otalia fan fiction
An Otalia Wedding
It's 2029 and there's an Otalia wedding brewing that features siblings Emma, Rafe, Ava, Francesca and Elena. 
Violating the Rules
Blis (Blake/Doris) tale that mirrors the Otalia story set during the '1 year later' timeframe of Guiding Light with Olivia and Natalia trying to play matchmaker to the couple. 
Best Man Speech
Olivia tries to get to the heart of why Rafe dislikes her so much. 
Carino
Nothing but some NC-17 sexy smut. 
First Kiss... Revised
Story from Natalia's POV as she confesses sleeping with Frank.  
Frienemies
Upset that Natalia left her without a word, Olivia heads to ladies night to pick someone up only to find Doris who saves her from a mistake...or does she?  
Funny Shapes or Rounds
Two lovers enjoy the 'morning after' until a daughter demands breakfast. 
Girls Night Out
Natalia returns from the retreat but Olivia wants nothing to do with her. So Doris offers to take Olivia on a buddy adventure.
I Get By With a Little Help From My... Enemies
Doris offers a little bit of friendly advice and prodding to help Olivia and Natalia jump start their relationship.
I'll Be Home For Christmas
Olivia's closing a major deal in the Northeast but bad weather keeps her from getting to Springfield.
Like I Always Am
This was an altered reality/ what if story I wrote for my friend Dragonwriter who proposed, "What if Olivia didn't 'wake up' after her heart test & Natalia kissed her?"
Loving You Both
Olivia finds a way to help Natalia balance their love and her lovers' faith in God. 
Lunch Counter Confessions
Olivia gossips with Doris and Blake about Natalia and the wonders of lesbian sex.
Matt? Really?
This story was written on a daily/weekly basis and used spoilers following Natalia's return from the retreat. 
It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Natalia reflects on a Christmas past and their first Christmas with newborn Francesca. 
Merry Christmas Baby
A sexy NC-17 sequel to my Christmas 2009 story, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” 
One Kiss
Otalia’s first kiss told from one of the character’s perspective. ‘Nuff said.
Pass The Potato Salad
In this tale, pregnant Natalia goes to the BBQ, not the retreat. 
Promises Promises
Set a year after the infamous Bauer Barbecue, Natalia tells Olivia she'll 'meet her there' when she ends up running late and it stirs up old feelings. 
Road Trip 
Story based on spoilers that Doris and Olivia were going on a road trip to find Natalia. 
Score One for Natalia Rivera
Olivia's ex's gossip about her prowess as a lover and a drunken Natalia joins the conversation.
This isn't Supposed to Happen
Our gals late night musings as they lie in bed. 
Tonight It Feels Like Home
Olivia is back in the farmhouse again and trying to find a comfort level she once had before Natalia's bolt to the retreat. 
Two Mommies (Take Two)
Rafe examines the relationship of his mother and Olivia. 
Supply & Demand
Olivia and Natalia take Francesca trick or treating and the youngster learns a lesson in marketing. 
Dimples
A collection of short stories about Francesca Spencer told from various family members point of view with each chapter representing a year from her life. 
Until Death
Dark tale of what might have happened if Natalia went through with the wedding.
 

Title: Pass The Potato Salad 

Author: CN Winters

Rating: PG

Genre: Angsty Romance

Pairing: Otalia

Summary: What if Natalia DID go to the Barbeque instead of the retreat with news of her pregnancy?

Standard Disclaimer Ahead: Guiding Light is a product of Proctor & Gamble (like Mr. Clean, Duracell and Old Spice), and appears on CBS at the time of writing this. The characters are the creative property of the show and its producers – I'm just borrowing them for my amusement, and hopefully for those few souls who read this.

Pass The Potato Salad – Part I

How is this happening? How is this even possible? Okay, I slept with Frank. That’s how…This is a test from God – it has to be, and one of the biggest ones I’ve faced since he’s given me the gift of Olivia’s love. I just need-.

"We’re here," Blake says from the driver’s seat.

I look out the window and see the convent; the retreat is only steps away now. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts I hadn’t noticed we’d arrived. But as I look out the windshield, everything about leaving feels wrong. I know this isn’t where I belong.

"Can you take me back?" I ask.

"Where? To Springfield?"

I simply nod.

"Uh, okay," Blake says confused. "But I thought you wanted to reflect on everything. You’ve got some big decisions to make, Natalia."

"Yes. I know. And they’re decisions I can’t make alone…Please?"

Blake nods and puts the car into gear. About a half hour later we arrive at my house, dropping off my suitcase. She says she planned on heading back to the barbeque, so I tag along.

"Can you do me another favor?" I can hear the timid tone in my own voice as she puts her car in park at the Bauer house. I feel like I’ve become such a burden to this woman, but she smiles reassuringly anyway.

"Certainly."

"Can you ask Phillip to look after Emma while you bring Olivia out here to me? This might take awhile."

At first, she seems reluctant. I know she has a history with Phillip, and not all of it positive. Still, in light of that, she says, "Yeah, I can do that. You’ll wait here?" I nod in response. "Okay. Sit tight. I’ll be back."

She leaves the car running as she walks inside, and after a few minutes, I pull the keys from the ignition and stand outside. It’s not that hot out today and I can’t see the sense in wasting her gas. I’ve already done enough of that with her driving me around town while I think. I put the keys in my pocket as I listen to the gathering in the backyard. From the amount of noise, I can tell there are tons of people here, so I’m grateful that I decided to meet Olivia out front. I’m still not sure what I’ll say. Should I ease into it or should I just blurt it out? I can’t decide and before I have the chance to consider it any longer I hear Olivia’s concerned voice behind me.

"Natalia?"

I turn and I wave her toward me. I can see the look on her face from here. It’s a mix of nervousness and sadness. I can tell that she thinks I’ve changed my mind; that I’m embarrassed or ashamed of our love. The truth is I DO feel embarrassment and shame right now, but it has nothing to do with her. Somehow, twenty years later, I managed to find myself in the exact same position - unmarried, pregnant and unsure of where my life is heading.

As she approaches, I nervously play with my fingernails.

"Are you okay?" she asks, although she already knows the answer. I don’t reply. She takes me by both elbows and pulls me slightly closer.

No, I’m not okay. I’m anything BUT okay. I’m a girl in trouble, again, twenty years later.

"What’s wrong?" she asks.

"I’m pregnant."

That answered one question. I went with ‘just blurt it out’.

She shakes her head and then looks at me again.

"You’re pregnant?" she asks.

I nod. "I just found out yesterday. I wanted to say something then, but you were so excited about the barbeque and-."

"You’re pregnant?" she repeats.

I can tell she’s absorbing this information, so this time I only nod.

She blinks several times. "How?…Who?…When?"

Seems neither one of us can form complete thoughts at the moment. But something occurs to me when I hear the hardness in her voice. She thinks I’m recently pregnant; that I cheated on her after we’d declared our love.

"It’s Frank’s," I tell her quickly. "Remember? It was right after Coop died."

I can tell by the look on her face that she’s computing the time in her mind.

"But that was like four-five months ago?"

"I know," I tell her, unable to hide the worry in my voice.

"How could you not know?" she asks in disbelief.

Now I’m feeling defensive.

"I’ve never had regular periods. I haven’t had any symptoms until recently. Heck, I thought my nausea was the flu until Blake made a comment about us."

"She said something about us?" she replies, sounding miffed at Blake.

"No, nothing bad. She said if I wasn’t with you she might suspect I was pregnant. So I took a test after you and I got back from the market yesterday... It came back positive."

"Well, maybe it was just a bogus result," Olivia offered.

"I thought that too, so Blake took me to the hospital for a blood test and-."

"Blake took you?" she asked, her voice rising. "You went to Blake with this before me?"

At this point I can only nod as I continue, "I didn’t want to worry you for nothing, but that test was positive too…so…we’re gonna have a baby. Or…I’m gonna have a baby. I mean, I’m not dumb. You didn’t sign on for any of this." I can feel the tears start to well up in my eyes and I try to push them down. "Emma is halfway to adulthood and Ava’s already grown. You might not want to start all over again with the diapers, and the bottles and the midnight feedings and... You may not want to be a part of my life now that…"

I can’t stand the thought of her leaving me and I bury my face in my hands in fear of her resentment. I can’t stand to see the look of abandonment on her face so I choose to hide.

Yes, this might be a test from God and perhaps this baby is a blessing. But she might not see it that way. She might see this child as an anchor around her neck. That though makes me start to cry in earnest and I begin to mourn for her love that I’m certain I’ve lost.

"Shhh," I hear her say as she wraps her arms around me. "Settle down. Just focus on breathing, okay?"

I take a few deep breaths and wipe my eyes. "There’s more," I say.

"More?" she asks incredulously.

"I left today," I confess. "Blake was going to take me to a retreat because my first reaction was…"

"What?"

"I thought God was trying to send me a message that I should have stayed with Frank."

Her arms drop and she takes a step back, but I’m not letting her get away and I step up and put my hands on her hips.

"Please hear me out?"

She doesn’t answer, but I continue anyway.

"That feeling didn’t last long though, because I looked at everything that led us to each other. The more I considered it all, the more I realized that our love truly is a design of God – and God makes no mistakes. This love – our relationship was meant to be. And this child isn’t a curse, but a blessing because the one thing you wished for was the possibility of me having more children to raise in a loving home. You said it was the one thing that Frank could give me that you couldn’t, remember?" She nods and I continue, "I see it now…God is granting us that. But I didn’t see it at first, which is why I was going to go to the retreat. I had to sort things out and my plan was to have Blake tell you I wasn’t coming because I-I just…I was so ashamed and the truth is part of me still is."

"That’s why you didn’t tell me; why you haven’t talked to me?"

I nod. "That and the fact I didn’t want to face you, and therefore face the prospect that you’d leave me." Again, I tear up as I feel old wounds from 20 years ago reopen. "Last time this happened…the people I loved more than anything tossed me aside. And the love I feel for you is a million times stronger, which means the pain would be a million times worse. Like I said, you didn’t agree to having another child and I couldn’t bare…"

losing your love.

I have to finish the thought in my head because I’m crying too hard again to speak. But I suddenly feel her lips on my forehead and I get my sobs under control.

"I’m sorry," I whimper.

"For what?" she asks gently as her hands cup my cheeks. I feel her thumbs brush away the tears and the affectionate gestures steadies me for a moment.

"Everything," I whisper.

"No. Don’t. You said it - this child is a gift. Of course, I’m not sure how Frank’s going to feel about it all. We could be in for quite a battle. Have you told him yet?"

I shake my head. "You, Blake and a doctor at the hospital are the only ones who know. Oh, and Father Ray – he suggested I go away."

"Go figure," she sighs.

"Olivia, he was only trying to offer me help to sort things out."

"I doubt that."

"I told him my insecurities that perhaps God was telling me I should have married Frank."

"I’m sure he couldn’t wait to agree."

"But he didn’t. He said he didn’t know what God’s plan was for me. He could have played on all my insecurities, used my faith against you and I, but he didn’t, Olivia. I honestly believe he wanted me to go for my best interest."

She shakes her head. "Let’s not argue about Father Ray, alright? You stayed and…we’ll deal with it…together."

For the first time since finding out the news, I suddenly feel hopeful.

"You want to raise this child with me then?"

"I can’t think of anything else I’d want more," she replies firmly and with a sincerely smile.

I have to smile too and I take her hand.

"It’s our Independence Day – and a bit ironic in a way," I tell her.

"How do you figure?"

"Our Independence Day starts with being shackled to another child." That comment makes her snort. "Seriously though, are you sure you want my baggage?"

She chuckles now. "Dear, I have enough baggage to live in Europe for a year, maybe two. A baby is a walk in the park by comparison."

I smile and tighten my grip on her hand. "So you are ready to come out?"

"I’ve been ready," she says with great certainty.

"I know you have, even when I wasn’t."

"But are you ready now?"

I smile. "Aside from a healthy child for us, there’s nothing I want more, so lead the way."

She places my hand around her upper arm and escorts me around toward the backyard.

Part II

So she’s pregnant…and she left…But she came back. She had a moment of doubt, but she came back. So I should feel happy, right? I tighten my hold on Natalia’s hand as we round the corner of the house. So why don’t I feel any better?

Blake heads toward us. At first, her face is unreadable, but then she begins to smirk. I look over and I see Natalia smiling at the woman.

"So…?" Blake asks as she approaches us.

"I told her," Natalia replies and squeezes my hand. "And she’s staying."

Blake smiles even wider. "That’s wonderful. Congratulations." She turns to me. "She really loves you, ya know? You better not mess this up. She’s a sweet lady."

"The sweetest," I find myself replying as I grin.

Blake leans closer towards us. "Are you telling Frank today?" she whispers.

We both shake our heads.

"No, mum’s the word," Natalia says before I say anything. Blake takes it as unspoken request to keep quiet and nods in agreement. "Besides, we have to tell Emma we’re a couple first," she adds. She quickly turns to me with a hopeful expression. "We are still going to tell her, right?"

But you almost left me.

"Yeah," I say instead, unsure if I can add more.

Like always, Natalia seems to pick up on how my mood is betraying my words. She continues to look at me as she reaches into her own pocket and pulls out Blake’s keys. Her outstretched hand extends to Blake and she talks to the strawberry blonde while never taking her eyes off me.

"Here you go," she says, still maintaining eye contact with me. "Could you get us two waters while I speak to Olivia?"

Blake knows something is up, but she’s not sure what it is, so she mutely agrees and walks away.

"You don’t want to tell Emma, do you?" Natalia asks.

Yesterday, when I was certain of us, yes. Today when you’ve had doubts, no.

"I don’t want to hurt her," I reply trying to keep my voice steady. "I-I don’t want to hurt myself. If we tell her then…it’s real; we’re…real…and…"

"What’s wrong with real? I thought you wanted real. I want real."

"Do you?" I can hear the challenge in my own voice and it saddens me. With the way her eyes water up I see my words saddens her too and I find myself rambling. "Just an hour ago you were going to walk away without a word because you thought God wanted you with Frank," I explain. Now her bottom lip starts to quiver.

Just shut up Spencer. Stop while you’re behind. God, I hate the Bauer Barbeque - nothing good ever happens for me here. I don’t know why I come to this goddamn thing every year. Next year, it’s wennies and sparklers in the backyard of the farmhouse.

"I shouldn’t have told you," she mutters dejectedly, pulling me from my thoughts.

Or maybe you’ll be at the farmhouse alone because she hates you.

"No," I answer louder than I originally intended. This makes her look up and meet my eyes. "I’m glad you told me…and…I’m not glad too…Look…" I sigh, frustrated with myself for confusing her, and even confusing myself a little in the process. "It’s like this: I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me everything, even stuff I might not like. I’m just not happy about some of the stuff you had to say."

"That’s true of any relationship, Olivia. But I think without honesty you’ll never make it as a couple. Of course, if you look at my history of romantic relationships, I can count them on one hand, so what in the world do I know?"

My hand cups her cheek. "Far more than me sometimes." She grins at the compliment. "I’m just… worried. I’m scared that I’ll love you and…you’ll leave me – not because of some bonehead thing I do, and believe me I’ve done some really bonehead thing in past relationships. I just…I worry you’ll leave because of your church, or your friends, or even total strangers who want to judge us."

"You think my love for you isn’t strong enough to survive an onslaught of…unfavorable public opinion?"

"Yes! That’s a great way to put it."

She pulls my head down toward her shoulder so her mouth is only inches away from my ear.

"I’m only gonna say this once," she begins. "I’m not a vulgar woman, but I think this will help me make my point… I don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks about us."

My head shoots up in response.

"Right here is all that matters," she continues as she waves a finger between us. "Understand?"

The last sentence isn’t really a question. It’s the same tone she brought out when she used to battle me about taking care of myself after my surgery. It was the ‘I’m not taking your shit’ Rivera – I liked many parts of Natalia, and truth be told, this one was one of my favorites; even if it was directed against me from time-to-time. I find myself grinning and nodding in response.

"Now kiss me and let’s go find our daughter."

I smile at her use of the term ‘our daughter. I move closer, but then I see Phillip wearing an evil smirk, motioning toward an unsuspecting Rick, whom he’s standing behind. He’s egging me on to kiss my girlfriend and I start to giggle and shake my head before I can close the distance to Natalia’s lips.

"So kissing me makes you laugh now?" Natalia asks.

"No," I say as I take her face in my hands. "I’ll explain in a few minutes."

I spare a glance one more time to see Phillip tap Rick on the shoulder and motion toward Natalia and I.

Phillip’s been good about everything. I need to give him this.

I close my eyes as I bridge the distance between Natalia and myself. Our lips collide gently at first and after a few seconds of nipping at the supple flesh, we deepen the kiss as tongues explore for a few moments. I feel her hand slide around the small of my back, pulling me closer. A few more seconds pass and I feel a slight push to my abdomen. She and I both pull back instantly and look down at our stomachs.

"Did you feel that?" she asks.

Hell, yes, I felt it. I have to smile.

"I think we have a field goal kicker or a soccer player in the making," she giggles.

"Is that the first time you’ve felt anything?" I ask.

She nods excited. "It’s a sign," she says. "He’s happy he’s going to have two mommies." The use of the word ‘him’ makes me feel uneasy. I think of Rafe and it must show on my face. "What’s wrong?" she asks.

"Nothing," I wave it off. I don’t want to worry her about something she can’t control.

"Really?" she asks sounding annoyed. "Didn’t we just talk about opening up, saying things that might hurt, and so on? What were you thinking just a second ago? Be honest."

"I wish his brother could be just as excited about us. There. I said it and I’m sorry if that hurts you."

"Why would it?" Before I can answer, she continues, "I agree. I’d hope Rafe would be excited for us too. But Rafe is an adult. I’m not gonna baby him or hold his hand anymore. I’m done with that. When I said I didn’t care what anyone else thinks about us, that included Rafe…and the Coopers and Alan and Father Ray…and anyone else who wants to berate us. So let me state it again…." She motions between us and then grabs me gently by the lapels of my jean jacket, giving me a slight shake, "…we’re all that matters. Now kiss me again…or else."

I like the playful tone in her voice and it puts my fears to rest…for now. When we finally move apart, I look back over to see Phillip, Josh, Matt and Rick standing around the barbeque grill. Matt and Rick are totally slack jawed while Phillip and Josh are giggling like schoolboys. Could I be upset by their laughter? Sure, if I thought it was at Natalia’s expense and mine. But I know it’s not. I know that, even if the town hates us, our family included, they’ll still care and support us.

"I guess we had an audience," Natalia says a bit bashful.

"Don’t get mad with this next question, but… are you ashamed?" I ask.

"Of us? No, not at all. But I do feel a bit unnerved thinking that…"

"What?"

"I think they, uh, liked that a lot - too much even."

I burst out laughing as we walk toward the barbeque.

"I told you guys I wasn’t looking," I say as I raise Natalia’s hand to show it locked with mine.

Rick and Matt are still both speechless as Frank walks over to the cooler to get a beer. He notices me holding Natalia’s hand and takes a deep breath before quickly turning away. I can tell he’s doing his best to avoid us and makes a hasty exit.

"Wo-wo-wo…" Matt’s trying really hard to form words and it makes Natalia and I both grin widely. "Would you do that again?" he asks, finally managing to get the words out.

"Absolutely," Natalia said as she brushes my hair behind my ear with her free hand. She runs her hand down my cheek seductively and that’s pretty much all it takes for me to feel a puddle of arousal growing between my legs. "But not for your amusement," she tells him. "Only hers."

Rick clears his throat. "That’s just…oh damn."

Josh and Phillip continue to giggle from behind.

"Have you seen our daughter?" I ask my ex.

"She’s inside with Maureen," he replies. "I’ll go get her."

I nod my thanks and turn to Natalia. "Where’s Blake with our water?" I wonder out loud.

"Rick, here," Josh motioned, "he sent her on a food run to the store. It seems he decided to hold a barbeque, but forgot all of the food." He closed the distance between them. "So…you two, huh?"

"You gotta problem with that," I say half in jest; half serious.

"Are you both happy?" he asks as he looks back and forth between us.

"Very," Natalia answers for us.

He then looks to me.

"Very," I mimic.

He nods in approval.

"Do me a favor?" he asks Natalia. He doesn’t wait for a reply and says, "Don’t hurt her. She’s been hurt by enough people, myself included. And although you probably know this by now, she’s not as tough as she lets on so…be firm; but gentle."

"I’m way ahead of you," she replies.

That’s my girl. I grin.

"I think you’ve met your match," he tells me.

"I have," I answer with great sincerity.

Before we can say more Emma comes racing out and who does she run to? Of course. Natalia. And I have to smile as my daughter – correction, our daughter, wraps her arms around Natalia’s legs.

"You made it!" she says excited.

"I did!" is her response.

I smile as Natalia strokes Emma’s hair. I look up to see Phillip smiling too. Even he can see the love between these two is genuine.

"Why don’t we get some Popsicles and go under that big tree over there? What do you say?" Natalia suggests.

"Okay!" And with that Emma bolts over to the cooler and holds up three wrappers. She starts to come back but stops. "What about Rafe? Can he come?"

We look at each other. "Not right now, Sweetie," Natalia offers. "I want to spend a little Emma time first, okay?"

Emma nods, satisfied with that response. I snag a blanket off one of the chairs as we walk over to the tree.

"Your mom and I wanted to talk to you," Natalia told her.

"What about?" Emma asks as she dives teeth first into her Popsicle. How this child can bite into ice is a mystery to me. I don’t dwell on the though because I know Natalia is expecting me to begin.

Here goes nothing; or everything. "I love Natalia and she loves me."

She nods. "I love her too."

"Yes, we all love each other," I continue. "But I love Natalia more than a best friend. I love her like mommies and daddies love each other. Some families have a mom and dad. Others have just one mommy or one daddy and others have two moms or two dads. Do you know what I mean, Em?"

Emma is computing this and I look to Natalia. "Not really," she answers.

I’m suddenly nervous, but Natalia is the picture of cool and speaks up.

"Your mom and I love each other as friends, but also romantically. Remember those butterfly feelings you have for Steve?"

Emma shakes her head. "I like Jake now," she says.

"Oh," Natalia replied. "Okay, well I like your mom and she likes me the same way you like Jake."

"But you’re both girls," Emma replies. "Does that mean you’re lesbians now?"

Wow. No one’s really asked that bluntly. Leave it to Bean to do the honors. And how does she know what a lesbian is?

"How do you know what a lesbian is?" I find myself asking out loud.

"Ellen is a lesbian and she’s gotta wife - that actress lady that’s named after a car."

Natalia and I both snort. "Okay, then," I tell her.

"So?" Emma asks.

"So what?"

"Are you lesbians now?"

How do I answer that when I’m not even sure?

"When it comes to your mom, yes, I am," Natalia answers firmly. What a fantastic answer. "I’d like to marry her someday like Ellen and Portia."

"Portia!" Emma says excited. "That’s her name!"

"Yes, and I think if you asked your mom she’d says she feels the same way about me."

"Yes, I do," I agree.

"And my wish is that you and your mom will come back to the farmhouse," Natalia continues

"For good?" Emma asks excited.

"Yes, for good," Natalia says with great certainty. Emma launches herself at Natalia and I quickly reach out to help lessen the impact. They are smiling and laughing as they both tumble over on the blanket.

"Can we go pack right now?" Emma asks impatiently.

Natalia and I both chuckle. "No, Bean. But soon, okay?"

"This is so great! Can I tell Rafe we’re gonna really be like brothers and sisters now?"

"Bean," I say trying to get her to calm down. "Rafe’s not as happy about this as you are."

"Why not?" she asks.

"Well, he doesn’t think I’m a good match for his mom," I answer.

"It’s more than that Jellybean," Natalia replies. "He’s one of the people, like Derek’s parents, who don’t understand that love is love, not matter what kind of package it comes in. He doesn’t understand how close we’ve all gotten over all these months. But please don’t think for a moment it’s about you, okay? Rafe loves you very much."

"Maybe he should live with us too so he can see how we’re all a family and how much fun it is?"

"I’d like that someday," Natalia tells her. "But I don’t think he’s ready. It’s a decision he’ll have to make on his own."

"And Bean," I tell her, "you need to know now that when we do move back, we’ll have a few new rules."

"Like what?"

"Like knocking on doors before you come in," Natalia says.

"Right, and I’ll be in Natalia’s room when we move in again."

"Well, it’ll be our room; not my room," Natalia insists before she turns to Emma. "The room your mom used to stay in will be Rafe’s in case he decides to come home."

"What else?" Emma asks.

"Natalia and I might be acting different like cuddling on the sofa when watching a movie."

"You do that now."

Natalia and I look at each other. "Okay, but we might be holding hands."

Emma giggles. "You do that now."

"Okay, there might be kissing," I say frustrated. "I know we don’t do that now."

"Sure you do," Emma mutters as she finishes off the last of her Popsicle. "You just think I don’t see."

"When did you-?" Natalia begins.

"By the pond, in the barn, in the kitchen-," she rattles off sounding bored.

"Hey!" I point a finger at her. "You weren’t supposed to be spying."

"I wasn’t. You just kiss each other A LOT," Emma says in an exaggerated tone. "I’m bound to see SOMETHING."

"Well," I begin, "From now on, no more hiding. So…is there anything you want to ask us?"

Emma looked skyward for a moment as she considered the question.

"No. May I go play with Maureen again?"

I wave my hand. "Scoot."

Emma smiles broadly and takes off running back toward the house.

"I think we made her day," Natalia says as she settles back against me.

It’s a feeling of extremes – the roughness of the bark against my back and the softness of Natalia leaning against my front.

"Hey?" she says softly.

"Hey what?"

"Do you think Phillip might take Emma for the night?"

"Perhaps. I could ask him. Did you have anything in mind?"

She turns and curls into my shoulder. "I want to make love to you tonight."

Did I just hear that right? "Come again?" I ask.

"Come again," she snorts. "I know there’s a naughty joke in their somewhere."

"Poor choice of words."

"Is it?" she asks as she leans up and places a tender yet teasing kiss on my ear lobe. "I mean if you’re not ready Olivia, I won’t push-."

"I’m ready. At least, I think I’m ready. I mean, are you ready?"

And why can’t I stop saying the word ‘ready’ for God’s sake?

"I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t." She turns back around and settles into my embrace again. "I told you, I want everything that two people in love share, raising children, snuggling under trees and yes, sex." She intertwines my fingers with hers. "I want to take you. I want give myself to you…I…want it all, but, if you’re still not certain-."

"I’m certain," I tell her more firmly this time. "And I’ve never wanted anyone more."

"Oh, you say that to all the girls," she teases me.

I giggle nervously. "Do not. I don’t even say that to all the guys, or any guy for that matter."

"Please."

"It’s true. Call my a sap-."

"Sap."

I slap her arm playfully. "I’m being serious…I’ve truly never desired anyone like I desire you, not ever."

She shifts position and straddles my lap. Her hands stroke the side of my face for a few moments and I close my eyes, soaking up the feeling.

"Tonight then?" she asks hopefully with an eagerness that surprises me.

"Tonight," I tell her as I open my eyes.

Her lips almost make contact with mine when we both hear Rafe sigh.

"God, Ma. Here? Really? In front of all these people?"

Her eyes are closed at first and as she opens them I see a fire in them. It's not passion or even anger. It's conviction. She looks over her shoulder at Rafe casually, not turning her body around completely.

"I'm glad you're here," she begins, totally ignoring his disgust. "Have a seat."

He's got on that sarcastic, know-it-all grin on his face. "If you think I'm sitting here with you on her lap then-."

"Sit down!"

I'm surprised by the stern timbre in her voice. The force of it makes both Rafe and myself jump slightly. It even turns a few heads in our direction, including Frank's.

"Please," she adds politely, her tone quieter and more diplomatic now that she has his full attention.

With all eyes now on him, Rafe decides to take a seat. I'm sure he's hoping that in doing so it will steer everyone back to their own conversations that were going on prior to his mother's authoritative voice boomed through the area. I try to hide my smirk I feel coming on that's a result of Natalia's small victory in the battle of wills with Rafe. Feeling confident herself that she's won this part of the challenge, she slides off my lap and settles next to me so she can face Rafe.

"Now what?" he asks.

"Now, you will stop behaving like an ass," Natalia begins. He starts to grumble a protest and she holds up a finger. "Enough!" she warns him. "I'm talking and you will have a chance to talk too because that's what grown-ups do. You take turns. Now, somewhere along the line, I failed you as a mother."

"Ma, you didn't fail. It's her-."

"No interrupting," she tells him. Again, he gets quiet. "You will have a chance to speak. I promise. Now it's my turn." He reluctantly nods. "I said I failed you as a mother because you think the world owes you something just because you're here."

Rafe tries to argue. "That's not true."

"Bullshit." My eyes and Rafe's go wide at the vulgarity.

She sounds like a drunken sailor today...I kinda like it actually. Is that horrible?

Natalia continues, "And as your mother, you feel I'm supposed to give my entire existence over to you. But neither of these points are not true. You earn love and respect Rafe, it's not unconditional for anyone. Olivia has earned my love and respect, but you haven't been here to see it." Rafe looks like he wants to argue. "And I know why you weren't here. You were in prison. You went to prison because, accident or not, you let your emotions control your actions and nearly killed a man in the process. I got news for you, Son. You're doing it again. Only this time you're not physically killing someone. You're doing it emotionally. Our relationship is dying and it's your choosing, not mine. I want you to move back into the farmhouse when Olivia and Emma come, which'll probably be next week. That way you can see first hand what I already know."

"Which is?" he asks trying to sound bored.

"That we're a family...The family I always wished I could give you."

"That ain't happening, Ma."

"Really? Because living at the farmhouse is one of the conditions of your parole."

Oh, yes, she does still have the devil in her.

"You wouldn't." He sounds slightly alarmed.

"Wouldn't I?" Natalia doesn't flinch. She doesn't stutter. She doesn't grin. She's a stone wall that's unmovable.

"You're bluffin'," he says with a touch of apprehension in his voice. He's not sure if she's serious, and the truth is, neither am I.

"You might want to talk to Mel, Remy's sister. She's an attorney. Since she knows you, she might work your case pro bono. She'll have to because your hardware store job doesn't pay much and I'm not giving you another dime because, honestly, who wants to give money to someone who treats you like crap? Certainly not me."

"Ma, that's not fair."

"Life's not fair. I figured you'd learned that in prison, but I guess not."

"So you're just gonna hold me hostage?'

Natalia looked skyward in consideration.

"Yes," she answered firmly. "And expect it to start today. You're going to do the three-legged race with your stepsister. She asked me, but I'm not feeling up to it."

"She's not my step-sister," Rafe challenges. "She's my cousin."

"She's both," Natalia says firmly. "She's got her heart set on this race and you're not gonna let her down. She needs you."

"Why should I?" he asks annoyed.

"I'll repeat: one, it's not always about you and two, love is earned. Here endith the lesson, Son. Grab a string and Emma and get hoppin'. Got it?"

Rafe rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "I can't believe you're doing this."

"I can't believe it took me this long to do it," she retorts. "Now go. Be the decent person I know you can be and make Emma's day."

Without another argument, I watch Rafe get up and go over to the pool where Emma and Maureen are blowing up more water balloons. He knells down and they talk for awhile. She puts her arms around his neck and then he motions to his back. Emma climbs aboard and Rafe makes sure her legs are secure as he rises to his full height, giving her a piggyback ride.

"It's gonna be rough," I hear Natalia sigh. "He's not going to be much of a joy to live with I'm sure."

"No, but I'm really proud of you today. I'm glad you took the kid gloves off with Rafe. He needed it."

"And maybe someday he might actually speak to you," she says hopefully.

"You noticed that, huh? Yeah, he doesn't like to talk to me...at all. Well, unless it's to shout at me."

"He'll come around."

"Do you really think so?"

"I do." She soon settles back against me again. "But I meant it, you know? Everything I told him. If he continues to violate parole, he's going back."

My hand makes lazy circle eights against her hand. "I'll support whatever decision you make," I tell her sincerely. "When, uh, when are you going to tell him he's going to be a brother?"

"He's already a brother," she says as she nods toward him and Emma who are now playing tag.

"You know what I mean," I say before I lean over and kiss her temple.

"Soon. Frank first and then everyone else...Speaking of...will you go with me when I talk to Frank?" I must look taken aback because she quickly adds, "If you don't want to I won't-."

"No, I'll go," I tell her. "I just thought you might want to talk privately with him. It's your baby and-."

"It's our baby - all of us. You, me and Frank," she insists.

"I'm not sure Frank's going to see it that way."

"All the more reason for you to be there. He needs to know, right from the start, that you're this child's mother too." I don't say anything. I wait to see if she has more to add but then she starts to look, insecure. "Unless you've changed your mind and you don't want to have another child."

"I want to have this child with you. I really do, but I don't want to cause you more problems."

"You're not a problem, Olivia. Sure, at one point I was ready to hang you up by your toenails, but you've grown on me since then."

She turns her head back toward me, dimples blazing and I lean over and kiss her on the lips.

"I think Rick's about done cooking. You wanna grab some food?"

She nods and rises up. Using a foot hold, she easily pulls me to my feet.

"Just keep in mind I might have to excuse myself," she says. "Food isn't staying down too good at the moment. I haven't figured out what I can and can't eat yet."

"I'll be certain to make sure Rick thinks it's his cooking."

"Olivia! That's mean," she chastises. Then she adds, "But he deserves it for trying to make me feel I was being an emotional leech."

"When?"

"When you started feeling better and you thought I wanted you to move out, remember?"

"He did the same thing to me too. You know you shouldn't excuse yourself if you feel sick. You have my permission to throw up on him right there."

"Now you're gonna make me sick. Please stop."

"Oh, fine."

We make our way to the line where all the food is spread out. We each pick up a plate and look at the selections along with Lillian and Buzz who are ahead of us.

"So which ones yours?" he asks me as he points to the variety of dishes.

"I didn't make anything," I reply. "Emma made crispy treats for desert." Buzz looks skeptical. "Okay, I helped a little."

"Being a chef I figured you'd bring some culinary delight," he remarks.

"Chef?" Natalia says. "Her? She can barely boil water."

Buzz starts to laugh as I make a motion for him to shut up. "You duped her, didn't you? You little sneak." He laughs.

Natalia catches me motioning across my neck and I suddenly start to play with the neckline of my jacket.

"You're a real chef? All this time I've been the one cooking and you're a chef? Are you kidding me?"

Oh, boy. Time to fess up.

"Yes, I can cook. I just like your cooking better. Is that a crime?" Maybe flattery will save my ass.

She grins. That's a good start. "Tomorrow night you're making me dinner."

She waves her finger, but I snare it and pull her hand toward me. I kiss the back of her hand, brushing my lips gently across her knuckles.

"As you wish, Sweetheart."

I hear, rather than see, Buzz's plate fall into the deviled eggs.

"Damn," he says as he tries to rescue the contents of his plate. "I, uh, gotta watch what I'm doing."

Lillian clears her throat. "So," she motions her head toward our linked hands. "...is this why things didn't work out with Frank?"

I'm not sure what to say, but something like, 'Yes, I stole his girl,' comes to mind. Before I can say something Natalia replies.

"No. I love Frank. I do, but I wasn't in love with him – I never was. I was in love with Olivia."

"Then why date Frank?" Buzz asks. "Why agree to marry him?"

"I was too scared to face it. I thought if I could fall in love with Frank these feelings would go away, so much so that I nearly married him and ruined three lives. He might hate me, and you might too," she says motioning to Lillian and Buzz, "but Frank's too good a guy not to find a girl who can give him 100% of herself. I never was that girl. He deserved more, and still does."

I feel someone behind me and I turn to see that it's Rafe with Emma behind him. I wonder how long he'd been standing there.

"What about you?" Buzz asks. "Were you in love with her?"

I look over and I see Natalia's dimples shinning again. She doesn't look embarrassed or guilty. All I can see is love written on her face.

"Yeah," I tell him. "So much that I was willing to watch her walk away with Frank because I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to have what I thought was a better life than I could give her."

"I'm not sure I could do it," Buzz replies.

"Do what?" I ask unsure of where this conversation is going. There's an edge to my voice and I'm ready to go off at any moment if he dare saying anything combative.

"Walk away. I-I-I couldn't stand next to Lillian and give her to someone else I thought was better. I couldn't do that Olivia. That takes strength...or stupidity." I see his teasing grin and I relax.

"It's neither," I tell him. "I just wanted what I thought was best for her – I thought it was Frank, but she wanted me."

"Who is best for me," Natalia adds firmly as she put some carrots on my plate as a roadblock to the french fries I'm eyeing.

"Really? Carrots? Can't I have just three french fries, please? It's a celebration."

She reaches over and puts four on my plate. "Just for today."

I give her an exaggerated grin of thanks.

We all continue down the line and Lillian says, "I'll admit I'm a little thrown but..."

"But what?" I ask.

"I can see it. I even asked Buzz once, oh I think it was months before you started dating Frank, if he thought you two were a couple."

"Why?" I ask.

"You two just...fit, ya know? You two argued and bickered, but there was...a passion there too; this unbreakable devotion. I thought it was an intense friendship building, but it was something more."

I grin back at Lillian. "It's both. It's friendship...and much more. I literally wouldn't be alive without her."

"And vice versa," Natalia replies before she looks at me with a smile as if there's no one else in the world except she and I.

I smile and I turn. I see Rafe looking at me, almost as if he's seeing me for the first time, and not as someone who tried to steal his father and, now, trying to take his mother away. I look, but I don't speak.

"Can you pass the potato salad, please?" he asks me politely.

Can you pass the potato salad, please. They're simple, yet magical words because maybe Natalia's right; maybe there's hope yet.

The End

 

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