DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to stress, once again, that I do not watch this show... so there are probably going to be some major errors. But I hope I've seen enough of these compliation clips of Otalia to get as close to 'in character' as possible, and I just couldn't let it end there... this story has taken on a life of it's own... and I make no apologies for its length.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Oh God, my head freakin hurts.
The first thought of the day sluggishly travelled through Olivia's brain as she swam towards consciousness. Amid a sea of blankets and pillows in the king sized bed of her suite, she groaned softly, struggling to tug a shield of fabric over her head against the lone sliver of sunlight that brazenly assaulted her face. She had been sure, when she drew them, that the dark forest green curtains would keep vampires alive on even the brightest of days, and contemplated hissing at the offensive brightness, to see if it would help.
Managing to cover her face, Olivia snuggled down again, humming happily at the warmth and darkness that washed away all thought of the odd pain in her head as she began to drift again. A reflexive full body stretch, like a cat thoroughly enjoying it's own laziness, made her thighs tingle slightly, and she remembered the night's more pleasant events. The mental replay of Natalia shuddering against her brought an easy smile to the hotelier's face and her arm slid across the sheets, searching for a cotton clad body to hold.
Connecting with only more and more empty sheets, though, Olivia felt her drowsiness begin to clear, and she peeked her head out of the cocoon she'd made for herself and cracked an eye. "Natalia?" she called softly, blinking when silence was the only reply. The side of the bed where the younger woman had been, was empty.
She's gone. Oh no, please, no! Olivia's heart thumped painfully fast in her chest as she bolted upright and looked around frantically, hoping for some sign that she was still there. The shower wasn't running, and the chair that had held their clothes the night before was bare. Olivia felt a stab of sorrow so strong that it was physically painful, and brought her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them as if she could hold in the scream she felt building. God no, she thought, her breath beginning to hitch as the prelude to a breakdown into tears, please don't do this to me.
In the absolute stillness of the suite, a passkey being slid into the door lock was almost like a gunshot going off, and Olivia's head whipped around. The opening door revealed a very bundled up Natalia, carefully balancing a cardboard tray of coffee and a plastic shopping bag, while she tried to make as little noise as possible. The hotelier felt the weight of the world ease off her chest in that moment, and let out a startled breath of relief.
"Hey, sleepyhead," Natalia smiled widely, showing her dimples for a moment. A smile that melted away in an instant when she saw the remenants of panic left on the other woman's face. "Olivia?" she said, dropping the bag into a chair and setting the tray on the nightstand as she approached the bed and sat down, still wrapped up in her parka, "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
Olivia took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, trying to calm her racing heart. All the while, she stared at Natalia, partially disbelieving that she'd come back. "Yeah," she tried to smile, reaching up to run a hand through her hair, "It's... it's nothing. I'm fine."
"Did you just wake up?" Natalia asked, reaching out to an errant lock of hair behind the hotelier's ear. She peered into green eyes, and immediately guessed the problem, "You didn't see the note I left did you?"
Olivia blinked. "Note?" she echoed, shaking her head, "I just.... I thought..." She took another breath and closed her eyes, letting her head fall slightly forward.
"You thought I ran again," Natalia surmised, not at all upset, given that she had done it before, and right to the hotelier to sob out her regrets. The silent woman nodded slightly, her expression showing her feelings of disgust at her own vulnerability. Natalia sighed softly and stood, shucking the jacket off quickly and tossing it across the foot of the bed. Her boots were quickly discarded as well, and she climbed back into the bed, wrapping her arms tightly around the hotelier.
"God, I'm sorry," she whispered, running a soothing hand up and down Olivia's back when the older woman sagged against her in relief, "I should have thought of that." She pulled back to look into emerald green eyes, and gave in to the urge to deposit a loving kiss on her forehead. "I just saw how swollen your face was when I woke up," she continued, trying to explain, "I thought I could make it to the pharmacy for a few things before you woke up. I didn't realize you wouldn't see the note."
Olivia smiled at the gentle press of lips on her forehead, feeling much more centered. Not to mention embarassed at nearly losing it, her mind helpfully supplied. "I should have looked first," she replied, "Before jumping to conclusions."
"Well, I know your brain isn't exactly fully operational first thing in the morning," Natalia joked, trying to lighten the mood, "That's why I stopped for this too." She leaned to the side and retrieved one of the paper coffee cups, pressing it gently into the hotelier's hands.
"Lifesaver," Olivia smirked sardonically, curling her hands around the hot beverage, "But this stuff isn't nearly as good as yours." She felt a glowing warmth suffuse her chest at the dimpled smile that comment produced and consciously tried not to look like a teenager with a crush, though it's certainly the way she felt.
Natalia said nothing, however, simply accepting the compliment with a gentle pat to the other woman's thigh. She rose from the bed and retrieved the abandoned shopping bag, returning to Olivia's side, once she was sure the brief panic had subsided. For a type A personality, corporate shark, the hotelier could be incredibly insecure at the most random moments. Natalia had learned that some time ago, and did everything she could to prevent the self distructive thoughts from taking too strong a hold when she was around.
"So what goodies did you bring me?" Olivia asked, wincing slightly as the hot liquid irritated her slightly swollen lip, "Chocolate goes great with coffee in the morning."
"I'm sure it does," Natalia chuckled, "But I'm not going to contribute to your horrific diet this early in the morning." She pulled out a chemical cold pack and showed it to the hotelier before squeezing it hard. The liner separating the two chemicals popped audibly and she gave it a quick shake before handing it over.
Olivia shook the little pouch herself for a moment and held it up to her eye, feeling the sting of cold almost instantly, and knowing that it must be much worse than she originally thought. The hotelier continued sipping her coffee quietly, watching the younger woman's careful movements as she sifted through the plastic bag. What else did she think I need, Olivia wondered; a silent question immediately answered when two different bottles of foundation were revealed.
"I know you don't usually need to wear a lot of base," Natalia complimented with a gentle smile, "But I thought you might like some today just to avoid too many people asking the same question over and over." She struggled not to feel too bad about what had happened, but it was a difficult thing when the scene kept playing back in her head.
Olivia smiled at her thoughtfulness for a moment, but it melted away when she saw the shadow of guilt creeping across the other woman's delicately beautiful features. "I dunno," she said with a patented Spencer-smirk, trying to lighten the mood a bit, "I could go au naturale, and tell everyone that I got in a bar fight. Might keep my reputation intact."
Natalia raised an eyebrow in mock annoyance at the bad joke, but didn't rise to the bait. It did have the intended affect, however, and the shadow faded from her eyes. When she gave in and chuckled a bit at the rogue-ish expression on the hotelier's face, Olivia mentally patted herself on the back for a job well done.
"Drink your coffee, troublemaker," Natalia commanded with a dimpled smile, rising from the bed with the shopping bag, and giving it a bit of a shake. "I also picked up something for Emma's lunch," she said at the inquisitive look, "I thought I'd go get her from the 'school night sleep over' rather than expect Jane to do it."
Olivia's heart filled with warmth at the casual comment, feeling for the first time since her rapid move out of the farmhouse, that they were truly becoming a family again. "What did I ever do to deserve you?" she questioned with a smile.
Natalia could tell that Olivia was trying to keep the question from sounding too serious, but the wonder in her eyes gave away the truth of her disbelief. She met the emerald green gaze with one of naked sincerity. "You loved me."
The hotelier's mouth opened slightly in surprise as her cheeks reddened, and the cold pack came away from her face. She'd studiously avoided bringing up the phrase, 'we need to talk about last night' or any mention of their shared feelings, after Natalia's return, but found herself shaken to the core by the simply uttered words. I guess she's okay with things then, her mind supplied helpfully.
Olivia looked down at her hands, feeling another of those dopey grins cross her face, and felt the bed dip slightly as the other woman sat down again. Closer this time, she saw Natalia's delicate hand envelope her own that still held the cold pack and bring it back to her injury. The older woman lifted her emerald gaze and felt instantly warmed by the dimpled smile staring back her.
"What?" she asked, raising one perfectly arched eyebrow.
"Who would have thought Olivia Spencer could blush," Natalia smiled, running a gentle hand over the uninjured cheek.
"Shut up," Olivia smiled, feeling the blush deepen and trying to turn her head away again, as if to hide the self percieved weakness.
"Hey," the younger woman whispered, using her delicate touch to guide green eyes back to meet her own, "I love that I can make you do that. It shows how much you feel, even when you don't speak the words." She smiled lovingly, and placed a soft kiss on Olivia's lips. "You have such a beautiful soul."
"Even when the outside looks like I've gone five rounds with Mike Tyson?" the hotelier joked sardonically, pulling the cold pack away again. Gotta get some distance or I'm gonna start crying again, she thought frantically.
Natalia seemed to recognize the half hearted attempt at humor for what it was, and let herself be distracted. "Not five," she said, examining the bruised skin carefully, "Maybe three, but not five." She smiled at seeing the relief in Olivia's eyes.
"Well, I do admit I have to learn to stop leading with my face," the hotelier smirked.
Natalia shook her head. "You're not funny," she informed her, but couldn't help the laugh when Olivia simply smiled winningly. "Seriously though," the younger woman continued after a moment, the levity fading away, and her eyes looking sad, "What are we going to do about Frank?"
Having overheard her words to Buzz the night before, Olivia knew it was only the assault that she was refering to, and nothing more. She set her coffee on the nightstand and took Natalia's hand in her own, rubbing gently where the glittering, and much hated, jewelry had rested until just the night before. "I don't want you to worry about that right now," she said, bringing Natalia's hand up to kiss the back of her ring finger, "I'll deal with Frank."
Natalia opened her mouth to protest, a look of deep concern on her face. Olivia forged ahead with a patient and gentle smile. "Don't worry," she assured, stroking a tan cheek, "I'm not going to have him charged. I know he's a good man, that just wasn't really himself last night. But I do think he and I need to have a bit of a talk."
"I'm sorry," Natalia whispered, guilt coloring her features, "I feel so responsible for all this." Delicate fingers traced around the hotelier's swollen cheek and blackened eye, as tears blossomed in her own.
Olivia hushed her with a soft kiss. "This isn't your fault, Natalia," she said, resting their foreheads together for a long moment, "But I am glad that it was me and not you." She pulled back to look into chocolate brown eyes, and smiled shakily. "I love you, Natalia, and if he had hit you, I don't think even security could have stopped me from yanking his lungs out through his nose."
Natalia snorted at the colorful imagery, but didn't comment further, content simply to sit and maintain physical contact, however slight, with the woman she loved. The two women stared at each other for a long moment, just enjoying the comfortable silence; a past time that both would have happily indulged in for the rest of the day if not for the knowledge that the rest of the world would soon intrude. Not surprisingly, it was Natalia, with her love of routine, that broke the moment first.
"I should go," she said with a sad smile, caressing the hotelier's cheek gently, "I don't want Emma to be late for school."
Olivia cleared her throat and blinked for a moment, forcing herself to switch gears. It still amazed her at how easily she got lost in those brown eyes. "Right," she nodded, "I should get moving too."
Natalia rose from the bed and took her coat with her, shrugging into it slowly. "Olivia," she said after a long moment, pausing with her zipper half way pulled up, "Um... would you and Emma come to the farmhouse tonight for dinner?"
The older woman had struggled out of the tangle of sheets after tossing the cold pack on the night stand beside her coffee. She made a show of half heartedly trying to straighen the bed to hide her discomfort at the impending solitude, and looked up. "Are you sure?" she asked, a hesitant smile emerging.
"Very," Natalia said softly, her dimples showing again, but this time, along with a reddening that Olivia knew all to well, "I know we'll need to talk about..... all this." Her hands gestured to the bed they had shared the previous night.
"Oh," Olivia said, her smile disappearing just as quickly as it had formed. I knew it, her internal voice resonated through her brain, here comes the sound of the other shoe dropping.... right on my head.
"I just thought it would be nice to have dinner," Natalia explained, moving closer to the woman she loved, "And Emma could fall asleep in her old room after a movie." She reached up to brush a lock of hair away from Olivia's darkening eyes. "An evening where we have no interruptions for a change." Her voice dropped slightly with her last words, and she smiled at the sudden look of understanding that appeared.
"Oh!" Olivia smiled widely, realizing that the talk Natalia wanted to have would put a much more positive spin on things than she expected. I gotta stop expecting the worst to happen, she thought. "I'd like that," she agreed, her trembling hands reaching forward and pulling the jacket zipper the rest of the way up slowly.
In such close proximity, the two women couldn't help but allow their lips to meet. Though the kiss was mostly chaste, Natalia couldn't help but whimper slightly and clutch at Olivia's shirt when she felt a gentle nibble on her full bottom lip. She cleared her throat and pulled away reluctantly, trying not to dwell on the hungry look she was being given. "I'll see you in a little while," she almost croaked, shaken at how even the slightest touch from the hotelier affected her so deeply.
"Absolutely," Olivia smiled, watching her move to the door, with Emma's lunch dangling from her grasp. One more look shared, and the younger woman let herself out, leaving Olivia to stare at where she had last seen her love. The smile fell from her face reluctantly, as if fighting to remain, and a predatory scowl narrowed her eyes. "Right after I see a certain Detective about a shiner."
Olivia pulled her car easily into a parking space at the Springfield Police Department and turned off the engine. Ignoring the 'Police Only' sign that seemed to glare in through the windshield at her, she made sure to check her make up in the rearview mirror once more. The base had helped a little in covering the redness on her cheek, but the eye was a different story, and though colorful, it wasn't nearly as swollen as it had been, thanks to the cold pack Natalia had thoughtfully provided.
Geez, I look like shit, she thought, pressing gently around the deep purple smudges that had collected in the softest areas around her eye overnight. Directly under her eyebrow, where most of the swelling had occured, was the darkest, and simply looked like Emma had done her makeup. But there was a slash of the same color under the inside corner of her eye as well.
At least it brings out my eyes, she thought sardonically. Olivia rummaged in the middle console for a larger pair of sunglasses to get her past questioning strangers and slipped them on. I can't believe I drove across town for this, her inner voice grumbled, wishing she'd thought to call ahead rather than just show up.
After leaving the Beacon, Olivia had driven directly to Buzz Cooper's home, wanting to get things dealt with and out of the way. But her desire to surprise Frank and hopefully catch him in the middle of a hangover was thwarted when the older man told her that he'd gone in to work already. The hotelier had to spend more time than she wanted reassuring Buzz that she wasn't pressing charges against his son, and then even more deflecting his concern over hers and Natalia's well being.
After what had seemed like an eternity of polite chit chat, Olivia had finally managed to leave without stressing herself or Buzz too much. A quick drive, and more than a few practiced opening lines to herself in the car, and the moment had arrived. The anger that she had let simmer and stew since her first glimpse of herself in the mirror after Natalia's departure flagged slightly, replaced with a trepidation she was unfamiliar with.
What the hell is wrong with me, she silently grumbled, squaring her shoulders as she began a slow march to the front door of the building. I used to eat tools like Frankie Cooper for breakfast, for Christ's sake. Buck up, Spencer! Stop being such a cream puff! Running a hand through her hair, Olivia took a deep centering breath and forced the business woman scowl onto her face. Just remember what you said to Natalia, her mental voice offered as she threw the door open and strode inside, No charges, but nothing was mentioned about a little verbal castration.
"Good morning," the receptionist cut into her thoughts, her tone already much too bored for so early in the day, "Can I help you?"
Olivia didn't even pause in her stride, but looked over at the woman while she headed for the detectives' area. "No," she clipped, and kept on moving, her heels clicking forcefully on the tile.
"Ma'am!" The receptionist called, and Olivia knew from the scrambling sounds that she was being followed, "You can't go back there!"
"Watch me," she snapped, pleased at the resurgance of her predatory nature from disobeying even the smallest of rules. I want this over and done with, she groused silently, and no bottle blonde, with less sense than God gave a taco, is going to stop me. The hotelier tuned the young woman out and rounded a corner, nearly running head long into the object of her quest.
"Morning, Frank," Olivia said neutrally, squaring her shoulders and feeling a surge of pride at his sudden, deer in the headlights look, "We need to talk." At least she could take comfort in the fact that with his morning after a drinking binge stubble, he looked worse than she did.
"I'm sorry, Detective," the simpering receptionist cut in, moving up to glare at her, "She just barged right in." Olivia ignored her for the most part, keeping her eyes pinned on Frank and the way he tried his best to read her mood, that familiar little frown on his face. It always appeared when he was trying to figure something out.
"It's okay, Gloria," he said, breaking his gaze away from the too calm woman he faced to offer a smile at the receptionist, "I'll take care of it. You can go back out to your desk." He waited until the young woman turned away after a final peevish glare at the hotelier before looking back to the woman himself. "Conference room okay?" He gestured to the glassed in room behind the rows of desks and stepped aside to let her lead the way.
Olivia nodded slightly and took the lead, making sure her heels clicked as noisily as possible. She was used to being the center of attention in any room she entered, but more than that, the hotelier wanted to make sure that every officer present saw her enter the office with the object of her wrath. That way, even if they couldn't hear the upcoming conversation, at least their curiosity would make them watch through the glass.
"Close the door," she said quietly, shrugging off her jacket and tossing it over the back of a chair.
Frank did as he was bade, and turned back to face the business owner, the look on his face one of intense forboding. She knew that he would realize why she was wearing the big sunglasses, and it gave her no small amount of satisfaction to see the pitiful look of self hatred on his face. "Olivia, I can't even begin to express how sorry I am for last night," he started in the moment of silence she afforded him.
"I didn't come here for apologies, Frank," Olivia cut him off, pacing around the length of the conference table, much like she did in business meetings when she wanted to intimidate without raising her voice, "And I didn't come here to have your buddies arrest you either." Her grace and poise made it seem like she was a shark, lazily prowling the reef for it's next meal.
"Then, why..." Frank looked confused, his brain obviously less than 100% after the previous night's alocoholic indulgences.
"I came here to speak my peace," she cut him off again, making sure that her back was to the glass. Olivia could feel half a dozen pairs of eyes on them from the unnaturally silent room outside the door as she reached up and took off the concealing sunglasses. His pained wince at the sight of her blackened eye made her smile slightly, but it was a mirthless expression. "Don't like to see your own handy work, Detective?"
"Olivia," Frank said, his eyes darting from the wall to her bruised face, and back again, seemingly unable to hold her gaze in shame, "I didn't mean to do that. I don't know what came over me. I just saw Natalia and... I wasn't thinking. I didn't even realize what I'd done until she yelled at me."
"Oh, I know that," Olivia confirmed, her voice calm and cool even as she felt the rage inside her building, "If I thought for a moment you'd actually intended it, I'd have your badge so fast it would make your fucking head spin." The hotelier felt a little of her former self emerge and she schooled it back down, knowing this wasn't what Natalia would want.
Frank looked up in shock at her language. "You have every right," he said, that look of confusion showing on his face again, "So I find myself wondering why you haven't pressed charges yet."
Here we go, she thought, he already assumes manipulation. Olivia sighed slightly and pinched the bridge of her nose, silently wishing for patience. Let's go with honesty and watch his head explode.
"Because it would hurt Natalia," she admitted quietly, and at the mere thought of hurting the woman she loved, the self control she had over her inner demon melted away. The mental image of the young woman breaking down into tears, once again, because of the man that stood before her had every charitable thought neatly evicted from her mind. It took an almost physical effort to keep herself calm, rather than give in and claw his eyes out for what he had done. But she knew it would take a far greater strength of will to keep the malice out of her words; a strength even she didn't posess. "And unlike you, Frankie," she verbally jabbed, "I will go to any length to keep her from being hurt. Even if it means trying to get along with you."
That seemed to get under his skin, and the detective scowled angrily. "Now just a minute," he clipped, and she could see his spine growing back, "What the hell do you mean by that?"
"You're the detective," she snarled quietly, not wanting those still watching in the outer office to hear their conversation, "I know you're not the brightest bulb in the pack, but even you should be able to figure it out." The condesention in her voice was thick enough to rile him up further.
"If you have such a low goddamned opinion of me," he growled, straightening to his full height, unconsciously trying to intimidate her with his posture, "Then why did you even bother to try and help me with all that information?"
"Because I thought you were a good man," Olivia admitted, squaring her shoulders against his sudden attitude change, "Because I wanted her to be happy. And I thought you could give her that."
"I can," he blurted, confident as always where Natalia was concerned.
Olivia rolled her eyes at his continued dimness. "No, you can't," she admonished, running a hand through her hair in frustration. "Don't you get it, Frank? It's over. Even if you hadn't shown up drunk off your ass, and slugged me." He looked like he was going to protest when he opened his mouth, and Olivia cut him off with a wave of her hand. She just couldn't take any more of his misguided self assuredness where Natalia was concerned. "Shut it."
Frank ignored her and forged on. "She just needs some time," he said angrily, taking a threatening step forward.
"No, she doesn't," Olivia countered, resisting the urge to back up and keep some distance between them. "You need to accept that. You don't make her happy." Her eyebrows furrowed as she mentally debated how much information to share. Her desire to dig deep into his heart and hurt him emotionally as much as he had done to her physically, was at war with the knowledge that Natalia valued her privacy.
"Oh, and you do?" he barked incredulously.
"Yes!" Olivia blurted. Her eyes instantly widened and she fought to keep from covering her mouth at the slip. Well, so much for discretion, she mentally sighed.
"What?" Frank's eyes narrowed, and he glared dangerously. A sarcastic smile crossed his face, and she could see the malice coming forward. "Don't tell me that Olivia 'cold as ice, corporate bitch' Spencer has gone and fallen for someone she can't have."
Aw, fuck it, Olivia thought, throwing caution to the wind. He wants to play dirty, I can do that. Hell, I invented it. She eyeballed him dangerously, one eyebrow crawling upward in acceptance of the gauntlet thrown. "Okay, maybe you're right, and I have fallen," she admitted, and then a sinister grin formed, "But you know what's even better? She fell right along with me."
Frank simply blinked in shock and she forged ahead, not giving him even a moment to regain his footing in the conversation. "What's the matter, Frankie?" she purred, "Didn't see that one coming?"
"You're lying," he blurted, and she could see he was trying to convince himself of it. Olivia took note of his fists clenching at his sides and his entire body tensing.
"Don't do it," she warned quietly, "I'm willing to let it go once, but it probably wouldn't look good to your buddies out there watching us if you swung on me again."
"You bitch," he hissed, color rising on his neck as he visibly struggled to keep his temper in check.
"Thanks for noticing, Captain Obvious," she replied, her tone so cold she could swear the temperature in the room dropped by a few degrees.
"Why are you telling me this?" he demanded, wanting to rage at her, but knowing it would phase her in the slightest, "Is this some sort of payback for last night?"
"You know," the hotelier continued after a deep calming breath, "I really didn't come here to rub your nose in it, Frank. I came to make peace. Luckily for me, you proved true to form and I didn't have to be nice this time." Her anger abated slightly at his stricken look, but not enough that she even put up a token resistance to one more shot. "Natalia didn't want to hurt you with this, but personally I really don't care."
"You're enjoying this," Frank accused venomously. He looked about ready to cry or throw things, and even as well as she knew him, Olivia couldn't figure out which it would be.
"More than Natalia would like," she admitted, "But less than I nomally should." Her anger began to dissipate and she reached for her coat on the nearby chair. "Let her go, Frank," she warned, shrugging into the heavy material and straightening the collar, "She deserves to be happy."
"Bullshit," he snarled, "You mean YOU deserve to be happy." He reached out and grabbed her arm in a vice like grip. "This isn't over, Olivia. You've confused her somehow, and I will make her see that."
Olivia looked down at her arm and then back up at him with such an expression of hatred that the shock of it made him let go and back up a step. "She isn't confused, Frank," she hissed, moving with him to keep him off balance. "There was no confussion when she told me she loved me. When she kissed me. When she held me in her arms. All. Night. Long."
Frank dropped into one of the chairs, as if his legs would no longer support him. The shock of her words making his face pale. For a moment, she thought he was going to pass out or throw up. Maliciously, she hoped it was both, and couldn't resist going in for the proverbial kill. She was going to have fresh bruises on her arm from where he squeezed, and a little instant revenge was just what she needed to calm herself enough not to hit him herself.
"Does it bother you, Frankie?" she questioned, an overly sweet mocking tone in her voice now that she had the upper hand, "Knowing that she screamed my name when she came and not yours? That she spent the entire night in my arms and didn't run away like she did with you?" She leaned forward and got right in his face. "She was still there this morning," she informed him in a whisper, "Still there, with no regrets." She left out the finer details of the morning's brief panic, figuring the end result was more than enough to get her point across.
When Frank didn't reply, Olivia straightened to her full height and put the sunglasses back on. He continued to stare stupidly off into the distance, his eyes glazed over in shock, and for just a moment, she felt a sliver of guilt for destroying the man so entirely. "She's moving on, Frank," Olivia stated, not unkindly, now that her rage had worked itself out, "You need to do the same. For her sake, as much as your own."
Without another word, she left the conference room, the same determined stride clicking her heels sharply on the linoleum tile. She wasn't surprised at how many eyes were still glued to her, and the attention washed away her worry about Frank's reaction to her news. Too much information had come out, she knew that, and felt a stab of dread at how angry Natalia would probably be. She'd just have to practice the new honesty kick she was on, and admit that she lost control a little when he grabbed her.
Olivia knew they'd have to talk about it, but felt reasonably confident that Frank would say nothing to his co-workers. It was one thing to be left at the altar, but quite another to be left at the altar for the maid of honor. His ego wouldn't stand up to the pitying looks he'd get for THAT. As the hotelier slipped into her car and started the engine, she wondered briefly if she should call Natalia and warn her that the talk didn't go well, but decided against it. No reason to stress her out and cause more hurt, she rationalized, I'll just mention it to her later she asks.
Secure in her decision, Olivia pulled out of the 'Police Only' parking space and aimed her car towards the Beacon. She had a full day of work to get through, and hoped the throbbing in her eye and now her arm as well, wouldn't distract her too much from getting it done. The hotelier didn't even consider for a moment that Frank might have followed her to the door and watched her leave. But he had, and with an expression of such malice on his face, that she might have actually been concerened if she'd seen it.
"Olivia fucking queen bitch Spencer," he snarled quietly, rage suffocating every decent part of his soul as he watched her car disappear around a corner, "This is far from over."
While Olivia's drive to the Springfield Police Station seemed to have taken forever, the return trip felt unbelieveably shorter. Lost in thought, and second guessing her actions with Frank, the hotelier had pulled into her reserved parking spot, wishing it had taken much longer. The entire drive, thankfully devoid of much traffic, had been spent in much of a daze, as she wondered just how angry Natalia was going to be when she heard the details of the conversation.
Crossing the expansive lobby of her hotel, Olivia carefully avoided any staff member who looked like they might have a question for her, and ducked into her office. Only when the door was closed behind her, did she breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe I can just hide in here all day, she thought, shrugging off her jacket and tossing it into an empty chair.
Sunglasses were tossed onto her desk, and the hotel owner virtually collapsed into her desk chair. Now that the confrontation with Frank was over and she was once again in her own domain where she felt safe enough to unwind, Olivia began noticing the aches and pains of the last 24 hours. Her eye and cheek throbbed in time with her heartbeat, as did the section of her arm that had been forcefully grabbed less than an hour earlier. Your blood pressure is too high; the voice in her head sounded annoyingly similar to Dr. Rick's, and she fought the urge to tell it to shut up.
Olivia placed a hand over her own chest, feeling the heavy thumping against her sternum. Settle down pal, she silently coaxed it, leaning back in comfortable leather office chair. Kicking her boots off, the hotelier put her feet up on the corner of her desk and closed her eyes, relaxing for the few moments she knew she needed to center herself once more. A soft smile crossed her face at the thought, knowing the very idea of slowing down to gather herself was a completely new concept. Olivia freakin' Spencer just didn't slow down. She never had. It was entirely a biproduct of knowing Natalia.
Even when her heart was failing, she'd refused to slow down, convinced she had to do everything herself. After the transplant, she had nearly killed herself, trying to go back to her routine right away. But Natalia hadn't allowed it. Olivia's smile grew as she remembered the fiery woman's temper in those first few months, barking at her to take her pills and eat properly. Look at us now, she thought with a soft chuckle, wondering, not for the first time, if Gus was laughing his ass off up in Heaven.
Huffing out a breath, Olivia ran a hand through her hair. Better get to it, she thought, peeking out of the corner of her eye at the mess of papers on her desk. Nearly every square inch of it was covered in contracts, reports, and proposals, half of which were probably nearing their due date, or already past. She'd let things slide in the days leading up to the wedding, unable to concentrate on anything but the horrifying realization that she had a front row seat to watch the woman she loved marry another.
That thought brought her mind full circle, as she remembered the conversation with Frank in the Police Station again. Enough, she chastised herself silently, a scowl etching into her features. It's over and done with, let it go. What bothered her though, was that she didn't really believe it herself. She had a nagging suspicion that she'd have to deal with Detective Cooper again before too long, and the very idea of another confrontation set the scowl deeper on her face. And I still have to tell Natalia what happened, she realized. Yippee.
At that moment, as if psychically summoned, a soft knock sounded on the door to her office, and opened immediately, admitting the very woman she had been thinking about. "Hey," the soft voice sounded, "Sam said he'd seen you in the lobby. I figured I'd find you here."
The scowl melted off Olivia's face instantly, and she rolled her head to the side, smiling at the sight before her. Natalia returned the smile, setting her always present leather organizer on the desk and holding out a steaming mug of coffee she'd brought from the kitchen. "Rough morning already?" she asked, taking in the older woman's lounging position with a raised eyebrow.
Olivia groaned and closed her eyes. "You have no idea," she muttered, pinching the bridge of her nose, a reflex that Natalia knew only appeared when the hotelier was incredibly frustrated about something.
Moving around to the side of the desk, Natalia lifted Olivia's stocking covered feet gently from the edge of the desk. Perching there herself, she lowered them into her lap and stroked over the arch of one idly, all the while, examining the hotelier's expression. "What's wrong?" she asked, concern shading her tone.
"Honestly," Olivia said with a heavy sigh, "I'm not sure I want to tell you." She watched Natalia's movements, amazed at how the simple gesture of touch warmed her. Green eyes rose to meet brown, and the love she saw expressed there was a soothing balm. "You'll probably be mad at me." Her own admission surprised her, and she closed her eyes tightly.
"Why would I be mad that you went to see Frank?" Natalia asked, smiling gently when Olivia's eyes flew back open in shock.
The hotelier pulled her feet back from Natalia's lap and sat up straight, regarding the younger woman carefully. "Did you put a GPS tracker on me in my sleep or something?" she asked with a smirk, trying to deflect with humor.
Natalia chuckled, and leaned back on her hands, careful not to spill any of the papers with her movement. "Mallet called my cell just after you left the station," she explained, "He just said you'd been there and you didn't look happy after talking to Frank."
"So nice of him to be concerned," Olivia grumbled, scowling. What is it with everyone in this town getting in everyone else's business, she wondered. "Did he tell you to give me a hug or something?"
A tollerant smile blossomed on Natalia's face, showing barely a hint of dimple. "Actually, he thought he was warning me," she said, amusement coloring her tone, "I believe his exact words were, 'Your boss is on the warpath again, so if you're not at work already, today might be an excellent day to call in sick'."
Olivia blinked in surprise. Her worry about being seen as vulnerable after the events of the previous night, melted away in an instant, and she couldn't help the choked laugh that bubbled from her lips. "Well I am the Queen Corporate Bitch of Springfield," the hotelier scoffed haughtily, pretending to buff her nails on her lapel.
Natalia rolled her eyes at the cussing. She knew she couldn't enforce the 'swear jar' rule in Olivia's own office, but it didn't stop her from making her displeasure known with the small gesture. "So are you going to tell me what happened?" she asked, steering the conversation back to it's original intent, "I know you told me not to worry about Frank, and I'm not. I'm much more concerned with what he said to put you in such a mood that I got a warning phone call."
Olivia let out a heavy sigh and rested her head on the back of the chair. "It started out fine," she said quietly, looking up at the ceiling, "But it went downhill fast." She remembered the look of rage on his face when she lost her temper and regretted going there in the first place. "I'm pretty sure I just made things worse."
Natalia watched the defeated look cross the other woman's face and felt a pang of guilt for her roll in everything. Slipping off the desk, she gave in to the need to physically comfort the one she loved. Deliberately not thinking about her actions, she moved Olivia's hands out of the way and lowered herself into the hotelier's lap, grateful for the luxuriously oversized office chair that made it a rather comfortable maneuver.
Curling an arm over the back of the chair to support her body weight just enough so it wouldn't be oppressive, Natalia let the other rest gently against Olivia's cheek, deliberately ignoring the look of shock at her bold actions. "Hey," she said softly, her thumb stroking gently back and forth, "Talk to me."
Despite her surprise at the younger woman's actions, Olivia felt a glowing warmth suffuse her entire body. Natalia's proximity instantly calmed her chaotic emotions and she smiled. Looking into chocolate brown eyes that held both love and concern, the hotelier couldn't resist the urge to dip forward for a kiss. Brief and chaste, it still served to ground her in the present, rather than dwell on recent events, and she brought a hand up to stroke Natalia's back in silent appreciation for the closeness.
"You know," she began, a grin beginning to form, "Behavior like this could be construed as sexual harassment in the workplace." The grin became a full blown smile at the younger woman's answering blush. Still so very shy, she thought, loving the contrast of her randomly bold moments amid all the hesitance.
"Stop changing the subject," Natalia scolded, smiling through her embarassment. A small part of her couldn't believe her own actions, but the majority was quite pleased with her current position and wouldn't be moved or deterred.
Olivia became serious once more. She let out an exhausted sigh, and brought her free hand up to hold Natalia's against her cheek. A quick turn of her head, a kiss on the palm while she collected her thoughts, and the hotelier finally gave in, knowing it was inevitable. She lowered their hands to Natalia's lap, watching how instinctively their fingers lace together, as if it was their natural state.
With halting words, at first, Olivia began to relate her conversation with Frank; she left nothing out. Regardless of her fear of Natalia's reaction, her desire to be completely honest with the woman she loved won out, overriding her sense of self preservation. She had promised herself when they decided to move forward with what was developing between them, that she would give it her all. And unfortunately that meant the bad along with the good.
Natalia gasped a few times in shock at what she heard, but didn't interrupt. She wasn't overly pleased with how the conversation had gone, but knowing Olivia as well as she did kept her silent. The older woman's temper was famous for being extremely volatile, and the mere fact that she had tried her best to keep it in check, spoke volumes.
Finally, Olivia went silent. She had related every horrible detail of the nasty things she said, and could think of nothing more to add. Bowing her head to wait for the explosion, believing she'd gone too far, she nearly squeaked in shock at the feel of soft lips pressing against her forehead. "I'm sorry," came the whispered words to her ears, and emerald green eyes shot open.
Olivia regarded the sad look on Natalia's face in confusion. "You're sorry?" she asked incredulously, "How can you be sorry for something you had no control over?" Catholic guilt is confusing, she decided.
"I'm sorry that you had to deal with that alone," Natalia explained, resting her forehead against Olivia's.
"You're not angry?" the hotelier couldn't believe what she was hearing. She expected ranting, or at the very least a disappointed Natalia walking out of the office and not speaking to her for the rest of the day. "How can you not be angry?"
"I'm not happy about it," Natalia admitted, pulling back slightly to look into confused green eyes, "But I know you. And your temper." She smiled at the slightly offended look Olivia adopted. "I've been on the recieving end of it many times."
The hotelier opened her mouth to argue, but found that she really couldn't. She acknowledged that she had been less that cordial towards Natalia through her transplant ordeal, and they had dealt with it, but it didn't make the memory of all the harsh words any easier to recall. "But don't think you're off the hook," Natalia's voice interrupted her ruminations, and Olivia looked into deep brown pools, trying to read what lay behind them. "I'll probably be all fiery later when I've had a chance to think about things a bit. But right now, I just need to make sure you're okay."
Olivia chuckled. "Oh good," she breathed in relief, "As long as fiery Natalia is on the schedule somewhere."
Natalia tugged gently on a lock of Olivia's hair that hung over the back of the office chair. "Back to the joking already?" she sighed tollerantly.
"It's how I roll," the hotelier shrugged, a not quite apologetic smile on her face.
"Then you need new material," the younger woman shot back, not unkindly, twisting her fingers free from Olivia's to poke her belly, "Because that was less of a roll, more of a stumble."
"Hey!" The hotelier poked Natalia right back, illiciting a giggle that showed off her dimples, "No fair picking on the boss."
"Then stop being such an easy target," the younger woman fired right back with a grin, and reluctantly lifted herself from Olivia's lap. She had indulged herself for far too long already, and now that they were back to the usual banter, she knew there were things that had to be done.
Olivia grumbled quietly under her breath, and stood as well. "Is Emma excited about tonight?" she asked, skillfully changing the subject to avoid more tormenting of her person.
Natalia recognized the ploy for what it was, but allowed it, knowing there was only so much she could get away with before the hotelier's still frazzled nerves reacted. "I don't think excited quite covers it," she laughed, straightening her suit jacket and smoothing the fresh wrinkles out, "She nearly bounced right out of the car when I promised to pick her up after school so she could help me cook."
Olivia laughed, having no trouble picturing that image. "I'll bet," she said, reaching out to tuck a lock of dark hair behind Natalia's ear, "She's been missing Friday movie night."
"So have I," the younger woman admitted. Her heart fluttered briefly at the thought of snuggling up together on the sofa.
"I have a budget meeting at four that should wrap up fairly quickly," Olivia said, stepping back slightly, as if silently communicating that the moment had to end if either of them were going to get anything accomplished before the end of the day, "So I'll head out to the farmhouse right after that."
"Okay," Natalia smiled. Neither woman wanted to say goodbye, but their eyes spoke volumes to each other in a long moment before Natalia let herself out of the office.
The door closed with a quiet click, and Olivia slumped back into her office chair again. Her posture was much the same as it had been before the very welcome interruption, only this time, her face held a relaxed smile. Damn I needed that, she thought, letting out a happy sigh. Another moment of peace, and she sat up straight, eyeing the mess that still covered her desk. "Time to be responsible," she muttered in the empty office, and set about clearing her back log, anxious for the day to pass so she could get to the fun of dinner and movie night.
The rest of the day passed with relative, albeit slow, ease for Olivia. Expense reports that needed her signature, business proposals, and an outright 'no' to a new vendor who had the nerve to demand a 50% off rate on the use of the banquet hall for his functions. He'd whined at Greg for twenty minutes before the banquet manager kicked it up to her, with several heartfelt apologies. Normally she would have taken his head off for being unable to deal with the problem himself, but she needed the distraction from paperwork, and telling the little weasel off had felt really good. Don't give me recession this and cutbacks that, she thought snarkily, times are tough all over pal.
The budget meeting had run long as well, with the managers each droning on about what they simply HAD to have for the new fiscal. She'd listened with only half an ear, replying non-commitally when directly asked questions, knowing she'd be asking Natalia's opinion rather than mulling things over herself later. Since taking the younger woman on as her assistant, she'd discovered that Natalia had a knack for getting to know the staff in ways that the hotelier had always struggled with. She'd have the inside scoop on who was padding their budgetary needs.
Finally, she was free. Everything was done for the day, and Olivia hurried to her suite, trying to keep the silly smile off her face until she was alone. She wanted to pack an overnight bag for Emma as well as something comfortable for herself before heading out. Prada and Gucci were excellent choices for the office, but they were not made for couch cuddling.
Throwing a set of yoga pants and a tank top into a duffel, on top of Emma's jammies and favorite doll, Olivia couldn't resist a couple little bounces. Her, always ready, overnight toiletry kit followed suit and she zipped the bag with finality, more than ready to be out the door and on her way. A quick look around to visually jog her memory of anything that she might be forgetting came up with nothing, and she swung the bag over her shoulder, heading for the door.
Olivia froze in place, closing her eyes and dropping her head back. "Damnit," she muttered quietly, heaving out a frustrated sigh. The duffel was dropped onto the foot of the bed and she marched to the door, throwing it open with a scowl.
"Yes?" she clipped, coming face to face with Buzz. Since she was feeling less than cordial towards the Coopers at the moment, it was one of the more unwelcome delays she could have imagined.
"Hi, Olivia," Buzz said, his posture almost timid, "Can I come in for a minute?"
"I'm actually just on my way out, Buzz," she stated, her tone cool, but not overly frosty, "What do you need?"
"I, um," he shifted from foot to foot, "Wanted to ask you what happened this morning."
Olivia raised an eyebrow dangerously. "And that's your business, how exactly?" she questioned, her hackles rising at the warning signs of even more drama taking up her day.
Buzz frowned and sighed. "Because Frank's been at Company since noon, drinking and muttering something about you, and Natalia," he informed her. It wasn't like his son to leave work early unless he was sick. So for him to do it merely for the sake of getting drunk was troublesome. Added to that, his call to Mallet to find out what had happened, left him with little information other than the fact that he had met with Olivia behind a closed door, and the elder Cooper decided to go right to the source. He may not have agreed with his son's actions, but he was still going to do his best to protect him.
"How is Frank tying one on my problem?" she said, her tone getting chillier by the moment.
"It isn't," the older man admitted, holding up his hands, palms out, "I just thought maybe you could give me a little insight about the talk you two had." He looked down at his feet. "I want to be able to help my son."
Olivia rolled her eyes. "He's not 12 anymore, Buzz," she clipped, not feeling sympathetic at all, "If you want to know what happened, ask him. I'm through dealing with the fallout from his hurt feelings." Without waiting for his response, the hotelier closed the door, and threw the lock.
She huffed out a frustrated sigh and sat down on the edge of her bed. Pinching the bridge of her nose, she even tried a few deep breaths to rid herself of the anger the unexpected visit had brought up. It would serve no purpose where she was headed, and she didn't want to ruin the wonderful evening she anticipated with Natalia and Emma.
Thinking about her daughter and the woman she loved did it's part to bring Olivia out of her funk. She missed them both terribly, and knew a quiet family night was just what she needed. Just what they all needed, for that matter, after the roiling events of the past weeks. The mental image of the three of them curling up under the same blanket for movie night brought a smile to her face, and a soothing warmth to her soul.
So why am I sitting here alone? she thought, shrugging off the last of her frustration and grabbing the duffel bag. Olivia nearly raced out of her suite, glad to see the hallway was empty of any distractions, and headed for her car via a side entrance, not wanting even the remote chance of a mundane question from her staff to waylay her any longer.
The farmhouse was alive with light and sound when Olivia pulled into the drive and turned off her engine. She couldn't help the broad smile that plastered itself to her face as she stepped out of the car and retrieved her things from the backseat, hearing very familiar salsa music filtering through an open window. Punctuated by her young daughter's giggles, she could imagine Emma and Natalia dancing around the kitchen as they prepared dinner, and it made her heart swell.
Almost racing up the walkway and onto the porch, Olivia made sure to check her breath and barely remembered to knock, rather than just walk right in. She chuckled as she heard Emma's excited call of "I'll get it!", and the door was thrown open.
"Mommy!" Emma squealed happily and launched herself at the hotelier, nearly bowling her over when she latched onto her midsection.
"Jellybean!" Olivia replied with just as much enthusiasm and hugged the little bundle of energy tightly with one arm. Holding onto her child was a soothing balm to her soul, each moment reminding her of how much she had almost lost in the last year with her heart troubles. "Are you having a wild party in there?" she asked, "Because I didn't bring my dancing shoes." She smiled at Emma's giggle.
"No, silly," Emma pulled back and grabbed a hold of Olivia's hand, pulling her inside, "We're making dinner!"
The hotelier struggled to keep her balance as Emma tugged her along, chuckling at her daughter's excitement. Right there with ya kid, she thought happily.
"Natalia!" Emma gushed, "Mommy's here!"
"So I see," Natalia grinned when she turned around, dusting her hands off on the apron tied around her midsection. Chocolate brown eyes met emerald green and in an instant, dimples emerged as the smile widened. "You're just in time," she informed the hotelier, "Dinner should be ready in about five minutes."
"I wanted to be a bit earlier," Olivia said as she shrugged out of her coat, her tone slightly apologetic, "But the budget meeting ran a bit over. It seems the department managers don't understand the word cutbacks."
"So what else is new?" Natalia smirked, reaching behind her back to untie the apron she liked to wear when cooking from scratch. "Emma," she addressed the youngster that was still virtually bouncing with joy, "Can you take your bag upstairs to your old room and wash up for dinner please?"
An inarticulate squeak was the only reply she got from the 8 year old, before she snagged the duffel from Olivia's hand and disappeared through the living room at a dead run. Both women watched her go, chuckling at her energy.
"Did you let her mainline corn syrup before I got here?" Olivia asked with a grin, finally taking off her sunglasses and stepping closer to the younger woman.
"She might have snitched some cookie dough while we were baking earlier," Natalia admitted, gravitating into Olivia's personal space for a proper hello.
The hotelier folded her arms around the woman she loved, revelling in the feel of her warmth as the embrace was instantly returned. "I missed you today," she whispered into dark hair, feeling a shiver in response.
"I missed you too," Natalia said, her lips brushing a gentle kiss on the smooth neck she was snuggled into.
Olivia huffed out a startled breath at the shock that spread through her body from that brief kiss and pulled back slightly to look into the brown eyes she adored. A soft smile blossomed on her face as she reached up and cradled a tanned cheek in her hand, seeing the love reflected back at her. Natalia's fingers had laced themselves at the small of her back, keeping her close, and Olivia felt her heart lurch.
The younger woman couldn't help but lean her face into the gentle caress, smiling warmly, though never breaking their shared gaze. Unspoken words of happiness and contentment travelled between brown eyes and green, a much deeper connection than mere words could even express.
"Mommy," Emma's voice cut into the quiet moment, and both women jumped, pulling away from the embrace quickly. Two heads swiveled to regard the youngster standing before them, hands on her hips, as if ready to scold them for their behavior. "You and Natalia can cuddle later," she informed them seriously, "It's dinner time."
"Is that so?" Olivia smirked, looking over to Natalia, who blushed a deep crimson. She chuckled when the timer buzzed as if on cue, and watched the younger woman spin around to tend to the stove. Timing is everything, she thought, shaking her head.
"You're absolutely right, Bean," she admitted to her daughter, laughter coloring her tone, "We'll save the cuddling for the movie." Olivia shot a meaningful look at Natalia, who was smiling through her reddened cheeks while she carefully transported the heavy casserole dish to the table.
"Out of the mouths of babes," Natalia muttered, removing the lid from the steaming casserole and setting it aside on the counter along with the oven mitts.
The older woman chuckled quietly, hardly able to disagree, and inhaled deeply at the rich aroma that wafted from the baked dish. "I love your tuna noodle casserole," she commented happily.
"Me too!" Emma piped up, wiggling from side to side in her chair, her antics causing both women to laugh. Natalia joined them at the table, and after a brief blessing of grace, they dug into the home cooked meal with great enthusiasm.
Remembered family dinners, once a nightly occurance, had all three smiling and laughing until the food was gone. The only awkward moment had come when Emma, curiosity in full force, had bluntly asked what had happened to her mother's eye. But where the hotelier was at a loss for words, Natalia's quick reply of having a little accident the night before, saved the day. Proving once again that the two women complimented each other without even being fully aware of just how much.
A rare treat, seldom indulged since moving out, Olivia basked in the feeling of belonging as she leaned back in her chair, unable to believe how much she'd eaten. That's what I get for skipping lunch, she thought with a soft groan, patting her over full belly happily. Of course, Natalia hadn't helped, making sure to offer seconds of the dangerously tasty dish.
"Did you get enough to eat, Emma?" Natalia asked, as the youngster got up from the table to begin collecting plates for the sink. It was one of her few chores when they had lived at the farmhouse, and Olivia was heartened to see her immediately pick up the old behavior without even being asked.
"Uh hunh," Emma nodded, a big smile plastered across her face, "I'm so full!" She deposited the dishes in the sink and returned to give Natalia a brief hug.
"Too full for cookies?" Olivia inquired with a sly grin, already knowing the answer.
"No way!" Emma huffed, hugging her mother and then running off to the living room.
"And she's gone," Olivia chuckled, wondering if she'd ever had that much energy, even at her daughter's age. She heard little feet pounding up the stairs, and shook her head. "Where's she off to in such a hurry?"
"Homework was put off to help me with dinner," Natalia explained, "On the condition it was finished before the movie started."
"Ah, gotcha," the hotelier nodded, letting out a contented sigh, "Speaking of which, dinner was excellent. Thank you."
Natalia smiled widely. "You're welcome. I noticed you packing it away." A mothering look crept onto her face. "Skipped lunch again didn't you?" she asked.
"Not intentionally," Olivia admitted with chagrin, "I was so wrapped up in paperwork that I didn't even notice the time pass. I almost missed my own damn budget meeting."
Knowing how long the hotel owner had been sequestered in her office, Natalia was amazed that Olivia had gotten so far behind. "Well I saw your desk," she commented on the mess she'd seen when she stopped by for their chat that morning, "But I didn't realize there was THAT much to do."
"I've been a little distracted over the past few weeks," Olivia said softly, her expression a strange mix of remembered hurt over nearly losing the woman she loved, and joy at their new closeness.
Natalia smiled and put a hand over Olivia's on the table, squeezing gently. "Well I hope you're nearly caught up," she said, trying to lighten the mood, "Because you have three client meetings on Monday." She chuckled at the hotelier's pained expression and patted her hand in sympathy.
"Thanks for reminding me," Olivia groaned. That earned her a full throated laugh from the younger woman, complete with dimples, and suddenly she felt much better about the situation. She smiled widely as Natalia got up from the table and began filling the sink with water to take care of their dishes. "Let me help with that."
"It will only take a minute." Natalia shook her head and gestured toward the china cabinet with her chin. "You can open a bottle of wine though if you like," she added, already wrist deep in suds.
"Porch?" Olivia inquired as she moved towards the cabinet where the wine glasses were stored. Remembered moments of huddling together for warmth as they chatted in the crisp cold air made her smile. She poured two servings of merlot from the bottle she'd unintentionally left behind in the move, already sure of an affirmative answer.
"I'll meet you there," Natalia confirmed, throwing a dimpled smile over her shoulder that spoke volumes of her mind recalling the same close discussions. Hurrying through the simple chore after Olivia headed outside, the younger woman left the dishes to dry in the wooden rack beside the sink. She shrugged into her coat after a quick call up the stairs to let Emma know where they would be, and went to join the woman she loved.
Olivia curled into one corner of the bench, and sipped at her wine thoughtfully. It had been such a long road that led her back to where she was, enjoying the feeling of a hot meal, good company, and relaxation. She had been going non stop since moving out before the ill fated wedding, and it was comforting to be back where she felt she belonged, even if it was only for one evening.
Things had been snowballing so rapidly that her head was spinning from everything she had to process, and the hotelier knew there was even more to come. Natalia had said they would need to talk about things, especially what had happened through the previous night, and while her tone had been a positive one, Olivia couldn't help but feel a sense of trepidation about what the conversation might bring. She wasn't the world's most optomistic person, a fact she had accepted about herself a long time ago, and even the mere thought of going backwards from what they had shared sent a sharp pain of loss through her.
The screen door creaked as Natalia made her way outside and joined her on the bench. "Hey you," Olivia said, pulling her mind away from the self doubt it was threatening to sink into. She reached for the glass of wine she'd set on the little side table and handed it over to the younger woman without preamble.
"Thanks," Natalia smiled, sliding across the chilly bench to close the distance between them. She snuggled up to Olivia's side to keep warm, not at all surprised to see a hint of melancholy still shadowing her face.
The hotelier was instantly heartened by the younger woman's actions, and felt her own arm raise to allow closer contact, wrapping it around slim shoulders. It still amazed her that they fit together so well, and gave her a little more hope every time Natalia sought out the contact. She squeezed the wool covered shoulder gently and smiled at the contented hum that the action caused as Natalia let her head fall back to rest against her.
"Penny for your thoughts," Olivia said softly, not wanting her voice to ride too high over the breeze rustled branches of the trees in the front yard, or any other sound of the approaching night.
"Nothing specific," Natalia answered, sipping at her wine, "Just happy to have you and Emma here." She rested her free hand lightly on Olivia's thigh, moving her fingers in random patterns over the designer fabric.
Olivia shivered at the gentle touch, looking down at the idly moving digits and wondering at how such an innocent caress could inspire such longing within her. "I've been looking forward to this all day," she admitted, dropping a kiss into dark brown hair.
"Then why did you look so sad a minute ago when I came out here?" the younger woman inquired, "Still waiting for the other shoe to drop?"
"Maybe a little," Olivia admitted with a sigh, "But I'm trying to get past it." Acknowledging her own insecurities was something she wasn't entirely comfortable with, but Natalia deserved the truth from her. Especially if they were to move forward with what was growing between them.
"I guess I can understand that," Natalia answered, wishing it wasn't the case, but accepting it as something she couldn't change overnight. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
"Just keep loving me," Olivia whispered, squeezing the shoulder under her hand.
Natalia tilted her head around to look into emerald green eyes and smiled. "Always," she breathed, tipping her chin up slightly in silent invitation for a kiss; one that Olivia happily accepted.
Soft lips melted together chastely, though no less intensely than the night before, and the hotelier marvelled at how much she felt for the younger woman. Every time they touched, Olivia felt a warm contentment blossom in her chest, burning away all her doubt. It was a sensation she knew she was quickly becoming addicted to.
Unfortunately the moment didn't last. The soft sounds of twilight were broken by gravel crunching under rubber as headlights flashed across the porch where the two women sat, preceeding a dark sedan that they knew all too well. I knew the night was going far too smoothly, Olivia thought, letting out a long suffering sigh as Frank's car stopped right behind her own. "God, he's like something I stepped in," she muttered, rolling her eyes.
"I better deal with this," Natalia said unhappily, pulling away from Olivia's warm embrace, "Do you want to wait inside?"
Olivia took the wine glass from her and set both down on the little table beside the bench. "Not a chance," she replied right away, giving the younger woman's hand a quick squeeze as they got up. She tried to look confident when Natalia threw her a shakey smile, and then both women turned to face the impending confrontation that was headed up the walkway.
"Hello Frank," Natalia said cooly, crossing her arms over her chest. Her slight figure stopped at the top step to the porch, blocking his approach to her home.
"Natalia," he said quietly, stuffing his hands in his pockets and looking up at her sheepishly, "I know I'm the last person you want to see right now, but I needed to come by and apologise for my actions last night."
Natalia was momentarily taken aback by his tone, if not his words, but said nothing. Even Olivia seemed surprised, judging by the startled huff that reached her ears. The hotelier had stayed by the bench, and the younger woman felt the need to keep herself between the two. Hence her position at the edge of the porch. After the events of the previous night, she felt an overwhelming need to protect the woman behind her.
"There's no excuse for my behavior," Frank continued when he realized that she wasn't going to respond, "Regardless of my state of innebriation, I shouldn't have scared you like that. And I'm sorry."
It took a few moments for the meaning of his words to register, but when they did, Natalia felt a surge of anger. He wasn't sorry for hitting Olivia at all. He was only sorry that he had behaved badly in front of the woman he wanted to marry. The very thought that he could so easily dismiss striking the woman she loved, absolutely incensed her, and her arms lowered to her sides, fists clenching. But being the good christian woman that she was, Natalia wanted to give him one more chance.
"Olivia didn't deserve your anger," she said quietly, her expression pinched, while she struggled not to raise her voice.
Frank looked momentarily confused by the sudden shift of topic, and then a scowl crossed his face. A single step brought him closer, and Natalia could finally smell the alcohol on his breath. "This isn't about her," he argued, shaking his head, "This is about us. You and me."
"There IS no us, Frank," Natalia responded firmly, meeting his gaze unflinchingly. She stayed more tense than she wanted, hyper aware of his body language. He wasn't nearly as drunk as the night before, but she knew him well enough to know that he'd passed a respectable limit in his consumption, and that made him unpredictable.
"Of course there is," he argued, visibly trying to keep his anger in check, "Just because you're taking your turn on the town bicycle right now, doesn't mean we can't fix this."
"What?" Natalia sputtered, blinking in shock. He didn't just say what I think he did, she tried to convince herself. A startled gasp from the woman behind her, unfortunately, told her otherwise.
"C'mon Natalia," Frank said, either unaware, or ignoring the enraged look on her face, "Everyone's had a ride on Olivia Spencer. Why should you be any different? It just means we have more in common, and..."
Whatever reasoning Frank had been about to express was cut off by Natalia's hand colliding with his face in a stinging slap that left an instant hand print. "How DARE you!" she hissed, her words so dripping with rage that she even stunned herself. Instinctively, she took a step forward, not even realizing her threatening posture, until strong, yet familiar, arms circled her from behind and held her in place.
"Don't," Olivia whispered in her ear, quickly tugging her back a couple of steps before Frank could regain his equalibrium, "It's not worth it." She spun the younger woman towards the door of the farmhouse and guided her inside, calling over her shoulder, "Leave, Frank. Or this time the police WILL be called."
Whatever comment he may have made was abruptly cut off when Olivia slammed the farmhouse door and threw the deadbolt with finality. She didn't even look to see if he was still standing where they had left him. Too concerned about Natalia's state of mind, she gently turned the seething woman around and pulled her into a tight embrace, hoping the contact would ease her tension.
Slender arms wrapped themselves around the hotelier's waist, and Natalia burrowed in closer, letting out a shaky breath. "I'm sorry," she whispered, against Olivia's throat, causing her to shiver involuntarily.
"it's okay," Olivia replied softly, placing a gentle kiss just under the younger woman's ear. She felt the tension still radiating from her and tried to lighten the situation. "Been a long time since someone defended my honor," she joked. Natalia only snorted quietly, still holding on tight.
Neither woman relaxed for several minutes, until the sound of a car starting reached their ears. It was followed by an angrily revved engine as the sedan pulled out, spitting gravel from spinning tires. "So did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" Natalia muttered shakily into the hotelier's throat.
Olivia guffawed in surprise and squeezed the younger woman tightly for a long moment. "Cute," she said, pulling back to deposit a kiss on an olive toned forehead, "Why don't you go get the movie cued up, and I'll rescue the wine from the porch."
"Okay," she replied quietly, not bothering to supress the geniune chuckle when Olivia spun her towards the living room and patted her behind gently. The unspoken intent that she didn't want Frank to ruin what had been a beautiful evening, was heavy in her actions, and Natalia couldn't really muster the energy or the desire to argue the point.
Natalia heaved out a big sigh, trying to rid herself of all the negativity she had just experienced, deliberately refusing to dwell on the fact that she had struck Frank in anger. She had rarely slapped anyone in her life, and never with the force that she had unleashed in her swing on the man she had almost married. So much so that her palm still stung where it had connected.
Shrugging out of her coat, Natalia banished all thought of the man from her head and set about gathering much needed movie night supplies. A glass of juice for Emma, and a plate of freshly baked cookies found their way to the coffee table in front of the sofa, and she was starting up the dvd player when Olivia joined her, topped up wine glasses in hand.
"I'm going to go change," the hotelier informed her with a smile, setting the glasses beside the plate of cookies.
"Don't forget the movie blanket," Natalia said, refering the huge fleece throw that all three usually curled together under when they shared family time on the sofa. She smiled at the memory of those times, and felt a warm glow at the knowledge that she was about to experience it yet again.
When Olivia returned, complete with blanket, and Emma in tow, the happily little family settled in to watch their movie. As was the norm for movie nights at the farmhouse, all three snuggled together, munching cookies and laughing at the antics on screen. But even Ben Stiller playing a frazzled security guard, trying to coral museum exhibits come to life, couldn't keep the youngest of them awake.
Emma lay sprawled between the two women, her favorite place when watching movies, snoring softly. The sugar rush that had caused her to bounce all evening, like a crack smoking tigger, had finally worn off, and the grade schooler was down for the count. Olivia had noticed her eyes drooping much earlier, and was glad she'd had the forethought to make Emma change into her pyjamas before the start of the movie. Too many nights she and Natalia had just about driven themselves crazy trying to get the 8 year old out of her clothes and into bed without waking her.
"I think she's out," Natalia said with a dimpled smile, keeping her voice soft enough that it didn't wake the girl.
"I think you're right," the hotelier answered, stroking her daughter's hair, "She hasn't drooled on me this much since she was a baby." Natalia leaned forward a bit and chuckled when she caught sight of the spreading dampness on Olivia's thigh.
"Ah, the joy of kids," she said dreamily, shaking her head. Olivia snorted in response, making Natalia's dimples show in her smile. "I'll take her up to bed if you want to refill our glasses," the younger woman bargained, slipping out from under the blanket.
"Deal," came the happy response, and silence decended as the movie was paused.
Natalia scooped up the sleeping Emma, careful not to jostle her too much and made her way up the stairs, wondering at how quickly she was growing. Not going to be able to do this much longer, she thought, toeing open the door to what had once been Emma's room. With a bit of awkward jostling, Natalia got the blankets pulled down and the little girl tucked in snugly. She made sure her favorite doll was within easy reach and watched to make sure she wasn't waking, before dropping a gentle kiss on her forehead and backing quietly out of the room.
It felt so natural to put the young girl to bed and tuck her in. She had done it for so long while Olivia was recovering, that it became one of the small things she took for granted. Now that they no longer lived at the farmhouse, she missed it more than she realized, and took an extra long moment to appreciate the feeling of family it gave her.
Tears sprang to her eyes and she blinked them away, eagerly heading back to the stairs before getting too lost in her memories. Olivia would be waiting for her, hopefully under the movie blanket once more, and Natalia couldn't help but feel her heart lurch at the thought of curling up in that tender embrace. Every worry, every concern, every stress of her life, melting away in those loving arms.
Natalia made her way slowly down the stairs, noticing that something was different. In the few minutes she had been gone, tucking in Emma, the atmosphere of the living room had changed. Most of the lights had been switched off, replaced with the flickering glow of candlelight, coming from the giant pillar candles Olivia had bought for the fireplace mantle. Only the small end table lamp beside the sofa remained on, casting a mellow hue over the room. A room that was suspiciously empty.
Natalia peered into the kitchen as she rounded the banister at the base of the stairs, her curiosity piqued. What are you up to, Olivia Spencer, she wondered, noticing that the dishes from their movie munching had disappeared along with the wine glasses. She moved over to the sofa, reclaiming her previous spot, though she perched on the edge, rather than snuggled down comfortably.
"You're back," Olivia's voice drew her attention back to the kitchen doorway. Natalia watched the hotelier return, refilled wine glasses in hand, and felt a jolt through her body at how much the candlelight complimented her. Blonde highlights framing her face seemly ignited as they shifted with each step she took, and emerald green eyes glowed in a way that the younger woman was sure she'd never seen before. God, she's perfection, Natalia thought, and she could only nod her thanks as one of the wine glasses was pressed into her hand.
Olivia returned to her own spot on the sofa, keeping a slight distance between them, though Natalia was sure she could feel the other woman's body heat, so hyper sensitive was she becoming. "I hope the candles are okay," she said, fiddling with the stem of her glass, "I thought this would be a little easier on the eyes for that 'talk' you wanted to have."
Natalia remembered mentioning that early in the morning, but for the life of her, as she watched Olivia's fingers move, couldn't bring herself to think it was anywhere close to important. "All this for a talk?" she said, finally finding her voice, "Why Ms. Spencer, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to seduce me."
The expression that crossed Olivia's face, for the most fleeting of moments, looked much akin to a deer in headlights. It disappeared so quickly that Natalia almost missed it, replaced with the much more familiar arched eyebrow and sexy half smirk that seemed to live on her face in recent days. "Show's what you know," the hotelier purred, "Do you see any latte's here?"
It took Natalia a moment to register the words, so lost had she gotten in those green eyes, but when she did, an unintended laugh burst from her chest, and she could feel the blush rising to her cheeks. Sipping at her wine, the older woman chuckled right along with her, and both visibly relaxed from the near miss of intensity.
Natalia watched Olivia for a long moment, seeing the hint of worry still shading her eyes, and just the barest hint of distance she kept around her, like a defensive shroud that would protect her from any negativity she expected to hear. How I wish I could take that doubt from you, the younger woman thought, setting her wine glass down on the coffee table. "Honestly," Natalia said quietly, looking down at her hands, "When I said this morning that we should talk about certain things that happened last night, I expected that by this point I'd NEED to." The heat in her cheeks increased against her will.
"But?" Olivia's hesitant voice prodded softly when the younger woman didn't immediately continue.
Natalia looked back up into emerald green eyes and smiled. "But I just don't feel that need," she confessed, reaching out to clasp Olivia's free hand in both of hers, "I woke up this morning and I felt no guilt. No confusion. Only peace."
The hotelier's eyes shon brightly as they misted over, but Natalia could tell she was trying to keep the tears from falling. She opened her mouth several times to speak, but nothing came out. Finally she seemed to settle for squeezing the younger woman's hands with her own. Wow, Olivia Spencer too shocked to speak, Natalia thought, stunned.
"Hey, tell you what," the younger woman said after a long moment of silence, having let the other woman collect herself, "Turn around, and I'll rub your shoulders."
"Hunh?" Olivia squeaked, her emerald green eyes going wide for a moment.
"Don't think I didn't notice you stretching your neck all through dinner," Natalia answered, with a smile, "It's been a stressful day all around." She made a spin gesture with her finger. "Now about face, missy."
Olivia chuckled and shrugged slightly. "Hey, if you want to pamper me, I'm not going to argue," she said, turning away from the younger woman and sliding back a bit. A deep groan interrupted anything else she might have thought to say when delicate hands, made strong by years of manual labor, began kneading her shoulder muscles firmly.
Natalia smiled as she felt the other woman's tension begin to melt away under her ministrations. She even let out a soft chuckle when Olivia put her wine glass on the coffee table with a shakey hand, as if she was afraid she'd drop it. "Feel good?" she asked softly, moving her hands constantly from shoulder to neck and back, making sure to cover every inch with her theraputic approach.
"God, you have no idea," Olivia groaned, her head dipping forward as Natalia's skilled fingers found another knot at the base of her skull and coaxed it to relax, "I think I need to have stressful days more often, if this is how I'm going to be treated."
Natalia chuckled and leaned back against the arm of the sofa, pulling Olivia gently back with her, strong fingers kneading the entire time. There was only a hint of hesitation from the hotelier, a testament to her strong desire for contact, before she relented, allowing her body to relax completely. The younger woman's fingers moved higher still, sliding into silky hair and kneading slowly in circles.
Olivia couldn't keep her head upright during the tender ministrations, and finally gave in to her body's demand. With another soft groan of decadent pleasure, the hotelier let her head loll back to rest on Natalia's shoulder and closed her eyes, arching into the touch like a lazy cat in a sunbeam. Finally, comfortably unfolded, both women were reclined on the sofa, Olivia's legs crossed at the ankle, and Natalia's own were stretched out on either side of the hotelier's hips, their upper bodies molded together seamlessly, back to front.
Deep massage gradually shifted to gentle caressing, as Natalia took in every inch of the woman she loved through tactile sensation. Her delicate hands slipped across long burdened shoulders, fingertips trailing down strong, yet amazingly soft, arms, all the while, watching the reactions her touch invoked. Goosebumps raised on bare skin, and the younger woman was very grateful for the tanktop Olivia had chosen to wear for movie night.
"I love the way your skin feels," Natalia whispered softly, confessing her fascination, "I love how it reacts to my touch."
"Mmmm," Olivia hummed quietly, lost in a haze of relaxation. So enjoying the hedonistic pleasure she was being indulged in, she couldn't even muster up the slightest concern of negative reaction when she turned her face into Natalia's hair, and purred happily.
Oh, God, the younger woman shivered in delight at the sound, the things she makes me feel! A sinful thought crossed into her mind as she stroked up and down Olivia's arms, making her blush a deep crimson. I wonder, she thought, can I do it? It should be just the same shouldn't it? Knowing she was flying relatively blind when it came to intimacy with another woman, the sudden mental image that had sprung into Natalia's brain was like an epiphany. Such a shock to her system that she couldn't even bring herself to THINK about resisting the action, and her hands began to stray.
Shyly at first, then with growing confidence, Natalia's hands moved from Olivia's soft arms, one travelling up to stroke through her golden hair, the other stroking across her warm belly. Delightfully contented sounds escaped from the hotelier's lips at the wandering touch, encouraging her to be bolder still.
Deliberately not thinking about it, Natalia slipped both her hands along the warm body of the woman she loved, to meet in the middle, one sliding up, the other down, until each mirrored the other. The backs of her fingers gently swept down the outside swell of Olivia's breasts, causing a choked moan to escape, and the older woman's head to shoot up.
"Natalia?" Olivia rasped, then cleared her throat of the sleepy arousal that had caused it to clog.
"Shh, my love," Natalia whispered, resuming her stroking of the hotelier's tensed belly muscles, urging them to relax, "Please, I just need to feel you." She turned her head towards Olivia's and hummed gently into her ear.
After a brief moment, Olivia relaxed against her once more, apparently enjoying herself far too much to put up much more than a token resistance. Though in a slightly different position, the hotelier raised on arm from her side, and drapped it back over Natalia's free shoulder, indulging her own desire to touch; playing with the dark brown hair she so loved.
The younger woman smiled against Olivia's throat, and began dropping feather light kisses just under her ear. "I love you," she whispered at the very same moment that her hands boldly closed over the other woman's breasts, feeling them heave under her touch.
"Oh!" Olivia gasped for air, her body arching into Natalia's firm but gentle touch. The younger woman could feel pebbled nipples poking into her palms as she squeezed ever so slightly, and then smoothed over the puckered flesh. One hand slipped down over her belly, feeling the muscles ripple under her touch, and she couldn't help the soft moan that escaped her lips, directly into Olivia's ear.
"Nuh...Natalia," the hotelier whispered, her hand stilling in the other woman's hair while she shivered, "Wuh... what are you doing?"
Natalia's nimble fingers slipped lower still, deftly tugging the drawstring of the yoga pants until it came loose. Her hand then splayed out firmly across Olivia's pelvis, pressing down as it's counterpart zeroed in on one pebbled nipple and flicked a fingernail over the sensitive bud through it's protective cotton covering. "Loving you," she whispered, her voice thick with emotion. She closed her lips over the earlobe she had been kissing her way around, and tugged gently with her teeth.
"Yessss," Olivia whimpered, arching into the touch, her fingers tightening into Natalia's hair and holding her in place, "God, I love you, Natalia."
The younger woman groaned at the whispered words, loving the way they sounded. She bit down lightly on the earlobe her lips had been playing with, and felt Olivia's legs part, seemingly of their own volition. She tipped her knee slightly inward and then raised it up, managing to tuck it under Olivia's own and pulling it farther back, opening her wider.
Natalia was completely lost in the feel of the woman in her arms, not quite believing that she wasn't dreaming. Her hand slipped further down, inside the freed waistband of Olivia's now defenseless yoga pants, and choked out a tortured groan at the searing heat that greeted her. "God you feel so warm," she marvelled, slipping delicate fingertips through soft curls, and finding even softer flesh.
God, it IS just the same, she thought, her fingers, skilled at knowing herself, beginning the quest for the same magical spots on another. Olivia's hips bucked up into her touch, and she let out a strangled cry of surprise.
"So beautiful," Natalia whispered into her love's ear, constantly massaging back and forth from one breast to the other with one hand, while the other continued it's gentle stroking farther south. Persistant fingertips explored silken folds back and forth before zeroing in on the bullet hard little bundle of nerves that she knew instantly. Not wanting to tease or torment, only worship and adore, Natalia immediately set about massaging that little nodule, remembering what made her own jump and mirroring it.
"Oh, fuck," Olivia gasped after several moments of incoherent moaning, her body tensing quicker than either of them expected, and her head thrown back in sheer bliss, "I can't... can't hold... Natalia!" Her voice held an air of desperation and the younger woman quickened her pace in a firm stroke meant to satisfy.
Natalia's free arm ceased it's toying of Olivia's breasts, and tightened around her ribcage, holding her tightly. "I've got you baby," she whispered lovingly, struggling to keep her pace steady against frantically bucking hips, "Let it go. I'll catch you."
Olivia clutched at Natalia's hair with one hand, the other digging into the sofa's edge, and held on desperately as the younger woman's words reached her. The whispered tone served to be the final stimulus that tipped the scales, and her breath caught on a cry that sounded half pain, half pleasure.
Natalia closed her eyes and revelled in the feel of Olivia's loss of control as her climax carried her away. She stroked the hard little node through her love's pleasure, wanting to prolong it as much as possible, but finally slowed when Olivia's body grew still. She covered the entire sensitive area with her hand, cupping the twitching flesh reverently as the other woman panted and gasped for air, her body feeling completely boneless.
"I love you, Olivia," she whispered, cradling the woman she loved close while she recovered, smiling into sweat dampened blond highlights when a soft whimper sounded in response. The hotelier shifted slightly in exhaustion, buring her face into Natalia's neck and breathing deeply. The younger woman sighed happily; content to simply be close and wait for her love to return to her.
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