Chapter Twenty-Eight

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During the next few days, I don't meet anybody. I don't even see Daley. He passes by behind me while I'm home but I'm glued to the computer screen making deals with other investors now that Mason is not stopping us anymore so I hear Daley around the place but I don't actually see him or find the time to actually talk to him. And if I'm not at home, I am out at meetings to settle those deals so we can finally move forward.

At the end of the week, I send a message to everyone that I usually see during the week to tell them that I am free once again and that I want to meet everybody for the following week. Shortly after having sent that to Oli, he's calling me. I put the TV on mute, which makes the most penetrating noise in the flat the water running while Daley's in the shower, and take the call. "Helloou?" I ask. Oli laughs on the other end. "Hello there too. You're not avoiding me, are you?" I laugh too. "I've literally just sat down after a whole week of endless work." "I came over a couple of times but you were out. I felt like it was directed at me." "Must've been a coincidence, I promise I wasn't avoiding you." "That's good to know because we did get cut off there the last time I saw you, you know?" I bite my lip and try not to laugh too nervously. Well, actually I'm trying not to giggle like a teenage girl. "You're right" I say with a surprisingly high voice. He chuckles. "So, you want to meet up?" "Yeah, when does it work for you?" "How about now?" I sit up. "Now?" "Yeah..." "Um, sure" I reply without really having thought about it. I just could really use some cheering up by Oli after all that stress. "Should I come over?" "Actually, if we want to talk about something and not be interrupted, maybe here is not such a good idea, Daley is about to return from the shower and Helen's away so I don't think he's going anywhere." He laughs again. "Good point. You come over then. I'll pay for your cab." "I can pay for my own cab." "I'm expecting you ... now! Go!" I laugh and hang up, changing into leggings and a dress, slipping into my boots and shouting over the shower noise that I'm going over to Oli's just one second before I open the door so Daley won't be able to comment on it.

I take a cab to Oli's place, pay the driver with a tip because he told me a traffic joke as we were standing by a red light, then make my way up the stairs to Oli's apartment. I knock on the door and he opens. He looks at me for a second, like he's thinking about something. Then he nods, not really to me but more to himself and takes a step forward. He reaches out and his hand lands at the back of my neck and before I can comprehend what's happening, I already feel his lips against mine which makes me shut my eyes instantly. As hesitant as I was last time, I'm not anymore now. I move towards him instinctively and run my fingers through his hair as I kiss him back. He smiles on my lips and I hear a little chuckle noise come from his throat but he doesn't pull away. I smile too and lean forward a little more for a short moment, then pull back. He wiggles his eyebrows. "Well..." he grins. "I'm glad I decided to do that and not be a coward. You have no idea how long I contemplated if I should do that or not while you were on your way" he grins. "I hope you're aware I'm not down for a booty call though" I reply. He laughs and steps to the side so I walk past him into the apartment. He closes the door behind me and follows me to the sofa.

"I know, that was not my intention at all, baby girl. I just wanted to talk about ... what's obvious. I mean, for me at least." I nod slowly and take off my jacket and put my bag down on the ground. He nods quickly. "Okay, okay." He wipes his hands on his jeans, then sits down next to me. I take a deep breath. He took that first step by the door so I realise that it's now my turn. I bite my lip, then look at him. "So, you don't want to forget about that ... I mean, what happened after we got the tattoos ... either?" I ask. "We kissed and we should say that..." I nod. "Right, you're right, sorry. I just ... I don't know what to say, do you normally talk about these things? I haven't been in ... I mean, I haven't talked about something like that ever and I haven't been in a situation like this in a very long time..." "I don't know..."

We look at each other for a moment, then I look away and scan the walls with my eyes. "Do you want something to drink?" "So it is a booty call?" I joke. He laughs awkwardly. "No, I meant like generally a drink, tea or coffee or ... because I definitely need coffee." "No, wait" I say because I'm afraid we're not going to talk about it at all if we don't do it now and I really need clarity to calm down a little and sort out my thoughts. He inhales deeply. "Okay. So. Bottom line, I like you. We're good friends, I mean, we're pals but I would not mind changing that, just so you know like so you know what you're at with me because I personally am not a big fan of this nonsense ... the nonsense with like that riddle if a friend likes you too or if they maybe like you and you don't ... like them, I hate it, it makes no sense so I want to be straight forward and tell you that I like you, Bev. You're great and I want you to know that."

I look at him, watching him babble and listening to him as he has probably just made a huge jump over his shadow to dare and say all of that out loud. I press my lips together and think for a moment. "I don't really know what to say but I guess ... I'm open to the idea of ... of maybe liking you too." "That sounds like pity..." he says, looking at me as if I can't be serious. I laugh and look down but before I continue speaking, look up at his eyes again. "No, I don't mean it like that I mean I like you too, as much as I can like you after the time we've known each other but I mean I'm open to explore that idea of being more than pals like I'm not opposed to that." "I don't think I've ever met someone as awkward as me, Bev, that's really refreshing" he says dryly, looking serious but I know he's gonna break out into a smile any minute and as he does, it's contagious and I smile back.

Then that little doubtful part of my brain pipes up in the back of my head. And instinctively, I speak my thoughts. "I just don't get ... why..." I say quietly. He leans back. "What? Why you like me?" he grins and points at himself from head to toe. "Isn't it obvious?" he laughs and his voice rises a little higher for dramatic effect. I smile but shake my head. "No, I'm serious actually, I don't understand why you like me, I mean..." I point at mostly my middle region. He tilts his head to the side, leans back a little further and has this sassy look in his eyes again that says "Oh, come on!". "I'm not fishing for compliments, I'm generally very doubtful about that! Especially after everything that's been going on." He raises one eyebrow. "Mason?" "No, I mean, he's not completely innocent but it's mostly me, criticizing myself." "Bev, no." I raise my eyebrows. "What?" "Just no." "Oli..." "No." "I mean it, I can't tell you I'm into this if in the back of my mind I always wonder why you are." He takes a deep breath.

"You like Gossip, right?" "What?" "The band, Gossip, do you like them?" I nod slowly, not sure what he's getting at. "And Beth Ditto, yeah, do you ever question why she's in whatever relationship she's in?" "No but she probably does." "No, she doesn't. Yeah, you're not average weight, Bev, you know that and I know that but I'm not saying that in a negative way. Because just like Beth Ditto, for example and I can give you tons more, you pull it off so well, I mean, I met you and it didn't even cross my mind, like, I didn't even think about it, what I noticed was that you look hot and you have that vibe about you that's just positive and confident and, if I may say so without you thinking I have a booty call in mind, pretty sexy."

I lick my lips and try to avoid his eyes but I know I can't and I just want to hug him and cry because honestly, that's what I always hoped someone would see but never actually believed it possible as stupid as that sounds. "Thank you" is all I get out. He smiles. "You're welcome, baby girl" he grins because he obviously felt just as awkward saying that as I felt hearing it.

Suddenly, I hear my phone vibrating in the pocket of my jacket. "One sec..." I say and take it out. It's Melanie. "Hello?" "I need to talk to you, something happened. Like, I don't know if I can keep being a part of MB, I mean ... can you come over? I think we should talk about this." She sounds like she's crying and I'm instantly alarmed. "Stay home and wait for me, okay? I'll be right there" I say and hang up, looking up at Oli.

"I'm really sorry, that was Mel and she's crying and something's wrong. She says she can't be part of MB anymore." "What?" "Is it okay if I go? I mean, I don't want you to feel..." "No, no, of course, I get it. Do you want me to come with you?" I shake my head. "No, no, it's fine, don't worry" I reply as I get up and put on my jacket, grabbing my bag. He gets up too. "Oli, I'm really sorry about this" I say, chewing on my bottom lip. "Bev, it would not have come to us having this talk if you didn't do things like this. This is another reason I like you, you're always there when someone needs you. We'll talk about it when we get the time. Or we won't talk about it and just see what happens. I mean, we know what's up now." "Are you sure?" He nods with a smile. "Of course." I lean forward and kiss him for a second. "Thanks, you're the best." He shakes his head dramatically. "I know!"


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