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SPOILERS: The BBQ of Doom.
Retreating in a Different Direction
"I need a favor."
"Well, hello, to you too, Natalia," Doris said, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning against one side of the door frame. Natalia was honestly the last person she had expected to see here - not with the way Olivia had been glowing in Company the day before. "Don't you have a barbecue to be attending with your girlfriend?"
Natalia winced, but ignored the question. "Are you going to help me or not?"
"That depends," Doris said straightening. "What's in it for me?"
"Me, actually," Natalia said, with grim smile and no hesitation.
"Come again?" Doris asked, confused now.
"You heard me," Natalia said, raising her chin and taking a step forward, bringing her firmly into Doris' personal space. "I'm what's in it for you."
"That...was amazing," Doris pronounced, sounding more than a little self-satisfied.
Natalia's chin was propped up on her elbows. She dropped her head to one side to look over at Doris. "It was..."
Doris grinned and stretched contentedly beside Natalia on the bed. "What? You can tell me. I can take it. Amazing? Fabulous? The hottest sex of your life?"
"Horrible," Natalia said with a snort of disbelieving laughter. "It was the worst sex of my life." She laughed again and rolled onto her back.
Doris drew herself up sharply, the sheet falling away from her chest. "What are you- I mean, there a plenty of women - dozens - who would -" She stared at Natalia. "You couldn't be more wrong. And I was doing you a favor. See if this ever happens again."
"Oh, it can NEVER happen again," Natalia said firmly, pushing herself up on her elbows. Like Doris the sheet fell away from her as well. Doris watched it fall then brought her eyes back up - until they stopped mid-chest.
Natalia rolled her eyes and then swung her legs over the edge of the bed.
"So you're leaving. You hated it. That still doesn't explain why you're here when you're supposed to be at a barbecue - with my best friend - getting your happily ever after on."
Natalia slipped her skirt back up over her hips effortlessly. There would come a time when it wouldn't be so easy, but for now... "There was something that I needed to know."
"And only I could tell you?"
"I guess so."
Doris rose, unabashed by her own nakedness. "Why me?"
For the first time, Natalia gave her a slightly apologetic smile. "You're the only lesbian I know."
Doris rubbed her forehead with the heel of her palm. "And that matters why?"
"Because I needed to know if it was just-" Natalia shook her head. "Has Olivia ever looked at you? Really looked at you? Because she's looked at me - she does it all the time. It makes me shiver - and feel hot all over. Like I'm the only thing in the world and it's so consuming. I can't think or breathe."
Doris swallowed. "She hasn't, no." And wasn't that a bitch. She had a suspicion those looks were for Natalia alone now.
Natalia shrugged. "I needed to know if the way she made me feel was because it was Olivia - or because she's a woman. I...something happened. It changed everything, made me doubt everything. The way I feel about her and about myself."
"And this proved you wrong? Right?"
"It told me that it's her that I love - not any one thing about her, or because she's a woman. But because she's Olivia. No one else could ever love me the way she does." She gave Doris a regretful smile. "Make me feel the way she does. And that there's nothing wrong with the way she makes me feel."
"And how do you think you'll explain this?" Doris asked.
"She can never know," Natalia said immediately. "It would devastate her."
"Maybe you should have thought of that before-"
"You won't say anything to her," Natalia said, cutting her off before she could finish.
"Why not? Sleeping with your girlfriend's friend isn't a good sign for a relationship."
Natalia padded across the carpeting on bare feet until she was in front of Doris. She touched Doris' cheek. "Because you're not as heartless as you pretend to be." She turned away, collecting her jacket and purse from where they had been deposited by the bedroom door. "Because you're just a little bit in love with Olivia yourself."
Doris' eyes narrowed. "Then why did I fuck you?"
"You want what we have - and I was as close as you could get."
"Don't," Doris said harshly, ignoring the way her whole body was shaking with suppressed emotion. "Just get out. I won't say anything to your precious Olivia, but don't you dare pity me."
Natalia bit her lip and slipped through the door way, going to let herself out without a backwards glance, her hand cradling her abdomen. There was no discernible swell there yet, but it was vaguely comforting to imagine that she could feel the life growing inside her anyway, that she wasn't alone.
She wouldn't come back here. Natalia knew what she needed to know. Father Ray had been wrong - in everything he said. Olivia was the one right, pure thing in her life. And she would never allow anything to make her doubt that again.
"Hey, Beautiful," Olivia said, her eyes lighting up as Natalia approached. She stepped forward to embrace Natalia, taking advantage of her closeness to nuzzle into Natalia's throat and breathe in the scent of her. "Took you long enough," Olivia teased her gently. "I was starting to wonder what happened."
Natalia slid her arms around Olivia's waist and let herself just relax into the feeling of being with Olivia. It was like nothing else she'd ever experienced. Then Natalia began to pull away, disentangling herself to take Olivia's hands in hers. She had to do this. There was no way she could avoid it, and she needed to be prepared for the fact that Olivia might not be happy with what she had to say.
"We need to talk."
Olivia's hands clamped down painfully on Natalia's. "You-" Her voice sounded shaky and she began to draw back away from Natalia. "You changed your mind."
"No." Natalia said, without hesitation. "No, I haven't. You're still the only person I want, Olivia. I want to tell everyone here today just how much I love you. You - just you - are the love of my life."
"But something's happened," Natalia hurried on before she couldn't. "You know I haven't been feeling good? I went to the hospital yesterday with Blake. They did tests."
"Oh, God," Olivia murmured. "What? Are you- Just tell me, Natalia."
"Olivia, I'm so- I never thought this would, I mean, it should have been too long to have to worry, but...I'm pregnant."
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