“Hello. How many?” the hostess asked as the door closed behind Gray.
“I’m meeting two people here,” he answered. “They’ve already been seated.”
The hostess nodded. “Smoking or non?”
“Then they’re seated that way,” she answered as she pointed to her right.
Gray nodded and walked in the direction of her point. He quickly scanned the room and found Ellie and Chris in the far corner of the restaurant. “Sorry I’m late,” he said as he removed his jacket.
“No problem,” Ellie replied. “I can take a long lunch. The boss is out all week.”
“And I’m with the boss,” Chris added with an arrogant grin.
“Were you with Olivia?”
Gray shook his head. “No. I was calming the Chandler account down. Why would I be with Olivia?”
“Helping her look for a new place to live,” Ellie answered as their waiter appeared.
“What?” Gray asked.
“What would you like to drink sir?” the waiter asked.
“Water’s fine,” he answered, still baffled by Ellie’s statement. “Can we go ahead and order too?”
“Of course sir,” the waiter answered.
“What do you mean a new place to live?” Gray asked once the waiter had taken their orders and disappeared from their table.
“That’s what Chris said,” Ellie answered as she held up her hands in surrender. “Ask him.”
Gray looked at him for an answer.
Putting his drink down, he shrugged his shoulders. “Heather mentioned it to me when we were on the phone last night,” he admitted. “She didn’t go into detail. All she said was that Olivia was having the movers come in today to give her an estimation on how much it would cost to move everything.”
“You don’t know anything about it do you?” Ellie asked, seeing a look of distress cross Gray’s face.
Gray shook his head. “No, I don’t,” he answered.
“Maybe she was going to tell you tonight,” Chris added. “Maybe she didn’t want to worry you or anything.”
“Yeah,” Ellie chimed in. “You guys just started seeing each other. She probably didn’t want to freak you out.”
“Freak me out?” Gray asked. “Why would her moving freak me out?”
“The whole moving in thing,” Ellie answered. “You guys get serious and all of sudden she’s out of a place to live. She probably didn’t want you to think she wanted to move in with you. I know I would and I think Olivia’s a smart person and probably felt like I do.”
“But I’d let her move in with me if she wanted to,” Gray confessed.
“You would?” Chris and Ellie asked in unison.
“Yeah,” Gray answered. “I would. I mean we’re in a relationship so why wouldn’t I want to be there for her if she needed me.”
“But you’ve never wanted to live with anyone,” Chris replied. “I mean, even in college you some how finagled a way to have a dorm to yourself.”
Gray shrugged his shoulders. “I’m there for her if she needs me.”
“Besides being in total love and infatuation with her, you’re falling in love with her aren’t you?” Ellie asked.
“I like her,” Gray answered. “We’ve decided we’re only seeing each other. If that means in love then fine, I’m in love but I haven’t said I loved her yet.”
Olivia watched as Gray pushed at the food on his plate with his fork. He wasn’t giving her the silent treatment, but she knew something was bothering him. “Is something wrong?” she finally asked.
Gray shook his head and dropped his fork onto his plate. “No. I’m just not hungry.”
Taking a silent deep breath, Olivia pressed for more information. “Are you sure it’s just that?” she asked, knowing that he was lying to her about being hungry. “You’ve been kind of in another world since you got here, and that’s not like you.”
Looking up from his plate, Gray stared at her. He could tell she was genuinely concerned and he couldn’t find the reason or the energy to be angry with her. “Why didn’t you tell me you were moving?” he blurted out.
“How did you find out?” Olivia asked, surprised that he knew.
“Heather told Chris and Chris told Ellie and Ellie asked me if I was helping you look for a new place.”
“Heather can never keep her mouth shut,” she said with a sigh as she put her fork down.
“But why would you want her to keep her mouth shut over something like that?” Gray asked. “That’s pretty big news and a pretty big deal.”
“I didn’t want to worry you,” she confessed. “I’ve known I was going to have to move for a while. It’s nothing I’ve been hiding from you. It’s just something I don’t want to deal with.”
“Then let me help you,” Gray pleaded.
Olivia shook her head. “This is my problem, not yours. I didn’t tell you any of this because I didn’t want you to feel obligated.”
“Obligated towards what?”
“Taking care of me. Being that knight in shining armor. I’m not one of those women who need rescuing. I’m a self-rescuing princess.”
“I know you don’t need rescuing. It’s one of the many qualities I love about you, but you’re my girlfriend, why wouldn’t I want to help you.”
Olivia shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not use to having someone here for me,” she admitted. “I just do what I need to do to get by.”
“Well, you have someone now,” Gray said, reaching across the table and taking her hand. “You have me and I want to be there when you need someone. I want to be that someone.”
Smiling, Olivia squeezed his hand. “Okay. Can I tell you I’m moving now?”
Gray smiled. “Yes,” he answered. “When do you have to be out of here?”
“Ideally, a week, but my landlord said two weeks if I needed it.”
Gray stared at her. “Really? Why?”
“When he bought this house, he split it into two apartments, but someone offered him a stupid amount of money for the house and he took it. Originally the new owners were in no rush to gut the house and redo the inside but apparently now, they’re anxious and want to get it done as soon as they can.”
“But you have a lease, they can’t do that.”
Pulling her hand away, Olivia nodded in disagreement. “They bought out my lease and my neighbor’s plus gave us the rent we have already paid for the year back to us as an incentive to move out as quickly as possible. I have a moving company coming in tomorrow to start packing me up.”
“Have you found a place yet?”
“I have a few places I am going to check out with Susan tomorrow. As much as we get on each others nerves at times, she has amazing connections.”
“Move in with me,” Gray said so as a matter of fact that he scared himself.
Olivia stared at him in shock. “Huh?”
“Move in with me,” Gray repeated. “You can make it temporary or permanently. It’s your choice.”
Olivia’s head was still reeling from his suggestion. “But.”
“Before you jump to no, all I ask is that you think about it. I know the whole moving process is enough to drive anyone crazy, and I know I’m offering you something you weren’t expecting or something you think might be an obligation, but it’s not. I want to be here for you and offering you a place to stay while you figure out where you want to live is being there for you. Just think about it okay?”
Olivia nodded as her brain started to overload itself with questions. “Okay,” she answered. “I’ll think about it.”
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is a rough draft and not the final version
Categories: The Dumbing Down of Love