DISCLAIMER: Any and all shows and their respective characters depicted in this odd little story do not belong to me, and I'm fairly certain no one else will claim them either should she/he venture past this warning.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: An AU spoofy fluff written especially for International Day of Femslash 2009. There are too many fandoms and pairings to name. Suffice it to say the island is populated with lots and lots of women. A bit of sap has seeped its way into the fic as well. Be prepared. My most heartfelt thanks to two very special women: FlyingPeanuts: for sifting through this fic, bit by bit, scene by scene, and keeping me focused on the winding and, oftentimes, narrow path. Deb: for graciously taking time out of her very busy schedule to beta this rather long and drawn out piece. To both of you: thanks for your constant words of support. It means the world to me to have two such amazingly talented women in my corner.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Part 1: The Characters
The sun rose slowly over the horizon and spread its rays of light outward, the thousands and thousands of metaphoric tendrils stretching and inching their way across deep blue, crystal clear waters of the previously unknown Majestic Sea, finally coming to rest over the flourishing and heavily populated island paradise known as Femslash Island. The peaceful solitude of the serene setting was shattered by a loud curse that split the silence of the early morning air.
"Shit, not that rope, Joxette!" Xena Amphipolos yelled, immediately springing into action and somersaulting from her comfortable perch in the bird's nest high above the deck of her ship. She landed next to the buffoon moments before her first mate, her only mate actually, could pull on the rope that would open the ship's hold and release the catch they'd worked so hard to procure during their night run.
"Sorry, Xena," said the bumbling idiot as she hurriedly tied off the rope she'd been about to let free, confusing it with the one that would lower the mainsail. "I keep getting them mixed up." She straightened her ridiculous-looking blonde wig that had slipped to the side when Xena had vaulted beside her and saved the day. "I'll try harder." She smiled her patented stupid smile and nervously pressed her hand down the sides of her hideous green skirt.
If Xena sent her back home, she'd be forced to become a fighter like her father and brother and likely find death on the end of a sword within seconds - when all she'd really wanted to do was be the best queen in the land, queen as in a flamboyantly campy male homosexual, of course. She'd figured that surrounding herself with females was the best place to start.
Xena sighed tiredly and patted Joxette on the back. "It's okay, just be careful next time. This is a big job for us. If we can get the rest of Hotel Calidornia's business, we'll be able to buy that new trawler I've had my eye on." Xena's eyes lit up at the prospect. "I'm telling you, Joxette, if we get Olivia Spencer's seal of approval, the rest of the island will be knocking our door down. We can write our own ticket." Xena always tried to include Joxette in her business talks, feeling sorry for the wanna be queen. Well, except for the times when the incompetent dimwit did something that cost her big money.
"I'm going below. Keep an eye on things." With a nod, Xena turned and crossed the deck, heading for her cabin and a quick shower, just in case she ran into the traveling saleswoman she'd met last week. The woman sure could talk up a blue streak, but Xena knew of at least one thing Gabby Potedia owned that she wouldn't mind buying. Maybe today would be the day she could talk the younger woman into selling her most prized commodity.
"Tracey!" The small group of pub patrons called out in unison, each woman raising a glass toward the newcomer, before returning to their different conversations. The pub's owner shook her head, again, at the rather odd greeting, wondering if the name she'd chosen for her establishment Cheers had anything to do with what had become a daily custom, although it had strangely centered around a single customer, albeit a habitual customer and one who seemed to feel right at home at the local pub. Kate Ashurst had originally chosen the name as a reminder of the land she'd come from, but she'd take whatever she could get as long as business continued to flourish.
"Evening, Ash, I'll take my usual," said Tracey Kibre, sliding onto the same stool she'd sat on ever since she'd first started coming into the pub. She smiled smugly as she swiveled her stool slightly and crossed one toned leg over the other, well aware of the number of gazes that had turned her way to watch her daily ritual. It was quite flattering to know that she was still able to turn heads after all these years.
"Tracey! How's tricks?" Emma Scribbins, the pub's only waitress, had been in the back room when her favorite customer had arrived and had missed joining in on the familiar greeting. "Found any new talent?" Scribbs, of course, had been referring to singing talent, but her question could easily have been misconstrued to include the many young, nubile women Tracey had taken exclusively under her wing, only to release the potential talent when another younger prospect with much more promise and two firmer breasts came along.
"Scribbs! You're needed at table 3," Ash informed in a stern tone. It wasn't necessarily directed at her employee because Scribbs had been unavailable when the patrons had needed her, so much as Ash didn't care for the way Tracey flirted with Scribbs, always giving the waitress the eye and practically undressing her employee with a sultry gaze. If anyone was going to undress Scribbs, literally or not, it would be Ash.
Tracey watched as the tiny vein near Ash's temple began to throb, and she grinned knowingly. "You'd better hurry over, Emma. We'll talk later." She gave the waitress a wink and reached for the mug of ale Ash had slammed down hard when she'd ordered Scribbs across the room. Tracey gripped the handle and lifted the ale to her lips, making sure to focus on Scribbs' ass over the edge of her mug as the other woman waltzed away. She smiled around its rim when she felt Ash's eyes boring into her.
"You need to act fast, Ash, before someone steals Scribbs out from under you." Tracey's grin grew. She knew damned well that Scribbs had never been under Ash, or at least in the way Ash had always hoped. Even in their supposed employer/employee relationship, Scribbs usually called all the shots. Ash was truly and utterly whipped.
"Excuse me. Can one of you tell me where I might find Tracey Kibre?"
Not particularly happy at being interrupted while engaging in one of her favorite pastimes getting Ash all worked up over nothing Tracey pasted on an irritated expression and swiveled her stool around to face the unwelcomed intruder. She was suddenly very thankful that she'd chosen to leave her mug on the bar; otherwise, it would most likely have slipped from her grasp and become a fatality on the hardwood floor.
There, not three feet away, stood a blonde, blue-eyed goddess, seemingly molded personally by the hand of Athena. For the first time in her life, Tracey was speechless and could only stare at the most gorgeous specimen of female beauty she'd ever seen. None of the younger women she'd taken up with could hold a candle to the vision that stood before her.
"Do you know Tracey?" The vision asked, splitting her attention to the lovely brunette who was staring at her oddly and the more uptight looking brunette who seemed far more interested in the blonde waitress across the room.
"Yes," started Tracey hoarsely, pausing to clear her voice. "Yes, um, that would be me." She folded her hands in her lap to keep from pointing to herself and shouting to the rooftops that the goddess had asked for her by name.
The blonde smiled teasingly and reached inside her purse for a folded document. "Hello, Tracey, I'm Serena," she said in a low sexy tone, extending the paper and waiting patiently for Tracey to dutifully accept it. "And you've been served." She winked she actually winked, thought Tracey as she returned the other woman's smile with one of her own. "Have a nice day," Serena concluded with a wide grin, hesitating briefly before she turned on her Prada high heel and walked away.
Wordlessly, Tracey watched the beautiful blonde stroll confidently toward the door. Dark eyes slowly settled on the rather lovely shift of hips from side to side. She'd never been so happy to get served in her life.
Ash was just happy that Tracey had forgotten about Scribbs. Turning to her left, she watched as her employee interacted with the other customers. Everyone loved Scribbs. The thought had Ash glancing around at the different women who were also watching Scribbs with a decided interest. Perhaps she could start her efforts on wooing Scribbs while they worked the wedding reception at Hotel Calidornia.
In the penthouse suite of Hotel Calidornia, Olivia Spencer sat behind a ginormous desk and read through the final list of items that needed to be completed before the Cabot/Benson wedding reception the next evening. Alex, the proud owner of the Divine Winery, was a close personal friend of hers, and Olivia was bound and determined that the party went off without a hitch.
"Ms. Spencer?" Greg, her assistant, dared to stick his head and shoulders inside the room, figuring he'd be able to duck back around the corner should his boss decide to throw a stapler or tape dispenser in his direction. "We may have a tiny, itty bitty problem."
Olivia looked up sharply, her pen poised over the last few items of her list in preparation for checking them off. She had no intention of 'unchecking' any of the items she'd already checked.
"How itty bitty?" Her tone held more ice than any of the hotel's machines that had been specifically designed for that purpose.
Greg reached for the collar of his shirt and eased a finger inside, pulling ever so slightly to allow for breathing room. "It's about the band." He readied himself to duck for cover.
"What about the band?" asked Olivia in a calm, controlled voice too calm and too controlled for Greg's liking as he slowly inched backward until only his head was visible to the drop-dead gorgeous hotelier.
"The lead singer is having problems getting out of her contract for tomorrow night." Greg was now fully confident that his reflexes would keep him safe. "When she signed her contract with us, she'd been given a verbal okay from the owner of the Brown Derby. Now, the owner is trying to renege on their agreement."
Olivia went completely still, her green eyes narrowing into slits so thin it was almost impossible to see any color at all. "Are you telling me that Doris Wolfe is behind this?" The woman had been a thorn in her side ever since Olivia had refused to accompany Doris to the island's New Year's Eve party 1999.
Greg swallowed hard. "Yes, Ma'am. She phoned Ms. Rivera this morning and dropped her bombshell. I wasn't sure you'd want me to try to intervene in this particular situation."
"You were right, Greg," Olivia agreed, her laser sharp mind already working on the problem. "I'd like to take care of this personally. Call Ms. Wolfe and make an appointment for lunch, but in the meantime, phone Ms. Rivera and tell her I'd like to see her in my office at 10:00 sharp. I need some background information before I speak to Doris."
Nodding, Greg eased around the door facing that had acted as his personal shield. "Would you like me to serve coffee and tea?"
"Yes," Olivia said, a slight smile working at the corners of her lips. "Let's do everything possible to make Ms. Rivera comfortable."
"Emily, can you come here for a minute please?"
Jennifer Jareau stood, hands gripped tightly on her hips in an obviously irritated stance, just inside the largest of her five greenhouses that backed up to the quaint floral shop that she owned with her partner. The anger which had consumed her when she'd stomped across the property looking for her lover began to slowly dissipate at the sight before her.
Tilting her head slightly for a better view, she quirked her lips into a salacious grin and focused her full attention on a rather lovely backside that swayed deliciously from side to side as Emily kept rhythm with the beat of a tune that played in her ear. JJ was absolutely certain it held a salsa flavor.
"Em!" she yelled as she moved closer to her partner and the sultry moves her lover had long ago mastered. She stopped just short of Emily for fear that if she stepped into her lover's personal space, she'd never remember why she'd sought her out in the first place, but as tempted as she was, her news simply couldn't wait. "Emily!"
Emily felt, rather than heard her lover's approach, her seldom used sixth sense kicking into gear when JJ had started toward her. She'd often wondered if her ability to see and feel things others didn't would have been better served in another line of work, but her green thumb and love of flowers had overruled any of those types of notions years ago. Smiling, she slipped the ear buds from her ears and turned around to face JJ.
"Hey you, what's up?"
"Garcia, that's what's up."
"C'mon, JJ; she's apologized for bringing her date into the shop after hours," said Emily as she reached down to shut off her iPod. She'd had to explain to their employee that they really needed to keep the rose petals on the stems if they intended to sell them.
"This isn't about that," JJ replied, although she'd actually wished it was. What Garcia had done today was far worse than plucking off rose petals just so she and her date could commune with nature, while 'communing' with each other. "She's completely FUBARed the order for the Cabot/Benson reception. I think she did it on purpose, too."
JJ was fuming, her anger fully resurfacing now that Emily had stopped her hypnotic dance. "You know how she's always going on and on about the flowers she'd use for her own wedding? Well, Garcia's not getting married, but that didn't seem to stop her from transferring her big, colorful flowers to tomorrow's wedding reception. Our backroom looks like the 70's settled in for a party and threw up every shade of purple, orange, yellow, and green imaginable."
"Oh, c'mon, JJ," replied Emily. "Garcia wouldn't do something like that." She watched as an elegant blonde eyebrow lifted higher and higher on her lover's forehead. "Okay, she would, but all's not lost."
With a knowing smile, Emily looked past JJ at the rows and rows of fresh Calla lilies across the narrow aisle.
On the main road that was home to most of the island's businesses, a deep blue awning stretched from the front of a gray-colored building outward, stopping just short of the curb, its cloth-like material covering several wrought iron tables and matching chairs that had been made available for those customers who preferred to breathe in the scent of the island's fresh air while they enjoyed their coffee and pastry. The central locale was perfect for the island folk who lived nearby as well as the tourists who'd come to the island for fun and relaxation.
"Oh my God, oh my God," said Cindy Thomas excitedly into the receiver of the specialty business' phone. "We'll take it!" Slamming the receiver onto its base before the person on the other end could respond, she jumped up and down in glee. "We got it! We got it!"
"What'd we get?" asked Claire Washburn, removing a batch of cranberry muffins from one of their many ovens and carefully placing the pan on a nearby cooling rack. She'd underestimated the popularity of the Muffin of the Month and had hurried to remedy the situation, having mixed up another four batches in anticipation of the mid-morning crowd.
"The Cabot/Benson reception. The Sweet Shoppe just closed down until further notice and had to cancel their contract. Jo, my contact at Hotel Calidornia, managed to get us the job. Isn't that great?!" Cindy's face was beaming so brightly her freckles glowed.
"Reception? They want muffins at a reception?" Jill Bernhardt entered from the Muffins R' Us kitchen and couldn't help but overhear her overly exuberant partner's words. "I'd think they'd be more interested in us catering for a brunch." She wiped her damp hands on her apron and stepped in next to Cindy, having already started a mental inventory of their supplies and figuring they'd definitely need more flour and sugar. "How many muffins are we talking about?"
"Um, well," Cindy hedged, suddenly finding a spot on the back of her neck that needed a good scratch. "It's not exactly an order for muffins."
"What do you mean, not exactly?" Claire stepped toward her two partners and crossed her arms over her batter-stained apron. She raised an eyebrow and stared pointedly at Cindy.
"Er, it's for a wedding cake. Ms. Cabot requested Italian Cream."
"Cake?" The single syllable word transformed into two, and it wasn't because the speaker originally hailed from Texas. "What part of we only sell muffins don't you understand?" Lindsay Boxer hissed as she stepped through the front doors of the muffin shop, offering a half-smile to a customer who seemed quite interested in the topic being discussed. Grabbing Cindy by the elbow, Lindsay tugged the youngest of the owners toward the kitchen and out of the range of prying ears, certain that Jill and Claire would be close behind.
"Hey, let go!" Cindy protested, yanking out of the older woman's grasp and stumbling toward the sink. She caught herself just before she could sling dishwater everywhere. "What's the big deal anyway?"
Speechless, Claire and Lindsay could only stare at Cindy with a mix of anger for stupidly accepting a contract that didn't involve muffins and astonishment at not understanding why they were so upset that she'd stupidly accepted a contract that didn't involve muffins. Jill, the voice of reason and the person who shared a bed with the woman who'd incurred the wrath of their other two partners, eased closer and tried to explain the problem.
"Cindy, we're a specialty shop. We make muffins, granted hundreds of different kinds of muffins, but none of them taste like or look like or have ever looked or tasted like Italian Cream cake, a decorated Italian Cream cake at that."
"But..." Cindy started, only to be interrupted by Claire who had somehow found her voice, even managing to sound calm despite her fear that they'd surely be ruined when word got out that they'd failed to deliver on a contract.
"Cindy, Alex Cabot is one of the richest women on the island. Olivia Spencer can make or break a business with a single blink of an eye. You've managed to get us tied up with both of them." She hesitated briefly for her words to sink in. "Now, if the contract involved muffins, we'd be in high cotton after we impressed the hell out of both of them with the best damned muffins in the world. But nooooo, you had to go and offer our services for a wedding cake an Italian Cream wedding cake. Let's just forget for a moment that we've never actually baked a cake for anything other than one of our birthdays have you seen the forecasted temperature for tomorrow? Do you know what cream cheese will do in those temperatures?"
"It'll friggin' melt before we can make it to the door!" Lindsay practically screamed her frustration, having already imagined the four of them, with spatulas in hand, trying to push the melted icing back up the sides of the cake.
Cindy swallowed hard, fighting back the swell of upset and emotions mostly anger - that threatened to erupt at any moment. She looked from Lindsay to Claire and finally settled her gaze on Jill. Her lover just smiled sadly and shrugged. It seemed, as usual, that she was the only one who believed that they could pull off this huge baking opportunity.
"What if we iced the cake at the hotel?" Cindy asked softly, her gaze settling on the floor. She couldn't bear to see the look of disappointment in her friends' eyes, and frankly, she was tired of being looked upon as a junior member of their business. How could they not understand the enormity of the situation? A contract such as this one could open doors no amount of muffins could ever hope to do.
A silence so thick an icing spatula could cut through it ensued and seemingly went on forever. Not able to stand it any longer, Cindy lifted her head.
A trio of smiles greeted her, and just that quickly, a totally innocent and completely anonymous reporting of rat sightings at The Sweet Shoppe had become the springboard that could vault their business into the cool, refreshing waters of success.
"Alex, I don't want to do this," Olivia blurted breathlessly as she stared up at a mint-colored ceiling and struggled to maintain her focus, the usually soothing shade of green failing miserably to calm the pent-up energy that coursed through her entire body. She felt like an overcharged electrical current on the verge of overloading the very breaker that controlled it. There'd been numerous occasions to broach the subject that had been eating at her, but for some reason, her brain had decided the best time would be when Alex had settled into a comfortable position between her legs. Olivia's 'other' body parts were less than amused by her ill-chosen timing.
A blonde head snapped up in surprise, and smoky blue eyes bypassed a pair of nipples that were so hard she could cut her diamond engagement ring on either one of them to finally focus on her lover's chin. "You want to stop now? You're kidding, right?"
Olivia blew out an exasperated breath and slowly tilted her head until she was staring into eyes so full of passion she could feel the heat from their intensity. "God, I wish I weren't." Slamming her head back onto the pillow, she screwed her eyes closed tightly, frustrated beyond belief and silently cursing herself for not waiting until later only a few precious minutes later, her lower extremities deduced - to have this discussion.
"Then why did you race in here, literally rip the clothes from our bodies, and tackle me to the mattress? What was I supposed to think?" Alex asked, her voice fraught with upset and a very substantial amount of sexual frustration. Deeply hurt by Olivia's untimely rejection, she snatched up the remains of her shirt and tried to slip its mostly intact piece over her head, finally just giving up and wrapping the soft cotton loosely around her shoulders. The week of emotional stress and strain had finally taken its toll on both of them.
"Whoa, whoa." Olivia sat straight up and scooted closer to her clearly unsettled lover. "I'm talking about the wedding " She saw Alex's entire body tense, and she hurried to correct yet another misunderstanding. " not that I don't want to get married. I do!"
Somewhat placated by her lover's reassurances but not liking where the topic of conversation was headed, Alex allowed her shoulders to relax, keeping the rest of her body at the ready, just in case. "Then what's the problem?"
"It's going to be so so big. Can't we just charter a boat or something and have the captain marry us? You know, like that fishing boat that's always anchored down at the docks um, Argo, I think it's called. I bet that Greek woman would marry us," Olivia said hopefully. She truly dreaded squeezing into a tight sequined gown and attempting to walk down the incredibly long aisle of All Denominations Church in six inch heels. She'd been having nightmares about it for weeks, most of them consisting of her falling down and breaking her ankle.
"Olivia," whispered Alex, taking hold of her lover's hand and squeezing gently, "You're the one who insisted on a big wedding. I'm the one who suggested that we fly off somewhere and get married. I knew you hated big crowds, but you said you wanted all our friends there, remember?"
As if rewinding and playing the moment in her mind, Olivia's head began to slowly bob up and down with the memory of her insistence that their friends be present when they exchanged their vows. "Yes, it sounded good at the time, but I didn't really think it through." A designer gown, pantyhose, and high heels hadn't been anywhere in the picture when Olivia had envisioned getting married in front of their many friends, not even when she'd viewed the same scene from a wide angle lens.
Alex's head began to keep time with her lover's. "Liv, it's too late to back out now. All the arrangements have already been made. Olivia has gone out of her way to make our day a special one."
Hitting a rewind button of her own, Alex reflected on her two Olivias. She'd thought it would be difficult, impossible even, dating a woman named Olivia after having just broken up with a woman named Olivia. But the truth of the matter was that she and her first Olivia Olivia Spencer - were better suited as friends, not that the sex hadn't been good. It had been great, utterly fantastic in fact, and Alex had also had the extra added bonus of not having to be careful as to whose named she called out at the height of passion when she'd first become intimate with her second Olivia, Olivia Benson.
" so, that's my main fear at the moment," Olivia said, having regrouped to explain the situation as she saw it. She was completely unaware that Alex had only heard the last of her words and had been so distracted that she hadn't been paying attention. Had she known, the jealousy Olivia had worked so hard to overcome the past two years would've reared its ugly green head with a vengeance, which would have been an exceptionally bad thing, seeing as how Olivia Spencer would be standing on the other side of Alex at the wedding - playing the role of Maid of Honor, of course.
"Is there anything I can do to alleviate that fear?" Alex asked smoothly and easily, having had lots of practice at wheedling missed information from her lover without Liv ever being the wiser. She'd developed a real talent at appearing interested without looking as though she'd rather be anywhere else even if that place just happened to be a dentist's chair for a root canal procedure - whenever Liv went off on one of her tangents about a new computer game she was developing. The software genius oftentimes slipped into the different worlds she was creating, while Alex preferred to stay on planet Earth and keep her feet planted solidly on Femslash Island soil.
"I was wondering if um, maybe it would be possible for Casey to find something else for me to wear that would still compliment your dress. Er, I know she'd probably have a heart attack, but " Liv trailed off to a whisper.
She was doomed. Casey Novak, designer to the stars, would never agree to a change this late in the game. The woman was unbendable when it came to fashion; her flair for finding the perfect outfit for every occasion, mixing and matching colors that most people would never put together, was second to none.
Alex bit back a grin and shifted comfortably on the bed. "Maybe something with pants, you mean?" She eased the tattered shirt from her shoulder. "Something that would require a lower heel perhaps?"
Olivia's eyes tracked to her lover's smooth, flawless skin. "Something comfortable would definitely help." She unconsciously licked her lips. "Guess I'm out of luck, huh?" There were countless numbers of people on the island who'd give their eyeteeth to be sitting where Olivia was perched at this moment. On a bed beside a naked Alex Cabot was anything but unlucky.
"You know, I think I may be able to help you out," teased Alex, gently prodding her lover back onto the mattress and into her previous position when the only sounds in the room had been a chorus of low moaning. "I believe I spied just the outfit hanging in the closet next to my dress." She wiggled her hips back and forth until she'd managed to reclaim her former position as well.
"Really?" Olivia asked, torn between racing to the closet and staying put. If she moved again, Alex might not be as quick or as willing to pick up where they'd left off. Surely a few more minutes wouldn't hurt.
"I had Casey design two outfits just in case you changed your mind about wearing a dress," Alex finally confessed. She'd seen Olivia's look of indecision when she had cut her eyes toward the closet. "Want to see it?" Alex asked in a seductive tone, upping the ante by trailing a few strands of her silky blonde hair along her lover's inner thigh.
Olivia shuddered and closed her eyes, her decision finalized. "No, I don't think that'll be necessary." Sighing contently, she allowed her legs to fully part.
It was all the invitation Alex needed as she dove back in with renewed gusto. Liv would look fantastic in any color even the purple suit that was hermetically sealed inside a black bag in their closet.
Part 2: The Day before the Big Event
"Ms. Rivera, please, won't you have a seat?" Hotel Calidornia's owner asked cordially, gesturing toward a tufted Italian leather guest chair that had been strategically placed across from her larger office chair. Olivia walked around her desk and slowly sank into the expensive leather. "Would you like something to drink? Coffee, tea, perhaps?"
Natalia had quietly taken a seat and watched as the hotel owner moved around the enormous desk to settle comfortably in a chair that matched hers right down to the bright brass tacks. When she'd first arrived, she'd been surprised to find Olivia Spencer wearing jeans, a fitted white shirt, and a light blue vest. The woman looked positively wonderful in the casual wear beautiful gorgeous sexy. Everything Doris had tried to warn her about, although Doris had failed to mention just how charming Ms. Spencer could be.
"Tea would be nice," she answered softly, folding her hands in her lap to keep from fidgeting. "I'm terribly sorry about this last minute problem that I've caused. I hadn't realized that I'd need written permission from my manager."
Holding up a finger to pause the conversation, Olivia pushed a button on her intercom with the index finger of her other hand. "Greg, a coffee and a tea. And would you see if the kitchen has any of those wonderful chocolate chip cookies left?" She ended the one-sided conversation and turned her full attention back to Natalia, ignoring the almost overwhelming desire to ask the singer if she'd like to accompany her to the kitchen where they could bake their own cookies. Her heart warmed at the fleeting thought.
"So, Doris Wolfe is your manager? How did you ever get hooked up with her?"
Natalia visibly started and squeezed her hands together tightly in an attempt to ground herself. She'd expected questions centered solely on the gig she'd inadvertently accepted or perhaps even a stern reprimand for misleading the hotel, but if she'd been completely honest, she'd actually come to the meeting expecting to be on the receiving end of a severe tongue-lashing from the hotel owner. From what she'd heard, Olivia Spencer was the master.
"Um," began Natalia, suppressing a sudden shiver. "I met Doris last year at a convention for restaurant owners."
"You owned a restaurant?" Olivia kept an even tone, but she didn't stop her head from tilting in question or a stray eyebrow from rising slightly in surprise at the unexpected reply.
"What?" Natalia quickly shook her head to deny the misguided assumption. "No, no; I was a lounge singer in the hotel that hosted the conference."
Olivia leaned back in her chair and rested her elbows on its leather arms, settling in to begin her inquisition. "And you just quit your job and came to Femslash Island with Doris? Just like that?" Doris Wolfe wasn't exactly known for her charm, at least not to Olivia. How had the Brown Derby's owner talked Natalia, a beautiful young woman with the cutest dimples Olivia had ever seen, into accompanying her back to the island to work for her and, more importantly, how had Olivia failed to notice the singer before now?
Her heart involuntarily skipped a beat, and she moved her hand to the area, gently soothing the unsettled muscle.
"She offered me a job, and I accepted," informed Natalia matter-of-factly with an added shrug of veiled indifference to indicate that the subject was closed as far as she was concerned. "I'm here to apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused." Her eyes strayed to the other woman's hand that had abruptly stopped its movement. She focused on the silky, smooth skin and didn't notice green eyes that had darkened and clouded over at her apology.
Never had a word carried so much weight, its spoken emphasis laden with a hint of surprise, a touch of anger and a healthy dose of sarcasm. "Being left without entertainment on the day before the biggest event ever to take place on this island, and you refer to it as an inconvenience? What were the Beatles? Just a band?"
Olivia would've normally dismissed the singer without another word, but there was something mysterious, almost enchanting, about the dark haired woman, something very special and unique, something she really wanted to take the time to uncover. She had absolutely no explanation as to why she was so drawn to someone she'd just met and wondered if perhaps an alternate universe existed somewhere outside the realm of Femslash Island where the two of them had developed a love so strong it transcended time and space. It was as if her counterpart's heart was beating inside her, only this Natalia Rivera was its sole owner.
"Okay, so perhaps it's more than an inconvenience," Natalia admitted as she began to re-evaluate her explanation. She'd rehearsed her apology in front of a mirror at least a dozen times before she'd shown up at the hotel for her meeting. It had sounded a bit weak, even to her own ears, but it had been the only thing she could come up with. "I am truly sorry for having put you in this predicament. I had every intention of honoring my word, but my hands are tied."
Olivia swallowed a teasing reply before it could race to the tip of her tongue and burst from her lips. She imagined Doris would love nothing more than to tie the hands of Natalia Rivera, but she suspected the singer couldn't begin to imagine the wicked thoughts that were running rampant through her mind. From all indications, however, it certainly did appear that Doris kept her employee on a very short leash. What fun it would be to cut through the restraint and steal the singer from Doris's evil clutches.
"What reason did Doris give for not allowing you to sing at the reception?" Olivia asked curiously, allowing her thoughts to re-center on her old 'friend'. She knew Doris would be in attendance, just as most of the residents of Femslash Island would, either as guests or in a working capacity, so why would the other woman insist on keeping the restaurant open and offer entertainment to only a handful of patrons?
"She mentioned something about a conflict of interest," Natalia answered, showing a bit of confusion by way of a barely perceptible narrowing of her eyes. She had no idea what Doris had been referring to, but had thought it best not to ask. Questioning her manager's decisions seldom did any good and it only seemed to increase Natalia's frustration.
Olivia chuckled at the reply, the logical side of her brain easily connecting the dots. Doris was afraid, and now that Olivia had met her nemesis' singer, she realized that Doris had every reason to be. The lovely Ms. Rivera was quite the catch and Olivia wasn't about to let her wiggle off the hook. No, Doris had made a huge mistake in not allowing Natalia to follow through on the contact. It was a distinct possibility, although a very improbable one, that Olivia might never have noticed Natalia had Doris not pulled this latest stunt.
"Oh, there would've been a real conflict alright," Olivia quipped, the corners of rich, full lips quirking upward into a smirk at the prospect. It had been months since she and Doris had sparred and Olivia was looking forward to climbing into the ring once again. This fight would be the best to date and definitely the most rewarding with the very lovely singer as the prize.
"I don't understand," Natalia confessed quietly, unsure of what she was feeling and bewildered by Olivia's vague statement. Her stomach fluttered as if dozens of butterflies had taken flight. The myriad of expressions that had crossed Olivia's face had captivated the singer and held her spellbound. Natalia had no desire to break free from the magical moment.
Olivia smiled sweetly as she studied Natalia's reaction carefully. There was definitely chemistry between them. First, she'd secure her for the reception; then she'd focus on snagging Natalia for the hotel and, hopefully, if everything worked in her favor, for herself.
"I don't suppose you have a copy of your contract with the Brown Derby in your purse, do you?"
"Ash, I don't see any DeKuyper Buttershots liqueur," Scribbs yelled over the stack of boxes their supplier had delivered for the Cabot/Benson reception. The waitress had completed a quick visual inventory before she'd begun her comparison of the order against the one she had clipped to her clipboard.
"That's because I didn't order any. We still have a bottle on one of the shelves under the bar," replied Ash, making her way around the neat stack of boxes that shielded her employee from view. She pulled up short, coming to a complete standstill when she spied more than she bargained for as a bent-over Scribbs came precariously close to providing a visual representation of one of the specialty drink's key 'ingredients.'
"Buttery Nipples are Olivia Spencer's favorite drink, Ash. One bottle won't be nearly enough." Scribbs grunted softly as she stood to her full height while Ash released a sad sigh as Scribbs' upright move, coupled with the laws of gravity, lowered the other woman's breasts back into their lacy confines. "And I don't think there's enough time to place another order from our supplier."
Ash licked her suddenly too dry lips and struggled to focus on the business at hand, a vision of the creamy white skin of Scribbs' breasts still firmly imprinted on her brain and distracting her from her usually clear thoughts. "One bottle will just have to do then."
Scribbs shook her head vigorously in disagreement with her boss' decision. "One bottle will never do. I'll just have to use some other means to get more." She immediately turned her mind to the problem, concentration firmly settling on her face and indicating the wheels had already begun to turn. "I wonder if Nikki is in the area." Squinting at the writing on the boxes at the top of the stack, she marked Barcardi Superior and Gold Rums off the list, continuing her inventory just in case there was anything else Ash had assumed they wouldn't need or perhaps forgotten to order. "If I find her today, she can have it here by noon tomorrow. Nobody can beat Nikki."
"Or her prices, either," Ash grumbled, still upset from the last time Scribbs had called on the former RAF pilot to help them out of a jam, although Ash hadn't believed the bit about the RAF for one second. It had cost her an extra 100 quid for the order Scribbs had placed. Nikki Wade thrived on other people's bad luck, literally making a living off of last second as Nikki referred to them - 'saves.' Ash despised the woman.
Tilting her head to better read the labels on the next set of boxes, Scribbs defended her fellow countrywoman. "That was before she met Helen. Her prices are very reasonable now."
"Helen? Who's Helen?" asked Ash, having a difficult time believing anyone could be attracted to someone whose sole purpose was to wheedle as much money as she possibly could from hard-working members of society.
"Stewart," informed Scribbs, her pencil hovering over the whiskey section of her list when she spotted the mostly inferior brands Ash had ordered. She quietly tsked under her breath and made a mental note to ask Nikki about procuring a case of Crown for the elite of the Island who'd be in attendance at the reception. Every party had a pooper, and this one had Ash. "Helen retired from her Majesty's secret service after receiving a medal of honor for injuries she sustained while in service."
"Was it a head injury?" Ash inquired in a knowing tone. It made perfect sense: A few cards short of a deck would explain how the Stewart woman could have possibly been attracted to Nikki.
Scribbs glanced up sharply from her clipboard. "Not funny, Ash, for your information, Helen foiled an assassination attempt on the Queen. She was shot and almost died."
"You sure she didn't hit her head?" Hooking up with Nikki and voluntarily throwing her body between a loaded weapon and the Queen was just too much for Ash to imagine. She tried to shake both images from her mind. "Never mind, Scribbs. Just call the pirate and order the liqueur. Let's just hope we don't end up in the poor house after the transaction."
Scribbs grinned widely, her entire face lighting up at the prospect of seeing Nikki and Helen again. "Don't worry, Ash. It'll just be a matter of delicate negotiations, and I think I've got the perfect bargaining chip."
*Cough!* *Cough!* *Sputter!*
The engine of the ancient model delivery truck gave one final violent cough before it went deathly silent deathly being the operative word as all gears, belts, plugs, and whatever else depended on the engine to thrive had ceased all movement immediately after its death rattle had ended.
Xena screamed in frustration and hit her forehead against the steering wheel for good measure. The fish, crabs, oysters, scallops, and shrimp she'd been contracted to deliver were due at Hotel Calidornia in two hours, and unless she could figure out a way to hoist Argo from the water and steer her down the streets of Femslash Island, she was screwed.
"Need a lift?"
The soft-spoken question floated through the open driver's side window of the stalled paneled truck, its teasing lilt immediately drawing Xena's attention to the sidewalk. She lifted her head from the hard black plastic and glared at the person who'd dared to speak to her, the glacial blue of her eyes melting at the warm green that stared back.
"Having trouble?" Gabby asked sweetly and gestured toward the silent hood. "Bad battery?" She gripped the streetlight pole more tightly and shifted her weight on her bicycle seat. Xena's eyes trailed the movement and, very purposely and oh so thoroughly, eased their way from the edge of the other woman's short biker shorts across toned quads and down to a shapely calf.
"I should be so lucky," she said, her tone indicating more than just a reference to her truck problems. "It's time to send this piece of shit to the scrap yard in the sky." When Joxette had purchased the run-down truck a couple of years earlier, Xena hadn't been pleased, screaming at her first mate and threatening to make the wanna-be queen walk the plank for wasting her money on crap, but she knew, deep down, it had been all she could afford.
Gabby studied the vehicle intently from its worn tires to its rusted fenders to the dented panels of its multi-colored sides. "I think I can get you a few hundred dollars for it, if you're interested in selling."
"You moving into car sales now?" asked Xena as she pushed hard against the truck door with her shoulder; the spine-chilling creak straight from a horror movie caused passers-by to cringe. She ignored the mumbled curses and hard glares and climbed from the dilapidated truck, keeping her focus on the sleek racing bike and its gorgeous rider. "What happened to your beauty products operation?"
Gabby shrugged. "That's just something I do on the side. I dabble in all kinds of things."
Xena glanced over her shoulder at the blue, green, yellow, and red truck it didn't exactly have all of its original parts and sighed. "I don't guess you know where I can rent a delivery truck in the next fifteen minutes."
Using the lamp post for balance, Gabby climbed from her bike and rolled it over toward Xena. "As a matter of fact, I do." She pointed to the far end of the street. "My aunt has a rental place. She has all types of vehicles and equipment."
Xena wondered if her luck was changing after all. Gabby had turned out to be a Jane-of-all-Trades, and she wasn't bad on the eyes either; a wonderful combination in Xena's opinion. Maybe after she'd made her delivery, she'd ask about the other 'things' Gabby dabbled in. "Think she'll take a down payment now and let me give her the rest after I've been paid this afternoon?"
"Let's go see, but if I vouch for you, I'm sure there won't be a problem." Gabby eased forward down the sidewalk with the tall Greek woman following along beside her, very closely beside her. "She can sell your truck for you, too."
"Why would she do that?" Xena asked in amazement. She wasn't used to people going out of their way for other people, especially if she was the other person.
"Why not?" asked Gabby as she angled her bike closer and thus herself closer to Xena. She leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, "It's not stolen is it?" Her light chuckle belied her surreptitious actions at making certain no one could overhear her question. There was no way in hell anyone would steal that truck.
Xena nudged her playfully on the shoulder. "Ha ha, very funny."
"Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. Seriously though, why would you think she wouldn't help you out?"
"Well " Xena started cautiously, not wanting to scare Gabby away with stories of her younger, wilder days before they'd had the chance to get to know each other. She was saved from delving into her past by the sound of an excited voice coming from somewhere above. Quickly glancing up, she spied an older, dark haired woman looking down at her from the seat of a monster tractor.
"Wow, she's a looker! Your Aunt Kelly is going to be so excited that you've finally brought one of your dates home." Sabrina Duncan swiveled in the tractor seat and jumped to the ground, a light 'oomph' slipping from her lips as her arthritic knees protested the foolish stunt. "Damn I'm getting old." She dusted off the back of her pants and started over toward her niece.
"You're not old, Aunt Bree," Gabby assured, shoving her bike into Xena's hands and rushing forward. "You're looking younger and younger every day." She pecked Sabrina on the cheek and whispered into the older woman's ear. "She's not a date; she's a potential customer."
"But you wouldn't kick her out of your bed, now would you?" Sabrina teased, keeping her voice low as she pulled out of the embrace. Turning toward Xena, she extended her hand in greeting. "Hi, I'm Sabrina. What can I do for you?"
"I've got a very important delivery to make in " Xena glanced at her watch and then reached out to shake Sabrina's hand. " an hour and a half. Problem is I don't have a truck a working one anyway."
Sabrina grinned widely and slapped Xena on the back hard. "Well, let's go to the back lot and see what we can find. What kind of cargo have you got?"
Hurrying over to retrieve her bike, Gabby watched as her aunt looped her arm through Xena's and led her new customer to the back of the building. She chuckled and shook her head: Her Aunt Sabrina was truly a force of nature.
"Who's that?" Kelly Garrett stepped down from the front porch and pointed toward her lover and the tall stranger. "Do I need to be jealous?" She kept her voice light and playful. She and Sabrina had been together for almost thirty five years.
"Just someone who needs to rent a truck."
Kelly stepped in closer to her niece and placed an arm around Gabby's shoulder, pulling the younger woman into her side.
"That the one you've had you're eye on?" She didn't wait for her niece's reply. "Better wrap her up quick, Gabby. She's a real looker."
Tracey sat in a window booth of a specialty coffee shop, sipping her latte and watching the people on the street. She'd been amused by the tall brunette and the shorter blonde, but they'd moved on down the street and out of her view. No one else had caught her fancy.
"Well, we meet again."
Instantly recognizing the voice that had played a starring role in her latest dream, Tracey placed an arm along the top of the bench and stretched out like a Diamondback rattler sunning itself on the warm surface of a large rock. "Got another summons for me?" Also like the Diamondback, Tracey had been known to devour small mammals that got in her way.
"Not today, but I can't promise that I won't come looking for you tomorrow or the day after. I imagine there are quite a few young ladies on the island who'll be suing you and your agency," replied Serena as she slid onto the bench across from Tracey, seemingly unafraid of being eaten. "You're not a very popular person from what I hear."
"You're only as popular as your last performance," Tracey said with arrogance, a smug smile plastered on her face. Her last performance had involved a twenty year old blonde with a cup size that had made it to the second vowel of the alphabet twice.
Serena leaned back and crossed her arms over her chest. "What happens when your last performance is indeed your last?" She wondered if Tracey had even bothered reading her latest summons.
"I'll just have to make sure it's a memorable one." The buxomly blonde had certainly been memorable. Tracey had almost suffocated.
"Exactly how many of your singers have actually ended up with a recording contract?" Serena had done a bit of checking on the talent agency and hadn't been able to find a single client who'd ended up in a recording studio. There had been two that had come close, but in the music industry, close didn't cut any records.
"You win some, you lose some." Tracey shrugged off the question. "Nothing is automatic. It takes real talent to get very far in this business." She'd thought she'd found it with Emily Prentiss and Jennifer Jareau, but she'd made a grave error by sending them to LA together. The two had fallen in love, and on the day they were both to sign their contracts, they'd decided to return to Femslash Island and open a floral shop. No one else had come close since.
"Got any new prospects?" asked Serena, wondering what the next name would be on the summons she'd more than likely serve on the talent agent. The joke of the office on her first day had been that the newbie would take on the role of 'Kibre service.' Serena couldn't wait to meet the legend who'd managed to beat every single suit that had been filed against her.
Tracey stared off in the distance, a sudden look of melancholy forming on her features. "There are always new prospects. Everyone wants to be a star." Despite her 'personal' involvement with her new clients, Tracey was growing tired of the game. She'd yet to find that someone who'd challenge her.
"You're wrong," Serena disagreed. "Everyone just wants to be happy."
Moving her gaze across the booth, Tracey's eyes met with a determined gaze, and she took just a moment to study the headstrong woman. Serena never flinched. Tracey acted before she had time to think.
"Would you like to accompany me to a wedding tomorrow evening?"
"Shit! Shit, shit, shit!" Jill exclaimed frantically as she hurried to save her egg whites from the yellow yolk that had escaped its eggshell cocoon to land on the edge of her mixing bowl. Its initial drip had seemed to move in slow motion, but the second it had neared the lip of the bowl, it began to accelerate, much like Cindy did whenever the streetlight turned yellowish orange. Jill had the same look of panic in her eyes.
"What's oh shit!" yelled Cindy, rushing over to assist her lover and quickly reaching out in an attempt to stop the slimy yellow trail before it could touch the pure white of the egg. In her blind haste, she failed to notice the stick of margarine that had slipped from its package and fallen on the floor when Lindsay had haphazardly tossed it on the counter minutes earlier. Her heel hit solidly on its slick foil-like covering and she lost her balance, sliding directly into Jill, who in turn tried to catch her lover and, in the process, lost control of the bowl she was holding, sending it airborne.
It sailed high into the air and flipped end over end, the laws of physics alive and well in the Muffins R' Us kitchen as centripetal force pushed the eggs whites to the center of the bowl and kept the contents firmly in place, until it finally came to rest, upside down, on Lindsay's head. On impact, the gooey substance was immediately released from its confines to liberally coat the brunette's hair and face. She was less than amused.
"Um," started Cindy, her arms wrapped tightly around Jill and Jill's tightly around her, both women surprisingly still upright. Her words of apology dissolved into light chuckles and then bloomed into full laughter with Claire and Jill joining in. Lindsay eased her fingers to her eyebrow and scooped off a thick clear coating.
"This. . . isn't . . . funny." She used her low drawl to place emphasis on her words, hesitating between each to add even more importance to her claim. The others didn't agree.
"Yes, it is," Claire piped up amid Jill and Cindy's boisterous laughter. "But look at the bright side, Lindz; your hair is going to be so shiny."
Jill snorted loudly and instantly became the sole focus of Lindsay's anger. The tall Texan pointed her finger accusatorily at her friend. "This is all your fault! If you could learn to keep your hands off your girlfriend for more than five minutes, this wouldn't have happened."
"Hey, wait just a minute here," Cindy volleyed back as she gently unwound herself from around her lover. "If you hadn't dropped that stick of margarine on the floor, I wouldn't have slipped and the only accident would've been ruined egg whites. So, if anyone is to blame, it's you." The youngest member of the muffin club wasn't nearly so calm and cool when it came to an attack on someone else, especially when that someone else was Jill.
The room went completely still as Cindy and Lindsay faced off in a glaring duel, coal black eyes fixing on flashing brown ones, neither woman appearing as if she'd back down first. It was common knowledge that Lindsay had had a thing for Jill long before Cindy had come along, but it was Cindy who'd swept Jill off her feet, while Lindsay had stood idly by, knowing she'd blown her only chance. This was the first time that Lindsay had made a negative statement or for that matter, any statement, about her friends' relationship.
Claire and Jill looked on silently, their eyes shifting back and forth from a tightly wound, highly pissed off Cindy to a fully steamed, beyond furious Lindsay. The air crackled with tension and the rest of the world fell away. Seconds turned into minutes, and surprisingly, it was Lindsay who finally gave in, the slight slumping of her shoulders her tell-sign. She slowly eased the empty bowl from her head and placed it on the counter with a dull thud.
"I'm sorry for yelling. It's just that this whole " she paused, searching for the proper words and nervously moving her hand to sweep through her hair. She cringed when it encountered the egg substance that had started to harden and pulled it back as if she'd been burned. She stared down at its slimy coating. "Yuck."
Cindy bit down hard on her lip to keep a chuckle from escaping. Lindsay could easily pass for a slime victim from Ghostbusters. "I'm sorry I yelled back." She offered a slight smile in apology, although she knew she'd do it again in a heartbeat if Lindsay ever attacked Jill or their relationship.
"Okay, playtime's over, girls. We've got cakes to bake," said Claire, taking advantage of the lull in laughter and the decidedly improved atmosphere to refocus on their baking. They'd been ahead of schedule before the egg white incident and she didn't want to chance losing any more time just in case this little accident wasn't to be their last. With their track record, she was fairly certain that it wouldn't be. "Lindsay, why don't you run home and shower? We'll clean up this mess and see about getting the first of the cakes in the oven."
With a nod, Lindsay started for the door, almost running directly into Emily who had both arms full of various sized baking pans. She stepped back and allowed the florist to pass, flinching slightly at the look Emily gave her.
"Don't ask," she said, turning once again to leave and sighing loudly as she passed JJ on the way out. She didn't even bother to spare a glance over her shoulder at the sound of renewed laughter. She'd just let the two florists find out for themselves just how dangerous baking could be, especially when her friends were involved.
"What happened to Lindsay?" asked JJ, carefully placing two acrylic cake stands on an empty counter. She arranged them side-by-side to present a mock effect of what they might look like on the night of the reception.
"She had an encounter with a bowl," Jill explained, walking over and studying the bases. "The bowl won." She grinned as she reached out to test each cake stand's stability. "Wow, I see what you mean, Emily. These suckers can easily handle the weight of the cakes."
The middle of each stand was cylindrical in shape and extremely thick and solid with two circular bases attached to each end. The taller of the two had a smaller base to keep the stand balanced whenever a cake was placed on the top one. JJ had only brought two of the six stands twelve in all as they'd planned to have two cake tables, both Italian Cream at Alex's insistence to show the Muffins R' Us owners how the cakes would be displayed. The stands themselves varied in height with the shortest one having the largest base and thus would hold the biggest cake.
When the muffin owners had finally decided to honor the contract and, in turn, get to stay in business, they'd called Emily to ask about the floral arrangements on the cake tables. They'd wanted to complement the setting as best they could and had expressed their concern about how they'd manage to pull off their first wedding cake attempt. Emily had assured them everything would be just fine. Garcia's accidental, or not so-accidental, mistake had actually worked in the pastry bakers' favor.
"Told ya' not to worry," said Emily, easing in next to JJ and gesturing to the clear acrylic cylinders. "We'll use fresh flowers to decorate the middle and bottom bases and then highlight the tops around the cakes. We can arrange the stands on the tables and use their height difference to enhance their appearance. You won't have to do much decorating to the actual cake. It would detract from the floral look."
"You're a genius," marveled Claire, already imagining the different ways the stands could be arranged and staggered for maximum effect. "We can do this. It'll be like baking a bunch of huge muffins, only with icing." Her positive attitude was catching as wide grins broke out on her partner's faces.
Cindy picked up one of the larger cake pans. "Okay, let's start with the bigger cakes first and work our way down." Looking at the various pans Emily had brought with her, Cindy quickly multiplied by two and came to a stark realization.
"Ladies, we're going to need a lot more batter."
"Ah, so the great Olivia Spencer has finally decided to darken my door."
Doris dabbed at the corner of her mouth with her napkin and motioned Olivia to join her. When Olivia's assistant had called, Doris had insisted that the meeting take place at The Brown Derby and had even offered to treat Hotel Calidornia's owner to lunch.
"Cut the crap, Doris. I've been here before," Olivia replied, slipping into the chair across from her longtime enemy and hooking her purse onto its dark mahogany back. "Although, had I known about the singing talent you've recently brought in, I'd have been here much sooner." Green eyes twinkled in delight. Doris was in for a big surprise.
"Yes, Natalia is extremely talented," Doris accentuated the level of her singer's 'abilities' and took a sip of Chardonnay. "You really should find one of your own for your hotel lounge. It's great for business."
Olivia shifted in her chair and crossed a blue denim leg over the other. She reached for her glass and grinned Martini, extra dirty. Doris had remembered, and even better, she'd known Olivia would be right on time. She must have had the bartender deliver the drink seconds before her arrival.
"Yes, I really should." Taking a sip of her drink, Olivia smiled around the rim of her glass. It was perfect. Perhaps she should look into stealing Doris's bartender as well. "In fact " Olivia reached for the paper that was dangerously close to burning a hole in the pocket of her vest. "I'm seriously considering Ms. Rivera for the job. I'll just let her sing at Alex's reception for her audition."
A slow building smile began to take shape as Doris looked across at her nemesis. She didn't bother waiting for it to fully form; she just threw her head back and laughed a deep rich laugh. She could always count on Olivia to find humor in every situation, even one as cut-and-dried as this.
"Oh, Olivia, I've so missed your spunk. You never say die, do you?" Doris tsked, reaching out for her glass but halting her motion halfway. She stared at the paper Olivia had thrust in her direction. "What's this? You finally going to quit being so stubborn and sell me the lot next door?" Doris bypassed her drink and stretched across the table to retrieve the official looking document, hoping that the hotel owner had seen her latest offer on the prized piece of property and had agreed to her terms. The Brown Derby was in desperate need of more parking space.
"No, but I am considering offering the property to a friend of mine. She's looking to expand her business. The space would be perfect for her," informed Olivia with a great deal of pleasure, although offering wasn't actually the right way to explain her intentions. She'd already had the necessary paperwork drawn up to present the property to Alex as a wedding present.
Doris sat back and stared at the paper in her hand. "I don't recall any other potential business dealings between the two of us, unless " Her smirk was back. "You think I'm going to reconsider allowing Natalia to perform tomorrow at the wedding reception." She leaned forward and offered the neatly folded paper back to Olivia. "No deal."
Olivia just sat back in her chair and took another sip of her drink. She gave a satisfied sigh and glanced down at the liquid in her glass. "I wonder " she lifted her head and stared directly at Doris. "Did your bartender sign a contact here on the island or somewhere else?"
"What?" Doris lowered the unread paper and returned Olivia's stare. "She signed it here. Why do you care?"
Another sigh this one of disappointment fell from Olivia's lips. "Just wondering..." She took another sip of the perfectly mixed drink and savored the flavor while Doris took a moment to study her adversary.
Olivia seemed at ease, too at ease, almost a little cocky. Something was up, and Doris feared that whatever it was wouldn't bode well for her. She turned her attention back on the paper Olivia had given her and, using the end of a Passion Red manicured nail, she flipped the edge open and began to read.
"A copy of Natalia's contract?" asked Doris in a distracted tone as most of her focus was on the legalese in front of her. "Seems to me this only further proves that I've got the authority to approve or deny any singing engagements that take place outside the stage of The Brown Derby." She looked back up at Olivia, feeling a bit more confident than she had before she'd read the document.
"Did you notice anything that was I don't know missing?" Olivia asked in a teasing tone, cockiness dripping from her every word.
Doris narrowed her eyes and read the document again, not seeing anything out of the ordinary or anything that was missing. It was that last thought that jolted her. She zoomed in on the bottom of the page, searching for the island's stamp, the one that was necessary on every document drawn up either on the island or elsewhere. Without the stamp, the document was null and void. She'd been so busy when she'd returned from the convention with Natalia in tow that she'd forgotten all about the well-known law of Femslash Island. Her entire focus had been on Natalia and how she could go about winning the young woman over in a less than professional way.
"I'll get this taken care of immediately," Doris said, folding the paper neatly back into its original trifold state. "Nothing has changed."
An angelic voice floated over from the doorway. "Oh, everything has changed, Doris." Looking past Olivia's left shoulder, Doris spotted Natalia walking toward their table. The young woman looked as just confident as Olivia, something that Doris hadn't seen from Natalia before. "I am grateful to you for saving me from that horrible situation and whisking me back here to the island, but I just didn't realize how controlling you'd be."
Natalia had spoken the truth; she was grateful to Doris Wolfe. The older woman had been so thoughtful and caring for the first few weeks, but then she'd turned possessive, insisting on knowing Natalia's every move and limiting her singing to The Brown Derby. She'd even refused to allow Tracey Kibre to talk to her about a possible contract, but the worst was that Natalia didn't harbor the same feelings that Doris obviously did. She'd never been attracted to her.
"Controlling?" Doris dramatically lifted a penciled eyebrow and pointed across the table at Olivia. "You want controlling? Just hook up with the Queen of control: Hotel Calidornia's own Olivia Spencer."
Natalia gave a nervous glance toward the hotel owner and practically melted at the smile that was being directed at her. It was warm and sincere and perhaps the most beautiful she'd ever seen. "I'm considering Ms. Spencer's offer, but on my terms."
"Good luck with that," scoffed Doris under her breath, her words barely audible. "But there's another matter that needs to be addressed." She drew her shoulders back and fired what she hoped to be the final shot. "As soon as I get the Island's stamp on your contract, you'll still be legally bound to me."
"Don't you mean to The Brown Derby, Doris?" Olivia quipped, thoroughly enjoying watching the other woman try to stay afloat, despite the whirlpool that was growing larger by the second, threatening to pull her under.
Doris looked positively flustered. "Yes, of course that's what I meant. Now, Natalia," she said, pushing to her feet and approaching the other woman. "Even if any of Olivia's promises held just a smidgeon of truth, I simply won't allow you out of your contract. The Brown Derby owns you for the next five years."
Natalia glanced at Olivia and received an answering go-ahead nod. Armed with the support of her new friend, she readied to tug the lifeline from Doris's hands.
"The Island's stamp requires my signature."
"What do you mean I can't sleep here tonight?"
Olivia stood in the doorway of the room she'd shared with Alex for the past year and a half and stared at her lover, not able to believe her ears. Where exactly did Alex intend for her to go? She'd given up her apartment after they'd lived together for six months, mostly spent at her lover's, and now called Alex's home her own. They'd even remodeled the bedroom, adding a walk-in closet and a private workspace specifically for Olivia.
"It's just for tonight, Liv. You can sleep over at Liz and Lena's," Alex explained as she sat, sprawled comfortably in the middle of their bed, leaning against the headboard. She wore a Pepto Bismol pink ensemble - long cotton pajama bottoms and a matching long-sleeve top - to appear as unappealing as she possibly could. "You're not supposed to see the bride until the wedding."
"Oh c'mon, that's just superstition. Besides, technically, we're both the bride, so what harm is there in us seeing each other?" replied Olivia, having planned on seeing every glorious inch of Alex on the night before their wedding and every night thereafter. The hideous pajamas would have to go, though.
Alex frowned but remained devoted to her cause. "That's just semantics. I don't want to take any chances of jinxing anything." She slipped off her thick, heavy-looking, black framed glasses not her usual sleek, stylish, sexy pair that Olivia loved - and poked out her lip. "Please, hun, just for tonight?"
Olivia slumped her shoulders and sighed in defeat. She could never turn down Alex's puppy dog expression. "Fine, but I'm not going to Liz's. Last time they roped me into playing strip poker." Olivia visibly cringed. "Trust me; there are certain things God never intended for me to see."
"You never told me that," Alex replied, trying very hard to keep her expression blank and her over-active imagination, too. She figured God hadn't intended for her to see their two older friends without clothing either, and she planned to make sure it never happened as she quickly moved on to another possibility. "Okay, how about Nikki and Nora?"
Olivia immediately shook her head. "I don't feel like listening to Nikki talk about her latest designs for women's clothing and matching shoes all night or Nora go on and on about how to tune a carburetor. Sometimes I think those two are totally mismatched."
"Yeah, but they make it work," Alex said distractedly, already turning her mind to other potential 'babysitters' for Olivia. "What about Cameron and Sarah?"
A dark eyebrow scaled up Olivia's forehead and settled into place. "Going over there is supposed to help keep my mind off being with you? Don't you remember me telling you about when I first moved to the island and rented an apartment above them?" She swept a shaky hand through her short locks, the vivid memories not helping her weakening willpower one bit Alex's pajamas were looking sexier and sexier by the second. "Those two go at it like rabbits. Cameron never gives Sarah a break. I swear, I think she's part machine."
"I do remember those stories," replied Alex, also recalling the first time she'd met the couple. Cameron had seemed aloof, rigid even, and Alex had had a hard time imagining the young woman loosening up, but if what Olivia had said was true and she had no reason to doubt that it was Cameron was extremely limber and had quite the stamina.
"Hey," Olivia said suddenly, a bright smile breaking out across her face. "What if I check into Hotel Calidornia? We've got the honeymoon suite tomorrow night anyway. I can have the staff move my things into our room in the afternoon."
"So, you'll check in, but you won't check out?" asked Alex playfully, a rich chuckle accompanying her words. Sometimes she just cracked herself up.
"Something like that," Olivia answered, pleased that she'd found a solution she could live with, although staying away from Alex for even a night was the ultimate sacrifice. Turning her mind to what she needed to do, she frowned at what lay ahead of her. "I need to pack my things." Not only would she have to pack what she'd need for the night, but she'd have to include everything she'd need for the wedding and wedding night as well.
Alex noted her lover's troubled expression and instantly sensed the problem. "Just take what you need for tonight. I'll have everything else sent to you in the morning." She forced herself to stay in bed and not offer to help her lover pack. Horrid pajamas or not, she couldn't take the chance that Olivia would end up staying home after all. Her resolve back in place, she sat back against the headboard and watched as Olivia moved around the room, but her mind wandered to the wedding and the reception afterward.
Tomorrow, they'd become wife and wife and then she could wear her sexy lingerie or, even better, no lingerie at all to bed every night. She could hardly wait until the next evening when she'd be able to greet all of her friends as Mrs. Olivia Benson.
Part 3: The Big Event
"What a lovely wedding. Alex looked just like a fairytale princess." Katheryn Janeway sipped from her champagne glass and leaned in closer to her lover. She'd been trying to persuade Annika Hansen to tie the knot for months but had been unsuccessful. The young entrepreneur had just returned from another successful grand opening, the seventh of nine projected new bookstores, and had barely arrived in time for their friends' nuptials. Annika's recent breakup with B'Elanna Torres had given her a severe case of commitment-itis and no matter how hard she tried to overcome her fright of giving herself to another, she hadn't been able to fully recover from having her heart broken so badly.
"I wonder if that was indeed the intended theme. Olivia's deep purple suit certainly gave every appearance that she'd descended from royalty. I can't believe she managed to keep from tripping on her cape," replied Annika, truly impressed with her friend's ability to tug the heavy-looking cape behind her while maintaining a steady pace. She imagined Olivia was so grateful not to be wearing any type of heel that the other woman would've gladly donned a yoke and have pulled a heavy plow down the aisle if it meant she'd get to wear flats.
"It was truly a remarkable feat, that's for sure," Katheryn said, her attention drawn to the buffet table at the front of the room. She slipped her arm through the crook of Annika's elbow. "C'mon, let's sample the food while the line is relatively short. It looks like quite the spread."
Chuckling, Annika allowed her lover to tug her across the room toward the elegantly decorated table. Alex had spared no expense on any part of the well-planned affair, from the exquisitely decorated church to the stylishly embellished ballroom of Hotel Calidornia. It was so perfect Annika couldn't help but imagine the type of wedding she'd like to have. Placing her hand over Katheryn's, she smiled as she slipped into line beside her lover.
"Have you ever seen so much food in all your life?" asked a redheaded woman a few couples in front of them as she gestured toward the long, long table that offered every imaginable chip, dip, cracker, spread, salad, seafood, dipping sauce, smoked meat, vegetable, and bread. "It must've taken weeks to prepare." Catherine Willows spooned a healthy helping of shrimp dip on her plate and gestured across the room at a dessert table laden with one Italian cream cake after another. "Those cakes look too pretty to eat."
Sara Sidle grinned as she lifted a plate from one of three tall stacks of china. "I bet that won't stop you from eating a piece or two." She watched blue eyes flash her way, but she knew she was safe from harm. Catherine wouldn't dare chance slapping her on the arm and possibly lose her shrimp dip. The pinkish colored food looked absolutely scrumptious, not to mention it was one of Catherine's favorite dips. The source of Catherine's second favorite drew the older woman's attention to the far end of the buffet table. "Say, isn't that Sofia? I thought she was away on a six weeks holiday."
Catherine narrowed her eyes and glared in the direction of Sara's ex. The sexy blonde was encased in a long black dress, the silky material appearing to have been painted on. Only Alex looked more elegant on this particular evening.
"Yeah, that's what I'd heard, too," mumbled Catherine, unable to keep the jealousy from her voice. She knew damned well Sara had known immediately whom the gorgeous blonde had been and had just been trying to placate Catherine and her irrational jealousy. Sara's repeated assurances that she and Sofia had long ago come to the conclusion that they simply weren't meant to be had fallen on deaf ears. Catherine would have preferred the two to have split in a bitter battle rather than an amicable separation. She watched with unhappiness and anger as a huge smile creased Sara's face.
"I think I know the reason why Sofia cut her holiday short." Sara's smile turned into a smirk, and she motioned with her head toward her ex before Catherine could misinterpret her words. "I've not seen that freckled faced woman on the island before."
Catherine spun back around just in time to see Sofia wrap a slender arm around a red-haired woman's waist and pull her close. A light peck on the lips drew smiles from the kissing couple as well as Catherine and Sara - Catherine in hopes that Sofia had finally found someone else, and Sara in relieved happiness that perhaps now she wouldn't have to continue to reassure Catherine that she was the only one for Sara.
"Excuse me, but would you mind moving on? The line is piling up," Jo Polniaczek asked as she exchanged an empty bowl of crab dip with a new one. She'd been watching the two women loiter around the shrimp dip and holding up the line for the rest of the guests. As the head of Hotel Calidornia's food services, she'd promised her boss, Olivia Spencer, that the buffet for the wedding reception would be the best ever, and she'd be damned if she'd let a couple of guests keep the others from enjoying the best food on the island.
"Oh, sorry," said Sara, glancing over her shoulder at the line that had doubled in length since she'd first taken her plate. "C'mon, Cath, let's get our food and find an empty table."
Jo pasted on a smile and motioned the next guest forward with a nod of her head. She'd have to station her assistant and lover, Blair Warner, near the front of the line to keep the guest flow smooth and steady. Blair was much more diplomatic than she was and, besides, Jo needed to check on the status of the bar. The English women seemed to be highly organized, but Jo needed to see firsthand that things were proceeding according to plan. Increasing her stride, she headed in the direction of the bar. She had a huge bonus riding on the overall success of the reception.
"Yo, Katie Pooh, got anymore of that high priced whiskey? I've got a total lush perched on the terrace who's screaming for more," Nikki said, slamming her empty tray down on the bar. She grinned at the death glare directed toward her.
"Don't call me that. My name's Ash," the pub owner growled as she reached for another bottle of the whiskey Scribbs had ordered from the English pirate. The extra booze was costing her a fortune and, to add insult to injury, she'd have to pay Nikki again for helping out with the serving duties.
Completely oblivious to the storm that was brewing beside her, Scribbs slid a mug of beer to the woman sitting at the end of the bar. "Incoming!" she yelled, smiling widely when Xena snatched up the mug and then gently handed it to Gabby. The Greek woman was completely smitten by the smaller blonde, and Scribbs knew exactly how she felt.
"Whatever you say, Katie Pooh," Nikki teased, scooping up her tray and walking away from a furious, red-faced Ash. "Helen needs more champagne, too."
"I'll show you " Ash started forward but was quickly stopped by a hand on her arm. Scribbs eased her hand into Ash's and squeezed hard as she turned toward the food service manager for Hotel Calidornia.
"Hey, Jo, great spread," Scribbs said, running her thumb gently across the back of Ash's hand and eliciting a slight shiver down both their spines. "Need anything?"
"Nope, just checking on things at this end." Jo winked at Xena and then turned her attention back on the Brits. "Everything okay here?"
Scribbs nodded enthusiastically. "We're perfect." And they were. Standing side by side, hand in hand, was the exact position both women had dreamt of that, and lying side by side with hands otherwise occupied.
"Good good," Jo repeated, pleased that another facet of the reception was going swimmingly. "Yell if you need me. I'll be in the kitchen." Turning, she skirted around the edge of the room and disappeared behind a set of swinging doors. Neither Brit moved an inch until the doors finally came to a complete stop.
Scribbs smiled brightly at Ash before returning to her duties at the tap. Things were definitely looking up.
Olivia Spencer knocked on the door of her office's private bathroom and grimaced at the very distinctive sound of retching coming from behind the closed door. Clearing her throat, she called out in concern.
"Natalia? You okay?"
A low grunt of 'yeah' was quickly followed by the flushing of the toilet and water running in the sink. Olivia stuffed her hands in her silk-covered pockets and forced herself to step away from the door. She'd just have to trust the singer that all was well when all she wanted to do was break down the door and tend to the younger woman. The rattling of the doorknob had her taking another step backward.
"Sorry about that," Natalia apologized softly, glancing up at Olivia before quickly lowering her head. Her cheeks were infused with a nice shade of rosy red, and Olivia wasn't sure if it was from a fever, embarrassment, or perhaps a little of each.
"Is it some kind of virus?" asked Olivia, daring to take a step closer to the other woman. She balled her hands to keep them firmly in her pockets as her need to reach out to comfort the singer was overwhelming.
"Something you ate?" Olivia eased a bit closer and loosened her fists.
Wracking her brain, Olivia could only come up with one other plausible reason. "Um, are you " she paused and scratched the back of her neck, wondering how the singer had talked the overly possessive Doris into allowing her to leave the island sometime during the past few months because she was absolutely certain Greg wasn't responsible or the bumbling shipmate of Xena's who'd taken an instant shine to her assistant. And even though Doris had succeeded in surprising Olivia a time or two, there was no way the other woman could've pulled something like this off. "Are you, um "
"What? No!" replied Natalia, her eyes going huge at the implication of Olivia's question. "No way, no how," she added vehemently, affirming her strong denial with a firm shake of her head. A sudden thought at the utter ridiculousness of the possibility brought a slight grin to her face. "But if I am, everyone better run to the nearest church or synagogue." She laughed out loud at the soft chuckle that escaped Olivia's lips, the humor lightening the mood. "I'm just nervous about performing tonight," she finally admitted.
"But you perform every night at The Brown Derby." Olivia stepped closer and eased her right hand from her pocket. "Why are you so nervous?" Her hand now free, she couldn't help but reach out and offer comfort. The touch was electric.
Natalia looked down at the strong hand that rested on her forearm and shivered slightly. "It's been so long since I've sung somewhere else." She glanced up into concerned green eyes. "What if I ruin the reception? Everything seems to be going so well."
Olivia slowly moved her hand down Natalia's back and slid her fingers between the other woman's. Reflexively, Natalia curved her fingers around Olivia's, interlacing them tightly. The simple gesture felt so intimate and so very right.
"You'll be just fine. Alex and Olivia will love your music and so will the rest of the guests." She offered a reassuring smile and gave one last squeeze before easing her grip and rotating her hand so that it rested inside Natalia's, never losing contact with the young woman's skin. "Why don't we go and check out the sound system?"
With a nod and a return smile, Natalia allowed Olivia to lead her from the room. She'd already checked out the system earlier in the day and had found it to be the state of the art. Armed with reassurances from Olivia, her confidence was back in full force. She'd wow the guests and her new 'boss.'
In the far corner of the ballroom, a woman sat alone at a table, nursing a gin and tonic and watching the other guests mingle. The food on her plate remained untouched, the wonderful aroma and delectable-looking fare turning sour and tasting bitter when she'd spied her nemesis leading Natalia toward the elevators. Her appetite had fled as quickly as the two women had.
Doris Wolfe had been caught between a rock and a hard place. She was damned if she stayed away from the biggest event ever to take place on the island and damned if she didn't. In the end, her pride had won over and she'd chosen to face the music literally Natalia's music and had attended both the wedding and the reception that followed. Now, she was wondering if perhaps the coward's way would've been better.
"Is this seat taken?"
Doris jerked her head up at the sound of a voice she hadn't heard for more than a decade. Teasing blue eyes locked onto hers and confirmed the speaker's identity. Doris drank in the many physical changes all good of the woman who stood before her.
"Erica? What are you doing here?"
Erica, being Erica, didn't wait for an invitation as she placed her plate and drink on the table and plopped down in the chair across from her first love. "Alex is my cousin, Doris."
Fighting off a wave of dizziness at the unexpected sight of the woman she'd truly believed that she'd spend the rest of her life with, Doris hurried to reply. "Yes, I know that, but I figured you'd be too busy to attend. You've never bothered to come back to the island before now." With all the Natalia business, Doris hadn't given Erica Hahn a single thought. She'd given up on ever seeing the other woman again years ago.
"Well, I'm back now," Erica informed casually as she glanced around at the nearby tables, sweeping across from guest to guest as if looking for someone in particular. "So, where's Helena?"
"Who?" asked Doris, her dizziness worsening at the sharp tone of the question.
"Helena Peabody. You know, the woman you slept with the same day you professed your supposed love of me."
Doris shook her head to clear her thoughts and her vision. She had no idea what Erica was talking about. All she knew was that Erica had left the island without a single word or explanation. "I don't know anyone by that name."
"Oh that's even better. You slept with her and didn't even bother getting her name. Wow, you must've been madly in love with me," Erica spat bitterly. She'd left the island that very evening and vowed never to return, but she simply couldn't deny Alex her request to attend her wedding.
"Who told you I slept with Helena?" Doris gave up trying to remember who Helena was and instead concentrated on her supposed act of infidelity.
Doris's eyes widened. "Callie Torres? You believed something that bitch told you?"
"Of course not; she had pictures."
Reaching into the pocket of her jacket, Erica removed two photos the ends tattered and yellowed with age and tossed them across the table. Doris stared down at the entwined bodies and squinted. She couldn't tell where one body ended and the other began.
"Which one am I supposed to be?"
"The one on the bottom." Erica didn't hesitate to answer. She'd studied the photos carefully and, although the identity of the woman underneath wasn't clear, it was obvious that the woman on top wasn't Doris.
Doris rotated the photo left and then right, trying to make heads or tails or rather heads or asses from the mass of naked humanity. Only the infamous Helena's face was visible. "What made you think the other woman was me?"
Pushing to her feet, Erica moved to the chair beside Doris. She pointed to a colorfully decorated ankle. "There," she said, "your tattoo." She sat back and waited for Doris to admit to cheating on her all those years ago.
Instead, Doris studied the intricate tat and continued to turn the photo around and around. Finally satisfied, she pushed the photo in front of Erica. "Yep, that's my tat." Hesitating briefly, she pointed directly at the woman's tattoo. "But that's not my ankle. My tattoo is on my right ankle."
Erica snatched up the photo and stared down at the chain link tattoo that went round and round the left ankle of the woman in the photo.
"We did it; we really did it." Cindy grinned from ear to ear as she served up another piece of Italian cream cake. All the guests had raved about how beautiful and delicious the cake had been and had promised to bring their pastry business to the muffin shop.
"Yes, we did," said Lindsay, receiving a slight jab in the ribs from a nearby Claire. "Um, and you were right, Cindy. I'm sorry I was such a pain in the ass about the whole thing."
Jill smiled at the look of sheer joy on her lover's face. "Yep, you certainly were. I bet business will be better than ever after tonight."
"That it will be," Claire agreed. "We'll probably have to hire a few people to wait on the customers." She linked her arms through Cindy and Jill's elbows. "We've hit the big time, girls."
Before Lindsay could join in on the group hug, a voice filtered through the amplifiers that had been set up around the ballroom. "Ladies, if I could have your attention please."
Olivia Spencer waited patiently for the din of the guests' voices to die out before continuing. "First, I'd like to take this moment to offer my most sincere congratulations to the guests of honor and wish for them every possible happiness." She smiled at Alex and Olivia as a gentle round of applause filled the room, slowly dying out to allow for the hotel owner to continue.
"Tonight, we are lucky to have with us Ms. Natalia Rivera, who will provide our musical entertainment. Please feel free to make use of our dance floor if the spirit so moves you." A spattering of chuckles and nods worked their way around the room. "But our first dance is a special one just for our two lovebirds." She nodded off stage and then turned her attention to the center table. "May I present to you for the very first time the Benson-Cabots."
Another round of applause, intermingled with whistles and hoots, greeted the two brides as Natalia slipped, unnoticed, onto the stage. Olivia Benson stood and offered her hand to Alex. "May I?"
"Benson-Cabot? But I thought " Alex started, only to be interrupted by her lover.
"We'll be forever linked to each other," explained Olivia as she helped Alex to her feet. "So, Mrs. Benson-Cabot, may I have this dance?"
Alex reached out and cupped her lover's cheek. "For the rest of my life, Liv."
With the beginning melody of a familiar song softly playing, Olivia led her wife to the center of the dance floor, the couple stepping into each other's arms just as Natalia began to sing.
"At last, my love has come along "
Guests gathered around the floor and watched as the sultry song continued, the love of the dancing women radiating outward. With the lights turned down low and a bright silver ball spinning above, the outside world slowly faded away until one, by one, a few of the guests joined Olivia and Alex on the dance floor.
Easing her head onto Tracey's shoulder, Serena allowed the older woman to lead her around the dance floor. Xena pulled Gabby closer, the couple oblivious to the others around them. Jill and Cindy moved away from the cake table and fell into each other's arms as Lindsay and Claire kept vigil over the rest of the cakes. Finished with their duties for the evening, Emily and JJ slipped through the doors of the ballroom, wanting to share a more private dance, while Ash and Scribbs swayed slowly in perfect harmony with the music, staying close to the bar just in case someone needed a drink. Near the corner of the ballroom, Erica and Doris could be seen with their heads bent down close together in quiet conversation, leaving the remaining guests to look on, seemingly content to watch the other couples.
Olivia Spencer sat near the stage and watched Natalia sing and sway back and forth to the music. Tonight had been wonderful the reception had been a huge success, Alex and Olivia had never looked happier and she had made great strides in getting to know Natalia better.
A radiant smile crossed her face as she moved her focus back to the newlyweds. The evening couldn't have been any better. Femslash Island would party until dawn.
It was true: Only love could save the world.
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