Burn Us Down

64: There Was More Wine Than There Should Have Been


Olivia blinked as Nicolas slipped his hand from hers, padding towards the fridge. “Huh?” she spluttered.

“Do you and Gerard want a drink?” Nicolas quipped, peeking back around the fridge door with another bright grin.

Gerard, who’d been looking between the two of them curiously, turned back to Nicolas, offering him a polite smile and a nod. He knew that there was something he was missing. The way that Olivia was staring at Nicolas was like she had seen a ghost, and he knew that it was more than him being the man that had replaced Enzo in Melissa’s life, but he knew that he wasn’t going to get it out of her then. He’d be lucky if he ever got it out of her at all. “I’ll have one” he mused.

Nicolas nodded before he glanced at Olivia again. “Olivia?” he prodded.

Olivia opened and closed her mouth a couple of times before she settled on shaking her head gently.

The corner of Nicolas’s lips quirked upwards slightly as he ducked back into the fridge, retrieving a bottle that he promptly delivered into Gerard’s hand. “You guys should head on through” he mused “Melissa’s pretty excited to have you here” he added.

Gerard thought about making a joke, but stopped himself, instead offering Nicolas another polite nod. “How long until dinner?” he prodded “I mean, not that we’re in a hurry to get out of here, but I promised my parents, who are babysitting for us, that we’d not be back late” he added. It wasn’t a complete lie. He had promised his parents that they’d not be too late in getting home, but mostly he wanted to get out as quickly as he could. There was a palpable tension in the air. Olivia and Melissa were awkward around one another, and Olivia could barely look at Nicolas, and Gerard knew that the longer they stayed, the more likely it was that the tension ruptured into some kind of confrontation.

“It shouldn’t be too much longer” Nicolas replied “Though, I might take a little time to fine tune it. I hear Olivia’s a chef” he added impishly.

Gerard smiled proudly, trying to mask Olivia’s awkward shifting. “She’s pretty incredible” he mused.

“Then I hope I make something that’s edible at least” Nicolas retorted.

Gerard laughed politely before he slipped his hand into Olivia’s guiding her out into the hall. Watching Nicolas out of the corner of his eye, he waited until the other man turned back to his cooking before he turned to Olivia, his forehead creased in both concern and curiosity. “Are you OK?” he asked quietly “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Have you and Nicolas met before?” he prodded.

Olivia held his stare, not saying anything for a few long seconds, before she let out a soft sigh, her eyes drifting down towards the floor. “We met a long time ago” she admitted gently “It was at a Christmas party, just after I broke up with Leonardo” she added.

Gerard nodded. Leonardo had been Olivia’s last boyfriend before him. “And?” he asked.

The tops of Olivia’s cheeks flushed a soft shade of pink. “There was mistletoe” she mumbled “And a lot more wine than there should have been. It was one messy kiss” she added.

Gerard nodded his head slowly.

“It wasn’t anything” Olivia insisted “Melissa had dragged me to the party to get me out of the house after things with Leo had ended, and it was just some drunk thing. We kissed, I laughed at how bad it was, he made some flirty joke and then we didn’t see each other again. It’s just a little weird, is all. I mean, I knew that he and Mel worked together, but…”

“Are you two coming through?” Melissa’s voice cut in as she poked her head around the living room door, offering the two of them a tentative smile.

Olivia visibly jumped at the sound of her sister’s voice, but she was quick to fix a small smile onto her face. “Of course” she mused.

“Great” Melissa replied with just a little too much enthusiasm.

Olivia’s smile deflated a little, not liking how uncomfortable things between her and her sister felt. They’d always had little disagreements. They were sisters, and they’d always clashed a little, but for the first time, they felt like they were strangers. Melissa’s treatment of Gerard, and Olivia’s reaction to how her older sister had ended her relationship with Enzo had put the biggest distance there’d even been between the two of them, and neither of them quite knew how to bridge the gap that had formed.

Gerard noticed how Olivia’s face fell, something which caused him to squeeze her hand softly. “Haven’t you got pictures to show her, Livy?” he prodded.

Melissa, who’d been watching the two of them nervously, smiled gently. “Of the twins?” she asked.

Olivia nodded, sparing Gerard a grateful look. “They’re only a few weeks old, but they’ve already changed so much” she fussed.

“Babies do that” Melissa replied “They grow up too fast. I mean, Max is already six. It seems like yesterday I held him for the first time” she added, frowning to herself.

Olivia was quiet for a moment, allowing Melissa to puzzle through whatever thoughts were running through her head, before the older woman looked up, smiling at her younger sister again. “I’d love to see your pictures” she announced.

Olivia nodded and followed her back towards the living room, Gerard in tow. The defender took a seat on the opposite couch, watching the two sisters as they cooed over pictures of the twins. “They look like Livy, don’t they?” he chirped.

Melissa, who’d been swiping through the images, looked over at him before she nodded. “They do” she confirmed “They’re beautiful. You two must be so proud” she added.

Gerard nodded, his eyes drifting towards Olivia as a soft smile, one reserved just for her, brightened his features. “I’m very proud” he mused.

Melissa smiled at him briefly, a small smile that was rueful and apologetic, but she quickly turned back to Olivia’s phone in her hands, cooing with her little sister over the pictures. Gerard took the opportunity to slide into the background, just watching the two of them for a few minutes until Nicolas strode into the room. His gaze shifted to the other man then. He watched him walk over to Melissa, place a kiss on her cheek, before Nicolas’s eyes drifted over to Olivia, the slightest hint of a smirk twitching up the corner of his lips as he looked her up and down, a sight which caused Gerard’s grip to tighten, ever so slightly, on the beer bottle that he held in his hand.