Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(71)

By: Ella Linden

Not yet.

Chapter Fifteen

One month later…

Olivia, Lauren, Holly, and Iris flooded through the front door of Olivia’s cottage. They were all still wearing their gear from their derby bout, all still flushed and giddy from the win. Her friends started stripping out of clothes and into bathing suits. Holly and Lauren had gotten into the habit of checking in on Olivia, making sure she wasn’t alone too much, and, once Iris had decided to join the team, she’d starting hanging around, too. Olivia was grateful, both for the ridiculous high she got from roller derby and for the friends who made sure she didn’t sit around moping over Andrew Silva.

She knew he was back from New York, and had been for a few weeks. He’d paid her invoice and thanked her for her work, and she hadn’t heard from him since. She tried to tell herself it was all for the best. They would never have worked.

And even as she told herself so, she knew it was a lie. She’d never connected to anyone in her life the way she’d connected with Andrew. He understood what it was like to need to get her thoughts out before they fluttered away, or why her mind seemed to wander, or the nervous energy that came from the work not going well. He understood all of that, without her having to explain it. He’d appreciated her work, respected her as a colleague.

If only things had worked out beyond a business contract. But he wasn’t made that way, and, she was starting to realize, maybe she wasn’t either.

“Come on, Livi,” Holly said. “I am dying to jump into the lake!”

Olivia grinned. “Go ahead. I’m just gonna check this real quick and change and I’ll be out there.”

“Okay. Don’t start, like, working, or something.”

Olivia laughed. “Promise.”

Her friends filed out and she sat at her computer and opened her email. There was an email from the editor for one of the big comics publishers, one she’d sent samples to recently after emailing back and forth. Her finger hovered over her mouse before she clicked it. A rejection wouldn’t be anything new. She’d try again, she told herself.

“Ms. Marquis,

Please find attached a contract…”

Her heart stopped.

She stared, and read the whole email, and then clicked the attachment. A contract to work, not just for her dream comics publisher, but also on the superhero comic she’d wanted to draw since she was eight years old. She laughed, she wiped at her eyes, and she stared at the email again.

Her first thought, once she got over the shock, was that she couldn’t wait to tell Andrew.

Andrew. Because he knew, more than anyone else, what this meant to her. How often had he listened to her chatter on about this exact thing? How often had he insisted it would happen for her? He’d believed in her, and all she wanted to do was share this with him.

But Andrew’s not here, she reminded herself. You and Andrew just don’t work.

But we could if we tried.

She hated that little voice of hope. She resolutely shoved her heart back in its cage and stood up. She quickly changed into her suit and ran out of the house. When she shouted the news at her friends, they squealed and hugged her and after they swam, they sat around Olivia’s cozy living room and quickly finished off a bottle of wine as they gabbed and binge-watched a show Holly had been nagging all of them to watch.

She knew why they were all there that night, and she tried not to think about it too much. She thought about the email she’d just gotten, about the man she’d thought of the second she’d gotten over her shock.

“You all right?” Holly asked, practically reading Olivia’s mind. “You know you can take tomorrow off.”

Olivia shook her head. “I’m okay. I’m not going to spend my life avoiding him. That’s stupid.” And, even though she wouldn’t admit it, she wanted to see him. Tomorrow was the first of his scheduled writers’ talks at Gutters. The events had generated a ton of interest, and they’d already had more big-name authors book events with them. Sales were up, partially because of the buzz from Andrew’s upcoming talks, and partially because of the new direction Olivia had taken the shop’s marketing. With any luck, her friends would be able to expand in the next year or two, or whenever the elderly couple who owned the shop next door decided to sell.