Waking Olivia(9)

By: Elizabeth O Roark


"I'm not at all surprised that you are so informed about restraining orders," I gripe.

She just laughs.

As if I was joking.





7





Will



I can see five different peaks I’ve climbed on the drive to my mother’s farm. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily ironic, but it’s definitely shitty. Fate’s way of laughing in my face. Rubbing salt in the wound.

I climbed those peaks when I was younger and every single time it was against my father’s wishes. Every single time it led to a fight. It took my desire to climb and transformed it, took something pure and made it angry and defiant. I look back on those climbs, how reckless they were, and realize they proved my dad right in a way. I did need to grow the fuck up. I just couldn’t do it until it was too late for him to see it happen.

The farm is my full-time job, left in my unwilling hands when my father died. It was already failing when I inherited it. Coaching is part-time, covering my younger brother’s tuition but not a lot else. Between two jobs and the debt my father left behind, there aren’t enough hours in the day and there probably never will be, so my climbing days are over. I sometimes wonder if my dad is looking down and getting a good laugh out of the situation.

"Was Jackson even here this morning?" I grouse when I walk into my mother’s house. We sold off some of the farm, but what’s left is still too much for us and the part-time guys we’ve hired. "The stables look like shit. Probably because they were full, literally, of shit."

She sighs. "Yes, he was here. You know how that goes, Will."

Yeah, I know. No one is going to kill himself for a job that is seasonal or part-time. This is just a stop-gap until he finds something better.

"How's work?" she asks.

I shrug. "Pretty good. This year’s team looks okay." Even if it didn’t, I wouldn't tell her. She's got enough guilt about the fact that I'm here as it is.

"How are the new ones?"

"Hard to say. There’s one with some promise." I didn't mean to add that. I don't know why but something about Finnegan makes me want to discuss her with someone, and at the same time makes me want to pretend she doesn’t exist.

“Well, you've got four years to make something of her."

"Only two. She’s a transfer."

She nods. "That’s right. Peter told me about her."

This surprises me. Peter's been a friend of the family all my life, but I didn't know he discussed work with my mom. It's a little weird. It makes me wonder if they discuss me too.

"She's fast, but she's unstable,” I sigh. “That girl's got more problems than an entire psychiatric team could fix."

"Will, she just got here," she says gently.

"Didn't Peter tell you what she did at UT?"

“Yes,” she says, raising a brow. “And I remember a time when you couldn’t set foot outside this house without winding up in the back of a police cruiser. So maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge."

Fine. But I never tried to kill someone.

She sets food on the table. “Eat,” she commands. “It’ll make you less grumpy.”

I’m sure she’s right, but even a full stomach won’t make me feel better about Olivia.





8





Olivia



The next two weeks are basically a repeat of the first: Me, working my ass off, and Will, being a total dick about it. The twice-a-day workouts are so exhausting that I don’t dream at all. I give him everything at practice, and while I don’t deserve an award for it, I do deserve one for not telling him to go fuck himself. Actually, I deserve something better than an award for that. Maybe a new car or a trip to Disney.

Erin not only eats with me every day, but she gets my number off the team roster and starts texting me too. It’s unbelievably annoying. I respond to her initial texts with one of my own.

Me: Stop texting me.

Erin: Aren’t you cute? ;-) ;-)

I hate emojis.

I’m not sure why I haven’t just blocked her yet. And then she invites some of the other girls to eat with us and I know what hell truly is. Nicole, a mouthy redhead who’s the fastest girl on the team after me and Betsy, Meghan, whose dark curls are so big her head blocks half my view of the cafeteria, and Hannah, blonde and quieter than the others but not quiet enough.

Betsy and her small posse sit at a separate table. It feels as if we’re two rival gangs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Erin and these girls have befriended me solely because I'm faster than Betsy, and add some clout to their side. Clearly it’s not my winning personality attracting them.

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