DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Leave it to Jeffrey
Natalia was up to her elbows in soapy water, doing dishes. Lately, the daily chore had centered her in a way that little else could. She was scrubbing a pan with only a dash too much enthusiasm, when there was a knock on the door.
"Come in!" she called as she grabbed the dish towel to dry her hands. She was surprised to see Jeffrey's head poking in.
"Hi, Natalia." He smiled at her. "Is Olivia here?" He was holding onto a bottle of expensive looking hard liquor.
"You keep showing up at my home, with alcohol, asking for your ex-wife. Should I be worried about you Jeffrey?"
"Ehm, no I don't think so. I was just I wanted to "
"Get some free counseling?" Natalia quipped as she sat down at the kitchen table. She motioned for Jeffrey to do the same and he did so without hesitation.
"I didn't know sarcasm was contagious. Has Olivia been giving you lessons?"
"Two hours on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. There's homework and everything." Natalia was enjoying herself. Living with Olivia had certainly subjected her to enough wordplay and quips to make her a semi-expert. "So, tell me Jeffrey, what did you do now?"
Jeffrey recounted his troubles and Natalia tried her best to give advice, but she still got confused by the way the people in this town all had histories that bound them together in everything from love to loathing. They talked for over an hour, during which the topic slowly changed from Jeffrey's troubles to the one thing he and Natalia had in common.
"You know, nobody could have imagined that this would work out so well." Jeffrey had been looking around the kitchen, noting the cross on the wall as well as the expensive wine glasses in the cabinet.
"This house. With you and Olivia in it. I barely believe it now. You and Olivia."
"Me and Olivia what?"
"Living here. Raising Emma. Being happy. Whatever else you two have here." He grabbed two glasses from the middle of the table and filled them with a small amount of dark liquid, handing one to Natalia. "I was surprised when I heard about you and Frank though."
"Why? What did you hear?"
"That it took you over a week to reject his proposal. I would've figured that to be a no-brainer." Jeffrey took a sip of his drink.
"Why would you say that?"
"Well, because of you and Olivia and that thing you have."
Natalia could only stare at Jeffrey. He couldn't be talking about Emma's project or even the mayor's press release. All that had long blown over. She hesitated before she answered. "She is my best friend."
"Well, and a little more, right?"
"What? Jeffrey, where is all of this coming from? I understood when some strangers mistook us for a couple, but you know us. You were married to Olivia!"
"Who wasn't?" He winced as he saw Natalia's disapproving look. "Sorry. That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean?"
"Don't you know? Do you really not know Natalia? You make her happy. Really happy. I know Olivia pretty well and I can tell you that you give her something that makes her shine in a way she hasn't in a very long time. If ever. Emma is the only other person with that kind of power over her."
"Power over? Are you saying I'm using Olivia? Manipulating her? Because I've been told that before and that's not what I'm doing. At all."
"No, Natalia. That's not what I'm saying." He looked at het. "At all." He echoed Natalia's words.
"Then what are you saying?"
"All I'm saying is that you make her happy. And from what I can tell, she does the same for you." He looked at her with nothing but kindness in his eyes.
"Since when are you an expert on all of this?" Natalia looked away, fighting against the sudden urge to finish doing dishes.
"Well, I wouldn't call myself an expert. Besides, I don't have to be. She told me."
"She told you? What did she tell you?"
"That she is happy." Jeffrey paused, making sure he had her full attention. "When she's with you."
"So? I'm happy here too. That doesn't mean that this is anything more than two friends living together." Natalia got up. She needed to put some distance between herself and Jeffrey.
"But it does. She loves you. Can't you see that?"
Natalia could only stare at Jeffrey. She knew that Olivia loved her, but she was pretty sure that Jeffrey had not meant the love between friends. Jeffrey could see how distracted Natalia was and he was pretty sure Olivia would kill him if she knew what he was doing.
"I think I better go." Natalia barely acknowledge his departure.
Natalia had been sitting at the kitchen table for almost two hours, thinking. During that time, she'd gone from disbelief, to denial and then acceptance. Things between her and Olivia had been changing for a while. Those thoughts had filled the first hour. Unfortunately, she'd spent the rest of the time becoming angry. So when Olivia came home, she didn't find the slightly nervous Natalia, who wondered how she could talk to Olivia with all those butterflies in her stomach, but the angry Natalia, who couldn't believe that Olivia hadn't told her about her feelings.
"Hopefully, otherwise I committed a lot of credit fraud today. Y'know, if I weren't me! I went shopping." Olivia's smile slowly faded, when she realized that the humor made no impression. Natalia watched as unease settled heavily on the other woman's features. Usually, Olivia's pain would draw Natalia closer and she'd try her best to find out why Olivia was hurting, but Jeffrey's revelation had set free too many emotions within Natalia. All she wanted to do was yell. Or scream. She felt overwhelmed and strangely relieved at the same time. "What was Jeffrey doing here?"
"Don't change the subject."
"What subject? I just came in and you yelled at me. I did all my chores, didn't overdo it at work, picked up Emma and dropped her off at her ballet class no, there's absolutely no reason for you to yell at me." Olivia was quickly going from amused to annoyed.
"Jeffrey told me!" Natalia yelled.
"Told you what?" Olivia yelled right back.
"That you have feelings for me!"
Suddenly, the room was silent.
Olivia's eyes were huge as she stared at Natalia. Her mouth opened and closed a couple of times before she turned on her heel and left the room.
Watching Olivia walk away was like a bucket of ice water down her back. Natalia stood frozen to the spot for exactly five seconds before she followed her into the living room and then up the stairs when she found that room empty. She walked into Olivia's room without knocking. Olivia was shoving clothes into a bag mindlessly.
"You're packing a bag?" Natalia was once again yelling.
Olivia ignored her, continuing to pack, not even looking up.
"I'm talking to you!" Natalia stalked over to her and grabbed her shoulder, turning her around. She wasn't even sure what she was going to say, but Olivia's tear-streaked face stopped her in her tracks. The scariest part was that while tears were running down her cheeks, Olivia didn't make a sound. Suddenly Natalia just deflated. She brought her hand to Olivia's shoulder and buried her fingers in the material of her blouse. Olivia still didn't look at her. Natalia's next words were almost a whisper. "I had to find out from Jeffrey." Olivia finally raised her head. She focused on the wall behind Natalia and spoke in a devastating monotone.
"I'm sorry. You are right. That was not fair to you. I should not have kept this from you." Olivia squeezed her eyes shut, tears still escaping regularly. "You should have heard this from me." Olivia's eyes opened and she was looking directly at Natalia. "I love you. I couldn't stop it from happening and I tried not to, but that didn't work either. I told Jeffrey, because I was too much of a coward to talk to you. I am sorry. Satisfied?"
"No."Natalia's fingers hurt from holding onto Olivia too tightly, but it barely registered. Slowly, her other hand rose to Olivia's neck. She watched in fascination as she pulled the other woman closer. She felt strangely detached from her body. Almost as if she was observing herself from a distance. Only to be catapulted back into her body, the second her lips touched Olivia's. At first, Olivia didn't respond, but when Natalia's tongue made contact with her lips, she finally let go of the clothes she'd been holding the whole time. Her hands cupped Natalia's face and she returned the kiss with fervor. Somebody moved and suddenly Natalia was tumbling backwards onto the bed, taking Olivia with her. Briefly, their lips separated, as hands started to search for more hidden flesh. "Ask me again," Natalia panted. Olivia looked at her quizzically until two eyebrows rose in understanding.
"I'm getting there. Ask me again in the morning."
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