Sam and Tanner grinned, the asses. But finally they got the hell out of his truck.
Tanner leaned into the driver’s window. “The answer you seek is readily available.”
“What are you, a fortune cookie?” Cole snapped. “Just tell me.”
“She’s at her store,” Sam said, giving Tanner a shove with a laugh. “Genius here is referring to the fact that it’s all over Tumblr.”
“What’s all over Tumblr?” Cole asked, but they were walking to their respective vehicles.
“Oh, and I’d practice your groveling on the way,” Tanner called back.
Cole drove straight to Unique Boutique. Normally he wouldn’t have been surprised to find the lot behind the shop full. Olivia usually had a lot of people coming in and out; she was good at drawing steady business.
But it was…he checked his phone. Eight thirty. She didn’t open until ten.
The back door was locked. Good girl, he thought, and headed around to the front.
That door was locked, too, and the CLOSED sign was still up. He peeked in the window and went still. The front room had been transformed. In the corner where she normally held Drama Days, everything had been cleared except for an antique bar stool smack in the center of the rug like it was on a stage.
Olivia sat on the bar stool wearing a gauzy top and tight, dark jeans with boots, all of which showed off her gorgeous body, looking beautiful and aloof.
She was facing the other side of the room, where chairs had been lined up and were filled by…people. Lots of them. There was Becca, Sam, and Tanner— Sam and Tanner? Cole squinted and stepped closer. His sisters were there, too. And so was his mom. And Lucille and her merry band of stealth geriatrics. All of them glued to a camera crew and a man standing before Olivia with a microphone.
Cole caught Sam’s gaze and jabbed a finger at the door.
Sam shook his head.
Oh hell to the no. Cole narrowed his eyes.
Sam gestured for him to go around back. Cole took another look at Olivia. She was sitting there, showing the world her I’m-tough-as-hell face, but something in her eyes reminded him of how she’d looked a decade earlier in all the videos he’d watched just the other day.
So damn alone.
He’d been alone, too. Surrounded by people and yet utterly alone—until she’d jumped on his head.
He met Sam at the back door. “What the fuck?”
Sam shrugged. “You went the highway route, we took the streets.”
“I meant what the fuck, as in what the fuck are you doing here at all?”
“Becca asked us to come. Said they needed bodies for some sort of shoot. That’s all I know.”
“You didn’t ask questions?”
“When you have a hot fiancée who asks you for a favor in a voice that promises reward later, trust me, you don’t stop to ask questions.”
Cole pushed past him, strode through the back room, and came to a stop in the doorway to the main room. There were lights and cameras set up, centered around Olivia. And in that moment, he knew.
She’d agreed to the retro show for TV Land he’d overheard her and her sister discussing.
“Let’s have some questions from the audience to warm us up,” the guy with the mic was saying to Olivia in front of the cameras.
She smiled. It was the same smile from her past, the one that didn’t reach her eyes or come anywhere close to touching her heart.
And his own heart sank. “Goddamn it.”
Several audience members were vying for the microphone, wanting to ask Olivia a question. And unbelievably, first up was Cindy, his own sister.
“Do you have fond memories of the show?” she asked Olivia.
“Some,” Olivia said. “It was my childhood, after all. But a lot of bad things happened to me as a result of the years in Hollywood. Which is why I changed my name and…vanished.”
Cindy nodded solemnly, her eyes filled with understanding. “If I’d been in that show and gone through all you did, I’d want to change my name, too. By the way, thanks so much for the donation of that Dior dress for the after-school kids’ programs fund-raiser next week. You saved the day there. We have the bid up to twelve hundred dollars already. I can’t express enough how much that’ll mean to the rec center.”
Cole stared at Olivia, though he shouldn’t have been surprised. She was one of the most generous people he’d ever met. She gave her best, always.
He’d had a chance to give her his very best, to forgive her for a mistake she apologized for and regretted, and he’d failed her.
He wanted another chance. He wanted that badly.
Lucille hopped up. “Me next!” Her head came up at least a foot below the microphone. This didn’t faze her. “I have a question,” she yelled up at it.
“You don’t have to yell,” the interviewer told her. “Just speak in your normal voice.”
Lucille nodded. Then she proceeded to yell some more up at the microphone. “Why stop acting? Why not stay and continue on with another show?”
Olivia hesitated. “The people in my life at the time had all moved on. My agent, my manager, the show’s producers. But even without them, I wasn’t young enough or cute enough for the kid roles, and the only other roles I was offered were for adult film. I was going through a wild stage, but not that wild.”
The interviewer reached for the mic, but Lucille held on to it and took a step away from him. “For the record,” she told Olivia, “we’re all very glad you ended up here in Lucky Harbor.”