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My Imperfect Offering
You say it because it's true: you can't offer Natalia safety, or security or love that you can show to the world.
You say it because it's true: Natalia deserves something better than hidden hand-holding and whispered I-love-you's and the possibility that it could all come crashing down on them and bury the two of you and your children in the rubble.
You say it because it's true: maybe Frank can love her better than you can.
"Don't you "
Natalia tries to stop you; tries to tell you that she's "dealt with trouble before" but you know better this isn't any kind of trouble. This isn't a son in jail or committing adultery or stealing cookies out of the cookie jar kinds of trouble, this is serious trouble.
The kind of trouble that you have spent your whole life dealing with.
The kind of trouble that Natalia Rivera could probably handle, but shouldn't have too.
Because Natalia Rivera, you know and feel, should have the world and all it can offer her: a husband and a son and more kids and a family to fill that giant farmhouse and play touch football in the big yard; a guilty conscious and the perfect life.
You can't give her that.
You don't even have a good heart to offer her. Yours is broken and borrowed and sometimes when Natalia walks in the room, it even stops.
Natalia deserves perfection and your heart is far from perfect.
It's a tangled web of wires and batteries and while it's in the right place, it does the wrong things sometimes.
Frankie's heart is in the right place, doing the right things.
Like proposing after sleeping with her, because he knows how much her faith means to her. You, on the other hand, just make jokes about her God and her religion.
Like telling her she's beautiful while you smile graciously at the cup of coffee on the counter and rush out the door to work.
"Olivia," she tries again, but you're so far gone into your own head, so consumed with all the things that are going to go wrong if you let her keep talking, that her voice is distant and murky underwater.
"Let's go get you married," you whisper softly, feeling your stomach drop to your knees as you take her hand in yours and pull towards the cars. She pulls back, stopping you in place and around so that you can see the tear-tracks down her cheek, cutting a line through her foundation.
She looks heartbreaking, devastatingly gorgeous.
"Stop," she commands in a whisper and you would have listened, but you're already frozen in place, feet rooted to the ground.
"Natalia, don't. Just go get married," you beg, hoping you sound stronger than you feel but knowing her eyes have always been able to cut through your very soul down to the quick.
"I don't want to."
It should sound like a petulant child, but her words sound like a promise instead.
And you've got to change her mind for better or for worse.
"Yes, you do. Frank is a good man. He's a great guy and he loves you "
"So do you," she points out, standing so close you're aching to just reach out and wipe away her tears. "You love me and you're a good person. Why can't I have you?"
"Because I can't give you anything you need." You wonder why this is so hard for her to understand; why she can't just accept it and move on and marry Frank and live happily ever after.
"You can love me, can't you? You can promise to love me, and my son and to be mine for the rest of our lives, can't you?" When you say nothing because you're floored she lifts her hands to your face and lets one finger graze across your cheekbone.
It might break you.
"I need love and I need you. I need Emma and Rafe and our movie nights and banana pancakes and bickering over the laundry. I don't need Frank to make me happy, Olivia Spencer. I just need you and I need you to tell me you need me too." She leans forward, searching for an answer.
"I don't have anything to give you," you whisper helplessly.
She gives you a soft grin. "Olivia "
"I don't," you protest in the same voice. "I can't protect you "
"I don't need you to," she cuts in.
"And I can't stop people from treating us differently "
"I'm a big girl."
"And I can't stop the pain that will come from this "
"It'll make us stronger."
"And I can't promise it's going to be easy." Natalia doesn't say anything this time and you feel the coffee you had for breakfast rising up in the pit of your stomach.
"So," she breathes out finally. "What can do you?"
"I don't know," you admit, suddenly aware that for the first time in your entire life, you're admitting to not knowing how to control everything you do; for the first time ever, you're admitting that you're human and that someone you weren't expecting came in and up-ended your life while you sat by helplessly while you watched and waited and didn't care that it was happening.
"Your heart Olivia," she prompts. You know what she's trying to say: that you can give her your heart. But you don't want to give her something that broken; something that wrong.
"It's not mine, it's broken and battered," you confess. "I can only give you my broken and bruised and battery-operated heart and nothing else."
"Olivia," she whispers, her breath mixing with yours so that you can taste cinnamon on your lips. "That's all I want."
Your voice catches in your throat as you taste something more than just cinnamon on your lips as her mouth lands on yours, stopping the words you were going to say well, okay then in their tracks as she kisses you.
It might work.
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