DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com

Need You Now
By Geekgrrllurking


Chapter One

"Mrs. Spaulding, a pleasure as always."

Greg would recognize the petite brunette's smile anywhere, flashing her dimples at him as she rolled her eyes, and swatted him on the arm.

"Greg, will you stop that and just call me Natalia."

The former banquet manager from the Beacon quirked his lips and tilted his head. It was still nice to see that marrying into money hadn't truly changed Natalia Rivera one bit. And both of them finding a way to escape from that evil bitch Olivia Spencer had really for the best.

"Where is that handsome partner of yours? Hiding in the kitchen again?" Natalia glanced around. The small intimate restaurant had taken off since Greg and his boyfriend had bought it. Situated right in the middle of the newly revitalized Springfield Main Street, it was one of the best places to eat in town.

"Miguel is whipping up another masterpiece as our special today." Greg took her arm and led the way through the elegantly decorated tables, both of them ignoring the subtle and not so subtle glances sent their way. He stopped at the best table in the restaurant and slid out the chair for her to sit.

"Well, tell him I said hello." Natalia smiled as she got settled. Her cell phone chimed and she glanced quickly to see who the message was from.

"I'll be back for your order shortly. Your husband left a message with us that his meeting is running long and he might be a little late." Greg plastered his best fake smile on his face. He still didn't like the man, despite the personality transplant he'd seemed to have lately. He noticed the small frown on the woman's face and felt bad.

"Thanks Greg." Natalia sat a little straighter and picked up her phone as the man moved away from her table. Speak of the devil…

ASpaulding 12:10 pm

The Board is not happy that Philip is back. Needed to smooth some ruffled feathers. Rather be there with you sweetie. See you as soon as I can. xoxo

Natalia raised an eyebrow and sighed.

"Alan what are you up to now?"

Natalia suddenly felt eyes watching her. She should be used to it by now, as it came with the territory of being Mrs. Alan Spaulding, but this was something different. She glanced up and saw two very familiar figures enter the restaurant.

Raphael Rivera looked much older than his nineteen years in the well-tailored Armani suit and his close cropped hair. He stood with a slightly arrogant air about him, but that only seemed to make him more appealing to the opposite sex. He smiled up at the older woman beside him, nodding and hanging on her every word. Natalia drank in the sight of her son, happy and laughing. Not something she saw very often anymore. Not since --

Intense green eyes locked with Natalia's, suddenly staring back at her from across the crowded restaurant. Natalia couldn't resist raking down the seductive form of the older woman, taking in the highlighted shoulder length blonde hair flowing around her shoulders, the crisp white blouse and black pencil skirt setting off her soft tan, her attitude oozing confidence and power. Olivia Spencer looked the picture of health and for this small miracle, Natalia would eternally be grateful.

Olivia glanced away first, turning to the young man at her side before leaning in to murmur something to him. Rafe's head snapped up and he zeroed in on Natalia, a grim look quickly coming over his face.

Natalia sighed. She knew that look all too well. She watched helplessly as her son turned back to Olivia and nodded once before turning to leave the restaurant. She looked down at her menu, trying to keep the tears from falling. She really didn't need this today, but it was inevitable now.

Soft footsteps stopped beside her table and Natalia followed up along well toned legs, taking in tempting curves and hollows, a long column of neck and then braced herself to meet those eyes that seemed to look right into her soul.

Condemning her, and rightfully so.

Father Ray and God may have forgiven her for her discretions, but Olivia never would. And neither would Natalia if she was honest. She swallowed hard and waited.

Olivia smiled, her eyes glittering dangerously as she pulled out the chair opposite the brunette and sank down onto the hard chair, uninvited.

"Natalia." Olivia's voice dropped to its lowest register, serious in its intent. "This is a … pleasant surprise."

Natalia snorted and poured out some water, the ice clinking into her empty glass.

"What do you want, Olivia? You already taken everything I ever cared for, except Alan." Natalia sipped at her water and glared at the older woman over the rim of the glass.

"Well, been there, done him, got the Ravenwood t-shirt." Olivia smirked, starting to enjoy herself more now. It was always fun playing with Natalia, like a cat plays with a mouse before the death blow. "I want you to tell Alan to keep Philip away from my daughter. Or I will take matters into my own hands."

"Philip's changed Olivia." Natalia started, trying to explain. The man living with them at the mansion was not insane. She could hardly believe the stories that she had heard, and wouldn't have except for the fact that Philip had told them to her himself, weeping into his glass of whiskey.

"Riiiight." Olivia rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"Maybe supervised visits with Emma would…" Natalia stopped mid-thought. If looks could kill, she would have already been on the way to the morgue. She fidgeted with her napkin a moment, the tension still thick. Finding her backbone, she figured she might as well ask about their other shared husband. Or ex-husband as the case may be.

"H-have you heard from—"

"From who, Gus?" Olivia gave a short bark of a laugh. "Harley has him wrapped around her little finger. Love of his life, blah, blah, blah... He's conveniently forgotten all about us…" Olivia paused, her unspoken pain bleeding through into her voice for a moment, clearly reflecting from her eyes.

Olivia desperately wanted a drink if she was going to go down this road with Natalia. After all those months with Gus, as he helped her recover from her transplant, forging a family together with Rafe and Emma and eventually even Ava, he left without so much as a backward glance. Love had slipped through her fingers again. Olivia sighed and looked back up into the soft dark eyes on the other side of the table. Understanding eyes. After all Gus had done the exact same thing to Natalia. Twice.

"Anyway, I'm not here to talk about my current ex-lover. I'm more concerned with my crazy ex-husband." Olivia shifted in her chair and noticed as Natalia's eyes lifted, a smile suddenly playing on the woman's full lips.

"Hello Olivia." Alan Spaulding appeared beside the table smiling down at both women. "I thought I heard 'crazy' and 'ex' used in the same sentence and suddenly there you were." Alan leaned over and dropped a tender kiss to Natalia's flushed cheek. "Sorry I'm late sweetheart. I see you've found something to entertain you until I arrived."

Olivia stood, staring hard at the older man. She glared at him a moment longer, desperately wanting to say something back, but she bit her tongue. After all she still needed the man's help with keeping Philip away from Emma. She'd do anything to keep her children safe. Anything.

"I should go."

"Yes you should. So nice to see you again, Olivia." Alan's eyes grew cold and he settled himself down onto the chair across from his wife. "I'll give Phillip your regards."

Olivia's eyes narrowed angrily and she shook her head. Giving Natalia one final glare she turned and left the couple alone.

"Well, that went well." Natalia watched her former boss leave the restaurant. Not for the first time she wished things had turned out differently between them so long ago. Sighing, she turned her attention back to the here and now. It was too late to change things now.

Wasn't it?


Chapter Two

Rafe stood outside the busy restaurant, his arms crossed, glaring at the world as it passed by on Main Street. He hated it when he ran into his mother just out of the blue like this; it always upset him for the rest of the day. Yanking on his silk tie to loosen it, he unbuttoned his shirt collar and leaned against the brick wall waiting for Olivia to come back out.

Sighing, the young man ran a hand through his short dark hair, smoothing it back into place. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to shake it off. Olivia always said to never let them see you sweat. Well that went double for showing how much his Ma, and her poor decisions, pissed him off. Locking Olivia up in that stupid cabin had been the beginning of the end, and she had paid for that one by losing her dream of a family. As for marrying Alan...Rafe shuddered. It still made him slightly ill to think of that old man touching her that way.

Rafe pushed away from the wall and started pacing, quickly checking his Rolex for the time. What was taking Olivia so long? They still had to grab a bite to eat somewhere before heading back to the Beacon for the senior management meeting at two. He had thrived as Olivia's assistant over the past year, thrilled when she offered him his own apartment suite at the Beacon as part of the package.

It had broken his heart when his father told him a month ago that he was leaving Olivia for Harley. Rafe had finally felt like he had the family he'd always wanted with Gus and Olivia, little Emma and Ava, and then, just like that, it was gone again.

To say Olivia had been upset about the break up was to put it mildly. Still when Rafe had escorted her back to the penthouse suite last week after finding her drowning her sorrows in the Beacon's downstairs bar, he had been truly touched when she told him that he was the son she'd never had.

Rafe shook his head and swallowed his anger down. First his Ma had screwed up his opportunity for a perfect family with his father, and now Gus had just done the same thing to him with Olivia. Not for the first time Rafe silently cursed his parents.

He was tired of dwelling on things he couldn't change and it was getting late. He pulled out his Blackberry, quickly double checking Olivia's schedule for the afternoon, and glanced up as a black limo pulled up to the front of the restaurant. The driver hurried to open the back door, and Rafe sighed as the devil himself stepped out of the back.

Alan Spaulding stood, puffing his cigar and straightening his tie, before moving to the side as a lithe young blonde followed him out of the car. She dabbed at some lipstick staining his cheek and smiled warmly as he grinned at her lecherously. Placing his hand on her bottom, his fingers traced along the skin just below the hem of the micro-miniskirt, Alan leaned closer and whispered something in her ear. Giggling, she smiled and handed his handkerchief back before returning to the backseat of the limo, Alan squeezing her ass for good measure as she disappeared inside.

"Take Miss Watson back to Spaulding Enterprises and then come back for me by one." Alan informed his driver. Quickly shutting the car door, the driver nodded and hustled to do as he was told, as Alan turned to wave to the girl inside through the dark limo windows.

Rafe raised an eyebrow at the sickening display and leaned back against the side of the restaurant, watching as the limo took off. Alan headed towards the restaurant door, obviously rushing to meet with his mother for lunch. Rafe stomach churned as the man discreetly checked that his fly was zipped shut, as his other hand was poised to yank on the restaurant door to enter. Something must have caught the old man's attention as he paused and turned to look up at him.

Rafe's eyes locked with Alan's, letting all his emotions bleed into them, dark and angry. The older man squinted back and then smiled, throwing his cigar to the ground. It rolled to a stop at Rafe's feet, still burning. Alan nodded smugly and pulled the door open, entering the restaurant without a word.

No words were needed. Rafe had seen more than enough to get the message. It was bad enough that his mother was married to the man, now he was blatantly cheating on her. Furious, he stepped on the still smoldering butt, crushing it out under his foot. Rafe knew he had issues with his mother but he needed to warn her, somehow help her out of that mess of a marriage. He had to do something; the question was what?

He looked up as the door opened again and Olivia stepped out of the restaurant, blinking into the bright afternoon sunshine before calmly sliding her aviator sunglasses on.

"Come on, Rafe. I don't know about you, but I'm starving." She adjusted her purse onto her shoulder and headed down the sidewalk. Rafe stuck his hands into his pockets and followed her back to the car.

"Actually, I've kinda lost my appetite…"

Natalia Spaulding turned back to her husband sitting happily across from her, staring at him as he opened a menu and started to read. She took another sip of her ice water and sighed.

"So the Board wasn't thrilled with Phillip coming back and wanting to be part of Spaulding Enterprises again?" Natalia asked finally, chewing on her lower lip and tried to gather the courage to start the conversation she really wanted to have with her husband.

"You know those fools; they are so skittish at the best of times. They just can't wrap their tiny pea brains around the idea that Phillip is a changed man and deserves a second chance. Just like I'm a changed man now too, because of you, my sweet." Alan smiled at his wife. Natalia resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

It was true Alan had been trying to change. The last few months the man had been almost pleasant with people. Deep down though, Natalia knew it wasn't genuine. It was a surface change, to try to woo her back to him, but it was far too late for that.

"Alan, stop." Natalia swirled the ice in her glass for a moment. "I still want a divorce. I've given this a lot of thought and…"

"Natalia, please." Alan closed his eyes and dropped the menu back down to the table. "Give it a little more time."

Natalia looked down at her wedding rings and swallowed hard. She took her vows seriously, their wedding day coming back to her in a wave. It had been a small wedding, in the back yard of the mansion. The sun had been shining, birds singing, it had been perfect. Except she had been alone, there had been no family there to share in the occasion. It had hurt, more than she cared to admit at the time.

She flashed back to how good it had been in the beginning. Natalia had been thrilled when Alan offered her the job of being his assistant, after being unceremoniously let go from the Beacon's cleaning staff. He had been so nice to her, so sympathetic. His playfulness at work, and creative, romantic dinners was a pleasant distraction from her family falling apart before her eyes. As Olivia proceeded to take everything that she had ever loved away, Alan tried to give her everything she could want. He was the perfect gentleman, making her laugh and above all else feel worthy of being loved again.

It had been seeing Alan with his youngest daughter, Peyton, that had clinched it for her. She had witnessed a completely different side to the man, seeing him play and spend precious time with his daughter. In fact, he went out of his way to make Natalia feel like part of his family when she had been abandoned by every single member of hers. So when he proposed, she had said yes.

Natalia had been happy for a little while. She stopped working for the first time in her life. She shopped and traveled and tried desperately to forget what she had lost by her own selfish stupidity. However all that changed when she found out about the other women.

One of Alan's many assistants had sent her a most enlightening letter after their brief affair had ended badly. Natalia had moved into a different wing of the mansion that afternoon and had not been back to the man's bed since. She hired a private investigator the next day and discovered a string of young women. She couldn't trust him and the thought of his hands touching her had become revolting.

Natalia respected her wedding vows and after talking at length with Father Ray about it, she had given Alan the opportunity to change these last nine months. The man had been trying, but deep down she knew it wasn't going to work. She was his trophy wife, eye candy on his arm as they navigated Springfield's social circles. Sweet little Peyton had Beth as her mother, and didn't need her.

She had finally come to the conclusion that she needed to be needed to find someone to love her and to make a true family with. And Alan was not that person. Natalia just had to have a little faith that that person was out there, somewhere, waiting to be found.

"Alan." Natalia said more forcefully, interrupting his whining. "I want a divorce." She hadn't noticed Greg at her elbow, notepad in hand, until it was too late. Now he was gamely trying not to react to that juicy bit of gossip.

"Are we ready to order?" Greg tilted his head and blinked innocently at Alan. He couldn't wait to get back into the kitchen to tell his lover the latest.

"I'll have steak, rare, and Mrs. Spaulding will have the chicken Caesar salad. And I think a nice glass of merlot for both of us." Alan said curtly, handing his menu to the nosey young man. Greg gave Natalia a small smile as he snatched the menus up and disappeared quickly, not wanting to be directly involved in a domestic, but quite happy to relay the play-by-play to his boyfriend from the safety of the sidelines.

"I hate it when you do that." Natalia grumbled. She was getting angry now. First a sighting of her son, then a run in with Olivia and now Alan being...well, Alan. It was all becoming too much for her.

"Do what?" Alan calmly unfolded his napkin and checked his cutlery for spots. Picking up his fork, he started polishing the tines.

"Order for me, without asking me what I'd like first." Natalia hissed back at him, wanting to hit him as Alan just rolled his eyes, dismissing her.

"Natalia, a divorce couldn't come at the worst possible moment. Think about what you are saying." Alan placed his fork back onto the table top and smiled as the sommelier arrived with their drinks. Leaning forward, he took a sip, his eyes watching his wife's demeanor carefully. He needed to play her just right, tug on the right heart strings and then wait. Nodding his approval, the wine was poured and soon they were left alone again.

"The Board is very nervous right now and if I got a divorce at the moment it could tip them into thinking I am weak right now. Lizzie and Bill are looking for any excuse to cause trouble and to take over. I'm asking you to stay a little longer. Give me a chance, I've been changing, haven't I? Peyton's birthday is coming up and Philip is doing really well with you in the house." Alan played on her understanding of the importance of family. It had been one of the things that they both shared. He put on his most sincere smile and waited to see if his gamble had counted.

Natalia stared into the blood red wine in her glass, swirling it ever so slowly, as if trying to find answers in its dark depths. She was being manipulated and she knew it. Still, what was a few more weeks. Frowning, she took a sip of her wine and nodded moodily. She could wait a little longer.

Alan smiled widely and started polishing his knife. Sooner or later she would be in his bed again, and if he had his way, she would be carrying his child.

She'd never be able to leave him then…


Chapter Three

The dream was always the same, when it came.

It was her penance, she supposed, whenever she thought about it during her waking hours, that she was reliving her weakest moment, over and over again in her dreams. It was only fitting somehow that she be trapped, watching her greatest shame, running before her eyes like a movie, unable to stop her world from falling apart, slipping through her fingers like falling sand.

Natalia slept restlessly, shifting in the darkness, the sheets bunching around her as she clutched at her pillow, sweat beading her brow. She thrashed a little, tangled in her sheets, moaning softly. She struggled to wake up, but the dream continued, taking her along with it, whether she wanted to or not…

The Bauer Cabin, it always looked the same. Olivia stood in front of her, angry and panting with anger and desperation.

She watched her hand move of its own volition, shoving a weak Olivia into the bathroom, quickly locking the door. She felt the relief wash over her, that at last she would be able to marry Gus without this bitch interfering with her life. She turned to go to her car, to drive away and have the wedding of her dreams, instead the door flew open, a beam of pure white light blinding her.

Gus stood in the doorway, furious. In the dream he always seemed to grow so much taller, she felt small like a child. Like when her father would tower over her and yell at her for some imagined slight.

"Natalia, what the hell are you doing?" Gus tilted his head, his dark eyes burning with anger. Natalia felt shame wash over her. And fear.

"Please, sweetheart. I-I was just trying to…" Natalia tried to figure out how best to explain herself. Her stomach churned as she heard the weak pounding on the bathroom door. She watched helpless, unable to move as Gus rushed past her, pushing her to the side.

"Dear God." Gus murmured, as he twisted at the doorknob. He hammered on the door with his open palm, listening for noises from inside. "Olivia?"

A weak murmur was all she could hear from where she stood, a bleat of fear and despair that came from the other side of the bathroom door. The key burned in her fingers, like it had been forged in hell itself.

What had she done?

Gus turned and glared at her. Natalia's heart shattered at the loathing she saw there. She couldn't seem to move as he crashed his shoulder into the door, breaking it open and disappearing inside. Hot tears fell from her eyes, down her flushed cheeks, her world forever changed because of her spiteful actions.

"I've got you, you're okay." Gus pulled a fragile Olivia from the bathroom. Olivia's eyes turned and locked with Natalia's, burning into her, hatred pouring out in waves.

"They found a heart for her, Natalia." Gus growled pulling Olivia closer as he led her to the door of the cabin. "Your stupid stunt could have killed her. I hope you're proud of yourself."

"Please…" Natalia wept, shaking her head in shame, the words lodged in her throat.

"I don't even know who you are anymore." Gus shook his head. "The woman I remember would never, NEVER, have been capable of doing this to another human being. I think it's best we call off the wedding, I'm going to need some time to think about this…"

"Wait…" Natalia was frozen, her legs unable to move, as her eyes shifted from Gus and locked with Olivia's one last time, her green eyes filled with disgust.

"I will never forgive you for this."

Natalia shot upright in her bed, grabbing her throat, her heart practically beating out of her chest. Olivia's fury swirled around her like an angry ghost, haunting her still.

"I'm so sorry..." She wept into her hands. There was no one there to hear her.

Natalia shuffled into the large mansion kitchen, beginning to rummage around in the fridge. She knew there would be no sleeping again tonight, so she might as well get up and do something. Hilda usually started poking around the kitchen close to eight to make breakfast. Glancing up at the wall clock, it was only four o'clock, plenty of time to bake something.

"You couldn't sleep either?" A deep voice said behind her as Natalia nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Phillip, you scared me." Turning, she smiled at the man leaning against the doorframe. He had his own ghosts chasing him she supposed.

"Sorry." The tall blonde smiled and moved into the kitchen with her, blinking slightly in the bright light. "Old habits die hard, like lurking around the mansion at all hours of the night."

Natalia nodded, as she turned to pull a bowl from a top shelf in the cupboard. Phillip stepped closer and reached over her, hovering close as he easily grabbed it and brought it down to the counter top for her.

"Thanks." She moved away from him, a little uneasy. For all his proclamations of having changed and her desire to give him a second chance, Natalia was no fool. Phillip was a very smart man, who could easily turn on the charm when need be. She had enough man troubles as it was with Alan, she didn't need to add any more.

"No problem." Phillip grinned and looked away. "I should probably head back to bed anyway and leave you to your baking." At the door he turned back, catching her dark eyes watching him. "I spoke with my father, and he told me you'd…" He paused, his eyes glimmering slightly with unshed tears and he swallowed hard. "I just wanted to say thanks for trying to talk with Olivia about Emma. I appreciate you at least trying to get her to see reason."

Natalia nodded sadly. It had been the least she could do, since she was being berated by the woman anyway.

"I know it's not easy being on the bad side of Olivia Spencer." Natalia sighed. Phillip snorted at the understatement and smiled back at her.

"Well, thanks anyway. Good night, Natalia." Phillip turned and disappeared into the shadows of the mansion.

Natalia stood in the warm glow of the kitchen light and watched him go, shaking off the shiver of unease that ran down her back. The sooner she was out of this place the happier she was going to be.


Chapter Four

Rafe smiled warmly at Keira, the lanky blonde admin assistant who normally kept guard outside Olivia's office at the Beacon. The woman's bright blue eyes twinkled back at him as he made his way to her desk and paused.

"Is she in?" He tilted his head towards the closed office door.

"For you, always." Keira pursed her full lips and then nodded at him, blinking her long lashes slowly. Rafe grinned rakishly, running a hand through his messy dark hair before tapping lightly on the office door and poking his head into Olivia's office.

He was greeted with the sight of Olivia madly toiling away, her huge desk piled high with files and reports, as she sat scribbling at a contract, stroking out whole paragraphs and writing notes in the margins. Ever since Gus had left he knew she had been working like a demon possessed and he was starting to worry the toll the long hours were having on her. She frowned and glanced up at his knock, before smiling and dropping her pen, quickly waving the boy in.

"Rafe! Just the man I wanted to see." Olivia straightened the documents in front of her as Rafe closed the office door behind him and sank down into the soft chair in front of her desk.

"Here are the financials from the last few months that you were looking for. And the projections for next month should be ready for you by three." Rafe handed over the folder. Olivia opened it and glanced at the numbers, nodding happily.

"Excellent." Olivia mumbled, distracted by the report. Looking up she saw Rafe shift in his seat, his dark eyes troubled. Something was wrong, had been since they had run into his mother the other day at that damned restaurant. Her eyes narrowed and she slid the report onto a pile to her right, giving him her complete attention.

"Okay, spill it." Olivia sighed, leaning back in her chair, spinning it from side to side slightly. His eyes widened, surprised. She almost laughed at the look on his face. "Come on, I've mothered you long enough now to recognize that look. Talk to me, Rafe."

Rafe stood and sighed, starting to pace a little. He wasn't quite sure the best way to broach the topic, but he trusted the older woman's opinion and valued her insight. She had been like a mother to him since his parents had gone their separate ways. He ducked his head, staring at his feet and bit the bullet, knowing Olivia wouldn't be pleased with the topic.

"It's about my mother."

Olivia froze and closed her eyes. If it wasn't for the fact that she loved Rafe as if he was her own son, she would wash her hands of both Natalia and Gus and be rid of the whole messy period of her life in one fell swoop. But she couldn't, she wouldn't, at least not while Rafe needed her. After all, he was a Spencer now even if he didn't carry her name. She opened her eyes and calmly stared into his dark worried ones.

"What about Natalia?"

Rafe ran a hand through his hair and looked back up at the only other woman in his life that he considered as important.

"I think she needs help." Rafe knew that as much as Natalia had disappointed him, hurt him terribly by screwing up his dream of being a real family with Gus and then for some bizarre reason known only to her, she married his grandfather, deep down he still loved his mother very much.

"Well, obviously…" Olivia smirked, leaning forward again with several snarky comments ready on the tip of her tongue, but the pain in Rafe's dark eyes gave her pause. "What's going on?"

"I saw Alan with another woman in his limo. She was…" Rafe sighed as his stomach churned a little at the thought of what the girl had been doing to the decrepit old man. "She was all over him, Olivia."

Olivia looked down at her paper work, her mind spinning. So the high and mighty Natalia Spaulding was having trouble in paradise. Good.

"And?" Olivia worked hard to ignore the little voice inside dancing with glee, and focused on the very concerned young man standing in front of her.

"And, I don't know…" Rafe slumped back down into the chair. "I guess after everything with you and Gus falling apart, I suppose I've realized that I'm not as pissed off with her…"

Olivia sighed, leaning back in her chair. There was the crux of the matter. The boy felt torn in his loyalties. She watched as he guiltily glanced up at her, waiting for her to go on the attack, ripping his mother apart.

If she was honest with herself, a part of Olivia wanted to. That little girl inside who always ended up with the short end of the stick, wanted to lash out and hurt Natalia as much as she had been hurt by her. It was the game they had been playing for years now.

She looked back at the concerned young man sitting across from her she realized that maybe it was time to get over it. With Gus gone, she didn't really have the energy anymore to actively go after Natalia. What was the point really? She had her transplant and was starting to rebuild her own life again herself. Wasn't it bad enough that Natalia was trapped in a pathetic marriage to that cheating dog Alan?

Besides, Rafe was more important than some petty gloating she could do to inflict pain on Natalia Spaulding. Olivia's eyes narrowed as she realized that Natalia could be a very valuable ally in keeping Phillip and Alan away from Emma. She just needed to play the woman the right way and this situation with Rafe could be her way to do it. Decision made, Olivia stood, making her way around her desk to stop in front of Rafe.

"So do you think you want to actually see your mother and talk about it with her?" Olivia eased herself down onto the edge of her desk and waited to see Rafe's reaction. She almost laughed when he looked up at her, obviously a little shocked at the lack of her usual venom where his mother was concerned.

"Do you think I should?" Rafe sat a little straighter in his chair, his eyes hopeful.

"I think you should do whatever you think is best. And I'll support your decision completely." Olivia smiled, a little surprised at how good it felt to say it and really mean it.

Nodding, Rafe stood and smiled at her. Not for the first time he thought his father was an idiot for letting this woman go. He turned and headed towards the office door, pausing with his hand on the doorknob to look back at her.

"I'll call Ma and arrange to meet her. It's time we worked things out a little and she deserves the truth." Rafe's eyes grew dark with anger. "Alan Spaulding needs to be taken down a peg or two."

"Keep me in the loop, Rafe." Olivia smiled softly, knowing they were on the same page where Alan Spaulding was concerned.

"Thanks Olivia." Rafe grinned back, glad that he had talked to her. "For everything."

"Anytime. Now get back to work, slacker." Olivia chuckled as Rafe waved and left, quietly closing the door behind him. She stood and went to pour herself a drink from her office mini bar, thinking about the best way to woo Natalia to her cause. As Olivia's plan started to take shape, she took a sip of her drink, enjoying the burn of whiskey as it hit her stomach.

Natalia wouldn't know what hit her…

Part 5

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