Disclaimer: All characters (unless otherwise specified) belong to Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Gary Tomlin, NBC, et al and are used here strictly for non-profit entertainment purposes.
Rating: PG14
Genre: Drama / Romance (with a sprinkle of Angst)
Spoilers: Everything up to and including the elevator scene.
Summary: A not-so-chance meeting late one night in a hotel suite. (Part II of the "Undisclosed Desires" series.)


"Another! No! In all creation
There's no one else whom I'd adore
The heavens chose my destination
And made me thine for evermore!"
- From Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin


The black Jaguar glided smoothly over the cobblestone, following the winding curve of the hotel's driveway. Gregory Richards barely glanced at the plush landscaping or the illuminated fountain. He stared blankly ahead of him, paying minimal attention. The headlights of his car swept through the darkness, the night quiet and abandoned. A bend in the drive and the hotel appeared, its lights twinkling like a beacon for the lost.

After the day he had, he couldn't help but feel lost. Unfulfilled. Dare he say it, even bored. Certainly, he had Deschanel to spar with and that was always good for a moment or two of pleasure, ruffling the dolt's feathers. But even that was fast losing its appeal.

And then there was Annie. His wife. His second wife. He frowned, an insistent part of his brain making the distinction of Annie's station in his life. If ever nature had intended a course of correction, this was it.

Annie was everywhere. His office at Liberty. His office at the law firm. His home. His bed. He couldn't be rid of her. Like the oppressive humidity before a thunderstorm, she weighed down on him. The proverbial albatross around his neck.

Some would say that he only got what he asked for.

Wherever he turned, there she was. Except, he thought to himself, for right now at the hotel. He sighed, pulling the car up to the valet station and stepping out. He needed a drink. Possibly several. In a perverse way, he could understand Olivia's attraction to the bottle. He needed a break from his wife. His second wife, he reminded himself as he picked up the valet ticket and walked into the hotel.

The lobby was quiet at this hour of the night, distant laughter from the restaurant and bar trickling in. He nodded to the night concierge behind the desk and walked over to the bank of elevators, which was in the completely opposite direction of the bar. The doors opened, welcoming him back as he walked through them.

A panel of buttons greeted him and he pressed the one for the tenth floor. He craved this drink all day and could nearly taste of it on his lips. The very thought of it got him through a particularly long-winded meeting his afternoon, fighting boredom as Annie's foot caressed his calf. He cleared his throat, raising his eyes to watch the needle tracking his progress. The damn elevator took longer and longer each night.

Relativity, he supposed as a polite bell indicated he arrived. Finally.

He got off the elevator, his steps swallowed by the runner in the hallway. The sconces were dim, romantic even, as he neared a familiar door at the far end of the floor. His knock was firm, echoing in the quietly deserted hall. The locks clicked from behind the door before it opened slowly. "Good evening," he said softly, leaning against the door frame.

Olivia graced him with a sincere, but tired, smile as she held the door open, the swell of violins echoing from the interior of the hotel suite. "The same to you," she said as he passed, brushing against the silk of her robe. She closed the door quietly and locked it before she followed him in. "Drink?"

He nodded, glancing around the living room as he said, "That would be great." Unlike the hall, the room was awash with golden light, banishing the shadows to the recesses from which they slithered. A large spray of white roses and lilies-of-the-valley stood prominently on the desk and he frowned, having a sneaking suspicion as to who sent them.

She turned, the crystal tumbler clinking on the marble counter as she set it down. Her back was to him and he watched her for a long moment, from her bare feet to the lazy pile of dark hair on her head. The silk robe was drawn tight around her, swaddling her in an embrace of soft lilac. For a moment he stood frozen, lost somewhere between the music and his memory. In another time and place…

Instead, Gregory shook his head and sank into the sofa, loosening his tie. "Did I wake you?" he asked as was the perfunctory custom. He watched her as she turned, shaking her head. She held out the perfect crystal, passing it to him as she sat at the opposite end of the sofa. "Thank you."

She curled into the corner, drawing into herself. "I'm sorry there's nothing stronger than water."

"That's ok." He held it up to the light, playfully judging it. "At least it's sparkling."

A small smile came to her face as he took a long sip, the ice cubes tinkling against the sides. Silence descended between them and her eyes fell away from his. He set the glass aside and leaned back, sighing heavily as he let his eyelids close slightly. Through the slits, he saw her eyes dart back to him, moving over him furtively. He wondered what she saw. A tired man obsessed with his work? An old man, encroaching on middle age? The father of her children? Or, just him- just Gregory?

He ever wondered if he would ever have the courage to ask.

She sat up slowly, fingering her ear lobe anxiously. He knew that gesture. She was working up the nerve to say something to him. Something he didn't necessarily want to hear. So, he opened his eyes, sending her a tired smile instead. "I recognize this music."

The sounds of the opera floated through the suite, gracing every corner with the poetic libretto. She arched her eyebrow, interested, as he announced, "It's the 'Letter Scene' from Eugene Onegin- the insufferably long one."

"You say insufferably; I say beautifully."

He chuckled into the glass, the laughter muffled. "Beautifully," he scoffed. "Boring was more like it. Do you know how many hours of opera I suffered through for you?" She shrugged innocently, though the momentary flash in her eyes indicated something more. His hand tightened around the crystal, recalling the passionate high that would consume her following a night at the opera. Her hot breath against his neck… Her amorous lips thirsting for his… Her eager fingers spreading his shirt apart… That first electric spark as she touched his bare chest…

He shifted uncomfortably, clearing his throat as she fingered the belt of her robe. "I always identified with that young Russian heroine," she admitted softly, almost to herself.

"Why?"

With a smile that could nearly be described as wistful, she stood and turned away slightly. She closed her eyes, the hopeful longing in the soprano's voice nearly bringing her to tears. "Tatyana," she began slowly, "is this most romantic creature. She feels deeply and loves even deeper. She pours out her very vulnerable heart to a man that she just met, one who she fell instantly in love with." She paused, her voice thick with emotion before she whispered, "She took a chance on the unattainable man that she loved, as did I."

He watched silently as she turned back, her eyes shiny and full. With unfailing grace, she returned to the sofa, sitting considerably closer to him then she did previously. "Though I was far luckier than Tatyana," she concluded softly.

Gregory sat still, conscious of her leg pressing against his. "They didn't end up together?"

"You honestly don't remember?"

Of course he did. He had seen the opera with her several times. It was her favorite one. But to listen to her wax poetic about its plot was nothing short of magnificent. He could lose himself in the timbre her voice would take, soft and full of majesty. Or the way her eyes would soften, glazed over with romance. So, he shook his head, enduring the way she rolled her eyes, chastising him silently.

"No, they didn't. It's a Russian tragedy. It doesn't rip your heart out the way Verdi does. It kills you slowly with its heartbreaking simplicity." He nodded, their thighs touching as she continued, "Onegin rejected her and her love. His life fell apart and he became a shell of a man. Tatyana married another, but she wasn't in love with him. Her broken heart belonged to Onegin. It always would."

Her outstretched palm rested on her knee, ever tempting as her words mixed with the music, rising to its fevered conclusion. "Years later, Onegin meets Tatyana again. He begs her to forgive him and promises love and devotion, but," her voice cracked and she cleared her throat, "she rejects him. Tatyana leaves and Onegin never sees her again."

He watched, a blush rising in her throat as her words washed over him. "Stupid man," he said softly, her eyes flickering to meet his. "Turning his back on the only woman who ever truly loved him."

She held his gaze, though her face turned noticeably. "That's why it's a tragedy," she said curtly, leaning into the cushion, silk on silk. Her hands were clasped tensely in her lap, the corner of her lip caught between her teeth as she glared at the floor. Weeks of late-night visits, idle conversation that stretched on until the darkness threatened to become light, and nothing. No talk that even veered anywhere near anything resembling their last private conversation so long ago on the pier. Almost as if these interludes came with a set of unspoken rules. And now his comment…and when she was so very unprepared for it.

So, she delved into a topic of similar uncertainty, hoping to find him just as unprepared. "Doesn't Annie wonder why you come home so late every night?" His jaw tightened, locking tightly as he looked down, unable to meet her eyes. Her mouth set, a sick feeling coursing through her as she watched him sit up and look off into the distance. She followed his gaze to the flowers, the ivory petals glowing in the lamp light.

"An-nie," he said slowly, drawing out the syllables as he felt Olivia's eyes turn back to him. With a rueful sigh, he finally glanced over, surrendering to the bottomless pools of sapphire and letting the truth rise within him. "She hasn't been my wife long enough to know anything about me, let alone what time I should be home."

She was still, not able to ignore the tired resignation in his admission. The way it made him sound like a shell of a man. A broken man. Like Onegin. Her heart thundered in her chest, fighting the urge to look at him. His honesty was a blinding light before her, making her unable to escape it. Vulnerable Gregory was not a side he gave into often, but, when he did, she couldn't help but long to gather him in her arms. To heal him. To love him. He was usually Confident Gregory, strong and fearless. That was the Gregory she was first attracted to, but it was Vulnerable Gregory that she fell in love with. With a mind of its own, her hand snuck out, slowly traversing the slight distance between them. Her fingers skimmed over the fine material of his pants to rest on his knee.

He looked down, silent, as she gave him a comforting squeeze and left her hand on his leg. With a sigh, he slowly sat forward, contemplating her hand. She still wouldn't look at him and her stubbornness brought an amused grin to his face. Here he was, in her hotel suite as she sat next to him, closer than she had been in months.

Except for when they were stuck in the elevator.

A shiver went through him, recalling that night. The way she rebuffed him, inching around the perimeter of the elevator to escape him as the walls closed in around them. The ache that he felt for her, driven to intoxication by her full lips and the exposed hollow of her throat. Her smoldering blue eyes, rivaling the heat that burned low in his belly. That glorious moment when she finally surrendered to him, grasping his face as their lips met hungrily.

He reached out just as slow, lifting her hand. She finally looked up, watching as he brought her hands to his lips. "What are you doing?" she asked softly, flinching as his lips gently pressed to her flesh.

"Easing the pain," he replied, meeting her gaze over the top of her hand. He clasped her hand between his, feeling the heat from her trembling fingers.

She narrowed her eyes in recognition, three little words that had the power to destroy everything. With her head cocked, she tried to look away, anywhere but into his dark eyes. "I remember saying that was better done alone."

"Yes, I remember. Separately," he mimicked and she wasn't able to stop her grin. She was always amused when he tried to imitate her lilting accent. "However, I don't recall agreeing with you," he continued, slightly increasing his grip on her hand. "Not then and certainly not now." She closed her eyes and looked away, feeling his hands shift as his fingers locked with hers. "What are you afraid of?" he asked softly.

Olivia's eyes flew open and she inhaled sharply. "Everything," she snapped, ripping her hand away from his.

He watched, stunned as she jumped up from the sofa and stalked over to the open balcony doors. A strong breeze blew in, stirring the hem of her lilac robe. He stood slowly and ran his hand through his hair. Her back was to him, her arms wrapped tight around herself. And, she was miles away from him. The nearness of just a moment ago was already a memory, his hand tingling from the loss of her touch. He glanced down and scuffed his feet, finding himself in a rare moment of speechlessness. The wrong word uttered and she would flee, running as far from him as she could.

And that was what terrified him.

Gregory looked back at her, illuminated in a pool of moonlight. He feared losing her more than anything he ever thought possible. The uncontrollable need for her that started in the elevator grew stronger with every passing day. These nights were all he had with her, moments where in the middle of easy conversation, he would forget that they were apart. Forget that he belonged to another and that they were united still. Gregory and Olivia. He closed his eyes, remembering how she would whisper to him at night, lying snug against him. Or the way she'd lay on the sofa, her feet in his lap as he worked through a deposition.

He opened his eyes and set his jaw, moving closer to her. The space between them disappeared until he was at her back, the fragrance of her shampoo welcoming him. With a delicate touch, he rested his hands on her shoulders, momentarily comforted that she didn't flinch. He pressed his chest gently against her back, lowering his head until his mouth aligned with her left ear. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

She drew in her breath, his words tickling her ear. His hands slid over her shoulders and down her arms, running over the silk until he found her hands. His fingers coaxed her fists apart, their palms meeting before he entwined their fingers again. On the stereo, the soprano's voice fell away as she sang of second guessing herself and fearing rejection. No part of the scene could more mirror Olivia's inner turmoil. But his hot breath against her neck was not rejection.

With a tilt of her head, she sighed. "There are things," she said softly, his cheek finding its way to hers, "that we can't speak of." He sighed in reply and she shook her head, turning slowly to face him. Her face fell as she watched him with sad eyes. She reached up, cupping his face as she concluded, "They're dangerous rabbit holes and they'll swallow us whole."

He brushed her hair back, gently stroking the bare lobes of her ears. "Since when are you afraid of Wonderland?"

She forced a half-smile and let her hands down, slipping away from his embrace. "It's a recent development," she muttered forlornly, walking past him and back into the living room.

He turned after her, watching as she picked up his forgotten water glass and took a sip, chewing on a piece of ice. "You've never been afraid of anything," he announced.

Now she laughed aloud, her eyes sparkling as she raised the glass to him. "That's a good one, Darling." She brought the glass back to her lips, missing the way his eyes lit up at the use of the endearment. "You know very well that I'm afraid of many things: thunderstorms, snails-"

"Ah, yes. The terrifying snails. I nearly forgot about them." He chuckled to himself, growing in intensity when she frowned. "Remind me: what was it about them that scared you so?"

"They're disgusting and slimy," she said indignantly, wrinkling her face at the thought of them.

"Yet, you ate a plate of them the last time we went to Paris!" He was still laughing as he returned to the sofa and put his feet on the coffee table. "Well? Your rebuttal?" he asked smugly.

She curled up next to him, shaking her head. "Oh no, I'm not going to argue with Lawyer Gregory."

"Lawyer Gregory, hmm?" He put his arm on the back of the sofa and she leaned in instinctively, letting his arm go around her shoulders.

"When you're itching for an argument," she explained, resting her head back against his arm. "That's when I don't take the bait because you always win."

His fingers trailed a lazy pattern on her arm, dancing between her shoulder and elbow. "I wish I had known that's all it took to avoid a fight with you," he marveled to himself, earning a rebuking poke in the chest. He caught her fingers in mid-air, holding them tight as he rested his hand over his heart. "Well, since I'm Lawyer Gregory at the moment, then you won't be able to say no."

She narrowed her eyes suspiciously, spreading out her hand on his chest. "To what?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe…," he sighed, gazing around the room as if in thought. "Maybe a long weekend in San Francisco?"

She shook her head, sitting up slightly. "Oh no."

"Box seats at the opera," he continued, as if she hadn't refused. He turned to her, a breath away from her lips as he leaned in, intent on seducing her into accepting. "Hyacinths, chocolate, bubble baths…" He inhaled, his lips grazing her jaw bone as he looked up. Her eyes were soft and she looked intrigued as she angled her head slightly, unintentionally giving him access to her neck.

"You always knew how to woo me," she said softly, causing him to look up. He tilted her chin so that their eyes were even and she was unable to look away. With a sigh, he kissed her nose in reply, resting his forehead against hers. "But, I-"

"Don't forget," he murmured, his arms going around her back, "I'm Lawyer Gregory now."

"Can't." She pursed her lips as he exhaled heavily, tinged with frustration. Gently, she put her hands on his chest and pushed him back slightly. "I can't."

"I thought you wouldn't fight Lawyer Gregory because he always won," he asked sullenly, sounding more like a disappointed teenage boy than a middle-aged man.

Her face had fallen, awash with unease as she fingered her ear lobe. The storm returned, churning within her as her head swam and, for a moment, she saw multiple Gregory's. She breathed deep, waiting until her vision cleared and she could see him. He sat still, waiting expectantly. "You can't have us both, Gregory," she said in a soft voice, causing his face to turn incredulously.

"What are you talking about?" he asked slowly, his one arm still around her shoulders.

She closed her eyes, turning her face into her shoulder. No matter how she said it, it wouldn't end well. The lingering scent of his cologne made her pause and she took it in, wondering if it would be her last opportunity to do so. "I won't be your mistress," she finally said, unable to keep the bitterness from her declaration.

He sat up suddenly, grasping both of her shoulders. "Olivia, look at me." She reluctantly acquiesced, unable to do anything but surrender to the lure of his eyes. "Of all the things you are to me," he began, his voice tight, "I promise that mistress is not one of them."

"Don't," she croaked, shaking her head slightly.

"Don't what?" he asked, desperate to understand as his eyes moved over her face. She was still in his grasp, her shoulders trembling under his touch, but he could feel her slipping away from him. This was the moment when he could lose her forever. "Liv?"

"Don't make me think there's a chance!" she cried breathlessly, surrendering to the anguish as she raised her hands to her face. "I- I can't bear it!"

He had been toying with her. All these weeks. Toying with her. Toying with himself. Spending the daylight hours trying to convince himself that he didn't want her back in his life. Back in his home. Back in his bed. Reclaiming her rightful place as his wife. It was only at night, when the world had fallen asleep and they were the only ones left that he could let himself believe it could be so. That he could have her back. All of her.

Olivia. His wife. His love. His life.

His hands fell from her shoulders and she stood, turning away from him. Her chest quivered, the sound of blood rushing in her ears. The truth was out and now she could scarcely stand to face him. Her throat constricted and she struggled over the painful lump in her throat to say, "You won't divorce Annie."

Gregory's head flew up, her shaky declaration sending a swell of anger through him. "Won't I?" he snapped, daring her to argue back.

She glanced over her shoulder, her eyes wide at the measure of seriousness in his voice. "Please, Gregory. Don't-"

But there was uncertainty in her eyes now and he couldn't help but feel pleased. In one fluid motion, he was up from the sofa and standing behind her again, his chest to her back. He clung to her hips and drew her flush against him, blurring the line of where she ended and he began. She gasped, his breath hotter against her neck than before. He turned his face into her, breathing deep. "You smell delicious," he murmured, drinking in the unmistakable scent of her.

His hands crept around her front, splaying his palms on her stomach. The polar opposite to the hard body of the woman currently occupying his bed. He could stay like this for eternity, reacquainting himself with the curves of his wife. But that was a luxury he could indulge in later. He inhaled again, letting his lips graze the spot behind her ear that could make her purr. Indeed, she stiffened against him as he continued, "It's reason enough to leave Annie."

She gasped, starving for a breath she didn't even realize she was holding. His arms wrapped around her waist, his hands locked just below her navel. "St- stop saying that," she panted, her lungs crying out as her breathing came short and shallow.

"Why?" he asked, distracted as his lips moved down her throat.

Olivia squeezed her eyes shut, trying to ignore the current building within her as he rediscovered his old feasting grounds. Her whole body hummed, every sense on fire. She resisted the urge to reach up and draw his head closer. Worse still was the uncontrollable longing to turn and face him, rewarding him with the lips he sought. "Because it's not…true."

He sighed against her, disappointed as he clicked his tongue. "Now, when have you known me to say something untrue when it concerned us?"

Us.

That small word made her eyes open, instantly recalling all those years when they had been "us". When he had been hers and she had been his. Now, he belonged to another woman and she was…alone. He was part of another "us" now. She shook her head, denying the magnetic attraction between them as she pulled away. With her pulse racing, she turned to him. He moved to advance on her, his arms still reaching for her, when she held up her hand to stop him. "That night, when we met on the pier, did you know you were going to marry Annie?"

The air shifted between them as he slowly lowered his arms. His hands found their way to his pockets as he sheepishly looked at the floor. She watched in silence, waiting. After a moment though, he looked up, meeting her gaze with such intensity that the shivered. "Yes."

She watched as he gestured and started to say something, but changed his mind at the last moment. He was nervous, she realized as his hands returned to his pockets. Or he felt guilty. Or both. "It was a business arrangement," he finally said. "A merger."

"Merger?" she repeated lamely.

He nodded, his throat suddenly dry under her intense stare. "I wanted her Liberty shares. Nothing more."

Now it was her turn to nod as she clasped her hands at her waist. What was it he said on the pier? There had been beauty to their chaos. A beauty to them. Didn't he know the beauty had died, shriveled up and turned to dust at the first winter's morn? "And you always get what you want."

He frowned, unable to hold her critical gaze any longer. He had faced cutthroat D.A.'s and opinionated judges, but the one judgment he couldn't stand was hers. When she glared at him, her eyes as hard as ice, he found himself longing to say something, anything, that would make her forgive him. "It was in Las Vegas," he pointed out, as if that could underscore the frivolousness of it all.

"It was still a wedding. You married her."

He shook his head and moved slowly closer to her. "No, we had a wedding." He reached for her hand, his thumb grazing the finger where her rings should have been. Her chin jutted out, her lips thin as she lost the little color left in her face. "When I vowed to love you forever. Before God. Before you," he said, his voice cracking. Her eyes filled and she turned her face away silently, her chin trembling. "Don't compare our wedding to anything else."

She turned back to him, the ferocity of his statement frightening her. Her chest ached, raking sobs that threatened to overtake her. A lone tear made its way down her cheek, making him frown deeply. He reached out, catching the tear with his thumb and brushing it aside. "I- I don't want you as my mistress," he admitted, his palm molded to her cheek. The truth rose from within and he found himself powerless to stop it. "I want you as my wife."

She groaned and began to turn away when he reached out. "Please, don't," he asked, his turn to beg as he gently held her in place. His eyes softened, watching the way she looked at him with shiny and full eyes. "I'm nothing without you," he confessed, honesty radiating from his soul. "I can't do this, any of it, without you." He reached for her shoulders, holding them gently as he felt ribbons of truth spiraling out of control. "Olivia, I love you."

She tensed, paling as she gasped, "But, that's not enough. It never was with us. Too much has happened-"

"What- our affairs? The lies? Fights? Betrayals?" Gregory lowered his head, seemingly at a loss. "That's all out in the open and done with. What else is there in our way?"

Her whole body trembled, her eyes widening. Trey. Her son. His? Cole's? His? Cole's? Bile rose in her throat, thinking of the blonde cherub that she could never claim. Regaining her last child would mean destroying the dreams of her firstborn, ensuring she would lose her forever. And Gregory…he would never forgive her if the truth of Trey's paternity came out. If he knew about her and Cole. The child they so desperately wanted could end up being the one thing that could destroy them for good. Her head spun and she inhaled sharply, a chill running down her spine.

He looked up, concerned as her eyes rolled back in her skull and she lurched forward. His heart leapt into his throat as he caught her in his outstretched arms. "Olivia?" He held her close, sinking to the floor as her legs gave way beneath her. "Olivia, talk to me!" He rubbed her cheek, brushing a lock of hair back as she moaned softly.

She opened her eyes slowly, staring into the material of his shirt. The tile was cool beneath her and she realized that he was cradling her, looking down at her with worried eyes. She sighed, suddenly exhausted as she lay in his arms. She closed her eyes and turned back to his chest, preferring darkness to the bright light of the living room.

"What the hell was that?" he asked, hugging her close. She shrugged, giving into the comforting sound of his heartbeat. He sighed, his pulse racing as he pressed the back of his hand against her forehead. Warm, but not feverish. He drew her in, exhaling deeply as he closed his heavy eyes. She wasn't ready for this. She wasn't ready for him. Some day, but not yet. "I'm going to call the hotel doctor," he finally said, interrupting the deafening silence.

"Oh…no…" she croaked, weakly pressing her hand into his chest. "Don't." She turned her head slowly and forced her eyes open. Unease coursed through her and she fought against it, her lips parting as she sighed, "I'm…fine."

"You're not."

She shook her head, curling against him as the light burned at her eyes. "I am," she insisted, his arm wrapping around her legs. "It's- it's just been a long day."

He pushed himself up onto his knees, readjusting his grip on her as he stood slowly. She whimpered at the motion and he kissed her forehead, murmuring an apology. "I'm putting you to bed," he said softly, carrying her through the suite.

The bedroom was quiet when he stepped into it, lit only by the soft moonlight falling in through the windows. He smirked, the king-sized bed turned down to only one side. Her side, the side she always took when they shared a bed. He gently laid her down, robe and all, a sigh escaping her lips as her head hit the pillows. A shaft of silver moonlight graced her face and he frowned, finally noticing the deep smudges of sleeplessness beneath her eyes. "Have you been sleeping alright?" he wondered as he drew the covers around her. Sleeping at all?

She squirmed in the bed, shivering slightly. The mattress shifted as he sank into it, his arms on either side of her legs. "Liv?" she heard him ask, his hand slipping into hers.

"Please, enough with the questions," Olivia whispered, opening her eyes. He was half-hidden in shadows, though she could feel his concerned gaze on her. "I can't…I just can't."

He hushed her, squeezing her hand as the silenced enveloped them. "Just rest then," he finally said, softly. "Just rest." She nodded slightly, turning her face to the side of the bed that would have been his had he been lying next to her. Her chest rose and fell, shaky rasping that eventually gave way to even breathing as she slipped into slumber. He sat quietly, waiting until she fell asleep and he felt her hand go slack within his. That's when he realized she had been holding his hand in return.

Slipping her arm beneath the covers, he smoothed the blankets around her and watched for a long moment. She finally seemed at peace, free of whatever torment was consuming her. He frowned, raking his brain for a cause. He would find out, that he knew. But it wouldn't be tonight. And she wouldn't be his again until she was free of it. With a sigh, he pushed himself up and slipped from the bedroom.

Back in the living room, the opera went on, its festive waltz belying the loneliness he felt in the suite. He snapped it off, glancing around the now silent room. The sheer curtains billowed in, the breeze carrying over the fragrance of the roses and lilies. He walked over to the spray, pulling free the attached card. " 'Love, AJ'," he read aloud before crumpling it in his hand. He glared only once at the offending bouquet before he dumped it into the small wastebasket beneath the writing desk, using his foot to stomp it down.

But the desk was barren now and the loss of the flowers somehow made the room seem emptier. That's when he realized. Other than Olivia and her clothes, there was nothing personal of hers in the suite. He frowned, making a mental note to send her new flowers tomorrow. A basket of her favorite hyacinths in a lush shade of blue.

They always did remind him of her eyes.

Gregory turned out the lights, the room fading into darkness. He scooped up his discarded jacket, throwing it over one shoulder as he stood in the door of the bedroom. She was still in the bed, quiet. She resembled a little girl, seeking shelter in her parents bed after a nightmare. He was turning to leave when he heard her ask sleepily, "You'll come back tomorrow night, won't you?"

He glanced over his shoulder, a crooked grin lighting up his face. "Don't I always?" She nodded and turned over, drawing the sheets to her chin as she fell back asleep. And he turned away, content in the knowledge that she would be his again in time.

He slipped from the suite, reaching for the cell phone in his pocket. He scrolled through the address book, finding the entry for his lawyer as he made his way to the elevator. He would have her back and retain the Liberty stocks. "Didn't see that one coming, did you, Del?" he muttered as he placed the call.

He didn't care if he was waking the man out of a sound sleep. Things had to be planned, how to quickly dispose of Annie and ensure he kept the stocks in the divorce settlement. How to make Olivia believe they could be great again, in spite of the paralyzing fear haunting her.

But, it could be done. He was Gregory Richards.

And, as Olivia said earlier, he always got what he wanted.

Always.

THE END