This was inspired by the sneak peek preview of the episodes the week of 5-4-09 where they get away for the spa weekend and some time alone. It veered immediately off canon. This story was finished prior to and held for posting on IDF.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, the people at CBS and Guiding Light do. Let's hope that someone else decides they want them (Hell-oooo? LIFETIME? SOAPNET? Ya Listening?) before they disappear into the land of cancelled shows. Crystal and Jessica have a chemistry that shouldn't be wasted and, both together and individually, enormous talent. I hope they both find gigs to showcase that talent.
Author's Note: Thanks to Darth Beta (.waving.) who lured me to the dark side and yet another fandom. She also vacuums up all the (.ahem.) excessive commas. Personally, I think she has a problem… commaphobia. I'm looking into therapy options for her. So far all I can afford is a Diehard and jumper cables. Not making any money from this… unless you count the change thrown at me to get me to stop writing. (.g.)
Big thanks to all those posting episode vids on You Tube – you rock!
Olivia strode through the electric door into the lobby like she owned the place. She stopped for a moment, her eyes darting, to ascertain when the check-in desk was located. She immediately set out for it. Her younger companion who was a few steps behind her stopped in the same place but for one big different reason. The lobby was absolutely beautiful. Natalia had never seen such an incredible sight. Her eyes gazed all around as she tried to take it all in. The White Birch Spa Resort was breathtaking. Its high ceilings, exposed beams and rustic lodge décor were combined with Native American artifacts. It gave the place a very comfortable feel and relaxing ambiance. It was hard to believe that this step back into history housed one of the premiere modern spa facilities in the country.
Olivia stopped her march to the front desk and turned back to see what was holding up Natalia. She had to smile at the look of childlike glee on her love's face. The whole wide-eyed, innocent awe on that sweet face was so adorable. She walked back to where Natalia had stopped.
"It's something else, huh?"
Natalia blinked a few times and smiled up at Olivia. "It's incredible, so beautiful. I've never been anywhere like this. Actually," she shrugged, "I've never been anywhere."
"Well, that's going to change." Olivia reached for her companion's hand and squeezed it. She then affected her best Bogart impression, "Stick with me, kid. I'm gonna show you the world." She raised her eyebrows.
Natalia giggled and ducked her head trying to hide the blush.
"Look…." Olivia squeezed the hand again. "I'm going to go check us in; why don't you go explore the lobby? It's got a huge fireplace and look at all the dust collectors." She quirked a half grin at the eyeroll she got. "Whoops! I meant decorations." She leaned down conspiratorially and whispered, "I heard that there is an indoor waterfall around here somewhere." The hotelier looked around the huge lobby. "I'll come find you when I'm done. I'll send out a search party if need be, okay?"
Olivia started back for the front desk, turning around once more for a second to smile at her love. She made a shooing motion.
"I'm going… I'm going…." Natalia set off in the opposite direction to explore.
"Hi," Olivia addressed the desk clerk. "Olivia Spencer."
"Ah, Ms. Spencer. Yes." He typed some information into his computer. "Here we go. Uh oh…." He looked up sheepishly.
"Uh oh? What 'uh oh'?" She glared at him. "Look… there are to be no 'uh ohs' - not this weekend. Got it?"
"I'm sorry, Ms. Spencer. It seems that there was a problem with your reservation. There is a note here that says we tried to call you about them."
Olivia fished her cellphone out of her coat pocket. She looked at it and then back to the desk clerk. "I guess I turned it off on the drive up. What's the problem? I'm sure we can work something out."
"We had a slight mix-up with the reservation. We overbooked the rooms. I'm afraid we don't have the two deluxe rooms you requested."
"What?!?" she exclaimed a little too loudly. Her voice echoed across the lobby. She looked over her shoulder to try to find Natalia. The younger woman's head popped up and she was looking back at her. Although she was clear across the huge lobby, she could see the puzzled look on the brunette's face. Olivia tried to summon her best reassuring smile. She made shooing motions again and could see Natalia laughing. "I'm sorry," she said in a much lower tone. "How could this happen? Nevermind, I know how this happens. It happens all the time at the Beacon. Do you have any rooms available?"
"As I was going to say…" he stammered out, "we did have a last minute cancellation for a suite on the Concierge Floor."
"Suite?" She brightened.
"Yes, it's a king suite, as I said; it's on the Concierge Floor. One of our finer rooms. We will, of course, comp you for your inconvenience." He watched her considering the offer. "It has a huge king sized bed, all the luxury amenities you could possibly want, including its own Jacuzzi and twenty-four hour room service."
"A king sized bed?"
"Yes - we are told one of the most comfortable in the world."
"One bed?" she interrupted.
"One?" She squeaked when she felt an arm go around her waist.
"One, what?" Natalia asked.
Olivia raised her hand to quiet the desk clerk and turned to Natalia. "Ummm, I'm expecting us to have one hel… heckofa great weekend." She turned back to the desk clerk and plastered on a smile. "Let's get us registered. So the fun can begin." She bit her lip. "Y'know what? I think we should let them take all the bags up and we'll head out and do some shopping and lunching." She signed the form placed in front of her and pocketed the keycards the desk clerk presented. Not waiting for an answer, she continued, "What do you say? Hungry? I'm starving. Plus we need to get you yoga pants. You said you didn't have any. Let's get you some." She turned them both around and headed them back out the doors.
"Yoga pants, Olivia? Why would I need Yoga…?" the voice faded as they stepped outside.
The elevator door opened and the two lovely ladies made their way down the hallway hand in hand. Olivia's nerves began to make an appearance but it didn't appear that Natalia had noticed. Yet.
"That dinner was incredible. I'm so stuffed - one more bite and I would have exploded."
"It was nice, wasn't it?"
"Nice? It was better than nice. Oh…." she moaned in appreciation, "and dessert. Wow!" She stopped walking and turned to Olivia. "This was the best first date… ever. Thank you." Natalia flashed a dimpled smile.
"And last and sooooooooo noooooooot my faaauuuuuuuult." Olivia mumbled under her breath.
Olivia bit her lip and then bit the bullet. "Natalia, I have something to tell you."
"Olivia? What's the matter? Are you feeling okay? You are suddenly white as a sheet. We need to get you into your room." She started dragging her down the hallway. "What room is it?"
"About that…." Olivia stopped short in front of room 1220.
"What is it?"
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Natalia? There was a slight mix-up with the reservations; there were a couple of problems."
Natalia tilted her head and stared back, her eyes pleading for Olivia to continue.
"Theyonlyhaveoneroomforus," Olivia spit out in a rush.
"They only have one room?" She gestured between the two of them with her free hand. "For us? To share?" Natalia parroted back. Her eyes narrowed, "Did you plan it this way?" She dropped their clasped hand and stepped away a few feet, she turned her back to the older woman. "You promised not to push," her voice pleading.
"Natalia. I didn't plan this. You heard me ask for separate rooms." She stepped forward and placed her hand on the brunette's shoulder. She removed it quickly at the flinch. "I'm not pushing. I'm not Fr…." She stopped short and ran her hand through her hair in frustration. "These things happen. They happen all the time at the Beacon, you know that." She tried to be reassuring and light. "Look, if you are that uncomfortable, we can checkout now and I can drive you back to the farmhouse. We can try this again some other time." Then added softly, "when you are ready."
The ensuing silence was playing havoc with Olivia's nerves. She wanted Natalia to say something, anything. Finally, Natalia came out of her thoughts. She shook her head as she turned around. "No… no… we came this far." She smiled up at Olivia who smiled back.
Olivia keyed the door and pushed it open. She waited for Natalia to enter first.
"Besides, we've seen each other in our jammies before," Natalia said as she hit the light switch upon entering. "And I know most rooms have two double beds in them, so it's not like we are sleeping in the same b…." She stopped short and then uttered an "ohhhhhh" at the sight of the single king sized bed.
She looked back and forth between the bed and Olivia. Her eyes questioning.
"Right." Olivia rubbed her eyes. "That would be the other problem."
"Oh my, oh my, oh my," the brunette kept repeating as she paced back and forth.
Olivia had sat down on said bed and was propped up against the headboard. Her hands were loosely clasped in her lap. She leaned over and looked down at the carpet. Oooh, crap. High end. Guess I better stop her before she wears a rut.
"Natalia?" She called out quietly. Not getting a response, she tried a second time and a third.
The younger woman kept pacing, her arms wrapped tightly around herself and her head down.
Olivia sighed; she threw her legs back over the side of the bed and stood up. She deliberately moved into the Natalia train's path. "Whoa, tiger." She stopped the woman's forward motion by grabbing both of her shoulders. When the brown eyes finally locked onto her green ones, Olivia knew she had her attention, "Come sit down with me." Olivia sat back on the bed. When Natalia didn't move, she patted the surface. A questioning eyebrow arch followed.
Natalia sat heavily on the bed. She looked over at Olivia. Her face was troubled.
"We have fallen asleep on the couch together a million times," the older woman offered.
"Couches are for sitting."
Olivia gave her a confused look.
"Beds are for sleeping." Natalia explained. "And other things."
"You know…" She waved her hand absently around.
"Oh…." Olivia leaned in close. "I hate to tell you this but you can y'know on a couch too." She leaned back and watched the blush rise on Natalia's face. "Look at that blush."
"Now you are making fun of me." Natalia scooted over and turned her back on Olivia. She crossed her arms defiantly.
Olivia got up off the bed and knelt down in front of Natalia. She waited for the brunette to look at her. "Look, the offer still stands. We can check out right now and I'll take you back home." She lifted one of Natalia's hands. "But I promise you - I am not going to do anything you don't want to do." She held the hand up to her cheek. "Natalia? You know me. Better than anyone. You know I wouldn't lie to you about anything this important. We tell each other the truth. Always. That's how we became friends."
"I know… I do." Natalia warbled out in a sigh. "I know that if you give me your word you will keep it. I also know we came here to work some things out." She took a deep breath but her voice was still shaky. "I think that's… exactly what we need to do."
Olivia got up off her knees and sat next to Natalia on the bed. She joined their hands again. "Okay, so what's the problem?"
Natalia stared off into the room. "It's not you I'm worried about," she mumbled in a voice barely above a whisper.
Olivia turned and looked at Natalia's profile. Her eyebrow raised as the words she just heard registered in her head. She fought a losing battle to keep the horns in.
"Natalia?" she said sweetly. "Did you just say that you trust me but not you?"
Without looking back at the older woman Natalia answered a strangled "yes."
Olivia jumped up off the bed, startling her companion. "I knew it." She was now pacing back and forth and grinning ear to ear. "You don't think you can keep your hands off the Spencer goods. You are warm for my form." She motioned to herself.
"Oh please," Natalia scoffed. "I can't believe you actually said 'warm for your form'."
Olivia stopped and put her hands on her hips; she bit her lip and scrunched up her nose, "Me either, to tell you the truth." She laughed. "Don't you think it's highly ironic?"
"Pathetic, actually." She deadpanned then looked up into Olivia's eyes, "Besides, I thought we were doing glacial."
Olivia ran the back of her hand up Natalia's cheek and watched her eyes close and felt the heat of the blush. "We are, and I'm seeing Spencer Global Warming taking effect."
Natalia huffed and pulled away again. "You're going to tease me and drive me crazy, aren't you?"
"No… well no… okay, maybe just a little… okay, alot. I mean all's fair in love and teasing." She paused. "Besides, when don't I tease you and drive you crazy? That's what I do. It's part of my irresistible charm."
"Good point." Natalia tilted her head to one side. "But you don't think I could tease you back, do you? That I can't possibly match you?" Natalia sat up a little straighter.
Olivia's eyebrows rose. "Oh ho, a challenge?" She thumbed her nose and mockingly threw a few punches like a prizefighter. "Bring it on, Rivera."
"Trash talk… you use last names."
"Anything you can do, I can do better. But… there will be rules… uummm, Spencer."
"Rules?" Olivia bit back a grin.
"No romantic touching and no running away." She stared at Olivia. "Once we are in this bed and talking, we stay in this bed. Deal?"
Olivia pretended to mull it over. "Deal." She nodded her head. Olivia put out her hand for a handshake and then pulled it back. She offered up a counter-offer. "Would you like to make this a bit more interesting?"
"First pool and now this. I warn you, my boss doesn't pay me big bucks." She smiled sweetly at the older woman. "Okay, so how much do you want to bet?"
"I'm not following," Natalia answered, confused.
First one that breaks your rules gets something from the other." Olivia sat down and kicked off her shoes. She scooted back on the bed and folded her legs under each other. "Whoever wins gets the loser to do something for them."
"Umm, okay. What do you want?" Then added quickly, "not that I am going to lose."
"If you decide that you just can't help yourself and you want to ravish me in the middle of the night…." Natalia tweaked Olivia's foot playfully. "As I was saying, if you decide to ravish me, with no objections from me by the way, then you owe me…." She tapped her finger on her chin as she thought of a stake. "You have to at some point in the future, in a place to be determined, go skinny dipping with me."
"What?!?" Natalia's eyes widened in alarm.
"You have nothing to worry about as long as you don't lose, right?" Olivia grinned devilishly.
"You're right. Okay. Okay. I'll take that bet. And if you lose…." Natalia trailed off in thought and she looked around the room. She turned to Olivia. "I'm actually having a hard time finding something that would embarrass you."
"I am kinda embarrassment proof." Olivia shrugged.
"Can I name it later?" She asked quietly. "I have to think about this some more."
"Sure." Olivia closed her eyes, flung herself backwards and threw open her arms. "I'm easy."
Natalia leaned over and pinched her thigh hard.
"The bet starts after showers and jammies."
Olivia sat back up a bit, leaning back on her elbows... "Fine. Why don't you go first? I'll call room service and have them send up some coffee or maybe some hot chocolate?"
"Oooh, yeah - hot chocolate, please."
"And lots of whipped cream." Olivia grinned and waggled her eyebrows. "Always be prepared. That's my motto."
"That is the Boy Scouts' motto." Natalia rolled her eyes.
"They stole my motto?!?" Olivia exclaimed in mock outrage. "Geez, can't trust anyone these days."
Natalia smiled and shook her head. She got up and walked to the dresser, rummaged around in the drawer and pulled out her sleepwear. "I'll be out in a few."
Natalia finished tying the knot and pulled on the belt just as the bathroom door opened and a squeaky clean Olivia stepped out.
"Whoa, I almost gave in and tried out that Jacuzzi." Her voice was a bit muffled behind the towel she was using to dry her hair. "That thing looks incredible; maybe tomorrow."
Natalia turned to the older woman. "Give me the sash from your robe, please."
"The belt." She pointed at the big fluffy robe Olivia wore. "I would like the belt, please."
Olivia, puzzled, looked at the younger woman. Her matching robe hung open and the sash was missing. "Okay," She untied the belt. "What did you do with yours?" She handed over the sash.
Natalia didn't answer; she just took the belt and moved around Olivia. She tied one end to the footboard of the bed. Natalia pulled on the belt. She nodded once to herself, satisfied it would hold.
"Ooh, kinky," Olivia purred. "Why didn't you just say so?"
She laid it out on the bed. "No, no kinky." She shook her head emphatically. "No." Natalia frowned when she realized it wouldn't meet up with the first one. Turning to Olivia she asked, "Did you bring any scarves with you?"
"Oooh, blindfold?" she said in a purr.
"Gag." Natalia deadpanned. "Do you have one?"
Olivia pursed her lips in response, then walked over to her luggage and unzipped one of the compartments, she pulled out a scarf. She swaggered back over to Natalia and held it out, pulling it back at the last second when the younger woman reached for it.
"I would have brought the really nice silk ones if you would have told me before we left." She winked and offered it again.
"This will do." Natalia took the scarf and attached it between the robe sashes and pulled it tight. She then removed the folded extra blanket from the foot of the bed and tossed it over the makeshift clothesline she created to form a woolen wall right down the middle of the bed.
She backed up a step and wiped her hands. "There."
"Natalia?" Olivia stepped up behind her. "What is that?"
"That is the Rivera/Spencer Line." She looked back over her shoulder. "I saw it in a movie once." She motioned to it. "One side is yours; one side is mine."
"You've got to be kidding."
"This way we can talk… ummm, freely without…. Look, I'm just trying to help even the odds for you. To give you a fighting chance at winning the bet." Natalia said sweetly.
"You're helping me?"
"Uh huh." Natalia stepped closer and playfully pulled on the collar to Olivia's robe to make her companion step closer as well. They ended up close enough to feel each other's warm breaths on their faces. Natalia's fingers ran up the robe lapels as she attempted to straighten it. "This way you won't be able to claim you fell under the spell of my deep…" .tug. "soulful…" .tug. "brown…" .tug. "eyes." Natalia let go of the collar and lightly patted Olivia's chest. Then continued to stare lovingly into the green eyes so close to her own.
"O…." .cough. "O-kay." Olivia closed her eyes and fought to get her composure back. "Then why does your name come first?"
"Because I built it." She bit her bottom lip. She tweaked Olivia's nose playfully. "You are so competitive."
"I told you - all's fair in love and teasing."
Natalia shook her head in disbelief. "Okay, which side of the bed do you want?"
Olivia looked at the bed and then looked down at her hands. She threw one hand up and then the other as she contemplated her choice. "Ummm…." She looked at Natalia sheepishly. "You're right handed, correct?"
"Okay, then I want the left side." Natalia began to move around to the other side of the bed. "No!" Olivia exclaimed and pointed. "I want that side."
"I thought you wanted the left side?"
"That is the right side."
Natalia scratched her nose. "You do know your right from your left, don't you?"
"Of course, I do." She held up one hand. "This is my right hand…." Natalia nodded her agreement. Olivia held up the other hand and continued, "And this is my other right hand."
"You have two right hands?"
"To make up for my two left feet," she chuckled.
"Walked right into that one," Natalia mumbled. Her brows knit. "Is there a reason why you want that particular side?" She questioned. "When you were… when I first started… when you were recovering from the surgery and I saw you sleeping, you always slept on the other side."
"I do normally do sleep on the other side."
"I want to make sure that I am on the easily gropable side." She reclined on the bed. "See, you are right handed. If you roll over to grope me from that side…." She rolled partially over to demonstrate. "Your dominant hand gets trapped under your body. But if you are on the other side…." She got up and moved quickly around the foot of the bed to the other side and reclined again. "When you rollover to grope me, your dominant hand is free to grope at will." She made groping gestures with her hand. "Honk, honk." She smiled. "It's all to maximize your groping experience."
"I'm not going to grope you."
"Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated. I am the Borg-ivia."
"That's not the name I am thinking of right now."
Olivia narrowed her eyes at Natalia.
"So what about you?"
"Well, you are right handed too; you will be on the disadvantaged side."
She got up and crossed back around the bed to the other side. As she passed Natalia, she leaned in to whisper. Her voice was low and her breath hot in the latina's ear. "Ambidextrous. Equal opportunity groping enjoyment." She grinned when Natalia gulped.
Natalia sighed for the third time. She readjusted the covers, then readjusted them again. Olivia had already crawled into bed on the other side of the partition. She was patiently waiting for Natalia to settle down.
After hearing yet another sigh and the bedcovers rustling, her patience wore out. "What is your problem?" she asked a bit peevishly.
Natalia lifted the partition up just enough for Olivia to see her face. She flashed a huge dimpled smile. "Thank you for noticing."
"AARRGGHHH! You… you…."
Natalia chuckled, she licked her finger and wrote a one in the air, then reached over and dropped the partition again.
The silence was deafening. Natalia started to wonder if Olivia had fallen asleep. Her eyebrow hiked upwards as she felt the bed began to rock.
"Olivia?" she asked softly. There was no answer just more furious movement.
"Olivia?" this time a little more forcefully.
The movement stopped and a quiet reply followed.
"Is there something wrong?"
The bed shaking started again.
"What are you doing?"
"I gotta b'itch."
Natalia rolled over to one side and lifted the divider. "Did you just call me a b…?"
Olivia's eyes opened wide at the inference. She shook her head vehemently. "No!" Horrified she removed the edge of the blanket that was between her teeth. "I said I have a bit of an itch. I'm trying to rub the right spot."
"Oh," .Natalia replied matter-of-factly and lowered the partition again. A second later she pulled it back. "OHHHHHHHH!" The shock was apparent in her brown eyes.
Olivia looked puzzled at Natalia's expression until she realized what was going through her mind. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Rivera," she chuckled. "It's not that kind of an itch." Olivia shook her head, still smiling. "It's between my shoulder blades and I can't reach it."
Natalia's eyes dropped to the blanket as she blushed. Her fingers worried with a loose thread she found there. She looked up. "Would you like me to …?" She motioned to Olivia.
"Oh, thank you." Olivia rolled over and allowed Natalia access to her back. She gave a quick look over her shoulder once the scratching started. She grinned at the look of utter concentration on the brunette's face and the tiny pink tongue peeking out between her lips. Olivia began to moan.
The moaning got more and more exaggerated, practically orgasmic. The older woman was so into the acting, she didn't realize that Natalia had stopped the scratching.
Natalia punched her in the arm.
Olivia rolled over and glared at her. She rubbed her arm.
"You are such a… such a… Diva."
Fighting hard and losing, she grinned. "Uh huh, it's part of my charm. It goes right along with my stunning good looks and sunny personality."
"Ri-ight. Well, at least you will never be alone. You have all those delusions to keep you company."
"Ouch. That hurt." She deadpanned, then added, "Well, while you are all warmed up, Ms. Hottie - ya wanna scratch a few more itches?" She raised an eyebrow in challenge.
As the partition fell back into place Olivia began to laugh in earnest.
"Natalia?" Olivia whispered, "We aren't talking if we aren't talking. Isn't that what all this is about?"
A loud sigh. "Yes. You're right." She paused. "This is just a little harder than I thought it would be. I don't know where to start."
"How about if we just ask each other some questions? We will each answer them…." There was a slight pause before she added, "truthfully."
"Okay, like what?"
Olivia thought for a moment. "I dunno - favorite things, not so favorite things… umm, I mean we know a lot about each other already but maybe…."
"We'll discover some new things, yes?"
"How do you…?"
"Finish your sentences? It's a gift." Natalia chuckled. "I'm in your head, Olivia Spencer."
"Well, you were already in my heart," Olivia mumbled and then added louder, "While you're roaming around in my head, could you dust a little?"
"Gee, work, work, work, work, work," Natalia mockingly whined.
They both chuckled and then Olivia spoke first. "C'mon Rivera, throw out the first question."
"Umm, okay. What's your favorite color?"
Olivia thought for a second. "Blue," was the simple reply.
"Blue? Really? I would have thought you would say red. You look amazing in red." The sigh was apparent in her voice. "Not that you don't look good in blue, you do. Actually, you look good in everything," she rambled on. "But that dress you wore for the engagement party… wow."
"Why Rivera, do you check out the Spencer goods often?"
"I can't help it. I have to look at something and well…."
"Me too. That's why it's blue."
"I don't understand."
"What color do you wear the most?"
"Ummm, probably blue."
"That would be your answer to why." She paused a moment. "I might look good in red, but you look incredible in blue. Especially those old faded jeans with the little tear in the back pocket. Mmm Mmm Mmm."
"It's only a tiny…." Natalia answered, a bit indignant. "Waitaminute, you look that close at my…? You, you…."
"Connoisseur of art?" Olivia was grinning. "How about you? What's your favorite color?"
"Any particular shade?"
"Depends on the mood."
"I guess I could see where your mood could be an influence."
"Not my mood. Yours."
"Your eyes change color with your mood. When you first wake up, they are a murky light olive color. When you and Emma are plotting mischief, they are the color of lush green grass and when you look at me, sometimes…." She collected her thoughts. "Sometimes, they are a deep ivy with tiny gold specks in them. I think that's my favorite shade."
Olivia raised the partition and turned to face Natalia. She rested her head on her hand. "What are they now?"
Natalia turned and mirrored Olivia's position. She looked over and smiled. "Beautiful."
Olivia ducked her head shyly and blushed.
"Oh my, is that a blush?" Natalia giggled. "I made Olivia Spencer blush."
Olivia stuck her tongue out at Natalia and dropped the curtain again.
After a few moments, Olivia cleared her throat. "Isn't my turn to ask a question?"
"I believe so, yes."
"What's your favorite movie?"
"Beauty and the Beast. You?"
Both laid back on their respective pillows and thought for a few moments, then broke out in mutual laughter.
Olivia spoke first, "Well, those are no surprises," then added in a bad Bogart impression, "sweetheart." Natalia grinned, unseen to Olivia. The hotelier continued, "So which of our friends are the candlestick, the clock and the cracked pot?"
"Chipped cup, not cracked pot."
"No, I'm pretty sure most of our friends are crackpots."
"Be nice." Natalia reached under the curtain and pinched Olivia's arm, then quickly pulled her arm back.
"Ow!" She smiled and shook her head a bit. "It's true and you know it," she spoke to the cloth wall. "Especially the Spauldings. There isn't an unmarred place setting among them."
"O-liv-ia," Natalia chided. "What about Emma?"
"My little travel mug?" Olivia laughed. "No chips on her. She may have been born a Spaulding but she's Spencer… tough and resilient."
"Okay, okay… my turn. You grew up on an island."
"What did you want to be when you grew up?"
"The truth, yes."
"You won't believe me."
Giggles started immediately followed by outright laughter.
"Something funny, Rivera?" Olivia asked mockingly annoyed. She pulled the partition aside and glared at Natalia.
The laughter halted and then started up again.
"I'll have you know I trained as a chef."
"You? A chef?" Natalia covered her mouth to muffle the snicker.
"Then why do I cook all the time?"
"Did you also know I wanted to be a cowboy?"
"That one I believe with the amount of bull…."
"… you throw around."
"Really, Natalia - I trained at a Cordon Bleu."
"You never cook at home."
Olivia smiled at the reference of the farmhouse being home. "Cordon Bleu taught me the skills but they couldn't teach me to do what you do."
"Tuna noodle casserole?" Natalia snorted.
"Cook with love. It makes all the difference in the world."
"Oh." Natalia answered in a small surprised voice. Then she reached across and pinched Olivia's arm.
"Ow! Again? I'm going to be one big bruise."
"You are going to cook at least once a week for me from now on."
"Yeah, okay." Olivia grinned. "You name it and I'll cook it." Olivia's voice lowered and took on a bit of devilment. "So, tell me - what did little Natalia Rivera want to be when she grew up?"
"You mean like you did? No, I won't. Outfielder for the Cubs? Astronaut? Actress? Doctor? Lawyer?"
"I wanted to be a musician. I wanted to play the piano." She began to play air piano with her hands. "But my family never had the money for lessons." She sighed wistfully and lowered her hands back down to the blanket.
"Why not take lessons now?"
"Sure you could."
"I don't have the time."
"We can rearrange your work schedule to fit the time in."
"I don't have a piano."
"Yes we do. The Beacon Lounge has a Baby Grand. Can't you hear it calling you? Natalia… come play with me." She grinned. "Oh wait, that's me calling you."
"Stop it. I can't."
"It would be too embarrassing to take lessons there."
"I'll get you a piano for the farmhouse."
"You betcha. And, I'll bet Bean wouldn't mind taking lessons too."
"You'd do that."
"In a heartbeat." She turned and looked deep into Natalia's eyes, "Anything for you. I want all your dreams to come true."
"That's so… so…."
"Just think about it, okay?"
"Yeah." She rubbed her hand over her face to hide the grin. "Yeah, I will."
Olivia replaced the curtain and lay back against her pillow. She smiled.
"Okay," Olivia started. "It's my turn to ask - since we are talking about dreams and wishes… is there anywhere in the world you would like to see, to travel to?"
"Wow. I've never actually been anywhere. I lived in Chicago and never left the city until I came to Springfield."
"Well, then you are overdue. C'mon, didn't you dream of any exotic lands you wanted to visit?"
"I guess I always dreamed of escaping to see Hawaii or anywhere with sandy beaches and clear blue water." She turned her head toward the curtain. "It would have been completely opposite to the concrete and pavement of Chicago." She half smiled. "Maybe someday. What about you?"
Olivia took a breath, then bit her lip while she contemplated her answer. "I've traveled just about everywhere from sandy beaches to snow covered mountains. Some places were nicer than others. I don't know if I crave a revisit to any one place but I do know that I would love to show you San Cristobel."
Natalia lifted the partition and gave Olivia a huge, dimpled megawatt smile.
"My turn again. I'll have you know," Natalia continued seriously, "this could be the make or break question for our relationship."
"M&Ms or Kisses?"
"Which do you like better… M&Ms or Kisses?"
"Geez, you don't mess around. That goes right to the important stuff… chocolate preference."
"Stop stalling. You have a fifty/fifty shot at getting it correct."
"You mean my personal choice could be considered wrong?"
"Compatibility is important."
"Well, I have to be fr… sorry, honest here. I actually prefer Kissables."
"Very sneaky, Spencer. But that's just an excuse not to make a choice. C'mon."
"Alright, I prefer…." She paused in thought.
"Neither. I figure all the chocolate in the house should be yours and yours alone."
"I like the way you think."
"So what was the correct answer?"
"Yours, definitely yours."
"Well, we talked about a lot of good stuff, how about something... well, not so good?"
"I dunno; what's the worst date you ever went on?"
"Well, I only have dated three people."
"I know two, who is the third?" Olivia said, very interested in the answer. She turned on her side and faced the partition.
"Nicky, Remy and Frank."
"You dated Remy?"
"What was it like? That bad?"
"No, no, he's a nice guy. He's just an incredible flirt."
"Oh. So, Frank was your bad date."
"Why do you say that?"
"You forget, I dated him too." She laughed.
"Well, with you and your vast dating… ummm, experience, how did you manage to miss Remy?"
"Well, that's a nice way to put it… not!"
"It sounded better than the word that first came to mind."
"Watch it, Rivera; you're getting snarky," Olivia mockingly growled.
"Thank you. I'm learning from the best. Actually Frank's dates were really nice. Really out of the ordinary for someone like Frank. Very romantic." She could feel the bed move and Olivia start to squirm on the other side of the partition. Natalia bit back a grin. "I mean, I know he's a detective but most time he's very oblivious to his surroundings."
"Blind as a bat." Olivia muttered low.
"And he doesn't impress me as being very creative…."
"Dumb as a box of rocks," was said under her breath.
"But the dates were planned perfectly."
"Really?" Natalia could almost hear the pride in the blonde's voice.
"Well, almost perfectly."
"What?" Olivia uttered, surprised. "What was wrong with them?"
"It was really nothing much." Natalia bit her lip and tried to keep her voice even. She knew she had her on the line.
"It must have been something; tell me?"
"There was always one little thing missing though from each of them. I mean, I know he tried hard but there was always one little thing he'd forget and my mind would get hung up on it, so that I couldn't really enjoy the date."
"Aren't you a little overly interested here?"
"I'm just… umm…."
"Learning from your mistakes?"
"Yes," she answered without thinking and then slapped a hand over her mouth. Then she tried offering up a "no" but Natalia had already started laughing.
"What?" Olivia tried and if the giggles she heard were any indication, failed miserably at an indignant tone. She bit the bullet and lifted up the partition a bit. There, close by, were mirthful brown eyes.
Olivia sighed and lifted her arm. Natalia shook her head, snaked a hand down and pinched Olivia's thigh… hard.
"Goodness, soon we'll be able to take a vacation with the money in the cookie jar." She shared a dimpled grin with the other woman.
"When did you figure it out?"
"I always felt like something wasn't quite right - like he was working from some kind of script. There was no spontaneity. If something went wrong, he couldn't figure out how to deal and go on. Like you do or we do all the time."
"That's what told you?"
"No; actually, that was just a feeling I had. Then Frank admitted it."
"When we went to talk to Father Ray before the… well, you know. Frank admitted that you coached him."
"That's me - Coach Olivia Spencer," she said ruefully.
"Retired Coach Olivia Spencer. I'm thinking your coaching days are over, correct?"
"Yeah, due to injuries." Olivia exaggeratingly rubbed her arm and then her leg.
"Good. What were you thinking?"
"I just wanted you to be happy. That's all I ever wanted… want for you."
"O-liv-i-a… I am happy. You make me happy. Emma makes me happy. The farmhouse makes me happy. Hell, the ducks make me happy."
"Ha! Now you owe the cookie jar." Olivia scooted over to the edge of the bed to avoid the pinch she knew was coming. Natalia just grinned at her.
"Waiting for something?"
"You. All my life." She said sweetly and batted her eyelashes.
The younger woman shook her head and smiled, then lowered the curtain back down. "Come back over here and I'll tell you about the worst date."
"Well, I'm not Detective Cooper but if you eliminated Remy and Frank, that only leaves Gus."
"Yeah - back in Chicago, he took me to a carnival. The church sponsored it to help them raise money." Natalia began to fuss with the edge of the blanket. "I was so nervous. My butterflies had butterflies. But Nicky was trying so hard. Anyway we walked the carnival and he kept buying us junk food to eat and I thought I had calmed down." She turned and looked into Olivia's eyes. "And then…."
"Oh yes. It wasn't pretty. But Nicky… Nicky was Nicky. He remained utterly cool even though I had just lost my lunch all over his new basketball shoes." She threw her arm over her eyes.
Olivia smothered a laugh.
"I'm surprised he ever called on me again."
"I'm not. Gus had eyes and a brain."
Natalia sighed, lowered her arm and spoke to the curtain. "So, what about your disaster date?"
"Oooh, that's a toughie. Especially since I have all that experience." Any residual anger was eliminated by the light tone. "It's going to be tough to pick one incident, I've had some doozies. Would you like to pick an ex-husband and help me narrow it down?"
"I like Josh and I really don't know the others very well except for Alan. So how about him?"
"Ooh, I know. I've only told this story to one other person. I was sitting in Towers one night getting wasted."
The older woman ignored the rebuke and kept speaking, "And who should walk in the door but Dinah."
"Dinah. Anyway, she saw me and decided that we should commiser-martini together. We got to drinking and talking and somehow at one point we started comparing things." She cleared her throat. "Dating experiences."
"Sorry," was whispered low.
"So she told me this one story. It was pathetic. I think if that was me, I would have shot the guy or myself. It was bad. Well, you know me; I am a bit competitive…."
"So, I broke out the bad date to end all bad dates story."
"This was before we were married. He decided that he was going to try to sweep me off my feet. So he arranged for the Spaulding jet to take us to New York for dinner and a show."
"That's not bad. That's romantic."
"Who's telling this story?" Olivia chided. "He showed up to get me in a limo and he brought me orchids."
"No, bad. I found out very quickly that I am allergic to them. I started sneezing and my eyes got all runny. He finally caught a clue and got rid of them. So, after I managed to try to get myself back in some semblance of order, we headed out to the airport in the limo. Well, the smell of orchids was all through the car. I started sneezing again. So here we are dressed to the nines and we are driving to the airport with the windows open. But Alan was Alan and he was trying to act perfectly cool and unruffled.
"Yeah - I, meanwhile, looked like a collie in a windstorm. My hair was all over the place. I should have taken that as an omen. We got on the plane and took off for New York. A little over halfway there, the pilot called back to tell Alan that both New York airports were fogged in and we had to divert to Newark."
Natalia bit her knuckle to keep from laughing.
"You should have seen Alan's face. All his plans for dinner and a show were shot to hell."
"Another dollar for the cookie jar when you get home."
"Right. Anyway, we ended up in Newark. So first he had to try and find us a car. While he was arranging that, he was pumping the rental agent for info about restaurants and hotspots. But you know Alan; the condescension in his voice was there in full force. The rental agent gave him some recommendations that I just knew weren't going to be five star establishments but Alan was oblivious. Off we went. He gave the names to the driver and the driver got this really puzzled look. But Alan insisted that those places were where we needed to be, so the driver just shrugged and got in the car."
"Well we were driving along and Alan started hitting the wet bar in the limo. I figured what the he…." She smiled smugly at her companion. "Hey - I knew this wasn't going to end well and I really didn't want to be sober for the trip down."
"So we got to this restaurant. No wait, restaurant is the wrong word; I think they served food, but I wouldn't bet my house on it. We went in and Alan asked for the best table. The guy stared at him like he has three heads. Actually, after the drinks in the car, he started to look like he had three heads to me too." Olivia snickered.
Natalia, unseen by Olivia, frowned.
"Ever suave, he ordered champagne and I kid you not - it had a screw top. The way the night was going, that was probably a good thing. I figure one of us would have been clobbered by the cork."
"So we drank the bottle and in the middle of dinner a guy burst in and announced he was robbing the place."
"No kidding. He was waving this gun around and the second he demanded people start handing over their valuables, three other patrons stood up and drew their guns and pointed them at him. He decided he didn't want to rob the place after all. He took off and ran. The other guys with guns just sat back down like nothing happened. I was laughing my butt off by this point and I could tell Alan was barely holding it together. But throw in the towel? Oh no, not Alan. Stubborn. He asked one of the waiters for directions to anywhere that had some live music. The waiter told him how to get to this club and away we went. Sure enough, the sign said live music… karaoke music."
"They made a heckova martini there. It almost made up for the horrendous singing. Alan was tossing back scotch like it was water. He got this harebrained idea that he'd save the night and get lucky if he sang to me."
"Did he?" Natalia inquired.
"Get lucky or sing to me?" Olivia flippantly replied. "Jealous?"
"Sing to you."
"Oh yeah. He sang; he actually has a decent voice. It was some Sinatra song. The others in the bar loved it. We celebrated his singing success with another drink and then departed for a hotel. My luck got better and his luck ran out. He passed out in the limo. I had the driver take us back to the airport. I was never so glad to see Springfield… until the next morning. The hangover was horrible. Wild time."
"I know what I want for the bet now."
"Okay. What? You want me to sing karaoke for you?" She chuckled. "Trust me… you'd get the short end there. The only way I can carry a tune is in an iPod."
"No." She looked skyward and said a quick prayer. "If I win the bet, I want you to give up drinking for thirty days."
Olivia raised the curtain abruptly. Her head rested on her hand, her green eyes flashing. Natalia shrank back. "What? Do you think I have a drinking problem? I drink to de-stress."
"And you and I drink wine with dinner."
"I know, Olivia."
"So suddenly, I have a drinking problem?"
"I don't…." she replied softly. Natalia closed her eyes briefly and thought hard. She then looked deep into Olivia's eyes. "I waited most of my life for you. I'd like to spend as much of the rest of it with you healthy and happy."
"That isn't an answer to my question. When we started this," waving her hand indicating the two of them, "you promised to tell me the truth. Do you think I have a drinking problem?"
"I think you could if you let it happen."
"I see." She lay back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling.
"Olivia? I'll pick some…." started to say but was cut off.
"Don't… just don't. I'll accept your stakes." Olivia flipped the partition back down.
Natalia cringed at the harsh tone in Olivia's voice. She absently wiped the tear that had fallen.
After a few minutes of painful silence, Olivia finally spoke again. "I think it's your turn to ask the next question," she said a bit gruffly.
Natalia flinched slightly. "Ummm…. You mentioned Dinah earlier."
"What about her?"
"I heard Dinah refer to you as Ollie once. Do you like that nickname? Why does she call you Ollie? Do you have any others?
"Let's see - no, to annoy me and most of them are not repeatable in mixed company. My parents only called me Olivia but my brother Sam when he was young called me Livvy. He still calls me Liv." Her voice started to lighten as she thought about her brother Sam.
"I like that; it suits you. The only nickname I had growing up was the one my Papi gave me. He used to call me Dimples."
"Gee, I wonder where he got that from." Olivia deadpanned.
"And Nicky called me Peaches."
"Well, I guess we are seriously lacking in nicknames. So we need to find new ones ASAP."
"Why do I think this is going to be embarrassing?"
"You know me so well. Besides, all new couples have cutesy names for each other." Olivia scratched her nose in thought. "We have the generic ones. Honey? Sweetheart? Darling? Baby?"
"Ew, no. Frank used all those. A lot."
"I don't think so," she replied with a chuckle, while playfully bumping Olivia's shoulder.
This time Olivia got an arm slap.
"OW! You are seriously bruising the Spencer goods, Rivera."
"Too bad. No, I actually like the way you say my name. Especially when your voice gets all low and growly."
"Oh good, because I like saying it all low and growly."
"What about you?"
"Saying my name to myself all low and growly doesn't do a thing for me. Although it should, cause I'm damned hot."
"Very funny and another dollar. I meant me calling you by a nickname."
"You can call me anything you want."
Natalia thought for a second and then grinned. "Pookie?" She started giggling.
Olivia raised the partition and looked with cocked eyebrow directly at Natalia. "Only if we are alone." She touched the tip of her nose with her finger and watched Natalia's eyes cross. "Got it?"
"Yep, my widdle Pookie Bear." She threw her head back and laughed some more.
Olivia pulled the pillow out from under her own head and placed it over her face. She mockingly screamed in it.
Natalia just laughed harder.
"Are you done now?"
Natalia stifled her laughter. "Yeah… no, wait." She giggled for a few more seconds and then stopped with a cough. "Yeah, now I'm done."
"It's my turn to ask, right?"
"Let's get into those deep dark recesses of your mind."
"Why am I not going to like this? What? You want to know what I am most afraid of or something like that?"
"No. Actually, I want to see a fantasy of yours."
"What?" Natalia squeaked out.
"Tell me what you think would be the perfect date."
"Oh," Natalia said, relief apparent in her tone.
"Why, Rivera, did you think I was going to ask you about your naughty little fantasies? Tsk tsk - your mind in the gutter again. Can't take you anywhere." Olivia chided. "No - let's just talk romantic dates."
"Well, I'm not a dress to the nines type really. Those kinds of dates are nice but I like simple alone time better. Maybe just the two of us, where you cook me dinner. I no longer have fear of being poisoned. I still can't believe you are a trained chef."
"Candles, music, good food, better company. Really, the simple things make me the happiest."
"Fair enough and noted for future reference."
"Okay, so what are you propos… uh, offering as a way to sweep me off my feet?"
Olivia shifted on the bed so that she was looking directly at the partition. She propped her head up on one hand. Her voice dropped low. "The date starts off with a roll of duct tape."
"What?!?" Natalia inadvertently mirrored Olivia's position and raised the partition up. She looked into twinkling green eyes. "Duct tape?"
"I'm going to duct tape Jellybean to a chair so that my mischievous wandering child can't track us down. God, I love her; I do, but her showing up here would be a major cramp to my style."
"Oooh," she smiled. "You have a style?"
"Oh course, but I only use my powers for good. Now hush so I can do my thing." Olivia lowered the partition but held her position.
"Okay, start sweeping me off my feet." Natalia bounced a few times to get comfortable.
"After Emma is properly restrained, I'll give Jane explicit instructions to feed and water on a regular basis; but that if she let's Emma escape, she will never work in this town again."
"O-liv-i-a," Natalia chuckled.
"Then I will arrive at your humble abode, bright and early; not on a white horse, but in a really plush white limo. Since I haven't told you where we are going, I will need to pack you a bag."
"You just want to riffle through my unmentionables drawer."
"Well okay, that too. But I digress. After packing your bag, I escort you to the limo. Being chivalrous, I open the door and begin our adventure."
"Oooh, an adventure."
"Shhh. About halfway to our first destination, I produce a silk scarf and I carefully blindfold you. You, of course…"
"Why are you blindfolding me?"
"… immediately start asking questions." Olivia bit back a chuckle.
"May I continue?"
"Sorry; yes, continue."
"I place the delicate scarf over your beautiful brown eyes to preserve the surprise a bit longer. When we stop, I take your hand and escort you out of the limo and up a couple of steps. I help get you seated and safely cocooned in one of the captain's chairs. In a few moments we are airborne…."
"We are flying somewhere? Where?"
"…and I remove the blindfold," Olivia continued, ignoring the interruption. "But the plane's windows are shuttered so you still have no clue as to where we are going."
"Oh, that's just mean." Natalia said, frustrated.
Olivia smiled. "While airborne we partake of your favorite food, which I had thoughtfully secured before takeoff."
"Buzz Burgers with no cheese and lots of onions?"
"And chili fries."
"It must be true love. You are letting me eat onions before a romantic date."
"I'm eating them too."
"Thank you, I try. Can I continue?"
"Sure; no wait. Buzz Burgers for breakfast?"
"Whoops. Yeah, you wouldn't eat a Buzz Burger for breakfast."
"And you would."
"How about you substitute bagels and muffins instead?"
"I can do that. Now can I continue?"
"Absolutely, I haven't found out where we are going yet."
"After a few hours of being airborne…."
"Yes?" Olivia asked, drolly.
"Well, since we are in the middle of the country that would put us on the east or west coast."
"Not necessarily, Dr. Watson."
"It wouldn't? Hmmm." Natalia mused, puzzled.
"After a few hours of being airborne, the pilot calls back and tells us that we are approaching our destination. I ask if I can blindfold you again."
"Sure, why not double O-Livia? I feel like I am in a spy movie."
"We land and as I guide you down the steps, you feel the warm sunshine on your face and balmy breezes that ruffle your hair."
"Well, that rules out Newark and karaoke."
"You are messing with my muse here, dear."
"Sorry. Go on."
"This time I lead you to a smaller vehicle and I help you climb in and I ask you to trust me and leave the blindfold in place for just a little while longer."
"I trust you with my life. I love you."
"Thank you. I love you too." Olivia paused and then picked up her story. "After a short drive down a slightly bumpy road, we finally reach our destination. I stop the Jeep…."
"Ooh, another clue."
"I help you out. I turn you around to face away from me and remove the blindfold."
"What do I see? What do I see?"
"Clear blue ocean, rolling waves and the sugar white sand I know and love."
Natalia whipped up the partition. Her eyes widen in amazement. "You flew me to San Cristobel?"
Olivia nodded and ducked her head, suddenly shy.
"There's more. Put the curtain back, I want you to only see what is happening with your imagination."
Natalia lowered the curtain. "Wow. I'm on your island."
"I grab the bags out of the car, then I take your hand and lead you down to the little deserted cove I found when I was a kid roaming the beaches. It's called Luna de Baile. There are some boulder outcroppings on both sides which semi-close off this part of the beach and make it a bit more private." Olivia lowered her voice to a whisper. "So we have this stretch all to ourselves."
"It sounds wonderful."
"While you are busy staring at the ocean, I put our bags in the colorful cabana tent I had someone put up."
"It's so we have a place to change into our suits and also a haven from the sun if it gets to be too much. But right now it's holding all the secret supplies for the rest of the surprise."
"You think of everything."
"You haven't heard everything yet. After I get our coolers and supplies out, I shoo you into the tent to change into your bikini."
"I don't own a bikini."
"But I packed you a bikini."
Natalia scratched her nose in amusement. "What color is my new bikini?"
"I'm thinking light blue with a couple of dark blue hibiscus flowers on it."
"Hmmm. You like this color?"
"Carry on then."
"While you're changing, I spread out a couple of blankets. You shyly step out of the cabana and you look beautiful. Which I, of course, tell you. Then I step into the cabana and change into my suit."
"What are you wearing?"
"A white tankini."
"Oh yeah - that'll do nicely."
"The first thing I do is make sure you are thoroughly covered in sunscreen. Don't worry, I'm an expert. I'll make sure every inch gets the attention it deserves."
"I bet you will."
"Then we have the rest of the day to enjoy the peace and quiet and each other's company. We can bake in the sun and play on the beach or splash around in the water. We can walk along the ocean and look for shells. The day is yours and I am at your beck and call."
Natalia took a deep breath and let it out. "Sounds heavenly."
"When the sun starts to go down, the breeze picks up a bit and the temperature drops. So I build a small driftwood fire. Not only will it keep us a bit warmer but now I can break into those coolers and show off my culinary skill. I am going to cook you some native San Cristobel seafood dishes. Lots of tropical fruit, lobster, crab, shrimp… I even remembered to bring butter for melting and something sparkling to accompany the food." There was a short pause and then a mischievous, "Oh, no."
"What, oh no?"
"I forgot the cutlery. I guess we'll just have to eat with our hands. Maybe share a bite or two."
"I… I think I can rough it, if you can."
"That's my girl. After we eat, we'll sit and watch the sun set. You sitting in front of me, all snuggled in close under a soft blanket. You'll get to see a glorious San Cristobel sunset from the best seat in the house."
"That sounds so wonderful."
"We'll continue to sit quietly, enjoying each others company, maybe you'll let me steal a kiss or two and we'll watch the moon rise and the stars begin dancing on the tide. Then I am going to ask if you would do me the honor of dancing with me. I'll start the music and we'll swing and sway in the sand."
"I'll walk you to your cabana and bid you goodnight and happy dreams. I'll make my way back over to the fire and fall asleep thinking about how perfect a day it was and how much I will be looking forward to tomorrow."
"Olivia?" came a quiet voice.
Natalia raised the partition. "Does that hot tub in there qualify as a location for skinny dipping?" Her hand reached out to lovingly stroke along Olivia's cheek but was intercepted by the older woman's hand.
"We'll find out in a month when we come back here to celebrate my thirty days of sobriety." Olivia brought their entwined hands up to her mouth and kissed them tenderly. "I guess you win." She quirked a half grin at Natalia.
"We both do." Natalia leaned forward and kissed Olivia. A few long moments later she opened her eyes and smiled brightly at the older woman. Then Natalia nestled herself back into her pillow and stared up at the ceiling.
Olivia watched as Natalia seemed to disappear into thought. "Sweetheart? Is everything okay?"
"Olivia?" came a tremulous voice.
"Do we have any duct tape at the Farmhouse?"