I am finally back with a new chapter, which was about time. I am really trying my best to get back into the pace of writing and catching up with everything.
Thank you all so much for the reviews, follows and favorites!
Just think about it.
She had thought about it. She had processed every scenario in which she'd express her emotions to him, but somehow she always came up short. For obvious reasons, she felt the need to remain at a distance from him.
Despite everything, she was afraid she'd never fallen out of love with him, and that was a dangerous thing to consider. Years had gone by, their lives moving into different directions. But her love for him had lingered underneath the heartbreak that followed their separation.
Perhaps a conversation would provide the closure she so desperately needed. On the one hand it could have a positive outcome, but the negative outcome could be disastrous. Whether or not she'd be able to put aside her anger and frustrations, it could still lead to conflict.
And conflict was the one thing she had to avoid. A case with a personal history for her was on the horizon and demanded her focus. And she knew, she couldn't span her attention on two different aspects of her life.
She had tried in the past and failed miserably. Maybe her short but passionate fling with Porter was the proof she needed to walk away now. But there was a voice inside of her, which wouldn't allow her to sacrifice a second chance at love with the one man who'd truly made her feel loved. Although she was unable to decide if there was a chance for them, she didn't want to rule one out.
Her life had been consumed by her career, and even though she loved her job, she knew there was something missing from her life. What exactly could fill that missing piece, she couldn't say. Her life was complicated enough without the addition of an old love resurfacing.
She had been considering his words ever since she had left the station. Instead of returning to her hotel room she opted to roam the city as the evening began to settle. She was plagued by her own emotions, not knowing where to turn with them. The only person who was aware of her complete history with Barba, was Alex.
But unfortunately she was an ocean away, fighting her own battle in pursuing international prosecutions. They still spoke on the phone, sometimes for hours on end. It was a friendship for a lifetime, but in that moment she'd give anything to sit down with Alex and a glass of wine. If only to talk, and have room to vent.
Knowing there was little time left before real life would continue on, she found herself wandering into the direction of One Hogan Place. And before she could question herself, she was walking into the courthouse, retaking her earlier steps when she'd had the meeting.
As she walked through the empty corridors of the courthouse, she was being dragged to a time where Barba had been her escape from the world. Late night visits to his office had turned into the relationship they eventually had. And it had all started by accident.
As she hovered in the doorway of the empty office, her eyes glanced at her watch. She took a deep steadying breath, wanting to give it more time. But it had been an hour and she was still waiting for her date to arrive. Of course she realized he'd mostly likely be in court, but a text would've been appreciated.
She turned around when she heard footsteps going into the direction of the opposite office. Expecting one face, she was suddenly faced with another. One she hadn't been able to forget, and had plagued her nights ever since she met him.
''Mr. Barba.'' she called out, cursing herself for the formality in her greeting.
Barba turned at the sound of his name, and as he looked at Olivia he couldn't hold back the smile spreading across his face. ''Olivia.'' he said happily as he walked into her direction with his briefcase in one hand, and files in the other. ''Please call me Rafael. There's no need for formalities.''
She nodded as the nerves began to creep up on her. Under other circumstances she had no problem remaining calm, but this man seemed to have a very different effect on her. ''Do you need help with those?'' she asked as she pointed at the stack of files in his hand.
''No, thank you. I just need to put them on my desk.'' he replied, looking behind him for a moment before turning his attention back to her. He finally allowed himself a moment to really look at her, and he immediately took note of her dress as a wave of jealously swept through him. He'd seen her in conversation with his colleague after their first meeting, so he could only suspect they were dating. And that thought frustrated him more than he expected.
''I don't know if you're waiting for Rick, but he had to go into court. The defense came in with a motion to dismiss the charges, so it couldn't wait.'' he told her quickly.
''I thought he'd still be in court.'' she mumbled. ''I'll be going home then.''
Not wanting her to leave, Barba jumped at the opportunity of spending time with her. ''You can wait in my office.'' he offered kindly. He looked up into her eyes and saw a spark he hadn't seen before, and it caused his heart to beat much faster.
''I don't want to bother you.'' she hesitated.
Barba walked through his office door, putting down his briefcase and the files. He faced her again to see her standing in his doorway, the light surrounding her perfectly. ''You will never bother me.'' he reassured her, his tone lighter than before.
''Thanks.'' she said softly as he pointed into the direction of the couch. She sat down on the end of the couch and observed him closely as he moved about his office to put away the files and empty his briefcase.
It forced a blush on her face as she stared at him. Not only was he an incredibly attractive man, but to watch him take off his suit jacket, and to see the suspenders, was another thing in and of itself. She knew he was different, but to her in a good way. His suits were impeccable, and he had an impressive presence due to the way he carried himself.
''Do you want a drink?'' he suddenly asked, holding up a bottle of scotch.
She snapped from her reverie, and looked into his eyes, nodding. ''Yes, sounds good.''
Barba grabbed two glasses and poured the scotch as he watched her shift on his couch. He took the two glasses and walked into her direction, sitting down next to her with a reasonable amount of distance between them. ''Here you go.'' he said, handing her the glass.
She took the glass and took a small sip as she settled on the couch more comfortably. For a moment, she remained silent, not knowing exactly what to say to him. ''Are you always at the office around dinner time?''
Barba moved forward and set his glass down, turning slightly to face her with ease. ''Yeah, usually.'' he said. ''You must know how it is. The endless cases, never being able to truly leave your work at the office. Or at least I can't.'' he answered. ''I've only been here a few months, so maybe that's the reason. Perhaps I'm overcompensating.''
''No, you're probably not. This line of work can eat away at you if you let it.'' she agreed. ''The trick is to find a balance between the professional and the personal.''
''And you have found that balance?''
Olivia shrugged her shoulders at the question. ''I guess not.'' she smiled. ''But I'm trying to find it.''
''With Rick?'' he asked boldly, realizing all too soon what he had said to her. ''I'm sorry. It's not my business.''
She grinned at his directness, and felt unexpectedly happy at his question as it seemed to express a bit of jealousy. ''My friend suggested I should start dating again so she introduced me to Rick. It was the same day I met you.''
''Can I be blatantly honest with you?'' Barba inquired.
Her nod was a definite sign of approval, and he took it to heart immediately. ''I like you, Olivia.'' he began. ''I think you're kind, and extremely beautiful. And I would like to get to know you better.''
He rose to his feet and moved to his desk effortlessly as she remained on the couch. He looked behind him for a moment, catching her eye. He quickly retrieved a piece of paper and scribbled his number down before returning to the couch.
He stepped in front of her, extending his hand as he waited for her to take the note. ''Give me a call if you ever need to talk, or want to have dinner.''
She stared down at the number in disbelief, still a little shocked by his confession. But it brought a huge smile to her face as she accepted the note. ''Thank you.'' she said in a whisper. ''I might take you up on it.''
She was brought back to reality when she stood in the adjoining room to Barba's office, her eyes landing upon him as he sat behind his desk. He had several files open as he made notes, and she suspected he was preparing for court. She lingered for a moment longer until she finally moved to his door, knocking on it to announce her presence.
Barba's eyes shot up to the door, and when he realized Olivia was standing there, a wave of emotion flooded him in shock. He hadn't expected to see her again that soon. Yet her presence had him on his feet within mere seconds. He walked to the door, opening it for her and stepping aside to let her in.
''I didn't expect to see you again so soon.'' he told her, closing the door and stepping back to his desk.
Olivia moved opposite of him, standing impossibly still with her hands clenched together. The tension in her body was obvious and she did nothing to hide it from him. ''It has been a crazy day.'' she breathed out. ''I didn't want to go back to that empty hotel room.''
He listened to her and watched her struggle to express herself. ''It's normal that you don't want to be alone after the day we've had.'' he said softly.
She nodded as her lips curved into a tense smile. ''I've been thinking about what you said.'' she began as she remained standing opposite of him. ''And I don't know if I can have that conversation with you. I can handle being around you while working, but digging up the past…it feels like a mistake.''
''Olivia, if your hesitation is out of some professional courtesy to me, then please forget about it.'' he stated. ''I want to know how you feel. I need to apologize, to make things right with you.''
''To clear your conscience, right?''
Her blunt statement felt like a punch to the face. It reeked of hostility and anger towards him. ''This is in no way about getting closure.'' he replied. ''I didn't want our relationship to end. I never did.''
Her mind pressured her to walk away and never look back. But it was her heart that ruled her in that moment. The emotions between them were painful, the topic more sensitive than she liked to admit. Perhaps it was the right time for an open conversation as her emotions were right below the surface. ''Talk about a double standard when you're the one that let me get away!'' Olivia shot back, her voice filling with fury and unrelenting anger. ''You gave up on us the moment you walked out.''
Barba stepped forward, not knowing how to respond. All he wanted was to convey his regrets, and how he had felt in leaving her behind. ''I couldn't face you in the morning and say goodbye. You were leaving the city, and that meant we were over.'' he said calmly. ''I…'' he tried to say, but Olivia interrupted him quickly.
''Rafael, I woke up the morning after my graduation from the academy to find out that the person who my heart belonged to, the person who I loved, was gone and had left me never to be heard from again.'' she reminded him firmly. ''I carried that around for a long time.''
After her last words filled the room, a silence continued between them. The only sound was their breathing as they separately tried to make sense of their circumstances. Of how to move forward with a situation that felt somehow impossible.
Olivia took a deep breath when tears threatened to fall, but she failed to hide them. The first tear rolled down her cheek slowly while her eyes connected to his. ''I'm not mad at you.'' she whispered, her voice hoarse from the built up emotion. ''I'm just hurt and I don't know how to deal with any of this.'' she cried out. ''It's been nine years! Nine years without you, and that was something I never dared to imagine.''
As he watched her eyes fill with tears, he felt the need to hold her. To protect her from it all. But there was no running away from their feelings. They could either face them or avoid them. ''It was too much for me, Olivia. The situation nine years ago, I wasn't ready.'' he told her gently. ''And I know that facing each other again after all this time is hard. Everything is different now, but what happened between us, that wasn't anyone's fault.''
His voice was indicative of his emotional state, suggesting he was on the brink of tears as well. She had often considered her own heartbreak over his in their circumstances. She'd never accepted that he had a broken heart too. Maybe it was because only silence followed their separation, when a conversation could've cleared the air sooner.
''You were everything to me, Rafael.'' she whispered. ''I mean, we loved each other. But you were also the only person who made me believe that I was worth loving. That my self-worth wasn't measured by my career, but because of the person I am.'' she went on. ''Your belief in me, it changed me. And I did love you more than I thought I could ever love somebody else. But in the end, I think we weren't ready because our careers meant so much to us.''
With watering eyes, he gazed back at her as her words began to carry true meaning. Regardless of the heartbreak they had found each other again, and facing their mistakes was accompanied by many different emotions. Ones he hadn't felt in years.
The love they once shared had been unlike anything else in his life. And as years passed he'd lost sense of what he once was capable of feeling. It took Olivia coming back into his life for him to realize, he still could love. That he was still capable of feeling that.
''Do you still feel that way?'' he mumbled, noticing that the distance between them remained.
She wiped away another tear while she contemplated his question. His own expression mirrored hers as she resisted falling apart and breaking down before him. She'd always taken pride in her strength, in managing her emotions in all aspects of her life. But when it came to the man standing before her, that became something entirely different.
He had changed her in many ways. He stood by her through her mother's death and all the memories that came with it. He was the one man in her life who taught her that love could be something more.
''I don't know.'' she responded. ''What I do know is that I haven't loved anyone like I loved you. I didn't find that again, and maybe it was because I didn't want to. Maybe I've been afraid that nothing else could measure up, and it hasn't.'' she said, her voice softening as she let her arms to fall to her side.
Barba took a step forward and came to stand next to his desk. ''Do you remember that third week after we met?'' he asked and she nodded immediately, giving him confirmation to continue on. ''You came over to my office and we had drinks, talked about our days, like we did all the times before. But I remember that day so vividly because you told me that you stopped dating Rick when you realized you had feelings for me.''
She sighed as a small smile appeared on her face. ''Yeah, I remember that day.''
''That evening when I first kissed you, I knew…I just knew that nothing else could measure up to what I felt for you, Liv.'' he whispered. ''And I was right. Nothing has ever measured up.''
In an instant, she had forgotten her hesitation and any anger towards him as she stepped forward in a steady pace. There was nothing holding her back as her lips connected to his, her body pressing against him with a desperate need.
The kiss began slowly as he tried to register that it was truly happening. Within mere seconds he responded to her deeply as his arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her closer.
She had missed this. She had missed the feeling of melting into his arms with a single kiss. She had missed feeling so complete when she was with him. She had missed it all.
The feeling of her soft lips against his felt amazing, and made him want her even more. It reminded him how desperately he wanted to make up for nine years apart. Yet he wasn't sure if it was happening too soon. If they could really slip back into their relationship like that.
He broke away slowly as he caught his breath, staring down at her swollen lips and blushed cheeks. He was trying to let reality sink in, but their proximity made it nearly impossible. ''That was unexpected.'' he whispered.
She felt his arms still wrapped around her waist as she took stock of what just happened. Her chest was heaving from their actions. Her eyes bore into his as she searched for an explanation from him, and from herself. She had initiated the kiss after all.
''Seems we still have no trouble with that part of our relationship.'' she teased in a light manner to try and lighten the tension left behind.
He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her cheek, slipping one of his hands around hers. ''After all of this is over we should have dinner and take it from there. But for now we should drink, like the good old days.'' he suggested.
She smiled back at him. ''That seems like a good place to start.''