What About Oliver & Lacey

Lacey was flying high about how well the night had gone and was looking forward to the familiar scents of essential oils that always greeted her when Oliver opened the door to his apartment.  

“Oliver opened the front door and turned his back to me without as much as a hello,” she recalled.  That night the place smelled of sweet orange and frankincense.  

“I walked in and closed the door behind me.  I said, ‘Well, Hello Mr. Barnett.’ And he lost it!  He jumped all in my case.

“‘Hello?  We’ve just spent the whole night together, pretending to not know each other.  Or are we still pretending?’”  He yelled at me.

She looked out onto the lake and recalled the way he walked into the bathroom, tying his waist length locks into a topknot.  There was marked bitterness in his tone, and it hurt.   She went on, “He’s typically so laid back, and this was a new side to him so I stayed quiet, and left the first words to him.  He told me that it was the worst Thanksgiving he’d ever spent with Cami and Camilla!”  

“Who’s Camilla?”  MJ asked.  

“Cami’s mom.  She lives with her.”

“She lives with her mother and now so does Lenny?”  MJ asked with a puzzled look.

“Not exactly.  But, that’s a story for another time.”  Laced sighed dramatically.  “MJ! Focus on me! Me! Me! Me!  Stop interrupting and listen,” Lacey ordered her cousin before continuing.  “So, Oliver says to me, ‘Tonight shouldn’t have been this way, Lacey. Damn it! I’m mostly her friend?  Then what the fuck are we doing here?  What are you doing here?’  I recoiled, but he went on.  ‘I have never been so humiliated.  I am a grown damn man.  And you and Cami wanted to send me skulking around like some kind of low class, no account secret!’

I stopped him at that point and said to him, ‘I’ve never treated you like a low class, no account anything, Oliver! And Cami loves you!  She praised your every move all night.’  

His voice dropped to nearly a whisper and he said, ‘She asked me to go around the back, to enter the house.  All for you, Lacey.  My best friend wanted to sneak me into her damned house for you to save face!’  The hurt in his eyes almost broke me in two.”  Lacey clutched at her heart.

MJ sat completely still for a moment and then she took ahold of her younger cousin’s hand.  

“What’d you say to him?”

“What could I say?  I said, ‘I’m so sorry, Oliver.’  It was all I could say.  He was right about everything.”

Warm salty tears streamed down Lacey’s face, as she recalled just how close she was to losing him.  MJ handed her cousin a paper towel and cautiously asked,

“How’d you leave things?”   

“I reached out to him, and he pulled away from me.”

She whimpered, while recalling the pain she felt when Oliver rebuffed her apology.  The sound shocked and embarrassed her, but she went on.

“I begged him, ‘Oliver, please.  Don’t be like this.  I’m so sorry.’  And it felt as if I was being remotely controlled, because I fell to my hands and knees on the pine floor in his kitchen and sunk into my remorse.  I asked myself, What have I done?”

MJ moved closer to her cousin and hugged her.