A Beautiful Mess

By: T.K. Leigh



ONE week. That’s all Olivia Adler could think about as she stood staring out the window of her office on the twentieth floor overlooking the Financial District of Boston. In exactly one week, her parents would have been dead for twenty-one years. Yes, twenty-one years seems like a long time. And it is. Twenty-one years is a long time to have no family.

As she was contemplating her shit life on that Friday in mid-August, she heard her cell phone buzzing on her desk.

Kiera: Where are you? It’s quarter after.

Olivia: Shit. Let me just put on some makeup and I’ll be right down. Sorry.

She groaned, wondering why she had agreed to go out with Kiera and a few of her co-workers that evening. Going out was the last thing she wanted to do. Most nights, she preferred to stay at home, snuggle on the couch with her cat, and drown herself in a bottle of wine.

Walking into the en-suite bathroom in her office at the posh wellness center she ran, Olivia checked her reflection. Her dark, curly hair was cooperating for once. Placing a bit of gel in her locks, she framed her pear-shaped face with loose ringlets, the rest of her hair cascading down the middle of the open back of her red silk halter-top.

She applied a hint of makeup, needing only a little eyeliner around her big brown eyes and some lip gloss. She rubbed lotion on her lengthy olive-toned legs and finished the look with a pair of black wedge sandals that made her even taller than her five-nine frame. She took one more glance at the mirror before grabbing her purse and running out of her office into a waiting elevator.

“Have a good night, Libby,” she heard as she ran past the security office in the lobby twenty floors below. Olivia stopped quickly to say goodnight to one of the building’s security guards.

“Good night, Jerry. I’ll be back later on before heading home for the evening.”

“Where ya heading now?” he asked with his eyebrows raised. Over the past several months that Olivia helped run the new wellness center, he had learned her routine. And that routine never consisted of going out after work.

“Out for a few drinks with the girls.”

A smile spread across Jerry’s face, happy to see that Olivia was going out for once. “Well, if it’s after ten, the main doors will be locked, so use your key card to get into the night entrance.”

“Thanks, Jerry. See you later on.” Olivia left through the big glass doors and walked outside to meet Kiera.

“Hey gorgeous,” she said as Olivia exited the tall, shimmering skyscraper.

“Hey gorgeous, yourself,” Olivia responded, smiling at her beautiful friend. Her light green tank top brought out the deep green of her eyes, which contrasted nicely with her vibrant red hair. Although she was shorter than Olivia by about six inches, only hitting five-three on a good day, her confidence made her seem so much taller.

Olivia had met Kiera during her freshman year at Boston College. She moved into the apartment across the hall in the building where Kiera had been living. Kiera was a few years older than Olivia and had been her rock for the past decade. She was the only family Olivia had left.

The two friends linked arms and walked the few short blocks to the bar. It was a beautiful evening in mid-August and the humidity that had been present earlier that afternoon had faded. The sun illuminated the tall buildings of the city Olivia had grown to love over the past decade, casting the sky a beautiful pink color. A slight breeze blew through the air and all was right in the world. Olivia actually looked forward to spending her Friday night with friends.

“I can’t get too fucked up tonight,” Olivia said to Kiera as they handed the doorman their IDs. “I want to try to get in a long run early tomorrow before the heat hits.”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say,” Kiera retorted. She didn’t try to downplay Olivia’s training schedule, but she was worried that her friend pushed herself too hard, not leaving anytime for her to enjoy life.

“I mean it. I’ve been slacking on my running lately. I have a marathon in two months and I’m trying to qualify for Boston.” The girls walked into the brightly lit bar, the sound of people laughing and having a good time filtering though. Olivia quickly scanned the huge room in order to locate her co-workers.

“You workout like all day long at work. You should take the weekend off.”

“That’s what Sundays are for. Anyway, I don’t workout all day. I teach a few group classes during the week, but that’s really it,” she informed her darling friend as she spotted a few of the girls she worked with sitting by the windows overlooking the street. Olivia started in their direction.

MacFadden’s was a trendy bar in the Financial District of Boston that attracted many twenty- and thirty-somethings who worked in the vicinity. At six o’clock on a Friday night, the bar was packed with people grabbing a few drinks with their co-workers before heading home for the weekend.

It used to be a hole-in-the-wall Irish pub. A few years ago, the owner, Mac, came into some money and did a huge renovation project on the bar. There was gorgeous hardwood flooring throughout both levels, creating a homey feel. On the first level, the atmosphere was bright and airy. Instead of regular bar tables, there were posh couches with coffee tables. The glass windows out front ran floor-to-ceiling and on a beautiful night like that, they were wide open, letting the Boston air float through the bar. The second floor housed a rather large stage and a huge dance area. Every weekend, the bar was packed with people there to see whatever band Mac had booked, who had excellent taste in local talent.

“Hey! You made it,” Olivia’s co-worker, Bridget, shouted at her, obviously already a few drinks in. She was around Olivia’s age of twenty-seven, petite, with fair skin and dark hair and eyes. Like Olivia, she was not a Boston native, being born and raised in Chicago. She had come out to Boston for college and just never left. That seemed to happen quite a bit in this town.

“Yeah,” Olivia replied dryly.

“Thanks for dragging her out!” Bridget shouted at Kiera, giving her a hug.

“Hey, I saw Simon here. I think he was looking for you,” Melanie, her other co-worker, said as Kiera and Olivia sat down on the small velvet couch opposite Melanie and Bridget.

“Why would he be looking for me?” Olivia asked, her irritation showing. She really had no desire to see Simon that evening.

“Ummm, I might have mentioned you were meeting us here. He came over to say hi and all so I let him know you were probably going to be here.” Melanie looked at Olivia, who was rubbing her temples. “What? Did I do something wrong?” she asked innocently.

“No, Mel. It’s okay,” Olivia breathed. “I didn’t want to have to deal with this tonight,” she explained.

Olivia had met Simon while she was working at the wellness center. He worked construction for one of the companies that had been hired to design and construct a new studio room. He asked Olivia out for a drink the first day he was there. And every day for the next month. On the day that the studio room construction was finished, he asked one last time. Olivia reluctantly agreed.

“Why not?” Bridget asked, sounding surprised. “I thought you guys were dating.”

“Miss Olivia doesn’t date, remember? She has sex with guys while remaining hopelessly unattached,” Kiera explained, laughing as she eyed Olivia.