Title: Critical Mass

Author: Phox

Email: Phox333@aol.com (Feedback welcome.)

Fandom: Guiding Light

Pairing: Olivia/Natalia

Rating: NC-17 (language, adult themes, sex)

Disclaimer: Sadly Olivia and Natalia and other Springfield Townshippers belong to TeleNext Media, not me. I’m just taking them out on a playdate and will return them forthwith, hopefully none the worse for wear.

Author's Note: This picks up with the spa fight (5/6/09) and then spins off in its own direction. It’s a story of love, longing, conflict, and an unexpected major crisis that turns everything upside down and leads to a new emotional journey for Olivia and Natalia. What if that little argument at the spa getaway had escalated further instead of fizzling out into a nature hike with the out-of-shape, "what-baby-bump?" Natalia Rivera and the "woman for all seasons," Olivia Spencer? I could easily see it playing out that way, considering the hot tempers and stubbornness of both these women, so ...

Critical Mass
By Phox

| Ch. 1-10 | Ch. 11-20 | Ch. 21-30 | Ch. 31-40 | Ch. 41-50 | Ch. 51-60 | Ch. 61-70 | Ch. 71-80 | Ch. 81-90 |

Chapter 51

Natalia stood under the warm stream emanating from the showerhead in her private bath at The Ilikai. She was acutely aware of the heated rivulets of water as they snaked their way down her skin. It felt like every cell of her body was in some kind of hyper state of awareness. Suddenly she imagined Olivia standing behind her, naked, wrapping her arms around her body, pressing into her back, running her hands over her shoulders and her breasts and her belly, and she had to reach one hand out to steady herself lest she completely lose her balance and topple onto the tiled floor.

As she leaned against the shower wall, she thought about standing behind the waterfalls with Olivia just a few hours ealier. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take another shower without thinking about you kissing me under the falls, she thought. She was so besotted with Olivia, her mind seemed to have no room for anything else.

When she finally emerged from the stall, she toweled off her body and dried her hair, and because it was so late, she went ahead and dressed for bed in a pale pink tank top and matching knit shorts. Afterward, she walked barefoot into the other room to see if Olivia had finished her shower yet.

Natalia saw her standing on the balcony, hanging onto the railing as she looked toward the sea. Olivia was wearing pale blue pajamas, and Natalia could see her hair being riffled by what must be a light breeze. She walked up behind her and slipped her arms around her waist.

"You smell good," Olivia said, putting her arms over Natalia’s as she leaned back against her.

"So do you."

"Feeling sleepy yet?"

"No, are you?"

"No," Olivia said, turning around in her arms to face her. "I’m feeling wide awake for some reason, despite the hour. Maybe my internal clock somehow reset itself to local time."

"Or maybe it was that nap?"

"Well, yeah," Olivia said with a laugh. "I guess that helped. Did you manage to sleep?"

"I did for a little while. I was surprised because I usually don’t take naps."

"It’s probably the time change. It screws with your sleep patterns."

"Are you hungry? We still have all that picnic food."

"I had a little snack after my shower, before I lay down for my nap, so I’m good. How about you?"

"I’m fine. Do you know what time tomorrow’s seminar is?"

"I think it’s scheduled for midmorning, so we won’t have to hustle as much as we did this morning to get there on time."

"I had such a great day, Olivia. Thank you for arranging such a wonderful afternoon. I’ll never forget today, not ever."

Olivia hugged her tight. "I’m glad. So ... what was your favorite part? Continental breakfast at the convention center? Technology seminar?"

Natalia laughed. "Well, the helicopter tour was incredible ... seeing everything from so high up, the ocean and the beaches and the volcanoes and the forests. Everything was so beautiful. No wonder so many people want to vacation in Hawaii. I loved the secluded beach and the swim in the natural pool, but my favorite part was being with you behind the waterfall. That was amazing."

"It really was, wasn’t it?"

"I’ll never forget that. In fact, even taking a shower just now reminded me of how that felt, standing there with you."

"Just standing there, huh?" Olivia tilted her head and grinned.

"Well, and ... uh ... other things."

"Like what?"

"Like ... like when you kissed me."

"That was a good part," Olivia said, kissing her briefly—and chastely—on the lips.

"And when you ... touched me."

"Yeah, loved that part, too," Olivia said softly. "I also loved seeing you in your bikini. You’re a major hottie."

Natalia blushed. She was very aware of how much Olivia liked her in her bikini. It had been more than obvious from how Olivia had looked at her. That expression in your eyes just turned my insides to jelly, Natalia thought. And she knew it wasn’t the first time Olivia had managed to do that.

"I’m thinking maybe we should make it a rule you have to wear that the rest of the time we’re here," Olivia said.

Natalia laughed. "I don’t think they’d like that at the convention center tomorrow."

"Oh, that’s right. I forgot about the seminar. Okay, you don’t have to wear it there, but not because they wouldn’t like it. They’d like it way too much, and I’d just exhaust myself trying to beat all those guys off you."

"As I recall, you were having to beat them off of yourself yesterday. How many dinner invitations did you get anyway?"

"Oh, I don’t think we need to get into that."

Natalia eyed her suspiciously. "That makes me think you got more than the four I actually heard myself."

"Maybe."

"Tell me."

"Let’s just say I got ... several ... invitations," Olivia said. "And they weren’t all for dinner," she added with a mischievous grin.

"What ... they asked you out for ... lunch, too?"

"No, a few offered me their room keys."

"Why would they—"

Olivia abruptly grabbed Natalia for another hug. "You’re just so adorable," she said. "They wanted to give me their room keys because they wanted to skip dinner and go right to bed."

"You mean ..."

"Yes, that’s exactly what I mean."

"Some complete stranger actually asked you to have ... sex?"

"There were three, actually.

"Three men asked you to have sex?" Natalia sputtered.

"Well, there were two men."

"I thought you said there were three."

"Three strangers. Two of them were men."

Natalia paused for a moment and then her eyes widened. "You got hit on by a woman?"

"Mm-hm. You sound so surprised. Just for the record, that wasn’t the first time a woman ever hit on me."

Natalia stepped back and stared at Olivia. In her mind, it was hard to understand how anyone would want to have sex with a total stranger, even though she knew some people did do that. However, when she looked at Olivia, she could see why someone would just want to be with her. She was not only beautiful, but she was also charismatic and exuded a kind of sexuality that naturally drew people to her. Certainly Natalia had learned about that first hand. "Are you talking about Angelica?"

Olivia leaned back against the balcony railing and crossed her arms. "I wasn’t thinking about anyone in particular."

You avoided the question, which makes me think maybe you were thinking about Angelica, or at the very least maybe Angelica did ask you out or something. "Did Angelica ever hit on you?"

"Uhm ... well ..."

"That sounds a lot like a yes."

"I guess maybe she did kind of ... one time."

"When was that?" Natalia tried to make herself stop asking questions. She realized she must sound jealous. Logically she knew she had no reason to feel that way. Olivia had not only told her more than once that she was in love with her, but her actions proved it over and over again. She’d saved her life during the bank robbery and she’d saved her from the sexual assault. Also, Natalia knew there was no telling what might have happened to her had Jacob been able to follow through on his threat to take her with him. Surely he wouldn’t have wanted to leave a witness who could identify him not only as a rapist and kidnapper, but also as one of the masked gunmen at the bank.

"Oh, it was a little while back," Olivia said.

"After you got out of the hospital?"

"Yes."

"So she hit on you right in the bar where she works?" Natalia noticed Olivia was looking at her with a bemused expression. Why can’t I stop asking questions? I sound like a prosecutor.

"No, it was in my room, actually."

"Your room at the Beacon?"

"Yes."

"What was she doing in your room?"

"Well, she came up to give me a massage."

"You called her for a massage? When was that?"

"No, Doris hired her to give me a massage and threatened her not to take ‘no’ for an answer. You know how intimidating Doris can be," Olivia said. "Anyway, as to when, it wasn’t long after what happened at the farmhouse. You’d told me you wanted some time alone. That’s why I didn’t mention it. We weren’t actually in communication at the time."

"I remember."

"Doris knew I was ... hurting after all that."

Natalia suddenly remembered how difficult it had been for Olivia to reach her gun on the top shelf in the closet, get down the stairs, and hold the gun straight out in front of her for such an extended period of time. It was obvious to Natalia at the time what a strain it was on her, so of course she had to be hurting after all that, especially on top of the physical trauma she’d already gone through getting shot and having surgery. And here I am giving you a hard time after everything you did for me. "Did Angelica help you?" she asked in a softer tone.

"Yes, actually, she was very talented, and she really helped me with some very bad muscle spasms. In fact, I told her we should talk about putting her on the hotel’s list of services if she wanted."

"I think that’s a good idea ... although ..."

"What?"

"You said she hit on you." Why am I feeling so jealous? This is ridiculous! Natalia had never experienced her own private little green-eyed monster, and she felt embarrassed about it, although that didn’t seem to help control this new and uncomfortable gnawing sensation in the pit of her stomach at the thought of someone—especially someone as beautiful as Angelica—going after Olivia. When Natalia first arrived in Springfield to find Nicky, he was with Harley, but she didn’t exactly feel jealous. She just felt her son was entitled to get the father he’d never had.

"Well, it was more like she made it clear if there was anything else I needed, she’d be happy to ... oblige," Olivia said. "During the massage, she was completely professional. It was only afterwards, when she was getting ready to leave, that she ... well, let’s just say she’s had a crush on me for a while and it seemed clear she’d be willing to help me out with any other ... aches I might have."

"I think she’s in love with you."

"No, I don’t think so. I hope not because I know how painful it can be to love someone who doesn’t love you back—or doesn’t want to love you back."

Natalia took Olivia’s hands and clasped them to her bosom. "That’s not where I am right now, Olivia."

"Okay, so where are you right now?"

Natalia felt a strange falling sensation, as though she were pitching forward into eyes that were currently deep bluish-green, like the gorgeous waters of the sea they’d flown over earlier. "Here with you," she finally said, "in love with you, wanting to make a life with you." She could see a subtle shift in Olivia’s eyes, that indescribable change from intense to smoldering, and she felt an answering response between her thighs.

******************************

For a brief moment Olivia thought Natalia might be on the verge of a major jealous fit. She’d had people do that with her before, but after the fairly brief interrogation—which, Olivia would have to admit, she found just a wee bit amusing and quite a bit endearing—Natalia had seemed content. However, Olivia found this new topic of conversation much more interesting. She was aware she couldn’t hold out much longer on the sexual front, but at least it seemed as though Natalia had traveled light-years down that path in just the last few days.

You still haven’t given me any indication, though, Olivia thought. There’s been no word, no sign, nothing. I wish I knew what you were thinking. If you wanted to be with me even half as much as I want to be with you, we’d be naked right now and you’d be finding out all about how wonderful sex with the right person can be—and believe, I am that right person.

"Olivia?"

"What? Uhm ... I’m listening."

"You seemed so far away."

"I’m right here." Olivia kissed Natalia’s hand and pulled her own away. "Would you like anything to drink?" she asked, already on her way back into the common area of their two-room suite.

"Yes, let me get you something," Natalia said. She headed directly toward the mini fridge. "Let’s see ... there’s bottled water, and we still have fruit juice left from the picnic."

"There should be something stronger in the minibar."

"You want something alcoholic?"

Dear god yes! "Mm-hm, might help me relax."

"You’re not relaxed?"

God no! "Not really." There’s something about living in a state of constant arousal with absolutely NO freakin’ relief that gets a person a wee bit ... TENSE.

"Well, there are some little bottles of different kinds of alcohol, and I see some cans of coke."

"Aha! I bet that means there’s a bottle of rum in there."

"Yes, I see one."

"Okay, I’m thinking rum and coke. Care to join me?"

"No, but I’ll fix one for you. Do you want ice?"

"Yes, and heavy on the rum." I see that little frown. You think I’m going to get plastered. Well ... hey, you know what? That’s not a half bad idea.

Natalia poured a healthy measure of coke into a glass of ice and added about a third of the small bottle of rum. When she handed it to Olivia, she took a sip and then picked up the bottle of rum and poured the rest in.

"Now that’s more like it," Olivia said. "If this doesn’t relax me, I don’t know what would." Well, actually, I do know, now that I think about it, but since we’re going so goddamned slow glaciers are passing us by, I’m guessing I better go with this little liquid Plan B.

Olivia set her glass on a coaster on the coffee table and plopped down on the large burnt orange sofa. She loved the tropical decor of the room and the various plants, especially the brightly colored anthurium and the vibrantly green philodendron.

"Maybe I can help you relax," Natalia said.

Oh, don’t I wish. "I doubt it." ‘Cause, you know, going slow apparently means jump into a giant vat of molasses and "race" to the edge. That’ll take some serious time.

"I could rub your shoulders," Natalia said, sitting beside Olivia on the couch.

Whoa, I don’t think I can stand for you to touch me and not want to just drag you off to bed. "That’s okay— Hey, what are you doing?"

"Turn around," Natalia said, tugging on Olivia in an effort to get her sitting sideways on the couch so she could reach her back.

They wrestled for a bit, with Olivia working to disentangle her arms from Natalia’s grip, but finally she conceded because she could clearly see that Natalia was in determined mode. "Okay, fine," she said. Jeez, I know I probably sound kind of cranky, but I’m so sexually frustrated right now, I can barely function—and I’m also terrified of losing control and suddenly finding myself doing things I shouldn’t be doing. Does anybody get how freakin’ HARD this is for me?

Olivia could feel Natalia’s strong hands kneading her shoulders and upper back. God that feels good. The problem was it not only felt good to her muscles, but it was also getting her even more turned on than she already was—the feel of Natalia’s hands on her body and her breath on her neck, not to mention her close proximity. When Natalia moved from her back and shoulders to massage the muscles in her upper chest, Olivia panicked.

"Okay," Olivia said, pulling away from Natalia. "That was great. Thanks." It was getting too damned great. Do you really have no idea how much you turn me on and how much I want you? If you did, you’d stay clear right now—unfortunately.

"I’m not done yet."

Olivia laughed. "Oh, yes, you are. You are definitely done."

"Olivia ..."

"I think I should walk you to your room," Olivia said, pulling Natalia to her feet, "kiss you good night, and head off to bed."

"I thought you weren’t sleepy."

"Well, I may read the brochure on tomorrow’s seminar," she said as she led the way to Natalia’s door, tugging her along by the hand like a tugboat towing a ship through water to safe harbor.

"You’re going to read?"

"Uh ... maybe." Actually I’m going to rethink that whole decision not to relieve my sexual tension myself. I wanted to wait for you, but Jesus Christ, I don’t think I can make it another year or two. Seriously.

"I can’t believe you want to read."

"Who said anything about wanting to?" I just can’t stand here looking at you any longer in that tank top and those extremely short shorts without doing something very, very, very naughty.

"Olivia ..."

Olivia drew her close and kissed her lightly on the lips. "Good night. I had a wonderful time with you today."

Before Natalia had a chance to reply, Olivia turned quickly and escaped to her room. As soon as she closed the door, she leaned back against it. Made it! I wasn’t sure for a while there. All I could think about was grabbing you and stripping you bare—and that was just for starters.

Olivia pushed off the door and headed toward the bed, but then stopped and stood uncertainly in the middle of the darkened room wrestling with twin desires. On the one hand, she’d decided awhile back she wanted to wait for Natalia, meaning no self-pleasuring! But on the other hand, her state of arousal was becoming harder to deal with and even a little painful. I could think about making love to you. That’d almost be the same as waiting for you, right? Of course, it would’ve been so much more fun and fulfilling if I’d waited, but— Aw, damn it, I just don’t know what to do.

She was startled by a soft knock on her door. "What?"

"May I come in?"

"Uh ... what’s wrong?" Olivia asked, opening the door.

"Nothing. Well ... that’s not entirely true."

Olivia opened the door wider. She was immediately concerned. Maybe Natalia was feeling ill. After all, it’d been a very long day, and time zone changes were always tricky if you were forced to adjust to local time to make it to business meetings, as they were doing. Or ... maybe she was having a delayed—and bad—reaction to what she’d found out about Angelica tonight. Christ, it’d suck to be in trouble for something I didn’t actually do. Sure, I might have thought about it for a nanosecond, but that doesn’t count, right? Especially when what I really wanted was to think about you.

"Come in," Olivia said. "Tell me what’s wrong."

Natalia stepped past the door and turned to face Olivia. "I don’t want to sleep alone tonight."

"You don’t want to sleep alone?" Christ, if you weren’t so literal minded, I’d think you were finally ready to make love, but knowing you, you actually mean you don’t want to SLEEP alone. This is just freakin’ great! Well, I can tell you one thing: I’m pretty sure I can’t handle it, not tonight.

"It’s more like I don’t want to be away from you."

Olivia began to massage her forehead. "Well, normally I’d say fine, hop into my bed. I mean, we’ve done that before, slept in the same bed, but to be honest with you ..." Olivia’s eyes drifted down Natalia’s body, as if to remind herself why this was a really, really, really BAD idea before she relented and said okay when she knew damn good and well she had NO business allowing Natalia into her bed when she felt like she was hanging onto any semblance of self-control by a most delicate slender thread.

"What?"

"To be honest, if you crawl into bed with me tonight, I just don’t think I can keep my hands off you."

Natalia gazed at her intently. "You won’t have to."

What?

******************************

Chapter 52

Natalia watched Olivia’s morphing facial expressions, which had gone from guarded to shocked to ... she’d have to say the current one was total disbelief. She thought she knew why Olivia seemed standoffish. Obviously she was trying to avoid too much physical contact, which was the opposite of how she normally behaved around her, but Natalia realized Olivia wanted to be with her so much, she was probably afraid her "bad girl" would come out and go further than she thought she should. What Olivia didn’t know was Natalia was in a similar state of extended arousal and no longer wanted her to stop.

"I don’t think you understand," Olivia finally said after a long moment of silence.

"I think I do," Natalia said.

"Don’t get me wrong," Olivia continued, obviously making an effort to sound calm and patient, not her forte when she was as agitated as she seemed to be right now. "I loved the times we slept in the same bed."

"Me too, but that’s not all ..."

"Okay, I loved cuddling and kissing, too; it’s just that I don’t think I could stop tonight, I really don’t, so I think it’d be better if you go back to your room and I’ll stay here in my room and everything will be all nice and hunky-dory."

"Olivia," Natalia said, taking a step toward her.

Olivia quickly moonwalked out of reach—but then bumped into the dresser, which brought a quick end to her escape route.

Natalia moved toward Olivia, slipped her arms around her and leaned against her, head on her shoulder. "I love you so much, Olivia."

Olivia stood with her arms hanging down at her sides, despite Natalia’s close proximity. "I love you, too. I just can’t do this anymore—or at least I don’t think I can do it right now. Maybe I’ll be in a better place tomorrow."

Natalia kissed the side of Olivia’s neck. She wasn’t surprised when Olivia’s arms suddenly wrapped around her, squeezing her tight against her body.

"You really shouldn’t do that," Olivia said.

"Why not?" Natalia put one hand on the back of Olivia’s head and pulled her down for a kiss, but their lips had barely touched when Olivia broke it off.

"Just because," Olivia said, trying to push her away. "Look, I’ll be honest—and I’ll try to make this as clear as I can. I am so turned on after today—after looking at you and touching you and kissing you—I literally don’t think I could stop myself at an appropriate place if we did anything more than talk right now."

"Olivia ..." Natalia tried to kiss her again, but Olivia stopped her and gently pushed her back. She could see Olivia’s eyes glittering and her chest rapidly rising and falling in time with her quickened breathing.

"Seriously, you need to stop," Olivia said in a low voice.

"Olivia, please ..."

Abruptly Olivia grabbed her and pulled her into a crushing embrace, and then she was kissing her and it was deep and sensual and so sexy it wrenched an immediate response from Natalia’s body. She could feel liquid heat gathering in copious quantities at the apex of her thighs, could feel a deep throb that had now become a familiar feature of life with Olivia, could feel her body desperately yearning for ... more.

Natalia almost cried with relief when she finally felt Olivia’s hands brazenly exploring her body, running down her back, cupping her buttocks to pull her closer, moving around to the front of her body. Her breath caught when Olivia stroked her hands firmly and slowly and deliberately over her breasts as she broke their kiss to look deep into her eyes, as though she wanted to see for herself the effect of her touch reflected in Natalia’s eyes.

One of Olivia’s hands glided lower, over her stomach and toward the achiest part of her body—and then just as abruptly as she’d begun, Olivia stopped and stepped back, breathing hard.

"Shit! I told you I couldn’t do this tonight. I barely have any self-control right now, so I’d suggest you leave before we go any further—further than you want to go."

"I don’t want to stop."

"What?"

"I don’t want to stop, Olivia. I mean ... to be honest, I don’t know exactly what to do, but I do know I don’t want to stop."

******************************

Oh my god ... I can’t believe it. "Are you sure?" Olivia asked. She was almost afraid to ask, but she’d gotten shot down one too many times, so she figured it would be better to find out for certain now before she got her hopes up too far.

"Yes, I’m sure."

Olivia looked at Natalia standing in the narrow swath of moonlight streaming through the doorway from the balcony of the outer room. She looked beautiful and sweet and innocent; in fact, she seemed virginal. Even though Olivia realized Natalia wasn’t technically a virgin, she knew in some ways that was exactly what she was—and now, at long last, it looked like she was finally ready to more fully explore the physical side of their love.

I’ve waited so long for you. A slideshow of images from her past with Natalia began to flip rapidly through her mind: Natalia annoyingly pretty when she was vying with her for Gus’s attention, Natalia angry and accusatory when she first saw Olivia after the transplant, Natalia determined and ever present during her convalescence, Natalia willing her to live, Natalia happily baking in her kitchen in the farmhouse—and somewhere along the line Natalia suddenly and irrevocably ensconced in her heart.

She could see a montage of every look, every kiss, every touch they’d ever shared, and now she felt overcome with joy and relief and a feverish excitement that the long and torturous wait was finally over—but she also felt nervous. I never feel nervous about sex. What the hell is my problem? She quickly realized it must be because she was so anxious for this to be a good experience for Natalia, someone for whom sex had mostly been a source of shame and guilt and most certainly not been something fun or particularly enjoyable. I want to change that. I love you so much, and I just want this to be good for you.

Olivia moved behind her and hugged her close, aware of how incredibly good it felt to press her body into Natalia’s back. "Promise me something," she whispered near her ear.

"Anything."

"If you want to stop for any reason, promise you’ll just tell me."

"Okay."

"I want you to promise, because I just couldn’t live with it if I thought you did anything just to please me and not because it was what you wanted to do." She was painfully aware of Natalia’s track record on this issue, and she didn’t want to end up as another statistic on her list of disappointing and regrettable sexual encounters.

"I promise."

Olivia kissed her shoulder while her hands began to slowly explore Natalia’s body. Natalia leaned back against Olivia and tipped her head back to rest on her shoulder. Olivia swept her hair to the side to leave her neck and shoulder bare, and then slowly ran her hands down her arms, over her stomach, and back up to cup her breasts. When Natalia gasped, her hands lingered right there, slowly caressing those sexy mounds of flesh as her lips trailed small kisses across her shoulder and up her neck. "So far so good?" she whispered.

"Very good," Natalia said softly. She turned in Olivia’s arms and touched her face lightly with her hand. "You look so beautiful standing here in the moonlight, Olivia. I love looking at you." She let her hand slide down Olivia’s neck and onto her upper chest. "And I love touching you." Her hand slid down over Olivia’s breast, where it lightly stroked her ample curves.

Somehow Natalia touching her like that was far more arousing than when anyone else had touched her there, and Olivia could feel her arousal searing through her body like a wildfire burning out of control. She tried to ignore her own aching need, though, because she didn’t want to rush through what she thought of as Natalia’s "first time."

Olivia took her face in both her hands and pulled her close for a kiss. It was a sweet kiss—loving, gentle, slow—and Olivia could feel Natalia leaning into it, leaning into her. She was overcome with feelings of love and tenderness, and she wanted nothing more than for everything to be right for this woman she loved more than her own life.

She slid her fingers under the bottom edge of Natalia’s tank top. "Maybe we could lose this?" On seeing Natalia’s nod, she slowly lifted the top off and tossed it onto the nearby dresser. Now her hands could touch bare skin, and it was a heady experience—all those silky planes and soft womanly curves now accessible to her hungry hands. "You’re so gorgeous," she whispered.

Natalia reached for the top button on Olivia’s pajama top, and for once Olivia didn’t try to stop her from unbuttoning it all the way down. Natalia slid it off her shoulders and down her arms, and then threw it on top of her tank top on the dresser, never taking her eyes off Olivia’s body. "I think maybe you’re the gorgeous one," she murmured as her hands lightly stroked the underside of Olivia’s breasts.

Olivia pulled her close and began to kiss her again, and this time, with bare skin pressed against bare skin, it felt electrifying, and she quickly coaxed Natalia’s lips to part so she could make the kiss more intimate. She loved the feel of her tongue inside Natalia’s mouth, free to explore and caress and elicit the trembling reaction in Natalia’s body that she could now feel vibrating through her own.

Kissing had never felt more sensual or more sexy or more visceral than it did with her, and Olivia was still amazed by her own conflagrant reaction to it. I never knew kissing could be this arousing till I kissed you. She could feel Natalia’s hands smoothing over the bare skin of her back, and it seemed like everywhere she touched sizzled with desire. "I could never get enough of you," Olivia said softly.

"I hope not."

"No worries." Olivia kissed her forehead, gently kissed her eyes, kissed her briefly on the mouth. "Still doing okay?"

"Very okay."

Thank you, Jesus! "Okay, come here then," Olivia said, taking Natalia’s hand and leading her toward the queen-size bed. She paused at the edge and leaned over to turn on the night-light in the base of the lamp, which cast a pale golden glow in the middle of the dark room. The light from the moon didn’t penetrate the room as far as the bed, and Olivia definitely wanted to see more than she could at the moment. "How’s that? Too much light?"

"No, it’s fine," Natalia said. "I want to see you, too, you know."

No, I didn’t know that, actually, Olivia thought with some surprise, but finding out has just gotten me even more turned on. She hooked her fingers inside the waistband of Natalia’s knit shorts. "Okay to get rid of these?"

"Yes."

"You sure?"

Natalia nodded, and Olivia slowly slid the shorts over womanly hips and down slender tan legs, pausing to allow Natalia to step out of them before tossing them toward the dresser. Now she was just wearing a pair of bikini-style pink panties with floral lace at the waistband. "Pretty," Olivia murmured as she trailed her fingers across the front of the delicate fabric.

"I think maybe we should get rid of these, too," Natalia said, reaching for Olivia’s pajama bottoms, which she slowly eased down. She knelt on the floor in front of Olivia as she pulled her pj’s the rest of the way off, and then wrapped her arms around her naked thighs and kissed the front of each one in turn, lips lingering over the soft skin. "Nice," she whispered.

Natalia was making Olivia feel so weak in the knees, she thought it was quite possible that if she didn’t sit or lie down soon, she might just collapse onto the plush carpeting. She pulled Natalia up and then turned down the covers on the bed; but before doing anything else, she drew Natalia into another kiss, and this time her hand slid down over the front of Natalia’s very feminine panties and slipped between her legs, where she gently pressed against flesh she knew had to be aching for attention.

She smiled when she heard Natalia’s gasp and felt her lean heavily into her, as though Olivia weren’t the only one having trouble standing up. Hearing and feeling her heated reaction inspired Olivia to linger there, rubbing her hand slowly over the silky texture of her panties until Natalia’s breathing became so labored, Olivia knew she was probably at the point she better lie down or fall down.

"One more thing," Olivia said.

"Mm?"

"Much as I love these," she said, sliding her fingers under the lace waistband of her panties, "I really think I’d love them even more over there." She tilted her head toward the dresser.

Natalia laughed. "Okay."

Olivia removed Natalia’s final article of clothing, which she threw in the general direction of the dresser, and finally she was able to look at her completely naked body. I knew you’d be gorgeous, but Jesus Christ, you just take my breath away. "So beautiful," she said softly, kissing her lightly on the mouth.

Natalia lay down first and Olivia quickly joined her.

"Aren’t you forgetting something?" Natalia asked.

"What?"

Natalia tugged on the waistband of Olivia’s panties.

"Ah, okay." Olivia quickly stripped them off and tossed them ... somewhere ... she wasn’t sure where. All she could think about was getting closer to Natalia, which she did immediately—and it felt amazing to stretch out over her, finally, skin to skin. She nuzzled her neck as her hand roamed down the side of her body, and then she began to kiss her in earnest, as though it were the first time and she were desperate to deepen the kiss in order to claim her mouth as her own. She could feel Natalia straining against her, trying to get even closer than they already were.

Olivia felt woozy from the combination of love and lust, and her body felt hot and vibrantly alive—but Natalia’s body ... her body felt amazing, and Olivia wanted nothing more than to touch her everywhere. She broke the kiss to more fully explore silky skin with her mouth, and she trailed hot wet kisses down her neck and over her upper chest. She was thrilled to finally have complete access to all of her, as she’d longed to have for what seemed like an eternity.

She lightly ran her hand along the side of one breast and then kissed the underside and all around the soft flesh, until finally she ran her tongue in slow circles around the center while Natalia clutched her tightly. Finally she drew the hardening tip into her mouth and sucked on it till it was even harder. Feeling the delicate flesh erecting in her mouth seemed like one of the most erotic things she’d ever experienced.

However, she wanted to make certain Natalia was still okay. Sometimes women changed their minds, and certainly Natalia had changed her mind more than once with her. Please dear god, don’t let her change her mind now. "So ... do you want me to stop?" she asked tentatively, looking into Natalia’s eyes.

"No!"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes!"

Thank you, Jesus. I could stop if I had to, but honestly, I think at this point it might kill me. "Okay, good, ‘cause I really don’t want to stop."

"Don’t want you to," Natalia panted.

Hm, I’m starting to think you’re fairly turned on, Olivia thought with an inward smile. Her mouth found Natalia’s other nipple, which was already beginning to harden. I bet I can help that along. Olivia’s tongue teased the turgid flesh while her fingers tugged gently at Natalia’s other peak to make sure it stayed aroused.

The sound of Natalia’s moan seemed to vibrate at her very core, causing the deep throb between her thighs to increase so much it made it difficult for her to maintain her relatively slow pace—and suddenly she didn’t particularly want to go slow anymore. She wanted to take Natalia to a place she was certain she’d never been before, and after such a long period of holding off, she no longer had patience with any kind of waiting.

Olivia moved her hand from Natalia’s breast to her stomach, but this time she didn’t stop. She let her hand slowly glide lower till she could finally slip it between her legs, where it encountered silky moist flesh. "This feels good," she murmured, aware that suddenly Natalia couldn’t seem to hold still. My god, you are so wet. If I had any doubts left about whether you were ready for this, I sure don’t have any now. You have no idea how many times I’ve imagined touching you like this and feeling the proof of your arousal on my fingers.

She explored the intricate terrain, paying close attention to every nuance of Natalia’s response. She couldn’t resist dipping into the source of all that liquid heat, and noted Natalia hugged her tighter when she did. She loved being inside her, loved feeling the velvety texture there, loved feeling Natalia’s reaction to her intimate foray.

But she wasn’t content with that. She wanted more, more of her, more of her spontaneous responses, so she deep-kissed her while her fingers were still inside her, marveling at how aroused the dual intimacy made her feel, and then she drew her fingers out and explored Natalia’s most private flesh until she found the one place that made her gasp and moan.

Olivia knew Natalia had to be close, very close, and she quickened the pace of her seductive caress while she watched Natalia’s face. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was slightly open, and Olivia could see the intensity of her response reflected there. Olivia kissed her briefly, as if to taste what she was feeling, and then she could feel Natalia’s body straining, writhing, growing tauter, until finally her body spasmed and she cried out and wrapped her arms around Olivia in a fierce hug, her face tucked into Olivia’s neck. Then her body abruptly relaxed and she simply lay quietly in Olivia’s arms while Olivia listened to her labored breathing and gently stroked her long, dark hair.

"Olivia," Natalia murmured after a long silence.

"You okay?"

"Oh my god, Olivia."

"Was that a yes?" I think that was a yes. It was a yes, wasn’t it?

"I never ..."

"I know."

"I mean I never even knew ..."

"I know."

"I never felt like that before."

"I sort of knew that ... or at least I guessed this would be ... uhm ... new."

"Completely new."

"And you feel okay, right?"

"Oh my god."

I’ll take that as a yes. Olivia felt happier than she could ever remember feeling. She’d made love to the woman she loved—at long last!—and she’d given her the first orgasm of her life. I don’t think anything could possibly top this—ever! "So is it safe to assume that was, uh ... good for you?

"Yes, very good. In fact, I think I practically saw fireworks."

"Kind of like the Fourth of July?"

Natalia smiled. "Yes, like that, only better."

Olivia grinned and kissed her on the forehead. "Well, it’s definitely cause for celebration, I’d say."

"Olivia?"

"Mm?"

Natalia shifted position so they were lying side by side facing each other. "That was really amazing."

"I’m glad."

"You’re amazing."

Olivia laughed. "Well, I’m glad you think so."

"I do, and I love you so much," Natalia said, leaning in for a kiss.

"Love you, too," Olivia said with a sigh. She closed her eyes, feeling a sense of contentment that was completely alien. Life felt downright perfect, something she sure as hell wasn’t used to.

"Olivia?"

"Mm?"

"I want you to feel as good as I do right now."

Olivia’s eyes snapped back open, and she found Natalia gazing at her intently.

******************************

Chapter 53

Natalia watched Olivia’s reaction to her comment. Why do you look so surprised? Surely you don’t still have the idea this is one-sided, do you? She was astounded by how Olivia had just made her feel. She’d never felt so loved or so cherished—and her explosive physical response to Olivia’s lovemaking was beyond her capacity to describe in mere words.

When she first found herself falling in love with Olivia, she was surprised; and then when she became aware of her intense physical attraction, she was downright shocked—and frightened. She’d certainly spent a great deal of time and effort trying to ignore her feelings, but at some point she just couldn’t maintain that concrete wall of denial any longer, and once it crumbled down around her, she’d been in a state of constant longing—longing to be near her, longing for her touch and her kisses.

Recently those feelings had become overwhelming, and she’d had to let go of her fears in order to pursue them. Ironically, Olivia was the one who’d become standoffish, and Natalia had had to work to convince her she was finally ready to explore what becoming sexual might mean for them. Thank god I did, Natalia thought, because being close to you like that was beyond amazing.

Thinking about the way Olivia had touched her and where she’d touched her and the way she herself had reacted still made her blush, but she could feel herself falling more in love with Olivia by the second. And now she wanted to make love to her, not just to reciprocate the pleasure Olivia had given her, but also because she craved that greater intimacy.

"Maybe you should just relax for a while," Olivia said. "There’s no need to rush into anything. In fact, there’s no need for you to do anything at all right now. I’m perfectly okay with waiting till you’re ready for ... anything else."

There you go again. You have no idea how much I want to hold you and touch you and make you feel the way you just made me feel. It’s my fault though. It’s totally my fault you don’t know. "Olivia," Natalia said. They were still lying side by side facing each other, and Natalia couldn’t resist reaching out and stroking Olivia’s cheek. "I am ready. I love holding you and touching you. I want to touch you."

"I ... I’m not sure if you ..."

"Olivia, stop! I know I spent so much time in denial about how I feel about you that it’s no wonder you still don’t realize how much I ... want you."

Natalia leaned toward her; Olivia met her halfway, and their kiss was sweet and gentle and steeped in their mutual love. Natalia found herself lost, as usual, in the sensuality of the intimate connection, but this time, for the first time, she wanted to be the one doing the exploring. She could feel her blood rushing hot and thick through her veins when she tentatively pressed her tongue against Olivia’s lips, seeking entrance. They readily parted, and finally she discovered the wonders of this new and exciting uncharted universe.

It was different being in the role of the aggressor, something completely outside her sphere of experience, but she quickly discovered how seductive and how arousing it could be. She had always been the one pursued, the one somebody else made love to, and now suddenly she had a startling epiphany: She herself had never actually made love to anyone in her life. She had simply submitted to someone else’s desires.

She had given herself to Nicky when he was a boy and again when he was a man, but it was always to please him for one reason or another. She’d ended up giving in to Frank because she felt grateful for how he’d helped her and Rafe and because she felt sorry for him in his grief over the loss of his brother.

The truth was she’d not only never wanted to make love to anyone, but it had never actually entered her mind—until now. Now she desperately wanted to make love to Olivia, to feel her response to her touch, to make her feel that combustive pleasure she herself had just experienced.

She could tell Olivia was as turned on as she was by their sudden role reversal as they kissed. Natalia had never even been curious about what it might feel like to be the aggressor in a kiss, to feel her tongue in someone else’s mouth—until now. Now she was discovering how thrilling it was to kiss Olivia like this, and Olivia’s heated response made it that much more exciting.

When she finally drew back, she was surprised to find that somehow she was now lying on top of Olivia. She wasn’t even aware she’d moved. She was only aware of wanting to get closer to her. And now she’d discovered one more new thing: It felt amazing to lie on top of Olivia and feel her voluptuous curves beneath her. She’d never felt that before, that raw sensuality that came from lying naked with the person you loved.

"I love this," Natalia murmured as her lips sought out the hollow of Olivia’s neck and one hand caressed her cheek.

"Mmph ..."

"I think you just agreed. Did you just agree?" I think I can tell how much you like this. I hope I can.

"Mm-hm." Olivia’s hands were busy gliding over the soft planes of Natalia’s back, moving slowly and sensuously as if memorizing every centimeter.

Natalia glanced up at Olivia’s face and noticed her eyes were closed and her lips were slightly parted, but best of all her face showed definite signs of how much she was enjoying being kissed and touched like this.

Natalia shifted her body slightly to allow herself room to run her hand over Olivia’s upper chest, massaging the muscles there firmly before lightening her touch as her hand skimmed over Olivia’s breast. Based on the tiny bit of experience Olivia had allowed, Natalia already knew her breasts must be very sensitive, so she felt as though she had some idea of just how arousing it must be for them to be touched. She knew she found it arousing—another new and surprising revelation. She was getting turned on touching another woman’s breasts. Not just any woman, though, she thought. Only you. It wasn’t that Olivia was or was not a woman; it was that she was Olivia.

At first Natalia kept her touch light, fingertips stroking over soft flesh. She could feel Olivia’s heightened response in her restless movements, could hear her begin to make soft sounds deep in her throat—sounds that seemed to vibrate through her own body, setting off tremors that traveled all the way down to flesh that was now aching again.

"You have such beautiful breasts," Natalia whispered. They were perfect and they were sexy and clearly they loved to be touched—and Natalia was discovering how much she wanted to touch them. She’d tried before, as they had become more intimate, but Olivia had always made her stop almost as soon as she touched her there. I think I know why. I think this gets you really, really turned on and you just didn’t want me doing that to you before.

Natalia loved her nipples, which were very pale pink and so exquisite they just cried out to be tasted, like some delicious sugary confection you might find in a candy store. She swirled her tongue around one, eliciting a gasp from Olivia that she could feel in her own nether muscles. Feeling the pink tip go from soft to hard under the tender ministrations of her oral caress both thrilled and titillated, and she was sure she’d never find anything quite as erotic as this.

Reluctantly she let go, kissing it gently one last time before seeking out its twin, which she knew would be in similar need of attention. She was more aggressive this time, drawing the tiny nub into her mouth and sucking on it till she forced it to quickly stand at full attention, all the while noting Olivia’s writhing response.

"Are you okay?" Natalia asked, fairly confident of a positive response.

"God yes!"

She could hear Olivia panting now, could feel her body moving uncontrollably, could feel her heart beating hard in her chest. After seeing Olivia’s feverish reaction to her more aggressive approach, she returned to her other breast and sucked more firmly on the already erect flesh there until it was even stiffer and Olivia’s restless hands were stilled over her back and simply gripping her tightly. I was right about how extra sensitive your breasts are, wasn’t I?

Olivia now seemed agitated, so Natalia decided it was probably time to explore further. Cautiously she slid a hand between Olivia’s thighs and cupped her sex, which felt velvety and wet—very wet, she realized, because Olivia was so turned on. It also suddenly struck her that she’d never even touched herself this way, so Olivia’s was the first woman’s body she’d explored like this. She tentatively stroked her hand over this new and complex landscape, thrilling to the sound of Olivia’s moans and the fitful movements of her luscious body.

"It’s okay to tell me what you like ... what you want," Natalia whispered, looking at Olivia’s face. Her eyes were still closed and her face looked rigid with concentration.

"Feels good," Olivia gasped. "Feels so good when you touch me like that."

Reassured, Natalia explored more fully, noting where Olivia responded with greater enthusiasm. She was surprised at her own innate ability to feel what Olivia was feeling, and the knowledge made her feel more confident. Finally she found a place that made her head tip back, and suddenly she felt Olivia’s hand clasp her wrist.

"There, right there," Olivia panted.

Natalia concentrated her efforts right there, fascinated by the changes she saw and felt going on with Olivia’s beautiful body.

"So close ... I’m so close ..."

Natalia stroked her intimate flesh more firmly and then suddenly captured a pale nipple in her mouth and sucked on it hard—and almost immediately she felt Olivia’s body jerk and hold completely still, as though suspended in time and space, and then Olivia groaned and wrapped her arms around Natalia in a fierce hug, rolling over so they were lying on their sides facing each other again.

"Did you ..."

"Yes," Olivia breathed.

Natalia could see her eyes were still closed.

"Was it ... okay?"

"Better than okay," Olivia said, finally opening her eyes, which Natalia noted looked unfocused.

"I wasn’t sure."

"Trust me."

"I’ve just never ... well, I’ve never made love to anyone. I mean ... I know I’m inexperienced ..."

"You know what?" Olivia said, cupping her face. "It’s not the experience that counts. It’s who you are."

"I just want you to be happy."

"Oh my god, Natalia. I’ve never been happier in my entire life."

"Really?"

"Really! That was the best sexual experience of my life."

"Okay, now, I just don’t believe that," Natalia said with a laugh.

Olivia looked at her and then kissed her slowly. "You should believe me," she said quietly after she finally broke the kiss, "because it’s the god’s honest truth."

Natalia studied her face. "I think you might be serious."

"I’m very serious," Olivia said. "You have no idea how much it affected me—how much it turned me on—knowing you wanted me."

"I do want you."

"In a way, that’s kind of new information for me."

"I know I haven’t shown you. It’s just been fairly recently that I became aware myself of just how much."

"Well, thank god we got to this point," Olivia said with a grin. "And just think of all the things we can do together now."

"Things we can do together? Do you mean, uh ... these kinds of things?" I’m not really sure what you mean.

"Yes, I mean ‘these kinds of things.’"

Natalia could feel Olivia’s impish grin all the way "down there." "You mean ... there’s more?"

"Well, let’s just say I have lots of ideas."

"Like what?"

"Like ... some things are better demonstrated than talked about, so one day soon maybe we’ll just have to explore some of that—if you want."

Natalia’s deep achy throb came back in full force.

******************************

Chapter 54

Olivia grinned. She had plenty of ideas for what she’d like to do with a certain sexy someone who was now gazing at her with a wide-eyed expression of wonder. She knew Natalia still didn’t really believe her when she said this was the best sex she’d ever had, but it was true. Sure, she’d been with some very experienced lovers, but she’d just discovered being in love landed things in a whole other ballpark. Speaking of which ...

"So ... how are you feeling about baseball now that you’ve scored a home run?"

Natalia blushed. "I love baseball," she whispered.

"Oh really?" Olivia loved seeing those pink cheeks and that quick flash of dimples before Natalia buried her face in Olivia’s neck. Good lord, you can still get embarrassed. You are so adorable. "Well, we’ll have to get you back up at bat again sometime soon."

Natalia shivered and snuggled closer.

"Are you cold?"

"Not really."

Olivia pulled the sheet up over them and wrapped her arms around Natalia again. It felt like she’d waited forever for this moment, for when they were finally lovers. Even the term "lovers" sent shivers down her spine. We’ve finally become lovers, and I’ve never been happier. She could feel Natalia relaxing into her embrace and realized she must be falling asleep. She thought about the other times they’d slept in the same bed—fully clothed, lying on opposite sides of her queen-size mattress at the Beacon. Even when they’d somehow ended up moving closer in the night, once they woke up, the closeness was over. Now she could finally hold Natalia in her arms all night and look forward to waking up with her in the morning.

The slow and even tempo of Natalia’s breathing told Olivia she’d finally fallen asleep, and soon Olivia followed suit—and this time her dreams were not about the more willing carbon copy of the beautiful latina who used to invade her dreams to make her every fantasy come true; they were about Natalia herself—the sweet, real-life, flesh-and-blood woman who’d finally trusted her enough to allow her full access to her heart and body.

When Olivia woke the next morning, she felt deeply rested and very groggy, though not too groggy to remember the bliss from the night before. How many times had she awakened still clinging to the memories of a sexy dream like that? God, I hope that wasn’t a dream, she thought, suddenly panicked. Okay, all I have to do is open my eyes, and then I’ll see her and know it really happened.

She slowly pried her eyes open. It took some effort since she wasn’t a morning person, but she finally managed to look blearily around her. Oh god, you’re not here. She lifted the sheet and looked down at her body. Yep, naked. That’s a good sign last night wasn’t a dream, right? She sat up on the edge of the bed and looked toward the dresser. Nothing pink over there. Shit! Did I just strip down all by myself and— Now wait, I’m sure I decided not to do that because I wanted to wait for her more than I wanted to relieve my ... little problem.

She began to rub the bridge of her nose, fighting the panic that threatened to overwhelm her, but the more she thought about it, the more certain she was that they’d made love right here in her bed. What if last night was real and you’re not here because ... because you regret it? The thought that her greatest fear about their relationship might have come true sent an icy shiver down her spine, and she could feel hot tears begin to well up in her eyes. Damn it, I am not going to cry. This is ridiculous. Come on now, Spencer. Get a grip. She’s probably right there in the bathroom.

She headed toward the bathroom and knocked on the door, hoping to hear a sleepy voice answer back. Nothing. Damn. She decided to go ahead and take a hot shower in hopes it would help her calm down, but the nagging doubts clung to her skin like prickly and painful burrs that she couldn’t scrub off.

Could life be this cruel? Could I finally have gotten what I wanted only to have it snatched away again? That’s worse than never having it at all. She stepped out of the shower and slowly dried herself off. Her body felt wonderful after such a deep and peaceful sleep, but her heart was aching at the thought she might have already lost Natalia—just when they’d finally found their way to each other.

She dressed quickly, choosing casual clothes since she was still on Springfield time and it was way too early to think about getting ready for the morning seminar. She walked slowly to the bedroom door and grasped the handle, but her hand lingered there without moving. I need to try to think clearly and not jump to the worst possible conclusion just because of my disastrous past. You’re probably right outside here making coffee or straightening up the room or something, and this is just my own personal paranoia trying to screw with my head.

Olivia turned the handle, but then let it go again, dropping her arm to her side as she stared at the door. What if you’re not even here in the suite? What if you already left? You wouldn’t just leave without telling me, would you? Surely not. Or ... maybe you left me a note. Yeah, that’s what you’d do. You’d leave me a note. "Olivia, so sorry. Just can’t handle this. Am leaving. Be sure to eat something. Natalia."

Olivia realized how irrational her thoughts were, but it was hard to shake them off when she had a lifetime of disappointments fueling them. She knew she needed to face them—or perhaps deal with the reality that her worst fear had, in fact, come true—so she took a deep breath and finally turned the brass doorknob, dreading what might be waiting for her in the outer room. Her eyes quickly surveyed the area. No sign of Natalia. Maybe there’s a note. She looked on the countertop first. No note there. She checked the coffee table. Damn it! I can’t believe you left without at least leaving me a damn note!

She looked toward the door of Natalia’s room. Okay, you’re probably in there. I need to quit acting like a crazy person and calm the hell down. She slowly approached the door, but stopped a few feet away as fear jostled with reason for control of her emotions. I know it’s empty in there and I just can’t bear to look at it right now. She started to take a step back. No, damn it, I have to find out. I’m going to knock and she’s going to answer.

Olivia tapped lightly on the door and waited. Nothing. She knocked more forcefully. Nothing. Shit! Why did I think this would be any different than what’s happened before? Than what has always happened when I’ve cared about someone? It’s just that ... this time I was in love. She could feel the tears she’d held back earlier begin to trickle down her cheeks. It hurts so much more when you’re in love.

"Olivia?"

Olivia jerked and whirled around. "Oh my god!" she said, clutching her chest.

"I’m sorry. Did I startle you?" Natalia asked.

Olivia grabbed her and pulled her tight against her body. She could feel Natalia’s arms immediately wrap around her, and then she felt one hand reach up and stroke her hair. "I thought you left," Olivia whispered.

"Why would I leave?"

"I ... after last night ..."

Natalia drew back to look at her and began to stroke her thumbs over Olivia’s cheeks to wipe away the tears. "Olivia, I’d say after last night I have more reason to stay than ever."

"I thought maybe ..."

Natalia shook her head slowly. "You still think I might cut and run any minute, don’t you?"

"I ... when I woke up and saw the empty bed, I thought maybe you’d had second thoughts."

"Olivia, I’m in love with you. The only ‘second’ thoughts I had were all about reliving every second of last night again, not about leaving you."

"God, I’m so relieved you didn’t leave." See, Spencer? This is what happens when you open yourself up to someone emotionally. It makes you completely vulnerable, like you voluntarily ripped your heart out of your chest and handed it over to someone else to do with as they please.

She thought for a moment about backtracking, about holding her feelings in check, about protecting that achingly vulnerable inner self, but she quickly realized it was just too damned late. Natalia already held her heart in her hands.

******************************

At first Natalia was shocked Olivia’s first thought when she didn’t find her in bed the following morning was that she’d left, but then she realized it made perfect sense. She knew a lot about Olivia’s history. Despite how incredible she was, her life had been a series of crushing disappointments. In essence, it was all she’d ever known. Of course you’d be expecting the same now. How can I ever convince you I’m not going to run out on you? I guess it’ll just take time and understanding and patience, and I can do that. I’d do anything for you.

"Come here." Natalia took Olivia’s hand and led her to the couch, where she sat her down and then dropped down beside her, facing her, and took both her hands, which she held captive on her lap. For now I need to try to erase that worried look off your face at the very least.

"I’m sorry you thought I’d run out on you. I woke up and watched you sleeping for a while. You looked so beautiful and so peaceful. I didn’t want to wake you, so I went to my room and took a shower, and then I stood on the balcony and just watched the sea rolling in and out; it’s so hypnotic," Natalia said. "But Olivia, you need to know that I can’t even imagine my life anymore without you in it." She was relieved to see Olivia’s quick smile.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes. Before we ever came here, I thought about you all the time. I’ve been doing that for a long time now. It feels like my whole life revolves around you. I know we’ll have to face some ... challenges, but I want to do that ... with you."

Olivia sat quietly listening. "Okay, I just ... well, I guess I kind of panicked when it looked like you’d left."

"I understand. In fact, I think maybe I understand more than you realize. I know you’ve gone through some difficult times, Olivia, and you’ve had some major disappointments, but I promise you I’m not going to be the next big disappointment in your life."

Olivia pulled her hands back and crossed her arms. "You can’t promise that. There’s no way you can know that for sure."

You sound almost ... angry. "Yes, I can know that."

"How? How can you possibly know that?"

"Because I have faith."

Olivia shrugged. "So you have faith in God. Okay."

"No, faith in us."

"We haven’t even begun to face what lies ahead if we’re together."

"Olivia, there is no ‘if.’ We are together and we’re going to stay together."

"What if ..."

"It won’t matter."

"It’ll matter if the ‘what if’ is your son telling you he’ll never accept us. And believe me, I know if you have to choose—"

"Olivia, stop. I will never ‘choose’ between you and my son."

"What if ... what if he won’t have anything to do with you?"

"Even if Rafe has difficulty accepting us or maybe even never really accepts us as a couple, he loves me. He’ll never abandon me."

"You sound so sure."

"I am sure. I know my son."

"But we don’t even know yet how things are going to work out with his hearing, with Frank, with whatever judge hears his case."

"What do you mean ‘whatever’ judge? I thought Judge Walker was hearing his case."

"Uhm ..."

"Olivia, what did you do?"

"I might have talked with Doris about seeing if she could get a different judge."

"Oh my god. I can’t believe you did that."

"Hey, half her family works for the city. I figured she must have a cousin or a great aunt or somebody working at city hall who could just switch some names around," Olivia said. "But listen, even if we can get a judge that’s not on Frank’s speed dial, it’s no guarantee of the outcome."

"I know, but ... but you always try to help. How can I thank you for that?"

"No need. I’d do anything I could to help. I know Rafe is going to have a huge adjustment trying to get reintegrated into normal life, so I’d like to see an unbiased judge making decisions on his case. I’ll be honest, though. I think it’s very likely Frank will be there volunteering to be his male role model no matter who hears the case, and I believe most any judge would see one of Springfield’s ‘finest’ as an excellent choice for that." Olivia studied Natalia’s face."What are you thinking?"

"I’ve talked with God about this ... a lot. I just want what’s best for my son. If having Frank mentor him is for the best, then so be it. I think Frank genuinely cares what happens to Rafe, despite what happened between Frank and me. I still hope Rafe will come home to the farmhouse to live. I mean ... Frank could still be his mentor even if Rafe lived at home, right?"

"True."

"Speaking of the farmhouse ..."

"What?"

Natalia took Olivia’s hands again. "I still want you and Emma to come back home ... back home to the farmhouse." She held her breath, waiting anxiously for Olivia’s reaction. How can you say no, especially after last night?

"I’d love that, too, but I really think we should wait to see what happens with Rafe’s hearing. I wouldn’t want my presence at the farmhouse to influence anything."

"We don’t know that it would."

"Well, it might, and I don’t want to take that chance. Besides, I’m not your son’s favorite person, and he still doesn’t even know about us."

"I told him I was going to ask you and Emma to move back in, and he said he was glad because he knew how happy I was when you were there, and he said he’d be relieved I wasn’t living out there all by myself."

"Well, but I think maybe in his head he was expecting the worst for himself, which would be serving out his full year at the halfway house. If he can get an early release, it might change how he feels. And besides, like I said, he doesn’t know about us yet, and I think he could have a real problem with it."

Natalia sighed. "Okay, we can wait until after his hearing. That’s coming up not long after we get back home, but then I don’t think we should have to wait any longer to start our life together, do you?" Natalia watched Olivia’s face carefully to try to judge her reaction. I hope this helps you see how much I love you and how committed I am to you.

******************************

Olivia pulled her into a hug. I hope to god we don’t have to wait. I pray we really can have a life together, but ... She knew Natalia loved her. She had no doubt about that. What she did doubt was whether Natalia would be able to choose a life with her if everyone else around them condemned them or shunned them, especially her son, no matter how certain Natalia sounded right now. She tried to convince herself to have faith, but that one little doubt was like a poison dart that had pierced her heart and was even now seeping its toxin into her blood system.

"Olivia?"

"Yeah?"

"Does that sound good?"

"Sure, no waiting after the hearing. Right." God, I wish I had your simple faith that everything was going to be all right, but you know what? I just don’t.

******************************

Natalia watched as Olivia’s sea-green eyes drifted away from her steady gaze. Olivia, you’re not fooling me one little bit. You’re still afraid I’m going to leave you, like everyone else in your life has, but I won’t do that.

Natalia wasn’t angry. She wasn’t surprised. She was just sad—sad that Olivia’s heart had taken such a beating in life that she couldn’t muster the faith to believe in their love. It’s okay, though. I have enough faith for both of us. I can be patient and I can reassure you as many times as you need reassuring, and I swear I will always do that. I’ll do that over and over until you finally see that you can trust in me and my love for you.

Abruptly Natalia stood up. "Come on," she said, holding her hand out to Olivia.

"Uhm ... where are we going?"

"Out."

"Out where? Our internal clocks may say it’s eight, but it’s only three in the morning local time, so not much going on out there, I’m sure."

"I believe you promised me a stroll on the beach."

Olivia grinned. "So I did. And you’d like to do that now?"

"Yes, now. Have you looked outside? It’s beautiful out there. From up here the water looks amazing in the moonlight." And I think we need to pull you out of your current mood and remind you how good life can be.

******************************

They took an elevator down to the ground floor of The Ilikai and walked through the open-air lobby to the quiet courtyard, which led to a pathway heading directly to the beach of the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. They could see the original monkeypod tree planted by Duke Kahanamoku and famous Hawaiian financier Chinn Ho. They could also see the ocean, dark and mysterious and shimmering under the moonlight as it continued to send waves rippling endlessly toward the sand. During the day the beach was usually brimming with people and beach umbrellas and the ocean was filled with sailing boats and surfboarders, but right now it looked relatively quiet.

I hope it stays quiet, Olivia thought, because I want you all to myself. It felt good to be outside in the cool morning breeze blowing off the sea, carrying with it the briny scent of water from the saltwater lagoon that mingled with the vegetation of the area, which included native Hawaiian flowers and plants and coconut trees.

"Was he a real duke?" Natalia asked, pointing toward the bronze statue of Kahanamoku standing in front of a surfboard.

"No, that was his given name."

"Well, I figured he must be important if they named the beach after him and put up a statue in his honor."

"He was a famous surfboarder and world champion swimmer."

"Really?"

"Yep, in fact, he won several Olympic medals in swimming, at least three gold, I think," Olivia said. "And he’s known as the father of modern surfing. By the way, they give surfing lessons here if you’d like to give that a try."

Natalia laughed. "Surfing? I don’t think so. I don’t think I could ever manage to maintain my balance on one of those things. So how do you know all this anyway?" she asked. "Oh wait. Don’t tell me. It was all that Internet research, right?"

"That’s right, and it’s a good thing, too."

"Why?"

"Because I found out there’s a live webcam right in front of that statue. You can see most of this area of the beach right from your computer."

"You’re kidding!"

"Nope."

"Well, I don’t see why that’d be a problem."

"And it’s not going to be since we know it’s there."

"I still don’t understand ..."

Olivia stopped and hugged Natalia to her, then whispered in her ear. "I can’t go too much longer without kissing you, and I don’t especially want people all over the world watching us on their computers."

"I, uh ..." Natalia blushed and looked around, searching for the camera.

"So even though so far I don’t see any other people out at this hour of the morning," Olivia said, scanning the area, "we still need to find a secluded spot—and soon."

 

As soon as they reached the edge of the water, they both slipped off their sandals and strolled barefoot over the sand as the playful waves nipped at their bare feet. Olivia thought Natalia looked gorgeous in the pale light of the moon, and she certainly looked happy. They continued down the beach further away from the statue and its all-seeing webcam until they reached a stand of coconut palms far enough away Olivia thought it’d be safe to steal a kiss.

"This looks good," she said softly as she pulled Natalia to her. She kissed her lightly and drew back to simply gaze into her eyes.

"I love being with you," Natalia said. "I could be anywhere in the world, and I’d be happy if you were there with me."

"Does that mean I won’t have to take you to Hawaii to get another ... kiss?"

Natalia shook her head.

Olivia cupped Natalia’s face in her hands and kissed her again, slowly, aware of the sounds and the scents of the sea. She could feel Natalia’s body melting into hers, could feel her own body heating up amazingly fast. She wanted to make love to her right there under the coconut trees on the beach. If only we could, she thought. I know we can’t do that right here, but ...

Olivia let one hand drift down to cover Natalia’s breast as she deepened their kiss. I could never get enough of this, of you. She could feel Natalia responding to her touch, to her kiss, to the close press of their bodies. She remembered what it was like to hold her naked and desperately wanted that again, wanted all of her, wanted to make love to her till she couldn’t remember anything but the wonder of being together. When she held Natalia like this and kissed her and felt her ready response, she almost could really believe everything would work out for the two of them and the life they wanted to carve out together.

"Ready to go back to the room?" Olivia asked.

"Yes," Natalia breathed.

Olivia slid her hand between Natalia’s thighs and pressed against her tender flesh. "I don’t mean to sleep."

Natalia gasped and leaned heavily against her. "I know."

Olivia kissed her one last time and then caught her hand and began leading her purposefully toward The Ilikai.

******************************

Chapter 55

Natalia was oblivious to the doorman and the desk clerk as they walked hand in hand through the lobby to the elevator. As soon as the doors slid shut, Olivia kissed her again, taking her breath away as she pressed her against the wall with her body. Her heart was beating so hard by the time they made it into their suite, she could practically hear its liquid cadence pounding out an announcement about the depth of her arousal.

Olivia caught her hand and led her directly to her bedroom and her bed, where without a word she quickly began removing Natalia’s clothes, tossing them haphazardly off to the side, as though impatient to be rid of them. This was not the slow, cautious, hesitant approach from last night. This was fast and heated and driven, and Natalia felt even more wildly aroused than she’d been the night before.

Once Olivia had stripped her naked, Natalia reached to unbutton Olivia’s top. Her hands were trembling and her fingers felt uncharacteristically awkward, but somehow she managed to get them all undone. As soon as she slipped the last button through its slit, Olivia whipped off her shirt and threw it, and then quickly reached behind and unfastened her bra, which Natalia pulled off and let drop to the floor. Olivia rapidly removed the rest of her own clothing and pulled Natalia down on the bed with her, where she immediately began kissing her with abandon.

This was unlike any of the other times they’d kissed. Olivia was passionate and urgent and possessive, and Natalia found herself swept into the maelstrom of Olivia’s fierce desire. Everywhere Olivia touched her with her mouth or with her hands seemed to coax the slow burn she was already feeling over her entire body into a full-blown conflagration of need and love and lust. In a distant corner of her mind she had some awareness that for the first time she was experiencing Olivia "unleashed," as she had one time wished, and she found this Olivia inordinately exciting and completely irresistible.

Before she could think any further, Olivia broke their torrid kiss and began kissing her way down Natalia’s body—her neck, her shoulders, her breasts—and Natalia was no longer capable of coherent thought. Olivia was taking her somewhere she’d never been before, a place where there were no words and no thoughts, only emotion and physical sensation and such a profound sexual desire it astonished Natalia with the dichotomy of its searing simplicity and dizzying complexity.

She felt Olivia slide further down her body and spread wet, languid kisses across her midriff and her stomach, pausing to dip her tongue into her navel before she moved far enough down that she was actually kissing her right over the triangle at the apex of her thighs. Natalia could feel her body throbbing with need, aching for Olivia’s touch, and then suddenly Olivia was touching her, but she was touching her with her mouth—"down there"—and Natalia was shocked.

"Olivia, what are you—"

Her question was cut short when Olivia’s tongue found the most sensitive part of her body, and the immediate and excruciating pleasure of that oral caress radiated from her center and quickly permeated her entire body. She gripped the sheets at her sides as her hips began to rock in cadence with the movements of Olivia’s mouth. The incredible sensations intensified until finally her body snapped as taut as a bowstring and she was transported by the sheer ecstacy of her climax.

By the time Olivia slid back up to cradle her in her arms and kiss her tenderly, she was still unable to move or think clearly, although she was aware she was tasting herself on Olivia’s tongue, which served to magnify her already intense feelings of intimacy and arousal.

******************************

Olivia lightly stroked her fingers back and forth over Natalia’s skin—her cheek, her shoulder, her arm—while she listened with utter contentment to her labored breathing. I’ve wanted to do that for a long time. I’ve fantasized about what it might feel like and how you might react, but the reality was a much bigger turn-on than I could possibly have imagined.

She looked at Natalia’s face. Her eyes were still tightly closed and she was breathing through her mouth, still panting from the exertion her body had just experienced. I think maybe you liked it. I know I did. I think that’s the most intimate thing I’ve ever done with anyone—and the most arousing.

Natalia finally stirred in Olivia’s arms and turned toward her, snuggling her face in the crook of her shoulder. "Unbelievable," she murmured.

"Unbelievably good?"

Natalia nodded.

Olivia smiled. "Okay, just checking."

"I had no idea ..."

Believe me, I already knew you had no idea about things like that. Natalia’s innocence never failed to amaze her, but it also made her feel protective. Olivia tipped her face up and kissed her again, long and slow and sweet. "I loved that," she said afterwards. "I loved kissing you down there and tasting you like that. Feeling you come was just amazing."

"It was amazing for me."

Natalia dipped her head down to kiss the tip of Olivia’s breast, but Olivia quickly drew away. She kissed Natalia quickly on the lips and then got up.

"I have just enough time to take a quick shower before the seminar."

"Seminar?"

"Yeah, remember the conference?" Olivia asked with a laugh. "This is the other one of the two seminars I was most interested in. It’s on mobile technology and the travel industry, and I’d really like to attend that to get some ideas for the Beacon."

"But Olivia ..."

Olivia grinned. "I know, but ... gotta run." Actually I’d have more than enough time, but I don’t want you doing something you feel like you have to do, especially when you just found out about it a few minutes ago. I’d rather you have some time to ... think it over and then decide if that’s something you want to do.

Olivia was poignantly aware Natalia was neither as experienced nor as adventurous as she when it came to sex, and she really didn’t want to overwhelm her. She was just glad that apparently she hadn’t frightened her off just now with her unchecked libido.

"But Olivia ..."

"Look, why don’t you sleep in? You can come late to the seminar or not come, depending on how you’re feeling, okay? Meanwhile, I need to take a shower." Olivia gave a jaunty wave and walked toward the bathroom, still naked.

******************************

Natalia watched Olivia as she strode away from the bed. I think you’re the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen, she thought. She’d begun to understand what it meant to swoon, because just being around Olivia and looking at her had always tended to make her feel lightheaded and weak in the knees, but seeing her in all her glory as she walked across the carpet was just astonishingly powerful. She was stunning, like an Amazon warrior—brave, daring, and fearless—and Natalia knew without a doubt she was head over heels in love with her.

When she heard the water in the shower come on, she got up and walked to the bathroom, and then opened the door without knocking. She could see a distorted view of Olivia’s body through the frosted glass of the shower door. Olivia didn’t seem to have heard her enter over the noise of the water, so Natalia tapped lightly on the opaque barrier separating her from the woman she loved.

"Natalia? Is something wrong?" Olivia asked, peering at her in concern when the door slid open.

"Yes."

"What? What is it?"

Natalia could see Olivia looked worried. I just have to accept that for the time being you’re going to expect the worst. That’s okay. I can deal with it because I know you need me to and I understand why. You’ve been hurt too many times and you’ve lost all your trust, and now your feelings for me make you feel so vulnerable it’s scary. She stepped into the shower and stood behind Olivia, who was facing the showerhead, her body already coated with soap.

"I missed you," Natalia said.

Olivia laughed. "You had me worried."

Natalia wrapped her arms around Olivia’s waist and pulled her back against her body. She was acutely aware of her breasts pressing into Olivia’s back, and she knew Olivia would be, too.

"Hey, what’re you doing?" Olivia asked.

"Hugging you," Natalia said softly. She smoothed her hands over Olivia’s stomach and moved them up to cup her breasts. Her hands slid easily over Olivia’s well-lathered skin, and it added an extra layer of sensuality for her—and she hoped it did for Olivia as well.

"Oh god, wait ... you’re doing more than hugging."

"Mm-hm."

"I told you—" Olivia stopped abruptly and gasped when one of Natalia’s hands slid between her legs and rubbed sensuously over her sex.

"Hm? Didn’t catch that."

"S- seminar ..."

"I’ve seen the schedule, so I know there’s plenty of time," Natalia said. And you also need to learn you’re not in charge of everything, Olivia.

"But I ... I ... I have to ..."

Natalia turned Olivia around so she could push her back against the wall to the side of the showerhead, her hand still firmly ensconced between her legs. The warm stream of water had already washed away most of the soap by then, and Natalia couldn’t resist her beautiful breasts any longer. She’d discovered not only that Olivia’s breasts craved attention, but also that she herself found it very arousing to touch and kiss them till Olivia’s breath caught—as it was doing now as she sucked on one of her pale pink nipples.

She paused for a moment to glance up at Olivia’s face. "Have to what?" she asked, and then moved to the other pale peak and teased it with her tongue.

Olivia gasped. "Nothing ... nothing," she panted. Her hands were now gripping Natalia’s head as she lovingly tended to her aching breasts.

Natalia’s hand was busy sliding over the still soapy flesh between Olivia’s thighs. She knew she was in the right place when Olivia’s fingers suddenly dug into her shoulders and her head tipped back against the shower wall.

"Oh my god oh my god oh my—" Olivia gasped and went rigid, and then quickly grabbed Natalia’s wrist to still her movements. "Oh my god," she whispered one more time, falling back against the tiled wall of the shower as warm water continued to stream down her body.

Natalia was delighted with her little visit to Olivia’s shower. That went well, she thought. It was an incredible turn-on to give Olivia that kind of pleasure. In fact, it was addicting, and she knew in her heart it had become a need, like eating or drinking or breathing. Olivia was breathing hard, her mouth slightly open, and Natalia kissed her, slipping her tongue past her lips to experience that exquisite feeling of exploring her mouth. "I love you so much," she said quietly, breaking the kiss, and then she slid the door open and stepped out of the shower.

"Do you have to go?"

"We have a meeting to go to, remember? So I’m going to go get ready—and I think I should do that in my own room." She knew she’d better take a shower in her own bathroom because she could already tell there was no way Olivia was going to be able to keep her hands off her, not now, not after that. She grinned all the way back to her own room, her mind still filled with her last vision of Olivia standing there naked under the spray from the shower, breathing hard, green eyes gleaming as they watched her leave.

******************************

Oh my god. What the hell happened here? Okay, I know what happened. I’m just shocked. I’m shocked she would ... just come in here and do that. Shocked and ... okay, a little turned on. No, a whole lot turned on. See what you do to me? You come in here and turn me into a blithering idiot.

Olivia finished her shower and dressed quickly in a black pantsuit with a dark purple blouse. When she entered the common room of their suite, she was surprised to see Natalia there making coffee. She was wearing a navy skirt and blazer with a crisp white blouse, and Olivia thought she looked gorgeous.

"Would you like some coffee before we leave?"

"Yes, thanks. I take it you’re coming with me then?"

Natalia flashed a wide white smile and deep dimples, and Olivia instantly felt herself go weak in the knees. Wow, I am so not used to that feeling. Well, at least not till I met you anyway. I’ve felt this way around you plenty! But I have to tell you, after the last twenty-four hours, it’s gotten a whole lot worse.

Olivia was aware her fears had calmed, but had not entirely disappeared. Still, at least she felt confident of Natalia’s love. She was surprised but thrilled at her reaction to their relationship becoming sexual. She’d been concerned about that; in fact, she’d worried Natalia might continue to be conflicted about it, or maybe just reject it outright, but as far as Olivia could see, Natalia was not only not conflicted; she was downright enthused. Thank you, Jesus! Now if only we can get past all the other minefields waiting for us out there.

She’d told Ava about the two of them during their brief stopover in San Francisco, but they still needed to tell Emma and Rafe. She felt like her spunky little girl would take it in stride, but she was definitely worried about Rafe. She thought it likely he’d be upset, maybe even angry, and then how would Natalia react? How would she feel about their love and the idea of making a life together? And then, of course, there’d be everybody else, from Father Ray and the people at her church to the parents of Emma’s friends to everyone else they knew in Springfield. Just contemplating it all was making her a little dizzy.

Not gonna think about that right now, Olivia thought. Right now I’m happy. I’m in love and she loves me back. Life can’t get any better than that. She forcefully shoved any lingering doubts out of her mind and resolved to enjoy their remaining time together on the island.

"We have the afternoon and evening free," Olivia said as she accepted a mug of coffee from Natalia. "What would you like to do?"

"I’m not sure."

"Well, I thought we could go to the convention-sponsored luau this evening. It’s at Paradise Cove, and I thought that might be fun."

"I’d love to go to a luau!"

"Okay, good." Olivia grinned. She thought it would be a wonderful way to spend their last night in Hawaii. "This afternoon we could take a surfboarding lesson or go on one of the hiking or snorkeling or boat tours. I could even sign us up for the shark dive." Olivia laughed when she saw Natalia’s expression of alarm when she mentioned sharks. "Not the shark dive then, I’m guessing."

"No," Natalia laughed. "But you know what? I’d love to go on the snorkeling tour. I didn’t even know there was such a thing."

"Yep, there is. That was actually my first choice, too." ‘Cause you’ll be wearing your bikini, and there’s just something really extra sexy about seeing you in a bikini.

"I can hardly wait!"

"Me too," Olivia said, remembering the last time Natalia had worn her bikini. "But for now I guess we better get going."

"Okay," Natalia said. She grabbed her large purse and headed for the door.

"Not so fast," Olivia said, drawing her into a quick, though intimate kiss. "Okay, that’s better," she said softly when they finally broke apart. "Now we can go."

Natalia grinned and Olivia wondered how she was going to get through the morning seminar without kissing her right there in the midst of the mobile technology discussion.

Oh, well. At least we’ll have lots of things to look forward to later, she thought. Her eyes raked over Natalia as she stood by the door waiting. Lots of things.

******************************

Chapter 56

Natalia sat in the mobile technology seminar furiously scribbling in a small notebook. Olivia, on the other hand, just sat there listening. You’ll probably remember every word they said, too, but I have to take notes just to make sure I’ve got it. She admired Olivia’s intelligence and business acumen, as well as her ability to converse and relate to virtually anyone with whom she came in contact. She already seemed to know at least a few of the people attending the convention, and, of course, she was still attracting a certain amount of men who hovered around her like gnats lured by light, hoping to win her attention and perhaps a date for dinner. But that’s not all they want, Natalia thought, her pen now poised unmoving above her notebook. She felt a dual jolt of jealousy and pride—pride that Olivia had chosen her.

She could understand why Olivia drew so many people to her. Obviously she was beautiful, but it was more than that, Natalia realized. She was sexy. She was sensual. She was uninhibited. And somehow when you were around her, she just made you think erotic thoughts. I know it’s not just me, she thought, glancing around the room and spotting several of the men she’d heard ask Olivia out after the first seminar. Natalia knew men had certainly paid attention to her, as well, but she’d never generated the same level of interest Olivia did. And I can see why, she thought, briefly glancing sideways to peek at Olivia’s beautiful face in profile.

She glanced back down at her lap and the small page filled with her gently rounded handwriting, although she was no longer able to focus on what was written there. Looking at Olivia just now had made her remember their morning together—the walk on the beach in the moonlight, Olivia’s passionate lovemaking afterward, her little trip to Olivia’s shower—and she could feel that insistent ache throbbing between her thighs. The difference was she now understood what it was and what would fix it, and the knowledge made her pulse quicken and her cheeks heat up.

Suddenly Natalia could feel Olivia’s eyes on her, and she turned toward her.

"Having fun?" Olivia asked with a grin.

"Always," Natalia said, "when I’m with you."

"You seemed like you were deep in thought."

"I ..." Natalia looked around her. The small auditorium was nearly empty and the speaker was no longer at the podium. Clearly she’d zoned out during the last part of the seminar. "I ... uh ... I guess my mind wandered off." She was aware Olivia was watching her intently.

"So ... where did it wander off to?" Olivia asked with one raised brow.

Natalia blushed profusely and realized immediately that her reddening cheeks had probably just told Olivia exactly what she was thinking about.

"Mm-hm, that’s what I thought," Olivia said. She leaned closer, her mouth almost touching Natalia’s ear. "If there weren’t so many stragglers around," she whispered, "I’d kiss you right here."

Natalia squirmed restlessly on the deep cushion of the red cinema-style auditorium chair. She shook her head when she realized Olivia could clearly see her discomfiture. I can tell you’re enjoying this. Realizing how she must look, she abruptly started laughing and Olivia quickly joined her. "This is all so new," Natalia finally said.

"I realize, but you know what? It’s new for me, too."

"What? Olivia, I know this is so not new for you." She knew Olivia was very experienced. She certainly seemed completely at ease with all things sexual, unlike Natalia herself, who’d been so frightened and overwhelmed in the beginning she could barely bring herself to go there at all. She knew she could never have gone straight to ... well, home plate ... if Olivia hadn’t been patient and allowed her to finally experience a more normal—at least in her mind—and more slowly progressing dating situation as she imagined she might have gone through if her high school years hadn’t been cut short by an unplanned pregnancy.

"Yeah, it is new for me," Olivia responded. "I told you I’d never been with a woman before, but more importantly, I’d never been with you."

"But ..."

"Look, falling in love with you showed me I’d never really been in love before," Olivia continued, "and I can tell you that making love with someone you’re in love with is completely different. That’s very new for me."

"Do you think that’s why I never ... uh, you know ..."

"Why you never had an orgasm before?"

Natalia cleared her throat. She was still getting used to the very straightforward way Olivia talked about sex. "Uhm, yes. Do you think that’s why? Because I wasn’t really in love with Nicky? And of course we both know I sure wasn’t in love with Frank."

"Yes, I think that’s part of it."

"Only part?"

"Well, probably a big part, but it’s certainly possible to have satisfying sex even if you’re not in love. People do it all the time."

"Then why didn’t I ever get anywhere close to feeling like that ... like I do with you?"

Olivia looked at her quietly for a moment. "I think maybe because the times when you had sex, it was always for some reason other than feeling physically attracted to someone and wanting him in that way. If you’re not really attracted to someone, sex is just not going to work."

Natalia knew instantly she was right. "I just realized you’re the first person I’ve ever felt attracted to, Olivia."

Olivia hugged her then and whispered near her ear, "That makes me a very lucky woman."

"And the first person I’ve ever been in love with," Natalia said softly.

Olivia squeezed her tighter.

Natalia became aware someone had approached them and looked up to see two men in custom tailored suits standing in the aisle next to where they sat, watching them hug. They were good-looking men, probably in their thirties she guessed, and they were smiling down at them. She pulled away from Olivia, who then turned to see what she was looking at.

The taller man grinned at Olivia. "We were wondering if you two ladies might like to—"

"No, thanks," Olivia said with a smile. She stood up and took Natalia’s hand to pull her to her feet, but she kept a tight hold even after she was up.

Natalia could see the tall man try to amp up the charm with an even wider grin. Meanwhile his companion never took his eyes off her.

"Now wait. You don’t know what we had in mind," he continued.

Oh, I think she does, actually, Natalia thought as she watched him.

"Sorry, we already have plans," Olivia said with a grin.

"Well, maybe we could join you then," he said. "Wouldn’t it be more fun with a date?"

"I already have my date," Olivia said as she slipped her arm around Natalia’s waist.

Natalia could see a look of understanding pass between the two men, but it didn’t seem to discourage them. If anything, they looked even more interested than they’d been before.

"Are you sure?" the man asked. "Just think of the fun the four of us could have together."

Olivia laughed and stepped into the aisle, pulling Natalia with her and forcing the men to step aside and let them through. "Sorry to disappoint, guys, but we’re going to have way more fun just the two of us."

"I’m jealous," the second man said, looking at Natalia with regret.

"You should be," Olivia said. "You have no idea."

"I have some idea," he called after them as they headed for the exit.

Just as they were passing through the doorway, Natalia heard the first man say, "Damn, that was hot!"

Olivia chuckled and Natalia knew she must have heard him, too.

"Gosh, that was just too fun," Olivia said, holding her hand as they walked through the convention center.

"It doesn’t bother you to let them know about us like that?" Natalia asked.

"Not in the least. Why? Did it bother you," Olivia asked, stopping and turning toward her so she could see her face.

"Not really," Natalia said with a sudden grin. "I’m proud to be with you."

"Okay, that’s good. Now ... how would you like to be with me under the water?"

******************************

Olivia had already researched various types of activities available on the Big Island, so once she knew they were going snorkeling, picking a place was easy. She rented a silver Chrysler Sebring, and they set off for Kahaluu Beach Park, known as the best area for beginner snorkelers because the water was calm and sufficiently shallow to allow light to penetrate well enough to see clearly, and it was protected from the open sea by a jetty formed by a partially submerged rock wall. There was also supposedly an abundance of fish species there, so Olivia knew they should have no problem actually seeing what they were going there to see.

Fortunately there was ample parking, so she had no trouble finding a spot for the car. She’d also read that although there were no lockers available, there was a woman proprietor who’d store your belongings for a minimal fee. The park also had equipment rentals, two pavilions, food wagons, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and a lifeguard.

They left the parking lot and strolled toward the beach in search of the white canopy tents where Olivia had read they’d find the proprietor who could store their things. The beach itself was covered with salt-and-pepper colored sand and encircled by palm trees swaying in the breeze like giant feather dusters.

"This is so beautiful," Natalia said, gazing out over the bluish-green relatively tranquil waters.

"It’s everything they said it would be," Olivia said. "I read it’s fed by a freshwater spring, and there are supposed to be over a hundred species of fish here."

"Wow, that’s a lot."

"We should probably go ahead and leave our towels and outer clothing here," Olivia suggested. And I think this would be great time for you to strip down to your bikini. Natalia’s quick grin told her that her latina beauty probably realized what she was thinking. When Natalia removed her shirt, Olivia could see she was wearing a turquoise bikini.

"You look gorgeous in that color," Olivia said. Not to mention how good you look the less you’re wearing. She quickly shucked her own clothes, revealing her black bikini.

"I’m glad you like it," Natalia said. "I got it just for you," she added shyly.

"Excellent choice," Olivia said as she watched Natalia strip off her jeans. ‘Cause, oh my god, you just look incredibly sexy in a bikini. In fact, I’m thinking about changing Casual Fridays at the Beacon to Bikini Fridays.

As soon as they stored their belongings, they headed toward an equipment rental stand.

"Okay, I guess we need masks, snorkels, and flippers," Olivia said.

The man in the booth recommended renting reef shoes to wear to the water’s edge before exchanging them for flippers or buying neoprene dive socks to wear under them, since it was tricky walking barefoot over the entry areas, which were littered with rocks and pieces of washed-up coral. Olivia decided to get each of them a pair of the low-cut dive socks to make things as easy as possible.

"I read we should go left toward the breakwater first," Olivia said, "because there are supposed to be huge schools of fish there, and then we can circle around to the right and back to the beach."

"Sounds good," Natalia said. "I’ve always wanted to do this."

"So ... first time, right?"

"Yes."

"We’re hitting a lot of firsts for you on this trip." Olivia grinned at Natalia’s blush.

Natalia ducked her head and nodded.

Olivia had to leave her driver’s license and car keys along with money to pay for the snorkeling gear, but then they were finally ready to set off on their underwater adventure. "Okay, let’s go." She took off toward the beach with a big grin and a bounce in her step, and Natalia trailed along after her.

******************************

Natalia was not only excited about snorkeling, but she was also thrilled to see Olivia in such buoyant spirits, especially after her recent panic attack when she thought Natalia might have gone missing. Olivia exuded confidence and enthusiasm, and Natalia thought she looked like a goddess in her black bikini. She could almost feel sorry for the people who wanted her and could never have her. Almost.

Once they were in the water, they paddled around near the shore getting used to the mask and snorkel as well as floating on top of the water so they could watch the underwater world beneath them. Natalia had never worn any gear of this type before. The flippers in particular felt funny, but she was also amazed at how expertly they helped propel you along. She felt Olivia touch her arm, so she rose out of the water, which was only waist deep that near the shore, to see what she wanted.

"You comfortable enough now to head toward the breakwater?"

Natalia nodded and they both swam south along the shoreline. The only thing she could hear was the sound of bubbles, but she could already see a profusion of rainbow-colored fish of various sizes and shapes, some swimming slowly, some darting through the water, some scavenging along the rock and sand ocean floor, which sparkled as bands of shade and light rippled across its uneven surface.

Suddenly she saw a sea turtle swimming toward the shore on a perpendicular path to theirs, and in her excitement she grasped Olivia’s wrist to make sure she saw it. When she looked at her, she could see Olivia nodding and pointing. It was an incredible sight watching a creature that looked so ungainly flapping its flippers like wings to send itself gliding gracefully through the water.

The closer they got to the breakwater, the thicker became the schools of fish. They saw everything from the discoid moorish idol with its dramatic yellow, black, and white bands to the odd-looking polka-dotted puffer fish, plus tons of other species, including the convict tang, which really looked like it was wearing an old-fashioned black-and-white prison uniform; blue-striped snappers; ringtail surgeonfish, which sure enough had white rings around their dark tails; and the yellow and orange raccoon butterfly fish with black and white bands over their heads that clearly showed how they got their name.

Olivia touched her shoulder and pointed to a parrot fish, whose turquoise highlights matched the color of her bikini. She gave Olivia a thumbs-up to show she understood. She hoped she could remember the different species well enough that she could look them up online later and find out their names.

Once they began to circle back around toward the north, they found themselves alone in the water, far away from other snorkelers, and Natalia felt Olivia touch her arm again. This time when she turned toward her, Olivia pulled her close under the water and removed her mouthpiece, motioning for Natalia to do the same. As soon as she did, Olivia kissed her, right there under the water. It felt odd kissing like that beneath the surface of the sea, but Natalia found it arousing, as she did almost everything Olivia did. It was a short kiss, what with that entire oxygen issue, but it felt sexy and daring, just like Olivia.

They kissed again, this time standing up in the water with their masks pushed back. They were far enough out that the water came up to Natalia’s shoulders, unlike the shallower water near the shore. This time Olivia’s hands got frisky during the kiss, and Natalia could feel them sliding down her back to cup her behind and then one skimmed around her side to massage her breast. She wasn’t even astonished anymore at how rapidly and how much her body responded to Olivia’s touch. She was quickly learning that being around Olivia was to exist in a near-constant state of arousal. She loved having the freedom to run her hands over Olivia’s body, too, and took the opportunity to caress her voluptuous curves.

Olivia grinned at her when they finally broke apart, and then they continued their slow swim over the schools of brightly colored tropical fish till they finally made it back to the beach.

"That was so wonderful," Natalia said, grinning as they walked out of the water and onto the mix of white and black sand on the Kahaluu beach. "I can’t believe how tame the fish seemed, like we were just another type of underwater species."

"Yeah, I loved that. I wanted to hitch a ride on that sea turtle, but I know they’re a protected species, so I figured I better leave it alone."

"Well, I’d hate for you to get arrested for harassing a turtle," Natalia said.

Olivia laughed. "Yeah, really, especially when I’d rather ‘harass’ you."

They both laughed and hugged before heading toward the equipment rental booth to return their gear.

"This has been such a wonderful day," Natalia said.

"And just think—it’s not over yet."

"Oh, that’s right. We still have the luau."

"Yep, not to mention the rest of the night."

Natalia’s stomach flip-flopped when she saw Olivia’s smoldering look.

******************************

Chapter 57

Olivia stood on the balcony off the common room of their two-room suite at The Ilikai waiting for Natalia to finish getting ready for the luau at Paradise Cove. She’d wanted to wear something comfortable, so she’d dressed in dark blue jeans with a white shirt and denim vest.

As soon as they’d entered the room earlier, they’d turned to each other and hugged. Olivia felt an incredible sense of happiness and well-being after spending the afternoon snorkeling with Natalia, who’d looked stunning in her turquoise bikini. It was obvious how excited she’d been with their tour of the underwater tropical kingdom.

After they returned, though, Natalia had insisted they rest before the luau, meaning a nap and separate showers. Olivia was enamored with the idea of joint showering, but Natalia had pointed out if they did that, they would likely not get the naps they both needed what with the challenging five-hour time difference. Olivia had conceded, but not before she kissed her thoroughly just to remind her what she’d be missing.

Olivia closed her eyes and smiled as she remembered the parting kiss that had left them both breathless. Then she heard a noise behind her and turned to see Natalia fresh from her shower wearing a white crinkle skirt with matching white blouse and white sandals. Olivia could see the skirt swaying as Natalia walked across the plush carpet, and she noted with approval that she’d left enough buttons undone to show a very enticing view of deep cleavage. To Olivia she looked young and fresh and innocent, like a bride on her wedding day. My bride, she thought. She held her arms out and Natalia glided into them, tucking her face into the crook of Olivia’s neck.

"You look gorgeous in that," Olivia said. "You look so beautiful in white with your tan skin."

"You’re the one who’s beautiful," Natalia said with a sigh.

Olivia kissed her gently. Part of her wanted to scrap the whole luau idea and drag Natalia off to bed, but she knew she needed to exercise some self-restraint because she didn’t want her to miss out on one of Hawaii’s most exotic traditions.

"You ready to go? Paradise Cove provides transportation from different locations in Waikiki, but I hired a car to pick us up here. I just want to keep it simple," Olivia said. "It should be down there waiting for us, if you’re ready." I also wanted to keep you all to myself and not have to share you with a busload of people. Hey, what’s money for if you can’t use it to keep your woman all to yourself for the long ride up the coast?

"Okay, I’m ready."

Once they were sitting in the back of the limo, Olivia took Natalia’s hand and rested it on her lap. I like it much better just the two of us, Olivia thought, with plenty of privacy.

When the vehicle took off, Natalia squeezed Olivia’s hand to get her attention. "Olivia?"

"Mm?"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For bringing me with you to Hawaii."

"Well, you are my assistant after all."

"Oh, you know as well as I do that you didn’t really need me on this trip."

"You are so wrong," Olivia said, leaning her head against Natalia’s. "I do need you."

"I just want you to know how wonderful this has been. I’ve never done anything like this before."

"I know."

"My family was very strict when I was growing up; we never traveled or even took a vacation, and then later on ... well, you know about all that."

"I know you’ve spent your entire life working."

"I’ve just never had a real vacation like this. I know it was technically for work, but for me it’s been a vacation. I’ve never really traveled anywhere, except when I moved from Chicago to Springfield."

Olivia lifted Natalia’s hand to her lips and kissed it. "I’m glad we were able to do this together. It wouldn’t have been the same without you." She was acutely aware Natalia had lived a very hard life up to now, and she wanted nothing more than to inject some fun and adventure into what had been a rather austere existence. You deserve the best, she thought as she gazed at the sweet face looking up at her, and I want to give it to you.

******************************

By the time they arrived at Paradise Cove, the setting sun was so low on the horizon it turned the sky and water orange. The view of what truly did look like a paradise on earth took Natalia’s breath away—the lush manicured lawns bordering the white sand beach, the tall and slender coconut palms dancing in rhythm with the ocean breeze, the profusion of tropical flowers accessorizing the landscape.

"This is amazing," Natalia said.

"They have twelve acres and all of it’s oceanfront property."

Natalia grinned at the CEO’s executive summary of the resort area. She loved Olivia’s powerful businesswoman persona. "I never imagined there was a place this beautiful," she said. To her Hawaii truly was an island paradise.

"There’s lots to do here, too."

"Like?"

"Well, here comes the first one," Olivia said as they approached the Hawaiian Village.

They were greeted by two pretty young women dressed like hula dancers. They were bearing fresh flower leis, which they draped around their necks—yellow and white for Natalia and purple for Olivia.

"You can learn to make leis in the arts and crafts area of the village," one of the women said before they moved on to the next guest.

"You look good in flowers," Olivia said. "Although ..." She carefully rearranged Natalia’s lei so it was no longer covering her cleavage. "Okay, that’s much better."

Natalia grinned. Olivia’s frank and avid interest in her décolletage was making her feel all achy again. There was just something about Olivia that never failed to send her blood coursing hot and fast through her veins, making her feel more alive than she’d ever felt. Food seemed tastier, flowers smelled sweeter, music sounded prettier—everything with Olivia was just better.

She loved strolling around the village watching tourists learning to make leis, taking hula lessons, and playing ancient Hawaiian games of skill with spears and darts and stone disks. They took part in the traditional Shower of Flowers on the beach, standing under the stately palm trees while native men climbed high up the narrow trunks to send down a fragrant floral cascade.

Next they participated in the Hukilau on the Beach ceremony, where they learned about ancient net fishing techniques and helped with the ceremonial pulling of the fish nets from the sea accompanied by Hawaiian chants and rhythms played on the trumpet-like conch shell. The nets were lined with ti leaves from the cabbage palm, which they learned was known as the "good luck plant," a good garnish if you were trying to catch fish, Natalia thought. Afterward they finally sat down to sample foods from the luau feast.

"I’ve never seen so many different types of food," Natalia said, looking at the various items on her plate. The food was much more interesting to her after having attended the imu ceremony, where they watched a demonstration of ancient rituals and practices on how to cook a traditional Hawaiian meal in an underground oven using hot coals, stones, and layers of leaves to steam food.

Olivia lifted up her mai tai highball glass and clinked it against the one Natalia was holding in her hand. "Here’s to good food ... and a beautiful dinner date to share it with."

Natalia smiled and sipped the sweet and fruity concoction, but her eyes never left Olivia’s. She thought Olivia looked more relaxed and happy than she’d ever seen her and realized this trip had been as good for Olivia as it had been for her. It makes me so happy to see you like this.

"I’m not even sure what all this is," Natalia said.

"Well, you probably recognize the roast pig, I’m guessing."

"Yes, that’s one thing I could identify, but what’s this?" she asked, tapping her fork over a gray glob.

"That’s poi," Olivia said. "It’s made from taro root, and it’s kind of a staple around here."

"I’ve heard of poi. I’d just never seen any."

"I read that it’s hypoallergenic, so sometimes it’s shipped in powder form to hospitals so they can feed it to babies with food allergy problems."

"Really? Wow, I had no idea."

"Let’s see what else ... Well, obviously that’s fresh pineapple."

"Yes, I knew that," Natalia said with a grin.

"Okay, that’s lomilomi salmon," Olivia said, pointing to a dish of red salmon, tomato, and onion, "and that square dessert is haupia, which is actually coconut pudding. Well, they call it ‘pudding,’ even though it’s firm enough to serve in blocks kind of like gelatin."

"So, did you get any Beacon work done before we left for Hawaii or did you spend every waking moment on the Internet researching?"

"I, uhm ... well, I might have spent more time researching than working, now that you mention it."

Olivia’s impish grin made Natalia want to skip dinner and head straight back to the hotel.

They both enjoyed the beautiful and exotic hula dancers with their rapidly gyrating hips contrasting with the slow and graceful movement of their arms and hands, which they used to tell a story; but the highlight of the evening for Natalia was the closing fire dance on the beach, performed by a solo male artist. The sun had fully set by then, so they could only see the dancer’s body by the light from his lit torch.

Natalia could feel the pulsating beat of the music vibrating through her body as she watched the intricate maneuvers of the dancer, who, partway through his routine, grabbed a handful of flame at one end of the torch and used it to set the other end on fire. At one point his dual-lit torch was twirling so fast it looked like a wheel of fire spinning in the air. At the end of the performance she turned toward Olivia and could see the firelight reflected in her eyes.

"That was amazing," Natalia said.

"Yeah, it really was," Olivia said. "By the way, I could definitely see you doing a hula dance."

Natalia laughed. "I really don’t think I could ever get my hips to move that fast."

"But it sure would be fun to watch you try," Olivia said with a grin.

Natalia just sat and smiled. You’re making me feel all achy again, she thought as her eyes drifted from Olivia’s eyes to her mouth and then further down to the vee of her white shirt. She thought she looked adorable in denim, and suddenly found herself longing to get closer to her.

"Ready to go?" Olivia asked, as though reading her mind.

Natalia nodded. She’d loved their evening together at the luau, but she was dying to be alone with Olivia in their private suite.

******************************

Olivia sat on the large burnt orange sofa in the common room of their suite waiting for Natalia. She’d already brushed her teeth and knew Natalia was doing the same in her private bath. This has been one of the best days of my life, she thought. She’d had more fun watching Natalia enjoy the sights and activities than seeing them herself. It was the most carefree she’d ever seen her. Nobody would believe that a short while back Natalia had been so traumatized she was barely able to function. I’m so glad to see you like this.

Also, Olivia felt like things were so good between the two of them right now that any remaining doubts she might have about their future together had greatly dissipated, although she also realized they’d not disappeared altogether. However, she was intent on staying in the here and now, so for once everything in her world felt right.

When she heard Natalia emerge from her room, she motioned her toward the couch, and when she got close enough, Olivia pulled her down on her lap, positioning her so she could recline on the throw pillows leaning against the arm of the sofa. She slid one arm under Natalia’s neck and wrapped the other around her waist to pull her tight against her body for a brief hug before she let her relax back against the pillows.

Olivia loved looking at her face. It was so sweet and so pretty, and when she smiled, as she was doing now, her dimples made her look downright cherubic. Olivia touched one with her fingertip. "Love your dimples," she said softly. She ran her fingers over each of Natalia’s dark eyebrows and down the side of her face. "Just look at you," she said. "You’re so pretty. I love your dark eyes and dark hair ... your smile ... I love everything about you."

"I feel the same, Olivia."

Olivia gently brushed her fingers over her lips, back and forth, aware Natalia’s breathing was quickening. She knew hers sure was. Just looking at Natalia and touching her like this served as an aphrodisiac, and she could feel her body already responding. It didn’t take much because spending the day with Natalia—at the seminar, at the beach, at the luau—already had her in a full state of arousal. I’m amazed at how much I want you. She’d never experienced such a strong drive to touch someone or kiss someone.

"Did you enjoy your first luau?" Olivia asked.

"It was wonderful."

"But you were ready to come back, right?"

"Yes."

"You know what I think we should do?"

Olivia could see that Natalia looked puzzled. You probably think I’m about to suggest a walk on the beach or a midnight swim.

"No," Natalia said. "What?"

"I think we should make out on the couch." Olivia chuckled when she saw Natalia’s quick grin and accompanying blush. She stroked one pink cheek. "Does that mean you agree?"

Natalia nodded and Olivia quickly leaned down to capture sweet lips in a gentle kiss. Wow, I could do this for days. Olivia was in no hurry. They were both rested. They were both turned on. They were both into it. Best of all, they had all night to simply enjoy each other. That’s what I want to do, Olivia thought as she pulled back to look at Natalia. I want to enjoy you. I want to savor every second I have with you.

She could tell how aroused Natalia was. Her eyes looked a bit unfocused, and she was breathing a little faster. Olivia lay her hand on the side of her slender neck and could feel her pulse beating hard against the pads of her fingers. "I love necking with you," she said. She grinned when she saw Natalia’s blush deepen. She loved how shy Natalia could still get over the simplest things.

Olivia kissed her neck, moving from her pulse point downward, before returning to her lips, which she once again explored slowly, savoring their taste and texture. She paused to trace the outline of her mouth with her fingers. "I love your lips ... your mouth ... such a perfect shape ... and you taste so good ..."

Olivia kissed her again, this time slipping her tongue past her lips just far enough to touch the tip of her tongue against Natalia’s. Even that small contact was electrifying, and Olivia could feel waves of arousal shooting from her mouth all the way down to her sex. She was acutely aware of her arm lying on Natalia’s chest, nestled between her breasts, and she couldn’t resist sliding her hand lower, till it rested just over the cleavage that had held her attention throughout their evening at Paradise Cove.

"You’re so sexy," Olivia said. She slid her hand over one breast and massaged it while she watched Natalia’s facial expressions. I think it’s clear you really like that, Olivia thought. I bet I can think of some other things you’d like, too.

Still watching her intently, Olivia began to unbutton Natalia’s blouse with one hand. As soon as she freed the last button, she spread her blouse apart and saw she was wearing a silky low-cut white bra that clearly revealed an ample swell above the lace edge. "Pretty," Olivia murmured as her fingers skimmed along the edge where smooth material met soft skin. She shifted position a little so she could lean down far enough to press her lips right in the vee of her breasts. "Pretty and sexy ..." She rubbed her hand over a bra-clad globe and then teased the tip with her thumb till it fully erected. "Shall we see if we can get the other one to do that?" Encouraged by Natalia’s moan, she nuzzled her other nipple with her mouth till she could feel it getting hard beneath her lips.

"I think second base is still a lot of fun," Olivia said with a jaunty grin. "You?"

"Y- yes." Natalia was having trouble breathing, let alone talking.

"But ..."

"But what?"

"But we still have some other bases to get to," Olivia noted.

Natalia blushed and Olivia kissed her briefly.

"So I was thinking," Olivia continued. "Maybe we should just move this to the bedroom. What do you think?"

Natalia nodded, so Olivia helped her get up; then she stood and took Natalia’s hand and led her toward her bedroom.

You look gorgeous in this outfit, Olivia thought, but you’re going to look even better once I get it off you.

******************************

Chapter 58

When Natalia had emerged from her bedroom earlier to find Olivia on the couch beckoning her, she’d felt her heart skip a beat. Olivia had looked so happy and relaxed and sexy sitting there leaning back against the sofa, but then she took Natalia’s breath away when she pulled her down on her lap and started touching her face. There was just something extraordinarily erotic about sitting together on the couch like that, and then Olivia’s straightforward announcement that she wanted to make out made her achy place throb with anticipation and need. She always loved when Olivia kissed her, and that slow, gentle, sensuous exploration on the couch caused her body to rapidly heat up with desire.

All evening at Paradise Cove she’d been aware of Olivia’s attention—Olivia watching her, smiling at her, making sure she didn’t miss out on anything; Olivia occasionally touching her hand or her arm or her back; Olivia’s eyes seeking out hers, drifting down to her mouth and her cleavage. Natalia had loved the luau, the ceremonies, the music, the dancers, but mostly she loved Olivia’s company and rapt attention, both of which had made her anxious to be alone with her in their suite.

And then finally they were there, and Natalia could feel her body tremble under Olivia’s touch, especially when she began to unbutton her blouse and run her fingers over bare skin not covered by her low-cut bra, a sexy, feminine, very revealing article of clothing she’d gotten especially to wear for Olivia—and Natalia wasn’t disappointed by her reaction.

She loved Olivia’s uninhibited and unapologetic attitude about her sexuality. Her confidence and her candor were hugely arousing. In fact, Natalia was currently so turned on, she felt as though if Olivia so much as touched her "down there," she would immediately explode the way Olivia had made her do in the wee hours of the morning after their moonlight stroll on the beach.

Her breasts were aching for Olivia’s touch, and when Olivia finally touched her there, Natalia moaned with relief. Olivia’s hands, her fingers, her mouth sent delicious tingles that scurried from their point of contact all the way down to the aching flesh between her thighs, which was also yearning for attention.

When at long last Olivia suggested they retire to her bedroom, Natalia was giddy with anticipation and desire so strong it made it difficult for her to place one foot in front of the other as Olivia led her into the bedroom and over to her large bed.

Olivia flipped on the nightlight in the base of the lamp and turned down the covers before sitting on the edge of the bed and removing her tennis shoes and socks. Afterward she pulled Natalia close, so that she was standing between her thighs as Olivia hugged her and then kissed her bare midriff. She reached up to massage both breasts through her bra, and Natalia had to brace her hands on Olivia’s shoulders to keep from sinking to the floor. She thought it was amazing to look down at her like that, feeling her arms around her and her eyes on her, and see the look of love and desire on her beautiful, expressive face.

Olivia let her hands slide down to her hips while she gazed up at her, blue-green eyes glittering. "I want you to undress for me," Olivia said softly, gently pushing her back away from the bed, presumably to get a better view.

Natalia felt a violent wrench in her nether muscles as she stepped back from the bed and the woman sitting on it waiting expectantly. Both the suggestive request and the smoldering expression in Olivia’s eyes made her tremble; however, it didn’t occur to her to do anything but acquiesce to her demand, so she began to slowly remove her clothing, starting with her already unbuttoned blouse, acutely aware of Olivia watching her every move. She slipped her blouse down off her shoulders and tossed it on the wooden chair by the night stand, then kicked off her sandals and set them under the chair. Her white crinkle skirt had an elasticized drawstring waist, so it was easy to slide it down over her hips and toss it over her blouse, leaving her clad in only her silky white bra and panties.

"Wow," Olivia said under her breath. "You’re so beautiful."

Natalia blushed, standing there nearly naked like that under Olivia’s frankly appreciative stare. No one had ever made her feel so beautiful or so desired—or so incredibly aroused. She felt lightheaded. She could feel a slight tremor in the muscles of her legs, which suddenly seemed almost too weak to hold her up, and she swayed slightly as she attempted to maintain her balance.

"Don’t stop there," Olivia said.

Natalia could see that Olivia’s eyes looked dark in the muted light, more indigo than emerald, and they clearly conveyed the depth of her desire. Natalia’s arms felt heavy and her fingers felt clumsy as she reached behind to unclasp her bra. As soon as she managed to get it unfastened, she slowly pulled it off and tossed it on top of her growing pile of clothes, leaving herself naked from the waist up. She could feel the skin on her face and neck and upper chest heating up even more, and she was certain that flush of arousal would be readily apparent to Olivia’s ravenous eyes.

"So sexy," Olivia said in a low voice, eyes riveted on Natalia’s chest.

Her breasts were aching under Olivia’s stare and suddenly all Natalia could think about was how good it would feel for Olivia to touch her there, stroking and teasing and kissing her yearning flesh. She couldn’t believe how turned on she felt just standing there not being touched at all, but the expression in Olivia’s eyes felt like a caress—palpable and sensuous and efficacious in its ability to stimulate her to an even greater degree of arousal.

"You’re not done yet," Olivia said, looking pointedly at her white low-rise panties.

Natalia’s cheeks burned—whether from embarrassment or arousal, she wasn’t sure—but she obediently stripped off her remaining piece of clothing and threw it toward the chair while her eyes remained riveted on Olivia, who was unabashedly raking bluish-green eyes over her body. Natalia stood quietly letting her look, aware of the copious amounts of liquid gathering at the juncture of her thighs.

Finally Olivia held out her arms. "Come here," she said, her voice sounding a little hoarse.

Natalia immediately crossed the small amount of space dividing them, and Olivia held her the same way she had earlier, positioning her between her thighs as Natalia stood there completely naked this time with her hands resting lightly on Olivia’s shoulders.

She could feel Olivia’s hands gliding slowly over her back, her buttocks, her thighs, while Olivia spread wet kisses across her midriff and her stomach. Then Olivia began to touch and kiss her breasts, and Natalia was so turned on she leaned heavily on Olivia’s shoulders to try to maintain some sense of equilibrium despite the riot of physical sensations surging through her body like tiny sparks of electricity.

When Natalia swayed noticeably, Olivia immediately stood up and pulled her close, kissing her before guiding her to lie down on the bed. Natalia shivered when she saw Olivia just staring down at her before finally joining her. She moaned when Olivia stretched out on top of her, still fully clothed in her cotton shirt and denim vest and jeans.

"Aren’t you kind of overdressed?" Natalia asked softly.

Olivia kissed her slowly before answering. "I was just noticing how erotic it is that you’re the only one naked."

Natalia felt another jarring spasm in her nether muscles. Unbelievably, she was more aroused tonight than she’d been so far, which was really saying something considering the powerful effect Olivia had on her. She also realized Olivia was right. Her nakedness contrasted with Olivia’s fully clothed body somehow struck her as incredibly erotic. She wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because it further emphasized Olivia’s burning desire to watch her undress and relish the sight of her naked body. Whatever it was, Natalia was in such a high state of arousal, it was almost painful.

When Olivia began kissing her again—deep, intimate, sultry kisses—Natalia completely lost her train of thought and surrendered to Olivia’s will and the demands of her mouth and hands. She could feel the stimulating friction from denim and cotton moving over her bare flesh, and it felt odd and erotic and seductive. All she could do was hang on tight as Olivia set the pace, completely confident and in control as she drove Natalia’s body to greater and greater heights of arousal.

"Please," Natalia finally said, tugging on Olivia’s shirt collar. She wanted to feel Olivia’s body pressed against hers without the barrier of clothing. The few times she’d experienced that sensation had only left her hungry for more.

Olivia grinned. "Okay," she said, sitting up and straddling Natalia’s hips. She took off her denim vest and threw it over her shoulder, and then unbuttoned and discarded her white shirt. "How’s that?" she asked with a cheeky grin.

"Better," Natalia said. She realized Olivia knew exactly what effect she was having on her and clearly the beautiful woman looking down at her loved her own erotic power.

Natalia reached up with both hands to touch Olivia’s breasts, still covered by her bra. They were magnificent, she thought, noting how they strained against their bonds, as though they wanted to break free of the garment holding them captive. She gently squeezed them, aware of the quick change in Olivia’s breathing, and then ran her fingertips over her nipples, teasing them till she could see their firm outlines jutting through the thin material.

"I think you should take this off," Natalia said, slipping one finger over the top of one cup and running it all the way along the top edge.

"Okay, but only since you asked," Olivia said. She reached both hands behind her to unfasten the hooks and then pulled the straps off her shoulders to let her breasts fall forward, finally liberated and available to be admired and touched.

Once her bra was off, Natalia cupped her breasts again as Olivia sat astride her hips. "So beautiful," she whispered. She shivered when Olivia leaned down over her, lowering one breast near her mouth. Natalia gladly parted her lips and drew in the pale pink tip, shutting her eyes to better savor the sensation while her hand found and gently kneaded Olivia’s other breast. She was rewarded with Olivia’s gasp, and she could feel her begin to writhe, her body shifting sensuously over Natalia’s hips, arousing her further.

When Olivia finally sat back up straight, breathing hard, Natalia unsnapped her jeans and pulled down the zipper. "These, too," she said.

Olivia moved off her and quickly removed her jeans and underwear before stretching out beside her. "I wonder if you have any idea how much I love being with you like this."

Natalia smiled. She had some idea. I only wonder if it’s anywhere near as much as I love being with you. "I just ... I want ..."

"What? Tell me," Olivia said softly.

"I just want ... to be close to you."

"Okay." Olivia rolled back on top of her, but this time she hooked a hand under Natalia’s thigh and pushed it aside to allow her to position herself between her legs, bringing their lower bodies very close together, after which Olivia began to kiss her again, but this time her kisses were deeper and more urgent than before.

Olivia’s body ensconced between her legs coupled with her steamy kisses drove Natalia’s arousal to an unbearable level, and she could feel her hips begin to rock involuntarily. Then Olivia abruptly quit kissing her, and Natalia could feel her hand slipping between their bodies and cupping her aching sex, pressing just firmly enough to elicit a guttural moan.

She gasped when she felt Olivia’s fingers enter her and gently thrust, going slow, as if gauging her reaction. Then she felt those same fingers sliding back up to the most sensitive area of her aching flesh where they lingered, gliding back and forth relentlessly till Natalia was on the very edge—but then, unlike before, she felt Olivia’s fingers spreading her flesh, maneuvering her own body, and then her hand was gone and Natalia realized the delicious friction she now felt was from Olivia’s wet, velvety sex rubbing seductively against her own.

The feeling was so exquisite that without thinking she joined Olivia in her rhythmic rocking. She was shocked by this ultra intimate connection, but so turned on by the intimacy and the sensations that after a very short amount of time she experienced a staggering climax that made her cry out and grip Olivia tightly. She was pretty sure Olivia had reached the same point almost simultaneously.

She was vaguely aware Olivia had said something. "What?"

"I said ‘wow,’" Olivia said.

Natalia nodded. Sex with Olivia was nothing short of mind-blowing.

"Did I leave you speechless?" Olivia asked.

Natalia nodded once more. She thought she might never again be capable of speech.

"I guess that’s good," Olivia said with a chuckle.

Natalia hugged her close. "I’m so in love with you," she finally whispered.

Olivia kissed her again, tenderly, and then started to move off her body, but Natalia hung on tight.

"Don’t move," Natalia said softly.

"I’m afraid I’m crushing you," Olivia said.

"Don’t move."

"Are you sure?"

"Don’t move," she whispered.

They fell asleep like that, wrapped in each other’s arms in the muted glow of the nightlight on their last night in Hawaii.

******************************

Chapter 59

The next morning Olivia was the first to wake up. When she was finally able to get her eyes open, she saw Natalia’s dark head resting on her shoulder. Finally I get to wake up with you in my arms, she thought. Obviously they’d shifted position in the night because Olivia was now lying on her back, and Natalia was lying snuggled at her side with one arm thrown across Olivia’s chest and a leg hooked over the top of her thigh. Wow, we should make it a rule that we always sleep like this.

She glanced at the red LED display on her travel alarm clock sitting on the night stand and knew they’d have to get up soon in order to have enough time to shower, pack, and make it to the airport in time for their flight back to Springfield—and reality. At least their relationship was in a much different place than it had been when they left. She knew it wasn’t just the romantic setting, although that had certainly lent an extra layer of enjoyment for them both. It was timing. The timing had finally been right for both of them to take a leap of faith and explore a full-on sexual relationship with each other.

As far as Olivia was concerned, it couldn’t have gone any better, especially since there was a time not that long ago when she truly believed that being with Natalia would mean giving up sex, which she’d been willing to do because a life without Natalia had become unthinkable. Thank god that’s not the case. Just look at what we’d have missed out on, she thought, gently stroking Natalia’s hair.

She felt Natalia begin to stir and she lightly caressed her back. She knew Natalia was fully awake when she rolled toward her and kissed her neck. Olivia tipped her face up and kissed her lightly on the lips.

"Did you sleep well?" Olivia asked, gazing down into dark sleepy eyes.

"I’ve never slept that well before," Natalia said.

"I’m glad."

"Last night was ..."

"Yeah, I thought so too." Olivia grinned. It was freakin’ amazing! She felt an icy chill shoot down her spine at the thought of returning to Springfield, but she pushed away the worries it was trying to conjure. I’m going to stay focused on what I know, not what I fear, and I know without a doubt that you love me. That’s all I need. I only need you.

"It was amazing," Natalia continued.

Olivia laughed. "That’s exactly the word I was thinking."

"I just can’t believe how you make me feel."

"I’ve been just as surprised by how I feel when I’m with you."

"You make me so happy. I just wish we didn’t have to go back."

Olivia rolled them both over so she was lying on top of Natalia. Good god it feels good to hold you like this, she thought. She kissed her passionately, taking the time to savor their morning kiss.

"Listen," Olivia said when she finally broke the kiss, "we may be going back to Springfield, but that doesn’t mean anything has to change between us. We’ll still have each other," Olivia said. "We’ll still have ... this."

Natalia nodded. "I know you’re right, but it’s just been so wonderful being away ... being alone, just the two of us without anyone else around."

"God, I’ve loved that, too, believe me," Olivia said. "We’ll just have to make sure we get plenty of ‘us’ time."

"Will you move back to the farmhouse?"

Olivia remained quiet for a moment. "Let’s see what happens with Rafe’s hearing, okay? Remember we agreed we’d wait till after that?"

"Okay, you’re right. I just ..." Natalia tightened her arms around Olivia. "I just want you with me all the time."

"I want that, too." Jesus, you have no idea how much!

They were both startled by the loud buzz from Olivia’s travel alarm clock, followed seconds later by the phone ringing. When Natalia looked at her with raised brows, Olivia shrugged. "That’ll be our wake-up call," she explained. "I was a little concerned about waking up on time."

Natalia laughed as Olivia lunged to turn off the incessant and irritating buzz of the clock and then picked up the handset.

"I guess that means we better get up," Olivia said after hanging up the phone. She sat up and scooted toward the edge of the bed.

Natalia groaned. "Do we have to?"

Wow, talk about role reversal. "No, we can just stay here forever, if you’d like."

Natalia sat up and stared at her, unaware that left the sheet puddled around her waist, revealing her bare body from there up. "You’re kidding."

Olivia’s eyebrows raised imperceptibly as her eyes flickered over Natalia’s body. "No, I’m not," she said. I am so not kidding, especially sitting here looking at you like that. "I’ll hire a manager to run the Beacon, and we can buy or rent a condo or maybe get a bungalow on the beach or something."

"Now I know you’re kidding."

"No, I’m not." Hell, I’d do that in a heartbeat if I thought it’d make you happy. No nosy Springfield Townshippers, no angry ex-fiancé, no disapproving parents at Emma’s school, you all to myself in a tropical paradise. What’s not to like?

Natalia laughed and got up, making straight for the pile of clothes on the nearby chair. "I wish we could," she said, holding her blouse up in front of her body to hide her nakedness.

Olivia watched her with a little frown. Shit, now that’s just cruel, she thought. She went to her, pulled the blouse away from her body, and dropped it back on the chair. "We have a long trip ahead of us. Don’t you think it’s kind of mean to cover all this up when it’s the last chance I’m going to have to look at you for a long time?"

Natalia shivered as Olivia held her at arm’s length and looked down her body before drawing her close for a kiss. Olivia knew they were short on time, but the urge to touch her was just too strong, and before she knew it her hands were sliding down her arms, up her back, over her shoulders, and finally back down to cup her breasts. God, I love touching you! "I’m not sure how I’m going to make it so long without being able to touch you like this," Olivia whispered.

"Me neither."

Olivia could hear that Natalia’s voice sounded breathy, and she could detect a slight tremor as she spoke. "Unfortunately," Olivia said, letting go and taking a step back. "We need to get ready."

"Do we have to?"

"Do you really want to stay another day?"

Olivia’s cell phone rang, startling them both. "I have to get that. It might be Emma or Ava."

"Of course."

Olivia glanced at the caller ID. "It’s Doris. I better take it," she told Natalia before pressing Talk.

"Hello? (...) Really? That’s good news. Who is it? (...) I’m not familiar with that name. (...) Oh, okay. So when’s it been moved to? (...) What? That’s awfully fast. (...) Yeah, you’re right. (...) Thanks for everything, Doris. I owe you one. (...) Okay, bye."

Olivia turned to Natalia, who’d been watching her carefully throughout her conversation with Mayor Wolfe.

"So what did she want?" Natalia asked.

"She called to let me know there was going to be a different judge hearing Rafe’s case."

"Not Judge Walker?"

"No."

"That’s great," Natalia said. "Uh, it is great, right?"

"Well, at least it’s not someone who’s already been influenced by your ex-fiancé, so I think that has to be better."

"So who’s it going to be?"

"Judge Hernández."

"Is that someone you know?"

"No, but Doris said this judge was strict but fair, so it’s not someone likely to be influenced by Frank or anyone else."

"I wonder how Doris managed to get that changed."

"Apparently the only way she could do it was to get them to move the hearing up, like she did that time with Phillip’s trial, and she had them pick a day when Judge Walker already had a full docket so they had no choice but to assign a different judge."

"That’s good."

"Well, yeah, except ..."

"What?"

"The hearing’s tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow?"

"Yes, so we really need to get moving if we’re going to make our flight this morning."

Natalia nodded and picked her clothes back up, and then she headed for the bedroom door.

Olivia watched her go with regret, but they both knew they’d have to shower separately or they’d never make it to the airport on time.

******************************

Natalia gazed out the small window as the airliner lifted into the air, carrying them farther and farther away from their island paradise. She was only able to tear her eyes away when the islands were no longer visible below them. She was sad to leave this magical place, made so much more special because of the time she’d spent with Olivia.

"It’s hard to leave, isn’t it?" Olivia asked.

"Yes, it really is," Natalia said. "These past few days have been the happiest in my life."

"Me, too," Olivia said, "but you know what?"

"What?"

"Since you love it so much, we should come back sometime."

"Really?"

"Yes, really."

Natalia peered back out the porthole. They were above the clouds now, floating effortlessly high above the earth. She looked around the first-class cabin, which wasn’t very full, maybe because they were flying on a weekday. Olivia had spared no expense on this trip, from their first-class air tickets to their luxury hotel suite to the various activities and surprises she’d arranged, starting with the lei greeting the day they’d arrived.

Their seats were roomy and comfortable, and they were fully powered and adjustable from sitting straight up to reclining far enough that they could actually lie back and nap. They also had access to full-size pillows, blankets, and a complimentary four-course meal, although she wasn’t sure if she could actually eat because she was feeling so anxious about the outcome of Rafe’s hearing. She wanted him out of the halfway house because she just knew he’d be far better off the sooner he was completely free of the prison system, and that’s exactly what she was praying for.

"So ... what was your favorite part of our little Hawaiian getaway?" Olivia asked. "Helicopter tour? Snorkeling? Luau?"

Natalia grinned at her, relieved to be distracted from her worries. "It’s hard to choose, but I’d have to say last night."

"Ah, the luau."

"No, afterward."

Olivia chuckled. "The couch?"

"Yes, and ... " Natalia looked away toward the window again to hide the blush she could feel warming her cheeks. "And later ... in, uh ... in the bedroom." She spoke in a low voice even though there were no other passengers in their immediate vicinity.

"Mm, I liked that too."

Suddenly all Natalia could think about were the intimacies from the night before, and she could feel her body instantly responding to the erotic memories.

Olivia leaned toward her to whisper in her ear. "I wish we were back in that bedroom right now."

Natalia took in a deep ragged breath.

"Because I’d love to be making love to you this very second."

Natalia sighed. "This is going to be a very long flight, isn’t it?"

Olivia laughed. "Yep, but you know what?"

"What?"

"We’re not going to stay in the air forever. At some point we’ll come back down to earth, and then you know what I’m going to do at the first opportunity?"

Natalia shook her head even though she had some idea what Olivia was thinking.

"I’m going to strip all your clothes off," Olivia said.

Natalia’s head dropped forward as she tried to still the trembling she felt throughout her body.

"And then I’m going to make love to you ... all night long," Olivia whispered.

Natalia glanced at her briefly, but she was too aroused to be able to hold her gaze and also maintain any semblance of composure, so she turned back toward the small porthole and its bird's-eye view of the stratosphere. She could hear Olivia’s soft chuckle, though, and desperately wished they could make love right there in their reclinable seats. Look what you’ve done to me. I’ve never had thoughts like that in my life, Natalia thought, truly shocked at the wanton drift of her mind.

"Everything has changed," Natalia said.

"Do you mean us?"

"Yes. I don’t even feel like the same person."

"You are the same person, though. You’ve just discovered some new things about yourself; that’s all."

"Some amazing things," Natalia said, finally looking back at Olivia. "Because of you."

"I discovered some new things, too."

"I was wondering if you’d been ... well, researching things like ‘that’ on the Internet."

Olivia laughed. "No, it never occurred to me to research girl-on-girl sex on the Net, but hey, we could do that if you want."

"Well, apparently you don’t really need to." She thought Olivia just seemed to have some kind of sixth sense about what to do—how to make her feel so loved and cherished and so incredibly turned on she could barely remember her own name.

Olivia laughed again and reached for her hand, which she pulled toward her to rest on her thigh.

"You must ... I mean, you seem to just know ..."

"Are you trying to tell me you think I’m good in bed?" Olivia asked.

Natalia blushed profusely.

"I’ll take that as a yes," Olivia said with a grin.

"I think people must sense that about you. Maybe that’s part of the reason you attract so many men. I mean ... obviously you’re beautiful and sexy, but ... well, I think it’s more than that."

"Well, I can’t say I’m disliking the direction this conversation is taking."

"You know what? I just remembered you said there was one woman who asked you out."

"No, I said there were three people who offered me their room key and one of those was a woman."

Natalia’s eyes widened. "So ... did you get hit on by more than one woman?" Good heavens, you must have gotten inundated every time I went to the ladies’ room.

"Well, just two, one key and one dinner invitation."

"So who was the woman who offered you her room key?"

"Uhm, are you sure you want to get into that?"

"Now that makes me think I’d recognize her if I saw her."

"Yeah, probably."

"Who was it?"

"The second speaker at the first seminar."

"The second speaker ... let me think ... oh my god!" Natalia remembered the keynote speaker perfectly because she was so well spoken and so physically striking with her Nordic good looks, including pale blonde hair and vivid blue eyes. She was her complete opposite.

Olivia sighed and began to rub the bridge of her nose.

"She was gorgeous!" Natalia gazed at Olivia. I wonder ... "So ... were you just a little bit—"

"No," Olivia said, cutting off the rest of her question. "I wasn’t even a little bit tempted, not when I have you."

"What was her name? I forget."

"Katarina Lindström."

"That’s right. She was really smart," Natalia said, remembering her discussion of software for the hospitality industry. "And really beautiful," she added.

"I guess."

"Did you find her attractive?"

"Well, obviously she was attractive, but I wasn’t attracted to her. I only have eyes for you."

I just can’t imagine handing a total stranger your room key. She must be very ... straightforward, aggressive even. I’m so glad you weren’t interested. She remembered when Frank took her into the station for questioning about the robbery and told her Olivia would dump her eventually because she’d get tired of her. She loves me, she told an imaginary Frank. She’d never do that.

"I’m glad, Olivia," Natalia said. "I mean ... it would break my heart to lose you."

"You’re not going to lose me," Olivia said softly. "No matter how hard you try," she added with a grin.

Natalia laughed. She wasn’t even sure why she had these little bouts of ... what? Jealousy? Insecurity? After all, she had no doubt Olivia was in love with her.

"Is this a good time to tell you Kat is coming to the Beacon next week?"

"What? Why?"

"She’s going to help us install the new software program and get it up and running properly, and then she’s going to train the staff to use it."

Natalia looked down at her lap. Katarina. Coming to Springfield. Working closely with Olivia. She wasn’t even aware she was shaking her head slowly.

Olivia noticed, though. She glanced around and seeing they were relatively alone she abruptly turned toward Natalia and cupped her face in her hands, peering into her dark eyes. "You have absolutely nothing to worry about," she said, and then she kissed her, right there in first class.

Natalia forgot about everything except the feel of Olivia’s hands and lips and tongue.

******************************

Olivia watched Natalia play with her dessert. They were on the fourth and final course of their four-course meal. First they were served warm tropical nuts accompanied by a glass of wine, and then they had a fresh salad made of fresh greens, tomatoes, radish ribbons, and cucumbers. For their main course they’d both chosen the four-cheese ravioli over the short ribs, which Olivia thought was surprisingly good. She was delighted to see Natalia’s eyes light up over the dessert choices, though. They both passed on cheese and fruit and selected the hot fudge sundae, which Natalia was clearly relishing. They both so loved their ice cream.

I hope I managed to reassure you about Kat. You must not really understand how much I love you or you wouldn’t get that little pucker of worry between your brows like you did earlier. Even though Olivia didn’t want Natalia to have any concerns about Kat or anyone else for that matter, her little jealous streak was like balm on a deeply wounded part of her psyche, the part that always felt second best, the part that longed to be first in someone’s life. Maybe I’ve finally found that with you. God, I hope so!

Doris had overheard part of Frank’s rant at the police station, and had later told Olivia he’d warned Natalia not to trust Olivia because she’d dump her at some point. Jesus, I hope that’s not what’s bothering you. Olivia knew they still faced some obstacles that they’d have to get through together if they were going to be able to have a life together, not the least of which was telling Emma and Rafe about the two of them. She didn’t think Emma would have a problem; in fact, she thought Emma had known about them before they did—at least "known" with a little girl’s understanding of love relationships.

Rafe was a different matter though. He was much older, a young man really, and Olivia knew he was protective of his mother. He would also most likely have some of the same religious issues Natalia had struggled with for so long. Right now the first thing they needed to do was get through the hearing and find out what was going to happen next for Rafe before they could figure out their own living arrangements.

She didn’t see how they could manage to live apart for long, though, especially after everything that had happened on this trip. I’ve never felt such a need to be with someone, not like this. Sometimes I just feel feverish from wanting you.

"You’re not eating," Natalia said.

"What?"

"Hot fudge sundae," Natalia said, pointing at Olivia’s partially eaten dish of chocolate-topped ice cream.

"Oh, that." Olivia reached over to run her thumb across the corner of Natalia’s mouth to wipe away a small spot of chocolate and then slowly licked her thumb as she watched Natalia. "Mm, yours is good, too," she commented, grinning when she saw Natalia’s eyes focused on her mouth. "You know what?"

"What?"

"I think we should talk about sleeping arrangements for tonight."

******************************

Chapter 60

A flight attendant interrupted their conversation to retrieve their dishes. "Is there anything else I can get you ladies?" he asked. When they shook their heads, he smiled and headed back to the galley.

As soon as he left, they both fully reclined their first-class seats and shifted a bit toward each other so they could maintain eye contact as they talked.

Natalia felt happy to be able to lie on her side just looking at Olivia. "Tonight?" she asked.

"Mm-hm, I think we should discuss sleeping arrangements for tonight. Well ... unless you need some time to yourself, then I guess I’ll stay at my place and you can go back to the farmhouse and maybe get some rest before the hearing tomorrow."

"No, I want to be with you. I mean ... stay with ... I mean ... I want us to be together tonight." Just listening to herself stammer made Natalia squirm with embarrassment. Why do I still feel so shy after everything that’s happened between us?

Olivia grinned at her. "That’s good to hear. Now all we need to decide is where."

"What would be easier?"

"Well, your car is in the Beacon parking garage, so that has to be our first stop no matter what we decide."

"That’s right. I forgot."

"You could just stay with me in my suite tonight, if you want."

"Do you think there’s any chance Rafe might get to come home to the farmhouse after the hearing tomorrow?" She wanted to be absolutely certain everything was in order in case Rafe did return home—tomorrow! Please, God, please let my son come home.

"Gee, I don’t know. I guess that’s a possibility. Would you feel better to get settled back in the farmhouse tonight, then?"

"I think so ... just in case. Maybe we could leave your things at the Beacon? Well, you could pack an overnight bag and ride out with me—unless you’d rather take your car."

"I’d like to go to the hearing, if that’s okay."

"Yes, I’m counting on it."

"All right, then I’ll just hitch a ride with you to the farmhouse, and we can go into town together in the morning. How’s that?"

"That’s perfect," Natalia said. "Just like you," she added softly. The thought of being alone with Olivia at the farmhouse was already making her body throb with longing. What have you done to me that being with you is all I can think about?

She shivered when Olivia took her hand and cradled it against her bosom, holding onto it firmly as she gazed into Natalia’s eyes.

******************************

Olivia watched the limo driver pack Natalia’s luggage into the trunk of her car. She’d called to the desk to have them send someone out to take her things up to her suite. In short order Boyd had appeared and with a shy grin at Natalia had easily hefted Olivia’s bags. The three of them rode the elevator up to the third floor, and Boyd deposited the luggage inside her suite.

"Thank you, Boyd," Olivia said.

"My pleasure, Miss Spencer," he said. "Good night, ladies." He smiled at Natalia before turning to leave.

As soon as he was gone, they came together like magnets with opposite polarity and held each other close.

God, this feels good. "I didn’t know if I was going to make it," Olivia said.

"Make it?"

"Till I got to hold you like this again."

"Me neither," Natalia said softly.

Olivia kissed her then, a long slow kiss to make up for lost time. Jesus, I missed this, Olivia thought as she forced herself to pull back. "Wow, this feels so good. I don’t want to stop, but the sooner we do, the sooner we can head out to the farmhouse."

Natalia nodded. "I know, but I don’t want to stop either."

A loud rap on the door interrupted their conversation.

"That better not be Boyd back to moon over you some more," Olivia said with a grin.

"Oh, he wasn’t mooning."

"He was so mooning."

Olivia opened the door. "Doris, what are you doing here?"

"I was downstairs having a drink and heard you were back, so I decided to drop by and check up on you." Doris peered at Olivia like a medical doctor performing a meticulous physical exam. "Somebody got laid."

Olivia glanced at Natalia in time to see her turn scarlet and avert her head. "Hey, come on now," Olivia said.

Doris laughed. "It’s pretty obvious. I’d also say it’s about time."

"Look," Olivia said, trying to get the conversation onto a safer topic, "I really want to thank you for getting Rafe’s hearing moved up."

Natalia looked at Doris again. "Yes, thank you so much for that."

"I was glad I could do it. It’s no guarantee of the outcome, but at least you’ll have a judge who can preside over the hearing without already having made an unwritten agreement with the jilted groom."

"What do you think he’ll do?" Natalia asked.

"It’s a she, Miriam Hernández, and I have no idea what she’ll do. All I can tell you is she’s known for being tough, but fair," Doris said.

"Fair sounds good," Olivia said.

"Yes, I just want my son out of the halfway house so he can start building a life for himself," Natalia said.

"I can understand that. I’d feel the same way if it were Ashlee," Doris said, glancing from one to the other. She grinned broadly. "Well, I guess I should leave you two lovebirds alone."

Olivia could see Natalia’s blush deepening. "Thanks again for helping, Doris," Olivia said, ignoring her last crack.

"You’re welcome, both of you," Doris said. "I’ll see you at the hearing tomorrow morning," she added as she headed for the door.

"You’re coming?" Natalia asked.

"Wouldn’t miss it," Doris said as she walked out and closed the door behind her.

******************************

Natalia lay on Olivia’s bed at the farmhouse. Olivia had insisted Natalia shower first while she called Emma in San Francisco, and had also suggested they sleep in her old room because the bed was bigger. Natalia had readily agreed. She didn’t care where they slept. She was just anxious for Olivia to finish her shower and join her. She propped herself up in a sitting position and leaned back against the pillows, her eyes glued on the door.

When she heard the shower water stop, her stomach flip-flopped in anticipation. She imagined Olivia stepping out of the shower naked and wet and rubbing herself dry with one of her thick terrycloth towels. She remembered exactly how imposing Olivia looked without the impediment of clothes. Natalia’s mouth felt dry, but she could feel another part of her body busily compensating.

Finally Olivia opened the door to the bedroom and closed it behind her, but instead of coming directly to the bed, she leaned back against the door and smiled.

You have such a gorgeous smile, Natalia thought.

Olivia looked relaxed and happy, and she was looking at Natalia intently as she lingered by the door. Her delay only made Natalia more eager for her to come to bed and take her in her arms.

"You look good sitting there in my bed," Olivia finally said as she pushed herself off the door and headed toward Natalia.

Her eyes, her voice, her slow sexy walk—everything about Olivia made Natalia’s blood heat and her heart race and her body tremble with longing.

Olivia sat down on the edge of the bed and kicked off her flip-flops before swinging her legs up and leaning back against the pillows on her side of the bed. "So," Olivia said, stretching her legs out in front of her. "what would you like to do?"

Natalia turned to look at her. She could think of lots of things she’d like to do, and all of them required their being much closer than they currently were.

"Talk?" Olivia suggested. "Watch TV?"

Natalia shook her head.

"Hm, I’m running out of ideas here," Olivia said.

Natalia could see the corner of Olivia’s mouth twitching, no doubt to subdue the grin threatening to break out. "I ..."

"You don’t have any other ideas either?" Olivia asked.

"I want ..."

"What?" Olivia said, turning onto her side to face toward Natalia. "Tell me what you want."

"I ... I’ve missed you so much," Natalia said softly. Unconsciously her eyes drifted down to Olivia’s mouth. You have the most beautiful mouth.

"Well, we just spent the entire day together on a plane, so that’s making me think what you mean is you want to make out," Olivia said, this time unable to repress a grin. "Do you?"

Natalia nodded, relieved when Olivia finally scooted closer and lay her hand on her cheek. She shivered when Olivia brushed her thumb over her lips.

"I have to be honest," Olivia said. "All I could think about on the entire long flight back here was holding you and kissing you and making love to you."

"I want you, too," Natalia whispered. The more Olivia delayed kissing her, the more Natalia craved the feeling of Olivia’s mouth on hers.

To her relief Olivia finally leaned forward and gently kissed her on the lips. By then Natalia felt as though she’d waited forever to feel Olivia’s soft lips pressed against her own.

"You have no idea how happy I am that I can finally hold you like this and kiss you," Olivia said, stroking her cheek again.

"Me, too. You make me so happy, Olivia."

"And of course there are other things I’m happy I’m finally able to do," she added.

Natalia was happy about those other things, too. The trip to Hawaii had been something of a crash course in sexuality for her, but everything still seemed new and exciting—and even more so with Olivia looking at her like that. Natalia didn’t know what changes tomorrow might bring. She only knew that right now there was no other place she’d rather be than in Olivia’s arms.

Natalia trembled when Olivia finally began to deep-kiss her while her hand roved over her body. She could feel her hand caress the side of her face and then slip down her neck and over her shoulder and down her arm. Everywhere it touched, Natalia could feel her flesh heating up. Then she felt Olivia’s hand slide down her side and over her hip and down her outer thigh before gliding over her stomach and straight up to her neck again. She could feel it pass right between her breasts, but Olivia didn’t touch her there.

"How about we get rid of some of this," Olivia said, tugging on the bottom of Natalia’s t-shirt.

Natalia raised her arms overhead to allow Olivia to pull the top over her head, and then Olivia pulled her knit shorts and panties down over her hips and legs, tossing them aside when they were off. Natalia unbuttoned Olivia’s pajama top, but before taking it off she lightly stroked the underside of Olivia’s breasts, looking up into her emerald eyes to see the effect she might be having. When she saw the avid expression in Olivia’s eyes, she rubbed her hands over her breasts, feeling further evidence of her arousal pressing into her palms as they glided over her womanly curves. Finally she eased the pajama top off Olivia’s shoulders and threw it aside.

"Now these," Natalia said, slipping her fingers into the top of Olivia’s waistband.

Olivia quickly removed her pajama bottoms and underwear and then turned toward Natalia. "Lie down," she said.

Natalia happily complied, but then Olivia slid her hands under the side of her body and pushed her to roll over.

"On your tummy," Olivia said.

Natalia could feel Olivia lie down beside her and then she felt her sweep her long hair aside. She shivered when she felt Olivia’s breath on the back of her neck, followed by her lips kissing the sensitive skin there.

"You have the most beautiful back," Olivia said. She ran her hand over the planes of Natalia’s back, her fingertips barely coming in contact with olive skin. "And the most beautiful skin ... so smooth ... such a gorgeous color."

Natalia couldn’t believe how arousing it was to feel Olivia touching her back like that. Then she felt Olivia’s hand gently passing over her buttocks.

"This is gorgeous down here, too," Olivia said.

Olivia’s hands felt wonderful, but then she felt Olivia’s mouth traversing the same path as her hands had followed before, and she could feel her body trembling even more as Olivia spread wet, open-mouth kisses over her back and then, to her surprise, over her buttocks and across the backs of her thighs.

"You look good, you smell good, you taste good," Olivia said.

Natalia could feel Olivia move on top of her, lying stretched out over her, her magnificent breasts pressing into the flesh of her back, and she could feel even more liquid heat gathering between her thighs. She moaned when she felt Olivia deliberately drag her breasts down her back, and her body squirmed under the deliciously erotic sensation. Olivia must have noticed because she let her breasts slide up and down her back again and again as Natalia writhed beneath her.

She could feel Olivia shift her body a bit, and then she felt Olivia’s hand between her legs sliding over her intimate flesh, which she knew was very wet and swollen and aching for Olivia’s touch. She could feel Olivia’s fingers entering her and gently pressing into her.

"Do you like that?" Olivia asked softly.

Natalia nodded. She liked both the feeling and the intimacy and the very idea of Olivia being inside her.

"Slow and easy?" Olivia asked, but then changed the tempo to thrust deeper and more firmly into her. "Or more like that?"

All Natalia could do was groan and rock her hips. She was too far gone to verbalize anything.

"Okay," Olivia said with a chuckle.

Natalia could feel pressure building inside her body in response to Olivia’s hand, and just when she felt like she couldn’t stand waiting any longer, she felt Olivia’s fingers moving up to massage the focal point of her deepest ache. She had no idea how Olivia could tell exactly where to touch her or how firmly or how fast, but she seemed to have some kind of unerring instinct, and within a fairly short amount of time, Natalia could feel her body poised on the very brink, could hear her own guttural gasps torn from her throat in time with Olivia’s fingers, could see her own fingers twisting the pillowcase as she felt herself getting closer and closer. Finally Olivia drove her over the edge, and she spasmed and cried out with relief as her body tensed for several long seconds before finally letting go and relaxing back onto the mattress, completely spent.

"Oh my god," Natalia gasped.

Olivia rolled Natalia onto her back and kissed her long and deep before breaking the kiss to lay her head on Natalia’s shoulder while she cradled her in her arms.

******************************

Jesus, that was great! I could never get tired of this, never get tired of you, not ever. Olivia loved feeling Natalia’s body getting more and more aroused, loved feeling how wet she got, loved hearing her cry out when she came. Making love to her was so different than having sex with men. She knew she’d loved some of the men in her life. She’d loved Richard and she’d loved Josh, but it wasn’t until she fell in love with Natalia that she realized she’d never been in love with either of them.

She also realized she and Natalia were on the verge of some big changes now that they were back in Springfield. They were going to have to tell Emma and Rafe about their relationship for starters and deal with the aftereffects of that, whatever that might be. Rafe’s fate was yet to be decided, and Olivia knew the outcome of the hearing tomorrow would directly impact their relationship. For one thing she knew it would affect when or perhaps if they could live together.

It would be so hard if we have to live apart, especially now, she thought. Especially now that we’ve become lovers. Sometimes she still couldn’t believe they were really together in every sense. Sex with Natalia far surpassed sex with anybody else; the reality of their physical relationship even eclipsed the breathtaking erotic dreams she used to have about her latina beauty.

It was also amazing to be with her like this at the farmhouse after living in a constant state of unrequited arousal the entire time they’d lived together there, so Olivia found it particularly satisfying to consummate their relationship right there in the big house they’d both called home for so long, the place where she’d tried more than once to tell Natalia how she felt, the place where she’d first kissed her. Sure, she’d been a little drunk, but she was way more than a little turned on when her mouth had first come in contact with Natalia’s. If she’d still had any doubts about her feelings at the time, that headstrong kiss had certainly erased them.

She was surprised when Natalia suddenly rolled toward her and began to kiss her. Olivia was used to being the aggressor when they kissed, except for that one time in Hawaii, but now she could feel Natalia’s tongue pressing against her lips demanding entrance. Her sudden aggression was a gigantic turn-on, and Olivia could feel her nether muscles twitch hard in response as Natalia moved on top of her. Feeling Natalia’s tongue in her mouth brushing over hers, exploring slowly, got her even wetter than she already was, and she thought she might actually come just from the feel of her normally shy lover French-kissing her with abandon.

Olivia sighed with regret when Natalia abruptly broke their kiss, but then her dark head moved lower and Olivia could feel her mouth closing over her breast, could feel her tongue swirling around the aching tip, could feel her begin to suck till the nub of sensitive flesh was fully erect. She caressed Natalia’s back as her dark head moved over her other breast, teasing it with her breath and tongue before drawing it into her mouth to more fully arouse the pale peak.

Just as Olivia was thinking nothing could possibly feel better than Natalia’s mouth on her breast, she could feel her hand move between her thighs and rub sensuously over her needy flesh. "Oh my god," she moaned. "God that feels so good."

The combination of Natalia’s mouth on her breast and her hand rubbing over the most sensitive spot between her legs rapidly brought her to a very hard and extended climax that seemed to last longer than usual, leaving her feeling transported and disoriented and possibly a little more in love than she already was.

"Oh my god," she repeated, as she hugged Natalia tight.

Natalia snuggled against her with her face tucked into the crook of Olivia’s neck.

"Oh my god," Olivia whispered.

******************************

Continue to Chapters 61-70

 

You Are On
The Pink Rabbit Consortium
(click the above link to break out of frames)
Send Comments or Questions to Pink Rabbit Productions
pinkrabbit@altfic.com

| Home | Subtext Zone Art Gallery | Subtext LinksWhat's New |
 | Xena Fanfic Archive | Buffy Fanfic Archive | In Process |