Chapter 26:  First Impressions

“What a great dinner,” Alex remarked, pressing the button to her floor.


“I agree.  It’s nice to not have to cook on New Year’s,” Olivia replied.  She looked at her reflection in the mirrors and added, “I wonder how many people fuck in here and get off watching themselves.”


Alex smirked and leaned back against the polished brass handrail.  “Good thing they clean the elevators then, huh?”


The elevator dinged and the doors opened.  The two of them were shocked to find Robert standing at Alex’s door with a dozen red roses and bottle of wine.  Just my luck, Alex thought, groaning inwardly.


Olivia’s first thought when she saw him was, Smug bastard.  She wondered why he was so dressed up just to see his girlfriend at her apartment.  She didn’t think that the word “casual” was even a part of his vocabulary.  He stood there in his $3000 pressed and tailor-made Valentino suit with his perfect hair and frozen smile like he had everything in the world at his fingertips.  To be perfectly honest, he probably did.  What she hated the most was that he had procured the most valued thing in her world—Alex. 


Feeling like her legs were made of lead, Alex forced herself to walk up to him.  Olivia walked a few paces behind her.  Robert greeted Alex with a kiss on the lips and said, “Happy New Near, gorgeous.  I brought a bottle of your favorite wine.”


Olivia felt her blood start to boil.  Alex took the roses from him and forced a smile.  “Thanks, Robert.  This is all very kind of you.”


“Anything for you,” Robert replied, kissing her again.


A slight flash of panic crossed Alex’s eyes as she turned to Olivia.  It was as if she expected her to jet at any minute.  Apology quickly settled in her eyes as she prepared to introduce the woman she loved to the man she was expected to love.  Turning back to him, she began, “Uh…Robert, this is Detective Olivia Benson of the Special Victims Unit.”  Her eyes darted to Olivia again and she continued, “Olivia, this is Robert Shelton, my boyfriend.”  She wished she could sink through the floor as she said the last words.


Olivia thought she heard a slight crack in her voice at the mention of the word “boyfriend.”  “Hello,” she said, offering a smile and flawlessly hiding her contempt. 


“Ah, yes.  Alex mentioned you before,” Robert said, extending his hand.


When did this happen? Olivia wondered.  Nonetheless, she took his hand and gave him a solid handshake.  “Nice to meet you.”


Robert was surprised at the woman’s strength.  He’d shaken hands with women from all walks of life but none had that amount of confidence or firmness.  “It is a pleasure to meet you too, Olivia.”


Olivia’s expression slightly hardened but Robert didn’t pick up on it.  It’s Detective Benson to you! she wanted to scream. 


An awkward silence ensued.  Alex looked down at her roses and inhaled deeply.  “These smell lovely, Robert.”


“They were flown in from Ecuador,” he replied.  He said it as if Alex wouldn’t dream of not liking them.


Olivia had to fight the urge to roll her eyes.  This guy is so full of himself, she thought in disgust.  What the hell does she see in him?


He shifted the bottle of wine to his other hand and turned to Olivia.  His smile was polite but his eyes were asking, or rather, telling her to leave.  He was disappointed that he hadn’t gotten a chance to see Alex on the last day of the year, so he wanted her all to himself that night.


Alex was embarrassed at Robert’s flaunting of his wealth in front of Olivia.  I guess he just wants her to know that I’m well taken care of, she rationalized.  Maybe he thinks it will score points with her.  She looked at Olivia and prayed she wouldn’t put him in his place.  “Would you like to come in and join us for a glass of wine?”


“No,” Olivia declined.  She jerked her thumb in the direction of the elevator and continued, “I should get going.  Have a long day ahead tomorrow.” 


Alex nodded.  “I understand.”


Olivia looked at Robert and forced a smile.  “Enjoy your evening.”


“You, too,” he replied.


Olivia touched Alex on the arm.  “Night, Alex.”


Alex smiled and regretfully watched her walk away.  “Night, Liv.”  After the elevator doors closed, she unlocked her door and thought, Shit.




A couple hours later, Olivia was just about to turn out the lights in the living room when her phone rang.  She looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Alex.  Rolling her eyes, she picked up the receiver and said, “Hello?”


“Hey, Liv,” Alex said hesitantly.


“It’s a little late to be calling, Alex.  Surely I thought you’d be deep in the throes of passion right now.”


Alex was taken aback by the low blow.  “That’s not fair.  I didn’t know he was coming.  I checked my voicemail after he left—”


“Then maybe you shouldn’t have turned your phone off at dinner,” Olivia snapped.


“I didn’t want us to be interrupted.  Besides, Robert and I didn’t do anything.  I lied and told him I had a headache.”


“Shouldn’t a relationship be based on honesty?”


“Drop the sarcasm, Liv,” Alex replied, starting to get annoyed.


“You sure know how to pick ’em,” Olivia said before she could stop herself.


“Excuse me?” Alex asked.


Not about to back down since she’d already let the cat out of the bag, Olivia continued, “Alex, the guy’s ego is as big as his bank account!”


Alex didn’t know why she was taking offense at Olivia’s dig at Robert, but she did.  “Do you think the same thing about me?”


“You’re not like him.”


“Robert is a wonderful person!  You don’t even know him!”


“Why the hell are you even defending him?” Olivia demanded, frowning.  “What about me?  I had to watch him kiss you!  Then I get blown off for that egotistical piece of—”


“Liv!  Watch it,” Alex scolded.  “And I did not blow you off.  I invited you inside.”


“Did you honestly think I’d come in and have drinks with the two of you like nothing out of the ordinary was going on?”


“Nothing out of the ordinary was.”


“Except for the fact that I fucked your brains out early this morning.”


Alex blushed crimson at the mention of it.  She quickly pushed down her arousal.  “You know what I meant.  It’s not like he caught us kissing or making love.  We were just coming back from dinner.  He has no clue what’s really going on between us.”


“Nothing is going on.  Alex, I told you that was a special occasion.  We are just friends, remember?”


Alex was stung by her words, even though she knew she was right.  She didn’t know why she’d gotten her hopes up again in the first place.  “Must you be so harsh?  You know how much that meant to me.”


“As much as when Robert fucks you?”


Alex gasped loudly and exclaimed, “You are out of line!”


“Speaking of which, he was disrespectful to me.  He should’ve referred to me as Detective Benson and yet he called me Olivia.  I can tell he thinks women are beneath him.”


“That’s bullshit, Liv!  But I agree he shouldn’t have called you by your first name.  However, we were in an informal setting and he probably thought he was establishing a good rapport with one of my friends.  I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm.”


“I’m telling you it was deliberate.  He gave off bad vibes.  I’m a detective!  I know how to read people!”


“You’ve misjudged people before!  Remember Siobhan Miller?”


“Oh, please!  You believed her, too!  In fact, I was the first one who figured out she was running the whole scam and lying about being raped!”


“Olivia, fess up.  The only reason you find fault with him is because he’s my boyfriend.  If he wasn’t, you wouldn’t be dissecting his every move.”


“You’re wrong.  Did you even see the look he gave me?  It was as if I was imposing on his time with you and he couldn’t have been more anxious for me to leave.  And when did you talk about me to him?”


Alex took a deep breath before responding, “On Christmas morning he asked who I was talking to and I told him you were a colleague from SVU.”  She cringed to think what her reaction would be.


“That was none of his damn business.  He’s already being possessive!  Can’t you see that?”


“Can we please put this behind us?” Alex pleaded.


Olivia ignored her.  “I’ve been around plenty of cocky businessmen who think that everyone should jump when they say so.  He’s no different.  His charm isn’t enough to fool me because I know it’s only a method of concealing his true nature.”


“I’m not discussing this anymore with you,” Alex said sternly.  “Your approval of him is not what I’m seeking.”


“Good, because you’re never gonna get it.”


“For someone who has no interest in dating me again, you sure are acting like a jealous girlfriend.”


“Acting?  Oh, I know Alex ‘Closet Case’ Cabot is not lecturing me on acting.”


Alex was furious.  “Dammit, Olivia, we can’t even have one good day before your victim complex kicks in!  First I make you a victim, now Robert.”


“I am not claiming to be anyone’s victim!  Just callin’ it like I see it.  By the way, I hope you enjoyed your $300 bottle of wine.  Did he have that flown in as well?”


“Olivia…” Alex warned through gritted teeth.


She was not the least bit intimidated.  “You know what they say about men who feel the need to impress women with expensive things.  Big wardrobe, big car, big house but small dick.”


It took Alex a moment to pick her jaw up off the floor.  When she had regained her composure, she stated coldly, “You know, I called to apologize about earlier and attempt a civil conversation with you, but I see your maturity level is not up to par.”


“Fuck you, Alex,” Olivia said, slamming down the phone.  She flipped off the lights and walked to her bedroom.


Alex held the phone in her hand and listened to the dreadful dial tone, which sent a chill through her.  It was so distant, so final.  Emptiness settled inside her as the room seemed to grow darker around her.  For the second time that night she thought, Shit.