HOLIDAY INTERNET ROMANCE NOVEL
When Sara finally switched her computer back on, and logged into Writing.Com, Ollie's e-mail was waiting for her. Reading it thoroughly, she frowned at the realization that she obviously already hurt his feelings with her failure to respond.
Carefully, she composed her reply, reading it several times before sending it to him, making sure that she was being as honest and forthright as she knew how to be, under the circumstances.
The problem was, Sara felt more towards Ollie - much more - than she was ready to reveal to anyone.
Breathing an audible sigh of relief at first, Oliver clicked on her e-mail. That relief, however, was short-lived as he eagerly read her message:
I'm fine and I'm sorry for not responding sooner.
The truth is you scared me and I didn't know how to handle it. So, I've done the one thing I never wanted to do. I've hurt your feelings and I'm so sorry for that. I've enjoyed e-mailing with you over the past weeks and I hope we can continue to do that and be friends.
Oliver swallowed hard, reading the dreaded word, "friends."
The truth was he felt much more than friendship for Sara since the beginning. His emotions only intensified with each passing day. Bracing himself for the worst, he continued to read,
We've always been honest and open with each other, so I feel I can level with you.
Oliver swallowed again, nervously this time. He wasn't totally honest with her at all, and he knew it. He was a best selling novelist and screenwriter, not just some consultant. What seemed like a harmless fib at the inception of their correspondence, now loomed as a huge potential roadblock for any hope of a relationship.
Blinking nervously, he continued to read:
I want to be friends and e-mail as we have been, but I'm not ready to IM and I may never be ready for that. I'm sorry, Ollie. I've allowed myself to trust and I've paid for it in the past.
I'm not going to allow it to happen again. If you still want to be friends, I do too, but continuing as we have - with e-mails and reviews. I don't want to IM or anything like that.
I hope you'll understand, but if you don't, that's ok too. I just pray I haven't led you to believe our relationship is more than a friendship, because it isn't.
I'm just not ready for an involvement that's more than that.
Please forgive me, Ollie.
Without thinking twice, Oliver typed his short, but heartfelt response:
I want whatever you want. There's nothing to forgive. I'm grateful you want to communicate with me at all after I pushed you like that.
I should be asking for forgiveness, not you.
You've become my best friend, Sara, and no matter what I don't want to lose that.
Your friend if you still want one,
Not hesitating for a moment, Oliver pressed send, logged off Writing.Com, and shut down his computer.
Feeling the need to work off his anxiety, he decided to change into his sweats and go for a long run. Sorting things out was always easier if he ran - he learned that a long time ago.
As she read Ollie's response, tears welled in Sara's eyes.
"Oh God, what have I done? He's so sweet," she said to the monitor, gently touching the screen as if to strengthen the connection between them.
Regret, combined with guilt, overwhelmed her and she did what she usually did - wrote in her private journal - the one she started the day she received his first reviews. Knowing he was reading her portfolio, she carefully and deliberately kept it private.
Expressing all that she felt, the words poured out of her and she even wrote a poem, so inspired was she by her feelings towards this Ollie on the other side of the country.
In fact, she was so distraught in her editing that in haste she accidentally marked the item public. Not noticing this change, she reread her poem and her journal, amazed at the power of her words.
"I'm in love with him," she admitted to her empty room, and for the first time to herself.
Finally, turning off her computer, she decided to ride her bike to the local video store, to get a movie, hoping it would take her mind off Ollie.
Her journal, now marked public, was there to be read by the only person who checked her portfolio ten times a day.
Continued in "Sara's Port, Ch. 8"