DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A loose follow up to my Christmas story, The First Miracle.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Olivia knocked lightly on the bedroom door. "Honey, are you ready?" she called, tugging on her right ear in annoyance. The new earrings she'd bought for tonight were irritating her - although not as much as being banished from her own bedroom so Natalia could get changed "in private". What the hell did "in private" mean? And since when did Natalia need privacy from her? They'd given up being bashful sometime around four am the morning after she'd moved in, way back in September, a lifetime ago.
For a moment there was no reply, and then she heard a cough and a small voice. "Maybe you should go by yourself."
"What the..." Olivia threw the door open and marched in. Natalia was standing in front of the mirror, a vision in the simple jet black gown Olivia had bought for her, with diamonds twinkling in her ears and trailed round her throat. Olivia's breath caught and what she'd been planning to say completely left her head. "Oh my God, you're beautiful," she said instead. Natalia blushed and looked down. Olivia smiled, entranced. "Come on, I've told you you're beautiful a million times," she said, crossing the room to press herself against her lover's back, her arms slipping around her waist. She kissed her exposed neck, just behind her ear and whispered: "And I'll say it again a million times plus one, and it'll be truer every time."
Natalia laughed. "You are so sweet to me," she murmured. "How did you get to be so sweet, huh?"
"No idea," Olivia replied, resting her head on Natalia's shoulder and meeting her eyes in the mirror. "What's wrong? Don't you like the dress?"
Natalia blushed again, embarrassed. "I love the dress, the dress is wonderful." Olivia smiled slowly.
"Then what?" she asked patiently. "Do you miss Francesca?" The baby had been collected by Frank and Blake earlier in the evening, and would be doing a great job of keeping them up all through the night. Olivia suspected that Frank would be less keen to keep the child overnight after this first taste of it.
"It's not that," Natalia replied. "It's just..." She sighed, pulling away from Olivia and moving to look out of the window. "You'll think it's stupid."
"Hey," Olivia said. "Tell me one time I've ever called you stupid." Natalia threw a look over her shoulder and Olivia winced. "Okay, okay," she added. "When I wasn't trying to commit suicide by self pity. Name one other time."
Natalia smiled. "You're cute."
"And you're avoiding the question." Olivia took a step towards her. "What could possibly be so bad that you can't tell me about it?" she asked gently. Natalia drew her lower lip into her mouth. Olivia took another step forward and reached up to caress the other woman's cheek. "You're gonna have to redo your lipstick now," she murmured.
Natalia winced. "See? I'll just do something like that and embarrass you if I come along." She gestured vaguely to the dresser where Olivia could just about make out an invitation.
|Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera |
invite you to celebrate
the end of the decade
at The Beacon Hotel
12/31/09 10pm till late.
Eyes widening slightly in understanding, Olivia opened her arms and sighed when Natalia nestled into them. "Natalia," she murmured. "You could never embarrass me. Wherever we go, whatever we do...I'll just be so damn proud to have you by my side. Always, you understand?"
Natalia nodded, but couldn't help the quiet: "But..." which escaped her slightly parted lips.
"No buts," Olivia interrupted, hushing her. "Remember the first time we ever had dinner in this house? With Decker and the Xiaos? You were so perfect. I was so proud of you that night."
Natalia snorted. "Yeah, talk of growing up poor and drinking out of Mason jars will really go down well with your investors tonight." She squeezed her eyes closed and buried her face in Olivia's neck. "All those rich people..." she mumbled. "And I'm just...me."
Olivia raised her eyes towards heaven and sighed. How to explain to Natalia that she was better than every single man and woman she'd invited to that damn New Year's party? That her worth had nothing to do with how much money she had, either now or while she was growing up? And from out of the distant past a phrase pushed itself forward, and dropped from her lips before she'd really thought about it. "Rich and poor have this in common: the lord is the maker of them all."
Natalia's head snapped back. "Am I dreaming?" she said incredulously. "Or did you just quote the Bible at me?"
Olivia flushed. "It's...uh...something my mom used to say. When I used to dream of being rich...back on San Cristobel." A faraway smile appeared on her lips. "But it's true, right? That's what your faith says. That we're all equal, under God?"
Natalia nodded faintly. "Yes."
Olivia leaned forward and pressed her lips to the other woman's ear. "Then come with me tonight," she whispered. "Hold your head up high and know that you're the equal of everyone at that party. That you're my equal. My...other half. My other half, right Natalia?"
Natalia nodded tightly. "Right," she said, her voice choked. And then she laughed, because it was a choice between laughing or crying and she didn't want to have to redo her mascara as well as her lipstick. "Oh, never change, Olivia." She clasped her lover's face between her palms and pressed quick, adoring kisses everywhere she could reach. "I want you to be surprising me when we're old and grey."
"I can do that," Olivia murmured happily. She took a step back and smiled brightly. "So, are you ready?"
"Lipstick," Natalia reminded her, turning back to the mirror.
"Oh, yeah...but be quick, the car'll be here in five minutes."
"Mmm hmm." Natalia finished re-applying her lipstick, then frowned, running a critical eye down the length of her body in the mirror. "Are you sure this dress doesn't make me look fat?"
Olivia sighed deeply. "Women..."
As it turned out, they were fashionably late to their own party. By the time they'd finally made it down the stairs, and Emma had taken their picture with her new camera, and Phillip had wished them Happy New Year before spiriting Emma away to the Spaulding mansion for the night, the driver had already been waiting for fifteen minutes.
The drive to the Beacon was just enough time for Natalia to get thoroughly nervous again. Olivia grabbed her hand and squeezed when she couldn't stand the wringing anymore. "Sorry," Natalia murmured. "Just...you know."
"I know," Olivia replied. "Do I have to whip out my extremely paltry knowledge of Bible quotes again?"
Natalia laughed. "Let me try one." She thought for a few seconds. "There is no fear in love; for perfect love casteth out fear."
"I hope that's not from Paul," Olivia said with a twinkle in her eye. "'Cause he's not too down with the whole..." she gestured between them, "same sex thing."
Natalia grinned. "No," she said. "It's from the first letter of Saint John."
"Oh," Olivia said, sounding relieved. "That's okay - he was gay anyway."
"What? Since when was Saint John gay?"
"Since always." Olivia rolled her eyes. "Come on, 'the beloved disciple', that's a euphamism if ever I heard one. Looked after his boyfriend's old mother. They probably exchanged Roman-era make-up tips and went sandal shopping together."
"Olivia," Natalia said harshly. "John looked after Jesus Christ's mother."
Olivia smiled. "Exactly what I said."
Natalia gaped at her girlfriend for a solid minute before shaking her head and sliding across the seat into her arms. "You're impossible," she murmured.
"Yeah, yeah," Olivia replied, dropping a kiss onto her forehead. "But I got you to forget about feeling nervous, huh?"
Natalia pursed her lips. "Yes," she admitted at last, grudgingly.
"Good," Olivia said. "Because we're here."
The driver came around to open the door for them, and they got out - Olivia gracefully, Natalia a little less so. "Why do these shoes have to be so high," she muttered as Olivia linked their arms together.
"Because I wanted us to be the same height," Olivia replied under her breath. "Smile."
Natalia just managed to plaster a smile onto her face before Olivia led them into the main banquet hall, which was already buzzing with people. "Miss Spencer!" a man nearby exclaimed as he spotted them.
"Oh, how nice to see you Mr...Mr..."
"Beaumont," Natalia hissed.
"Beaumont," Olivia covered seamlessly. "Are you enjoying the party?"
"Oh, it's wonderful Miss Spencer, just like all parties at the Beacon!" He winked at her, then his eyes slid over to Natalia, who seemed to be trying to melt into Olivia's shadow. "And this must be Miss Rivera," he said, stretching out his hand. Natalia took it timidly, and smiled. "Tell me," said Mr Beaumont, "is it true that all the hors d'oeuvres are made from your recipes?"
"Uhm...yes," Natalia replied. "Yes it is."
"Excellent!" he exclaimed. "I simply must take you to meet my friend Hamilton - he's been talking about head-hunting the creator of these hors d'oeuvres all night. The poor man has a rather inadequate kitchen for a four star hotel, I'm sorry to say."
"Hey, she's mine," Olivia said playfully, but released Natalia from her arm and allowed Mr Beaumont to take her place.
"Evidently," he replied gleefully. "And that'll drive Hamilton absolutely bonkers."
Olivia watched Natalia being led across the floor to a group of hoteliers, keeping an eye out in case she needed to be rescued. But no - everyone appeared to find her lover just as charming as she did herself. Satisfied, Olivia grabbed a flute of champagne from a passing waiter, and headed into the throng.
It was five minutes to midnight when Natalia finally found Olivia, out on a balcony, staring up at the moon. She closed the french doors, shutting out the sound of most of the excited throng behind them. "Hey you," she said softly. Olivia looked over her shoulder.
"Hey," she replied with a gentle smile. "I was wondering when you'd find me."
Natalia grimaced. "I only just escaped from Marcus Beaumont," she said. "I think he was hoping I'd find myself next to him at midnight."
"I'd have killed him," Olivia said placidly. Natalia laughed.
"Yeah yeah," she said, slipping her arm round Olivia's waist as she joined her at the balustrade. Olivia turned, reaching up to run her thumb along Natalia's lips.
"Seriously," she said. "No-one touches these lips but me."
"I kinda like it when you get possessive," Natalia murmured, draping her arms around Olivia's neck.
"I know," Olivia replied. "That's why I do it."
A minute ticked by without words as they simply looked at each other and listened to the growing excitement building beyond the glass in the banquet hall.
"Do you want to go back in?" Natalia asked at last. "Watch the ball drop live from Times Square?"
Olivia snorted. "Yeah, welcome 2010, sponsored by Toshiba." She shook her head. "I'd rather stay out here with you...under the moon." She looked up at the sky, blinking against the silvery light. "This is a blue moon, did you know that?"
"Uh huh." Natalia took half a step closer and sighed in contentment when Olivia's arms snaked around her waist. "Second chance moon."
"Funny you should say that," Olivia replied. "I was just thinking about that...about the end of my first decade in Springfield. About all the chances that have come and gone. Five marriages. Finding Ava. Building this," she gestured around them, "the business, the money, the power. And then the ultimate second chance..."
Natalia nodded, and pressed the fingers of her right hand gently against the thump of Olivia's heart. "It's been quite a decade," she said softly.
"And for you?" Olivia asked. Natalia smiled.
"You know...it almost feels like I barely lived before I came to this town. I just worked, went to church, looked after Rafe. That was it. That was my life. And then I came here..." She laughed. "You want to talk about second chances? I've had dozens of them since I've lived here. They should rename this place second chance Springfield."
Olivia laughed. "You know, that sounds about right," she said. "But you know what the best one of all was?"
"I do," Natalia said softly. "It's this. It's you and me."
A moment passed in silence, and then Olivia nodded. "You and me..."
Inside the guests began to yell a countdown. The balcony was a little world of its own, like a solitary jewel. Olivia looked up at the moon one last time and then, on the stroke of midnight, leaned forward to bestow and receive her New Year's kiss.
When they separated, breathless, there was cheering all around them and someone had begun a tuneless rendition of Auld Lang Syne. "That's the best kiss I've had all year," Natalia said, with laughter in her voice. Olivia grinned.
"I'm going to make every kiss better than the last," she promised. "Every single one." She leaned forward to make a start on doing just that. Somewhere above them, fireworks exploded.
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