That evening Olivia called Sam and asked him to meet her at the park. They greeted one another affectionately enough and the awkwardness from that morning seemed to have dissipated a bit.
Olivia sat on the ground and patted near her and invited Sam to cloud gaze with her. It was something fun the two had done in the past and always seemed romantic and with little expectation.
“So, how was your day?” Olivia began.
“Awww, it was great. I was coding this afternoon and Darryl invited me into his office. He wanted me to take on additional responsibility. Promoting me to a full programmer now. Code Monkey is what they call us at the shop.”
Olivia stood up and dragged Sam with her, “What? Sam that’s fantastic news! I wish you had texted me!”
“Ah..yeah, I probably should have,” Sam looked distracted. “Sorry about that Olivia.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Olivia sensed something was wrong again. “Sam, I wish you’d talk to me, I feel like something got weird between us after last night. Are you regretting last night? Dating the crazy girl in the tent? Is it because I’m not rich and don’t have a ton of stuff?”
“Oh my god no! Hey, can we not talk about that right now?” Sam ran a hand through his hair.
“Yeah, sure Sam,” Olivia sat back down on the ground and looked up at the sky. She knew something was wrong, but didn’t know how to talk about this with Sam.
“Hey, wanna go to the museum for a bit before it closes?” Sam asked.
“Sure,” Olivia said without much enthusiasm.
As the outside light was fading , the couple entered the museum. Sam took Olivia’s hand and led her upstairs. He obviously had a destination in mind.
“This one is my favorite,” he said. “I was coming that day to look at it again when I met you. Something about it just moves my soul.”
“I didn’t know you were into art. You don’t talk about it much.”
“I’m not really. It’s probably why it hasn’t come up before. There is just something about this particular painting that gets to me. Something about the piano and the empty space. It speaks to me.” He turned to face her, “That day we met, I was coming here again to view it. It was perhaps the fourth or fifth time since I’d first arrived in Oasis Springs. Remember, I hadn’t been here much longer than you, maybe two weeks longer?”
He paused a moment and just stared at the painting. “Olivia, I have known for a long time…perhaps that first day I met you here, on my way to view this painting, but especially after last night, I feel you are the person for me. The other half of my heart. I love you Olivia. I believe I always will.” Sam paused as he stroked her cheek.
“Oh Sam! I love you too. It’s been building over these last few months, but I’m pretty sure I’ve known since that first day when I saw you walk through those very doors. Why so awkward this morning then, if especially after last night…” Olivia felt the butterflies in her stomach again.
“Well, that’s the awkward part, especially after last night,” Sam grinned and that dimple in his chin popped out, “I’ve come to the realization that don’t want to live apart from you anymore. But I cannot invite you to crash on the couch with me at my brother, and his girlfriend, and their roommates house. I don’t even have a bed there!”
He threw his hands in the air, “But I also cannot adapt to off the grid living as you have done. It about killed me to have to leave this morning and run home to shower before work. ‘Liv, I want to be with you…but I need a house, with plumbing and electricity! I cannot afford to buy you one,” He glanced up at her and quickly added, “and you seem so independent, you probably wouldn’t want me to just give you a house even I could! I just didn’t know where we were going and it was killing me to think that something as mundane as our address may be a problem.”
Olivia waited for him to finish his thought. She took his hands in hers and looked him deeply in the eyes and said, “Silly man. I don’t enjoy living off the grid! I do so because I’m a struggling writer who lost nearly all of her savings in a terrible real estate deal!”
“I won’t take a dime from my parents because they really cannot afford it and also I don’t want to admit to them that I leaped before I looked.” She paused a moment and kissed him passionately.
“I miss running water. I miss a comfy, non-air filled bed. I miss the hum of a fan when I’m falling asleep. If you could give me a house and move in with me this instant…I would take you up on that!” Olivia tossed her head back and laughed. She was incredibly relieved that Sam was in love with her and it was only the thought of not being able to be with her that was making things weird today.
“So, where does that leave us?” Sam asked. “I don’t want to wait much longer to live with you and wake up with you in my arms. When do you think we’ll have enough to move in to a house together?”
“Let’s see, you got a promotion and I assume a raise today. Gavin let slip that he’s moving to the Willow Creek branch so our branch will probably need someone in the blogging job. I bet if we can stick it out a month or so we’ll have enough to build a small house and get my property back on the grid.”
“Ok then, in the mean time, I’ll be roughing it most nights with you anyway. I cannot stand living apart from you Olivia. I guess I can make a go of getting up earlier to get to the gym with you each morning before heading off to work. You know I really only came to the gym that one morning to get that chance to talk to you. That morning I asked you to dinner…at the house.” Sam laughed at the memory. “I truly was going to ask you out on a proper date, and chickened out at the last second and changed it to the house. That way you couldn’t really say no if you didn’t like me as much as I liked you. I knew you liked Zoe and the rest of the guys so you’d accept if everyone were there!”
“Sam, as much as I hate to admit this, one of the reasons I came over with Zoe on that very first night was because I made the connection immediately when she mentioned her boyfriend and his brother Sam who’d been sleeping on their couch for the past few weeks. I hate to admit it because Zoe is one of my dearest friends now and it feels awful to think back that first day I may have not even thought twice about being friends with the reception girl from the gym. So yeah, I’ve pretty much been head over heels for you since that first day in Oasis Springs.”
“Well ok then…it’s settled. We’ll continue as we have been for another month. I’ll ask Dean for a small loan and if you could ask your parents too for a small loan, between the raise at work and the tidy bonus they gave me for accepting the new programming job we could have the house built.”
As they walked down into the night air, the museum security was locking up behind them. Sam reached for her and pulled her close. “This means forever Olivia…” he whispered. Olivia just stood there hugging him nodding into his shoulder.
The End Chapter 12