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I met Colt during happy hour at the Rattlesnake. Clara called me last minute to go out with her for drinks and only minutes after arriving I bumped into him – literally! I nearly spilled my drink all over him. Thankfully it all ended up on the floor. He asked my name and offered to buy me another and the next thing I know I’m giving him my number and making plans to go out with him for coffee.

It was the classic meet-cute, and Colt was certainly cute. Physically, he looked like the kind of hipster guys I dated in college, the kind of guys I swore off a long time ago.

But he was so smart and we talked for hours about our favourite books and we had a similar outlook on politics and social issues. I liked that I could have intelligent conversion with him. He was a columnist for an online magazine but his real dream is to write a novel. I liked that he was so passionate about something.

I liked him a lot.

With him it was different. He didn’t push to get intimate at all, not even for a kiss. In fact, we shared our very first kiss on our third date. It was a big deal for me because the third date is usually when I’d entertain sleeping with a man. And making out with Colt was so worth the wait!

I never saw sleeping with a man soon after meeting him as a bad thing before. I know what I want and I go after it and I see no shame in that. But I’m so tired of the meaningless hookups. I’m tired of dating, period! Especially since I end up with dudes I can barely stand after a while.

I get so bored easily. The infatuation period burns out so quickly and then I start to see the real him and it’s usually not anyone I’d want to be with. That’s why I decided to try something new with Colt.

I’m actually getting to know him first before I go all the way and that’s something I haven’t done since…well, Eli.

Come to think of it, Eli was my only real boyfriend. Everyone else was just guys I dated. I thought Sean could be my boyfriend too but that was a bust.

Colt will be different. I had a good feeling about him.

That was until…

“This isn’t going anywhere.”

“What?” I asked, unable to contain my bewilderment. We were having such a great day. We went rollerblading and we laughed and joked around the whole time. This was so unexpected! “Why would you say that?”

“You’re…you’re not my type. Sorry.”

“Oh…kay.” I should have just accepted that and moved on. Clearly he didn’t like me so why bother? But I just had to know. “What do you mean by ‘not your type’?”

“You know.” He stated, as if the answer should have been obvious.

“No, I don’t know which is why I asked. I thought we were hitting it off pretty well…”

“Come on, Olive.” He rolled his eyes. “You’re just not serious enough for me.”

“Not serious enough?”

“You’re a rich girl doing fundraising for a pet project – pun intended – that’s not a real job.”

“Like hell it’s not a real job!” I raised my voice, unable to stop myself from getting full blown mad at the shit coming out of his mouth. “I’m working my ass off! You have no idea the amount of work…”

“Like it’s hard to flirt and swindle money out of old geezers with fat pensions.” He scoffed. “I need a girlfriend with substance and ambition. More my speed, you know, not some bleeding heart socialite. But…I’m not opposed to a strictly casual relationship…if you’re interested in that.”

“Wow!” I let a small laugh in disbelief.

“I’m only being honest. You know me. I get straight to the point, no wasting time. I thought you’d appreciate that.”

“Thank you for your honesty Colt, but I’ll pass. I might be a ditzy socialite but you’re nothing but a pretentious asshole and I don’t fuck pretentious assholes!”

I felt like my day was ruined after that. I always loved heatwaves. Everyone always complained about the hot, dry air on days like this but I loved it. Warm weather suited me. I had an excuse to wear shorts and I was looking forward to spending the first heatwave of the summer with Colt.

I was actually gonna invite him back to my place. Mom and Dad were in Newcrest for the day so we would’ve had the house and the pool all to ourselves. The little shit was gonna get laid tonight. Thank goodness he showed his true colours before that could happen.

I took a walk over to a food stall over by the lake to buy a cup of iced coffee. The icy cool taste of the coconut milk latte felt like heaven going down.

To think, a month ago they didn’t even have these types of things. I suppose people think if food stalls are so successful at the farmers’ market then pop up stalls like this would be successful too. There’s so many of them now around town. I couldn’t help but feel proud that I had role in it, even if it was a teeny tiny one.

I tried not to let what Colt said get to me but I couldn’t help it. He was a total dick about it but what if he was right? What if I was simply kidding myself? What if all people will ever see me as is a socialite with a pet project and not someone serious enough? What if I only end up with men who want to sleep with me and nothing more?

I swallowed down the last of it. Maybe a little brain freeze would be enough to keep my mind from racing with negative thoughts. Then, as if my day couldn’t get any worse, he showed up.

“Mind if I take a seat?”

“Sure, I was about to leave.”

The smile on his face wavered only a little as he sat down on the bench. “Okay, but I’d like it if you stayed.”

“I can’t. I have to…um…”

“Come on Liv, you’re out of excuses this time.” He patted his hand against the bench and cocked an eyebrow. “Please sit and talk to me.”

“Look, Sean, I’m really busy and…”

“You’re not busy, Olive.”

“How do you know what my schedule is like?” I snapped, glaring at him. “For your information I’ve been working my ass off establishing a charitable foundation and I resent you implying that it’s not important or time consuming stuff…”

“Oh, yes! Poppy told me.” He smiled brightly, snapping his fingers. “Congrats by the way. It’s a big deal. I’m really proud of you.”

I was immediately disarmed by that last part. He was proud of me? “…really?”

“Of course. I know you’ve always wanted to do that sort of thing. I think it’s pretty bad-ass that you’re taking initiative like this. No one around here has ever done anything like it. It’s really cool.”

“Um…thanks.” The corners of my mouth twitched as I held back a grateful smile. He really did have a way of uplifting my spirits better than anyone else. Even if I was still mad at him.

“I…uh…I wanted to talk to you about…the other night.” He stammered.

“That was so long ago, Sean.”

“It was.” He nodded in agreement. “But I still owe you an apology for all that happened at the club. I’m truly sorry I hurt you.”

“You didn’t hurt me.”

“I…didn’t?”

“No. It was a misunderstanding. Forget it.” I rambled off quickly, hoping he would take it and go.

“If it’s so easy to forget then why were you ignoring me the last few weeks like I’m a bill collector? I was this close to stalking you outside your house to get you to talk to me.”

He sounded irritated. Why? I was the one who had been wronged and I was giving him a free pass. He should be grateful. “Wouldn’t your girlfriend mind you stalking another woman?”

He sighed heavily, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Kaia. It was shitty of me.”

So Kaia is her name huh? “Yes, it was. Even shittier when you said it was my fault.”

“I know. I’m a total dickhead. Can you ever forgive me? I don’t want our friendship to be ruined by this.”

He really did seem sorry, and I suppose we all make mistakes. At least he recognised he screwed up and was trying to make amends. “I forgive you Sean.”

“Thank you.” He sighed in relief. “Let me make it up to you?”

“How?”

“I don’t know…” He started looking around and then gestured to the food cart. “I can buy you a lemonade?”

“I just had an iced coffee.”

“How about lunch tomorrow at that new bistro?”

“Their food sucks. I’ve had it already.”

“Well, we can go wherever you want.” He grinned, looking hopeful that I would say yes. “Anywhere at all. My treat. What do you say, tomorrow at noon?”

I did want to hang out with him but considering the circumstances I didn’t think it would be a good idea. I was still very much attracted to Sean even though I had just been dumped by Colt, and even with that stupid cap on his head. He had a girlfriend and I wanted to respect their relationship. Plus, he didn’t have to make it up to me. I was truly going to forgive him. “You don’t have to do anything Sean. We’re friends, okay?”

“Friends go out to eat.” He persisted.

“Not friends with our history.”

He looked at me with a serious expression on his face before standing up. “Come with me.”

“Where?” I asked.

“Just come.” He ordered.

When I didn’t move, he took my hand in his and lead me over to the nearby gymnasium. There was a bucket full of water balloons just sitting there. Some kids probably left it there. It was only when I saw him reach into the bucket to inspect the remaining balloons that I realised what he was up to. “No way Norwood!”

“It’ll be fun.”

“Uh-uh! I don’t care, you are not gonna hit me with one of those!”

“Oh yeah?” He smirked as he picked up a big red one and lightly tossed it into the air, taunting me.

“Sean, you better not!” I warned him but he just kept grinning as he fiddled with the water-filled balloon. Instinctively, I started moving backwards, creating enough distance between us in case I had to start running. “I’m not playing with you. Stop!”

“You’re so riled up. I think you need something to cool you down.”

“Sean…!” I saw the balloon coming at me and knew I had to duck otherwise I’d be soaking wet.

Thankfully, he missed. I couldn’t believe he actually launched that water balloon at me! “You little shit! Is that how you throw?” I ran up to the bucket and snatched one. I wasn’t gonna let him get away with it. He was gonna pay! “I told you I’m not playing with you!”

I launched one at him but missed.

“Booo, you suck, Sloane!” Then he started doing this lame dance as he continued teasing me.

It was his turn now. When he picked up the balloon he cradled it in his hands almost maniacally. “I was going easy on you before but now…no more Mister Nice Guy.”

It came at me with such force that I couldn’t run from it. All I could do was use my arm to shield myself of some of the blow. The water splashed all over me. It was cold which felt nice considering the midday sun’s rays were beating down on us.

“Is that all you got?” I taunted.

“Oh, you want more? I can give you more!”

“Uh-uh, my turn!”

I got him this time!

“Shit!” He grunted with a laugh. “You hit hard girl!”

I couldn’t stop laughing at his whining. “Walk it off Norwood, walk it off.”

It was all fun and games until someone got hurt.

“Ouch!” I cried out.

He immediately dropped the balloon in his hand and ran over to me. “What’s wrong?”

“Something stung me. I think it was a bee.”

“A bee? I didn’t see any bees here. Lemme see.” He took my hand possessively. Even when I tried to pull away, he held on tightly. “It’s not a bee sting, there’s no stinger. It looks like a bite. Some other bug bit you.”

“It hurts!” I felt slightly ashamed at how much I was whining but…that shit hurt pretty bad!

“Let me make it better.” Like kissing my hand would make it feel better. That’s what you do for kids. It wouldn’t work on a grown ass woman like me…

Huh…it actually did feel better.

The moment his lips touched my skin it was like I forgot everything. I forgot the bug bite. I forgot that we were in the middle of a water balloon fight in slightly damp clothing. I even forgot that he had a girlfriend, or that until less than an hour ago I was dating someone else.

All I could think about was how tingly he made me feel inside.

“All better?”

And how I wanted more of that feeling…

“You should put some anti-bacterial cream on that when you get home.” He said.

I shook my head. “It’s fine.”

“You don’t want it to get infected, Olive.”

“What are you, my Daddy?”

That sounded way more suggestive than I intended. He paused like he was stopping himself from saying something and then he let go of my hands. I thought he was upset with me, but then he said. “It’s good seeing you like this.”

“Like how?”

“Smiling, happy. It’s a good look on you.”

“I was having a shitty day until you came, despite the bug attack. So…thanks.”

“Glad I could help. I could tell you weren’t in a good mood so I thought some juvenile fun would do the trick.”

Gosh, he was so adorable. So sweet and always willing to cheer me up whenever I’m in a funk. He really was an awesome guy. I’m glad I have him as a friend.

Though a part of me still wished he could be more than that.

 “What are you doing over here?” I heard a woman’s voice say.

She walked over to us and I knew right away who she was without having seen her before.

“Hey, honey.” Sean grinned as he moved around, creating more space between us as she approached us. “Just hanging out with my friend, Olive.”

Why did it sound like he stressed a little too hard on the word ‘friend’? I was probably over thinking it.

“Oh, this is Olive.” She said. “Nice to finally meet you. I’m Kaia, Sean’s girlfriend.”

It was a little weird the way she announced who she was to him almost like she was bragging. I wondered what Sean told her about me. Suddenly I became anxious that he probably told her about what happened between us at the club. I never asked him if he did. Surely, he must have told her the truth, right? “Hi. Nice to meet you too.”

“Sean’s told me so much about you!”

“He…has?”

“Of course. I’ve been nagging him to introduce me to you ever since I found out he was friends with the Sloane girls!”

“Oh…right…yeah….” So she didn’t know what happened between us then. Hm.

“Poppy’s wedding is the biggest job Seanie’s ever had.”

Seanie? “Yeah, I guess it is…”

“Honestly, I still don’t know why she hired him.” She cut me off. “I mean Seanie’s good at planning little clubs parties but nothing classy like a wedding. I hope she knows what she’s doing, am I right?”

Sean simply shook his head at her but didn’t say anything. I thought it was incredibly rude of her to put him down like that in front of someone she just met. I was overcome with this territorial feeling, like I had to defend him or something. “Sean will do an amazing job. I think she made the best choice.”

“Hehe…yeah…it’s a lot of work.” Sean chuckled awkwardly. “Thanks for the vote of confidence Liv.”

The girl just rolled her eyes at him and I decided then and there that I did NOT like her ass one bit!

“We should totally hang out!” She suggested excitedly. “Like the three of us? Or we can do a double date? Do you have a boyfriend? If not, I know a guy who’d be perfect for you!”

Like this bitch would know the kind of guy I liked? Then again, we already had similar tastes, didn’t we? “I like to find my own dates thanks. And I’m taking a break from dating now. I want to focus more on my career.”

“We should still get lunch together, like the three of us.” She slapped Sean on his arm again, this time to get him to speak up and support her idea. “Uh…yeah…let’s do that, Liv.” His smile was so fake, and this situation was getting awkward for me real quick so I gave in.

Then I mumbled some excuse about somewhere I had to get to so I could leave.

I couldn’t believe she was Sean choice. The girl is clearly a social climber who only wanted to be friends with me because of my name. I wonder if she’d still want to be friends with me after finding out I had my tongue in her boyfriend’s mouth not too long ago?

Worst of all I didn’t like how controlling and rude she was to Sean. He deserves better than that. He deserves someone who uplifts him and encourages him the way he is with me. Not someone who puts him down and doesn’t seem to appreciate him all that much.

As I kept on walking, I wondered…why was I so worked up about this?

I thought meeting Sean’s girlfriend would make any residual feelings I had for him finally go away but it changed nothing. Sean deserved better, but I did too. I deserved someone single, and I had to accept that that person was not gonna be Sean.

I’m also beginning to wonder if being alone for the long haul is something I’ll have to accept as well.

Special thanks to Maladi for creating Kaia Robinson for my casting call. I absolutely love her. When I saw her I knew she would be perfect as Sean’s snooty girlfriend. Unfortunately for Olive, she’ll have a few more appearances in later chapters.

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