DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Olivia's confession in the cemetery was so heartfelt, I really have a hard time thinking that Natalia would have continued with the wedding of doom. So I've taken it and created my own AU Springfield to play in. The first part is a bit of a recap of the episode, but we move on after that so bear with me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Up to and including April 17, 2009.
Whither Thou Goest
A bitter wind blew across Springfield cemetery, an early warning of the snowstorm making its way east. Clouds scudded across the grey sky, the bare trees rattling and moving with the breeze, old dead leaves rolling across the brittle grass. Tombstones and monuments stood huddled along the hillside, silent testament to the drama enfolding before them.
"We're doing the right thing though, you know." Natalia Rivera wasn't sure who she was trying to convince more, herself or the woman obviously in pain in front of her. "We are, because it's the best thing for everybody. Best thing for Frank and Rafe and Emma, for all of us." A little treacherous voice inside her screamed that if this wedding was such the right thing to do then why did it feel so wrong? Natalia just pushed those thoughts away, stuffing them deep down into the darkest recesses of her heart.
"That is what is important." Olivia Spencer quickly agreed. She just wanted this day to be over, to get through it all as fast as possible, like ripping a Band-Aid off, and then she could let herself fall apart. She didn't think that was so much to ask. "That's what's important." Oh, God this hurt so damn much. A little gasp of sadness escaped, before Olivia sighed and looked down, starting to cry harder again.
"If you know that, then why are you crying" Natalia's heart was breaking, Olivia was in such pain. She took a small step forward, the need to touch Olivia overwhelming, to soothe the hurt, to hold her until the ache went away.
"Because, I'm crying " Olivia stepped back, knowing that if Natalia touched her she would be lost. She needed to hold in what she desperately wanted to say.
"Because " Olivia just shook her head, trying to come up with yet another way to change the topic, taking them back to safe ground. "Just " Get her focused on the wedding Spencer, ok, good plan.
"You should go, you're getting married, come on." Olivia stuffed her hands in her pockets and tried to summon some excitement for her friend's big day, instead of feeling like another funeral she had to attend.
"You should go and try on your dress and sip champagne and look for something old and something new " She blinked at the building tears, her heart shattering in her chest at the thought of Natalia walking down the aisle and out of her life for good.
"Tell me what's wrong!" Natalia was getting really worried now and a little angry. This was important, whatever Olivia was going through, and she needed to hear it. Deep down she didn't dare hope that Olivia felt the same way she did.
" and something borrowed " Olivia kept trying not to say what was on the tip of her tongue. Her eyes were burning from the unshed tears, her heart was racing, thundering in her ears, the desire to finally come clean almost overwhelming.
"Just tell " Natalia grew more panicked as she watched Olivia seem to crumble before her eyes, trying so hard to change the topic, to not discuss what needed to be said between them. They'd been dancing around each other for far too long, it was time to face the music.
" and something blue. Just go be with your groom. Please, you don't want to be here " Tears choked her voice as Olivia started to lose the tight reigns of control she had kept for so long. Natalia needed to be anywhere but here, this was just too hard, she would ruin everything like usual.
"I want to know why you're upset " Natalia pleaded with her weeping friend, the tears streaming down the other woman's flushed cheeks breaking something down deep inside.
" you don't want to know!" Olivia Spencer hissed, backed into a corner now, lashing out, trying to protect herself, to protect Natalia from the unwanted knowledge. As hard as letting Natalia go was, not having her in her life at all was unacceptable. If she threw away their friendship, Olivia didn't even want to contemplate it.
"I do!" Natalia needed to know what was going on with Olivia. She just wanted to take the pain out of the woman's gorgeous green eyes. She knew she just needed to keep pushing Olivia for the truth. She truly believed that the truth will set you free.
"I'm in love with you!" Olivia exploded, the pent up emotions erupting, desperately needing to come out. Stunned that she had actually said the words that have been on the tip of her tongue for what seemed like forever, Olivia took a shaky step forward.
"I'm in love with you." Whispered this time, afraid of what her confession would bring and yet so relieved that she had finally said the words. Olivia covered her mouth and waited for the fall out. She waited for the woman she loved to run screaming, cast her away, thrown out of her life forever. What the hell had she been thinking? She knew she should have just kept quiet. This was not something Natalia wanted or needed to hear now, on her wedding day.
Natalia stared in disbelief. And yet she wasn't surprised, not really. It had been something slowly building, growing between them. She felt it and Olivia obviously felt it. And yet Olivia had pushed her to get married, thinking it was for the best. Shouldn't she be the one to decide what, or who she wanted?
Frank. God, how could she possibly marry him now? Natalia needed time to think, to process this new and different possibility. It's one thing to have feelings for Olivia, it's another to know that they are returned. Olivia stepped forward and grabbed her cold hands, bringing them to her chest and drawing her out of her own jumbled thoughts.
"I'm in love with you." Olivia smiled sadly. "And that's why I want you to be with someone who can make you happy and can give you the life that you deserve. And I can't do that for you!" Olivia squeezed the tiny hands held in her own. She had to make Natalia understand she wanted only the best for her. It was the only thing keeping her sane at the moment.
"Olivia " Natalia whispered, stepping closer still, eyes tearing. Olivia loved her. That was the only thing still ringing in her ears. That was what was important here, couldn't she see that?
"Don't say anything. It's ok." Olivia brought the chilled hands to her chest, resting them against her racing heart. Now that she had said the words it was as if a feeling of calm had come over her. " I just I can't keep quiet, I've stopped myself so many times and I've lost my nerve. I've stuffed my feelings down. I just can't do it anymore. Y'know, I say screw it, because this might be my last chance to set the record straight"
"Once you say something " Natalia started, swallowing hard, knowing that if Olivia was so brave, then maybe it was time for her to stand up as well. She was just so confused and if she was totally honest, afraid.
"You can't unsay it, I know ok, you told me that." Olivia looked at their entwined hands, needing to explain as best she could while she had the chance. Who knew if they would ever discuss this again, if she could ever be this honest again? Taking a breath she looked up and met Natalia's dark eyes, letting herself finally show her true feelings for her.
"Look, I don't know when this happened I...I just know that somewhere along the way you stopped just being my roommate, and my friend or Emma's other mommy or the person who gave me Gus' heart. You became the woman I love." Olivia paused, heart thundering, still amazed that she could say it finally out loud. And Natalia was still standing there, listening.
"And I know that it's a sin in your book and I get that." She noted that Natalia looked away at that point. She swallowed down the hurt and kept going. "And I get that Frank can give you love and security and a home for you and Rafe, and you know what, I could give you a home too, but it would never be as safe as anything Frank can offer you."
"Safe is not the most important thing " Natalia stared hard, wanting to say so much more yet afraid to take that last step into the unknown, to join Olivia in the deep end of the pool. Her brave Olivia.
"All I can offer you is whispering and cancelled play dates for Emma and tormenting Rafe at a time when he really needs to feel like he can make a fresh start." Olivia felt her stomach churn, their world was not going to accept this so easily. She needed to spare Natalia and their family this pain, because of her selfish love. No she would not do it to them.
"We've survived all the whispering and cancelled dates before and Rafe has survived prison." Natalia started to realize that maybe this was something she could do. In fact she was beginning to think that this was something she wanted to do. Together they could handle this, together they could handle anything.
"It would be so much worse," Olivia continued to argue her point, terrified that she would destroy the one good thing in her life. Her love was toxic, couldn't Natalia see that? "It would just be a world of trouble and I don't want that for you."
"We've handled trouble before " Natalia heard the fear in Olivia's voice, but she also heard the love above all else. She was sure that with time they could figure it all out. They just needed time to process this all.
"You're going to get hurt. I cant I can't live with that." Olivia stood and watched the emotions flit across Natalia's face. "I love you, but I don't know what offering my love will do to you. I'll ask you to change who you are and what you believe and then that would make this whole thing a lie, wouldn't it?" Olivia knew that she had the winning argument and as much as she hated saying it, it was the truth.
"Don't you know how much I " Natalia stepped forward, she needed to say the words, to hold her friend and explain. She needed to tell this extraordinary woman what she felt too.
"Don't " Olivia's hand touched her cheek and gently wiped away a tear with her thumb. "Don't say it. Once you say it, you can't take it back." She didn't think she could survive this if she knew Natalia felt the same. It was enough that she had said her piece. Now she needed to make sure that Natalia was happy and safe in a nice normal lifestyle with Frank. And then she could fall apart.
Natalia paused, knowing what Olivia had said was true. Searching her heart though, and seeing how tortured Olivia was, she realized that she couldn't hold it in any longer. She didn't want to hide it inside. It was big and messy and didn't fit into any of her neat compartments, into any of her safe secure little worlds. Natalia's eyes met Olivia's and she saw everything she needed staring back at her. It was time to take the only thing she really wanted. It was time to fight for her family. It was time to say what was in her heart.
"Olivia," Natalia lifted the beautiful face before her, their eyes locking making sure there was no way Olivia would misunderstand. "Don't you know? I love you too."
Silence except for the harsh wind blowing around them. And then Olivia sobbed, closing her eyes, and let the words wash over her, like a blessing, breaking down the last wall and setting her heart finally free. Natalia pulled her close, their foreheads touching making soothing sounds. Olivia's heart pounded, the warmth and love surrounding her, and she let the tears fall slowly down her cheeks.
So wrapped up in the emotions, they almost didn't hear the beep coming from Olivia's pocket. Natalia pulled away and looked closer at Olivia. She was pale and drawn but it was cold out. With everything going on lately, she hadn't been keeping as close an eye on Olivia's health.
"Olivia, is that ?"
"Damn it!" Olivia pulled the small heart monitor device out of her pocket. Sure her heart was racing a bit, but she felt okay. Well maybe a little light headed but that was probably from all the crying. "I'm fine "
Natalia didn't believe her. Shaking her head at her own stupidity, she fished in her pocket for her car keys and made a decision. It felt damn good.
"I've finally found you, I am not losing you. Hospital. Now." Natalia reached out to take her hand.
"Wait, what about the wedding?" Olivia cringed but she needed to make sure, needed Natalia to realize that there was still time to take that road if she wanted.
Natalia just stared at Olivia in disbelief.
"You can't honestly believe that I'm still going to marry Frank do you?" Natalia just shook her head. Olivia looked down then glanced up, a quiet joy lighting her eyes.
"Ok, now that that is settled. I'm driving, let's go." Natalia grabbed her hand and led Olivia from the cemetery, and towards their new life.
Title: Whither Thou Goest - Part 2
Disclaimer: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor and Gamble. No infringement intended. Although I have to say I love what they are doing with these characters!
Small flakes of snow were falling hard from the dark grey sky, the beginning of the snowstorm starting to really hit the area. Natalia flicked the wipers to intermittent and kept her eyes peeled for black ice. Springfield wasn't a large town, but the beep, beep, beep of the monitor was a stark reminder of needing to be on the other side of it now. She looked over at Olivia, still quite pale and looking tired, more so as every minute passed.
"Natalia, it's going to be fine." Olivia tried to reassure both herself and Natalia. However it seemed to calm her more when Natalia finally smiled and reached across to hold her hand, the sure touch warming more than her freezing fingers.
Natalia turned the car left at the light and sped down the street taking the most direct route to Cedars Hospital. Her cell phone suddenly rang, the tone loud in the quiet car. Natalia reluctantly let go of Olivia's hand and pulled it from her purse to answer it.
"Natalia, I don't want you to worry babe, but we have a small problem. I'm working on it as we speak " Frank began. Natalia sighed at his anxious words. She could only handle one catastrophe at a time.
"Frank, I " Natalia started and glanced over at Olivia, whose eye roll and slight smirk warmed her heart. God she loved this woman.
"Father Ray couldn't make it. And I've tried Father Timothy, but " Frank continued to ramble on, not even registering his fiancée needed to say something. Natalia pulled a rolling stop at the sign, signaled and turned right, before abruptly braking for a squirrel that scampered out into the street. Letting it dash off to safety, Natalia tromped once more on the gas.
"Frank, listen I " Natalia tried again to break into the ongoing wedding update.
"And Pops has headed over to the courthouse to see if we can find a judge to officiate "
"Frank. Will you shut up and listen to me!" Silence greeted her from the other end. Maybe that had been a bit harsh. Natalia mentally shrugged, just happy with the result and tried to ignore the snort of laughter from the woman beside her. "Olivia's having a heart issue and we're on the way to Cedars."
"Oh my God. Is she ok?" Frank could just make out the sound of beeping over the phone.
Natalia glanced over at the calm woman smiling softly beside her and fought back tears. If something bad happened to Olivia because of all this she didn't even want to think about it. This was all her fault damn it, she needed to fix it. Now.
"I need to be with her now Frank. Why don't we call it a day? Apologize to everyone and just send them home." A wave of guilt washed over her, but Natalia refused to dwell on it. She would take care of this later, postpone the wedding now and end it completely with him in private. He deserved that dignity at the very least.
"Of course." Frank nodded. Today was just not going to work out and Natalia was obviously concerned about Olivia's heart. "I'll take care of everything on this end. I'll get Rafe and Emma back to the farmhouse."
"Thank you Frank. I'm so sorry." Natalia turned into the parking lot at Cedars Hospital and headed to the emergency entrance. "I've got to go. We're here now." With that she hung up. Pulling quickly into a spot Natalia shut off the car and turned, all thoughts of her fiancé leaving her mind as she looked into the worried eyes of Olivia.
"Come on Trouble. Let's get you taken care of "
Dr. Rick Bauer put the stethoscope to Olivia's back.
"Breathe." Inhale. Exhale.
Olivia's eyes never left an anxious Natalia standing quietly near the door, who reluctantly smiled back. Olivia still couldn't believe Natalia had said the words. It was like she was on a cloud and she didn't want to come down. One thought kept racing through her mind, as if on a permanent loop, making even this heart scare tolerable. Natalia loves me.
"And again." Inhale. Exhale.
Rick nodded and stepped back to make a few notes on his clip board.
"Ok, you're heart is racing a little. Have you been under a lot of stress lately?" Rick glanced over at Natalia and then back to Olivia.
"Well, a little I guess." Olivia cleared her throat, and looked a little sheepish.
Natalia looked down and swallowed hard, realizing for the first time that there were real consequences to her actions. God, how horrible this whole Frank debacle must have been for Olivia. If the roles had been reversed how would she have coped? It was all her fault. Well, she would just have to make it all right again.
"Planning my wedding and everything else probably didn't help " Natalia offered.
"That was my own fault for pushing that along, it wasn't your fault " Olivia tried to stop her from the guilt she knew Natalia would take as her own.
"Uh huh "Rick interrupted. "And how about eating properly and getting enough sleep?" Rick looked at a squirming Olivia.
"Yeah, well, y'know " Olivia started. She knew that the last few weeks had been hard on her. She hadn't had much of an appetite and when she did eat it was often not the most nutritious meal. Not to mention all the
"And what about drinking?" Rick raised an eyebrow, knowing his best friend's ex quite well. Olivia was so busted. "We talked about all this before Olivia. Just because you have a new heart doesn't mean you can just go on like you're the Energizer bunny. Pop in a new heart and she keeps going and going. You need to recuperate, change your lifestyle. That means slowing down a little and taking some time to relax."
Olivia glanced down at her hands. He was absolutely right of course and she had been dealing with, or rather not dealing with, her true feelings for Natalia by indulging in the bottle a bit more than was good for her.
"I'm sorry Dr. Rick."
The room fell silent as the truth of the situation sank in. Rick snapped his folder shut and clicked his pen closed before stuffing it into his pocket.
"Well, luckily I think this was just stress induced. Your heart rate is still elevated slightly but within normal ranges. However I want to keep you in overnight for observation "
"What!" Olivia felt fine, better than fine. She felt like she was walking on air, floating on clouds. There was so much yet to talk to Natalia about. She couldn't be trapped in Cedars with the nurses using her as a pin cushion.
"Olivia!" Natalia's mom voice stopped all protests that might have been coming. "You will do as Rick says." Natalia's eyes brooked no argument and Olivia knew it would be useless to try. Rick smiled at Olivia knowing that he had won.
"Ok then. Wait here. I'll just get a nurse to take you to your room once it's ready." Rick wandered out into the hallway and headed towards the nursing station.
"Natalia, I'm so sorry for ruining everything " Olivia started to say as Natalia came closer and held her hands, running her fingers along the soft skin, the simple act soothing so much still churning deep inside.
"Stop it right there. You have ruined nothing. In fact all you did was be brave and simply tell the truth. Something we needed to share before I really messed things up and hurt a good man." Natalia glanced down at their entwined hands. "Before I hurt him more anyways." She ran a hand through Olivia's thick hair and tried to focus away from Frank and back on the woman before her.
"Natalia, it's not too late. You can still have that life, the life you deserve " Olivia began again. Maybe she could still talk her into the best option. It would kill her to see Natalia hurt because of her. Deep down Olivia was certain that one day she would hurt this amazing woman. Five marriages and untold men left behind like so much debris in her wake was surely enough proof of that.
"I already have the life I deserve, and I want it to go back to normal. I want you and Emma back at the farmhouse. I want to go back to the way it was for us. A real home. Surrounded by our little family. I want " Natalia swallowed hard as the truth hit her hard. She raised a hand to caress a pale cheek waiting to catch the attention of the soft green eyes. "You."
They simply stared at each other, savouring the truth of the moment. There was so much they still had to say to each other, problems to overcome, a hard road to follow. Today was just the first step, but together the road suddenly didn't seem as long.
"So I guess we should call those movers and have them bring my stuff back home?" Olivia watched entranced as a beautiful smile graced Natalia's face, dimples stealing her breath away. Before she knew it Natalia had found her BlackBerry and was already handing it to her.
"Home it is."
The snow had really built up by the time Natalia pulled up the driveway to the farmhouse that evening. Thankfully the tire treads from the moving van had packed down a trail and she could get to her home easily. The pathway had been shoveled and rock salt scattered and Natalia smiled, knowing Rafe had been busy.
Walking into the warm kitchen she was surprised to see both her babies, Rafe and Emma together at her stove, cooking.
"Well, this looks like trouble." Natalia unzipped her black parka and put her hands on her hips, watching as two heads whipped around at the sound of her voice and was greeted with twin smiles.
"You're home!" Emma flew across the few feet and latched onto Natalia, burrowing her little face against her warm stomach.
"So are you!" Natalia bent down to give her a hug, never wanting to let go.
"Where's Mommy?" Emma looked back at the door, hoping to see her behind Natalia.
"Dr. Rick said she needed to stay overnight." Natalia brushed the soft hair off of Emma's forehead and dropped a quick kiss before standing back up again. "But if everything looks good, we can bring her home tomorrow instead. Okay sweetie?" Emma looked a little worried, but nodded her head.
"Hey Ma. The mover dudes put Olivia's boxes in the living room and I got Emma's stuff back upstairs. I can take the other ones up to Olivia's room later, if you know which ones should stay downstairs." Rafe stirred his sauce a bit more and then moved over to start mixing a salad.
"Did you unpack some stuff Emma?" Natalia wandered over to taste the sauce, watching her boy cook pleasing her so much. It was amazing to have him back, even if for only a little while. Now if Olivia was here their little family would be complete.
"I need to find my hat for the play tomorrow." Emma mentioned absently, pulling knives and forks from the drawer and placing them on the table. Natalia sank down onto a chair, suddenly remembering the play at school. Was that tomorrow?
"Do you think Mommy will still be able to come?" Emma leaned against Natalia's leg, not quite sitting on her lap.
"I'm not sure. We'll ask Dr. Rick tomorrow and maybe she can still come to watch you. It starts at 10:30 right?" Natalia smiled as Emma dashed over to the fridge and pulled off the letter from her teacher putting the magnet back before running it back to her. The timing might be tight, but she'd try to get Olivia sprung in time.
"Oh yeah, Frank said to call him when you got in." Rafe slid a steaming plate of spaghetti in front of his mother, happy that his surprise for her had gone so well. Emma hopped over and sat as he dropped her plate on the table too. He quickly grabbed his food and joined them. "He was going to stick around until you got home, but I told him that we had it under control here. Didn't we Em?"
"Great " Natalia murmured under her breath, grateful that Frank hadn't stayed and then feeling bad about that. She sighed sadly not wanting to think about how she was going to handle things with him now. God, what a mess
Finally unpacked and her small bedroom back to normal, Emma snuggled down under the blankets and looked up at Natalia. The light from the nightstand made her look all warm and golden and Emma couldn't resist hugging her right then and there.
"I'm so glad we can stay here with you." Emma murmured into Natalia's shoulder. Natalia squeezed her back tight.
"Me too baby, me too " Natalia's voice cracked and she kissed the girl's soft hair before letting her go again. "Will we call Mommy and wish her goodnight?"
"Yeah!" Emma lay back down and wiggled back down under the blankets, watching as Natalia dialed a phone number she had written down on a piece of paper. Natalia listened for a bit and then hit a couple more numbers then smiled and handed the cell phone to her.
"Go on, say hello " Natalia whispered.
"Hello? Who's there?" Olivia's voice crackled through the line.
"Mommy?" Emma's face lit up and Natalia's heart clenched at the love radiating from the little girl. Natalia scooted onto the bed beside Emma so she could listen to the phone too.
"Emma!" Olivia sounded so far away.
"Me and Rafe made spaghetti tonight! And I helped dry the dishes too." Emma beamed at Natalia, who smiled back and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"You did? Wow. You'll have to make some for me when I come home too." Olivia
"And if Natalia can't get Dr. Rick to let you come home, Becky's dad usually records all our plays so we could watch that when you get better." Emma rambled on. Natalia could hear Olivia's inhale of surprise. She'd forgotten too it would appear.
"Oh, that's tomorrow! Right. Well, we'll see what Dr. Rick has to say but maybe I'll be there to see it myself." Olivia heard Emma's yawn through the phone line. "I think it's time for someone to hit the hay. Is Natalia there?"
Emma looked across at Natalia and yawned again handing over the phone. Natalia sat up to talk on the phone, but her hand stayed in her hair gently playing with the strands.
"I'm here Olivia."
Emma blinked up at Natalia, watching as her smile grew bigger. Mommy always knew how to make Natalia smile. Long fingers dragged through her hair and massaged her head a little. Her eyes started to droop a bit more.
"Emma, here's your mom again." Natalia handed the phone back down to the girl. "But Mommy wants me to do something first." Natalia leaned down and planted a squeaky kiss on the girl's cheek, making her giggle and then pulled away to let her talk to her mom.
"Goodnight Jellybean. I love you. Kiss Natalia goodnight for me too, ok?"
"Okay. Love you, night mommy." Emma hit the end button and handed the phone to Natalia, before wrapping her arms around her neck and giving her a big squeaky kiss back on the cheek. They both giggled together and then moved apart.
"Mommy said to say goodnight to you too." Emma lay back down on the pillow and Natalia sat on the side of the bed, pulling the blankets up around the sleepy girl's neck. "I miss her."
"I do too Bean," Natalia sat for a few more minutes, watching the girl quickly fall asleep, the gentle rise and fall soothing something inside of her.
"I do too "
Natalia closed the farmhouse screen door with a creak and took her steaming mug of hot chocolate over to the bench on her porch. She could just make out the sound of the television as Rafe watched a basketball game. It was cold out but the stars were sparkling brilliantly in the night sky and she really just needed the peace and quiet.
What a life altering day it had been. It was hard to believe that she had gone from feeling trapped, and wanting to return her gorgeous wedding dress this morning to this moment, with her heart overflowing, Rafe safe under her roof and Olivia's declaration of love still ringing in her ears. Natalia sent a silent prayer of thanks, thrilled at the mysterious way God worked.
Natalia leaned back on the bench and swirled her drink. Mysterious ways indeed. There was yet another relationship she needed to hammer out. Surely God wouldn't punish her for loving Olivia. A part of her worried that she would lose the one thing that had been solid through all the trials in her life, the Church had always been there, the traditions and ceremony a comforting refuge during the dark times.
If the Church rejected her for who she was, Natalia only prayed that God at least wouldn't. Her stomach churned at the idea of losing God. She needed to think more about this, and it wasn't going to be solved over a cup of hot chocolate. Maybe she'd do some searching on the internet and see what other people have done in her situation. She obviously wouldn't be only one who's had to deal with this turmoil. When a door closes, doesn't somewhere God open a window?
Natalia took a sip of her drink and sighed, knowing there was still one more thing to do before she could put her head down for the night. She slid her slim black cell phone open and dialed a number she knew by heart. She couldn't put this off much longer.
"Hi honey. I was starting to get worried." Frank's deep voice was warm and familiar, safe. Natalia's stomach spun again. She didn't want safe anymore, at least not in the arms of Frank Cooper. "How's Olivia?"
"She should be okay. Rick said that the racing and irregular heartbeats were probably stress induced but they kept her in overnight for observation. I just got Emma down for the night, sorry I didn't call sooner." Natalia stood and started to pace the length of the porch.
"Don't give it a thought. I'm just glad she's okay." Frank grew quiet, knowing something was bothering Natalia. Buzz had been all but hounding him to call, as if he knew something more than he let on, but Frank had waited wanting Natalia to get settled back home first. However, this seed of concern Buzz had planted had grown to worry and Frank wished now that he had stayed at the farmhouse after all.
"I'm so sorry about today Frank." Natalia finally broke the silence. She closed her eyes, trying to figure out the best way to do this, to get the wheels in motion to end it finally. She needed to do that in person and the sooner the better for all concerned. He was going to hate her. His family was going to hate her too. Natalia sighed again not looking forward to any of it.
"Hey, we can book the church again and this time get Father Ray lined up too. Don't worry about a thing. Once Olivia is back on her feet we'll all be good to go." Frank could hear the sadness in her voice, she sounded so tired. It broke his heart to hear it.
"Um, so can we get together for dinner soon? We should talk." Natalia wiped away a tear. She hated that she was going to have to hurt this dear man, but better now than a sham of a marriage and a divorce. It would be so much better than that for everyone concerned.
"Sure sweetheart. We could check out that new restaurant downtown if you like." Frank was antsy, never liking the phrase 'we should talk'. Those warning bells were ringing again, but he put them out of his mind, ignoring them like so many times before. He was just being silly, worrying about nothing. Natalia loved him and everything else could be worked out together.
"Sounds good. I should go. Rafe and I haven't had a chance to catch up much yet. Call me with the time tomorrow." Natalia leaned against a post and stared up at the sky, mesmerized as a cloud passed over the moon. "Night Frank."
Natalia slid her phone closed after he had said goodnight and sighed again. She took a sip of her now cold drink before staring back up at the silently listening moon.
"Nothing good ever comes easy, does it?"
Olivia flicked the small television from channel to channel, finding nothing but infomercials and reality TV shows. Her mind drifted back to the farmhouse, pleased at how happy Emma was right now back home again. Emma hadn't been thrilled about having to pack up and go to the Beacon, and honestly neither had she.
"Well, I had to come see it for myself." Mayor Doris Wolfe stepped inside the private hospital room, the door quietly closing behind her.
"Doris, what are you doing here?" Olivia turned the small television off and pushed it to one side, focusing on her surprise visitor.
"It's good to see you too, you're as charming as ever Olivia." Doris' heels clicked loudly on the polished floor as she dragged a chair closer to sit on. "I have to say I wondered how you would do it, and this was by far the most original way for you to break up the wedding. Bonus points to you on that one."
"I didn't set this up Doris. I really did have an incident today " Olivia was beginning to wish the mayor would leave. When was visiting hours over anyway? "How did you find out anyway?"
"Buzz had rounded me up to officiate the wedding, and honestly I wouldn't have missed it for the world." Doris tucked her coat over the arm of her chair and got comfortable. "I'd just got there and before I knew it Frank was sending everybody home saying that you were having some heart issues and Natalia was with you. I personally wondered if 'heart issues' was code for broken hearted?" Doris smirked as she leaned back and observed the woman in the hospital bed. Olivia seemed oddly at peace and happy and suddenly it all clicked.
"Oh my God, you told her how you felt, didn't you?" The faint blush on Olivia's cheeks told Doris everything she needed to know. She leaned over and swatted Olivia's leg under the blanket. "Good for you!"
"Yeah, we've talked." Olivia rolled her eyes and smiled. She still couldn't believe it herself really but it was kind of nice to have somebody rooting for her.
"I take it she didn't run screaming so she's interested in you too?" Doris prodded for details, the romantic in her wanting the whole story. If she couldn't have a happy ending herself then she at least could live vicariously through others. The smile on Olivia's face was adorable.
"She's definitely interested in me too." Olivia fiddled self consciously with the hem of her blanket. It felt so damn good to just say it out loud. "We haven't had a chance to really talk it out yet."
"The hardest part is over. Admitting it to yourself and then to each other, that takes guts." Doris leaned back admiring the woman before her. Love definitely suited Olivia Spencer. A voice came over a loudspeaker, announcing that visiting hours were over in five minutes. It was time for her to go.
"How do you do it, Doris? Hide who you are from everyone." Olivia wanted to know. She wasn't sure yet how to handle it all herself. She just knew that she couldn't keep this from her family, from her friends. It was too big a part of her life.
"There are too many people in my life that will be hurt. My daughter " Doris grew quiet. She didn't even want to think about it. "Not to mention my political career. The voting public is unforgiving. If I've lied about that what else have I lied about? No, it would have to be a very special person to make me give that all up."
Doris pulled her scarf out of her jacket sleeve and wrapped around her neck before looking back up into understanding green eyes. A part of Doris wondered briefly if that person was in this room.
"But never say never, right? Maybe if the right girl comes along I'll change my mind. But until then, my life works for me." Doris stood and slid an arm into her coat. "There are no rules about being gay y'know. No one says you have to shout it from the tree tops. You'll figure out what works for the two of you, both in and outside of the bedroom."
Doris chuckled, enjoying the blush suddenly on Olivia's face. Oh yes, Natalia was a very lucky girl indeed. Sauntering over to the door she couldn't resist one final parting shot.
"Besides, you know if you're really missing all the dangling bits and pieces, you can always buy them." Doris winked and disappeared out the door before Olivia could throw something at her.
Olivia tried really hard not to, but her mind so went there. With a vengeance.
"Damn it Doris Wolfe, you are an evil, evil woman "
Natalia rolled to her side and stared out her bedroom window, watching the swirls of snow blow against the frosted panes. Sleep continued to elude her. She would close her eyes and be transported back to the cemetery, Olivia weeping on her knees, her tears haunting her still. So much pain she had caused her.
Snapping her eyes open again, Natalia rolled to the other side and stared at the bedroom door, light from the hallway falling through the slightly open door. Her cell phone on the night stand rang once and for a moment she was afraid it was Frank. But the caller id said that it was Cedars Hospital, so she quickly picked it up.
"You need to come break me out. The nurses are all blood sucking vampires around here." Olivia teased, the low sleepy tones of her voice warm and familiar but at the same time doing wonderful things to Natalia's body.
"Is that right. Don't they know about the Spencer Glare of Doom?" Natalia snuggled down into the blankets, barely able to contain the bubble of happiness in her chest.
"Oh, I'm wounded. I thought you were on my side here."
"I'm always on your side." Natalia's voice grew husky, layers of meaning under the softly spoken words. She could hear Olivia swallow hard on the other end of the line and she wished she could see her eyes, they always spoke volumes. A small silence stretched and they listened to each other just breathe.
"Doris dropped by for a visit." Olivia finally broke the spell. "Did you know she was going to officiate at your wedding today?"
"What?" Natalia barked, and then covered her mouth afraid she might have woken Emma.
"She said she wouldn't have missed it for the world." Olivia chuckled at the thought. It was funny now that the wedding had been canceled.
Natalia covered her eyes and groaned.
"I spoke with Frank " Natalia paused, not sure how to explain her emotions, the heaviness that came with anything to do with him and his family.
"And?" Olivia quietly prompted as a part of her tensed with worry, afraid that Natalia had changed her mind after all.
"And we're getting together to talk. I have to end it Olivia. I can't leave everyone hanging like this, it's not right." Natalia rolled to her side and hugged a pillow. "Which reminds me, you helped him? All those sweet romantic gestures, it was you?"
"Erm well " Olivia stammered, she couldn't believe Natalia actually knew. "Frank told you?"
"He mentioned it when we were talking with Father Ray this morning."
Olivia rolled her eyes and sighed. Frank really was an idiot.
"Here I thought he knew me so well, that he really got me, but it's been you the whole time " Natalia knew Olivia's eyes would be so giving away her thoughts right now. She could watch those eyes forever. "I should have figured that out myself."
A small silence stretched as both women thought of the odd road they had traveled to get to this point. Olivia sighed as a nurse poked her head into her room and tapped at her watch.
"Listen they're going to shut down the phones at eleven and they don't like me using a cell phone in the cardiac wing because it messes with things. I needed to I don't know. Just hear your voice I guess "
"I miss you too." Natalia smiled and hugged her pillow tighter knowing what she really wanted to say, but still a little shy about saying it. "I love you."
Natalia heard the small gasp and then the smile in the voice when Olivia spoke next.
"I love you too."
Natalia let the words wash over her, like another blanket to wrap around her to keep her warm through the long night.
"And try not to murder any nurses, okay?"
"Sure, ruin all my fun." Olivia chuckled and then grew quiet again, not wanting to end the call.
"I'll rescue you tomorrow as soon as I can." Natalia couldn't wait to see her again actually, now that she could look at her and touch her openly and not worry so much about what she was doing or how Olivia would react. It was all very new and exciting.
"Promise?" Olivia cringed at how needy that sounded but she really wanted out of there. She wanted to go home and get her life finally started again.
"I promise. I've got your back." Natalia smiled softly, knowing she meant it.
"No one's had my back in a very, very long time." Olivia realized it was true. She had been so strong and solitary for what seemed like forever. It was nice to know she wasn't alone anymore.
"Well, get used to it Spencer." Natalia teased but believed it too. Olivia was her family now and she would always be there for her. And Emma and Ava too for that matter.
"I should go now. Attila the Hun is giving me the evil eye from the hallway." Olivia glared at the woman staring back at her through the small glass window in the door.
"Ok. Good night Olivia."
"Sweet dreams..." Olivia's voice had dropped, low and seductive and Natalia forgot how to breathe. Oh, what this woman did to her.
Natalia slid her phone shut as the line went dead and put it back onto her nightstand before rolling back to stare at the ceiling with a huge smile on her face. She was wide awake, her brain going a mile a minute, with thoughts of Olivia swirling through her mind. She had no idea how she was going to fall asleep now.
Suddenly inspiration struck and Natalia quickly rolled out of bed and padded into the laundry room. She was sure she had seen it behind the hamper earlier, a t-shirt of Olivia's that had fallen down missed the wash and hadn't been packed up. Finding it she pulled it to her, inhaling. It smelled like Olivia.
Slipping back under her covers, Natalia snuggled up with her pillows, the t-shirt clutched to her chest. Sighing happily, sweet dreams soon followed.
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