Authors: Sadie Rabbit
“So is this him, Liv?” Mike said. He was speaking too loudly, and Olivia saw with horror that the people around them were turning to watch.
“Mike, this isn’t the time for this,” she said.
“Of course it’s not the time,” he said. “No one ever wants to talk about perverts sending their wife obscene emails.”
“Hey, buddy,” Thomas said, “I don’t know anything about you, but I think you need to calm down. Have some respect.”
“Some respect?” Mike yelled.
He turned in a rage and yanked one of Olivia’s photographs off the wall. The wooden frame cracked and bent in his hands as he swung it at Thomas.
went off, women squealed and Thomas dropped to his knees, dodging the heavy frame by inches. Security was there in a flash, one man on either side of Mike. They had him under the arms, and they lifted him in the air so his feet scarcely touched the ground. Veins bulged in Mike’s neck as they hauled him out of the room. He looked back at Olivia.
“You’re scum,” he said. “This work is scum. Your friends are scum. And that dirty prick is scum...”
She didn’t hear the rest. A tidal wave of sound filled the space as everyone in the room started talking at once. Thomas was at her side quickly. “I have to say this is the strangest first date I’ve ever had,” he said.
“Well, at least I know you’ll defend my honor,” Olivia said, laughing. “Let’s just say it was a test.”
“Did I pass?” Thomas asked, moving closer to her — closer than she might have wanted with everyone looking at them.
“Let’s give them something else to talk about,” Thomas whispered as he moved to kiss her.
The sounds, the faces, the lights, everything faded and Olivia felt lightheaded. Thomas’s lips were fuller, thicker than Mike’s, and they were softer. She couldn’t get over how soft they were. Seconds into the kiss, she opened her eyes. A heartbeat later, Thomas opened his. They looked directly at one another while they kissed. Olivia closed her eyes quickly, put a hand on Thomas’s chest and pushed him away. Suddenly, they were aware of the crowd around them. They smiled awkwardly, and then clasped hands. First Charlotte began to clap, and then they all did with Olivia and Thomas blushing in the center of the room.
“I need a drink,” Thomas said.
“Get me two,” Olivia said.
Their second date might have been stranger than their first. It wasn’t exactly dinner and a movie. They were headed to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where a safe deposit box waited for them.
“Don’t you think it’s a little early for us to be proclaiming our love?” Olivia asked.
“Why waste time?” Thomas asked.
“Well, we haven’t even been intimate yet,” she said.
“Yes, but that doesn’t happen until after we’re married,” Thomas said, smiling deviously. “Besides, I feel like we’ve known each other for years.”
I do, too,
she thought, remembering the whispers.
I almost feel like I’ve already had sex with you.
The bank was a grim, unadorned, white brick building that could have passed as a jail.
“I can’t believe this bank is still here,” Olivia said.
“It’s a good omen,” Thomas said.
He grabbed Olivia’s hand and helped her from the passenger seat. They walked hand-in-hand, both of them squinting in the light. It was March in Ohio, and it felt like years since Olivia had last seen the sun. The blue sky was here now, though. It stretched above the Army base like a giant fish bowl.
A frail elderly woman led them to the security boxes. Olivia wondered if the woman was working there
some 25 years ago when Pika originally bought the box. Maybe so…
stared at Thomas, and he stared at her. She felt like he was really seeing her — seeing her in a way her husband never had.
“Are you ready for an adventure?” he asked.
“I’m always ready for an adventure,” Olivia said.
as took her hand in his and kissed the back of it. Then, he guided both their hands toward the safe deposit box. She slipped the key silently into place and paused with his hand motionless on top of hers. They both took a deep breath, and they turned the key together.
The night after Olivia’s opening at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, newspapers were crowded not just with stories raving
about Olivia Hampton’s show, but with stories of old-fashioned scandal, too. The media loved a jealous lover, and they ruthlessly ran photographs of Olivia’s enraged husband destroying one of her pieces while he tried to kill her younger, sexier boyfriend.
The publicity cost Mike not just his boyfriend, Jude, but his new job, too. P&G couldn’t afford that sort of scrutiny in one of the company’s most expensive divisions, they said.
“That fight was better marketing than anything we could have come up with,” the museum director told Olivia.
helped drive more than 300,000 visitors through the museum in four short months. The show alone netted Olivia enough to put a down payment on the Cat Lady’s House. She wouldn’t be a renter anymore.
Summer came to Ohio sweet as a song, and Olivia was hosting a dinner party when Charlotte told her the news: she was pregnant.
“I want both of you at my side with Kenneth at the hospital,” Charlotte told Olivia and Thomas.
The young couple shared a glance.
“We’ll be there,” Olivia and Thomas said simultaneously.
“At least, we hope we will,” Olivia said.
“What does that mean?” Charlotte asked.
Olivia pursed her lips.
“This has to do with that damned safe deposit box, doesn’t it?” Charlotte asked.
“We might be going on a trip,” she said.
Charlotte leaned in close and propped her elbows up on the patio table.
“Do tell,” she said, “do tell. I’m a spy, after all. You know I can keep a secret.”
“Olivia’s marriage mirrors my first relationship in a lot of ways,” Sadie Rabbit writes. “I was naïve about love, naïve about sex. With love, I think you need to get it wrong at least once before you know how to get it right.” Ms. Rabbit lives outside Dayton, Ohio with her two dogs. She’s currently at work on the remaining books in the Whisperer Trilogy. Visit
to learn more about Ms. Rabbit and send her an email.