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The Sum of Contradictions: 31 Possession
By beurre blanc
Alex sat on the sofa, long legs bent in front of her, making detailed annotations on the papers perched on her thighs. Olivia, having finished clearing away the dinner plates, was feeling uncharacteristically out-of-sorts, and wandered aimlessly across the room. This place must be worth a fortune. She tapped a CD case absently in her hand as she began to walk from painting to painting, noting several local scenes by the same artist. The open window admitted a gentle breeze, carrying with it the rich scent of jasmine which bloomed in the gardens flanking the drive, and Olivia wondered yet again how she could possibly deserve someone like Alex. How could I ever measure up?
"What's the matter, Liv?"
"Then sit down you're making me nervous," said Alex, ostentatiously striking through an entire paragraph, and writing a series of notes in the margin.
Olivia thumbed through the CDs, noting what an eclectic range Alex had accumulated, and mildly amused to find them carefully grouped into categories jazz, classical, pop, Motown, R&B, soundtracks And she has sub-categorized them by instrument, or vocalist, or style Olivia shook her head, smiling to herself. I should have known. She picked up a disk of Chopin's Etudes her mother's favorites and just as quickly put it down. The next disk in the stack caught her eye. It contained a series of Tchaikovsky's works for solo piano with which Olivia was unfamiliar, and she took a gamble.
"Mind if I put on some music?"
"Sure, go ahead."
As the gently introspective 'January' began, Olivia moved to the bookshelf, and began scanning the spines.
Alex watched surreptitiously, papers forgotten for the moment. What is going on in that head of yours, Olivia? The detective seemed increasingly unsettled, and Alex frowned slightly, wondering when the vague sense of unease had really begun to make itself known. Their first three days had been magical incredible. They had swum and sunbathed, wandered for miles along the beach, explored woodlands, held hands, made love at whim and at will. Alex sighed. Made love. She was still struck by the intensity of her physical reaction to Olivia. Alex found it difficult to intellectualize, which in itself made the experience all the more overwhelming for her. It might be the casual strength in Olivia's gait, or her hands large, strong, yet surprisingly elegant, the curve of her lower back as she lay motionless in sated sleep, the odd way her open mouth seemed to hover somewhere between sneer and smirk, the rich tone of her skin, and the way it had darkened in the sun. Or her swagger. And the effect had only increased over time. Now Alex had only to glance at Olivia, catch sight of her hands, her eyes, her smile, and she'd feel herself tightening, tingling and full, and wet.
The detective's allure was indisputable she was beautiful, and complex and intriguing. But she was also unpredictable, and enigmatic, and perhaps dangerous, and Alex reluctantly admitted to herself that their relationship, as wonderful as it was, was still somewhat disconcerting How did this happen? Her left brain interrogated the right. How why would you suddenly fall in love with a woman, Cabot? But I did, didn't I? I have So, is this for life? Why not? But will you always be together? Will things always be this comfortable, this fulfilling? Do you think they can? Again, why not? And, if this is it, if she's truly the one, doesn't that mean you'll never again get to enjoy sex with a man? Alex shook her head, suddenly appalled at the track her thoughts had taken, by what was tantamount to emotional infidelity Oh God, just when I thought I had this all together
Alex was roused from her introspection by Olivia settling herself at the other end of the sofa, book in hand.
"What's that?" Alex's attempt to hide the sudden guilty flush which suffused her face backfired, her enquiry coming out as a harsh proprietorial demand.
Olivia faltered, feeling like she'd committed some serious faux pas - as though she'd been caught using the best china, or the wrong spoon or being presumptuous
"It's 'Possession' I thought it's an old favorite, and I just " She stood up quickly, preparing to return it to the shelf.
Alex's expression became confused. "What's wrong, Olivia? Aren't you going to read it?"
"It's OK "
"Wait " Alex reached out for Olivia's hand. "Sit down and read, sweetie. I won't be long here," she added, motioning towards the papers on her lap. "Then maybe we can " She let her eyebrows complete the suggestion.
Olivia smiled, but the expression didn't quite reach her eyes. "Yeah " Instead of opening the novel, however, she reached for Alex's foot, and began to massage it slowly. "What on earth are you reading? Surely you didn't bring work up here with you?"
"No No, they're just some legal documents for my mother."
"What sort?" she asked, but as Alex opened her mouth to answer Olivia cut back in with, "Trust disbursements? New yacht? Another property in St Moritz?"
Alex, already feeling uncharacteristically fragile from the effect of her earlier musings, now stared at the brunette, puzzled and hurt. "Why would you say that, Olivia?"
Shit, Benson. What the fuck did you do that for? "Sorry, Alex. Only joking." Olivia's attempt at back-pedaling only seemed to make things worse.
Alex pursed her lips, choosing silence over further discord, and pointedly resumed reading.
"I'm sorry. Will you tell me?" Olivia waited, the silence serving only to deepen her contrition.
And Alex let it.
Finally, Alex sighed. "They're forms for Durable Power-of-Attorney, and a Health Care Proxy." She waited for Olivia to register the meaning of the documents, before adding, "she's dying."
"Oh yes, she did."
"Two dozen. Red."
"Which one? The one with that awful short haircut?"
"And she gave them to the blonde one?"
"The same. First thing this morning."
"That's a little unusual, wouldn't you say?"
"Oh my, that's not all." A conspiratorial whisper: "she kissed her!"
"Oh, that's just sick."
"You know they've been staying up at the old Jefferson place. Together."
"You mean 'together'?"
""Oh, yes. They've got to be you know."
"Well I think that's just unnatural. There are reasons there were laws against that sort of thing. It goes against the natural order."
"Oh, and if Caroline only knew. That house was her mother's pride and joy."
"Oh yes! And for it to be defiled like that is just shameful."
Olivia struck the steering wheel of the hastily-rented Ford with the heel of her hand, and glanced at the rose on the seat. The rose she'd taken surreptitiously from the vase as she'd left; the rose now quietly wilting on an empty passenger seat in the sun.
The simmering discontent of the night before had pervaded the entire evening, and its conclusion was less-than-satisfying for both. Polite non-communication, strained silences, insomnia. Olivia had dragged herself out of bed at first light and gone for a long run, while Alex busied herself with neglected correspondence and self-recrimination. The flowers, when she presented them, were a salve, but overhearing the shopkeeper's bigoted vitriol later in the morning had galvanized Olivia into insisting Alex leave early to visit her mother. In the face of her misdirected humor the night before, letting Alex go early was the least Olivia could do, and her desire to protect Alex from the barbs of the ill-informed merely added weight to her own conviction that she was doing the right thing. Even though it hurt like hell.
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