DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sequel to Rainbows Just Fade Away Anyway, Don't They? The title is from this quote: Hark! The merry chimes are pealing, Soft and glad the music swells, Gaily in the night wind stealing, Sweetly sound the wedding bells. - Eliza Cook
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com
Gaily In the Night Wind Stealing
"Michelle." Olivia gasps and you feel her shift away from you, mentally and physically, as her focus turns to the woman standing in the doorway. The look on Olivia's face shatters your hopes, as it is very obvious that she is extremely concerned about what her fiancée must be thinking.
The pain shooting through your heart is unbelievable and once again you know you have no one to blame here but yourself. You were a fool to think you could just come here and fix everything with the snap of your fingers. No you will have to fight for what you want, for the future you want and should have had a long time ago. You straighten your shoulders and prepare for the worst, and try to take comfort in the knowledge that you have nothing to lose here, and everything to gain. Your eyes lock with the dark haired woman standing in the doorway.
The first thing you notice is Michelle's eyes. How could you not? They are a stunning light blue, like fire and ice, glittering with fury. She is a stunning woman, her hair falling in waves around her shoulders, her dress a strapless elegant gown, a string of pearls at her throat with matching earrings dangling from her ears. She takes a step into the room and looks back and forth between the two of you, an uncomfortable silence stretching out between the three of you. She glares at you a moment longer, deciding to focus on what she must see as a clear threat. What she must think of you, if Olivia has told her all the gory details.
Before you can say or do anything you realize that Olivia has stepped forward, pulling her hands from yours, moving herself between you and her fiancée, as if protecting you with her own body from the onslaught that you are certain is about to be rained upon you.
"Sweetheart, don't you know it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding?" Olivia tries to tease, to cajole away the tension from the situation. It reminds you of the old days, in the boardroom of the Beacon, when she would try to sway a business deal her way. You blink and wisely stay silent, waiting to see how this power play will work out.
"I don't care." Michelle looked up and smiled at her lover, jealousy burning in your guts. You have no claim on Olivia any longer, so all you can do is watch. A well manicured hand slid along Olivia's arm, possessive and familiar, the diamond engagement ring twinkling there, taunting you. "I heard raised voices and was concerned for you, baby."
"More like dying of curiosity, you mean." Olivia chuckles softly, reaching out to tuck a stray tendril behind her lover's ear, the movement tender and sweet. Your heart sinks deeper into despair and you feel slightly nauseous. Michelle's eyes flash back to you, suspicious and hard.
"So this is the infamous Saint Natalia then." Michelle moves away from her lover, coming closer to you as you raise your chin in defiance of the insult.
"Be nice." Olivia's voice drops an octave, low and menacing, sending a shiver down your spine.
"I'm always nice, darling." Michelle looks up, all innocence and light and you have to hold back a snort of disbelief. Was Olivia so blind to this woman's manipulative games? Somehow you doubt that very much.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you." Michelle smiles insincerely at you, before extending a hand. "I've heard so very much about you, from all of my girls, that I feel as if I know you."
"So nice to meet you, too." You lie smoothly and smile back, her skin cold and clammy against yours as she squeezes hard, the diamond engagement ring digging into your flesh as you shake your adversary's hand. You nod your head and take your hand back. Glancing up at Olivia, you see her watching everything very carefully. Her face is a mask, but her eyes, dear God those eyes, burn into your very soul, and are warning you. Warning you, about what exactly?
You hear footsteps and anxious voices coming down the hallway and Olivia turns, distracted for a moment. Michelle moves closer to you, taking the opportunity presented, leaning so close that as your eyes lock you can see the grey flecks there and smell the alcohol on her breath.
"She's mine now, so go back to your pathetic husband and your simple little farmhouse and leave us the hell alone." Michelle snarls at you, shocking you with the intensity and bite behind her words.
She doesn't know you very well, does she?
You talk a calming breath to collect your thoughts and then lean nearer; your lip curls at her ear as your backbone once again asserts itself, apparently made of steel.
"Olivia may marry you, but she will always be mine."
You step back and your eyes lock with hers once more, and you see the truth of your bold statement reflected back at you as it hits her hard. Olivia glances back at the two of you, as you stand toe-to-toe with each other, neither one of you giving an inch.
"Dear God, I can't leave the two of you alone for an instant." Olivia mutters, discovering the tense situation happening before her eyes. You'd smile if you weren't busy growling at the seething bride in front of you.
"Michelle, are you in there? You know you're not supposed to see each other before the wedding. And your hairdresser is back there in a puddle, weeping. What is going on down here?" The agitated voice halts and from the doorway comes a flurry of activity as a very pregnant Ava pushes the door open, followed in by an almost skipping Emma. "Natalia?"
You finally break your stare down with Michelle when you hear your name and turn to face Olivia's eldest daughter, who does not look any happier to see you. You smile softly, and glance down at her swollen stomach, which Ava is absently rubbing.
"I've been trying to tell you she's actually here, Ava." Emma squeezes past her sister and comes into the bedroom, rolling her eyes at her mother, and it warms your heart to see Olivia's answering lopsided grin. "She never listens to me, Mom."
"Ava, I'm so glad to see you." You take a few steps closer, to hug the young woman. "Congratulations, I didn't know you were expecting." You whisper in her ear as you hear a quiet discussion going on behind you deeper in the room.
"Th-Thank you." Ava holds tight to you for a moment and you soak up the warmth in the embrace. "I'm so glad you're here." She whispers, surprising you with the sincerity, before you pull apart. What the hell was going on around here?
"I told you she'd come." Emma grinned widely, coming to the two of you, making it a loose group hug. "I had faith." Your heart melts for a moment and you smile back.
"I don't care, Olivia." Michelle's raised voice catches everyone's attention, and the dark haired woman turns level a glare at you. "Just do it."
"Damn it." Ava grumbles under her breath as the furious bride storms towards the door. "Come on Michelle. Let's get you back to your room and have the make up artist freshen you up a little."
Michelle sniffs haughtily and dabs at her eyes as she pushes past you, and out the bedroom door, Ava in pursuit, flashing an apologetic smile at you before disappearing down the hall. Emma squeezes your arm in sympathy and then leaves as well.
Olivia stands by the window, looking down at the garden, the soft romantic music of the stringed quartet below floating up, wrapping you both in its exquisite beauty. She pulls back the curtain a little further to stare out over the ocean, a light breeze coming into the room.
"I think you should leave."
The air leaves your body as if you've been punched in the gut and leaves you reeling just as badly. Her voice is flat, devoid of emotion and for a moment you wish you had never come. And then just as quickly, you realize that it was inevitable that you would be standing here, that you had to at least try to reach out to Olivia.
"Olivia, please. Talk to me." You whisper, your heart breaking as she turns to face you, her eyes burning into you with an intensity that you can almost feel.
"Don't you see? It's too late for us now." Olivia's eyes tear up, her lower lip quivering ever so slightly and you know deep down that this is not what she wants to say to you, but she is saying it anyway. You blink slowly, trying to take it in, but something is very wrong; you can feel it in your bones. You shake your head, in disbelief.
Olivia wipes a falling tear from her cheek and then turns to stare back out at the restless ocean.
You stand in silence together a moment longer before you lower your head and nod, accepting your fate. The bedroom door clicks quietly closed behind you before your first tear falls.
You don't even know how you got outside, but when you look up you realize that you can smell the roses from the garden. The heat of the sun is beating down on you and the oh so romantic music by the stringed quartet is cutting you to the quick. It's all too much to bear; you never should have come, but something inside just wouldn't let go. You couldn't let her go, even though you'd screwed it up so very long ago. It was as if something deep inside was dying and if you were ever going to heal, you needed to see her one last time, to get some sort of closure. If you couldn't win her back then it would have to be enough to just finally say goodbye. And apparently that's exactly what it was. Goodbye to all your hopes and dreams.
You glance up as you hear your name on the breeze, coming from the doorway of the mansion. You turn to see who it is; surprised to find that Ava has followed you out.
"Natalia, wait. Please." Carefully the very pregnant woman makes her way towards you. It was the please that made you stop; otherwise you'd already be in your rental car crying your eyes out.
"Ava, take your time." You say, worried that this heat and the excitement of the day could trigger labour. Ava waves off your concern as she finally comes to stand beside you.
"Whew, this heat sure doesn't help." The tall brunette fans herself, resting her hands on her hips and lower back, obviously trying to ease the pressure of the baby on her body.
"I should go. Your mother " You try to explain, desperately wanting to just go and lick your wounds and try to figure out what the hell your next move is going to be.
"My mother just did as she was told." Ava said with a sigh, running her fingers through her short dark hair. "Michelle is more than a handful, let me tell you." She pauses, chewing on her lower lip clearly thinking about her next words.
"So I've noticed." You feel the flush of anger roll in the pit of your stomach. "Why is she with someone who is so controlling? It's not like your mother at all "
Ava snorted and shook her head, apparently not knowing the answer to that. Or not wanting to reveal everything she knew. She stares at you, hard, as if weighing her words carefully and you wait, because you've got nothing left to lose.
"You broke her, you know." She finally says, your heart growing heavier with her words. You know it's the truth though, so you stand there and take whatever is about to be thrown at you, because you so totally deserve it, and more. "Only my father has hurt her worse "
Ava glances down, rubbing hand slowly over her swollen belly, the tiny life inside shifting with her touch. You meanwhile feel as if you've just been hit. You rally though, as you search for the right words.
"I don't know what to say, Ava." You finally force the words out. "I'm sorry isn't nearly enough."
"No, it isn't." Ava shakes her head and stares out over the ocean. "After she finally left Springfield, my mother drank like a fish for a year and when she realized that didn't help, she stopped and moved on, cutting a wide swath through the men of San Francisco. As if that could somehow heal the gaping wound that had once been her heart. Eventually she decided to test the waters with women, all of whom were more than willing to welcome her with open arms. But none of them were you." Ava glances back at you, and you wonder if she can tell how much her words have affected you. She sighs, looking down at her shoes and continues. "And then I introduced her to Michelle and it was as if you never existed."
That one stung. Tears well once again in your eyes and you make a move to leave, only to find Ava's cold fingers grip your arm, freezing you in your tracks.
"And I've regretted it ever since." Her eyes meet yours and there is a sadness there, burning so deep that it takes your breath away. Once again you wonder what exactly is going on with this family. "There's more to the story, but I can't really go into it. Just don't go, Natalia. Please. My mother will need you. My only hope is that she will be able to let her walls down for you again."
You open your mouth to speak as the music from the garden changes ever so slightly.
"Damn it." Ava curses and looks at her watch. "I have to go. Just stay for the wedding. I know it's hard and you don't understand." Ava tilts her head as her eyes silently plead with you. "Just trust me."
You close your eyes in defeat and sigh, and then nod. She had you at her very first please. You open your eyes as she squeezes your arm one last time.
"Thank you." Ava smiles and then turns making her way quickly back towards the house.
You just shake your head and start towards the seats in the backyard garden and pray that you have enough strength to endure whatever lay ahead.
A gentle breeze blew from the ocean, salty and clean and you wished you had just not come. You should have stayed hidden away in your small safe world, with your nice husband and small son and forgotten all the should have, could have, never will be's. Suffocating to death in your so-called perfect storybook ending.
You sigh, knowing that wasn't the answer either. Regardless of what happened here in California, you know you have done the right thing, leaving Frank. You both deserve to be with someone who truly loved you. The look in his eyes when you told him you were leaving haunts you, and will for a very long time you're sure, but deep down you could tell he's been waiting for you to say the words for years.
You run a hand through your hair and glance around, looking for a place to just melt into and blend. The small garden is exquisite, and you would expect nothing less, with white tulle wrapped around everything, yellow roses and white tulips everywhere.
You look around and easily spot Josh Lewis sitting at the front of the small group of Olivia and Michelle's friends who are gathered, laughing and teasing his wife Reva. He always was Olivia's favourite ex-husband but having Reva here too is a little surprising. You sink down into a folding chair a few rows from the back, hiding from them behind a woman wearing a very large hat.
At the front is the minister, a smiling woman with short red hair, white pants and a matching loose flowing blouse, her green stole hangs down off her shoulders and a thick cross is dangling from her neck. She checks her watch and nods at a woman at the back of the garden near the stringed quartet. The woman is obviously the wedding planner and spoke into a small walkie-talkie
You weren't ready for the soft music to turn into the familiar strains of the wedding march and you dip your head and hold your breath waiting for the inevitable. The guests around you all turn and you can't help yourself, you do too.
Emma is standing there, bouquet in hand, slowly walking down the middle of the chairs that have been set up. You can tell she's trying hard not to cry and you wonder if that's because she's happy or sad. Next is Ava, slowly making her way down behind her sister, smiling at various guests as she makes her way along. Your eyes meet and lock and she nods at you, her nerves seeming to settle before your eyes as she straightens her shoulders and focuses on the minister at the front.
And then the music changes again, a little fuller and brighter rendition of the march, signaling the arrival of the brides to be. And then there she is.
For a moment, your heart swells at how beautiful she is, as Olivia enters the garden from the left. It's short-lived however, as you notice that Michelle has also entered from the right, as they take a few steps meet in the middle. They smile at each other, and their hands entwine and together they walk down the aisle.
Your heart is shattering in your chest, but you have no one to blame but yourself. You pushed Olivia away and left her to struggle on her own. You knew you had ruined your own happy ending with your fear and self loathing, trapped in a sham of a marriage with a man you didn't love. You wonder if this is how Olivia felt all those years ago as you said "I do."
Tears well as you know it probably felt a million times worse and you are so sorry for putting Olivia through it. You pull a tissue out of your pocket and dab at you eyes, as the women make their way to the front. You barely register the minister's words of welcome as you dab at your eyes. Suddenly though you clearly hear the next lines, your mind trying to wrap around them, knowing you need to do something. Anything.
"If there is any reason why these two women should not be lawfully married, speak now or forever hold your peace." The smiling redhead looks into her bible, about to continue with the small service. Ava, standing to the right of Michelle, glances at her watch and looks back at the guests expectantly.
Your heart is pounding loud in your ears as you try to sit there and do nothing. Sometimes though, actions speak louder than words. Olivia taught you that so many times, long ago. Apparently now was the time for your grand gesture of love, to show her what she means to you, even after all this time. Standing up, you only pray it will be enough.
Your voice is clear and strong; you'd never know you felt like your world was exploding around you. The entire group turns, and stares at you in shock. Somewhere in the back of your mind you're sure you hear Reva say "I knew it!"
You hesitate again, doubt worming its way into your thoughts, that maybe this was not such a good idea, but then you meet Olivia startled green eyes. And then there is no choice. There never was really and you know it. It's always been her, it always will be.
It wasn't fair and it wasn't right to do this to Olivia on her wedding day, but when was love ever fair? You take a calming breath and straighten your shoulders; your eyes lock with hers and you prepare to speak from your heart.
"Stop the wedding."
Wait a minute. That wasn't you. Your mouth is open and you were about to speak, but you realize someone else has uttered the exact words you were just about to say. Olivia lips quirk into a lopsided grin and she gives you a small shoulder shrug and then you both turn to give your full attention to the person who has actually dared to interrupt the festivities.
"What the hell?" You hear Michelle sputter, echoing your own thoughts as you easily recognize the man at the back of the garden.
Jeffrey O'Neill. And he doesn't look happy.
You gasp, as you try to wrap your head around what is going on. There is a flurry of activity around him, with several uniformed officers at his back with each passing moment. This doesn't bode well at all.
You're surprised to see his familiar face. You haven't seen Jeffrey in years, not since Springfield had discovered he was alive and well, simply chasing a madman around the world. When she found out, Reva had divorced him faster than Billy Lewis could devour a piece of pie and you just shook your head at the time, amazed how life could throw you curveballs.
Kind of like today.
A shiver of doubt runs down your spine. Is Jeffrey still involved in Olivia's life? Clearly he was if he was interrupting the ceremony. Is he interested in her affections now too? Is this what Ava had been talking about? You frown a little, and sink back down into your seat, your mind spinning as you try to figure out just what is going on.
You watch as Jeffrey's eyes narrow and he slowly starts down the aisle, towards the women gathered at the front, a small satisfied smile forming on his lips, his men flanking him on both sides.
"Michelle Santiago, you're under arrest for the attempted murder of Eduardo Rodriguez."
Another gasp goes through the shocked guests and out of the corner of your eye you see Emma pump her fist. Olivia however looks very concerned, and shakes her head slightly.
"Jeffrey, what the hell are you doing? You're going to screw everything up " Olivia's eyes flash in warning. She is scared of something, you're sure of it and you just about want to crawl out of your skin to go to her side, but you wait for it all to play out.
"Trust me, we have him. Eduardo is safe and he's alive, I've spoken with him myself." Jeffery said quietly and you can see the relief practically pour off of Olivia. You see Michelle turn to glare at Ava, who looks extremely triumphant.
"This isn't over, it will never be over." You can just make out Michelle's growl at Ava before she turns back to Olivia.
"Why, Michelle?" Olivia finally speaks, her voice low and heavy with sadness as her head tilts watching her lover back away slowly as the police edge closer.
"Rodriguez destroyed my family, and I vowed to settle it, destroying him and those he loved in return. What I hadn't counted on was falling in love with you. I-I thought you loved me, too." Michelle's eyes plead, but even from this distance you can tell she's insincere. You can only pray that Olivia sees through her lies as well. The brunette looks over at the approaching police, and takes a cautious step backwards.
"No, Michelle. Whatever we may have had, died a long time ago." Olivia says the finality in her voice makes your heart ache for all the suffering she has had to endure. "And threatening my family, and my unborn grandchild, that was what took this from a bad break up to this sting. I can't believe I was ever foolish enough to love you."
Michelle blinks for a moment and then throws her head back and laughs, her mask finally dropping and her evil intent clear in every sinew of her body. You shift in your seat at the bald deceit finally displayed for all to see.
"Love is for fools, Olivia, haven't you learnt that by now." Michelle smirks taking a cautious step backwards. "Want. Take. Have. That's what rules this old world. I want my vengeance and by God, I'll still have it." Michelle runs a hand through her hair, studying Olivia while she plotted her next move. "It was because I wanted to send Emma to boarding school that tipped you off, isn't it? I knew that was a mistake the minute I said it "
Olivia's eyes narrow and your heart clenches at the thought of sweet little Emma shipped off to some lonely existence far away from her mother's love. How did this woman weasel her way into Olivia's life so completely? And once more you feel the bite of guilt, knowing that if you had been here, Olivia wouldn't have been vulnerable and most likely none of this would have happened. You should have been here to protect your family, to defend your girls, and most importantly keep Olivia safe.
"Well, that's it then. I've been in tighter situations than this, my dear. You haven't seen anything yet." Michelle flashes a cheeky grin and slowly backs up from the harsh glare Olivia is giving her. Noticing that the main aisle is filled with approaching police and a very determined Jeffrey O'Neill, Michelle moves quickly, pushing Olivia towards them and then turns to flee. You have a moment of panic as Olivia stumbles back into the group of men and you bite your lower lip as Michelle stops short, obviously not expecting to come face-to-face with a suddenly very surly looking minister.
"Police, freeze." The minister growls and pulls her concealed weapon out, easily pressing it into Michelle's ribs, shocking the brunette for a moment.
"Don't make this harder than it needs to be, Santiago." Jeffrey says in a calm voice, clearly trying to keep the woman from doing anything too insane. You don't hold out much hope though.
"You placed an undercover cop as our minister. Priceless. You thought of everything, didn't you, O'Neill?" Michelle laughs, the crazed sound sending shivers down your back and you know that she's suddenly very dangerous. Trapped, with nothing to lose, the woman would do anything to escape now. Anything.
"I've read your file. You're a slippery character, Michelle and I don't take chances where my loved ones are concerned. You should have thought of that before you threatened to kill my son-in-law." Jeffrey's finger twitches on his gun and for a moment you're worried he's going to shoot.
Michelle just shakes her head, before laughing and throwing her elbow into the minister's gut, twisting to grab the snub-nosed revolver before stepping down hard on the undercover cop's foot. Pushing the redhead hard, she sends the fake minister flying into the bushes and dashes the other way, heading towards the seating area.
"Damn it, she's escaping." Jeffrey calls out, and his men start to fan out, but you know it will be too little, too late. Michelle knows it too, if the wide grin on her face is any indication and a fresh wave of anger at the woman bubbles deep inside.
You don't know what makes you do it. Maybe it's the adrenalin from the day, or maybe it's the thought of how Michelle treated your loved ones, how she'd abused their love and trust. You see her running down the side of the seating area, coming straight for you. You know what you have to do.
Michelle is clearly focused on keeping the police in her sights, waving her gun at them as she makes her way past the cringing and scattering guests. She's drawing closer to you, there's no time to lose. You send up a quick prayer, swallow hard and stick your foot out.
The satiny material of her dress brushes against you first and then you're hit with the solid connection of her legs against your own. You give a good sweep up, taking her legs out from under her and you watch, as gravity does the rest. Everything seems to move in slow motion, as Michelle glances over at you and realizes that she is falling. It clearly registers just who is responsible for taking her down and the woman is definitely pissed.
Your brief moment of triumph is short lived and quickly turns to panic as you see a glint of steel, as she turns the revolver towards you. An eerie peace washes over you in that instant as you realize that you're going to die protecting those you love, and you know without a shadow of a doubt that that is just fine by you.
God's will be done.
Time seems to stand still and then it's as if the sun comes out again. You can't help but smile as Michelle's face hits the dirt and she lands with a solid thump on the lawn. Several police officers pounce on her, kicking the gun from her hand as you stay perfectly still. Michelle curses and swears as they lock handcuffs onto her wrists and pull her to her feet, her hair and dress full of grass clippings and grunge.
You watch as Michelle is jostled by the cops but still is able to glare at you and you just stare back at her. You feel the anger churning deep inside and you let the emotions bleed out of you as you growl at her, low and deadly serious for her ears only.
"Don't fuck with my family."
Your eyes lock, and Michelle blinks first and you know you've won. The police pull her away and you sigh, pleased that the worst is over.
You turn to find Olivia and the girls in the crowd, all of them safe and smiling at you. Olivia wraps her arms around her family, staring at you with eyes that feel as if they are burning right into your soul. She mouths a silent 'Thank you' to you and you're suddenly overwhelmed with joy, as you nod and smile back. Olivia seems to pull herself together before your very eyes, straightening her shoulders before turning to address scattered guests.
"Please, friends." The crowd settles and turns to look at a smiling Olivia, clearly relieved that the whole mess is over and done with. "The band is already paid for and the food will just go to waste. Please stick around and we'll still have a party tonight." Olivia looks straight at you, her eyes burning into you as if being seared with a brand. "I suddenly feel like celebrating."
A small cheer goes up and you decide it's time to make your way towards Olivia. It's as if the sea of people swirling around you parts, making way for you to walk as you go. You pass Jeffrey who nods warmly at you, and Ava, who reaches out to squeeze your arm, smiling as she speaks on the phone to her rescued Eduardo. You smile back and then suddenly find yourself wrapped in Emma's tight embrace. Squeezing her back, you pull apart as Emma glances up over your shoulder and smiles. You find yourself spun and then released as you are suddenly face-to-face with Olivia.
Once again it's as if time stands still, as you both just stand and stare at each other, lost in each other's eyes.
"You stayed." Olivia finally says quietly, as if not quite believing her eyes. All you can do is nod and try not to cry. "Come with me."
Her hand trembles as she slides it down your arm, to tangle her fingers with your own. You feel as if a weight has been lifted from your chest and that the world suddenly has shifted back into place. You know you would follow her anywhere.
"I think we really need to talk."
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