The pile of paper on Olivia’s desk didn’t seem to be getting any smaller.  She glanced at her watch and sighed.  It wasn’t even lunch time yet, and she still didn’t feel like she had put a dent in the work.  Sometimes the first day back from vacation was the worst.  Not just because you wanted to be somewhere else still, preferably in the warm arms of a very sexy woman, but because the work that you left behind seemed to develop insane crushes on each other, had crazy desk sex while you were gone, and left you with their babies to come back to when you returned.

 She sighed again, picking up another file, and tried very hard not to think about desk sex and babies.  That just wouldn’t work because then she’d think about Natalia, and she definitely wouldn’t get any work done.  She looked at the picture on her desk and smiled.  A sweet, old couple had taken it while they were in San Cristobel drifting through the marketplace, and Olivia had come in and downloaded it right away to her computer.  She picked up the unframed picture and stared at Natalia, running a gentle finger along the image of her cheek.

 “So much for not thinking about Natalia,” she mumbled to herself and looked back to her desk with the pile of work.  “Screw it. This is much more enjoyable.”

 The trip away had been more than just a vacation or even a pseudo business trip.  A part of her knew they weren’t ready to take on something as big as franchising the Beacon just yet, but the opportunity to simply look and get back in the game of wheeling and dealing again for the right time and the right place had whet her appetite for the real thing. One day there would be another Beacon site, but this wasn’t the time for it.

 In spite of that, the trip had been enlightening to say the least. Seeing her home again and visiting the graves of her family was hard, but it helped her realize she had a new family. One that she could lean on and trust, that she’d lay down her life for if needed. The brief visit she and Natalia made to St. Michael’s had filled her amazingly with a sense of peace. Even though her memories of religion as a child had left her scarred and disillusioned, there was something about experiencing it with Natalia and her calm, loving nature that soothed the old ache of her childhood.

 Everything about the trip had been wonderful and even magical. She had felt connected to Natalia on a whole new level. Finally, she had opened a door to perhaps her darkest secret, her rape, and Natalia loved her anyway. She had kept it to herself for so long, fearing revulsion or disgust from Natalia, but she got rewarded with Natalia’s amazing strength and insight.  Natalia knew her like no one else ever had, saw into her soul, even the dark and ugly parts, only to declare it good.  This kind of love, one that doesn’t have judgment or boundaries, was something she couldn’t understand being given to her and certainly not by Natalia’s God.

 A brief smile ghosted over her face. Then again, her God isn’t like any God I’ve ever known, she mused to herself.

 The smile disappeared though as she thought of that stormy night on the island. Anna. Xing Lung. Whoever the hell she was now! She hadn’t imagined it. It wasn’t some figment of her imagination. She had been there the night of her rape, had seen Jeffrey leave the room, and had done nothing. She closed her eyes feeling the cold chill slide down her back at the recalled emotions when it all hit her, when it all fell into place at the hotel; the burly Asian man in the market staring at her, the older Asian woman who reminded her eerily of an older Anna. Something was very, very wrong and her gut instincts were on high alert.

 It took everything Natalia had, in spite of her own misgivings and fears, to talk Olivia out of finding Anna and confronting her in true Spencer fashion, particularly with a well-hidden gun for good measure. Natalia had made her promise to sit on it for a few days, they both would, to allow themselves to think with clearer heads, and feel out the situation when they returned. Even now, thinking about the possibility of Anna being one of Edmund’s goons, just like Anna’s father had been, was more than Olivia could tolerate. It put everyone she loved in danger and such a situation was simply not acceptable.  Olivia ground her teeth together, fighting the impulse to bolt from her office and race down to the Springfield Police Department.  But since assaulting a police officer was unfortunately out of the question, she took her frustrations out on the poor pencil in her hand and snapped it with cathartic glee. 

 A knock at the door made her jump, and she quickly schooled her face for business. “Come…”

 She hadn’t even gotten the rest of the sentence out when Doris pushed the door open with a huge grin. “Hey, newlywed!”

 “What?” Olivia was truly confused.

 Doris walked up to the desk and looked over the edge. “So, let me see it.”

 It finally registered with Olivia what she was talking about, and she lifted her left hand with the glittering band on it.  Doris took the proffered hand in her own and looked at the beautiful band from one side and then the other, whistling her approval.  “Very nice! Who knew Natalia had such great taste. After all, she is with you.”

 Green eyes slit dangerously as the hotelier looked towards Doris. “What are you doing out and about so early, Wolfe?  I didn’t think vampires came out until after dark.”

 Doris laughed good-naturedly, enjoying their comfortable banter.  “Good one, Spencer.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Not much. Just thought I’d drop by and have a chat with a dear friend.”

 Olivia looked over her shoulder, then back at the Mayor.  “Where? I don’t see anyone.”

 The Mayor’s face fell.  “Bite me.”

 “Bend over.” A dark eyebrow quirked up.

 “Stop flirting with me, or I’ll have to get my girlfriend to beat you up.  I’m trying to be serious here, okay?”

 Olivia stopped smirking and made her face serious. “Fine. What’s up?”

 The other woman leaned back comfortably in her chair and bit her lip, a smile of self-satisfaction and almost girly giddiness popped up on her face.  “I’m in love.  I’ve done it, Olivia.  I’ve found my Natalia.”

 Olivia smiled falsely at her, but she knew Doris hadn’t seen it nor noticed how Olivia had shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Doris had been going on about Anna, oblivious to anything else.  “I mean, she’s so great, Olivia.  She does sweet, little romantic things all the time, and she’s never rushed me about being out or being more open. She’s just let me - be me, and I think she’s making me a better person.  More open, honest, caring.”  Doris shook her head.  “I don’t know.  I just know I’ve never felt like this before, and I’m really happy…finally.” Doris looked off wistfully, lost in her own world. 

 Olivia looked down and closed her eyes. She pressed two fingers to the bridge of her nose, as she thought through the situation.  It wasn’t good, and it had been exactly the position Olivia had hoped to avoid. Doris was her friend and she wanted to protect her. If Olivia told her about Anna, it would break her heart and maybe destroy their friendship.  If she didn’t tell her and Anna was up to no good, it would break Doris’s heart anyway, if not actually endanger her life; Olivia would likely lose their friendship for not telling her, too.  Either way, Olivia was royally screwed.  Damn, this was exactly why she didn’t get close to people!

 It took Doris snapping her fingers in front of her face to get her attention.  “Earth to Olivia! Where’d you go? No daydreaming about your girl. This is my party.”

 The blonde offered a half-smile to her.  “Sorry.”  Olivia tried to think of a quick way out of the conversation, she raised the hand with her new ring.  “I’m still in honeymoon land.”  She reached into her pocket, where she had placed her cell phone. She pulled it out and looked at it as if she had a call coming in.  “Speaking of which.”

Doris smirked at her and stood. “Fine, I can tell when I’m getting the brush off.  Call me though. I need someone to talk to.”

 Olivia flipped the phone open and nodded at Doris.  When the door closed behind the Mayor, she sighed and hit the numbers for home.

 “Hey.” Olivia smiled as she heard the cooing and laughter of their daughter in the background.

 “Hey, what’s up?” Natalia questioned with curiosity at the unexpected call from her partner.

 “Doris just dropped by.”

 There was a stretch of silence on the other end.  “Oh. And?”

 Olivia closed her eyes, and pinched the bridge of her nose, as she spoke with a resigned voice. “She admitted to being in love with Anna.”

 “Oh.” Natalia’s tone added the unnecessary ending to the statement of “that’s not good.”

The older woman ran a hand through her hair and leaned her head back against the tall leather chair.  “I don’t know what to do now.”

 “At this exact moment, nothing,” Natalia noted, sensing Olivia was not going to get any further work done that morning the more she worried. “Just come home and we’ll talk it out, okay?”

 Olivia smiled a little, soothed by her partner’s calmness. “Okay. What’s on the lunch menu at the Spencer-Rivera house today?”

 Natalia laughed at something Francesca did before answering her.  “Oh, a nice big serving of warm milk with a little rice cereal in it.”

 “Mmmm, sounds yummy. Save a dish for me.”

 “Oh, don’t worry.  I’m sure if you stand close enough to your daughter, she’ll let you have a helping as it comes back up.” A short pause of amusement. “I’ve changed shirts three times this morning, and that’s with the burp cloth.”

 Olivia laughed at the mental image. “Ewww! I’ll be there in a few. Love you.”

 “Love you, too.”

 Natalia put the phone down and wiped at her daughter’s chin. Running a hand through her long hair,  she felt a tad bit of spit up that had gotten her earlier.

 She turned to the giggly little baby. “Oh, you think that’s funny, mija? Give me a few more months, and I’ll have the last laugh when I get you to eat strained green peas. I think somehow Mommy Olivia slipped in some of her genetic material ‘cause you seriously have the Spencer attitude.” 



The lunch crowd was starting to pick up when Doris walked through the door of Company.  She immediately spied a spot at the counter and slid onto a stool.  She checked her phone to make sure Anna hadn’t called, and then set it on the counter in front of her to make sure she wouldn’t miss her, if she did call. 

 Blake raced out of the back, through the swinging doors, carrying a tray of food for a table in the back.  Doris smiled as she peeked over her shoulder at the way the redhead shamelessly flirted for a big tip from the table of businessmen.  It didn’t surprise her either that when Blake turned to walk away that there were four sets of male eyes on Blake’s ass.  Not that she could really blame them.  Blake was a damn beautiful woman and anyone with eyes could see that.  What the hell Blake sees in Frank Cooper she’d never know.

 “You know, Blake, the last time I checked the name of this place wasn’t Hooters,” Doris said with a smile to keep the sting out of her comment. “Keep up that kind of flirting and poor Frank will have to whip out his badge and gun on those boys.” Doris tipped her head back indicating the table behind her as Blake looked up at her.

 The redhead busied herself with filling several glasses with ice, not speaking right away, then turned to fill a coffee mug and walked over to Doris, handing it to her.  “He’s been pretty busy lately.  I doubt he’d notice,” Blake spoke distractedly and with a shrug of her shoulders.

 “Late nights?” Doris inquired.

 She nodded. A small part of her wanted to share what Marina had said about Eleni coming into town because she couldn’t help but have a tiny shred of doubt that Frank was entirely clueless about her being here.  She shook off her own jealousy and focused instead on the blue eyes intently watching her. “Yeah, well, there’s been lots of small crimes happening, and that means lots of paperwork and hunting for evidence, especially with Desilva screwing things up. By the way, weren’t you supposed to fix that?”

 Doris held up her hand. “I can’t talk about employee details, you know that, but I am taking care of it. I’ve even been headhunting for a new CSI supervisor. I promise I’ll take care of it.”

 The redhead smiled at her friend. “Good. Thank you.”

 Doris fought the uncharacteristic blush on her face. “No problem.”

 Blake kindly let it pass, even though she noticed the redness in Doris’s cheeks.  “Anyway, he has been really grateful to have Anna there though.  He says she really knows what she’s doing and has an eye for detail.”

 Doris smirked knowingly. “That she does.”

 Blake wiped down the counter to hide the blush the innuendo caused. “Going well then, I assume. You two looked awfully cozy at New Year’s.”

 “Valentine’s wasn’t that bad either.” Doris’ smile grew bigger as Blake rolled her eyes.

 Blake’s retort was cut short when she looked up and saw a tall man in a dark suit standing behind Doris. She quirked an eyebrow and nodded to the space over Doris’ shoulder, causing the other woman to turn around.

 “Mayor Wolfe.” The beefy man with crew cut hair stuck out his hand to her.

 “Yes?” She shook his hand solidly and gave him a quizzical look.  She knew him from somewhere.

 “Gerald Sanders.” He offered up his name when he realized she was trying to place him.  “We met last year in Chicago at the Republican Party’s state convention.  I was elected to the Faith and Family Values Committee.”

 Now she remembered and she had a sickening feeling come over her as she remembered getting lauded for her “Protect the Children” campaign that Emma had been at the center of last year.  “Right, I remember.”

 “We were very proud of the strong stand you took on family values. Your pro-family campaign was very inspiring to many of us.”  He hesitated and dropped his voice.  “I hope that will continue as you seek out your next term.”

 She held his stare, refusing to be intimidated. It helped that she could feel Blake standing not far away because right now, she felt terribly alone.  “And why wouldn’t it?” Doris asked evenly.

 The man cleared his throat, giving away his obvious discomfort with having to be blunt. He leaned in a little closer to avoid being heard. “There’s been talk, Madam Mayor. That concerns us.”

 She felt the hair standing up on the back of her neck, and she didn’t like it one bit.  Fighting to keep her composure, she took a sip of her coffee, buying time, hoping that he didn’t see the slight shake in her hand as she raised the mug.  “Well, there should be no concern, Gerald. I support nearly all of the Party’s platform. And as far as family values go, I have a family and I have strong moral values.  I’m not a drug addict, murderer, embezzler, or cheat, so I can’t imagine what someone’s dreaming up that’s so immoral and anti-family.” Doris stood tall as she spoke with conviction.

 He stared at her with dark eyes, the friendliness of their earlier exchange gone dead in the cold of his eyes. “I think you know, Madam Mayor.”

 The door bell dinged as another patron entered.  They both looked back to see Anna standing in the doorway, then spying Doris and smiling warmly at her.  Gerald turned back to her with a dirty smirk.  “Have a very nice day, Mayor Wolfe.”  He spun on his heel and gave a curt nod to Anna as he passed her.  “Ma’am.”

 Anna watched him go then looked back at Doris. The older woman had sunk shakily back onto her bar stool as the fight left her. She raced to Doris’s side as Blake came around the corner of the bar. 

 Anna placed a hand on Doris’s arm, as she spoke, “Hey, baby, are you okay?  What was that all about?”

 Dark eyes looked at Blake for an explanation when Doris didn’t respond.  Anna was worried because she could feel Doris physically shaking.  “That asshole basically threatened her,” Blake spoke indignantly, protective of her friend.

 “What?” Anna straightened up at that as her voice dipped to a growl.  She looked as though she wanted to bolt out the door after him.

 Doris grabbed her arm. “No, not that kind of threatened.  It was a political threat,” Doris quickly added.  After a breath, and a drink of her now lukewarm coffee, she continued, “Seems I’m no longer fitting the All-American Family Values image anymore.”

 “Oh.  God, Doris, I’m sorry.  Maybe we need to, you know, lay low or something for a bit,” Anna offered.

 The Mayor straightened up with that and looked her in the eye. By God, she wanted a little piece of happiness too.  She was tired of bowing down to everyone else.  She had been doing it all her life just to get ahead. But no more. “No.  No, I won’t live my life in fear.  I’m tired of being afraid.”

 Blake smiled and gave her a gentle rub on the back.  “Good for you.”

 Doris glanced to the redhead and smiled softly.  “Thanks.” 

 Anna’s eyes narrowed at the exchange and then she closed them again as she recalled the image of Doris kissing Blake’s hand at the New Year’s party.  She took a deep breath and decided to steer things back on course.  “So, um, Blake have you seen my boss? You know, your boyfriend, anywhere?”

 She shook her head.  “He was here first thing to get some coffee, but that was the last time I heard anything.” Blake shrugged, but she hadn’t moved from her spot alongside Doris. “Has he not been in the office?”

 “Not yet.”

 She raised her shoulders again.  “Maybe he’s on a case.”

 “Yeah, maybe.”  Anna looked back at Doris as Blake reluctantly left them to walk over to a table to refill water.  Returning her attention to her girlfriend, Anna asked, “You okay now?”

 Blue eyes warmed as Anna inched closer.  “I am now.”

 “Good.” Anna leaned in and gave Doris a kiss on the cheek.  Pulling back just enough to see Doris’ eyes, she whispered, “Missed you last night.”

 “There’s always tonight.”

 “I like the sound of that.” Anna couldn’t resist the soft lips only inches from hers. So she leaned in and gave Doris a soft kiss that didn’t feel nearly as innocent as it would look to an outsider.

 When the phone on her hip buzzed, the younger woman moaned and broke the kiss.  Looking at the caller ID, she looked at Doris sadly.  “Gotta take this.  See you tonight?”

 Doris quickly nodded and Anna gave her a quick peck on the lips before flipping the phone open as she slipped out the door.


Jonathan watched as Sarah’s long dark curls bounced around her face as she ran from swing to monkey bars to the slides in record time.  He kept a careful eye out on the perimeter, wishing he had eyes in the back of his head so he’d have a full 360 view of the area.  He was trying desperately to give his little girl as normal of a life as possible when all he really wanted to do was hole her up in a compound away from dangerous men.

 He growled into the phone. “Something’s not right.  I don’t like it.”

 “This isn’t your concern,” The voice came over the line.

 “It is when it involves my daughter.  Edmund’s out there, somewhere, and every second he’s free and alive is another second my daughter’s life and every other kid in town’s life is in danger.  And now you’re telling me not to worry when some mysterious woman pops up in town.” He ran his hand through his messy pile of dark hair, trying to reign in his fears.

 “You have to trust me, Jonathan.” The other voice was far too calm for his liking.

 “Why?  Why should I?”

 “Because I know her, okay?” He was frazzled, probably just as stressed out and fearful for the people in Springfield as Jonathan was.

 “I need to talk to her.”

 There was a sigh on the other end and a long pause.  “I’ll set it up.  For tonight.  I’ll call with details later.”  A click and the line was dead. 

 He closed his eyes for a moment and rubbed at his forehead, the tension causing a headache to build.  When he opened his eyes, he didn’t see Sarah anywhere.

 “Sarah!!!”  He jumped up from the bench and ran to the middle of the playground.  “Sarah!”

 She jumped out from a slide behind him. “Boo!”

 He spun and grabbed her up in his arms.  “Don’t do that again, Sarah.  What have I told you about hiding?”

 She dropped her head and pouted, the dark ringlets blocking her eyes.  “You told me not to do it because it scares you.”

 “That’s right, baby.  So, please, don’t do it, okay?”

 “Okay.” He hugged her tight before putting her down so they could walk back to the car.

 From behind a tall thicket of bushes, a figure watched them leaving before slinking back into the semi-darkness of the surrounding woods.



Anna stood in the dark alley next to the dumpster that smelled like rotting hamburgers and cat urine.  Occasionally, she would sneak a peek around the side to make sure Doris was nowhere in sight.  Leaning her head back against the cold brick wall, she shook her head.  This was getting far too complicated, and it wasn’t helping that she was growing more and more attached to Doris.

 She flicked her eyes quickly to the left and relaxed when she realized the noise she heard was just some newspaper being blown by the wind.  Shoving her free hand in her pocket, she rocked back on the heels of her boots.

 “I can’t.  Not tonight,” She sighed into the phone.

 “I’m not stupid, you know.  I know what you’re doing.  You’re getting too close to Doris Wolfe, and it needs to stop.” She clenched her jaw at the paternal tone he took with her.  He may have been older than her, even if only by a couple of years, and they may have had a lot of history between them, but she still couldn’t help but feel ruffled by his demeanor.

 “It’s my life.” Her tone was nearly pouty, and it seemed to soften him up.

 “Look, Anna.  I know.  I know you just want a normal life with a girlfriend and a community to be a part of, but every day that you stay in her circle, you put her in danger.” She swallowed down the fear the words put in her head. “I thought I could do it, too.  I thought being closer to those I loved would help, and it almost cost me everything. Don’t make that same mistake.”

 She dropped her head resigned to this not ending well.  “I just want to end this so I can finally be free of him and the past, so it can all be over.”

 “Then meet with Jonathan tonight.  Seven o’clock behind the ball field.  You can’t do this alone.  He’s suspicious.  The least you can do is get him on your side.”

 She nodded her head.  “So, what does he know?”

 “Nothing.  I thought I’d leave that to you.” His flat intonation gave away no perspective on the matter.

 Anna sighed, feeling more adrift than ever. “Okay.”

 When she heard the dial tone, she flipped the phone closed and headed back up the alley.  Rounding the corner to head back to Company, she nearly knocked Doris down.  She grabbed her by the forearms and caught her before she could fall to the ground.

 “Whoa! You okay, baby?”

 Doris put a hand to her chest to slow her racing heart.  “Yeah, I’m fine.” She looked strangely at Anna when she noticed her girlfriend had been hanging out in the alley.  “What were you doing down there?”

 “Eh,” she waved her hand around and quickly changed the subject, “nothing. Look, Doris, I hate to do this, but I just got a work call.  There was a series of break-ins this morning over at some warehouses on the other side of town.  I’ll probably be late for dinner, but I’ll be there, okay?”

 Doris looked down, clearly disappointed, but she tried hard not to let it show. “Sure, that’s fine.  If you can’t make it at all, just call me.”

 The shorter woman tilted her head a little and smiled sweetly.  “I’ll be there.  Nothing can keep me from you.”

 Doris gave her a half-smile.  She knew she was being sweet talked, but she couldn’t resist Anna if she tried, so she decided to let it go.  Work was work, and she knew how it could get in the way of a personal life.  Boy, did she ever know that! She was making a conscious effort to not let her insecurity and jealousy get in the way of her relationship with Anna. 

 She leaned down and gave Anna a soft but lingering kiss. “I’ll talk to you later then.  Have fun with your investigation.”

 Anna twirled her finger in the air. “Wheee!”

 One last kiss then Anna was pulling away from the curb and headed to the other side of town.  Doris watched her drive away then looked back over her shoulder at the entrance to Company. She really didn’t feel like going to the office now, and she had no meetings.  Sighing, she went back in.  At least she had Blake to talk with.



Halfway out to the farmhouse, Olivia got a text from Natalia, “SP’s going down for a nap. Be quiet.”  With a little pout, she realized she was really sad about that.  She wanted to see her daughter, but she also knew that for her and Natalia to really talk, they didn’t need the distraction either.

 She gently pushed the door open, then quietly put her purse down and hung up her coat.  The house smelled wonderful.  It always did these days with Natalia staying at home with Francesca and working on some small projects for Olivia from home.  That gave Natalia more time to cook some of those amazing meals that she did so well.

 Olivia leaned over the stove and sniffed, then jumped a little as arms circled her waist from behind.  She smiled and leaned her head back onto Natalia’s shoulder.  Mmmm, now this was a welcome home she could get used to. No wonder men liked to have wives.  She turned in Natalia’s arms and enveloped the petite woman into a kiss that pushed her back against the dining room table.

 Natalia moaned and reluctantly pushed her away.  “As much as I want to continue this, you know your little one will start wailing as soon as it gets good.”

 The blonde sighed and admitted to the truth. “Too young for sleep medicines still?”

 Her partner patted her chest.  “Too young, querida.  Sorry.”

 “Damn.”  Natalia smiled and stepped back from the temptation that was Olivia Spencer to focus on other matters.

 “Have a seat.  I’ll make you a sandwich.”

 Olivia did as she was told and watched with pleasure as Natalia moved around the kitchen.  Her girlfriend finished up making the ham sandwich and put it in front of her, then slipped over to the radio, turning it off before sitting back down at the table across from Olivia.

 “So, what happened with Doris?”

 Olivia sighed as she swallowed her bite of sandwich, then pushed her plate away and pushed up the long sleeves of her shirt, before resting on her elbows and looking at Natalia.  “Pretty much what I said on the phone.  She came in all happy and excited, rambling about finding her very own Natalia and being in love.  She said more, but I kind of tuned it out.  I…I just don’t know what to do.”

 Natalia reached across the table and took her hand.  “Maybe there’s nothing for you to do.”

 Olivia pulled her hand away in frustration.  “You still can’t just believe this is some bizarre coincidence. That Anna, whose father was the head of the Winslow family’s security detail and had one of his goons pay me off to stay quiet about the rape, just magically appears in Springfield after all these years and after Edmund Winslow has shown up here after many years to raise all kinds of hell here, and it’s all just coincidence.”

 “It’s possible, Olivia. Now, in my heart, I really don’t think it is but there’s a lot at risk here, baby. If you’re wrong, it’ll cause a big mess between you and Doris. If you’re right, then that’s an even scarier thought because you could put yourself and our family in the middle of a dangerous situation by knowing too much.” Natalia tried to reason with her again. She thought they had talked some of this out on the trip back, but it still seemed to be eating at Olivia.

 Olivia threw her hands up in frustration and could not believe she was hearing this.  She stood up and paced the short distance in the kitchen.  “You really believe I should ignore the situation?” Olivia asked incredulously.

 Natalia pushed her long hair back and stood too.  “Until we know for sure, anything’s possible.  And we’ve talked about this, Olivia.  What if you’re wrong?  What if it is just coincidence?  You could destroy Doris, her relationship with Anna, and the friendship the two of you have.  She’ll never forgive you for doing this.”

 The blonde sagged with the weight of it and ran a hand over her hair.  Turning she walked into the living room with Natalia following.  “I know.  Either way, it’s not going to end well.”

Natalia walked around her to stand in front of Olivia.  She watched the patented Spencer move of Olivia shoving her hands in the pocket of her jeans and rolling her head back in frustration.  “All I know, Natalia, is that if she has something to do with Edmund and if she’s working for him, no one’s safe, not Doris, not you…me…our kids.  The man’s unhinged and so is anyone who followed him.  I won’t allow anyone to hurt my family, or my friends…ever.”

Stepping closer, Natalia took Olivia’s hands from her pockets and held them in her own in front of her like she’d done many times before in comforting a frantic Olivia.  “No one’s going to hurt us, Olivia, and you have to promise me that you won’t do anything crazy. Please.”

Olivia quirked her mouth to the side a little.  “I moved the gun.  Don’t worry.”

 The brunette smiled at her.  “I know you did, and I know where you hid it.”

 “You do, huh?” She smiled a little, some of the sadness of the situation dissipating, as her voice took on a sultry tone.

 “I do. I know everything about you,” Natalia flirted back, the register of her voice dipping lower than usual.

 “Scary.” She wrapped her arms around Natalia and sighed. Olivia’s phone rang and she reached down to pull it from her pocket.  “Doris.”  She dropped it back in her pocket and let it go to voicemail.  She couldn’t deal with it right now.

 “So what should I do, oh wise one?” Olivia asked as she pulled back enough to look Natalia in the eyes.

 Natalia chuckled as she pulled Olivia back into the comforting hug and let her fingers trace along Olivia’s spine. The younger woman enjoyed the soft groan it elicited from her partner. “I can’t tell you that, baby. You’ll know what to do when the time comes.”



The honk behind Olivia startled her.  She was headed back to the office after lunch at home and took a road she normally never used.  She caught all the stop lights and the further she drove, the more lost in her thoughts she became.  The fire she had felt while talking to Natalia about Anna had toned down to a dull simmer and in that sense she felt better, calmer, but she wasn’t any closer to an answer to her dilemma than she had been before going home.  Much to her chagrin, Natalia had left the decision in her court.  Usually, when it came to moral and ethical issues, Natalia was her touchstone.  But now…

 Natalia was big on signs.  What was her sign?

 The horn behind her blared again, and she glared up and over her shoulder at the huge black truck behind her revving its engine.  Coming back around, her eye caught the familiar white crest with the red cross.  St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church. And, there was an open parking space out front. How convenient!

 She decided not to think about it too hard.  Instead, she pulled into the spot and cut off the engine.  Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car and walked up the steps.