DISCLAIMER: I don't own Guiding Light and no copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To procrastinatingsith[at]gmail.com
SPOILERS: Post-Series.

Five Things Natalia Rivera Never Thought She'd See
By Jaina


Chapter 1

"Shouldn't you be getting dressed?" Natalia asked, tossing the question over her shoulder as she padded across the bedroom, crossing from the bathroom to stand in front of the vanity.

She had entered the bathroom with curly damp ringlets and exited all made up, with perfectly straightened hair. It sparked a surge of petulance in Olivia. She loved Natalia's curls and being able to run her fingers through the wild, dark locks. The straightened hair, the perfectly done makeup, the business suit, they all meant that Natalia was getting ready to go to work and Olivia wasn't ready to let her go yet. Not after spending the past month and a half cocooned in the farmhouse with Emma, Natalia and Francesca.

It had been a period of adjustment for all of them. The newness of Olivia's relationship with Natalia still hadn't worn off by the time Francesca had been born and Olivia had reveled in getting to spend so much time with Natalia - even if they had been run a little ragged at first with Natalia still recovering from giving birth, midnight feedings, and taking care of Emma. But it had also been good. Olivia felt more solidly connected to Natalia than she ever had before.

Over time, Olivia had grown used to their little routines, to getting Emma off to school and having time to spend with Natalia and little Chessy. She had even gone so far as to hire a general manager for the Beacon, telling herself it would work out well in the long run. When she came back she could focus on franchising - something that had eluded her in the summer months when it was all she could do to keep herself and Emma at some semblance of functional in Natalia's absence. Now Olivia felt a little bereft. She wanted to grab onto Natalia, tug her back over to the bed and wrap her arms and legs around her and refuse to let her go.

Something told her that Natalia wouldn't be amused. That thought sparked off another one inside her though, an idea that had begun to come together in the back of her mind some weeks ago.

"What if I don't want to go?" Olivia swallowed. She had said it more quietly than she had intended, her nerves getting the best of her. Francesca made a small noise from her perch in Olivia's arms and Olivia glanced down. Little eyelids flickered, but didn't open. She was likely dreaming, Olivia realized. For a moment she got so lost in smiling down at Francesca - absorbing every detail of her, the softness of her little fingers wrapped around just one of Olivia's, the clean smell of her and her curls, so much like her mama's - that she almost forgot that she and Natalia had been talking until Natalia spoke.

"Olivia." Natalia let out a soft laugh, her tone patient and fond, but a little chiding. "If I have to, you have to."

Olivia wrinkled her nose at that and stretched her legs out a little bit farther on the bed, wiggling her cold toes beneath the covers. "You don't have to, you know. It's not like we need the money. You could quit your job and we'd be fine."

Natalia stopped mid-motion, her earring halfway to her ear, and turned to face Olivia. "Is that what you think I should do?"

Olivia shrugged and looked down. "I think you should do whatever makes you happy - and if quitting your job and staying home to raise Francesca is what you want to do - then I want you to know it's a real option." Her eyes flicked back up to Natalia. "I know it wasn't in the past."

Resuming her stalled motion, Natalia clipped the earring in and crossed the room to sit down on the bed beside Olivia.

"You're sweet."

"I want you to be happy," Olivia said, her voice still muffled.

"And I am. I thought about it, you know. Staying home with her. " Natalia reached out to touch Olivia's cheek, bringing Olivia's gaze flicking up to meet Natalia's. "But I think I need to go back to work - at least for now. I spent so many years struggling so hard to make ends meet for Rafe and I, I don't think I know how to just be Francesca's Mama yet."

Olivia nodded. "That's fair."

"Are you upset?" Natalia asked, hearing something hesitant in Olivia's voice.

"No," Olivia reassured her immediately, shifting Francesca slightly in her arms so that she could free one hand to reach out to Natalia. "Of course not. I meant it when I said I want you to be happy - whatever that means."

"Thank you," Natalia said, her voice soft, caught in the intimate moment that had woven its way around the three of them. She cupped Olivia's cheek and leaned forward to give her a gentle kiss. "You're too good to me," she whispered, her forehead pressed against Olivia's.

Olivia snorted and shook her head. "Not possible, Sweetheart."

Natalia pulled away from her. "Then tell me what you're thinking?"

With a smile, Olivia fingered a lock of Natalia's hair and turned a suggestive gaze on her. "I'm thinking that you're beautiful, wondering what I would have to do to get you to stay home."

"Olivia," Natalia protested, rising immediately. She knew just how easily Olivia could persuade her to do whatever Olivia wanted when she looked at Natalia that way, with so much heat and need in her eyes.

Olivia, however, was quicker, reaching out to catch Natalia's wrist before she could get too far. Natalia didn't try to pull away.

"You're going to have to let me go eventually."

"I know," Olivia said with a smile.

"Is that why you're trying to distract me?"

"Who said-"

"Olivia," Natalia said, her tone telling Olivia that she might as well own up to it, because Natalia wasn't going to believe her.

"Fine," Olivia said with a little huff. "I've been thinking. I think...I mean, what if...I want to stay home with Francesca." She blurted the words out in such a hurried jumble that it took Natalia a moment to decipher them.

"Olivia, honey. I know you're going to miss her but it will only be for a few hours," Natalia cajoled. "You can even come see her on your lunch break if that's what you want."

"It's not that," Olivia said. "I mean it is but..."

"Are you feeling okay?" Natalia asked, her face darkening with worry as she took a step back toward Olivia, putting a measuring hand on Olivia's forehead.

"No," Olivia said quickly, fumbling for Natalia's hand. "I'm fine." She wrinkled her nose at Natalia. "Stop that."

Natalia let out a little huff of frustration but dropped her hand nonetheless. "Then what? Tell me."

"When I said I wanted to stay home with Francesca, I meant for more than just now, today." Natalia still looked blank so Olivia continued. "Just until she gets a little bit older. Not forever." Olivia plucked at the hem of the comforter and didn't look up.

"Oh." Natalia sank back down beside Olivia without looking. "Why didn't you say anything before?"

Olivia shrugged, trying to make it look nonchalant. "Maybe I didn't realize until this morning how much I would miss this."


"You, me, us - with Chessy." Olivia trailed a finger down Francesca's smooth cheek. "I missed so much time with Emma when she was this age."

Natalia drew Olivia's hand away from Francesca, capturing it between both of her own and bringing it to her lips, pressing a gentle kiss against the back of it. Then she brought it down to rest against her heart. "Because of Phillip."

Olivia nodded and shrugged. "Lizzie was so jealous; she tried to hurt Emma. I knew I had to protect her and Phillip was in Ravenwood. I couldn't stand up to all those Spauldings by myself."

"What did you do?" Natalia asked, her voice gentled with understanding.

"I left before I had her. When I came back I told them that she was..." Olivia looked up at Natalia. "You know I just did what I had to?"

"Of course."

"I told everyone that she was dead. It was the only way," Olivia added hurriedly. "You know what Alan was like. He would never have stopped coming after her and Phillip - he really was crazy."

"It's okay," Natalia said. "I know."

"Do you?" Olivia asked.

"I trust you," Natalia said without hesitation. "And if that's what you think you had to do then I believe you."

"She was so tiny - and I just left her with Sam." With her gaze, Olivia pleaded with Natalia for understanding. "I came back to see her as much as I could, but every move I made was being watched. I couldn't do anything out of the ordinary."

"So you want to stay home with Francesca now that you can," Natalia concluded.

"Something like that, yeah." Olivia looked back down at the little girl in her arms - the daughter she never should have wanted. "I want to be her mother."

"You sound like you're waiting for me to be upset about that," Natalia pointed out.

"I feel like I'm letting you down," Olivia whispered.

"How?" Natalia said, pulling back in surprise.

"By doing something selfish." Olivia freed her fingers to grasp Natalia's hand again, nerves strengthening her grip. "Neither of us knows how much longer I have left-"

"Olivia," Natalia protested. Olivia gave her hand a little squeeze.

"-And I don't want to have to worry about you and the kids after I'm gone."

"You're not going anywhere," Natalia said, her expression and tone fierce. "That's what I'm here for. I'm not letting you go anywhere."

"Natalia, I wish it was, but it's not that simple."

"I have faith."

"Natalia." Olivia sighed and raised her hand to pinch the bridge of her nose.

"I do and you're not going to convince me otherwise, Olivia Spencer. God must have brought you into my life for a reason, and I'm not going to let you go so easily. So stay home with Francesca. Do what you want. But don't expect me to sit here and listen to you talk about dying when nothing's even wrong with you."

Natalia pushed away from the bed, unfolding her leg from beneath her to stand. This time Olivia wasn't quick enough to bring her back, Natalia's hand sliding through her own.

"Natalia," Olivia protested. "Wait, please." It was the true desperation in her voice that slowed Natalia as Olivia struggled to scoot forward, trapped by the covers and Francesca in her arms. She couldn't move fast enough to chase after Natalia and the thought of leaving this conversation unfinished left her aching.

Natalia stopped at the door, but still looked unhappy when she turned back to face Olivia. "I have to go to work, Olivia. Don't make me cry. I'll have to redo my makeup."

"Baby...Natalia," Olivia cajoled as she began to scoot herself to the edge of the bed one-handed. Finally she managed to push herself off the edge of it, her motions and the absurdity of them drawing a faint smile from Natalia. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."

Natalia sighed. "I can't think about losing you."

"Okay," Olivia said simply.

"If you want to stay home with Francesca, you should," Natalia said. "You're a good mom - the best. Look at Emma. And don't worry about us. We'll be fine."

"Okay," Olivia said. "I'll think about it." Like she was doing Natalia a favor.

Natalia snorted and shook her head as she turned to leave. Olivia just had to be impossible; she couldn't be any other way.

Chapter 2

Natalia walked in the back door and froze. Something was wrong. The house smelled delicious - nothing new there. Olivia had started cooking more and more the longer she stayed home with Francesca, using her spare time to whip up almost gourmet meals the likes of which Natalia had hardly seen and never eaten. The thing that disturbed Natalia however, was the distinctive ascending and descending whine of a vacuum cleaner drifting out from the living room.

If Olivia had brought in a maid or a cleaning service when Natalia was perfectly capable of taking care of small domestic chores like that on her days off...well, Olivia would get a piece of her mind.

With a sigh, Natalia slipped out of her suit jacket, draping it over her arm and slipping the strap of her purse over the corner of her chair at the kitchen table as she strode determinedly past and into the living room only to stop short once more.

Olivia stood there, wearing a red dress that Natalia was certain she had never seen before. Certain, because she would have remembered. Certain, because the hem was so high it barely qualified as a dress. Certain, because the front was cut so low that Olivia's ample assets were almost spilling out of it as she bent over. Natalia swallowed - hard.

Olivia vacuuming, wearing stilettos that emphasized her already spectacular legs and that dress - well, it was a sight to see.

A ridiculous one, part of Natalia's brain supplied. The part of her that had spent sixteen, twenty-hour days slaving away as a maid, doing the dreary, mind-numbing and often disgusting job of picking up after other people could find nothing sexy about Olivia dressed like that. Just ridiculous.

Yet there was no denying the flush of heat that had surged through her the moment that she had seen Olivia. Or the way that Olivia was deliberately exaggerating her movements, extending the vacuum further and further in front of her to emphasize her assets. Olivia was baiting her, deliberately taunting her and Natalia didn't think she would be able to refuse.

"What are you doing?" The words tumbled from Natalia's lips, fingers jerking up to cover her lips a moment too late. She hadn't meant to say that out loud.

Olivia turned - how she heard Natalia over the roar of the vacuum, Natalia wasn't quite sure - and smiled at her as calmly as if this was normal.

"Oh, I just thought I'd get a few light household chores done while I was waiting for you to get home."

"The girls-"

"-Are with their Daddies."

"Oh," Natalia said, realization dawning more fully. All this for her. It was almost too much to process. She couldn't help but sneak another raking glance over Olivia's body. Her hand came up, curled into a loose fist and pressed against her mouth, stifling the almost hysterical giggles that wanted to spill out. Instead she said the first thing she thought. "That is the most impractical cleaning outfit I've ever seen."

Or maybe she squeaked it.

Olivia smirked. "Oh, I think it'll get the job done."


But Olivia brushed aside whatever she had been about to say.

"Let me get you a drink. A martini. No, that's more my drink." She eyed Natalia speculatively for a moment. "Hmm. What about a rum and coke?" Natalia didn't drink often but Olivia thought she had seen Natalia order one before.

Natalia barely managed a nod.

"Why don't you have a seat and I'll be right back," Olivia said, giving Natalia a heated look over her shoulder, a look that lingered until she forced herself to turn away and disappeared into the kitchen.

Natalia sank into the wicker chair at the end of the couch, grateful that it was there to support her. For the first time, Natalia felt awkward in her own home. She didn't know what to do with her hands. It felt strange to have Olivia waiting on her - not that she wasn't usually thoughtful or didn't constantly find some little ways to pamper Natalia, but this was different in some way that Natalia couldn't quite put her finger on.

Besides the obvious. Besides the fact that Olivia's every move, every glance was intended to seduce and Natalia was more than a little overwhelmed. Not in a bad way. But there had only been once since Francesca was born - a stolen moment nearly a week after they had gotten the doctor's okay. That it had taken so long wasn't for lack of trying, but lack of opportunity.

When Natalia had finally touched Olivia the anticipation and weeks of abstinence taking their toll, rendering any foreplay unnecessary. It might also have been the little teasing touches and stolen caresses that Natalia had snuck in any time Olivia was near her that day, unable to keep her hands to herself any longer.

In return, Olivia had been gentle with her - so achingly gentle that it had almost driven Natalia insane. With tentative touches and worried questions, Olivia needed to know she wasn't hurting Natalia, that nothing about the way Olivia was touching her made her uncomfortable. And it hadn't. Feeling Olivia's hands, her mouth on her was the most exquisite thing she had ever felt.

But despite it all she had been unable to come that night. Unable to fully relax, she came so close to that edge several times only to have it slip frustratingly away from her.

When Francesca's angry cry had come over the baby monitor it had almost been a relief that they could stop. Natalia had practically jumped out of bed and scurried into Francesca's room.

She rocked their daughter in the moonlit room, hoping Francesca would remain drowsily content and not pick up on her feelings of tension and overwhelming frustration - both mental and physical. She wanted Olivia, but every time she felt the orgasm slip away she felt like she had failed Olivia. Intellectually she knew it wasn't true, but the feeling remained.

She had taken her time, almost hoping Olivia would be asleep by the time she returned. But she hadn't been. Instead she had been waiting for Natalia, waiting to finish what they had started. Natalia had declined, telling Olivia that she was tired and Olivia had accepted it. In the faint light it had been easy to pretend there hadn't been a shadow of disappointment in Olivia's eyes.

In the time since, neither one of them had broached the subject. Natalia wasn't quite certain how and Olivia simply hadn't. Until now.

"Here you go, beautiful. One rum and coke, just for you," Olivia said holding out the tumbler.

Natalia took a tiny sip to wet her lips and then lowered the glass to the arm of the chair. Her lips tingled with rum and anticipation.


"Do you want me, Natalia?"

The boldness of the question made Natalia gasp. "Of course I want you."

"Then sit back and let me do this." There was a hint of frustration in Olivia's voice. "Please."

There was nothing about her that Natalia could refuse, so she didn't. Holding her hand out to Olivia, Natalia half-expected Olivia to use it to pull her up and lead her upstairs to their room. Being able to call it that - theirs - still sent a shiver down Natalia's spine.

But instead Olivia kissed her knuckles and then brought the back of Natalia's hand to her cheek, nuzzling into it like a kitten. The gesture was far more sensual than playful and Natalia felt her breathing quicken.

Gently Olivia lowered their joined hands and stepped closer, looming over Natalia. Olivia braced herself with a hand on each arm of the chair. She tilted her head and Natalia was already surging upwards to claim a kiss, almost sending her drink crashing to the floor as her sudden motion sent the chair rocking forward.

Olivia groaned as their lips met, melting into the kiss and Natalia as Natalia's hands slid into her hair, cupping the back of Olivia's head and holding her close. Natalia refused to let her go. If Olivia wasn't going to take her upstairs then she would have Olivia here, in her lap. But Olivia resisted, keeping her arms rigid and her body raised over Natalia's. Natalia let out a frustrated whimper. Her hands fell away from where they had been tangled in thick, silky hair as Olivia rose up, breaking the kiss.

"Hey," Natalia whispered, sounding high-pitched and breathy. "Where are you going?"

But Olivia didn't answer, giving her a mysterious smile instead. It made Natalia's pulse jump and her heart race. Then Olivia's hand found it's way to the button on Natalia's slacks and she forgot how to breathe. The warmth of Olivia's fingertips brushing against her skin was intoxicating. Natalia shivered. This was only the beginning - it was only going to get more intense. She had no idea how she was going to handle that. But it was Olivia and stopping wasn't even an option. There was no doubt that she had wanted Olivia from the moment she had walked into the living room and seen her standing there like some goddess incarnate.

Keeping her gaze locked on Natalia, Olivia reached for the small metal tab of the zipper and began to pull it down. She only glanced away from Natalia once, when it snagged on the edge of the fabric and she had to free it. The soft snicking sound of the zipper sliding down was loud in the quiet room.

And there was no way that Natalia could just sit there and let Olivia have her way with her. Her hands itched to touch Olivia, ached to feel the softness of her skin and be close to her warmth. Natalia reached for Olivia, curling her hands around Olivia's waist. Losing herself in the sensual feel of Olivia, Natalia let her hands slide further back and around until she was cupping Olivia's tight, shapely rear in both hands. She gave it a light squeeze and Olivia dropped her head down to rest on Natalia's shoulder.

"Impatient?" Olivia murmured, as she turned her head so that her lips were brushing against the base of Natalia's neck. She pressed the faintest of kisses there and began to nip, nibble and kiss her way up Natalia's neck, lavishing her with attention.

"For you?" Natalia gasped, sucking in a breath and tilting her head to give Olivia better access. "Always."

Olivia let out a soft snort of laughter, the warmth of her breath brushing across the already sensitive skin of Natalia's neck. It was more than Natalia could resist and she used the hold that she already had on Olivia to pull her forward, tugging her down, needing more contact - to feel Olivia against her.

With better leverage than she'd had before and Olivia unprepared, Olivia fell forward against Natalia, her knee landing between Natalia's legs. Natalia gasped as Olivia's knee pressed into her. She couldn't help it. Just like she couldn't help pressing back into that solid contact, grinding herself into Olivia. She ached; she needed; she wanted. And Olivia was the only one who could give it to her.

"Natalia." Olivia managed to sound both chiding and breathy. "Let me. Please. I want to do this for you." Olivia had said it before, more boldly and more definitively, but now she was asking again, pleading, almost begging with Natalia to let her have what she wanted.

It wasn't that Natalia wanted to decline, but she had never had an offer like this before. Sex, of course, but not like this. Not what Olivia was proposing, this single-minded focus on her and her alone, catering her desires and making it something Natalia could scarcely imagine. It was almost overwhelming.

Olivia shifted her weight back so that she was balanced on her folded knee. The slight change in position pressed her a little harder against Natalia. That pressure - pressure that was in way mental but purely physical, the feel of their bodies pushing into one another made up Natalia's mind for her.

Natalia bit her lip - and nodded. It was all the response she could muster. Tension seemed to slip out of Olivia - tension Natalia hadn't even realized was there until it was gone. Something about her body loosened and she bent to kiss her. It was both gentle and consuming, but Natalia had scarcely had time to sink into it and kiss her back before Olivia was pulling away, Natalia's hands sliding up Olivia's body to rest on her shoulder as she slipped back, dropping to her knees in front of the chair.

The loss of contact made Natalia whimper and her hands lifted up to sink into Olivia's hair, twining her fingers through silky strands until there was no way that Olivia could move further away. But Olivia wasn't trying to, hooking her hands behind Natalia's knees and pulling her forward, closer to the edge of the seat. The sudden movement startled Natalia and her hands clenched around the strands of hair she still held, the nearest thing for her to get a grip on.

Olivia flinched at the quick, sharp tug on her scalp, but didn't protest, turning her head to place a placating kiss on Natalia's knee. A kiss Natalia wished was on bare skin and not pressed against the material of her slacks. Then Olivia's hands were snaking up her thighs, slipping under her hips and grabbing a handful of material. It only took one tug for Natalia to realize what Olivia was trying to do. She hurriedly jerked her hips up to help Olivia, who made short work of them.

Olivia didn't pull them all the way off, but rather left them bunched around Natalia's ankles. It made Natalia feel awkward, clumsy and a little bit uncomfortable, but Olivia didn't seem to notice, her hands trailing up the back of Natalia's legs, skimming up firm calves and then running over the top of smooth thighs, exerting gentle pressure, urging her to spread her legs a little bit wider. Natalia let her legs fall open and her eyes drift shut. Her hand trembled a little as she reached out to touch Olivia, searching blindly for contact and then finding her, cupping the base of Olivia's head.

Olivia bent beneath her touch, already in motion. With Natalia's eyes closed, the first brush of Olivia's lips against her inner thigh came as a surprise. Natalia hissed in a sharp breath at the contact. It tickled and delighted. The faint hint of anxiety that had been building within her dissolved and she laughed. Her eyes flew open a second later as she realized how Olivia might have interpreted that. She certainly wasn't laughing at her, but in the sheer joy of what they were about to do.

But when her eyes snapped open, Olivia was looking up at her, her eyes clear and bright, only a hint of something in them that Natalia couldn't quite place. She tilted her head to the side, silently asking Olivia what was wrong.

"Later." Olivia whispered. Whatever it was seemed contained and separate, pushed back from the moment that Olivia had so skillfully been building between them, and when their eyes met the connection between them was immediate and electric. It was unbroken as Olivia nuzzled into her.

Natalia's whole body tensed at the first brush of Olivia's tongue against her. "Good" somehow seemed like an insufficient word to describe how it felt; attentive, loving, and tender not nearly encompassing enough. Her hand sank into Olivia's hair, her fingers once more tightening their grip on silky strands as she struggled for something, anything to hold on to as sensations built and overwhelmed her. She squirmed, not in an attempt to get away from the skillful ministrations of Olivia's lips, tongue and delicate fingers but because she couldn't stay still.

Olivia moved with her, not holding Natalia down, but accommodating her, bending to her every whim. Every instinct in Natalia's body made her want to close her eyes - to savor everything that Olivia was doing to her, to focus on the pleasure that was building within. But she was helpless, caught up in the spell that Olivia was weaving around her. She couldn't help but watch Olivia. The sight of her, bent forward, her head between Natalia's legs was almost as much of a turn-on as what Olivia was doing. An unexpected wave of tenderness swept over Natalia just as Olivia did that thing with her tongue - Natalia nearly screamed, a strangled sound torn from her lips as her climax broke over her.

Spasms wracked her body until it left her spent and lax, the last few flicks of Olivia's tongue enough to make her muscles jump as she eased back down.

"Olivia..." It was hard to push the familiar syllables past a tight throat and dry mouth. Natalia managed it anyway.

Olivia sat, her head pillowed on Natalia's thigh, staring up at her with such love in her eyes that it made Natalia's heart ache.

She forced herself out of the languid state in which she reclined and made her hand move, sifting through the delicate strands of Olivia's hair until she was pushing them behind Olivia's ear, cupping her head. Natalia used her grip to urge Olivia up. It took a moment, Olivia pushing herself up on knees that were stiff from having remained in one position for too long, but then Olivia was in front of her, their eyes level. Natalia let her hand slide down to cup Olivia's jaw, her thumb stroking Olivia's cheek, and looked into her eyes. There was no hurry, no answer that Natalia needed to find in them. She was content just to look and see, feeling the connection between them and taking it all in. They didn't have to do anything else.

But Natalia drew Olivia down to kiss her anyway, because she wanted to. Tasting the sweetness of Olivia's lips - and herself on them - was its own reward. They kissed gently until they separated and Natalia pressed her forehead against Olivia's. It was their way of connecting, feeling close to one another and the feeling of intimacy and familiarity that it brought almost surpassed what they had just shared. For so long this was all they had. Now, there was more, but this was still comforting.

"Talk to me," Natalia said.

Olivia shrugged and tried to sit back on her heels. Natalia wrapped her arms around Olivia's shoulders and refused to let her go. Olivia huffed but didn't try to pull away any more. She turned her face into Natalia's shoulder.

"I miss you." Olivia sounded impossibly small when she said. Natalia's arms tightened around her. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." She thought of when she had left without warning, feeling the pang of guilt that would always be there at the thought of the trust she had destroyed. It had been a thing of such purity and she - Natalia - had taken it for granted. It was being rebuilt between them - had already risen anew - but she no longer took it for granted. She sheltered it and nurtured it like the fragile, precious thing that it was.

Or so she thought.

Natalia's heart began to pound at the thought that she had missed something, some sign that Olivia needed something that she couldn't give.

"I know," Olivia said. And then she repeated it. "I know. You're not going anywhere." Her thumb ran over the bare skin of Natalia's thigh. It distracted Natalia momentarily, the sensation making her mentally stand at attention. She forced herself to focus.

"I'm not," Natalia agreed. She bit her lip. "Did I do something-"

"No," Olivia said without hesitation. She smiled up at Natalia. "I think I got used to having you here all the time, being with you all day after Sweet Pea was born." Her head dropped again. "This last time we did this, you didn't come. We didn't even... Did I do something that you didn't like? Did I-"

Natalia pressed her thumb against Olivia's lips, stopping her before she could say anything else.

"No, Sweetheart. No. Don't even think that. You were - are - wonderful." She smiled and couldn't quite keep it from trembling. "I..." This was the part that was frightening, talking about herself and sharing. It was something that had been hard for her to get used to. She had spent Rafe's entire life with no one to confide in. Now it was more a habit than not. Olivia had gotten under her skin. She simply understood Natalia in ways that Natalia had never imagined anyone could, but sometimes it was still a struggle to put those feelings into words when Olivia didn't understand. "Olivia, that wasn't about you."

"Right," Olivia said, but Natalia knew she didn't quite believe it.

"No," Natalia said firmly. "Not right. I enjoy sex." Olivia's head shot up so quickly that Natalia couldn't help but smile.

"Okay. I know that." A smug smile flickered across Olivia's face to be replaced by confusion. "But then..."

"When it's right."

Olivia looked stricken again.

Natalia wrapped her legs around the back of Olivia's thighs. "With Frank..." She shivered. "It wasn't. And that was my fault. I thought it was with Gus. After we were married." She bit her lip. "And maybe before. Even though I knew it wasn't. I enjoyed it, in the moment, because I thought he was the one I should be with.

But I was wrong. Being with Gus is nothing like being with you."

Olivia was barely breathing.

"Being with you is better - more pure. And the other night, when we...the first time after Francesca, it wasn't right. Not because of you. Me. I couldn't relax. I didn't feel...right. Comfortable in my own skin. I didn't... I wanted to be beautiful for you; I wanted to be perfect. But I didn't feel that way. I didn't feel sexy or...or worthy." Her voice lowered. "And then, all I could think about was how much I hurt you and how good you are to me, to Francesca, Rafe. All of us. You give me so much love. And I couldn't...I just couldn't."

"You're wrong," Olivia said slowly.

"What?" Natalia wasn't following her.

"You are beautiful and I'm the one who's not worthy of you," Olivia whispered.

Natalia's heart broke. "No." She drew Olivia's chin up. "We were made for each other. You show me that every day."

"Yeah?" The hint of roughness in Olivia's voice reassured Natalia that she would be all right. It was almost teasing.

"Oh yeah." Natalia agreed with a nod.

"So I take it that means you liked your welcome home?"

Natalia grinned, her smile belying her next words. "It wasn't bad." Then her look turned mischievous. "Does this mean you're going to do chores around the house more often now?"

Olivia gave her a languid smile, full of heat and want. "Maybe."

Natalia couldn't help but laugh. Olivia braced her hands on Natalia's thighs and pushed herself to her feet.

"Hey," Natalia said a hint of complaint in her voice. "Where are you going?"

Olivia gave her a bemused smile. "To get a glass of water. I'll be back."

"Good. I have plans for you." Natalia watched her walk towards the kitchen entranced by the swing of her hips. "Olivia?"

Olivia stopped and glanced back over her shoulder at her, an eyebrow arched in question.

Natalia's brilliant smile flashed dimples. "I loved it. I love you."

Chapter 3

Olivia was dancing with Bill.

That, in and of itself, was not a problem. Not five minutes ago, it had been Phillip escorting Natalia around the dance floor. No, it was the way that Olivia was almost draped across Bill, the way she smiled a little too seductively and whispered her words into his ear, instead of speaking to him.

The bemused smile on Bill's face was mocking Natalia. That and the way that his hand lingered just a little too low on Olivia's back, brushing against the swell of her rear. It made Natalia see red.

"She looks like she's having fun."

Natalia tensed at the sound of Frank's voice, coming from just behind her. She took a deep breath before she turned to face him. She hated the amusement in his voice, like he expected this kind of behavior from Olivia.

"Hi, Frank." Natalia tried to keep her irritation out of her voice. He was Francesca's father and he seemed, for the most part, to be okay with the two of them now. Mostly due to Blake's influence, Natalia was fairly certain. But Frank seemed unable to resist slipping in little digs about Olivia now and then. The worst part was the way he would look at Natalia like he expected her to agree with him, to look at Olivia and laugh.

As often as Natalia told Olivia that she didn't think she was funny, it wasn't really true. Olivia made her laugh and smile all the time, but not in the way Frank was intending. Never in that way. It only added to the burning sense of indignation that seeing Olivia dancing with Bill had begun.

"So how long has that been going on?"

Natalia gritted her teeth against the familiarity in his voice. He had no right to talk about Olivia that way.

"What do you mean?" she asked with a forced smile. Maybe if she acted like she didn't know what he was implying, Frank would get the hint that she didn't want to talk about it.

Unfortunately she wasn't so lucky.

"Olivia dancing with Bill like she's forgotten they've been divorced for years now."

It was Frank's smile that irritated her the most, Natalia decided. That and the fact that he thought he could say something like that about Olivia to her at all.

"Bill and Olivia are just friends, Frank. There's nothing wrong with them dancing. It's no different than if it was you and I out there." Natalia smiled just a little bit wider to reinforce her point. "See?"

She turned to look back out at the swirling crowd of people. It took her a moment to locate Bill and Olivia. She froze when she did. Olivia was looking directly into Bill's eyes, her face mere inches from his as she stroked the back of her fingers down his cheek. It looked both sensual and tender. Natalia hated it.

"Uh, right. I see that."

That Frank was agreeing with her, despite the skepticism in his voice, was somehow worse.

"Excuse me," Natalia said, moving past him as if she was in a trance, without even sparing Frank a glance.

At the edge of the dance floor, her heart skipped a beat, stuttering with the reminder that this was not something she would usually do. It was bold and daring and what did she think she was doing? That thought sounded a lot like her mother's voice. And that was what propelled Natalia forward. That and the burning determination that she belonged to Olivia - just as much as Olivia belonged to her, with her. If Olivia or Bill needed a reminder of that, well then, Natalia would be more than happy to be the one who reminded them.

Natalia brushed past women in long gowns, heavy fabric rustling as she pushed past them all, ignoring them and their partners alike in her determination. She had a brief moment of satisfaction as Bill saw her coming and his eyes widened with almost comical fear. Her feelings must have been evident in her face because he paled in the next instant and was already taking a small step back from Olivia when Natalia tapped Olivia - none too gently - on the shoulder.

Olivia spun, indignation sliding off her face as soon as she realized it was Natalia to light up with delight. That glow - one of the purest expressions of love and happiness that Natalia had ever seen - was like a sharp knock against Natalia's unhappiness. She grabbed onto it with both hands though and refused to let it slip away. Part of her insisted that Olivia couldn't act like she had been with Bill and then just look at Natalia...that way! It was a much weaker impulse than the one that had originally sent her charging across the dance floor.

"Natalia!" In Olivia's state - more than a little tipsy - her delighted words were just a little too loud as she threw her arms around Natalia's neck. The sudden shift in balance sent Olivia staggering against Natalia, who brought her hands up to steady her instinctively.

"Hey, sweetheart," Olivia purred into Natalia's ear. "What are you doing here?"

"Cutting in," Natalia said, more than a little shortly. "I'm sure Bill won't mind." Her tone indicated that he had better not.

Bill held up both hands in the universal gesture for "don't shoot!" and took another step back. "She's all yours."

"Oh, good," Natalia said. "I thought you might have forgotten."

"Forgotten?" Bill asked, though every instinct urged him to run.

"Exactly who Olivia belongs to. Me."

"Uh, right," Bill said. He flushed and pointed behind him. "I'll just be going..." He suited actions to words immediately.

Olivia made a grumpy sound. "You're squeezing too hard." She sounded a little petulant about it.

"That's because I'm angry," Natalia said, but she loosened her arms around Olivia's waist.


For a moment, Natalia thought Olivia wouldn't have anything else to say to that. Then she felt the warmth of Olivia's breath dancing across her neck. It took a supreme effort of will for Natalia not to shiver. When Olivia nuzzled into the same skin that her breath had just tantalized, Natalia sucked in a sharp breath.

"You were so hot, coming over here all angry and possessive, demanding a dance," Olivia whispered against her ear. "I liked it."

Natalia stiffened and glared. "It's not funny."

"Who's laughing?" Olivia asked, heaving a sigh. She pulled back a little until she could look at Natalia. Another glowing smile broke across her face. "Look, we're dancing."

"So?" Natalia asked, still feeling unsettled and and unwilling to let to of her earlier indignation.

"So," Olivia said with a tone of exaggerated patience. "I've wanted to dance with you forever." Suddenly she looked shy. "But I wasn't sure... I thought, I didn't know how you would feel about dancing with me, in front of all these people. I started to ask you at Billy's wedding but you seemed so nervous and hesitant so I didn't." Olivia tried a small smile. "But here we are, dancing." She leaned in closer. "And it's just fine."

"Huh," Natalia said thoughtfully. She considered it for a moment. "It is pretty nice." Something else occurred to her and she shot Olivia a suspicious look. "You didn't...set this up did you? To get me over here and dancing with you?"

Olivia drew back indignantly. "Of course, not!"

Natalia looked unimpressed.

"But now that we have," Olivia continued. "All my dances are yours, sweetheart."

It wasn't quite true, Natalia knew. There would be other people and other dances in Olivia's life, people it was expedient, almost necessary, for her to flirt with to ease along the wheels of business. Natalia appreciated the sentiment but she had every intention of claiming Olivia every chance she could, for a dance or otherwise.

"I like the sound of that," Natalia agreed.

"Then I would say it worked out pretty well."

Natalia just shook her head as she leaned back and spun Olivia out in front of her with a spin and flair. "It'd better not work out with anyone else," Natalia declared as she gave a light tug on Olivia's hand and swept Olivia back into her arms.

She cupped Olivia's face with one hand and kissed her without hesitation, not a quick peck on her lips, but a kiss that deepened as it lingered, leaving no doubt in the mind of anyone who saw it just who Olivia Spencer belonged with.

Olivia melted against Natalia's body, swooning into her at the display of possessiveness that was both unexpected and incredibly hot - safe in the arms of her lover.

Chapter 4

"Her fever is still pretty high," Natalia said, the worry in her voice plain as she took the small thermometer off Francesca's forehead. "I think I should stay home today. Take care of both of my girls."

"Don't be ridiculous," Olivia said, scooping Natalia's bag and suit jacket off the back of the chair and handing them to her. "You have a big day today." She leaned over to kiss the corner of Natalia's mouth and gripped her arms. "Don't worry about us. We'll be fine. I'll keep an eye on 'Chesca and if she gets any worse I'll take her straight to Dr. Rick."

"Olivia..." Natalia cupped her cheek. "That's not what I meant. I know you don't feel good either."

Olivia leaned into her touch and then drew back to kiss her palm. "I'm fine." She drew the last word out for emphasis. "I feel so much better than yesterday."


Olivia nodded. Natalia exhaled and seemed to deflate with relief.

"Okay." Natalia glanced down at her watch. "Oh, no, I'm running late." She cast one last worried look at Olivia. "If you're sure..."

"I am," Olivia said, summoning her strongest, most certain smile. "Go," she said, giving Natalia a gentle push toward the door.

Natalia fled. Olivia waited, watching until Natalia's car had disappeared and then she sagged heavily against the door, the smile draining from her face as she paled.

The show had been mostly for Natalia's benefit and now that she was gone, the full depth of Olivia's exhaustion set in. Leaning heavily on various prices of furniture, Olivia made her way back to the living room, stopping only to check on Francesca. The eleven month old slept fitfully in her playpen, shifting and whimpering even in her sleep. Olivia rested a hand on her chest for a moment, just focusing on the way she breathed. Olivia stopped fighting and let her eyes fall closed for an instant. Just an instant and then she would...

With a start, Olivia jerked back to consciousness, swaying for one long moment before she righted herself with one hand clenched firmly around the rail. Olivia blinked quickly, lifting a hand to her heart to feel its furious racing and willed it to slow down.

"Sorry, Sweet Pea. Mommy's just tired right now." Olivia refused to let herself think any differently. It had been a long night. Olivia had been up more than she had been down as she struggled to keep her little girl as happy as possible and let Natalia sleep. Despite what Natalia had said, Olivia knew that Natalia was nervous about her presentation today. Phillip had slowly been giving Natalia more and more responsibility at Spaulding, but this was her first big pitch, the first project that she would head and develop on her own, and her love never took any responsibility lightly.

That was why Olivia refused to bother Natalia today. She could do this - even if just lifting her hand felt exhausting. Maybe a nap would help. There was so much that needed to be done - dishes, laundry, a hundred other responsibilities for their daughters and themselves that Olivia was supposed to take care of. Just the thought of it all made Olivia's spine stiffen with determination. Then she sagged, tears welling in her eyes. Exhaustion was overwhelming her, and for one moment she felt as sapped and lifeless as she had in the worst weeks after her transplant. It was a terrifying feeling and Olivia hated giving into it, but she wasn't sure she had any other choice.

Olivia took two quick steps toward the couch, almost falling onto it. She started to shiver as she laid down, pulling her legs up to her chest and waiting for it to pass. When it didn't she lifted her arm, searching blindly behind her for the throw that Natalia always kept on the back of the couch. Scrabbling around, it took her several long moments to find it and when she did, she whimpered in frustration as she tugged on it, only to have it refuse to budge. It took several tugs, Olivia almost giving up to just shiver in peace before it came free. She pulled it down - not taking the time or effort to spread it over herself - before falling into a restless, dream-filled sleep.

Olivia woke sharply, sweating profusely beneath the blanket that covered her. She felt wild and disoriented, drained by fitful sleep rather than refreshed, and feeling gross from the sweat that soaked her skin. She sat up, putting her legs over the edge of the couch and immediately had to put one hand out to steady herself. She wasn't sure which to clutch next, her rapidly beating heart or her aching head. It was a difficult decision. Francesca made it for her, letting out another unhappy wail. The same sound, Olivia realized, that had woken her.

She managed to push herself to her feet and took one unsteady step forward. She wove through the air, feeling unsteady and disoriented. She lifted her foot to take another step and wavered, more unsteady than before. Her hand shot out, reaching for the slim rail of Francesca's playpen. Her fingertips brushed it, too far away to catch onto as the world started to go gray around her. Francesca's thin wail was the last thing she heard as the world went dark and Olivia collapsed.

Natalia glanced at her phone and then did a double-take, the frown lines on her brow furrowing deeper. Olivia hadn't texted her back and it had been over an hour. Normally Natalia wouldn't have worried. There were plenty of reasons for Olivia not to have responded and she didn't demand Olivia's constant attention, but today was different. And so was her text.

Natalia had been checking up on Francesca - and Olivia too. It was more urgent than her usual "you looked so beautiful when I woke up this morning I almost couldn't breathe" or "what do you want for dinner, sweetie" texts.

"Natalia...Natalia!" The urgency of the her co-worker's voice finally penetrated Natalia's thoughts.

"I'm sorry," she said, with a quick shake of her head. "What did you need?"

"There are some questions." The woman leaned closer. "Mr. Spaulding is very insistent and the client is waiting. I think you're the only one who knows this project well enough to answer them."

"Right," Natalia said, tapping her finger against her phone impatiently, willing the chime for a text to sound. None did. She frowned, and freed her arm from the woman's grip. "I have to make one quick call," Natalia said decisively, flashing the woman as charming of a smile as she could muster, dimples and all. She tried to seem apologetic even though she wasn't in the least. "Tell them I'll be right there."

Natalia watched her depart, shooting several unhappy looks over her shoulder, but then Natalia didn't waste any more time, hurriedly punching in Olivia's speed dial. The phone rang, seemingly endlessly, but Natalia counted, knowing the number of rings before Olivia's phone would send her automatically to voicemail. Sure enough, it did. Natalia would have felt better if voicemail had kicked in immediately, an indication that Olivia was busy rather than just not answering. The sinking feeling that had been growing in the pit of Natalia's stomach all day worsened. She pressed her fingers against her lips and prayed for guidance. No solid answer sprung forth immediately. What she wouldn't give for a burning bush...

Natalia knew what was at stake. Phillip was giving her a chance to prove herself. This client wouldn't make or break Spaulding, but they did mark an important opportunity for growth. And Phillip trusted her with it. Natalia appreciated that and the faith he was placing in her.

But it was Olivia and their baby girl. There had never really been any question about what she would do. Natalia walked out of Spaulding Enterprises without a backwards glance.

The drive out to farmhouse seemed to stretch and drag. The longer it seemed to take, the more Natalia's sense of urgency built. She jumped out of the car, yanking at the key several times in her hurry before she managed to get it out. She left the door flung wide open as she ran towards the house. Her hand trembled as she fumbled with the lock. Olivia always locked it behind Natalia - a habit born of years living in a hotel. It made her want to curse or cry with frustration and took her several tries to undo it. Every second was too long. As she did Natalia prayed that Olivia would look up from her perch on the couch or at the kitchen table with bemusement, asking Natalia what the big hurry was.

But Olivia didn't. The moment that Natalia burst in the door she looked around wildly. She didn't even have time to call out for Olivia as she tried to process what she was seeing and hearing.

Francesca was wailing in her playpen. Natalia moved toward her automatically. Then she saw Olivia sprawled out on the floor, one arm reaching toward Francesca, a leg curled beneath her. Natalia's heart stopped beating for one long, horrible instant and then she flew into motion.

Natalia ran to Olivia's side, her hands fumbling frantically until she could find a pulse. It took her longer than it should have. How many times had she done that with Olivia? More than she could count. Finally she found it. It was thready and weak, but there.

Natalia shot a quick glance over her shoulder at Francesca. She was still wailing as if the world were about to end. But she didn't look hurt, just scared, unhappy and uncomfortable. Natalia pushed herself up and ran for the phone, remembering Remy's past comment about 911 operators and land lines. She didn't know why Olivia had collapsed but she did know that every second counted.

"Yes, I need an ambulance. My wife collapsed and..." She went back to pick up Francesca as she hurriedly gave the operator as much information as she could.

She was already kneeling down beside Olivia again with Francesca in her arms when the woman hung up, after assuring her several more times that help would be there soon.

Natalia dropped the phone beside her, smoothing Francesca's hair back from her forehead and kissing her in an attempt to soothe her before she bent over Olivia, taking her hand.

Olivia's fingers felt cold and limp in her grip as Natalia brought Olivia's hand to her lips, kissing it gently and then holding it there for a moment.

"Don't you dare leave me," she whispered. "Don't you dare."

The room was dark and quiet. The sun was setting and Natalia had been siting there long enough that the light coming in through the blinds was no longer sufficient. She didn't want to get up - she still couldn't bring herself to leave Olivia's side, even for a moment. She still grew short of breath every time she thought of how she'd found Olivia. For one terrible moment she'd thought... But Olivia hadn't been. Natalia had been saying prayers of thanks for that since the moment Dr. Rick had told her Olivia was stable.

Now if Olivia would just open those beautiful green eyes of hers, then maybe Natalia could finally relax. Once they'd had a chance to check Olivia out, asses her condition and give her meds to get her back on the right track, they'd also given her something to keep her sedated, wanting her to rest easily and give the medications a chance to do their job.

It was the next twenty-four hours that would be critical, Dr. Rick had said. The infection, which was nothing worse than a bad case of the flu in Francesca, had left Olivia's immune-suppressed body struggling. The steroids were supposed to help that. And all the antibiotics. But still Natalia worried. She couldn't help it, and so she prayed - for Olivia and for forgiveness for herself. If she had just stayed home that morning, maybe Olivia would have gotten to the hospital before she'd passed out. Maybe it would have been just a little bit easier on her body, her heart. If Natalia had been scared when Olivia had a heart attack outside Company, it was nothing compared to the way she felt today. She knew now how much she stood to loose and it left her gasping and breathless.

Natalia folded her hands around Olivia's fingers, warm now where they had been cold earlier and brought them to her lips. She let Olivia's hand back down until it was lying at a comfortable angle against the sheets and then bowed her head, resting her forehead against it.

"You have to get better," Natalia whispered. "This wasn't part of the plan." She straightened, sniffling but not letting go of Olivia to brush the tear away. "You don't get to leave me, Olivia Spencer."

"Wasn't my fault."

The slurred words were the best sound Natalia had ever heard. She shot to her feet. "Olivia!"

"Hey." Olivia raised a feeble arm, reaching out to Natalia. Her voice was deep and gravely, but Natalia didn't care. It was wonderful.

Natalia caught her hand and sank down on the bed beside Olivia, her thigh pressing up against Olivia's thigh. She couldn't stop herself from reaching out to touch Olivia's cheek, cup her face.

"How do you feel?" Natalia asked gently.

Olivia gave a one-shouldered shrug. The corner of her mouth turned up. "Terrible." The glint in her eyes faded. She swallowed and licked dry lips. "Francesca?" Her eyes begged Natalia to tell her she was okay.

Natalia squeezed her hand. "She's just fine. Dr. Rick gave her some antibiotics and some fluids. She'll be as good as new soon. You're the one who had me worried." Her grip on Olivia's hand tightened until it was almost painful. "Please, don't ever..." Another tear slipped down her cheek and choked her throat.

Olivia lifted her hand to clumsily brush the tear off Natalia's cheek with the back of her finger. "Shh, sweetheart. I'll be fine." She arched an eyebrow at Natalia. "I'll be fine?" This time her voice wavered a little. Her vulnerability made Natalia's heart clench.

"Dr. Rick thinks so." There was a possibility...but already Olivia seemed stronger. "You can't push it, though." Natalia sniffed angrily and brushed new tears. "Why didn't you tell me? When I came home and saw you like that... I've never been so scared. Do you understand me, Olivia? Never."

"I'm sorry," Olivia sounded small, chastened. Natalia hated it. "I thought it was nothing. It wasn't until later... I didn't want to bother you. I know this is a big project for you."

Natalia snorted.

Olivia arched another eyebrow. "What's so funny now?"

"All those times," Natalia said with a laugh. "When I was working for other people and you called and said you needed me and you - you pick now to worry about my job security." She shook her head.

Olivia summoned the energy to be indignant. "I was trying to be considerate. See if I do that again," she huffed.

Natalia let out a small laugh and leaned over to kiss her. "Oh, no you don't, Olivia Spencer. Don't you know I love it when you need me? Every time you'd say that..." Natalia shook her head. "I'd get a shiver down my spine and have no idea why."

Olivia sank back into her pillows. "Oh really?"

The way she said it made Natalia roll her eyes. "You need to get some rest," Natalia said. "It's important."

Olivia made a face which Natalia ignored.

"You're tired."

Olivia wrinkled her nose. "Where are Em and 'Chesca?"

Natalia restrained a sigh. "They're with their daddies. They're fine. Let me take care of you."

Olivia huffed, and folded her arms over her chest. "If you're going to insist..."

"I am," Natalia said, ignoring Olivia's tone, knowing it for the mask of emotion that it was. "Scoot over," she added matter-of-factly.

So much that Olivia shot her a puzzled look.

"Scoot," Natalia repeated, her tone light as she made shooing motions at Olivia.

Olivia arched an eyebrow but did as she was asked while mumbling about Natalia pushing around an exhausted invalid.

Natalia ignored it all, sitting down on the side of the bed to slip her shoes off and then brought her feet up on the bed, laying down beside Olivia.

"Come here," Natalia said, holding her arms out to Olivia.

This time Olivia didn't even pretend to complain or resist, slipping into Natalia's embrace as if it were where she was made to be, her head on Natalia's shoulder as Natalia reclined against the pillows.

For several long moments, Natalia simply stroked her fingers through Olivia's hair, savoring the silence, letting the comforting weight and warmth of Olivia against her side reassure her, soothe the terror that had shot through her when she had seen Olivia lying motionless on the floor.

"You know," Olivia said into the silence, turning her head to look up at Natalia. Olivia palmed Natalia's breast gently. "If my recovery had been more like this I wouldn't have been so grumpy about it."

Despite the apparent lack of intention behind Olivia resting her hand there, it still shot a jolt of energy through Natalia and she couldn't help but snort at what Olivia had said. Her gentle ministrations never stopped as they lay there.

"Are you mad?" Olivia asked more quietly that time. Natalia could hear the very real undercurrent of worry in her voice.

"No." Natalia was a little surprised to find that she meant it. She shifted so that she could see Olivia's face and cupped her cheek with one hand. All she felt when she looked into Olivia's eyes was an overwhelming sense of love. A faint hint of anxiety churned in her stomach telling her that she could have lost Olivia that afternoon. Natalia bent to press her forehead against Olivia's.

"I need you," Natalia said. "In my life, in my bed, in my heart. For a very long time to come. You don't get to leave me, do you hear me?"

Olivia nodded, still pressed against Natalia and reached up to cup the back of Natalia's neck, holding her close.

"I'm not going anywhere, Sweetheart."

"You can't promise that," Natalia sniffed through the beginning of tears.

"No," Olivia agreed. "But I can promise to love you with my whole heart while I am here."

Chapter 5

The strap-on lay on the bed. Natalia stared at it, but didn't touch it. It shouldn't be that hard to just... She felt like poking it with the tip of her finger. Poking...she winced at her own thought and then sighed. And she was the one who had ordered this thing off the internet. From some website that had left her blushing, her face glowing like a reactor in meltdown for more than hour after she'd finished perusing what they had to offer.

And now here it was. Distantly Natalia heard footsteps on the stairs. Emma...Olivia...Francesca...Natalia strained to differentiate. Quick steps. She thought it must be Emma. Olivia had to no reason to hurry. Natalia sagged, letting out a sigh of relief, her attention immediately returning to the...implement...in front of her. All plastic save for the tangled straps made of stiff leather.

The distinctive creaking twist of the door handle being turned made Natalia spin around, stunned and - for just a moment - paralyzed. Then the thought of Emma - Francesca, anyone - walking into the room, spurred her into action, action without thought. With a motion that was half-leap, half-plop, Natalia dropped down onto the bed - sitting on top of the offending...thing. The plastic poked uncomfortably into her butt. It felt like she was sitting on a bomb, not a...a...well, a strap-on.

Olivia stepped inside the room and stopped mid-step. She titled her head, a furrow of worry creasing her brow. Olivia took another step into the room and then turned to shut the door firmly behind her. "What's wrong?"

"Wrong?" Natalia asked, her voice shooting up an octave. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong. I don't know why you'd... I mean, there's...did you need something?"

Olivia let out a soft laugh. "Okay, sweetheart. If you say so."

Natalia didn't say anything.

Olivia arched an eyebrow. "Seriously, you're just going to pretend that nothing's going on here?"

Natalia thought about it for a moment, considered fully the ridiculousness of the situation...and then nodded. "Yes. Yes I am." She tried to say it as matter-of-factly as she could.

Olivia just laughed. "Okay. I was coming up here to grab my purse. Emma wanted to go get something for after dinner, maybe a cake from that new bakery..."

"Oh, Olivia, that's not necessary," Natalia protested, rising to catch Olivia's arm. "I can make some-" Natalia broke off as she realized - far too late - that she had stood, that the object that she had been hiding with her body was now in plain view on the bed. "-Thing," she finished futilely.

Natalia closed her eyes, covered her face with her hand, and waited. Waited for Olivia to say something, because she had to notice. How could she not comment?

"Natalia..." Olivia sounded more bemused than surprised. "There's a strap-on on our bed."

Natalia nodded, her face still buried in her hands. "Yes."

Olivia took a step closer to Natalia, her own smile growing. "And you were sitting on it?"

Natalia's head shot up. "Olivia!" She managed to be both protesting and petulant. "It was...I...don't look at me like that."

"Like what?" The way Olivia's voice dropped as she took another step closer to Natalia belied her words.

"Like...like...that!" Natalia said, pointing at Olivia. "That look on your face right now."

"You constantly surprise me," Olivia said, and her voice had shifted again. She sounded reverent and it made Natalia flush again, maybe even more than all the desire that had just been written on Olivia's face.

"This is your fault you know."

"That I walked in to our room to find you sitting on some poor defenseless strap-on?"

"You make it sound like...I was just...I heard a noise and I wasn't ready to..." Natalia took a deep breath. "Are you going to let me explain?"

"Maybe," Olivia smiled. "This is pretty fun too."

Natalia gave her a look and Olivia caved.

"I'm sorry." Olivia even managed to sound like she meant it. Her smile gentled from amused to apologetic. She raised a hand to cup the side of Natalia's face. "Tell me?" There was a purity to the way that she spoke that made Natalia forget everything for a moment, even why they were there having this excruciating conversation.

Natalia couldn't help pressing into the hand against her cheek, reveling in the contact for just a moment. Olivia let her, her thumb stroking against Natalia's cheek, leaning up to kiss Natalia's forehead. Natalia let out a shaky sigh that had nothing to do with what lay behind her on the bed and everything to do with the woman standing in front of her.

"Can we just stay like this?" Natalia asked, barely above a whisper.

"As long as you want."

Natalia let out a contented sigh and raised her arms, sliding them along Olivia's sides, up over her chest until she could lace her fingers together behind Olivia's neck.

"I saw you."

"You saw me?" Olivia repeated, still at a loss.

Natalia buried her face against Olivia's neck. Her words came out a little muffled. "The other night. When you had your laptop in bed."

Olivia tensed; Natalia felt it and clung to her a little bit tighter.

"The night that you got in so late from that work thing for Blake?"

Natalia nodded, stray hairs tickling Olivia's skin.

"How..." Olivia shook her head and waved it away with a brush of her hand. "It doesn't matter."

"It does," Natalia said, pulling away a little. "I should apologize. When you got up to pee, I looked." Her lips pressed together. "I really am sorry about that. I shouldn't have looked. It was none of my business, but you shut your laptop so quickly when I came and you looked..." Natalia sniffed and Olivia realized that she had been genuinely worried and distressed about this. Not that she'd had any doubts. "You looked the way you did when you started looking at places to move after Frank proposed - that day when we were looking at pictures and you didn't want me to see. I just had to know."

Olivia's jaw clenched, remembering that time. It had been exhausting and terrifying for both of them. She couldn't really blame Natalia for what she had done. She had an urge to apologize to Natalia for scaring her like that, but still... "It wasn't the same at all."

"I know," Natalia said.

"You could have said something - that you'd seen," Olivia pointed out.

"I wasn't sure. I wanted to, but ever time I tried I couldn't find the right words. I didn't want to argue about or make you think...anything."

"So you...went out and bought one?" Olivia held up a hand, forestalling what Natalia might say. "I'm just trying to understand."

"It was an impulse," Natalia said, the words spilling out in a quickly blurted squeak. "I was just looking and then I just did it."

Olivia let out a soft chuckle. Natalia shot her a disgruntled look. Olivia smiled and brushed her lips against Natalia's. It was just a brief kiss, a moment of reconnecting, but when Olivia pulled away Natalia was smiling and looking a little dazed.

"I should go," Olivia said regretfully, gesturing over her shoulder, towards the door. "Emma is waiting."

Natalia nodded. "I should check on Francesca."

"Uh-huh," Olivia agreed, taking a step back. She bit her lip and glanced behind Natalia at the bad. "But we'll talk about this tonight?"

"If you want to," Natalia agreed.

"I want." Olivia said firmly, leaving no doubt in Natalia's mind.

There was no strap-on to be seen. Not that there had been before, until Natalia had stood. Idly Olivia wondered what Natalia had done with it. It wasn't like she had expected it to still be sitting on the corner of the bed, when they finally returned to their room, the girls settled in their own beds, and ready to turn in for the night. Natalia had probably been thinking about the girls when she had put it away; Emma and Francesca were in and out of their room all the time. It wasn't something Olivia would mind discussing with Emma. She and Natalia were consenting adults and there was no shame in what they were - or in this case, weren't - doing. But she could imagine the way Natalia would blush, and Olivia didn't want that.

Olivia rubbed the bridge of her nose and sank into a seat on the edge of the bed. Natalia was already settled, propped up against a pile of pillows on the other side. She looked beautiful, her hair falling loosely around her face. Olivia wanted to sink her hands into it. Instead she slid closer to Natalia, laying diagonally across the bed and propping herself up on one elbow. Even still she was looking up at Natalia. Olivia didn't mind at all; she liked the view. And though her eyes never left Natalia's face, she was also conscious of the fact that she was eye-level with Natalia's chest.

"You are so beautiful."

The four simple words jolted Olivia, so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't expected it. Natalia raised a hand to cup her cheek and Olivia pressed against Natalia's hand, nuzzling into her palm.

"I was just thinking the same thing about you."

Natalia smiled. "Aren't we the lucky ones?"

"We are," Olivia said, heartfelt thankfulness plain in her voice. "Blessed." Olivia felt the shiver that went through Natalia's body. The urge to be closer to Natalia was almost overwhelming. Olivia wriggled a little nearer. Natalia's smile grew.

"I want to kiss you."

Once again Natalia's words sent Olivia's heart racing, made her smile. She tilted her head up, offering herself to Natalia. Natalia's thumb smoothed over her bottom lip and Olivia could see that Natalia was staring at her mouth. Even after being together for nearly two years, it was still so gratifying to see the way Natalia responded to her, to know that Natalia really did want her.

"But if I kiss you," Natalia whispered. "I won't want to stop."

"And that's a bad thing?" Olivia murmured, feeling the faintest beginnings of a headache coming on.

"I thought we should talk." For the first time Natalia sounded a little vulnerable.

"Oh." Realization washed through Olivia. She pushed herself up a little bit straighter on her forearm. "I guess we should. We don't have to tonight, you know? We could just..." She smiled, and if she looked wanton and seductive, well, she couldn't help it really. It was just the way Natalia made her feel.

"We could," Natalia agreed. Her eyes seemed to darken, the look in them growing so intense, that Olivia thought she would burst from it. Then Natalia leaned in and claimed her lips kissing her deeply, fiercely, for one moment and then another before she wrenched their lips apart again. "We could," Natalia repeated, "But I want to..." Something seemed to occur to Natalia and her eyebrow shot up. "Do you?"

Olivia shook her head, nodded. She wanted...she wasn't sure how to put into words what she wanted. Natalia, above all. Any way she could have her. Something must have shown on Olivia's face because Natalia squirmed a little closer to her, leaning into Olivia. Her hand ran down Olivia's chest, her index finger tracing the path of the scar that bisected Olivia's chest.

"It doesn't have to be tonight," Olivia said, reaching to take Natalia's hand in hers, bringing it up to her cheek and nuzzling against it. The gesture spoke more of comfort and reassurance than seduction.

Natalia seemed eager to explore this. In one way it wasn't surprising to Olivia. After her return from the retreat, Natalia had made certain that there was no doubt in Olivia's mind what Natalia wanted as far as their physical relationship was concerned. Still in a million years, Olivia would never have expected Natalia to go out by herself and buy them a strap on. It was a little startling - and quite a turn on.

Still Olivia could admit - if only to herself - that part of her was a little bit uncomfortable, worried that despite how it seemed, Natalia wouldn't be okay with incorporating a toy - this toy - into their love life. Natalia had overcome so much as far as her beliefs were concerned to allow them to be together. Bringing something foreign into their bed was pushing further, pressing, Olivia was afraid, against the edges of Natalia's comfort zone. There were many things that Olivia could live without; Natalia's love was not one of them. Part of her was scared to risk that for anything. Another part of her yearned for what Natalia was offering, not the physical act, but something more ephemeral. A feeling. An ache.

The difference of course, between this desire and the one that had burned so fiercely within Olivia since she was teenager, was that only Natalia could fill this missing piece, give Olivia what she wanted. And she was the only one Olivia wanted.

Natalia tilted her head to give Olivia a searching look. The knowledge in her eyes that everything was not quite right with Olivia made Olivia feel suddenly shy. She ducked her eyes, letting a strand of hair fall forward over her face. Only Natalia could make her feel this way.

"Olivia." Gently Natalia drew her head up.

Olivia smiled for her easily, brightly, feeling her whole face light up. No matter what, looking into Natalia's eyes still made her feel like a giddy school girl. The girl she'd been once, but had lost for so long.

Natalia smiled back, an automatic response to Olivia. "Tell me." Natalia bit her lip. "Are you upset I...?"

"No," Olivia said quickly. "Not at all." She chuckled; it was a little forced. "Surprised, maybe." Olivia held up her thumb and index finger, barely spread apart. "This much. But not upset."

"No?" Natalia didn't seem convinced. "Not even that I looked at your laptop?"

Olivia shifted away from her, then shook her head. "No, I mean, I wish that you'd told me - trusted me - but I understand the impulse." She shrugged, and for a moment, a brief look for hurt did pass over her features. "If we do this..." Olivia made a face. "I don't want you to regret it."

Natalia smiled gently. It made Olivia's heart beat a little bit faster. Probably not what Natalia had intended. Natalia reached up to touch Olivia's cheek. Olivia tried not to shudder at the faint touch, quiver at the brush of Natalia's fingers against her cheek. It was an effort. She couldn't help leaning into to the curve of Natalia's palm.

"Olivia." The way Natalia said her name was halfway between reverent and chiding. It made Olivia want to duck her head, pull away, avoid what was sure to come. "I'll admit that this was an impulse purchase, but like I told you once before - I know what it means to tell someone that you love them. I know what I'm doing. I thought about this and I bought it because it sounded like something I wanted too. Not just for you."

Olivia smiled at that and Natalia echoed a relieved smile back at her.

Natalia stroked a hand down her cheek. "Is that what you needed to hear?"

Olivia grinned. "Yeah, I think, maybe. I just want you to feel happy; not like this is something you have to do for me."

Something in Natalia's smile changed; it made Olivia weak in the knees. "Trust me," Natalia said. "I want this." Her smile grew a little wider as she looked Olivia up and down. "So if you want this too, why don't you go put this on and I'll be here, on our bed, waiting for you. How does that sound?"

It was so unexpected - hadn't even occurred to Olivia that Natalia might think...when it was so obvious to her - that she couldn't keep the brief flicker of startled disappointment off her face. Not that she was disappointed, not when it came to Natalia and anything that they did in bed together, but she'd had a fantasy and she had thought Natalia had understood. Only Natalia hadn't. Olivia felt strangely let down; she was already annoyed with herself for feeling that way. It didn't mean never, just not now, she reminded herself. All these thoughts flashed through her in an instant.

"Hey," Natalia said, putting a hand on Olivia's shoulder to stop her. "What's wrong?" It wasn't accusing, but light and a little concerned.

"Nothing," Olivia said too quickly, wincing inside at how not-okay that had sounded. She wouldn't even have believed herself sounding that way.

Natalia shook her head and shuffled a little closer to Olivia. "That didn't look like nothing."

"That...what?" It came out a little shorter than Olivia had intended. She hadn't meant to snap back but she was more sensitive about this than she had expected and sometimes Natalia's determination left her feeling more flayed open than Olivia thought she could handle.

"The way you looked when I said..." Natalia flushed as if she couldn't say it a second time. She cleared her throat a little and straightened, pushing through her embarrassment and anxiety. "It wasn't nothing." She caught Olivia's hands and squeezed them. "That's how we ended up here."

Olivia wrinkled her nose. " And what's so wrong with here, Natalia?" Her voice was rising again; she felt the situation slipping through her fingers and hated it. "Huh? Do you think there's something wrong with this?" She lifted the strap on between them, holding it out and forcing Natalia to look at it.

"No," Natalia said firmly. "No, of course not, Olivia." She ducked her head, shaking it in a quick denial before looking back up at Olivia. "But I didn't like who I was when I was so scared I couldn't think straight."

Olivia's lips twitched into a smirk. Natalia couldn't help but smile back at her; it slid off her face just as quickly.

"I was...maybe, will always be scared of loosing you. I couldn't stand that." Natalia raised a hand to touch Olivia's cheek. "You're my world, Olivia Spencer. And maybe sometimes that means I'll do crazy things instead of the right thing - coming to talk to you."

"That sounds really familiar, you know," Olivia said softly. "I spent years - decades - doing crazy - insane - things for love. Until you. You showed me I could have love without being anyone but exactly who I am."

"I guess we both need more practice at that, huh?" Natalia said shyly.

"Yeah, I guess so," Olivia agreed, the smile gracing her lips easing Natalia's heart.

Natalia let her hand trail down Olivia's chest, her hand coming to rest above the steady beating of her heart. "Then will you trust me enough to tell me, Olivia? Please? I want to know. I won't go anywhere."

Olivia drew in a shaky breath and reached to tangle her fingers in Natalia's free hand. Her grip was tight. She leaned in close to Natalia, close enough that her lips were against the shell of Natalia's ear. "I wanted you to be the one wear this. That's what I was picturing. Your body over mine..."

"Olivia..." Natalia's voice broke on the single word; she shivered and found her throat choked with desire. And not a little surprise.

"You don't have to," Olivia said quickly. "It was just a thought, a fantasy..."

Natalia took a step back from Olivia, her hand coming to her mouth, fingers touching her lips.

"Natalia?" Olivia was starting to sound worried.

"I never thought...when I saw that I just assumed..."

"That I wanted to fuck you?"

Natalia let out a little gasp at Olivia's rough language. "I guess. I never considered what you might want me to do."

"You don't have to do anything," Olivia repeated.

"I wish you would stop saying that. I know I don't have to do anything. I was just surprised... You know I need time to think-"

"And you can have as much time as you want," Olivia said, taking a step back from Natalia.

"I don't need that much time." Natalia caught her hands again before Olivia could get any further away. "Stop running away from me, Olivia Spencer. Didn't we both just promise to try to be better about coming to each other with things?"

"Mmm." The skittish look in Olivia's eyes didn't quite disappear.

Natalia let her hand slide down from Olivia's wrist to cover her hand. And the object she held in that hand, smooth silicone and leather. She pulled gently until Olivia let go and then she leaned into Olivia, cupping her cheek and kissing her hard and deep, wanting to let her know, with every breath, every glide of her lips, stroke of her tongue that Olivia was loved.

When she finally pulled away, they were both breathless. "Don't go anywhere," Natalia said, as she took a step back from Olivia and then another, before she turned on her heel and strode into the bathroom.

For a long moment Olivia simply stood and stared, stunned and turned on beyond belief. And then she threw herself into motion, stripping off her clothes down to the lingerie below.

Natalia's hands shook as she tightened the last strap and looked down at the appendage that now dangled from her. It looked strange, awkward, and she wasn't sure it was where it should be. To do that she would need to touch it.

It wouldn't bite, Natalia knew. She had touched it before. It just felt like plastic. It was more than the sum of its parts though. Natalia took a deep breath. If she couldn't even do this though...how would she be able to go out there and do what Olivia wanted - what they now both wanted?

A flash of the way Olivia had looked, her hair tousled and need plain in her eyes, caught Natalia off-guard. She gasped again and almost without conscious thought reached down to adjust herself, pushing it against her until- air hissed through her teeth as it pressed against just the right spot. Her eyes fell closed until she made a conscious effort to open them.

Natalia was going to walk right out that door, into the next room, and stride right up to Olivia. Just as soon as she finished gathering her confidence.

As much as she wanted to, Natalia didn't think she could do that, standing there naked with nothing but the harness around her waist. She wanted to be strong, not vulnerable. There was a time and place for vulnerable, but her lover needed her strength as well. And she needed to give Olivia that. It had to be a partnership of equals, not her making unfair demands that Olivia be the strong one all the time.

The only thing to hand was a red silk robe, hanging on the back of the door. Of course it was red. It belonged to Olivia. Natalia grabbed it anyway, pulling it down off the hook and quickly sliding it around her shoulders. The cool silk against her skin felt divine, a contrast to the slight weight that tugged against her hips, only noticeable because it had never been there before.

Natalia straightened and took a deep breath, reaching out to open the door as she did - and immediately gasped.

"Olivia." Her lover's name was the only thing she could get out, her breath catching in her throat at the sight of the woman sprawled across their bed. Olivia looked as easy as Natalia wished she felt. Instead she felt, nervous, jittery, too full of energy that had no outlet. Natalia hadn't expected to feel this turned on, this excited at the prospect of what they were about to do, but now that she was here in this moment, she could almost feel her blood racing through her veins.

The temptation to reach out and touch Olivia was too great to resist. Natalia moved forward, climbing onto the bed. The robe gaped open and slipped down around her shoulders; Natalia hardly noticed as she crawled towards Olivia. The strap-on dangling between her legs gave her pause. A flush tinted her cheeks and Natalia glanced down, her hair falling around her face.

The soft glow of the light on Olivia's thigh, all smooth skin and toned muscle caught her attention, drawing her away from her insecurity and refocusing her on Olivia. Natalia reached out, letting her fingers run down Olivia's slender thigh. Muscles jumped beneath skin and a smile flashed across Natalia's face at Olivia's reaction. She tossed her hair to the side so that she could look up at Olivia once again.

The wanton, needy expression on Olivia's face made Natalia surge forward, crawling closer, no longer caring about how awkward she looked. The moment she was close enough, Olivia's hand sank into her hair, curving around the back of her head and pulling Natalia down for a searing kiss. Natalia could hear the thump of her heartbeat in her ears as lips pressed and tongues sought. She ended up propped above Olivia on one elbow, the other hand trailing down Olivia's neck, until her fingers were brushing across the line of barely raised tissue that bisected Olivia's chest. Olivia shifted in a barely noticeable show of discomfort. It wasn't the first time and Natalia suspected it wouldn't be the last. Guilt about Gus tended to strike Olivia now and then.

Natalia's response was the same as it always was, in one form or another. She let her fingers trail further down, gliding over the swell of Olivia's breast until she was brushing her thumb against Olivia's already hardened nipple. She bent her head to kiss her way down the line of the scar, following the path that her fingers had taken just a moment before. The faint raised edge of the scar against her lips reminded Natalia of what she could have so easily missed, never knowing what she might have had. She didn't want to miss anything, not where Olivia was concerned, not even when it pushed her further outside of her comfort zone than she had even been.

Her tongue flicked out to taste Olivia's skin even as she continued to tease Olivia's nipple with her thumb. Olivia arched off the bed into Natalia, pushing against her and letting out a soft groan. The sound worked a heady magic on Natalia, filling her with an even greater desire than before. She wanted to taste every inch of Olivia, feel their skin against each other, soft curves and smooth limbs pressing into one another. She wanted everything all at once. She wanted Olivia.

"I love you." The first words that had been spoken since she had crawled into bed with Olivia. Desperate, fervent words, words she wanted Olivia to remember for the rest of their lives. She punctuated them by raising her head to kiss Olivia again, deeper this time if that was even possible. She wanted to lose herself in the sweetness of Olivia's lips, but her body rebelled, demanding and pressing, urging her onwards to take what they both wanted.

Olivia gasped, clinging tightly to Natalia's shoulders, pushing her hips up against Natalia. Natalia swallowed hard, and pushed herself up a little higher on her elbow, creating some space between them so she could slide her hand down Olivia's body. Her fingers trailed down Olivia's abdomen, brushing against her belly button and sliding past smoothly shaved skin to slip her hand between Olivia's legs. The wet warmth that she found waiting for her drew a whimper from Natalia. She loved knowing that Olivia was this excited, this turned on for her. She stroked her fingers gently through Olivia's warmth, rolling her hips to the side so she could have better access.

Olivia's breath hitched. "You are so beautiful," she murmured, her voice low and gravelly with desire. Natalia loved the purring depth of it, a seductive sound that could make her shiver all over.

"So are you," Natalia whispered. She swallowed, knowing what she wanted to say, but years of teachings, habits ingrained that she should be demure and want only what was considered normal and safe making it difficult to vocalize her thoughts. "I'm so glad we did this."

Olivia let out a throaty chuckle. "We haven't done anything yet."

Natalia let out a quick laugh. "I know, but we're going to. We will. And it's going to be..."

"What?" Olivia asked, unable to help herself.

"Beautiful, amazing, everything you wanted," Natalia whispered. "Everything I didn't realize I wanted. You make my dreams come true, you know. The ones I didn't realize I had. You are...everything," she said, cupping Olivia's cheek softly in one hand.

Olivia sniffed, tears welling in her eyes. "Don't make me cry." There was a hint of hardness and edge in her voice, but Natalia could hear the vulnerability it covered.

"Never," Natalia agreed, with a lighthearted promise she knew it would be impossible to keep, no matter how much she wished they could. Love didn't mean they always agreed on everything. They were both women with strong opinions. Friction was inevitable, but as long as they ended up back here, in their bed at the end of the day, that was all that mattered. It didn't mean it wasn't a promise Natalia didn't wish she could keep.

Natalia's fingers, continually moving in slow, gentle caresses, brushed against the underside of Olivia's clit and Olivia's hips jerked. For a second time a smile flashed across Natalia's face.

"You're so wet, I don't think I would have to use anything..." Natalia said, her voice so soft it was almost a whisper, but firm.

Olivia's only response was a whimper and to push her hips against Natalia again, desperate for more contact.

"But I'm going to anyway. The directions say so."

Olivia let out a strangled laugh. "Always a direction-follower, you."

Natalia laughed too. "If you'd rather we could just...not."

Olivia's eyes snapped up and her hand shot out to catch Natalia's wrist.

"Or not." Natalia amended. The burning intensity of Olivia's gaze caught her and held her entrapped. "The only way I'm stopping now is if you say stop."

"Never," Olivia echoed her words back to her.

Natalia gave a short nod and reached behind her for the small bottle of lube they kept in the nightstand drawer, her wrist sliding through Olivia's fingers as Olivia let her go. She could feel Olivia's eyes on her as she went through the motions, getting it out, opening the flip top, squirting it onto her hands. She fumbled the bottle once, but managed to catch it, internally blaming the way Olivia was looking at her for her shaking hands. Natalia decided turnabout was fair play as she ran her hand up and down the smooth plastic of the dildo, making sure every surface was coated with lube, pressing down against her clit as she did. The sensation made her eyes flutter briefly shut and she could almost feel the tension in Olivia's body ratchet up a notch.

Natalia opened her eyes with a satisfied smile and rolled over. She covered Olivia's body with her own, before her own nerves could return, before Olivia could press the delicate balance between them, taking charge of the moment. It was an appealing thought, and maybe someday, but Natalia wanted tonight to be about Olivia. She wanted to be everything that Olivia needed, wanted, and the only way that could happen was for her to take control of the moment before Olivia decided that she couldn't handle it. It was a protective side of Olivia that Natalia loved, but didn't always need. She wanted to be more; Olivia had shown her how to be that too.

Pushing up on to one hand, Natalia glanced down their bodies, almost holding her breath as she grasped the base of the dildo firmly with her other hand. She guided it into Olivia, thrusting her hips forward slowly increasing the weight and pressure. It was an odd feeling, more distant and yet more intimate, than what Natalia was used to. She knew every inch of Olivia's body and this was no exception, but now there was no way to feel, only pressure, an indirect guide at best. It took her a moment to find the right angle, but when she did, Natalia sank easily into Olivia, pushing into her until their bodies met.

The sight of them connected in that way caught Natalia far harder than she had expected it to, made her want to press into Olivia again and again. And the gasp that Olivia had let out as she slid inside did nothing to dissuade her. With a roll of her hips, Natalia slowly withdrew from Olivia and then pressed back into her with a stroke as smooth and steady as she could make it. The pressure against her clit, the way that Olivia pushed back into her, made Natalia gasp. She rocked harder against Olivia, losing herself in the press of her body against Olivia's, the straps of the harness digging into her hips, the base of the dildo pressing against her. Natalia squirmed and pressed harder. It was all she could do to maintain some semblance of a rhythm in the haze of desire that consumed her.

Olivia pushed back against her just as wildly, her body sheened with sweat and straining with tension. The part of Natalia's brain that was still coherent thought that she was beyond magnificent. The rush of her own orgasm caught her by surprise, liquid fire spreading through her body, locking straining muscles with an intensity that she had never felt before, then sweeping her away. Relief, heady and raw, all the more surreal for the intensity of the moment before, replaced it and left her collapsed against Olivia, still trembling slightly as shudders flashed through her body. Natalia's skin felt incredibly sensitized and every inch of her body felt loose and drained as she struggled to catch her breath.

A pang of embarrassment caught Natalia as she attempted to push herself up on to her hands above Olivia once again. Coming first, before Olivia, seemed like such a teenage boy thing to do. She knew Olivia was still squirming with need, waiting for her to finish what she had started, and Natalia wanted to desperately. She just needed one more moment...

Olivia smiled up at Natalia. "I think you liked that."

Natalia snorted. "Olivia..."

"You're amazing," Olivia breathed out the simple words, effectively forestalling anything else Natalia could say. Then she leaned forward, raising herself up on her elbows. "And I think you like fucking me." She jerked her hips up against Natalia's as if to prove her point, a smug smile curving over her lips.

The movement sent a shudder through Natalia's still sensitized body. She responded by thrusting back against Olivia and had the pleasure of seeing the same ripple of pleasure jerk through Olivia. It took Natalia a moment to reestablish a smooth rhythm. She started slower than she had begun the first time and gradually began to increase the speed at which she thrust, the force behind it.

It was easier now that she was less driven than before, or driven in a different way. This time the demands of her own body had eased and she could focus more on what she was doing to Olivia. The breathy sighs that Olivia let out at a slight change of angle. The way she moaned when Natalia thrust just so. Best of all was the way she said Natalia's name, her voice low and tight, strangled with the throes of passion.

Between one thrust and the next, Olivia slid her hand between their bodies to stroke her own clit. It took Natalia a moment, but she managed to change her angle again to accommodate Olivia's hand. If it was possible, the sight of Olivia touching herself was even more of a turn-on then what Natalia was already doing. She didn't see it as a slight against what she was doing; there was no doubt that Olivia was enjoying it. But she loved that Olivia was so desperate, so wanton for what they were doing that she craved more, needed it to push her over the edge.

Natalia strove to match that need, pushing in harder, deeper than before, matching Olivia stroke for stroke until the tension in Olivia's body broke and she was coming, racked with waves of shudders that claimed her body completely. Natalia didn't stop until they slowed, until Olivia's hand stopped moving and Olivia lay limp and sated beneath her.

For a moment she stayed on top of Olivia, still inside her, unwilling - and maybe unable - to move. Natalia pressed her forehead against Olivia's shoulder and focused on just breathing. When she had mustered some energy, she withdrew from Olivia and rolled onto her side. Her fingers trembled as she struggled with the buckles, wanting to be comfortable again, to be close to Olivia with nothing between them.

"Let me," Olivia interrupted, putting a stilling hand on top of Natalia's.

How Olivia could be so steady-handed at the moment, Natalia wasn't sure, but Olivia managed to undo the straps with much less effort than it would have taken Natalia. When she had removed it, Natalia collapsed back onto the bed beside Olivia, the faint burn of muscles unused to being exerted in that way beginning to mingle with utter exhaustion and complete satiation.

"That was amazing," Olivia said softly, as she turned, rolling onto her side and laying her head on Natalia's chest, snuggling as close as she could. There was a short breath of expectant silence and then Olivia raised her head to look up at Natalia. "What about you? How was that for you? Something you want to try again or..."

Natalia put a finger over Olivia's lips and then once silenced, covered them with her own.

"Oh yeah," she murmured when they finally separated. "More than once."

"Yeah?" Olivia repeated, needing confirmation still, needing to hear one more time that Natalia was really okay with what they had done, that she had enjoyed it just as much as Olivia had.

"Yeah," Natalia affirmed. "Really." She leaned over until she could brush her nose against Olivia's. "I love you."

"I love you too," Olivia replied, leaning up to kiss Natalia gently. The depth of sincerity in her words caught at Natalia's heart. She hoped that feeling would never let her go. She didn't think it would, but she wasn't going to take any chances. She wanted to live and love and experience new things - good and bad - with Olivia Spencer for the rest of their lives. Natalia was going to cherish every second of it.

The End

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