Thanks so much for your patience! ❤ I promised “by the end of the month”, and look! I just barely made it! LOL
The next chapter is already in the works and I’ve been feeling extra-inspired to write all of a sudden, so I promise you it won’t be two months again before the next chapter (or even one month, if I can help it!) You guys are all so awesome for being so patient and supporting. I appreciate it very much!
And now without further ado… Our first Ollie chapter of the adult arc 😉 Enjoy!
A heavy sigh passed Ollie’s lips as he looked around at the sea of cardboard that now littered his living room floor. He’d almost forgotten just how exhausting it was to pack up your entire life in a bunch of moving boxes — and this was already the second time he’d done it in less than two years.
God, I need a beer break.
As he made his way through the maze of boxes to the barren kitchen, Ollie could feel the dangerous stirrings of bitterness creeping up in the back of his mind. This meant it was twice now that he’d had to move. Twice his entire life had been turned upside down… Because of her.
The first was right after their divorce — He’d moved into an apartment and let Natalie keep the house. Ollie had taken the high road and didn’t fight her on it… Or at least, that’s what he’d told himself at the time.
Maybe I was really just letting her walk all over me. Maybe she really DOES have me whipped… even now. That’s the line that some of his former coworkers had liked to tease him with, and as much as he’d brushed it all off at the time, maybe there had been some truth to it after all. Hell, over a year after their divorce and here he was, moving across the entire country for her.
Not for her, Ollie reminded himself, thinking of his sweet little girl. For Violet.
Still, he wouldn’t be fooling anyone if he said this wasn’t exactly what Natalie wanted. And his wife had always gotten what she wanted — She could be so harsh and overbearing. That was a large part of what led to their constant fighting and resentment of one another (and, ultimately, the end of their marriage).
She could be so fun too. So sweet. So loving. So protective of their daughter — and even of him, back when things were good.
He’d never forget his mother’s terrifying (and, thankfully, successful) battle with cancer several years back. On top of all the stress of surgeries and chemotherapy, the paparazzi had been absolutely ruthless. And, after one particularly difficult day at the hospital, he and Natalie had been bombarded as they made their way back to their car after a visit.
Ollie tried his best to shrug them off, but they knew exactly who his mother was, and refused to back down. Of course, Natalie put an end to that pretty quickly, at the cost of two broken fingers on her right hand, and a lawsuit from the bloody-nosed photographer.
Fortunately they were able to reach a reasonable settlement (which Callie was more than happy to help pay off), and were able to look back on it with laughter. “That’s what they get for messing with my husband,” Natalie used to say, with a playful smirk on her lips.
Ollie smiled into his beer. There was a small part of him that still loved her, a little. Maybe he always would. It was hard not to, when there were so many good memories mixed in with the bad. And he missed those good days so much, even now. But he also knew that there was no going back. Their relationship was over — it had become much too painful and toxic for both of them.
The only way now was to move forward. And, if things went the way Ollie was hoping they would, maybe that would mean moving forward with Asher…
Reaching out to him a few months back had been a crazy, selfish whim, but it was one that Ollie was immensely grateful he had listened to. Ollie was still kicking himself for his part in letting them drift apart from each other for so many years. But they were both going off to college; living thousands of miles apart; and, as kids that age so often were, figuring themselves out. They each had a lot of growing up to do, and now fate had finally brought them back together when they were older and wiser. Maybe it was for the best after all.
Of course, it still drove him insane wondering what would happen between them now. That night they’d spent together had brought back so many old feelings, and part of him couldn’t help but think ‘What the hell are we waiting for?’ Hadn’t thirteen years been long enough? But Asher had made it clear — he didn’t want to rush into anything, and, much as he didn’t want to, Ollie had agreed.
Because really, what other choice did he have?
A sudden high-pitched sound broke him out of his reverie. Ollie balanced his beer on a nearby box and sat down on a small folding chair as he removed his ringing cell phone from the pocket of his jeans. Asher? He thought hopefully as he glanced down at the screen.
He tried his best to hide his disappointment as he answered. “Hi Nat.”
“Hey, Oliver!” His ex-wife replied cheerfully. To his amusement, she was the only person outside of his professional life who ever called him by his full name. And he’d always secretly liked it. “Just wanted to check in… How’s the packing going?”
“Slowly.” He let out a soft chuckle. “But it’s getting there.”
“Think you’ll be all set for tomorrow?”
“Nope, the movers are gonna start heading across the country with a big empty truck.” Ollie replied, his tone playful. “Nah, seriously though, I’ll be fine.”
“Good.” He could hear the smile in Natalie’s voice. “Well, I know I’ve already told you a million times, but thank you. I know this isn’t easy, but you have no idea how much it’s gonna mean to Violet to have her daddy back again.” She paused. “And speaking of our little diva, I’ve gotta go drop her off at daycare in a few minutes… Wanna say hi?”
Ollie smiled. “Of course!”
Natalie’s voice suddenly sounded muffled and far away. “Violet… There’s someone who wants to say hi to you!”
“No!” A little voice shrieked.
Ollie laughed heartily.
“Are you sure?” He heard Natalie ask. “It’s Daddy!”
The sound of tiny pounding footsteps flooded his ears for a moment, and then, “Dada!”
“Hey, Mouse! How’s it going?”
“Good! Dada, you comin’?” The three-year-old asked hopefully. “We goin’ jumpin’?”
Man, I got her obsessed with that trampoline place, didn’t I? Whoops… Ollie smiled to himself. “Not today… But guess what?”
“In just a couple days, Daddy’s coming to visit… But he’s staying this time. And then we’ll see each other all the time again! Isn’t that great?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” Ollie had to pull the phone away from his ear at the sound of her excited cries. “We go jumpin’ allllll the time!”
“Yes, Daddy will take you jumping.” He laughed softly. “This weekend, okay?”
His chest grew warm with happiness. “Love you, Mouse.”
“Love you too, Dada! Biggie much!”
“I love you very much too.” He replied gently. “Have fun at daycare, honey. You can give the phone back to Mommy now, okay?”
There was the sound of tiny stomping feet again for a few moments.
“You’ve got her hooked on that trampoline place.” Natalie laughed as she picked up the phone once more. “Might have to get her one for her birthday to help tide her over between visits… Anyway, I’ve gotta run. But I’ll be at the airport on Friday to pick you up, alright? See you then.”
“Thanks, Nat. See you Friday.”
Ollie returned his phone to his pocket with a sigh, and took another long sip of beer. Of course it had been wishful thinking to believe that Asher would be calling him. It was only seven in the morning on the west coast. Asher was either getting ready for work, like Natalie; at work, already in the midst of a long shift; or getting some well-deserved rest.
Guess I just really miss him, Ollie admitted to himself, grateful that in just a few days, he would no longer have to go weeks without seeing Asher anymore.
It had been particularly hard since their last visit. To Ollie’s dismay, Asher had been more distant and unavailable than usual the past few weeks. At first, Ollie had panicked. Had he done something wrong? Scared Asher away? But his friend had assured him that he was just busy. ‘Work’s been a total shitshow,’ Asher had told him during their last phone call. ‘But I’m sure it’ll calm down soon.’
Ollie certainly hoped so, though with his new job with the firm out in LA starting soon, he knew he’d soon be swamped too. Maybe it was never really the distance that had been the real problem. Maybe it was just how busy their lives were becoming as they got older.
Ugh. Adulting fucking sucks. Ollie sat back in the chair, turning on the large television in front of him. He barely watched real TV anymore, but it would be nice to have something on in the background while he continued his packing. He flipped mindlessly through the channels for a minute or two until a familiar name caught his ear from an entertainment news broadcast.
“– arriving at Del Sol Valley Medical Center. Representatives of the couple have declined comment, but sources say it was Levon Jeffries who made the call to 911, leading to some speculation that it was Samantha Murdock who was brought in by ambulance late last night.” The perky woman onscreen spoke, interspersed with several shots of the hospital where Asher worked. “We will update as more information becomes available. Samantha Murdock is, of course, best known for her role on Strangerville with Dax Matherson and, most recently –”
Ollie shook his head, tuning out the next few lines from the news anchor. And to think Mom wants to follow me and Violet back out there… With how bad the paparazzi still treated his mother here in New York, it was almost easy to forget just how much worse they were back home.
Those poor people… Doesn’t anyone realize they’re human too? Despite his talent onstage, Ollie never regretted his choice to not follow in his mother’s footsteps. No amount of money was worth it. Not in his eyes, anyway.
“And, as you might remember, it’s been a star-studded few weeks over at the hospital.” The anchor continued. “Nearly three weeks after his motorcycle collision, sources say that Bobcats quarterback Landon Littlehale is being transferred from Del Sol Valley Medical Center to a rehabilitation facility this weekend. Littlehale has released the following statement –”
Ollie felt his jaw tighten. The reaction was almost visceral. Had he just heard what he thought he heard?
He pulled his phone out, doing a quick Google search for Landon’s name.
Sure enough, he found dozens of articles from a few weeks ago. In town for a fundraiser, a motorcycle accident, rumors of a spinal injury… the details of each article were more or less the same, including two things: That he was brought to the emergency room where Asher worked, and the date of the accident — The last time Ollie had seen Asher in person.
He got called into work that day… So he…
Ollie shook his head, physically trying to snap himself out of it. Don’t go into this weird ‘jealous boyfriend’ mode. He scolded himself. After all, Asher wasn’t his boyfriend. Not yet, anyway.
And Asher wasn’t obligated to tell him he’d seen Landon again, was he? Would’ve been nice though…
Plus, Landon was practically ancient history now. Just some stupid high school relationship that didn’t really mean anything… right? Yeah, just like me and Asher were… He felt his stomach slowly sinking as the thought crossed his mind.
No matter how hard he tried, Ollie couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that Asher had been hiding this from him on purpose. Was it really work that had been keeping Asher so distant? Or…
Ugh. I need to stop all this insecure bullshit. I’m sure I’m reading too much into it. Hell, maybe Asher didn’t even see him. There are plenty of other doctors working in the ER…
Still, Ollie knew that there was only one way he could feel better. One thing that could ease his mind. His fingers were moving before he’d even consciously made the decision.
It rang five times before Asher finally picked up.