ACT 1

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

 Natalia smiled at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, the hand holding Olivia’s favorite shade of lipstick hanging motionless in front of her mouth.  “For the hundredth time… yes.”

 She heard the older woman sigh from the other room.  “I still think we should have thrown a party here.”

 “Olivia,” The brunette rolled her eyes and went back to applying her make-up.  “We can’t claim every holiday!  We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas here…”

 “Ahhh, technically we never had Thanksgiving, since someone had to go and give birth in the middle of dinner.”

 “It wasn’t the middle!  It was the beginning!”  Natalia leaned against the sink, turning her head towards the door as her voice dropped dangerously low.  “Are you complaining?”

 “No.”  Olivia’s voice was soft, almost shy as she ran her hand down the outside of the door.  “In fact, I think it’s rather fitting that on that particular day… you gave me something I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life…”

 The younger woman felt her heart flip lazily in her chest and closed her eyes, amazed yet again at the sweet and gentle soul hidden beneath her lover’s sarcastic exterior.

 “It also makes it a lot easier to remember her birthday.”

 Natalia snorted.  “Nice.”

 “Practical.”

 “Yeah, because practical is your middle name!”

 “It is!”  Olivia tapped the door one last time with her nails before sitting down on the end of the bed to pull on her boots.  They were new; black ankle boots with three inch heels that turned her calves and backside into a spectacle that Natalia had labeled a near-religious experience.

 Considering the source, Olivia thought it was quite a compliment.

 Standing she turned from side to side, checking out the rest of her outfit in the mirror.  The skirt was charcoal gray.  Tight to the point of almost being obscene, it clung to her hips and thighs all the way down to her knees.  Tucked into it was a white tuxedo shirt, complete with silver button covers and cufflinks.  She pulled a matching charcoal vest over the top of that, smiling as it molded to her body like a second skin when she fastened it across her chest. 

 With a chuckle, she reached for the last part of the outfit, a crimson bow tie.  Picking it up, she stared at it for several long seconds; running her fingertips over the silky material.  It was soft and smooth and she could imagine a dozen or so better ways to put it to use than wrapping it around her neck.  Unbidden, the image of her girlfriend with her hands bound to the bedposts popped into her head.

 Swallowing, she sat down heavily.  “Jesus… get a grip, Olivia.”  She whispered.  “You went without sex for…what?  More than a year before Natalia?  God, it hasn’t even been that long…”  She closed her eyes, whimpering softly.  “Thirty-six days, fifteen hours and…”  She glanced at the clock next to the bed.  “…twelve minutes…”  With a tiny, anguished cry she toppled over, burying her face in Natalia’s pillow and inhaling deeply.

 “Who are you talking to?”  The brunette called from the bathroom.

 “No one.”  Olivia sighed, pulling herself to her feet and walking back to the mirror.  She slid the tie around her neck, knotting it quickly into a bow.  Leaning her head to the side she studied her reflection, pursing her lips as she did so.  Finally, with a small leer, she reached up and pulled the tie loose, letting it dangle from beneath her collar like a playboy just stumbling home after a night on the town.   She backed up a few feet and checked the overall effect of her outfit,  smoothing her hand over layers of chestnut hair that were slicked back away from her face but left to hang long in the back.  Her makeup was done sparingly, except for her eyes.  There, the combination of charcoal eye shadow, black liner and long, thick lashes made her green eyes stand out even more clearly, glowing like a cat’s in the moonlight.

 “Perfect.”  She purred, a wicked smile turning up the corners of her mouth.

 “Mmmm, I agree.”

 Before she could react, her eyes were covered by Natalia’s soft, sweet smelling fingers.  “What are you doing?”

 “I don’t want you to peek.”

 “Are we going to stay like this all night?”  Olivia smirked, moving her hips to rub her backside seductively against the younger woman’s groin.  “Because if we are, I want to request something slow and dirty when we dance....”

 “Just… be quiet and do what you’re told.”

 “Ooo.”  One eyebrow shot up.  “I am yours to command.”  Her heart caught when she felt Natalia’s lips against her ear, the warmth of her breath sending chills up and down the older woman’s spine.

 “I already knew that.”  She whispered.

 Olivia laughed softly; more at herself than anything else.  If any of her former lovers had dared to say such a thing, it would have earned them the door.  But with Natalia…

 With Natalia it was just the truth.

 “Okay…”  She leaned back slightly, licking her lips when she felt the soft swells of her lover’s chest against her back.  “What now?”

 “Now…”  Natalia nuzzled her ear.  “Now you’re going to close your eyes and keep them closed until I tell you to open them.  Understand?”  Olivia nodded and the younger woman removed her hands.  “Turn around.”

 She did as she was told, her hands instinctively reaching out only to be playfully slapped away.  “Hey!”

 “I didn’t say you could touch!”  Natalia laughed. 

 “I can’t touch… I can’t see…”  She frowned.  “What can I do?”  For a moment, there was no response, then her heart rate kicked into double time when Natalia moved in so close she could feel her breath against her lips.

 “What can you do?”  Long, delicate fingers curled around the back of her neck.  “You can taste…” 

 A small whimper broke free from Olivia as her head was gently pulled down.  Her lips parted automatically and that was all the invitation Natalia needed to slide her tongue inside before running it along the older woman’s lower lip, pulling it between her teeth for a moment before letting go. 

 It was too much for her to resist.  In one graceful movement, Olivia caught the smaller woman up in her arms; crushing their bodies together as she spun her around and pressed her up against the mirror.  When Natalia’s hands came up, she grabbed them both, tucking them behind her back as she devoured her lips hungrily, leaving them swollen and bruised as she licked and bit her way down the younger woman’s throat.

 “Olivia…”  Natalia’s voice was rough, breathless.  “You weren’t supposed to touch…”

 “Mmm…”  She slid her lips down further, surprised that she had yet to encounter any kind of clothing.  “At least I kept my eyes closed.”

 The brunette laughed, pulling her hands free and using them to push a groaning Olivia away from her.  “You can open them now.”

 The older woman opened her eyes, her jaw dropping as all of the air rushed from her lungs at the sight of the woman in front of her.

 Natalia was a vision in crimson and black; the blood red cocktail dress tight in all the right places, not that there were any wrong ones.  It was strapless and sleeveless, cut low across her still much enhanced chest and left to flow freely along her hips.  The color enhanced her natural skin tone, making her look as though she were positively glowing.  Olivia followed the line of her hip down her thigh to the black leather boots that stretched from her knees to the tips of her toes.  She couldn’t stop the eyebrow that arched wickedly up her forehead.

 “Don’t even say it!”  Natalia pointed a finger at her.

 Olivia raised her hands innocently.  “Say what?”

 “I know what you like to call these boots!”

 “Oh honey, I think that would actually apply to the whole outfit at this point.”

 Natalia’s face fell slightly.  “Do you… think it’s too much?”

 “Are you kidding??”  She slid in close, pursing her lips when their bodies once again fit together perfectly.  Over the last five weeks, Natalia had quickly shed her baby weight, so quickly in fact that Olivia had dragged Rick into his office just that morning to give her a check up.  She had been relieved to hear that it was just the younger woman’s naturally high metabolism kicking back in.  She still wasn’t as slender as she had been before the baby, but Olivia wasn’t exactly unhappy about that.  There was a lot to be said for a woman of substance.  Grinning, she laid her hands on Natalia’s hips, leaning down to nuzzle the sensitive skin beneath the younger woman’s ear.  “I think you’re perfect.”

 “Hmmm…”  Natalia hummed happily.  “You keep that up and we’re never going to leave this room.”

 “Would that be so bad?” Olivia mumbled, her tongue tracing the hollow at the base of her lover’s throat.

 Natalia sighed and gently pushed her away.  “We promised we’d be there.”

 Olivia hung her head in frustration.  “And why did we do that again?”

 “Because,” She picked up the charm bracelet Olivia had given her for Christmas, holding her arm out so that the older woman could fasten it around her wrist.  “This New Year’s Eve party means a lot to Phillip.”  She rubbed Olivia’s lips gently with her thumb, trying to get her to stop pouting.  “It’s the first year without Alan.  Love… hate… whatever their relationship was… he has to be feeling that loss.”

 Olivia sighed.  “You’re right.  You’re right.”  She wrapped her arms around the smaller woman, resting their foreheads together.  “I’m just kind of surprised you’re so gung-ho about this.  I would have thought I’d need a crow bar to pry you away from the baby.”

 Natalia picked up the ends of Olivia’s bow tie, fidgeting with them before laying them back against her shirt, her lips quirking adorably to one side.  “It’s hard.”  She finally admitted.  “I would love to stay here and curl up under a blanket with our girls.  But I think… I think we really need some adult time… away from the kids; to keep it in perspective.”

 Olivia looked at her closely.  “Dr. Phil?”

 “Oprah.”

 “Ahh…”  She laughed and kissed her tenderly.  “We really do need to get you out of the house.  If you start watching Judge Judy I’m staging an intervention.”

 “Ha!”  Natalia picked up the black wrap that completed her outfit, smiling when Olivia grabbed the other end.  Pulling gently, she backed out of the room. “Don’t even try to pretend you’re innocent of trashy television tendencies!”

 “Trashy television tendencies?  Can you say that five times fast?”

 “No, but I can say for a fact that I’ve seen you watching Court TV!”

 Olivia blushed.  “Just ‘Forensic Files’!  It’s… educational!”

 “Mmhmm…but do you need to explain it to Francesca?  You’re going to end up giving her nightmares!”  Natalia kept pulling until she reached the bottom of the stairs. 

 “I would think you’d be happy!”  Olivia stopped three steps up, pulling back firmly.  “It is a cop show!”

 “When I asked you to help me bring her up with positive examples of her father’s profession, that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind!”

 “I could show her Reno 911!”  Olivia smirked.  “Probably be more accurate…”

 Natalia’s eyes narrowed.  With a mock frown, she tugged.  Hard.

 Olivia stumbled down the last few steps and into her girlfriend’s arms.  “Hey!”

 The brunette grinned, wrapping her arms around the other woman tightly.  “Lose your balance?”  She glanced down.  “Must be the boots.”

“You love these boots.” 

 Natalia leaned forward until her lips grazed Olivia’s with every word she spoke.  “No… I love your ass in those boots.”  She slid her hands dangerously low on Olivia’s back.  “The fact that they’re cute is just a bonus.”

 The older woman shook her head, her eyes darkening.  “You’re getting quite a mouth on you.”

 “The important thing…” Natalia kissed her neck, breathing deeply as she nuzzled her way up to a perfect ear.  “Is what my mouth can do on you...”

 Olivia shivered.  She took Natalia’s face in her hands and kissed her, tenderly at first and then with growing enthusiasm.

 “Oh my god!  Are they always like that?”

The two women broke apart quickly to find Jane and a wildly giggling Emma watching them from the couch.

 “Yeeees!”  The little girl sang happily.  “Mommy and Natalia sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

 “Okay, bean.”  Olivia ran a finger around the edge of her lips, smirking when she saw the burst of color in Natalia’s cheeks.  “I was just… checking her lipstick.”

 Emma rolled her eyes.

 “She definitely gets that from you.”  Natalia whispered.

 The older woman smiled proudly.  “Okay, here are the ground rules! No soda past ten o’clock, no candy past eleven.  No scary movies, no long distance phone calls and no wild tea parties with your dollies.  You can stay up to see the ball drop but I want you in bed by twelve-thirty.  Agreed?”

 “Agreed…”  The little girl said sullenly.  “But I still don’t know why I can’t go with you!”  Her lower lip extended in a spectacular pout.

 “And she gets that from you!”  Olivia whispered in Natalia’s ear on the way to the couch; making the brunette laugh.  “It’s not that we don’t want you with us, Jellybean.”  She sat down next to her daughter, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.  “But there won’t be any other kids there.  It’s all grown-ups and you know how boring we can be.  Plus, Jane needs you to help take care of your little sister, don’t you Jane?”

 “I do.” The babysitter nodded.

 Emma sighed.  “Okay…”  She stretched the word out over several seconds. 

 “Be good?”  She waited until the little girl nodded, then kissed her on the forehead.  She watched with a small smile as Natalia did the same.

 Waving goodbye, they stepped out onto the porch.  The air was crisp and clean, the world white with a dusting of new snow that had recently fallen over the old.  Olivia pulled the black cashmere wrap tight around the younger woman’s shoulders before tilting her head back to finish their interrupted kiss.

 A few moments later they heard the crunching of tires in the driveway and looked up to see Phillip’s personal driver Jacob pulling up to the house in a long black limousine. 

 Olivia glanced at her watch.  “Eight O’clock.  Right on time.” 

 “It was really sweet of Phillip to send a car.”

 “Yeah, it was.”  She took Natalia’s hand and led her to the limo, smiling at Jacob when he jumped out into the cold to open the door.  “Hiya, Jake.  He got you out all night?”

 “Six runs.”  The young man nodded; an amiable smile on his face.  “Mr. Spaulding said he didn’t want anyone to even think about having to drive home.  You’re my first stop, though.”  He winked.  “You’re special.”

 Olivia inclined her head towards her date.  “She’s special.  I’m just a lucky fool.”

 Jake smirked.  “Yeah, he said that too.”

 Natalia laughed at Olivia’s look of mock outrage, dragging her into the back seat and sighing happily when the heat from the vents hit her full force. 

 “Cheeky bastard.”  The older woman grumbled good-naturedly.

 “Mmm…“ Natalia snuggled into her side.  “You know, you never did tell me how you got Jane to babysit tonight.  Whatever it was must have been major, for her to give up New Year’s Eve.”

 Olivia played idly with the hair falling across her lover’s forehead.  She wandered if the errant lock was a desired effect or just an escapee from the perfect chignon Natalia had pulled her gorgeous mane into. She brushed her fingers through it happily before trailing them down one smooth cheek, her heart flipping over when a perfect dimple appeared beneath her touch.  “Let’s just say that she doesn’t have to worry about next month’s rent…”

 Natalia’s eyes widened.  “Olivia!”

 “Hey, to have you all to myself, looking like that?”  She kissed her gently.  “I’d have paid her college tuition next year.”

 “Oh…”  The younger woman’s face melted into a lovesick grin.  “That is so sweet!  But you know… it is a party… we won’t exactly be alone.”

 “You forget… it’s a big house…” Olivia winked.  “A really, really big house.”

******

 

Mayor Doris Wolfe was nervous.

 It was not a feeling she liked, nor was it one she was used to experiencing; especially not while sitting in her car, dressed to the nines, outside her kinda-sorta girlfriend’s house.

 To be honest, this was not where she was supposed to be.  Nor was it where she expected to end up.

 But here she was, and here she had been for the last quarter of an hour, trying to decide whether or not to do something about it.

 With a long sigh, she looked at her watch.  It was five minutes to eight.  In five minutes she was supposed to be making her grand entrance at the social event of the year, the Spaulding New Year’s Eve Bash.  She had been amazed to even be invited.  Mayor or not, the Spauldings were a family more accustomed to owning politicians than courting them and, truth be told, her invite probably had a lot more to do with who she knew than who she was.

 But either way, it was an opportunity to rub elbows with Springfield’s elite and drum up support for her next Mayoral campaign.

 So why, knowing all of that, was she sitting outside of Anna Li’s house contemplating social suicide?

 “Because you’re insane!”  She growled at herself, reaching for the keys and starting the car.  She let it idle for a minute, gunning the accelerator like it was somehow connected to her common sense, before sighing and killing the engine yet again. 

 Wrapping her scarf tightly around her neck, she pushed open the door of the car, her teeth beginning to chatter at the first lungful of freezing winter air.  Slamming the door shut behind her, she hurried up the path towards the front door, heels slipping on the new ice as she muttered quietly to herself.  “I must be insane.  That’s all there is to it.  I’m insane.  I have lost my freakin’ mind.  Do they even allow crazy people to run for office?”  She stopped on the front step, tucking her hands under her arms and staring at the bell.  “What the hell am I doing?”

 “That’s a damn good question.”

 She spun around quickly, losing her balance on the icy step.  A moment later she was caught up in warm arms, her chest and face pressed against the soft leather of a brown bomber jacket. 

 “Are you okay?”  Anna Li looked down at her, eyebrows knitted together in concern.

 “I’m fine!”  Doris stood up straight, trying to adjust her black overcoat, which had fallen open in the scuffle.  “I’m... just perfect!”

 “Wow!”  Anna whistled in appreciation, reaching out to part the coat wider, taking in the Mayor’s appearance with appreciative eyes.  “You can say that again!”

 Doris was dressed in a black Dolce and Gabbana cocktail dress.  It was gathered tight around her waist and cut low across the chest in a diamond-shaped pattern.  The neckline was a fitted choker that left her shoulders bare until it met up with the half sleeves that circled around the older woman’s upper arms.  Anna felt her eyes widen as they slid down the decadent dress to a hem that was far from modest, landing a full two inches above her knees.  The outfit was finished off in style by a pair of two inch heels that made the Mayor’s calves look like they were carved from stone and a messy, upswept bun that softened the whole image with stray locks of hair framing her face.

 “Wow.” 

 Doris blushed, pleased.  “You said that already.” 

 “Yeah, well…”  She raised her eyebrows.  “It bears repeating.  Where the hell are you going looking like that?”

 “New Year’s Eve at the Spaulding mansion.”

 “Ahhh…”  The detective held up the white plastic bag she was carrying.  “Kung Pao chicken and hot and sour soup.”  She shrugged, a self-deprecating smile on her face.  “I’m a girl who knows how to party.”

 “Well… I…”  Doris fiddled with one of her diamond earrings.  “I was sort of hoping that you were…”

 Anna blinked.  “Were what?”

 “A girl who likes a good party.”

 The detective stared at her.  “You better come inside.”  She unlocked the door and shuffled the freezing woman into the foyer.  “I think the cold has gone to your head.”

 “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 “It means you can’t possibly be asking me what I think you’re asking me.”

 “What do you think I’m asking you?”

 Anna sighed, rubbing her temples with her fingers.  “It kind of sounds like your asking me to go to this party with you.”

 “Oh, good!”  Doris nodded.  “Because that’s what I’m asking you.”

 Anna stared at her speculatively for several long moments until Doris finally frowned.  “What?!?”

 “I’m waiting for the punch line.”

 “This isn’t a joke!”  She sighed.  “I… I’ve wanted to ask you for a while now but…  I kept talking myself out of it.”

 “And for good reason!”

 “Really?”  Doris sat down heavily on the bench in the entryway.  “You think there’s a good reason?  Because all of the ones I keep coming up with make me feel like a coward.”

 “Doris,” Anna sat down beside her and took her hand.  “It isn’t cowardice to protect the things you’ve worked for, the things that matter to you.  It’s rational… and understandable.”

 “Rational.”  The Mayor repeated.  “Anna, I’ve been hiding my whole life; first from myself and then from the rest of the world.  For the longest time I hid from my own daughter!  To such an extent that she doesn’t even know who I really am.  All that time… all those opportunities… gone.  Wasted.  And now she’s on the other side of the country.  I can’t get those years with my daughter back and I can’t undo all of the lies I’ve told.  But I can start living my life differently now.  I can stand up and be proud of who I am instead of hiding all the time!”  She laced their fingers together.  “What’s the point of being Mayor if I only got here by pretending to be something I’m not?  What’s so rational about that?”

 “Doris… sweetheart…”  Anna ran a hand through her jet black hair.  “If you do this… if we do this…  Then that’s it, it’s done.  You can’t un-ring that bell.”

 “I know.”

 “Do you?”  Anna looked at her closely, surprised and more than a little turned on by the determination plainly evident in the woman before her.  She blinked as she breathed in deeply.  “Wow… you’re really serious?  You’re willing to risk everything… to come out… with me?”

 “Yes I am.”  Doris cupped her chin, pulling her forward to kiss her firmly.  “Now, the real question is…”  She looked her lover over from head to toe.  The woman looked damn good in jeans and leather, but she wouldn’t exactly blend.  With a smirk, she reached out and pulled the ball cap off her head. “Do you have a couple of mice and a magic pumpkin somewhere?  Because I’m no fairy godmother and you’re a tad underdressed.”

 Anna’s lips curved into a crooked grin.  “Oh baby, you’d be surprised how well I can clean up.  Give me twenty minutes.”

 Doris stopped her when she started towards the bedroom, pulling her back and down onto her lap.  Never breaking eye contact, she began to unbutton Anna’s shirt. “I could always come help…”

 The detective laughed.  It was full and deep and sent a wave of tingles down the older woman’s spine.  She slapped Doris’ hands away and climbed off.  “Not if you want to get to the party sometime tonight.  You just sit there and be a good girl.”

 Doris grinned; her gaze following Anna until she disappeared into the bedroom.  Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes, breathing in evenly as she let her mind wander.

 “Doris?”

 The Mayor blinked rapidly as she sat up.  “Oh my god… did I actually fall asleep?”  She rubbed at her eyes carefully, trying not to smudge her makeup.

 “Well, you were pretty stressed out.  So what do you think?  Will I pass for the social elite?”

 Doris looked up, her breath stopping as her eyes widened in unabashed appreciation.

 Anna was wearing a short, pale green shift.  Iridescent, the fabric shimmered as it slid smoothly across her body.  It twisted with her as she spun in a slow circle, providing the older woman with a complete 360 degree view.  The dress was held up by two thin strips of fabric that hugged her slender shoulders before widening to create an almost drape like affect down her back.  While modestly cut in the front, the back plunged so low that Doris swore she could almost see the dimple at the base of her spine. 

 And as for her hair…

 “Dear god!”  Doris reached up tentatively, her fingers gently nudging the thick mass of wild black spikes that jutted out in all different directions.  She was amazed to find them incredibly soft and made a mental note to figure out how the Asian woman had managed to pull that off.  “You’re… magnificent!”  She whispered finally. 

 Anna smiled, the faintest hint of a blush tinting her cheeks.  “Thanks.”  She sat down next to her and pulled on a pair of brown, fuzzy UGGs.

 “Uhm…”  Doris bit her bottom lip.  “Really?”

The detective rolled her eyes, holding up a pair of black, strappy sandals in her other hand.  “Frostbite beats fashion every time.  I’ll change when we get there.”

 “Ahh…”  Doris smiled when Anna stood and held out a hand.  Taking it, she allowed herself to be pulled up, kissing her lover tenderly before turning to study their image in the hallway mirror.

 “So…”  The Asian woman brushed the hair away from her eyes. “What would your new image consultant say about this?”

 “Honestly?”  Doris tucked her arm into Anna’s.  “I don’t think he’d say much of anything.  His head would just implode.” 

 “Are you sure you want to do this?”

 “No.” She admitted.  “But I think it time I stopped doing what’s right for everyone else… and started doing what’s right for me.” 

 Anna nodded.  “Okay then… let’s go destroy your political career.”

 “Sweet talker!”  Doris smiled, hugging their hips together as they headed for the door. 

 ******