DISCLAIMER: All characters (Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera, blah blah etc.) and situations belong to Guiding Light, Telenext, Proctor & Gamble, etc. I'm not them. Same goes for Gina Brogno and Ani Martin, whom I'm borrowing from Venice and Open Book Productions.
SPOILERS: For the purposes of this fic, assume it takes place some time in early 2011. It's based on speculation about Venice Season 2, but consider anything that comes before 2011 to be fair game, spoiler wise. Also, you can assume that this includes but might not reference everything that took place on Guiding Light through the end of the show.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Of Shrimp and Lobsters
Buffy: Anya, when you were a demon, you granted wishes, right?
Anya: Vengeance wishes on ex-boyfriends. I'd wish he was a dog, or ugly, or in love with President McKinley or something.
Buffy: But someone could wish the whole world to be different, right? That's possible?
Anya: Sure, alternate realities. You could, uh, could have like a world without shrimp. Or with, you know, nothing but shrimp. You could even make like a-a freaky world where Jonathan's like some kind of not-perfect mouth-breather if that's what's blowing up your skirt these days. Just don't ask me to live there! - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Phoebe: Hang in there. It's gonna happen!
Ross: Okay, now, how do you know that?
Phoebe: Because she's your lobster!
[At a loss, Ross looks at Chandler.]
Chandler: Oh, she's going somewhere.
Phoebe: Come on, you guys, it's a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life. You know what, you can actually see old lobster couples walking around their tank, you know, holding claws - Friends
"Attention Passengers: Due to some extreme weather conditions, this flight is being redirected to another airfield, so that we can safely land before the weather closes in. Information involving accommodations, compensation and other travel options will be available as soon as we touch down."
Gina winced, glancing over at the long-haired brunette in the seat beside her. "I'm sorry. You took the later flight so that we could go together, and now you're going to be late for your meeting because of me." They'd had their fair share of differences in the past, but one thing that they shared was a work ethic. Both were always determined to go the extra mile to make their work just a little bit better and showing up on time or early for meetings was just another part of that.
Ani smiled, but Gina could see that it didn't quite reach her eyes. "It's okay. Don't worry about it. I'm sure it will be fine. Besides I knew they were having some bad weather out here. I could have flown out earlier."
Gina wanted to wince again. She could almost hear the unspoken, But I didn't because you looked at me, practically begging me with your eyes to let us go together.
"Hey," Ani said, interrupting Gina's self-recriminations. "I'm serious. We'll figure something out when we land. We might still be able to make it."
"Right," Gina agreed, although she didn't believe it even as she said it. Things between she and Ani were still so fragile. Ani had barely started letting her back into her life - at least, as more than friends - after things had gone spectacularly bad with...Clara...Tara...whoever.... Gina didn't really care. She was just glad that Ani was giving her a second - or maybe third chance to get things right between them.
Things had been progressing tentatively between them until this business trip had come up for Ani. Gina had been possessed by a momentary, but gripping panic that if she left, Ani wouldn't come back, or she would reconsider her decision to let Gina back into her life. It was what had spurred her into suggesting that she go with Ani on this trip, saying that it would be good for them to have a chance to get away and figure things out without any distractions. Gina was also hoping that her willingness to drop her business for a few days to go with Ani would show the younger woman just how serious she was about doing things differently this time. So far it was off to a disastrous start.
The plane lurched, falling sharply and Ani grabbed blindly for Gina, catching her wrist and wrapping her fingers around it in a death grip.
"It's okay," Gina said laying her hand on top of Ani's. "It's just some turbulence. The pilot will get us on the ground and everything will be fine."
"How can you say that?" Ani asked, her voice rising with every word. "You don't know that for sure."
"Nothing's for sure," Gina countered.
Ani's slightly panic-y expression turned into a glare. Not quite the distraction that Gina had been going for but if Ani was pissed off it would distract her from the crappy flight. Right, that was her story and she was sticking to it.
"You know I hate flying," Ani hissed.
Actually, Gina hadn't known that, but it explained a lot, like why Ani had seemed tense the whole flight.
"I'm sorry," Gina whispered, moving closer until she could touch her head to Ani's. "Forgive me?" She asked softly, running her fingertips up and down Ani's arm where she was still clinging to Gina's wrist.
Ani gave her a strained smile. She turned her head to give Gina a quick kiss. The plane jolted again and Ani cursed. "Damn it!"
"I can't guarantee anything," Gina said quickly. "But I can distract you until we land."
"How's that?" Ani asked, distractedly staring straight ahead as if she could will the plane to the ground safely.
Gina leaned closer until her mouth was against Ani's ear. "I could tell you all the things that I'm going to do to you tonight when we get to our hotel room." Her free hand slipped under the arm rest and came to rest on Ani's upper thigh.
Ani shot her a disbelieving look. "Are you-" The plane jolted for a third time, this time as series of jolts that seemed like they would never end. "Tell me." Ani squeaked out quickly.
And Gina did just as she had asked.
The plane had barely stopped moving before Gina was fumbling for her Blackberry. Ani looked over at her in disbelief.
"You and your Crackberry. I thought you weren't going to work this week."
"Not work," Gina said, as she typed furiously with one thumb. Her eyes never left the screen as she took Ani's hand and stood, pulling Ani up with her. "There," she said with a final flourish. "Message sent."
Ani's eyes narrowed. "Should I be worried about what you're up to?"
"Nope," Gina said succinctly, popping the 'p'. "You just hang on and enjoy the ride. Now," she glanced ahead of them at the quickly thinning crowd of people flowing off the plane in starts and stops. "Let's get out of here and see what we can do about renting a car and getting you to your meeting on time."
"I'm sorry, Ms. There are no more cars available."
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Gina said.
The rental car agent looked miffed. "Several flights were diverted here to Springfield after O'Hare was closed due to severe blizzard conditions. Those earlier passengers have already taken all the available rental cars. I'm sure something will be available by tomorrow morning," he offered.
"Tomorrow morning isn't going to work," Gina gritted out. "You have to have something. We'll take anything. Even one of those subcompact cars. Just get us out of here." She so did not want to have to go find Ani and tell her that they were stuck here for tonight. Not after she had promised her that it would only be a matter of postponing the meeting for a couple of hours until they could get there.
"Ma'am, there are no-ne left." The clerk said it as if she were hard of hearing or a little slow.
Gina wrinkled her nose, barely biting back a parting comment and turned to find Ani. Her phone buzzed and she glanced down to see what it was. A message from Michelle. She pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers. Well, it wasn't a car, but at least they had a place to stay for tonight, while they were trapped in this dump of a town. No sleeping in the airport terminal for them.
Now she just had to give the good news to Ani.
The look on Gina's face as she walked away from the car rental counter told Ani everything she needed to know.
"None," Gina said, sounding aggrieved and a little pissed off. "What about you?"
Ani shook her head. "I even tried offering him double his usual fare. He said we would be lucky to get ten miles in these conditions, much less two hundred."
"Damn." Gina summed her feelings on that up succinctly. Getting a cab to take them up to Chicago had been their last possibility. Now there were well and truly stuck here. "I'm sorry," she said, not for the first time. "I know how important this was."
Ani shrugged. "We tried. It's not like there's anything else we can do now but wait it out." She glanced away at all of the people flowing around them in a steady stream of pedestrian traffic. "I guess none of the hotels around here are going to have any rooms available either," she said, with a sigh of resignation.
"Actually," Gina said. "About that, I have some good news."
"Do you remember when I texted Michelle earlier as we were landing?"
"Yeah..." Ani said, drawing the word out in an implicit demand for more information.
"Well, I was texting Michelle, but it wasn't for work. I had her book us a room here, just in case we weren't able to make it out."
Ani laughed, impulsively throwing her arms around Gina's neck. "That's the best news I've heard all day."
"Thought you might like that." Gina said, with a hint of her familiar confidence, some might say cockiness. "C'mon, let's go before all the good cabs are taken."
Ani groaned, her head tucked into the crook of Gina's neck. "You realize we're dressed for January in Venice, not January in Illinois, don't you?"
Gina glanced down at their outfits, differing in color and style, but similar in nature, basically slacks and light sweaters. Nothing that blizzard force winds, much less the temperature wouldn't go through in an instant. She sighed.
"Pretty much," Ani agreed.
"You did good," Ani said, turning to take in the spacious lobby.
"This was all Michelle," Gina said, equally distracted by her surroundings, perusing it with a professional eye. "But this place is pretty amazing. It could use some updating, but it's a lot better than what I was expecting from-" She bit her words off as the desk clerk glanced up at her expectantly. "-From a smaller, non-franchise hotel."
"Actually the owner is in the process of turning this into a franchise," the young man volunteered, still focused on his computer screen, having yet to look up at them. "Our Chicago location opens in six months."
"Really?" Gina said, unable to keep the interest out of her voice. One never knew where one might pick up interesting tidbits of information like this. If this location was any indication, the owner was already doing well for herself. If she could get in early and land a contract to be the exclusive designer for the Beacon chain of hotels, well that could be very lucrative. It didn't offer the excitement and glamor of her most recent project in London, but excitement and glamor weren't everything.
"Maybe I should speak with your owner."
"I'm sure she would be happy to speak to you when she has a moment," the desk clerk - Joel, his name tag read - said agreeably. "She's right over there."
Gina turned in the direction that he gestured, but her view was obscured by a large group of teenagers stumbling through the lobby in a large, laughing knot of bodies. She felt the warm press of a body against her other side and turned to smile at Ani as she slipped up next to her.
"I shouldn't have made fun of you earlier. I'm glad you got us a room here. So much better than the airport." Ani had one arm wrapped around her waist. Gina felt her fingers slip under the thin material of her sweater, cold even against her chilled skin.
"You going to warm me up," Gina murmured for Ani's ears alone.
"Mmm," Ani said just as quietly. "Even if we have to share some body heat to do it."
"Promise?" Gina said flirtatiously.
Ani didn't bother answering. She just kissed her.
Neither of them noticed Joel finally look up from his computer or the very strange look that he was giving both of them.
"Thank you," Olivia Spencer said sincerely, her gaze never leaving her wife despite the barely controlled chaos that surrounded them. "I know you would rather be at home with kids, than stuck here in a suite. But I have to stay and I can't stand the thought of three of you way out there where I don't know what's going on, when I have to stay here. If I thought there was anyone else...."
"Olivia," Natalia cut in quickly, squeezing her wife's hands gently. "I know." She let go of one hand to cup Olivia's cheek. "I know there's no where you would rather be than with us, but the Beacon is important too. We'll be fine here for a few days until this weather clears up."
Olivia let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding and let her head fall to rest against Natalia's. "Thank you for understanding and making this so easy."
"Right, because it's going to be so hard to kick back and relax in a luxury suite and order room service for a few days," Natalia said dryly.
Olivia snorted. "You make an excellent point."
"I know I do," Natalia said with a smile. "Now," she added, glancing behind Olivia at the long line of people in front of the registration counter. "I think you should probably go rescue Joel before he has a meltdown."
Olivia glanced behind her and groaned. "Can't I just hide out with you upstairs?"
"You won't say that in a little while when Francesca and Emma start going stir crazy," Natalia teased her.
"You're right," Olivia agreed. "I should get to work." But even though she had straightened, she didn't make any move to pull away from Natalia yet. "Call me in a little while, if the kids start to drive you crazy."
Natalia nodded, appreciating the sentiment even if she had no intention of actually doing it. The reason that she had agreed to spend the next few days at the Beacon was because she was well aware of how busy Olivia really was going to be and didn't want to give her any extra worries. Two rambunctious and cooped up children definitely qualified as extra worries.
"Don't work too hard," Natalia said, half-stern command and half-plea that Olivia take better care of herself. "Jane is staying here so she'll be available if we need her and I might be a little out of practice but I can still help out if you need an extra set of hands."
"I'll keep that in mind," Olivia said. She looked at Natalia for a long moment and then leaned over to kiss her, taking her time and kissing her thoroughly. This might be the last time for the next few days that she got to enjoy a moment relatively alone with Natalia and she wanted to savor it.
"Where are you going?" Ani murmured, sounding a little groggy as she clung to Gina's arm. "We don't have to be anywhere until this blizzard clears up. I thought we could spend the time together."
Gina gave a rich laugh. "Oh, I plan to," she said, leaning over to steal a kiss from Ani. "I just want to get some ice. I'll be right back." She smiled, a little dazed by the sight of Ani in her bed. She wasn't one for much reflection, but there had been a time, not that long ago when having Ani back in her life and in her bed had seemed like an impossibility. "Don't go anywhere," she added as she backed toward the door.
Ani sighed and flopped face forward onto the bed. She didn't feel like watching tv and for the first time in a long time there wasn't someplace she had to be or something she had to do. A cat nap while she waited for Gina to get back was sounding better and better.
She lay there, snuggled down into the surprisingly luxurious sheets and soft comforter, but her mind refused to relax, still spinning in a hundred directions, even though she had nothing to do. Ani straightened, glancing at the clock and wrinkled her nose. Gina had been gone longer than she had thought. Maybe there was a line for the icemaker. She could go see what was taking her so long. It would be a lot more interesting than sitting here bored, waiting for her. That decision made, Ani rose and started pulling her clothes back on.
But when she ventured down the hall, there was no one in the small room that contained an icemaker and vending machines. An out of order sign over the icemaker was explanation enough and Ani continued down the hall to the elevators. Gina was probably down in the lobby or searching for a working icemaker on another floor.
Just as the elevator doors slid shut, Ani heard the ding announcing the arrival of the other elevator. She thought about hitting the open door button, but her elevator was already lurching into motion. She snorted at the thought of Gina's startled face when she returned to an empty room. Maybe she could pick up a bottle of champaign from the hotel dining area while she was downstairs to make her absence worth while.
The elevator doors slid open again and Ani froze in the doorway as she glanced up. Standing not twenty feet away from her was Gina, her fingers threaded through some brunette's hair, kissing her passionately, as if she were the last woman on the planet. Ani's heart sank like a stone.
When the ice machine on their floor had been out of order, Gina had taken the elevator up to the next floor. The rooms were more spaced out and the surroundings slightly more opulent. It was subtle and tasteful, but Gina noticed the differences immediately. This was probably the floor that held most of the Beacon's suites.
It didn't take her long to find the ice machine. The basic floor layout was the same and Gina was just thinking about calling down to the front desk to get a bottle of champagne sent up for she and Ani when she heard the thud of little feet in the hallway. It was quiet enough on this floor that the sound stood out. She hesitated a moment in the doorway, intending to wait until the child had thundered on by. To Gina's surprise the little girl's face lit up as she saw her.
"Mommy!" The delighted cry shocked Gina so much that she almost dropped the ice bucket in her hand. Despite not having seen anyone else in the small room, Gina turned around to look and see if anyone was standing beside her.
The little body slammed into Gina in her moment of distraction and she staggered, throwing out a hand to catch her balance. Instinctively Gina reached out to steady the little girl with her other hand.
"Fuck!" Gina winced, regretting the word the moment it slipped out of her mouth. Usually she wouldn't think a thing about it but this was the Midwest and this little girl's parents would probably be just overjoyed that their young impressionable daughter had learned a new word. "Uh, sorry. You shouldn't repeat that."
The girl giggled, her arms still wrapped tightly around Gina's waist, and raised her head to look up at Gina. "That's a bad word, Mommy. Natalia's going to make you put money in the swear jar."
Gina's eyes widened. There was no mistaking this time that the little girl was talking to her. "I'm not your mother."
The girl flinched, hurt welling in her eyes and even though Gina knew it was the absolute truth and she had no reason to feel bad, the look on the girl's face still made her feel like a horrible person. She ran her hand through her hair, pushing it out of her face and tried to think. How did she get into situations like this one? Ani was so not going to believe her when she got back to the room.
Gina squatted down and tried not to look as freaked out as she felt. "I'm sure it's just a case of mistaken identity, Honey. Why don't we go to the front desk and see if they can get you back to your Mommy's room?"
The hurt faded from the girl's eyes only to be replaced by amusement. "Don't be silly, Mommy! Joel will just send me back to your room. Mama's waiting for us, but she said that you wouldn't be back until late tonight. I'm so glad you could get back early. I wanted to play a game but Mama said we didn't have enough people."
Gina swallowed. This was serious. For some reason the girl truly seemed to believe that she was her mother. It worried her for the girl. A second thought occurred to her and Gina narrowed her eyes, glancing down at the girl again. "Did Ani put you up to this?"
Gina had no idea how Ani would have met a child and so quickly convinced her parents to let her be a part of a prank like this, but Ani did have an angelic face and a hidden fondness for practical jokes. It would be just like her to do something like this to Gina, just to see the expression on her face.
"Ani?" The girl's frowned. "Who's Ani, Mommy?"
The sound of footsteps, louder and heavier than the first Gina had heard made her laugh with relief. Surely this was Ani, coming to rescue her and laugh at her startled response to someone claiming to be her daughter.
But the young woman running down the hallway wasn't Ani, Gina could tell that as soon as she glanced up.
"Emma!" The woman exclaimed. "You can't run away like that! Especially not when the hotel is so busy." Her eyes flickered to Gina and she straightened, still gasping for air from her sprint down the hall. "I'm so sorry, Ms. Spencer. It won't happen again. I just took my eyes off her for a second..." Her voice trailed off and her eyes narrowed. "Um, you're not..."
Gina shook her head quickly. "No, I'm not." She stood and pointed down at the girl. "But she thinks I am. I'm not," she stated again, just to make sure that there was absolutely no confusion here.
The woman put a hand on the little girl's shoulder and drew her back away from Gina, eying her warily. "Emma, I know this woman looks - a lot - like you're mom, but she just has a very strong resemblance."
"Like an identical twin?" Emma sounded excited. "We learned about those in school last week!"
"Right, but identical twins are related. I don't think your mom has a sister, does she?"
"No," Emma sounded disappointed. "But she looks so much alike."
"I know," Jane reassured her, shooting Gina another puzzled look. She gave her head a quick shake, as if clearing her thoughts. "I'm so sorry we bothered you, Ms.-" she said, letting her sentence trail off.
"Brogno," Gina supplied, more out of habit than anything else. This was just weird. "Do I really look that much like her?" She gestured between she and Emma.
Jane nodded, her eyes wide. "You really do. It's uncanny."
"Huh," Gina said. It wasn't that she didn't believe them, it was just such a crazy coincidence. Owen was never going to believe her. "Well, now that you've found her, I should get back to my room." She gestured behind her, keeping an eye on the little girl for several steps as she walked away. Things like this didn't happen every day, not even to her.
"You will never fucking guess what happened to me while I was getting ice," Gina called out as she pushed the door open. Her gaze went straight to the bed, hoping that Ani would still be there waiting for her, even though her little errand had taken longer than she had expected. To her disappointment it was empty. In the next instant, she saw Ani standing in front of the window with her arms wrapped around her waist. Unfortunately there was nothing of the happy contentment that had been on her face when Gina had left the room.
"Baby, what's wrong?" Gina asked, setting down the ice bucket on the nearest flat surface and starting toward Ani. She had no clue what could have upset her this badly.
Ani shook her head and didn't answer.
"Ani?" Gina tried to get Ani to look at her, one hand going to her shoulder. Ani jerked away from her touch.
"Just...don't, Gina," Ani snapped, twisting away from her. "I can't do this right now. I don't even want to see you. I can't believe I ever thought you would change. I'm an idiot."
"You're not an idiot," Gina said automatically.
"Yes," Ani said emphatically, "I am an idiot for ever thinking you could keep it in your pants. We've been here for what, a couple of hours? And you've already found some woman willing to make out with you. How the hell do you do it?" She held up a hand. "Wait, I don't want to know."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Gina demanded her voice rising. "The only woman I've made out with here was you and you weren't mad about that when I left." She couldn't keep the hint of smugness out of her voice at that, even as she struggled to figure out what the hell was going on.
Ani's eyes narrowed. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. I saw you, Gina; you can stop lying. You were kissing her like she was the only woman in the world."
"I didn't kiss anyone, damn it," Gina said, frustration filling her voice. "I just went to get us some ice and ran into some weird kid who thought I was her mom." She shook her head. This was ridiculous and she had no idea why Ani was doing this. "Listen, can we just talk about what you think you saw, because whatever it was, I swear it wasn't me." She took a step closer to Ani. "I love you." Even now after they had been together for months, it was still rare that she said the words to Ani, not because she didn't feel them, but it was still hard for her to bare her heart that completely to anyone, even Ani. But Gina couldn't lose Ani again.
Ani snorted. "That's such bullshit. I've heard it all before, Gina, and I am not falling for your excuses again. I'm done."
"Where are you going?" Gina demanded as Ani stormed past her.
"To get another room," Ani said succinctly as she opened the door only to slam it shut behind her, leaving Gina stunned in her wake.
"Damn it, Ani," Gina swore under her breath as she yanked the door open. This could not be fucking happening. The one time in her life when she hadn't done anything wrong and she was still being punished for it and all of the things that she had done in the past. It wasn't fucking fair. There was no way that she was going to let Ani go, not over something that she hadn't even done. Ani would have to see that she was telling the truth. Maybe she could get the desk clerk to find that little girl to give her an alibi.
There she was, Gina thought as she caught a glimpse of very familiar long, dark curls. The elevator dinged, the doors sliding open in front of Ani and Gina jogged the last few steps to catch up with her before she got on the elevator.
"Ani, wait. Please." Gina pleaded, catching her wrist just as she was about to step into the elevator.
The women spun around, but there was no recognition on her face. Gina dropped her hand in surprise, almost forgetting about Ani.
"What. The. Fuck?" Gina drawled the words out slowly as her eyes swept the woman from head to toe. She couldn't help it. The woman could have been Ani's twin, except there were a few obvious differences. Two drew her attention immediately. This woman had subtle curves that Ani lacked and there was something in her eyes that looked older and more knowing where Ani was almost always bright and carefree.
It was disorienting to say the least. And now the woman was looking back at her as if she with a mixture of shock and disapproval. The disapproval at least looked familiar. Gina realized abruptly that she was still holding the woman's wrist and let go quickly, taking a step back as she did.
"I'm sorry. I just thought..." She shook her head. How the fuck did this keep happening to her? First the kid and now this. Was this her day for mistaken identities or what? Was it some kind of conspiracy or massive practical joke? If it was, it wasn't very fucking funny if the day ended up costing her Ani. "You, uh, look a lot like my girlfriend."
The woman nodded, eying her with open curiosity. "It's okay." She hesitated. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you look a lot like my wife."
"Your-" Gina spluttered. This was just getting crazier and crazier. Something snapped into place in her mind. "I look like your wife. You have a daughter?" She made the mental leap in an instant. "Emily...Em...something?"
"Emma," Natalia supplied, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise. "How did you meet..." She shook her head. "I don't even want to know." Natalia took a closer look at Gina. Her resemblance to Olivia was really uncanny. That was when she noticed that beyond the surprise that they had both just had, Gina didn't look good at all. Her eyes were red and her nose was puffy. If this had been Olivia, Natalia would have said she had been crying, angry or some combination of both. "You said you were looking for your girlfriend," Natalia prompted her. "Is everything okay?" And how weird was it that this woman that looked so much like Olivia had a girlfriend too. What were the odds of that? What were the odds of any of this? "Don't take this the wrong way, but you don't look so good."
Gina snorted. "Thanks." She swiped a hand over her face, pressing back the urge to cry. She couldn't fall apart, damn it. She had to find Ani and make things right. Somehow. Because Ani wasn't going to believe a word that came out of her mouth right now. "Fuck," she muttered under her breath. When she glanced back up Gina caught the disapproving look on the woman's face and couldn't help but roll her eyes. Midwesterners! "Bad day. Epically bad day," she added. "My girlfriend thinks I cheated on her."
"And did you?" Natalia asked, after the briefest of hesitations.
"Of course not," Gina snapped. This time. "She won't believe me. She still thinks I am who I was before, but I'm not. I love her," Gina said fervently. "I am not going to lose her again. I can't. She left me once before and..." She trailed off, trying not to think about how hard it had been when Ani had left her for a city three thousand miles away while swearing she wasn't leaving her. That wasn't what it had felt like. It had felt like leaving, no matter what Ani said or how many times she had promised nothing would change.
"So why does she think you cheated on her?"
"She says she saw me kissing some woman."
"Oh," Natalia said, her mouth forming a perfect circle of surprise. "I think I know what might have..." She shook her head. "I mentioned that you look a lot like my wife?"
Gina nodded. It only took her a second to catch on. "So you think..."
"That she saw me and Olivia?" Natalia shrugged. "Maybe. Unless you're not telling me the truth."
"I am," Gina said firmly. She pinched the bridge of her nose. "You realize just how fucking crazy this sounds, don't you?"
"Oh, yeah," Natalia confirmed. Her face looked pinched again. "If I'm going to help you, I'd prefer if you didn't use that kind of language around me."
Gina tried not to look as skeptical as she felt. "And how are you going to help me? Because despite the serious weird factor of this..." she gestured at Natalia as if that explained it all, "I don't think she's going to believe you anymore than she believes me. I really fu- messed it up this time. And I didn't even do anything," Gina gritted out.
Natalia smiled, the expression lighting up her face in such a familiar way that it made Gina's heart ache. "Did I mention that my wife owns this hotel?"
"Listen, all I need is another room. I don't care where it is or if it's tiny. You have to have something. I'll take a closet. I. Don't. Care." Ani was practically spitting out the words. There was no way she was going back to Gina or the room that they were supposed to be sharing, because she knew the moment that she got back Gina would start trying to persuade her that she hadn't done anything wrong. The worst part was she might even succeed. Even though Ani knew damn well what she had seen. Her eyes burned from unshed tears. She had never been able to tell Gina no. That had always been her problem. Well, it stopped now. She had given Gina a second chance - given them both a chance to have what they wanted - and Gina had fucked it up again. No more second chances. She was done, really done, this time.
"I'll take care of this. Thank you, Joel," a woman said, sliding up next to the desk clerk.
All Ani could do was stare in shock. "You-" She pointed, mouth gaping open. "Me." She closed her eyes, scrunching them shut then opened them again, just in case she was going crazy. But no the woman was still standing there looking incredibly like Ani.
The woman shook her head and then glanced beside her. "You sure weren't kidding about the resemblance."
Still stunned, Ani followed the woman's gaze to Gina. Her eyes narrowed immediately. "What is this, Gina? Do you think this is some kind of joke? Because it's not funny. Bringing over some woman who looks like me isn't going to make me forget what you did."
"No, she has nothing to do with this. I mean, she does, but-"
"You know what?" Ani said, holding up a hand to stop her. "I don't care who she is or why she's here. I have no idea how you managed to find someone who looks so much like me and get her under your spell so quickly. I mean, it's a little creepy, Gina. But I don't even care anymore. I just want to get out of here as soon as I can. Or at least get another room. There's no way I'm staying with you."
"Actually," Natalia said, jumping in before either woman could say anything else. "I think I can help clear a few things up." Natalia held up her own hand, palm facing inward before Ani could protest. She pointed toward the ring on her middle finger. "I'm happily married."
"I'm sorry," Ani said. "But it wouldn't be the first time she's been with a married woman."
Gina sighed. "I don't even know why I fucking bothered. You made up your mind about me a long time ago and you'll never let it go, will you?"
"Let it go," Ani repeated her voice raising. "You've got to be kidding me. Why should I let it go, Gina?"
"Because I didn't do it," Gina snapped back. "Not this time! And she can prove it," she added, pointing at Natalia.
Ani's eyes narrowed. "How?"
"Video," Gina said succinctly.
"It will show you the truth, one way or another," Natalia added softly, ignoring the less than appreciative look Gina shot her.
"Fine," Ani conceded finally. "I'll look at your video but then I want my own room. I can't do this again."
"You're getting ice," Ani said flatly.
"You can see the time stamp there at the bottom," Natalia pointed out helpfully. "And there she is running into Emma." Natalia shook her head, making a mental note that she needed to talk to Emma later. She had to be so confused.
"Okay," Ani agreed, refusing to look at Gina who was standing behind them, one arm wrapped around herself, the other hand pressed to her mouth. "This proves that she got ice, but it doesn't prove that she wasn't making out with someone else in plain sight of everyone down in the lobby."
"Oh, right," Natalia said, a hint of color flushing her cheeks. She hit a few buttons on the equipment and pulled up another clip. "Is this what you saw?"
Ani swallowed, anger and humiliation flashing through her again. "Yes." She whirled to face Gina. "See! How can you deny it now?"
"Look," Natalia cut in before Gina could respond, drawing Ani's attention back to the screen.
On it the person Gina was kissing looked up and Ani found herself looking at...herself. "But I didn't-" Her eyes narrowed as she became aware of subtle differences. "I thought you said you didn't kiss her."
"I didn't," Natalia said, her voice rising a little. "Keep watching."
Ani did. And what she saw stunned her. She ducked in closer, peering at the screen and then jerking back in surprise. "But that's not..." She glanced behind her at Gina. "I mean, it's you but it's not you."
"That," Natalia explained gently, "Is my wife - Olivia."
Ani stared at her in disbelief. "So you look like me and you're married to someone who looks like my girlfriend? What kind of crazy place is this?"
Gina's heart leaped. Ani had called her, her girlfriend. It wasn't much, but it was something. Better than ex-girlfriend.
"I don't know," Natalia said, shaking her head. "I have no idea what this means. There hasn't really been time to think about it yet." She shook her head. "But some pretty crazy things have happened in my life in the past few years - things I never could have imagined - but somehow they've worked out better than I could ever have hoped. I think you just have to get used to it after a while."
Almost as quickly as it had come the anger she had felt toward Gina had drained away from Ani, leaving confusion and exhaustion in its wake. She felt like she'd run a marathon.
"I'm sorry," she apologized to Natalia, unable to face Gina for a completely different reason this time. "I'm not usually this emotional. I was out of line with what I said to you."
"It's okay," Natalia reassured her. "We all have moments like this."
Ani nodded, but she didn't seem convinced. "I'm sorry," she apologized again. "We've taken up so much of your time. Thank you for being so patient. We should," she swallowed and glanced at Gina for the first time, quickly looking away again. "We should go now."
"Okay," Natalia said, having compassion for Ani and what she had been through. "Just let me know if there's anything else I can do."
The walk back to their room was done in silence. Ani was still trying to process everything. It had been a day full of emotional shocks and her heart was still trying to catch up with her head. Gina slipped up beside her when they reach the door, fishing the keycard out of her pocket to open it. Ani was hyper aware of the way Gina's arm brushed up against hers as Gina held the door open for her.
Ani stepped inside, wishing for a moment that they didn't have to have this conversation. Hurt was starting to slide away, leaving behind mortification.
"I owe you an apology," Ani said. "I jumped to conclusions. I mean, it was crazy. That woman - Olivia - she looks so much like you and when I saw that I just...lost it."
"I get it," Gina said stiffly. "I do." Despite Gina's words, Ani could see the tears she was struggling to hold back.
"It doesn't matter though," Ani said softly. "I still should have listened to you when you tried to explain."
Gina nodded, still looking distant. "I thought you trusted me. I thought when you gave us another chance it meant that-"
"It does," Ani said firmly. "It means that I love you, but sometimes you make me crazy. You always have. You get under my skin like no one else can. And when I saw that today, I freaked out." Tentatively she stepped toward Gina, cupping Gina's face between her hands. "I don't want to lose you. I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me?"
"Always," Gina whispered, tilting her head up to kiss Ani softly. She needed to know that Ani was really not still angry with her. She found her reassurance when Ani kissed her back, stepping even closer and melting into Gina.
"Thank you," Ani said when they finally parted.
"You're welcome. Any time," Gina said with a hint of smug smile.
Ani laughed. "Not for the kiss, for forgiving me."
"For that, too, then," Gina agreed. "Fuck," she muttered, dropping her head to Ani's shoulder. "Can we just forget that today happened?"
"Sounds good to me," Ani agreed.
"All I want to do is go soak in that gorgeous tub and relax until I get all wrinkly."
A tentative smile curved over Ani's lips. "When we found out that we were stuck here for a little while, I thought it would be a good. A chance to relax and have some fun, you know? I feel like I can never get enough of seeing you and being with you." Ani sighed, slipping her hand into Gina's long chestnut hair and cupping the back of her neck, holding her close. "I'm sorry it didn't turn out that way. I hope you don't regret coming."
"I never regret coming," Gina murmured the lecherous intent in her voice obvious, even muffled as it was by Ani's shoulder.
Ani snorted, cuffing Gina's shoulder lightly. "Fine, see if I try to be all serious and apologize for acting like a jealous crazy person."
"You don't have to apologize-" Gina started, only to be cut off by Ani.
"But I do. You may have everyone else fooled into thinking that you're all tough and nothing ever touches you but I know the things I said hurt you." She lowered her gaze, tugging on Gina's shoulders until Gina looked up at her. "I'm-"
Gina put her finger over Ani's lips, cutting her off mid-sentence. "I don't want to hear it," she said. "It's done. You believe me now - and I don't want to waste anymore time." She kissed Ani, pulling her closer, drawing her into the kiss that was more than kiss.
It was pure seduction, a siren's call that Ani could never resist, even when she should have. Fortunately this time she didn't even have to try. She could give in and get what she wanted most with no regrets at all.
And so she did, her hands wandering as she slipped them underneath the thin material of Gina's top. Seconds later it lay abandoned on the floor, forgotten until much later.
Natalia slid the keycard into the slot, eager to get back to the familiarity of Olivia's Beacon suite. It might not be home, but she had certainly spent enough time there when she worked for Olivia to be comfortable. Her gaze fell on the bed that dominated the room and a small, thoughtful smile curved over her lips. If they were very lucky and Olivia managed to get a break from the demands of the Beacon at a decent hour, if both of their daughters cooperated and went - soundly - to sleep, then maybe they could finally christen that bed. It was one thing that they had never shared. Natalia thought it might be fun; she wondered if Olivia had ever considered it. She knew the thought had crossed her own mind more than once after they had admitted their feelings for one another and still working together.
"How did I get back here before you did?" Olivia's amused question jerked Natalia out of her reverie. She felt her cheeks grow warm at the thoughts she had just been having.
Natalia sighed. "You would not believe the day I've had," she said, crossing the room and wrapping her arms around Olivia, snuggling into her.
"Oh, really? Even though I've been dealing with frustrated, pissed off travelers all day who have no idea why I can't cater to their every whim in the midst of a blizzard?"
"Oh, Olivia, I'm sorry," Natalia said, raising her head to look at Olivia. She gave Olivia a quick kiss hello. "Was it really that bad?"
Olivia wrinkled her nose and frowned. "Worse," she said succinctly.
"Want me to give you a hand for the rest of the day?" Natalia asked. "I can at least help soothe frazzled nerves and that'll give you a chance to take care of the big things."
"No," Olivia said, waving it aside. "I decided I'm done for the day. I want to spend some time with you and the girls." She ran the back of her fingers down the side of Natalia's face. "Tell me what happened to you."
Natalia snorted. "Well, first this woman grabbed me-"
"She did what?" Olivia declared indignantly, stiffening and pushing back from Natalia, who caught her arm, stopping her from getting any further.
"It's okay. She just thought I was her girlfriend."
"Did you tell her you're already taken?" Olivia asked, the tension in her voice letting Natalia know she was only half-joking.
"So taken," Natalia agreed, relaxing as Olivia settled back against her. "But I haven't even gotten to the weird part yet."
"Oh?" Olivia prompted, and so Natalia filled her in, not leaving out any of the details, happier to be back with Olivia and their daughters than concerned with anything else, even the utter strangeness of a couple that looked so eerily like them.
There was a knock on the door. Gina groaned, burying her face in Ani's neck. Ani whimpered, pulling the covers up further over her head and nudged Gina.
"'s too early," Gina slurred, hanging on tighter to Ani.
"You're closer," Ani countered.
"Fine," Gina huffed, throwing the covers off and marching toward the door.
Ani giggled. "Aren't you forgetting something?" she called after Gina.
Gina hesitated, turning with her hand already on the door handle. "What?"
"Clothes?" Ani prompted her.
Gina glanced down, noting her nakedness for the first time, and then glanced back up at Ani. "It's not funny," she growled.
"Kinda is," Ani corrected her, flopping over so that she was laying on her back as Gina stalked back toward the bed. "Hey, what are you doing?" she protested as Gina grabbed the comforter and tugged.
"Getting dressed," Gina said simply. "Someone stole my robe."
Ani shook her head. "I don't even know where to start with that. Go answer the door," she said, nudging Gina away with a push of her foot against Gina's thigh. "And then come back and warm me up. I'm getting cold."
For a second Gina looked like she would ignore the door altogether, but finally, reluctantly, she tore herself away and opened the door.
"Uh, hi," Gina said. In its own way, it was still just as disorienting to see Natalia at the door as it had been to run into her in the hall yesterday, especially having just left Ani in their bed.
"Good morning," Natalia said with a cheerful smile. "I'm sorry, I was trying not to come by too early."
Gina shrugged. "It's the time difference." No matter that she and Ani probably would have still been in bed if they'd been back in Venice Beach, at least on a rare day off like this one. Her brain started to work again. If it was a day off. "Actually it's probably a good thing. We were originally supposed to be here on business. If the roads are passable or the airport's been dug out...." Gina said, hoping she'd have good news to bring back to Ani.
But Natalia just shook her head. "Sorry, not yet. Actually it's still snowing a little out there."
"Fucking great," Gina muttered under her breath. She caught Natalia's dark look and shrugged. "Sorry." She resisted the urge to glance over her shoulder. Ani would be laughing her ass off if she'd heard that.
But Natalia seemed more amused than upset. "I'm sorry this weather has disrupted your plans, but when I told Olivia about the two of you last night, she didn't really believe me. She thought I was exaggerating, so she wants to meet you herself. Would the two of you be interested in brunch?"
This time Gina did glance back at Ani, looking so tempting wrapped in nothing more than the sheet. Anything that involved leaving the room - the bed - sounded like a horrible idea, but Natalia was responsible for getting Ani to forgive her and realize that Gina had done nothing wrong. It felt like she owed Natalia something, and besides Gina had to admit that she was a little bit curious too about this couple who looked so much like them.
"Okay, thank you," Gina said with a genuine smile. "We'll be there."
"Hi!" Natalia called out cheerfully, rising from beside Olivia to greet Gina and Ani. It took Olivia a moment longer to stand up. Natalia had told her that this couple bore a striking resemblance to them, but seeing them together was more than a little bit disorienting. And a striking resemblance was putting it mildly. They could have been identical twins. Olivia shook her head as she stood. It was just too weird.
Natalia hugged Gina, the surprised woman hugging her back awkwardly. Olivia couldn't help but feeling a little bit grumpy, defensive. She wished Natalia would stop hugging.
"Hi, I'm Ani." And suddenly the moment got stranger, as this woman who looked so much like her Natalia held her hand out to Olivia. Slightly dazed, Olivia took her hand, noting as she did that they had the same dimples.
"Olivia," she introduced herself. "It's nice to meet you." She couldn't help the way her eyes slid up and down Ani's body. It wasn't checking her out exactly. It was just that she looked so similar to Natalia, that the little differences intrigued her. Olivia jerked her eyes away when she realized she had been staring and found Gina watching her, an unhappy hint of something in her eyes as she looked at Olivia. Olivia just shrugged and held out her hand.
Gina took it slowly, warily. Their hands met, both shaking with a firm grip. There was a brief moment where it could have turned into a challenge, a pissing contest, and then the faintest smiled quirked over the corner of Olivia's mouth. Gina smiled back and the tension was broken.
"You have a lovely hotel here," Gina said, her first words letting Olivia relax.
"Thank you. It's not as big as some, but I think that's part of its charm - the personal touches."
Both women turned just in time to see Natalia hug Ani in greeting. For a moment they both stood frozen, stunned. Olivia was the first to blink, her eyes darting away from the scene in front of them. She couldn't help the thought that had crossed her mind. It was jarring. Since she had moved back in to the farmhouse, she had never seriously considered another person. Natalia was everything that she could have wanted, as a partner and as a lover. There was no reason for her to look elsewhere. But when Natalia stood there, hugging someone who looked incredibly like the woman that she loved, well she couldn't help it if she went there just for an instant. Olivia was in love, not blind.
For a second time, Gina caught her gaze. "Busted," she mouthed the word. Low enough, Olivia noted, that neither Ani nor Natalia could hear.
Olivia sidled closer to her. "Oh, like you weren't thinking it too."
"I admit nothing," Gina countered.
"Are you two arguing already?" Natalia asked, sounding faintly amused.
"Of course not," Olivia said.
"Never," Gina agreed, shaking her head.
Natalia let out a sigh and shared a conspiratorial glance with Ani. "I can see these two are going to be trouble."
"Like she needs more help causing trouble," Ani said, folding her arms over her chest. "She seems to find plenty of it on her own."
Gina snorted, moving back to stand beside Ani and slipping an arm around her waist. "Admit it. That's one of your favorite things about me. You like it when I'm bad," she added, nuzzling into Ani's neck and dropping a kiss just below her ear.
"Keep telling yourself that," Ani retorted, but her body told another story entirely as she melted into Gina's embrace, staying as close as they could even as they all settled in around the table. "I just wanted to say thank you, again, for all of your help yesterday," Ani said, touching Natalia's hand briefly across the table. "I know we were kind of a mess."
Natalia smiled. "It's no problem. We've all been there at one point or another."
"So how did you two meet?" Gina asked, trying to shift the focus away from them and onto the other couple. It might not have been the smoothest transition ever, but then subtlety wasn't really her strong point.
Natalia choked on her coffee and Olivia froze. Ani and Gina traded a quick glance; Gina shrugged. It had been an innocent enough question. It was so not her fault if she had somehow brought up an uncomfortable question.
"You don't have to answer that," Ani stepped in quickly. "She's just being nosy."
"No," Natalia said, finally regaining her voice. "It's no problem. We, uh, well, actually..."
"I tried to steal her husband and then when he died in a motorcycle accident, I got his heart because of some health issues I was having. Then Natalia nursed me back to health." Olivia stirred the last of the cream into her coffee cup and then glanced up. "Anyone need the sugar?"
Gina was the first to recover. "Uh, so you were married before?" she asked, directing the question at Natalia.
"B-both of us have been actually," Natalia stammered a little, trying to regain her mental footing. She had never thought about it quite that bluntly.
Olivia arched an eyebrow. "That's what you got out of that whole explanation? That we'd been married. Personally I would have focused on the part about the heart transplant or how I was after her husband. Much more interesting," she said conspiratorially.
"Olivia," Natalia said, giving her knee a warning squeeze. "She didn't know. She didn't mean anything by it."
Underneath the table, Ani nudged Gina with her foot. Gina shot her an indignant glance, but jumped back into the conversation. "No, I was just surprised to hear that you'd been married to a man before. You two look so together."
That time it was Natalia who smiled. "Thank you. We just celebrated our second anniversary." She shot a teasing glance over at Olivia who had started to relax again. "Although we can't quite agree when our anniversary actually is."
"Oh?" Ani asked.
"I say its the day we told each other how we felt about one another, but she says it should be the first time we went away together."
"Why not celebrate both?" Ani suggested. "That way you don't have to choose."
"You know," Olivia said. "I think that's an excellent idea."
"Twice as many dates to forget," Natalia pointed out practically.
"But double the celebration," Olivia said gently, her thumb stroking over the back of Natalia's hand.
Natalia smiled, leaning over to kiss her gently. "I think I could live with that."
"Until we're old and gray and wearing matching jogging suits?" Olivia teased.
"Until then and longer," Natalia agreed. She tugged lightly at Olivia's hair. "Not that you'll ever let this go gray."
"I hope not," Gina interjected from the other side of the table. "Can't have you running around making people think I'm old."
"Trust me," Ani said. "No one who's ever met you would think you were...mature."
"Ah!" Gina gasped. "Do you see what I have to put up with?"
Olivia eyed her for a moment. "Something tells me you love every second of it." Their gazes locked for an instant, a moment of perfect understanding passing between them.
"You might be right about that," Gina admitted, with a smile and uncharacteristic simplicity. If nothing else this weekend had made her less inclined to hold back. She had come so close to losing Ani through a misunderstanding. It was almost unbearable to think about.
Olivia cleared her throat, feeling for Gina. She had seen the naked emotion in Gina's eyes and it had reminded her uncomfortably of the way she had felt after Natalia had come back from the retreat, scared and uncertain. "So what do you do for a living?" she asked in an attempt to change the subject. "Natalia said you were here on business."
"Actually Ani was the one had a meeting here. Well, in Chicago actually. The weather diverted our flight. She's a photographer," Gina said, her pride in Ani obvious in the warmth of her voice.
"That sounds like a lot of fun," Natalia said.
"It can be," Ani agreed with a nod. "Most of the time, I love what I do."
"I think so," Ani said. "Actually we met on a photo shoot I was doing for a hotel that Gina was working for."
"Oh, you're in the industry?" Olivia asked, her attention shifting back to Gina.
"Not quite like you mean. I'm an interior designer."
"Really?" Olivia asked, her eyebrows shooting up once more. "We should talk before you leave. I'm turning The Beacon into a franchise and we might be able to come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement."
"You haven't even seen my work yet," Gina said, automatically switching to business mode.
"You're right, but I'm sure we can fix that."
They were interrupted by the waiter asking for their orders, but once he was gone the easy flow of conversation resumed until the strangeness of it was almost forgotten, all except for the occasional glances of other startled diners as they walked past and did a double take.
"That was so weird," Olivia said, watching as Ani and Gina walked away after they had finished a leisurely brunch and exchanged contact information and goodbyes.
"Weird, but nice," Natalia agreed. "I liked them."
"Even though they're different?"
"Different doesn't have to be a bad thing," Natalia said with a smile.
"No, it doesn't."
Natalia snorted, turning to face Olivia. "Don't think I didn't see the way that you were looking at us when Ani and I were standing together."
"Like you weren't having the same thoughts," Olivia challenged her. What was that about the best defense, being offense?
"Please, one of you is more than enough for me. You're a handful, Olivia Spencer." Natalia caught the wicked glint in Olivia's eye and held up a finger sharply. "Ah! Don't even say it."
Olivia smirked. "But I'm thinking it and you know it."
Natalia laughed, shaking her head helplessly. "I love you. Never change."
"Can I remind you of that the next time I piss you off?" Olivia asked.
"You can, but don't expect me to like it," Natalia said fondly. She leaned over to kiss Olivia, not needing the physical contact, but wanting it, wanting to be close to Olivia. "They seemed really nice," Natalia said, her words trail off a little as she drifted into her own thoughts. "But seeing them made me appreciate what we have even more, a home, a family, a life together. I'm so glad we got here."
"Me too," Olivia agreed whole-heartedly. "I wouldn't change a thing."
Natalia glanced over at her sharply. "Even..."
"Even that," Olivia said, reaching out to pull Natalia closer, not caring who was watching them. "It brought you back to me, all strong and confident and willing to fight for what you wanted. So, yes, it's worth it to me. You are so worth it."
"You really mean it?" Natalia asked.
"You know I wouldn't have said it if I didn't," Olivia said bluntly.
"Sometimes I'm not sure about that. You love me so much that I'm not sure if you would tell me if I was hurting you."
"Well not this time, Sweetheart," Olivia said, avoiding the question that Natalia hadn't quite asked. "This time I'm telling you the truth."
Natalia pressed her forehead against Olivia's. "Thank you for forgiving me."
"No problem," Olivia said, making it sound so much easier than it had been. She shuddered. "Just please don't ever do it again."
Natalia's arms tightened around her. "Never," she promised. "Never ever."
"Oh God," Gina said, collapsing face first onto the bed. "Was that not the fucking strangest brunch ever?"
Ani sat down on the bed more gently and then sprawled out beside her. "Maybe not ever, but it was up there." She let out a laugh. "It makes the way we got together seem so much more normal - and kind of boring," she added, rolling her head to the side to look over at Gina.
"We have been many things," Gina corrected, wrinkling her nose. "But never boring."
"I guess not," Ani admitted. "It sounded like they've been through a lot together."
Gina fumbled until she found Ani's hand and laced their fingers together. "And we haven't?"
"No," Ani agreed, "But it's different. Their stuff is so huge and ours is just...life."
"Well, I'm glad I didn't have to steal some man's heart to get you to notice me."
"Noticing you was never the problem."
"Oh?" Gina asked, pushing herself up on an elbow.
"Getting you out of my head was always the hard part."
"Tell me you're not trying to anymore," Gina whispered, fear clutching at her heart, even as she struggled not to let it show.
"No, I'm not trying, and it wouldn't really matter. Even if I was, it never seemed to work," Ani said softly, scooting closer to Gina so she could kiss her.
"Is that why you're here? Just because you can't get me out of your head?"
"I'm here," Ani said firmly. "Because I want to be, and because I think you want me to be."
Gina nodded. "I know this trip hasn't worked out the way you wanted it to, but I'm glad I came. I hope you don't regret it."
"If you'd left earlier you might have made it through to Chicago and your meeting."
"Or I might have gotten stuck in the airport waiting for the runway to clear instead of waiting it out in this hotel room with you." Ani smiled, flashing her dimples at Gina. "And there's no question of where I'd rather be."
"Sure about that?"
Ani smiled and bit the corner of her lip, tilting her head toward Gina. "For now."
Gina shifted, rolling on top of Ani. "I can work with that."
"You-" Ani began to protest, but Gina smothered it with a kiss, happy to be exactly where she was and no where else.
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