DISCLAIMER 1: This story is an original work of fiction set in the hectic little town of Springfield, as seen on Guiding Light. Most, if not all, of the characters and references used within belong completely to someone else. Someone who recently found a clue but could still use a swift kick in the rear, so I have borrowed them for just a little while and promise to return them unscathed, and smiling, as soon as I am done. No gain, monetary or otherwise, is expected from their use and no copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred. (In other words, all I am really hoping to get out of this is some hot sex with my girlfriend so please don't sue me!)
DISCLAIMER 2: All original characters and story lines contained herein belong to the author. (Like anyone else would claim them!) This story may be archived upon request with the stipulation that it must be posted exactly as it was written, with all disclaimers intact. (Ralst and The Athenaeum don't have to ask!)
DISCLAIMER 3: This story does depict a romantic relationship between two women. Some scenes may be graphic, but they are lovingly so. If that bothers you than you are wound too tight for daytime TV! I mean really, how can you be okay with someone marrying their cousin's sister's nephew's son and still bitch about a well done romance between two beautiful women?? Ever hear the old saying that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? (Unless of course they're trapped in said house, then throwing a stone or two might actually be a good idea...but I digress.) If you are under 18, then you're never going to understand the title reference. Ask your mom. (And get her to watch Otalia! We need all the MILF's we can get!) If this is illegal where you live, check your local ladies night for women in trench coats and silly hats. Hey it couldn't hurt...
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had to go into FicSec (Protective custody for fanfic authors) to write this!! The A/O shippers have teamed up with the J/7 shippers and they're threatening to arrest and assimilate my ass so...write reviews! (How that relates I don't really know but...what the hell!) Just a quick note: Since we don't know what is going to happen I am approaching this as my own little A/U. Everything up until now is cannon. Thanks to all of the wonderful Jesbians on the What Comes After forum, to Otaliafan for providing the clips that melted my brain, to Big Purple Dreams for giving madness a home, and to Ky and Emma for sliding into Otaliawe with me. Most of all, thank you to Beep, for giving me one more thing to obsess over. (You just HAD to do it didn't you??) Oh and BIG thanks to DiNovia and Fewthistle…for giving me somewhere to go where I wouldn't end up crying! Now what the hell does the name mean??? This is dedicated to Emma, for supporting everything I do and trying her hardest to keep the snickering to a minimum. I love you, Tidbit. You're the reason for everything.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.


The Courtship of Emma's Mother
By Patricia L. Givens


Chapter 21: got milk?

Natalia smiled.

The low light of early morning filtered through the sheer curtains of their bedroom window, casting an ethereal glow across Olivia's cheeks; making her look for all the world like some Greek goddess that had fallen from the sky and landed in her arms. The older woman was still asleep, her breath a warm caress against Natalia's lips as she laid on her side to stare intently at the beauty in her bed.

Soft, golden-brown hair and full, delightful lips; her incredible green eyes shuttered away behind thick black lashes. There was nothing, nothing, she didn't adore about the woman who had stolen her heart. She reached out and gently traced the small scar that marred the perfection of Olivia's forehead; wondering where it had come from, if it had hurt... and wishing that she could have been there to hold her, comfort her, take the hurt away and make it all better with soft kisses and whispered words of love.

Blinking, Natalia laughed softly at herself. She had always been so practical. Raising Rafe on her own had made her that way; made her look for essentials, the things that were necessary, instead of indulging in the things that might take her breath away.

Now, with Olivia, she had found both.

She had found the impetuousness to balance her pragmatism; the wildness to counter her self-restraint. Olivia was the other half of her that had always been missing and she smiled as she realized that together, they were the most complete person she had ever known.

Snuggling closer, she slid her hand beneath the blanket, pulling it back until she could lay her hand against Olivia's chest; her eyes closing as she felt the steady beat of the heart beneath her palm. Smiling, she replaced her fingertips with her mouth, her lips dropping gentle kisses between Olivia's breasts as she breathed in deeply.

With a small groan, she pressed even closer, her original intent forgotten as she reveled in the scent that clung to the older woman's skin. It was an intoxicating mix of warm flesh and sex, light sweat and the nectar they created when they loved one another.

This was them. Their scent... their love.

And it was perfect.

Growling, she opened her mouth, letting her tongue lap lightly at the skin of Olivia's belly as she slid further down her body. Small sounds broke free from her throat as the taste pushed her lower, her nostrils flaring when she reached the light dusting of hair between her lover's legs.

Natalia hesitated for a moment, her propriety warring with the need that was burning hotly inside her. Then two words floated to the forefront of her mind... two words that sounded an awful lot like Olivia.

"Fuck propriety..." She whispered. With a naughty smile, she pulled the sheet completely away, carefully fitting her body between Olivia's legs. When the older woman shifted, she held perfectly still, willing her to sleep for just a little while longer. More than anything she wanted Olivia to wake up with her body on fire, unable to tell where her dreams left off and the reality of the morning began.

After a moment, the blonde settled back into a deeper slumber and Natalia dropped her head, rubbing her nose in the soft warmth of Olivia's sex, her heart swelling with joy at being allowed to share something so wonderful.

When she replaced her nose with her mouth, she felt Olivia's body tremble above her and heard a small, sleepy whimper that made her smile against the sudden wetness on her lips. With a happy sigh, Natalia opened her mouth; her eyes rolling back slightly in ecstasy at the taste. Her tongue moved in long, languid strokes, swirling around the swollen bud at the top several times before finally closing her lips over it.

She felt Olivia's hands reach for her blindly, felt strong fingers thread into her hair as the hips beneath her began to move. Opening her eyes, she looked up, her heart skipping painfully when she focused on the hand she had laid against the older woman's stomach, the diamond ring on her finger sparkling in the new morning light.

Olivia was her's. And she was Olivia's. Not just for now. This was forever.

And for the first time, she really believed it.

The love she was feeling overwhelmed her, pushing her desire to a level she had never known she was capable of and her tongue stroked against Olivia with abandon; the tip flicking rapidly against the small, rough spot that she knew drove the older woman insane. She wasn't disappointed.

Within moments, Olivia was moaning her name, one hand on the back of her head, holding Natalia's mouth firmly against her, as the other gripped her shoulder hard. The blonde's hips moved wildly as she placed her feet flat against the bed, using her legs to push herself more firmly against her lover's lips and tongue.

"...Jes...us...Natalia..." Olivia's eyes closed tightly, her teeth grinding together as she tried to hold on to some shred of self-control. Then she felt Natalia's mouth begin to suckle against her clit... and that was all it took. Still sensitive from the hours of lovemaking the night before, Olivia's body went immediately into overload, every muscle tensing as she shook from the strength of her release. When Natalia didn't stop, she carefully pulled her head away before collapsing back against the bed; her entire body feeling like molten metal was pumping through her veins. "Oh. My. God." She whispered.

Natalia crawled up beside her, a happy smile on her face as she nuzzled into her neck. "Good morning."

"Oh yeah..." Olivia sighed as her arms wrapped around the younger woman weakly. "You can say that again..."

"How about if I just show you again?"

Olivia blinked in surprise even as her lips curled into a grin. "What's gotten into you this morning?"

Natalia shrugged. "You."

"Not yet." Olivia smirked.

"Well... you could fix that, you know."

The older woman rolled over on top of her. "I could, huh?"

"I really think...." Natalia swallowed when she felt Olivia's hand slide down her stomach, not slowing until it was stroking through the wetness between her legs. "... I think..." She shook her head slightly. "What was I saying?"

"Oh my god, you are so wet..." The blonde groaned, licking her lips as she felt the moisture coat her fingers. She tried to move lower, frowning when Natalia stopped her. "Why?"

The brunette's eyes were half closed, her back arching slightly as Olivia's fingers never slowed. "I... I want to see you." She bit her bottom lip. "I want to...watch you... when you're inside me."

Olivia pulled herself up on her elbow so that she could look down directly into Natalia's eyes, her upper lip curling slightly as she thrust deeply into her with one smooth stroke.

"Oh god...." Natalia fought to keep her eyes open as Olivia's fingers moved firmly inside of her, the older woman pulling back each time almost to the point of losing contact before sliding in more deeply than that the time before.

"Is this what you want?" Olivia whispered watching the brown eyes turn glassy. "Is it?"

"Yesss...." The brunette hissed.

"Then tell me." She sucked hard on her lower lip, her own ache increasing as the younger woman's nails bit into her back. "Tell me Natalia. Tell me what you want." When the brunette didn't answer, she slowed the movement of her hand, smiling at Natalia's frustrated whimper. "Tell me."

"Olivia..." Natalia moved her hips, trying to push down against her lover's hand. "...please..."

The older woman raised her head, placing her lips and nose right next to Natalia's ear as she fluttered the tips of her fingers. "Please what?"

"Ohmygod...pleasefuckme... Olivia...."

She felt the plea travel across her nerve endings like quicksilver, her body responding to the words before she even consciously willed it; her hand thrusting hard and deep as she bore down with her hips, using her body weight to increase the pressure of her fingers.

"Oh my god...." Natalia's arms fell back against the bed as her back arched completely, lifting her until the only points of contact were her shoulders and her ass. Biting down hard on her lip, she stared into Olivia's eyes, feeling the love and desire in them filling her up, making her whole, making her complete. The overwhelming emotion collided with the intense pleasure she was feeling, setting off a string of small shocks that grew until she was engulfed in one huge, all consuming climax. The force of it slammed her body into Olivia's as she shook uncontrollably, her muscles tightening almost to the point of being painful before finally releasing her to fall back against the bed, tears coursing down her face.

"Natalia?" Olivia cupped her cheek gently, her voice filled with concern. "Sweetheart? Are you okay? I am so sorry. I didn't mean... I would never..."

The younger woman pressed her fingers against Olivia's lips, smiling at her through her tears. "Thank you."

Olivia shook her head in confusion. "For what?"

The tears became heavier, the sobs racking Natalia's body as she curled into the shelter of the older woman's arms.

"Setting me free..."

Natalia groaned when she felt Olivia's fingers trail up from her belly to make lazy circles around her nipple yet again. She had no idea what time it was. All she knew for sure was that the early morning sun had traveled to the other side of the room since they had started making love and they had yet to stop. Her muscles were sore and her mouth was dry; and even though she felt wrung out and completely undone, all it took was one touch from those wonderful fingers to fan her desire to life yet again. But where the heart was willing... the flesh was weak.

"Olivia...." She whined playfully. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"If I was trying to kill you, I'd use my hands."

"You ARE using your hands."

"Oh...right. Better switch to my tongue."

Natalia giggled, squirming when she felt a soft wetness against her breast. "Stop... honey? Olivia?"


"Aren't you hungry?" She pleaded. "Thirsty?"

"Only for you..."

"Oh..." Natalia felt her heart melt... followed by the steady rumbling of her stomach. "How about a small break? Just a little one?" She wrapped her fingers in Olivia's hair and pulled her head up. "A snack?"

Olivia only grunted.

"Don't be so anti-snack!" She laughed. "How about a cookie or a piece of fruit?" She whimpered as the older woman's fingers played lightly across her ribs. "Or milk! What about a glass of milk? It does a body good you know."

"Trust me... you're body is just fine without it."


"Fine!" The blonde pulled back with a sigh. "I will go get you a glass of milk but I swear if you get out of this bed I am going to spank you!"

Natalia's mouth twitched slightly as her eyes brightened with interest.

Olivia grinned. "I always knew under that rosary beat the heart of a deviant." She kissed her lightly. "I'll be right back."

She didn't bother to get dressed and Natalia watched with appreciation as she climbed out of bed and hurried out the door. Stretching happily, the brunette took a deep breath, her cheeks turning pink as she realized that their scent filled the entire room. With a smile, she crossed her arms behind her head, amazed that, after everything they had done that morning, her body still missed Olivia's with a profound ache, even in the few short minutes the older woman had been gone. She had never dreamed she could feel this way about someone.

Or that someone would ever feel this way about her.

"What are you thinking about so intently?"

She looked up, smiling as Olivia walked through the door carrying a full glass of milk and a brown plastic shopping bag. She handed Natalia the milk as she sat down on the edge of the bed.

"MMMMmmm." Natalia drank the milk quickly, sighing in pleasure as it filled her stomach. "What's in the bag?"


"Supplies?" She sat up, peeking over the older woman's shoulder.

Olivia pulled out two bottles of water, two apples and two granola bars, setting them on the nightstand before dropping the bag on the floor.

"Uhm... why do we need all that?" The brunette batted her eyelashes playfully. "Are we holing up for the winter?"

"Winter's over..." Olivia took the glass from her and set it aside before stretching out on the bed and pulling her into her arms. "I don't think they'll ever be another winter..."

Natalia felt tears sting her eyes as she smiled at her lover. "The things you say...." She kissed her lightly on the lips. "Who knew that deep down, Olivia Spencer had the soul of a poet?"

"I don't." Olivia smiled. "I mean... I never used to." She turned on her side, one hand draped over Natalia's hip as she stared in fascination at the beauty of her face. "You know... I wasn't always like this." She smiled. "Do you remember... how I was before?"

Natalia rolled her eyes. "Like I could ever forget?"

"Do you know why I changed? How I changed?"

"You got a second chance," The brunette shrugged. "... and you took it."

"No." Olivia smiled gently. "Oh, I got a second chance. But trust me, I probably would have gone right back to being the mean, manipulative little shrew I was before... If it wasn't for you..."


She nodded. "Once you were a part of my life... it was like, everything had a deeper meaning. I couldn't just go around doing the things I wanted to do anymore. There were consequences." She shook her head in frustration. "I'm not explaining this right..." She linked their fingers together, grateful when Natalia didn't interrupt her train of thought. "It's like... every time I had to make a decision, this little voice popped up in my head... asking me what you would do and, more importantly, what you would think of my choices. Eventually I couldn't bear the thought of making you frown, of making you think less of me. I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to be the person you always knew I could be. You made me want that. I don't know if you understand how huge that is."

"I do..." Natalia traced her lips, her sudden, soft snicker making one of Olivia's eyebrows shoot up. "And, for what it's worth... damn you made me want to be naughty..."

Olivia smiled. "I did?"

The younger woman looked at her intently. "Still do..." Her breath caught as Olivia slid across the bed to fit their bodies together, her pulse racing at the look of desire on her lover's face. "Is there..." She swallowed. "Is there anymore milk downstairs?"

"No," Olivia's eyes sparkled playfully. "But if we get desperate... you do own three cows."


Chapter 22: Houston... We Have A Problem...


Olivia sighed, rolling her eyes at the look on Doris' face. "It was supposed to be a gesture!"

"An obscene one?" The mayor laughed.

"We're not talking about your typical Friday night." Olivia snapped. "I was proposing! It was about being open and honest and... vulnerable."

"Bleh!" Doris held up her hand. "I'll take my Friday night over yours any time." She shivered in distaste. "If I thought you were going to go all soft on me I would have left something battery operated in your suite!"

Olivia choked on her coffee; setting it down quickly on the Mayor's desk as her voice dropped to a deadly register. "If you had done that..."

"What, you would have spouted poetry at me until my ears bled?" She waved a hand at the blonde. "You know, you were a lot scarier before you went all... 'puppies and sunshine'." She shook her head sadly. "What the hell happened to you? I mean, I know the woman is hot but really, Olivia..."

"That's enough!" Olivia jumped up, regretting it immediately when the world shifted precariously beneath her feet. "Ooof..." She sat down heavily, wincing when the sore muscles of her backside connected with the chair.

Doris stood up quickly, concern lacing her voice. "Are you all right?" She came around the desk, placing a cool hand against Olivia's overheated forehead.

"I'm fine."

"No, you're not." The mayor took the other woman's face between her hands, turning her head so that she could look into her eyes. "You're pale...clammy... and you have a slight fever." She snorted. "If I didn't know better... I'd say you were pregnant...."

Olivia jerked her head away, closing her eyes when the movement left her a little dizzy. "Don't be ridiculous." She waved her hand weakly. "I just... I didn't eat much this weekend." She bit her bottom lip as her cheeks pinked. "...or... get much sleep."

The laughter started deep in Doris' chest, making her body shake as it finally broke free from her lips. "You're telling me you look like...hell... because Little Ms. Goody Two Shoes is fucking you senseless?" She leaned up against her desk, bracing her hands against her thighs as she shook her head. "So now I understand the puppies and the poetry."

Olivia glared at her.

"Oh, don't go getting your panties in a bunch." She leaned down to smirk. "That's Natalia's job, isn't it?" She watched the glare turn into a soft little smile, feeling the wistfulness of it all the way down to the bottom of her stomach. "Is it really that wonderful?" She asked softly.

The blonde raised her eyebrows in surprise. "The sex?"

"No!" Doris looked away. "For once I'm... not talking about sex, alright?"

"Oh." Olivia pursed her lips thoughtfully. "You mean..." She swallowed. "I don't know how to explain it. It's like I lived my whole life with this… big hole in my chest. And no matter how I tried to fill it... with men, with money, with power... It just kept getting bigger. Until all I felt... was empty." She lowered her eyes to the floor. "Emma... she kept me going. She was a single point of light in all that emptiness but, every night after I put her to bed... I'd still be alone." She took a deep breath, blinking to clear away the tears that were threatening as her smile grew wide and bright. "And then I met Natalia..." She wrapped her arms around herself, closing her eyes and swaying gently as she remembered the brunette's embrace...her whispered words of love. "And it was just… gone." She sighed happily. "I woke up one morning and all I felt was alive and happy... and loved."

Olivia looked directly into the mayor's eyes, not breaking the contact even as her face burned bright red. "And I'm not blushing because I'm embarrassed by that." She wiped a hand across her cheeks. "I'm blushing... because the sex is so good that I can still feel her inside me."

Doris' mouth had dropped open and Olivia reached out, pushing it shut with two fingers before patting her gently on the cheek. "Any more questions?"


"Good... then I have one for you." Olivia stretched across the desk and picked up the muffin the mayor had been eating when she arrived, breaking off a generous piece for herself. "What the hell was Blake doing with you at Georgio's?"

Doris' mouth opened and closed several times before she actually managed to make sound come out. "She's... getting back into publishing..." The mayor shrugged as she went back to her chair, shuffling the papers on her desk nervously. "She wanted to discuss the possible... tourism benefits her book signings could mean for Springfield."

"Tourism benefits?" Olivia snorted. "How long did you practice that one in front of the mirror?"

Doris made a face at her. "Plus, she's the biggest gossip in town. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and have her help get the word out there about you and Natalia."

"Wait... you're calling Blake a gossip? You? The woman that put my daughter's school project on television?"

The mayor rolled her eyes. "It was just cable access!"

"Well," Olivia ignored the remark. "All I know is you two looked rather... cozy together. What's the deal?"

"No deal." She straightened her suit jacket self-consciously, narrowing her eyes when Olivia continued to stare at her. "What?"

"You like her!"

"Yeah, well... so what?" Doris said defensively. "I seem to recall a certain hotel owner that mooned over an employee for months...an employee for Pete's sake!"

"Have you told her?"

"Told her what?" The mayor snapped. "What was I supposed to say? 'I had a lovely time talking about your new business and oh, by the way, are you into women?'" She shook her head. "She's straight anyway..."

"Yeah?" Olivia stole the rest of the muffin. "I always thought you were too."

Doris looked at her thoughtfully for a moment and then frowned. "Was there something you actually wanted this morning or did you just drop by to steal my breakfast and brag about your sex life?"

"Mmmm." She nodded, taking a sip of coffee to wash down the muffin. "There was something I wanted. The bragging and the breakfast were just a bonus." Olivia popped the last bite in her mouth, rubbing her hands together to brush away the crumbs. "I need your help."

The mayor waited exactly ten seconds before exhaling loudly and throwing her hands in the air. "With?"

"You know how... Catholic... Natalia is..."


"And it would mean so much to her to get married..." Olivia smiled sheepishly. "... in a church..."

"Ahhh!" Doris laughed humorlessly. "Ever heard of a little thing called 'separation of church and state'?" She shook her head. "I don't know that I can help with that, Olivia. Maybe if you talked to Father Ray..." She trailed off when the blonde looked at her sarcastically. "Yeah, I didn't really buy that one either." She sighed. "What is it you expect me to do?"

"I don't know. But you are the sneakiest, most diabolical person I know." Olivia shrugged. "I figured if anyone could figure it out... it would be you."

The mayor smiled. "Flatterer."

"I'd owe you." She said seriously.

"Yes. Yes you would." Doris pursed her lips. "Okay. I'll look into it."

"Talk to a Nun named Sister Anne. Tell her it's for me and she might be... sympathetic."

The mayor scrawled the name down on a pad of paper. "Anything else while I'm feeling generous?"

"Yeah, keep Friday afternoon open."

"For what?"

"Shopping." Olivia stood up, dropping her empty coffee cup into the trashcan. "Thanks for breakfast."

Olivia pulled her car into the Tower's parking lot. Cutting the engine, she stepped out into the balmy afternoon air. The day was clear and bright; the sky overhead a brilliant blue and she couldn't resist turning her face up to feel the sun warm the skin on her cheeks as her lips parted in a happy smile.

"Now that's a beautiful sight."

Olivia turned quickly, blinking as she brought her hand up to shield her eyes from the glare. The warm smile returned to her lips when she saw Josh standing behind her, his hands tucked casually in his jean pockets. "What is?"

"You." He stepped closer, leaning up against her car as he moved into her personal space. "Smiling. Something the world has been sorely lacking for a while."

"Ya think so?" She bit her bottom lip, enjoying the small thrill she had always felt in his presence, even though now it seemed pale by comparison.

"Oh yeah." He glanced down at the ground before raising his head to look her directly in the eyes. "At least... I know I have."


"Ah." He held up his hand, hesitating for a moment before reaching out to straighten the collar of her shirt. "You don't need to say it. I spend a lot of time with Reva, remember?"

"She told you."

He raised one eyebrow. "With relish."

Olivia pressed her lips together as she leaned her head to the side. "You okay?"

"Honestly? Not really."

"But... you and I... we aren't together." She rested a hand on his shoulder, right above his chest. "We haven't been... for a very long time."

"I know." He shrugged. "It's just that there's always been something... "He waved his hand in the air between them.

"Yeah..." Olivia touched her fingers to his mouth, pulling gently at the soft, gray hairs of his beard. "Yeah, I know. But..." She shrugged, a melancholy smile touching her lips. "We've always known where your heart lies."

Josh laughed softly as he studied the ground.

"Now..." She continued. "I finally know where I belong, too. And it's with Natalia."

He sucked in his bottom lip as he looked away. "She makes you happy?"

"Oh..." Olivia's eyes closed as a huge smile lit up her face. "She makes me so happy."

Josh cupped her face for a moment before nodding sadly. "Okay."

"You know..." She pursed her lips, studying him intently as an idea began to form.

"Uhm... ?" Suddenly he felt like a rabbit being stalked by a cat. A very big cat. With very sharp teeth. "What?"

"I need someone to stand with me," Olivia's voice grew more firm as the idea took hold. It would raise a lot of eyebrows but somehow... it seemed fitting. "I'd like it to be you."

"Me?" His voice cracked, sending his pitch warbling up at the end. "You know... as much as I've always wondered what I would look like in pink taffeta..."

"Sorry," Olivia smirked. "You'll have to figure that out on your own time. You'd be standing on the groom's side."

"The..." Josh blinked. "How the hell did that happen?"

Olivia sighed. "If I knew, I'd tell you."

"Well, I guess it does kind of make sense. Natalia is more..."

"Watch it!"

"...gentle... than you." He finished with a smile.

A hundred images flashed through Olivia's mind. Natalia smiling, Natalia cooking... Natalia making love. It was the memories of the latter that made her eyes close and a soft blush stain her cheeks. "Gentle." She whispered, remembering the brunette on top of her in the hotel room. "Right." She inhaled deeply, sighing before finally opening her eyes to smile sheepishly at her ex-husband.

"You know..." Josh leaned closer, placing his lips right next to Olivia's ear. "I don't think I've ever seen you look that way before. About me... or anyone else."

She bit her lip as she pulled away. "No... you haven't"

He gave her a long look before finally wrapping her up in his arms. "I'd be honored to be your best man."

"You always were." She whispered.

He cleared his throat as they separated, squeezing her arms briefly before turning away.

"Oh, and Josh?"

He glanced back over his shoulder. "Hmm?"

"If you're serious about the taffeta... My banquet manager might have something that would fit you..."


The brunette glanced up from the bar at Towers to see Matt walking towards her. She had been sitting there waiting for Olivia for several minutes. She had originally been waiting outside but that had gotten a little... crowded.

"Hey, Matt." She smiled brightly. Maybe a little too brightly. "How are you?"

"I'm good." He slid onto a stool, nodding eagerly and Natalia had to fight the urge to pet him on the head like a puppy. "What are you doing? You having lunch?" He smiled. "Are you alone? You want to join me?"

"Oh! I'm... waiting for someone... actually." She patted his arm. "But thank you."

"Whoa!" Matt grabbed her hand before she could withdraw it, holding it up so that the light could sparkle off the large diamond on her finger. His eyes widened. "Did you and Frank..."

"What? No!" Natalia lowered her voice as she glanced around. "No, no. Frank and I... we're...well..." She quirked her lips to the side. "I don't really know what Frank and I are but... we're definitely not that."

"Then who...?"

"Haaa...ha...." She smiled nervously. "That's... that's a long story."

Matt bent down to stare at the ring again. "That's some rock. Do I know him?"

"Well..." Natalia smiled weakly. "Yeah... kind of." She took a deep breath. "It's... Olivia."

He looked at her blankly. "What's Olivia?"

She raised her eyebrows, glancing down at the ring pointedly.

For a minute, Matt just sat there as the pieces shifted around in his head. When they finally snapped into place, his eyes flew open wide. "Oh! Uh..." He shook his head as though to clear it. "Olivia? Really?"

Natalia smiled. "Yes... really."

"Do you two..." He clasped his hands together, making her frown in confusion.

"Hold hands?" Her eyes narrowed suddenly. "You better be asking if we hold hands..."

"Oh..." He pulled his hands apart quickly, tapping them nervously on the bar. "So, are you... exclusive?"

Natalia's jaw dropped. What the hell?!?

"No, Matt." She smiled sweetly. "Actually, we're looking for a third... if you'd like to fill out an application."


Natalia's dark look was all it took to have him scrambling out of his seat. "Okay, well... Good luck with that and... I'm sure I'll see you two around."

She watched him walk to the other end of the bar, jumping slightly when a familiar hand landed gently on her shoulder. "Hello, sweetheart." Olivia leaned in close, disguising a brief ear nuzzle with a warm hug. "I missed you this morning." She glanced down the bar. "Was that Matt?"


"What did he want?"

The younger woman mumbled something under her breath.

Olivia's eyebrows rose. "What was that?"

"He just wanted to know about the ring."

"Did you... did you tell him?"

Natalia nodded.


"It's really no big deal."

Olivia felt her spine stiffen at her lover's tone of voice. "What isn't a big deal?"

Natalia sighed. "He asked if we were... exclusive."

"Exclusive?" Olivia looked at her in confusion. "You're wearing an engagement ring. Why would he think you'd still be dating...?"

Natalia looked up at her.

Olivia's nostrils flared; the real meaning of Matt's question becoming clear. She pressed her lips together in a thin, angry line as she turned and headed down the bar.

"Olivia!" Natalia jumped up, chasing behind the blonde. "Wait!"

But Olivia wasn't listening. She strode up to Matt's booth, slamming both of her hands down on the table in front of him hard enough to cause his beer to tip over into his lap. "Listen up nature boy." She hissed. "You have been sniffing around us for way too long now. And no matter how many times we try to let you down easy, you just keep coming back like a dog with a bone. Patience is a virtue, Matt. Persistence... that's just annoying. You may think you're cute with your little bike and your little... Kermit the Frog pick up lines, but I've got news for you." She leaned in closer, bringing her nose within an inch of his. "Natalia's mine." Her lip curled into a sneer. "And I don't share what's mine."

Natalia blinked. "Excuse me?" She grabbed the older woman by the arm and spun her around to get her attention.

Olivia just looked at her, startled. "What?"

"Heh...yeah..." Matt inched his way out of the booth, pulling at his jeans which were sticking uncomfortably to his crotch. "You two have things to discuss. I'll just...I'll..." He glanced between the two women and then ducked his head and slipped away.

"What is your problem?" Natalia's voice was deceptively soft, but her eyes were hard and cold.

"My problem?" Olivia's snapped in frustration. "I was defending you!"

"Defending me? From who? Matt? He's harmless!"

"He was insulting you! He was insulting both of us!"

"He was being male, Olivia." She brushed her hair away from her forehead.

"And that makes it okay?"

Natalia snorted. "This from the woman who can't seem to keep her fingers out of her ex-husband's mouth?"

Olivia paled. "What..."

"I saw you. In the parking lot? I'm pretty sure the whole restaurant saw you." The brunette sighed. "The difference is... I gave you the benefit of the doubt."

"It's not the same..." Olivia stammered. "He was disrespecting you..."

"And you thought you would make it better by claiming me like property?" Natalia laughed sardonically. "Well, I have news for you, Olivia. I'm no one's property." She grabbed her bag from off the bar and walked past her towards the exit. "Not even yours."


Chapter 23: Excuse Me But Your Pants Are On Fire.


The brunette shook her head, refusing to slow down for the woman she knew was chasing behind her. All around them, heads were turning as curious patrons of the restaurant watched them with interest.

"Natalia..." Olivia flashed what passed for a smile at Josh, who had come inside at some point and taken up a seat at the bar. She raised her hand briefly, waving him off when it looked like he was about to speak. That's the last thing I need. She rolled her eyes slightly. My ex-husband getting involved in an argument with my girlfriend…

"Natalia…come on!" She finally caught up with the other woman as she was passing the hall that led to the restrooms, reaching out to take her by the elbow and pull her into the small, private alcove. Pushing her gently against the wall, she corralled Natalia between her arms; managing to keep her still but unable to make her raise her eyes. "Would you talk to me please?"

"Why?" Natalia's voice was small, strained. "You didn't give me a chance to speak before you peed all over me in front of Matt."

Olivia's nose crinkled. "Okay, that's a bit…eww… don't you think?" She moved in a little closer, shocked by the energy that seemed to flow off the younger woman in waves. She was clearly very upset. "Sweetheart… I wasn't trying to-"

"Weren't you?" The brunette cut her off, finally raising her head to meet her gaze. Brown eyes flashed hotly for a moment before she looked away; her teeth buried in her bottom lip. "Weren't you staking your claim? Letting Matt and everyone else in this restaurant know just whose property I am?"

Olivia blinked. Something… something was off. "I don't understand!" She rubbed her fingers against the bridge of her nose. "Forgive me if I'm wrong but didn't we recently have a conversation where you said, and I quote, 'I belong to you'?"

"Yes… but that's my choice!" Natalia's voice rose as her body began to tremble. "It's not yours! And it it's certainly not your place to go…" She flushed, swallowing heavily before she continued. "…planting your flag in me anytime you damn well please." The trembling grew more pronounced. "Let me go." She whispered.

"No." Olivia shook her head. "No, not until we work this out."

The brunette tried to slide under her arm and Olivia pressed closer, using her body to pin the smaller woman to the wall. "I said no!"

Natalia gasped softly, her hands balling into fists as her knees weakened. "Olivia…" She begged. "Please… please let me go…"

Olivia felt the quaking of the thighs pressed tightly against her own; felt the thudding of Natalia's heart as it did it's best to hammer it's way out of her ribcage and her eyes narrowed; a slow, evil smile curling the corners of her mouth.

"You little liar." She whispered.

Natalia raised her head, locking eyes with the blonde and Olivia finally recognized the fire in her gaze for what it really was.

Heat… and want.

The kind of want that could bypass any measure of self control.

Olivia lowered her voice, letting it rumble in her chest before it purred across her lips like velvet and honey. "You're not angry."

Natalia's eyes flashed at her, making her eyebrows rise. "Okay… so you are angry…." She moved in even closer; sliding her leg up possessively; claiming Natalia with her thigh as her breath nuzzled hotly in her ear. "But you're not… just angry."

The trembling of the younger woman's body became more pronounced as Olivia trailed her lips down one smooth cheek, exhaling warm tufts of air against the skin of Natalia's face and neck like a big cat scenting her prey. "Tell me what else you are…"

The brunette shook her head, her breath little more that ragged gasps as she blinked rapidly, trying to hold on to her self-control.

"Oliv…oh…" Natalia's voice broke as she felt the sharp points of teeth biting into her pulse point. "You…"

"Me…" The older woman repeated as she dropped her arms, circling her fingers around Natalia's wrists instead.

"You…" She swallowed hard. "You have to let me go…"

Olivia pulled back, looking deeply into eyes so dark they were almost black. Whatever she saw there brought a look of such intense lust to her face that Natalia felt the hairs along the back of her neck stand up.

"No." The older woman looked around quickly, a dark smile splitting her lips as she wrapped Natalia's arms behind her back and dragged her towards the women's restroom.

"Olivia!" Natalia struggled weakly, her mind fighting a futile battle against a body and heart that would not cooperate. Within seconds, Olivia had maneuvered her through the door and into the lounge, releasing her briefly to push the door shut and flip the deadbolt.

The women's lounge at Towers was a very high end affair. As in most upscale restaurants, it was split up into two rooms. The outer room was large and well maintained, with multiple settees and tables, floor length mirrors and clean, plush carpet. It was a lounge in every sense of the word. A door on the far wall led to the real bathroom which was also well maintained, but not anything Olivia was interested in.

For a moment, the older woman just stared at her, her pupils dilated, her chest rising and falling heavily and Natalia felt every bit like a cornered rabbit. In her own chest, the brunette's heart was pounding so hard that she felt lightheaded, the blood loud in her ears as an intense, throbbing ache radiated outwards from between her legs to every point in her body. Her fingers twitched unconsciously as her tongue darted out to slide across suddenly dry lips.

Olivia's eyes narrowed, following the trail of that small pink tip as it moved across Natalia's mouth. Licking her own lips, she dragged the bottom one in to bite down on it firmly as she launched herself across the space between them.

Natalia's eyes widened, a small sound of surprise breaking free as Olivia's body collided heavily with her own, pushing her back until she thudded softly against the wall.

"Olivia!" All the air left her lungs when she felt the older woman's nails raking up her thighs, pulling up her skirt so that she could tuck a knee snugly between her legs.

"Olivia…" She tried again, her voice barely a whimper as the older woman's hands seemed to be everywhere at once; yanking the blouse from her waistband, trailing over her ribs, nails digging into her back to drag her closer. The younger woman's head fell back against the wall as Olivia's tongue invaded her mouth, stroking against the roof before sliding like liquid velvet against her own. Then the blonde began to move against her, grinding into her as she slid one hand over her backside, hooking it under her thigh and using it to pull one leg up and onto her hip.

Natalia tore her mouth away. "Olivia!" She panted softly. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

The older woman went completely still; the only sound in the room the harshness of their breath and the pounding of their hearts.

Until a low growl rumbled it's way out of Olivia's chest, sending a shockwave of desire down Natalia's entire body.

"Taking what's mine."

The blonde brought one hand up, quickly popping open the buttons on Natalia's shirt. She laughed, the sound low and deep, when she saw the clasp at the front of the younger woman's bra. With one quick flip of her thumb she snapped it apart, her mouth dropping open and her tongue playing across her teeth as she watched perfect, olive skinned breasts spill out before her eyes. She pulled Natalia more tightly against her thigh, her heart skipping at the small gasp that reached her ears as her hand covered one perfect orb, squeezing it firmly, groaning at the feel of the nipple pebbling within her palm.

"Olivia..." Natalia moaned through clenched teeth, her hands going instinctively to the older woman's hips, her nails digging into the sensitive flesh above the waistband of her skirt. She felt her own body straining to move; felt her hips beginning to rock and bit down hard on her lip, squeezing her eyes tightly shut. "We can't...." She cried softly.

"Then tell me to stop..." Olivia took both of the younger woman's wrists in one hand, raising her arms over her head and leaning in so close that she could see the tiny threads of gold woven through the dark auburn of her eyes. "Say it... Tell me to stop... Just one word... just say... stop..." She pressed in closer, closing her eyes and grinding her teeth together at the liquid heat that coated her thigh. "No?" She leaned her head to one side, pausing for a moment before a feral grin pulled her lips apart. "I didn't think so..."

Olivia shifted her grip, sliding her arm beneath Natalia's leg to lift it higher as she released her wrists. She bent her knee and braced it against the wall, sliding her fingers past the brunette's panties and into the wet heat that she knew and craved.

"Oh....god...." Natalia pressed her head back against the wall as her mouth dropped open. Skilled fingers quickly sought out and found the swollen nub that seemed to be connected to every nerve ending in her body. Then they moved lower, circling her opening teasingly before Olivia filled her with a single smooth thrust. With one last, strangled cry she let go, whimpering loudly as her hips pistoned back and forth, her nails scratching across the older woman's back so fiercely that she heard Olivia hiss.

"God you feel so good...." Olivia groaned, using her hips to increase the force of her thrusts, reveling in the small mewls of pleasure that were the only sound Natalia seemed capable of making. Dropping her head, she pulled a swollen nipple into her mouth, biting down on it firmly, rolling it with her tongue.

"Come for me...." She kissed her way up Natalia's neck to growl in her ear. "Right here... up against this wall, with me buried inside you... Come for me..." She began to move faster, her hips bearing down as she ground against her lover. "Now, Natalia!"

The younger woman's eyes flew open, a low moan escaping her lips as she began to come apart in Olivia's arms. Her body shuddered violently, every muscle tightening into a quivering mass as pleasure so intense that it rode the edge of pain ripped through her. "Oh....fuck... ohfuckohfuckohfuck..." For several long moments the grip of release was so strong that she couldn't even breathe. Then she finally collapsed, falling forward into Olivia's arms as she whimpered quietly. "I love you..." Strong arms wrapped around her and she felt a hundred small kisses showered across her face.

"God I love you..." Olivia's voice was barely a whisper, her hands twisting in the silk of Natalia's shirt as she slid down to her knees, her forehead resting against the younger woman's naked belly. "You trusted me...to do that..." Her voice caught painfully in her throat. "I love you so much, Natalia..." Tears ran down her cheeks as she brushed her lips over soft skin, her body trembling from the strength of her emotion.

Natalia looked down at her, her heart aching as she brought a hand up to wind her fingers through soft, golden hair. "So..." She whispered. "Who belongs to whom?"

"Olivia!" Natalia grabbed her lover's hand just as the older woman was about to throw open the lock on the bathroom door. "Someone had to have noticed!"

"Noticed what?" Olivia blinked innocently.

Natalia looked at her sarcastically. "Oh, that we've been monopolizing the women's restroom for almost an hour?"

"It hasn't been that long!" She flipped her wrist to look at her watch, her lips pursing as her eyebrows rose. "Okay... so maybe it has been that long." She put both hands on Natalia's shoulders when it looked like the younger woman was about to panic. "Look, no one even knocked! I doubt anyone even needed to use the restroom." She glanced behind her one last time, smiling as her eyes fell on the small settee where they had curled up together, giggling and kissing until their throats hurt and their lips were sore. "We'll just walk out casually and no one will even notice. Okay?"

Natalia took a deep breath and then nodded. "Okay..."

Flipping the deadbolt, Olivia cracked the door open and stuck her head out. "Huh..."

"What?" Natalia tugged on her arm when she didn't answer. "WHAT?"

"Look." She pushed the door open wide to show the younger woman the three yellow plastic tent signs that blocked off the entrance to the hallway. On the outside of the door itself, an 'Out of Order' sign swung softly from the motion of the door.

"What the..." The brunette blinked. "Where did those come from?"

"Who cares?" Olivia shrugged. "Lets not look a gift horse in the mouth..." She took Natalia by the hand and led her to the exit. As they were about to leave, she glanced over her shoulder, stopping dead in her tracks as a small laugh escaped her lips.

Seated at the end of the bar, Josh picked up his beer and saluted them, a huge smile plastered on his face.

"I guess we know who our gift horse is." Olivia snickered.

Natalia just shook her head as she was ushered outside. "And we know what's been in his mouth." She mumbled under her breath.

"Oh my god!" The older woman laughed incredulously. "You're still stuck on that?"

The brunette stopped next to her car, smiling gently. "No... not really. I guess I can live with it. But I do have a question..."

Olivia unlocked the door, pulling it open for her. "Hmm?"

"Kermit the Frog pick-up lines? What does that even mean?"

Olivia snickered as she helped Natalia into the car. "It ain't easy... bein' green..."


Chapter 24: The Line, The Which and the Ward's Robe

Reclining against the headboard, Natalia looked up when the bedroom door opened. Her eyes followed Olivia as she entered and closed the door behind her; the small, nervous smile playing on the older woman's lips making her heart ache. "How's Emma?"

"She's good." Olivia nodded. "Tired. She didn't even make it through half of 'Where the Wild Things Are."

"Oooh!" Natalia smiled, her dimples setting Olivia's heart to pounding. "That's my favorite!!"

"Mine too..." The blonde said softly. "Maybe I'll read it to you sometime."

"That would be nice... but I like the bed time stories you tell me now..." The teasing tone trailed off as she watched Olivia swallow and look away. "Are you okay?"

"Me?" The older woman climbed up onto the bed, kneeling beside her. "I'm... wonderful! I think the question is... how are you?"


"No... I..." She shook her head. "I just know how... far... outside your comfort zone that had to be." She laughed weakly. "I mean, it wasn't exactly... you..."

Natalia took her hand, locking their fingers together as one corner of her mouth turned up slightly. "It had to be me on some level..." Her cheeks tinted a light pink. "I was there... in every sense of the word." She touched Olivia's lips, stopping the other woman from interrupting her. "I could have said no. I could have said stop. I know you would have stopped if I had wanted you to." The blush intensified. "But I didn't want you to. What happened at Towers, Olivia...." She shrugged as her lips quirked adorably. "I wanted it as much as you did. Maybe even more...." Her eyes took on a dreamlike quality for a moment. Then she shook her head, trying to refocus her attention on what she wanted to say. "But I was angry with you!"

Olivia pouted slightly as she looked down at the bed, her voice small. "I know."

"Do you?" Natalia tucked her fingers under Olivia's chin and raised her head. "Do you know what I was angry about?"

The blonde nodded. "I acted like a jerk."

"If I got angry every time that happened we'd be having make-up sex at ten minute intervals." She laughed at the dirty look Olivia threw her. "That wasn't it."

"It wasn't?"

The surprise in the older woman's voice brought a sweet smile to Natalia's lips, one that complimented the warm flush that was heating her skin. "Actually...." She played idly with the blanket that covered her legs, tracing the pattern with her fingertips. "You acted like a caveman, more than a jerk and..." She tried to stop the smile that was fighting to break free and failed.


Natalia bit her lip. "And... I may have liked it... a little..."

Olivia's eyes sparkled as one eyebrow arched high on her forehead. "How much?" She leaned in closer, nuzzling against the younger woman's face.

Natalia held up one hand, her thumb and forefinger hovering half an inch apart. "Little bit." She whispered, swallowing when the older woman glanced at her fingers before turning a sultry gaze on her. "Okay...." She laughed softly, spreading her fingers further apart. "Maybe more than a little." She put her hand on Olivia's chest, holding her back when the blonde leaned in for a kiss. "Part of me swoons when you go all 'Tarzan' on me-"

"Jane." Olivia interrupted.

"Whatever!" Natalia laughed. "Part of me swoons.... but there's a limit, Olivia. And another part of me... the strong, capable part that I didn't even know existed until I met you... that part of me? Pretty much thinks you're an ass."

Olivia's jaw dropped open for a moment, and then she burst into laughter. "I... This is me, Natalia."

"I know. You love the way you live; full throttle, all out, with no apologies and I wouldn't have you any other way." She took a deep breath. "But I'm strong too, Olivia. You helped make me that way. I can take care of myself, and you, if you'll let me. You don't have to fight to keep me. I'm here... and I'm yours."

The older woman blinked rapidly, her eyes glassy. "I..." She shook her head ruefully. "I can't promise I won't be protective of you..."

Natalia raised an eyebrow.

"...or possessive..." Olivia amended with a small sigh. "But I promise to try and curb the caveman behavior as much as I can."

The younger woman nodded. "Just pick your spots. That's all I ask."

"I think I can do that..." She slid closer, pulling on the collar of Natalia's over sized sleep shirt, revealing the freckle she knew was hiding at the top of her shoulder. She kissed it softly. "This is one of my favorites."

Natalia's smile lit up the room. "Not your very favorite?"

"Oh nooo..." She fit her body tightly against the brunette's side. "My very favorite...." She trailed her fingers down the front of the shirt, sliding beneath it run lightly across a smooth, flat belly. She sucked in a quick breath when the skin beneath her fingertips quivered in response. "My very favorite is much, much lower... and requires that I do a lot more than just tug at your clothes."

Natalia laid back, shifting her hips to pull herself down into the bed. "Show me... please..."

There was something.... something soft and gentle hidden in that request, something that made Olivia's blood sing in her veins as a jolt of pure electricity tingled down her body. Natalia's voice, her smile... they both held a shy, almost vulnerable quality and the older woman felt a tenderness sweep through her that she had no defense against. She lowered her body on top of Natalia's slowly, her eyes closing in pleasure as their legs dovetailed and every single part of them fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. Nothing had ever felt so right and in the back of her head a hundred different thoughts screamed for her attention. Thoughts about what that meant, about how much it could hurt... about how completely this woman could destroy her.

Olivia looked down into soft brown eyes, finding the love she felt inside reflected back at her tenfold and everything went completely silent, her body stilling as a gentle peace filled her. "You..." She shook her head when her voice broke, laughing softly at herself. "You fill me up," She whispered. "In so many ways that 'I love you' barely seems adequate to describe it. I would do anything; give anything... be anything you wanted me to be... so long as you keep loving me."

Natalia pressed her lips together, taking Olivia's face gently between her hands. "Then you're lucky all I want is for you to be you. I just want you. The good, the bad..." She snickered. "The tiger-striped loin cloth... I just want you, all of you. You don't have to do anything but love me Olivia." She kissed her softly. "Because... believe me when I say that that is a gift worth more than I can measure."

Olivia swallowed back tears as she nodded happily. Lowering her head, she pressed their lips together in long, slow kiss. She lost herself in the feel of the younger woman's mouth, her tongue, not pulling back until she was almost ready to pass out from lack of oxygen. She tried to push herself up onto her arms, but Natalia stopped her. "I'm too heavy..."

The brunette shook her head as she whispered. "No, you're... heavenly. I love it when you're on top of me..." She wound her fingers in Olivia's hair, using it hold her still so that she could stare into her eyes. The green she so loved had gone dark, an almost emerald color, their focus dimmed by emotion. "Jesus..." She raised her head to briefly taste her lips. "You make me insane. Make love to me, Olivia. Very.... very... slowly."

"Slow is good..." Olivia shifted slightly, her thigh brushing against Natalia's center. A soft hiss escaped her lips as she felt wet heat soak through the cloth of her pajamas. "Oh yeah... I can soooo do slow..."

The Beacon was already busy when they arrived the next morning and Natalia flushed slightly, looking down at the hand Olivia had never released as they walked across the lobby. All around them heads turned to glance in their direction as lips turned up into small smiles and smirks. Whether they did so out of approval or satisfaction she had no idea, but Natalia returned each and every one of them, her head held high and a happy smile on her face.

They had just reached the hallway to Olivia's office when a man's voice stopped Olivia in her tracks.

"So it's true."

The older woman turned slowly, pulling Natalia tightly against her side as she faced the only man who had ever truly terrified her. "Phillip." She took a step forward, instinct causing her to shield the younger woman slightly with her own body. Even though it seemed like her ex-husband had undergone a miraculous personality change since his return to Springfield, she wasn't about to take any chances. "Excuse me?"

Phillip Spaulding took a step closer, a warm smile transforming his face. "The two of you... I heard you finally made it official." He reached out and took Natalia's hand. "I knew you'd be the one to tame her."

"Tame me?" Olivia's voice rose along with her eyebrows.

"Well... it was a huge job, but I must say I did kind of enjoy it." Natalia smiled. She knew about his past but everyone deserved a second chance. The love she had found with Olivia proved that.

"Did she make you want to tear your hair out?" He ran his fingers across his scalp. "Mine use to be a lot thicker before she and I got married."

"Oh, I know! And we aren't even married yet!"

"I am right here, you know!" Olivia crossed her arms as a small pout swelled her lower lip. "Should I just go to my office since you don't seem to need me for this conversation?"

Phillip laughed and turned to her. Taking both her shoulders in his hands, he squeezed gently. "Congratulations."

Olivia blinked. "You... You almost sound like you mean that."

"I do mean it." He dragged her forward into a hug, making her eyebrows try to crawl off her forehead. "I told you before that it didn't bother me. Now that I've seen Emma... heard her talk about her life out at the farmhouse and about her Momma Nat..." He shrugged. "I know real when I see it Olivia. I may have never been great with keeping it, but I know it. And you two are as real as it gets." He released her and stepped back. "Emma is very lucky."

Olivia's mouth opened and closed but nothing came out.

"I've made her speechless." Phillip laughed. "My life is now complete." He cupped each of their faces gently with a hand. "Okay, I need to get going. I'll be waiting for my invitation."

"Wait!" The older woman held her hand up to stop him. "How did you find out, anyway? It's been like... two days!"

Phillip grinned. "A little bird told me."

When he was gone, Natalia turned to Olivia, a smile curling the corners of her mouth. "That went well."

"Mmm..." Olivia pressed her lips together thoughtfully. "If I was the old me, the one who questioned everyone's motives, I'd be nervous."

The brunette moved closer, linking their fingers together as she took her hand again. "But you aren't."

Olivia smiled. "No... I'm not." She kissed her quickly. "And I don't miss her."

They continued down the hallway, stopping when they saw someone waiting outside of Olivia's office. "I think we've found our chirping bird." Olivia mumbled under her breath.

Blake Marler pushed off from the wall as they approached, a speculative look on her face as she took in their linked hands. "Wow..." She tucked her thumbs into the pockets of her blue jeans, tapping her fingers nervously against her hips. "Doris told me but I don't think I really believed it." She leaned her head to one side. "But then I saw you two dancing... I don't know how I could have missed it."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry too much about it, Blake." Olivia shrugged. "We missed it for the longest time too."

"So..." Blake looked back and forth between them. "How did you finally... figure it out?"

Both of the women smiled, speaking in unison, "Emma."

"Ahh... and a little child shall lead them?"

Natalia laughed, delighted. "Exactly like that." She moved a little closer to Olivia, looking up at her. "You could say she was responsible for our first kiss."

"Directly responsible." Olivia laughed.

Blake couldn't miss the love and adoration the two women shared as they looked at each other and it touched her deeply, making her a little sad at the same time. "I think it's wonderful." She hugged them both fiercely. "Love is... so rare. The fact that the two of you embraced it when a lot of people would have run..." She sighed. "Well... it does my heart a world of good."


The three women turned to see Doris Wolfe walking towards them.

"What are we, the first stop on a scenic tour?" The older woman grumbled, but her eyebrows rose in interest when Doris finally noticed Blake standing with them.

"Uh..." The normally eloquent woman fumbled slightly. "Blake... hi."

"Hi." The other woman's cheeks colored ever so slightly as she looked down.

"Am I..." Doris glanced at all three of them. "Am I interrupting?"

"Would it matter?" Olivia asked sarcastically.

Doris thought about it for a moment. "Good point. Listen," She pulled a piece of paper from her briefcase and held it out. "I think I've found a solution to your problem."

"Problem?" Natalia took the paper, reading the title out loud. "One Nation: A Catholic Council on the Need for Religious Reform in the Armed Forces?" She blinked. "I don't get it..."

"Yeah, well... Father Ray does." She smiled broadly. "He just accepted a last minute invitation to be a key note speaker."

Olivia took the paper. "Doris... this council is happening right now!"

"Hey! You asked me for what amounts to a miracle and I delivered! Do you know how many strings I had to pull to get him that invitation? I think a little gratitude is in order here!"

The blonde dropped her head slightly. "I'm sorry. You're right. Thank you."

Doris nodded, placated. "Father Ray got on a plane to Chicago twenty minutes ago. He'll be gone until next Monday."

"That gives us until Sunday..." Olivia stared off into space, her mind working furiously. "I think we can do it... I mean, a week isn't much time but..."

"Excuse me!" Natalia waved a hand in front of her face. "Does someone want to tell me what's going on?"

"You didn't tell her what you were doing?" Doris laughed. "That romantic streak is going to get you in trouble one of these days."

"Well... I think it's wonderful." Blake whispered.

Doris cleared her throat. "You do?" She smiled when the other woman nodded.

Olivia rolled her eyes before turning her attention to Natalia. "I... I knew how much it would mean to you to get married in the church and I also knew that Father Ray would never let that happen..."

"So you had Doris get rid of him?" The younger woman looked at her in shock.

"Well... yeah..."

"That's... sneaky, and underhanded..." Her eyes softened as she moved closer. "And probably the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me." She kissed her gently. "Thank you."

"Don't get too excited." Doris broke into the tender moment. "That was only the first hurdle. Now we have to get that nun of yours to fall in line."

"Sister Anne?" Olivia nodded. "I don't think it'll be that hard. From the conversations I've had with her, it seems like all the good Sister cares about is love."

"What if... what if I went with Doris to talk to her?" Natalia offered.

"That could be good." Doris shrugged. "One God freak to another?"

Olivia glanced at Blake, catching the other woman watching the Mayor intently. "Uhm..." She turned to Natalia. "I kind of need you here today." She squeezed her hand tightly and inclined her head towards the two women when it looked like the brunette would argue. "Especially if we're going to plan a wedding in a week." She smiled brightly at Blake. "Besides, don't you think it would be better if our love was championed by others? You know... other people...two other people who ... aren't... us?"

Doris' eyes widened when she realized what Olivia was doing. Her lips thinned in warning but the blonde just grinned at her and forged ahead.

"What do you say, Blake? You want to help the cause?"

"Me?" She smiled. "I'd love to! What do I have to do?"

"Not much." Olivia said casually. "Just... go with Doris and help her convince a nun that two women getting married in a Catholic Church would actually be an affirmation. Easy!"

Blake blinked. "Uh..."

Natalia reached out and squeezed her arm. "It would mean a lot."

"Okay." She nodded, grabbing Doris' hand and dragging her away with a determined look on her face. "Let's go!"

The Mayor shot a terrified look at Olivia over her shoulder, making the blonde laugh.

"You want to tell me what that was all about?" Natalia asked mildly.

"Just returning the favor." Olivia grinned.

The younger woman's eyes widened. "Blake?" She turned to watch the two women leave the hotel. "I... I had no idea..."

"I'm not sure Blake does either, honey." She patted Natalia on the cheek. "But then... neither did we."

Natalia nodded absently. "So... a week..."

"Nervous? Want to change your mind?"

Olivia's voice was teasing but Natalia could hear the fear beneath it. "No." She said firmly. "I want to marry you, Olivia Spencer. More than anything in this world. I just don't know how we're going to set up a wedding that fast!"

"The same way we do everything else... Together."

Sister Anne smiled as she heard the doors to the church creak open. She had a feeling she would have visitors that morning and here they were. She turned to greet them, her forehead furrowing in confusion when it was not who she expected.

"Sister Anne?" The professionally dressed woman stepped forward, holding out her hand while the one in blue jeans hung back slightly. "I'm Mayor Doris Wolfe."

"Yes," the nun smiled. "I know who you are."

"You do?" Doris' eyebrows rose. "Do I have a 'Most Wanted' poster around here somewhere?" She joked.

Sister Anne's smile was gentle. "We do have television." A small gleam came into her eye. "But something tells me getting you into a confessional might be interesting."

"Uh..." Doris played with her earring. "Thanks but... I just ate." She patted her stomach. "Don't want to get cramps!"

"Right... So what can I do for you then?"

"We..." The Mayor glanced back at Blake for a moment. "We want to use the church... for a wedding."

The Sister's eyebrows rose. "You two... want to get married here?"

"What?" Blake stepped forward, laughing nervously as she patted Doris on the arm. "Us? No... we're just... friends." She stopped to suck in a breath, still absently rubbing the mayor's bicep. "We're... new friends..."

"Very new." The other woman tossed in.

"Right... but good ones!" Blake looked up at Doris. "I hope... I mean... I hope we become..." Her voice trailed off as she noticed her hand, pulling it away quickly. "Uh... good friends..."

The nun pursed her lips as she looked back and forth between the two women, taking in their body language and wondering how she could have more of a clue than they did. "Then... who's getting married?"

"Olivia Spencer..." Doris began.

"And Natalia Rivera." Sister Anne finished for her. "I see... And you thought that I would be amicable to this... with Father Ray gone?"

"Look," Blake interjected. "The two of them... they are so in love and it would just mean so much to Natalia if she could get married here."

"And what would it mean to Olivia?" The nun asked quietly.

"I think it's safe to say that anything that's important to Natalia is important to Olivia." Doris answered softly. "I'm... I'm not the foremost expert on love by any stretch," She sighed as she brushed a stray hair away from her face. "But it doesn't take a saint to recognize something good. Olivia and Natalia... what they have... It can't be wrong. It just can't."

Sister Anne nodded slowly. "You're right."

The mayor blinked. "I am?"

"Yes." She laughed. "I knew I would be having this conversation this morning, I just didn't realize who I'd be having it with." She touched her briefly on the arm. "And I'd already decided to help."

Blake took a deep breath. "That's wonderful!"

"So..." Doris looked at her expectantly. "Sunday?"

"I can make the church available." Sister Anne nodded. "You will have to do the rest."

"That's not a problem." The mayor shook her hand respectfully. "We'll be in touch!" She took Blake by the arm and led her outside. "Whew! That was easier than I thought it would be." She looked at the other woman and froze.

Blake was staring at her, the intensity of her gaze stealing the breath from her lungs.

"What?" She croaked.

"You know..." The redhead smiled. "You've got quite the romantic streak in you, too." She brushed at the same stray hair with her fingers, tucking it back behind the mayor's ear. "What you said... that was very sweet."

Doris swallowed. "Anything for the cause..." She said weakly.

"Hmm..." Blake shook her head. "I don't think so." She linked their arms together as they walk towards the car. "I think that deep down... you're just a big softy."

"Shhhh!" She looked around quickly. "If someone hears you say that it'll ruin me!"

"So... you need to buy my silence then?"

Doris blinked. "I didn't know you were into politics..."

"I'm not." Blake waved her hand dismissively. "But I am into lunch. Long ones... with good food, good drinks..." She looked up at the other woman with heavily lidded eyes. "...and maybe a good... friend?"

A slow smile worked its way across the mayor's lips. "You're on."

Tuesday Morning

10:50 AM

Olivia peeked around the corner. Finding the hallway outside her office empty, she heaved a huge sigh of relief. She had been ducking Ashlee for the last two hours. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate everything the young woman was trying to do, but if she had to answer one more question before a cup of coffee someone was going to die.

Besides, it wasn't as if she and Natalia hadn't spent the prior evening with her, sketching out a starting point for Ashlee to work with. Granted, they had yet to make any of the major decisions but it wasn't like she could make them alone and her bride to be was currently holding court with the kitchen staff, setting up the menu for the reception and giving directions for the wedding cake.

Olivia smiled. That was one thing that had agreed on. Three tiers of french vanilla wrapped in lavender fondant and accented with blue piping and purple sugar roses. Apparently it was the cake Natalia had always wanted and hadn't even mentioned when she was engaged to Frank.

Olivia frowned.


It was only a matter of time before he found out what was going on. She didn't even want to think about the kind of trouble that man could cause. With a sigh, she walked into her office, her heart jumping into her throat when someone immediately bounced out of the chair across from her desk.

"Olivia!" Ashlee squealed happily. "I looked for you everywhere. Then, I said to myself, 'Self... where would Olivia eventually end up?' and I figured it would be here, so I waited and here you are!"

"Ahhh." Olivia forced a fake smile. "Here I am... in my office... my inner sanctum..."

"Ooo... like Batman!"

The older woman looked at her like she had two heads. "Yeah... just like that. Just like Batman." She rolled her eyes as she walked around her desk.

"Well, I have great news!!" Ashlee flipped open the portfolio she was carrying. "I was worried that there wouldn't be enough time to set up everything with the station but I talked to Dinah and she said she wouldn't miss your wedding for the world!"

"Dinah...what?" She held up a hand to stop Ashlee's mile-a-minute chattering. "What about the station?"

Ashlee beamed. "Dinah's going to send a crew over to film the wedding! They're going to broadcast it on the local section of the evening news!"

"WHAT?" She sat down heavily. "Why??"

"Because..." Ashlee looked slightly confused. "Because this is the first same sex wedding in the history of Springfield. You'd be making a huge statement!"

Olivia tunneled her fingers through her hair. "Have you met the bride? I'm already making a statement!"

"Yeah but..."

"No!" She gentled her voice when the blonde jumped slightly. "Ashlee, this is something we want to share with our friends and our family. I don't think either of us would be comfortable broadcasting it all over town."

The blonde looked crestfallen. "Would you at least think about it? Talk it over with Natalia and let me know tomorrow?"

"Fine, but don't get your hopes up!"

"We could broadcast from the reception too... show how gay friendly the Beacon is..." Ashlee looked at her slyly. "Imagine what kind of business that could bring you..."

Olivia looked at her in shock. Something told her she may have underestimated the young woman. "I said I would think about it and I will."

"Great! In the meantime, which one is better? This one.." Ashlee held up two pink colored cards. "Or this one?"

Olivia blinked. "They're the same."

"No they're not! One's amaranth and the other is carnation!"

Olivia raised her hand as she shook her head. "Look, I know you mean well, but I already told you... I'm not really into the whole...pink thing."

The blonde pouted slightly. "Okay... well how do you feel about purple?" She pulled a whole stack of colored cards from her purse. "Or blue... OH! Red!" She shuffled through the cards, pulling out two new ones. "Which one? Burgundy or.... Falu?"

"Ashlee...What are you smoking? They're exactly the same!"

"Here...look closer." She pushed the cards into Olivia's face, making the older woman's eyes cross. "Better right? Which one?"

Olivia rubbed the bridge of her nose. "You know what? Natalia would probably want to pick the colors for the wedding. I think she's still downstairs in the kitchen! Why don't you run down there and show her your little cards?"

"You think so?" Ashlee smiled brightly. "You're probably right. She's more the 'girl' in the relationship anyway."

Olivia's eyebrows knitted together. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Just that... you're more... and she's just..." The blonde waved a hand at her. "You know what? You're busy. I'll just... go find Natalia."

The older woman watched her scamper away before dropping her head into her hands. "All I want is a cup of coffee!"


4:30 PM

"Ma!" Rafe tugged at his collar, frowning as Natalia slapped his hands away. "It's too damn tight!"

"Watch your language, Rafael!" Natalia glanced around the formal shop at the Beacon, returning the understanding smile the clerk was throwing her way.

"Awww... why do I have to wear this penguin suit anyway? You didn't make me wear a tuxedo when you were marrying Frank!" He blinked when his mother glared at him. "All right, I get it, I get it. But why does this stupid bow tie have to be so tight?"

"Consider yourself lucky." Olivia smiled innocently from the doorway. "If she could get Father Ray to do the ceremony you'd be dressed as an Altar Boy!"

"Oh, hell no! Oww!" He pulled back when Natalia slapped him lightly on the arm. "I mean... I'm too old for that sh...stuff."

"Too old?" The brunette looked up at her son, her eyebrows knitting together sternly. "You studied so hard to be an altar boy and you were so proud the first time you got to wear your robes..."

"I was twelve, Ma." He slipped a finger under his collar and pulled.

"You never outgrow God, Rafael." She held up the matching Tuxedo jacket, smiling when he slipped his arms into it and turned to model for them. "What do you think, Olivia?"

The older woman pursed her lips and walked towards them. She brushed a piece of fuzz from his lapel and then pulled slightly on the jacket, settling it more firmly on his shoulders. "I think the way he's buffing up he might outgrow the jacket before Sunday."

Rafe beamed at her.

"How much are you benching now?"

"Two-fifty." He puffed out his chest slightly. "My parole officer put me in touch with a trainer. I could be doing more but he says it isn't safe until I put on some weight."

"Well, you look great." Olivia looked him directly in the eyes. "Even in the monkey suit."

Natalia smiled at the two of them, her heart filling with joy at the simple interaction between her son and the woman who had stolen her heart. Sniffling, she brushed at her eyes as she smiled brightly. "So what about the colors?" She adjusted Rafe's tie again, ignoring it when he rolled his eyes. "Do they work?"

Olivia nodded, her eyes following the line of the jacket to the cummerbund where they paused, taking in the light purple critically. "Except for that. It should be crimson."

"Crimson?" Natalia quirked her lips to the side. "Are you sure?" She pulled two of Ashlee's cards from her purse. "Our colors are Orchid and Amethyst... "

"Pink and pink...?" Olivia groaned. "Our colors are pink and pink!"

"They are not!" Natalia pouted. "They are Orchid and Amethyst!" She turned away, chewing on her lip as she played with a button on Rafe's coat. "And if you hate them so much then I guess you should have been there to help me pick them."

Rafe raised his eyebrows as he looked at Olivia, mouthing the word 'Busted!' as he stepped down from the small dais. "I'm... I'm uh..." He clasped his hands together, pointing with both forefingers to the other side of the room. "I'm just gonna go over there..."

"Subtle!" Olivia whispered at him as he passed. When he was gone, she went to stand next to Natalia, wrapping her arms around the younger woman from behind. "The colors are lovely." She breathed into her ear. "Not as lovely as you... but lovely." She felt the brunette shrug her shoulders and knew she would have to try harder. "I'm sorry." She whispered. "I want this to be something we'll always remember." She nuzzled her face into long, soft hair. "Because this is it. Last time for both of us. And it is going to be wonderful because we love each other more than life. Purple or pink... it just doesn't matter. All that matters to me... is you."

Natalia turned in her arms, sniffling quietly as she laid her head on the older woman's shoulder. "Everything is just happening so quickly."

"I know." Olivia laughed softly. "It took us so long to get here and now it feels like we're moving at warp speed."

The brunette looked up at her sarcastically. "Warp speed?"

"Yeah well... I couldn't sleep last night and when I went downstairs the only thing on was Star Trek." She shrugged. "Hey, that Captain Janeway can kick some ass!"

Natalia laughed. "I love you."

"I love you too. So you know what?"


"Let's get married. Who cares if we only have a week to plan it so long as the marriage last a lifetime."

The younger woman looked up at her adoringly. "The things you say to me..."

Grinning, Olivia dipped her head and captured Natalia's lips, savoring the feel of them until...

"Eeeew!" Rafe choked loudly. "Come on! You're scarring me for life here!"

The two women broke apart, laughing.

"There is nothing wrong with love, Rafael."

"No, but there is something wrong with watching two women kiss when one of them is your mother!"

Olivia looked from Rafe to Natalia and back again. "Were you planning to come live with us when you get out of the halfway house?"

"Yeah." Rafe shrugged. "For a little while anyway."

Olivia walked to the other side of the room, wrapping her arm around his shoulders comfortingly. "Then I suggest you learn to knock..." She grinned when Natalia's face turned bright red. "And ear plugs might not be a bad idea either..."


Chapter 25: Old Fashioned is a Donut

Wednesday Morning

Natalia hummed softly to herself as she sat behind Olivia's desk, her hands flipping quickly through the paperwork that littered the blotter. The small smile that had been her constant companion since Olivia had proposed five days earlier grew every time she glanced up to focus briefly on the picture frame sitting on the desktop. Pursing her lips, she finally gave in and picked it up, her fingers running lovingly across Olivia's face. It was a picture of the two of them that Emma had snapped shortly after they had moved into the farmhouse. They were in the kitchen, standing next to the sink; both of them laughing as Olivia leaned in way too close to say something under her breath. Natalia remembered the moment well; remembered the small shock of pleasure that had run down her body when she felt the older woman's breath on her cheek; when she had glanced up and recognized that the fire burning in those bright green eyes was the same that burned in her own.

It wasn't the very beginning of their dance... but it was the first time she had known with absolute certainty... that they were dancing together.

The brunette closed her eyes, her breath becoming shallow as she ran through all of the memories in her head, the hundreds of little moments that made up her courtship with Olivia. The subtle hints, the touches, the smiles... the looks.

Oh God... the looks...

Her body trembled as she remembered each glance that had taken her breath away, leaving her wanting, leaving her aching... Even now, alone with just her thoughts, she could feel her body responding as though the older woman were there, kissing her softly... running her fingers through her hair...

"Hey Natalia!"

The brunette squeaked loudly as her body jerked in surprise, the picture frame in her hand sliding free to thump loudly on the desk. "Ashlee!" Her hand flew up to her throat as she tried to get her breathing under control. The rapid switch from modestly aroused to surprised and embarrassed left her more than a little flustered. "What..." The word came out as a croak and she took a deep breath, coughing lightly to clear her throat. "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you!"

Natalia provided the 'duh' that was implied at the end of that sentence in her own head. "Why?"

Ashlee rolled her eyes as her lips parted in a huge grin. "Are you kidding? We have so much work to do!"

"But... Doris and Blake got the church... we already picked the colors... we gave you the invitation list... the kitchen has the menu for the reception and they're already working on the cake... the ballroom is set aside for the reception and we talked about the decorations last night. You said you could handle putting all of it together so..." She smiled as she shrugged. "What's left?"

"A couple things!" Ashlee clapped her hands together excitedly as she sat down. "First... we need to talk about the dress."

"The dress?" Natalia blinked.

"Yeah! You know, the long white thing you wear down the aisle?"

"But... I already have one..."

Ashlee's jaw dropped slightly. "You're... you're not really thinking about wearing that one again... are you? I mean... I know it qualifies as only slightly used but still... you were marrying someone else."

Natalia paled slightly. "I..." She bit her bottom lip. "I guess I didn't think about it like that. It's just... Olivia got that dress for me and... it would be a shame to waste it. Wouldn't it?"

"You know..." The blonde leaned in closer, glancing around before she said quietly, "It was a really weird style. Kind of made you look pregnant."

"What?" Natalia's eyes went wide.

"Trust me, waste the dress. Or maybe there's some charity for poor pregnant people who want to get married..." The blonde opened her portfolio and scribbled down a note, talking to herself under her breath. "Check for poor people..."

Natalia didn't even know how to respond to that.

Ashlee smiled at her. "We have an appointment at Davina's Bridal in an hour."

"Oh, uh... Olivia has a friend... Monica?"

The blonde flashed her 'duh' face again. "You can't use Olivia's dressmaker!"

Natalia blinked, her forehead furrowing in confusion. "Why not?"

"Because! Haven't you ever heard that it's bad luck for the groom to see the dress before the wedding?"

"Ashlee..." The brunette leaned across the desk, taking the younger woman's hand and squeezing it firmly. "There is no groom."

"Well..." She frowned. "Technically, I guess that's true, but the principle still applies. And you are definitely the bride..."

"So... Olivia is..."

"More groomy than you." Ashlee said matter-of-factly. "Ask anyone."

Natalia swallowed a laugh. "I might have to do that."

"Where is she anyway?"

"Olivia? I don't know. She should have been here already..." Natalia glanced towards the doorway, her eyes narrowing when she saw an Olivia-shaped shadow pull up short and quickly turn around. She raised her voice pointedly. "I'm sure if she knew you were here she would hurry!" There was a brief moment where she thought the older woman might still bolt, and then Olivia was walking into the office, a well practiced smile plastered on her face.

"Good morning ladies! Sorry I'm late." She came around the desk, dropping a lingering kiss onto Natalia's lips before perching on the arm of the chair. "So... what did I miss?"

The brunette squeezed her arm. "Don't ask... trust me."

"Ooookay..." Olivia laughed. "How about... what's next?"

"Dinah." Ashlee looked at them expectantly.

"Dinah?" Olivia waited a few moments and then shook her head as she sighed, mumbling under her breath. "Now I understand why your mother has no patience. Oof!" She made a face at Natalia, rubbing the spot in her side where the younger woman had jabbed her with her thumb. "What about Dinah?"

"I need to give her an answer on the whole 'wedding segment'."

"The wedding segment?" Natalia looked up at Olivia in confusion.

"Did I forget to mention that?" The older woman smiled sheepishly. "Must have totally slipped my mind." She quirked her lips to the side. "It seems that Dinah thinks our wedding would make a great story for all of Springfield. She wants to film it and put it on the evening news."

The brunette paled. "What? Why?"

"I dunno." Olivia waved her hand. "Something about making a statement... first gay wedding..." She shrugged.

"That's..." Natalia cleared her throat. "That's sweet... I guess... but our wedding..." She glanced up at Olivia and smiled, her eyes bright. "Our wedding isn't about making a statement. It's about honestly, and commitment... and love." The brunette looked thoughtful. "Three things this town could really use some good examples of.... How about..." She breathed in deeply. "...how about if you tell Dinah she can film it and... we'll make up our minds about the rest after we've had some time to think about it?"

"Okay..." The young woman nodded eagerly. "That's half the battle anyway."

Olivia looked at Natalia in surprise. "Really? I didn't think you'd..." The words trailed off as the smile the younger woman flashed at her stole her breath away.

"You're mine." Natalia said simply. "I'd shout it from the roof tops..."

Olivia smirked. "But Frank would probably have you arrested."

"It's not like you haven't already been on television anyway," Ashlee interjected. "And this time we won't even mention lesbian porn."

Both women stared at her, their mouths hanging open.

"I went to school with the girl that works in the TV department."

"Of course you did." Olivia closed her eyes as she rubbed her forehead. "What else do we need to go over?"

"OOooo!" Ashlee stood up and started to pace excitedly. "Okay, so I know you didn't ask me to do this but... I like to think of myself as a full service kind of...well... service so; I just went ahead and did it." She bit her lower lip. "Just... keep in mind that I didn't have a lot of time so I was only able to come up with one design..."

Natalia blinked. "Design? For what?"

"For your invitations." She pulled a dark purple envelope out of her portfolio. "I really hope you like them..." She slid the card out and laid it face up on the desk.

Olivia and Natalia leaned forward, both of them gasping softly as they studied the invitation in front of them.

It was made up of several layers of textured card stock. The very bottom was the same deep purple as the envelope and featured distressed edges that created a beautiful frame around the thick, white linen card on top. Down the left side of the linen ran a smooth purple ribbon cut in a diamond tip. Olivia reached out and touched it, confirming it was silk. The top of the ribbon was buried beneath a circle of crimson wax that was a little larger than a half dollar. Pressed into the wax was the image of an O with an N intertwined. To the right of that, in perfect cursive were the words:

Olivia Spencer


Natalia Rivera

Request The Honor Of Your Presence

As They Share Their Love With The World

Through The Exchange Of Marriage Vows

On Sunday, June Seventh

Two Thousand and Ten

Three O'Clock In The Afternoon

At Springfield Community Church

Main Street, Springfield

Olivia looked astounded. "I... I called three different printers and they told me there wasn't enough time! We were just going to tell everyone ourselves." She shook her head slightly. "How in the world did you get anyone to do this?"

"Heh..." Ashlee shrugged as she pursed her lips. "I might have... maybe... sorta told the printers that they might possibly be a contender for the Beacon's printing contract next year? If they could make up a hundred and fifty of these by tomorrow."

Natalia glanced up at Olivia, sliding her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud at the look on her lover's face.

"You did what?" The older woman asked flatly. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. "You're telling me that you bartered one of the Beacon's vendor contracts... for wedding invitations?"

"Our wedding invitations." Natalia said softly.

Olivia shook her head, unable to keep the smile from her face or the appreciation from her voice as she focused her attention on Ashlee. "I have to admit it. You've surprised me." She picked up the card and fingered the edge, raising an eyebrow at the obvious quality. "They're incredible." She looked at Natalia, who nodded, her eyes glistening softly. "We love them." She handed the card back and held her hand out, waiting until Ashlee shook it firmly. "You come and see me when we get back from the honeymoon. Maybe we can have that talk about a job after all."

"Really?" She squealed happily. "That's awesome! I mean... you know..." She tried to restrain her enthusiasm and only ended up looking like she was about to explode. "It's fantastic... it's..." She glanced at her watch. "Crap!" Her eyes went wide. "That's not... I mean... I didn't... oh my gosh, we have to go!" She grabbed her coat and portfolio. "I have to call the printer with the final approval and then I'll meet you out in front, Natalia. Bye Olivia!"

The older woman shook her head as she watched Ashlee dash away. "I swear that girl makes me dizzy." Her eyebrows rose when Natalia turned in the chair, wrapping her arms around her waist and drawing her into a deep kiss. "Wow..." She breathed when they finally broke apart. "You make me dizzy too." She ran her thumb across Natalia lips. "But in a much better way. What was that for?"

"To tide you over." The brunette smiled as she stood and gathered her things. "Until I get back."

Olivia tucked her fingers into Natalia's waistband and pulled her close, pressing her back into the desk as her hands firmly grasped her hips. "Where are you going anyway?" She mumbled, her lips trailing over the sensitive skin beneath Natalia's ear.

"Uhm...." The younger woman swallowed, her body trembling as she felt hands slide down to cup her backside. "What?"

Olivia smiled against smooth, olive skin. "Where are you going... and do you have to go right now?" She tightened her arms, pulling their bodies together firmly.

"Olivia..." Natalia whimpered, breathing in deeply as she pulled away. "Behave..." She straightened her clothes, her eyes never leaving the older woman's lips. "Otherwise I'll never get through taking off my clothes with any kind of dignity."

The older woman tilted her head to the side. "You're going somewhere with Ashlee.... to take off your clothes?"

Natalia laughed. "We're going shopping for a dress."

"Ahh, right! I told Monica to expect you."

"Sorry. Ashlee is taking me to see someone named Davina."

"Oh?" Olivia's eyebrows rose curiously. "What's wrong with Monica?"

"Nothing, but apparently you're too groomy."

"I'm too..." She blinked. "I'm what?"

Natalia laughed waving a hand at her as she walked away. "I told you, don't ask."

"Wait," She followed the brunette to the door. "Groomy? What the hell is 'groomy'?"

Natalia only laughed harder as she walked away.

"Groomy?" Olivia watched her go; calling after her, "That's not even a word!"

Frank Cooper was having a very bad day.

As if it wasn't bad enough that his fiance had left him at the altar, and he had taken plenty of 'good-natured' ribbing from the guys in the squad room over that. No, now he had to deal with the current rumors being tossed around the station with what could only be described as gleeful abandon.

Rumors about a certain dark haired Latina turning heads and dropping jaws with another woman on the dance floor of the most romantic restaurant in Springfield.

And of course, it didn't help that the woman she was dancing with was his ex-girlfriend too.

He sighed heavily from behind his desk, dropping his head into his hands as one the guys walked past him, only looking up when he felt a sympathetic grip on his shoulder.

"Don't worry about it, Frank. There's plenty of other fish in the sea." The detective snickered under his breath. "'Course, you might wanna stay away from the tuna..."

Frank growled and jerked away, glaring at the other cop who backed away with his hands in the air and a smile on his face.

He shook his head in misery. What the hell was Natalia thinking? She was confused, he got that, he really did. But acting the way she was would only make it that much harder for people to accept it when they got back together.

Not to mention that fact that this behavior... it wasn't her! Natalia was shy and sweet; wholesome, with a well developed sense of propriety. The Natalia he knew would never make such a public spectacle of herself. The Natalia he knew would have been mortified by even the thought of it.

That only left one explanation.

It had to be Olivia.

Anger coursed through him and Frank slammed his hand down on the desk, drawing curious looks from the rest of the cops in the station, all of whom quickly looked away when he raised his eyes to return their stares.

It had to be Olivia; her influence, her lack of morals. He snorted when he thought about how he had thanked the blonde barracuda for taking care of Natalia after the wedding disaster.

Oh, she had taken care of Natalia all right. She had taken care of her so well that the poor, confused woman thought she was in love with her!

And who knew how far it had gone by now...

A spike of cold venom shot down his spine, setting his teeth on edge as he thought about the two of them kissing, about them touching...

Well, he wasn't going to let it get any worse.

Frank straightened his shoulders as he stood up. Natalia needed to be saved, from herself if necessary.

And he was just the man to do it.

Doris shuffled through the papers she had spread out in front of her on the table, pushing them aside one by one until she found the proposal she was looking for. She reached for her coffee cup absently, not realizing until she had brought it to her lips that it was empty.

With a frown, she glanced around Company, finding it empty. She had come there early, looking for some peace and quiet and seemed to have found more of it than she actually wanted. Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered nodding at Buzz when the cheery little man had stopped by her table to tell her they were doing inventory in the basement and to just holler if she needed anything.

"Buzz?" She called loudly. "Buzz, I could use some more coffee!!" She waited a few moments but there was no answer. With a sigh, she slid out of the booth and headed for the counter, stepping around behind it to grab the coffee carafe.

"Are you going to bus the tables too?" A voice asked from behind her.

A small electric shock traveled up Doris' spine as she turned, blinking in surprise when she found Blake smiling up at her. "Uh..." Her fingers tightened convulsively on the handle of the coffee pot. "Uhm..."

Blake's smile widened. "Is that a yes? Because I'm okay with that." She tucked her hands into the pockets of her jeans. "Just don't expect me to split the tips with you."

Doris looked around the restaurant. "Tips?"

The redhead came around the counter, giving her a friendly bump with her shoulder. "Oh, I know it's kind of a quiet morning. But there's this one big spender over in the corner that I'm counting on to make my morning."

The mayor swallowed. "Uh..."

Blake laughed. "Yeah, you said that before. Are you feeling okay?"

"Yes!" Her voice came out as a squeak and she coughed slightly. "Yes. Sorry, you just... you startled me."

Blake took the coffee pot away from her, waving her back towards her table. She refilled her cup and the set the pot on the table, sliding into the booth beside her and angling her head to glance at the papers littered across the tabletop. "So... watcha working on?"

"Uh..." Doris pressed her lips together, trying to ignore the warm line of hip and leg that was pressed up against her. "Prop... proposals." She smiled, blinking rapidly.

"Ooo." The redhead raised one eyebrow. "Anything good?"

"Just... a few outlines on increasing revenue streams." She tapped her finger on a piece of paper. "Got yours right here. I was reading over it last night and it look's really promising..."

"Doris," Blake laid a hand on her arm, noticing that the mayor trembled slightly. "I didn't come over here to talk to you about my proposal."

"Then why did you? I mean, not that I mind... You're certainly welcome to be with me... I mean... to join with me..." She closed her eyes, shaking her head as she ground her teeth together, saying very slowly, "You're welcome to join me anytime."

The redhead pressed her lips together to suppress a smile. She had never seen the normally unflappable woman so flustered. "That's nice to hear." She squeezed her arm. "I actually just wanted to say thank you for lunch yesterday. I had a really good time."

"You did?"

"You sound surprised."

"Well..." Doris shrugged. "It's just... we've never really..." She waved her hand between the two of them. "Interacted much... on a personal level." Her eyes widened. "Not that I'm trying to say that yesterday was personal... that it meant something..." She rubbed her forehead in frustration. "...personally..."

Blake couldn't help it. She laughed. "You know, for a Mayor you're awfully cute when you blush."

The other woman went completely still. "You think I'm cute?"

"Uh..." It was Blake's turn to flush. "Well... you... " She laughed nervously. "It's... just a side of you that I didn't know existed."

Doris leaned her head to the side. "There's a lot about me that you don't know."

The redhead moved a little closer, propping her elbow on the table and dropping her chin into her hand as she stared into deep hazel eyes. "So... why don't you tell me?"

The mayor leaned back, extending one arm along the top of the booth. "I don't know." She smiled. "There's a lot to tell. You sure you have that kind of time?"

"For you?" Blake's gaze never wavered. "I can make the time."

A soft smile replaced Doris' usual cynical look, completely transforming her face. "What do you want to know?"

"Everything." The redhead grinned. "But you can start with how you became the champion of lesbian love in Springfield."

Davina's Bridal was a small but interesting shop on the very edge of Springfield; the sign outside boldly stating that they had something for everyone. The main room was filled with every kind of wedding dress imaginable; from the understated simple white sheath to the loud and garish style favored by the 'higher the hair, the closer to god' set. And the colors... the colors were amazing. Although, why anyone would want a neon pink wedding dress was beyond her. She saw Ashlee touch it, a fond smile on her face, and Natalia had to bite her lip to keep from smiling.

She couldn't stop the small, nervous feeling that was running up and down her spine, however. The shop was quaint and the selection wide, but she wondered if she would actually be able to find a dress that suited her; one that would convey just how much these vows meant... to both of them. To be honest, Davina's looked to be geared more towards a younger generation. But Ashlee had gone to a lot of trouble to get them a rushed fitting, so she owed it to the younger woman to at least try to keep an open mind.

After announcing themselves, the two women were greeted by the owner herself and Natalia couldn't keep her eyes from widening slightly as she shook the hand of a woman that looked for all the world like Cruella De Ville come to life. She was tall, almost six feet, with jet black hair that sported two white streaks; one on each side. She was dressed head to toe in black and white, her brocade skirt and vest completed by a ruffled white poet's shirt. The hand she held out in greeting was adorned with multiple silver rings and tipped with long, black, wicked looking nails; making Natalia grip it gingerly. "I am Miss Davina. Welcome to my shop."

"He... hello."

Davina smiled at her, the warmth and friendliness in her eyes and voice doing wonders to soothe Natalia's fears. "Don't worry." The Amazon patted her hand gently. "We keep the really crazy stuff in the back."

Realizing she was being teased, Natalia laughed. "I'm sorry. I guess this... just wasn't what I was expecting."

"Things seldom are." Davina eyed her speculatively. "People either." She took both of Natalia's hands and held them out, leaning her head to one side and then the other as she looked her over from head to toe. Releasing the flustered woman, she turned to her assistant, a pretty, but serious looking young woman, mumbling off numbers and sizes too quickly for Natalia to follow. "Just give us a few minutes to get the room ready."

Natalia nodded, smiling as the women went to help another customer. When they were gone, she turned to Ashlee. "Are you... sure about this place?"

The blonde looked at her curiously. "Of course, why?"

"Well... it's a little... different."

Ashlee shrugged. "Different is good."

"Well, yeah, sure it is. I just... I kind of like the idea of a simple dress..." She touched the shimmering sequins on what looked like the bridal version of a poodle skirt. "Nothing here looks simple."

"I had a friend that came here." Ashlee pursed her lips. "She said this place was a little too traditional for her."

"Too traditional? Was she kidding?"

"I don't think so. Apparently Miss Davina is a little..." Ashlee waved her finger around her ear. "Eccentric. She prides herself on being able to read a brides 'aura' and picks out all the dresses herself. My friend thought her choices were a little too staid but Davina wouldn't budge on them. In the end the one she finally picked was gorgeous."

"Yeah but..." Natalia frowned, gingerly poking at a black leather veil that looked like it belonged in a completely different kind of shop. "Gorgeous on what scale?"

The blonde's face fell. "Do you... do you want to leave?"

"No." She took a deep breath and smiled. "We're here... let's see what my 'aura' is telling Miss Davina."

A few moments later, the assistant returned. "Ms. Rivera? Ms. Wolfe? My name is Amy; I'm the personal style attendant here at Davina's. If you'll come with me, we have a private room ready for you in the back.

They followed the redhead down a long hallway to a door all the way at the end. Amy pushed it open with a smile and waved them inside.

"Oh my..." Natalia's jaw dropped slightly as she and Ashlee stepped into the large, richly appointed room. There was a long, white leather couch that curved in a half circle around a gleaming glass table. Sitting on the table were two long stemmed crystal flutes and a silver ice bucket that held a frost covered bottle of champagne. The area directly in front of the couch was taken up by a brightly lit, raised marble dais set into an alcove and surrounded by mirrors. The walls on both sides were studded with ornate pewter hooks holding dresses that ranged from simple to elegant; from cream-colored to pristine white...every single one of them gorgeous in its own way. "This is incredible." She breathed as she walked down the right side, her fingers stroking gently over silk and lace, across brocade and buttons, until she came to the last hook. The dress that hung there was completely hidden from view by a black velvet bag. She turned to Amy. "What's... what's with this one?"

The assistant smiled. "That's the dress that you'll eventually pick."

Natalia's eyebrows rose. "I beg your pardon?"

"That is the dress that Davina has specifically chosen for you. She always places her choice in a valet case; otherwise you would never look at any of the others."

The brunette laughed. "Are you..." She glanced back at the bag, her lips quirking to the side. "Are you serious? That's... that's pretty cocky."

Amy shrugged, her smile knowing. "I've worked here for five years and she's never once been wrong."

"Well..." Natalia straightened her shoulders. "I think I'll still have a look for myself, thank you."

"Of course." She picked up the bottle of champagne and popped the cork, filling the two glasses and handing one to each of them. "Compliments of Davina."

Ashlee took it with a smile, tipping it back and draining the contents quickly. "Mmmm." She held the glass out again. "That's fantastic."

Amy refilled it with a smile. "It's from her private stock."

Natalia took a careful sip, her eyebrows rising slightly. She didn't have a lot of experience with champagne, but she knew what tasted good. "Uhm.. Not that I'm not grateful but why? I mean... why the big room and why the champagne from the private stock?" She turned back to the dresses, her eyes narrowing when she noticed something missing. "And why are there no tags on any of these?"

"Because your portfolio, whatever the final amount, has already been taken care of."

"By whom?"

"Oh...uh..." Amy looked down at her pad. "The groom? Oliver?"

Ashlee snorted, sending a spray of champagne all over the startled assistant. "I'm so sorry! It was just... it was funny... because he's a she... I mean she's the he...the.. groom! Oliver is Olivia!" She pulled her sleeve over her hand and used it to dab at the liquid, starting at the young woman's neck, but rapidly moving downward until she was brushing across her cleavage.

"You know," The redhead's voice was amused. "I usually expect a drink or two before a girl tries for second base. But you're cute, and I have a thing for blondes, so I guess I could make an exception."

She laughed softly when Ashlee turned bright red and Natalia's eyebrows rose as Amy went from serious to charming in less than a heartbeat. When she smiled, the young woman's whole face lit up; bringing attention to clear, cornflower blue eyes and a peaches and cream complexion. There was a light dusting of freckles across her nose and cheeks, making her all the more endearing. And while she was a little shorter than Ashlee, she was well proportioned, with all of the curves a woman was supposed to have, regardless of what the fashion magazines might say.

"I'm... I'm... I'm..." Ashlee swallowed, taking a deep breathe before trying again. "I'm... I'm..."

"It's okay!" The soaked woman grabbed her by the wrists to hold her still. "It's fine." She let her go and picked up one of the linen napkins from the table, using it to wipe up the last of the liquid from her skin before dabbing it against the wet spots on her shirt.

"You... you..."

Amy laughed, reaching out to squeeze the blonde's hand. "Breathe, hon. It's just champagne."

"Youhavetoletmepayforthat!" Ashlee forced out in a rush. "The... the dry cleaning I mean."

The redhead leaned her head to one side, one eyebrow raised as she looked at Ashlee speculatively. "I'll tell you what." She tucked the napkin into a pocket as she refilled the blonde's glass. "You can do that.... or you can buy me dinner." The grin returned as she watched Ashlee's mouth open and close without any sound coming out. "Just... let me know before you leave." She turned to Natalia. "I'll be down the hall. If you need... anything... just use the intercom." With one last smile in Ashlee's direction she left, closing the door behind her.

"Uh..." Ashlee looked like she was in shock.

"Are you all right?"

"She.. uhm...." The blonde swallowed. "I'm not crazy right? She was... hitting on me... right?"

Natalia smiled. "I don't know if that's the term I'd use but she was definitely expressing interest."

She shook her head slightly. "Why?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why would she..." Ashlee swallowed. "Do I... do I seem like I would be..."

Natalia frowned. "Single?"

"My mom... my mom is gay."

The brunette sighed. "Yes, I know."

"And... you... you're gay?"

There were a hundred different things she could have said at that moment. The same hundred things she had told herself over and over again in the past. But here, now... in this quirky little shop where she was picking out the dress she would wear to marry the love of her life...Natalia didn't flinch. "Yes."

"But..." Ashlee waved her hands at Natalia. "You're also... like.. all 'Yay God'... and stuff..."

Natalia bit the inside of her cheek. "I am..." She nodded, pressing her lips together firmly. "I am... all... Yay God..." She blinked. "And stuff..."

The blonde sighed. "And it's... okay? I mean... you're just... okay?"

She smiled a little sadly. "It took a long time to be okay. I made a lot of mistakes. We both did. But in the end, what Olivia and I felt for each other..." She closed her eyes, swallowing as she tried to keep the emotion from overwhelming her. "What we feel for each other... that kind of love... It has to be a gift from God." She blinked away tears as she smiled at Ashlee. "I just can't believe that anything this wonderful... this beautiful...could be random... or wrong."

Ashlee nodded slowly, a thoughtful look on her face as she glanced in the direction that Amy had gone. "She was... cute..." She leaned her head to one side.

"She's beautiful." The brunette agreed.

"You know I've..." She shuffled her feet as she looked down at the ground. "I've never had that competitive... thing... with women. I always thought it was because... well... you know... because I don't have much to be competitive about."

Natalia stepped closer, taking the younger woman's chin in her hand and raising her head to look into her eyes. "You are a lovely girl, Ashlee Wolfe. Inside and out. And that is a very rare thing."

"Thank you." Ashlee smiled shyly. "But I was thinking that maybe... maybe I'm a little bit more like my mom than I realized."

Natalia's eyebrows tried to crawl off her forehead. "Uh..."

"Is it... do you think it's something in the genes?"

"Actually..." Natalia squeezed her fingers warmly. "I think it's something in the heart. To be able to love... without limits... without constraints..." She felt tears begin to sting at her eyes and laughed softly. "People label it, Ashlee. It's something they need to do to make it fit right in their world. But what they call it... what they call us... doesn't change what we really are. We're just people... who fell in love."

Ashlee nodded.

"And you and I are people..." She smiled. "Who are supposed to be planning a wedding!" She looked around the room with a heavy sigh. "This is going to take a while."

"We could always just check out the one in the bag."

"Oh no!" Natalia squared her shoulders as she tossed her purse onto the couch and began to unbutton her sweater. "I think I know me a little bit better than Ms. Davina. And besides..." She grinned. "You're gonna need all the time you can get to decide what to do about that redhead!"

"Okay, so wait..." Blake came back to the table with two fresh cups of coffee. So far, she had heard all about the wedding, including the graveyard confession before it and everything that had come after. What she hadn't heard was a single word about how all of it had happened in the first place. Setting the cups down, she slid back into the booth, tucking her body up close to the Mayor's as she propped her elbow on the table and dropped her head into her hand "Just how long has all of this been going on?"

Doris shrugged. "For awhile."

Blake frowned, looking at her sarcastically. "You can do better than that."

"Okay... a long time." She sighed. "It's been coming for a long time."

"How long?"

The Mayor pursed her lips. "Definitely since Gus died." She rubbed her thumb idly against the tabletop. "But if you want my opinion... something was there even before."

"Before?" Blake sat back, surprise showing clearly on her face. "But... I heard about some of what went on between the two of them. They were horrible to each other. The fights... the backstabbing... that terrible incident up at the cabin. Everyone thought they hated each other!"

Doris laughed softly. "And yet, they still couldn't seem to stay out of each others orbit." She sipped her coffee, her eyes far away. "Natalia taking care of Olivia for Gus's sake. Olivia allowing it for Emma's. Any excuse to be around each other... any reason to argue..." She set her cup down with a sigh. "The opposite of love isn't hate. It's indifference. And if there is one thing those two never were to each other... it's indifferent."

A small smile curled the edges of Blake's lips. "Passion." She whispered.

"It can turn on a dime... and love is incredibly easy to mistake..." Doris' voice trailed off as she thought about her own relationship with Olivia. The animosity... the dislike... Swallowing, she finished quietly. "...for something else."

There was silence for a few moments.

"Give you a penny."

The Mayor glanced up, her breath catching at the kind look on the other woman's face. "What?"

"A penny." Blake smiled and patted her hand, letting her touch linger for a few seconds. "For that thought. It looked like a good one."

Doris laughed. "Oh it was. That thought right there is definitely worth at least five dollars."

"Whoa... that's steep."

"You gotta deal with inflation."

"As Mayor, shouldn't you be working for a better economy?"

"Hey," Doris spread her arms in supplication. "I'm a little tied up with the Gay agenda at the moment!"

The redhead laughed. "And why is that?"

She hung her head slightly. "I sort of... brought it on myself."


"I was... kind of the catalyst that brought Olivia and Natalia together."

Blake's eyebrows rose. "This I have to hear."

"Well... once upon a time there was this little girl... a little girl who wrote a paper about her family for a school project..."

Blake grabbed her arm. "The My Two Mommies project?" Her jaw dropped slowly. "That was Emma??"

Doris nodded.

"And you... " Confusion filled her features. "You... spoke out against it. On television, if I recall."

"I did."


"Politics... position..." The Mayor sighed as she brushed her hair back from her forehead. "All the wrong reasons."

"Well," Blake picked up her coffee and took a long drink. "Seems like they forgave you."

"Oh, it's been a long road." Doris laughed. "It helped my cause that Olivia needed someone to talk to when Natalia almost kissed her."

The redhead choked slightly. She sat her coffee down and grabbed a napkin to dab at her lips. "Natalia?" She blinked and shook her head. "Natalia? Natalia made the first move?"

"You gotta watch out for those quiet types." Doris smirked.


"Uh... Because...?" She looked around in confusion. "They're sneaky?"

"No!" Blake rolled her eyes. "Why did she come to you for advice?"

The Mayor opened her mouth... and then closed it. Pursing her lips, she looked down at her watch. "That... is a story for a completely different time and place."

"So..." Blake shrugged gamely. "Name it."

"Name what?"

"The time and the place."

Doris studied her for a moment. "Dinner. Tonight. Eight o'clock?"

"It's a date." Blake's smiled faltered slightly. "I mean... it is... isn't it?"

"A date?" The mayor felt the faint fluttering of butterfly wings in her stomach. "Yeah... yeah I think it is."

"Okay." The redhead nodded shyly before taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders. "So tell me about this almost kiss... and don't skip any of the good parts!"

Frank did a double take as he looked in the window of company, his mouth dropping open when he saw Blake Marler sitting with Doris Wolfe.

Only she was doing more than sitting with Doris Wolfe.

She was practically sitting on Doris Wolfe.

He watched as Blake laughed at something the other woman said; watched the way she leaned into her, his teeth grinding together when she placed a hand on the Mayor's arm and squeezed.

"What the hell is wrong with all the women in this town?" He growled under his breath. Was there something in the coffee? Some kind of... gay flu going around? He closed his eyes tightly, remembering how glad he had been when the Mayor had agreed to perform his wedding ceremony. Only all she had done was babble and stall, giving Olivia time to further weaken his fiance with her fake display of tears; pretending all she wanted for Natalia was for her to be happy.

His face turning red with anger, Frank reached for the door, only to pull up short when his cell phone began to ring. He yanked it from his pocket and flipped it open. "WHAT??"

"De...detective Cooper?" A male voice on the other end of the phone stammered. "This is Patrolman Michaels."

"Why are you calling me?"

"You... you told us all to be on the lookout for that car... the one registered to..."

He heard the pages of a notebook being flipped.

"Uh... Natalia Rivera?"

A good cop would have remembered the name. Of course, a good cop would have also known why he was looking for her car.

"Yeah?" He rubbed his forehead as he tried to hold on to his anger.

"Well... I found it. It's parked outside of a mini-mall over on Devlin Avenue."

"Devlin? What the hell is she doing over there? That's all the way across town."

"I don't know, Sir. But did you want me to pick her up?"

"No!" Frank felt his jaw pop as he looked in the window and saw Doris lean across Blake's body as she playfully grabbed for a piece of muffin from the redhead's plate. "No... This is a... delicate situation. I'll head over there. You just stay put and if she leaves, you follow her and call me back."

"Yes, Sir...Do you-"

He snapped the phone closed without saying goodbye, his temperature rising as he watched Blake pluck a piece of hair from Doris' cheek, moving it slowly back behind her ear. He looked from the door to his phone and back again. With a sigh, he shoved the phone in his pocket and pulled out his car keys. "Later." He mumbled to himself as he rushed to his car. "Definitely later."

"Okay..." Natalia collapsed on the couch, picking up her glass of champagne and sipping from it as she sighed tiredly. "I don't think I ever want to take my clothes off again."

"I don't think Olivia would be happy about that." Ashlee giggled. "You'd have to wear a lot of skirts..."

Natalia stared at her with wide eyes before breaking down into giggles herself. "I think you've had too much champagne, Ashlee."

"No... I haven't... I've only had..." She picked up the bottle, swirling it around as she tried to peer through the dark green glass. "...I've only... I've had..." She blinked and looked at Natalia in confusion. "What was the question again?"

"Okay!" Natalia took the bottle away from her. "You drink anymore and you're going to be no help to me whatsoever."

"Have I been any help to you so far?"

"Well..." Natalia's lower lip pouted slightly. "Of course you have."

"Really?" Ashlee stood up and carefully made her way over to one of the dresses hanging on the wall. "I liked this one." She pointed at it, her mouth quirking oddly. "You said it was too 'poofy'." She stumbled to another a few feet away. "Liked this one too." She took a sleeve in each hand and held them up, looking at the dress wistfully. "You said it looked like it belonged at a square dance..."

"I never said that!"

"Ahh, right." Ashlee waggled a finger at her. "Your actual words were 'I don't think I could pile my hair high enough to do it justice."

Natalia flushed bright red.

The blonde moved two dresses down. "And this one..." Her forehead furrowed in confusion. "What was wrong with this one again?"

"The... The front..." She pointed half-heartedly. "You'd... be able to see my belly button."

"Right!" Ashlee shrugged. "Still don't think Olivia would have objected." She held up her hand to stop Natalia's protest. "You've basically vetoed every single dress I've suggested and picked..." She waved her hand at the three gowns hung from the mirrors surrounding the dais. Her nose wrinkled. "Picked three of the most boring I have ever seen."

Natalia's eyebrows rose. Okay, so Ashlee was an honest drunk. "What's wrong with the three I picked?"

The blonde looked at her like she was crazy. "Well, first of all, none of them are white! Wedding dresses are traditionally white!"

"Yeah, well..." Natalia sighed as she blew her hair off her forehead. "I was thinking... seeing as how this is my third trip down the aisle... that maybe white wasn't the best idea."

"What?" Ashlee came over to the couch, flopping down on her hands and knees to stare into the brunette's eyes. "Why?"

"Because white... white is for... new brides."

"New brides." She repeated before shaking her head. "Tell me something... is Olivia different?"

"Different than what?"

"Than the other two." Ashlee rolled her eyes, trying not to smile. "Different than Gus... or Frank?"

Natalia didn't hesitate. "Yes... of course she is."


The brunette opened her mouth to answer and then stopped, her eyes narrowing as she really thought about her response. "When..." She took a deep breath. "When I married Gus... it was all about what I thought I wanted. What I thought was right. I wanted to give Rafe the father he never had... the life he deserved."

"Did you love him?" Ashlee asked softly.


"Like you love Olivia?"

Natalia hesitated, a gentle sigh escaping before she actually answered. "No."

"And Frank...?"

"No." She shook her head. "I wanted to... I wanted to love him. And I did... but... not the right way."

"So..." Ashlee lowered herself onto the couch when her arms started to shake with fatigue. She laid herself out flat, her voice slightly muffled by the cushion pressed up against her face. "The first two were for all the wrong reasons." She angled her head back to look at the brunette. "Why are you marrying Olivia?"

Natalia couldn't have stopped the smile that lit up her face even if she had wanted to.

"MMhmmm..." The blonde laughed. She waved her hand at Natalia as she laid her head back down. "Verbal... more verbal... you're hurting my neck..."

"I..." The brunette felt her cheeks begin to burn and ache from the width of her grin. "She makes me happy. And I love her."

"Okay," Ashlee made a noise that sounded like it came from something halfway between a horse and a goat. "So for the first time... You're getting married for no other reason but that you love her and she makes you happy." She picked up her head and threw Natalia a goofy smile. "I think that makes you new." She sighed happily and squirmed around on the couch. "It's just so sweet! I think it would be criminal if you didn't wear white. I mean... go for everything... all the tradition you can. Really cram it in this time. Because it's your last. You say what I'm seeing?"

"It is my last," She agreed softly.

"Exactly! So I say... get the five-tiered cake and throw the bouquet! Let Olivia pull off your garters and toss them to the ushers, because trust me... every one of those guys is going to be fantasizing about just how wild that honeymoon will be... you know... since you waited and all..."

It was Natalia's turn to choke on her champagne. "Waited?" She said weakly.

Ashlee sat up quickly, looking at her with slightly unfocused eyes. "Oh you have to wait, Natalia!" She gestured wildly. "I mean... this is it. The real deal. The honeymoon you've waited for...well... forever..." The momentum of her hands caused her to lose her balance and Natalia had to grab her by the shoulder to keep her from tumbling off the couch. "It would be soooo romantic." She swooned a little and the brunette got ready to catch her again but Ashlee remained upright, a slightly sarcastic look taking over her features. "I mean really, Natalia... it's only four days!"

"It isn't the days that would be the problem." Natalia mumbled. But honestly, Ashlee had a point. If she wanted to do this right...

Shaking her head she turned back to the young woman. "I think right now we need to focus on the dress. Since you have so eloquently persuaded me to go with white, it looks like we're going to have to start all over again."

Ashlee groaned loudly and climbed to her feet. "Wait!" She held her hands out in front of her. "We still have one left." She pointed to the black bag still hanging on a hook in the corner.


"Come on, Nat!" The blonde threw her arm around the smaller woman's shoulder. "One little peek wouldn't hurt... right?"

Natalia sighed. "Alright!" She threw her hands up in the air before turning to walk over to the valet case. "But don't get your hopes up. I doubt Ms. Davina and I share very similar taste in clothing." With a long sigh, she reached out and unzipped the bag, using both of her hands to slide the case open.

For a moment, she was completely silent.

Then she whispered. "Oh my god."

"What?" Ashlee rushed up to look over her shoulder, her mouth dropping open as she got her first look at what the bag had been hiding. "Jesus..." She said breathlessly. "We just wasted a lot of time didn't we?"

"Oh yeah." Natalia laughed, stretching out her fingers to run them down smooth white, silk and lace covered buttons. "A whole lot of it." Smiling happily, she pulled the dress all the way out from the bag and held it up to her body, astonished to find it exactly the right size and almost the right length. A quick fitting and a few minutes with a needle and she would have the dress she had always dreamed of. Her cheeks rosy, she turned to look at herself in the mirror, her eyes glazing over slightly as she imagined Olivia's face as she walked towards her down the aisle...

"I told you to check that one first!"

"You know. I think you have better things to be doing than saying I told you so."

Ashlee threw her a snarky grin. "Like what?"

"Well... since it seems that I've chosen my dress, you should probably be thinking about what you're going to say to Amy on the way out."

Not even her very proper upbringing could stop her from laughing when Ashlee's smile quickly faded.

Doris leaned back in the booth, sipping her iced tea and trying to keep her glances casual as she watched Blake move from table to table, refilling coffee cups and soda glasses with a smile far too genuine for a waitress. They had spent most of the quiet morning shift talking, the interruptions minimal after the first coffee rush of the day was over. She had meant to leave before lunch, but as their conversation deepened, she found herself lingering; switching from her normal morning brew to the lighter beverage when she gave in to the realization that she had no desire to be anywhere but right where she was.

And the frequency with which Blake returned to her booth, sometimes offering food or drink, sometimes offering nothing more than a shy smile; well... that led her to believe she wasn't alone in her enjoyment of the current situation.

Doris frowned, studying the table intently as her brow furrowed in confusion. What exactly was the current situation? Nothing she had ever heard about Blake could offer her hope for anything more that a good friendship. The woman had always been straight, as far as she knew... and straight was... well.. it was... straight.

"Then again..." Her eyebrows rose slightly, the corners of her mouth turning up in a smirk when she thought about the looks the redhead had been throwing her way. Looks that said she was definitely interested, even if that interest came with a whole lot of confusion. Confusion she could deal with. She rolled her eyes slightly. She had been dealing with Olivia's confusion for the last six months. At least this time...

The smirk turned into a gentle smile as a faint blush stained her cheeks. At least this time there was a chance for a little happiness of her own.


Doris glanced up, scowling when Olivia slid into the booth across from her. "Speak of the devil..." She grumbled under her breath. "What?"

"What?" The other woman repeated sarcastically. "I recognize that look." She picked up half of the avocado and bacon sandwich that Blake had placed in front of the mayor a few minutes earlier; munching on it happily. "So?"

"So what?"

"So, you're doing a passable impersonation of a human being right now. I'd even go so far as to say you look happy!" She shook her head in mock surprise. "What gives?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Doris took a long drink of her iced tea, her eyes bouncing around the room as she tried to keep them from being drawn back to the redhead behind the bar.

Olivia followed her gaze, stopping in mid-chew as her eyebrows shot up. She snagged Doris' drink from her hand, tipping it back as she swallowed quickly. "Did I miss something?" She leaned in closer, dabbing at her mouth with a napkin as she looked at the mayor pointedly.

"No!" Doris adjusted her collar self-consciously. "No... there's... nothing to miss..."

"Then why are you looking at Blake like that?"

"Like what?"

"Like she's a lollipop!"

The Mayor's mouth fell open. "I was doing no such thing!" She said indignantly. "I was just... I was..."

"Ogling? Drooling?" She tossed Doris a napkin, laughing when the other woman threw it back at her. "So I guess that whole 'straight' thing has gone right out the window..." Olivia teased.

"Honestly I have no idea what's going on." Doris shook her head. "One minute she's barely a friend... a heterosexual friend... and the next... she's giving me these looks..."

Olivia nodded. "Been there, done that... got the t-shirt."

"Yeah, well, you also got the girl."

"No reason why you can't, too."

The Mayor shook her head. "I'm not that lucky."

"Luck has nothing to do with it."

"Olivia, I have had plenty of relationships..."

"Is that what you're calling them?"

Doris frowned but ignored the remark. "I've never had one that didn't fail." She sighed. "If you put them all side by side, the common denominator is glaringly obvious. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be part of a couple." She glanced over at Blake and the mask slipped for a moment, allowing Olivia to see just how interested she really was.

"And maybe," Olivia laid one hand on top of hers, squeezing her fingers warmly. "Maybe you've been so caught up in hiding who you are that you've never been able to just be yourself." She smirked. "I can say from personal experience that you are slightly less irritating now that I've gotten to know you."

"Gee... thanks. I love you, too."

"I wouldn't go that far..." She snickered. "Listen, if you really like the woman...then give it a shot... see where it goes. Because and trust me on this, if it's supposed to go somewhere... it will. With or without you're help."

"More 'personal' experience?"

"Is there any other kind?"

"With you? No."

Olivia considered that statement for a moment. "Good point. I've been where you are. I've made my mistakes. But I don't regret them. I can't regret them. They led me to Natalia."

"You're not going to start singing love songs are you?"

"I might." The blonde laughed. "Life is actually that good!"

Doris grinned, shaking her head slowly. "I don't know if I could live up to all that..."

"And you never will... Unless you try." She raised one eyebrow wickedly. "Besides... Blake's been alone for a long time. Imagine... all that pent up sexual energy..." She smirked when Doris' hand slipped, knocking her silverware onto the floor.

"Hey girls!"

Olivia looked up as the redhead suddenly appeared at their table, new utensils in hand. "Hey! I didn't realize you were working today!" She lied, smiling when Blake slid into the booth across from her. She had to press her lips together firmly to keep from laughing out loud when the woman ended up closer to the mayor than she really needed to be.

"So?" Blake looked back and forth between them. "What are you two talking about?"

Olivia began to speak, only to grunt in pain when Doris kicked her under the table. "Lollipops." She growled as she rubbed her shin.

"Lollipops..." Blake blinked in confusion.

"Yeah... you know..." Olivia grinned. "How many licks do you think it takes to get to the center?" She shifted quickly, snickering when the mayor's foot connected solidly with the underside of the bench. "On that note..." She finished off the last bite of sandwich and drank the rest of Doris' iced tea before standing. "I need to get back to the Beacon. They're putting up the decorations that Ashlee ordered and I want to check in on the work crew." She glanced at her watch. "And I need to make a phone call. Thanks for lunch!"

Blake watched her go before turning to Doris with an amused look on her face. "What the hell was that?"

The mayor shrugged innocently. "Drive by snarking?"

"Are you ready?"

"Yeah," Ashlee sat up straighter, wiggling slightly in her excitement. "Come on out! Let's see the blushing bride!"

Natalia's heart caught as she froze with one hand on the changing room door. Memories of similar words said what felt like a lifetime ago hit her hard in the chest; sapping the strength from her knees and leaving her breathless. The sorrow that had filled her that day came rushing back and she could feel Olivia's breath on her cheek as though she was standing right beside her. She could feel her fingers as they pulled cool silk up around her arm, lingering briefly before pulling away.

She remembered every second of that afternoon in vivid detail; but nothing stood out more clearly than the moment when their eyes had met in the mirror. In that one brief glance, she had found all of the things that were missing in her relationship with Frank. The want, the need... an all consuming desire wrapped up in a tenderness so complete that, had they truly been looking into each others eyes instead of hiding behind their own reflections... everything would have changed.


"Nat?" Ashlee whined. "Stop teasing and come out! Walk towards me like you're walking down the aisle and I'll pretend I'm Olivia." There was a pause. "Well... you know... without all the... kissing... and... sexy stuff."

Natalia laughed as the tightness in her chest eased up and then disappeared.


This was all for Olivia.

Ashlee had been right about the dress. And she had been right about her. This was new. All of it.

She was new.

Natalia looked into the mirror and her heart caught in her chest again, but this time it was followed by a feeling of joy and happiness. Smiling, she opened the door and stepped into the outer room.

Ashlee's jaw dropped open slowly as she stared at the brunette, who was a vision in white silk and lace. Natalia walked towards her, a radiant smile on her face and time seemed to slow, making it feel as though each blink of her eyes lasted an eternity. There was a moment of complete clarity where everything the brunette had told her about love suddenly made perfect sense. That Olivia could love this woman was not surprising. That it had taken her so long to give into it... now that was the shocking thing.

She had intended to thank Amy for her flattering offer on the way out, but gently decline, thinking her life already sufficiently complicated without adding gender issues to it.

But now... now she was beginning to wonder if maybe her life wasn't complicated enough...

Her eyes widened as the gorgeous Latina walked directly up to her and kissed her on the cheek. "What..." The word came out as a squeak and Ashlee coughed, clearing her throat before she tried again. "What was that for? I thought we said no kissing!"

"Was it that bad?" Natalia laughed.

Ashlee blushed to the roots of her hair. "No... I... " She sighed in frustration. "I was just thinking about what to say to Amy and... kissing girls just confuses the issue!"

Natalia's eyebrows rose. "If a kiss on the cheek from a female friend confuses the issue... then you're worried about the wrong issue."

The blonde shrugged. "It's fantastic."

"The kiss?"

She rolled her eyes. "The dress." She reached out to touch one of the buttons on the bodice, only to pull her hand away quickly when she realized what she was doing. "It.. uh... it fits perfectly."

"I know." Natalia squealed happily as she turned to look in the mirrors, shifting her weight from side to side and watching as the dress flowed across the ground behind her. "It needs a little hemming though."

"It's supposed to have a train..." Ashlee said absently.

"Not in the front!" When the blonde didn't say anything she waved her hand in front of her face. "Hello?" Ashlee just stared at her blankly, making her laugh gently as she placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "What do you want to say to her?"

"I... I don't know..." Ashlee whined. "I don't know anything about her! What if... what if she's a republican or... or hogs the blankets or something horrible like that?"

Natalia bit her bottom lip. "If you get to the point of knowing whether or not she hogs the blankets...? Then trust me, she's not a republican..." She blinked, a sharp bark of laughter escaping as she heard the very Olivia comment come out of her own mouth.

Ashlee must have noticed it too because a small smile curled the edges of her lips. "It's going to be fun at the farmhouse when your cycles eventually match up..."

"I don't even want to think about that." She turned back to the mirror, watching the blonde over her shoulder. "You're right, you know. You don't know anything about her. And she doesn't know a thing about you. You'd get to be new too." Ashlee looked up and she caught her eyes in the reflection. "If you wanted to."

There was a loud knock on the door before it swung open. "So, my darlings, how are we doing?" Miss Davina walked in with Amy right behind her. She came to stand behind Natalia, her hands pulling quickly on the fabric of the dress, checking the fit as she made little clucking noises to herself under her breath. Finally, she stepped back, trailing her eyes from the top of the brunette's head down to her feet. "Beautiful."

Natalia blushed. "Yes it is."

One eyebrow rose high on the tall woman's forehead. "I was speaking of you, my dear. A dress in itself is but wrapping for the treasure it contains." She crouched down, flipping over the hem. "Your Olivia seems to understand that concept very well."

"You mean Oliver?" Ashlee snorted again. She covered her mouth with her hand, glad she wasn't drinking anything this time.

Miss Davina smiled. "Apologies for that. Amy Lou never could read my writing." She smiled at her assistant. "She was always bringing the wrong things home from the store."

Natalia glanced between the two women in surprise, taking in the look of fond tolerance they both shared.

"Oh..." The softly spoken word came from Ashlee's direction, drawing their attention to her and making her feel awkward.

Davina studied the girl for a long moment and then nodded slightly. "But... that was a lifetime ago." She sighed. "Wasn't it my dear?"

Amy nodded, a rueful smile on her face.

"Two inches." The statuesque woman headed for the door. "No more, no less. Snow white thread and nothing from the back." She called over her shoulder.

"Wait!" Natalia called after her. "Don't... don't you want to say anything about me choosing this dress?"

Davina stopped in the doorway, her hand curling around the frame as she turned her head to smile. "That would imply that there was ever any doubt." She tapped her nails once against the wood and then she was gone.

"Well..." Natalia smiled brightly. "That was... fun..." She turned to Amy. "What did she mean about Olivia?"

The assistant grinned. "Your fiance has been calling every half hour to make sure you're getting all the help and attention you could possibly need or want. Davi has been listening to the story of your courtship in twenty minute soundbites all afternoon." She glanced at her watch. "That's probably where she rushed off to. It's time for the next phone call. Apparently the last one left off at a snow covered gazebo..." She sighed. "That woman is a sucker for a good love story. Used to watch the soaps till they took her favorite one off the air."

The thought of Olivia sharing their story with people warmed her heart and stained her cheeks a rosy red as she watched the assistant open up the small sewing kit she was carrying and kneel at her feet. "So... are you two...?"

"A couple? Not for years. Now we're just good friends, though she tends to be a bit over protective." Amy threw a quick glance over her shoulder at Ashlee, who was trying to look nonchalant as she flipped through the pages of a bridal magazine. "She likes to check out anyone I might be interested in."

There was a loud thud when the magazine slipped from Ashlee's fingers and landed on the glass table. "Uh... sorry... I... uh..." She scooped up her purse and began to dig through it as she backed towards the door. "I need to... call the Beacon! Yeah... to.. uh... check if the reception decorations arrived. I'll.. uh... I'll..." She backed into the door jam, laughing nervously as she side stepped through it. "I'll be back in a few minutes!"

Amy looked up at Natalia. "Did I offend her somehow?"

"No!" The brunette smiled reassuringly. "I think your interest just... surprised her." Her eyes narrowed as a wave of fierce protectiveness washed through her. "You are interested in her, right? I mean... Interested in her... for... the right reasons...?"

The redhead bit back a laugh. "Are you asking if my intentions are honorable?"

Natalia flushed but nodded.

"I'm twenty-nine years old," Amy sighed. "And my love life has been played out in short-term leases. A year here, six months there. Davi was the longest and even that only lasted two years." She shook her head. "I want something real. Not just a tumble in the sack, if that's what you're asking."

"Not... not in those words but, yeah I guess that's what I was asking." She rubbed her neck. "Ashlee is definitely... real. And sweet... and even innocent."

The redhead tilted her head to the side. "Define innocent..."

"Ahhh..." Natalia shook her head. "I wouldn't know how to answer that, even if I wanted to. All I'm saying is that she's a very special girl. I don't want to see her get hurt."

"Wow, I don't think I've ever gotten the 'Dad' talk before. It's kind of intimidating." She joked.

"Keep laughing! I'm the nice one! You don't even want to meet Mama Olivia."



"Noted." Amy closed up her case and stood. "Spin for me?"

"Does a lot of spinning go on at weddings?"

"Depends on whether or not there's an open bar." She watched as the smooth silk flared out ever so slightly and then settled back into place. "Perfect."

The door opened and Natalia smiled when Ashlee stepped back into the room. "I think we're done. How does it look."

"Beautiful." Ashlee mumbled, never taking her eyes off of Amy's profile as she gathered up her sewing supplies.

Natalia rolled her eyes slightly. "You wanna help me out of it?"

"That's my cue!" Amy grabbed her clipboard and headed for the door. "I'll meet you out front with a box for the dress and your invoice." She glanced at Ashlee briefly but the blonde was busy studying her shoes. "Well... I'll see you out there."

"Ashlee?" Natalia said softly once the assistant had gone. "She seems like a lovely woman. What are you going to do?"

"I'm... I'm going to thank her... but... politely decline."


Ashlee sighed. "I wouldn't know... what to do... with a woman."

"You go to dinner," The brunette put one hand on her arm, squeezing gently. "You go to dinner and you drink some wine and you... you just see if there's anything there... Unless you already know for sure that there wouldn't be. Do you?"

"I don't know...anything." She inhaled quickly, a small laugh escaping her lips. "I don't know how everything could have gotten so confusing in one afternoon."

"Oh honey..." Natalia pulled her into a hug. "Welcome to the club."

Ashlee pulled back, her eyes wide. "There's a club?"

Natalia smiled as she approached the front counter, handing the dress in her arms to Amy and watching as she carefully arranged it inside a large white box. Ashlee waited next to her, her hands fidgeting with her jacket as nervous energy rolled off her in waves. She laid a gentle hand against the blonde's back and sighed when Ashlee twitched at the contact.

"Relax," She whispered as she rubbed small circles up and down the younger woman's spine; the same thing she did for Emma when the little girl had nightmares. "Relax before you hyperventilate and pass out!"

Ashlee nodded, taking a deep breath as the assistant finished her task and slid the box and a clipboard with the invoice towards them.

"You're all set." Amy uncapped a pen and set it on the counter. "I just need your signature for our records."

"Of course," Natalia picked up the pen and the clipboard, her forehead furrowing in confusion as her eyes scanned down the page. "I don't understand." She looked up. "There's no amount here..."

"No, there wouldn't be." Miss Davina joined them at the counter. She lifted the lid on the box, smiling at her assistant's packing job before closing it again.

The brunette shook her head. "I don't understand... how much is the dress?"

"Ms. Spencer has asked that the amount of this expenditure not be divulged."

"What? Why?"

Davi smiled pleasantly. "She seemed to think that cost might become a factor in your final decision on what dress to choose, even after the fact. She asked that I not include the information on the invoice and I agreed."

"But," Natalia felt her back stiffen. "This is my wedding too. And I have the right to know what we're spending!"

"Of course you do." She inclined her head towards Amy, who pulled a second invoice out of her portfolio, handing it the shop owner who held it against her chest. "Which is why I am going to give you the complete invoice... should you ask for it again." She raised her hand when Natalia reached for the paper. "However before I do that, I would like to point out that, having heard the beautiful tale of your courtship, I can only surmise that your fiance believes your love to transcend all earthly matters, most especially matters as crass as monetary compensation. She wished to do something... very special... for you both, without bringing the mundane into it. So while you do have the right to this information, I think you should ask yourself what is more important: Your pride, or her happiness?"

Natalia blinked, snapping her mouth closed when she realized it had slowly fallen open. With a small shake of her head she grabbed the non-itemized invoice and signed it, handing it to Amy as Davina smiled sweetly and walked away. "Is she always like that?" She barked once the infuriating woman was out of earshot.

The assistant laughed. "Are you kidding? That was mild. On a normal day she'd have had you begging her not to tell you. Your Olivia must have made quite an impression."

"She does... tend to do that." The brunette's frown slowly faded to a sweetly sensual smile, the images in her head sending an immediate burst of color up into her cheeks.

"Wow..." Amy handed her an envelope with a copy of the paperwork in it. "Someday I want to go where you just went." She glanced at Ashlee. "Just... maybe with a different view..."

"Huh?" Natalia looked over her shoulder at the girl behind her. "Oh... right..." She picked up the box, turning to place a hand on the blonde's arm. "I'll wait for you outside."

Ashlee nodded, her face blank. Her fingers gripped Natalia's hand tightly when she tried to pull away.

"Ashlee..." Natalia tugged gently, throwing a weak grin at Amy before stepping closer. "Ashlee...?" She whispered. "I need my hand."

"Huh? Oh." The blonde released her with a sheepish grin. "Sorry."

"Just be honest." She went to pat her on the arm again but pulled her hand back quickly, wiggling her fingers to try and break out the remaining stiffness. "You'll be ok... I promise." Holding the box in one arm, she waved goodbye to Amy and pushed open the door, stepping out into the warmth of the late afternoon sun. It felt wonderful after the air conditioned coolness of the shop and she turned her face up to smile for a moment before sighing and giving in to her curiosity. Leaning up against the wall, she looked in through the window. She watched as Amy came around the counter, laughing gently when Ashlee did an amazing impersonation of a deer caught in headlights...

"So... what should I wear tonight?"

Doris' head shot up; pulling her attention away from the paper she had been reading. "What?"

Blake laughed as she sat down next to her again. "What's so interesting?" When all she got was a blank stare she nodded towards the proposal in the mayor's hand.

"Uh..." Doris glanced down and then back up, her cheeks turning red when she realized she had no idea what she had been working on for the last hour. She shuffled the papers and slid them to her right. "Nothing! It's all... civic codes and stats. Makes for some pretty dry reading."

"Mmmhmm." The redhead leaned her head to the side. "So?"

"So what?"

Blake laughed. "So what should I wear tonight?"

Doris bit back her initial response. This wasn't some political groupie vacationing from out of state that she could charm, bed and then wave goodbye to the next morning without even crawling out from under the covers. This was Blake. What she did had consequences. And the consequences if she was wrong... For a moment, she almost talked herself into canceling. Then her head filled with images of what just might happen if she was right.

"Are you cold?"

Doris blinked. "I bed your pardon?"

Blake's mouth quirked slightly, like she was trying not to grin.

"BEG!" The mayor flushed, bringing her voice down a couple of levels when several heads turned to look in their direction. "Beg..." She repeated. "I beg your pardon?"

Blake looked down to hide her smile. "I asked if you were cold. You were trembling there for a minute."

"It is a..." Doris ran her hand down her through, tugging slightly at the collar of her blouse. "It is a little chilly in here." She lied.

"I can ask Buzz to turn the air down."

"No!" She shook her head quickly. "No, no... it's fine." She took a sip of water. "What should you wear? Well... Where... where do you want to go?"

"I believe you asked me out," Blake raised her eyebrows.

"Right..." Doris took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. Get it together Wolfe. You're the friggin' Mayor for Pete's sake! "Towers." She said firmly, feeling a small thrill of power run down her spine when the redhead reacted visibly to the certainty in her voice.

"And... what if I feel like dancing?"

All of the bravado drained out of the Mayor instantly. "Dancing?" She squeaked. "With me? Really?"

"Dancing." Blake laid a hand over the top of hers. "With you. Really."

A slow smile spread across Doris' lips. "I can do that."

"So... what should I wear tonight?"

Ashlee's head shot up; pulling her attention away from the shirt button she had been fiddling with. "What?"

Amy came around the counter, a gentle smile playing at her lips as she watched the blonde's eyes grow wider and wider. "Our date? I was thinking we could do it tonight. What do you say?"

"Uh..." Ashlee swallowed. "I'm... I'm... But you're... you're..." She closed her eyes for a moment, clasping her hands together tightly. "I... don't know what to say."

"Say yes." The redhead's smile dimmed. "Unless... Unless you're just not into me."

"No!" She held her hands up in front of her, and then dropped them quickly when she realized they were hovering dangerously close to the other woman's breasts. "You're super nice and really pretty it's just... I just..."

"Oh!" Amy shook her head slowly. "You're not into women." She said sadly.

"Uh..." Ashlee winced. "Not that I know of?"

"Not that you know of...?" The assistant couldn't help laughing. "What does that mean?"

"I just... I never... my mom is... into women, I mean. She's a lesbian. And the mayor. She's... the Mayor of Lesbianville... apparently." Ashlee shook her head as she rubbed her forehead with one hand. "I don't know what I'm trying to say."

"Do you have a problem with your mother being the Mayor of..." She bit her lip, trying not to laugh. "Lesbianville?"

"No! Not at all!" The blonde said emphatically. "I've never had a problem with it." She blinked. "I never... really even thought about it..." She frowned. "It was always just another part of her to me."

"That's rare." Amy said softly. "That kind of love and understanding from family. Your mother is a very lucky woman." She reached out, closing warm fingers around Ashlee's upper arm.

Ashlee trembled violently as the simple contact sent a spark of electricity down her spine that straightened her back and curled her toes. "Oh my god..." She whispered as she leaned heavily against the counter.

"Are you all right?" Amy grabbed her other arm, trying to help steady her.

"Uh... yeah..." The blonde smiled weakly. "So... how's eight o'clock sound?"

Natalia smiled when Ashlee pushed open the door of the boutique and stumbled out, tripping over the door jam in the process. "So... how did it go?"

"Fine." Ashlee blushed. "It went fine. I told her that I thought she was really nice and all but that I've just never been into women."

"Mmmhmmm." Natalia clucked her tongue. "So? When's the date?"

The blonde stared at her in confusion. "How did you know...?

"Are you kidding?" The brunette smiled. "When she touched you I could hear your synapses sizzle all the way out here!"

"You were watching?"

Natalia shrugged. "Of course. I'm a mom. It's what we do. So? When?"

"Tonight." Ashlee mumbled.

"What are you going to wear?"

"Why does everyone keep asking that?" The blonde panicked. "Is there some kind of dress code for lesbians?"


"What about my hair? Do I have to get it all chopped off now?"


"And that wallet on a chain thing... I don't know if I can do that! I never look good in silver... Do they come in gold?

"Ashlee!" Natalia took her by the shoulders and shook her gently. "Calm down!"

The blonde nodded, slowing her breathing to a less ragged gulping of air.

"Listen to me," The brunette sighed. "There is no lesbian dress code. There are no rules to loving someone. Male, female... it doesn't matter. As long as you're honest... and you be yourself. Understand?" She felt the tension drain from the younger woman's body and released her slowly. "Love is a wonderful, precious thing. But you have to let it happen. You can't rush it, and if it's meant to be, you certainly can't stop it."

"I couldn't agree more."

Both women turned towards the sound of the voice to find Frank Cooper standing less than ten feet away; his beady black eyes watching them intently.

"Frank..." Natalia stared at him in surprise. "What... what are you doing here?"

"Looking for you." The detective walked towards them, ignoring Ashlee completely as he focused on her with an almost frightening intensity. "This isn't the best part of town. I was worried about you."

He smiled and Natalia shivered. It was the same smile she had seen him use a hundred times before. It was supposed to be endearing, but this time his lips were just a little too thin; his mouth a little too wide. Her eyes focused on the off-white gleam of his teeth and for a moment, she realized how a rabbit must feel looking up at a coyote.

Then her eyes snapped up to meet his. "What do you mean you were worried about me? How did you even know where I was?" Natalia's gaze shifted over his shoulder, settling on the black and white parked across the street. Anger coursed through her, surprising her with its strength as she scowled at the man standing in front of her. "Did you have me followed?? What the hell is wrong with you?"

"I could ask you the same thing." Frank's voice was low, almost a growl. "Do you hear yourself? First you run out on me, then you let Olivia convince you that you're... that..." He shuddered. "Now you're even talking like her... Yeah, I had you followed! Someone has to watch out for you, Natalia. Someone has to try and help you see what you're doing to yourself. I pledged to do that when we got engaged and it's not a promise I intend to break just because you're a little confused right now."

"Confused?" She closed her eyes in frustration as her voice rose. "Frank... I'm not confused anymore!"

"You're not? Then what are you doing..." He looked around for the first time, his voice trailing off as he read the sign above the boutique window. His eyes traveled from the name of the store to the large white box in her arms. For a moment he merely stared, his mouth hanging open...

Then he surged forward and wrapped Natalia up in his arms, his voice happy as he hugged her, hard. "I knew it!" He pulled back, taking her face between his hands. "I knew if I waited... if I was patient... I knew you would come to your senses!"

Natalia blinked rapidly. "Frank... what are you..."

"I get it!" He hugged her. "I get it, I do! You just had to work through everything at your own pace. Now you've changed your mind... you just wanted it to be a surprise!" He touched the corner of the box gently. "And I don't blame you one bit. I wouldn't want you to wear that dress again either. Not knowing that it came from her..."

"Oh wow..."

Natalia looked over at Ashlee to find the blonde's eyes as wide as saucers. There was a look of shocked understanding on the younger woman's face and for a second, Natalia was irritated that everyone seemed to get the joke but her.

Then it hit her.

"Oh..." The anger drained away quickly, leaving her feeling nothing but pity. "Uh..." She untangled herself from Frank's arms, brushing nervously at the hair that had fallen into her eyes. "Ashlee? We skipped lunch... You must be hungry. Why don't you... why don't you go on ahead..."

The blonde looked between the two of them uneasily. "Are you sure?"

"Yes." Natalia nodded. "Get us a table at Company and I'll meet you there in thirty minutes..."

Ashlee nodded slowly. "Okay. I'll... see you there... in half an hour."

Natalia waited until she had disappeared around the corner then turned back to Frank, her eyes full of sadness and compassion. "Frank-"

"Hey!" He cupped her face again. "Hey, hey, hey... there's no reason to look so sad!" He went to hug her again, sighing when Natalia placed a hand against his chest to keep him at a distance. "What's wrong?" He smiled gently.


"You haven't told her yet... is that it?" He shook his head. "Listen, I know you don't want to hurt her, but she really doesn't deserve your concern. I mean... she did wreck our wedding..."

"Frank!" She shoved harder when he tried to hold her again, her eyes flashing with anger. "Listen to me!"

"Okay..." He reached for the box. "But at least let me hold that, it looks heavy."

She turned away, pulling the box tightly against her side. "Don't touch it!" She knew her voice had been sharper than she intended when the detective froze, his eyes narrowing as he watched her closely.


Natalia sighed. "Frank... this isn't what you think it is."

He frowned. "That isn't a wedding dress?"

"It is... it is a wedding dress but... uhmm...." She licked her lips nervously. "It's not for you. It's not for us."

His face contorted in confusion. "Then... who is it for?"

She just stared at him, keeping her face carefully neutral until understanding dawned in his eyes.

"No..." He shook his head. "You can't be serious!"

"Why?" Natalia felt her anger return full force at the derision in his voice. "Why can't I be serious? I LOVE OLIVIA, Frank! That's what you do when you love someone! You get married, you share a home, a life..."

"A bed?" He sneered.

Natalia flushed.

"Have you even thought that far ahead?" His hands clenched into fists at his side. "Because if you think that Olivia is going to settle for holding your hand or a few simple kisses then you're fooling yourself!"

"Frank..." She said quietly. "I'm not the one fooling myself here...."

"Wait..." His nostrils flared and he began to swallow convulsively, like he had a bad taste in his mouth. "Are you..." He covered his mouth with one hand. "Are you saying that you want... that you want...Olivia... like that?" He ground his teeth together when she flushed even darker. "You've already... you've been with her haven't you?"

Natalia didn't answer. But she met his gaze straight on, setting her lips in a firm line; refusing to drop her eyes. She may have revealed more to him than she had intended, but there was nothing... nothing... about her relationship with Olivia that she would be made to feel ashamed of.

"Answer me!" When she didn't respond he grabbed her by the arms, his fingers digging in painfully. "Answer me, damn it!"

"Let go." Natalia tried to twist away but he only tightened his grip. "Take your hands off me!"

"Not until you answer me!"

"Why?" She stopped fighting. "Are you really in such a rush to know?" She shrugged sadly. "Fine. Olivia and I are lovers, Frank. We have been for weeks. In a lot of ways... we always were. Now let me go." She winced when his hands only gripped harder. "You're hurting me!"

Frank snorted, his eyes flat and dull as he stared into hers. "Why should I be the only one?" He began to pull her closer, ignoring her struggles to get away.

"Excuse me." They both turned their heads to find Davina standing a few feet away. Her arms were crossed, her gaze like ice; but her voice was deceptively mild. "The lady asked you to remove your hands."

"Mind your own business!" Frank growled.

"You're standing on my property, manhandling my friend." She raised one eyebrow. "I believe that makes it my business."

"Yeah? Well, I'm a cop! And I'm telling you to get back inside!"

"Or... what?" Davi tilted her head to one side, raking him over with a look of absolute boredom. "From what I can see you're the only one breaking the law here; something that I not only have on tape," She pointed over her head to a small security camera hanging from the wall. "But is also being witnessed by one of your fellow officers." She inclined her head across the street, smiling slightly when Frank paled.

He looked over his shoulder, blanching when he saw that Patrolman Michaels had exited his vehicle and was watching the situation closely; a look of intense disapproval on his face. Slowly, he dropped his hands to his sides. "This isn't over." He muttered before turning to look at Davina darkly. "And I have a feeling you and I will be seeing each other again."

"Well then..." She waved at someone over her shoulder. "Let me introduce you to my driver... Stevie."

The door to the shop opened and a striking young man stepped out to join them. He was very handsome, very gay... and the most muscular individual that Natalia had ever seen. She watched in awe as he went down on one knee by Davina's side, his dark blue eyes never leaving Frank's face.

Davina ran a hand across his shoulder lovingly. "Mmmm..." Her smile was wicked. "He is so pretty to look at, isn't he? And he does anything I ask him to." She traced the muscle of one bicep. "Would you like to know how much he can bench, Mr. Police Officer?"

"Detective." Frank muttered under his breath and Davina removed her hand. In one fluid motion Stevie was on his feet, his arm muscles bunching tightly as he balled his hands into fists.

Shaking his head, Frank backed up almost to the street before turning and crossing to his car. He waved at the patrolman to follow him and then screeched out of his parking space, leaving a trail of smoke and a line of rubber behind on the pavement.

Natalia took a deep breath. "Thank you." She whispered.

"You're welcome." Davina looked at her thoughtfully.

"It's a really long story."

"I think I've probably heard most of it." The shopkeeper smiled. "We all have a past, Natalia. The important thing is, you've found your future." She gently pulled up one of the brunette's sleeves, hissing at the angry red welts on her skin. "That's going to be ugly."

"Not as ugly as when Olivia finds out." Natalia sighed, sliding open her cell phone and dialing Ashlee's number.

Suddenly, Company was the last place she wanted to be.

"I totally understand." Ashlee stopped outside the back door to Company, nodding as she listened to Natalia on the other end of the phone. "I don't blame you at all. Are you sure you're okay?" She pursed her lips, looking at her watch. "Yeah it is kind of late. Okay, I'll talk to you tomorrow. Tell Olivia I said hi." She clicked the phone shut, dropping it into her bag as she glanced through the window. Her eyebrows shot up when she saw her mother sharing a booth with Blake Marler. They were sitting side by side, so close it was hard to tell them apart and she watched as Doris threw her head back and laughed at something the redhead was saying.

There was something open and easy about the way they were interacting. A simple kind of joy Ashlee had never seen in her mother with any of the eligible men she had paraded through their lives over the years. She looked...


Ashlee pulled the door open and went inside. She waved at her mother from the counter, sighing when the same wall she saw everyday came down across her mother's features. Blake looked back and forth between them and then slid out of the booth. She came up to Ashlee with a warm smile. "Can I get you something, hon?"

"Uhm... I have dinner plans... apparently... so, how about a muffin and some... iced tea?"

Blake nodded. "Why don't you go sit with your mom? I'll bring it over in a few minutes."

She returned the smile before walking over to her mother's booth and sliding in across from her. "Hey."

Doris smiled weakly. "Hello sweetheart!" She reached across the table and patted her daughter on the hand. "Haven't seen you much the last couple of days."

"Yeah, the wedding's been keeping me busy."

"The wedding... right." The mayor cleared her throat as her fingers played nervously with a napkin. "You... you doing all right with that?"

"Oh definitely! They are so sweet to each other! It's kind of like a fairy tale really."

"Yeah," Doris snorted. "Beauty and the Beast."

Ashlee rolled her eyes. "You're not fooling anyone, Mom. I know you care about them and I don't blame you. They're good people." She glanced at the papers littering the table top, letting her mother off the hook. "You look like you've been pretty busy too..." Her forehead furrowed in confusion. "Really busy. How long have you been here? Come to think of it, why aren't you at work? Isn't this about the time when you'd usually be calling to tell me you aren't going to make it home for dinner?"

Doris looked down at the table, her eyes sad, and Ashlee immediately regretted her words. "It's okay. I know you work hard, Mom. I always have."

The older woman nodded, brushing her fingers across her eyes quickly before linking their hands together again.

"So...uhm..." Ashlee squeezed her fingers. "I... wanted to tell you that..." She swallowed. "I have a date tonight."

Doris looked up, her eyes wide. "A date?" She smiled, leaning forward in excitement. "That's wonderful! It's about time someone realized how special you are!" She took a sip of her tea. "Do I know him?"

The blonde laughed nervously. "Ever been to Davina's Bridal out on Devlin?"

"A bridal boutique? I thought all of the guys who worked in those places were gay."

"Well..." Ashlee laughed. "You're half right."

"What do you mean?"

"About the gay part."

Doris blinked. "You're going on a date with a gay man? Isn't that a bit... pointless?"

"You know... it would be..." The young woman scratched the side of her neck before trailing her fingers down to her chin. "If.. it was..."

Her mom looked at her blankly. "If it was... what?"

"A he..."

Ashlee's voice was very low, making Doris lean in even closer as her brain tried to sort out what she thought she had heard. "If... who was a he?"

"If she was a he."

"She?" The mayor's mouth slammed shut. "You... have a date... with a girl...?"

Ashlee nodded, watching her closely.

"Is this..." Doris's eye darted around the table. "Uh... is this..." She thought hard, trying to find the right word. "Typical?"

"For me?" The young woman laughed nervously. "To be honest it kind of took me by surprise. But she asked, and I like her." She swallowed. "It doesn't... change how you feel about me does it?"

"What?" Doris grabbed both her hands, squeezing them tightly. "You listen to me! You are my daughter and I love you! There is nothing you could tell me that could ever make me love you any less. And if this is something that you want then..." She smiled through her tears. "Then I'm okay with it. I just want you to be happy."

"I don't know... where this might go... I might just end up with a good friend. But life is too short to let any chance at love pass you by." She looked over at Blake. "She's a nice woman Mom." She slid out of the booth, coming around to the other side to lean down and kiss her on the cheek. "You deserve to be happy, too."

She straightened just as Blake joined them, balancing a small tray that held a glass of tea and a warm muffin. "Are you leaving?" She asked, confused.

"Yeah, I have to get ready for a date." She plucked the muffin off its plate, nibbling on the edge as she winked at Doris. "That's how you do it, Mom." She nodded at Blake. "You can practice on her."

Laughing quietly at the look of shock on her mother's face, Ashlee slung her bag over her shoulder and headed for the door.

"Lucy!! I'm home!!" Olivia called out, the silly smile on her face making her cheeks hurt as she hung up her jacket. "You got some esplainin' to do!"

When there was no answer, she frowned. "Natalia?" Tossing her purse onto the couch she headed towards the most obvious place to find her wayward lover. The kitchen.

She wasn't disappointed.

Natalia stood next to the open door, one hip leaning up against the jam as she stared absently at the grass-covered hills in the distance. Her fingers played idly with the gold cross around her neck, tugging it up to her mouth where she ran the smooth metal slowly back and forth across her lips.

Olivia was mesmerized by the sight of her lover with the early evening sun washing over her face, turning her naturally tan skin even darker with its dusky red-gold hues. For one brief, panicked moment, she thought that she was having an episode with her heart; it kicked so hard in her chest. Then she realized that what she was feeling was an overwhelming mix of love, longing and happiness; three emotions she simply wasn't used to feeling all at once. Unable to function, she just stood and stared, pressing one shoulder against the wall as her breath quickened and her knees threatened to give out and topple her to the floor.

It took Olivia a full minute to get her heart rate under control and another before she could locate her voice. When she finally did, she said the first thing that popped into her head. "Kind of late in the season for that isn't it?"

Natalia blinked, jumping slightly before she looked over her shoulder, a strangely sad smile on her face. "Late for what?"

"Sweaters." Olivia came up behind her, wrapping her arms around the younger woman as she nuzzled her nose into her hair. "It's a bit warm to need one." She inhaled her lovers scent, sighing happily. "Unless…" She frowned, turning Natalia in her arms so that she could look at her closely. "You're not getting sick are you?" She laid her hand on the brunette's forehead.

"No!" She said softly. "Just…"

"Having second thoughts?"

Natalia shook her head, burying her face in Olivia's shoulder as she hugged the older woman tightly. Olivia's words had been said jokingly, but she knew deep down her lover still had her own issues with fear and rejection. "Never." She whispered. "This is right where I want to be… in your arms… forever."

The blonde pressed her lips together, swallowing heavily as she angled her head back, trying to keep the tears that were stinging her eyes from falling. "So what is it then?" She ran her hands down Natalia's arms, frowning when her lover made an odd noise. "Sweetheart, please… talk to me…"

Natalia just stared at her for a moment and then shook her head. "It's nothing." She pulled away, going to the cabinets to get out the dishes for their dinner.

Olivia rubbed the side of her neck as so studied her partner. "Is it the dress? Did something go wrong with the dress? You never came back to work this afternoon and when I ran into Ashlee…"

"Ashlee?" The brunette looked up sharply. "Where did you see Ashlee?"

Olivia shrugged. "At the Beacon. She stopped by my office to let me know she had checked on the caterers and the decorations before heading home. Apparently she has a date." She waggled her eyebrows, making the younger woman laugh softly.

"Did she… did she say anything else?"

The blonde frowned. "Just that you found the perfect dress…" She stepped closer, concern lining her features when Natalia paled slightly. "Honey, what is going on? Is it not what you wanted? Because we can take it right back…"

"No!" Natalia shook her head quickly before dropping her eyes to the floor. "It's… it really is the perfect dress. It's… pretty much the dress I dreamt of when I was a little girl." She sighed. "There are just… a couple things I didn't take into consideration."

"Like what?"

The brunette crossed her arms, rubbing her biceps absently. "It's sleeveless."

Olivia's smile was huge. "Really?" She moved in closer, not stopping until Natalia was trapped between her and the counter behind her. "So… I get to watch all that smooth…" She brushed Natalia's hands away, trailing her own fingers up and down her lover's arms. "…tan… delectable skin… as you walk down the aisle towards me?" She leaned down, nuzzling her lips against the brunette's pulse point and biting lightly.

"Uh…" Natalia swallowed, the words she was about to say forgotten when she felt teeth against her skin. Shifting slightly, she pulled Olivia more firmly against her, turning up her head to offer more of her throat. "I just… oh…" She took a deep breath. "I was just thinking that maybe I should… pick something else…"

"Why?" The older woman pulled back, staring at her incredulously. "You have the best arms in Springfield!"

"I do?"

"Mmmhmm…. Possibly the world…" She snaked her fingers inside Natalia's sleeves and began to pull them up. "But I think I have to inspect them again to judge accurately.

"You do huh?" The brunette caught her hands, pulling them away quickly and tucking them up under the sweater instead. When Olivia looked at her strangely she just shrugged. "Your fingers are cold."

"Oh." She leaned in closer, inching her fingers up the smooth expanse of Natalia's tummy. "Are you going to warm them up for me?"

"Maybe…" The younger woman whispered against her lips, her tongue coming out to flick against the lower one playfully. "If you're good."

"How good do I have to be?" Olivia crushed her body up against Natalia's as she tangled her fingers in her hair and kissed her hard. She had meant it to stop at just a kiss, but when brunette's tongue pushed back wetly, struggling against her own for dominance, she growled deep in he throat and slid her hands down, wrapping them around the backs of her thighs and using the purchase to lift the smaller woman up onto the counter.

"Olivia!" Natalia gasped.

The older woman didn't bother responding. Instead, she slid her hands between Natalia's knees, using them to push her legs open so that she could nestle between them. She wiggled her hips to get as close as possible, a wicked smile parting her lips when Natalia's head fell back slightly.


It was barely a whisper, but the want held in that one quiet word set fire to the blood in Olivia's veins. She took Natalia's face in her hands, kissing her long and hard before sliding her lips down her neck to the tops of her breasts, tugging down the neckline of the sweater to reach more skin.

"We… Olivia… we can't…" The brunette said weakly, her fingers lost in the soft golden down at the base of Olivia's neck. "Emma…"

"Is upstairs…" The older woman panted, her hand brushed over a swollen nipple, visible even through the thick knit material. "And if she does come down it will be like a pack of wild horses… screaming the whole way… Trust me, we'll hear her…" Her fingers closed on the pebbled flesh at the same time her teeth bit down, causing Natalia to writhe against her.

"Oh my god…."

Natalia shuddered in her arms and Olivia lost it completely.

She slid her left hand around Natalia's backside, using it to draw the smaller woman closer as her right hand began to drag the fabric of her skirt higher up her thigh. When her fingers finally grazed warm, damp silk, she groaned and tightened her grip.

"Wait!" Natalia pressed a hand against Olivia chest, pushing her away.

"Wait? What?" Olivia froze, blinking in confusion. "Why?"

"Because… because…" Natalia stared at her blankly for a moment. "Oh! Right… because we need to wait!"

"Wait because we need to wait?" Olivia frowned. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Just…" The younger woman took a deep breath, shaking her head. "Go stand over there!" She pushed Olivia towards the refrigerator. "I can't think when you're this close to me."

"You don't have to think…you don't have to do anything…" The blonde scooted up next to her again, leaning in to nuzzle her cheek. "Just… close your eyes and I promise I'll do all the work…"

Natalia laughed. "As… god… as tempting as that sounds…" She pushed her gently. "We can't."

Olivia moved away, slowly sinking into a chair at the table. "Did I… did I do something?"

"No!" Natalia touched her face tenderly before giving her a soft kiss. "Well… yes…"

"You do realize that your explanation is actually making me more confused…"

"I know…I know and I'm sorry." She sat down across from her, taking her hands and holding them tightly. "But you did do something. You made me want more."


"Yes." Natalia smiled brightly. "More… everything… all of it!"

Olivia shook her head. "I don't understand."

"I used to dream about what my wedding would be like some day, Olivia. That dream did not involve a quick ceremony because I wanted my already grown son to have a father nor did it include a rushed ceremony because I was trying to hide how much I loved somebody else." She felt her heart jump at the joyful in Olivia's eyes. "My dream was the big cake and the gorgeous white dress… the reception, the honeymoon… it was all of it."

"And you'll have that!" Olivia moved to the end of her chair, caught up in the younger woman's emotions. "I want you…I want us… to have all of that and more."

Natalia blushed. "It's the… the more… that I think you might have a problem with."

"Okay, I was right there with you and then you turned left somewhere…" Olivia laughed in frustration.

"I… want all of it… I want to wait."

"Wait? For wha-" The older woman's eyes went wide. "Oh you mean wait? But…but…" She sputtered. "We didn't wait… unless my dream life has gotten significantly better over the last year we most definitely did not wait…"

"I know that!" Natalia slapped her lightly on the arm. "I just meant… starting now. Do the traditional thing and wait… until we're married."

"But that's… so long…"

One eyebrow shot up as she looked at her sarcastically. "It's four days Olivia."

"Like I said!"

Natalia laughed. "It would mean a lot to me…" She saw her lover's resolve crumbling and pushed harder. "It would be so romantic… and old fashioned…"

"Old fashioned?" Olivia rubbed her forehead in frustration. "Old fashioned is... Old fashioned is...."

"A donut?" Emma supplied helpfully.

Both women started violently, spinning in their chairs to see the little girl standing in the entry way to the kitchen.

"What was that you were saying about horses?" Natalia muttered under her breath.

But Olivia wasn't paying attention. She threw one hand up in the air as she pointed at their daughter. "Yes! A donut! Thank you baby."

"Welcome." Emma scrambled up into the chair across from them.

Natalia shook her head, glancing at the little girl nervously before turning back to her fiancé with an amused smile. "So… would you rather have a donut tonight… or wait for four days and have some of the sweetest cake you've ever had in your life?"

"You don't fight fair." The blonde grumbled. She took Natalia's face between her hands. "We... we are not old fashioned people!"

Natalia covered Olivia's hands with her own as her eyes narrowed, her lips forming one of those 'mom' smiles that always meant the argument was over. "This week we are." She kissed the older woman quickly, nuzzling her ear as she whispered. "You'll survive."

"Yeah..." Olivia pouted. "But will I want to!!"

The room went completely silent as Olivia brooded and Natalia watched her sympathetically.

Emma looked back and forth between her two mommies. "So… are there donuts?"

"Jellybean… time for bed!" Olivia called up the stairs, shrugging when Natalia threw her a chastising look. "What?"

"Don't yell up the stairs." She grabbed the older woman by the hand and tugged her back down onto the couch. "You're setting a bad example."

Olivia winked. "It's what I'm best at." She sighed happily when Natalia snuggled into her side, trying not to laugh when the younger woman yawned adorably. "Are you kidding me?" She brushed the hair out of her eyes. "It's not even seven-thirty!"

Natalia covered her mouth with her hand, blushing slightly that she had been caught. "I know... but it was a long day. I guess the stress finally caught up with me."

"Stress? From picking out a wedding dress?" She tightened her arms around the other woman. "I thought that would have been fun."

"Oh…" The younger woman looked away quickly. "It was… but…dealing with the assistant hitting on Ashlee and then getting Ashlee to agree to the date…" She hedged. "It's a lot of work helping someone open up to new possibilities."

"You don't say?" Olivia smiled, dodging the playful slap aimed at her arm. "So… what's this guy like anyway? Must be interesting if he's a seamstress…" She trailed off when she noticed Natalia looking at her oddly. "What?"

"Ashlee didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"That the assistants name… is Amy."

Olivia stared at her, her mouth hanging open until Natalia reached out and gently closed it. "What…who…how?"

The brunette shrugged. "The opportunity arose and… Ashlee took it."

"That's…." The blonde laughed. "That's kind of amazing."

"Well, Ashlee is kind of amazing."

"I'm beginning to realize that."

Natalia leaned upwards, capturing Olivia's lips in a long, slow, toe curling kiss. "Come to bed?" She whispered when they finally broke apart.

Olivia sighed. "It's bad enough I have to lay there and not make love to you… do you have to prolong my agony further?"

"But I'm so sleepy." She laid her head on the blonde's shoulder. "And I really want you in bed with me…" She looked up at Olivia, batting her big brown eyes. "Please?"

"Oh, so not fair!" Olivia sighed. "Fine, but I get the bathroom first."

Natalia grinned happily, wiggling her way out of the older woman's embrace and holding her hand out to pull her up off the couch. "Go on up… I'm going to clean up dessert and then I'll join you."

Twenty minutes later, Olivia stepped out of the bathroom, smiling when she walked right into her lovers arms.

"Hey Oliver." Natalia giggled.

"You know..." The blonde growled. "I don't think I like you hanging out with Ashlee."

"Mmmm." The younger woman leaned her head to the side, breathing in deeply as she tangled her fingers in long, damp hair. "You smell nice."

"Yeah, well… I figured a cold shower might be in order… considering…"

"Oh, don't pout!" She ran her fingers across Olivia's lips. "You are cute when you do though."

The older woman rolled her eyes, "Go get ready for bed." She slap her lover lightly on the ass as she walked by, earning a surprised yelp.

"You're going to pay for that." Natalia promised.

Olivia threw her hands up in the air. "I already am!"

She waited until the bathroom door closely firmly and she heard the lock click over before her fake frown turned into a smirk. Untying the belt of her robe, she let it fall to the floor, sliding naked into the cool, crisp sheets.

If Natalia was going to make her suffer… she could inflict a little torture of her own.

She adjusted the covers until there was no way to tell she was actually naked then lay back, humming happily to herself. She was so comfortable she drifted off, waking when she heard the light switch off next to the bed. She opened her eyes to total darkness.


There was no answer, but she felt the covers beside her being pulled back and then the bed dip down. She waited until the smaller woman had completely stilled before smiling to herself and sliding over, pressing up tightly against the other woman from behind.

"What the..!" She jumped back slightly. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"I'm coming to bed."

"But… but… you're naked!"

The younger woman smirked. "So are you."

"Yeah but… you said we couldn't do anything! Did you think crawling into bed naked would make that any easier?"

"You seemed to think it would." Natalia leered at her rakishly. "Besides I didn't say we couldn't do anything. I said we couldn't have sex. I'm Catholic, remember?"

Olivia blinked. "What does that mean?"

Natalia slid closer, fitting her breasts snugly beneath Olivia's. "It means…" She traced one finger down the other woman's chest, circling it around her nipple. "…that I know a lot of things we can do that aren't...quite...sex..." She punctuated each of her words with small nips of her teeth against Olivia's flesh. Each bite was harder than the last, each leaving in its wake a red mark that would take days to fade.

Olivia closed her eyes, groaning when she felt smooth skin slide like liquid across her own. "Jesus…" She grabbed Natalia by the arms. She heard a sharp intake of breath and then there was nothing but Natalia's lips pressed roughly against her own and hands that seemed to be everywhere except where she really needed them to be.

And yet somehow… it was still enough.


To Be Continued

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