The sun had just about set as the ambulance streaked down the empty road of Olivia’s neighborhood. Neighbors had congregated on their front porches to try and catch a glimpse of what had happened. The ambulance stopped outside Olivia’s house and the paramedics got to work. They were trying their best to save her, but the situation was far too dire for them. Her parents were beside themselves with worry, they didn't know what was happening to their daughter. They could only hope that she’d pull through.
It had been five years since the accident, yet Olivia still couldn't shake off the memories of that fateful day. They still haunted her the same way they did on every waking day since. Olivia had just graduated from college with a degree in fashion designing, and her career looked bright. She was engaged to her high school sweetheart, Kevin, and they were planning a life together. A life that was snatched away in the blink of an eye because of a reckless driver. Olivia lost Kevin and her career in one fell swoop.
She now lived in a small town by the beach, far away from the memories of her past. Here, she owned a quaint little café, where she spent most of her days serving coffee and baked treats to her customers. Her friends and neighbors loved her for her kindness and creativity, but no one knew how much she struggled to keep it together. She didn't talk to anyone about her insecurities, fears, and regrets, not even her parents.
One day, as she was cleaning up the café, she heard a familiar voice that sent shivers down her spine. She turned around and saw him, the love of her life, Declan Anderson, standing by the door. He looked just as handsome as he did five years ago when she left him without a word. Olivia's heart skipped a beat as she saw the longing in his eyes. She could feel herself melting at his mere presence.
Declan couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Olivia. He had been living in the same town, but he had never seen her, not once in the last five years. He walked into the café, and as soon as he stepped in, he felt like he had been transported back in time. Everything about her was the same; the sparkle in her eyes, the way she held her head high, the way she smiled.
"Hi, can I take your order?" Olivia asked, trying to act as if she didn't know him. It hurt him to see her like this, to see her so closed off from him. He missed her terribly.
"Olivia, it's me. Declan." He said while taking off his sunglasses.
Olivia's eyes went wide, and she dropped the tea kettle she was holding. It clanged on the floor, spilling hot water all over. She looked at him, stunned. Part of her deeply wished this was all a dream, another part willed this to be real.
"Declan, what are you doing here? Are you here on business?" She asked, fumbling around, trying to compose her thoughts.
"No, I live here, have been living here for the past three years."
The conversation died between them, leaving only the sound of the boiling water and the chattering of customers. The silence threatened to drown them, but neither of them spoke. The air around them crackled with the intensity of their unspoken emotions. Declan wanted to hold her, to never let her go again, and he could see in her eyes how much she wanted him too.
Days went by, and their paths continued to cross. Declan started to drop into Olivia's café, and they would sip coffee and chat for hours. The chemistry between them was still there, as tangible as it ever was, and it was hard to overlook. But even that couldn't fully heal the hurt Olivia was carrying. Declan could sense it, and he knew he had to tread carefully to keep from losing her again.
"How have you been since I left?" Olivia asked him one day, swirling her cup of tea.
"I missed you. I never stopped."
Olivia looked down at the cup in her hands, trying to hide the tears that were forming in her eyes. "I had to leave. It was too painful for me to stay in the same places that reminded me of him, of us."
"That was a mistake. Running away never helps. You needed to face your fears and pain to move on," Declan said, placing his hand on hers.
Over time, they grew closer to each other, and Declan was finally able to convince Olivia to tell him her secrets. She finally opened up to him about the guilt that had been eating her up inside ever since Kevin's death. She had convinced herself that it was her fault that he had died, that she should have done something to save him. Declan listened to her, held her, and comforted her.
Olivia cried and cried, finally finding the catharsis that had been impossible for her to find on her own for so long. Declan was there for her, and it mattered so much.
The next day, Olivia found a letter stuck under the door of her apartment. It was from Declan, and he professed his love for her in words that took her breath away. The letter was so raw, it felt like it was plucked directly from his heart.
They started dating, and their relationship blossomed. Olivia felt like she was finally healing. She was learning to let go of her guilt and regrets. Although it scared her to her core, she was ready to love again.
One day, when they were walking along the beach, Declan proposed, and she said yes. They were finally going to start the life together they had planned so many years ago.
At Olivia’s engagement party, Kevin's sister came up to her and told her that Kevin had left a letter for her, addressed to her. That night, after Declan had fallen asleep, Olivia opened Kevin's letter.
In it, Kevin had written about how much he loved her and how proud he was of her. He told her not to blame herself for his death, and that he would always love her no matter what. Olivia read the letter, her tears blurring the words on the page.
Olivia lay in bed next to Declan, watching him sleep. She knew that she had to come clean about Kevin's letter and how it had made her feel. She woke him up and told him everything. She could see the hurt in his eyes, but he held her like he always did.
"It's okay, Livvy. He'll always be a part of you, and I'll always love you." Declan’s words melted her heart, and she fell asleep feeling the warmth of his love.
Years passed, and Olivia and Declan had a beautiful life together. They had two children and were always happy. Olivia had found that she was blessed with a love that was strong and enduring. But Kevin was still a part of her, despite how much time had passed. She told their children about him, and they asked about him. She could tell them all about how much Kevin loved the ocean, how he’d take them to the beach and they’d build sandcastles, and how much he loved his family.
Olivia and Declan took the kids to the beach one sunny afternoon, and Olivia watched as they ran about, laughing and playing together. She spotted a seagull soaring high above them and smiled, knowing that it was Kevin watching over them from above. He had never really left her, and she knew that he never would. That was just the way it was- her heart had once been shattered but now she’d saved herself by redeeming the shattered pieces and rebuilding it with someone who loved all of her. The end.