"So?" Blake asked as she still clung to Dorisís arm,
turning heads as they walked along.
"So?" Doris parroted.
"Why are you dating my mom?"
"Iím not dating her!" Doris laughed. "Sheís
still with Ed."
Just then, Dorisís cell phone chirped in her purse.
"Saved by the bell," Blake quipped as Doris held up a
finger and pulled it out.
"Oh for godís sake," Doris sighed as she looked at
Blake gave her a curious expression and Doris turned it around
and showed the picture message addressed to her and Holly. It was a
shot of her kissing Holly and the text read, ĎWhat the hell is
going on?! ~Edí
"Who sent Ed a picture?" Blake wondered out loud.
Doris looked around the room and locked eyes with Rick, who
quickly looked away.
"I got a suspicion," Doris said as she nodded to Rick.
Holly, Olivia and Natalia walked up to the pair.
"I see you made it past the guard," Natalia remarked to
Blake with a considerate smile.
"Did you see this?" Doris said as she gave her cell
phone to Holly. "Sorry," Doris apologized to Natalia for
not recognizing comment immediately. "Yes, I got her inside
since Frankís...Where the hell is Frank anyway?" She turned
"Stake out," she replied.
"Heís the chief and weíre not THAT understaffed.
Detectives should be doing that work; not him."
"Itís someone big, I guess. Ressel? Rissor?"
"Rizzoli?" Doris asked.
"Yeah! Thatís it."
"You know the guy Frankís watching?" Olivia asked.
"I know OF him," Doris remarked with a look of concern.
"We tried to convict him a few years ago with no luck. Heís a
real scumbag with ties to the Italian mob."
Olivia smirked. "Maybe he has better attorneys than the D.A.ís
"Not so much better attorneys but better hitmen. Witnesses
have a habit of turning up a little bit dead." Doris turned to
Blake. "Frank thinks he can build a case against him?" she
"What do you care?" Olivia asked before Blake could
answer. "Youíre not the D.A. anymore."
Doris suddenly acted as if she wanted to drop the conversation.
"Right. You are completely right. Iím off the clock."
She looked over to see Holly typing on her phone and asked,
"What are you doing?"
"Replying to Ed."
"Thatís my phone, not yours."
"I know," Holly said as she continued typing. "I
just answered his question and said, Ďscrewing your wifeí Ė he
seems ticked off now."
"You did what?!" Doris asked.
"Yeah, itís not nice to dump me for my daughter,"
Holly said as she typed nonchalantly. "Oooh, he says he doesnít
care if youíre a woman or not. Heís gonna kick your ass."
Doris ripped her phone from Hollyís hands. Just then, Hollyís
own cell phone began to ring. "Iím betting this is Ed."
She pulled it out and looked at the name. "Whatta ya
know," she said as she hit the button. "Hello
Sweetie," she said with a laugh. "I see your busybody son
sent you a picture," she told him as she began to walk away to
talk in private.
"Iím gonna kill Rick," Doris growled. "Now I got
a doctor who wants me dead."
"Better than a cop," Olivia teased. "At least
doctors donít carry loaded .38ís."
"Thanks, Liv, for pointing that out," Doris said
sarcastically. "I need a drink," she sighed and took Blakeís
hand. "Would you care for a drink, Mílady?" she asked.
"Why certainly," she replied. "Lead the way."
Without a word, Doris led Blake up to the bar located inside the
hall as Natalia and Olivia watched them walk away.
"You both look lovely tonight," Buzz said, startling
them both. "Sorry," he added.
"No problem. I just didnít hear you back there,"
Olivia replied. "You look quite debonair yourself Mr.
"Thanks. Now that the pleasantries are over spill it,
Princess," Buzz told her.
Olivia laughed. "Spill what?"
Buzz nodded to Doris and Blake who were up at the bar, shoulders
"Doris. She comes here with Holly and ends up with Blake. Is
this Ross Part Deux?"
Olivia giggled. "No. Doris has no interest in Holly."
"What about Blake?" Buzz asked.
"Blake has no interest in Holly either. Thatís her
"I know that Ms. Smartass!" Buzz said annoyed and then
groaned. "Quit being evasive and tell me whatís going
"Whatís the question exactly?" Olivia asked.
Buzz looked exasperated. "Is-Is something going on with
Doris and Blake?" he sputtered out.
Olivia shrugged and he gave up. He turned to Natalia.
"She wonít talk, but I know youíll crack. Now be honest
with me, Natalia. Do you know whatís going on between Doris and
"Truthfully?" Natalia asked. Buzz nodded. "I can
honestly say, without a doubt, I have NO idea whatís going
"So there is something going on though? I mean I saw that
look on Blakeís face when she watched Doris kiss her mother. It
wasnít really anger -- it looked more like... jealousy."
"Well, thereís not doubt that Blake and Doris have been
getting closer over the past several months," Olivia offered.
"Maybe Blake felt her mom might Ďstealí Doris in someway.
You know how Blake and Holly have always butted heads and been super
competitive. Maybe thatís all you saw Buzz."
"Yeah, like you at Frank and Nataliaís engagement party at
"That was different. I was..."
"I was going to say drunk," Olivia replied.
"Drunk on love?" he muttered.
"Buzz," Olivia sighed.
"I donít want to see Frank get hurt again. One woman
leaving you for a woman, fine. But two in a row? Heíd be the
laughing stock of Springfield."
"If youíre so curious, talk to THEM," Olivia told
him. "Come out and ask what they are to each other... And then
let us know because I love gossip. Itís nice not being on the
receiving end of it for once."
"I-I-Iím not gonna ask! Besides, what can I say?"
"Youíre a smart man, Buzz." Olivia complimented.
"Iím sure youíll figure it out."
With that, Olivia led Natalia toward the bar.
Olivia and Natalia stood between Blake and Doris at the bar.
Olivia motioned the bartender over and requested a red wine and
white wine. As he went to prepare the drinks, she turned back to
"You two better be careful," she said. "Buzz is
"Suspicious of what?" asked Blake.
Olivia shrugged. "He's got in his head that there's
something going on between you two." She turned to Blake.
"Yeah, he said you looked jealous when your mom came in with
"Well..." No one in the small circle of friends said
anything. They simply waited for Blake to continue. "... I was
just surprised to see them both here."
"That's all?" Olivia asked.
"Yes," Blake insisted.
The bartender set two wine glasses on the table and requested
eight dollars. Olivia gave him a twenty and told him to keep the
change as she picked up the glasses, handing the white wine to
"Have fun ladies," Olivia said as she led Natalia away
by the elbow.
Doris didn't quite look at Blake as she began to speak and said,
"So I guess, before, when you said that you were jealous you
"I didn't lie to you," Blake said.
"But you just said-."
"To her, yes. I don't want her to run back to Buzz."
"I don't think Olivia would do that. But even if she
did..." Doris sighed heavily. "You know what?" She
said as if reconsidering her statement. "It's really none of my
business. I just came here to have fun."
Blake grinned. "I thought you came here to make waves?"
"Let's stick with these drinks for now, and see where the
night takes us."
Doris motioned Blake to follow her to a nearby vacant table.
Blake pulled up a chair and motioned for Doris to take a seat. Doris
seemed quite pleased, and perhaps a little girly, with a gesture.
From the other side of the room, Olivia and Natalia watched the
"Even Buzz sees it now," Olivia said.
"So?" Olivia repeated. "So why aren't they
There was a brief silence between them as Olivia waited for
Natalia to add more. "That's it?" Olivia finally asked.
"You mean to tell me that you don't remember what it's like
to be in love with someone who may or may not return your
"But they do return each other's feelings. That's my
"It's more than that though. Blake has spent her entire life
identifying as a straight woman. She's engaged to one of the most
considerate men in Springfield. She'll be changing a big part of how
she perceives herself. That's a hard hurdle to get over, no matter
how much you love someone."
Olivia turned her body slightly more to face Natalia. "Do
you regret loving me?" she asked.
"What!? No! We're talking about Blake here."
"Sorry, but it sounds like loving me is difficult."
"I'm simply saying I understand how scary it all can be at
first. Love itself is always scary. When you offer your heart to
someone there's always that fear of rejection or the chance that
they don't love you the same. You worry about what happens next. Now
add the social stigma of a same-sex couple. When that person you
love is someone society tells you is wrong to love that makes it
even harder. And please, don't tell me that I'm wrong. Look how long
it took us to admit how we felt about each other. Heck, think of the
first time you told me that you loved me. You were a nervous wreck,
crying your eyes out."
"Not my most suave moment, I know," Olivia said with a
"Being suave isnít important. But being sincere is. And
you were so honest that day. So open and raw... I loved you too and
I just wanted to make you happy. You seem so gung ho about me
marrying Frank -- as if the best thing I could do for you was to
leave you and go with him. But in the end, I couldn't marry Frank -
it wasn't right for him to have a wife that could give him 100%. It
wasn't right for me to leave the person I really loved. It wasn't
right for you to walk away without giving us a chance to be a
couple. For crying out loud, even after I left Frank, at the altar
no less, you STILL didn't want to be with me. You ran, but I
followed. So although I know you love Doris, as a friend, and you
want what's best for her, and possibly even what's best for Blake,
you need to remember what it was like. They're doing the same dance,
Olivia, but it's up to them to set the pace."
"Whatever will be will be, huh?"
"The future's not ours to see," Natalia replied.
Olivia started to grin. "Thank you," she said.
"For not giving up the chase."
Olivia leaned over and kissed Natalia gently on the cheek, which
the younger woman warmly accepted.
Doris and Blake seemed wrapped up in their conversation, talking
and laughing with each other, with little notice of the world around
"So whoís your all-time favorite?" Blake asked.
"Tina Turner," Doris said.
"Me too!" Blake said excited.
"Well, youíre probably not as huge a fan as I am,"
Doris answered. "I have every album on my iPod."
"I donít, but I do have all her work from the 80ís on
"Which is your favorite?"
"Album or song?" Blake asked.
"Both," Doris decided.
"My favorite album... Break Every Rule."
"Really? Doris replied.
"Yep. Lots of solid songs from beginning to end."
"I figured youíd say ĎPrivate Dancerí since that was
the bigger hit."
"My favorite song is on ĎPrivate Dancerí though,"
"Let me guess... Whatís Love Got To Do With It?"
"No, although that one is good and quite popular, itís not
my favorite. Actually, Iíd say I have two favorites - a tie
between ĎShow Some Respectí and ĎSteel Clawí."
Doris laughed and Blake looked indignant.
"I know they didnít win individual Grammyís like ĎWhatís
"No!" Doris said quickly. "Iím not laughing at
your choices. Iím laughing because you really do love Tina Turner.
You couldnít just pull that response out of your ass unless you
really were a fan."
Blake grinned and then began to sing Steel Claw at its fast pace.
"It's just a television wonderland. Just one more fairytale
about a rich bitch lying by the swimming pool. Life is so cool. Easy
living when you make the rules."
Doris then took over singing, "Last Friday was the first
time. It only took about a half a minute on the stairway. It was
child's play. The odds come out even when you give up believing in
Blake and Doris both began to sing the chorus together.
"Cold law, steel claw. Try to get on board you'll find the
lock is on the door, well I say no way! Noooo way! Don't try to get
out, or there'll be hell to pay!"
They both erupted into a fit of giggles and couldnít go on.
"You know Steel Claw! You really ARE a fan too!" Doris
Blake shrugged. "My childhood was... tumultuous. And music
was grounding in a way, something I could always turn to and would
be there for me. I know that probably makes no sense."
"No, I get it completely," Doris replied. "Itís
an escape from turmoil and I use it. When my day gets too rough
today, I pop in my earbuds and just let everything slip away for a
Blake smiled. "I never realized how much we actually had in
common," she remarked.
Doris put her finger on her temple, as if in thought, and said,
"Here's something that's different. I have the power to marry
people and you don't." Blake started to laugh and shake her
head. "It's true," Doris continued. "As mayor, I have
the same authority as a judge when it comes to marriage."
"No. I'm not doubting that," Blake replied. "In
fact, Iíve seen you marry more people than Father Ray and most of
the preachers in town. The funny part is I can marry people
"Get out!" Doris insisted.
"No, I really can. I'm an ordained minister."
Now was Doris's turn to laugh. "You? A minister? I... didn't
think that you had found God."
"I'm not super religious, but I do think there is a higher
"Then why are you a minister?"
Blake blushed. "I would ask you not to laugh, but I know
that you will. So, it's pointless for me to even ask. I might as
well just tell you, right?"
"Well, I really REALLY wanted to marry Ross. So much so that
I got my certificate of ministry so I could perform the ceremony
myself." Doris tried to hide her smile by turning away.
"It's okay," Blake told her, "I know how insane it
sounds... now. Of course, at the time, it seemed perfectly
Doris dropped all pretense of trying to hide in began to chuckle.
"So howíd that worked out for you?" Doris asked.
"Well, it amused him. But he still refused to marry me... Of
course, I eventually won, but it wasn't an easy road."
"I'm told that true love never is," Doris replied.
"What about you? Have you ever really been in head over
heels, crazy blind love?"
"Once," Doris replied. "But not enough to be
"A woman I'm assuming?"
"Yes, we were in college. She was actually my first lover,
well, female lover. I was crazy about her -- totally adored her. She
would've been someone that I would come out for, even back
"Let's just say, she cared for me, but she wasn't head over
heels. Then little by little things kind of fell apart. I realize
that staying with her hurt more than letting her go. She wasn't too
broken up about it, of course. And, like I mentioned before, I just
spent the rest of my time at college... floating -- no commitments,
lots of one night stands...being the Bunsen burner for some girls
who wanted to Ďexperimentí and later just a distraction for
sexually bored housewives."
"That must've been lonely."
"It was. Back in the 80ís, the AIDS epidemic was hard on
everyone, but especially when it came to public opinion of
homosexuals. I felt pushed back in the closet even more. So, I never
saw myself having a big house with a white picket fence, a wife, a
dog and 2.5 children. But I also knew I didnít want to be alone...
And I loved kids. So I made the decision that once I had a job at a
law firm I wasn't going to get a cool sports car or nice home. I
bought a trailer instead and with the rest of the money, I got
Blake smiled. "Things are different now though. You could
have that picket fence home that so many people take for
"Part of the problem is finding a woman whoís brave to
take that leap and not care what other people say about her."
"Welllll," Blake said with a teasing quality to her
voice. "I canít speak for other women, but personally I came
here with the intent to stir things up."
"What do you suggest?" Doris asked, playing along.
A few couples were out on the floor dancing to Lady Gagaís ĎBad
"Do you dance?" Blake asked. "If not, you couldnít
do worse than them," she said pointing.
"Thereís something wrong with the funky chicken that
Phillip and Rick are doing out there. I mean really...they look
gayer than we ever could. How do you upstage THAT?"
Doris and Blake both laughed. Blake began to sing along as she
pointed to the pair on the dance floor. "They donít waaaaana
"Ha! I think I need to take a picture so Ed can see his son
is gay now too."
The song immediately merged into a remix of ĎNight Feverí by
"Wowww," Doris said in amazement.
"Iím impressed. Most DJís just play American Top 40 pop
hits. This DJ is playing the Tina Arena version."
"Who is Tina Arena?" Blake asked.
"Sheís an Aussie."
"How do you know that?" Blake giggled.
Doris blushed. "I love music and my iPod has everything,
besides Tina Turner. This is a great version actually because she
doesnít change the lyrics to make it Ďhetroí."
"Oh, itís ĎNight Feverí," Blake said as the
vocals started. "I love this song," she added.
Doris nodded. "This song takes me back to middle school.
Well, not THIS version - The BeeGeeís one."
Blake giggled. "Middle school, huh?... I was... three."
"Oh for godís sake," Doris groaned. She put her arm
in the air and yelled, "Check please!"
"Stop!" Blake laughed as took Dorisís extended hand
and pulled her to her feet. "Forget waves tonight. Letís make
a tsunami," she said as she pulled Doris toward the dance
Blake walked backwards as she held Dorisís hands in hers. She
sang along to ĎNight Feverí as they moved. Doris simply smiled.
"And that sweet city wooooman,
She moves through the liiiiight,
Controlling my minnnnd and my soullll.
When you reach out for meeee, yeah, and the feelin' is
Now the dance floor, Blake paused. "Hey. Who leads?"
Doris took Blakeís hand. She spun her around until Blakeís
back was against her torso. She rose up slightly to peer over Blakeís
shoulder, coming just millimeters from the younger womanís ear.
"Do you know the Shadow Step?"
"Maybe? I donít know dance move names," Blake said
unsure. "You lead and Iíll see if I can follow. Okay?"
Doris began to move and Blake followed along naturally, swaying
to the rhythm and staying in step with Doris. Seeing how well they
danced together, other couples began to give them space as Doris
twirled Blake around, singing in her ear softly.
"Here I am,
prayin' for this moment to laaast,
Livin' on the music so finnne, born on the winnnnd,
Makin' it minnnnne."
At one point, she moved Blake so they were finally standing face
to face. She then asked, "Do you know the disco hustle?"
"I thought it was just a line dance," Blake said.
Doris shook her head and then motioned Blake closer.
"Here like this," she said as she began to lead her
around, arm and arm, hip to hip.
Doris twirled Blake to the left and then the right, repeating it
several times. Blake kept up with Dorisís hand change and they
began to dance face-to-face, palm-to-palm in a fluid movement. Doris
laughed happily that Blake was able to keep up without missing a
beat and nodded her approval.
By now, a crowd had settled around the dance floor, cheering them
on. Holly, Olivia and Natalia looked on, all smiles. Doris twirled
Blake back into a Shadow Step and bent her back slightly before
spinning her lose again.
When Blake twirled back into Dorisís arms she turned slightly
and said, "Do you really want to make waves?"
"What do you have in mind?" Doris asked.
Blake spun away from Doris again, but didnít release her hand
as she extended out. Instead, she turned the tables and twirled
Doris to her, thereby taking the lead in the dance. Now she had her
torso pressed against Dorisís back.
As the music continued to pound steadily through the speakers,
Blake ceased moving for about eight counts. Rather than dance, she
let the back of her hand make a lazy path down the front of Dorisís
body. It started at Dorisís cheek, ran down her neck and through
the center of her cleavage until her hand came to rest on Dorisís
hip. The crowd got even more vocal and animated by hooting and
By now, Rick and Phillip, who were also in the crowd, had worked
their way near Olivia and Natalia.
"Theyíre really good partners. They look like theyíve
danced together for years," Phillip complimented to Olivia in
Olivia turned and nodded. Thatís when she caught a glimpse of
Rick with his camera phone out again.
"Frank needs to see this," he muttered loud enough for
Olivia to hear.
"Excuse me," she told Phillip as she pushed him back
slightly. He looked confused, but then he watched Olivia snatch Rickís
phone. Rick, caught of guard, helplessly watched Olivia take some
flowers out of a nearby vase. She then dropped the phone into the
water before replacing the flowers on top of it again.
"What the hell, Olivia?" Rick complained.
"Youíre an ass," was all Olivia said. She started to
clap in time with the beat and motioned Phillip to do the same,
which he did. Soon, the rest of the party began to follow along.
Doris got bolder and took the lead again. She pulled Blake toward
her. One hand slid possessively to Blakeís hip while the other
worked itís way into her hair. She gently pulled on the strawberry
blond tresses and Blake followed Dorisís cue. She let her head
fall back, exposing her neck. Doris softly gripped Blakeís jaw and
then let her palm slide down the length of Blakeís body to her
pelvis. Then she slid her hand over to the slit in Blakeís dress
and caressed Blakeís leg.
Once more, Blake followed along and raised her leg, allowing
Doris to support it. Without prompting, she wrapped her naked leg
around Dorisís. There wasnít an inch between them and Doris
could feel Blakeís pelvic bone arching into her leg. She
involuntarily groaned into Blakeís ear.
Blake was, literally, still wrapped around Doris on the dance
floor as the DJ merged into another Bee Geeís song. This time it
was the original, "How Deep Is Your Love?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zWP1V9Eo0c
The couples that had cleared a path for Doris and Blake now
retook the dance floor to dance around them. Doris and Blake stood
unmoving and Doris seemed nervous.
"Did you want to sit this one out?" she asked.
Blake shook her head as she put her leg back to the floor. She
took Doris into her arms and began to dance. http://www.ehow.co.uk/video_4396830_rumba-dance-demonstration-music.html
"You know how to rumba?" Blake asked. Doris didnít
reply. She simply began to dance in the Ďquick-quick slowí box
step. "Answers that question," Blake remarked with a grin.
Doris smiled, but avoided Blakeís eyes. "What is it?"
Doris shook her head. "Nothing," she said, finally
looking Blakeís way. "I never did this..."
"Slow dance with a woman...Well, not in a room full of
straight people that is."
"Mostly straight people," Blake corrected.
Doris giggled. "True."
"I have to confess something," Blake replied.
"Itís nice to dance with someone who doesnít step on my
feet and knows their turns."
With that, Blake spun Doris under her arm and brought her back
"Frank canít dance I take it?" Doris asked.
"He has rhythm," Blake complimented. "And he does
well on his own, but when it comes to dancing with a partner...
Yeeeh, not so much."
This time, Doris spun Blake around and brought her back.
"Right there," Blake said. "You move your hand
slightly to let me know which direction youíre going to spin me.
You give me a clue and I pick up on it. With Frank..."
"Heís clueless?" Doris teased. Blake tried not to
chuckle and Doris immediately apologized. "Sorry. I couldnít
let that one go without some kind of comment. I know what you mean
though. Iíve danced with him."
"You have?" Blake giggled. "When?"
Doris nodded. "That double wedding last year Ė the Cooper
Lewis nuptials. Of course, we didnít do anything like this. It was
just a little back and forth sway with him."
"Oh, so my dance is more meaningful then?" Blake
"Much," Doris said sincerely, locking eyes with Blake.
This time the younger woman didnít look away or appear
A short silence came between them. They simply smiled at each
other before Blake said, "Thank you."
"For not letting me sit outside at the bar. For not stepping
on my feet. For... not really dating my mother."
Doris grinned. "Donít get me wrong. Your mom is a lovely
woman. Edís a lucky man. But Rule Number 16 is never date the
mother of the woman youíre..." Doris suddenly stopped
"Never date the mother of the woman youíre...what?"
It was on the tip of Dorisís tongue to finish and say,
"...youíre in love with," but instead she cleared her
throat and said, "the woman youíre good friends with. It
always ends badly...or so I hear."
"Youíve never done it, huh?"
"No," Doris replied. "And I never plan too. But I
do have a question for you."
"Earlier tonight, you said that you didn't like me kissing
any woman, no matter who it was. My question is... why should it
Blakeís eyes widened, but she didnít have an immediate
Blake was speechless as they continued to dance.
"Really," Doris continued, "why should it matter
who I kiss?"
"Youíre right. It shouldnít."
"But it does."
Blake didnít immediately reply.
"I donít know," she whimpered slightly. "I donít
know why, but it does. I wish I had the answer. I do, but..."
Blake began to focus on her footwork rather than look at Doris.
Doris couldnít help but notice her distress.
"Hey," she said gently, coming in closer to force Blakeís
eyes up. "Iím not pushing. Weíre here to have fun,
right?" Blake only nodded in response. "So you donít
have all the answers? Thatís okay. I wonít pass judgment. God
knows Iíve had my own share of questions lately. So letís just
keep dancing, alright?"
Blake grinned. "I wish you showed this side to more
"Well, Ashlee is such a caring, compassionate person. She
didnít learn that on her own."
"Sometimes I wonder," Doris joked.
"I donít," Blake said in all seriousness.
The two women took a closer step together and moved to the right
when they Ďran agroundí into someone standing there. They both
turned to see Frank there.
"Mind if I cut in?" he asked, smiling at Blake.
Blake didnít immediately answer or have a reaction. She seemed
frozen. Doris took a deep breath and looked to Blake who appeared as
if she didnít want to answer the question. The mayor released her
and opened her arms to Frank, buying Blake sometime to form a
"Fine. But just this once, Chief," Doris joked.
Frank smiled while Doris and Blake forced a grin to their faces.
"No, Doris," he said. "Not you, but maybe
"Ohhhh, you wanted to dance with herrrr," she said in
mock surprise. She turned to Blake and gently took her hand, giving
it a squeeze, which Blake returned. Then she placed it into Frankís.
"You kids have fun."
Without a word, or a look back, she left Blake on the dance floor
with Frank. She failed to see Blake watch her longingly from around
Doris went straight to the bar and raised her hand to one of the
three bartenders. Olivia looked to Natalia to see if she witnessed
what she just saw.
"Do you mind if I...?" Olivia motioned to Doris and let
the sentence hang.
"Go to her. She needs you," Natalia said. "If youíre
lucky enough, convince her to come back to the table."
Olivia smiled. "I love you."
Natalia returned the smile. "I love you too. But hurry up
before she downs that drink and bolts."
Olivia kissed her and then made her way to the bar. She gently
tapped Doris on the shoulder.
Doris turned. "Donít even," she muttered.
"Donít even what?"
Doris leaned closer to Olivia and whispered in her ear. "Try
to make me talk about my FEEEEEELINGS. I canít talk about it,
okay? Iím on the verge of tears as it is. Dancing with Blake is
one thing Ė itís fun and games. Crying over her is political
suicide. And, yes, itís stupid and, yes, I know better, but... Iím
not discussing this. Not here. Not now. Okay?"
Olivia nodded, but Doris didnít look at her in the slightest.
The depressed mayor went back to her scotch, wrapping both hands
around the glass. She took a sip and rested it back on the bar, her
hands not leaving the hold around it.
"Iím going to finish this and then go home," Doris
"They havenít served dinner yet."
Doris finally looked Oliviaís way. "Iíll grab a burger
or taco on the way home."
"Donít do that," Olivia said. "You paid for
dinner. Come eat with us."
Doris snorted. "Really? I have to sit and watch the
lovebirds Frank and Blake for the rest of the night? No
thanks." Doris took a long swig this time and grimaced as it
burned her throat.
"Sit with me and Natalia," Olivia replied.
"Even better Ė I can be the third wheel. Iím sure
Natalia would love that."
"Hey," Olivia said getting annoyed. "For your
information, she told me to convince you to come back to the
"Please! Where do you think..." Doris began raising her
voice. She lowered it and then said, "Where do you think Blake
and Frank are going to sit? Blake is Nataliaís best friend. Just
forget it, Olivia. This fiasco of a night is over."
Olivia squared her shoulders and left. Doris didnít immediately
watch her departure, so she didnít see her take Blake aside from
the other side of the room. When Doris did start to look around, she
saw Olivia standing face-to-face with Blake, looking none too happy,
while Frank chatted with Matt and Rick.
"You and Frank are not sitting with us tonight. Go sit with
Matt and Rick please," Olivia told Blake.
"Donít Ďwhatí me. You really donít know why?"
Olivia asked incredulously.
Blake suddenly looked guilty. "Olivia..."
"Save it," Olivia said, waving a finger. "And hereís
a piece of free advice: Piss or get off the pot. Iím sick to death
of watching you hurt my friend."
Blake watched Olivia turn briskly and storm away. From the other
side of the room, Doris wore a confused expression as Olivia closed
the distance between them.
"Gimme that," Olivia said as she took Dorisís drink
in one hand and grabbed the mayorís elbow with the other.
"Theyíre sitting with Matt. Youíre with us. You can leave,
but not until after dinner."
"Oh, is that your final word, is it?"
"Yes it is," Olivia said firmly as she pulled Doris
"Your wife is incorrigible," Doris told Natalia as she
and Olivia arrived at the table.
"Thatís a polite word for pain in the ass," Olivia
said with a smile as she led Doris to a seat next to Natalia. She
set down Dorisís scotch.
"Donít I know it," Natalia remarked to Doris with a
"Hey," Olivia said indignant, but then smiled too.
"I resemble that remark."
Natalia continued, "Sometimes itís one of her most admiral
qualities and at other times... not so much."
"This is one of those Ďnot so muchí times," Doris
huffed as she took another drink.
"Oh, quit whining," Olivia said as she took a seat on
the other side of Natalia.
"I saw you talking to Blake," Natalia said to Olivia.
"Me too," Doris added. "Why?"
"I told her that she and Frank will be sitting with Matt
tonight... and a few other choices words."
"Oh no," Natalia and Doris both sighed at the same
"What words?" Natalia asked.
"Nothing... too... bad," Olivia drawled.
"What did you say?" Doris asked firmly.
"I told her to quit jerking you around."
"Sheís not jerking me around," Doris defended.
"The hell sheís not," Olivia remarked and then
lowered her voice. "Blakeís..." Olivia looked to Natalia
and decided to change her train of thought as she turned back to
Doris. "Hollyís daughter. However, I like Holly more than
Blake. Enough said."
"Thank you for protecting me. Having someone look out for
me, aside from Ashlee, is a first. But, really, Iím a big girl and
I can take care of myself," Doris replied. She finished her
drink and motioned the waitress over. "Scotch please?" she
asked. The waitress nodded and then headed toward the bar.
"Really?" Olivia said. "You were ready to leave
tonight because Frank showed up."
"No," Doris corrected. "I was ready to leave
because Blake will be spending the evening interacting with him
while I sit alone. Thereís a difference. I have no issue with
Frank. Heís done nothing except be a fiancť. Blake, on the other
hand..." Doris let the sentence hang.
"Exactly," Olivia said, "Blake, on the other hand,
is not acting very Ďabout to be wedí and sheís jerking you
around. This is why I... like Holly more than Blake."
"You can say you donít like Blake," Natalia offered.
"I wonít be offended."
"Fine," Olivia said. "I donít like Blake."
"I do," Natalia said.
"I do too..." Doris said and then added, "...too
much than I should apparently."
"Well," Olivia said sarcastically, "Letís all
hop on the ĎI love Blakeí bandwagon."
Natalia and Doris both giggled.
"No one is picking sides here," Natalia told her.
"I am," Olivia replied. "Iím picking
Even Doris had to laugh.
"Again, thanks for the support, but itís unneeded. Like I
said, Iím going to eat and then call it a night. That way it doesnít
look like Iím running away. But I do have a question."
"Yes?" Olivia asked.
"If you hate Blake, why the push for the two of us to get
"I donít hate Blake. I said I donít like Blake."
"Thereís a difference?" Doris asked as the waitress
returned and put the drink in front of her. Doris handed her $20 and
thanked her before the young woman went to the next table.
"Look," Olivia began, "Blakeís fine if sheís
not playing games, but she does this. Itís her thing. Itís like
when Natalia left last summer and she didnít fill in some very
important parts like, for starters, I didnít do anything wrong to
make Natalia leave. THAT would have been very helpful to know. She
could have told me that without saying anything about the pregnancy,
but no, she didnít. She wanted to stir the shit and feel important
by knowing something I didnít. Iím hoping that you can temper
that trait and teach her to be... less oblivious and more
considerate and attentive to detail."
Doris and Natalia both had to smile and Olivia eventually cracked
a grin too.
From the other side of the room, Blake sat next to Frank. For the
moment, she seemed to be unmindful to his conversation with Matt.
Instead, she stared vacantly at the table where Natalia and Doris
were all smiles as they talked to Olivia. A hand on her shoulder
startled her and she looked back to see her mom standing there.
"Hey," Holly said softly. She leaned down to Blakeís
ear. "You know, you could always stand up, walk over to that
table and ask her to dance again."
Blake tried to muster a grin as her mom rose back up again. She
appeared to have the onset of tears in her eyes.
"Itís not as easy as you make it sound," Blake said
softly as she spared a glance to see if Frank heard.
Holly leaned down again and this time she kissed Blake on the
cheek before she spoke.
"Aww, Sweetie, itís easier than you think. You just need
to be brave."
She gave Blakeís shoulder another squeeze and it was then that
Frank noticed her.
"Hey Holly!" he said as he rose up and gave her a hug.
"So what guy did you seduce to get inside here tonight,"
"Arenít you being a bit presumptuous, Frank?" she
teased back. "For your information, Iím here with Doris
Wolfe." Frankís jaw dipped slightly. "Yes, lesbians are
allowed to bring dates here too."
Frank began to stumble. "Iím-Iím sure they are. I just
didnít think you-."
"Frank," Blake said annoyed. "Doris isnít dating
anyone, my mother included. She told me as much. She just did it so
my mother could get in while sheís visiting."
"Oh!" Frank replied. "Good. I mean, not that itís
bad if you...I just mean Iím glad you and Ed are still
"We are," Holly remarked. "Contrary to any
photographic evidence that might suggest otherwise," she said
as she shot daggers at Rick, who looked away. Frank looked confused,
but Holly didnít say more to him. "If youíll excuse me, Iím
off to thank my Ďdateí again for letting me take part
As Holly began to walk to Dorisís table, Frank turned to Blake.
"Hey Blakey," he said. "If youíd rather we sit
with your mom and-."
"No," Blake cut him off. "I mean, weíve already
got our place here. Besides, you donít get a chance to talk to the
guys often with all the hours youíve been working. Iím good
right here tonight."
Frank smiled and kissed her on the cheek as he took his seat
again. "Iím quite a lucky guy to have a lady looking out for
me like that."
Blake gave him a small grin. He went back to his conversation
while she went back to watching her mother run her fingers along
Dorisís shoulder blades before taking a seat next to her.
Sure, her mother didnít have Doris...But neither did she.
"So," Holly began Doris as she took a seat, "The
white knight arrived to save you from dancing all night with my
daughter." Doris gave her a dirty glare. "Sorry. I was
just teasing," she added.
"Iím not really in the mood, Holly," Doris answered.
"Fair enough," she said neutrally.
"I think I need another scotch," Doris said as she
stood up quicker than her body thought it should move. She swayed
slightly, but held the table for support.
"Are you okay?" Olivia asked. "Maybe you should
switch to soda and forget the scotch."
"Okay, MOM. Iíll take that under consideration."
Doris made her way to the bar without looking back.
"Sheís gonna get drunk and do something she regrets,"
"Get drunk? Sheís already there, Sweetie," Olivia
said as she watched Doris start to flirt with one of the female
barkeeps. "And what is it with Doris and bartenders?"
Olivia added in a sigh.
"Uh oh. Blakeís headed to the bar too," Holly said as
she pointed out her daughter.
Olivia pinched the bridge of her nose. "This might not end
Up at the bar, the twenty-something bartender had her palm
extended to Doris. The mayor made lazy patterns along one of the
"This is your heart line," Doris said as her fingers
caressed the womanís skin.
"And what does that mean?" the woman said in a breathy
From two patrons over, Blake watched.
"It tells you what you can expect in love," Doris said
with a seductive grin.
"Is that so?"
"Absolutely. See how it ends under your finger here?"
Doris said as she caressed the woman. "That means youíre an
idealist when it comes to love and you put your partners on a
"No kidding?" the barkeep replied with a sexy smile.
"Do me next," Doris heard a woman say.
Suddenly, there was a hand shoved between her line of sight and
the young womanís hand. Doris turned to see Blake standing there.
She held the barkeep for a moment longer and then released her when
someone yelled the bartenderís name. The young woman gave a meek
apology and scurried away.
"Do you, huh?" Doris said casually with a slight slur.
She turned to face Blake completely and took possession of her hand,
her fingertips dancing over the skin. "You have very soft
hands," Doris complimented. "I meant to tell you earlier,
but... you know... I didnít get the chance when Romeo showed
"Forget about that. Tell me what you see?" Blake said
wiggling her fingers.
Doris stroked Blakeís palm. "Your heart line... itís
long and it starts higher than average."
"What does that mean?" Blake asked, taking a step
closer to Doris to give others some space to get their drinks.
"You can be narrow minded; stingy with money."
"Thatís... sexy," Blake said sarcastically.
"This long line makes you more emotional than most Ė more
likely to be jealous; possessive... Like demanding a palm reading to
make me let go of a pretty girlís hand."
"Not funny," Blake said, although she grinned.
"However, since the line is long you have a chance at a
long, joyful, permanent relationship... if you make the right
choices and break away from your rigid nature."
"Iím rigid, huh?"
"Yep. Itís all right here. See how perfect your heart line
is? No breaks. That shows you have difficulty with being flexible or
opening your mind to possibilities."
"So how do I become open-minded then? Cut off my hand
perhaps?" Blake teased.
"No Ė thereís hope for you without going to THAT
Doris asked, "See this spot?"
"This is your Head Line-Life Line Connection. They not only
touch, but theyíre tied together for quite a distance here."
"And that means?í"
"You have a sensitive side and thereíll be changes in your
personality at a pivotal point in your life -- Changes that put you
in conflict with your... rigid nature."
"Which one wins out?" Blake asked.
The bartender put down the scotch in front of Doris, but she didnít
pay it any attention. Instead, she focused on Blake. She let her
fingernails rake against Blakeís skin Ė not too forceful, but
enough for her to feel the sharpness. The strawberry blonde licked
her lips in response to the contact. Doris leaned into Blake and
whispered in her ear.
"As for which one that wins... thatís up to you."
Doris slipped more gracefully from her stool than she imagined
she would. She picked up her glass and allowed her breast to rub Ďaccidentallyí
against Blakeís arm that still rested on the bar. She turned to
go, but then she stopped and walked two steps back to Blake, coming
mere inches away from her ear.
"Oh, and tonight, when youíre fucking Frank and youíve
got your eyes shut tight and he makes note of how much wetter you
are than usually... donít worry. I wonít let him know itís
because youíre thinking of me." Blakeís expression
hardened, and Doris countered it with one of her own. "Donít
ever interrupt my seduction of a beautiful woman only to go home
with someone else again," she warned.
With her drink in hand, Doris made her way back to her table and
Blake turned to the bartender to order a double.
Doris grinned as she looked at the table and her plate of
chicken, potatoes, green beans and squash.
"Hey, I go away and food magically appears! Cool!"
"What just happened up there?" Holly asked before
putting a fork full of potatoes in her mouth.
Doris took her seat again and picked up her flatware.
"Your daughter stepped in before I could complete my
seduction of a very young, and very firm, bartender. I ALMOST didnít
go home alone tonight," she said before putting a piece of
chicken in her mouth.
"That might be a good thing since itís an election
year," Olivia reminded her.
"Please," Doris sighed after she swallowed. "Itís
no big deal," she added before taking another bite.
Olivia gave her an unconvinced look. "You brought Holly,
spent the night dirty dancing with Blake and then tried to take the
bartender home. It makes you look... how should I put this...
"Fuck you," Doris laughed, which attracted the
attention of a nearby table.
Olivia and Natalia both gave nervous, apologetic smiles on Dorisís
"Maybe you should just go easy on the scotch," Olivia
suggested to her in a soft voice. "Youíre becoming an angry
drunk. Weíll eat and then weíll go home. Okay?"
"Iím not angry," Doris said. Her bottom lip began to
quiver. "Iím... sad. Iím stupid for thinking... things I
shouldnít think. I just... Iím an idiot and fool and..."
"Youíre not. Believe me," Natalia told her. "Letís
forget about it for now and just eat some more, okay?"
"And eat your veggieís too," Olivia pointed with her
"Oh, my god! You ARE my mother!" Doris said.
"Tonight you need a mom," Olivia replied.
"I know," Doris said sadly. "Iím an idiot and
"Just eat," Natalia sighed. "No more
Doris sadly nibbled on her food for the next few minutes. When
she put her fork down and reached for her scotch, Natalia stood up
and moved behind Doris to help get her to her feet.
"What are you doing?" Doris asked.
"Please come with me," Natalia told her.
"Because I asked nicely and Iím your best friendís
Doris thought about it a moment. Finding nothing to argue with
regarding that logic, she nodded her agreement.
Natalia turned to Olivia, who was also standing at this point.
"Can you take Holly to her hotel and meet me at home after
youíve finished dinner?" Natalia asked.
"Sweetie, Doris is my friend. You donít have to-."
"Actually, this is something you canít help with Liv, but
I might. And, believe it or not, sheís my friend too."
Natalia leaned over and kissed Olivia, who still seemed
preoccupied with why Natalia could help yet she couldnít.
Natalia smirked at Holly. "I can trust you to keep your lips
off my wife, right?"
"Completely!" Holly smiled.
"Good. I donít want any pics like Ed got tonight with
Olivia front and center."
"You wonít... Take care of her," Holly said as she
nodded toward Doris.
Natalia nodded back and then took Dorisís hand in hers. Seeing
that Doris wasnít balancing too well, Natalia linked arms with her
instead, trying to balance the older woman.
"Where are we going?" Doris asked as Natalia guided her
"The farmhouse. Iím going to put you to bed."
"I donít think Liv would approve," Doris teased and
started to giggle.
Natalia smiled. "I said put you to bed; not take you to bed.
Thereís a big difference."
"Awwww... Iím striking out everywhere tonight," Doris
"Excuse me?" Doris replied, questioning if she just
heard Natalia right.
"Doris, you might just get lucky tonight after all,"
Natalia told her. "But first we need to find your limo."
Reporters were flashing pictures and bombarding the pair with
questions. Where was Holly Bauer? Why was Doris leaving with the
Beaconís Ownerís wife? Would she explain her dance with Blake
Ďsoon to beí Mrs. Cooper? Before Doris could reply, Natalia led
Doris into the back of the limo and followed. She told the driver
where to go and then put up the privacy divider.
"Okay, Iím drunk," Doris slurred as she motioned to
the divider. "But Iím not THAT drunk, Natalia. Youíre Rule
#2 Ė never make it with your best friendís girl... unless
everyone agrees itís okay, and since Liv isnít here to-."
"Doris, shut up," Natalia chuckled. "I swear I
think you pull these rules out of your butt."
Doris giggled. "Of course I do, I donít even pay attention
to the number I assign them. But I do have to say making out with
your bffís significant other is high up on any list."
"Thatís good. But Iím not here to make out with
you," Natalia said. "Remember a few weeks ago when I told
you I was going to break one of MY rules and I told you that Blake
is attracted to you?"
"Yes... Kinda... Things are getting foggy."
"Iíll have this conversation again in the morning, if you
like, but Iíll tell you this now: Itís more than attraction. Sheís
falling in love and sheís scared as heck."
"Of me?" Doris asked.
"Of everything. Iíve asked her to postpone the wedding
until she knows what she wants to do. She loves Frank, but like me,
itís more like friendship -- sheís Ďin loveí with you."
Doris smiled for a moment. "She is? Really?"
"Yes, and Iím telling you this because you need to know
youíre not a fool. What youíre feeling is real and being
returned... I almost made the same mistake Blakeís making and I
might have if Olivia hadnít poured her heart out to me. Do you see
what Iím saying?"
"So I need to have a weepy meltdown in a graveyard?"
"Well, thatís been done -- donít be trite," Natalia
"Donít be trite," Doris snorted. "Youíre funny
Rivera," she added with a smile. She then started to look
serious again. "What should I do?"
"First? Sober up," Natalia said firmly.
"Yeah... I was a pretty big ass to Blake and you guys,
"Well, not us. We have thick skins. Not sure what you said
to Blake though."
"I might have mentioned something about her sleeping with
Frank, but in less polite terms."
"Yeah, that sounds like an ass. An apology might be in
order... Again, when youíre sober, so no drunk dialing
Doris giggled. "Not even one call?"
"No!" Natalia waved her finger. Doris just smiled.
"Second? No more getting drunk. This is the second time youíve
gotten lit over her. Itís becoming a habit and it ends
Doris let out a long sigh. "Youíre right. I need to stop
"Good. For now, just close your eyes and get some
"Hey... Why are you helping me? You know I was the one that
sent Rafe up the river."
"True, but youíre also the one that helped him get home
sooner and forced him to grow up, which was a good thing,"
Natalia replied. "I know you pretty well, Doris. You and Olivia
are different garments, but cut from the same cloth."
"Meaning that you can be self-serving, but in the end, your
conscience wins out and you do the right thing... even at that risk
of your security and self-interest... Thatís one of the most
Christ-like things people can do and I admire that trait you and
Doris put her head back on the seat. "Me? Christ-like?
That's something I never thought I'd hear... Iíd be good to her,
you know?... Blake... I'd be good."
"I know you would. And I know you envy what Olivia and I
have, but you can have it too, Doris. And not with Holly or a
bartender you met in the last hour. That's why I'm the one taking
you home. So really, you've got some information you can use to your
advantage. You did get lucky tonight. For now though, just rest.
Figure it all out tomorrow."
Doris closed her eyes and let out a long sigh.
After a few moments, they were at the farmhouse and Doris was
about half asleep when they arrived. The limo driver helped Natalia
get Doris into the farmhouse and she made sure to tip him extra,
although he said it was no trouble to help them.
Once he was gone, Natalia had Doris take off her shoes and put
her hands on the living room closet as she got behind her.
"Are we getting kinky?" Doris asked with a grin.
Natalia giggled and then leaned over to Doris's ear. "Ooh,
you'd like that wouldn't you?" she teased in a sexy voice.
"Fuck Rule #2! Come here!" Doris joked as she laughed
and tried to turn around.
"You stop," Natalia said, keeping her in place,
chuckling as well. "No kinky infidelity."
"Youíre no fun."
"Youíre just getting undressed. You canít sleep in that
evening gown and Iím worried youíll hurt yourself if I leave you
to your own devices tonight."
Doris giggled. "And what devices do you have Natalia,
"None youíll ever see," she said with a grin as she
unzipped Dorisís dress. Once the zipper was completely down,
Natalia pulled Doris back and held her steady while Doris let the
dress fall off her shoulders and pool at the ground.
"This way," Natalia said as she helped Doris step out
of the garment.
She then led Doris to sit on the edge of the sofa. She took off
Doris pantyhose after a small struggle and told her to sit still.
Sheíd return with Livís nightshirt. By the time she got back
though, Doris was already asleep against the sofa in her matching
blue bra and panties in the same hue as the dress she wore that
"I gotta admit," Natalia muttered. "Blake could be
one lucky woman."
"I heard that," Doris muttered back.
"Oh you did not," Natalia chastised.
"Iím telliní Liv you think Iím hot."
Natalia had to chuckle now and the sound made Doris open her eyes
and slowly sit up with a grin.
"Arms up," Natalia commanded and Doris complied without
a fight. "At least youíre easier to dress than Chessie,"
She dressed the mayor and then directed her to a pillow at the
opposite end of the sofa. Doris snuggled in and Natalia got an
afghan from the closet and placed it over her gently.
"Natalia?" Doris said in a sleeping voice, her eyes
"Yes?" she replied as she collected Dorisís dress
from the floor and began to hang it in the closet.
"Livís lucky to have you."
Natalia smiled. "I know you looked after her while I was
gone last year...Iíd say sheís lucky to have us both."
Doris grinned, eyes closed, and it was only seconds later when
Natalia heard the mayor give a light snore.
Later that same night, Blake was knelling on all fours. Her eyes
were shut tight as Frank rocked behind her on the bed, gripping her
hips. He began to reach up to cup her swaying naked breast. Before
he could get a firm grasp, she stopped his hand and moved it back to
"Just your fingertips," she urged.
Frankís large hands would break the illusion in her mind. She
was happy when silently he complied and went back to bucking within
her at a steady pace. Blake lazily closed her eyes again and focused
back into her fantasy.
Everyone had left the hall from that night except for her and
Doris. They continued to dance, but at one point Doris turned Blake
around to face one of the tables. The mayor nipped at the back of
Blakeís neckline as her hands came up to caress her breasts.
"Do you want me to take you?" Doris asked.
Blake wet her lips.
"Yes," she muttered.
"I didnít hear a Ďpleaseí," Doris said as she
pinched Blakeís erect nipples through her dress.
Blake groaned and turned slightly to look at Doris from over her
shoulder. She made a blind sweeping gesture at the nearby table,
clearing it of its objects above with a large clatter.
"Please take me," Blake whimpered.
In a lightening fast move, Doris urgently pushed her forward into
the table and roughly pulled up Blakeís dress. The authorís
breath caught in her throat as her palms landed flat against the
table. Doris grabbed her by the hips and raised them up slightly.
Then she reached down and began to rub her fingers against Blakeís
"So wet," Doris admired as she continued to fondle the
redhead. Blake began to move her hips in time with Dorisís stroke.
"You want more donít you?" the mayor said.
Blake grunted and nodded her head.
"More," she managed to mutter.
Doris ripped the G-string Blake was wearing and tossed it on the
table in front of her. Without warning or invitation, Doris slipped
two fingers into Blake and after a few strokes included a third.
"Oh, yeah," Blake said as she rode Dorisí hand.
"You like that?" Doris grunted. "You like me
"Yes!" Blake called out. "Fuck me harder,"
she panted as her hips continued to pound in sync with Dorisís now
Dorisís thrusting picked up pace and force. Both of them
grunted and moaned together. Doris picked up the G-string and held
it to Blakeís mouth.
"Bite it," she ordered. "See how good you taste
while I make you come."
Blake bit down on the fabric and let out a shrill cry that was
The only thing was... she wasnít in the hall. The fabric she
felt in her mouth was the comforter she shared with Frank. Sheíd
buried it in her mouth as her orgasm ripped through her body. With a
few more thrusts, Frank gave a mangled cry of satisfaction and fell
limp to the bed beside her.
Blake still hadnít turned to face him when she heard him
"What?" she asked, still not turning around to face
"You were incredible," Frank complimented. "Please
take me, More, Fuck me harder..." he said quoting her. Blake
panicked for a moment. She wondered if she mentioned Dorisís name
at any point. She quickly put herself at ease since Frank seemed
happy with her vocalizations. "Iíve never heard you this
talkative before. I liked it," he said in a sleepy voice.
She didnít reply. She rolled over, still not looking at him. As
she hung onto his arm, he began to drift into sleep. Once he was
out, she got up from the bed and went into the bathroom. She looked
at herself in the mirror and then threw some water on her face.
"Damn you Doris Wolfe... You knew exactly what would happen
tonight...You were right..."
And for the moment, Frank Cooper was none the wiser.
The next morning, Doris had on sunglasses as she sat behind her
desk, cup of coffee in hand. It appeared as if every muscle in her
body must have ached.
"Hey," Olivia said noting her friendís demeanor from
the doorway. "Howís your head?"
"Never get drunk on scotch," Doris muttered.
"Are you STILL drunk?" Olivia asked as she entered the
"No, just feeling pretty rocky. Was it a late night for you?
I donít remember you coming in."
"No, I got home less than a half hour after Natalia. You
were OUT though," Olivia giggled.
"Your wife thinks Iím becoming an alcoholic... oh, and
that Iím hot."
Olivia grinned. "Women CAN drive you to drink. I know first
hand," she sympathized with a shrug. "And for the record,
I agree with her on the hottie thing."
Doris grinned and immediately had to hold her temple in pain.
"I need to stop this," she muttered.
"Yes, you should."
"Besides, Iím not as young as I used to be. I donít
bounce back as well as I once did."
"Natalia told me what she said to you... Have you talked to
"Blake?" Doris asked. Olivia only nodded. "No, Iím
waiting until I feel a little better. My impending apology might not
go over too well if I look this rough."
"Who knows? You might be able to play the sympathy
card," Olivia suggested. "Itís hard to fight with
someone when the task of breathing looks painful for them."
Doris grinned in spite of her throbbing head. "So what
brings you by?"
"Came here to see if you wanted to grab lunch?"
"Oh god no," Doris said and put her hand over her
mouth. The thought of food still made her nauseous.
"Well, how about dinner tonight?"
"Can I let you know later?" Doris asked.
"Why donít you just stop by if youíre up to it? Around
Doris nodded and Olivia turned to leave.
"Liv?... Thank you. Iím sorry if it seemed like I didnít
want your help last night. I really do value you... Natalia
Olivia smiled. "No problem," she said before she left
As the day progressed, Doris did feel better. She knew she had to
see Blake sooner or later, so she made her way to Company in the
late afternoon. There was only one other patron in the restaurant
and he looked like he was on his way out, since he was tossing some
money on the table.
"Hey," Doris said as Blake noticed her at the bar.
Blake walked over with her pad in hand.
"Would you like to place an order?" she asked coldly.
"Iíd like to apologize," Doris replied. The jingle of
door created by the man leaving made her turn her head for a moment,
but then she re-focused on Blake. "I had such a great time
talking and dancing with you last night. One of the best nights Iíve
had with a woman in... years." Doris smiled for a moment.
"But everything kind of went to hell in a hand-basket,
especially after I had a few too many upon Frankís arrival. So, Iím
sorry if I offended you with my childish behavior. I have no right
to make comments about your relationship with Frank. Itís none of
"Youíre right. Itís not," Blake said, her arms
folded across her chest.
"And thatís why Iím here... to say Iím sorry... and to
"Goodbye?" Blake said as her arms dropped to her side
and a frightened sound came to her voice. "Youíre leaving
"No," Doris grinned slightly at the innocent
assumption, but then she appeared sad. "Iím... leaving
Blake didnít know what to say at first and Doris wasnít
continuing her train of thought.
"Youíre leaving me?" Blake stammered. "W-What
does that mean exactly?"
"It means I canít be your friend," Doris answered.
"Iím sorry, but Iím... too close to just be friends, so I
have to walk away. But my apology, whether you decide to accept it
or not, is sincere and it still stands."
Doris gave a short nod of finality and left the bar stool. She
put her purse strap over her shoulder and made her way to the exit.
Blake didnít move at first, but then she realized that Doris was
really leaving, for good, and she moved as quickly as she could to
block the exit.
"Donít go," Blake begged her.
"I have to. Iíll just end up hurting both of us."
Blake still didnít move for her. "Iíll see you
around," Doris said as she moved past Blake and opened the
Blake shouted toward the back, "Buzz! Iím taking
five!" and then she followed Doris outside, sans coat.
"Doris!" Blake began as she gave chase. "I forgive
you, okay? A-And Iím sorry too."
Doris stopped a few steps down the porch and looked up at Blake.
"Why are you sorry?"
"Obviously, Iíve done something to make you want to leave
and... whatever that is, Iím sorry. Just donít go."
"This is already hard enough," Doris told her with a
slight whimper. "Donít make it harder..." Doris wasnít
sure what more to add so she said, "I wish the best for you and
She started down the stairs.
"So what? I canít call you now? I canít talk to you at
all?" Blake asked in annoyance.
Doris stopped. She considered it and turned around. "Thatís
exactly what it means."
"I donít understand why," Blake said as she rubbed
her arms to stay warm. "Please come inside. Itís freezing out
here. Iíll get some coffee, weíll talk and-."
"Thereís nothing to discuss. You want Frank. End of
Doris turned again to leave.
"Thatís a cowardís answer," Blake shot back. She
sounded angry now.
"Excuse me?" Doris said take a few steps back up to
"I think youíre selfish to throw away our
friendship," Blake countered.
Doris laughed at the ridiculousness of her statement.
"Youíre delusional, Lady!" she said getting angry.
"Yes, if think the only thing happening here is friendship!
Itís much more and you know it!"
Doris began to descend the stairs again.
"Thatís it, Doris! Run away!" Blake taunted her.
Doris threw her purse down in anger and went back up the steps.
Blakeís hand immediately went to her hips in defiance, as Doris
faced off against her.
"Me?! Iím not the one RUNNING here! Look at
"What about me?!"
"Youíre the real coward! Youíd rather be with a man who
is so far from your Ďtypeí itís not funny."
"I donít have a Ďtypeí and I wish people would stop
saying that!" Blake countered.
"Hell yes you do! And youíre looking at her right
Doris held up her hand and began to extend her fingers one by
"Wealthy, Powerful, Attractive, Older...Hell Iím even the
D.A. turned Mayor for Godís sake! Letís be honest! The ONLY
thing I lack is a penis, which is incredibly overrated I might add!
So, Iím not the one running! Youíre the one whoís too busy
RUNNING to Frank to avoid what you really feel!"
Doris was winded after her speech, but Blake was the one who took
a deep breath to regain a sense of calm.
"Letís just settle down, alright?"
"No!" Doris said, her resentment stronger than ever as
she waved her finger. "This is the problem. Things get too hot;
too passionate and you want to Ďcalm downí! What happened to
that idealistic romance writer, huh?! That woman who threw
convention away?! A woman not afraid to fall for someone that
society told her wasnít the right fit for her?! Where is that
brave woman whoís not afraid to follow her heart?! And donít
tell me that being with Frank is following your heart because we
both know thatís a lie!"
"So what am I supposed to do?" Blake cried.
Doris didnít overanalyze her next move. She simply reacted. She
captured Blakeís face in both hands and brought the woman into a
At first, Blake flinched and tried to move away, but Doris held
on, refusing to let her go. After three seconds, and Blakeís
reaction of flight subsided, the younger woman relaxed and even
moaned as Doris deepened the kiss. She pulled back enough to shift
her face in the other direction and recapture Dorisís eager lips
One of Dorisís hands continued to steady Blakeís face while
the other reached down to Blakeís backside. The mayorís fingers
kneaded her denim-clad derriŤre while pulling their bodies closer
together. Blakeís hand found the small of Dorisís back while the
other hand traveled upward, her fingers snaring into Dorisís hair,
bringing her closer.
Blake felt a surge of desire flutter within her belly and within
seconds she could feel her arousal growing damper between her legs
the longer Doris kissed her. She wondered if her knees would able to
sustain her as her desire grew. Her center began to ache. She moved
slightly to the left so her leg could make contact with Dorisís
thigh and her pelvis could connect to Dorisís center. As she
deepened the kiss again, her pelvis instinctively surged forward and
she was reward with Dorisís soft moan in her mouth.
Doris slowly disengaged herself from Blake.
"This..." the mayor said sounding breathless as she
rested her forehead on Blakeís, both of their eyes closed.
"This is why we canít just be friends... Goodbye Blake."
Doris didnít wait for a reply. She released her and quickly
gathered her purse before she darted away.
All Blake could do was touch her lips, which Doris had just
burned with her ardent kisses just seconds before her rapid
departure. Her mind was reeling with sensations. The feel of Dorisís
lips controlling every nerve ending in her body. The sounds they
both made that only heightened her arousal. She quickly realized
that the last person who ever truly made her burn like this was
Ross... it wasnít Frank and that reality hit her hard. Blake
finally gathered her wits, but by then Doris was already in her car,
Suddenly, Blake felt very cold. The late November wind whipped
over her heated skin, making her feel even more chilled. She rubbed
her arms and then dashed back inside of Company, only to be met by
Buzz looking at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Care to tell me what that was about?" he asked.
Blake looked shocked and scared.
"Blake?" The strawberry blonde recognized a womanís
voice, but her mind was swimming. Why did Buzz suddenly sound like
The last thing she remembered was how Dorisís lips were burning
hers on the steps of Company and then facing Buzz, who wore a
curious expression. She shook her head to clear it. Suddenly, she
was standing behind the lunch counter.
Blake was now she completely confused.
She blinked a few times and focused on Doris, who was still
seated at the bar, with a look of concern. Blake quickly realized
everything that happened Ė the chase, the kiss, all of it - was a
figment of her overactive imagination. Doris was still there,
sitting before her, looking at her with a worried expression.
"Are you okay?" the mayor asked Blake.
"I-ah...Iím sorry. I zoned out. What did you just
say?" Blake asked.
"I said if I try to continue this... friendship... Iíll
just end up hurting a lot of people... Please know that Iím not
mad at you - far from it... I donít want you to think you have to
avoid me if you see me in public, or at our friendsí homes,
because you donít. As for us, in private though, like when it
comes to hanging out socially as we have been... I think itís
better if we no longer spend time alone... So again, Iím sorry for
the comments I made last night and I hope youíll accept my
Blake was dumbstruck. Doris was... leaving... for real this time.
The mayor slid from the counter stool and left the building
without another word. Blake immediately thought of her daydream. She
might be able to make it a reality, regardless of what Doris might
have just said. She looked to the closing door, but before she could
take a step, Buzz appeared from the kitchen.
"Someone here?" he asked.
Blake seemed torn about what to do. Her shoulders slumped and she
said, "Doris just stopped in... but... sheís gone."
Buzz quirked his head to one side.
"You okay?" he asked. "She didnít start any
trouble, did she?"
"No, no," Blake said quickly. "She, uh, stopped in
for a quick coffee to go," she lied. She then motioned to the
vacant table. "Iím gonna clean up. Did you need anything from
"Iím good," Buzz replied, not entirely convinced that
Blake was being truthful.
Blake quickly took the dishes to the back and put them in the
sink. She rested her hands on the counter and hung her head. She
willed herself to fight the urge to cry. How could she explain to
Buzz what happened? She wasnít even sure herself.
Knowing there was nothing she could say, she took a deep breath
and pushed the thought out of her head. Thatís when she heard the
door jingle. By the happy sounds Buzz made, she knew it had to be
someone they knew. Maybe Doris had reconsidered and came back.
With a sense of hope, Blake made her way to the dining area to
see Natalia there with Francesca and her aspiration soon deflated.
Buzz was making over his granddaughter, getting her to giggle and
laugh with his antics. Natalia immediately sensed something was
wrong with Blake.
"Hey, Buzz," Natalia said. "I think Iím a little
hungry after all. Think you could whip me up a Buzz Burger and a
"You got it," he replied and headed back to the
"Whatís wrong?" Natalia asked as soon as Buzz was out
"What gave it away?"
"The long face. The watery eyes. Did Frank say something
"Itís not Frank. Itís Doris... Iím about to be married
in a few weeks, right? So what if Doris Wolfe doesnít think she
can be around me?"
"Doris said she doesnít want to be around you
Blake nodded. "What should it matter, right? I have other
"But it does matter, doesnít it?"
Blake just nodded. "At the dance, Olivia told me to piss or
get off the pot."
Natalia wasnít sure what to say at first.
"Well, that sounds like my wife," she finally said with
a grin. "Although I wish sheíd not be so hot headed and
remember what itís like to be in this situation."
Blake nodded. "I... I need to put this behind me, right?...
I do, but..."
"But...?" Natalia asked.
Blake looked over her shoulder to make sure Buzz wasnít nearby.
"I donít want to... But I donít want to hurt Frank and I
feel trapped between two really great people."
"You want Doris?" Natalia asked.
"And you want Frank?" Natalia asked.
"Iím confused," Natalia said.
"Join the club," Blake sighed. "I know Frank, but
I want to get to know Doris too, experience her, find out what kind
of partner she might be. I already know sheís... fun... a-and
smart and..." Blake started to blush and giggle at the same
time. "I canít believe what Iím thinking lately. Hell, even
when she was telling me goodbye today I was fantasizing about
kissing her! Thereís something about her thatís just
Natalia chuckled a little. She looked over Blakeís shoulder to
see if Buzz was still in the back. In a soft voice, she filled in
"You think sheís sexy," Natalia offered. "Not
like streetwalker sexy; more like librarian sexy or lawyer sexy and
youíve been having naughty thoughts. Am I close?"
"Yesss!" Blake said trying to keep her voice down, but
still show her level of excitement for Natalia guessing it right.
"Plus, she looks hot in glasses!" Blake giggled. "I
must sound ridiculous!"
"Ooooh, no. Olivia is sexy in glasses too! I swear sometimes
I just wanna reach across that desk in her office when sheís
reading and..." Natalia blushed and changed the subject,
"But this isnít about me. You were saying..."
"I better make sure I knock extra loud on Oliviaís office
door if itsí closed, huh?"
Natalia giggled again. "Stop. You were talking about
"Right... Doris isnít drop dead gorgeous and sheís not
Ďcuteí. Sheís... Ďsmart sexyí like Tina Fey..."
"Or Olivia Spencer," Natalia offered with a grin.
"Yeah, sheís breathtaking in a way without being too over
the top beautiful," Blake said sounding near swooning.
"Like last night, when she walked into that hall... To be
honest, I didnít even notice my mom there at first. I couldnít
take my eyes off Doris. And then, when we were dancing, she held me
"What?" Natalia smiled.
Blake looked over her shoulder for Buzz.
"Itís okay," Natalia told her. "Iíll warn you
when he comes out. Go on. When you were dancing..." she
"She felt... solid."
"Solid?" Natalia giggled.
"Yeah, solid like toned and built, but not overly muscular.
She was in great shape and that says a lot."
"The confidence she shows the world isnít some rouse of
deep insecurity. She really is confident and she takes pride in
herself, how she looks, how she... feels." Blake blushed again
and ran her fingers through her hair in frustration.
"So you like how she feels?" Natalia teased knowingly.
"I love how she feels. But itís not just physical because
I felt... safe... protected... When I was in her arms dancing, it
seemed like everything would be alright; nothing else really
mattered at that moment."
"Thatís good, isnít it?"
"Not when Iím about to marry Frank. You know exactly what
"And Frank is a good man. Heís a... sweetheart who
respects me, but...Iím not sure if he has genuine passion for
me... or vice versa. But I also know thereís more to life than
passion and Frank fills those other spaces really well. So... Iím
confused. I wish..."
"I wish I could date them both -- see how Iíd fit into
their lives; how theyíd fit into mine. But itís only three weeks
to the wedding."
"Please postpone it," Natalia begged. "Donít do
what I did and leave him at the altar."
"I honestly donít know what to do. I think of Doris and...
Yes, I like how she feels physical, but I also like how I feel
emotional about myself when Iím with her. You know what I mean? Iím
front and center with her. I have her undivided attention. She hangs
on my words and maybe thatís only because itís so new and
exciting. Still with her... I feel... like me. Does that sound
Natalia shook her head. "No, I get it. Iíve never felt
more like myself, the real me, then when Iím with her Ė Olivia,
I mean," she clarified.
"Right! So many people in this town think they know me,
Frank too, but she really does. Frank knows my history, yes, but
with Doris, well, it seems like she knows my heart. And... we get
each other; weíre in sync."
"You looked pretty in sync on the dance floor." Natalia
"Exactly! We were in perfect time; in perfect step with each
other and weíd never danced together EVER until last night. Do you
know how hard it is to dance like that with someone? It can take
years and still never feel that smooth. But with her... it was...
instinctual... I knew when and where she was going to move and I
followed. It was fluid and graceful and amazing and... it was pretty
damn hot so Iím sure sex with her would be phenomenal." Blake
smiled and blushed again.
Natalia giggled. "You both looked as hot as you felt, lemme
Blake turned completely red at that point and buried her face in
her hands. She mumbled, "It was that obvious?"
"To most people watching, it looked like two friends having
fun. To me and Olivia, we knew better and saw it for what it
"And what was it exactly?"
Natalia grinned. "Two friends falling in love."
Blake grinned for a moment and then she looked sad.
"Problem is," she sighed, "I donít want it to
end. But Doris said we canít see each other and she doesnít want
to be my friend anymore."
"Well, maybe you shouldnít be," Natalia replied.
"So Iím just supposed to walk away? Throw away a great
relationship with her?" Blake asked getting annoyed.
"Thatís not what I said," Natalia replied. "I
said maybe you shouldnít be friends anymore. Maybe you both need
something more than friendship."
Blake considered Nataliaís words silently.
"One Buzz Burger!" the chef announced as he carried his
"Shoot! You know what?" Natalia said, "I just
remembered something I gotta do. Darn it!" She looked to Blake.
"Could you guys watch Chessie for me? I should be back in about
"I would love it," Buzz said. "I donít get to
spend enough time with my granddaughter."
"Thanks," Natalia said. "And Blake, why donít
you come over for dinner tonight? Weíll talk more then, okay? I
mean, if you donít have plans."
"Frankís still working that Rizzoli thing and Clarissaís
at her friends tonight, so Iím more than free."
"Good," Natalia said. "Howís six sound?"
"Iíll be there," Blake said, "and if itís
easier Iíll just bring Chessie with me."
"Are you sure? Thatís longer than Iím asking."
"Go! Get out!" Buzz yelled at her as he took the diaper
bag and then the baby. "We got it under control, donít we
Sweetness?" he added softly to Francesca, who cooed happily at
her granddad. "See?"
"Thanks guys," Natalia said and then darted out the
Several minutes later, Doris sat behind her desk. The exterior
office lights were out since she was the only one working. She was
focused on a spreadsheet, with her glasses perched on her nose. She
had the phone to her ear and when she looked up she suddenly had a
pissed off Latina standing on the other side of her desk.
"Hey Larry, let me call you back. Something just came
Doris hung up without a goodbye. She took off her glasses and she
heard Natalia mutter something about Blake being right about the
Rather than comment on the mumble, Doris said, "You look
annoyed. Whoís in trouble this time? Me or your wife...?" She
paused and then added, "... or both?"
"Should I take that growl to mean Olivia and I are both in
trouble?" Doris asked.
"Youíre an idiot," Natalia grumbled.
"Okay, so itís just me. At least Iím narrowing it
down," Doris replied dryly as she stood up from her desk.
"What did I do?"
"You really donít know?"
"Iím guessing this is about one real estate agent Ė
slash Ė author Ė slash Ė waitress."
"How could you just turn her away, especially after what I
confided to you?"
"Actually, itís because of what you said that I did
it," Doris answered.
"I was trying to bring you together; not pull you apart! I
gave you an inside scoop so youíd be more confident when you talk
to her. I donít understand whatís going on in your brain!"
"If it was just me who was in love, I could deal with
it," Doris explained. "It would my burden to carry on my
shoulders alone. If sheís feeling the same way, then the only
thing my presence is doing is making her upset because sheís not
free to feel the way she does. That means I need to leave so she can
figure things out."
"And she canít do that if youíre around?" Natalia
"I donít think she can."
"Doris," Natalia sighed in annoyance.
"Honestly, I know whatís going to happen here because itís
"Contrary to popular belief, absence doesnít make the
heart grow fonder. Most times it shows that what you thought was
real emotion was just a reaction to a situation; not anything
"Sheís crazy about you Doris."
Doris seemed to brush off the comment and continued with her
train of thought.
"At this moment? Perhaps. But maybe Iím just an escape
from the boredom of Frank. And donít tell me Frankís not boring
Ė heís like watching wallpaper dry," Doris challenged.
"Should she throw away a good, stable life with him for a
fascination with a lesbian that might wear out once itís Ďoldí
or when she realizes lesbian sex isnít what she wants? No, she
"But sheís an adult," Natalia countered. "Thatís
HER decision to make; not YOURS. And youíre taking that away from
her! Oh! You sound like Olivia! She did the same thing to me, trying
to decide what was best for me without even asking me what ĎIí
wanted. Donít sell Blake short!"
"Difference here is I might not be Blakeís ĎOliviaí,
okay?" Doris said as she began to whimper. "I might not be
Ms. Right, okay?"
"Okay," Natalia agreed in a gentle voice hoping it
would ease Dorisís growing anxiety.
"What if Iím only... Ms. Right Now?"
Doris sounded scared; vulnerable, which was something Natalia had
never seen. Thatís when Natalia knew what Doris was feeling ran
much deeper than a fascination alone. Based on her conversation
earlier, she knew the same was true of Blake too... But she was out
of ideas regarding what to do.
"What if youíre wrong?" Natalia posed kindly and
sympathetically, trying to keep Doris calm. "What if her
feelings for you are real and Frankís the one sheís just killing
time with? Did you think about that?"
"I have," Doris said evenly. "But if I leave, sheíll
re-focus on Frank. She can decide if she wants to get married, like
she planned. If Iím around, Iím just going to confuse her; bring
her more doubt. If Iím out of the picture sheíll find out
"She really misses you," Natalia finished.
Doris just nodded, but then she cleared her throat and said,
"Now, although Iíd love to stand here in the middle of my
office and talk about my non-love life, I really do have work to do.
I took too much time getting ready for that dance that Iím stuck
here this weekend playing catch up. Olivia did invite me to dinner
tonight so, if you like, you can continue to berate me then,
alright? Liv said to be there at six, so howís that work for my
Natalia opened her mouth to mention Blake, but instead said,
"That... sounds great, actually. Iím sorry to bother
"Fine. Iíll see you soon and you can continue with the
scolding. Until then..."
Doris gave her a slight shoo of her hands to make her go away.
She quickly went back to her phone and missed the smirk Natalia was
wearing as she left the office.
"You did what?" Olivia asked.
She was now home for the evening and Natalia stood in their
kitchen making spaghetti sauce while they talked.
"Or a murder/suicide in the making."
"Youíre so over-dramatic sometimes," Natalia sighed.
"So you're certain neither one of them knows the other will
Natalia grinned. "Actually, this is really your fault."
"What did I do?!"
"I didnít know you had invited Doris over when I invited
Blake, but thatís okay because, again, itís perfect... After
all, God works in mysterious ways."
"Wait. I thought this was my fault; not Godsí?"
"If it goes wrong, THEN itís your fault," Natalia
Olivia had to laugh too. "So, by your logic, if this goes
Ďrightí then itís God at work."
"And if it goes wrong itís my fault?"
"Right." Natalia smiled.
They both laughed.
"But just to be clear...," Olivia added, "...none
of this is just a coincidence, right?"
"Not at all. Theyíre meant to be alone, in the same house,
with no distractions. That way they can talk it out."
"Why are you laughing?"
"I find it hilarious that the woman who initially warned me
to Ďstay out of ití is now as thick as thieves."
"Iím not Ďthick as thievesí."
"Oh, stop," Natalia said with a grin as she swatted
Olivia with her dishtowel.
"So whatís the plan here?" Olivia said as she got a
spoon to test the sauce. "Make them spaghetti and then voilŗ!
Lady and the Tramp romance ensues?"
"If weíre lucky."
"Ohhh no, donít be throwing around the Ďweí word. When
this blows up, I want YOU, and God, to get fullllll credit. And for
the record... a bit more oregano. Right now this sauce tastes like
salty tomato soup," she added as she pointed her spoon to the
Nataliaís hands went to her hips. "Would you like to cook
dinner for our friends, Ms. Bossy?"
"Iíd like to go out to eat and just leave them here. Weíll
see if the house is still standing when we get back."
"Again, with the dramatics," Natalia sighed. "It
wonít be that bad."
"What if itís not that good?" Olivia posed.
Natalia paused. "Iím trying not to think of that."
"Uh huh. Iím going to go change. Yell if you need
me." Before she left the kitchen, she called over her shoulder.
"Remember -- more oregano."
Natalia made a grumpy face and an unintelligible grumbling noise.
About a half hour later, Natalia ran to the kitchen door to let
Blake and Francesca inside. Right behind them was Clarissa. The
teenager wasnít overly busty, but she did have a slim figure and
some curves. Her long curly hair was held back in a ponytail.
"Hey Sweetie," Natalia greeted the teenager. "I
thought you were at a friendís tonight."
"Change of plans," she said. "Hope thatís
Natalia nodded and then finally said, "Yeah! The more the
merrier!" She turned to Blake as she took the baby, "How
was she?" she asked.
"An angel," Blake said with a grin. "She might be
getting tired though because she was rubbing her eyes on the way
"Maybe sheíll go down for a nap," Natalia looked at
her watch. It was ten to six. Doris would probably be arriving any
minute, if she wasnít already in the driveway. "Iím almost
done with dinner," Natalia added. "Would you mind if you
took her up and see if you might be able to get to sleep? Livís
just getting out of the shower or Iíd ask her."
"Itís my pleasure," Blake answered.
"Clarissa? Emmaís upstairs and Iím sure sheíd love to
see you." Natalia offered. "I know sheís a little
younger, but sheís beyond the Hannah Montana phase now. Itís
safe if you wanted to listen to some music before dinner."
Clarissa chuckled slightly. "Okay. You sure you donít need
help in here?"
"No honey," Natalia replied. "But thanks for
asking. You two just head on upstairs."
Mother and daughter both nodded and walked through the doorway to
the living room for the journey upstairs. Natalia heard Olivia and
Blakeís voices and peeked in the living room. Then saw Olivia move
quickly down the stairs coming over to her.
"Clarissaís here," Olivia whispered.
"I know," Natalia winced.
"So much for Ďalone timeí. Now what?" Doris is
going to be-." There was a knock on the living room door.
"..here any minute," Olivia finished, going to the door.
"Hey," Doris greeted when Olivia opened the door.
"You guys get a new car?" she asked pointing to Blakeís
Olivia thought fast and put a finger over her lips. "Weíve
got the baby down."
"Ooh, sorry," Doris said keeping her voice low.
"Head to the kitchen and weíll be right there,"
Olivia whispered to her.
From the kitchen doorway, Natalia nodded pleasantly, but
silently, to Doris, who did the same as the mayor walked into the
kitchen. Natalia let the door close and then moved swiftly to meet
Olivia in the center of the living room.
"Again Iíll ask, now what?" Olivia asked softly once
Doris was on the side of the kitchen door. "This is starting to
feel like a French Farce with banging doors and dashes from
"We have dinner," Natalia replied optimistically while
keeping her voice low. "You, me, Doris, Blake and the
"Easy as that, huh?" Olivia asked skeptically.
"You have a better idea?"
Olivia put up her hands. "This was your plan, Sweetheart. Iím
just here for the train wreck."
Natalia let out a deep sigh. "Fine. Me, Spaghetti and Doris.
You and Blake with Chessie. Meet me here in five minutes... weíll
play it by ear."
Natalia walked swiftly back to the kitchen as Olivia took to the
Doris sat in the farmhouse kitchen, looking annoyed.
"So you knew Blake was coming here when you came into my
Natalia bit her lip. "Yes, but I didnít know you were
coming until you mentioned it. I asked Blake before I knew about
Oliviaís invitation to you, so honestly, I think itís divine
"So rather than some miscommunication, Godís looking out
for the lesbians then?"
"God looks out for everyone, but regardless, I thought it
would be great for you and Blake to talk."
"Thereís nothing to discuss," Doris said. "But
for the record, Iím okay having dinner with her and Clarissa. Itís
when Iím alone with her that things get... wonky."
"Blake doesnít want you out of her life and honestly your
logic for not seeing her alone is... illogical. Youíre still going
to want each other."
"Youíre probably right, so I should just go altogether,
huh?" Doris said as she stood up.
"No!" Natalia reached out and grabbed her arm.
"Please donít. Please. Just have dinner and then you can go.
"What are you hoping to accomplish with one meal?!"
"I donít know!" Natalia said honestly. "But Iím
certain God put you both here at the same time for a reason tonight.
I just donít know what it is yet."
Doris sighed. "Fine. Iíll stay. But not for ĎGodí -- Iíll
do it for you since this seems important to you."
"Thank you!" Natalia said. "Now would you help me
cut up the Italian bread?"
Doris grinned. "Ah, I see how you are. Youíre making me
work for dinner."
Upstairs, Chessie was crashed in her crib asleep, but Blake was
pacing in the nursery as Olivia watched.
"What if I say the wrong thing?" Blake said. "What
if I scare her off even more? I should just go."
"And what do you tell Clarissa about leaving before dinner?
Sheíll want to know why youíre afraid of Doris Wolfe?"
"Damn it," Blake sighed. "Iím trapped here, arenít
"Look on the bright side," Olivia said optimistically.
"You get a free meal for you and your kid..." In a less
hopeful tone she added, "...and some uncomfortable dinner
conversation for the next 30 minutes or so."
They heard Natalia yell up to Emma and Clarissa.
"Girls? Go wash your hands please. Dinnerís almost
Blake closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She blew it out
"Why am I here?" she asked rhetorically.
"Natalia thinks God put you here so thank Him." Olivia
said as she led Blake out of the room. "I personally think itís
just a coincidence," she whispered as they walked down the
The pair entered the kitchen to see Doris and Natalia setting up
the table with the last of the dinner plates and bowls.
Doris and Blake locked eyes and the author nervously said,
"Long time no see... Itís been..." She looked at her
watch. "...look at that... A whole three hours since you didnít
want to see me anymore."
"Blake," Doris began, "like I said today, thereís
no reason we canít be civil when weíre with our friends. Iím
not angry so I hope youíre not mad."
"Iím not mad, Iím... I donít know...
disappointed," she offered.
There was a brief silence and Natalia said, "This is good.
Weíre talking; getting things out in the open."
"By the way," Blake said to Doris, "You and Ashlee
are still invited to Thanksgiving this Thursday at the
Coopers." She motioned to Olivia and Natalia. "Everyone
will be there."
"Yeah, Iím... Iím not sure if thatís a good
idea," Doris said.
"But you just said..." Blake appeared on the edge of
tears and didn't finish her argument. Doris had to look away. Before
anyone could speak, Emma and Clarissa came into the kitchen. Blake
turned and started to gather some silverware so her daughter couldnít
"Can we help with something?" Emma asked.
"Uhhh," Natalia said, caught off guard. "How about
you get the green beans from the pantry and Clarissa, can you give
everyone napkins there?" She pointed to the bag on the table.
As the girls went to work, the women began to finish setting the
As they settled into their seats, Blake and Doris reached for the
same chair. Their hands touched briefly with Doris trying to pull
away quickly and as nonchalantly as possible.
"Sorry," they both said at the same time and then
"Here," Blake said, pulling it out. "Have a
"Where are you going to sit?" Doris asked, a ting of
nervousness in her voice.
"Right here," Blake said as she motioned to the seat
next to the one she offered. "If itís any consolation, I
promise to keep my hands to myself," she added with a chuckle,
which made the diners chuckle too Ė for Clarissa and Emma, it was
genuine laughter. For Doris, Olivia and Natalia, however, their
laughter sounded more like anxiousness rather than merriment.
"Donít be silly," Doris said as she sat down.
As they began to pass around the bowls of food silently, Doris
cleared her throat and asked Emma, "So howís school going, Em?"
"Good," she replied.
"Better than good," Natalia complimented. "She has
all Aís and one B."
"Yeah, Math. I hate Math," Emma added.
"Donít blame you," Doris and Clarissa muttered at the
They grinned at each other and Doris leaned over and asked the
teenager, "So Mathís not your strong suit either?"
Clarissa moved forward to see around her mother. "I canít
stand math and Iíve been worried about what Iím going to do at
"Your mom said you were looking into being a veterinarian or
maybe getting into law?"
"You remembered me saying that?" Blake asked happily
before Clarissa could reply.
"Of course," Doris remarked. "Youíre interested
in Ashleeís life so the feeling is mutual." Doris then looked
at Clarissa. "So which one is winning at the moment?"
"I love animals, but I only do Ďokayí in biology and
math," Clarissa said. "So Iím leaning more toward
"Law is good because you only need the minimum in math, like
one year, unless, of course, you get into something like tax law.
Then you need accounting and other math classes."
"Tax law sounds very boring," Clarissa said. She
quickly looked concerned. "Oh, youíre not a tax attorney, are
you? I didnít mean to insult you if you-."
Doris held up her hand. "Criminal and family law," she
"So youíre like... a real attorney," Clarissa said
with a smile and the diners, including Doris, chuckled.
"In a word, yes. But I must say criminal law and family law
are just two areas. There are other Ďrealí attorneys who
practice things like environmental law, for example. If you like
animals then protecting them from corporations might be something
worthwhile. Thatís one of the facets of environmental law."
"I actually considered that," Clarissa said. "Iím
taking some U of S classes now."
"I loved the University of Springfield and got my degree
"You did?" Doris just nodded. "I like it so far.
This semester Iím studying Geography and Earth Science."
"Really? Youíre in classes while youíre going to high
"Now your mom didnít mention THAT. Is it tough to balance
"Not so far. I like the subjects so the classes are pretty
easy. My goal is to get one year of college out of the way before
graduation. Then itís only 3 years to my degree and then 3 or 4
years of either med school or law school, depending on what I
"Well, if you pick law youíre genetically pre-destined for
it," Doris said with a sincere smile. "Your father was a
"Iíve heard," Clarissa replied.
"Can I offer some unasked advice?"
"If youíre going to do law, be sure itís because itís
something you love, rather than trying to live up to some ideal of
what you Ďshouldí be. You donít need to be the next Marler whoís
"You think Iím trying to fill my dadís shoes or
"No, but you wouldnít be the first child to try."
"No, I like law because I was part of a forensic and debate
club at school. Frank was hoping Iíd be a cop since ĎItís good
enough for Marinaí and I liked the investigative side, but really,
I donít think thatís for me. Heís disappointed about the cop
thing, but I really liked the mock trial we did and our instructor
said I did a great job. Of course, Iím not sure if thatís true,
but I really liked being in a courtroom, even if it was fake."
"How about this?" Doris suggested. "Letís debate
this dinner after weíre done. You can show me your stuff and if
you want an honest opinion of your skills, Iíll give it to you. No
"What will we debate exactly?"
Doris thought a moment. "How good the meal was or wasnít
"Hey," Natalia said indignant.
"Itís wonderful, Iím sure," Doris assured her.
"Weíll just have someone take a counterpoint for the sake of
argument." She then turned to Clarissa, who was grinning.
"What do you think?"
"I get to debate the former D.A. about our meal
"If youíre not chicken."
Doris then made a clucking noise to give her an extra prod. Blake
and Clarissa both grinned at her antics.
"Will you go easy on me?" the teen asked.
"Not a chance," Doris replied honestly.
"In that case, Iím in," Clarissa replied confidently.
"Then good luck, Counselor." Doris grinned and extended
her hand to a smiling Clarissa. They shook hands over Blakeís
plate and Doris added, "Now letís dig in."
Blake looked over to Clarissa, who was all smiles, and then she
turned to Doris who grinned and gave her a wink, before focusing on
After dinner was finished, Chessie began to stir upstairs so
Natalia excused herself. Clarissa and Emma went to the living room
to set up the Ďcourtroomí, while Olivia helped move the dirty
dishes to the sink. Blake turned on the water as Doris cleaned off
the remaining food on the plates. Olivia tried to tell them not to
worry about it, but Blake shooed her away. If she and Natalia
provided their dinner, then she would help with the clean up.
Seeing the opportunity of getting Doris and Blake alone, Olivia
excused herself to Ďcall the Beaconí before Nataliaís dinner
was put on mock trial. That left Doris and Blake alone in the
"Thank you," Blake said as she began to clean one of
the plates in the soapy water.
"For?" Doris asked as she waited for Blake to hand it
over for drying.
"Clarissaís really excited about your idea. She was
disappointed when her plans got canceled with her friend tonight.
Suddenly, she had NO friends whatsoever, no one likes her, life is
horrible and on and on and on."
"Yes, you canít use logic when it comes to hormonal
teenagers," Doris said as she grinned. "Everything is the
end of the world."
Blake smiled. "No kidding. But your trial idea though... I
can tell sheís looking forward to it. You made her night."
"Itíll be fun," Doris said as she dried the first
plate she was handed. "Itís been awhile since Iíve gotten
the chance to strut around a courtroom, even if it is only in the...
what did you call it?... The F.O.L. - farmhouse of love?" she
said bumping shoulders with Blake.
Blake giggled as she handed Doris another plate before cleaning
"I really did have a wonderful time with you last night at
the dance," she said shyly.
"I did too," Doris replied.
"And I... I had no right to interrupt your... conversation
with the bartender."
"I had no right to make snide remarks about Frank,"
"I accept your apology Doris, so please, accept mine."
Doris turned toward Blake and she leaned in closer as not to be
"The only reason I was talking to her was because I couldnít
have my first choice... you."
"Iím your first choice? Really?" Blake whispered
"Really," Doris replied, keeping their voices down.
"Thereís always a Ďbutí, isnít there?" Blake
"But youíre taken. Thatís not your fault though Ė I
just have a history of falling for the wrong girl," Doris
"So Iím the first choice, but the wrong girl?" Blake
said as they both now absently washed and dried the dishes.
Doris nodded. "You have Frank to consider."
"I know," Blake said as she closed her eyes against
that truth. "But..."
Doris grinned and parroted, "Thereís always a Ďbutí,
"Thereís something here, right?" Blake pleaded.
"I mean itís not just my imagination? You really care for me,
donít you? Youíre attracted to me?"
"Very much," Doris replied. "Which is why being
alone with you, hell even like this, is very hard."
"Why does it have to be hard?"
"Besides my overwhelming desire to kiss you, to touch you,
to share... everything with you?"
"I see," Blake replied meekly.
There was a brief silence.
"Do you understand?" Doris asked. Blake nodded and
after another small silence Doris added, "You know, what makes
it hardest of all?... Itís not just me...You feel it too. This
spark... whatever it is."
Blake didnít speak. She raised her hand with every intention of
pulling Doris into a kiss to show her exactly what she felt when the
door of the kitchen opened. Blake, instead of caressing Doris as she
intended, used her raised hand to run her fingers through her hair
as she turned to Clarissa.
"Weíre all ready when you guys are," she announced.
"Thanks, Sweetie," Doris answered for them. "Weíll
be right there."
Clarissa nodded and left the room none the wiser.
"Time to see your gals in action," Doris said.
"I mean gal, Clarissa."
Blake grinned. "Nice slip," she teased.
Doris grinned in spite of herself as she left the kitchen.
"I say Emma gets to be the judge," Doris said.
"Why her?" Olivia asked disappointed as Emma clapped in
approval at getting job.
"You think you can do it?" Doris asked.
"I don't see why not," Olivia replied.
"You mean other than the fact that youíre..." Doris
faltered for a moment as she thought of a euphemism. "You're
cuddling with the cook each night? Oh yes, I'm sure you could be
impartial," she added sarcastically.
Olivia sulked a little bit, but didnít argue.
"Same goes for Natalia and Blake." Doris pointed out.
"One IS the cook and the other is the mother of one of the
attorneys. The only one far enough removed from this case is
Emma." Doris then turned to Clarissa and asked, "Would you
Clarissa grinned at the term used to describe her.
"Well, she is a step-daughter to the cook," the
teenager observed. "But I agree, of everyone here, she probably
is the farthest removed that weíre going to get."
In the Ďgalleryí (a.k.a. sofa) sat Olivia, Natalia, Blake and
Francesca, who was now eating some cold spaghetti in her nearby high
chair. The baby was oblivious to what was really happening, but she
was interested in all the movement going on around her.
Emma went to the Ďbenchí, which consisted of the coffee table
that was slid in front of the television. Emma sat cross-legged and
took the wooden meat tenderizer that Doris gave her to act as a
"The prosecution opens," Doris continued, "but weíll
need to decide who's who. I say since the real truth is the meal was
delicious, thank you very much Natalia," she said as she
grinned at the woman. "For our purposes here, weíll make the
pro argument the defense and the con argument - a.k.a. a bad dinner
- the prosecution. Agreed?" she asked Clarissa.
"That sounds fair," the teen replied. "Just to
make sure I have this correct, the prosecution thought the dinner
was bad and the defense will Ďdefendí the quality of the meal
and say itís good, right?"
"Yes. And you can pick whichever one you want Ė defense or
prosecution," Doris offered.
"Since I don't want to get into trouble with Natalia, I'll
be defending the meal."
Olivia leaned over to Blake instead, "No one can ever
accused Clarissa of being dumb... unlike me."
Olivia then grinned and got up from the gallery and went over to
whisper something in Doris's ear. Doris gave her a confused
expression, but Olivia said, Ď"Just do it Ė trust me,"
as she walked back to the gallery.
"What did you say to her?" Natalia asked.
"Youíll see," Olivia answered with a grin.
Doris leaned down to Emma and whispered something. Emma then
banged the gavel and pointed to Doris who stood at Emmaís right.
"Court is now in session. Prosecutor, your opening
statement," she announced. Olivia and Natalia grinned at each
other in silent agreement of how cute yet authoritative Emma
"Thank you, Your Honor," Doris began with a nod to
Emma. "While it can be said that Mrs. Spencer as served many
wonderful meals in the past, the dinner that was served to guests
tonight was far from delicious."
Doris turned and whispered, "Not really Ė this is
fake." Then she turned back to the room and in a louder voice
said, "The prosecution will show, point-by-point, why this
evening was not the culinary delight that the defense will claim.
Thank you, Your Honor."
Doris then whispered to Emma and nodded slightly to Clarissa.
"Defense, your opening statement," Emma said.
"Thank you, Your Honor," Clarissa began. "Iím
here to say that the claims the prosecution have brought against
Mrs. Spencer are unfounded and entirely circumstantial." Doris
turned back to the gallery and gave them a nod of approval for the
jargon and tone in which Clarissa spoke. "A delicious meal was
served tonight," the teenager continued with great conviction,
"and it was enjoyed by everyone in attendance. To say that this
dinner was far from delicious is purely speculative and not based on
any solid evidence. Thank you, Your Honor."
"Line?" Emma whispered to Doris at causing everyone in
the room to chuckle slightly.
Doris turned back to the gallery and said, "Emma is quite
the little actress, isn't she?" She then turned around to Emma.
She cupped her hands around her mouth and said in a soft voice,
"Prosecution, your first witness."
Emma repeated the line and Doris stood up from her kitchen chair
and motioned to the gallery.
"I'd like to call my witness, Olivia Spencer, to the
Olivia looked surprised, but she stood up anyway. She sat in the
other wooden kitchen chair that was placed next to the Ďjudge's
"Objection," Clarissa called out as Olivia sat down.
Emma wasnít sure what to do as Clarissa went on but Doris motioned
Emma to wait. "Your Honor, the defense objects to this witness
being called at this time. We were given no prior knowledge she
would testify and the defense is entitled to advance notice to any
witness who might give evidence to this case. As a result, the
defense canít properly prepare for cross-examination. Itís also
detrimental because we wonít have a witness available who might
contradict this witnesses observations or conclusions."
Emma looked to Doris, who was all smiles.
"Verrrrry good, Clarissa," Doris compliment. "Iím
"What do I do?" Emma whispered to Doris.
"Say ĎOverruledí," Doris replied.
"Hey," Blake, Natalia and Clarissa said at the same
time and Doris chuckled.
"Thatís... Ďleading the judgeí and you canít do
that," Blake joked.
"Oh fine," Doris sighed. She handed Clarissa an
imaginary piece of paper. "Hereís my witness list. Iíll
call her and you call Natalia. Howís that?"
"Agreed," Clarissa said with a grin. "You may
"Thank you, Counselor," Doris replied. "Now Ms.
"Prosecutor," Emma interrupted her. "You forgot
something." She turned to her mother. "Will you tell the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you
God?" Emma asked without prompting.
"Emmaís being judge and bailiff. Nice catch, Emí,"
Emma smiled. "I've seen it in movies and I remembered them
asking me at my daddy's trial," she said proudly.
Olivia sighed. "10 years old and she's already had to go to
her father's trial," she quipped.
"Yeah, but at least she got the line right," Doris
"Mom?" Emma said annoyed. "You never said yes.
Will you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
so help you God?"
"At the risk of having to spend the next week sleeping on
the couch? Yes."
Olivia was still facing Emma when she was slapped upside the head
with Francesca's rolled up burp cloth that Natalia had thrown at
"See? Itís already starting," Olivia pointed out.
"Ms. Spencer," Doris began as she paced in front of
Olivia. "Did you or did you not tell Mrs. Spencer that her
spaghetti sauce tasted like, and I quote, Ďsalty tomato soupí at
approximately 5:30 PM this evening?"
"Oooohhh you are in so much trouble," Natalia groaned
and waved a finger at her wife.
Olivia giggled and then asked, "Can I pled the 5th Amendment
so I donít incriminate myself to a week on the sofa?"
Blake, Clarissa, and even Natalia, had to chuckle.
"No and Judge Spencer?" Doris smiled and turned to
Emma. "I would ask that you remind the gallery they need to
remain quiet, and not intimidate my witness, or theyíll be
expelled from this courtroom."
"Maíam," Emma said, looking at her Ma. "The
Councilor is correct. No comments or youíll be asked to
leave." She then looked at Doris. "You may continue."
Natalia folded her arms across her chest, but otherwise remained
"Thank you, Your Honor," Doris said. "Now, Ms.
Spencer please answer the question, did you say the sauce tasted
like Ďsalty tomato soupí?"
Olivia grinned at Natalia. "Yes, I did."
"Can you tell me what you do for a living?"
"Iím a hotelier."
Clarissa sat on her chair, making notes on a legal pad.
"I am I correct to assume your hotel has a kitchen?"
"So would you say you can spot food quality rather
"Aside from being a hotelier, have you held any other
positions associated directly or indirectly with the food service
"Remember, you are under oath," Doris reminded her.
Olivia chuckled at her friendís theatrics and said, "I was
a professional chef."
"A professional chef!" Doris announced to the room with
a wave of her hand. "Would you say, of anyone in this room, you
know more about food quality and if the sauce was like tomato
"Salty tomato soup." Olivia corrected her and was soon
beaned with a stuffed animal that flew from the sofa where Natalia
Doris chuckled and then said, "Yes, salty tomato soup."
"Yes, I would be the expert out of everyone here, but can I
"And," Doris said cutting Olivia off, "Did you see
Natalia prepare the water for the noodles?"
"Did she add any oil products to the boiling water?"
"She did. But again-."
"No further questions at this time. Right to recall, Your
Honor," Doris said cutting Olivia off again.
"Youíre a brat," Olivia complained to Doris.
"Youíre making me sound like I hate her food."
Doris just smirked and she then looked to Clarissa. "Has
your debate team discussed right to recall?" she asked the
"Yeah, you can recall the witness, like if a second party's
testimony, say Nataliaís, contradicts evidence given by the
original witness, Olivia, on direct examination. With right to
recall you can call Olivia back to the stand again."
"Very good," Doris praised and gave a little Ďgolf
"Now what?" Emma asked.
"Oh," Doris said. "You ask Clarissa if sheíd
like to cross-examine the witness."
"Councilor," Emma said sounding official. "Would
you like to... cross the wit...do what she said?" Emma
The room occupants all grinned.
"Yes, Your Honor," she replied.
Clarissa stood up with her pad and approached Olivia.
"You mentioned you were a professional chef, correct?"
"I did," Olivia replied.
"As a professional chef, you would know how to improve this
"And did you offer Mrs. Spencer any advice this
"I told her to add more oregano to the sauce."
"Now based on how it tasted during the meal, would you say
she did as you instructed?"
"So what began as salty tomato soup became a delicious
"Objection," Doris said. "Defense is leading the
witness with that question."
"I withdraw the question, Your Honor. Iíll rephrase
it," Clarissa said before Emma could reply. "Ms. Spencer,
based on your skills as a cook, was it obvious to you that you were
being served spaghetti sauce at dinner?"
"On a scale of one to ten, with one being the least
appetizing, how would you rate this sauce served tonight?"
Olivia considered it. "Honestly? And at the risk of another
teddy bear upside the head? Iíd say seven. But the reason itís
not a ten had nothing to do with the chefís ability, but rather
the ingredients they had to use."
"Could you explain?"
"The base was made with a canned spaghetti sauce rather than
fresh tomatoes or home-made canned tomatoes. Any chef will tell you
fresh is always better than anything factory produced."
Doris scribbled something on her pad while Clarissa looked at her
After a brief paused, Clarissa asked, "You told Ms. Wolfe
that you witnessed Mrs. Spencer putting oil in the water for the
"Maybe a teaspoon."
"Whatís the purpose of this act?"
"It makes the noodles less likely to stick together and as I
was going to mention before Ms. Wolfe interrupted, we donít mind
Clarissa thought for a moment and then said, "No further
questions at this time."
Doris stood up. "In light of Ms. Spencerís testimony, I
have some follow up questions."
Emma motioned Doris to continue.
"Now, Ms. Spencer is it true that adding oil to the noodles
can be detrimental to the overall enjoyment of a spaghetti
"Objection," Clarissa said. Doris smiled proudly.
"Sheís leading the witness," the teen added.
Doris didnít turn around entirely to face Clarissa, but from
slightly over her shoulder she said, "I was hoping youíd
catch that." She turned back to Olivia. "Ms. Spencer,
aside from making noodles less sticky, what side effects can it
create for the meal?"
Olivia looked reluctant to say anything.
"Come on," Doris coaxed. "You can say it."
"The sauce wonít stick to the noodles as well as it should
when oil is added," Olivia said reluctantly.
"Youíre making that up," Natalia said in an outburst.
"Am I, Ms. Spencer?" Doris asked Olivia.
"No. Itís really true. The oil, which makes the noodles
slippery, will also make the sauce slide off the noodle too. Itís
considered better if the sauce clings to the noodle, but like I
"No further questions or witnesses, at this time, Your
Honor," Doris said. She then leaned over to Emma.
Emma faced the court. "Ms. Marler, your first witness."
"I call Natalia Spencer to the stand," she replied.
Natalia and Olivia playfully snarled at each other as they passed
on their way to and from the witness stand, respectively.
"Natalia Spencer," Emma said. "Do you promise to
tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help
"I do," Natalia nodded firmly.
"Mrs. Spencer," Clarissa began. "Is it true your
wife was a chef?"
"So she claims."
"I rarely see her cook a meal here so..."
"Hey!" Olivia laughed. Blake and Doris burst out too
and looked at each other with smiles. Natalia had to smile as well
and started to giggle.
"Remember," Emma warned as she waved her fake gavel.
"One more outburst and I clear this courtroom!" She looked
to Doris. "How was that?"
"Now you sound like a judge," Doris replied.
Emma knocked her gavel. "Order in the court... Councilor, go
"Did Ms. Spencer tell you how to improve the sauce based on
her first taste of it?"
"And did you follow her advice?"
"So you made the sauce to her standards?"
"Objection," Doris said. "Thatís hearsay, Your
Honor. Ms. Spencerís standards have never been discussed."
"Fine," Clarissa said annoyed. "I withdraw the
question. Mrs. Spencer, would you say..." Clarissa thought for
a moment, "Ms. Spencer prefers her spaghetti cooked a
"Objection again!" Doris shouted. "More
Clarissa smiled and turned to Doris. "Will you give me a
"Heck, no!" Doris laughed. "Iíve never given a
Marler a break in court and Iím not gonna start now!"
Clarissa looked to her mom who just gave her an Ďyouíre on
your owní shrug and grinned at Doris.
"Fine," Clarissa sighed again, although she still
grinned. "Mrs. Spencer... How do you prepare your
Clarissa gave Doris a mock glare, as if daring her to object and
Blake smiled at her daughter and Dorisís antics. Doris herself had
to laugh. She put her hands up and shook her head as she smiled.
"Thatís a legitimate question," Doris said and
motioned for Natalia to go on.
"Well, it depends," Natalia answered Clarissa. "On
the weekends, I usually slow cook the sauce and use my own
ingredients like homemade canned tomatoes, garlic, onion powder,
Italian herbs and so on. During the week, or when Iím busy like
this weekend, I use canned spaghetti sauce and then try to add my
own spices to it, as I did tonight."
"What are the usual results?"
"Everyone LOVES it."
"Was tonight usual in that way?"
Doris grumbled a little, but let that go as Natalia said,
"Yes, everyone at the table complimented me for the meal and
two guests had seconds."
"No further questions. Right to recall," Clarissa said
as she took her seat.
Doris strolled up to Natalia.
"You said Ms. Spencer told you to add more spice,
"Do you have a witness that saw you add it?" Doris
"Are you insinuating I lied?" Natalia asked.
"Just answer the question please, Mrs. Spencer," Doris
said in a snotty tone.
"What a biiii... bigggg pain you are!" Natalia
"Permission to treat Mrs. Spencer as a hostile witness, Your
Honor!" Doris shouted.
"Objection!" Clarissa said rising from her chair.
"My witness is being badgered by the prosecution!"
"Order!" Emma said as she banged her gavel a few times.
"Ma, answer the question, please."
"No, no one saw me put in the spice!" Natalia spat.
"But Ms. Spencer already said-."
"And did you put oil in the water for the noodles?"
Doris asked, cutting her off.
Natalia sat silent.
"Weíre waiting Mrs. Spencer," Doris prodded.
"So you admit that no one saw you physically follow your
chef-slash-wifeís instructions AND you admit to using oil in the
Olivia giggled to Chessie as she picked spaghetti out of her
daughterís hair. "Your Ma and Auntie D are funny."
"Yes and yes!" Natalia said.
"Prosecution rests, Your Honor."
"Defense rests too, Your Honor," Clarissa said.
Doris whispered to Emma.
"Would the prosecution like to start their closing
argument?" Emma asked.
"We would, Your Honor... If you ask us, this case is open
and shut. Was this meal edible? Yes. But thatís not whatís on
trial here. We were asked if this meal was delicious. The answer is
no. Even by the witnesses own testimony, the sauce wasnít prepared
in the best way possible and the noodles had one destructive
element... oil. She used oil," Doris said with such conviction
as she pointing her finger at Natalia.
Natalia sulked and said, "She makes me sound like a
Even Clarissa and Blake had to smile.
Doris ignored her and went on. "When she, Mrs. Spencer, did
that the sauce didnít become part of the noodles and it slid off.
She could have used some salt and stirred the noodles often to
prevent sticking while cooking but she did not! So again, this
dinner could be consumed, yes, but it wasnít the delight the
defense will try to make you believe...I rest my case, Your
Natalia continued to sulk between Olivia and Blake who both tried
to reassure her. Doris turned around in her chair to them, "Iím
just kidding; dinner was great," she whispered to Natalia, just
to cover her hide a bit more.
"Natalia Spencer made a meal her family and friends have
loved on countless occasions," Clarissa said as she strolled
around the living room confidently. "She took the advice of a
chef Ė a chef! - And she cooked her noodles as she had many times
before, much to the love of all those who ate them. To say that this
meal was not delicious is a travesty and quite frankly, subjective.
Everyone loved it, from oldest to youngest," she pointed to
Chessie who was covered in spaghetti happily still chewing away.
"The prosecutor herself had seconds. I ask, if the meal was so
terrible as she claims, would that have happened? The answer is no.
It would not. And honestly, if you say that this meal wasnít
delicious, then you seriously might need to have your taste buds
checked... I rest my case."
Blake and Natalia both gave Clarissa a round of applause.
"Judge Emma," Olivia called out. "Whatís your
Emma looked at both Doris and Clarissa.
"Iím not gettiní in trouble with Ma. Clarissa
The room broke out into a host of different noises Ė some
cheers, some groans, some claps.
Blake smiled from ear to ear as she watched Doris extend her hand
"Congratulations, Ms. Marler," Doris said sincerely.
Clarissa shook the extended hand. "No hard feelings, Ms.
Wolfe? Even if the judge was bias and the case was stacked against
Doris smiled. "Not at all. You might not like the decision,
but you should always respect the process and the people who
righteously uphold it."
Clarissa smiled and tightened her hold on Dorisís hand and gave
it another shake.
Blake positively beamed as she watched the two of them together.
After the group finished their celebratory chocolate cake desert,
Blake and Clarissa donned their coats. Olivia ordered Emma upstairs
for her bath, which she did begrudgingly.
"Here you go," Blake said as she handed Clarissa the
car keys. "Did you bring your learnerís permit tonight?"
"Yeah. Are you letting me drive in the dark?"
"If you can battle Doris Wolfe, you can drive in the dark.
Besides, ya gotta start sometime," her mother answered.
"Go ahead and hop in. Adjust the seat and mirrors. Iíll meet
you out there in a few."
Clarissa nodded thankfully to her mom and then turned to Olivia
"Thanks for dinner," she said. "Despite what Doris
said, it was great," she teased.
"Hey," Doris moaned and then giggled.
"Youíre quite welcome," Natalia answered with a warm
smile for Clarissa.
Clarissa turned to Doris. "And thanks for not taking it easy
on me," she said.
"You know," Doris began as she adjusted Clarissaís
scarf and coat. "Lots of people take pride in their children
who really shouldnít. Your momsí pride in you though isnít
misplaced at all. Youíve got raw talent that can become great
potential if you decide to become a litigator." She offered her
hand again. "Well done, Councilor."
"Youíre not just saying that?"
"No, Iím not," Doris said sincerely.
Clarissa giggled bashfully and took the offered hand, giving it a
"Thanks," she said as she blushed and went outside, but
not before giving everyone else a wave again.
"Sheís an exceptional young lady," Doris complimented
Blake after Clarissa crossed the threshold and closed the door.
"I mean it. You have every right to be proud of her and
yourself for raising her."
"What you did tonight..." Blake said with a teary
quality in her voice.
"It was nothing," Doris said.
"It was not nothing," Blake said firmly. "She came
here depressed because of her canceled plans and now sheís leaving
happy with a stronger sense of herself because of you. Taking an
interest in Clarissa; doing this trial thing tonight... Donít say
itís not nothing."
Doris smiled nervously. "You keep it up and youíre going
to make me blush like your daughter just did."
Blake took a step closer. She raised her head to come as close to
eye level with Doris as she could. She smiled softly and looked
directly into Dorisís eyes.
"You have the bluest eyes Iíve ever seen," Blake said
"Blake..." Doris said nervously as she tried to look
Blake made Doris refocus by tenderly gripping her chin. She then
took great interest in studying her lips. For her part, Doris
appeared frozen, unable to move. Before the mayor could shift away,
Blakeís lips descended upon Doris. It wasnít a quick movement or
a jarring one, but it was still filled with determination and
Dorisís first reaction was to move away, but almost as
instantly, she knew this might be it -- her only chance to feel
Blake kissing her. So, she relaxed against Blakeís seeking lips
and the tongue that began to tease her upper lip. Doris opened
slightly wider, but it was all the invitation and inspiration that
Blake needed to deepen the kiss.
The mayor felt Blakeís hand slid to her throat and then make itís
way to rest at her neck as she cupped her face just under her jaw
line. Dorisís hands and fingers gripped Blakeís hips hesitantly,
almost in fear; as if she might vanish if she touched her. Once she
realized Blake didnít disappear though, Doris tightened her hold.
At the other side of the kitchen, Olivia and Natalia watched the
display speechless, jaws dropped. As the seconds progressed, their
shocked expressions turned into smiles.
Doris moaned softly when she realized that kissing Blake was
everything she expected. Her lips were soft, plush; moist. She
matched her stroke for stroke rather than fighting for dominance.
Much like they had done when dancing, they moved in time with each
other in graceful movements that only heightened the growing
No, Doris realized after a few moments that kissing Blake wasnít
everything she expected... it was much more. It scared her because
it was something more than passion alone. She felt a connection;
something that had eluded her for decades. But she also realized
something else, this feeling... this love... it was something she
couldnít take or steal... Blakeís love had to be something that
was given to her... freely and without entanglements. Right now,
that just wasnít possible and the truth was, it might never be a
reality. Reluctantly, and with a heavy heart, Doris pulled away
slowly, ending the kiss.
"You WILL be at Thanksgiving dinner with Ashlee," Blake
said with playful yet authoritative tone.
She licked her own lips, as if savoring the taste of Doris, while
she let her thumb affectionately and lazily glide against Dorisís
lips that sheíd just thoroughly kissed.
Doris was still speechless as Blake waved a casually goodbye to
Olivia and Natalia, who were equally shocked and speechless, but
Olivia was the first to break from her dazed yet happy stare when
she heard the second backdoor close in the kitchen.
"Doris?" Olivia said as she walked over to her.
Getting no response, she stood in front of her and watched for a
"I think sheís catatonic," she told Natalia. Olivia
began to snap her fingers in front of Dorisís face until the mayor
"Did I just imaging...?" Doris mumbled.
"Noooo!" Natalia said excited. Olivia chuckled at
Natalia "See?! I told you two! There was a reason everyone
ended up here tonight. Thereís a reason Clarissaís plans got
cancel. God is at work!"
"How do you figure?" Olivia asked.
"Blake had to see how Doris fit with Clarissa. And they fit
great! And now Blake knows that! Iím telling you, itís Godís
"And itís not just fortuitous chance? Olivia asked.
Olivia and Natalia noticed that Doris still hadnít said
anything or moved.
"Are you okay?" Olivia asked Doris.
"Can you help me to a chair before I fall over?"
Doris stumbled a bit, but Olivia managed lead her to the nearest
Olivia smiled. "What are you going to do?"
The mayor looked up at her friend.
"I have no idea."
"Doris is a lesbian you know."
Clarissa was driving while Blake sat in the passenger seat. The
new driver didnít take her eyes off the road.
"Annnddd...?" the teen said to the statement that
seemed to come out of nowhere in the silence of the car.
Blake grinned. "Thatís one of the things I love about your
generation," she said proudly. "When I was your
"Please, Mom. Not a Ďwhen I was your ageí story,"
Blake chuckled. "I was going to say when I was your age, if
people talked about someone being gay, the reaction was... disbelief
or disgust or often both. Today, I say something like that and your
reaction is more like, ĎSo what?í"
"Well, yeah. What difference does it make? Itís about how
she treats others; not who she loves."
"So, what do you think of her?" Blake asked
"I think sheís cool," Clarissa said with a smile,
which Blake then mimicked. "Even when she was telling me what I
should do Ė about not maybe being a lawyer Ė she didnít come
off all high and mighty about it. Thatís a nice change from...what
some people usually say.... Itís just nice is all."
Blake knew who Ďsome peopleí were.
"Frank cares about whatís best for you and your
future," she said.
"Well, sometimes he acts like a knowĖit-all."
"Sorry, but itís true. I really like the idea of being an
attorney, but he doesnít seem to listen to what I think. Doris
though, she actually wanted to see how Iíd do and talked about the
different types of law to practice, so that was a nice change of
Blake considered what her daughter said.
"Frank can be a great father figure," Blake began,
"...which, honestly, is something I regret not being able to
give you all these years. Heíll provide that on a daily
Clarissa shrugged. "Emma doesnít have that Ė a dad
figure 24/7 Ė and she seems just fine."
"She still has Phillip," Blake pointed out.
"Only since last year," Clarissa countered. "For
the past 3 years or so sheís had two moms and she seems no worse
for wear... Mom, youíre not a secret homophobe, are you?"
"What?! No!" Blake laughed. "My best friends are
gay for crying out loud."
"Fair enough," Clarissa said, "It just seems like
all this talk about having a dad around means more than having
parents who care, regardless of what Ďpartsí they have."
"Do you feel youíve lacked something since itís just
been the two of us for so long? I feel bad that thereíre no men in
your life. Heck, you never see your older brothers except for
holidays and... thatís my fault, I guess. Theyíd rather live at
boarding school than here, I suppose."
"Thatís not true. Theyíve always liked their
independence, regardless of you," Clarissa replied. "Me? I
like being with you and I did have a dad, but heís gone. Still,
that doesnít mean you need to find a Ďdaddyí to replace
him." Clarissa giggled slightly. "To tell the truth Mom,
and donít get me wrong since heís a nice guy overall, but Iíd
pick Doris over Frank if you really want me to have another
parent," Clarissa giggled.
Blake snorted. "Why?"
"Well, when it comes to a connection to dad, sheíd be
"Why do you say that?" Blake sounded nervously.
"Aside from being the D.A. and mayor like dad, she knew dad.
Iím sure she has stories about him, probably things that you might
not have heard because they worked together, right?"
"Yes, Doris was the assistant D.A. for awhile."
"Right. So if I ever wanted to get closer to Dad having
Frank as a quote-unquote replacement wouldnít be nearly as
meaningful as hearing stories from Doris about him Ė about Dad, I
"I know what you meant, Honey," Blake said warmly.
"Plus, when I talk, she actually listens to what Iím
saying. You know what I mean? With some people, you can talk and you
know that they arenít hearing a word you say. Theyíre thinking
about what THEYíRE going to say next. Frank does that A LOT. Maybe
itís because of her job as a politician Ė like she has to listen
to what people are saying, or at least act convincingly that sheís
listening... I donít think itís an act though because she asks
follow up questions to what someone says, and not just at the fake
trial. She did it too when we were all eating cake."
"Youíre quite observant," Blake complimented.
"Thatís funny. Doris said the same thing to me tonight.
Just one more reason to be a lawyer, I guess."
A silence passed between them as Clarissa drove on. Blake
realized that Clarissa had a fun time, but she didnít realize it
was quite so meaningful for the girl. She also realized that if she
did call off the wedding, Clarissa didnít seem like sheíd be too
broken up about it.
"You know," Clarissa said, pulling Blake from her
thoughts, "Iíd like to do that again."
"Have dinner with Doris and the Spencers. We could do
another courtroom debate. Ooh!" She spared glances to her mom
as she spoke. "Maybe we pick an Emmy award winning T.V. show to
defend or prosecute on the merits of whether it actually deserves
its accolades? Something like ĎThe Simpsonsí. What do you think?
Do you think sheíd do that?"
Blake chuckled at Clarissaís excitement. "Hey, focus on
the road," she said.
"I donít know if weíd do ĎThe Simpsonsí since she
might not watch it, but we could always do another show we both
watch. I think itíd be fun," Clarissa said with her eyes
front again. "Do you think she would?"
"She plans to come to Thanksgiving; maybe you could ask her
yourself," Blake offered.
Clarissa nodded and smiled as they drove on.
"Hey, Marsha," Olivia greeted Doris's assistant.
"Is the boss lady in?"
"Sorry Olivia," she replied. "She hasn't been in
yet this week."
"Has she checked in at all?" Olivia asked in concern.
"Oh, yes. Sheís just been working from home or on the
road. Would you like me to let her know that you're looking for her
the next time she calls in?"
"No, thank you. Iíll find her eventually," she said
with a considerate smile.
Olivia left the Mayor's office and made her way to Company. When
she walked in, she found Blake pouring coffee for the customers.
After she finished, Olivia waved her over.
"Can I get you something?" Blake asked.
"Have you seen Doris?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing. I've tried to call
her, but it goes right to voicemail. I thought she was just avoiding
me, but you haven't heard from her either? "
"No, not since the spaghetti dinner," Olivia answered.
"Has anyone seen her?"
"Her assistant said sheís called in so sheís okay Iím
Blake gave a relieved nod and then asked. "Did she say
anything after I left the other night?"
"You mean about..." Olivia didn't finish the sentence.
She looked over Blake's shoulder to see if anyone might be
eavesdropping on their conversation.
Blake just nodded again.
"Honestly, she looked pretty shell-shocked," Olivia
"Is that good or bad?"
"I don't know. Like I said, she hasn't talked to me since
"Do you think that something has happened to her?"
Blake asked in concern. "Maybe sheís being held against her
will or something? Like the kidnappers are letting her call into
work so they don't arouse suspicion. This is Springfield. Anythingís
"No, she spoke to Natalia yesterday. I guess her and Ashlee
are still planning on coming to Thanksgiving because she asked
Natalia if they could switch dishes. Doris swears that she can cook,
but she canít bake. So she wants Natalia to handle the pumpkin
pies while she does the green bean casserole."
"What else did Doris say?"
"That was that. Natalia tried to ask how she was, but Doris
just sidestepped the question and said she was busy; then hung
Blake began to look disappointed. "Maybe she thinks..."
Blake looked over her shoulder and then turned back to Olivia and
whispered, "... I'm horrible kisser."
"Yeah. I don't think that's her issue," Olivia said
with a touch of sarcasm. "She almost fell over after you left.
That's not the sign of a bad kisser."
"Why does it seems like she's avoiding everybody right now
Olivia got a determined look on her face. "Well, she's not
avoiding me. I'm going to find her and see what the hell is going
"Will you tell me?"
Olivia looked reluctant. "Maybe. I don't want to break
confidences with Doris, but I'll try not to keep you in the dark
either. That's the best I can promise."
"I'll take what I can get."
Olivia nodded and then turned to go, but Blake called out
"Olivia? If you do find her, will you tell herÖ?"
Blake seemed hung up on what exactly she could say. "Tell her
I'm worried about her and I apologize if I wronged her in
Olivia closed the distance between them and whispered, "Are
you still going to marry Frank?"
"I honestly don't know."
Olivia pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration.
"Look," Blake continued, "I just want to get
through Thanksgiving at Marinaís and Shaneís. I'll figure out my
next move after that's over."
Olivia wore an annoyed smile and shook her head. She muttered,
"No wonder she's hiding."
"This isn't easy and you act as if I should have everything
figured out," she ranted in a heated whisper. "How long
were you in love with Natalia before you had the guts to say
anything? Months; years maybe? How soon were you ready for the
stares and the whispers and the snide comments, and maybe even the
violence that might happen? Were you ready overnight?"
Olivia looked to the back kitchen. She then took Blake roughly by
the hand and led her out the door.
"Do you love her?" Olivia asked once the door was
closed. "Or are you just playing games?"
"I'm not playing games," Blake insisted. "But you
can't tell me that you don't realize what a huge leap this is for
me! Doris has had years, decades, of being attracted to women. She
knows who she is. But for me, it feels like I'm just starting to
learn who I might be." Blake began to tear up. "Maybe
you're so brave that you never get scared. Maybe the thought of
loving Natalia didn't cause the least bit of fear. So you can call
me a coward if you want, Olivia. But right now, I feel completely
trapped and I have no idea how to move. No matter which way I turn
I'm gonna hurt someone who's wonderful." Blake threw her arms
up in the air. "You don't get it, so you know what? Don't say
anything to Doris for me. If she comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I'll
talk to her then."
Blake turned around to walk back inside.
"Even with Frank there in the house?" Olivia
Blake paused in her steps, but she didn't turn around to face
"Yes, even with Frank there," she said firmly.
Blake went back inside and Olivia stomped away in search of
Olivia slammed her purse atop the bar at The Beacon. The
bartender walked over and recognized she had long day.
"Have you seen my wife around here?" Olivia asked him.
"No, Ms. Spencer."
"Good. Then set me up with extra olives and little bit
He grinned. "Cominí right up." He went to work on the
martini. "If you don't mind me saying," he added,
"you seem a bit... exasperated."
"I can't seem to find our illustrious Mayor anywhere in town
and she's not picking up her phone. I've been to her house. I've
been to her office. I've been to Company. I've been to Towers,"
Olivia rattled on. The bartender began to smile. "You find this
funny?" Olivia asked in a voice that reeked of his termination.
"Ma'am?" he began as he poured her martini in a glass.
"Have you checked The Beacon?"
He dropped in her extra olives and winked. Then he motioned over
to one of the high booths in the back. Olivia couldn't see the womanís
body or face, but she recognized the long shapely legs.
"Rather than run around town, next time Iíll just call
you," Olivia joked before she walked over to the booth with her
She stood for a moment and then motioned to the seat across from
"Mind if I sit down? My feet are tried from walking all over
this town looking for you."
In front of Doris was a tulip-type glass of scotch, neat. She
raised it and motioned to Olivia. "Knock yourself out,
"Natalia said you called. So you donít bake, huh?"
Olivia started casually.
There was a brief pause. "Iíve been calling you."
Doris held up her glass. "Iíve been running."
Olivia snorted. "An honest politician. Whoída thought
that?" She nodded to Dorisís glass. "How many of those
have you had?"
"This is number two since noon. And still pretty filled I
"And how many before noon?"
"Really. I promised you and Natalia I wouldnít get drunk
over her so Iíve been sitting here, nursing this fantastic scotch,
which is waaaay better than what Towers serves."
"And much more expensive," Doris muttered.
"Gotta pay for quality," Olivia quipped. She picked up
Dorisís glass and sniffed it. She took a sip, tasted it and then
swallowed. "He gave you the good stuff. Thatís good."
"I did ask for the tip top of the top shelf. Would you have
him out on his ear if he didnít?"
"Again, when you pay for quality, you should expect
After another small silence Olivia asked, "Are we going to
talk about the elephant in the room?"
"I told you. I havenít drunk that much. There are no
elephants here," Doris teased.
"I didnít say pink elephants," Olivia countered. She
cleared her throat and said, "Sheís been trying to call you.
She says it goes to voicemail."
Doris took a small sip, tasting the whiskey before swallowing.
"I wouldnít know what to say."
Olivia shrugged. "For starters? Leave Frank and come with
"Is that what you told Natalia way back when?"
"This isnít about me."
"Do as I say, not as I do?"
"Damn it, Doris," Olivia sighed.
"Why didnít you stop Nataliaís wedding to Frank?"
Doris asked leaning over the table in a hushed voice. "I gave
you every opportunity to step up that day and you didnít, so tell
"Weíre talking about you."
"I know we are. And the same reason I canít tell her to
leave Frank is the same reason you couldnít say the same thing to
Natalia! And you know damn well what I mean!"
Olivia didnít reply. Instead, she took a sip of her martini.
"Shit, this is good."
"Way to be evasive," Doris sighed.
"Sorry," Olivia replied. "Look, I know I suck at
giving advice, especially at love when you look at my history of
train wrecks. But with Natalia, I got it right because I did the
opposite of everything I did in my past. If you ask me Doris, youíre
doing the same thing with Blake youíve done with other women over
"I didnít ask you," Doris countered. "So just
leave me the hell alone, okay?"
"Fine," Olivia sighed. "But if you didnít want
me to find you, why are you in my hotel?"
"Because I figured Ďunder your noseí would be the last
place you would look. And I was right... if not for the big mouth
bartender, you wouldnít have seen me here."
"So I should just walk away and not care about you
"Right now, that would be a welcome relief."
Olivia looked emotionally wounded and got up from the table.
As Olivia reached for her glass, Doris try to diplomatically say,
"You canít fix this, Liv."
"Iím not trying to hurt you or make your life more
difficult. Honest, Iím not. Iím just trying to help; be a
friend. But apparently I suck at that so Iíll finish my drink at
the bar...See you at the Coopers in two days."
Olivia walked to the bar with her martini while Doris stayed in
her booth, swirling her scotch.
"I give up," Olivia said as she came through the door
looking worn out and defeated.
"So I shouldnít ask how your day went?" Natalia asked
as she stirred the pumpkin pie mixture in the kitchen.
Olivia dropped her briefcase on the nearby chair and kicked off
"Just kiss me and tell me you love me."
"Awwww." Natalia put down her bowl and wiped her hand
with her dishtowel. She kissed Olivia on the lips and then nuzzled
into her neck. "I love you... Rough day at The Beacon? Iíd
say yes since you smell like gin and olives."
"Please donít yell at me about the drink. I donít need
another woman mad at me today."
"Uh oh," Natalia said as she pulled away. "What
Olivia took a seat on the edge of the kitchen table. "Our
bestest friends in the whole wide world are indecisive pig
heads," she pouted.
Natalia had to grin at how child-like her wife sounded. Olivia
even kicked her legs back and forth like Emma does from time to time
when sheís upset.
"So which one is it today?" she asked with a
"Oh, not one. Both. I managed to piss both of them off
today," Olivia sighed as she moved from the table and took a
seat the nearby chair.
"Howíd you manage that?" Natalia asked as she went
back to her pie baking.
"Well, I went looking for Doris since she no longer talks to
"Doris talks to me. Thatís why Iím making pie."
"Fine. She no longer talks to me... Anyway, I went to
Company thinking MAYBE she was there, but all I found was Blake
reading me the riot act for not remembering what itís like to fall
for a girl. Hello? I live with you, donít I?"
"Is this where I just nod my head and keep my comments to
"Yes... For the moment...Anywaaaaay, after finding Doris
nowhere, I went to the Beacon to unwind. And as luck would have it,
guess whoís there at MY bar? Doris!"
"Oh, no. She was getting drunk again?"
"No. Just in a booth... alone... having deep thoughts; none
of which she wanted to share with me since she said, and I quote,
get the fuck away from me."
"She said that?!"
"Well, no. It was more like my departure from her booth of
sorrow would be a welcome relief. She said, I canít fix this...
And she made me sad for not letting me help," Olivia pouted
Natalia walked over and pulled Oliviaís head to her chest. Then
she kissed her on the top of the head.
"Maybe sheís right, Sweetie."
"Not you too," Olivia sighed.
"No, hear me out. This is something they have to do at their
own pace. We canít push it. We can help, we can encourage, we can
be sympathetic. But we canít force them to do anything."
Olivia began to open her mouth and Natalia added, "Even if it
is in their best interest."
Olivia deflated and blew out a breath.
"Doris is hurt," Olivia said. "Blakeís scared...
And itís got me thinking."
"Please donít ever leave me. I donít want to be single
"Keep your nose clean, and the martiniís at a minimum, and
you wonít have to worry," Natalia replied as she raised
Oliviaís head and leaned down for another kiss.
Natalia went back to her baking and Olivia got up and followed,
wrapping her arms around Nataliaís stomach.
"Youíre being clingy tonight," Natalia giggled.
"Is that a complaint?"
"No, I love your arms around me," Natalia replied.
"Truth is, I just want pie." Olivia smirked.
"These are for Thanksgiving," Natalia warned her.
"I said I want pie. I didnít say what kind," Olivia
chuckled as her hands slid down to Nataliaís center.
"Oh, so you want my pie," the brunette laughed.
"Your pie is the best," Olivia complimented with a sexy
lean to her voice.
Natalia laughed and turned in her wifeís arms. Then she got a
"You know... Chessie IS napping and Emma wonít be home
from Philipís until late."
"Say no more," Olivia said.
With lightening speed, she took the pumpkin batter and put it in
the refrigerator. Then she took a giggling Natalia by the hand and
swiftly pulled her toward their bedroom.
"Knock, knock," Ashlee said as she peeked her head into
her momís office door.
It was the next day and Doris braved coming into work. She looked
up and smiled before making her way around her desk to meet her
"You made it!" Doris said as she opened her arms.
"Of course, I did!" Ashlee said as they hugged.
"Getting out of California and dealing with everyone at the
airport was hell, but itís good to be home, even if itís just a
few days." Doris pulled back and admired Ashlee.
"What?" the young woman said, feeling she was under
"Youíre making me feel old," Doris chuckled.
"I didnít say anything."
"You look so... adult. Tall, tan, fit. Youíre not a girl
Ashlee grinned. "Oookay, you saw me last month, Mom."
"True, but you look even more mature."
Ashlee grinned. "Iíll take that as a compliment."
"It was intended as such."
Ashlee pointed at the desk. "I didnít mean to bother
you," she said.
"Youíre not a bother, Ashlee."
"Well, I just wanted to let you know we made it in. I was
going to swing over to Company and have lunch with Daisy. Youíre
welcome to come too."
Doris looked really hesitant. "Yeah, no, I mean I canít.
Tell them Iíll see them tomorrow for Thanksgiving, okay? I-I do
have some work to do before the long weekend tomorrow. So you go
ahead and Iíll see you tonight at home, okay?"
Ashlee knew something was amiss, beyond the fact her mother said
Ďokayí several times. Last time she saw her mom this rattled was
when she came out. But she couldnít place what was wrong now. She
only knew something wasnít right.
"Okay, well, if you change your mind, you know where Iíll
Doris nodded and pulled Ashlee into another hug. "Iíll see
you tonight, Sweetie."
Several minutes later, Ashlee arrived at Company to see Daisy
talking with the Coopers and Blake. Once she crossed the threshold,
they all welcomed her with open arms.
"Okay, whoís the lucky fella?" Buzz asked.
"Lucky fella?" Ashlee asked.
"You canít tell me a beautiful girl like you doesnít
have a boyfriend yet."
"Maybe itís not a boyfriend," Blake said. "Apple
not falling far from the tree and all that."
Ashlee laughed. "No boyfriend. No girlfriend," she
said. "Right now, itís just lots of studying, but I might
have more time next semester."
"Howís your Mom?" Blake asked. "Itís been a
few days since sheís been in here."
In truth, Blake still hadnít seen or heard from Doris since the
kiss at the farmhouse. Based on her conversation with Olivia the day
before, Doris seemed to be avoiding Olivia and Natalia too. Of
course, they might have seen the mayor and they were just staying
tightlipped. Either way, Doris seemed to be in exile. Although it
had only been a few days, to Blake it felt like forever.
Ashlee heard something in Blakeís voice that sounded... amiss,
much like her momís expression when she asked about coming to
Company. She was certain the two were related, but she wasnít sure
how. Then it hit her... Maybe Blake was lying. Maybe she HAD seen
Doris, in secret. Maybe the two of them were having an affair behind
Frankís back. ĎAfter all, it was Blakeís idea to dress Mom up
as a sexy nurse for Halloween,í she thought.
"Sheís, uh, good," Ashlee replied. "...What
about you? Still getting hitched next month?"
Blake nodded. "Yeah, thatís the plan," she said with
seemed a bit like a nervous chuckle. "You should have invited
her here to lunch."
"I did actually, but she had to finish some work. Iím
going to see her tonight at the house."
"Youíre both still coming to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow
at Marina and Shaneís, right?" Blake asked.
"Yeah! Of course! We wouldnít miss it," Ashlee said.
Ashlee bellied up to the bar for lunch with her best friend and
her family, but silently Ashlee couldnít wait to get home to find
out just what the heck was going on with her mother and the
soon-to-be Mrs. Cooper.
"Remember how you promised youíd be open and honest with
me about your life?" Ashlee asked as she and Doris sat picking
at their dinner.
"Will you keep that promise?"
Doris put her fork down. "What do you want to know?"
"Iím not sure... Is there something, ANYTHING, happening
between you and Blake?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Do you have to be evasive?" Ashlee sighed.
"Iím not being evasive," Doris replied. "Iím
just curious why youíre... curious."
"I mentioned going to Company and you turn deathly white.
Then you start doing that Ďokayí thing you do whenever youíre
"I donít have an Ďokayí thing," Doris snorted.
"Yes you do. You end every sentence with a question and use
the word Ďokayí."
"Yes, I might get nervous from time to time. Iíll give you
that, but that doesnít mean Iím hiding anything, okay? Shit.
That doesnít count."
Ashlee giggled. "Moving on," she said dryly.
"After talking to you this afternoon, I get to Company and
Blake spent our first few minutes asking about you..."
"Whatís your point, Dear?"
"Did you... sleep with Blake?"
"No," Doris replied. "Next question."
"Mom, youíre not on trial," Ashlee told her.
"Look, Iím not going to force this conversation. I was just
hoping that weíd actually talk about our lives. But if you still
have trouble letting me in then-."
"She kissed me the last time I saw her at Liv and Nataliaís.
Thatís it. End of story."
"No. Not End of Story... When?"
"This past weekend."
Ashlee opened her mouth in surprise and then said, "Sheís
"True, and Iím feeling a bit nervous about seeing her
tomorrow. I havenít seen her or spoken to her since it
"Iím, Iím not sure what to say, Mom... Do you... Is
she... Do you want to be a couple?"
"No," Doris answered. "Sheís still engaged to
"Why is she engaged to Frank and kissing you?"
"Good question. I have no idea," Doris replied.
"Well, I have some idea, at least when it comes to the kissing
part. She and I... weíve gotten closer."
Ashlee giggled. "How close?"
"Oh, get your mind out of the gutter," Doris said.
"It was one kiss... and some dancing... and I played with her
hand at the bar when I was drunk... Oh, and I pinned her against
Oliviaís car outside of Company after the Halloween
party...Yeah...I think thatís all."
"Thatís all?" she said incredulously. "Did
anyone see you?"
"Most of the town," Doris replied wryly.
"So we danced at the Thanksgiving Ball and I read her palm,
"You can read palms?"
Doris nodded. "I learned it in college. Great way to touch
pretty girls hands and find out who might be interested in
"Mom!" Ashlee laughed.
"Itís true," Doris chuckled along.
"Well, did anyone see the car grinding?"
"The car grinding and the kiss? Only Olivia and Natalia saw
Ashlee absorbed the information for a moment. "Do you love
Doris considered the question.
"It doesnít matter," she said in a neutral tone as
she stood up and took her plate to the kitchen.
Ashlee followed along. "Of course it matters."
"She has ever intention of marrying Frank."
"Does she love you?"
"I donít know."
"Really. I donít know. I... I know sheís attracted to
me, but... I donít think sheís brave enough to love me or...
maybe she thinks Iím not worth the risk of loving."
"Mom," Ashlee said sympathetically. "You are worth
"Itís a big change to her life and sheís sure to hear
about it. Not only am I a woman, Iím a carbon copy of her dead
"Youíre not Ross Marler."
"Maybe, but for all I know our similarities might be why sheís
attracted to me Ė I remind her of him in many ways Ė and maybe
thatís another reason sheís scared. Sheís worried the town
will see her trying to replace me with Ross and honestly...
sometimes I wonder that myself."
"And maybe youíre making too much of it all and she just
Doris looked at her watch. "How much? Because sheís due to
be wed in about two weeks."
"Perhaps she should postpone the wedding?"
"Thatís a good point, which our friends have mentioned,
but even if she did, like I said, I donít think sheís brave
enough to love me openly. And I spent too many years in the closet
to go back to hiding. So yes, she might love me... she just doesnít
love me enough you could say... Howís that for honesty?"
Doris smiled sadly.
"Oh, mom," Ashlee said again and brought her into a
hug. "If thatís really true, itís her loss. I mean really?
You or Frank and she picks Frank?"
"Heís a good guy Ė a bit of a stiff, but heís
dependable... like a basset hound," Doris said. "And
truthfully, Iíd make a play to steal Blake away from him if he was
an abusive prick, but heís not."
"He is pushy though."
"Prick and pushy arenít the same thing."
"Not exactly. I remember when he tried to give me advice
about Coop, since he was his brother, although I didnít ask his
opinion. Maybe Blake doesnít want to get married, but sheís not
sure how to say no since sheís this close to the altar and, like I
said, Frank can be a steamroller."
"Even if thatís true, I donít want to be the excuse she
uses to tell him no... If she leaves, it has to be for Ďherí and
not about me. Does that make sense?"
"Not really," Ashlee said. "What difference does
it make why she leaves if sheís with you in the end?"
"It would matter to me," Doris answered. "Is there
"You really havenít talked to her about the kiss since it
Ashlee grinned and nodded. "Tomorrow might get pretty darn
"And thatís why weíre arriving late, eating dinner and
then getting the hell outta Dodge, agreed?"
"Agree or I wonít go."
"Fine!" Ashlee sighed.
"You came," Blake said happily as she opened the door.
On the other side of the threshold stood Ashlee, who was holding
the large casserole dish, and Doris, who almost seemed to be holding
Doris put on a grin. "I was ordered by three beautiful women
to be here," she replied playfully. "How could I
Ashlee smiled and turned away. It humored her. Sheís never seen
her mother flirt with a woman before. In fact, sheíd never seen
her mother flirt with ANYONE before. When she turned back again,
after regaining some composure, she watched Blakeís eyes
canvassing her mother from head to toe, with a sexy smirk on her
lips. Obviously, based on Blakeís reaction, her mother was more
practiced in the art of seduction than she realized.
"Can we come in?" Doris finally asked.
"Oh, yes! Of course, Iím sorry," Blake said stepping
aside and letting them in. "I was just... distracted. Come
"I switched dishes with Natalia since I donít bake,"
"I know she told me when she handed me the pumpkin
pies," Blake replied.
"Theyíre here?" Doris asked.
Blake nodded. "I told Natalia I didnít mind since I know
what a great cook you are."
Doris looked around and saw Shane talking to his mom and dad with
Olivia and Natalia nearby. Frank was talking his daughter, dad and
mother-in-law while the twins talked with their sister, Clarissa.
"Where should I put this?" Ashlee asked as she held up
the dish slightly.
"Oh, Iíll take it. Doris? Will you collect Ashleeís coat
and follow me to the kitchen? Iíll show you where to hang
Doris was no fool. She knew Blake was trying to get her alone.
For what purpose, she didnít know. She might be mad for not
returning her calls. She might try a seductive ploy if the look she
got on the doorstep was any indication. Either way, Doris took her
daughterís coat and followed nervously behind Blake, going deeper
into the living room, still unsure what awaited her.
"Hey Doris; Ashlee!" Frank called out warmly and
started over. "Glad to see you guys finally made it! We started
to have our doubts."
Doris felt Oliviaís stare from behind him and knew where her
next stop would be. They hadnít spoken since Doris told her to go
away and she knew the night would be awkward if they didnít try to
clear the air.
As Frank continued toward Doris and Ashlee, the young woman told
her mother in a soft voice, "Go on. I got this." She then
gave Frank her full attention. "Long time, no see, Chief! Itís
been what? Three whole weeks?" she said, giving him a chuck on
the shoulder. "I stopped by Company yesterday, but you were
The two began to chat with each other, which gave Blake and Doris
enough time to retreat to the vacant kitchen.
"I called you," Blake began once they were alone.
"I left voicemails, but..."
"I know," Doris said apologetically as she took off her
coat and put it over one of the kitchen chairs. "I could lie
and say Iíve been too busy, but the truth is... I didnít know
what to say if I picked up."
"Well, if it helps, Iím not entirely sure what I would
have said if you did," Blake confessed. "I, uh...Iím at
a loss of what to say here now?"
"Well, say the first thing that comes to mind."
"Youíre a fantastic kisser," Blake blurted.
Doris blushed. "The feelingís mutual."
Blake closed the distance between them, but Doris took a step
back, almost hitting the swing kitchen door, so Blake stopped.
"I really want to talk to you. Alone," Blake said.
"And not with the entire Cooper family on the other side of
that door. Will you see me this weekend? I could make some excuse
about Black Friday tomorrow and we could-."
Doris held up her hand. "Thatís how it starts, so
"What? I donít understand."
"Making excuses... seeing each other in secret... I spent
years with women who wanted me in their bed, but not in their life.
I canít Blake. As much as I love you, I canít."
Blake began to grin. "Y-You love me?"
"I wish you were a...free woman, but youíre not."
Doris released a heavy sigh and then shook her hands. "Letís
just get through this dinner, okay? Letís not talk about it and
just be two friends -- two people with our families together
enjoying the holiday, okay?" Doris began to giggle.
"Ashleeís right, I do say Ďokayí," she said to
herself. She shook her head and turned her attention to Blake again.
"I donít know how you feel about me... But this isnít the
time or the place."
Blake put her hands in her pockets and looked insecure for a
"What you see as... indecision... is more... fear... But itís
not just me Iím worried about, you know?"
"What do you mean?"
"You have an election coming up. Iíve already ruined one
election for someone I love. Thatís enough for one lifetime."
"You love me?"
Blake thought about it and said, "I love talking to you,
laughing with you, fighting with you, kissing you..." Blake
smiled. "Yeah, I do love you... But if I call things off, and I
date you, whatís going to happen when the voters go to the polls,
huh? The female mayor dating the police chiefís fiancťe? How do
you think Springfield is going to view you?"
"I donít care about that," Doris replied.
"Yes, you do," Blake said with great certainty.
Doris considered it. "Okay, I do care, but it doesnít mean
as much as... other things."
Doris sighed, "Again, this isnít the time or the
"And again, I offered to talk to you, but -."
"Fine. Weíll have breakfast and go shopping tomorrow on
the most ungodly of retail days. Howís that?"
Blake smiled. "You mean it?" she asked hopefully.
"No canceling on me? I donít want to be standing outside at
Kohlís all by myself at 5 AM."
Doris grinned. "Okay, first, there will be no standing
outside at 5 AM. Period...If you want, I donít know, a diamond
tennis bracelet Iíll buy you one. But not in the middle of a
madhouse at 5 AM." Blake grinned too. "How about this?
Breakfast at seven and then weíll see whatís left on the shelves
after that? Somewhere in between, weíll talk. Agreed?"
"But no lying to Frank," Doris whispered. "If he
asks, you promise to tell him the truth. Itís breakfast and
shopping, okay? Because thatís what it is -- Nothing more. Nothing
Blake admired Doris silently for a moment.
"I really want to kiss you again," she whispered,
taking a step closer.
This time, Doris didnít step back, so Blake moved even closer
until they were only millimeters apart.
"Blake, please," Doris pleaded.
"Please what?" Blake whispered as she nuzzled her check
against Doris as she gently took position of the mayorís hips.
"Another kitchen; another kiss?"
Doris released a ragged sigh and closed her eyes. She let her
hands slide around Blakeís waist.
Doris was captured in Blakeís arms. She gripped the author
firmly by the waist and then said, "No. I meant what I said...
Just friends... Please."
Blake pulled back and looked at Dorisís expression. The mayor
didnít look aroused or scared, she looked... hurt. Blake slowly
let her arms fall.
"Iím sorry," Blake said automatically.
Doris just nodded and then cleared her throat. She pointed to the
coats. "Where should I put those?"
From out of nowhere, the door opened and smacked Doris in the
"Ohhh God, Iím sorry, Doris," Frank said as he came
into the kitchen. "Are you okay? I didnít expect anyone right
"Fine," Doris said with a grin. "I shouldnít be
so close to the door. I was just on my way out."
"No, I should have opened it slower," Frank insisted.
"Relax, Frank. I wonít sue," Doris teased. She then
turned to Blake and said, "The coats?"
"Oh, donít worry. Iíll put them on the hook back
here," Blake said as she motioned to the entry room.
Doris nodded and made her way into the living room. She saw
Olivia and Natalia talking to Reva, Josh and Shane.
From her nearby travel playpen, Francesca spotted Doris. She
pulled herself to her feet as quickly as she could and tired to
extend her arms upward to be picked up.
"Did your mean ole mommaís lock you up, Sweetness?"
Doris asked the baby.
"AwwnDee," Francesca said reaching up for Doris.
The mayor had begun to lean over the pen to collect her, but
stopped in her movement and asked, "What did you just
"AwwnDee," Francesca repeated.
By now, Natalia and Olivia heard and saw the exchange.
Natalia motioned and said, "I think sheís saying Aunt
Doris smiled at the pair and then looked back at Francesca.
"Are you saying Aunt D?"
Francesca raised her arms and squeezed her fists open and closed
to signal she wanted Doris to pick her up. In an annoyed tone she
said, "AwwnDee. Up!"
Doris had to chuckled, as did the Spencers and Lewisís who
"You have the patience of a Spencer, I see," Doris
quipped as she reached down and brought the baby to her hip. "AwwnDee
sprung you from the pen. Chessie happy now?"
At the word Ďhappyí, Francesca put on a fake, cheesy looking
smile and nodded her head insistently. Doris laughed and brought the
baby up higher, giving her a big raspberry on the cheek which made
the baby giggle.
"Oh, youíre a sweetheart," Doris said as she moved
closer to the nearby circle of friends.
"Hello, Doris," Josh said politely. "I was just
saying how well Ashlee looks. It seems California agrees with her.
Sheís a beautiful young lady."
"Thank you," Doris said. "Youíre all looking
well yourselves," she said returning the compliment before
focusing on Olivia for a moment. "Do you mind if I steal Liv
away for a few?"
"Just bring her back in one piece," Natalia said.
"Sheís a lot more fragile than she looks."
Reva and Josh chuckled slightly as Natalia grinned. Doris,
however, knew exactly what Natalia was saying. Yes, Olivia could be
a very fragile soul from time to time, especially when people she
loved harmed her, intentional or unintentional... people like
herself. In her own way, Natalia was warning the mayor not to hurt
"Iíll be careful," Doris said diplomatically.
Once the two women were out of earshot, Doris said, "Iím
very sorry for what I said at the Beacon." She was
subconsciously swaying with Francesca who was quite content with the
movement. "I know you were only trying to help and I know this
will sound like an excuse, but... Iím not good at this... you know
"No. I donít know."
"This being friends thing. Iíve never had many
girlfriends. I mean friends who are girls."
"You were captain of your softball team... or was that a
"No, I was. But when youíre the leader, you have to be the
boss. And when youíre the boss, you canít always be one of the
gang. Iím sure you know that from running the Beacon, donít you?
Yes, employees might like you, but youíll never be a real part of
the group... But who knows? Maybe you are and itís just me who
feels like an outsider most of the time."
"No, I get it. You are treated differently when youíre a
leader. And Iím no expert on friendship either. I can count on one
hand how many female friends I have, including Natalia."
"Likewise, so the last thing I want to do is alienate the
one friend I like more than all the others... But I did this week...
and Iím sorry."
"Iím sorry too."
"You didnít do anything."
"Well, according to my wife, I live in the moment. I donít
look to the past too often. Sheís right, and one reason why is my
past...well... it mostly sucks." They both snickered before
Olivia continued. "So, I try to focus on the here and now, but
by doing that, well, sometimes I forget what itís like to be in
certain situations... Like yours... in love with a beautiful woman
and unable to do anything about it. So I should have given you space
or... sympathized more."
"Liv, you have no reason to be sorry. I was frustrated and
hurt, but I shouldnít have been mean to you."
"True, but Iím pushy."
"You?" Doris said sarcastically and then grinned.
"Shocking, huh?" Olivia grinned too before looking
serious. "Listen, Doris, if you specifically tell me ĎBack
offí Iíll know thatís my cue and Iíll stop pushing. But just
remember, Iím here if you need me. After all, you where there for
me... even after I blackmailed you."
Doris grinned. "Youíre a tough woman to refuse. Although Iíve
always been had a weakness for women with a great ass," she
Olivia chuckled, "Were you checking me out?"
"Absolutely, I was in the closet then, not dead." They
both chuckled. "Beside, Natalia did end her threat with that
perky, ĎThank you for your time.í I swear youíd think I just
gave her directions to the nearest gas station and not given into
her extortion... Anyway, I had to help you guys."
Olivia giggled. "You love us."
"I do." Doris grinned. She kissed Olivia on the cheek
and pulled her into a hug as she balanced Francesca with her other
arm. The baby was momentarily smushed between them and started to
Doris pulled back and said, "I have a lot to be thankful for
today, you included."
Olivia giggled and then said, "Ditto."
Doris chuckled. "Youíre so emotional," she added
"Hey, everyone," Marina said getting their attention.
"Dinner is almost done so weíll be eating soon."
A little cheer went up in the house.
"Of course after dinner, you know what comes next?"
"Footballllllll!" Buzz yelled and tossed the ball he
was holding over to Kevin Marler, who passed it to his twin brother,
"Thatís not all," Shane added, "After the
traditional Cooper football game, Iím starting my own Thanksgiving
ritual. We spit up into groups and Ė since I know sheís a great
drummer and guitarist Ė Iím picking Olivia for my band in our
annual Rock Band competition on the X-box."
"What about me?" Marina complained while the crowd
chattered among themselves.
"Sorry Baby," Shane said. "I gotta play to win.
And I gotta say, Olivia knows how to handle the sticks."
"I didnít think sticks were her thing anymore," Reva
The group chuckled and went back to their conversations.
"It has been awhile," Olivia shot back to Reva with a
grin before turning to her husband. "I might be a bit rusty.
You wanna gimme a hand... or two, Joshua."
"Hey!" Natalia and Reva both spat, which made Olivia,
Josh and Shane chuckle.
"Iím kidding," Olivia said. "Yours are the only
oneís I want," she said before kissing Natalia.
"Good answer." Natalia grinned. After a moment, she
began to look confused. "Wait. When did Shane ever come over to
play Rock Band?"
"Funny story," Shane began.
"Yes," Olivia said, grabbing his little finger. "A
funny story, which, if he decides to tell, will end with his pinky
getting broken. So letís just say weíve played before and leave
it at that."
"Ohhh," Doris said with a look of realization,
"was that the night-."
"Zip it, Doris!" Olivia said.
"Okay, now I gotta know what youíre hiding," Natalia
said as she folded her arms across her chest.
Olivia sighed and hung her head.
"Itís not that big a deal," Olivia insisted. She
could tell by the look on Nataliaís face she might as well say it.
"Fine. I showed up at his dadís office. End of story."
Shane laughed, "Yeah, I open the door and there she is on my
dadís desk in a skimpy black dress and a bottle of half empty Jim
"What?" Josh and Reva both asked.
Shane nodded. "Yep. The sexy step-mom fantasy waiting for me
"Oh, god," Olivia muttered as if she were in physical
"When was this?" Natalia asked.
Olivia and Shane looked at each other and shrugged.
"A couple of years ago," he offered.
"Were we living together?" Natalia asked Olivia.
"Yeah." Suddenly, Natalia looked pissed and Olivia
quickly added, "NO! We werenít, you know, together like...
together. In fact, it was the day you told Frank youíd marry
him... I tried to go back to the standard defense mechanisms Ė
drugs and sex. Didnít work though," Olivia laughed.
Doris looked confused. "Wait, when did we hook up at lesbian
ladies night then?" she asked.
Josh, Reva and Shaneís eyebrows all went ups simultaneously.
"Noooo," Olivia said to the Lewisís. "I didnít
go there to met her! I ran into her on accident!"
"And then you hooked up?" Reva chuckled.
"Poor choice of words," Doris said. "I meant I saw
"Right! I never slept with Doris!"
"Geeee," Doris sighed. "Do you have to make the
prospect of being with me sound so bleak?" she asked.
"Oh stop," Olivia replied quickly. "I just meant
you and I never dated or anything else. And for the record, the
night I met YOU was the night Frank proposed to her."
"Ahh," Doris remarked. "So Frankís actions often
drive lesbians to drink. Is that what youíre saying?"
Olivia chuckled. "Iím just gonna let that go."
Moments later, the gathering was seated in the dinning room
getting ready for the feast.
"Letís all join hands," Buzz said from the head of
Frank flanked Blake on one side and her son, Jason, sat on the
other. Doris sat directly across from her with Ashlee on one side
and Olivia on the other. The two women looked across the table at
each other and smiled as Frank watched his father.
"Dear Lord," Buzz went on, "weíd like to thank
you for all the blessings weíve received in the past year. We
appreciate being able to gather here together and we think of the
people who, for whatever reason, can't be here today... Friendships
have been strengthened. Love continues to grow and weíre lucky our
children and grandchildren are healthy and happy. So hereís to a
wonderful 2010 and an even better 2011! Amen and cheers!" he
said holding up his glass. "Now dig in!"
A hurrah went around the table as people began to shuffle plates,
bowls and silverware. In a short time, people began to eat, trying
each other's dishes that they brought. Lots of oohís and ahhís
went around the table as people tried the different culinary
delights. Soon people were in their own little groups talking.
"Doris?" Clarissa began getting her attention. "I
had fun the other night at Natalia and Olivia's house."
"Me too," Doris replied with a sincere smile.
"Would you like to do it again sometime?" Clarissa
asked hopefully. "I was telling my mom that maybe we could
debate a TV show."
"How so?" Doris asked.
"I thought we pick an award-winning show, one that we both
might've watched, with one of us saying they deserve the critical
acclaim and the other challenging that."
Doris nodded. "That does sound fun actually. Any ideas on a
"I was thinking maybe something like The Simpsons or The
Daily Show? Do you watch either of those?"
"Yeah, I watch Colbert too."
Frank looked confused. "What are you talking about?"
"Oh," Blake said casually, "this week we had
dinner over at Natalia's and we put her spaghetti on trial."
"In which Doris made me sound like murder," Natalia
threw in and then smiled.
"It was my job," Doris laughed. "I'm never going
to live this down, am I?"
"Probably not," Olivia chuckled.
Frank still looked confused. "I'm still not following
"We had court battle," Clarissa explained. "Doris
was the attorney for the prosecution. And I defended Natalia and her
meal and I won."
Frank shook his head. "Still playing lawyer, huh?" He
grinned but the tone wasnít very jubilant.
Doris didnít say anything, but she could by Clarissaís
features the young womanís anger started to simmer.
"Yeah, Iím Ďplaying lawyerí. So what?" Clarissa
challenged. For good measure she threw in, "Not everyone can be
Marina after all."
"Clarissa," Blake said sternly.
"No," she said defiantly. "I'm tired of the snide
remarks about being attorney. I don't want to be a cop." She
turned to Marina, "No offense. It's just not for me."
Marina put up her hands and said, "Hey, that's fine by
"I just think it would be best if you explore all your
career options," Frank said.
"Can we discuss this later?" Blake said trying to keep
"I'm not real hungry anyway," Clarissa said as she got
up from the table and went to the kitchen.
"Clarissa, sit down," Frank ordered.
Clarissa ignored him and continued on her way. Frank started to
stand up, but Doris stopped him.
"Let me talk to her," Doris said diplomatically as she
rose. She didn't wait for Frank to reply. She was already on her way
to the kitchen.
"Well," Blake said nervously, "Great turkey,
Marina smiled. "Do you mean that or is this just a
diversion?" she laughed.
"Both?" Blake replied.
"Then thank you," Marina chuckled.
Everyone began to go back to his or her conversations in the
dinning room as Doris looked around the kitchen for Clarissa. Not
finding her, she opened the kitchen door and looked outside. She
spotted the young woman bundled up in her coat at the edge of the
driveway. Doris looked around briefly for her outerwear, but
couldn't find it, so she started outside without it.
"Hey," Doris said softly as she made her way over.
"Why does he constantly criticize me?" Clarissa asked
Doris shrugged. "He's Frank Cooper."
Clarissa gave her a ghost of a smile. "I wish that heíd
just accept me for me. You know?"
"Yeah, it's not easy trying to be something when people tell
you that you can't."
"Like being gay?"
Doris shrugged again. "Yeah, but that's not what I was
thinking of... I was actually talking about being a lawyer."
Clarissa looked confused. "See, I didn't have a trust fund
waiting for me like you do," Doris teased. "In fact, my
family was pretty dirt poor. And when I was around your age, I
really got interested in law. I was determined I was going to be an
attorney, but no one in my family graduated from college, let alone
law school. Some were lucky to have a high school diploma. Anyway, I
saved my money from odd jobs and I studied as much as I could so Iíd
get a scholarship."
"Obviously you succeeded."
"Yeah, but along the way lots of people, even people I
loved, didn't think I could do it. So, keep this in mind. There's
only one person in this world that needs to believe in you Ė and
that person is you. So, it doesn't matter what I say, what your mom
says, or the Frank Coopers of the world for that matter. The only
thing that does matter is how you feel about YOU."
"Can I ask a question?"
"Sure," Doris answered as she kept her hands under her
arms for warmth.
"Did you really think I was good the other night or were you
just trying to score points with my mom?"
Doris seemed thrown off by the question. "Score
points?" she asked.
Clarissa grinned. "I'm a teenager, but I'm not blind."
Doris was speechless.
"W-what do you mean?" Doris asked Clarissa as they
"Never mind. Just forget I said anything," Clarissa
said as she started to walk away.
"Hey," Doris said reaching out to make her stop.
"Look, I do think you have a lot of talent, especially for
someone your age. Hell, Iíve seen law school grads that donít
have the swagger you have Ė and that confidence can be key in the
courtroom. And no, I didn't say that the other night to make your
mom happy. I said it because it's true and I meant it."
Clarissa nodded. "And what about my mom?"
"I've never seen her debate. So I can't say if she'd make a
good lawyer or not," Doris teased.
"That's not what I meant," Clarissa countered. Doris
shivered and the teen wasn't sure if it was because of the question
or because the temperature. "You know, after we left that
night, she talked about you a lot."
"Oh, well, I really admire your mother too. Any woman who
can single-handedly raise a smart and talented young lady like you
is worthy of admiration and again, Iím not pandering. Now, if you
don't mind, I'm freezing and hungry. Can we please go back inside
Clarissa grinned. She quickly took off her coat, put it around
Dorisí shoulders and motioned to the house as she began to walk
Doris chuckled slightly.
"What?" Clarissa asked.
"Your mom has a habit of Ďstealingí my coats and you
give me the coat off your back. I didnít think a Marler woman was
capable of that."
"I do want that coat back," Clarissa insisted with a
Doris smiled too and handed it back to her as they walked up the
"Just an idea," Doris said conspiratorially,
"...if you apologize for leaving, itíd probably get Frankís
goat since I got you back inside when he couldnít stop you."
Clarissa giggled, "Okay."
As the conspirators came in the dinning area together, Doris
said, "Clarissa has something to say everyone."
"Iím sorry, everybody Ė you too, Frank. I shouldnít
have left and I apologize for storming off the way I did. I keep
asking to be treated like an adult, so I should start acting like
one. Just because I donít agree with you thatís no reason for me
to just walk away. So again, I apologize."
Doris patted her on her back and they both made their way to
their chairs as everyone went back to their conversations and meals.
Blake was all smiles and Frank looked like he was spiting nails.
Clarissa tried to hide her grin. When she looked over and saw Doris
give her a quick wink, she had to stuff potatoes in her mouth to
stop from giggling.
Ashlee grinned. She leaned over and whispered, "Youíre
smooth by gettiní in good with the kid first."
Doris laughed out loud and quickly covered her mouth.
"Sorry," she told the group for her outburst. She then
turned to Ashlee and said, "Stop it," which made Ashlee
After a few minutes, Doris and Clarissa caught up to everyone
else when it came to eating. Then Buzz announced it was football
"Coopers verses the world!" he said.
"Who am I?" Blake asked. "Iím not a Cooper yet
so does that mean Iím part of the world?"
"Yeah, where do I fall since I married a Cooper?" Shane
"You," he pointed to Blake, "are a Cooper my dear.
Shane is on his own."
"Thanks," he said indignant.
"Oh, fine," Buzz sighed. "If you married a Cooper
of any kind, or will soon, youíre a Cooper, agreed?"
"Yay," Doris told Olivia unenthusiastically,
"Well, at least weíre part of Ďthe worldí. Of course, you
slept with both Coopers and your daughterís part Cooper. Wouldnít
that make you an honorary member?"
"First, Iím not playing, and second... youíre an
They smiled at each other.
"What do you mean youíre not playing?" Doris asked.
"Itís only touch football."
"With the cold and the running and my heart? Iím not
taking any chances. Besides, Nataliaís the real animal on the
"Really?" Doris asked skeptically.
"Youíll see," Olivia laughed. "Iíd say youíre
lucky youíre on the same team, but... well..."
"What?" Doris asked concerned.
"Youíll see," Olivia laughed again.
Fifteen minutes later, Doris did see what Olivia meant. Natalia
was like a field general.
"Josh you ARE allowed to catch a ball Frank throws! You know
that, right?! Itís called an interception so make an effort!
Marina is making a mockery of you out here! And you!" she
pointed at Doris. "The only way you could cover Blake any
further away is if you were in the living room with Liv and
"Iím doing my best!" Doris shouted back.
"Your best is crap! Step it up!"
Josh just smiled and shook his head.
Back inside the house, Olivia and Reva watched the game as they
let their children watch through the window.
"Nataliaís..." Reva let the sentence hang a moment as
they watched Natalia pointing and shouting, "...really into her
"Just football," Olivia replied. She pointed Natalia
out to Francesca. "See Ma out there? She looks like a tyrant on
the field, huh?" Reva chuckled. "Can you say tyrant?"
Francesca garbled two syllables and Olivia replied, "Ehh, close
Buzz hiked the ball as Lillian defended Frank, the Quarterback,
while Ashlee tried to break through.
Blakeís twinís ran a fake while Blake took off in a run. This
time, Doris closed in on her. As soon as Blake jumped and landed
with the ball, Doris rushed her, but she lost her balance and ended
up tackling Blake to the ground accidentally. The two women landed
hard; wrapped in a tangled mess.
"Iím sorry," Doris said while Blake chuckled.
"Sure. You just wanted to pin me down," Blake countered
and wiggled her eyebrows.
"Really, are you okay?" Doris asked.
Blake raised her lips to Dorisís ear. "I like your body
sprawled out on mine."
"Yes, youíre fine," Doris growled, ignoring the
remark, as she started to stand up.
"Itís touch, not tackle!" Natalia chastised as she
made her way over.
"I canít win," Doris said to no one in particular.
"I play too weak. I play too rough. Gimme a break!"
On the next play, Frank went to Blake again, but Doris leapt and
came up with the ball, much to Nataliaís delight... finally. Doris
started to run to their end zone with Blake hot on her heels. Ashlee
and Natalia managed to defend Frank from stopping her as Doris ran
by. Blake was still in pursuit and knew Doris was going to score so
she dove and wrapped her arms around Dorisís waist, wrestling her
to the ground.
"No fair!" Doris and Natalia were both yelling.
Doris rolled over, still pinned under Blake, so they were
face-to-face. Rather than stand up, Blake slid a bit higher and
positioned her body over Doris more fully.
"Sorry. I slipped," Blake said knowingly.
Doris chuckled, "Right. You Ďslipí again and..."
"And what?" Blake challenged.
"Youíll be crusiní for a brusiní."
"Oh, is that so?" Blake laughed. "Youíre really
gonna bruise me?"
"Test me," Doris taunted and chuckled at the same time.
"Ooooh," Josh and Shane both mocked as they helped
their teammates up.
"Hey," Doris pointed a playful finger at Blake.
"Youíve been warned."
"I think that should be an automatic touchdown,"
"What?!" Frank replied. "Are you kidding?"
"Doris would've scored if Blake had tackled her!"
"What about Doris? She tackled Blake the play before."
"That was an accident. Blake intentionally brought Doris to
Blake and Doris both had to look away with Doris taking an
interest in her shoes and Blake studying the leafless tree nearby.
"How about this?" Josh offered. "We spot the ball
where they fell. But we get an additional down. Agreed?"
Natalia grumbled and walked away while Frank nodded.
"Hey guys?" Lillian asked. "What do you say the
next point wins? It's freezing out here."
"Second that," Marina and Shane both said at the same
"Are you forfeiting?" Natalia asked the Cooper team.
"Weíre not forfeiting anything?!" Frank replied
"Then get to your line of scrimmage!" Natalia replied
as she gathered everyone on her team around.
Back inside the house, Reva asked Olivia, "So what's the
deal with Natalia and football?"
"I haven't a clue," Olivia said honestly. "But in
every relationship there are some things you just don't question.
For us, this is one of them."
"Well, she's good," Reva offered and then paused. She
took a moment and watched Olivia silently. "Can I ask you
something?" Olivia didn't answer, but she did turn to face
Reva. "Were there any other women you were ever attracted to? I
mean before Natalia?"
Olivia grinned. "Is this a roundabout way of asking me if
I've ever been attracted to you?"
Reva blushed. "Well, everybody knows how you and Natalia
competed over Gus, then found a common ground, and then fell in
love. It just seems kind of similar to the triangle we had with
Olivia didn't answer immediately, but a slight grin came to her
"Reva, I have to admit youíre a great fit for Josh. I'm
happy you're both together and making it work this time. But I also
have to admit there is no way you're in the same league as Natalia
"I get it," Reva replied.
"Hell, you're not even in the same sport as her,"
Olivia went on.
"I get it," Reva repeated more firmly and more
"Youíre not even-."
"I get it!" Reva cut her off and then began to giggle.
Olivia smiled and said, "So to answer your question? No.
She's the only woman that I ever wanted." Olivia looked back
outside. "All 120 pounds of football fury that she is."
At the moment, Oliviaís woman was at the line and playing
center to Joshís quarterback. She hiked him the ball and managed
to keep both of Blakeís twins at bay while Ashlee covered Lillian.
Clarissa, who took up with Dorisís team, covered Buzz. In the
backfield, Josh, faked to Daisy, who wanted to be on Ashleeís
team, as Doris ran to the endzone.
Once more Blake was in hot pursuit, but Doris had gained a big
enough lead that when she looked back over her shoulder she knew she
shouldnít have any trouble catching the ball heading her way. At
least she did... until Blake leapt at her and they both tumbled to
Natalia immediately went into coach mode and started to yell
about pass interference as Blake smiled, fully aware of what sheíd
done although she tried to act naÔve.
"I warned you Marler! I told you Iíd bruse ya!" Doris
yelled as she pinned Blake's body to the ground.
With her hands captured at her wrists near her head, Blake was
unable to move. Doris used the rest of her body to pin Blake down so
she was unable to roll or move. Hand-to-hand, breast-to-breasts,
hip-to-hip they melded together.
Their eyes locked and Doris licked her smiling lips methodically
before she descended upon Blake neck.
to Part III of III