was over twenty years ago. I understand all of that.