The top of the hill gave way to a stunning, breath-taking view, one which Scarlett almost couldn’t quite believe was real. She stopped, staring out at the rolling hills that faded into a haze of mist, the horizon both there and hidden at the same time. The sky was azure, the sun’s heat not yet suffocating. Eagles swooped and wheeled in the distance. It was peaceful, tranquil. Over the flatter part of land, a thunderstorm gave a spectacular show. They were high enough up that they could see forks of lightning shooting upwards, erratic in their dance.
“Wow,” she whispered, shaking her head. A figure appeared beside her, his shirt as wet with sweat as hers was. While it wasn’t suffocatingly hot, it was still fairly humid. “I just… wow, you know?”
“I know.” Oliver’s gaze lingered on the scenery for a second, before switching to Scarlett. He appraised her body, lean and strong and muscular. It had to be, for the work she did. Twice-daily workouts, a very physically-demanding job, dancing, running, boxing – it all showed in the broad muscles in her shoulders, the soft curve of her delts which led down to a slender waist, strong back muscles which counteracted the strength of her core, leading down to wide hips, his eyes skimming down the gentle perky curve of her ass, her hamstrings, the popping muscle of her thigh… and her calves. As she reached up onto her tiptoes to see over the edge of the precipice, her calves popped out beautifully. Oliver bit his lip. The fact that she’d even agreed to go on a morning hike with him was astounding. He loved being out in the nature, in the fresh air, the serenity of it all. Scarlett did too.
“Jesus, that’s too high!” Scarlett cried, staggering back. “Nope! No. Not doing that again.”
“Intrusive thoughts got you, huh?”
“Yeah, for a second.” Scarlett turned and looked at him, smiling. “Can we take a break up here for a bit? Picnic?”
“Sure. There’s a little spot just up ahead, if there’s still some more climb in you.” Oliver’s eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled at her. Scarlett nodded and let him lead the way.
The picnic area was entirely vacant when they got there. Normal, since it was 6am, and most other people were still asleep. They unpacked the food they’d brought and spread out a bit, enjoying the soft, lush grass beneath the blanket they sat on. Scarlett poured out some coffee from a thermos, and Oliver took out some fruit.
“How’s LA treating you so far, then?”
“It’s… honestly? Not my cup of tea. Alright for a couple of months, but then I want to go somewhere smaller.”
“Well, you know it’s only as big as you let it feel.” Oliver took a sip of coffee.
“Sure. But regardless of how big I let it feel, it still takes me half an hour to drive from my apartment to the studios.” She gave a shrug and ate a strawberry. “In London, I can be there in ten.”
“That’s an exaggeration.”
“It might be. I’m known for it.” Scarlett winked at him as she ate another strawberry. The sun appeared from behind a cloud and hit her face, illuminating her skin beautifully. Oliver smiled faintly as she threw back her head and basked in it, lying down on the blanket.
“So nothing would make you want to move here?”
“Maybe. Depends on what it is, really.” She looked at him, crinkling her eyes up against the sun.
The conversation meandered here and there, skirting around the rather obvious tension that was there between them both. They’d known each other before they’d started filming together, Scarlett a big-name actress, and Oliver a big-name actor. But when they finally came together for months of filming, almost daily, together, they found they both had a little more in common than they could have imagined. They struck up a firm friendship and worked brilliantly together.
“You never mention any partners,” Oliver mused, as they looked out at the valleys below. “How do you keep so much of your life secret?” Scarlett looked at him for a moment, and then burst out laughing.
“It’s easy to keep secret what you’ve never had.”
“Mhm. I’ve never had a partner. Solo my entire life.” Scarlett grinned. “Although I am starting to wonder what I’ve been missing out on.”
“Mhm.” Scarlett gave a small sigh. “But I guess I can’t miss what I’ve never had.”
“Well, if it’s with the right person, it can be incredible. Otherwise, it feels like pointless box checking.” Oliver shrugged. “But you need to experience it to make your own mind up.” He smiled at her. “And someone’s going to be real lucky to have you one day.”
“Flattery… will get you everywhere.” Scarlett chuckled as she drank a little more. “Charlie reckons most guys are probably scared off by my insane strength. Intimidated.” She gave a wry little smirk.
“You don’t seem so upset by that.”
“I’m not. I’ve climbed many a mountain to get to where I am. It hasn’t been easy. And I pretty much decided that whoever ‘gets’ me has to work for it.”
“Aha, so not just any old street rat for you, then?”
“If the street rat had a pretty decent set of morals…” Scarlett smirked. “And a rocking dad bod.”
“What can I say? Deep-seated daddy issues…” she winked at him, and Oliver burst out laughing.
“Not what I was expecting.” He watched her for a moment as she grazed on grapes. She was pretty. And he admired her work ethic across the board, too. The way she worked for what she wanted, didn’t need to be taken care of, didn’t really want to be taken care of, either… he admired her independence, her drive. It made him want to do better, be better…
“Wow, is it really that bad?”
“What?” Oliver shook himself from his reverie. “What did you say?”
“Zoned out there for a second, huh?”
“Yeah.” Oliver looked at her. “Thinking about you.”
“Me?” Scarlett was a little bit confused. “What about me?” Oliver leaned in, eyes hooded. He stroked her hair back from her face.
Scarlett watched him for a moment, and then, in one very fluid movement, she was on top of him, hands either side of his head on the blanket. He laughed, hands on her hips.
“I sincerely hope you’re ready to cash those checks, Ollie.”
“That depends entirely on you. And if I’m good enough for you.”
“I think we both know we’ve been dancing around the subject…” Scarlett leaned down. “Ever since that little kissing scene, you’ve been in love with me…” her tone was light, mocking, eyes gleaming. “You loooove me, you want to kiiiiiiss me –“
Oliver cut her off with a kiss, taking her face in his hands gently.
“I absolutely do,” he murmured, grinning. Scarlett said nothing. “And just like that, for the first time in her life… she is stunned into silence.”
That kiss sealed the deal. It was supposed to be something casual, and at first, it was. A few touches here, a dinner there… all her buttons pressed. Until the night she decided she was ready. Ready to take the plunge and reach the top of the biggest mountain she’d ever climbed. After that night, it was a firm, solid thing. Oliver and Scarlett, the new power couple. Unstoppable.
What a mountain she had climbed. And not just the one they’d hiked that morning; the entire journey she’d been on from start to finish. Learning to love herself had been the final peak, but the real work had started the day she’d decided to invest in herself. At the time, the very thought that she could feel okay had seemed like a veritable Everest, an insurmountable series of peaks that she’d never be able to climb. It had seemed impossible… yet here she was, beneath the sun, in a city that she actually quite liked (despite the size), with a man who actually wanted her, and didn’t want to leave.
The view was pretty spectacular… and Scarlett realised there was so much more to see.
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