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"Olivia? Your lawyer called." You look up from the report you've been reading. It's Friday and you decided to work from home today (it's so good to be the boss). You've covered the whole kitchen table with your paperwork and are slowly working your way through it. You welcome her interruption and smile as she walks further into the kitchen.
"Whatever he said, I didn't do it!" You wait for a smile or a chuckle, but instead Natalia looks at you with a stern expression. You quickly go over your last few days inside your head, but nothing remarkable happened, at least nothing that would cause Natalia to look at you like that. You need more information. "What did he want?"
"He said that he'd finished the changes to your will and that he was faxing them over for you to look at. He also wanted to make an appointment for next week to sign it." Suddenly you remember and have a possible explanation for the look on Natalia's face. You try to come up with an excuse, anything to avoid the conversation, but your mind is blank. All that's in there is every conceivable combination of 'no no no no no no' and 'uh oh'. "Is there something you want to tell me, Olivia?"
"'Want to'? No, not really." It is true that when you find yourself in a corner you usually turn to humor.
"I think I deserve a better answer than that." It is also true that your tactics have never worked on Natalia. You sigh. Why can things never be easy between the two of you?
"I guess you read the darn thing."
"I saw my name." Of course. So you can't even be angry at her for reading your fax. Plus, you've been relying on her so much, she's been reading half your mail anyway.
"Right. Well, then things should be pretty clear." You know it won't work, but you try to get up anyway. Her hand is on your shoulder before you are even out of your chair and she is actually pushing you back down. Only then does she sit down herself.
"Explain this to me. All of it." Natalia pushes the papers in front of you and you look at them. At first glance, everything seems to be the way you wanted it. Names and numbers matched up and all the changes were implemented. You sigh as you read Ava's name. It's been too long since you've seen your daughter. Maybe you should take Emma to San Francisco for a little vacation. You try to lose yourself in a day dream about seeing your daughters at the beach, but an impatient Natalia starts to grumble when you don't answer fast enough.
"What do you want me to say?" You're stalling, but you're also really not sure. You think it's all pretty obvious. In black and white and legally binding.
"Olivia, you put me in your will? That's a lot of money and don't get me started on that part about Emma " You close your eyes. You know you should have talked this over with her before you talked this over with your lawyer, but as much as you'd wanted Natalia to know how much she meant to you and how much you trusted her, you were still terrified of her reaction.
"Emma loves you." It's the one defense you can use. And you don't even feel bad about it. You watch the tiny smile emerge on Natalia's face.
"I know. I love her too, but Olivia-"
"No." You've made up your mind. You will tell her most of it. "When Phillip came back I don't need to tell you how terrified I was. I went a little crazy actually. And I realized that, should something happen to me, he could end up with full custody. I couldn't take that risk." You take a breath. It's important to you that she understands this, so you want to choose your words carefully.
"I called my lawyer and asked him what my options were and he said he would come up with something. I don't want to sue Phillip or file for a restraining order, because the law has a way of working for him and I can't take that chance." You watch Natalia carefully as she nods in all the right places, telling you silently that she understands what you're saying.
"Okay, but what I don't understand is how this would work. You can't just declare that Emma would stay with me, when Phillip is still around. That's not how the law works." Unfortunately, you add.
"Well, it's not an adoption or anything, but it would give you the legal right to demand time with Emma, for as long as both of you wanted that. And I wanted you to have that and I needed to know that Emma would have that should something happen to me."
"Why didn't you talk to me about any of this?" That really is the heart of the problem and you know it. What you don't know is why you didn't talk to her. You talk about so many things, but for some reason you kept this to yourself. It was just so important to you.
"Everything was just so messed up when Phillip came back and I was so messed up. I wanted to talk to you about it, but we both know that I can be a little bit too quick in my decision making when I feel threatened." It's the best answer you can give her.
"Did you really think he would kill you?" Her question startles you. You are afraid of Phillip, but somehow, you never felt like your life was threatened. It was always about keeping Emma safe.
"Actually, I thought I might kill him and I'm no longer a Spaulding, so I'm all out of get-out-of-jail-free cards. Emma would have needed you." She surprises you by nearly jumping out of her chair. She starts to pace the length of the kitchen in front of you.
"And you thought having all the people I love in jail would make sense?"
"I think we established that I was a little crazy. And wrong. And sorry. So don't yell at me, okay?" You heard exactly what she said, but you force yourself not to pay too much attention to her choice of words at the moment.
"I'm not yelling."
"Yes, you are. Little bit." You look at her with a smile and she just sighs before she drags her chair in front of you before she sits down again.
"Olivia, these are important decisions. You know that I love Emma and that I would be honored to take care of her. That you trust me with her you don't know how much that means to me."
"So we're good?" You suspect that you're not.
"You should have talked to me about this."
It's your turn to sigh. "I know." You lean forward to take her hand. "I guess I didn't want to give you the opportunity to say no."
"You can't possibly tell me that you believe I would have sent away Emma." The shock in her eyes is what makes you tell her the truth. Of course you know that she would take care of Emma.
"Maybe I just didn't want you to know how important it is to me that you feel that way about my daughter." You can't look at her anymore, so instead you focus on your hands as they cradle hers. "It was the first thing I did, after I'd calmed down enough to think. I called my lawyer and told him to fix things."
"That's not the only thing you did, though." You watch as Natalia's hands move until they're holding both of yours. "You put me in your will, Olivia. I don't want that and you know it. I don't want your money. Well, except your rent money." Relief sweeps through you as she smiles at you.
"There are a lot of things that you can be bossy about, Natalia Rivera. You can tell me what to eat, when to take a nap and not to shoot people, but one thing you cannot tell me is what to put in my will. And I'm sorry if it bothers you, but you're in it." You grab your pen and quickly sign the top page of the documents Natalia brought you. You know you'll have to do it again with a lawyer and some official looking bureaucrat present, but it's a gesture and you want to show Natalia that you mean what you say. You watch her shake her head and smile.
"You are impossible."
"Thank you." You turn back to your papers. A plan is slowly forming in your mind and there are just a few things you need to finish, before you can work on it. "Now go, be my bossy assistant and get me those painters on the phone. The first floor needs to be a different color."
"Yes, boss." You watch her walk away and smile. When she comes back to hand you the phone you quickly grab her hand again, so she can't walk away while you set up a meeting for next week. She's smiling, but looks slightly confused as you get up from your chair after you end the call.
"I'm done for the day." You watch her frown.
"Really? I thought there was a lot of paperwork left and there's that presentation we haven't finished."
You roll your eyes. "I am done for the day. You are my assistant. That means you're done for the day as well. I'm taking you to lunch."
"Lunch. A midday meal. We're going out."
"I thought you wanted to work from home today, because you didn't feel like going out."
"You can be really clueless sometimes. I want to go out with you. Can we do that, please?"
"Clueless? And what do you mean 'go out'? Like on a date?"
Suddenly, both of you are standing still. You realize that you're still holding her hand and while you feel the instinct to let her go and put some distance between the two of you, you also feel like you should pull her closer. You compromise and stay where you are.
"Sure." You try to keep the serious tone out of your voice and you think you've succeeded. "Would you be my date for this fine afternoon, Miss Rivera?" You watch her look at you with those serious brown eyes until she shakes her head and smiles.
"Why not? My boss gave me the rest of the day off."
"That was mighty nice of her."
"Oh, I don't know. I think she had ulterior motives."
"Yes." You watch as she moves closer to you. She's leaning in and you hold your breath as she gets closer and closer. Her hands grab onto your waist as she stands on her toes. You close your eyes when you feel her breath on your cheek. When she whispers directly into your ear you bite your lip. "I think she's trying to distract me from the fact that she's made big life changing decisions without consulting me, by distracting me with food and silly antics."
"Oh." You put your hands on top of hers. "Will you let her get away with that?" She leans back and you open your eyes to look at her. She's smiling and you feel like you can breathe again. It wasn't part of your plan, you really just thought that you could distract her enough to postpone any further conversation about your will and money by leaving the house and maybe picking up Emma from school, but you're known for your ability to make most of the opportunities that come your way. Her hands are on your waist, she's smiling at you with that twinkle in her eyes and she's just right there and you don't know what this is if it isn't an opportunity. You raise one of your hands to her cheek before you bring it to her neck and pull her to you.
Like the first time you kissed her, she doesn't pull away as soon as your lips touch. Instead she moves that much closer and this time there is no separation, no shock and no questions. You kiss, and you're resolved to keep kissing her until she stops you. She doesn't. Instead her hands are in your hair, keeping you close and driving you mad at the same time. When she finally leans back, both of you are breathing hard and the desire in her eyes amazes you.
"It seems like I'm letting her get away with a lot of things today." It takes you a few seconds to catch up to the conversation, but when you do you grin.
"Really? And what exactly would she get away with?"
"I think the better question would be, what she lets me get away with." When Natalia pulls you in for another kiss there's only one thing on your mind. Everything.
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