Father Ray turned the corner to see Natalia by the prayer
"Taking me up on my offer to talk?" he asked as
he walked over.
"Actually, Father, I’ve decided…" Natalia
stopped and nervously licked her lips. She took a deep breath
and then finished by saying, "I’m leaving the
Father Ray appeared obviously surprised.
"Leaving?" was all he could say The only thing that
Natalia could do was nod. When she didn’t continue, he
asked, "Did something happen that I’m not aware
Natalia grinned slightly as she thought of her life, and
her love, with Olivia.
"In a way," she said. "I’m, uh…I’m in
love with Olivia Spencer."
Father Ray took a moment to comprehend what he just heard.
Natalia nodded. "I’ve loved her for sometime,
actually, and that’s why I didn’t marry Frank. I couldn’t
hurt him by trying to live a lie – not when it was Olivia I
Natalia anxiously bit her lip and played with her
fingernails as she waited for his response.
Father Ray could only manage a disapproving, "I
"I-I know what this means," Natalia said.
"I-I really don’t see a place for me here
"Well," Father Ray began, "I’m assuming
you’re not here to repent?" he asked just to clarify.
Natalia shook her head. "It took me this long to
realize how I feel about her, so I’m not changing that now.
Besides, I already tried to put my feelings aside, and it didn’t
work. She makes me happy...complete," she said firmly.
"It’s difficult when I see someone as good-hearted
as you become blinded by sin and forsake the Lord."
Natalia didn’t say anything for a moment.
"I’m not here to debate anything," she told
him, "but I think you’re wrong, Father Ray. I haven’t
forsaken the Lord, and I don’t think He’s forsaken me. If
anything, my church is the one leaving me behind."
Father Ray shrugged. "All I can do is say a prayer for
you, Natalia. I hope that you understand the error of your
ways and come back into our fold someday. When you realize
your mistake, you are welcome here."
"I don’t see that happening," Natalia answered
and extended her hand to him. "But I wish you well,
Father Ray took her offered hand, giving it a gentle shake.
"Take care," he told her.
Natalia nodded and moved toward the door as Father Ray
watched her leave.
Outside Olivia was leaning against the passenger door of
the car, looking at her phone when she heard the church door
open. She slipped the phone into her pocket and stood at
attention as Natalia made her way down the steps.
Natalia appeared to be on the verge of tears as the two
women came within a few feet of one another.
"I’m sorry," Olivia began as she reached up and
took her lover by the upper arms. "I know you said this
isn’t my fault but -."
"But nothing," Natalia replied, cutting her
short. "I don’t want to hear you talk that way. I don’t
have to sit in a church to love God. He’s everywhere, not
just one building. So please, really…this isn’t about you
Olivia took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.
"Okay, to the Beacon then? We’ve got a busy day."
Natalia nodded, and Olivia opened the door for her, but
before the ebony haired woman could slip inside, Olivia took
her by the wrist, stopping her. She used her free hand to pull
Natalia closer until her lips were only inches from her ear.
"What you did today was courageous…and I positively
Natalia wore a small smile that grew larger in size when
Olivia kissed her gently between her cheek and her earlobe.
"I adore you, too," Natalia replied. "But if
you don’t hurry, we’ll be late."
"Well then, Milady..." Olivia said, opening the
car door and helping Natalia inside, "…time to
Olivia shut the door and then turned to walk to the driver
side when she saw Father Ray standing at the top of the steps.
Both of them stopped in their tracks, and neither said a word
to one another. However, their stares spoke volumes – Ray
punishing Olivia with a hard glare while Olivia chastised him
for his callousness. Father Ray looked away first, and Olivia
looked smug for a moment, as if she had achieved a small
victory. Only then did she make her departure.
"This was wonderful, but what’s the occasion?"
Natalia complimented Olivia as she began to clear the settings
at the kitchen table that had the remnants of their breakfast
"Leave it," Olivia told her.
"You cooked. Emma and I can clean," Natalia
"I said leave it, please," Olivia replied as she
looked at her watch. "We’re going to be late."
"Late? Late for what? It’s Sunday," Natalia
"Are we going to the zoo?" Emma asked excitedly.
"Maybe later, Baby," Olivia replied, "but
for now I need you to go upstairs and put on something nice,
but not too fancy – maybe that navy skirt and white
"Okay," Emma chirped as she took off toward the
"What are we doing?" Natalia asked.
Olivia smiled. "It’s a surprise."
Emma sat in the backseat looking out the window. Olivia
drove as Natalia sat in the passenger seat.
"Yes, I’m going to ask again for the tenth time in
thirty minutes…" Natalia said. "Where are we
Olivia smiled and pulled off to the side of the road,
coming to a stop. "There," she pointed.
Natalia looked over and saw a church with a small billboard
that read ‘Trinity Episcopal Church’ and turned to Olivia.
"What are we doing here?" Natalia asked.
"We’re going to polish our nails and get our hair
done," Olivia said seriously and then smiled. "What
do you think, Silly? It’s Sunday. You’re going to church.
Come on," she told them.
Natalia looked back at Emma and asked, "Did you know
Emma just shook her head as the back door opened.
"Come on, Em," Olivia said from outside,
motioning her daughter to come along.
Natalia opened her door and climbed out at the same time.
"Why aren’t we going to Father Ray’s church?"
Emma asked innocently.
"Because Father Ray is a doo-doo head who’s still
living in the second century," Olivia answered.
"Olivia!" Natalia tried to reprimand her lover,
but she giggled slightly along with Emma, who found the
description funny. "It’s not nice to call people
names," Natalia continued and then turned to Emma.
"But it’s true," Olivia muttered under her
breath to no one in particular.
Natalia tried not to roll her eyes at Olivia and gave Emma
her full attention. "Father Ray feels I shouldn’t go to
his church anymore, and I agree with him."
"Why?" Emma asked. "What happened?"
"You know how I love your mom, right? It’s that
butterfly in the tummy kinda love?" Natalia asked. Emma
just nodded. "Well," she explained, "Father Ray…he
thinks that I should pick a guy to feel that way about, but I
don’t want to. I love being with your mom more than any
grown-up in the whole wide world. So he doesn’t think I
should go to his church."
"So it’s kinda like when I couldn’t play with
Derek anymore?" Emma asked.
Olivia’s jaw tightened, and she turned away.
"In a way," Natalia said.
"But this place is different," Olivia spoke up as
she pointed to the church behind them. "They like
families with two moms or two dads, just the same as ones with
a mom and a dad…or just a mom or just a dad."
"Maybe I could make some new friends?" Emma asked
"Maybe," Olivia answered, "but we won’t
know until we get there, so come on."
Emma walked ahead in anticipation as Olivia and Natalia
"I can’t believe you did this for me," Natalia
"I can’t believe you’re shocked that I did,"
"You know what I mean," Natalia said. "This
had to have taken a lot of work."
Olivia took Natalia’s hand as they walked along.
"I know you love me, and I know your faith is
important," Olivia told her. "I didn’t want to
keep you from God – and yes, I did hear you the other day
– you can pray anywhere. But it’s not the same. I think
you like having a building you can walk into each week and
being with a group of people that offers a sense of community.
I know this isn’t Catholicism, but…it’s the same God –
just a different group of worshipers who, like you, believe
that God is love and that love is never wrong…even
Natalia bit her lip for a moment. "You’re gonna make
"Nah," Olivia said, putting her hand around
Natalia’s waist as they walked along. "No tears –
today’s a happy day."
"You’ve found a way, Olivia Spencer," Natalia
"What exactly did I find?" she asked.
"A way that I could spend my life loving you both –
you and God. Thank you."
Olivia beamed at Natalia as they began to climb the stairs
to see Emma already talking with a man in a collar by the
"Reverend Prescott, I presume?" Olivia asked.
"You must be Olivia," he said as he extended his
hand, and she shook it.
"This is my partner, Natalia, and I see you’ve met
our daughter Emma."
Natalia’s eyes moved from the reverend to Olivia upon
hearing the words ‘our daughter.’ She slowly smiled as she
faced the reverend again.
"You have a lovely family," he complimented them
both. "We’re happy you could join us, feel free to sit
anywhere you like, and if you have time after the service, I’d
like to speak with you both if you don’t mind."
"No, that’ll be fine. But I did promise Emma a zoo
trip today, so we can’t stay too long."
"It won’t be long at all – just a bit of a ‘sales
pitch’ to learn more about us," he teased.
Olivia nodded in agreement and placed her hand on Natalia’s
back while her other hand took Emma’s. They moved down a
pew, finding a seat.
Natalia leaned over and whispered to Olivia, "You
might not have noticed, but you told the reverend Emma was our
"Well, I know the kid can be crazy sometimes –
thanks to her father’s genes – but I didn’t think you’d
Natalia giggled slightly at Olivia’s concocted word.
"I’m not complaining," she clarified. "In
fact…I liked how it felt when you said it…and you know I’d
give my life to protect her, to protect you both."
"Yes, and that’s why I said ‘our’ daughter. The
kid already staked claim on you by calling you her other mom,
so really – like it or not – you’re stuck with us."
Natalia reached over and took Olivia’s hand in hers,
giving it a light squeeze.
The reverend began his sermon by clearing his throat,
making everyone turn his or her attention to him.
" ‘I was glad when they said unto me, "We will
go into the house of the Lord".’ Psalm 122:1," he
Olivia looked over to see Natalia smiling brightly and had
to smile just as large in response before turning her
attention back to the reverend.
As the congregation began to leave the church, the reverend
motioned the trio toward him. Walking along the wall to avoid
the people leaving, Olivia, Natalia and Emma made their way to
the front of the church where Rev. Prescott was standing with
two men and a boy around Emma’s age.
Natalia immediately took the reverend’s hand upon
arrival, giving it a firm shake.
"That was a wonderful service today," she
complimented him. "Thank you. I…I never thought I’d
be in a church again."
"Neither did Bob or Steve here," the reverend
motioned to the two men beside him.
"Hi there, I’m Bob," a dark haired man said.
"Steve," his partner said as he slipped his arm
around his waist. He then turned to the boy to his right.
"This is Jake, our son."
"My girls," Olivia began as she put on hand on
Emma’s shoulder, saying her name. She then pulled Natalia
closer and said her name. "I’m Olivia," she
"Hey Jake," Steve said, "why don’t we take
Emma out to the playground and let her moms talk to Rev.
Prescott and Daddy Bob?" He looked up at Olivia.
"There’re picnic tables right by the swing-set out
there. Would that be okay with you ladies?"
"Sure," Olivia said. "Let’s go."
Moments later, the reverend took a drink from his paper cup
that looked like the ones that Bob, Natalia and Olivia also
had as they sat at the picnic table. A few yards away, Steve
was moving back and forth from Emma to Jake as he pushed them
on the large swing, all three of them laughing.
"You’ll have classes you need to take if you want to
stay a member," the reverend told the couple, "but
it will answer many of your questions."
"Can you answer one right now?" Natalia asked.
"Certainly," Rev. Prescott answered.
Natalia looked over at Olivia for a moment. "I’ve
been told my whole life that homosexuality is wrong. It’s
why I’m no longer a member of the Catholic Church, and I’m
not sure how…how all this works."
Bob and Rev. Prescott looked at each other briefly and
"Well," Bob began, "there are some churches,
even those who are Episcopalian, that believe homosexual
activities are always sinful. Then there are those like Rev.
Prescott’s church that believe as long as it’s under
certain conditions it’s the ultimate expression of
"Like what conditions…?" Olivia prompted.
Rev. Prescott replied, "If it’s safe, non-coercive,
consensual and between two adults in a committed relationship…Now
I’m assuming that the two of you are monogamous?"
"I am," Olivia answered, "and I’m sure
Natalia is, too."
"Absolutely," she agreed, "but just to make
sure I got this straight…"
"No pun intended," Bob muttered, making Olivia
"...you’re telling me that sleeping with Olivia is
not a sin and that it’s okay."
"It’s better than okay," Bob answered. "As
long as you genuinely love her, she loves you and you agree to
forsake all others, then yes. Sex is a great expression of
love and commitment, not just a sexual release."
"This just…" Natalia looked over at Olivia and
then the two men, "it seems too good to be true."
"We’re Christians," Rev. Prescott began.
"Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. And the
passages that appear in the Old Testament are not to be taken
literally in my opinion. For example, slavery or women as
property and a host of other social injustices appear in the
Old Testament – all of which were perfectly acceptable once
upon a time. We don’t continue to believe these aspects of
the Bible as being truths. Homosexuality is just another
outdated aspect of social injustice."
"For me it’s more personal," Bob replied.
"The truths I pull from the Bible are the big ones...not
those that are tied to the social mores of a particular
historical period. The Bible was written by flawed human
beings who have their own issues and their own time period
issues that influence their writing. Besides…God is
infallible. Man is not, and it was MAN who wrote the bible,
not our Lord, despite what some people say."
"This is…intriguing," Natalia said hopefully.
"And for the record," Bob continued, "Steve
and I didn’t choose to be gay – that’s the way God made
us, and He makes no mistakes. He’s the one who brought us
together. So I don’t believe that loving Steve is a sin.
Because love, no matter what form, is always good because God
Natalia smiled wide and nodded her head in agreement.
"I have to admit…I love Olivia, but a part of me’s
been… holding back?" she said as if not sure if those
were the right words she wanted to use. "I love her and I…desire
her, but there’s still this voice in the back of my head
telling me I’m wrong."
"I know. I’ve been there – emphasis on the past
tense," Bob said in complete agreement. "But I found
Rev. Prescott’s church, and all that changed for me. Without
getting too personal…once we started coming here, let’s
just say Steve found out how much I could really rock his
Natalia giggled nervously, and Olivia laughed out loud
adding, "So there might be something in it for me. Is
that what you’re saying, Bob?"
Bob wiggled his eyebrows and nodded his head quickly, which
prompted Natalia to try to bury her blushing face into her
"Okay, I’ve heard enough. No fair making the lady or
the reverend blush," Prescott told them. "Seriously,
ladies, the choice is yours. Just know that if you do decide
to take the classes, to learn about our Episcopalian beliefs,
you’re more than welcome to. And if you don’t want to join
now, you’re welcome to come back in the future when you are.
Just know you’ve got a place to turn to – you’ll never
be as alone as you might think you are. Okay?"
Olivia sighed. "I have to be honest. I don’t know if
"Okay, any particular reason?" Bob asked.
"You’ll miss out on our yearly bake sale next week, and
Steve makes a killer pecan roll."
Olivia smiled. "That is tempting," she answered
before looking serious. "Really, this isn’t personal
– you all seem great," she replied. "But I think
in order to be one of the faithful you need, well, faith. I
can’t say I’m certain God exists, and honestly, I’m
really doing this for Natalia because I know how important her
faith is to her."
"Selfless acts do look good to the big guy
upstairs," Bob said.
Olivia grinned once more before her expression grew solemn.
"I’m not looking for ‘brownie points,’ though…It’s
just…Natalia’s faith was one of the biggest stumbling
blocks, for both of us really, and it’s one of the reasons
why I didn’t tell her sooner how I felt…But even if I don’t
join," Olivia paused and looked to Natalia, "I think
it’s something that you really need, Honey." She paused
again, but this time she had a mischievous look on her face.
"And not just because of Bob’s ‘world rocking speech,’
although that does sound very…invigorating."
Everyone at the table laughed.
"Well, I’m in," Natalia told them. "Let me
know what materials I have to have, and I’ll start on them
"Wonderful," Rev. Prescott complimented.
"And let me say to you, Olivia, that the door is open,
but even if you never take part, you’re doing a wonderful
thing by supporting Natalia in her beliefs. You’d be amazed
how rare that is in today’s world."
"I’m no saint, Reverend – far from it,"
Olivia replied. "But...I’m trying."
Rev. Prescott smiled. "That’s all any of us can
do," he replied.
Olivia, Natalia and Emma walked back to the car.
"Jake said I was pretty," Emma confessed.
"He did, huh?" Olivia asked. Emma nodded firmly.
"Did you tell him you don’t kiss on the first
"Mommmmm," Emma said, embarrassed. "He only
said I was pretty."
Olivia smiled and tossed Emma the keys, "Go open the
doors, Heartbreaker," she told her.
Emma took off, and Natalia squeezed Olivia’s hand harder
as they walked along.
"So, good day?" Olivia asked.
"Wonderful day," Natalia replied, "and
hopefully a fantastic night."
"Wanna test Bob’s theory, huh?" Olivia asked.
"Uh huh," Natalia said as she reached over and
licked Olivia’s earlobe.
"Emma, it’s time for bed," Olivia announced to
the child who was already in the car and out of earshot.
Natalia laughed, "It’s one in the afternoon, and we
have to go the zoo. You promised."
Olivia released a ragged sigh. "It’s gonna be a long
Natalia snuggled into Olivia’s neck as they walked.
"I’ll make it worth your wait. I swear."
"I’m holding you to that," Olivia replied as
she opened the door for her.
Instead of climbing inside, Natalia cupped her hand and
gently caressed the apex of Olivia’s legs. "I’m
counting on it," she said before she darted inside,
taking her seat, and shutting the door.
Olivia stood outside, rooted in her spot. Inside the car,
Natalia waved her to come along.
"You’re evil," Olivia told her playfully as she
seemed to adjust her pants. "And, yes, I love it."
Natalia simply smiled.