Burn Us Down

13: We’ll See Where That Gets Us


Olivia blinked at the sound of her name before she lifted her head, glancing towards her father who sat at the head of the table, a curious smile brightening his face. She had tried to avoid it, the dinner that her father had arranged for their family was the last place that she wanted to find herself with things as they were, but when her stepmother had called, excited to show off a new recipe that she had been working to perfect, Olivia hadn’t been able to say no. She knew what she was walking into. She hadn’t seen Melissa or Enzo face to face since she had moved out of their spare bedroom, and she hadn’t been in the same room as both her sister and her father since the pictures had come out, and she knew that the topic of Gerard wouldn’t remain off the table for long, even if Valeria had tried to steer the conversation away from it since they’d all sat down. She knew that it was only a matter of time before Melissa or Alex bought it up.

“Huh?” Olivia squeaked.

Alex smirked around the top of his wine glass. “Are you with us, kiddo?” he prodded.

Olivia shook her head, fixing the best smile she could. “Sorry” she replied “I was in my own world. Did I miss something/” she prodded.

“Just an adorable story about your favourite nephew” Enzo quipped with a good-natured smile.

“My only nephew, unless there’s something you and Mel want to share?” Olivia played along.

Melissa choked on her drink, shaking her head. “No” she spluttered out “One is enough for now” she added.

Olivia smiled. “Max can’t be that bad, Mel” she quipped.

Melissa offered her sister a playful glare. “When you and Gerard…” she trailed off as her mind caught up with the words, her eyes widening.

Olivia watched her freeze before she shook her head, a sad smile on her face. “You know his name isn’t cursed, right?” she teased weakly.

“Of course” Melissa replied “I just…I didn’t know if we were talking about him. Are we?” she prodded.

“What do you want to know?” Olivia replied, trying, and failing, to keep her voice calm.

“We don’t have to talk about anything, not if you don’t want to” Valeria contributed, offering her step daughter a soft smile “We can talk about anything else. For example, what did you think of the chicken?” she added.

Olivia spared her a grateful look, but still shook her head, diverting her stare back towards her sister and father. She knew that they were both itching to ask about Gerard. Since she had sat down, the two of them had kept sharing looks, wordlessly trying to scout out the right moment to bring the defender up, and Olivia knew that she couldn’t put it off forever. “What is it, Mel?” she pressed.

Melissa hesitated for a second, before she lifted her wine glass up, using it to point at the engagement ring which still sat on her younger sister’s finger. “You’re still wearing that” she pointed out.

Olivia looked down at the ring, gently twisting it around her finger.

“Mel” Enzo warned softly.

Melissa glanced at her husband, acknowledging his warning with a small nod of her head, before she turned back to Olivia. “I just don’t want you to get your hopes up” she said “I know you guys are…are spending time together, and if that’s what you want, then great, but I just want to know that you know that rushing into a wedding with him would be…ill advised” she said carefully.

Olivia hid her sarcastic smile by pulling her glass to her lips.

Alex, however, caught it. “Oli, your sister is just trying to look out for you” he noted.

Olivia nodded. “I know, papa” she replied “I just think she never really wanted me to marry him anyway” she added.

Melissa opened her mouth to object, but Olivia cut her off, shaking her head gently. “I’m not trying to be antagonistic” she mused “And I know that this is you just looking out for me, and I am grateful for that, but this is something I am trying to figure out with him and it doesn’t need other people trying to throw their opinions in the mix. No, I am not going to marry him in six months, but I might do someday, that’s why I am still wearing this” she added, gently fixing her ring.

Melissa watched her for a second before she sighed. “I don’t understand why you’d still want him” she said carefully.

“Melissa” Alex’s warning was firmer than Enzo’s and accompanied with a firm fatherly glare.

Olivia shook her head. “It’s OK, papa” she said “I must look so naïve to you, Mel” she added.

“That’s not…”

“Yes, it is” Olivia interjected.

Melissa huffed. “Fine” she noted “The guy’s a jerk, Oli” she added.

Olivia took in a breath, trying to calm herself down, before she nodded her head. “Yeah” she agreed softly “But I still love him and I want to see if we can figure things out. I know how it sounds, Mel, I know how it makes me look, but when he says that he’s sorry, I believe him. I don’t care if other people think I am naïve, I know that I kind of am, but I don’t want to just let him go and I need you to get your head around it. I am probably going to want to bring him to these dinners again someday, and I need that to be something you guys are going to be OK with, because I am not just going to break up with him because you think I should. You’re not me” she explained.

Melissa’s expression softened slightly before she glanced around the table, slowly drawing her gaze back towards her younger sister. “How are things going between you?” she asked quietly.

Olivia blinked, slightly surprised by the question, before she ducked her head. “We’re working on it” she said.

“What does that mean?” Valeria asked.

Olivia took a second to think. “I needed to see things from him” she answered carefully “And he needed to see them from me, and I think…I think we’re finally starting to do that. We’re talking, and we’ve got plans to get together tomorrow night, and we’re just going to…to keep taking it step by step and see where that gets us” she explained, not quite able to stop the slightly wistful smile from brightening her features.

Alex and Melissa, who’d been watching her as they listened to her, caught the smile before they shared a slightly worried look, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Olivia who let out a muted sigh to herself, knowing that there was a very long away to go before her family accepted that Gerard, for the foreseeable future at least, wasn’t just going to slide out of her life.