One year later…
Olivia didn’t know why she had woken up. It wasn’t a nightmare, because she felt extremely peaceful. She’d had a long but wonderful day, and had gone to bed exhausted and ready to sleep. Opening her eyes, the small bedroom was dark but not completely dark. Turning her head, she saw the outline of Elliot lying beside her. He was facing her, an arm slung over her middle. She smiled at the sight. No, Elliot wasn’t the reason she woke up.
Carefully, she slipped out of bed. After slipping on the robe hanging on the footrail of the bed, Olivia went through the bedroom door and looked in the room next door. It was another small bedroom, a queen-sized bed dominating it. She smiled at the two occupants who were sound asleep beside each other. Eli slept on his back, his arms above his head and his mouth open. Noah slept curled on his side facing him, holding his favorite bear tightly.
As it always did when she looked at her boys, her heart swelled. Seeing that they were safely and sound asleep, Olivia blew them a kiss and softly shut the door.
When she silently entered hers and Elliot’s bedroom, her eyes went to the double-doors that led onto their tiny balcony. Even though the gossamer curtains were drawn, Olivia could see that the moon was out. Grabbing her phone from the bedside table, she tiptoed to the doors and quietly opened one, stepping out into the Italian summer air.
Olivia’s breath caught in her throat at the beauty before her. The city of Verona lay before her, lit by golden lamps and lights all around. Lifting her phone, she paused for a moment to look at her lock screen image: Elliot comforting Noah the day they had accidentally met. Maureen had discreetly taken the photo. She’d sent it to Olivia a few days after Lizzie’s opening, and the image was also in a pride of place on her nightstand back home in an engraved frame: The Loves of my Life.
After taking a photo of the city, Olivia slipped the phone into the pocket of her robe. Then she looked up, and her breath was taken away again. One of the downfalls of living in Manhattan was that a starry night sky was more often seen in pictures than reality. Now above her, with a full moon as the centerpiece, the sky was lit like the most beautiful and flowing diamond necklace.
When she felt Elliot’s arms come around her and pull her back against his chest, Olivia wasn’t startled. She had felt more than heard him come out onto the balcony. She grinned and tilted her head sideways, and Elliot grunted as he buried his face against the crook of her neck. In the last year, Olivia had become privy to every side of Elliot there was, including those sides that she’d never been privy to before. Sleepy-but-not-cranky Elliot was one of her favorites.
“You ok?” he muttered. “What woke you up?”
“Nothing wrong,” said Olivia, gazing up at the sky. “I thought something must be wrong at first. But now…I think I’m awake because everything’s right. In this moment, everything is ok.”
“You’re right,” said Elliot, lifting her left hand so that the ring he had placed there hours ago sparkled in the moonlight. “At this moment in time, everything is perfect.”
“Mmm.” Olivia turned in Elliot’s arms and kissed him. “Thank you for tacking Verona onto our Rome trip. I’ve wanted to see this city for as long as I can remember.”
Elliot nodded and then led her back inside the little terrace apartment they were renting while in Verona. Olivia grinned as he shut the door, noticing that he wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. Meeting his eyes, she deliberately took her robe off and hung it back on the bed’s footrail. Elliot approached her and laid her down on the bed. “Mio cuore…” he murmured.
Olivia smiled, her hands cupping his face. “Mia amore…”