DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Deals with July spoilers but only slightly and not in a way that's likely to annoy.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Natalia wasn't quite sure which night had been the first that she and Olivia had spent together; though she knew it had been accidental. Probably on one of those Friday night movie nights they used to have. After the first movie was over and Emma was tucked in, sometimes the two adults popped in a second film, neither wanting to say goodnight just yet. Natalia was never able to make it through the whole thing though and, had it been a particularly long day, Olivia didn't either. That could have been the first time they fell asleep together she reasoned, the small couch somehow seeming to be just the right size as Natalia's head lay somewhere around Olivia's stomach, the other woman scrunched up at the end.
She wasn't sure if Olivia would count the time Emma was sick, she had caught the twenty four hour bug that was going around. Natalia had quickly learned that Emma took after her mother when she wasn't feeling well and was grateful the girl had a relatively good immune system when she opened up the sixth consecutive bedtime story and started reading aloud, her voice rising above the sniffles from the bed's other occupant. When that didn't do the trick she went to retrieve the bedtime cold medicine from the bathroom while Olivia, who had just gotten home, took over the reading duties. Two more tales about witches and wizards, good versus evil, and so on, and Olivia is finally able to put the book down and smile softly at the sight of both Natalia and Emma sleeping side by side. She rose, about to wake Natalia and let Emma fall into a deeper sleep, but the small girl abruptly threw one leg over Natalia's and her fingers tightened around her own, so she gave up and tugged a blanket over all three of them.
One night she is able to recount clearly is soon after Olivia and Emma had moved into the farmhouse with her, after they'd settled and the three were immersed in a comfortable routine. Emma was staying the night at a friend's and both women found themselves alone at the house with nothing to do. She couldn't remember exactly whose idea the wine had been, but she would place a solid bet that it hadn't been her. Instead of turning on the TV or immersing themselves in work or reading, they had sat down and started talking. The time flew by, both women finding their words flowed effortlessly and Natalia could still recall more than a few inside jokes resulting from all the stories that night. When the late hour was realized they responsibly headed for bed, changing into pajamas and brushing teeth, but one follow up remark and resulting laughter led to them carrying on their conversation in Olivia's room. They'd stayed up all night, trading jokes and stories and Natalia was pleased when it didn't turn out to be a onetime occurrence. Though these nights were few and far between they did happen occasionally; always when Emma was away and always in Olivia's room since she argued her bed was the biggest and Natalia didn't refute since she had found Olivia's sheets were the softest too.
Their words had been aimed to hurt and had hit their marks several times. Anger had radiated from both of them and slammed doors told each other how mad they still were when the day was over. That's why Natalia was surprised to hear hers open after an hour or so of quiet from both rooms. Heartfelt apologies will come from both of them tomorrow but the fingers that grip the sleeve of Natalia's shirt all night and the pillow that has two imprints in it come morning tell more than their words will.
Natalia clearly remembers a few nights that they didn't spend together as well. She remembers her own panic at Olivia's suggestion of a late night cup of coffee. Knowing full well what would happen if she accepted she had hastily declined and was relieved when Olivia didn't pressure the issue and said goodnight, unsure of whether she would have been able to say no twice.
There was the night after the cookie baking marathon. She smiled when she thought about the way Olivia had shown up that day, actually happy to be baking hundreds of cookies, just so long as they were in the same room together. Emma had taken Natalia's permission to eat the raw dough with diligence and was consequently slightly sick afterwards, so the two women had let her lay down while they surveyed the dirty kitchen yet to be cleaned. Olivia made a joke about her good deed being done for the day and leaving Natalia with the mess and Natalia had retaliated by wiping a small pile of flour off the counter and onto Olivia's shirt. Then a playful shove and tickling fingers got caught up with each other and the kitchen was forgotten, lost in the background to the brilliance of Olivia's eyes. If the blonde had suggested having a family dinner that night Natalia was sure, after Emma was tucked in bed stuffed full of popcorn, that would have been the first night they shared the same bed, intimate even with no touching due to the small girl in the room next door. But Olivia hadn't, so it's only in Natalia's imagination that the slight breeze coming through the open window is a light caress, ghosting across her skin, and the extra pillow beside her head acts like another woman's shoulder.
Now that her every night is spent alone with only whispered prayers and silent memories to keep her company, Natalia wishes she had more nights to keep track of. Sighing deeply she turns over, the strange bed she's been using all week too small as the arm she flings falls over the side and hits the floor. She tries not to cry as she desperately rakes through her memories, searching for a night she hasn't yet recalled. One that she can immerse herself in, that's powerful enough to make the walls of the Catholic retreat fade away. And if she's really lucky she'll be able to smell the faintest trace of perfume in the morning when she's awaken by the sun instead of an alarm clock blaring incoherent rock music. And just like every morning she'll wish she could go back and do things differently.
Days can be filled with work and Emma and the lives of others that filter through her everyday life. Nights are harder because they're so quiet. There's no distraction from the thoughts that she desperately wishes would go away as they flood the forefront of her mind. Olivia squeezes her eyes shut harder, praying for sleep, for any kind of release from the torment she's been in the past few days. It won't come easily she knows, the last week teaching her that even running herself to the point of exhaustion won't defeat the emotions that flare up when she's all alone. She's just about out of options for combating the pain that overwhelms her. Patience and hope lost out to her desperate need to know, to understand what had happened. Anger and resentment were still there, fueling the hurt she couldn't stave off, but that wouldn't help her get through the night either. Kicking the rumpled sheets down to the end of the hotel bed she huffed and got up, careful not to make too much noise as she made herself some tea and sat down by the open window. The moon was almost full and her throat tightened for what seemed like the millionth time. Relenting, Olivia let thoughts of past nights infiltrate her mind, letting the tears come because sleep wasn't going to. This room was too impersonal and the bed was just too big.
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