Olivia stumbled into
the kitchen and headed for the coffeepot and her favorite mug waiting beside it.
It wasn't until she had filled the mug and taken a deep drink that she noticed
the other occupants of the room. Natalia sat at the table, with Emma in the seat
next to her eating her breakfast and Francesca in her high chair smearing her
hair with her Cheerios. Leyla also sat nursing her own coffee mug.
Olivia grunted her voice thick with sleep.
morning." Natalia flashed Olivia a pair of perfect dimples. "Want some
eggs and toast?"
Olivia shook her
head. "I'll just have what this beauty is having," she said, leaning
down and nuzzling Francesca's belly, making the baby giggle and start smearing
the wet lumps of cereal in Olivia's hair.
Francesca laughed and Olivia pulled back.
little girl exclaimed as she made an exaggerated kissy face. Olivia interpreted
this to mean 'I love you, Mommy!'
"Mwah, you too,
my little Sweet Pea," she said, kissing her daughter on the top of the
head, careful to avoid the smeared goo. She looked up to see her partner
watching them with adoration. Leyla and Emma, on the other hand, wore matching
smirks. She coughed to hide her embarrassment. "So…what are we working
on?" she asked, pointing at the various magazines spread out among the
Francesca's Halloween costumes," Natalia answered. "We're looking for
Pea's is easy," Olivia said, topping off her coffee and then sitting down
next to Natalia. "Just pop her in a pink onesie and sailor hat and she can
go as Swee'Pea."
"And maybe Emma can be Olive Oyl and Frank Bluto?"
Olivia laughed and
leaned over to kiss Natalia. "And you can be Popeye since you're the
strongest one of all."
"And what about
you?" Natalia asked with a saucy grin. "You like to eat your
Olivia leaned back in her chair and mimicked pulling at imaginary suspenders.
"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Buzz burger today."
Natalia nearly spit
out her orange juice with laughter. "Oh, you are so not Wimpy, my
They all turned as a
knock sounded and then the door opened to admit Ava. Immediately the temperature
seemed to drop a few degrees as Leyla glared at Olivia's daughter.
honey," Olivia said quickly. "Sorry I'm not ready yet, but thanks for
coming to pick me up for the meeting."
Mom…I'm early anyway," she said. "We've got plenty of time."
"Came for some
free breakfast?" Leyla asked with a sneer.
service," Ava shot back.
"Not the same as
home-cooked, is it?"
"I never see you
slaving over the stove anytime I'm here," Ava retorted.
Olivia broke in and
said, "Bean, if you're done why don't you go get ready for school,
The little girl
nodded and with a worried look at her sister and aunt, left the kitchen.
"Girls, come on,
let's be civil," Olivia said.
Ava said. "She wouldn't know civil if it whacked her in her fat head."
"Nag, nag, nag
all the time," Ava went on. "I feel sorry for anyone who'd want to
marry a harpy like you."
Olivia said, trying not to raise her voice. "Apologize this instant."
"I can't believe
this," Ava said, turning on her mother. "You're taking her side, Mom?
Oh that's just great."
"I'm not taking
anyone's side," Olivia said, "but I expect the adults of this house to
act like adults."
Olivia," Leyla said. "I don't need anyone to defend me. Besides, she's
all bark and no bite."
"Oh, I'll show
you bite, you bitch!" With that, Ava rushed toward Leyla and hit
Francesca's chair with her hip, startling the baby who started to wail a moment
it!" Natalia said, standing up to pick up the crying baby. "You two
– take it to the barn if you're going to act like animals."
pointed, her posture stiff with anger even as she tried to settle the baby.
"I will not have this house and family disrupted by all this constant
Leyla huffed, shoved
back her chair as she stood up and stormed out the door.
Ava turned to her
mother, but avoided her glare. "Sorry, Mom," she said. "I'll wait
for you in the car.
Once outside, the two
women continued their arguing, their voices carrying through the closed door.
Natalia stood at the window and watched as she soothed the still-crying baby.
Olivia joined her a moment later and then asked, "Do they remind you of
anyone?" She pointed at the fighting duo.
Natalia asked, confused, and then her eyebrows scrunched together. "Oh no!
Do not even go there, Olivia."
"I'm just sayin'…"
"Go get dressed.
You and Ava have to get to that meeting," she said jerking her head toward
the kitchen door.
dear," Olivia said and kissed her. "Love you."
Natalia blew a kiss at her departing partner.
Olivia glanced at her
daughter's profile thinking about the events of earlier. Ava was focused on the
road and didn't seem to notice her mother's inspection. After a few moments,
Olivia asked, "Why do you let her get to you like that?"
"You mean Leyla
'the harpy' Rivera?" Ava asked with a sneer. "She doesn't get to me,
Mom. She's just such a hypocrite. She's always accusing me of taking advantage
of you and Natalia, but she's the one living in your home and working in your
hotel. Does she even pay you two for room and board?"
Olivia decided not
to answer that, especially since Ava's suite at the Beacon was comped. "I'm
glad that Natalia's reunited with at least one family member. Having her sister
here makes Natalia happy and that makes me happy."
"Yeah, but she's
still only Natalia's sister."
Olivia sighed. "Ava
honey, I know for a long time it was only the three of us and Sam off on his
adventures, but weren't we always looking for more? Now we have it. We have a
big, crazy and wonderful extended family. It's not perfect, but it's ours and
I'm not letting go of any of it. So please, Ava…for me? At least try
to get along with her."
she pouted. "But no promises."
baby," Olivia said and then opened up the file folder sitting on her lap.
She glanced once again at the details of the property they were looking to
purchase. "Okay, so let's figure out how we're going to tag-team this guy
until he lowers his asking price."
She turned to Ava and
chuckled as Ava made a point of expanding her chest to show off the revealing
blouse she wore under her blazer. "That's my girl," she said with a
Eleni Andros walked
down the quiet and cool corridor of the Cedar's lower basement on her way to the
morgue. Only one attendant was on duty and sitting at the desk. She showed him
her identification and requested access to the small evidence and records room.
He stood up and ushered her into the room after unlocking it.
you," she said, looking around the room and taking note of the various file
cabinets and specimen lockers.
He hesitated a
moment. "What is it you're looking for?" he asked.
"Not really sure
yet," she answered. "But if I need any help, I'll let you know."
After he left her alone, Eleni opened the closest file cabinet and pulled out a
folder and began to read.
Sometime later, a
short stack of folders lay on the desk. She intended to give them a closer
review back at her office. Picking up the thickest, which was marked Winslow, E.
SPD372891-D, she pulled a log sheet and walked over to the cold storage sample
chest. Checking the cross-reference, she pulled several vials of tissue samples
and left behind a chain of evidence form. She placed the vials in her kit. She
already knew the samples would not prove to be from Edmund Winslow, but she
wanted to double check. If the sample wasn't from Winslow, it would be further
evidence of DeSilva's evidence tampering.
Checking her notes,
she pulled additional samples from cases she suspected were also tampered with.
On a few of them, she had noticed the investigating officer was Det. M. Cooper.
Closing her evidence kit, she gathered up her files and left the room.
you're looking for?" the same attendant asked. She noted he had a sandwich
and soda on his desk and realized how much time had passed.
"I've made a
start, thank you," she said. "Tell me, most of the evidence here is
less than two years old. What happens to the evidence from older cases?"
"If samples are
not needed by the DA's office or the cases are sent over to the cold case files
at the PD, then it's stored at a facility in Chicago. The ME's office will have
the manifests referenced by case number."
right," she said. "Thanks so much for your help." She walked down
the corridor in the direction of the elevator, her rubber soles squeaking on the
polished tile of the floor. Turning the corner, she caught a glimpse of her
daughter pushing her way through the stairwell doors. With a frown, Eleni picked
up her pace to follow.
Once in the
stairwell, she heard Marina's footsteps rushing up the stairs and then the sound
of the ground floor door opening. By the time she reached the landing, she was
nearly running and when she pushed through the door, she saw Marina looking
carefully around the loading bay.
she called, finally catching up.
Marina's head snapped
around. "Mom! What are you doing here?"
she answered, tired of her daughter's petulant tone. "What about you?"
"Same thing, not
that it's any of your business," Marina said. "Since coming back on
the force, I've got a lot to do."
morgue?" Eleni asked. "Which case? There are no autopsies going on. I
was there all morning and it was quiet."
"Just needed to
check something for an old case," Marina said. "But I've got to run.
Shayne is watching Henry and needs to get to work."
"Well, wait a
second," Eleni said, stopping Marina's departure. "Some of the cases
DeSilva worked on were yours and I have a few questions."
through regular channels," Marina said with a scowl. "That's how we do
things here in Springfield – by the book. Don't expect special consideration
because you used to be married to the chief."
Eleni said, her temper finally breaking. She closed her eyes in an attempt to
control herself. "I am still your mother and expect your respect," she
said peering closely at her daughter. "So if you don't have time to answer
my questions, then I'll have to find the answers elsewhere. But remember – I'm
a scientist looking for the truth – don't expect special consideration because
I'm your mother."
supposed to mean?" Marina huffed as she put her hands on her hips.
hope," Eleni answered.
Marina rolled her
eyes. "Whatever. I've got to go get my son."
Eleni watched her
daughter leave the loading area as she worriedly bit the inside of her lip.
straight!" Doris exclaimed. She looked over the table at Olivia. Doris had
invited her friend to lunch at Towers and had just mentioned the phone call she
received from Blake that morning asking her to dinner.
Olivia said. "Two years ago you and everyone else who knows me would have
testified on a stack of Bibles as tall as the Empire State Building that I was
the straightest woman in Springfield. But you watched me change over that time;
why can't Blake change as well?"
"You don't know
what it's like, Olivia," Doris said, shaking her head with a heavy sigh.
"I've been with plenty of straight women. In college, I had LUGs coming out
of the woodwork."
Graduation," Doris explained. "Women who use the freedom of college as
a way to experiment with all that life has to offer before they settle down to
their normal lives with their normal husbands and have their normal
already had all that," Olivia said, pointing emphatically at Doris.
"She's a grown woman who has already experienced a lot that life has to
offer. She obviously likes you and is open to the possibility of love.
And…" Olivia gave her a wicked grin. "I happen to know for a fact
that she likes toys."
Doris's mouth dropped
open. "How the heck do you know that? Did Natalia share the contents of
your toy chest with her one day during a book signing?"
"No, nothing like that," she said. "Last year before Natalia and
I got together I was feeling a little…frustrated…and Blake suggested her
favorite remedy." Olivia smirked as Doris's eyes unfocused, her mind
seeming to go to a very happy place. "Um, Earth to Doris?"
Doris snapped back to reality.
"Just give her a
chance, Doris," Olivia said.
Doris sighed and
glanced around the restaurant as she seemed to mull Olivia's words over. "I
don't know," she finally said. "It's hard enough when a woman who
likes only women hurts you, but when you get involved with a straight woman,
your chance of getting burned is that much higher."
"Maybe so, but
if you won't even give it a chance to work, it'll never even have a chance to
fail," Olivia said. "Just think about it, Doris…there's no
"So…tell me a little bit more about Blake's favorite remedy."
Natalia rushed into
her office at the Beacon and dumped her purse down on her desk. Turning on her
laptop, she waited impatiently for it to boot up.
she muttered under her breath as she clicked on her browser icon. Finally, the
program loaded, but then she had to close the extra windows. "At
last!" she said, pulling up the USO website. After a couple of clicks, she
was logged into the family chat area and then sat back and waited.
Nibbling on her
thumb, she waited until at last the computer dinged and showed an incoming
message announcement. Bouncing in her seat, she eagerly clicked on the window.
she received in her window. "Click on the webcam, remember?"
"Oh yeah, I
forgot," she typed and did as he asked. After a moment, the video box
popped up and her son's beautiful face came up on her screen. She felt her eyes
fill with tears. "Oh, Rafael!"
Ma," he smiled.
"Have you lost
more weight?" she asked. "Did you take your blood sugar today? What
was it before dinner?"
"No, Ma, I
haven't lost weight. I'm still the same as when you saw me," he said.
"And my sugar is fine. You're looking good. Everything okay there in
she said, resting her head on her propped hand as she looked at the image of her
son. "We're getting ready for Halloween. It's Sweet Pea's first and we're
looking forward to it."
"Don't forget to
send lots of pictures," he said pointing at her through the screen. "I
can't wait to see my baby sister in a costume."
worry," she said. "Olivia is an absolute fiend with her camera. She's
filled up several external drives with photographs of Francesca alone."
Rafe laughed, his
sun-darkened face brightening the screen. "That's classic. Hey! Don't
forget that my baby shower gift will be done next month. Send a picture of it so
I can show it off to all my buddies. They love hearing about our crazy
"You tell them
about us?" she said, surprised.
Natalia asked, her face scrunching in confusion.
Rafe leaned forward
and typed his answer in the chat box substituting a euphemism for the last word,
laughing all the while.
widened and her mouth dropped open. "Rafael!"
just kidding, Ma," he said. "Everyone here just loves hearing about
each other's families and believe me, there are lots of families that are just
you, baby," she said, tears in her eyes. "I'm so sad that you'll miss
Thanksgiving with us again, not to mention Sweet Pea's first birthday."
me too," he said, his grin turning wry. "I don't suppose Olivia has
any pull with the Commander-in-Chief?"
wouldn't put it past her to try," she said. "Should I ask?"
he laughed. "Just kidding. Besides, I really need to be here, Ma."
know, baby," she said. "I'm so proud of you, mi hijo, but I'm so scared for you every day."
be fine, Ma," he said and glanced to the side. "Well, my time's up and
the next guy needs the computer before it gets too late here. Te
quiero, también, Rafael," she said. "Sleep well and stay safe,
okay?" Even though she knew it was senseless, she touched the screen
wishing desperately she could touch his face.
Ma," he said. "Give kisses to Olivia and my sisters for me and a big
hug for Aunt Leyla."
will, I promise," she said. "Good night, Rafe."
Ma," he said and leaned forward to close the connection.
stood and wiped at her tears so that their employees wouldn't notice them and
then she left the office to seek out a much needed hug from her partner.
looked up as a knock sounded on her office door frame and saw Natalia's head
poke around it a moment later.
beautiful," she said with a smile, which immediately fell when she noticed
Natalia's eyes. She glanced at the clock and saw the time. She quickly stood to
take Natalia in her arms. "Oh hey, is he okay?" she asked.
nodded. "He's fine, he's good. He looks good – tanned and healthy.
why the tears, baby?" she asked even though she knew the answer. Not a day
went by when they both didn't worry for his physical safety and mental
well-being, which only increased with each news report of another soldier
killed. And ever since his last visit, when Rafe had finally fully accepted her
into his heart and family, Olivia had come to love the young man for his own
sake and not just for his mother's. Were anything to happen to him, she would be
just as devastated as his birth mother.
shrugged, although she clung to Olivia even tighter. Then she let out a short
bark of laughter. "He said his friends at the base think we're both MILFs."
really?" she said with a smirk. She leaned back and brushed away Natalia's
tears. "Well, I'm the only one who has that particular privilege and I'll
fight off a whole battalion of GIs if I have to for you."
rolled her eyes and Olivia knew her tasteless joke had succeeded. "How did
the meeting go?" Natalia asked.
right, I think," she answered. "Ava's crunching the numbers and will
have a report to us by Monday. We'll be able to make a decision next week."
nodded. "Sounds good." Then with a sigh she said, "What are we
going to do about Ava?"
Olivia asked and raised her eyebrows. "You mean about this morning? If I
recall correctly, Leyla started it."
but she was just pulling Ava's chain; Ava was the one who got aggressive."
Olivia asked, releasing Natalia and taking a step back. "My daughter was
just defending herself. Leyla was the one who instigated the whole thing."
may have started it today, but Ava is
the one who takes everything my sister says out of proportion," Natalia
said and held up a hand as she tried to explain. "That's how my family
always was when I was growing up so I'm sure it was the same for Leyla, even
though I wasn't there. I remember my mother and aunties working in the kitchen
on Sundays going on and on about one thing or another. It sounded like they were fighting, but it was just a way to show who
was boss at the moment. Actually, they all knew they were equals."
so what you're saying is that Ava is disrespecting you and your sister's
my God! You are so not getting the point. I'm saying that the more aggressive
Ava is, the harder Leyla is going to push. If Ava would just lighten up and
laugh a bit at her, then Leyla would back off." Natalia ran her fingers
through her hair in frustration.
doesn't make any sense," Olivia said, waving her arms.
not in those words, but it was how we were raised. To us in the family, it was
okay to talk trash to and about each other, but if anyone outside the family said the exact same thing, everyone stood
together. Look at you and me, for example. Once you gave in, we started getting
along so much better."
everything would be hunky dory if Ava just rolled over, bared her neck and
acknowledged Leyla is the alpha bitch? Isn't that what I did with you, Natalia?"
Olivia had her hands on her hips and her head tilted to the side, but her
defensive posture let Natalia know she had to choose her words very carefully.
Natalia said. "I'm talking about the moment you stopped treating me like a
rival or a subordinate and finally accepted me as your equal and let me help
you. But we're not the point here;
it's Ava and Leyla and their constant fighting."
so you agree it's not just Ava anymore?"
sighed and rubbed her face. "Olivia…I think that what Leyla does is
harmless – that in some subconscious way she's trying to help Ava because Ava
is a part of her family. But what Ava does is destructive and I think it's going
to keep getting worse."
I can't believe this!" Olivia cried. "Ava is fine; she's just a little
abrasive. She's just…she's just my daughter, okay?"
Natalia said, pointing at her. "And look at all the ways you tried to
self-destruct in the past."
stared at her partner. "You think I'm going to self-destruct again?"
she asked quietly. "Do you have a time table for this, because I sure would
like to know."
Olivia!" Natalia said. "You've changed. I've watched you grow and
become the wonderful and beautiful woman you are today. You're not going to
self-destruct. But something's going on with Ava and I think she needs our
help." She reached toward her, but Olivia pulled quickly away.
could hear Ava's voice from this morning in her mind accusing her of taking
sides and she hardened her expression. "Just tell that sister of yours to
quit the head games and leave my daughter alone." Turning her back, she
strode quickly out of the office, leaving Natalia alone.
alone in her office, Eleni Andros sighed in frustration as she ran her hands
through her long hair. Sitting in front of her on her desk were two piles of
case files. Both of them were cases where DeSilva appeared to have tampered with
evidence, either by falsifying records, or by losing or 'accidentally'
contaminating samples. However, it was the larger pile of folders that concerned
her the most. On all of them, her daughter had been the lead investigator.
sighed again. It was time to speak with Frank, and it definitely wasn't a
conversation she was looking forward to.
sat in a quiet corner of the Beacon's day care center as she nursed Francesca.
Leyla sat at her small desk nearby bottle-feeding the infant boy of a nice
couple staying at the hotel who were out making funeral arrangements for the
woman's father who had passed away. The couple had been so relieved they
wouldn't have to worry about the baby while they completed their difficult
arrangements. Natalia smiled. The service the Beacon was providing would
eventually more than pay for the added expense. As word got around, business
would pick up. And extending the service to the staff had already proved to
decrease absenteeism. She thought about the many times Rafe had needed to stay
home from school and she had been forced to miss work if she couldn't find a
stray thought made her chuckle. Leyla looked up and asked, "What?"
nothing." She smiled. Francesca finished feeding, so she shifted the baby
to her shoulder. "Just thinking. I was marveling at how I went from being a
maid in this hotel to becoming part owner."
laughed. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you slept your way to the
the opposite," Natalia laughed along with her sister. "My refusing to
sleep with Alan drove him crazy. He even said in his will that dying was the
only way he could get me to take anything from him."
and Rafe's grandfather?" Leyla asked. "What was he like?"
tyrant," Natalia said. "Manipulative, diabolical, power-hungry. No
wonder Olivia married him." She laughed at the thought. "But in the
end he finally got it."
real meaning of family," she answered. "How your family is the most
important part of your life. Not money or power or fame. Olivia learned that
lesson, too. Nicky got it from his adopted parents, which is why he was so torn
when Rafe and I showed up in town. He wanted to take care of us, but it got in
the way of his marriage."
thought for a moment. "I remember him…your Nicky," she said.
do?" Natalia said surprised. "You were so young."
I do. You must have been babysitting me and he was visiting. He brought me an
ice cream from the street truck and sat on the fire escape to smoke."
was Nicky all right," Natalia said. "He didn't want to get me in
trouble by smoking inside or doing anything to let the folks know I had
visitors." She was silent as she thought about her first love. "I
hated that I was responsible for the breakup of his marriage, but it was all
part of God's plan."
blinked. "You really believe that?"
course," she answered. "If I hadn't married Nicky, Olivia would
probably not be here today and we wouldn't have the family we have."
wish I had that kind of faith," Leyla sighed. "I'm glad you two have
each other and you're right, your family is amazing."
family, hermana," she pointed out with a kind smile, but remembering
her conversation with Olivia earlier, the smile turned into a frown. "Do me
a favor, please? Take it easy on Ava. She's a good woman, but she's got a short
temper. Every time you push her buttons, she's going to blow up and we don't
need the headache."
jaw clenched. "She takes herself too seriously," she said. "And
she thinks she's a big deal just because she's Olivia's daughter."
not true," Natalia countered. "She hasn't had an easy time of it and
her relationship with Olivia wasn't always the best. And losing a baby is always
hard on someone."
lost a baby?" Leyla asked, her hard tone of voice turning surprised.
"I didn't know that."
nodded. "A son, Max," she said. "That's why she left Springfield
for a while. It was too hard seeing Remy, the father, all the time and being
reminded of her loss."
the cop?" Leyla asked. "The one whose wife just had a baby?"
the one," Natalia said and looked down at Francesca who had fallen asleep.
She gently placed the baby in a nearby crib and adjusted her blouse. "All
right, I've got to get to my meeting with Blake. Everything okay here?"
Leyla answered. "This one's down for the count and it'll be quiet here
until the older kids get off the bus."
Leyla. Then I'll see you later." She gave her daughter and sister a kiss
and left the center after a passing glance at Leyla's thoughtful expression.
Marler pulled another manuscript from her tote bag and handed it to Natalia.
They were seated at a table at Towers. Coffee cups and the remains of a light
snack were pushed aside to make room for the various projects they were working
really not sure about this one," Blake said as she showed the cover letter
to Natalia. "It's good and I think it's well-written, but I'm not sure if
it will sell. It's not like anything out there."
that's an advantage," Natalia said, glancing over the paper. "I mean,
you can only have so many vampire or apocalypse novels out there at the same
time. Being a maverick can sometimes be a good thing."
that's why I like working with you, Natalia," Blake said. "You're not
afraid to take chances."
laughed. "That's what Olivia always says, but I think I've just been
you have a good feel for books." Blake reached into her tote again and
pulled out an envelope. "That reminds me. This is for you."
face scrunched in confusion as she opened the envelope and her expression turned
to surprise as she pulled out a check. "Blake, what's this? I told you I
didn't want to take any money simply for reading books. I enjoy working with
just a small percentage of the profits on the books you've recommended. They're
selling like hot cakes and that never would have happened without your
contribution." Blake smiled. "Be proud of yourself, Natalia. You've
got a gift and should be compensated for it."
eyes goggled. "This is a small
Blake said with a laugh. "I've always been lucky that way as well, but your
work has helped increase that luck. So take the money; put it in the kids'
college fund if you want, but I insist."
right," Natalia said reluctantly as she tucked the check into her purse,
then she asked, "If the publishing company is doing so well, why do you
keep waitressing at Company?"
"Oh, I'd miss
being in the center of things," she said, leaning back in her chair.
"I really enjoy interacting with people. If I didn't go there every day and
simply worked from home or an office, then I'd miss out on what's going on
around town. And on seeing some of my favorite people every day like you and
"Okay, I can see
that," Natalia said with a nod. "I did feel a little isolated after
Francesca's birth. I love our home and our daughters, but I'm glad to be working
Blake said and squirmed a little in her chair. "So, um…that reminds me.
Natalia? Can I ask you a question?"
Blake," Natalia answered and picked up her cup to drain the rest of her
"How do you make
love to a woman?"
Natalia choked and
her cup clattered to the table. A waitress immediately came over and started to
wipe up the spilled coffee before it could stain the manuscripts on the table.
Natalia glanced around and noticed several patrons of the restaurant looking on.
Finally, when the waitress left, Natalia said, "Blake! Whu…what?"
right?" Blake asked, seemingly unaware of Natalia's embarrassment. "I
mean, sure you have."
she exclaimed again. She looked around, but was relieved to note that the other
people in the restaurant weren't paying attention anymore.
"Oh come on,
Natalia! Everyone here knows you and Olivia are lovers. Heck, half of the people
here were at Phillip's New Year's party when you two were going at it in the
God," she said, covering her face with her hands.
ashamed of it, are you?" Blake asked, blinking at Natalia and shaking her
said loudly and then lowered her voice. "No, of course not. It's
just…Blake, I'm not used to talking about it outside of the bedroom."
"You mean you
never talked about sex with your girlfriends?" Blake goggled.
"I never really
had time for girlfriends before Olivia," she answered. "And even if I
hadn't been entirely cut off from my family, Leyla was still a kid and I
couldn't have talked to her about that kind of stuff."
doesn't count anymore and Leyla is your sister," Blake said. "We're
friends, right?" She waited for Natalia to nod. "And you're gay and I
really, really need advice on how to seduce a woman."
Natalia simply stared
at the woman sitting across the table from her.
Natalia closed her
eyes and sighed. "Okay, okay!" she said. "I assume we're talking
about Doris Wolfe here?"
Blake exaggerated her
nod. "Yes! See, that's the thing. At least with you and Olivia neither of
you knew what you were doing so it didn't matter if it wasn't good. But Doris
has a lot of experience, so she's going to want someone who knows what she's
"Okay, first of all, Blake…Olivia and I…our first time was good,"
she said her cheeks hot with embarrassment.
Blake asked, surprised.
she answered. "It was very, very good and you want to know why?"
Blake leaned forward.
and I love each other," she said softly. "It didn't matter that we had
never made love with another woman before or how much experience we had in
regards to sex. All that mattered was that we are so in love that the ability to
show that love physically made it totally mind-blowing. It was that way our
first time and every other time since."
Blake said with a long exhalation of air as she sat back in her chair.
Natalia gave her a
stern look. "But Blake…if you're just looking for a new experience then
go pick up a random woman down at Ladies Night. Doris has been hurt enough and
if you're not serious about her and she ends up hurt again, then you'll not only
have Olivia on your back, but me as well. Got it?"
Blake raised her hands defensively.
"Got it," she said with an emphatic nod. She leaned forward again and
gave Natalia a wicked grin. "So tell me, were you icked out the first time
you…you know…to Olivia?"
God," Natalia said and dropped her head to the table.
room 217 of Cedars, Lillian Cooper made a small adjustment to the I.V. of the
comatose patient. She took a long look at his pale and gaunt face and tilted her
head in thought. Picking up her pen, she made a note in the case file lying on
the rolling table. 'Patient's color seems improved,' she wrote, and she
initialed it and added the time. Closing the file, she exited the room.
few seconds after the door had swung silently shut behind her, Edmund Winslow's
eyes sprang wide open.