dream was always the same, when it came.
was a typically gorgeous summer day in the park, except everything was far from
typical. Above her eleven crows flew in slow motion, the beating of their wings
sounding loud in her ears, their shrill cawing sending shivers down her spine.
Around her the breeze moved through the trees before dipping down to stir up
little whirling dervishes of dust. In the distance a woman’s familiar voice
froze, recognizing her mother’s haunting tones. It was not disapproving, or
angry, but as she remembered hearing it as a young child being called in for
supper. Beckoning her. She spun quickly, hoping to catch a glimpse of her one
last time, only to find nothing but row upon row of chairs, all festively
right, she remembered now, it was Rick and Mindy’s wedding day. Her hands
moved over the red silk of her dress, smoothing the material over her curves.
She needed to warn somebody about something, but she couldn’t quite remember
what. Her heart raced, thudding against her ribs like a wild bird trapped in a
cage, desperate to escape. Somewhere the pop-pop-pop of gunfire sounded and a
baby cried. She turned again, fear gripping her. She knew that baby’s cry
couldn’t move. She was stuck as if drowning neck deep in quicksand, sinking
deeper every second. Suddenly Edmund Winslow stood before her, a huge grin
plastered across his face as he offered her a drink from a bottle of Johnny
Walker. She simply shook her head.
on and play, Olivia! The next song is a good one!” Edmund smiled taking a
quick gulp of whiskey before he tossed the bottle over his shoulder. Stepping
away from her, he twisted the guitar game controller around from his back,
repositioning it as he stepped backwards and to the side, revealing Jeffrey
O’Neill and Frank Cooper already playing Rock Band together on a small stage.
stood, stepping out from the game drum set to stand beside Edmund. He slid an
arm around Edmund’s trim waist and tugged him closer, smiling softly before
dropping a lingering kiss to his mouth.
she could move again, so she turned and ran.
back!” Jeffrey’s voice floated behind her on the wind, dark and menacing.
“You can’t fall asleep, you little bitch; the fun is just about to start.
And I’m not nearly done with you yet…”
stomach churned at the sound of his echoing laughter and she could almost feel
his thick fingers clawing at her body, the sour taste of punch and bile rising
in her mouth. She ran faster, trying to escape him, to escape the past.
ahead on a small rise she spotted the gazebo, where a woman in a white wedding
gown paced back and forth. Big white fluffy flakes of snow drifted lazily down
from the sky as she slowed down to catch her breath. She tugged the lapels of
her long winter jacket a little higher to block out the icy wind whipping around
her and made her way to the building.
cautiously made her way up the steps and into the gazebo, her breathing starting
to calm finally. She paused, smiling widely as she recognized the woman waiting
there for her.
Relief flooded through her and her heart started to beat faster again. Her lover
turned to face her.
so sorry…” Natalia’s eyes were large and dark, sadness creeping in. She
came closer, needing to fix whatever was wrong, pulling her into a tight hug.
is nothing to be sorry for, honey.” She whispered into the thick dark hair,
breathing in the sweet clean scent of cinnamon and something all Natalia.
“God, I love you so much.”
you know? I-I don’t want to be with him,” Natalia murmured against her
shoulder starting to cry. She pulled back, their eyes meeting, locking. “I
don’t love him, I love you!”
heart swelled at the words, and for a moment she got lost in Natalia’s eyes,
falling into their depths and finding peace. She never wanted to leave. They
stared at each other for a long moment, before the pop-pop-pop of gunfire in the
distance intruded again.
Francesca screamed somewhere far away, and she turned to look but couldn’t see
anything but more fluffy flakes falling slowly to the ground.
Natalia grew light in her arms and she looked quickly back, only to find she was
holding a wedding dress in her arms. She turned around and around in circles,
but her lover was nowhere to be found.
heart breaking, she stood in the heat of the courtyard of the religious retreat
and screamed up to the bright summer sky.
Spencer sat bolt upright in bed, inhaling sharply as she jerked awake, heart
hammering in her chest as a sadly familiar wave of grief and loss overwhelmed
her. Twisting, blindly she reached out, clutching at the blankets, needing to
reassure herself that Natalia was still in bed beside her.
Olivia whispered into the night, sighing with relief upon finding warm familiar
curves beside her. She glanced over to see if she had woken her lover, smiling
as she merely snuggled into her blankets a little closer. Stroking a hand
through her hair with a weary sigh, Olivia started to calm down as she realized
where she was, safe at home in her bed.
nightmare. She should be used to it by now. Olivia shook her head and carefully
slipped out of bed, knowing that sleep was going to elude her for awhile. She
tiptoed out into the hallway, needing to make sure everyone was still safe and
sound. Cracking open the nursery door, her mind settled even more at the sight
of wee Francesca fast asleep, her tiny legs exposed as she snuggled her wubby
closer, tucking the soft pink blanket tightly under her chin.
mother, like daughter.” Olivia fully entered the room, smiling softly before
she tugged the blanket back down to cover Sweet Pea’s small body. Leaning over
to press a soft kiss to the girl’s dark hair, she breathed deep, the clean
scent of baby powder and shampoo settling her rattled nerves. With one last rub
to her baby girl’s belly, she made her way back out to the hallway, quietly
pulling the door almost closed.
down the hallway a little further Olivia pushed Emma’s bedroom door open a
little wider so she could peek inside. Cornelius, Emma’s old battered teddy
stood guard faithfully watching the girl sleep from his post on the bookshelf.
It had been almost a year now since Alan’s death and so much had happened
since then. There had been so much for the girl to deal with, forcing her to
grow up so quickly. Kids seemed to grow up so quickly in Springfield; before she
knew it Emma would be driving, leaving home and starting her own family.
shivered at the thought, her heart growing heavy. Everyone leaves eventually.
She sighed and tried to shake off the thought, most likely an unwanted residue
of her nightmare. She glanced back at the well loved bear, remembering how
Emma’s teddy had helped her then.
I don’t think good old Cornelius is gonna cut it anymore…” Olivia
whispered to herself. A low woof came from Emma’s bed, and a white fuzzy head
popped up from under the thin blanket to stare at her.
Olivia hissed afraid that the dog would wake her daughter. “Quiet.”
her head, the dog quickly hopped to her feet and clumsily stomped all over Emma
as she made her way to the edge of the bed, landing on the wide wood planks with
a clatter of nails. Olivia winced but sighed with relief as Emma just grunted
and shifted, not waking at all. Shadow padded over and sat on Olivia’s
slipper, staring up hopefully at the woman.
her head, Olivia backed out of Emma’s room, Shadow following close on her
suppose you want a treat of some sort, doncha?” Olivia smiled at the tail wag
she received with the word ‘treat’ as they headed down the hallway to the
stairs and made their way down to the living room, towards the kitchen.
the light on, Olivia blinked and made her way over to the cupboard, quickly
pulling out the bag of rawhide chew sticks the pup loved to gnaw on for hours on
tell anyone about this and I’ll feed you to the felines, fuzz ball.” Olivia
tossed the chew stick up and grinned as the dog popped up and snatched it out of
the air. Dropping to the floor, Shadow immediately started to chomp on her
for momma’s treat.” Smiling softly, Olivia turned to pull a highball tumbler
from the cupboard, putting it down on the kitchen counter before reaching up to
the top shelf, finding a bottle of whiskey they kept there for guests. Pulling
the bottle down, Olivia opened the fridge and grabbed some ice cubes from the
tray and dropped them into the glass with a clink. Twisting the cap off, Olivia
tipped the bottle and paused, staring into the familiar amber depths of the
would be so easy, to just pour and drink the nightmare away, to drink it all
away. Olivia could almost feel the burn of whiskey on her tongue, the liquid
fire slipping down her throat, landing in her guts with a warm splash of heat.
It wouldn’t take long before she’d be comfortably numb to it all, to be able
to slip back into mindless sleep…
closed her eyes and flashed back to last February in San Cristobel, Natalia’s
face in shadows, disappointment in her eyes, whispering into the night.
thought we talked about this. That you could come to me, instead of turning to a
the hell are you doing, Spencer?” Olivia dropped the bottle back to the
counter top. She had said that she would do things differently this time, but it
was so easy to slip back into bad old habits. She glanced down as Shadow
snorted, suddenly chewing at an itch on her hind leg before looking up at her,
slowly wagging her tail, unconditional love and trust reflected back at her.
sighed and grabbed the cap, twisting it back on tight before reaching and
putting it back up on the shelf, quietly closing the cupboard behind it.
Grabbing the tumbler she tossed the ice into the sink and opened the fridge,
pouring cold milk into the glass instead. She slipped the ceramic lid off the
cookie jar and snagged three home baked chocolate chip cookies.
into the chewy goodness, Olivia sighed and headed for the back door. Quickly
slipping on a light jacket to keep warm in the cool fall evening, she unlocked
the door and made her way out onto the porch, Shadow dashing out past her to go
do her business on the lawn. She leaned against the post and watched as Shadow
inspected the telescope Josh had brought over a few weeks ago, still set up in
the yard, sniffing at the tripod legs.
up at the star filled sky, Olivia munched quietly and took a sip of milk feeling
her nerves settle and calm warmth surround her. She sank down to sit on the top
step and sighed. The last time she’d sat on this exact same spot was when
Natalia had left her, her heart broken into as many pieces as there were stars
in the sky.
a difference a year made.
little family lay asleep upstairs, warm and safe. A farmhouse full of love,
something she never thought she’d want and yet now she couldn’t imagine her
life without it and she would do anything to keep it from slipping through her
smiled and dipped her cookie into the milk before taking another bite. Shadow
ran up and snuffled along her slippers before sticking her head into her lap.
Olivia ran her fingers into the warm fur and massaged the dog’s ears slowly.
Movement overhead caught her eye and Olivia looked up in time to see a shooting
star trail brightly across the sky.
wish…” Olivia closed her eyes, thinking hard for a moment. She had
everything she wanted right there under her roof. There was only one thing left
that she could possibly wish for. She opened her eyes and stared up into the
heavens, releasing her wish to the stars, the universe, or to whoever was up
don’t let me fuck this up.”
warm September sun shone brightly on the citizens of Springfield, as many of its
denizens rushed in and out of Company, the cheery restaurant busy with its usual
morning crowd dropping in for takeout orders and the breakfast crowd. Blake
Marler and Marina Cooper hustled behind the counter taking orders and filling
them as fast as possible, while Buzz clattered and bellowed from the kitchen.
grinned as she wandered into the mayhem, covering a yawn with her hand as she
nodded a greeting to a swamped Blake before she scanned the room and found
exactly who she was looking for lurking in one of the corner booths.
you look like shit.” Doris Wolfe looked up and smiled as she easily recognized
who was sliding into the booth across from her.
love you too, Wolfe.” Olivia smirked back and looked up gratefully as Marina
dropped a mug of coffee in front of her and a menu and disappeared again just as
what does the woman dip herself into to turn that particular shade of orange?”
Doris shook her head as Olivia just about spit back out her first gulp of
a girl before you do that, would you?” Olivia coughed a little, as Doris just
was your hot girlfriend keeping you up late again?” Doris couldn’t resist
the opportunity to tease the woman about her sex life. The mighty Olivia Spencer
brought to her knees willingly by the virtuous Natalia Rivera seemed like one of
those lesbian romances Blake was publishing these days. Besides it was fun to
push Olivia’s buttons every now and then.
you must know,” Olivia glared, stirring some sugar into her coffee, avoiding
Doris’ amused gaze. “I was up late working on a proposal last night.”
Doris smirked, before taking a sip of her own cooling coffee. “I like my
think I like your version better, too…” Olivia grinned and raised an
eyebrow, before she whipped open the menu and began looking over her breakfast
snorted and shook her head, taking a gulp of her coffee. She watched Olivia over
the rim of her cup, taking in the weary droop to her shoulders and dark circles
around the eyes. Makeup helped cover it, but the woman was certainly tired, and
she somehow doubted it had anything to do with her job. In fact Doris had
noticed some of those same features on herself over the last few weeks, often
after a particularly rough night reliving Edmund’s rampage in her own dreams.
eyes narrowed as she realized that maybe Olivia wasn’t working on a proposal
last night after all. She let the silence between them stretch out, not sure if
she should bring it up or how to even broach the topic. Maybe talking about her
most recent nightmares was the way to approach it. Doris sighed and put her cup
back down on the table top and took the bull by the horns.
speaking of lack of sleep,” Doris began carefully. “I’m still having
nightmares about the whole Winslow thing.” She watched her friend closely,
looking for any signs that she had hit a nerve and should duck for cover. Olivia
however simply looked up, saying nothing as the mayor continued on. Doris looked
down at her hands, relieved in a way to talk about what had been haunting her
like it’s on repeat or something. I keep seeing Blake tackling me, shoving me
down out of the way only to end up shot and bleeding out all over me.“ She
shivered at the memory, the haunting image of Blake’s dead eyes staring up at
her immediately flashing into her mind. Doris forced herself back to the here
and now, as Olivia dropped her menu to the table top, eyes filled with concern.
Doris.” Olivia murmured sympathetically, reaching out across the table top to
squeeze her friend’s arm in sympathy. Doris just shrugged a little and sighed,
grabbing her spoon to stir her coffee a little more.
swallowed hard. She had survived this long; she didn’t see the point in
whining about it to some therapist, or saddling her friends with her worries.
Still, Doris had opened up to her. Olivia struggled a moment longer, trying to
figure out best how to respond.
you know what? You’re not alone. We’ve all been having nightmares at our
house, but the family therapy seems to be helping. Felicia has been great with
Emma. And Natalia has been chatting off and on with Sister Anne.” Olivia
smiled softly as her friend looked up at her.
nodded, silently noting that there was no one Olivia seemed to be talking to.
She opened her mouth to say as much when two muffins appeared in front of them.
of Blake.” Marina grinned as she also quickly topped up each mug. “Sorry for
the wait ladies, I’ll be back.” She
whisked away again, not stopping long enough to take their order. The
interruption, however, had effectively broken the moment, and then Olivia’s
BlackBerry buzzed. Apologizing, she quickly read through the text message and
typed a terse response; Doris sighed and decided to let it drop. For now.
minor emergency at the Beacon. I’ll have to tear a strip off an employee a
little later, nothing major.” Olivia apologized again for the text and put the
phone back down on the tabletop, just in case they called back. She took a big
sip of her coffee and sighed happily as the warmth trickled down into her
know, I’ve heard that they put crack in the coffee.” Doris leaned forward
conspiratorially, pulling the top of her blueberry muffin off.
Blake would know.” Olivia began peeling the paper muffin cup from the bottom
of hers. “Did she spill that
tidbit to you during some pillow talk?” Olivia teased, more than happy to turn
the spotlight onto Doris’ love life and away from things that kept her up at
up. You know good and well that we’re just friends.” Doris bristled a
little, the subject of Blake a sensitive one. They both glanced over to where
Blake was busily working away.
Olivia simply arched an eyebrow as Blake waved at Doris from behind the counter.
“Is that ‘friends with benefits’, you old wolf?”
couldn’t help herself as she smiled back at the redhead. It still caught her
by surprise that the woman seemed to genuinely like her. She didn’t have that
many friends and didn’t want to screw that up by being Blake’s experiment.
No, it was for the best really, to keep her at arm’s length. She glanced back
and found appraising green eyes watching her thoughtfully.
no offense, but it’s been my experience that straight girls just end up
breaking your heart. Once they’ve gotten their curiosity, and other urges,
satisfied, they leave you for the next handsome face that comes down the
road.” Doris’ voice turned bitter and she tried to ignore the quiet lull in
the conversation as Olivia digested her little statement.
that what you really think? I’ve never heard it put like that before.”
Olivia stared at her friend. Obviously there was a story there and it didn’t
sound like it had a happy ending. Then again if you’d asked her opinion on
that last summer she would have wholeheartedly agreed. A straight girl did break
her heart for a while, too. She frowned a little at the memory.
well, you’re a little new to the wonderful world of being…you know.”
Doris’ vaguely waved her hand, letting her friend draw her own conclusions.
that works.” Doris chuckled. Glancing up she noticed a familiar face dashing
into the place. “Speaking of exes…” She nodded towards the counter.
turned to see a frazzled looking Bill Lewis leaning against the wooden counter,
chatting to Blake. She realized his baby should be arriving any day now. She
felt an old familiar warm spot blossom for the man. He had been so good with
Emma, she knew he would make a great dad. She was genuinely happy for him.
I get an extra large coffee and a medium decaf herbal tea?” Bill glanced at
his watch, obviously in a hurry. He glanced around and their eyes locked, saw
her, smiling warmly and waving at her.
do have a thing for dimples, don’t you…?” Doris leaned forward a little.
Olivia looked back at the mayor and simply rolled her eyes.
was a long time ago, and besides, Natalia’s dimples are much cuter.” Olivia
glanced down into her coffee mug and swirled the contents thoughtfully.
“Actually, our anniversary is coming up this weekend.”
it was September when you moved back to the farmhouse, wasn’t it?” Doris
shook her head, amazed at how time flies when life is good. “So, what do you
have planned? Anything special?”
just smiled and took a bite of muffin.
Rivera pulled open the oak door and listened to the happy tones of the
electronic chime sound as she stepped into the Beacon’s new daycare
facilities. The old conference room had converted nicely into a warm inviting
space and Lewis Construction had done an excellent job, finishing on time and
wiggling bundle in her arms didn’t even seem to notice, as Francesca seemed
content to tug on her mother’s hair to try to get her attention. Pulling the
little fingers away, Natalia gave them a quick kiss before stepping deeper into
Leyla Rivera came in from a small back office, a huge smile erupting as she
recognized her visitors. “You’re in early.”
one to talk. Olivia and I didn’t even hear your car leave this morning.”
Natalia bounced her daughter ever so slightly to keep her distracted. Turning at
the sound of Leyla’s familiar voice, Francesca’s eyes widened and she
reached out with both arms.
Francesca wiggled in Natalia’s arms, trying to get closer to her aunt.
little one, come to Tia Leyla.” Leyla laughed and scooped the baby out of her
sister’s arms, tickling her little belly until she giggled and squirmed, and
then dropped a squeaky kiss on the flushed pudgy cheek.
heart filled with joy at the sounds coming from both her daughter and sister. A
year ago she never would have dreamed that her family would have been in contact
with each other, let alone grown close again to Leyla. She sent a silent prayer
of thanks skyward and grinned back at her sister.
just wanted to get in here and get things going. But I guess I didn’t need to
rush, as no one’s bothered to come in yet.” Leyla tried not to let the
disappointment or worry show in her voice, but Natalia heard it anyway.
going to take some time for word of mouth to build.” Natalia smiled softly,
running her fingers over her daughter’s head and then shifting to tuck a stray
lock of Leyla’s hair behind an ear. ”Have a little faith…”
happy tones chimed again as the door opened slowly, and two familiar figures
entered the room. Both women looked at each other and smiled. It was the
daycare’s first official customer.
there, can we come in?” Jonathan stood in the doorway, his daughter in his
Leyla smiled, pleased to see the handsome man again. She watched as the small
dark haired girl slid down his lean form to land solidly on the floor. “Hi,
Sarah. Have you come to stay with me today?” They all smiled at her shy nod.
like to sign Sarah up for daycare.” Jonathan ran a hand through his messy dark
hair, pleased when his daughter’s natural curiosity finally kicked in and the
girl made her way towards the small pile of toys to one side. “Since Lizzie is
ready to pop and I’m busy with the new school project with Lewis Construction,
my baby girl needs somewhere to go for the day. And who better than Auntie O’s
new Beacon daycare facilities.” Jonathan grinned widely.
good to me!” Leyla smiled warmly up into the dark eyes, swaying ever so
slightly with Francesca.
stood quietly to one side, as Leyla started to get the paper work going,
chatting and teasing Jonathan. By the time he had a pen out and was filling out
some of the necessary forms the daycare door chimed again as a hotel guest with
a toddler wandered into the room, looking around curiously. Leyla smiled warmly
and went to greet the newcomers.
met Leyla’s happy gaze and nodded. Things were going to work out here, just
had been relatively quiet at police headquarters since the Winslow fiasco. There
were the usual petty thefts and traffic violations and even one case of a
flasher down on Main Street. Not wanting to dwell on the man’s short comings,
Detective Anna Li had been able to wrap that one up pretty quickly. And although
she should be grateful for the peace, somehow it simply felt more like she was
waiting for the other shoe to drop.
a five letter word for idiot?” Remy Boudreau called out from his desk, before
chomping noisily into an apple. The man loved to do crosswords at lunch. He
looked up as the Chief came into the squad room, scanning it briefly as the rest
of the cops in the room quickly tried to look busy.
it would be too easy…” Anna
muttered to herself, sitting up a little straighter in her chair as Frank Cooper
made his way towards her desk. “Try ‘dunce’, Remy.”
scribbled it in and nodded. It fit perfectly. His cell phone rang, and seeing
Cyrus Foley’s name on the call display he quickly answered it. He kept a
discreet eye on what was happening in the room though, not wanting to miss a
I’ve got a new assignment for you.” Frank smiled warmly.
Anna said cautiously. She was immediately suspicious of the Chief’s
intentions. Frank was acting all chipper, bouncing on the balls of his feet and
grinning at her like that. He was up to something.
Officer Wendell left on maternity leave last week, we’re going to need a new
officer to serve at Springfield Elementary until she returns.” Frank glanced
over at Remy and grinned before turning and heading back out the way he had
come. He tossed a final parting shot over his shoulder. “It should be an easy
gig for you, Li.”
“Diu!” Anna swore and closed her eyes. Sure she liked kids and all,
in small doses, but a whole school under her watch. She was being punished, she
was sure of it. Remy had a hand over his mouth as he eavesdropped, trying to
keep his laughter under wraps from their boss. “Shut up Boudreau. They’re
kids, how much trouble can those ankle biters get into anyway?”
I almost forgot.” Frank waved a junior officer into the room, his arms full of
files. “Just drop those files on Li’s desk for me, will yah Johnson?
young man quickly deposited the folders and beat a hasty retreat. Detective
Li’s temper was becoming legendary around the squad. Remy’s laughter finally
erupted though as Frank disappeared from sight. Even Anna’s glare didn’t
man. I’ll fill you in later…” Remy chuckled into his cell. “See you
sighed and flipped through the files on the top of the heap, her mind spinning.
How long before the average woman comes back from maternity leave anyway?
Wendell was a warrior; she’d pop that kid out and be back in the saddle in six
weeks. Anna bit her lip, okay maybe eight weeks? She glanced up to find Remy
still grinning at her plight. It seemed like the perfect time to torment her
partner a little, just for sport.
how is your boyfriend?” Anna smirked, sliding the file back onto the top of
her pile. “Big date tonight, lover boy?”
up.” Remy leaned back, still chuckling and tossed his apple core into his
garbage can. “Cyrus says hi by the way. He was dropping Mel off at the new
law firm?” Anna looked up. She vaguely recalled hearing about Doris getting
involved in a new venture. Not that she was stalking her ex, but she had been
following things a little in the paper since the shooting.
had irked Anna that Doris had been raked over the coals by the Springfield
Journal, with some of the locals calling for her head, muttering about the
blatant disregard for the safety of the citizens. As if Doris could have stopped
that mad man. Hell, the woman had been a target the day of the shooting spree.
If Blake hadn’t acted so quickly…
shuddered slightly and turned her attention back to her partner. She didn’t
even want to think about how worse things could have turned out if Jeffrey
hadn’t taken Winslow down.
that the one Mel and Doris are getting started?” She asked. “They just
announced that not too long ago. That happened fast.”
The timing was good, Mel’s old lease is up at the end of this month and so she
packed up her offices and moved. The new place is pretty swank too.” Remy
nodded. “Beth Spaulding is one of the partners too, her husband offered up
this nice old Victorian mansion down on Old River Road that Spaulding
whistled. The mansions down there were spectacular historic buildings; the very
bricks and mortar and obsessive attention to architectural detail screamed old
Springfield money at its finest. Over the years, several of the old mansions had
been turned into apartments and rental properties for the not-as-wealthy anymore
children of old Springfield money. And a few others had been turned into offices
for accountants, doctors and other professionals at every corner practically. It
would be a perfect location for a high end law firm.
send my best wishes to your sister.” Anna stood up and pulled her blazer up
off the back of her chair, shrugging it on. “I’m gonna log some down time, I
said I’d swing by and visit Jeffrey, drop him off at Cedars for an appointment
he has today. It’ll do him good; he’s going stir crazy in that apartment of
“I’m sure your juvenile delinquents in training will be here waiting for you when you get back.” Remy smirked at his superior officer. Anna gave him a glare for good measure before heading out of the squad. His chuckles followed her out the door.