DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was a bit different for me. Hope it's not too awful. I ignored some things from last week because it suited my purpose to do so. That's the beauty of fan fic. Heh.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: I guess up to and including May 22.
How Do I Convince You?
"I don't How can I ever thank you for this Frank?"
Natalia Rivera looked up at the man who'd just made it possible for her son to come home. A man who had every reason to do nothing to help her. The look that entered Frank Cooper's eyes suddenly told her exactly why he'd helped Rafe.
"You can tell me you've reconsidered your choice. That you've finally seen through Olivia's plan, whatever it is and want to come back to me."
Natalia looked at Frank and tried to keep her temper. Even before the wedding, he'd always managed to slip in some dig at Olivia, but how could she snap at him after what he'd done?
"Frank, I "
"Come out with me tonight, Natalia. You, me and Rafe. We can go celebrate. We'll start over."
Natalia sighed as she looked into the eager eyes of the kindest man she'd ever known. How could she hurt him again? How could she make him understand? She lifted a hand to touch his cheek, regretting that decision when she saw the expectant smile.
"You know I can't, Frank. I will always be grateful for what you've done and for the love you've shown me, but my heart is Olivia's. I love her. More than I ever thought I could love anyone."
Frank's smile faded and he nodded. "I know. I just I had to try."
Natalia fought tears, wishing more than anything that she had done things differently. "Frank, you're the best man I've ever known. You deserve a woman who can give her whole heart to you. I would love to be that woman for you. I wish I could be the wife you deserve. I know my life would certainly be a lot less complicated "
The gasp that came from behind her nearly stopped Natalia's heart. Olivia. She replayed her words and nearly crumpled when she realized how they must have sounded. Bracing herself, not sure what she was expecting to see, Natalia turned around and flinched at the completely blank look on the beautiful face.
"Olivia," she choked out. "You "
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Olivia cut her off. "Emma left her jacket." Without another word she breezed past them, pulling her arm away just as Natalia reached out to stop her. She could only watch in despair as Olivia quickly grabbed the little denim jacket and walked past her once more.
Natalia only briefly saw Jeffery and Reva O'Neill looking both mortified and concerned, before her attention turned back to Olivia. What had she done?
"Frank, I'm sorry, I have to "
Frank sighed. The way the color had drained from Natalia's face when she saw Olivia told him more than anything that he'd lost. "I understand. Go."
Natalia looked at her son who was teasing Emma. She had been looking forward to this day for so long but now all she could think about was fixing things with Olivia. "Thank you, Frank. For everything."
"Thank you so much for today, Jeffery. I know speaking on behalf of someone who shot you couldn't have been easy."
While Emma was talking to Rafe, Olivia had gone to speak to Jeffery, knowing Natalia would want to have a word with Frank alone. She was still amazed that despite everything, Frank had still worked to get Rafe released from the halfway house early. He truly was a good man.
Jeffery looked at his wife and then at his ex who had become a surprising and rather odd sort of friend to he and Reva. "Actually it was one of the easiest things I've done in a long time. Rafe's a good kid who let his emotions drive him to making a mistake. I think all of us know what that's like."
Olivia and Reva exchanged looks and then grins. The two women had progressed from enemies to, if not friends, then well, she wasn't quite sure yet how to define their relationship, but Olivia respected strength and Reva was one of the strongest women Olivia knew.
"I don't really know them that well and God. I still can't believe you're dating a woman," Reva interrupted herself with a laugh. Olivia wasn't at all offended. She knew that the other woman didn't mean anything by it. She was well aware of her reputation and the fact that she of all people wound up in love with a woman still surprised even her.
Reva was one of the few people who actually knew about her relationship with Natalia. Granted it was because she had been eavesdropping, but Reva had made no judgments and only the occasional sarcastic comment for which Olivia was eternally grateful.
"Well it's definitely been a different experience," she replied pleasantly, "but one I wouldn't change for the world."
"You do look happier than I've ever seen you," Jeffery said, looking at his ex-wife curiously.
"Yeah, well there's still a lot that we're trying to figure out, but I don't know," Olivia said thoughtfully, "maybe this is why every other relationship I've been in failed miserably. All those mistakes were simply leading me to Natalia."
Reva's blue eyes widened. "Why Olivia Spencer. I had no idea you were such a romantic."
Olivia's eyes narrowed playfully. "Watch it. I'd prefer that to not get around."
Reva shrugged. "Not a word."
"Good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just need to go grab Emma's coat."
Reva gave a snort of laughter. "Uh-huh. You just want to know what she's saying to Frank."
Olivia opened her mouth to deny it and when she closed it without saying anything else, both O'Neill's laughed at her and she ignored them, walking toward where Natalia was standing with Frank. The sight of Natalia lifting her hand to Frank's cheek sent a chill through her, but she told herself not to jump to conclusions. She didn't notice Jeffery and Reva moving closer and watching with amused curiosity, to see how Olivia would manage to eavesdrop without being obvious. Olivia Spencer didn't do subtle very well.
" I wish I could be the wife you deserve. I know my life would certainly be a lot less complicated "
It took a full second for Natalia's words to register in Olivia's mind. When they did, she nearly collapsed from the pain of it. She regretted it. Natalia regretted her decision, just like Olivia knew she would. She must have made a noise as Natalia turned to face her and the shock and dismay on the brunette's face read like guilt to Olivia. She stiffened, refusing to show one more ounce of vulnerability to the woman who'd just hurt her worse than anyone ever had.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Olivia said, ignoring the pleading look on Natalia's face. "Emma left her jacket." She rushed past, afraid if she stopped, she would either forget what she'd just seen and heard, or she would fall to her knees and throw up.
She ignored Natalia trying to stop her; she ignored Jeffery and Reva calling after her. She only stopped to tell Emma they needed to leave. Emma must have sensed her mother's mood as she didn't even attempt to argue.
"Olivia," Jeffery stopped her. "You okay?"
Olivia couldn't bear Jeffery or Reva's pity just then so she smiled. "Aren't I always?" She left the couple staring at her retreating back in concern. Both of them were well aware of how Olivia Spencer handled being hurt.
Olivia used every ounce of strength she had to act as normally as possible in front of Emma, but all she heard on the drive back to the Beacon was Natalia telling Frank she would have been better off with him.
"What's going on, Ma? Olivia just ran out of here like she'd seen a ghost or something and you're crying? What happened? Did Frank say something to you?"
Natalia heard anger in Rafe's voice and took his hand to calm him. "No, Frank didn't say anything. I did," she muttered knowing Rafe wouldn't understand.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Nothing. Look, I'm sorry Rafe. This is supposed to be a happy day for us, but I said something and Olivia overheard and completely misunderstood. As usual." The weak smile she offered didn't fool her son for a second.
"You love her, don't you?" He asked quietly.
Natalia looked into her son's eyes and saw nothing but love and acceptance. "Yes I do. I do love her and I have no idea how to make her believe it. Especially now." A sob worked its way up her throat but she fought it.
"Well, then go fix it. We have plenty of time to celebrate."
A lone tear fell down Natalia's cheek as she hugged her son. "Thank you Rafael. Will you mind coming with me and watching Emma while I try to get that hard headed woman to listen to me?"
Rafe snorted. "So, we're moving into the hotel then?"
Natalia gave a small laugh. "That's a pretty big possibility."
"Olivia? Olivia, I know you're in there."
Olivia didn't even attempt to acknowledge the knock or the anxious voice on the other side of the door. She knew if she looked at her cell phone there'd be at least seven missed calls and messages from Natalia. She was not in the mood to be placated, or to listen to the same old excuses or explanations. She knew what she heard.
"Mommy? Why aren't you letting Natalia in? Are you mad at her?"
"No, baby," Olivia lied. "It's hard to explain. We "
Before she could finish, she heard the sound of a key being inserted and the door opening. Why did she keep forgetting that damned pass key? Emma immediately ran to Natalia and greeted her with a hug, unaware of the tension that filled the room. Suddenly she saw her sort of big brother standing awkwardly in the door way. She ran over to give him friend a hug as well.
"Are you here to cheer up mommy?"
"You might say that," Natalia smiled reassuringly down at the sweet face that had come to mean so much to her.
Natalia's heart hurt at the look of worry in the eyes so like her mother's. "Everything is alright sweetie, really, but would you mind going with Rafe for a little while? Your mom and I need to discuss some grown up stuff."
Emma looked between her mom and Natalia, knowing something was very, very wrong. She just hoped her mom wasn't sick again. "Okay," she said suddenly afraid. Anywhere but this room suddenly seemed like the safest place to be.
Olivia saw the fear in her daughter's eyes and plastered on the phony smile she'd become so adept at. "I'm fine, Em. I promise. You go with Rafe, okay?"
Emma nodded and Olivia turned to the young man who'd already gone through so much. "I'm sorry that Natalia dragged you out here for no reason, especially since you should be out celebrating."
Rafe looked between the two women also sensing things were getting ready to become unpleasant. This was not going to be a place young Emma needed to be.
"I don't mind," he said, taking Emma's hand.
"This shouldn't take long," Olivia said pointedly. "If you could just take her to the restaurant and maybe get her some dessert or something?"
"No problem. Come on, Em." With that, the two young people almost ran from the hotel room and out of the line of the fire they didn't understand.
The room was silent until they heard the door click shut behind their kids.
"Get out," Olivia said bluntly, turning toward her desk, unable to bring herself to look at Natalia, knowing that the briefest glimpse into sad brown eyes would have her giving in almost immediately.
Never had two words ever hurt Natalia so much, but she stood firm. "I'm not going anywhere. Not until you listen to me."
"I heard you just fine at the courthouse."
The complete lack of emotion in Olivia's voice scared Natalia more than any tears or anger would have. "You heard the words, Olivia, but you misunderstood them."
"I've messed up your life. Not really much to misunderstand there."
"That's not what I said," Natalia said through gritted teeth.
"Semantics, Natalia. I knew what you meant."
Natalia tossed her purse and jacket on the bed in irritation. "God, I'm getting so sick of chasing after you to pacify your insecurities."
Olivia swiped at a lone tear, hoping Natalia hadn't noticed her action. She put on her best Olivia Spencer expression and turned toward her assistant. "Who asked you to?"
"Why are you doing this Olivia?" Natalia asked, not even trying to hold the tears back anymore. "What you heard was I didn't mean it like you heard."
When Olivia didn't respond, Natalia approached the cold woman and grabbed her arm, turning her around. "I didn't mean what you think," she insisted again.
Olivia removed her arm from the too tempting grip of Natalia's warm hand, though admittedly a lot more gently than she'd intended. "You said you wished you could marry Frank and that I complicate your life. What am I supposed to think? You regret being with me."
Natalia exhaled in frustration. "Olivia," she had never been so close to pulling her hair out. She knew her inability to explain things didn't help anything, but Olivia's tendency to leap to conclusions was maddening.
"Natalia, this is pointless. You should just go, while we're still able to hold onto our friendship."
"I told you, Olivia. I'm not leaving."
"Fine. I'll leave." Before she'd even taken a step, her arm was grabbed once more by Natalia.
"No, you won't." Natalia pushed Olivia to the bed and forced her to sit down. When Olivia started to get up, Natalia put her hands on Olivia's shoulders to keep her sitting, and then straddled her lap, effectively freezing the other woman. "Now you just stay put and listen to me, for once."
Olivia's ability to move, think or even breathe came to a screeching halt as Natalia deposited herself on her lap. She was supposed to be mad at the other woman, but for the life of her she couldn't remember why.
Natalia stared into startled green eyes and felt her heart melt all over again. It seemed that she'd spent the entirety of their relationship fighting for this woman. She'd spent the first few hostile and painful months, fighting to keep Olivia alive, for her daughters. Now she was fighting to get Olivia to trust in Natalia's feelings for her. That was proving to be the hardest fight yet.
Slowly lifting her hand, she reached behind Olivia's head and released the hair she'd pulled back so it was falling around her face. She ran her fingers through the soft strands, loving that she finally had the right to do so.
"Why are you so hell bent on ending this relationship before we even begin it?" She asked quietly, trying not to lose herself in the feeling of Olivia's hair and the emotional kaleidoscope that were her eyes.
"I'm not..." Olivia's mind couldn't seem to formulate a sentence. Even the sound of Natalia's words to Frank had faded into an indiscernible buzz.
"Yes you are," Natalia said, her own resolve quickly turning to mush as she felt the heat from Olivia's magnificent body burning into her. "It's like you are purposely trying to find away for this to end badly."
"Better sooner than later," Olivia managed to mutter. Her eyes slid shut as brown eyes slid down to stare at her mouth.
"That's the problem isn't it?" Natalia said as a light bulb went off. "You've been expecting me to hurt you all along haven't you?"
Olivia didn't respond, but she didn't need to. The way she avoided Natalia's gaze answered for her. Natalia started to cry. "I've made it so easy for you to think that, haven't I?" She lowered her forehead to Olivia's wondering how something that should have been so wonderful had gotten so screwed up.
"Olivia, what I said to Frank, I'm sorry you heard that or at least that you misunderstood it. I'm just not good at explaining ." Natalia paused as she looked at Olivia's anxious face and found herself running her hand down Olivia's strong jaw. Sometimes the urge to touch just got to be too much. The way the jaw clenched told her she was getting through to the stubborn woman.
"All I meant by complicated was that I hate that because we're both women, I can't express myself or my feelings for you out in the open. That I can touch Frank's face like I did today without anyone thinking anything of it, but we've been afraid to even hold hands in public. I hate that we can't just act like any other two people in love. It's complicated because we've spent so much time trying to figure out how to be together that we haven't had time to just enjoy it. I don't wish that I married Frank. I don't wish I'd done anything differently, aside from letting it get all the way to the alter. I certainly don't regret falling in love with you. Please tell me you believe me."
Olivia met earnest brown eyes looking intently into her own and felt herself weaken. "I I want to."
"I know how hard it is for you to trust people, Olivia. To give someone your heart. I can't even begin to understand what it's been like for you, to offer your heart over and over and then have it smashed repeatedly, but it explains why you're so quick to believe I'm going to hurt you too. But what you need to understand is that I've only loved one other person my entire life. I loved Gus since I was a teenager. Even when he was gone, I never let anyone else close to me. For twenty years I never even wanted to love anyone else. Then I met you and you touched me in ways that even Gus never did. Why would I have gone through everything I have just to hurt you in the end? Don't you see? When I give my heart, Olivia, it's forever."
The truth of Natalia's words finally sunk in and Olivia started to feel like an idiot. Why did she have to sabotage every relationship she was in? Was it some sort of self imposed punishment for her previous actions?
"Natalia, I "
Natalia lifted a finger and placed it on Olivia's lips, fighting a groan at the contact. "I'm thinking that somewhere, in the back of that brilliant and complicated mind of yours, you're thinking you don't deserve to be happy and I'm here to tell you to show you, that you've never been so wrong."
Before Olivia could say anything, Natalia cupped her face and lowered her lips, kissing Olivia the way she'd dreamed of for so long. Finally she felt strong hands lift to her waist and that sent Natalia's senses reeling. She deepened the kiss, shivering when she felt the flicker of Olivia's tongue against her lips. Never had she experienced feelings like this.
The need to breathe had her lifting her lips then trailing them down Olivia's jaw and then stopping to nuzzle at her earlobe.
"Do you believe me?" She whispered and then groaned as Olivia pulled her closer.
"I don't know," Olivia choked out, tilting her head back. She nearly fainted when Natalia's hot lips skimmed across her throat. "You may have to keep trying to convince me."
"For as long as it takes," Natalia whispered. "For forever."
Olivia came very close to a whimper as she pulled Natalia's lips back to hers. In all of her many experiences, not one single encounter had effected her so strongly
After a blissful eternity, both women pulled back simultaneously, struggling to hold on to even a modicum of sensibility.
"I think that went well," Natalia finally said, with a shaky laugh.
"Uh huh," was all Olivia was able to manage, even as her hand rubbed up and down Natalia's back almost of its own accord.
"Would you I'm not sure if I can "
Olivia blushed as the many different scenarios of what came next ran through her head. "I'm not ready either," she assured Natalia, even as she gently helped the brunette off her lap and stood up on dangerously shaky legs.
Natalia ran her hand through her hair, trying to make it somewhat presentable. "You know, I think I'm more disconcerted by the fact that you're my best friend, than the fact that you're a woman."
"Yeah, me too" Olivia a sheepish half smile. "I do want to get there. With you. More than anything. I just don't want to erupt into giggles while we're "
Natalia blinked at Olivia and then did precisely that, relieved when Olivia gave one of her full body laughs in response. She adored the way Olivia laughed. "If that kiss was anything to go by, I imagine it won't be long before we get there."
Olivia swallowed. "You may be right." Her lips still felt the pressure of Natalia's against them, and she really, really wanted to feel it again.
Natalia fought to keep her hands by her side. "Of course I am. I'm always right."
"I'm sorry," Olivia said growing serious. "I overreacted."
Natalia smiled gently and took Olivia's hand. "Yes you did, but I understand why you did. I'm sorry if I've ever given you any reason to think I don't love you, or that I don't want everything that comes with this relationship. That includes sex, because I do."
Natalia laughed at Olivia's shocked expression. She'd always seen Natalia as a bit of a prude, but as she'd told Olivia at the spa, the older woman had no idea. When Olivia's eyes narrowed, Natalia thought that perhaps she'd miscalculated. She'd almost forgotten who she was playing with.
"You do, do you?" Olivia said, stepping into Natalia's personal space, green eyes boring straight through Natalia.
"Well, not right this second," she stammered and then scowled when Olivia smiled. "You are evil."
"That's why you love me," Olivia said proudly.
"One of the many reasons. Promise me something," she ordered quietly.
Olivia was briefly confused by the abrupt change in subject, but she was finally learning to keep up with the younger woman. "Anything," she said.
"Next time you have any doubts or fears, please please come talk to me first. Don't just walk away from me without a word. I can't it hurts me."
Olivia knew that was going to be a very hard promise to keep. She wasn't used to handling things that way, but the look in Natalia's eyes convinced her to do anything within her power to try.
Natalia's shoulders sagged in relief. "Now, what do you say we go downstairs and join Rafe and Emma?"
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