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8. Other People's Hearts Ch. 16

Oliver didn't know what he was doing wrong. Every time he thought he knew a woman, thought she was stable and reliable, she'd go and do something out of character and push him away.

He'd thought Lindsay would understand about Sylvie. She had been so rock solid in her support of him in every other way that it came as a huge surprise that she wasn't cool with him helping Sylvie.

Sure, he understood that he'd been too distant when the problem first arose, but he'd learned from that. He'd gone well out of his way to make sure Lindsay knew he was thinking about her. He'd called her every day and sent text messages too. Even though he really hated talking about his emotions he'd made a point to try and be open with her. Once he'd gotten Sylvie settled he was ready to start with Lindsay where they had left off.

But it wasn't enough. She needed a guarantee that he couldn't give her. Sure, he could lie to her and check up on Sylvie behind her back, but what good would that do? He didn't want to live a lie.

The thing was, he had to check up on Sylvie. She had tried to kill herself. This was a life and death situation. He didn't want to be with her anymore, but he certainly didn't want her death on his hands. He knew how hard it was to pull yourself out of a deep depression.

A week after he broke up with Lindsay he called Sylvie to see how she was getting along.

She sounded better. She was going to apply for a PhD position at UCSF.

"You won't miss surgery?" He asked.

"Yeah I'm sure I will, but it could be a good change for me. I feel like research might be a better lifestyle choice. It might be nice to not be on call for most of my life. "

He was pleased and reassured that she was making progress, even if it was in a direction he'd not expected.

As he was saying goodbye she said, "Thanks for calling Ol, it's good to hear from you. I hope everything is going well for you."

He almost told her about breaking up with Lindsay but something held him back. "Yeah, I've just been getting back into the swing of things. I've been in theatre an extra day to try and catch up on my backlog. I've got it booked again next week, so that should be good."

"Good. Well, I hope I didn't mess up your life too much."

"No. No, it's fine Sylvie."

"I want you to be happy Ollie."

He was silent. Something inside him hurt.

"I want you to be happy too," he finally got out.

He found himself wanting to talk to Sylvia more and more the more they talked. He missed Lindsay too, but for some reason is was conversation with Sylvie that he craved, and seeing that Lindsay had broken up with him he didn't see why he should limit his phone calls to Sylvie.

She never called him but she always seemed happy to talk to him. They talked about the research program she was entering into and his work and politics. They talked about the things they'd set out to do when they were in med school and whether or not they were any closer to achieving their professional goals.

Sylvia told him about the abortion she'd had when she'd found out she was pregnant with Paul's child and how her regret had been part of the reason she'd attempted suicide. It made him sick to the stomach, but for some reason the overwhelming feeling he had when he hung up the phone that night was affection.

Sylvie didn't realise it, but the more she gave up on winning him back the more he wanted her back.

After a few weeks he saw Lindsay. He called her on his day off and went out to her stables to drop off some odds and ends that she'd left at his house.

As usual, he was floored by her beauty. She was wearing her riding clothes and she welcomed him with a smile bigger than he deserved. She invited him in for a cup of tea. Her long thick hair was tied back in a braid that swung back and forth across her shoulder blades as he followed her up the stairs to her apartment. Her pert, athletic ass teased him from beneath her skin tight riding pants.

"How have you been?" He asked.

"Oh, I don't know," she replied. "Some days I'm fine, others I'm not. You?"

"Same. I've been working a lot."

"How's Sylvia?" She was deadpan as she asked. If there was any spite in her voice he couldn't detect it.

"She seems okay."

She nodded. "And Rush?"

"Fine. Still a lunatic."

Lindsay gave a half smile and a nod. "I miss that mangy little mutt."

"She misses you too." Before thinking he added, "almost as much as I do."

Lindsay looked up from her mug of tea. "I miss you too," she said quietly.

There was silence for a moment as they regarded each other.

"Am I crazy or were we really happy for a while there?" She asked.

"You're not crazy."

Her plump little lips breathed the words, "Do you think that's worth fighting for?"

Oliver was holding back the urge to lean over the table and kiss her. His fingers tingled as the desire to rip her clothes off coursed through his body.

"Did you know that Ellia and Micah are in counselling?" She asked.

"Huh?" Mention of his brother snapped him back to reality.

"She said it's the best thing they ever did."

"You talk to Ellia about her marriage?"

"Yeah. We've become pretty good friends."

"Oh. Right."

"Does that upset you?"

"No, I'm just surprised."

"Do you think it could work for us?"

"What? Counselling?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know. I never really thought of it."

Lindsay blinked a few times before she said, "I'd be willing to try it. If you think what we had was worth it."

Oliver was stunned. Even though he was feeling closer to Sylvie, it was nothing to him when the electricity flowed between himself and Lindsay like it was just then. "Yes," he said. "I think so."

Lindsay smiled.

He smiled back at her.

The desire to rip her clothes off returned.

"You'd better get going before we end up doing something we might regret," she said with a small smile.

At the door she said, "I'll ask Ellia for the counsellor's details."

"Okay. Just let me know when. I can't do Tuesdays or Wednesdays but any other day I can reorganise."

He caught her hand and brought it to his mouth. The corners of her lips turned up as he kissed her skin. He leaned closer. Placing her hand over his heart, he kissed her perfect mouth.

Kissing Lindsay felt like coming home. It was the most natural thing in the world. The rest of his life blurred into nothing as he let himself surrender to the moment. To her soft, silky skin and warm receptive mouth. She smelled like hay and tasted like peppermint.

He felt her heart racing when he moved his hand from her collar bone to the nape of her neck, kicking his own desire up a notch. His cock was straining against his pants and he pulled her closer to him so she could feel too. She moaned quietly into his mouth and any hesitation he felt dissolved.

He took a step forward, steering her back over the threshold into her apartment. He hadn't come here with the intention of making love to her, but now there were no other thoughts in his head.

Her hand that was resting on his chest was pushing. She turned her head and released herself from their kiss.

He loosened his grip and blinked down at her, trying to comprehend her meaning.

Her round brown eyes stared up at him solemnly. "I don't want this. Not now."

He took a deep breath and pushed his desire down. He told his arms to let go of her and his legs to take a step back out the door. "Okay."

She averted her eyes and bit down on her lip as she closed the door between them.

When he was driving out the big metal archway of the property his phone dinged. He stopped to read her text message.

"Sorry. I want to, I just don't think it's a good idea."

He felt hurt and rejected, but he could also see that she had done the right thing.

"It's fine. Let me know about the shrink," he texted back.

That night he babysat for Grace and Nicholas while they went out for dinner. When they got back he ended up drinking scotch with Nicholas and talking well into the night.

He told him how confused he was about the way forward. The idea of getting back together with Sylvie became more appealing each time he spoke to her, and yet when he was with Lindsay it was as if the rest of the world didn't exist. He loved them both, but in different ways.

"I don't know what to do," he admitted.

"Can I offer an observation?" Nicholas asked.

"Yeah, of course."

"You've had four girlfriends that were serious enough for you to bring home. Three of them had a lot in common. They were very smart, very career driven, over achieving, small, Asian women who were attractive but not really beautiful."

Oliver blinked. It was weird to hear his first three girlfriends, who were actually very different people, reduced to these descriptions.

"Then," Nicholas continued. "You bring home a white girl who looks like a super model, who is very laid back, has more of a job than a career, and while I'm sure she's not stupid, she's not about to win a Nobel prize any time soon."

"What are you trying to say?"

"It's just an observation. Lindsay is really different from your usual type."

"You think she is just a rebound girl?"

Nicholas shrugged. "Is that what you think?"

Oliver thought about it for a moment before he said, "Maybe I used her as a distraction while I worked through all the emotions I had for Sylvie."

"Maybe. It seemed pretty real though, what you two had."

"It felt very real. It still does."

"Maybe the first three all didn't work for a reason then."

Oliver contemplated this while he took another sip of scotch.

"Let me offer another observation. Sylvie reorganised her life to move here with you, then you both proceeded to spend the vast amount of your time working in separate jobs on separate schedules. When you weren't working you seemed to attend a lot of family functions."

"Okay. What's your point this time?"

"What did you expect Sylvie to do with all of her emotional energy when you seemed to spend almost no time alone together?"

"You think it was my own fault she left me for another man?"

"No. But I wasn't surprised when it happened.

"Jesus Nicholas." Oliver was suddenly angry at his brother in law. "Why didn't you give me a heads up?"

"I didn't think it was my place. Besides, I thought there must have been things I didn't know. Grace said that Sylvie seemed happy and I always trust her judgment when it comes to people."

Oliver stood up with the intention of putting some space between himself and Nicholas, but his head started spinning so he sat back down. "Next time do me a favour and tell me anyway, okay?"

Nicholas poured him a glass if water and set it down in front of him.

Oliver tried to gather his thoughts.

"So where does that leave me?" He asked.

"I don't know. On the one hand, I agree with you that Sylvie can't be left to her own devices, on the other hand I can understand why Lindsay won't tolerate you being in contact with her."

"What about getting back together with Sylvie?"

"Is she the sort of person who learns from her mistakes?"

"Yes."

"Well, I don't blame you for wanting to give her a second chance then. Grace and I both really like her and if you're not going to hold a grudge I don't see why the rest of us should."

Oliver's head was swimming. He'd had too much to drink.

"Not that we have anything against Lindsay. She seems like a really nice girl too."

Oliver sunk his head in his hands. They were getting nowhere. Their arguments for and against each woman kept on coming back full circle. "This would be the point where I would usually take a serepax," Oliver said.

Nicholas laughed. "Well, seeing that you're in my house let's do it my way and break out the top shelf bottles." He went to the liquor cabinet and brought back a bottle and two fresh glasses.

"Oh god. It tastes like burnt dirt," Oliver cried when he tasted the latest single malt scotch.

Nicholas laughed again. "Come on, man up Ol. Your dad gave me this bottle. It's only fitting you should drink it with me."

They drank and talked well into the night. At some point he collapsed on the bed in Grace and Nicholas' spare room.

The next morning he woke with a searing headache, but apart from that he was surprised to find that he felt okay. It had been a long time since he had been drunk.

Nicholas was up and eating pancakes with a smile on his face. He got up from the table and got Oliver some ibuprofen and a tall glass of water.

"Where is everyone?" He asked

"Grace took the girls out to the mall and Xander is at his friend's house down the street."

"Did we achieve anything last night?" Oliver asked him.

"I don't think so."

"Urgh. What am I going to do?"

"Choose one of them, cut the other one off and stick to it. Forever."

Oliver felt like shit for how he'd behaved with Lindsay the previous day. Thank god they hadn't had sex. He couldn't imagine how hurt and angry she'd be if she knew how he was feeling about Sylvia.

He hated what he was doing to her. It was so unfair. But what could he do? He couldn't help the way he felt.

It seemed clear now that he couldn't see her until he'd sorted out what he was going to do. He just hoped that he could do that before she got an appointment with the couples counsellor.Oliver didn't know what he was doing wrong. Every time he thought he knew a woman, thought she was stable and reliable, she'd go and do something out of character and push him away.

He'd thought Lindsay would understand about Sylvie. She had been so rock solid in her support of him in every other way that it came as a huge surprise that she wasn't cool with him helping Sylvie.

Sure, he understood that he'd been too distant when the problem first arose, but he'd learned from that. He'd gone well out of his way to make sure Lindsay knew he was thinking about her. He'd called her every day and sent text messages too. Even though he really hated talking about his emotions he'd made a point to try and be open with her. Once he'd gotten Sylvie settled he was ready to start with Lindsay where they had left off.

But it wasn't enough. She needed a guarantee that he couldn't give her. Sure, he could lie to her and check up on Sylvie behind her back, but what good would that do? He didn't want to live a lie.

The thing was, he had to check up on Sylvie. She had tried to kill herself. This was a life and death situation. He didn't want to be with her anymore, but he certainly didn't want her death on his hands. He knew how hard it was to pull yourself out of a deep depression.

A week after he broke up with Lindsay he called Sylvie to see how she was getting along.

She sounded better. She was going to apply for a PhD position at UCSF.

"You won't miss surgery?" He asked.

"Yeah I'm sure I will, but it could be a good change for me. I feel like research might be a better lifestyle choice. It might be nice to not be on call for most of my life. "

He was pleased and reassured that she was making progress, even if it was in a direction he'd not expected.

As he was saying goodbye she said, "Thanks for calling Ol, it's good to hear from you. I hope everything is going well for you."

He almost told her about breaking up with Lindsay but something held him back. "Yeah, I've just been getting back into the swing of things. I've been in theatre an extra day to try and catch up on my backlog. I've got it booked again next week, so that should be good."

"Good. Well, I hope I didn't mess up your life too much."

"No. No, it's fine Sylvie."

"I want you to be happy Ollie."

He was silent. Something inside him hurt.

"I want you to be happy too," he finally got out.

He found himself wanting to talk to Sylvia more and more the more they talked. He missed Lindsay too, but for some reason is was conversation with Sylvie that he craved, and seeing that Lindsay had broken up with him he didn't see why he should limit his phone calls to Sylvie.

She never called him but she always seemed happy to talk to him. They talked about the research program she was entering into and his work and politics. They talked about the things they'd set out to do when they were in med school and whether or not they were any closer to achieving their professional goals.

Sylvia told him about the abortion she'd had when she'd found out she was pregnant with Paul's child and how her regret had been part of the reason she'd attempted suicide. It made him sick to the stomach, but for some reason the overwhelming feeling he had when he hung up the phone that night was affection.

Sylvie didn't realise it, but the more she gave up on winning him back the more he wanted her back.

After a few weeks he saw Lindsay. He called her on his day off and went out to her stables to drop off some odds and ends that she'd left at his house.

As usual, he was floored by her beauty. She was wearing her riding clothes and she welcomed him with a smile bigger than he deserved. She invited him in for a cup of tea. Her long thick hair was tied back in a braid that swung back and forth across her shoulder blades as he followed her up the stairs to her apartment. Her pert, athletic ass teased him from beneath her skin tight riding pants.

"How have you been?" He asked.

"Oh, I don't know," she replied. "Some days I'm fine, others I'm not. You?"

"Same. I've been working a lot."

"How's Sylvia?" She was deadpan as she asked. If there was any spite in her voice he couldn't detect it.

"She seems okay."

She nodded. "And Rush?"

"Fine. Still a lunatic."

Lindsay gave a half smile and a nod. "I miss that mangy little mutt."

"She misses you too." Before thinking he added, "almost as much as I do."

Lindsay looked up from her mug of tea. "I miss you too," she said quietly.

There was silence for a moment as they regarded each other.

"Am I crazy or were we really happy for a while there?" She asked.

"You're not crazy."

Her plump little lips breathed the words, "Do you think that's worth fighting for?"

Oliver was holding back the urge to lean over the table and kiss her. His fingers tingled as the desire to rip her clothes off coursed through his body.

"Did you know that Ellia and Micah are in counselling?" She asked.

"Huh?" Mention of his brother snapped him back to reality.

"She said it's the best thing they ever did."

"You talk to Ellia about her marriage?"

"Yeah. We've become pretty good friends."

"Oh. Right."

"Does that upset you?"

"No, I'm just surprised."

"Do you think it could work for us?"

"What? Counselling?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know. I never really thought of it."

Lindsay blinked a few times before she said, "I'd be willing to try it. If you think what we had was worth it."

Oliver was stunned. Even though he was feeling closer to Sylvie, it was nothing to him when the electricity flowed between himself and Lindsay like it was just then. "Yes," he said. "I think so."

Lindsay smiled.

He smiled back at her.

The desire to rip her clothes off returned.

"You'd better get going before we end up doing something we might regret," she said with a small smile.

At the door she said, "I'll ask Ellia for the counsellor's details."

"Okay. Just let me know when. I can't do Tuesdays or Wednesdays but any other day I can reorganise."

He caught her hand and brought it to his mouth. The corners of her lips turned up as he kissed her skin. He leaned closer. Placing her hand over his heart, he kissed her perfect mouth.

Kissing Lindsay felt like coming home. It was the most natural thing in the world. The rest of his life blurred into nothing as he let himself surrender to the moment. To her soft, silky skin and warm receptive mouth. She smelled like hay and tasted like peppermint.

He felt her heart racing when he moved his hand from her collar bone to the nape of her neck, kicking his own desire up a notch. His cock was straining against his pants and he pulled her closer to him so she could feel too. She moaned quietly into his mouth and any hesitation he felt dissolved.

He took a step forward, steering her back over the threshold into her apartment. He hadn't come here with the intention of making love to her, but now there were no other thoughts in his head.

Her hand that was resting on his chest was pushing. She turned her head and released herself from their kiss.

He loosened his grip and blinked down at her, trying to comprehend her meaning.

Her round brown eyes stared up at him solemnly. "I don't want this. Not now."

He took a deep breath and pushed his desire down. He told his arms to let go of her and his legs to take a step back out the door. "Okay."

She averted her eyes and bit down on her lip as she closed the door between them.

When he was driving out the big metal archway of the property his phone dinged. He stopped to read her text message.

"Sorry. I want to, I just don't think it's a good idea."

He felt hurt and rejected, but he could also see that she had done the right thing.

"It's fine. Let me know about the shrink," he texted back.

That night he babysat for Grace and Nicholas while they went out for dinner. When they got back he ended up drinking scotch with Nicholas and talking well into the night.

He told him how confused he was about the way forward. The idea of getting back together with Sylvie became more appealing each time he spoke to her, and yet when he was with Lindsay it was as if the rest of the world didn't exist. He loved them both, but in different ways.

"I don't know what to do," he admitted.

"Can I offer an observation?" Nicholas asked.

"Yeah, of course."

"You've had four girlfriends that were serious enough for you to bring home. Three of them had a lot in common. They were very smart, very career driven, over achieving, small, Asian women who were attractive but not really beautiful."

Oliver blinked. It was weird to hear his first three girlfriends, who were actually very different people, reduced to these descriptions.

"Then," Nicholas continued. "You bring home a white girl who looks like a super model, who is very laid back, has more of a job than a career, and while I'm sure she's not stupid, she's not about to win a Nobel prize any time soon."

"What are you trying to say?"

"It's just an observation. Lindsay is really different from your usual type."

"You think she is just a rebound girl?"

Nicholas shrugged. "Is that what you think?"

Oliver thought about it for a moment before he said, "Maybe I used her as a distraction while I worked through all the emotions I had for Sylvie."

"Maybe. It seemed pretty real though, what you two had."

"It felt very real. It still does."

"Maybe the first three all didn't work for a reason then."

Oliver contemplated this while he took another sip of scotch.

"Let me offer another observation. Sylvie reorganised her life to move here with you, then you both proceeded to spend the vast amount of your time working in separate jobs on separate schedules. When you weren't working you seemed to attend a lot of family functions."

"Okay. What's your point this time?"

"What did you expect Sylvie to do with all of her emotional energy when you seemed to spend almost no time alone together?"

"You think it was my own fault she left me for another man?"

"No. But I wasn't surprised when it happened.

"Jesus Nicholas." Oliver was suddenly angry at his brother in law. "Why didn't you give me a heads up?"

"I didn't think it was my place. Besides, I thought there must have been things I didn't know. Grace said that Sylvie seemed happy and I always trust her judgment when it comes to people."

Oliver stood up with the intention of putting some space between himself and Nicholas, but his head started spinning so he sat back down. "Next time do me a favour and tell me anyway, okay?"

Nicholas poured him a glass if water and set it down in front of him.

Oliver tried to gather his thoughts.

"So where does that leave me?" He asked.

"I don't know. On the one hand, I agree with you that Sylvie can't be left to her own devices, on the other hand I can understand why Lindsay won't tolerate you being in contact with her."

"What about getting back together with Sylvie?"

"Is she the sort of person who learns from her mistakes?"

"Yes."

"Well, I don't blame you for wanting to give her a second chance then. Grace and I both really like her and if you're not going to hold a grudge I don't see why the rest of us should."

Oliver's head was swimming. He'd had too much to drink.

"Not that we have anything against Lindsay. She seems like a really nice girl too."

Oliver sunk his head in his hands. They were getting nowhere. Their arguments for and against each woman kept on coming back full circle. "This would be the point where I would usually take a serepax," Oliver said.

Nicholas laughed. "Well, seeing that you're in my house let's do it my way and break out the top shelf bottles." He went to the liquor cabinet and brought back a bottle and two fresh glasses.

"Oh god. It tastes like burnt dirt," Oliver cried when he tasted the latest single malt scotch.

Nicholas laughed again. "Come on, man up Ol. Your dad gave me this bottle. It's only fitting you should drink it with me."

They drank and talked well into the night. At some point he collapsed on the bed in Grace and Nicholas' spare room.

The next morning he woke with a searing headache, but apart from that he was surprised to find that he felt okay. It had been a long time since he had been drunk.

Nicholas was up and eating pancakes with a smile on his face. He got up from the table and got Oliver some ibuprofen and a tall glass of water.

"Where is everyone?" He asked

"Grace took the girls out to the mall and Xander is at his friend's house down the street."

"Did we achieve anything last night?" Oliver asked him.

"I don't think so."

"Urgh. What am I going to do?"

"Choose one of them, cut the other one off and stick to it. Forever."

Oliver felt like shit for how he'd behaved with Lindsay the previous day. Thank god they hadn't had sex. He couldn't imagine how hurt and angry she'd be if she knew how he was feeling about Sylvia.

He hated what he was doing to her. It was so unfair. But what could he do? He couldn't help the way he felt.

It seemed clear now that he couldn't see her until he'd sorted out what he was going to do. He just hoped that he could do that before she got an appointment with the couples counsellor.

other   hearts   people's  

Jun 24, 2018 in romance

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