DISCLAIMER: All characters (Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera, Frank Cooper, Fetus Rivera, blah blah etc.) and situations belong to Guiding Light, Telenext, Proctor & Gamble, etc. I'm not them.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
With her forehead pressed against Olivia's and Olivia holding her close, Natalia lost track of time, lost track of everything around her but Olivia. There had been days since she'd returned from the retreat when Natalia had been sure she would never get to feel Olivia's arms around her again. She had let her fear drive her away and she had paid for it every time she saw the pain written all over Olivia's face. She had come back with certainty and determination, refusing to accept the possibility of anything but getting Olivia back. Things had been getting better for the past few days. Olivia had brought Emma out to the farmhouse when Emma had found out Phillip was dying and Natalia could tell that Olivia had wanted to come in, as much as she had denied it. When she had talked to Olivia that morning, it had almost seemed like the way they had been before. There had been an underlying tension, a sense of just how fragile things were that had never been there before and Natalia had hated it.
Sitting out in the waiting room with Frank, Natalia had begun to doubt that Olivia would come. She had told herself that it didn't matter if Olivia didn't show up today. There would be so many other days, other chances to bring them back together. But the thought of seeing her baby for the first time without Olivia there to share it with just felt wrong. When Olivia had walked into the room, a little bit shy and a fairly glowing with joy it had been the answer to all her prayers. She hoped Olivia understood that.
Neither of them moved until Frank came back in with the technician. Reluctantly Olivia let go and stepped away from her, but Natalia caught her hand and laced their fingers together, holding Olivia close. She wasn't about to let Olivia go again, not now.
"Okay," the technician said with a friendly smile. "Let's see what we have here." He glanced up from Natalia's paperwork, taking in the three of them together for the first time. If he was surprised or curious about why both Olivia and Frank where there he didn't let it show. "Are we finding out the baby's sex today?"
Olivia didn't say anything, but Natalia noticed the flash of eagerness in her eyes and squeezed her hand.
"Yes, we'd like to know." She couldn't take her eyes off Olivia, soaking in the happiness that Olivia was exuding. A part of her had been missing since she had left for the retreat and it finally felt like she had rediscovered it. Running away had been her mistake and her salvation, but the pain it had caused Olivia had been unforgivable. Coming home - coming back to Olivia - had restored part of that - of her heart - but the rest of what was missing could only come from Olivia, was Olivia. "Frank, do you want to know?"
The technician's smile was full of understanding. "We have one parent who wants to know and one who doesn't all the time. You wouldn't be the first."
But Frank was grinning too, excitement lighting up his face, making him look younger than his fifty-two years. "No, I want to know too. I can't wait to see whether you're having a little boy or a little girl."
"Picking out a mitt already, Frank?" Olivia asked quietly, the first time she had spoken since she had told Natalia that they couldn't waste anymore time. It was reassuring to hear her voice. The gentle teasing told Natalia that she was all right. She knew things were still so uncertain. There were so many things they needed to talk about, but for now it was okay. Olivia wasn't angry or hurt. She was here in this moment with Natalia. Right where they needed to be.
Frank nodded. "Boy or girl. Marina was the best player on her Little League team, you know."
Natalia relaxed imperceptibly. She hadn't been sure at all that Olivia would come, but she had wanted Olivia here more than anything. Most of all she had hoped that if Olivia did come, that everything would be all right. Natalia knew she was asking a lot of both Olivia and Frank, but she needed this. She couldn't live without Olivia and she wanted this baby to have its father in his or her life. But, Natalia knew, if she had been forced to decide, she would have chosen Olivia every time. Too many times before, she had put Olivia last, trusting her to be there anyway and Olivia had been. But Natalia was done with taking Olivia for granted. She wanted Olivia to know just how much she meant to Natalia all the time, without any doubts.
"Excellent," the technician cut into Natalia's thoughts. "Let's get started then. If you would lean back and pull up your shirt," he prompted her.
He squirted gel on her stomach. Natalia had expected it to be cool against her skin, but it wasn't. Olivia's thumb stroked over the back of her hand and Natalia shivered.
"Cold?" Olivia asked in a low voice, moving closer to Natalia and sliding an arm around her shoulders.
Natalia smiled and shook her head, looking up at Olivia. "No," she answered just as quietly, "But don't go anywhere."
Olivia's smile grew in return and there was a flash of something in her eyes that made Natalia's pulse race. Soon, she wanted to say, just a little longer, but she couldn't. Instead she tried to put what she was feeling into her eyes, praying that Olivia would understand, and leaned closer into Olivia's side.
"There," the technician said triumphantly. "Listen to that heartbeat - steady as a rock." He shifted the wand against Natalia's stomach and the picture changed along with it. "Congratulations, it's a girl."
Tears welled in Frank's eyes. "She's beautiful," he whispered in an awed voice.
Natalia had to agree. The way she felt in that moment was overwhelming, almost frightening in its intensity. She was mesmerized by the curve of a cheek and tiny little arms pulled close in to the chest. "She looks perfect," Natalia whispered momentarily tearing her gaze away from the image on the screen to look up at Olivia.
The expression on Olivia's face was one that Natalia had never seen before. She looked entranced, focused on the screen to the exclusion of everything else. "I can't wait to meet her," Olivia whispered. "She's amazing, Natalia."
Natalia swallowed against the lump that was suddenly in her throat. She had been so scared, even now, that Olivia would be unable to forgive her transgression, would hold Natalia's own betrayal of Olivia with Frank against this baby. She should have known better, but fear and guilt were not rational or easily dismissed.
Natalia turned her attention back to the scan, trying to take in everything as the image moved on the screen.
"Okay, I've got what I need." The technician's voice was jarring after the silence that had enveloped the room while they tried to soak in every detail of their little one. "Let me print you off some pictures and then we'll be all done."
"Thank you," Natalia said softly, speaking for all of them.
"Here," he offered her some paper towels. "You can clean up with these. Or we have a restroom just through there if you need."
"This is okay," Natalia said, wiping at the goo on her stomach. She leaned up, trying to see over the swell of her stomach to make sure that she had gotten all of it off, but she couldn't quite see.
"Here," Olivia said softly, taking the rough paper towels from Natalia's hand. "Let me."
Gently but thoroughly, Olivia wiped the rest of the gel from Natalia's abdomen with deliberate care, the tips of her fingers brushing against the bare skin of Natalia's stomach as she did. Natalia's breath hitched, gasping at the feather-light sensation. A slight, knowing smile played over Olivia's lips. Purposefully she stroked her fingers over Natalia's skin again. Natalia bit her lip and squirmed slightly under her fingers. Olivia touching her like this - playfully but sensually - wasn't fair. She was deliberately teasing Natalia and Natalia couldn't stand it. She wanted to be somewhere alone. She wanted to be somewhere that Olivia could do more than steal brief caresses.
Her response seemed to have satisfied Olivia though because her teasing touch slid away so that she could pull down Natalia's shirt.
"There you go," Olivia said, her voice rich and warm.
Natalia took her hand and let Olivia help her to a sitting position and then wrapped her arms around Olivia's waist, keeping her close.
"Here, Ladies," Frank said. He was holding two sets of photos out to them. "Our first picture of our baby girl."
Natalia smiled. Frank was a good father and he was nothing if not enthusiastic.
"I can't wait to show everyone," he continued.
"I know," Natalia said, her own excitement clear in her voice. She turned to Olivia. "I can't wait to show Rafe. He's going to be such a good big brother. Can we show Emma later?"
Olivia seemed surprised at the question, but nodded, taking it in stride. "We can. I know she's been dying to see whether this little one was a boy or a girl. She was convinced it was a girl and she'll be so excited that she was right."
"That's so sweet," Natalia said, unable and unwilling to restrain her affection for the little girl that she loved like her own.
"Emma is a very sweet girl," Frank agreed with genuine fondness. He glanced up from the picture in his hands to Natalia. "Do you need anything? A ride or..." He shrugged. "Anything?"
"No, thank you, Frank," Natalia declined with a gentle smile and a quick stolen glance at Olivia. "I think I have everything I need."
Frank nodded his eyes downcast again, but Natalia didn't miss the flash of uncomfortableness that went over his features. She didn't jump to set him at ease, letting him find his own way through it. They were all going to have to get used to making this work, after all they were going to be in each others lives for a minimum of the next eighteen years. Might as well start adjusting now.
"All right, then. I'll see you later." He smiled at Natalia. "I'll call you. We can talk about what we need to do for the baby."
"Okay, Frank." She leaned forward to hug him and kiss his cheek, never letting go of Olivia's hand as she did. "I'm glad you came."
"Bye, Frank," Olivia added.
Together they watched him leave. When he was gone, Natalia turned to Olivia. She touched Olivia's cheek gently.
"I'm even happier that you're here."
Olivia smiled, but Natalia could see the hint of fear and doubt in her eyes as it returned.
"I couldn't stay away," she admitted.
"You've always taken such good care of me," Natalia said with a tremulous smile. "I promise I'll do better in the future. I will, Olivia. I'm really here and I'm not going anywhere."
Natalia could see the cracks beginning to form behind Olivia's smile, pain and heartache beginning to leak through.
Olivia sniffed, looking away for a moment to regain her composure. "We should get out of here. Can we go somewhere and talk?"
"Anywhere," Natalia said simply.
They ended up at the gazebo in park. The farmhouse was too much yet. Olivia wasn't sure she could face the discussion that they needed to have surrounded by the warmth and familiarity that the farmhouse promised. It screamed "home" to her and she wasn't sure she could handle hearing that siren call. Olivia had briefly considered bringing Natalia back to her suite at the Beacon, but Emma would be there and it was unlikely they would really have a chance to talk. Besides that it was Olivia's haven, her last resort. She wasn't quite ready to bring Natalia into that yet, to surrender completely. So, the gazebo it was.
Natalia had taken Olivia's hand again the moment they got out of the car. Just that simple touch had surprised Olivia. No matter that the park was deserted, they were still in a public place. If Natalia had noticed Olivia's surprise, she hadn't shown it as she led Olivia into the gazebo and took a seat on the bench, tugging Olivia down to join her.
Olivia sank down next to Natalia but kept a few scant inches separating them. It wasn't what Natalia would have preferred, but if space was what Olivia needed to have this conversation, she could do that.
"I don't know what to say," Olivia admitted after they had sat their in silence for a few minutes. She shook her head, running her hand through her hair. "While you were gone there were so many times I wanted to talk to you, tell you about something that would interest you, or get your opinion on something-"
"Yell at me?" Natalia interjected gently.
"That too," Olivia agreed with a pained quirk of her lips. Even that faint smiled dimmed. "Ask you to hold me, because I needed you."
"I'm so sorry I wasn't here."
Olivia shrugged with forced casualness. "It's done. We can't change it now."
"I could hold you now," Natalia offered.
The warmth in her voice was almost too much for Olivia to take. Hypothermia patients could go into shock and die when they were exposed to too much warmth, too quickly as they were being revived. Olivia felt like she was on life support.
"Natalia..." she croaked, unable to voice a denial and unsure if she even wanted to. One more touch was all it would take to make her fall apart. She was quivering with the effort not to.
Natalia let go of her hand and Olivia realized it was already too late as Natalia wrapped her arms around Olivia and pulled her closer.
"I can't," Olivia gasped. "I can't."
"You can," Natalia said soothingly. "Just let go. I promise I'm here."
Slow tears turned into sobs that wracked her entire body, but Natalia didn't let her go, one hand cupping the back of Olivia's neck and the other rubbing soothingly up and down her back. Olivia's fingers dug into her shoulders as she held on just as tightly. Slowly Olivia's sobs began to die down, easing off as she calmed in Natalia's arms. Natalia tucked a piece of hair behind Olivia's ear, running the back of her fingers down Olivia's cheek.
"I'm so sorry," Natalia whispered. "I love you so much."
Olivia's grip on her tightened. "I love you too," Olivia said, her voice muffled by the way she was pressed into Natalia's body. She loosened her hold on Natalia and lowered one hand to cover the swell of her abdomen. "She's so perfect," Olivia murmured, turning her head to lay on Natalia's shoulder so that she could be heard a little more clearly. "I swear she looks like you already."
A soft sound of disbelief escaped Natalia. "It was a blurry black and white image. There's no way you could tell."
"I bet she has dimples," Olivia pronounced. "Your dimples."
Natalia couldn't contain the smile that threatened to split her face. Olivia sounded tired but happy. It had been so long since she had seen Olivia happy without reservation. She covered Olivia's hand with her own. "I hope she has your sense of humor."
Olivia sat up so abruptly that Natalia felt fear clutch at her heart. "You said I'm not funny!"
Natalia shrugged a little. "I was mad at you. You wouldn't let me tell you that I wanted the job."
"You wanted..." Olivia bit out in a high pitched voice, until she cut herself off. "You wanted the job?" She asked more quietly.
Natalia nodded. "But you wouldn't shut up and you kept saying things that made me more and more mad at you."
Olivia sank back into the bench, her shoulder pressed up against Natalia's, as she shook her head. "I didn't know."
"Obviously," Natalia said. "You believed in me. I was scared but I wanted the opportunity that you were giving me so badly."
"We were pretty good at that, you know," Olivia said. "Fighting."
Natalia snorted. "We were."
"Do you think it was the sexual tension?" The words slipped out of Olivia's mouth before she could think about them. Her eyes widened comically as she realized what she had said. She stared directly ahead, unwilling to risk a glance at Natalia.
The single word surprised Olivia more than anything short of Frank showing up to give them his blessing. She couldn't help looking at Natalia. She didn't look embarrassed or ashamed, although there was a hint of pink tinting her cheeks.
"You irritated me so much sometimes," Natalia confessed. "You could get under my skin like no one else could. I wanted..." It was her turn to shake her head. "I don't think I knew what I wanted from you then, but I wanted...something."
"And now?" Olivia asked softly. She was almost holding her breath as she waited for Natalia's answer, hoping that this was okay, that she hadn't pushed too far. It was such a familiar feeling and if anything the fear and uncertainty that had been her frequent companion was more real than ever.
"Now..." Natalia shifted so that she was facing Olivia and then reached up to stroke her fingers down Olivia's cheek. Natalia touched her face, turning her head and making sure that Olivia was looking back at her. "Now I want you so badly I think I'm going crazy," she said as matter-of-factly as she could. Her cheeks flushed but she held Olivia's gaze steadily.
Olivia was stunned speechless, her mouth gaping. Natalia took advantage of her momentary distraction and kissed her, pressing her lips against Olivia's. It took a second for Olivia's shocked brain to catch up, but when it did she surged forward almost upsetting Natalia's already precarious balance and kissed Natalia for all she was worth. Her hands slid into Natalia's hair and where her touch earlier had been desperate it was sensual now.
Natalia brushed Olivia's lips with little teasing pecks, let herself go further and further back, drawing Olivia with her until Olivia was almost completely on top of her. Abruptly Olivia let go of her, her hands dropping to the bench on either side of Natalia's head to hold herself up. Natalia slipped one hand underneath the hem of Olivia's shirt, sliding over the smooth skin of her back. Olivia gasped and deepened the kiss. For the first time in a very long time, Olivia let go completely, forgetting about how terrified she was of Natalia leaving or hating this, and losing herself in the amazing sensation of touching and kissing Natalia.
It was so much more than she had imagined, Natalia's response soothing some piece of her soul that she had hardly even noticed was damaged any more, it was such a part of her.
"Okay, break it up." The booming voice penetrated the fog of desire that had settled over Olivia, blocking out the rest of the world. "This is a public park."
Her head snapped up, breaking the kiss, as she looked around for the person who had spoken and found herself staring at Remy.
"Olivia?" He asked, a bemused smile beginning to spread over his face.
Olivia pressed her lips together, holding in her initial response. She had finally gotten to kiss Natalia and someone had to come and interrupt them. She was not happy.
"Remy," she acknowledged. "Kinda busy here. Can't this wait?"
She heard Natalia squeak beneath her and realized that she had sat back to speak to Remy and ended up straddling Natalia who was still sprawled out on the bench beneath her. Her hips jerked involuntarily at the contact and Natalia whimpered again, pushing back against her before she struggled to hold still. Natalia's cheeks were bright red.
"Don't you own a big old hotel?" Remy asked. "Can't you take..." He finally glanced at the person who Olivia had been kissing and his jaw dropped. "Natalia?"
If anything, Natalia's blush darkened. "Hi, Remy," Natalia said, removing her hand from inside Olivia's shirt to give him a tiny wave.
Remy stumbled a small step back. "I have to, uh, go, but you should really..."
"We will," Natalia reassured him. Her face felt hot enough to fry an egg on. Not at being with Olivia, not at kissing Olivia, but at forgetting where they were enough to have been about to do what they had been about to do on a bench in the park in the middle of the afternoon. She watched Remy's hasty retreat for a moment and then turned her attention back to Olivia, lifting her hands to cradle Olivia's face. "What you do to me..." she whispered, shaking her head and smiling.
"You love it," Olivia challenged.
"And you," Natalia said. "I love you." And then she kissed Olivia again. To hell with Remy.
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