Act II

As she pulled up to Brooke's office, Olivia sat in the car thinking about the morning. Their usual routine was relatively quiet as Olivia and Natalia had prepared for the day. Emma got herself ready for school and Natalia got Francesca ready for Little Lights. She'd actually had a decent sleep as Natalia's nightmares hadn't bothered her to the extent that they woke her or disturbed her. When she'd asked Natalia about the nightmares, the younger woman had replied that she'd been so tired that she hadn't dreamt much. Olivia hated to press her on the issue as Natalia had occasionally snapped at her that she could deal with it on her own. She wanted to be able to help her and solve the problem for her, but as Brooke and Sister Anne had suggested, she needed to allow Natalia to deal with it on her own timetable; not to rush it. It went against Olivia's own tendency to bulldoze through problems. Meet them head on was her mantra.

Up until recent years, Olivia wasn't particularly fond of cognitive therapy, occasionally…Okay, sometimes more than just occasionally if I'm truly honest…she used alcohol as a way of not dealing with the pain. She was sure at times she could have been borderline alcoholic, and it scared her. Thinking back to when Natalia had disappeared without word a couple years earlier, she couldn't imagine that she would have ever gotten behind the wheel, intoxicated, with Emma in the car. Thankfully, Christina had stopped her from driving like that. They'd tried to go to Dr. Boudreau after Jane had been killed with mixed results. It had helped Olivia and to some degree with Natalia, but hadn't really worked for Emma. Emma didn't find it of any use, so Olivia had been glad that Anna had stepped in to provide an outlet for her anger and confusion.

Taking a deep breath, Olivia exited the car and headed into Brooke's office. The outer office area was lined with shelves of books and magazines, and a wraparound desk wherein Brooke's office manager sat. Olivia acknowledged the older woman's nod and she took a seat waiting for her appointment. It wasn't long before Brooke's office door opened and Olivia looked up to see Kathryn Howard emerge.

"Hello, Kathryn."

"Hello, Ms. Spencer," the younger woman replied a little shyly.

"Olivia, please," she responded, holding her hand out. "How are you doing?"

"Better, I guess. Nervous. The trial starts this week. Wolfe says they're supposed to finish the jury selection today."

"That's good. I know your lawyers. They're damn good at what they do," Olivia said with a smile.

Rubbing her hands up and down on her arms to ward off the chill of the room, Kathryn said wearily, "I hope so. I just don't want anything bad to happen to Dani because of me."

"I know. If anything happened to my girls, I would fight like hell to protect them as best as I can." Olivia smiled at her to try to provide some reassurance. "Dani's in the third grade now?" When she noted the young woman's nod, Olivia continued, "Is she involved in anything after school?"

"No, she usually just comes right home on the bus after school. I can't afford to put her into any activities right now, especially since I'm not working at the moment." Kathryn sighed, shrugging. "People don't exactly want to hire someone who is facing a criminal trial for manslaughter."

Olivia sighed. Kathryn had been lucky enough that Mel and Doris had fought hard for their client to be released with an ankle monitor so that she could look after her daughter. "Are you okay for housing?" Olivia asked. If necessary, she was prepared to pay Buzz to put her up in the boarding house. It would give Buzz some extra income and would save Kathryn and her daughter some money. She felt connected to this young woman in a way that she rarely did. Kathryn seemed quite bright but probably hadn't been given much opportunity to thrive. There but for the grace of God, that may well have been her as a young woman had she not fought for everything she could. It could have been Natalia. It was giving her some ideas, which she'd run through with Brooke in a few minutes.

Brooke came out of her office and placed her hand gently on the young woman's arm. "Kathryn, you can make another appointment with me once you know what timetable you have with the trial. I have Wednesday afternoons open and Friday mornings. Otherwise I'm in my office or covering for Dr. Boudreau at Cedars. Just let me know, okay?"

"Thank you, Doctor," Kathryn spoke quietly.

"Kathryn, are you free for lunch?" Olivia asked, not wanting to be presumptuous. Just because Kathryn wasn't working didn't mean that hadn't had planned.

"Not like I have much I can do right now," she said defeatedly and shrugged. "I have to meet with my lawyers this afternoon, but that's it."

"Okay. Would you mind if I treated you to lunch at Company?" Olivia asked her.

"I can pay for my own," Kathryn responded defensively.

"I know you can. That's not the point. This is someone offering without expectations."

After several moments, Kathryn nodded. "Okay."

Olivia nodded and pulled out a pen and paper from her purse. After writing for a second, she handed Kathryn the slip of paper. "This is my cell number. I'll be here an hour, but after that I'll be at The Beacon. Call me."

"Thank you, Ms. Spencer…Olivia." Kathryn picked up her purse and left the office.

Looking up at Brooke, Olivia grinned wryly. "Guess it's my turn now." Waiting for Brooke to step aside, she entered ahead of the psychologist and took her usual seat.

"That was nice of you," Brooke started with her head tilted toward the outer office.

"You know, any one of us could be in her shoes at any given time, given the circumstances. God help Phillip if he had hurt Emma when he took her all those years ago, I could have and may well have killed him to protect her. It was only Natalia stopping me a couple years ago that I didn't go after him with a gun when he first returned to Springfield. I was so terrified he'd hurt her again or take her away from us." Olivia sighed deeply and ran a somewhat shaky hand through her hair.

"That's true. Life is full of opportunities but sometimes you've got to be the one to open the door or kick it down in order to take advantage of it."

Olivia smirked. "That sounds an awful lot like something Sister Anne told me a couple of years ago, 'When God closes one door, he sometimes shuts it on your foot, to get your attention.'"

Brooke laughed. "That sounds about right. Smart woman."

"She is. She continues to surprise me. She's definitely not what I expected for a nun." Olivia pursed her lips a moment. "I think Natalia is going to be seeing her some more for counseling sessions. We went to church for Easter Sunday Mass. She was nervous, but I think it gave her more comfort than she was expecting it to at this point."

"You know, Natalia will figure out what direction and help she needs, whether that's me, Sister Anne, or someone else. We can help support her and that's what's important - that she feel comfortable in her search for peace of mind." Brooke opened up a notebook to jot something down before looking back at Olivia. "How are you doing, Olivia?"

"Good days, bad days. More or less the same. Emma's been acting out more, being a little more snappy. Frankly, she's turning more into a mini-me than I'm comfortable with," Olivia said on a sigh. "I guess it's part of being a preteen, wanting to grow up faster, pushing the limits. I remember doing the same thing with my own mother. And it's sort of fine with me; I just remind her of the limitations and consequences. But it hurts me when she fights with Natalia, especially when I know it's not out of malice or spite."

"Olivia, your whole family has been through the damn ringer for the past couple of years. Being a preteen can be chaotic at the best of times. She's not a little girl anymore but not quite grown up yet either. Throw in the threats your family has faced and it's not surprising. But how she deals with it is what's important." Remembering that the young girl had been seeing Detective Li for t'ai chi as a life focus and the process working for Emma, she continued, "Is Emma still going to see Anna for t'ai chi?"

"Yes, she's going this afternoon." Olivia was reminded of her schedule, and realizing that she needed to ask Natalia if she could pick Emma up after her session with Anna. Looking over at Brooke, she got thinking again about her idea of helping Kathryn. Sighing, she asked, "I know you can't give me any information with regards to what you've said to Kathryn Howard, but I was wondering if you thought my helping her would do her any good."

"What exactly are you thinking about?" Brooke asked a little apprehensively, as the young woman was in a delicate predicament.

"I get the feeling from what she said this morning, that she's probably close to being evicted, especially since she doesn't have any income. That puts her and Dani in an even worse situation with the risk of Child Protective Services taking Dani out of the home; it's got to terrify her." Olivia sighed. "You've gotten to know me since we started these sessions and I'd like to fix things if I can. I have the means in which to help, no strings attached."

"Why do you want to?" Brooke asked, trying to see the reasons behind the Olivia's gesture.

"Sort of what we'd discussed earlier - that it could have been any one of us. Like her, I know who raped me. I was a lot younger than she is now when it happened. I know what it's like raising a daughter as a single mother; trying to do everything in my power to protect my family." Olivia put her head down for a moment, to gather her thoughts. "I was just thinking that I could find out from Buzz Cooper if the boarding house has a room or two that Kathryn and her daughter could stay in. I'll pick up the tab for the time being until she can get her feet back on the ground. She could use the money that she would spend on rent and use it for Dani if she won't use it on herself."

Brooke sat for a few moments thinking about the options Olivia presented. "Look, it can't hurt to find out the information. Just keep it quiet for the time being. I'd like to address it with her at the next session and see how comfortable she is with that option. I know you want to help, but like with Natalia, sometimes people need to feel like their lives are in their own hands. Despite being married, Kathryn's primarily raised Dani on her own, especially the past few years. In an abusive situation. That gives her perhaps more of a need to be in control of her life and that of her daughter."

"I get that. I do." Taking a deep breath, Olivia realized that her desire to help would have to be temporarily postponed. But she could find out the information. Looking down at her watch, she realized that she had a little bit of time before her next appointment at The Beacon. She'd make a run to Company before meeting with Kathryn there, and she'd broach the topic with Buzz. "Okay, saving the world is on hold...for now." Before long, Olivia's session with Brooke was done for the day and she booked an appointment for the following week.

****

As Natalia rounded the hallways of St. Margaret's Mission, she could hear the loud haunting sound of Adele's "Turning Tables" coming from one of the offices. Figuring it was one of the young women that often came by to help sort the donated clothing, she missed seeing the nun's head as it popped over the top of the desk, soon to be followed by a thump of a box being tossed on to said desk.

"Excuse me, can you tell me where Sister Anne is?" Natalia asked after a rap on the door frame failed to catch the woman's attention.

"Oh, sorry," Sister Anne said as she stood up and quickly moved to the stereo to turn down the volume. "Hey, Natalia. I got caught up in spring cleaning my office and I forgot you were coming by."

"No worries," Natalia responded with a smile as she pointed to a mark on the Sister's face. "Ummm, you've got a black smudge of ink on your cheek."

"Do I? Oh crap. Sharpie. I was labeling boxes when some hair strands fell out of the ponytail. Didn't put the marker down as I pushed the hair back."

"It looks kind of adorable on you," Natalia said before she thought about it, then blushed furiously, and apologized profusely.

Trying not to laugh at the other woman's sudden discomfiture, Sister Anne waved her off that it didn't bother her. "How bad is it? The mark that is?"

"Just a small one on your cheek."

"Ah well. I'll just have to remember to wash it off before the soup kitchen opens." Sister Anne looked around her office. "Um, do you mind giving me a hand as we talk? Trying to pack up this office as I'm moving to another bigger office and this one will be used for additional storage for donated items. I've got to get some office supply containers to put the clothing in by sizes to make them easier to find."

"Sure, not a problem." Natalia took off her sweater and draped it on Sister Anne's coat hook as she prepared to dig into the packing. "Any specific order you want this stuff in?"

"I don't really know. I was just kind of packing the books by category, but beyond that, no, no order," Sister Anne said, lightly biting down on her lip. They continued working together for several minutes with the stereo playing.

"I didn't figure you for an Adele fan," Natalia grinned.

"It's cathartic," Sister Anne replied. Thinking about seeing Natalia at the Easter Mass, she smiled. "I see you joined us for the Mass. Will you be returning regularly again?"

Putting her head down, Natalia sighed. "I don't know, to be honest. It was nice to be there, the familiarity of the ritual. Having my family with me. It reminded me of when I was a girl going to Easter Mass with my parents." Natalia smiled at the recent reconnection with her mother and realized that she hadn't yet mentioned it to Sister Anne. "My Mom has been back in touch with me again. Since..."

"Since the kidnapping," Sister Anne gave voice to Natalia's horrifying experience. She noticed the other woman nodding, barely managing to keep from crying. Quietly, she reached over and pulled her friend into a hug. As she pulled back, she noticed the tiredness in Natalia's face that the other woman tried to mask. "How are you sleeping?"

"Not well. The nightmares keep coming. I thought they'd start to go away after a while as I started to deal with it." Natalia wiped the tears that slipped down her cheeks.

"Are you? Dealing with it?" Sister Anne asked her directly.

Sighing, Natalia said, "I don't know. I try, I guess. I mostly try to keep my head down and work."

"Do you think that maybe that's avoidance you're working on?" the nun asked. "It's not really working for you though, is it?"

Natalia shook her head. A buzz of her cell phone surprised her and she picked it out of her pocket and found a text from Olivia: "Can you pick Emma up from Anna's? She's got her t'ai chi session after school today." Typing a quick response, she looked back up at Sister Anne and the boxes that had already been filled.

Seeing that Natalia still looked a little troubled, Sister Anne said, "Look, I'm pretty busy today getting this sorted out, but I should be free tomorrow morning if you want to come by. Nothing on the agenda tomorrow, so we'll have plenty of time to talk."

"Thank you, Anne," Natalia responded, holding out her hand. "I'll bring some tea for us to share."

"Sounds like a plan. Take care, Natalia, and say hello to Olivia and the girls for me."

"Don't forget the ink smudge," Natalia quipped playfully, her earlier discomfiture forgotten.

"Go on." Sister Anne said, laughing as she pivoted to turn up the volume dial on the stereo in her office.

****

Entering the diner, Olivia was startled to see Dinah serving coffee at Company as she looked around for Buzz.

"Hiya, Ollie, whatchya lookin for?" Dinah responded cheerfully as she came up behind Olivia with a carafe in her hand.

Opening up her coffee mug and sniffing the interior, Olivia wondered if someone had slipped her some interesting drugs by mistake as she looked back up at Dinah. Shaking her head, she decided she wasn't hallucinating. "Dinah Marler, what exactly are you doing working here?"

Heading behind the bar, Dinah picked up a towel and wiped down the counter. "Buzz needed some help. I didn't have anything specific on the agenda for today. Plus, there's the free food and all."

"I didn't think Buzz was that desperate." Olivia handed over her coffee mug for a full cup of the steaming beverage. "Speaking of, is he around?"

"Ha ha. He's in the kitchen, to answer your question," Dinah responded. "Aside from the coffee and the acerbic wit, what else do you need?"

"I'm meeting Kathryn Howard here for lunch, but I wanted to check on a few things with Buzz first."

"Sounds interesting. He should be finished doing the prep work on lunch meals so just go on in," Dinah said to her before turning her attention to the mayor who had just walked in the door.

"What the hell?" Doris commented on seeing Dinah behind the bar.

"Do I have something stuck in my teeth or what? No, you are not hallucinating; I am actually here serving customers," Dinah said, somewhat exasperated.

"Hey, Olivia, check to see if there's anyone been poisoned yet," Doris called out to her friend before the other woman headed into the kitchen.

Olivia's laugh carried back through the doors.

"Now that's a sound I like to hear," Buzz said as he turned away from the large pot on the stove.

"Hey, Buzz," Olivia responded, giving the older man a kiss on the cheek. "I have a question or two for you."

"Go on."

"Do you have a room or two available up in the boarding house?" Olivia inquired.

"Yeah, actually, we don't have anyone there at the moment. Have anyone in mind?"

"Would you be okay with having a woman and her daughter stay there...on my bill?" Olivia asked tentatively.

"Yes, that's not a problem."

"You haven't asked who it is yet," Olivia added. "Kathryn Howard and her eight-year old daughter, Dani. I'm thinking she might be close to an eviction from her apartment, and she will need somewhere to live." Sighing. "It's not definite and I have to talk it over with her lawyers and her counselor before we approach her, and even then it's up to her. But I wanted to get some leg work done here."

"And what nice legs they are," Buzz joked. "But in all seriousness, yes. That's not a problem. If it all works out for her, too, with the trial, she's got employment here if she wants it. It will be near full time hours, since Blake is mostly occupied with other work and we're down a couple staff. Thankfully, Dinah is picking up the slack."

"About that? What a shock to the system to come in to see her playing waitress. Any poisonings yet?" Olivia grinned.

"Nope, but tips are up," Buzz smirked. "Pays to have a pretty face at the bar instead of this bearded mug."

Olivia laughed. "Still as handsome as ever."

"You might want to think about wearing your glasses more often."

"Look, I'm treating Kathryn to lunch here today. Don't mention anything just yet, please," Olivia added then laughed as Buzz mimicked drawing a zipper across his mouth. "Thanks for the coffee. I'll be back in an hour or so."

"Later," Buzz turned and picked up the long wooden spoon to stir the chili as Olivia headed back into the main part of the restaurant.

****

As she walked back into Company an hour later, Olivia felt lighter with a renewed sense of purpose and mused to herself with a grin. If anyone would have told her a few years ago that she'd be helping people - other than family - for altruistic reasons, she would have laughed. Loving Natalia changed her in the best kind of way.

There were a few projects at the Beacon to keep her busy. She was pleasantly surprised by the detail that Leyla had put into her plan for expanding the day care, and it would certainly provide some additional revenue to offset the expansion costs. The conference planning and group bookings were starting to come in for the summer months and business was looking good.

Coming up to the bar, she ordered a cup of coffee as she waited for Kathryn to arrive. The minutes seemed to stretch on but she took her newly acquired iPad out of her purse to peruse some emails and some news articles she bookmarked to read later, and with a smile checking her Twitterfeed, both personal and business feeds. Initially, she'd been surprised by putting the Beacon on Twitter, but after the first couple times she'd offered room deals via the service, she'd had repeat customers since; so once a week, the hotel's marketing division began to offer a room special, or specific services at deals and it had started to become a success. She'd gotten so distracted that she hadn't noticed Kathryn's arrival.

"Sorry, I'm late," Kathryn apologized.

Olivia smiled. "Not a problem. Just checking a few things to pass the time." Standing up, Olivia directed them to a booth along one side of the restaurant that had been cleared for them. Putting the device away, she motioned for Kathryn to take the seat opposite her as she sat down. "Why don't you take a look at the menu and decide. Anything you want."

Kathryn hesitated, conflicted. From her experience, most people didn't offer something unless they had expectations of some kind of repayment, usually something that cost her dearly. Looking up at the woman in front of her with a mixture of curiosity and nervousness, she said, "To be fair, Ms. Spencer, I don't really know you. Why are you doing this for me?"

Olivia nodded. "That's a fair question. One which I'll answer once we have our meals," Olivia smiled genuinely. "By the way, Buzz makes an awesome shepherd's pie."

Kathryn looked at her curiously. "Buzz?"

"Buzz Cooper, owner of this fine establishment and chief cook," Olivia smiled. "Lovely man. He makes all the meals from scratch."

When Dinah passed behind them with a tray of food, Kathryn could smell the scents of the food and she smiled. "Well, if it tastes as good as that smells, it would be fabulous."

The woman in question returned to their table to take their orders. "What can I get you ladies?" Dinah asked.

"Could I get a glass of lemonade and some of whatever you just brought to that table over?"

Grinning, Dinah said, "That would be the homemade minestrone soup and toasted garlic bread."

"That sounds great, thank you," Kathryn responded.

"Olivia?" Dinah prompted.

"Can I have the shepherd's pie and some more coffee?" Olivia smiled up at her old friend.

"Sure thing. I'll be right back with your drinks." Dinah headed off to the kitchen with the orders, then returned to the bar to pour the

. Looking over at Ms. Spencer, Kathryn nodded in Dinah's direction. "Uhmmm, isn't she a reporter with WSPR?" The woman looked familiar to Kathryn, inasmuch as she'd occasionally seen her on the local station's news.

Olivia laughed. "That she is. A woman of multiple talents."

"You seem to know a lot of people in this town," Kathryn commented.

"I've lived here for about 14 years, give or take. I own the Beacon Hotel, so I've housed quite a few locals in the hotel over the years," Olivia said with an amused smile, thinking of some of her more memorable guests and long-term 'residents'.

"Do you have family here?" Kathryn asked out of curiosity. If she was going to let this woman pay for her meal, she wanted to know a bit more about her.

Smiling, Olivia nodded. "My partner, Natalia, and our children. Three daughters and a son. Though Rafe is currently in the Army." Olivia noticed Kathryn's surprise at her comment. "Is there a problem?"

"No, no problem," Kathryn quickly responded. "Just not something I expected."

"Which? The fact that my partner is a woman, or that between the two of us we have four children?"

"The former, I guess," Kathryn responded. "I don't know why, though."

"That's okay. It took Natalia and I a while to get used to being together once we figured out what we were feeling for each other. Trust me, half the town was surprised when the two of us got together."

"You weren't always...?" Kathryn enquired curiously.

"No." Olivia smiled. "Natalia is the first woman I've loved." Sighing, Olivia realized that she wouldn't normally go through her personal life with an almost complete stranger, however, she had the sense from the other woman that she didn't trust easily. Looking up at Kathryn she continued, "You asked me why I offered to take you to lunch. I don't know if Dani mentioned to you after she and I had talked outside the therapist's office a couple weeks ago, but there was something bad that happened to me as a teenager. We spoke about being hurt by people we knew."

"Ms. Spencer?"

"This is something I don't share with many people. In fact there are only a handful of people who know. When I was sixteen years old, I left my house against my mother's adamant wishes and went to a party at a diplomat's residence. The drinks were spiked with alcohol and I was dancing with this older boy. When I was feeling the effects of the alcohol, he led me upstairs to one of the bedrooms. And he raped me, as I could not give any consent in the intoxicated state I was in." Olivia stopped as she heard the soft gasp of her dinner companion. "A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. Though I ended up giving Ava up for adoption at the time, that night forever changed my life."

"How...how did you cope?" Kathryn asked quietly after taking a large gulp of air. Her hands shook mildly against the table.

"I did because I had to. My mother died around the same time, so I was responsible for raising my siblings. I couldn't look after a baby, too." Olivia closed her eyes as a wash of memories flooded her thoughts and nearly threatened to overwhelm her. So quiet for several minutes that she barely registered Kathryn's hand upon her arm.

"I'm sorry," Kathryn replied softly, starting to understand a little about why Olivia offered her lunch, even though their circumstances were quite different. She shivered. The other woman's violent act had been a one-time only event, though by no means would that lessen the after effects, but her own violent history had been through much of the duration of her marriage.

"Thanks. But I'm okay now, mostly. That was nearly thirty years ago," Olivia said, somewhat surprised by that admission. "My daughter, Ava, is now twenty-eight."

"You're in touch with her?" Kathryn asked curiously.

"Oh, yes. Long story short, she came to Springfield several years ago. After a misunderstanding, I realized that she was my daughter." Misunderstanding, my ass. Damn near almost had her killed before I found out Ava was my daughter. "I look at her now and I realize that something good came out of something bad, and I can't regret having her. She's a part of me, like Emma. And my extended family of Natalia, Rafe, and Francesca. I'd protect them all with everything I have."

Olivia looked over and noticed the tears forming along Kathryn's eyelids, spilling over onto her cheeks. She noted the brusqueness with which the younger woman tried to brush the tears away and suddenly Olivia had the overwhelming need to give the younger woman a hug. Sliding off her own bench seat, she maneuvred herself over to wrap her arms around Kathryn, allowing the other woman to cry as much as she needed. Thank you, Natalia, Olivia whispered in appreciation for her partner's gentle influence on her life.

****

When the doorbell of Anna's apartment rang, the detective had just finished talking with Emma about some new techniques to practice, slowly going through the maneuvres and stretches with her.

"I'll get it; it'll be Ma picking me up," Emma said as she quickly headed to the door. She'd been pleased with the progress she'd made with Anna in the past week, as the moves were getting more detailed, and it took her some more effort. She wanted to be able to do some more but the detective had told her there would be lots of time to practice and get used to these moves first. "Hey, Emma," Natalia said, as the girl opened the door. "Everything all set?"

"Yep. Learned some new stuff today," Emma replied happily. "I just need to get my backpack."

"Okay, go on." Natalia smiled at her daughter. There was so much going on with Emma these days, with school, activities, and some new school friends that she and Olivia didn't know all that well. The latter worried her, though she'd talk with Olivia about it later.

"Oh, hey, Natalia," Anna said as she came into the living room of her apartment. "How are you doing?"

"Good as can be expected, I guess." Natalia shrugged.

Noting the tension in the other woman's shoulders and her overall tiredness, Anna worried about her friend; her observation skills came into effect off the job as well. Taking a quick glance back at her workout room to see if Emma was in hearing distance, she quietly asked Natalia if she was still having nightmares.

"How?" Natalia responded, before realizing that Olivia must have said something. Her face darkened, annoyed with Olivia for sharing that information.

"No, not Olivia," Anna responded quickly, correctly surmising that Natalia might think that. "You underwent a horrible situation, Natalia. That has to have turned your world upside down. It's not surprising that you've been having nightmares."

"How come they won't go away?" Natalia asked plaintively.

"They will, gradually." Hearing Emma returning, Anna held up her hand. As the girl entered the room, Anna smiled at her. "You did well today, Emma. Keep up the good work."

Emma beamed at the praise, though she knew something serious had been talked about by the way the adults hushed as she came into the room. "Thank you, Detective Li.

"You're welcome, Emma. Now, I have to get back to the police station and get some work done, so I will see you next week, okay Em?" Anna smiled as the girl nodded her head vigorously. Looking up at Natalia, she spoke. "Call me later, okay?"

"Thanks, Anna," Natalia responded, even though she still felt a little off. She didn't want to worry Olivia or her family, but her nightmares continued, and sometimes just the simplest things in the daytime, a sight or sound put her right back into the frame of mind that she was in the lighthouse. It worried her that she didn't know how to fix her problems; she just wanted it fixed sooner rather than later.

Sitting in the car, waiting for Emma to buckle her seat belt she waited for the inevitable questions from her bright daughter.

"Ma? Are you okay?"

"I'm just tired, Emma. I didn't sleep well last night." Putting the car into drive, she headed home. Remembering her promise to Emma to tell her the truth as much as she could, she added, "I had bad dreams again."

"About the lighthouse?" Emma asked. She hated seeing her Ma sad.

"Yes, sweetie." Natalia hoped Emma would drop the line of questions so she asked her about the new moves that Anna had mentioned. Sensing the girl wouldn't be deterred for long, she kept up the questions until they arrived at the house. After determining that Emma would go up and do her homework, Natalia settled her purse and shoulder pack down on the kitchen table and sat down with a heavy sigh. She'd call Anna as soon as she started getting supper ready.