(See the first chapter for disclaimer, notes, spoiler, etc.)
A/N: This chapter is rated Adult for sexual content.
In a million trillion years
When the stars all disappear
You and I will stay
And watch it all fade away
- From "Fade Away (The Time & Space Machine Mix)" by The Mummers
"Mine too," Gregory admitted as his arms went around Olivia, their lips meeting. A cry echoed in her throat as he pulled her against him. Tasting her was to know heaven, sweet relief from the torture of lowly human existence. She was divine and he was ready to prostrate himself at her altar. He pushed the robe from her shoulders, the silk whispering as it fell from her body.
Her eyes were bright, luminous as she pulled back, gasping. His hands followed the curve of her breasts and she bit her lip as he toyed with the flesh of her neck. She guided the shirt from his body, their naked chests pressed together. With a shiver, she came back to him, hungrily. He backed her into the writing desk, violently shoving the hyacinths aside as he sat her on the polished wood. He kicked off his shoes as she fumbled with the fly of his pants. Coming back to her and breathing hard, he ran his hand up the soft flesh of her thigh and up her waist. The silk panties rippled beneath his hands as he yanked them down, tossing them aside. They fluttered to the floor, landing amongst the scattered hyacinths as he stepped out of his pants.
She squirmed, wanting him everywhere at once. He reached out, taking her hips gently as she pulled him back to her lips. He chuckled against her, tasting desperation as her legs wound around his. Fingers dug into her hips as he kissed his way down her throat to her chest. She groaned, his lips insistent and searching as they found the underside of one breast. Her hips jumped, every sensation alive and tingling as she arched closer. She gripped his shoulders, her nails digging angry red crescents into his skin as tongue and teeth feasted on the swell of her breast.
"Gregory," she rasped, her hand running through his hair to cup the back of his head. He came back to her mouth with the kind of ferocity she had missed. She cried out, her lungs screaming for oxygen as she sank her teeth into his lip, tasting blood. He grunted, one hand reaching around her to pull her against him. His other hand skimmed her trembling body, cupping one aching breast in his palm. As he squeezed, the pressure steadily increasing, she ripped her mouth away from his, begging in his ear, "Now...I can't…"
He smirked, her impatient hands fighting with his boxers. His hands found her thighs, separating them roughly before burying himself within her. Pain mixed with her cry, her sapphire irises darkening as her nails tore across the skin of his back. She forced her eyes to his, cupping his face briefly before her arms went around her neck. He watched her for a long moment, fighting the urge to move against her until she nodded, a quick bob of her head. He buried his face in her neck, tasting her perfume as her legs tightened around his waist. Gently, he pulled away, thrusting into her with a tenth of the vigor he felt. Her mouth tightened as she turned her face into his with a breaking whisper, "Please… It's been too long."
Gregory looked up slowly, gazing intently. When he came back harder, she gasped with such intensity that her cry rang out in the suite. His arms went around her back, pulling her closer as their lips molded together. It was never like this with anyone but her, this all consuming need to have every ounce of her. He looked up, her panting echoing in his ears. The beauty of Olivia in that moment was a sight to behold. Her eyes blazing with passion, the blue clear and smoldering. Her lips, red and bruised as she moaned hungrily. Her hot breath on his neck as she clung to him, gasping his name. He panted against her, his lips forming her name as the breath quickened in her throat.
The edge of the desk dug into her, his arms around her as their hearts raced. He felt the shudder building from deep within her, hunger giving way to satisfaction. She cried out, arching her back as a thousand stars exploded in her vision. Convulsions washed over her, from the tips of her toes to her heaving chest. A moment later, her name was a moan on his lips as his heart thundered straight through his ribcage. If she was his damnation, he'd gladly surrender himself to the fires of Hell to keep her forever. He looked up slowly, a drop of sweat running down the side of his face. Gasping so hard, tears came to her eyes as she gazed up at him. He smiled gently, kissing her tenderly as sweat burned the small cut she left on his bottom lip. She cupped his face, drawing him in until the glorious weight of his body was against her.
A weightless fog enveloped her and she wondered briefly if it was all a dream, the cruel kind that ended with her waking alone. But his weight on her was real, his stilted breath warm against her throat. She wrapped her arms around him, her legs sliding down to hook lazily around his. He surrendered to her embrace, their hearts thundering in sync. He closed his eyes, resting against her as a warm peace danced through him. He was home.
She slowly ran her fingers through his hair, soaked through with sweat. She felt his lips kiss the base of her throat, his own breathing ragged. "I tried so hard to forget you," she whispered breathlessly. The empty suite stretched endless before her and she gazed off into the distance, its silence comforting and forgiving as it heard her confession. He took her hand, resting them entwined over her heart. "I even tried to convince myself I hated you. But, I couldn't. My heart wouldn't let me."
"It doesn't lie," he sighed, squeezing her hand, "even if we do."
She closed her eyes, thinking of the chubby tow-headed baby that was the biggest lie still between them. An uneasy knot twisted in the pit of her stomach and she shivered. "You're cold," she heard him say a moment before he pulled away. She was frozen, turned to stone as she felt him drape her robe around her body like a blanket. A moment later, he was back and drawing her against his flushed chest.
"Better?" he asked, rubbing her back. But, she was quiet, unmoving against him. He frowned, his hand coming to a stop in the middle of her back. "I tried to deny you too," he said softly, misunderstanding her sudden silence. "Blamed you for everything, even for what was beyond your control." He faltered, his chest tightening as regret settled in the pit of his stomach. "I never said I was sorry." She closed her eyes, a single tear curling around the bridge of her nose. "I am. I'm so sorry, Liv."
Her back shuddered beneath his hand and he reached for her chin, turning her face up slowly. "Stop," she whispered, her lips trembling. He shook his head, confused as he brushed her hair back. "I'm not-"
"You're not what?" he asked after a long moment.
She shook her head, lowering her face as he hugged her against him. The truth rose in her throat, four little words that would change everything as they knew it. Their daughter would hate her for taking the baby away. He would hate her if he turned out not to be the child's father, like he thought. The way she prayed he was. Her throat tightened around a rock of emotion, bringing tears to her eyes. "I-"
He cocked his head, his face wrinkled in a frown. "What?" She shook her head violently, her lip caught in her teeth. "Sweetheart, tell me."
She closed her eyes, biting back a sob and she felt him cup her chin. Her heart thundered and a low hum filled her ears as he watched her with concerned eyes. His shoulders fell and he sighed deeply, placing his hands on either side of her head. "I…can't-" she gasped, leaning away from him even as he stared intently into her eyes.
"Olivia, look at me." She turned her eyes up slowly, shivering as he cupped her head. "Whatever you think you did…" he began slowly as she shuddered, unable to stop the terrified moan from rising in her throat. His face fell and he looked down, sighing before coming back to her. "I forgive you," he whispered simply, leaning his forehead against hers.
The wind couldn't have been knocked out of her body quicker than if someone punched her in the gut. She froze, his hands falling down to her shoulders and then her arms. "I forgive you," she heard him repeat as a block of ice settled in her stomach. "I don't care what it is. I just-" Her eyes flew up to his, in time to see vulnerable hope in his eyes. He took her hand, his palm warm against hers as he squeezed it. "You're my heart. My home."
He moved their joined hands over his inflamed heart, his own eyes shining as he concluded, "I want to come home." Her face crumpled, her head shaking slowly as he drew her against him. He sighed, listening to her sob quietly, her tears on his bare chest. "Let me come home."
Her head flew up, tears streaking down her flushed face. "How can you love me?" she hissed. "We made an art out of making each other miserable for over twenty years!"
He touched her face, brushing away the tears. "Because we're a part of each other. You can't look at me and tell me you've felt whole these last few months."
"We. Are. Toxic," she insisted, her eyes blurring with unshed tears as she ignored his declaration. "We ruined everything we touched: each other, our marriage, our children-"
"You can't have all of that without the love we had." Her mouth set and he gripped her shoulders, pleading with her. "We make love. We fight. We live. We scream," he insisted as she grimaced and shook her head, "But we have always loved each other. Even when I hated you-" Her eyes fell and he shook her gently, getting her attention. "Even when I hated you," he continued, his voice cracking, "I still loved you. More than life."
"But I told you," she cried, her eyes wide, "love wasn't our problem. Love isn't enough!"
"You love me." Her eyes flickered away from his and he smiled, seizing the glimmer of hope. "I know you do."
She sighed, a deep exhalation as he squeezed her shoulders. "Of course I do." He smiled proudly, his brown eyes shining. "You've been my life for twenty-five years. I've lost track of where I end and you begin."
He reached out, taking her hand and pressing it over his heart as his hand rested over hers. "Here," he whispered. "We're here." His heart beat strongly, thundering against his ribcage. "This is all we need."
She started to shake her head, an argument on her lips. "I-"
"Come home, Liv." She looked up sharply, his lips a breath away from hers as he whispered, "Come home."
Olivia closed her eyes, surrendering to his warm embrace and hopeful kiss. A thousand rebukes swirled in her mind, but only one reason to go home to him. And that was the simple fact that she loved him more than she could describe to herself or anyone else. And, maybe love wasn't enough. But, it was a start.
"Stay with me," he murmured against her ear, hugging her close.
She rested her chin on his shoulder, their cheeks pressed together. "For how long?"
He shrugged, his brown eyes glazed over with the peace of fulfillment. "Forever."
A tiny smile lit up her face as she sighed, "Forever doesn't exist."
With a sigh, he leaned up. Her hair pooled around her shoulders, sweat induced dark waves that contrasted with her sapphire eyes and alabaster skin. "Then, stay until it fades away."
She nodded gently, leaning against him as his arms went around her. "I'll love you until it fades away," she whispered, closing her eyes.
He would've missed her soft promise had her lips not been dangerously close to his ear. He closed his eyes, knowing that he didn't deserve the woman in his arms or her love. But, he held her close, fully knowing the torture that awaited him if he let her go again. He looked down, smiling as he began to whisper, "I lo-"
Furious pounding at the door drowned out the rest of his words, echoing throughout the suite. They looked up in the direction of the cacophony before turning back to each other. "Olivia! Open up damnit!"
Annie. Gregory sighed, stepping back from the writing desk as Olivia slid off it. Her mouth was set in a grim line as she put her arms through the sleeves, pulling the robe around her as she tied the belt. She turned to him, finding him stepping into his pants and shrugging into his shirt, a flash of silk before he shoved her discarded panties in his pocket. "Go," she said quickly, pushing him in the direction of the bedroom as she kicked his shoes beneath the sofa.
"I'm divorcing her," he reminded her, turning to face her as his current wife beat on the door of his ex-wife's hotel suite. "We don't have to hide."
"I know," she sighed, tugging him into the bedroom. "But I'm not particularly in the mood for that battle. Not today. Not after…" she shrugged, gesturing weakly between them.
He caught her hand in mid-air, squeezing it gently. "I love you," he finally whispered, bringing the barest of smiles to her face. He reached out, fingering her hair as she closed her eyes, a sacred moment in the unexpected chaos. "Get rid of her."
She nodded, a grin curling her lips as he kissed her quickly. The door to the bedroom closed behind her as she hurried to the front door, smoothing her hair down. She hesitated, rolling her eyes as she reached for the handle and flung open the door. "Do you have any idea what time it is?" she asked, knocked aside as the younger woman bulldozed her way in.
"Late enough!" she snapped, stalking through the suite. "Where's Gregory? GREGORY!"
"Are you insane? Why would he be here?"
"Oh, why wouldn't he!" Annie paced around the living room, barely glancing at the broken vase and flowers littering the floor next to the writing desk. "Fall off the wagon and try to trash the place?"
Olivia followed her gaze, blushing deeply as she drew the lapels of her robe together. From the corner of her eye, she saw the bedroom door creak open slightly, his shadow appearing in the crack. Gregory watched her frown, the flash of her eyes and the slight tilt of her head saying Let me handle this before she glanced back at the younger woman. "What do you want, Annie?" she asked, ignoring the dig.
"Like you don't know!" She watched her shrug, the ivory robe glowing in the morning sunlight. "I'm sure it's all over town by now!"
"Gregory's divorcing me!" She screamed in frustration, angry fists flying against her thighs as she stomped her foot. She missed seeing Olivia's smirk, the satisfaction quickly hidden by disinterest as she shrugged again.
"And this interests me why?"
"That bastard took everything from me- from us!" Olivia's eyes narrowed as she continued, "He stole my Liberty Stocks and the damn pre-nup leaves me hardly anything!"
From the bedroom, Gregory smirked, leaning against the wall as he listened. He knew it was only a matter of time before the divorce papers sent her scrambling to check the fine print of the pre-nuptial agreement. "You didn't read it first?" he heard Olivia ask, amusement ringing in her question.
"Read it? He barely gave me time to sign it!" She kicked the table in frustration, wincing when a sharp pain shot up her leg. "It leaves me with nothing! The paper said that I signed over my stocks to him as part of the agreement and that I only get a million dollars for every year we were married."
"Hmm." Olivia nodded, quickly doing the math in her head. "So after barely four months of marriage that leaves you…just over a quarter of a million dollars? Give or take."
"Bitch! My lawyer already told me that! It's nothing! NOTHING!"
"Well," she sighed, taking on a dismissive air, "that's not really nothing-"
"We could get together and sue him!" Annie exploded. "Sue him for neglect, emotional something-or-other, blah-blah-blah. We could take him for everything!"
She forced a smirk to her face and it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. "I don't think so."
"Oh, come on! We were used and abused by Gregory Richards and left with nothing! We deserve better than that!"
Gregory smiled, anticipating the pleasure in Olivia's voice before he heard it. "Well, I wasn't left with nothing, exactly."
The other woman stopped short, her eyes flickering over the first Mrs. Richards. "You had a better pre-nup?" she asked enviously.
She turned slowly, her eyes shining as she arched her eyebrow and clarified, "When I married Gregory, he didn't ask me to sign a pre-nup."
He would've given anything to see the look on Annie's face when Olivia delivered that blow. The sudden silence intrigued him and he peered through the crack in the door, watching as Annie trembled with unspoken rage. "So, you see, Annie dear, I really can't do anything for you," he heard her say.
Annie spun on her, her eyes blazing as she stalked furiously around the suite, nearing the bedroom. "You can. Talk to Gregory! Get him to reconsider a new divorce settlement. A proper one that I deserve."
"Oh, I think that you've already gotten the one you deserve," she snapped. The younger woman glared, her face flushing in anger. "Besides, what makes you think I have any influence on Gregory anymore?" she asked, drawing Annie further into the living room and away from the bedroom. "We're divorced."
"Please," she scoffed, "I'm not an idiot. I saw the way he looked at you after the fiasco in the elevator! He'll be sniffing around any day now." Olivia lowered her eyes, thinking that Gregory had grossly underestimated his soon-to-be ex-wife. "You know, I should probably warn AJ."
"Don't be ridiculous," she said quickly, blushing as she detected a trace of his scent clinging to her robe. She reached out to lead Annie in the direction of the front door, giving her a not so gentle nudge. "You really should go. I don't think I can help you."
"Oh, you'll help me," Annie growled, grabbing the other woman's arm with an iron hand. "Otherwise, poor Caitlin will find out who her little brat's real parents are!" She smirked triumphantly as Olivia's face contorted and paled considerably.
She looked past Annie, watching as the bedroom door opened slowly. A moment later, Gregory stepped out and a sick feeling rose in her throat when she saw his face. In an instant, he had figured it out. He knew the truth. The room spun as he neared them, silently advancing on Annie like a shark. "Wait," she said weakly, seeing the deadly fury brimming in his eyes. "Stop."
"No, you stop!" Annie snapped, unaware of the approaching danger. "Help me now and I'll make sure that Caitlin and Trey never knows that you and-"
"She's lying!" she cried desperately, her blue eyes widening as Gregory's hand clamped down on Annie's shoulder. The red head gasped as he wrenched her around, gripping the flimsy material of her shirt in his tense fists. It was too soon, she thought as her stomach churned. They weren't even healed yet. "Gregory-"
"Trey is our son," he said flatly, his mind working. All the unexplained events and the too many coincidences of the last eight months came together with the blinding clarity of a supernova. Annie cried out, struggling against him as Olivia seemingly withered into herself, her hands on her cheeks. "You stole him."
She shook her head furiously, her red hair flying out around her head. "No, Gregory," she gasped, scratching at the backs of his hands to be free. "You don't understand. I-"
"You kidnapped him from his mother and I the day he was born," he spat out, throwing her shirt away only to grip her shoulders. Darkness bled in from the corners of his vision, honing in on her as he shook her so violently her teeth clicked together. Rage coursed through his veins, his blood boiling as she whimpered. She manipulated him. She robbed him of his chance to right the wrongs of his past. She made him think his son was dead and that the woman he loved more than life itself was the reason why. "My son, Annie," he growled, finding his way to her neck.
Fear finally entered her eyes as his hands locked around her throat, the pressure increasing. "Gre-" she croaked, tears of fright spilling from her eyes. "Don't-"
"You don't deserve my mercy," he said softly, her neck throbbing beneath his hands. "You showed none to my wife and son."
My wife and son. Olivia looked up slowly, standing in the middle of ground zero. Her heart pounded in her chest, the sound of blood rushing in her ears. As her vision cleared, she saw Gregory, manic with his hands around Annie's neck. She reached out, touching his shoulder gently. His head spun around as if her touch burned him. A moment passed and his eyes softened, the anger subsiding as she whispered his name. Her face was sickly pale and she trembled, watching as his hands loosened. "Get out," he hissed, shoving Annie away.
The younger woman cried out as she stumbled back, crashing into one of the end tables. She was crying now, her mascara running as she touched her neck. "Gre-"
"Now!" he roared, advancing on her. She turned and fled, the front door of the suite slamming shut behind her a second later. The sudden silence was deafening and he looked down, his hands trembling with rage. Their son was alive. Alive.
He turned and found her with her back to him, standing by the writing desk. Carefully, he made his way to her, the white silk robe fluttering as her whole body shook. "Liv," he whispered. She inhaled sharply, but did nothing else to acknowledge his presence. She wouldn't even look at him. "You knew," he said quietly, a statement more than a question. A sob rose in her throat as she shook her head, her chest heaving. He frowned, watching as she unraveled before him. The agony that so haunted her, the one she could barely speak of earlier was finally unmasked. "Please, tell me."
Her head continued to shake and she gripped the edge of the table. "She's lying," she insisted, her knuckles turning ice white. "Our son is de-"
"Alive," he interrupted, reaching for her shoulders and gently turning her to him. Her chin trembled, her eyes shiny with unshed tears. "He's alive. Trey is our-"
Gregory shook his head as she choked back a sob. "Trey is our son. Annie stole him from us." There was a woman in the cabin, just like she claimed. But Darling, I heard him cry, she had insisted tearfully, gripping his hands as they sat on the nursery floor. She had told the truth, maintaining it even when he told her none of it was possible. When he told her she was lying. When he told her she had been drunk. When he told her she was to blame for their son's death. He betrayed her in every way possible and then he took their son's kidnapper as his wife.
"No," she said weakly, her eyes dancing wildly in their sockets.
"You were right, Sweetheart," he admitted, taking her shaking body in his arms. "All this time, you tried to tell me and I didn't believe you." He kissed her forehead, encircling her as she began to cry. "I didn't believe you," he repeated in a whisper, closing his eyes as he buried his face in her hair.
She sobbed into his chest, gripping his unbuttoned shirt as he ran his hand over her head. Her throat burned, already raw as the anguish of the last eight months finally broke free. His arms tightened around her and she felt his chest shudder. He so infrequently let her see him cry that the rare occasions when he did frightened her. She looked up, gulping back a sob as she reached for him. Her fingers wiped his tears away, cupping his face in her hands. "I didn't believe me," she whispered, his face falling as she finally admitted the truth.
"I- I should've known he was ours," he said, his voice cracking. She shook her head slowly, already absolving him of his sins. Her eyes were wide, filled with sorrow as tears ran down her face. "I should have known."
She shook her head as he reached for her hands, squeezing gently. "The truth is too painful," she sighed as he held her hands against his chest. "It was easier to believe the lie."
"Caitlin lied." He shook his head, his mind reeling as the smoke screen came crashing down. "She lied to everyone. About everything."
Olivia's face fell, her tears coming faster. "It's our fault." She lowered her head, weeping as she cried, "She lost her baby in the car accident. When she found out about our sick plan." Her hysteria reached a fevered pitch and he reached for her as she regained the color in her face at an alarming rate. "We killed her baby, so Annie gave her ours!"
He frowned at the fractured logic, knowing that her fervent belief in karma made her believe this torture was just and deserved. "We'll get him back," he began and her head flew up.
"No! Gregory, we can't take him from her!" she cried, gripping his hands. "It will kill Caitlin!"
He shook his head firmly, reaching again for her face and looking deep into her bloodshot eyes. "Liv, he's ours. We made him and he belongs with us." She shook her head and he sighed. "It will be hard on Caitlin," he conceded as fresh tears fell from her eyes. "She loves him and she's raised him for the last eight months, but he belongs with his parents. His real parents. She'll understand that, once she knows the truth."
"No, Gregory! It's going to rip her heart out!"
Her words spilled manically from her mouth and he shook his head, drawing her against his chest. It was all too much for her, he realized as he hugged her close. "We'll get her help," he explained softly. "And, one day, she and Cole will have another baby and-"
"She can't," she murmured, closing her burning eyes. "The accident- she was too badly injured." She looked up sadly, finding him finally quiet. "Trey is the only child she will ever have. If we take him away, it will be like losing her baby all over again." She shook her head as he frowned. "I won't put her through that pain again. I can't…not after everything we've already done to her."
He sighed, hugging her close and not able to answer. She continued to cry, his shirt twisted and wrinkled in her grip. Everything was too raw. He closed his eyes, his own head swimming with the enormity of Annie's inadvertent bombshell. There would be no easy fix, no happy solution. The time for hard decisions would be later. For now, he could fix her. With a sigh, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. "I think I need to lay down," he lied as she sniffled. "Come with me?" She slumped against him, barely nodding as he led her into the bedroom.
She climbed into the bed, lying in the middle as he got in next to her. Instinctively, she curled against him as he pulled the sheets up. Her tears lessened, but were still there, twisting his heart with her sorrow. "Just rest," he murmured. "I'll fix this."
Olivia heard his determination and knew his love for their daughter wouldn't stop him from taking the baby back. "Promise me," she sighed, her arm stretched across his chest. She looked up, her eyes heavy. His eyes were hard and she shivered, whispering, "Don't punish Caity. She doesn't know he's ours."
He kissed her head, hushing her as he rubbed her arm. "Close your eyes," he whispered, resting his chin on her head. Her breathing was stilted, mirroring the thoughts running through his head. There would need to be a DNA test to prove they were his parents. The police and courts had to be involved for when he had Annie arrested. And, somehow they had to explain to Caitlin that the child she was raising was really her brother.
A headache burned his eyes and he turned against her, surrendering to the warmth of her arms. She continued to cry, sporadic patches of her tears dampening his shirt. "I'm here," he murmured, his hands combing through her hair as he kissed her forehead.
She shook her head, her misery crystallizing in a sigh. "Caitlin hates us for what we did to her. She's never going to forgive us for taking either baby away."
"We didn't give our son up," he whispered as she shuddered against him. "He was stolen." He closed his eyes, giving into the soft fragrance of her hair. How had she dealt with this alone for so long? He could barely stomach it and he had known for less than an hour. Reaching out, he tucked the covers around her body as she trembled against him. "Our son is alive," he reminded her, opening his eyes in time to see her watery smile. "Alive…and he's coming home."