Home > Forever Hold Your Peace

Forever Hold Your Peace
Author: Liz Fenton




It was official, Olivia decided. The Amalfi Coast was the most romantic place in the world. Every Instagram story she’d watched before arriving hadn’t been exaggerated. She now understood that the experience of being immersed in the beauty of the towns speckling the coastline of Southern Italy made you desperate to share. To try to convey that the tomatoes in the quiet fishing village of Praiano were more vibrant than anywhere else, their plump juices sweeter. That the red wine in the mountaintop town of Ravello was smoother. The locals in the coast’s namesake town of Amalfi did smile wider. And here, in the picture-perfect cliffside city of Positano, love felt deeper. So deep that it became a part of your soul.

She never wanted to leave.

Olivia couldn’t see Zach’s hazel eyes behind his dark aviator sunglasses, but she was sure they were slightly narrowed as he focused on navigating the boat through the crowded Positano harbor. She hadn’t known him long, but she’d already memorized so many of his expressions. The way his eyebrows dipped when he concentrated, how he chewed the inside of his cheek when he told her about his childhood, the teasing smile that played on his full lips when he was about to kiss her.

But he still surprised her with a new detail about himself every day. Like when they’d boarded the sleek sky-blue motorboat earlier and Zach announced with pride that he would be her captain for the day. The words had tumbled out quickly as he’d explained they were riding in a nineteen-foot pleasure craft, a Cayman 585 open boat with a Yamaha 40/70 engine. There was so much she didn’t yet know about him. Those unknowns could fill the biggest tome in her mom’s bookstore back home.

Olivia knew there was only so much to learn about a man in six weeks. That you could spend nearly all that time exploring his body and mind in one of the most romantic cities in the world and still not know everything. Olivia could draw a map to every freckle on his taut chest. She could trace the small birthmark on his shoulder. But she’d had no idea he had a boating license.

They were now past the harbor and he pushed the throttle, accelerating their speed. He drew Olivia to him with one hand, his other lightly gripping the steering wheel. She rested her cheek on his shoulder as the warm summer wind kicked up, and they headed out to sea. She liked that there was still so much to discover about Zach, that she was slowly turning his pages, absorbing who he was. There would be time to learn if he replaced the trash bag in the garbage can after taking it out.

At twenty-four, Olivia was in love for the first time. They could figure out the rest later.

Zach brought the boat to a stop. His forearms flexed as he expertly dropped anchor next to the Li Galli Islands between Positano and Capri. Olivia’s breath still caught every time she stared at the vibrant blue-green hues of the Tyrrhenian Sea. She took in the rocky coastline of the largest island, a half-hidden castle-like villa peeking out from behind the lush trees. Olivia had searched it up—finding pictures of celebrities like LeBron James and Beyoncé and Jay-Z renting out the private compound. She imagined them sipping espresso as they watched the yachts glide by.

Olivia was so caught up in her thoughts she didn’t hear Zach slide up beside her. He ran his hand over her stomach before pulling her in for a kiss. Olivia’s heart turned upside down as she tasted the sea salt on his lips.

“What do you think of the view?” he asked.

“It’s insane,” Olivia said. “I can’t believe I’m here.” She paused, pulling his aviators down to look at him, her heart catching. “With you. Can we stay forever?”

Zach’s eyes flickered, and Olivia worried she’d said too much, too soon. They’d discussed the future, that they’d intended to continue their relationship when they went back to the States, but hadn’t said the word forever. Hadn’t talked about marriage. But Olivia knew what she wanted—to never wake up without him by her side again.

Zach felt so perfect for her that she’d only told her younger sister, Chloe, about him. She hadn’t wanted to jinx it. She’d called Chlo after the first week, excitedly trying to explain how getting to know Zach was like one of those paper fortune tellers they’d folded up and played as kids. They would write on each flap something positive or negative that could happen to them in the future. One of them would place their thumbs and index fingers inside the origami shape and ask the other for a number. They would count together and open the flap to reveal the answer: a million dollars, bankrupt, beat up chevy or a corvette, four kids, two-story house, or single for life. With Zach, no matter what flap was opened, it revealed something more special than the last. She’d marveled to Chloe that she didn’t know how it was possible that this stranger could land in her orbit one day, and the next, she couldn’t remember her life without him.

Chlo had giggled. “He must be huge.”

Countless times, Olivia and Zach had lain in the tiny bed in her rented flat, their limbs intertwined and their skin slick with sweat from their body heat as they talked about what life together would be like back home. There was no air conditioning in her Positano apartment, but they didn’t care. Both silently sacrificed coolness for closeness. She hoped they’d always want to be touching. That he’d never stop resting his hand on her forearm while they sat at their favorite café sharing a chocolate croissant and two Americanos. That he’d always grab her hand and guide her across the street—whether it be the narrow roads of Positano, where they had to dodge the mopeds flying by, or the wide tree-lined boulevards in Pasadena where he lived.

They’d said I love you for the first time within days of meeting while on a romantic hike. They’d mapped out the best route from Zach’s house (which he owned!) in Pasadena to Olivia’s studio apartment in West Hollywood. They’d debated which one of them would attempt to recreate the lemon linguine they’d noshed on at Da Vincenzo. Which of each other’s friends they would love instantly, and which would take some time to warm to. But the discussions hovered inches above marriage, like a helicopter trying to find the best place to land.

“Did I say too much?” Olivia stammered, wanting to pull her words back inside her. She would wait as long as it took to be his wife. There was no rush. “I’m caught up in the moment … it’s so beautiful here …” She trailed off as a large cabin cruiser of tourists blew past, forcing their boat to roll in its wake. Olivia grabbed the back of the passenger seat to steady both her body and her emotions.

When she turned back to face Zach, he was balancing on one knee. Or trying to. The boat had other ideas. He was clutching the edge of a small table with one hand, sweat trickling down his face as he held himself in place. In his other hand was a small box, nestling a simple silver ring with a small diamond. It was perfect. Olivia gasped.

“It wasn’t too much,” Zach said. “I don’t ever want to spend another day without you, Olivia. Whether it’s here or Los Angeles or even North Dakota, I don’t care, as long as we’re together.”

“We’ll have to reevaluate things if this relationship moves to Fargo. I don’t do snow.” Olivia laughed and pulled him up to face her and ran her shaking hand through his hair. “Ask me.” She smiled.

“So assertive. One of the many things I love about you.” Zach put his lips to her ear, his warm breath sending a lightning bolt to Olivia’s toes, and whispered, “Olivia Abbott, will you marry me?”

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