HOLIDAY INTERNET ROMANCE NOVEL
Sara stared at Oliver in confusion and total surprise. Her shock at being so passionately kissed was immediately replaced with the shock of having "Kelly" pull away from her, both physically and emotionally.
She could sense it.
The pain of stinging rejection stabbed her heart and went right to the core of her being and self esteem. Hot tears welled in her eyes as she turned away from him.
Sara was nothing, if not determined to marshal what little was left of her pride. Rationally, she knew there were only two credible explanations for his behavior - either he wasn't interested or there was another woman.
"I shouldn't have done it either," she replied quietly, happy that he more than likely couldn't see her tears. "I'm involved with someone else," she amended truthfully, remembering Ollie for the first time that day. She suddenly longed for the safety and security of their long-distance Internet relationship on Writing.Com.
The truth was that she really wanted "Kelly" to keep kissing her forever and only recalled Ollie after "Kelly" withdrew so abruptly.
At the mention of "someone else," Oliver's heart sank to the floor. It didn't occur to him that Sara might have a real life boyfriend, but it certainly seemed to be what she was saying. He screwed up royally, and he knew it.
Still, he realized he needed to make amends in order to salvage any chance to not suffer in comparison to whoever that someone else might be. Furious with his loss of control, Oliver sucked in a deep breath and then started talking.
"Sara, please forget that happened - forget it for now anyway. Forgive me for grabbing you like that, ok? I'm so attracted to you and I just got carried away with our day and being close to you," he confessed, then added, "I hope you'll give me a chance to compete with whoever that someone else is and to show you I can be a gentleman, some of the time, anyway. When I'm not being a complete dork, that is."
Listening intently, Sara frowned in confusion.
It wasn't at all what she expected to hear. He wasn't saying that he had a girlfriend or wasn't interested. Regardless, her defenses were up and she felt far too vulnerable and attracted to the man sitting next to her. Life was so much simpler and so much easier, it seemed, to focus on Ollie of Writing.Com and her love for him. She cleared her throat.
"I've had a nice day with you, too, Kelly. Why don't we just pretend it didn't happen and we can be friends."
Oliver's hopes dipped immeasurably at her use of the word, "friend." But, she used the same word in her email to his Ollie persona on Writing.Com and he knew she didn't mean it then and more than likely she didn't mean it now. Furthermore, she didn't flat out reject the idea of giving either one of them a chance.
'It's a defense mechanism,' he reasoned to himself. 'She feels like she needs to defend herself against me.'
Feeling like the biggest moron in the world, he said quietly, "That's not who I am Sara - what happened I mean. I would never try and take advantage of you."
He could sense her softening, just a tiny bit when she responded, "I kissed you back. You weren't taking advantage of me, but I shouldn't have let you kiss me like that. I guess I bring out the worst in people," she added regretfully, remembering the way Professor Miller pounced on her in his office.
But Kelly's kiss was nothing like John Miller's lecherous advances. With Kelly, she wanted him to kiss her again and never stop kissing her. Knowing all of that, she felt terribly guilty about her feelings towards Ollie.
"Sara, you don't bring out the worst in people," Oliver said forcefully, then looked out the window at the lights of the railroad workers against the backdrop of snow blanketing the Virginia countryside. "Why on earth do you say that?" he asked in complete frustration.
Sara swallowed. There was something about Kelly that she trusted, in spite of everything. He seemed so kind, and honest, and caring.
And so, she told him.
She told him the whole story - the words pouring out of her - every single detail of her ordeal with Professor Miller, right down to that awful day in September when he asked her to stay late in his office.
"...and he kissed me, and tore my clothes, and told me I belonged to him, and that I was an idiot for thinking he liked my work. He told me I was average, just like everyone else and that I'd better use the only thing I have - my looks and my body - before I get too old. And he's done everything in his power to make my life miserable ever since. I don't even know if I'll have a job next week because of him." she finished.
Closing his eyes. Oliver swallowed his rising fury over all she endured and was still enduring. Silently cursing himself for adding to her pain and insecurities by bringing to mind the horrible experience, he bit his lip, struggling to find the right words that would somehow - do the impossible and make things immediately right for Sara.
"Sara, I am not like your professor. It's not the same. And there is nothing average about you. You're a beautiful woman and a wonderfully gifted writer.
She looked at him in confusion, and finally asked, "How can you say that? You don't even know me!"
Oliver sucked in a deep breath.
"I know you Sara. Ever since that first night in September, I've known you."
Studying his face in the dim ambient light of the railroad car, Sara realized, for the first time that there were tears in his eyes, too.
"Kelly, I don't understand," she started gently, but Oliver held up his hand.
"Kelly is my last name," he said slowly. He knew she could see his tears, but he didn't care. The time was right to level with her, at least about the Writing.Com part of his identity, and he knew it. The Oliver Lane explanation would have to wait for another day.
"Your last name? I don't understand. What is your first name?"
"Oliver. My real name is Oliver Kelly."
Continued in "Sara's Port, Ch. 18"