DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters; I believe P & G or Telenex or someone besides me does. I am only writing this for fun and because TPTB have messed up the storyline.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Erin Bree for being my beta reader, and to my girl Krazy, who inspires me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Love is a Battlefield
By shesheinhouston


Chapter 9 – That's What Friends Are For

Great! An afternoon of being poked and prodded and now she had to run into him. Oh, well, she thought, I can't avoid it forever. "Frank! Well, I hear that congratulations are in order."

"Olivia, hi. Uh… thanks, but we've decided to keep it quiet for now. Just immediate family and friends." At the narrowing of her eyes, he plowed on. "It was Natalia's decision. She's wants to make sure that everything is okay—"

"Is she all right?"

"As far as I know. I haven't talked to her today." Holding up his hands palm outwards as if warding off Olivia's wrath, he continued. "It's the way she wants it. We decided that I would just meet her here at the hospital for the sonogram."

"And you, Frank Cooper, are okay with that?" She asked. "Because I don't believe you. Don't forget, I know you."

"Do I want to be more involved? Like most fathers, yes, I do. But this is a different and a potentially difficult situation. I'm just glad that she told me about the baby and is giving me an opportunity to be part of the child's life. We all have a lot to work out but, as I told you before, I want to go forward without any bitterness."

"Yes, well, you don't have to worry about me anymore." Standing up straighter and looking Frank in the eye, she continued, "What happens next is for you and Natalia to worry about. I think you had the right idea; I'm moving on."

"And now, I don't believe you." Stepping a bit closer, he explained. "I've seen the way you two are with each other. The way, right now, you're worried about her."

"I'll always care about her... but that's all. It's over." Olivia said, trying to convince Frank, as well as herself, that it was true.

"Are you sure? Because it sure didn't look that way when I saw you two the other day at the gazebo." He hadn't mentioned it to Natalia, but he had seen them gazing at each other as he had driven by on his way to check out a lead on a burglary.

Before she could form a reply, or even notice Frank looking behind her, Olivia could sense that Natalia was near, as the hairs on her arms stood up like faint jolts of electricity were passing through her. And, in a way, she supposed they had, since her body always seemed to hum whenever the dark-haired woman came near her. She definitely needed to put some distance between them, and soon.

"Hi, Frank." Came the soft voice. "Olivia, what are you doing here? Is everything okay?" Natalia's concern evident in her tone.

Part of Olivia wanted to scream, Hell, no! I still love you, but I can't trust you, and it's driving me crazy! Instead, she faced Natalia and said, as calmly as she could, "Yes, I'm fine. I just finished a follow-up with Rick." Turning to go, she continued. "You two have a nice...day."

She hadn't gotten more than two steps when she heard, "Frank, I'll catch-up with you, okay? Olivia, wait. Please!"

Sighing, she whirled around. "What is it, Natalia?" Olivia didn't mean to sound so harsh, but seeing the woman she loved and who had hurt her was getting harder to bear.

"Is this the way it's going to be, you always running from me?" As soon as she uttered the words, she knew that they were a poor choice. "I mean--"

"Me? Running away?" Olivia's voice had taken on that dangerous low level that all at once scared and excited her. "No, but then again since that's what you usually do, I guess you'd be more familiar with those actions. So, I'll bow to your expertise."

Taking a deep breath, Natalia replied, "I'm not running now...and I don't plan on running again. Ever. I've told you that!"

"You really want to do this, here? Now?" Olivia demanded, looking around the slightly crowded hospital corridor.

"No, but I'm not sure I have a choice, if you won't talk to me. I've left several messages about our dinner date."

"Guess I've been busy. You know, work and all." Truth was, she had done little else but think of the last two conversations that she had had with her former love. The last one had melted her heart a little, but not enough to once again let in the woman standing before her. "I don't think it's a good idea if we have dinner."

"Fine. Lunch then. As long as we talk."

Taking Natalia by the arm and pulling her towards an empty exam room, Olivia began, "I really don't think we have much to talk about."

"What???" Jerking out of the other woman's reach, Natalia stared up at her. "How can you say that we don't have a lot to talk about?"

"Because I don't think that whatever you tell me is going to change things. The bottom line is that you left me. You left Emma."

"I came back! For you and Emma!!"

"And...maybe one day, on a friendship level, that will mean something but right now..." Olivia began.

"Friends? After all we've been through, that's what you want to be? Friends?" She could see it in the way that the green eyes looked, not at her, but through her, and by the slight trembling in her right hand that Olivia was steeling herself to lie.


"I see." And she did see. For right now, this was how Olivia could deal with the baby, Frank, everything–by, in her own way, running away and hiding behind a mask of friendship. Well, she had known that it wouldn't be easy to win back her love's faith in her. It was just going to be a little bit harder than she had originally thought.

"Okay. We started out as friends before, so I'm willing to try that again." Invading the other woman's space, Natalia came closer still, causing Olivia to take a step back. "But know this: I will somehow prove to you that you can trust me again."

"Sorry, I really don't think that's going to happen. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have things to do, like pack." At the dark haired woman's inquisitive look, she continued, "I'm going to spend some time with my daughters. With...with everything that's recently happened...I need to be with them."

"Uh...ladies, I hate to interrupt" Lillian Raines began walking into the room, "but Natalia, I overhead the receptionist calling your name. I believe that they're ready for you." The older blonde wasn't quite sure what she had butted in on, but she knew by the set jaws of both women that it hadn't been something trivial. After what Buzz had told her concerning Frank, Natalia, and Olivia, she doubted that any conversation between any two of the three of them would be easy in the coming months.

Turning towards Cedar's Head Nurse, Natalia replied, "Thanks, Lillian." After watching the nurse step back into the hallway, Natalia took a deep breath and faced Olivia. "You do what you have to do. I'll still be here." She wanted to reach out and touch the older woman, but that would be pushing things. So, instead, she just gave Olivia a dimpled smile before walking away saying, "Have a safe trip, and give my love to the girls."

"Aren't you going with her?"

"Huh?" Olivia had been somewhat lost in thought about what had just transpired and hadn't heard the nurse return. "What did you say, Lillian?"

"I just mean that you and Natalia are...close. I would think that you'd want to be there to support her."

By her tone of voice and the look on her face, Olivia realized that Lillian knew about them. "We're not together anymore. Plus, I'm sure that Frank will provide all the support that she needs."

"But, she doesn't want him; she wants you."

"Yeah, well, we don't always get what we want." Olivia said as she straightened her skirt and prepared to leave. "At least I don't."

"And just what is it that you want?" Lillian inquired, gazing kindly at the taller woman.

What she wanted, was to go back a few months ago to when Natalia had told her that she was tired of waiting. If she could do it again, Olivia would have set Emma down that day and told her about her feelings for her other Mommy, before taking Natalia home and claiming her...slowly and gently...making sure that the younger woman knew that she was loved in every aspect of the word…physically and emotionally. Then, just maybe, Natalia would have felt strong enough their relationship to trust her and not run when she had found out that she was pregnant.

Instead of saying any of that, Olivia simply answered. "It doesn't matter. Bye, Lillian." As she strode out the door, she flipped open her phone and punched a speed dial number. "Greg. I've changed my mind about my trip. Cancel all my appointments for the next week or so and, no matter what it takes, get me on the first plane to San Francisco in the morning."


Chapter 10 – Leaving on a Jet Plane

Sighing, once again she found herself alone sitting at a bar. But, unlike last time, she wasn't about to handcuff herself to anything. Having already packed for her trip in the morning, she was bored and didn't want to sit alone in her suite. Plus, Olivia had always been somewhat of a people person, in that she liked to be around them, watching the interaction between others. It kept her mind off of things. Like her inability to handle one on one relationships.

"Olivia." Great, just what I need: a visit from Alan' Judgmental' Spaulding. "Alan."

"I was hoping to run into you." Here it comes, she thought. "I...I want to apologize for something I said a while back."

Turning on the bar stool to face him, she tried to keep her face neutral and not show how shocked she was at hearing her ex say that he might be wrong about something. "Oh?"

Sitting down next to her, he continued. "Yes, I think I might have implied that you weren't a good mother. I said something about you letting Emma be around people that might not have her best interest in mind."

"I remember." It had been the day of her and Natalia's first date. That seemed so long ago.

"Recently I've realized that relationships are hard, whether they be between mother and daughter, father and son, or…whomever. That often we do the best that we can. I've also discovered that true, deep, friendships can be very valuable things. Did you know that Philip and Rick have been friends for over 30 years?" He asked looking at her intently.

"Yes, I did know that. I can only hope that my children will have such friendships in their lifetimes."

"I agree. And from what I've seen, I think that you're on the right track with showing them that very thing." At her quizzically look, he continued. "You and Natalia....I think your…ahem, relationship…is a very strong and good one. I would be so lucky to have such a…person…in my life."

Did he just give Natalia and me the okay? She thought but said, "Well, like any…relationship, ours is a work in progress."

"Good." Alan smiled. "I'm glad to hear that. I also heard what you did for Rafe. I want you to know that I'm grateful that you were looking out for him while his mother was away."

"She would have done the same, if the roles were reversed." Of that she was sure. It was other things about the dark haired woman that she was unsure about.

"Life, Olivia, I've come to realize, is often too short, especially when it comes to telling people how you feel. So, I just wanted you to know that I think you're a great mother and a good person. And with that I will bid you adieu." He motioned to the bartender that whatever she was having was on him, before placing a $20 bill on the counter. "Beth has graciously agreed to a family dinner with her and Peyton, so I must be going. Take care." And with a pat on her shoulder, he strode out the doors of Towers.

As she sat staring after him, Olivia saw Natalia walk through the doors with a very perplexed look on her face: however, before she could decide whether to flee or not, another ex was before her. "Did something happen to Alan while I was gone?"

"I'm really not sure. Why, what did he say?" Olivia asked quirking her eyebrow.

"Uh…I think," she began, "that in a roundabout way he gave us his…blessing. And that was after he greeted me with: Here's one of my favorite daughters-in-law."

"Hmmm…Alan was acting rather strangely. He, James, and Philip went camping. Maybe he was taken over by Pod People or something." There was no way that she was going to admit to the person who broke her heart that she, too, had interpreted Alan's comments as him somewhat accepting them as a couple.

Natalia laughed at the reference to one of the many old Sci Fi movies that they had watched on Movie Night at the Farmhouse. Not wanting to dwell on a much happier time, she moved on to something current. "So, an early dinner meeting?"

Waving her finger back and forth, Olivia answered, "No, no, no… you're not my assistant anymore, so you don't get to ask me questions like that."

"So, I can't ask them as your friend?" She had that puppy dog look on her face. Olivia wasn't sure whether or not Natalia knew what that look could do to a person. It caused one to want nothing more than to take her in their arms and protect her. Well, she wouldn't fall into that trap again.

"Of course you can, silly." She answered, lightly swatting her on her arm. "I was just kidding."

She was pretty sure that her ex-housemate wasn't kidding, but Natalia decided to let it go. She was just happy that Olivia was talking to her at all. "I'm supposed to meet Blake here for a working dinner."

"Quite the taskmaster, eh?" Olivia asked, before taking another sip of her drink.

"I've had worse." Natalia said, before smiling.

Good god. She had to show those dimples. "Yes, I suppose you have." With that, Olivia gathered her purse and started to leave. "Well, I hope that you have a great dinner. I've got to go. It's almost time to call Emma." Maybe she'd do a bit of yoga tonight to calm herself. Anything was preferable than being here in Natalia's presence.

"Olivia, wait." Touching her arm, she felt the auburn-haired woman slightly stiffen. Hurriedly, she pulled back before asking, "Do you think it would be possible, at some point, for me to speak to Emma? To let her know that I'm thinking about her?"

"What? How could you ask—" Olivia began, before a discreet cough from the bartender reminded her that she was in a very public place. She made a mental note to make sure that he was well compensated for his effort in stopping her from making a scene.

Pushing a wayward piece of hair behind her ear as she nervously glanced around, Natalia stepped a bit closer before lowering her voice and replying, "Olivia, I would never knowingly hurt Emma. And, if you truly meant that we're at the very least friends, then you'd know that."

Realizing that this wasn't the time or the place, Olivia held her tongue from retorting that the woman before her, by leaving without a word, had done just that: hurt Emma. Plus, if Alan Spaulding could be civil and forgiving, maybe she could be, too, if just a little. "How about I call you one night when I'm there, and you can talk to her. That is…if she wants to talk to you."

Seeing the look of pain that crossed Natalia's face as her last few words sunk in, Olivia started to reach out to soothe her. But, just as quickly, she remembered the look on her daughter's face when Olivia had had to tell her that Natalia may not ever come back to them. Swiftly, she let her arm fall back to her side.

Nodding slightly, Natalia mumbled, "We'll leave it up to her then," before turning and walking away.

Olivia had thought that hurting Natalia would somehow help loosen the pain that she constantly carried around inside, but it didn't. Instead, she just hurt worse. "Hey, Olivia." Came a deep voice behind her.

Whirling around, Olivia came face to face with her favorite ex-husband, Josh Lewis. "Let's go." Olivia took Josh's hand and pulled him towards the front doors. "Your place or mine?" she asked, once they got outside, wanting to just go someplace and lose herself in mindless sex. Hoping that, at least for a while, she could block out the dark-eyed beauty that haunted her very soul.

Having been once married to the auburn-haired woman, Josh knew her well enough to know that she was running from something and, not really, to him. Glancing back through the glass windows, he noticed, and there really wasn't any other way to put it, a rather lovesick Natalia looking straight past him and at Olivia. It suddenly clicked. Olivia's comments about missing someone you love when they were gone. How upset she was at Frank and Natalia's engagement party, not to mention the wedding. Olivia was in love with a woman who obviously loved her back, but who had also left her.

"Didn't you hear what I just said?" Tugging at his arm, she turned him around. "Josh, your place or mine?"

"Darlin' I'm thinking neither." Gently touching her arm, he continued, "Instead I think you need to spend some time thinking about what you're going to do about you…and Natalia." Before she could protest he gave her hand a gentle squeeze, turned and walked back into the restaurant leaving a very stunned Olivia staring at his retreating back.

"Damnit! Does the whole fucking world know?" Spending time away from Springfield was looking better and better. Yes. She thought, I definitely made the right decision to leave. With that she started for her car leaving a downcast Natalia once again staring after her.


Chapter 11 – Hold the Line

Olivia reached for the phone, wondering who could be calling her at this ungodly hour. She was beginning to wonder, and not for the first time, whether or not the invention of the cell phone was really a good thing.

Rolling over, she managed to snag the device. Looking at the display, she was annoyed to see that it was Natalia. She almost didn't answer, but she knew that the tenacious woman would just call back on Ava's line, if she really wanted to talk to her. "Yeah."

"Don't hang up. It's about the Beacon."

Hearing Natalia's voice, combined with her uttering the name of Olivia's hotel, forced the sleepy woman into alertness. "What's wrong?"

"There was a small fire. It's under control. I just thought that you should know." Natalia rushed to get out as much information as could before her former boss hung up on her.

Pinching the bridge of her nose, she asked the obvious questions. "How did it start? What was damaged? And, may I ask, why in the hell are you calling me about this?"

"Electrical. One storage room. Greg and most of the rest of the staff are scared of you, so I made the call."

Throwing back the covers, Olivia stood up, phone in hand and, trying to keep calm said, "Let me get this straight. My hotel catches on fire and, instead of one of my 'highly' and, I'm using that term very loosely, trained, staff calling, they had you to relay the message?"

"Actually I was-- No, don't stack that over there! Put them in the pool storage room for now." No one could ever say that Natalia wasn't one of the best assistants around, that's for sure.

"Sorry. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Actually, I was driving by and I saw the fire trucks. Greg was pretty much on the sidewalk, trying not to faint. So, I stopped to see what was going on."

"Where's Gloria? Isn't she the manager on duty today?" Olivia was now cradling the phone between her left shoulder and chin, while flipping through her PDA.

"Yes, but she was in a minor car accident and will be out for at least a day or two."

Blowing out an exasperated breath, Olivia said, "That's it. Vacation's over. I'm on the next plane."

"No! Don't do that!"

Natalia could just imagine Olivia narrowing her eyes and slightly cocking her head before saying, "Excuse me?"

"Hold on a moment." Natalia walked through the glass doors leading out to the gardens for a little more privacy.

Taking a deep breath Natalia continued, "Look, Olivia, I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but you just got there last night and, if you think about it, by the time you got on a plane and got here, most of the day would be gone. Plus, I know how much this time with the girls means to you. So, why not let me help out around here for a while?"

"You want to work for me again?" Olivia asked.

"Only temporarily. I can be a part-time consultant or something, and still work for Blake, too. Right now, she's only concentrating on one book, and Ashlee is actually helping a lot with that. Olivia, I know how much this place means to you. It's your livelihood and the girls' legacy. Let me help."

"Well, we were planning on taking a boat trip today. And I'd hate to disappoint, Emma." Again, she thought, as a memory of her daughter scared and crying crossed her mind. Plus, she felt that she still needed some time away from Natalia to sort things out. "You sure it won't be too much...with the baby and everything? Uh... I heard that it was a girl."

"Yes, it's a girl, and everything is fine. Don't forget, I was 8 months pregnant with Rafe and still waitressing. So sometimes having to deal with guests who can't seem to understand that clothes hangers are not to be hung from the fire sprinklers isn't going to hurt me."

"Well... if you're sure..." Olivia began, "Then okay. I'll stay for the rest of my vacation."

"Good. It's settled. I'll call you tonight with an update. Have fun on the boat. Bye."

It was getting to be a nightly thing. One or the other would think of an excuse, any excuse, to initiate a call to the other. This time, it was Natalia who called and asked when Emma's school started for the Fall. She could have easily looked it up on the net, called the school, or found out a number of different ways. But, why would she do that when it was the perfect reason to get to hear Olivia's voice. Nat was glad that, after they had discussed picking up the little girl, Olivia had continued to talk.

"I can't believe that they think that no one knows. I'm thinking about telling them that I know." Natalia said, as she tucked the phone between her ear and shoulder and reached up in the cabinet to get a bowl. "I'm just not sure how to word it."

"Take a pointer from your son and be direct. Just say: Yo, Frankie, I know about you and Blake. Good job, dawg."

"Olivia!" Natalia snorted. "You do him so well. Ohhh...and the baby thinks so, too. She just kicked again. I think she knows your voice." The last part came out softly, almost like an afterthought.

"Really…you think so?" Olivia asked in wonder.

"Yes, you're the one person besides me whose voice the baby's heard the most. Think about it, we lived together for awhile, and then we saw each other every day until…." She took a deep breath before continuing, "I went away."

She hated to hear the pain in her voice. "Hey… let's not talk about that right now. Okay?" Shifting to get comfortable in the bed, she went on. "So, the little tyke knows who I am?"

"Yes, she does." Natalia answered, as she opened the refrigerator door and got out the milk for her morning cereal.

"So, you keep saying, she, I guess you and Frank haven't decided on a name?" See, she could do this. She could be a good friend.

"No, we haven't gotten that far. It needs to be the right fit, since she'll be both a Rivera and a Cooper…" And, Natalia mentally added, a Spencer, if I have anything to say about it.

All of a sudden, Olivia had the visual of a little tousled brown haired girl with the sweetest dimples. "It'll be a beautiful child."

"I know this sounds bad… but, I really hope she doesn't have Frank's big head."

"I was thinking the same thing!" Olivia laughed. "I guess we're still in sync that way..."

Natalia could tell that the woman she loved needed a bit of reassurance. "We'll always be in sync, Olivia. Some… things may change, but we'll always be a part of each other. At least, I hope so." She wanted to say more about her feelings for the slightly older woman, but she also knew that she couldn't push too hard. "I mean, as Emma would say, We're BFFs." Olivia had to laugh at that, since Natalia had captured her youngest daughter's voice and enthusiasm perfectly.

"Speaking of the little Jellybean, I think I hear her. Hold on."

Natalia could hear Olivia rising out of bed and opening the door. "Em, could you come here a minute?"

"But mommy I gotta get ready. Ava's gonna take me to the Wharf."

"Sweetie, I know; but there's someone who wants to talk to you." Taking a deep breath she said, "It's Natalia."

"Yay!" Well, it was obvious that the little girl held no ill will towards her other Mom, seeing as how she practically grabbed the phone out of her mother's hand.

"Natalia, you're back! Guess what? I saw seals! There were some baby seals, too. Oh, and I rode the Streetcar and I hung out the window when I did!"

Picturing her daughter bouncing up and down with joy brought a huge smile to Natalia's face. "Oh, sweetie, I'm so glad that you're having fun."

"I wish that you were here." Emma said seriously.

It tugged at Nat's heart to hear her say that. "Baby, I wish I was there, too. But, Em, I have a job, so I couldn't be there."

Sighing like her mother often did, she went on, "If you still worked with mommy, she would have let you come."

"Sweetie," Natalia began. How to make the nine year old understand?

"Emma, sweetie, that's not fair, okay?" Olivia sat on the bed and pulled her daughter on her lap. "You know Natalia loves you and would be here if she could." Saying the words out loud suddenly brought home to Olivia that, when Natalia left, it was because she had to, not because she wanted to. She would never intentionally hurt their daughter. It still hurt, but a bit less.

"Okay." Turning back to the phone, the little girl said, "Sorry, Natalia."

"It's okay; I miss you, too."

"When we get back, can we have a movie night?" Emma asked, glancing up at her mother as she spoke, trying to convey with eyes so like hers how much she wanted to spend time with her other mother. At her mother's nod, she happily relayed, "Mom says it's okay."

"Then movie night we'll have! Call me when you get back, and we'll decide which one, okay?"

"Okay. I love you! Here's mom." And with that, Emma handed off the phone before skipping out the door.

"Where are the girls?"

"They're at movie retrospect. Do you remember the Our Gang series?"

Natalia smiled before replying. "I remember seeing them in re-runs on TV. You know... some of us weren't born when they first came out."

Caught off guard, Olivia could only laugh at the obvious crack at her being older than Natalia. "Hey, Rivera, I'd watch that if I were you." She had to admit that it was nice to be able to banter with her again. "Besides, you're just jealous cause, like fine wine, I only get better with age."

"That's very true. And you know how I like my wine." I can't believe I said that.

"No, how?" Came the slight husky comment. Olivia couldn't believe that she was flirting right back, but god, did it feel good.

Natalia could imagine Olivia's eyes turning a darker shade of green, lips pursed, as she awaited her response.

"Well..." she paused as she thought of just the right response. "Full bodied comes to mind."

There is was, that deep throated chuckle that never ceased to cause her stomach to do summersaults. "Oh, ahem…I'll keep that in mind."

"Be sure you do. And, I hate to say it, but I have to go. I've got an early meeting with Blake."

"Sure, I understand." And she did, but she also hated that their conversation this morning was so brief. "Say, what are you doing late tomorrow afternoon?"

"I don't have anything in the afternoon. Rafe and I are having dinner, but that's not until 6:30. Why?"

"Em and I will be back by early afternoon and, I was wondering, did you want to stop by and see her?"

"I'd like nothing more. And I'm sure Rafe would like to see her, too."

"Good, I we'll see you two tomorrow then."

As she hung up the phone, Natalia said a silent prayer that this meeting would be a new beginning for them.


Chapter 12 – The Birds and the Bees

"Natalia!" With that one word, Emma let them know that she had definitely forgiven her other Mother. But before she could reach the out stretched arms, Olivia reached out and pulled the little girl to her.

"Jellybean, wait. Come here a minute." She gave a quick small smile to Natalia, which hopefully let her know that she hadn't stopped her daughter out of anger. "Baby, you can't jump up on Natalia right now, okay?"

"Why not, Mommy?" Emma turned concerned eyes to her Mother. "Are you still mad at her?"

"Uh, no… I'm not exactly mad at her anymore." Olivia began, as she guided Emma to sit beside her on the bed. "But my feelings have nothing to do with why you have to be careful with Natalia. It's just that ..." Once again, she looked over at her ex-love. This time for guidance.

"Because you're going to be a big sister." Natalia smiled as she reached over and placed the little girl's hands on her belly.

Eyes wide, Emma asked, "How did that happen?"

"Uh, sweetie, you remember when the Momma duck laid her eggs—"

"That's a big egg!" Emma said, pointing to Natalia's stomach. "Are you going to have to sit on it, like the Momma did?"

It was all that Olivia could do not to laugh outright at her daughter's innocent question. Holding her hand over her mouth, she looked into the pleading eyes of the dark haired woman at the other end of the bed and mouthed, "You're on your own."

"Hah, no my precious girl, that's not the way it happens for people." At the little girl's inquiring look, she tried to continue. "See the… ahem, egg, as some call it, grows into a tiny person over a period of about 9 months in the mom's belly. Then they—"

"But how does it get there?"

"How…how does it get there? Now that's a very interesting question. Wouldn't you say so, Olivia?" As Emma turned around to face her mother, Nat gave Olivia a 'your turn' look.

Taking her daughter's hands in hers, Olivia began, "See when a man and a woman... well, I mean, usually it's a man and a woman, but it doesn't have to be… I mean, what with modern technology…"

"Okay, you two are getting me confused. I mean, if there are ducks, then where do the birds and bees come in?" Emma asked exasperated. "David, he's a boy in my Day Camp," Emma said to Natalia. "Well, he says that there are birds and bees involved. But I don't see how, since birds are bigger than bees…" Taking a breath, she continued. "And, plus people are not birds or bees."

"Right… uh…see people use birds and bees for examples, right, Natalia?" Olivia was getting a headache and, seeing as how this was really Natalia's fault anyway, decided to let her deal with it. I mean, if they had had the sex talk when she wanted to, as part of telling Emma about them, then they would have been better prepared for now.

"Yes, they do. You know, now that I think about it, I'm not sure why. It really doesn't make a lot of sense." Suddenly Natalia had a vision of a male bee trying to mate with a big black bird, and it caused her to giggle. "Sorry… ahem… I mean, it's really not funny... but... hah, hah, hah… it sort of is."

"You know, it is, when you really think about it. I mean, who thought of birds and bees?" With that Olivia joined in laughing.

Emma looked from one mom to the other and just shook her head. "Grownups." She would have commented more, but there was a knock on the door. "I'll get it."

"Hey, munchkin. What's up?" Rafe asked, as he entered the room.

"I'm not sure. Mom and Natalia are acting weird." The little girl replied, as she looked back at the two women still sitting or, in Olivia's case, reclining on the couch.

Following his sister's gaze, Rafe noticed his mother flapping her arms and making what could only be described as bird noises, while the laughing woman beside her kept going, "buzz, buzz" like she was a bee or something. "Yeah, they sure are." At least, he thought, they're in the same room and aren't arguing. He had been a bit surprised to get the call from his mother to meet her here, at Olivia's, instead of at the restaurant. Rafe really hoped that this meant that they were close to being back together.

"Can you take me for a walk?" Emma asked. At her brother's nod, she turned to her mother, saying, "Mom, I'm going to go for a walk with Rafe, okay?"

"Sure, baby… just don't take too long, because it's almost time for dinner, and we're having… snort… bird." And with that, Olivia almost rolled off of the couch, she was laughing so hard.

Both kids just shook their heads before closing the door.

"Can you just see a little bee trying to… giggle…put the moves on a big ole bird?" Natalia asked, placing her hand on Olivia's thigh.

"I know…or even the other way around…I mean, who thinks of these things? I just hope we haven't scarred our poor daughter for life."

Natalia realized that Olivia hadn't grasped what she had said about Emma being theirs. She hoped desperately it meant that her love was somewhat softening towards them getting back together. "We really have to do better in the future. I mean, aren't their books or something, that we could read?"

Wiping her eyes with the back of her hands Olivia responded, "Yeah, I'm sure there are some out there. I'll look, next time I go shopping." An awkward silence developed, as both women wondered what to do next.

"Look we can--"

"Whenever you--"

"Sorry." They both said at the same time. Olivia had to smile at that. Natalia was right: they were still in sync in, some ways. She nodded at the brunette to continue.

"I was just going to say that whatever you decide about letting me see Emma, I'll abide by it. I just want to spend some time with her." And you, she thought.

"I know how you feel about Em." It's my feelings I'm still trying to sort out. "So I won't keep you from her, Natalia. I'm not that cold hearted."

"I never said you were, and I'm sorry if I ever made you feel that way." There was more she wanted to say to convey, what she thought of the auburn-haired woman but, for the second time tonight, there was a knock on the door.

"Excuse me." Olivia said, as she got up to answer the door. "Philip."

"Hey, Olivia, I know I didn't call, but I really need to talk to you." Looking behind her and seeing Natalia, he went on. "Natalia, it's good that you're here, cause she's going to need both of you."

"Phillip what are you talking about?" His ex-wife asked, as she moved back and allowed him in. "Who's going to need us?"

By the look on his face, both women expected that it concerned their daughter.

"Did something happen to Emma?" Natalia asked, coming to stand next to Olivia and taking her hand. "She was just here with Rafe."

Philip gave a slight smile at the sight of the two of them holding hands. His little girl was so lucky to be surrounded by such love. "It's not her; it's me."

At the two women's worried looks, he continued. "I don't have much time to explain. I know that Emma and Rafe will be back soon; I saw them down in the lobby. But… the bottom line is that… I'm very sick."

"Oh, my God..." Olivia said breathlessly. "This can't be happening."

"Olivia, look at me." Natalia commanded. "Baby, you have to breathe, okay?" The last thing they needed was for Olivia to end up in the hospital. "Take deep breaths."

Keeping her eyes focused on the brown ones in front of her, she did what was asked.


Nodding her head, Olivia tried speaking again. "Nat, one of my daughters just lost her father. This can't happen to the other one."

"It won't. Philip said that he was looking into treatment."

"Experimental treatment; it may not work." She said softly, "How do I tell Emma, if it doesn't?"

"We'll tell her together. I'll be right there with you. There's no way you two will go through this alone," Natalia answered, before pulling Olivia into her arms and rocking her gently, as the tears flowed.

It felt so right. She could have stayed there all day, in Natalia's arms, for she did love her. However, knowing that she loved Natalia, and being able to be in a relationship with her, were two different things. The last time they were together, it had almost broken her. Bottom line, she was still too raw emotionally from Natalia's leaving, and she knew this want...this need...would only come back to hurt her. Pulling back she said, "I'm okay. I have to be." With that, she stood up and headed towards the bathroom. "I need to get myself cleaned up a bit before Emma gets back."

"Olivia, can I do anything else for you tonight?"

A tear-stained face looked back and answered, "No. But...thank you…for being here."

"There's no other place I'd rather be." She watched Olivia simply nod her head before retreating into the bathroom.


Chapter 13 – Dreaming While Awake

Being pregnant at a young age and raising Rafe by herself, Natalia hadn't had time much for "bar hopping" or "partying," as most of her peers had done. Sure, in the last 20 years, there were the occasional dates to the movies, maybe dinner, and once to a church dance, but that was it. As she got older, working in smoke filled bars to make ends meet meant that it was the last thing she wanted to do in her off hours. Yet, in the last year, the now 36-year-old had been in not one, not two but, counting this one, three bars.

"You want another one, Sweetie?" Came the slow drawl from the other side of the bar.

"Sure, why not?" She hadn't started out in the direction of the neighborhood bar but, once she had seen the neon sign saying, "Farley's", with a poster for "Ladies Night", Natalia was intrigued. Luckily for her, the state had recently passed a no smoking ban, so she didn't have to worry about that in her condition. And, once inside, she had found that it really didn't look all that different from the other time she and Olivia had been here shooting pool with Josh and Jeffrey.

The only real difference was that this time there were no men in sight. Most of the patrons were about her age, with a few either older or younger ones sprinkled in. Some of them were coupled up, either sitting at tables or moving on the dance floor. She thought it would be weird to see two women dancing, but it really wasn't. It was, after all, just two people moving to the music, enjoying themselves. She had often wondered how it would feel to have Olivia in her arms like that. Olivia, she just couldn't stop thinking about her.

Sitting down with Emma had been the hardest thing to do, but somehow she and Philip had gotten through it. They had told their daughter that her father was very sick and might not be there for Christmas. Olivia had been ready for the little girl to scream to the high heavens. But, instead, she had simply hugged her father before declaring, "It's gonna be all right, daddy. You'll see." Her father had only smiled and nodded his head. What could he say? What could Olivia say? It was as if they were having a bad dream, but they were awake. And neither parent was sure how to make a nine-year-old understand the gravity of the situation.

Emma was now at Natalia's, baking cookies to give to her father. Olivia had dropped her off a couple of hours ago. Not wanting to face the brunette, after breaking down in her arms two nights before, she had watched their daughter safely enter the Farmhouse before driving off. She knew that Natalia would have questions concerning her behavior but, hopefully, she could put them off at least another day.

Shaking her head slightly, Olivia picked up the phone and punched in a few numbers. "Greg, the Senator will be coming into town later this week. Please book him in the Junior Penthouse suite the nights of the 24th and... ah... you know, the day after that, okay? Well, book him for that one, too. Just do your job!" Slamming down the phone, Olivia placed her head in her hands and tried to calm down. Just take a couple of deep breaths. Remember, it's just a day of the month.

She had known that this day was coming: the date of her mother's death. Usually, Olivia prepared for it, but this time she was caught off guard what with her concern for Philip, not to mention the Natalia situation.

It had been so right when the other woman had placed her soft hand in hers as Philip broke the news to them that he was, for all intents and purposes, dying. True, he had phoned this morning with the news that there was a procedure, but it was purely experimental, and posed a great risk to the person donating, as well. He said he didn't know if he could live, knowing that someone died to save him.

Massaging her temples, Olivia tried to get a grip on things. After all, she had a hotel to run, and a rambunctious little girl to look after, although she didn't have to worry about her tonight, since Natalia would drop her off at the Mahler's for a sleepover with Clarissa.


Seeing the caller ID, she snatched the phone up on the first ring. "What is it? I'm really not in the mood to talk."

"I thought you'd like to know that Natalia's at Farley's, and you should get here fast." Doris Wolfe said into her cell phone.

"Doris, why would I care if Natalia's there?"

"Because, as the song goes, 'It's Ladies Night and the feeling's right...' and trust me, there are definitely some women here who don't think that a 6 month pregnant woman is a turn off."

"If you're fooling with me about this, I swear that I will end your political career - pronto. Cause trust me, today of all days, I do not need this shit!" Olivia hollered into the phone.

"Look, I know you have a lot going on with Philip and everything, but I also know you care about the woman, and that you wouldn't want anything to happen to her. And we both know that she's a little naive...not to mention inexperienced, when it comes to a few things."

Sighing, Olivia answered. "Okay. Fine. I'll be there in a few minutes. Can you just sorta watch her until then?"

"Of course. What are friends for? I'll be here." With that, Doris closed her phone before mumbling, "I really hope I did the right thing." Truth be told, it was a slow night with hardly anyone there, probably due to the upcoming storm predicted to hit soon. She knew that Olivia had been avoiding Natalia, but she also knew, no felt, that if the two could ever just talk and really listen to each other, then things would work out for them. And, if they could make it, then maybe she'd have a chance. "Get a grip, Doris this is only your second date with the woman." But what a date it was turning out to be, complete with floor show.

"Hey, sorry I was gone so long, but I ran into someone from work." The redhead said as she sat down.

"That's okay, Jay. You're just in time." At her date's inquisitive look, Doris pointed to the front door, where Olivia Spencer was now standing, hand on hip and looking very pissed.

Part 14

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