Chapter 14: Shut Down

Shortly after dinner, Thomas had gone to the library to work on a paper two weeks before it was due. I suspected he was at least partially trying to give Olivia and I some space. And I for that I was eternally grateful. I was beginning to relish in even the few minutes I could get alone with her.

He was the only person in the world who knew how much I actually liked her. I was sure I was beginning to sound like a bumbling idiot, because all I ever spoke about was her. And to be completely honest, I almost didn’t even care.

Olivia was everything a guy could dream of. She was smart, and funny. She was outgoing and sociable. And perhaps most importantly she was mind numbingly beautiful.

There were times when I looked at her; I couldn’t believe it was possible for someone to be so beautiful. I didn’t quite believe, but if there was such a thing as an angel, she was definitely one.

Tonight was one of those nights. She didn’t even have to try to be beautiful.

Beside me, she was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. She had a black cardigan over top, occasionally pulling it down to cover her hands. Her feet were bare, her toenails painted a striking shade of blood red. God, even her feet were pretty. The top half of her hair was swept back into a clear hair clip, while the bottom half hung in sleek curls around her face.

I wanted more than anything to pull her into my arms and burry my face in her beautiful hair. I wanted to twirl her curls around my fingers.

Her hair was a whole new form of torture for me. It smelled deliciously. It was a sweet scent that I couldn’t put my finger on. Her hair looked so silky, there was nothing I wanted more than to burry my fingers in those beautiful chocolate colored locks and kiss her until neither of us could breathe.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched her. I couldn’t help it. From the moment she walked into the room, it was like my eyes immediately gravitated toward her.

I watched her pick up the sparkling silver chain she had around her neck and shift the pendant from side to side, twirling it absently around her fingers.

I knew it was one of the oldest tricks in the book, but I had deliberately planned a marathon of scary movies. I secretly hoped she would get scared, and at least then I would have a chance to put my arms around her and hold her to me.

So far, this plan was backfiring. We were completely alone, in a dark dorm, lit only by the light casting off from the television, and yet Olivia seemed perfectly comfortable; her eyes still on the screen.

I paused, and with a sudden bout of bravery, I moved my arm around Olivia’s shoulders. She unconsciously moved into my arm. She curled her legs against her right side, never taking her eyes off the television.

I watched the moving, somehow getting bored. This particular movie was slow starting, but held little interest to me.

Olivia seemed to thoroughly enjoying the movie. She would occasionally smile at anything funny or hold her breath during the parts that might be startling to her. She was adorable.

She shivered in my arms.

I immediately felt myself worry. “Are you cold? Do you want me to find you a blanket or maybe you can borrow a sweater…” I began.

Olivia smiled. “I think I’m okay right now.” She answered, smiling up at me. “I usually don’t get cold…”

“Are you sure? I could make some coffee or something.”

“I’m fine.” She assured, briefly laying her hand over mine.

Her touch seemed to send sparks through my skin. I swallowed, and resisted the urge to pull her to me and kiss her again and again.
Suddenly, it felt like we were a real couple and not just friends. The attraction I felt for her wasn’t anything I’d ever felt before. It was so much more than just a regular crush. I was completely and utterly infatuated with her. I was no longer comfortable with our current label. Being friends wasn’t good enough for the two of us, I could see it clearly. We were destined to be more, and I was determined to make it so. No matter what I had to do or confess to her to get her to be mine, I was prepared to do it.
Even though I had been so careful to draw lines and boundaries to keep it from happening, I could almost feel the mutual adoration, comfort and trust between two people in a relationship. When Olivia sighed softly and lightly laid her head on my shoulder, it was the last straw. I had to do it, and it had to be now.

I paused the movie just before the father in the movie was about to burry his son in the pet cemetery and turned to Olivia.

She frowned, shifting to face me. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”

“We need to talk, Olivia.” I said suddenly, swallowing back my pride.

Her pretty face puckered into a confused frown. “What about?”

“About us.”

“What about us? I mean, we’re friends, just hanging out.” She replied, with even more confusion.

“I know that.” I answered. “But we talked before about being… more than friends.”

“And we’re not anything more than friends. I don’t understand…” Olivia answered.

I drew in a deep breath. “Olivia, I like you. A lot.”

“I like you too.” She smiled.

“I think maybe it’s time we think about maybe being more than friends. You said it yourself, we like each other, and it’s probably going to happen anyway… I don’t see why it can’t happen now, you know?”

Olivia pursed her lips, glancing down between us. Our hands were both rested on the sofa between us, our hands almost touching.

I swallowed. The delay she was taking to answer was just about killing me. She had to say something and she had to say it fast before the anticipation tore me up inside.

I spoke suddenly, unable to stand the silence any more. “What do you think? Can we start dating?” I prompted.

Olivia seemed to strain for the words, but finally she said one solitary word. “No.”

I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. The air flooded out of my chest.

“No? Why?” I demanded.

I wasn’t entirely used to being told no when it came to girls. Most of the girls I was used to hanging out with would have done anything for either a fix or a good time. I understood that Olivia was completely different; she was smart, pretty and perfect.

But up until about ten seconds ago, I had thought she liked me too.

“I… I don’t understand.” I sputtered, in disbelief. “I mean, we talked before, I thought you were the one who wanted us to start dating…”

Olivia looked pained, shaking her head slowly. “Isaac, I like you. A lot. I have liked you since pretty much the moment I met you but… I just… you’re so secretive. I mean, you were right before when you said that I hardly know you. There’s so much you haven’t told me, so much you won’t tell me… you said you couldn’t be sure that you could trust me, and I feel like I’ve proven myself to you, I’ve proven that you can trust me, and yet there’s still a whole lot about you that you feel like you can’t share with me…”

She paused, drawing in a deep breath. “I’ve always thought that a relationship needs to be based on trust… and if you feel like you can’t trust me… I don’t see how things can work out between us.” She pursed her lips tightly.

I drew in a deep breath and held it in my lungs. “Olivia, it’s not like I don’t want to tell you these things.”

Olivia frowned. “The longer you wait to tell me, the more worried I get. I’m starting to think it’s really bad. Like maybe you killed someone or you’re an informant for the mob or something.”

“No, it’s nothing like that.” I said quickly.

“Then why can’t you tell me? I don’t understand why you feel like you can’t trust me.” She insisted.

“Olivia, it’s… it’s nothing bad, it’s just complicated. It’s just my past, it has nothing to do with how I feel about you. I just… I hate people knowing about all of the terrible things I’ve done. I mean, my parents know and they were so disgusted, they shipped me off here!”

“But you know I won’t tell anyone. You must trust me that far…” She frowned.

“I do trust you, Liv…. And I know you’ll keep my secrets… I just…”

“Then why can’t you tell me?” She insisted.

I swallowed hard. “Because… I’m afraid that if I tell you, you won’t see me as the same person. I’m afraid you might not want anything to do with me after I tell you. I’m afraid you might think I’m a freak or a common criminal or something.”

Olivia frowned. She picked up on the one word I probably shouldn’t have said. “Criminal? It’s that bad?”

I nodded. “Yeah.” I admitted slowly. “It’s kind of that bad.”

She paused, her mouth still slightly ajar.

I waited patiently for her to either yell or flee the room like she was being chased by a rabid bear. I was sure she was thinking the worst immediately, most people did.

I was completely dumbfounded when she pursed her lips and glanced down at our hands. “I find it hard to believe that you have a criminal record.”

“I do.” I swallowed. “It’s nothing hardcore or anything, it’s a small list of… some mistakes I’ve made.” I admitted.

She frowned. “Tell me about it, please? You’re scaring me.”

I sighed, hunching forward and dropping my face into my hands. I rested my elbows on my knees, desperately trying to think straight. Where could I even possibly begin?

She reached out timidly and laid her hand on my shoulder blade. Her hand slid up, gently moving over my shoulder. She lightly squeezed my shoulder. “Isaac…” She began. She rubbed my shoulder gently, and the pressure felt great. The same sparks that I felt when our hands touched was now amplified. The friction of her hand on my back felt better than any massage I could have ever received.

I scrubbed my face with the palms of my hands and finally stopped, dropping my hands.

“You can tell me.” Olivia insisted in a small voice.

I turned to her. “Tomorrow is Thursday, right? Give me until three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. When we get out of English tomorrow, we’ll go for a walk. We’ll find someplace private and quiet and I’ll explain everything. Then you can decide if you still want to be with me or not. If you don’t—if you completely hate me for what I’ve done, then you can. And you’ll never have to see me again…”

Olivia frowned, drawing in a slow breath through her nose. “Isaac, I don’t think there’s anything you could have done to make me want to cut you out of my life entirely. You’re a sweet, honest, caring person. From what I know about you, you seem determined to change. How can someone do determined to do the right thing be that bad?” She asked.

I swallowed thickly. “Thanks, Olivia. Thanks for understanding… it’s going to take me some time to decide how to tell you everything.”

Olivia nodded. “I understand that.”

“Thanks. Most people wouldn’t be so understanding.” I smiled lightly.

Olivia laughed softly. “Just promise me one thing?”

“Anything.” I answered.

“Just promise you won’t cart me off and burry me in the wood somewhere.” She smirked.

I laughed, most of it forced. “That’s very funny.” I rolled my eyes.

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