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 41

Olivia hung up the phone after a brief call to Natalia to let her know she’d gotten in safe and sound. She undressed slowly and headed into the bathroom to take a shower, turning the water on as hot as she could stand it. All she wanted to do was wash off the day, but no matter how hard she scrubbed her body, she could feel the anxiety and anger still pouring off her skin.

I think I lost you today, she thought when she finally turned off the water and stepped out of the shower to dry off. She pulled on light gray sweatpants with a gray Beacon t-shirt and tumbled into bed. I know you don’t even realize it yet, but that was game, set, match. Frank managed to find the one area where you’re most vulnerable, and that’s your son. I know you. You’re going to feel horrible when it finally occurs to you that you have no choice but to dump me the hell out of your life. All I want is for you to be happy, and it’s starting to look as though that can’t happen as long as we try to be together.

Olivia felt like crying, especially when she remembered how happy they’d been right before Frank arrived at the farmhouse, but she was determined not to. Instead she rolled over onto her side and concentrated on emptying her mind of all thought until she finally fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

She woke around eight the next morning and immediately called to order up a pot of coffee and the morning newspaper from room service. I’m going to need some serious caffeine to get me moving today considering how depressed I’m feeling. I should have known better than to get my hopes up. What was I thinking? God, it must have been temporary insanity.

She was checking her email on the laptop when she heard a knock. As soon as she opened the door, she could smell the rich aroma of the Beacon’s special blend of coffee.

"Good morning."

She started at the sound of Natalia’s voice and looked up to see her standing next to the food service cart, looking fresh and pretty in a rose floral print summer dress, sleeveless with a low V-neck.

"Wh- ... what are you doing here?" Olivia asked. She was seriously surprised to see Natalia standing outside her door, especially first thing in the morning.

"Well, for starters I see you didn’t order anything to eat," Natalia said, "so I already asked them to bring up breakfast for two, which should be arriving shortly."

"I’m not really hungry."

"You’re still going to eat; we both are."

"Well, you’re sounding pretty bossy this morning."

Natalia laughed. "You should try remembering how bossy I can get when you’re not taking proper care of yourself. That way you won’t try to fight a losing battle."

Olivia started to say something but stopped and hurriedly stepped out of the way when Natalia propelled the cart past her into the room and rolled it over near the couch.

Natalia got Olivia’s coffee mug off her desk and poured her out a cup of coffee, which she set on the coffee table, and then poured herself some in the cup they’d sent up with the coffeepot. Afterwards, she sat on the couch and patted the cushion next to her. "Coming?" she asked sweetly.

What the hell? Christ, some people have a lot of nerve. I’m trying to distance myself to make things easier for both of us, but you just had to come over here, didn’t you?

Olivia walked over to the couch, but she didn’t sit down. "Look, we need to talk."

"I know we do and that’s why I’m here, but we’re not going to do that until you eat something."

"I don’t need to eat to be able to hold a conversation."

"Did you eat last night?"

"I ... uhm ..."

"That’s what I thought. You can’t just stop eating, Olivia. You’ll just make yourself sick."

When they heard a knock on the door, Natalia jumped up and retrieved the second cart. This one was loaded with covered dishes. "Sit," she said to Olivia.

Jeez, I’m being ordered around in my own place, she thought while stubbornly refusing to budge.

Natalia put her arm around Olivia’s waist, grasped her forearm, and guided her closer to the couch. "Sit down," she ordered.

With a gentle nudge from Natalia, Olivia toppled onto the couch. "Fine, I’m sitting. Happy?"

Natalia grinned. "Getting there." She began taking covers off plates and setting them down in front of Olivia on the coffee table, followed shortly by orange juice, napkins, and eating utensils.

"Good god, there’s enough here to feed an army." And you’re just looking very pleased with yourself. Never mind you’re making my life much more difficult right now. Clean breaks are the best. Believe me, I know. I’ve been through enough.

"Well, you need your nourishment, and I wanted you to have some choices."

"Look at all this." There were pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, fruit.

"I’ve already looked at it. Now I want you to start eating some of it, or I’m going to have to force-feed you."

Ooh, tempting— Aw shit, I can’t let my mind go there. Olivia felt too miserable to eat, but when she saw Natalia start to reach for her fork as though to make good on her force-feeding threat, she reluctantly picked it up herself and crammed some scrambled eggs into her mouth. As soon as she swallowed, she turned to Natalia, who was now eating from her own plate. "There. Satisfied?"

"Not quite. I think you better keep going. You need protein, Olivia. Besides, you’ll feel better after you eat."

"Oh, fine." God, I’ll eat this damned stuff it if means I can get you out of here before I do something embarrassing like bawling and begging you not to leave me. Not gonna do that, though. No way. I know how to get dumped while still maintaining almost all my dignity—at least till I’m alone. I should write a book: Getting Dumped with Dignity, by Olivia Spencer.



"You’re not eating."

Olivia looked at the forkful of fluffy scrambled eggs hovering an inch above her plate and lifted it to her mouth. Damn it! She can be so freakin’ annoying!

When she’d finally eaten enough to satisfy the food police, Olivia drank the rest of her coffee, shoved her plate away, and headed into the bathroom to brush her teeth—and think. I just don’t know what to do with you. I guess we’re going to have to have a little "talk," and then maybe you’ll finally go and leave me to—what? Hm, I’m thinkin’ maybe drink myself into a stupor? she thought, eyeing the cabinet where she kept the wine.

As soon as she came out of the bathroom, she started to say something, but Natalia waved the toothbrush she’d just gotten out of her purse and headed into the bathroom. Okay, fine. Put it off awhile longer. It’s not like I can’t wait another minute or two to get my heart broken—again.

By the time Natalia reappeared, Olivia was sitting on the far end of the couch with her arms crossed and her bare feet resting on the coffee table.

Instead of sitting on the other end of the couch, Natalia sat right next to her and tugged at her arm until Olivia finally relented and let her take her hand.

"Olivia," Natalia said.

Panicked, Olivia abruptly tried to stand up, but Natalia wouldn’t let go and she just fell back down onto the couch cushion. "Look, Natalia, I just don’t think I can have this conversation right now."

"I don’t know what conversation you thought we were going to have, but it’s probably not the one we’re actually going to have."


"Olivia, I love you."

"Okay." That’s not the problem. The problem is all the other crap that makes it impossible for you to want to be in a real relationship with me.

"And I don’t want to lose you."

"I think you’re kidding yourself if you think we’re going to be able to be together, all things considered."

"Olivia, I’ve made a commitment to you in my heart. As far as I’m concerned you and I are together. We may not be living together right now or ... uhm ... sleeping together, but all of that is just a matter of time."

I want to believe you, but ... I’m just not sure.

Natalia cupped her face and turned it so she had to look into her eyes. "That is if it’s still what you want. Do you? Do you still want ... me?"

Natalia’s expression was so earnest and so brimming with love, Olivia felt completely lost and finally pulled her into a fierce hug. "Yes, I want you." My god, you’re all I want. She was surprised when Natalia pressed a soft kiss to her lips and then snuggled into her arms. Even that one brief kiss kicked her hormones into overdrive and she could feel an insistent throb in her nether muscles as she sat holding a very beautiful, very sexy, very loving woman in her arms.

No one had ever turned her on this much or this quickly with even the smallest of contact. Olivia found it a little frightening how much she loved Natalia, and nothing—not the ups and downs, not the difficulties they faced—seemed to lessen it one little bit, even though she seemed to reel from one emotional upset to the next. She felt like she was on a merry-go-round from hell, but as much as she wanted to jump off sometimes, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.

Jesus, I am so fucked.


"Are you okay now?" Natalia asked softly. She felt like she was trying to pull Olivia back from the brink, but it seemed like she was almost out of reach. Please have faith in us. "Olivia?" she prompted when she heard no response.

"Not sure."

"Talk to me."

"I don’t know how you can possibly be certain you’re going to want us when you don’t even know how Rafe is going to react. I know you could never stand to be alienated from your son, so if he can’t accept us ... can’t accept me ..."

"He will. Even if he can’t accept it at first, he will eventually."

"How can you be sure?"

"Because he loves me and he’ll want me to be happy."

Natalia could see Olivia wasn’t convinced. "I made arrangements to see him today at the halfway house."

"You did?"

"Yes, I have to talk to him after what Frank said yesterday."

"What are you going to say?"

"I want to find out from him how he feels about the possibility of living with Frank if he’s released after his hearing."

"Are you going to tell him about us?"

"I’m not sure. I need to see how it goes."

When Olivia looked away, Natalia gently drew her face back so she could look into her eyes. "Olivia, I’m going to tell him, but I need to feel my way, okay?"

"Yeah, of course."

"In the meantime, you need to remember I can barely think about anything else but you." Natalia grinned when she saw the first genuine smile from Olivia that morning. "I think maybe you already knew that," she laughed.

"Mm, I’m just glad to hear it."

"And you know what else?"


Natalia thought about their passionate kiss while lying together on the couch at the farmhouse. She could still feel that kiss—and not just on her lips. It seemed to heat every part of her body just thinking about it. "I think Frank has terrible timing."

"Yeah, that was unfortunate," Olivia laughed.

"And now I’m the one with the bad timing, because I need to leave to meet Rafe at the halfway house. I have to be there before he has to report for his work-release program, so ..."

Olivia sighed. "Okay."

Natalia took Olivia’s hand and pulled her to her feet. "I think you should walk me to the door," she said as they walked hand in hand in that direction. "And I think you should kiss me good-bye," she said when they reached the door.

"Must I?" Olivia said softly and then kissed her thoroughly enough Natalia knew it was unlikely she was going to be thinking straight for the foreseeable future.


After Natalia left, Olivia leaned face-first against the door and groaned. Is it possible to expire from being too turned on for too long with absolutely no freakin’ release? ‘Cause I’m startin’ to think maybe it is.

She reminded herself that she could take the edge off her little problem, but for some reason, lately she just hadn’t wanted to. I should probably try to analyze that, but you know what? I’m so exhausted from trying to think through things, I say screw it.

She jumped when someone knocked on the door. "Jesus," she muttered as she opened the door.

"Morning, Ms. Spencer."

"Hi, Doris. Thanks for coming."

"You forgot you asked me to drop by, didn’t you?"

Olivia laughed. "I might have had a momentary lapse."

Doris examined her face appraisingly. "I see you’re ‘wearing’ lipstick, but it doesn’t seem to be your normal shade."

Olivia quickly wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. Oops. Being involved with another woman presents some interesting challenges. I’m not usually the one who has to worry about getting caught with lipstick on my "collar," so to speak.

"That looks more like a shade the lovely Ms. Rivera would wear."

Olivia shrugged as her eyes shifted away from the mayor. Good lord, Doris, do you notice every damn thing? Well, I guess that’s why you were such a kick-ass DA.

"I take it Natalia was just here?" Doris asked.

"She dropped by for breakfast."

"How’s that going?"

"Hard to say," Olivia hedged. "Did you get a chance to check on Frank’s story about the judge scheduled to preside over Rafe’s hearing?"

"Yes, I talked with Judge Walker himself."

"So what’s going on there?"

"Apparently Frank did a good job convincing him that a lot of Rafe’s problems stemmed from growing up without a father and then losing his real father so soon after the three of them finally got together."

"So the judge thinks Rafe committed a felony assault because he grew up without a strong male role model?"

"Yes, more or less, so it was easy for Frank to convince him that returning Rafe to that environment, meaning to live with his single mother again, would not be as conducive to getting him back on track as placing him with a strong father figure like Frank, who’s a detective, no less. The fact that Rafe’s probation officer apparently verified to the judge that Rafe was over the moon about the idea has probably sealed the deal."

"Assuming that’s true about the male role model, I tried to think of another viable alternative, but ..."

"But there really isn’t one, is there?"

"Not anyone who could and would do it, and who would also be acceptable to the court. I mean, I thought of Remy since he and Natalia dated briefly and are still friends, but ..."

"He’s also fairly young, and he doesn’t have the relationship with Rafe that Frank has."


"Olivia, the same goes for Mallet, who’s a new father, not to mention Frank’s son-in-law; and even Sam. He’s a globe-trotting journalist, so there’s no way that could work anyway. I guess the bottom line is there’s no reason for the judge to choose anyone else, even someone like Josh, who, according to you, seems to have taken a genuine interest in helping Natalia, when none of them has the close relationship with Rafe that Frank has. Essentially Rafe and Frank have chosen each other, and there’s no reason for the judge to ignore the close relationship already in place there."

"I guess."

"So that leaves Frank, right?"

"Yes, damn it. Is this the way our court system is supposed to work? Frank can just waltz in and influence the judge like that?"

"Here’s the thing, Olivia. Frank managed to plug into the old boys’ network, plain and simple. A lot of decisions are made outside courtroom walls."

"That’s not right. Natalia is devastated."

"Well, look at it this way: Frank just might have inadvertently done her a favor—and you, too."

"What? You’ve got to be kidding!"

"No, I’m not. Rafe is nineteen; he’s a young man who’s been convicted of a felony and done time in the state penitentiary. Right now he needs to figure out how to make a life for himself with all that hanging over his head, and it’s not going to be easy. No doubt he does need a strong male in his life to provide him with some guidance, which is something he’s never had, right?"

"Well, just very briefly with Gus, but ..."

"Why do you think he clings to Frank the way he does? Why do you think Frank is able to influence him so easily? Frank has already become a father figure to him, hasn’t he?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"That’s not only the most important factor for the court in choosing a male mentor, but I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s not going to change how much Rafe loves his mother. Meanwhile Rafe can have the surrogate father he wants and needs, which is Frank, and Frank is willing to take on that responsibility. That’s not all bad."

"Hopefully not, but there’s something else going on here. I think Frank is trying to use this to drive a wedge between me and Natalia. I told you about that last night when I called."

"Well, I think you might have something to worry about there, I’m sorry to say. Frank’s a very angry man, and based on my experience with him, I’d say he could be vindictive."

"That’s what I’m worried about."

"My impression is he’s genuinely fond of Rafe, though, so I don’t think he’d do anything to hurt his chances to get out or get reintegrated into society. As to his issues with you and Natalia, he may not do anything else. He may have already done all he’s going to do by confronting you both yesterday and venting his anger, but I’m not sure, so yes, I think you should be worried—or at least cautious."

Well, that’s just great!


Olivia had showered and eaten dinner and now waited impatiently for the next knock on her door. It was almost eight and she still wasn’t there. Where are you? Natalia had called to let her know she needed to drop by the church to translate for a Spanish-speaking couple that was in crisis. Father Ray wasn’t available, so Natalia had gone to help figure out what kind of help they needed, but Olivia thought she’d be done by now.

Finally she heard a knock and hurried to the door. "I was getting worried," she said.

"Sorry, I had to stop for gas. I almost didn’t notice I was running on empty," Natalia said as she swept into the room.

"You need to be more careful."

"I know, but it was your fault."

"My fault? Why was that my fault?"

"Because all I could think about was getting back over here to see you, so I didn’t notice my tank was nearly empty."

Olivia grinned and hugged her. "I’m so glad you called and wanted to come by," she said. "Come and sit down. Would you like something to drink?"

"No, thanks," Natalia said as she sat next to Olivia on the couch. She noted she’d changed into jeans and a white t-shirt, and she thought she looked utterly adorable in her casual attire.

"How did your visit with Rafe go?" Olivia asked.

"He was happy to see me."

"That’s good."

"He was also excited about ‘batching’ it with Frank, as he put it, if and when he gets released from the halfway house."

"Oh, I’m sorry."

"I really wanted my son to come back to our home to live with me, but I admit I feel better about it after talking with him."


"Yes, he’s at that age where he wants to be independent from his mommy, and I think he feels he can do that with Frank. I guess if living with Frank can help him better with his adjustment when he gets out, then ... well, I just want what’s best for my son."

"You’re a good mother, Natalia."

"I just want things to be right for my son. He’s been through enough."

"I talked to Doris today. I’d asked her to talk to the judge about all this, and she confirmed what Frank told us yesterday. I asked her about the possibility of a different male role model, but she pretty much concluded that if Frank was the one Rafe wanted as his mentor and if Frank was willing to take on that kind of responsibility, then this was probably in Rafe’s best interests."

"Olivia, thank you for trying to help. I hope she’s right."

"I’d do anything I could for you and Rafe. Did you tell him anything about us?"

"After he made it clear he wanted to live with Frank, I told him I’d asked you to move back to the farmhouse."

"You did? I’m surprised."

"I told him you were going to think about it, but I said I hoped you’d say yes because I was so happy when you and Emma lived there with me."

"What did he say?"

"He said he wanted me to be happy, and he said he’d feel better knowing I wasn’t living out there all by myself."

"Wow, that’s great."

"I told you ... my son loves me."

"He’s not the only one."

Natalia grinned and hugged Olivia. "I’m glad," she said. "Now ... are you feeling any better about us?"

Olivia nodded.

"Good, because there’s one more thing I wanted to talk with you about."

"Uhm ... okay. Is it something bad?"

"No. Well ... yes and no."


"It came up in one of my counseling sessions with Sister Anne, and I wanted to share some of what I figured out."

"So ... what is it you want to talk about?



Chapter 42

Oh my god! You want to talk about sex? What about sex? Are you finally asking if we can have sex? No, no, that can’t be right. You know damn well the answer to that would be hell yes. Did you decide you don’t want to ever have sex? I mean, I’m the "wait for the other shoe to drop" kind of person, so naturally I’m expecting the worst here. Christ, maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe I’m just not ready to hear this. I need time to get prepared for this kind of rejection.

Olivia began to massage her forehead, rubbing back and forth hard enough to try to smooth away the anxiety that was threatening to forcefully erupt out of her turbulent mind.



"Did you hear me? You seem so far away right now."

"Mm-hm, I heard you. Sex. You want to talk about sex. I guess we could do that; talk about sex, that is, if you’d really like to talk about, uhm, sex." Christ almighty! I’m rambling like a nervous teenager on a first date. Can anybody make me shut the hell up?

Natalia grinned and took Olivia’s hand, which she clasped in both her own. "You’re so adorable."


"I don’t think this is anything for you to be upset about. At least I hope it isn’t."

"Me too." Olivia wasn’t used to talking about sex. She was used to having sex—and plenty of it. Well, not lately. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without sex. It wouldn’t be nearly so hard if I didn’t want you so badly. Then it’d just be a general ache and I could take care of it myself, but that doesn’t seem to work so well anymore when it’s you I want and need. "So ... tell me what’s going on." Please, before I start coming apart at the seams.

"Remember the other night when we talked on the phone and I said I wished you were there with me, and you said you knew I wasn’t ready for ... well, you know."

"Yeah, I remember."

"And I told you I wished I didn’t have these ... problems."


"I’d talked about some of that with Sister Anne earlier that day."

"You did?"

"Yes, we were talking about what happened at the farmhouse, and some other things from my past came up."

"From your past?" God, I hope this isn’t anything bad.

"I realized some things I’d never really thought about before."

"Okay, like what?"

"Well, first, I’ve not had a lot of experience ... with sex."

Olivia nodded. Not exactly a news flash.

"I was only with Nicky three times."

"Just three?" Okay, that’s news, although I would’ve guessed it couldn’t have been much, all things considered.

"The first time was when we were in high school. My parents were very strict, and they wouldn’t let me date. I was painfully shy and quiet, so it wasn’t like a lot of boys were asking me out. Oh, some did, but I always said no, until Nicky. He was popular and handsome—and really persistent—and he made me feel special."

"I can understand that." Olivia knew how persistent Gus could be. She’d seen that when he’d done everything in his power to keep her alive, including getting her bumped to the top of the transplant list.

"We used to spend time together after school when I was supposed to be at the library studying. I didn’t dare tell my parents because I knew I shouldn’t be spending time like that with a boy. I wanted to, though, because for the first time I had someone who treated me like I was the most important person in the world."

"I know how that can make a girl feel." It’s how Olivia felt when college boys started asking her out when she was still in high school, so she knew how much that could affect you, especially when you’re so young and inexperienced. She’d never gotten a crush on any of them, but she loved the attention they paid her.

"Sometimes we’d go for drives in his car, and eventually we started kissing. It was okay, but mostly it made me happy because he loved me and he made me feel like I had ... worth."

Olivia nodded.

"And then one time when my parents thought I was spending the night at a girlfriend’s, he took me to a secluded place at one of the beaches on Lake Michigan. We got in the back seat—so we could be more comfortable, he said—and this time when he tried to touch me, I didn’t stop him. He said he loved me. I liked when he kissed me and when he touched my breasts, but I wasn’t really ready for more than that. I still don’t know why I finally let him have sex with me when I knew it was wrong. I guess I wanted to make him happy, so I finally gave in."

Olivia could picture it perfectly—a young, innocent, insecure girl who finally felt like she mattered to someone.

"I didn’t like it. It hurt really bad. Nicky was so happy, though, and he told me over and over how much he loved me, but I felt ashamed and guilty. I’d lied to my parents about where I was, and I’d had sex with a boy. I knew I’d sinned, and then when I found out I was pregnant—well, I don’t need to tell you what happened after that."

"Your parents threw you out?"

"They gave me the choice to give the baby up for adoption or get out. From that point forward my life was all about trying to take care of my baby. Nicky left without a word before I even realized I was pregnant. I didn’t know why he left, and I didn’t know where he went."

"So you worked. You quit school, you had your baby, and you spent the rest of your time working."

"Yes, I did whatever honest work I could find, mostly babysitting and cleaning houses because I could take my baby with me. A lady who worked at the home for unwed mothers let me stay with her after Rafe was born, but she didn’t have much money, so I had to work as much as I could to help us both make ends meet. Her name was Esperanza, which means ‘hope,’ and to me it seemed like a sign that everything would be okay. It was all I had to hang onto—that and my baby."

"I know that had to be really difficult."

"It was all my fault, though, because I lied and I did something I knew in my heart was wrong, which is clearly a sin."

"I understand."

"Many years later I heard from Harley’s daughter, Daisy, who told me Nicky had gone to Springfield. I didn’t know at the time she only told me so it might lead to a breakup between Nicky and her mother. All I knew was finally I felt like I had a way to make things right for my son, who’d grown up without a father, so I moved here and found a job, and then I ... I went after Nicky, even though he was still with Harley."

"I know."

"How could I have done something so wrong?"

"Maybe because you loved him?"

"Well, I did love him, in a way—after all, he was the father of my son—but I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t even realize the difference till ... recently." Natalia blushed and looked down at Olivia’s hand, which she was stroking where it lay on her lap.

Olivia smiled, though Natalia didn’t see it. She knew she was the "recently," but it was still a thrill to hear Natalia refer to it, no matter how obliquely. "So what happened?"

"Like I said, I went after him, but I couldn’t quite ‘get’ him till I finally gave in and we had sex. After that he broke up with Harley, and we got engaged. I knew my son was finally going to get the father he deserved to have, but ..."

"But you felt guilty."

"Terribly guilty. So guilty I told Nicky I wanted to wait till we got married before we slept together again, and he agreed to wait."

"Then you got married ..."

"Yes, but he was so furious with me after what I did to you ..."

"Look, there’s no point in revisiting that. It’s ancient history."

"Olivia, you could have died, and it would have been completely my fault for locking you in the bathroom at the cabin."

Olivia could see tears beginning to well up in Natalia’s eyes. "That’s in the past. Don’t torment yourself with that now."

"But you missed out on the donor heart all because of me. I guess even though I knew you had a real health problem, I just didn’t realize how serious it was. I was trying so hard to hold onto Nicky that I didn’t let myself see what was really going on with you. I just kept thinking you were faking it or at least making it seem worse than it was so you could steal him away." Tears began falling freely now, but Natalia made no effort to wipe them away.

"Natalia, you need to let go of all that. I have."

"But when I realized what I’d done, I felt horrible, and Nicky was so furious he wanted to have nothing to do with me, even though we’d just gotten married. It was our wedding night when he drove up to the cabin to rescue you. Thank god he did, Olivia; otherwise, you would’ve died and it would have been all my fault."

"Hey, you’ve got to stop this," Olivia said as she began to brush away Natalia’s tears. "We’ve worked through all that. There’s no point in dredging it up now."

"Okay, but what I’m trying to tell you is Nicky and I didn’t make love until sometime later that week because he was much too angry with me; and even when we did, I could tell it wasn’t the same for him. I wanted to please him, like I always did, but I felt horribly guilty because of what I did to you and because of how disappointed he was in me. Then it wasn’t long after that night that he died."

Olivia could still vividly remember when she was in the hospital after her heart transplant and found out Gus had died. When Reva told her it was Gus’s heart inside her body, she wanted to die, too. She pushed those thoughts away, though; they were just much too painful to think about.

"All right," Olivia finally said, "so those are the three times you were with Gus, and none of that was particularly good for you, right?"

"That’s right."

"And you felt bad ... guilty ... about all it."


Good god, that’s not a very happy sexual history.

"And then there was that one time with Frank."

Oh shit! I already know that was a bad experience.

"I’ve told you about that. He was devastated over Coop’s death, and I’d only gone over to his place to comfort him and try to make him feel better after all he’d done for me and Rafe, but then he was kissing me and then he was touching me. I didn’t really want to have sex with Frank. I didn’t love him. I didn’t feel any kind of attraction to him. I told you I didn’t know why I let him do that."

"I know."

"But I realize that’s not entirely true."

"It’s not?"

"No, because even way back then I was falling in love with you, and I ... I realized I was so attracted to you. Then when you kissed me that time after Emma’s presentation, I was so ... I was ...."

Okay, I’m just going to hazard a guess here since your vocabulary seems to have gone awol again. "Turned on?"

"Yes," Natalia said softly, "and it scared me. I’d never felt like that before, not with anyone, and all of a sudden I was feeling things, wonderful things, but I got really frightened. I mean ... I knew my church condemned feelings like that for another woman. I felt panicked, especially since I’d never felt anything like that with Nicky, and I think that’s partly why I let Frank do that, like I was trying to be ‘normal’ and fit in with the rest of society by having sex with a man."

"So you felt guilty again."

"Yes, but not just because I had sex outside of marriage and not just because I had sex with someone I didn’t love. I also felt guilty because I felt like I’d been unfaithful to the person I did love—you."

Natalia looked so forlorn and tormented all Olivia could think to do was gather her up in her arms and hold her tight.

"And what happened with ... with that evil man didn’t help," Natalia whispered as she snuggled into Olivia’s embrace.

"I know," Olivia said. "I know that was scary and awful and ... well, one more bad thing to have to deal with. I’m so sorry you went through that."

"I’ve been so confused," Natalia said, "about a lot of things."

"I know. I have been, too." I’m still confused—and fairly terrified right now. I just ... I don’t know what to do. Clearly sex has not been a good thing for you—not ever. You’ve had limited experience, and it’s all been ... well, kind of unpleasant for one reason or another. No wonder you’re so hesitant and nervous about getting sexual with me, even though I think you want to.

Natalia pulled back from the hug and gazed intently at Olivia. "But I’m less confused about some things now."

Okay, that’s new. "Like what?"

"Like I know I love you, and I know I’m ... I’m attracted to you."

"I, uh ... okay, so ..." Wow, that’s a huge admission.

"And I want to ... explore that."

Now we’re talkin’! Olivia’s heartbeat ramped up considerably at the thought of "exploring," and she felt downright woozy at the possibilities. All right, Spencer, you better take it easy here, she reminded herself sternly. "Okay, so ..."

"I just can’t go fast. I’m a little worried about that, too, because I know you’re not used to going slow—or waiting even."

"True, but ... that doesn’t mean I can’t. It doesn’t even mean I don’t want to—go slow, I mean."

"But I also know you’re used to being with people who are a lot more experienced than I am, so ...."

"You know what? That doesn’t even matter. Besides, I’ve never been with another woman, so that’s new for both of us."

"Does it scare you?"

"No," she said. "Yes ... okay, yes, it scares me, but only because I want it to be right for you, for both of us."

"I know it’ll be right if we can just ... take our time and get used to each other."

"Okay, but what does that mean exactly?"

"I feel like I never had a normal ... I guess ‘progression’ ... when I was young, like I think people would usually have, meaning I never had a chance to just get used to someone physically, kind of like one step at a time."

"Like first base, then second base ..."

"Yes, like that, I guess."

"Like you went from first base straight to home plate."

"Yes. Nicky wanted to go really fast. He’d been with other girls, so he was used to getting sexual with the girls he dated. He told me I was the first one he loved, though, and I still believe that was true. But anyway, we went fast, too fast, like one day we were just kissing and the next we were having sex in the backseat of his car. I was nervous and worried and feeling horribly guilty, and I didn’t enjoy any of it. And then, just like that, he was gone."

"All of this sounds pretty ... well, I think ‘traumatic’ is the word."

Natalia nodded. "And I think that’s why I’m having so many problems now. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just what that Jacob did. It’s a lot of things."

"So where does that leave us? I mean ... what do you want to do—or not do?"

"If it’s okay with you, I’d just really like to take things slow."

"We can do that. I mean, we have been doing that, right?"

"Yes, we have. I just know I can’t go from kissing you one minute to ... uhm ... going to bed with you the next, kind of like I did with Nicky—well, and with Frank, too. I just don’t think I can handle that, at least not the way I’m feeling right now. And besides, I’m not exactly sure what two women ... you know, what we’d ..."

"I don’t think we need to worry about any of that right now." I’ve never been with a woman, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have PLENTY of ideas about what to do. Just thinking about some of those ideas made her dizzy with anticipation.

"I also feel kind of embarrassed about all this. I mean ... look at me. I’m an adult; I’ve even had a child, but inside I still feel like the girl I was when Nicky first kissed me."

"Don’t worry about it. There’s no reason for you to feel embarrassed. I feel like I missed out on that part of my life, too, because of what happened to me at such a young age."

"But are you really okay with all this, with going slow?"

"Yeah, I am. I just want everything to be right for both of us, so I have no problem with going slow. In fact, I’ve discovered going slow is actually pretty fun."

Natalia finally smiled. "It is, huh?"

"Yep, fun and incredibly erotic."


Olivia gazed at her intently as she gently caressed the side of her face. "Yes, really."


Natalia leaned her head into Olivia’s caress. I wonder if you have any idea how my stomach flips over when you look at me like that. She loved Olivia’s eyes and the way they looked right into her. They were gorgeous and expressive and capable of turning her insides to jelly.

"So ... what you’re saying is you do want to get at least a little bit close physically, kind of like we’ve been doing?" Olivia asked.

"Yes." Natalia could feel her heart rate begin to pick up at the very thought of any kind of physical closeness with Olivia. She was so beautiful and passionate—and kind of unpredictable—and the net effect was Natalia always felt a little off-balance around her, not to mention lightheaded and so physically attracted to her she barely knew what to do with herself when they were occupying the same space. Back when she was rigidly keeping herself in denial, she’d at least been able to cope, but now that she was in touch with those feelings, she had to struggle to do even the simplest of things—like breathe or speak.

Olivia’s hand trailed down to Natalia’s neck. "Well, we’ve definitely been on first base," she said as she drew Natalia close for a brief kiss.

"I like first," Natalia sighed.

"Mm, love first." Olivia traced her thumb over Natalia’s lips before kissing her again.

Natalia loved how Olivia kissed her. It was so different from anyone else she’d ever kissed. Right now Olivia was taking her time exploring her lips, and Natalia could feel her body’s heated response to the slow oral caresses. When Olivia finally deepened the kiss, she was more than ready for the greater intimacy and found herself pressing her body closer to Olivia’s. She sighed when Olivia pulled back. "So, was that second base?" she asked.

Olivia shook her head.

Natalia had never been sure where the dividing lines were with all those baseball analogies, although she’d certainly heard people use them. "I’m not sure what second is then," she said with a nervous giggle.

Olivia kissed her again and then Natalia felt her hand slide down over her breast and gently squeeze. Without realizing it, she moaned softly. Olivia’s thumb slowly circled her nipple, teasing it to greater prominence, and Natalia could feel an unbelievably powerful ache at the juncture of her thighs. When Olivia stopped kissing her, all she could do was pant from arousal as Olivia’s hand continued to explore her breast.

"Second base," Olivia whispered near her ear.

"Second is good, real good."

"Yeah, I like it."

Natalia knew she’d never been this turned on, ever. Then Olivia replaced her hand with her mouth and nuzzled the aching tip of her breast with her lips, while her hand began to squeeze and massage her other breast. The thin material of her dress and the sheer fabric of her bra provided very little barrier between her body and Olivia’s mouth, and Natalia could swear she could feel that caress all the way "down there," in the achiest part of her body. "Oh my god," she gasped.

"See?" Olivia said. "Going slow can be lots of fun."

Natalia nodded. She was so aroused she could literally no longer speak. Olivia’s hand on one breast and her mouth on the other had taken her somewhere she’d never gone before, somewhere erotic and seductive and astonishing in its intensity. I had no idea anything could feel this good.


Good god, I love second base, Olivia thought as she reveled in the feel of Natalia’s soft curves beneath her hand and mouth. It was an electrifying experience to finally be able to touch her like this, knowing it was all right, knowing it was finally welcome, knowing Natalia was aroused and not frightened by it. I could stay on second all night.

Olivia began to kiss her again, still cupping one breast with her hand, still toying with the aroused peak. By the time she came up for air, they were both panting hard. "You still okay?" she asked, peering into Natalia’s dark eyes.

"More than okay. I can’t believe how you make me feel. I never felt anything like this before."

Olivia slipped her hand beneath both the bodice of the sundress and the bra and cupped her hand around bare, rounded flesh, more than a little satisfied on hearing Natalia’s gasp of pleasure.

Natalia leaned back against the couch with her eyes closed, as though completely focused on the feel of Olivia’s hand on her naked breast.

"Still feels good?" I sure hope so, ‘cause I’ve never felt anything quite this good before.

"Yes," Natalia breathed.

Thank god. Olivia kissed her again, deepening the kiss while her hand continued to explore warm, naked flesh, and soon she began to experience an overpowering desire to undress her completely and really show her what she’d been missing all these years, but some saner part of her brain began screaming at her to slow down.

Reluctantly she extracted her hand from the fun playground it had discovered underneath all that fabric and hugged Natalia to her. "I still think maybe we better stop." Seriously. I think we better stop before my good intentions get lost somewhere in this fog of arousal you have me in, and I find myself stripping you down and carrying you off to bed before you’re really ready.

Olivia started to get up, but Natalia pulled her back.

"No, wait," Natalia said.

"What?" Olivia asked. She knew Natalia needed to go slow, and she felt like this was a good time to stop, at least for tonight, but then Natalia was gazing at her intently. She wasn’t surprised when Natalia’s eyes lowered to her mouth because she’d seen her do that before, but she was surprised when those dark eyes drifted down to her breasts.

Oh my god.


Chapter 43

"You’re so beautiful," Natalia murmured.

"I ... I think we should definitely stop," Olivia said, trying to disentangle herself from Natalia’s arms.

Natalia kept a firm grip on Olivia’s forearm so she had no choice but to remain seated beside her on the couch. "I remember looking at you when you were in the emergency room sleeping after the problem with your pacemaker battery."

"Yeah, I remember."

"You looked so gorgeous lying there. I wanted to touch you—and I did. I smoothed your hair back and I kissed your forehead and I touched your face and your lips," Natalia said dreamily as she ran her fingers lightly down the side of Olivia’s face. That day was still crystal clear in her mind, as were the riotous emotions she was experiencing then—not unlike the ones she was having now.

"I know," Olivia said softy. "I was starting to come out from under the drugs, so I was kind of aware of that, but I wasn’t awake enough yet to open my eyes or move."

"I wanted to kiss you. I wasn’t really thinking. I just leaned close, almost close enough to kiss you, close enough that I could feel my lips tingling as though they were already touching yours." She ran her fingertips slowly over Olivia’s full, sensual lips. "All I could think about was how much I wanted to look at you, how much I wanted to touch you, how much I wanted to kiss you."

"I ... uhm ..."

"Just like I’m feeling right now," Natalia said as her fingers trailed down Olivia’s neck. "I remember thinking I’d never seen anything as beautiful in my life, seeing you sleeping so peacefully; and now that I’ve stopped fighting so hard against this big attraction I feel for you, wanting to touch you has turned into needing to touch you."

Olivia’s eyes looked smoky green and a little glazed over, Natalia thought, and her lips looked just as inviting and seductive now as they did that day at the hospital. She couldn’t resist leaning a little closer and kissing them, a brief and sweet kiss, as her hand slid leisurely down Olivia’s upper chest to finally come to rest over her breast. "So soft," Natalia murmured as her hand slowly moved over the voluptuous flesh. She pressed a kiss to the upper swell and then kissed the very tip, which was now straining against the thin material of Olivia’s t-shirt. "So sweet."


Good lord! Olivia’s arousal was incendiary, and it ignited a powerful response to Natalia’s touch, the most intimate she had initiated so far. She was amazed at how much more arousing it was to be touched like this by her than it had ever been with anyone else. We’ve really got to stop or I’m not going to be able to, she thought, a little panicked. But first things first, she decided as her self-control slipped a notch.

Olivia suddenly cupped Natalia’s face in both hands and kissed her with abandon. Even though she’d only intended for it to be a short kiss, before she knew it, the force of her passion carried her forward, and soon she found herself lying on top of Natalia on the couch, acutely aware of the sexy curves beneath her.

"God, you’re so sexy," she breathed as her hand slid down her side, over the flare of her hip and along the side of her slender thigh before traveling back up to its favorite resting place on Natalia’s ample breast. Olivia broke the kiss only to trail her mouth over the soft skin of Natalia’s neck and upper chest until she finally did what she’d wanted to do for a very long time—bury her face in Natalia’s deep cleavage and finally taste the silky skin there.

Finally some sense of self-restraint kicked in, and Olivia abruptly got up and stood swaying uncertainly next to the couch as she gazed down at the woman still lying there, gasping for breath. I think maybe I’m not the only one in the room who’s turned on. "Come on," she said, holding her hand out to Natalia.

"Where are we going?"

"We are not going anywhere. You are going home."

Natalia laughed. "I am?"

"Oh yeah."

"Right now?"

"Yes! Seriously, we need to stop while we still can—or at least while I still can. I mean, we’re kind of at the place where you either need to get yourself out the door or into my bed, and I really think it’s way too soon for the latter, so ..."

"Okay," Natalia sighed. "I’m going."

"I think it’s for the best."

"I don’t really want to," Natalia said.

"Well, god knows I don’t really want you to."

They both laughed.

Olivia hugged and kissed her before opening the door. "But I think it’s for the best, don’t you?"

"Yes, but ..."


"I’ve loved ... being with you like this tonight," Natalia said.

"Me too."

"Good night, Olivia."


Once she was gone, Olivia leaned against the door with one hand over her heart, which was hammering rather alarmingly in her chest. Sweet Jesus!


The next morning Natalia checked herself out in her full-length bedroom mirror one last time before heading downstairs. She wore a stylish wrap-style dress with a V-neckline and elbow-length sleeves; its deep purple color flattered her olive skin and dark hair. She was finally going back to work at the Beacon after taking some time off, and she wanted to look her best. After all, she’d be seeing Olivia for the first time since last night, and she was already brimming with excitement. Erotic images from the night before continued to whirl through her mind, and her body still felt achy with longing.

Is it wrong to kiss the boss at work? She grinned at her naughty thought. Olivia always looked so regal and breathtaking in her smart work outfits that it was hard for Natalia not to imagine what it might feel like to just walk up to her and kiss her, right there in her office. She’d be so shocked if I did. I know I shouldn’t, but it’d be fun to see her get flustered. Natalia was just beginning to realize some of the effect she had on Olivia, and the knowledge made her giddy.


By the time Olivia made it into her office the next morning, she was on her third cup of coffee. I really need more than a couple of hours of sleep to function properly, she thought, so it’s going to take a boatload of caffeine to keep me going today. She couldn’t totally regret the lost sleep, though, since she’d spent most of those wakeful hours thinking about Natalia. I feel like I’m sixteen—sixteen and in love for the first time. And I just found out how much fun it is to neck. Who knew make-out sessions could be so fun? I guess you’re never too far along in life to learn new things.

After so little sleep it seemed to have taken extra long to shower and dress. Always takes longer when you drop every other damn thing you touch. She had put on a dark blue tailored skirt suit and quickly fixed her hair and makeup before leaving for the office.

She was standing in front of her desk sorting through her in-box when she sensed a presence behind her. She turned around to find a vision in purple. "Welcome back to work," she said with a smile. I wonder if it’d be considered sexual harassment if I grabbed an employee and kissed her right here in my office. She thought a moment. It’s ... uh ... not like I didn’t do that once before.

"Thanks, Olivia. I’m really happy to be back." Natalia smiled and moved nearer to the desk and the in-box on the corner. "Is there anything there I can help you with?"

"Are we talking about my in-box?"

"Or ... whatever," Natalia said, putting her hand on Olivia’s forearm.

Just as they leaned toward each other, they heard someone clearing his throat.

Aw, crap, Olivia thought when she looked over and saw Greg, the banquet manager, standing in the doorway to her office. "Yes?" she asked.

"Sorry to interrupt, Ms. Spencer."

"You’re not interrupting, Greg. What do you need?"

"I just wanted to give you a list of next month’s banquet reservations. We’ve had two major cancellations, and I thought you’d want to know right away."

"You’re right. Thanks." Olivia took the list from Greg and glanced over it quickly. "Those were two major events, too. That’s too bad. I might want to entice in more business by offering some additional discounts next month, but I need to think about it first. I’ll get back to you."

Greg nodded and quietly left, discretely closing the office door behind him.

"I guess that’s not good, is it?" Natalia asked.

"No, hotels in general are really struggling right now. That’s part of why I’m planning to go to the hospitality industry convention that’s coming up."

"You’re leaving?"

"Yes, for a few days."

"I didn’t realize."

"I really just made up my mind to go recently when I looked at our second-quarter figures. Just like all the other hotels in the U.S., the Beacon was down in all three key performance measurements."

"What are you going to do?"

"I have some ideas, but I also want to attend the convention since it’s going to have some seminars on topics I think may be of help, especially the one on integrating technologies more efficiently to meet the modern traveler’s needs. It also means we’ll probably be changing to a new software management system."

"Greg will hate that."

"Well, Greg hates all technology, but these days you need to embrace it or get left behind. He’ll adjust. He always does."

"Speaking of Greg, do you think he noticed anything?"

"What was there to notice?" Actually nothing much gets past Greg, so my guess is he already thinks we’re sleeping together, but I don’t think I’ll share that little nugget of information with you just yet.

"I’ll miss you."

"No you won’t."

Natalia’s eyes widened. "Of course, I will, Olivia. I’ll miss you terribly ... especially now."

"Why especially now?" Olivia asked. She grinned when she saw Natalia blush.

"You know why."

"Well, you’re not going to have to miss me because you’re coming with me."

"I am?"

"At least I hope you’ll come. You are my assistant after all, so it’d be nice if you came along and ... assisted."

Natalia’s dark eyebrows floated up. "You really want me to come?"

"Yes!" In the worst way!

"Where is it?"

"Does it really matter?"

"No, I guess not."

"Look, Rafe’s hearing isn’t for a while yet, right?"

"That’s right."

"And you rarely get to see him or even talk with him on the phone."

"True, and he could still get me on my cell phone if he needed me."

"You can ask someone to check on your place now and then while you’re gone. Wouldn’t it be nice to just get away for a while, even if it’s for work?"

"Yes, it would."

"And we wouldn’t be working every minute of every single day, even though it’ll be an all-expenses-paid trip. I think both of us could use a break, so I think we should take time to see the sights."

"So we’re going somewhere there are ‘sights’?"

"Sure, everyplace has ‘sights,’ right? So, does that mean you’ll come?"

"Sure, if you need me, I guess there’s no reason I can’t come ... unless maybe I should stay here and look after things at the Beacon?"

"No, I’ve already talked with the general manager about keeping an eye on things while we’re gone—that is, if you’ll just say yes."

Natalia grinned. "Okay, I guess if Sheila is going to run things here, then yes, I’ll come."

Olivia grabbed her in a big bear hug. "Good, I’m so glad."

"Me too."

"As an added bonus, we can stop off and see Emma on our way there."

"Really? I’d love to see our little girl!"

"Me too. I expect she’ll have grown gills and fins by now, what with her new interest in marine life, so I just hope we can still recognize her."

Natalia laughed. "So I guess the convention is in California somewhere?"

"Not exactly."

"Then where?"



"We’re going to Hawaii?" Natalia could not believe her ears. "I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii!"

"Me too," Olivia said with a grin. "It’s at the new Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu."

"You’ve never been there?"

"Nope, it’ll be new for both of us. I’ve booked us a two-room suite at one of the nearby hotels."

"You booked a suite?"

"Hey, I can book," Olivia laughed. "I wanted it to be a surprise."

"I can’t believe we’re going to Hawaii." As she’d gotten used to the idea of taking a trip, it had begun to occur to her that getting away for a while might be really helpful after all the stress she’d been under, but now that she knew they were going to Hawaii, she was genuinely thrilled.

"Yep, we’re going."

"Oh, my goodness ... I’ll have to figure out what to take."

"Here, I want you to take this and get whatever you think you might need for the trip." Olivia handed Natalia a Beacon credit card.

"I can’t accept that."

"Of course, you can. You work for the Beacon. You’re taking a business trip. the Beacon is going to pay for anything you need for that—you know ... like clothes, luggage, suntan lotion, swimsuit."


Olivia cocked one eyebrow and tilted her head slightly. "Mm-hm."

Natalia’s eyes narrowed as she took in Olivia’s mischievous expression. "You’re hoping I take a bikini, aren’t you?"

"The thought might have crossed my mind."

Natalia could feel her cheeks heat up and knew Olivia would notice her embarrassed flush. Before she could say anything, Olivia hugged her again.

"Then we can see how far down that blush actually goes," Olivia said softly near her ear, causing a delicious shiver to travel like lightning all the way from her head to her toes.


"So ... you gonna sue me for sexual harassment if I kiss you right here in my office?" Olivia asked as she turned Natalia around and backed her up to the desk.

Natalia shook her head no.

She’s speechless. I’ve learned that’s a good sign. "Good, then I think you should take a seat here," she said, clearing a place on the edge of the desk. She grinned when Natalia obediently lifted herself onto the hard surface. "Don’t move," she said. She walked over to the door and locked it, and then turned around and leaned back against it so she could just feast her eyes on the beautiful woman waiting for her on her executive desk. She looked radiant and happy and ... maybe just a little bit nervous. I think it’s a good "nervous," though, so we’re okay.

Olivia walked slowly back towards the desk until she stood right in front of Natalia’s legs. "I like employees who do what they’re told." She grinned at Natalia’s nervous giggle. "Do you have any idea how gorgeous you are?" she asked as her eyes swept over the latina beauty.

Natalia slowly shook her head.

"Well, you are. You’re gorgeous and you make my pulse race and you do other things to my body that make it kind of hard to think sometimes." Olivia let her hands rest lightly on Natalia’s knees. "Now ... I think you should sit right there," she said, as she gently pressed her knees apart, "and I think I should stand right here." She took a step forward so that she was standing against the desk in between Natalia’s slender thighs and then slipped off her high heels so that they were closer to the same level. "And then I think we should review first base. What do you think?"

Natalia nodded, and Olivia could see her eyes were already focused on her mouth. She loved how Natalia’s arms encircled her waist as she leaned forward to kiss her, loved how she melted into her arms, loved how she responded to her kiss. The more Olivia kissed her, the more insistently her body throbbed with desire. She knew it was a little dangerous to engage in such an extended session of deep kissing like this when she knew they couldn’t go much further, but after all, Natalia wanted to "go slow" and "go" was a part of that. Hey, I’m just being cooperative here.

Olivia wasn’t sure how long they’d been kissing. All she knew was they were both gasping for air when they finally broke apart. She leaned her forehead against Natalia’s as they both panted hard.

"Wow," Natalia said softly.

"Exactly what I was thinking."

"And that was just first base!"

Olivia laughed. "Yeah, that’s right. Now ... I’m going to tell you a little secret."

Natalia giggled. "Okay."

Olivia’s hands followed the twin edges of Natalia’s V-neckline till they met at the vee, just above all that glorious cleavage Olivia couldn’t seem to get enough of. "When you wear a wrap-style dress," she said, "that’s just an invitation to get unwrapped."

Natalia moaned when Olivia’s hands covered her breasts and gently kneaded her rounded flesh, and then she watched in fascination as one of her hands drifted down to the tie at her waist.

"It makes a person wonder, ‘What would happen if I just tugged on this tie?’"

Natalia’s nervous giggle spurred Olivia on. If Natalia had tensed up, she’d have let it go, but since it was obviously turning her on, well, how could she possibly resist? As it turns out, she couldn’t. She loosened the tie just enough to allow her to slide the top of the dress down off Natalia’s shoulders to reveal a pale lavender bra and a whole lot of gorgeous tan skin. "My god you’re beautiful," Olivia breathed.

She covered both bra-clad breasts with her hands. This is just unbelievably erotic, she thought as she felt the tips hardening under her palms. She could see that Natalia’s pupils were dilated and her lips looked slightly swollen after their long kissing session. Even her blush had now extended down her neck and over her upper chest. Olivia loved looking at her lips, which were slightly parted as she panted ... no doubt from arousal. She just couldn’t resist those sweet lips, and before she knew it she was kissing her again, and she kept on kissing her till she feared she’d pass out from lack of oxygen if she didn’t stop.

With great reluctance she drew back, pressed a kiss in the vee of her cleavage, and then pulled the top of her dress back up. "I guess I better wrap my ‘present’ back up," she said.

Natalia sighed and leaned against her, arms wrapped around her waist. "It’s hard to believe that’s just second base."

"I know."

"Makes you wonder what third base is all about if second is this good."

"Does it now?" Olivia asked as one brow lifted. She ran both hands along the outside of Natalia’s thighs and then slipped her hands under her skirt and repeated the motion, but this time she kept going until she was able to cup Natalia’s buttocks. "Now I’m cheating a little ‘cause we’re really not supposed to be anywhere near here yet, but just so you know ..." With her hands still gripping Natalia’s shapely behind, Olivia pulled her to the very edge of the table so that Natalia’s center was pressed tightly against her pelvis. "Third base has a little something to do with this."

Olivia grinned when she heard Natalia moan in response. "Mm-hm, exactly."


Chapter 44

Natalia’s achy center experienced such a powerful spasm when Olivia pulled her so tight against her body, she thought she might actually pass out. She was vaguely aware she’d moaned as her head drooped forward to rest on Olivia’s chest, and she clung to her for dear life as she was a little afraid she might slide right off the desk if she didn’t. She wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to move or speak or function in any way. The only thing she was sure of was she’d never felt anything like that before.

Olivia placed a finger under Natalia’s chin and tilted her head up to deliver one incredibly sensual kiss and then stepped back and slipped her heels back on.

Without Olivia’s solid grip on her, Natalia thought she might well pitch forward onto the floor if she tried to move at all, and she could imagine herself lying there the rest of the day, just one big incoherent puddle of longing.

"Time to stop," Olivia announced cheerfully as she distanced herself from the desk.

"Nnn ..."

Olivia chuckled. "I know. I don’t really want to stop either."

All Natalia could do was look at her. I can barely stay conscious for second base. How could I ever keep from passing out if we went any further?

"You okay over there?" Olivia asked from the safety of the door.

Natalia nodded.

"Well, good, because I think you should take some time out and go shopping. We’re leaving in a couple of days, so ..."


"Ah, so you can still speak."

Natalia blushed. "Barely."

"Well, I don’t think you need to be able to talk to shop. Just grab stuff and hand ‘em your plastic."

"You sure you don’t need me here?" It seemed odd to be sent off shopping on her first day back at work.

"Very sure. I consider this part of your job, by the way. You need to get yourself ready for the convention, so ... you’re on the clock."

Natalia laughed. "Well, if you say so. What are you going to do?"

"Very shortly I’m going to pass out from lack of sleep, so I’m going to try to make it back down to my suite for a nap before that happens."

"You didn’t sleep last night? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I’m fine. I just had trouble sleeping."

"Is there anything I can do for you?" Natalia shivered when Olivia just stood and stared at her for a long moment.

"Well, you could go out with me tonight."

"Like, on a date?"


"Okay, I’d love to. Where are we going?"

"Something I’ve never done before, and I bet you haven’t either."


"I’ll just say wear cool, comfortable clothes—jeans, skirt, shorts, tank top, something like that. This is more of an after-dinner activity, so if you get done shopping in time and I get enough sleep, we could grab a quick bite somewhere. Otherwise, I’ll pick you up after dinner. Just call me later so we can compare notes and decide."

"Wouldn’t it be better if I came into town to pick you up?"

"Nah, where we’re going is actually a little bit closer to your house."

"Are you sure you feel up to driving? I mean ... am I the only one who remembers you haven’t been out of the hospital all that long? You’re a lot stronger than you were, but I happen to know you’re still not completely back on your feet, Olivia."

Olivia grinned. "I’m a little surprised you haven’t noticed how feisty I am these days."

"Oh, I noticed." How could I not notice? Natalia thought, as a series of very feisty Olivia moments swirled through her mind.

"Besides, if I’m too tired to drive back into town, I’m sure you’ll let me bunk on your couch."

"Well, I guess I might even let you sleep in a bed."

"See? Problem solved. And by the way, I’ll be driving one of the Beacon SUVs, just so you know."

"Is your car in the shop?"


"Uhm ... okay." I can see you’re not going to tell me anything else, so I’m not going to ask anymore questions. I wonder where you’re taking me. I don’t think there’s anything out here "close" to my house. Oh well, I guess I’ll find out later.

Natalia very carefully eased herself off the desk and walked toward the door on embarrassingly wobbly legs—and to make matters worse, it was very clear from Olivia’s grin that she’d noticed her shaky condition.

"All right, Ms. Rivera, I believe you have work to do—at the mall."

Natalia smiled as Olivia leaned down to kiss her briefly before opening the door and quickly ushering her out.


Olivia drove up to the farmhouse in one of the black Beacon SUVs around 8:30, jumped out, and headed toward the door with a spring in her step. She was wearing jeans and a light blue button-front blouse with short sleeves, and she was definitely keyed up in anticipation of their date. They’d agreed to meet after dinner since Natalia was running late from her shopping errands, but Olivia had said she’d pack a cooler with drinks and snacks—an easy task if you had an entire kitchen staff at your disposal, eager to satisfy the boss’s every whim.

Olivia’s eyes widened in appreciation when Natalia opened the door wearing a pale pink tank top and black jeans. "You look so pretty in pink," Olivia said as she hugged her hello. "Are you ready to go?"

"Yes, I just need to grab my purse."


They walked arm in arm to the SUV, and Olivia opened the passenger door for Natalia. "I always wanted to do that," she said with a jaunty grin.

Natalia flashed a wide white smile, and Olivia’s stomach did flip-flops at the sight of her dimples. I really don’t think you have a clue how adorable you are, she thought as she climbed into the driver’s side. Part of her was painfully tempted to just grab the beauty next to her and spend the rest of the night kissing her till she begged to find out what home plate was all about, but she managed to control her raging hormones enough to turn the key in the ignition and send the SUV rolling away from the house—and away from the possibility of breaking the "go slow" rules.

They headed down the country road that led to the farmhouse, but soon Olivia had them flying down a nearly deserted state highway, heading further away from the city.

"Are you sure there’s something actually out here?" Natalia asked.

"Yep, in fact, it just had its grand opening last weekend."

"I just have no idea what could be all the way out here in the middle of the countryside."

Eventually Olivia turned onto a side road, and after sweeping around a curve, their destination finally sprang into view. Olivia glanced at Natalia to catch her reaction.

Natalia laughed. "It’s a drive-in! We’re going to watch a movie?"

"Watch it? Wow, I hadn’t thought of that, but sure, I guess we could if you wanted to." She nearly laughed out loud when she realized her implication had been totally lost on her rather innocent date.

"What’s playing?"

"No idea." They weren’t quite close enough to see the marquee at the proper angle to read the movie titles.

"So if you weren’t planning to watch the movie, what were you planning on doing?"

Olivia pulled the SUV in line behind a Mustang and turned to look at Natalia with a pointed expression on her face.

Natalia giggled. "Oh."

Ah-ha! I knew you’d catch on sooner or later. "Mm-hm. Ever been to a drive-in?"

"No, I never have."

"Me, neither. I always wanted to go, though. You know, cinema alfresco, movies under the stars. Other kids got to go when I was in high school, but my mother would never let me go, not even with girlfriends," Olivia said.

"My parents wouldn’t have let me do anything like this, either," Natalia said. "I thought most drive-ins had gotten closed down."

"I read that a lot of them across the nation had closed, but the article also said they’re undergoing a bit of a revival right now, especially since indoor movies have gotten so expensive. This drive-in went dark for a lot of years, but they refurbished it and opened it again just recently. There used to be over a hundred in this state, but now this is one of only about a dozen operating now."

"That’s sad."

"I think so too, ‘cause I think I’m really gonna like going to the drive-in," Olivia said with a cheeky grin.

As soon as she paid, Olivia wheeled the SUV through the entrance and headed for the far corner of the very back row.

"That’s pretty far away."

"Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to be able to see everything I want to see just fine. Of course, if you’d rather I park closer to the concession stand with all those other cars up there instead of back here all by ourselves, just say the word." I probably still won’t move though. I just want you all to myself way back here—and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be around other cars right now either.

It was already dark by the time they reached the theater, and it wasn’t long before the movie started. The screen looked enormous, and there were rows and rows of parking places stretching out under the star-studded night sky. The large concession stand was centrally located, and was currently a hubbub of activity as couples and families swarmed in and back out laden with food and drink.

"Oh look, it’s Will Ferrell," Natalia said, as the opening credits rolled. "I’ve seen ads for this movie. It looked pretty funny."

Olivia took her hand and held it on her thigh. "Mm-hm. Did you get all your shopping done?"

"Well, I did get some things to wear to the conference, and since I didn’t really have any beachwear, I got some of that since my boss told me I had to get something to wear on the beach."

"I bet your boss appreciates an employee who does what she’s told."

"You know, she told me that just today."

"She did, huh?"


"Did you get a bikini?"


I’m pretty sure that means you did, and oh my god, I can hardly wait to see you in it. "So what’s she like to work for, this boss of yours?"

"She’s a great boss. She’s smart and powerful and generous and sexy."

"Sexy?" Olivia asked, tilting her head to the side. I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean for that to slip out.

"Uhm ..." Natalia looked down at her lap, heavy lashes shuttering her eyes.

"I take it you consider that a plus, to have a sexy boss?"

Natalia’s face reddened, and she looked out her side window. "What I meant to say was—"

"No, no, you can’t fix it now. Your secret is out. You think your boss is sexy. What would she say if she found out you said that?"

Natalia looked back at Olivia with a faint smile. "I don’t think she’d say anything."

"More of a take-action kind of person?"

Natalia nodded.

"You are so right," Olivia said softly and leaned sideways to kiss her bare shoulder. "Love you in tank tops. Did I ever mention that?"


"Well, I’ve been remiss, because wow, you are just smokin’ hot in that." Olivia loved Natalia’s embarrassed grin, although she did turn her head away again, which carried those sexy dimples out of sight, much to Olivia’s chagrin. However, she still had a provocative view of a certain someone’s deep cleavage, which evoked some very hot memories, hot enough to cause her to shift restlessly in her bucket seat in response to the insistent deep throbbing that seemed to have become an unrelenting feature of her life lately.

Natalia looked around the empty parking places around them. "I guess nobody wanted to park way back here."

"Even if they did, at least the SUV is higher than most of the cars, so it makes it a little harder to see inside."

"Oh, I see. So that’s why you brought the SUV?"

"Well, that and the tinted back windows. Too bad about the state laws prohibiting heavy tinting of all the windows."

Natalia laughed. "You think of everything."

You have NO idea. "I try. Of course, the tinted windows provide more privacy if you’re actually sitting in the back." Plus it’s a lot roomier back there what with no bucket seats and all. I mean ... you need plenty of room for a major make-out session, right?

"Oh, they do, do they?"

"Mm-hm, but then I’d have to think of a way to talk my girl into getting back there with me."

"How are you going to do that?"

"Not sure, but while I’m trying to figure that out ..." Olivia slipped her hand behind Natalia’s neck and pulled her closer. "... I thought maybe I’d see if she’ll let me kiss her right here at the drive-in."

"I ... uh ..."

"I mean ... it’s tradition, you know, necking at the drive-in. All the kids do it." Olivia could see Natalia blush the minute she mentioned "necking," and she recognized it immediately as a good blush, so while Will Ferrell ran screaming from some prehistoric carnivore, Olivia moved in for a soft kiss on the lips. "See? That wasn’t so bad, was it?"

Natalia looked around again.

"It’s dark. Nobody’s back here—and even if they were, they’d have a very hard time seeing inside this thing."

"I guess you’re right."

"Or ... we have a couple of other choices. We could actually just sit and watch the movie, or if you’d like to feel more private, we could move to the backseat."

"I ..."

"And while you’re thinking that over, I think I’ll just sit here and entertain myself." Olivia lifted heavy dark tresses to reveal a slender neck and pressed her lips there in a warm, wet kiss, and then pushed her hair back further and traced her tongue around Natalia’s ear, before dipping the tip into its center. She could sense a tiny tremor in Natalia’s body as she pulled back to look at her. "Now we could forego the necking altogether, if you’re not in the mood." Of course, I can already tell you are in the mood, so I feel pretty safe saying that, she thought with a certain degree of smugness.

Natalia looked at her a moment and then in an impressive display of dexterity, turned sideways and easily slipped into the back seat.

"That’s my girl," Olivia said with a chuckle. "My god, you’re limber. I’m not sure I can do that without getting out. Oh wait, I think the front passenger seat folds down."

They managed to find the latch, making it much easier for Olivia to scramble into the backseat. "I’m not quite as flexible as I’d like to be after that extended ‘vacation’ at Cedars."

"But you’ve come a really long way, Olivia. I’m so proud of how good you’ve been about exercising every day."

"I try— Ow, shit!"

"You okay?"

"Just bumped my wound against the headrest as I passed through."

"Are you okay? Are you bleeding?"

"I’m fine, and no, I’m not bleeding. It’s completely healed. It’s just still a little tender—well, if I’m careless enough to actually ram it into something."

"Let me see."

"I’m fine."

"I want to see," Natalia said, reaching for the front of Olivia’s blouse.

Uhm, wow. Are you sure you want to do that? That’s not going slow. "Hey, if you really want to see, here, I’ll show you." Olivia unbuttoned two more buttons and pulled her blouse apart far enough for Natalia to see the dark, mostly round scar tissue.

Natalia ran her fingers over it. "Does that hurt?"


Natalia kissed the damaged skin gently. "How about that?"

"N- no, that actually feels pretty good. We should have thought to have you do that while I was still in the hospital. I probably would’ve healed much faster—or at least I would’ve been a lot happier with this treatment option."

Natalia grinned and Olivia could no longer resist those dimples. She quickly dipped the tip of her tongue into the nearest one before it disappeared. "Love your dimples," she whispered. "So sexy."

"You make me feel sexy."

Olivia looked around them. "See how dark it is out and how dark the side and rear windows are back here?"

Natalia nodded.

"I think we’re pretty safe back here, okay?"


"Good, because I really think we should be doing less talking and more necking," Olivia said as she began to kiss her in earnest. My god I love being a teenager again.


Natalia felt intoxicated by the nostalgic date night Olivia had arranged for them. It evoked a happier, simpler era in her life, making her excited to feel like a teenager on a daring date under the stars at the drive-in theater. She felt a little naughty and a whole lot turned on. Olivia had been more relaxed and playful lately than she’d ever seen her, and she knew a big factor in this recent change was directly because she herself had finally accepted not only that she was in love and wildly attracted to Olivia, but also because she’d told her she wanted to explore that attraction.

She’d discovered that "exploring" was far more exciting and far more arousing than she’d dreamed. She’d actually done a fair amount of dreaming and a whole lot of fantasizing about holding Olivia and touching Olivia and kissing Olivia, but the reality of it was so much more overpowering than she could have possibly imagined because there was nothing in her experience to give her an inkling of how amazing their physical closeness could be.

When Olivia kissed her, as she was doing now, she literally felt transported, as though she were no longer in this earthly dimension, but somewhere sublime where her body floated on a cloud of agonizingly sweet arousal.

She never tired of Olivia’s kisses. At first Olivia gave her a closed-mouth kiss, their lips brushing together gently, and then Natalia could feel the very tip of her tongue leisurely tracing over her lips. It was amazingly erotic and arousing, and Natalia could feel a copious amount of fluid gathering between her thighs. When Olivia finally began to deep-kiss her, it felt a little like the first time. Those deep kisses never failed to wrench a deep response from her nether region—just feeling Olivia’s tongue slip past her lips and glide inside her mouth, caressing her tongue, stroking the sensitive roof of her mouth—and all she wanted was for it to go on and on and on.

With regret, she felt Olivia pull back.

"Give me your tongue," Olivia whispered with one hand cupped around the side of her face.

At first Natalia was startled, not sure what she meant, but then Olivia’s mouth was covering hers again, and tentatively Natalia’s tongue ventured out a little ways. As soon as it did, Olivia drew it farther into her own mouth and began to suck on it gently, and Natalia could feel such a powerful throb between her legs she thought surely she was going to pass out.


Chapter 45

By the time Olivia’s mouth released its tiny pink prisoner, both women were panting hard. Natalia lay with her head on Olivia’s chest, and Olivia rested her chin on the top of her head while gently caressing her bare shoulder. She could smell the raspberry scent of her shampoo mixing with the rich aroma of the leather upholstery.

"So, how do you like necking at the drive-in?" Olivia asked after she’d recovered enough to speak. I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but it’d be fun to hear what you have to say, especially now that I’ve noticed it kind of gets to you when I use words like "necking."

"It’s good," Natalia panted.

"Making out getting you a little turned on?"

Natalia hid her face in the crook of Olivia’s and nodded.

"Mm-hm, thought so," Olivia said as she stroked Natalia’s long, silky hair. "Me too." See? You get all off-kilter when I even say things like that, let alone do them. She ran her hand down Natalia’s arm until she could grasp her hand, which she brought up to her lips. She kissed the knuckles and then turned it over and pressed a kiss to the palm.

Natalia turned her head so she could watch Olivia’s mouth as it explored her hand. She shivered when Olivia’s lips pressed against the pulse point in her wrist and then moved to the throbbing pulse in her neck.

"Hm, your pulse seems to be unusually fast. Think you’re coming down with something?" Olivia asked. Like maybe a case of over-stimulation? She loved seeing Natalia in such an obviously aroused state. It gave her hope they would, indeed, move beyond second base one day—hopefully one day soon!

Natalia sighed and shook her head.

Olivia ran her fingers lightly over her neck, amused when Natalia shivered. "You seem to have a very sensitive neck."

"Makes me wonder."

"Makes you wonder what other parts of your body might be this sensitive?" Olivia asked.

"No, makes me wonder how sensitive your neck might be," Natalia said.

Dear lord, she’s going to figure out what kind of effect she has on me, and then what will I do?

Natalia’s head was already cradled on Olivia’s shoulder, so it was a very short journey to test out her theory. Natalia kissed her neck just under her ear and then began to spread tiny kisses down the side of Olivia’s neck and over to the hollow of her throat. "I think maybe I’m not the only one with a sensitive neck," she said.

"Uhm ... I’ll never tell."

Natalia grinned. "You already did."

Aw damn. It was the rapid breathing, wasn’t it? Or maybe the gasp? Or maybe it was the uncontrollable trembling that gave me away. "Hm, don’t want to give too many secrets away."

"Too late."

Olivia laughed. "Well, I think we need to move this ball game along, don’t you?"


Olivia gently kissed Natalia on the mouth again, lips barely touching, while her hand clasped the side of her neck. "I don’t think I could ever get tired of kissing you," Olivia said.

"Me either."

Olivia kissed her again, another chaste kiss, but this time her hand drifted from her neck to her upper chest and finally came to rest over her breast. "In case you forgot what’s on second." She gently stroked the rounded flesh, avoiding the center at first, acutely aware of the changes in Natalia’s breathing, whose rate had just noticeably picked up. "Does that mean you like second base? I think I may have forgotten to ask you that yesterday."

Natalia nodded.

"Was that a yes?"

"Yes," Natalia whimpered as Olivia caught her hardening tip between her fingers and tugged gently.

"I try to check on these things, just to make sure," Olivia said softly as she moved to her other breast to tease the turgid peak she found there.

Natalia groaned.

"I think we may have located another sensitive area or two."

Natalia seemed to be breathing too hard to respond.

"I hope I can keep track of all this," Olivia said. "Maybe I should make a list." She peered into Natalia’s eyes, which in the semidarkness looked inky black. "Or maybe if I just practice enough, I’ll be able to remember them all." She moved her hand off of Natalia’s breast only to slip it under her tank top so she could get one layer closer to bare skin. Now only the sheer fabric of Natalia’s bra stood between her hand and naked flesh. She slowly massaged her breast, her hand gliding easily over the slick material as she stroked underneath and along the sides and over the top. "My god you feel good." She loved squeezing and molding the firm mound in her hand, loved enticing the tip to even greater prominence, loved feeling Natalia blossoming with arousal under her touch.

Olivia was feeling wildly aroused. In fact, she could swear she’d never been this turned on, ever—even when someone was touching her like this—but when she heard Natalia moan as she played with her breast, her arousal ratcheted up another several notches, and she could feel herself dangerously close to losing her grip on any semblance of self-control.

"Is it getting hot in here?" Olivia asked as she drew her hand out from under the tank top. "Or is it just me?"

Natalia turned toward her. "I think it’s you," she said softly. "I think you’re just very hot."

Olivia wondered if it were possible that the usually naive Ms. Rivera had actually used a double entendre. Nah, that can’t be right, she thought, but then she felt Natalia’s hand curling around her neck as her lips grazed her cheek.

"You’re very beautiful and very sexy and very hot," Natalia said, letting her hand slide onto the small vee of skin revealed by the two buttons left open on Olivia’s blouse.

Feeling Natalia’s hand there, right on the sensitive skin of her upper chest, made Olivia’s breath catch, and she could feel her self-control becoming further compromised. My god, I think that was a double entendre. I’m trying really hard to be good about that whole "go slow" thing, but you are NOT helping. Seriously.


Natalia loosened the next button on Olivia’s blouse, but Olivia quickly stilled her hand before she could move on to the following one.

"I’m thinking maybe we should stop now," Olivia said.



"No." Natalia turned more toward Olivia so she could pull Olivia’s hand away from hers and press it against her own upper thigh, while she freed the next button on Olivia’s light blue blouse. When Olivia started to protest again, Natalia spread her blouse as far open as she could and kissed Olivia’s upper chest, just below the hollow of her throat, and then continued south, following the line of her impressive cleavage.

She was aware Olivia’s head had tipped back to rest against the back of the seat and decided it was safe to quickly unhook the remaining buttons on her top, allowing her to fully spread open the soft material. It was hard to tell for certain in the muted light, but it looked as though Olivia was wearing a baby blue sheer bra to match her blouse. She’d done enough of Olivia’s laundry in the past to know she’d be wearing matching panties.

Tentatively she ran her hand lightly over Olivia’s breast, marveling at its softness and at the immediate moan it elicited. When Olivia gasped at the feel of her fingers passing over her nipple, Natalia lingered there, gently circling the straining tip till it pressed rigidly against the bra cup.

"You have the most amazing body, Olivia." She smiled at Olivia’s groan when she moved her hand to her other breast and lightly stroked over it until she could feel the evidence of her arousal there, as well. She covered both breasts with her hands and squeezed gently as she leaned forward to bestow a gentle, loving kiss to those sensual lips she just couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off. "Amazing and soft and sexy, just like you," she added.

Olivia abruptly crushed her tight against her body, so tight she could feel the heavy pounding of Olivia’s heart against her own chest.

"I think ... no, I know we better stop," Olivia panted.

"Are you sure?"

"VERY sure!"


"Because I’m starting to think too much about home plate, that’s why."

Natalia giggled as she pulled back from Olivia’s intense embrace. "Home plate? I’m not even sure what third base is."

"I know! That’s why we’ve got to stop," Olivia said as she started to button her blouse back up.

Natalia took ahold of her hands. "But I wanted to kiss you ..." She let one hand cover Olivia’s breast. "Right here," she added as her thumb found a rigid peak.

"Oh god," Olivia gasped.

Natalia pushed one side of Olivia’s blouse back out of the way and kissed the tip of her breast, nuzzling the erect peak with her lips as her hand cupped the side of the sexy rounded flesh.

"You’re killing me," Olivia said as she gently pushed Natalia’s head away. "You are seriously killing me here."

"Are you saying you didn’t like that?" Because I could tell you did.

"No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying if we don’t stop, well, I’m afraid I’m going to lose it, and then who knows what might happen next," Olivia said, continuing to button her blouse.

Natalia could feel a wave of heat flowing over her skin from the top of her head to the tips of her toes as she tried to imagine what might happen next—whenever they got that far along. She was beginning to realize that whatever it was, as long as she was with Olivia, it would be incredibly good.


With her last button finally secured in its rightful slot, Olivia felt marginally safer. Her breasts were normally very sensitive and they certainly craved attention, but Natalia’s sudden interest in them had knocked her completely off-balance; and furthermore, she was astonished at how much more arousing it was when it was Natalia touching her like that. Her hand caressing one of her most sensitive areas was stimulating enough, but when Olivia felt her mouth closing around her nipple through her bra, she thought for a moment she might actually come. Now that is seriously turned on. She’d never felt that close to climaxing without actual genital stimulation of some kind, so it was a major revelation how close Natalia had brought her with such a simple and brief caress. That’s just ... well, kinda scary, that’s what that is. It made her feel out of control, which was the main thing she’d fought against most of her life.

"Come here," Olivia said, pulling Natalia to her in a hug. "You make me feel amazing things; did you know that?" She could feel Natalia shrug. "You’re so sweet and so pretty and so sexy, but you know what?"

"What?" Natalia looked up at her.

"I think what makes all this feel so amazing is that I’m just so in love with you."

"You really are?"

"Yes, I really am. I am totally in love with you."

"I love you too, Olivia. You make me feel loved and safe."

"I’m glad. I want you to feel safe. That’s why sometimes I have to stop. I don’t want to do anything too soon because I want everything to be okay for you." And believe me, it’s getting harder and harder to stop.

"Everything’s been more than okay. I don’t feel scared with you ... just a little nervous sometimes, but not in a bad way."

"I know, and I’m glad." At least I’ve finally figured out the difference between the good nervous and the bad nervous, she thought.

"You make me so happy, Olivia."

"You make me happy, too. In fact, I’m totally ready to go steady, even though I don’t have a varsity jacket or a class ring to make it official."

Natalia laughed.

Olivia grinned. "I’m not sure if that was a yes or a no."

"That’s a yes, but I think we were already going steady."

"Well, best to make it official then and seal it with a kiss." Olivia gave her one last slow kiss while the end credits of the movie rolled.

When the kiss broke, they both became aware the movie had finally ended.

"I wonder if that T. rex ever caught Will Farrell," Natalia said.

"We can Google it tomorrow if you really want to know," Olivia said. "Right now we have bigger problems."


"We’ve got to try to crawl back into the front seat. I might have to cheat this time."

"No, you can do it. You go first."

Olivia managed to maneuver herself back into the driver’s seat of the SUV with only some minor difficulties, and then Natalia easily climbed into the passenger seat.

"I hate you," Olivia said with mock anger, "for making that look so easy when it really isn’t all that damn simple."

They both laughed as Olivia headed for the exit, leaving behind their first drive-in movie date. When they reached the farmhouse, Olivia walked Natalia to the door. Her hands were thrust deep in her pockets where she hoped they could manage to stay out of trouble.

"It’s late," Natalia said, "and I know you have to be tired. Why don’t you just stay here tonight?"

Oh god, I’d love to stay here, and not just because I’m tired either, but the very reason I want to stay so badly is exactly why I don’t dare do it. "I think I should just head back into town."

"There’s no point in doing that when you could stay here. I hate to think of you driving all the way back when you’re this tired."

"Look, it’s tempting—"

"Then just do it."

"I’m a little afraid of what might happen, especially considering how worked up I’m feeling right now."

"Look, we can both promise to be good. It’ll be fine. The bed in your old room has all clean sheets. In fact, I washed all the bedding."

"Yeah, well, you’re assuming I’d have enough self-control not to come tiptoeing into your room at some point in the dark of night."

"Well, would that be so awful?" Natalia asked softly.

"No, it wouldn’t be awful." It’d be freakin’ GREAT! That’s the problem.

"I mean ... we could sleep in each other’s arms and wake up together. Wouldn’t that be nice?"

"Yes, very nice, but seriously, I’m not sure if I could behave myself right now."

"You’ve ‘behaved’ yourself for a really long time, Olivia. What makes this so different?"

"I’ll tell you what makes it so different," Olivia said in a low voice. "I’m so turned on right now I can barely string two thoughts together. All I can think about is how much I want to take all your clothes off, how much I want to make love to you, how much I want to show you what home plate is all about." Christ! I need to shut the hell up and go home!

Natalia swayed slightly as one hand slowly rose to cover her heart. She started to say something, but instead stood mutely staring up at Olivia with her lips parted a fraction of an inch.

Olivia could see by the pale yellow glow of the porch light that Natalia’s eyes were dilated, and her breathing had quickened. Oh my god, I think she’s almost as turned on as I am, which means I better get the hell out of here. I wish the time was right. If it were anyone else, I could convince myself it was, but I know it’s too soon, way too soon, so I’m going to have to go before I do something to ruin this entire night.

"Olivia," Natalia whispered.

"Natalia, I should go."

"Do you have to?"

"Yes." God yes! Olivia turned to go, hands still deep in her pockets.

"Don’t I at least get a good-night kiss?"

Olivia abruptly stopped and stood stock-still for a second, then she whirled around and took two steps back so that she stood directly in front of Natalia, who had the audacity to just stand there looking so gorgeous and so sexy in the soft light bathing the porch that before she could think it through, her hands whipped out of her pockets, took hold of Natalia’s shoulders, and pushed her unceremoniously against the door—and then Olivia was kissing her good night, and it was a long, deep, steamy good-night kiss that seemed to go on and on as her hands slid down Natalia’s arms and moved around behind her to cup her buttocks and pull her so close their pelvises were crushed together. Olivia broke the kiss only to seek out the tender skin on the side of Natalia’s neck where her pulse was so strong Olivia could feel it pulsating against her lips.

With an agonizing effort, Olivia finally just leaned her forehead against Natalia’s and moved her hands up to a much more respectable position on her waist. "See?" Olivia said. "That’s why I have to go. I can feel my bad girl trying to come out, and we really don’t want that."

"What do you mean your ‘bad girl’?" Natalia asked, tipping her face up so she could see Olivia more clearly.

Olivia groaned. She tried to formulate an explanation, but she was having too much trouble thinking clearly. Suddenly she kissed Natalia passionately as her hand slipped between her thighs and pressed against what she knew damn good and well was Natalia’s most sensitive flesh. She could feel Natalia collapse forward into her arms, as though her legs were no longer sufficient to bear her weight, and Olivia held her tight while her hand brazenly rubbed over denim that provided very little barrier to the whim of her errant caress.

After her brief stolen moment of wanton fondling, something she knew she should NOT be doing right now even though Natalia had made no move whatsoever to stop her, Olivia abruptly withdrew her hand and stepped back to get away from further temptation.

"Sorry about that," Olivia said. "But see? That’s why I have to go. I don’t think we want my bad girl coming out and doing inappropriate things like that, and right now I just don’t think I have that part of me very well under control—well, obviously." Shit! You’d think I’d never heard about self-restraint.

"Olivia ..."

"Are you okay?" God, I’ve probably freaked you way the hell out now.


"You sure?" That can’t be right, can it?

"Yes, I’m okay."

"All right, then I’m going now." Olivia waved as she backed further away, and then turned and quickly left.

When she was far enough away to be out of sight of the farmhouse, she pulled off onto the side of the road and leaned her forehead on the steering wheel. Jesus Christ! This whole self-control thing is hell. I thought I was doing pretty well there for a while, but god, I totally lost it back there. I know one thing for sure. I really can’t wait too much longer to hit a home run.


Chapter 46

Natalia leaned back against the door watching the red taillights of the Beacon SUV grow smaller and smaller until they finally disappeared into the pitch-black night. Both her pulse and her mind were racing. She was shocked at her body’s molten response to Olivia’s unexpected—and very intimate—caress, which had left her legs rubbery and her center unbearably achy.

"Was that third?" she whispered into the darkness.

She knew all about Olivia’s "bad girl," as she’d called it; but what Olivia didn’t know was Natalia was in love with all of her, even—or maybe even especially—the naughty, impulsive part that did things like demonstrate what the parents at Emma’s school were thinking during the "My Two Mommies" presentation or grab her suddenly in the office that day before they’d gone to the bank. She loved everything about Olivia. She was strong and passionate and, yes, impetuous, but it was the part of her that acted without thinking that had finally managed to break down the barriers of Natalia’s denial, leaving her achingly aware of her deep love for Olivia and the astonishing physical attraction she felt for her.

Natalia had no idea how long she’d been leaning against the door of the farmhouse gazing into the dark of night, mind spinning reel after reel of sexy memories—Olivia’s eyes, Olivia’s hands, Olivia’s mouth—but finally she dragged herself out of her haze of arousal and slowly made her way into the house and up the stairs to take a shower.

As she stood under the warm spray of water, she was hyperaware of her own nakedness, especially when it seemed like everywhere Olivia had touched her was still tingling. As her hands lathered soap over her body, she found herself imagining Olivia’s hands running down her arms, over her breasts, down her belly—and the deep and powerful ache at the juncture of her thighs became increasingly more pronounced and much harder to ignore. Instinctively she knew Olivia would know exactly what to do about that ache. In fact, her "bad girl" would have been happy to spend the night showing her exactly how to take care of what had become a disconcerting problem.

I don’t think she’s "bad" at all, Olivia. In fact, I think she’s sexy and exciting—and she doesn’t scare me the way she used to. The more Natalia thought about it, the more she longed to see that part of Olivia—the uninhibited, unpredictable part—completely unleashed and allowed to do exactly what she wanted. The thought caused such a powerful and immediate wrench in her nether muscles, she had to lean against the tiled wall of the shower for support.


Olivia collapsed onto the bed in the penthouse suite after her shower. With her mind chock-full of erotic images from the drive-in date, she rolled onto her stomach and fought the temptation to touch herself and relieve what had become a pretty damned uncomfortable ache.

Shit, I had no idea it was even possible to get this turned on. Who knew every single cell in your body could ache with lust? In the not-so-distant past she would have just pleasured herself while fantasizing about Natalia, but now it felt like that would leave her feeling sad and empty and downright depressed. See what you do to me? And now it’s looking like you’re the only one who can actually help me with my little problem, damn it.

She was startled when the phone rang, but quickly smiled as her hand snaked out to grab the handset. I bet I know who this is. "Hello?"

"Olivia? I just wanted to make sure you got home okay."

"I’m here."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, are you?" ‘Cause I’m kinda worried that little naughty impulse of mine might have freaked you out.


"Are you sure? I mean ... I’m sorry I got carried away back there. I really shouldn’t have done that." Well, kinda sorry. I mean I’m sorry if it wigged you out, but to be honest it felt freakin’ fantastic to hold my hand right there over your sex and see you nearly collapse from arousal. I don’t know how much longer I can keep my hands off you. After tonight, I’m guessing not too damn much longer.

"It’s okay. I’m not upset."

"You’re not?" God, what a relief!

"I’m really not. You’ve just left me feeling ... feeling ..."

Oh boy, here we go. Good thing I love word games. "Upset? Worried? Confused?"

"Uhm ... no, I just ... my body feels all ..."

Ah, okay, need to switch word categories. "Tingly? Turned on? Wildly aroused?"

Olivia could hear a quick intake of breath followed by a faint giggle.

"Yes," Natalia finally said. "All that."

Thank you, Jesus! I think we might be going to the big game sometime very soon—or at least I pray to God we will—and then I’m gonna knock one outta the park. "I think that’s a good thing," Olivia said. "Or at least I hope that means you’ve forgiven the bad part of me that won’t always behave itself."

"Olivia, I love that part of you."

What? No, that can’t be right. I mean ... isn’t that the part that’s created problems in the past? "You do?"

"Yes, I really do. It’s part of who you are, and ... and it’s ..."

Olivia could hear in her voice the effort it was taking to try to put her feelings into words. "It’s what?"

"It’s a very exciting part," Natalia said so softly Olivia could barely hear what she said.

Well, well, well, that’s interesting information. Very interesting, indeed. It’s not helping my resolve to be good, but it is interesting. Don’t you get how dangerous it is to let me know something that? If I weren’t dead on my feet, I swear to God I’d drive back out there right now and show you just how "bad" I can be, and where would that leave us on that whole "go slow" rule? Not on second base, I can tell you that much.


Natalia spent the entire next day running errands, packing, and doing what seemed like a hundred other things that needed to get taken care of before she was ready to leave, including finding someone who’d check on the farmhouse while they were away. Josh had volunteered to keep an eye on things for her when they’d run into each other at Company and Natalia had mentioned the impending trip.

Although she’d fought her on it at first, she was glad Olivia had insisted she take the day off from the Beacon so she’d have the time she needed to prepare for the trip. She still felt a little guilty, though. After all, she’d just returned to work the day before and she’d only spent about thirty minutes at the office before Olivia sent her out shopping. With a blush she realized most of those thirty minutes had been spent sitting on the executive desk getting kissed and fondled by a certain drop-dead gorgeous CEO.

Unfortunately she hadn’t seen Olivia at all today as she’d been adamant Natalia have sufficient time to get ready and they both get plenty of rest before their big travel day. Natalia could see the wisdom in that, but she missed Olivia terribly. The last couple of days had spoiled her, and now it seemed like the more she saw Olivia, the more she wanted to see her. However, she realized it was a good thing she’d had all day to prepare for the convention trip because it was nearly ten and she was only just now finally showered and ready for bed.

At least I’ll get to see you tomorrow, she thought as she crawled into bed. She wanted to call Olivia, but she hesitated because she didn’t want to wake her if by chance she was already asleep, especially when she was aware how much trouble she’d been having sleeping lately.

The phone ringing brought a happy end to her quandary, and she grabbed the handset quickly, a little breathless with anticipation at the chance to hear Olivia’s voice. "Hello? Olivia?"

Olivia’s throaty laugh rippled over her nerve endings, leaving shivery goose bumps in its path.

"Yeah, it’s me. Did you get everything done today?"

"Yes, of course. My boss might have decided to fire me otherwise," Natalia said, grinning.

"Hm, I have a feeling she might come up with some other sort of punishment—just for you."

"Like what?"

"Like ... well, maybe someday you’ll find out."

Natalia shivered when Olivia laughed again. She had no idea what she might be talking about, but nonetheless she could feel her cheeks heat up.

"You still there?" Olivia asked.

"I’m here."

"Did you have a good day?"

"Very good. I got to talk to Rafe on the phone briefly to let him know about the trip. He was really happy for me."

"That’s good. I’m sure Emma will be excited to see us tomorrow. I haven’t talked with her or Ava since day before yesterday, but they’re expecting us."

"I can hardly wait to see her."

"We’ll see if we can drag her out of the ocean long enough to say hello."

Natalia laughed, but then grew quiet as she became aware once more of how much she longed to see Olivia. "I really missed you today," she finally said.

"I missed you, too. You have no idea how much."

"I wish we could have seen each other, even if it was just for a little while." She’d been hoping they could at least meet for lunch or dinner, but Olivia had said she just didn’t have time.

"I know, but we both had too much to do."

"Well ... I still missed you."

Olivia chuckled. "Missed all that good conversation, huh?"

"Uhm ..." Natalia giggled. "Mm-hm."

"Is that all?"

"You know that’s not all."

"How would I know? I think you should tell me what else you missed."

"I ... I missed seeing you." I love just looking at you. Sometimes I feel like I get lost in your eyes, especially when you look at me like ... like you do sometimes.

"Okay, what else?"

Natalia shivered. She knew what else she missed, but it was really hard to try to put it into words. "I missed getting to ... hug you."

"Okay, hugging’s good. Anything else?

Natalia struggled for words.

"I guess that’s about it then."

"No, wait. I missed ... I missed ..." This is so hard.

"Need some help?"

Natalia nodded.

"I’m going to guess you just nodded."

Natalia laughed. "I did actually."

"Mm-hm, thought so. Let’s see ... I’m going to guess you missed getting held."


"And kissed."

Natalia sighed. "Yes."

"And ... touched."

Natalia nodded again, then remembered Olivia couldn’t see her. "Yes, that too." She loved when Olivia touched her; in fact, she’d come to crave her touch and her kisses.

"Believe me, if I were there, I’d be more than happy to take care of all that. In fact, right now I really wish I could kiss you good night."

"I wish you were here."

"Well, maybe I can be there, sort of, if you’ll let me."

"What do you mean? Of course I’d let you."

"No, that’s not what I meant. I think we should try a little experiment."

"What kind of experiment?"

"A fun experiment, I’m guessing, but only if you promise you’ll do exactly what I tell you. Will you do that?"


"Promise me."

"I promise."

"Okay, first I want you to put your phone on speaker and set it on your night stand."


Olivia laughed. "Okay, this is how this is going to work. You need to trust me and just follow directions and not ask questions. Think you can handle that?"

Natalia grinned. "Okay, I can do that." She had to search for the speaker button since it wasn’t a feature she normally used. "All right, phone is now on speaker and it’s on the night stand."

"Good girl. Now turn off your light if it’s on."

Natalia twisted the antique brass switch on her hurricane table lamp and lay back on the bed in total darkness. "It’s off now."

"Good. Now I know it’s dark, but I want you to close your eyes anyway, okay?"


"Tell me what you’re wearing."

"I, uh ... I’m wearing a white cotton tank top and white knit shorts." Natalia waited for a response, but didn’t hear one. "Olivia?"

Olivia cleared her throat. "I’m here. That’d be a good outfit to take on our trip."

"Oh, it would?" I guess that means you like it. Olivia always made her feel beautiful—the way she looked at her, the way she touched her, the way she made it clear how much she wanted her.

"Mm-hm, just sayin’." Olivia cleared her throat again. "Are you lying down?"

"Yes, with my head on my pillow."

"Okay, now I want you to imagine I’m sitting on the edge of the bed right beside you."

"Okay." I’d love it if you really were sitting right here.

"You can feel my thigh resting against your hip and the warmth that creates where our bodies are touching," Olivia said softly. "Remember when I cupped your cheek last night?"


"I want you to touch your cheek just like that, just stroke it slowly and gently, and imagine that’s my hand caressing your face."

Natalia obediently raised her right hand and slowly stroked her cheek. She could feel a dull ache already making itself known "down there" just from Olivia telling her to touch her face.

"Remember what came next?"

Natalia nodded.

"I’m guessing there’s more nodding, but just in case, I’ll remind you anyway. After I touched your face, I kissed you, right on your gorgeous sweet lips. Remember that?"


"Now imagine I’m sitting right next to you on the bed and leaning down over you. You can feel my hair brush against your face as I get closer, and you know I’m going to kiss you. You can feel my breath on your face as I come nearer," Olivia said in a low voice.

Natalia could remember that kiss perfectly, both the kiss and how it made her feel, and thinking about it now had pretty much the same effect, because she was beginning to feel what was becoming a familiar aching sensation when she was around Olivia.

"Now I want you to think about that kiss from last night, and I want you to touch your lips with the very tips of your fingers. Just run your fingertips over your lips and imagine those are my lips on yours."

Natalia groaned involuntarily when her fingers touched her lips. She knew it was partly because the kiss from the night before was still so vivid and partly because of the feel of her own touch, but she was also aware a lot of what she was feeling had to do with hearing Olivia’s voice, which had begun to sound husky, telling her exactly what to do.

"Can you feel that? Can you feel me kissing you?"

"Yes," Natalia whispered.

"Good, because if I were there right now, that’s exactly what would be happening. There’s no way I could resist kissing you, and I don’t think I’d even try, not tonight. I can imagine how sexy you’d look in your white tank top and shorts, and I think I’d have to lean down and touch my lips to yours, taste the velvety skin there, smell the faint aroma of cinnamon from your toothpaste."

Natalia stirred restlessly as her body slowly heated up more and more. It felt almost as though Olivia were actually there with her, leaning over her and kissing her, like she had the night before in the SUV.

"And you know I wouldn’t be content for long with a chaste kiss like that," Olivia said, her voice low and silky. "You know I’d have to slip my tongue in and touch its tip to yours, don’t you?"

Natalia nodded as her heart rate quickened.

"I want you to touch one finger to the very tip of your tongue. Now stroke it just a little bit and think about the last time I French-kissed you."

Natalia abruptly pressed her thighs tightly together to try to ease the unbearable ache at her center. Nobody had ever said things like that to her, but recently she’d been discovering Olivia’s frank talk about sexual matters was having an unexpected and highly titillating effect on her body. "Olivia," she whispered.

"I think that means this is going well. Is it?"

"Yes," she breathed.

"Are you getting turned on?" Olivia paused to wait for an answer. "Are you there? Talk to me."


"Yes what?"

"Yes, I’m getting ..."

"Turned on?"

"Yes, turned on."

"That’s good. That’s very good. You’ve been very obedient. I like that," Olivia said with a chuckle.

Natalia stirred restlessly on the bed, her body a mass of throbbing need.

"Now I have another task for you. Are you ready?"


"Don’t ask me questions; just do it, okay?"


"Remember when I touched your breasts in my office the other day?"

Natalia swallowed hard. "Yes."

"You were sitting on my desk and I was standing between your legs."

"I remember." Natalia could still feel the thrill she experienced when Olivia had pressed her knees wide enough apart that she could stand between her legs. It was one of the sexiest things she’d ever experienced.

"Had to make sure you remembered," Olivia said. "Now I want you to cup your hands over your breasts."

"I’ve never ..."

"Just do it," Olivia whispered. "I want you to cover your breasts with your hands."

Natalia had never touched her own breasts unless she had a specific reason to do so, such as when she showered, so it seemed strange to do so now.

"Think about when I touched you like that in my office when you were sitting on my desk. I want you to do what I did. I want you to touch your breasts and squeeze them and stroke them."

A crystal clear image materialized in Natalia’s mind, and she could remember exactly how Olivia looked when she touched her and exactly how she herself felt—how her blood had heated and suffused her skin with pink, and how her body had produced more liquid heat between her thighs, just as it was doing now.

"My hands are on your breasts, squeezing gently, and now I’m kissing you again, gently on the lips. Are your nipples hard?"

"I ..." Natalia could feel herself blushing profusely at such a blunt question.

"I want you to touch them till they get hard, just like I made them yesterday, okay?"

Natalia began to pant as her fingers stroked her breasts till she could feel firm peaks forming under her hands.

"Now imagine those are my fingers caressing your nipples and making them hard. As soon as I feel them pressing into my palms, I get so turned on I have to kiss you again, and this time I’m deep-kissing you and it’s slow and it’s sexy and it just goes on and on."

Natalia moaned with arousal. She couldn’t believe what Olivia had done to her—over the phone! My god, she thought, what could she do to me if she were right here with me?

"Now tell me something," Olivia said low and soft. "Do you feel like you’ve been well and truly kissed good night?"

"Yes," Natalia breathed.

"That’s good," Olivia said. "But I want you to make me one more promise."


"Promise me you’ll stop touching yourself now," Olivia said. "I want to be the one to do that—and I’m going to do that ... and maybe a whole lot more one of these days when you’re ready."

"So no touching myself."

"For now, anyway. You know why?"


"Because I desperately want to be the one to show you how to run all the bases. That’s why."

"Okay." Natalia wasn’t sure what Olivia thought she was going to do, but she obediently—and truth be told, a bit reluctantly—took her hands off her breasts and rolled over onto her side facing the handset, which was still lying on her night stand. Olivia had made it seem like she was the one touching her like that and kissing her, and it was an amazing revelation.

"And now I think we both should get some sleep. I’ll see you at my place in the morning, and we’ll ride to the airport together, okay?"

"I can hardly wait to see you."

"Me too," Olivia said softly. "Good night."

"Night, Olivia."

Natalia curled into a ball on her side and thought about their upcoming trip. Soon she’d get to spend several days with Olivia, just the two of them, away from everyone and everything associated with Springfield. The very thought of the two of them alone in a tropical paradise filled her with nervous excitement, and she wondered how she could possibly ever fall asleep. I’d rather think about you than sleep anyway, she thought as she began to replay their entire phone conversation in her head.


That went well, Olivia thought as she stood beneath the bracing spray of icy water. I’m not sure if a cold shower is gonna help my problem, but hey, I thought I’d give it a shot. Couldn’t hurt, right?

She was poignantly aware that for Natalia sex had not only not been pleasurable, it had been the source of stress and anxiety and guilt, not something physically satisfying, enjoyable, or just plain fun. That’s just not right, she thought. She was determined to change all that, and hopefully the past few days had begun to reveal to Natalia a whole different perspective on sex. I sure hope so, anyway. It’s a crime that a beautiful, sweet, sexy woman like you has never really enjoyed sex. In fact, if there was one thing Olivia was certain of it was that Natalia had never experienced an orgasm. She would bet the Beacon on that—and she could hardly wait to show her what she’d been missing.

Olivia stepped out of the shower and toweled off vigorously before padding back into the outer room and slipping between the sheets naked. Just can’t stand to put anything on right now, she thought. Besides, it was helping her imagine what it might be like to finally hold Natalia in her arms with absolutely no clothing acting as a barrier between them.

I’ll do my best to be good, but Jesus, it’s getting harder and harder to behave myself, and I’m just not sure how much longer I can hold out. I really hope you’re ready to round the bases sometime soon. She could hardly wait till the two of them were alone together in Hawaii.


Chapter 47

Natalia stood outside Olivia’s door early the next morning. She was both excited and a little nervous to see her after that disconcerting phone conversation the night before, during which Olivia had managed to get her just about as turned on as if she’d been right there in the bedroom with her touching Natalia herself. She blushed as she remembered Olivia telling her very specifically what to do—not to mention the way she’d obediently followed her titillating directions.

Finally Natalia managed to pull herself out of her sensual reverie enough to rap lightly on the door.

When Olivia opened it and saw her, she grinned. "I do believe you’re already blushing," she said as she held the door open wider.

I just knew you were going to notice, Natalia thought, as she ducked her head and stepped over the threshold.

Olivia closed the door and immediately pulled her into a tight hug. "You’re not embarrassed, are you?" she asked softly near Natalia’s ear.

Natalia shrugged. She was a little embarrassed, but in an odd way, that only made it even more exciting to finally be here with Olivia.

"Don’t be embarrassed," Olivia said as she drew back to look at her face. "You weren’t the only one getting turned on."

"I wasn’t?"

"Good god no! I had to take a cold shower after we hung up."

Natalia laughed. "You did?"


"Did it help?"

"Sadly, no." This time Olivia laughed. "But it was totally worth it. After I showered I went to bed completely naked and lay there thinking about what it would be like if you were there with me in my arms, naked as well."

The image Olivia planted in her mind of the two of them lying naked together traveled at the speed of light to her already achy center and set off that familiar and increasingly hard-to-deal-with throb. Olivia was just so ... frank ... about sexual matters, which was completely outside of Natalia’s range of experience. For her, sex had been something you just did not talk about—something secretive and shameful. To experience sex through Olivia’s playful and erotic filter gave it a whole new perspective, one that surprised her and titillated her and escalated her arousal to an alarming extent.

"Hm, I think your blush just got a little deeper," Olivia said.

Natalia’s eyes dropped and she laughed softly. "It’s all your fault."

"Mm-hm, I know," Olivia said. "You know what else?"


"All I’ve been able to think about all morning is how much I want to kiss you."

Natalia looked up into smoky green eyes gazing down at her intently. That’s all she’d been able to think about, too—when she’d see Olivia this morning and when Olivia would finally kiss her. The wait was agonizing, but now here she was finally with her. Her eyes move down to focus on Olivia’s lips. She could see a faint smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, and she could feel herself tremble in anticipation of a morning kiss.

"Right now there’s nothing I’d rather do than kiss you, just take you in my arms and kiss you over and over till neither of us knew where we were anymore."

Natalia swayed slightly. She felt almost dizzy with desire—desire for one of Olivia’s sexy, sensuous kisses.

Olivia leaned down close enough that their mouths were a mere fraction of an inch apart. "I know how incredible it would feel to kiss you now. You look so gorgeous and so sexy standing there like that. I can see how much you want me to, and that just makes me want to do it that much more."

Natalia heard somebody moan softly and realized she must have been the one making that low sound in her throat—but Olivia’s mouth was so close to hers, agonizingly close, and all she wanted was to feel those full lips pressed against hers.

"Sadly, there’s just no time."

Natalia was shocked when Olivia squeezed her tightly for a brief moment and drew back. "What?"

"No time. Gotta go. We have a plane to catch." Olivia grabbed her purse and keys and opened the door.

Confused, Natalia looked around the room as though in a drunken stupor.

"My luggage is already in the limo, so all we have to do is get the driver to load yours from your car, and we’ll be good to go."

They stood side by side as the elevator whooshed toward the ground floor and the covered parking garage where Natalia had left her car.

"You did that on purpose," Natalia said, without looking at Olivia.

"Did what?" Olivia asked, glancing sideways with one eyebrow lifted.

"You know what," Natalia said, turning to look up at her. And that expression on your face confirms it, she thought.

"You are so totally adorable," Olivia said as the doors to the elevator slid open. "I have to be honest. I was afraid if I started to kiss you, I wouldn’t be able to stop, and we would’ve missed our flight for sure. I’ll make it up to you, though. I promise."

Natalia studied Olivia’s face and realized she was serious. I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t have wanted to stop either.

Once they were ensconced in the back of the limo sitting side by side, flying silently over the highway toward the airport, Olivia scooted over right next to Natalia, so that their bodies were touching all the way from their shoulders to their feet. She picked up Natalia’s hand and kissed the back, before tucking it firmly against her bosom, where she held it captive with both her hands.

Natalia sighed. Sometimes being with Olivia felt like getting swept up by a tornado and carried aloft, completely at the mercy of the powerful forces of its gale winds, and then sometimes you could get sucked into the middle where everything was calm and peaceful despite the debris whirling around you outside the eye of the storm.

"You know ... waiting can be good for you," Olivia said softly.


"Waiting," she repeated. "It can be good for you. Trust me. Anticipation can sometimes make it even better."

"I don’t know if I can stand for it to get much better," Natalia said dryly.

Olivia dipped her head to kiss Natalia’s hand again, and then she slipped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her tight against her side. "Well, I hope you can, because it’s certainly going to."

Natalia’s stomach flipped all the way over.


They’d been in the air for hours. Olivia knew the flight from Springfield to San Francisco took about four and a half hours, so she knew they should be arriving soon. She’d had fun showing Natalia brochures of the hotel where they’d be staying. She’d picked the Ilikai Waikiki Beach Hotel because it was close to the new Hawaii Convention Center and it was also on the beach, making a stroll on the sand at any hour of the day more than feasible.

"Do you think we’re almost there?" Natalia asked.

"We’ve been in the air almost four and a half hours, so we should be getting in any minute now."

"And they’re two hours behind us in San Francisco, right?"

"That’s right."

"So how far behind us is Hawaii time?"

"Five hours."

"Five? That doesn’t sound right."

"That’s because we’re on daylight saving time right now, but Hawaii doesn’t change."

"Oh, I see. That’s a pretty big time difference."

"I know. We may need to take lots of naps," Olivia said, reaching for Natalia’s hand. She grinned when she saw a slight blush. I guess you noticed the suggestive tone in that statement, Olivia thought. I know you weren’t happy with me this morning, but I really meant it when I said I didn’t think I could stop. Besides, I think it may do you some good to let that desire for a kiss sit and simmer for a while. I’m thinking it might help you get a little more in touch with a desire for other things, too. At least I pray to god it will, ‘cause I’m seriously hurting here.

"By the way, just so you know," Olivia said, "I’m going to tell Ava about us."

"You are?"

"Yes. I want to tell Emma sometime soon, but I’d like for Ava to know first."

"But you’re not going to tell Emma on this trip, are you?"

"No, I don’t want to tell her something like that when we’ll be flying out so soon afterward."

"I think that’s a good idea. How do you think Ava will react?"

"I think she may be surprised, but I really don’t think she’ll have any problem accepting it."


"I could be wrong, but I think she’ll take it in stride."

Just then the pilot announced they were getting ready to land in San Francisco, and Olivia could feel Natalia gripping her hand tighter.


"Mommy!" Emma broke away from Ava and Jane and streaked toward the two women walking towards her in the airport terminal.

Olivia knelt down to hug her, and Emma tugged on Natalia’s hand till she joined them.

"I missed you, Jellybean," Olivia said as she squeezed her tight.

"I missed you, too," Emma said. "I missed both my mommies."

Natalia smiled at Olivia over Emma’s head on hearing her "my two mommies" declaration. She truly loved Emma as if she’d given birth to the little girl herself, both for her own sake and also because she was part of Olivia.

Olivia glanced up at Ava and grinned. "So, how’s all this visiting been going?"

Ava smiled. "It’s been pretty great. We’ve had lots of fun, haven’t we, Emma?"

Emma nodded vigorously.

"And Jane’s been wonderful," Ava added.

"That’s good to hear," Olivia said. "Thank you for coming out here, Jane."

"It’s been fun," Jane said.

Natalia loved watching Olivia interact with her youngest daughter. One of the things that had surprised her the most when she was first getting to know Olivia was what a good mother she was. No matter what else might be going on in her life—her potentially terminal heart disease, the scheming with Alan, the attempts to steal Nicky—she was consistently a loving and gentle and kind mother to Emma. It was an amazing revelation at the time, considering how much she disliked Olivia back then.

It’s hard to believe there was a time I wasn’t in love with you, Natalia thought as she watched Olivia stand up, her hand entwined with Emma’s smaller one; let alone a time when I actively disliked you. They had agreed to dress comfortably for the flight, and Natalia thought Olivia looked gorgeous in her blue jeans and aqua scoop-neck top that currently matched the color of her eyes.

"How long can you stay?" Emma asked.

"We have a four-hour layover, and then we need to get back here and catch our next plane."

"Can we go to the zoo?"

"We can do anything you want, baby," Olivia said.

"Oh boy! I want to see Hasani," Emma said.

"Hasani?" Olivia asked.

"The baby gorilla," Emma said.

Ava laughed. "We’ve been watching for his next exhibit time, which is today. He was born December 8, so he isn’t a tiny baby, but he’s still really little and they don’t have him out all the time. We saw him on the news this week, and Emma has been dying to go."

"Okay then," Olivia said. "Who wants to go to the zoo?"

"Me, me, me!" Emma said, clearly ecstatic she was going to get to go to the zoo.

"Me too!" Natalia said, raising her hand.

"Do you need to pick up your luggage?" Ava asked.

"No, since we’re just on a layover, it’s still in the airport luggage system—and hopefully will be joining us when we land in Hawaii."

The walk from the airport to Ava’s car was rather long, but for Natalia it felt good to be able to stretch her legs. Olivia looked no worse for wear after such a long flight. You really are doing so much better physically. It seemed like not that long ago Olivia had trouble walking from the car to the gazebo in the park in Springfield. Still she thought Olivia would probably need a nap once they took off for the five-hour flight to Hawaii.

As soon as they arrived at the zoo, Natalia thought they might have to put lead weights on Emma to keep her grounded, she was so excited about seeing the baby gorilla. Fortunately the gorilla preserve was in the southwestern corner of the zoo, not terribly far from the main entrance. Natalia was glad because even though Olivia was looking strong at the moment, she knew how easily she still tired.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Emma’s shriek of happiness when she spotted the little black six-month-old gorilla with a large female, who Ava said was his surrogate mother, Bawang, since his birth mother had abandoned him shortly after he was born. I can relate to getting abandoned like that, Natalia thought as she watched the small ape rolling on the lush grass inside his enclosure.

Natalia wasn’t sure who looked happier—Emma seeing the baby or Olivia watching Emma. Her own heart filled with joy at the sight of the two of them. She desperately wanted them to move back into the farmhouse with her, and decided to bring it up to Olivia again as soon as an opportunity presented itself.

After watching the antics in the gorilla exhibit for a while with Emma, Olivia knelt and hugged her little girl. "Hey, Jellybean, I want to talk to your big sister for a minute. You can stay here with Natalia and Jane and watch the baby, okay?"

Emma nodded, and Olivia and Ava wandered off down the path toward the nearby African Aviary. While they were gone, Emma chatted excitedly. Natalia found out Hasani meant "handsome" in Swahili, and Emma said there was even a baby shower gift registry you could sign up for online to help purchase gorilla-appropriate items, like fresh fruits and vegetables, enrichment toys, bedding, and even infant milk formula, which Emma said he’d be on for five years. Natalia smiled when Emma announced she was going to talk her mommy into letting her sign up for it because she wanted to get Hasani a toy. Natalia was certain the determined little girl would have no trouble convincing Olivia, who she knew would find it great fun. Just listening to Emma and watching her joyful appreciation of the little gorilla made Natalia feel lighthearted and happy.

However, she couldn’t help but be a bit nervous about the little chat Olivia was having with her other daughter. She wasn’t as certain as Olivia that Ava would accept their relationship; however, when they returned awhile later, Ava walked up to her immediately with a big grin on her face and hugged her, while Olivia smiled at her knowingly, as if to say, "See? Told ya’."


Olivia couldn’t believe they were finally checked into their two-room suite at The Ilikai. It had been wonderful to see Emma, and the talk with Ava had exceeded her fairly optimistic expectations. In fact, even though Ava was surprised, she seemed to be only mildly so. Mostly she said she was glad that Olivia was happy. Now what more could a mother ask for? It had been fun to see Emma’s excitement at the zoo, and just as fun to see the happy expression on Natalia’s face as she watched their little girl.

In fact, Natalia had gotten excited about a number of things that day, including the traditional lei greeting Olivia had arranged for their arrival at the airport and her first glimpse of their deluxe high-rise oceanfront hotel, located on the Ala Wai Yacht Marina at the edge of Waikiki. Natalia had been surprised when Olivia told her The Ilikai was famous for the opening shot in Hawaii Five-O, which featured Jack Lord standing on one of its penthouse balconies.

When they arrived at the hotel, it felt late enough to them that they decided to order something from room service to eat on the balcony, which had an ocean view of Waikiki. It was fun and relaxing eating a light dinner in such an exotic setting.

Afterward they both retired to their respective rooms to brush their teeth and take a shower. Olivia smiled when she remembered Natalia’s shock on learning that each of their rooms had its own private bathroom. That’s ‘cause we’re traveling first class, baby. I mean ... what’s the point of having money if you can’t spend it on things that add a little enjoyment to life?

After her shower Olivia put on a pair of lightweight silky white pajamas with cropped pants and a button top and headed back into the living room area of the suite, which was decorated in warm tropical colors. She was hoping to see Natalia, and sure enough, there she was standing at the balcony overlooking the beach. Olivia couldn’t see what kind of night clothes she was wearing because her back was to her and she had on a white kimono robe that came down to just above her knees.

Olivia walked up behind her and put her hands on the railing on each side of her, effectively trapping her between the guardrail and her body. "Nice view?" she asked.

"Beautiful view," Natalia sighed.

Olivia swept her long hair aside and kissed the back of her neck. "I believe I made a promise to you this morning."

"A promise?"

"Yes," Olivia breathed near her ear. She noticed Natalia shiver. "I made a promise, and I always keep my promises. Don’t tell me you forgot."

Natalia turned around so that she was facing Olivia. There was enough of a breeze coming off the ocean to ruffle her heavy dark hair as she stood there looking up into sea-green eyes. "I didn’t forget."

"Well, I promised I’d make it up to you—that is if you still want me to." Olivia’s eyes glided downward. Natalia’s robe was standing open, and Olivia could see she was wearing pale blue knit shorts and top.

"They’re not white, like last night, but I thought you might still like them," Natalia said.

Olivia opened the robe wider so she could get a better view of Natalia’s outfit and the womanly curves it was doing little to hide. The very short shorts gave her an excellent view of Natalia’s slender tan legs.

"I might indeed," she said softly. "Now about that promise ..."


"You didn’t say if you still wanted me to make it up to you. Do you?" I think you may be considering playing hard to get after I teased you this morning, but I bet you don’t last long.

Natalia gazed at her for a moment and then slowly nodded her head.

"Is that a yes?"


See? I knew you wouldn’t last long, Olivia thought with an inward smile. "Okay, then, I think we should see if a kiss in person can match the one from last night."

Olivia cupped Natalia’s face in both her hands, but she just stood and looked at her as she ran her thumb back and forth across her lips. It was dusk, and the ocean and darkening sky provided a heady backdrop for her latina beauty.

"You look gorgeous standing there like that with the wind playing with your hair." Olivia pulled her closer and kissed her forehead. "Your skin is so soft," she whispered. She kissed her eyes lightly and the tip of her nose. "Just look at those long lashes." She pulled her hair back and kissed her ear, pausing to nibble on her earlobe before kissing the pulse point at the side of her neck, which Olivia could feel lightly beating against her lips. As she continued kissing down her neck, Olivia could feel Natalia beginning to relax in her arms, as though the fatigue and travel stress from their long day were finally beginning to wash away. "So ... is this as much fun as the phone call last night?"

Natalia giggled.

"I’ll just assume that means this is in the running at least," Olivia said. "I’m going to kiss you now—unless you make me stop. Do you want me to stop?"


"No, don’t kiss you, or no, don’t stop?" Actually I know the answer, but I just can’t resist teasing you a little bit. You make it way too fun not to.

"Don’t stop," Natalia whispered. "Please don’t stop."

Natalia’s plaintive plea traveled directly to Olivia’s aching center, and she quickly decided the time for teasing was over. She brushed her lips over Natalia’s, then traced over each of her lips with her tongue while her hands slipped inside the robe as though they had an agenda all their own. She kissed her open mouthed then, pausing between kisses to savor the tingling feelings she was beginning to feel everywhere. Finally she couldn’t stand it anymore and she prodded Natalia’s lips with her tongue, coaxing them to open and let her in, which they did without hesitation.

Finally she could touch the tip of her tongue to Natalia’s, and that tiny touch seemed to set off an electric arc between them, so powerful was the physical sensation. It wasn’t enough, though, and soon Olivia was stroking Natalia’s tongue and exploring her mouth with abandon, as though it truly belonged to her to enjoy at will. I want you to belong to me, she thought as her roving hands found their way under the back of Natalia’s knit top, where they discovered a smooth expanse of skin unfettered by a bra.

Olivia drew back abruptly. No bra! Holy shit! I ... I can’t resist that. No way! She watched the expression in dark eyes that were beginning to look a bit glassy. You look pretty turned on to me, and you didn’t flinch when you felt my hands on your bare back.

It was hard to resist going a little further, even though she knew they both needed to get up early for the first seminar. Still ... the atmosphere was so romantic on the balcony. She could see the waves sweeping over the sand, could smell a faint scent of salt air and the stronger aroma of flowers, which seemed to be everywhere, including inside their suite.

"Are you feeling tired? Do I need to let you go to bed?" Olivia asked. She’d pulled her hands out from under Natalia’s top and they now rested lightly on her shoulders as Olivia peered into her face, assessing her physical state.

Natalia shook her head, and Olivia kissed her again. This time her hands moved slowly down from Natalia’s shoulders till they reached her breasts. It was amazing to touch them like that, through the thin knit material of her top. It felt so different to touch her like this when she wasn’t wearing a bra, and Olivia was finding it to be a huge turn-on.

"You feel so good," Olivia said softly. "Incredibly good." She squeezed lightly and then flicked her thumbs over the center of each one until she could feel the flesh there fully erect. "So sexy," she whispered. Natalia’s whimper spurred her on, and she slid her hands under her top and finally cupped her naked breasts, making Olivia feel as though she could actually come, just from that intimate contact.

Natalia’s head tilted forward to rest on her shoulder as Olivia continued to play with her breasts.

"You okay?" Olivia finally asked. I don’t want to go further than you feel comfortable with, but I’m interpreting "go slow" to mean "go" even if we proceed "slow."

"Yes, very okay," Natalia sighed.

"Okay, come with me," Olivia said, catching Natalia’s hand and leading her away from the balcony and back into the suite toward a large burnt orange couch in the center of the room. She slipped Natalia’s robe off her shoulders and tossed it on the back of the couch. "I don’t think we need that, do we?"

Natalia laughed and shook her head.

Olivia loved how the form-fitting blue top clearly revealed Natalia’s sexy curves, including her aroused peaks, which were clearly outlined as they strained against the knit fabric. She gently guided Natalia to sit on the deep cushions. "Lie down," she said.

Natalia stretched out on the couch on her back, and Olivia lay on her side next to her.

"Comfy?" Olivia asked with a smile as she ran her hand down Natalia’s hip and thigh.

Natalia smiled and nodded, dimples suddenly in evidence as she watched Olivia roll partially on top of her.

"How about now?" Olivia asked.

"Feels good."

"Feels really good to me, too," Olivia said. "Now I don’t want you to worry, ‘cause I’m not going to do anything you’re not ready for, okay?"


"I think going slow has been a good plan."

"It really has, Olivia. Everything was so scary before, but ... well, I’ve gotten more and more comfortable."

"That’s good. That’s what I want. I want you to feel comfortable with me, so I’m not going to rush you, however ..." Olivia cupped her hand over Natalia’s breast and began to massage it in a circular pattern. "... I think we’ve pretty well established that this is okay, right?"

Natalia gasped when Olivia’s fingers closed around her taut peak and tugged gently, but she managed to nod.

"‘Kay, that’s what I thought," Olivia said as she captured Natalia’s mouth for another kiss. Her kisses were slow and sultry, and while they kissed, Olivia’s hand crept underneath her top again to feel a soft mound of flesh without the impediment of clothing. "Still feel good?"

"Yes ... so good."

Mm-hm, that’s what I thought. Olivia replaced her hand with her mouth and nuzzled the firm tip with her lips, getting more turned on the more it strained against the material of her top. God, I need more, she thought. I just can’t resist seem to resist you. You’re way too sexy and this feels way too good. Slowly—in order to give Natalia plenty of opportunity to stop her—Olivia pushed her top up until finally she could gaze at her womanly curves, now completely revealed to her hungering eyes.

"My god, you are so beautiful," Olivia said, and then she did what she’d been yearning to do for the longest time. With her hand still on one breast, she covered the other with her mouth, using her tongue to circle around and flick against the tip until it was engorged, and then she sucked on it till it became even more prominent while her hand continued to knead the other rounded mound of sexy flesh.

Natalia gasped and moaned as Olivia touched and kissed her breasts, which just encouraged her, and soon she switched sides. It was amazing how quickly the other delicate tip responded when she licked it and blew over the now moist surface and then sucked it into her mouth as well. I could be happy if I could just stay right here the rest of the night—or hell, the rest of our stay here.

"Still okay?" Olivia asked. She noticed her voice was sounding breathy, and she could feel her heart racing.

"Very," Natalia said. "Is this still second base?"

"Amazingly, yes," Olivia said with a chuckle.

"It is amazing. You make me feel ... amazing things, Olivia."

"I’m glad."

"I want you to feel amazing things, too," Natalia said as she lay her hand on Olivia’s upper chest, just above the first button on her pajama top.



Chapter 48

Natalia thought Olivia looked rather ... panicked. She had a feeling she knew why, too. I know you have some control issues, Olivia. I know it scares you when you feel like you’re losing control, but you need to learn you can trust me.

"I ... uhm ... you do make me feel amazing things," Olivia said. "Just kissing you and holding you and touching you feels amazing."

"That’s not exactly what I meant," Natalia said softly as she unbuttoned Olivia’s first button.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Olivia said, grabbing her hand before she could move on to the next one. "We should really stop because ... because ..."

"Because you don’t want me to touch you?"

"No, that’s not it. It’s just that we have to get up early to make it on time to the first seminar."

"They’re five hours behind us here, Olivia. I think it’ll be okay." Natalia moved her hand away from the buttons on Olivia’s top and slid it down over her breast. She felt an almost immediate response against the palm of her hand as she squeezed the voluptuous flesh, and in turn it made her want to feel that response with her mouth—and not through the material of Olivia’s pajama top.

"Yes, but ... but ..."

"But you don’t like this?" Natalia asked as her fingers found a firm tip and slowly circled it.

"No, that’s not it," Olivia said. She gasped when Natalia’s fingers captured her swollen nub and gently tugged.

"So you do like this?"

"I love it, but ..."

Natalia rolled toward Olivia and kissed her softly on the lips. She could feel Olivia’s attention immediately shift to this new point of contact as she eagerly welcomed Natalia’s mouth with her own. Natalia carefully maneuvered her body so she was lying partly on top of Olivia and also managed to get two more buttons undone before Olivia noticed. Natalia was beginning to realize she had a bigger impact on Olivia than she’d realized. It was hard for her to understand exactly why that was, but it was beginning to become more noticeable, especially at times like this.

"Wait, wait, what are you doing?" Olivia asked.

Natalia didn’t answer. She just quickly released the last button and pushed Olivia’s top open. "You have the most amazing breasts," Natalia said as she gazed down at them. They were full and perfectly formed, and their tips were pale pink. She skimmed her hand over the silky white surface, aware her touch was making Olivia shift restlessly beneath her. There was something remarkably erotic about seeing her tan hand against Olivia’s pale skin. She cupped the side of one breast and leaned down to take the tip in her mouth, and her entire body vibrated with arousal when she heard Olivia gasp.

"We should stop," Olivia panted.

Natalia’s top was still pushed up, and she moved so that they were lying chest to chest, bare skin to bare skin, and she quickly discovered how incredibly good it felt to hold her like that. She knew Olivia must be having similar feelings because her arms had tightened around her in a nearly crushing embrace.

"Need to ... stop," Olivia whispered.

Natalia kissed her on the lips gently and pulled back, but Olivia surged up and captured her mouth in a searing kiss. One of Olivia’s hands cupped the back of her head, holding her firmly in place, while the other slipped down the back of her shorts and panties to cup her bare behind and pull Natalia more tightly against her, causing their lower bodies to press very close together. Natalia knew she’d discovered yet another level of arousal, and it felt wonderful and a little frightening.

Suddenly Olivia shifted position, rolling Natalia off her body and leaving her lying by herself on the couch as Olivia stood gazing down at her. Her eyes were glittering with lust, and she was breathing rapidly, as though panting for air. She leaned over Natalia and pulled her shirt down, and then buttoned her own top.

"Wow," Olivia said. "We so need to stop that."


"Why? I’d think that would be obvious, but okay ..." She took a deep breath. "Because if we don’t stop now, I’m seriously afraid I’m going to go WAY too far, much farther than you’re ready to go right now; that’s why."

"Olivia, the way I’m feeling right now, I think I may be ready to go further." Natalia was surprised to see Olivia suddenly begin to massage her forehead. That’s not a good sign, she thought.

Olivia finally dropped her hand and looked at down at her. "Look," she said. "‘I think I may be ready’ is not the same as ‘I’m ready,’ okay? And I don’t want us to do anything else until you’re sure."

"How can I know for sure?"

"You’ll know, believe me, and then it’ll be okay." Olivia held her hand down to Natalia and pulled her to her feet. "Meanwhile, I’m going to walk you to your place." She flashed a jaunty smile as she took Natalia’s hand and led her toward the door of her room. "Ah, home at last," she laughed. "Since this was our first Hawaiian date, I think we should have a good-night kiss. What do you think?"

"I think that’s a wonderful idea."

They stood for a while in front of Natalia’s door kissing, and then they just held onto each other. When they finally broke apart, Olivia headed back to her own room.

Natalia went into her room, closed the door, and leaned back against it. She might not understand everything that just happened, or why, but what she did know was that "dating" Olivia just kept getting better and better.


Jesus Christ! You’re going to be the death of me yet! Olivia thought, once she found herself in the safety of her own private room.

She was not only painfully aroused, almost more than she thought she could bear; she was also struggling with some emotional issues that had caught her off guard. For starters, she wanted more than anything for Natalia to feel comfortable and safe with her, and when and if—and please, please, please, let it be "when"—they actually did make love, she wanted it to be right. She didn’t want to be one more regret or disastrous sexual memory in Natalia’s life. She already has plenty of those. No point in piling on one more.

Also, she herself was experiencing dual problems. On the one hand, she was so wildly aroused and so desperate to consummate their relationship, it was becoming pure torture to put on the brakes—especially when you are NOT helping! And let’s not forget I’m no saint, so this is seriously hard for me. She was normally impulsive and uninhibited when it came to sex, so constantly pulling back and holding off was taking a toll.

On the other hand, despite her considerable experience and despite her usual confidence when it came to sex, she was finding herself feeling downright terrified at the enormity of her love and the strength of her attraction, both of which made her feel completely out of control—and that was NOT a feeling she handled well. She was self-aware enough to realize it probably had a whole lot to do with what happened to her when she was sixteen. She had lost all control then because of the alcohol-spiked punch and because a boy who’d seemed sweet had taken advantage of her in her inebriated state and violated her body and her trust and her innocence in the worst possible way.

She’d vowed back then never to allow anyone to have that kind of control over her again, and that was how she’d lived her life from that point forward. She’d always made sure she was the one who had the power, partly by being the aggressor in relationships and partly by making sure her heart was never fully invested. Yes, she’d loved before, but she’d never been completely in love like this, and it terrified her.

Kissing and touching Natalia was one thing—at least she felt like she had some control over the situation—but when Natalia kissed and touched her, she began to feel transported by a powerful arousal that was emotional as well as physical, which was something entirely new to her—new and scary.

Even now the thought of Natalia touching and kissing her breasts not only turned her on so much it was hard to breathe, but it also made her feel painfully vulnerable, as though she were losing all control.

Good lord, I need to get a grip!


The next morning Natalia was up and dressed when Olivia finally emerged from her room, freshly showered and looking every bit the powerful CEO she was in her slate blue pantsuit. Natalia had put on a royal blue skirt and jacket with a crisp white blouse, and she smiled to see how well color coordinated the two of them looked for their first business seminar. She thought Olivia looked utterly gorgeous and knew she’d turn heads when they arrived at the convention center. She wanted to run and hug her immediately, but she could sense a certain reserve, so she held back.

"Would you like coffee?" Natalia asked. "I already made some. They have everything here, including a coffeemaker and all the makings to brew coffee."

"Yes, I could really use some caffeine, thanks."

"I could order you something from room service, if you’re hungry." I can already tell you’re going to say no, but you really should eat something.

"Not for me, thanks. I don’t feel like I could eat right now. Besides, they’ll have a continental breakfast at the convention center. Maybe I’ll grab something there. You go ahead, though."

"No, I’ll wait," Natalia said.

Olivia walked over and hugged her for a moment and then headed to the balcony, where she stood looking over the railing toward the beach and the clear aqua water beyond it.

Natalia gave her a few minutes on her own while she poured coffee for both of them and carried the mugs to the table on the balcony where they’d eaten last night. "Here’s your coffee, Olivia."

Olivia turned and smiled. "Okay, thanks." She sat down and took a sip and then idly turned the cup around and around with a thoughtful expression on her face as she looked down at it.

Natalia walked up behind her and leaned down to hug her. Olivia put her arms over Natalia’s where they lay over her upper chest.

"Are you okay?" Natalia asked.

"Yeah, I’m just feeling a little ... quiet, I guess."

Natalia let go of Olivia and sat in the chair next to hers. "Is this about last night?"

Olivia looked down at her coffee mug for a moment before finally raising her eyes to meet Natalia’s darker ones. "Sometimes it scares me a little how much I love you."

Natalia took her hand and caressed the back with her thumb. "Olivia, you can trust me."

"It’s not that exactly."

"I think it is that, exactly that."

Olivia sat silent.

"I think the idea of letting go and trusting me, trusting me with your heart, is what scares you."

"I don’t know."

"You know how scared I’ve been about getting close to you physically?"

Olivia smiled. "Yes, I seem to recall something along those lines."

Natalia laughed. "Well, I am doing better these days," she said, "but I think that’s kind of how you feel about getting close to me emotionally—like if you did, it would make you too vulnerable and then I might ... hurt you."

Olivia shrugged.

"I know for a long time I fought my feelings for you. I denied them and I tried to hide from them and from you. I almost married a man I didn’t love because I was so scared, but Olivia, I’m not hiding now and I’m not going to suddenly run away."

"How can you be sure? How can you be certain of that when you haven’t even told your son yet?"

"Because I have faith everything is going to work out," Natalia said, "and I want you to have faith in me and in my love for you. I’m not going to hurt you. You’ll see."

Olivia sat quietly for a moment and then leaned toward Natalia and hugged her.


By the time they arrived at the Hawaii Convention Center, Olivia was in much better spirits. Somehow Natalia had managed to steal past the defensive barrier that went up when Olivia got panicked the night before. Natalia was like a silvery vapor seeping around the edges of the barred windows and barricaded doors of the emotional fortress Olivia had locked herself in years ago and enveloping her in its healing mist.

Olivia grinned at Natalia’s wide-eyed gasp of astonishment when she first saw the convention center.

"That’s amazing!" Natalia said.

"You’re looking at a $350 million structure. It was voted the world’s most beautiful convention center by the International Association of Exhibition Management."

"I can see why."

It was an enormous glass-encased structure with rooftop tropical gardens and soaring canopies that evoked Polynesian sailing canoes. In front was a twelve-foot-tall bronze statue of a Polynesian man pouring water into a basin to symbolize the welcoming spirit of the Hawaiian people. Once inside the spacious lobby, they could see it was open to the outdoors with verandas, terraces, and courtyards, and they could smell the rich aroma from the many native flowers and plants found both inside and outside the building.

"Did you know they used the convention center as the set for Sydney Airport on Lost?"

"No, I didn’t know that."

They both looked around at the impressive display of paintings, which depicted scenes of the ocean, waterfalls, mountains, and volcanoes along with portraits of Hawaiian royalty and images of native myths.

Natalia paused near a magnificent painting of a waterfall. "I love this one," she said, gazing up at it.

"Maybe we’ll just go find a real one later," Olivia said with a smile.


"Yes, really. I arranged for us to take a private helicopter tour this afternoon." Olivia smiled when Natalia suddenly hugged her.

"I can’t believe it!"

"Well, I thought you might enjoy that." Thank god you’re excited. I know I can hardly wait. "And then maybe we can go for a swim, if we’re not too tired. You did bring a bathing suit with you, right?"

Natalia drew back and smiled. "Yes, I did."

"A bikini?"


Well, I sure hope so, because seeing you in a bikini would certainly make this entire trip worthwhile.


Chapter 49

Natalia watched as Olivia declined her third invitation to dinner. She’d just returned from the ladies’ room at the convention center to find Olivia talking with a group of men, no doubt about that morning’s seminar on technology for the hospitality industry. All but one of the men left while Natalia was walking toward them, and as she neared Olivia and the remaining male, who was a good-looking man with dark hair and blue eyes dressed in what looked like a very expensive suit, Natalia heard him asking her to join him at his private estate for dinner. Olivia smiled and deflected the invitation with the ease and grace of someone who’d had plenty of experience turning down dates.

I knew you’d get hit on here. You’re just so gorgeous and so ... sexy. Natalia blushed as she remembered just how sexy Olivia could be when the two of them were alone together. She was very aware of how men always flocked to Olivia, how their eyes followed her when she moved through a room, how they would all too frequently try to get her to go out with them. There was just something about her. She suddenly thought of Angelica and Doris. And it’s not just men, is it? Good heavens, you could get virtually anyone you wanted. She was still surprised that she was the one Olivia wanted.

Her thoughts were interrupted when a youngish man in a tailored business suit that she’d spoken with briefly earlier that day came up to her.

"Hello again," he said with a wide white smile. "Remember me?"

He was tan and fair-haired, open and friendly, and Natalia had no interest in him whatsoever. "Yes, I do," she said, watching Olivia walk towards them. She vaguely remembered his name was Steve. Or maybe it was Stan. She wasn’t sure.

"I was wondering if you might like to join me for dinner," he said. "I know a wonderful restaurant with outstanding Polynesian cuisine, if you’d like to try that. I remember you said you’d never been here before."

Before she could reply, Olivia stepped up next to her and slipped an arm around her waist. "She’s already spoken for," Olivia said, smiling at Natalia.

"Oh, well, that’s too bad," the man said. "Who’s the lucky guy?"

"I am," Olivia said.

Natalia blushed profusely, but couldn’t help but smile at Olivia’s cheerfully possessive air. She really was completely unpredictable, and it was one of the things Natalia loved about her.

The man’s pale blond eyebrows rose in surprise as he looked from one to the other. "Wow," he finally said. "I don’t suppose you two beautiful ladies might like some company?"

Olivia laughed. "No, thanks. I want her all to myself."

The man looked at Natalia with a clear expression of appreciation. "I can understand that," he said as he reluctantly turned and walked off.

"So," Olivia said after he was gone. "Did I embarrass you?"

"No, you made me feel ..."

"Awkward? Scared? Nauseous?" Olivia laughed, as though amused at her list of possible reactions.

"No, I felt ... proud."

Olivia’s head tilted slightly to the side. "Oh, really? Well, that sounds promising," she said. "How about we head back to the hotel and get changed for our chopper tour?"

"Okay, I can hardly wait."

Olivia grinned. "Me too."


Back at their suite at The Ilikai, both women headed off to their individual rooms to change.

"Oh, wait," Olivia said. "I almost forgot to tell you. If you want, you can wear your swimsuit under your clothes."

"Are we going swimming?"

"Sure, if you’d like to. I thought it might be fun. I’ve chartered a private helicopter for the tour, not one of the larger ones that does groups, and I arranged for the pilot to drop us off at a private cove so we can have our own little picnic on a beach all to ourselves." Olivia loved the look of surprise and excitement on Natalia’s face.

"That really sounds like fun."

"Mm-hm, I thought so, too." When I told that handsome young man I wanted you all to myself, I wasn’t kidding. "He’ll leave us there with a picnic basket and blanket, towels and suntan lotion, and everything else we might need, and then he’ll pick us back up later."

"And nobody else will be there?"

"That’s what they promised me."

"How did you know about all this?"

"Internet. It reveals all," Olivia said. "So ... you’ll wear your swimsuit? I mean, if you don’t want to wear a bathing suit, there are some unofficial clothing-optional beaches here. Technically nudity is illegal at state beaches in Hawaii, but we could go to one of the beaches locally known as ‘nude’ or ‘topless’ if you’d like. We might have to go to one on Maui or one of the other smaller islands since the police heavily patrol the beaches here on the big island, but ..." Wow, you should see the look of shock on your face! Olivia laughed. "Okay, I’ll take that as a no." Which is good because I don’t want anyone but me seeing all your "charms" anyway.

Natalia giggled. "That’s right. That’s definitely a no."

"Well, that’s good," Olivia said as she pulled Natalia into her arms for a hug. "Because I didn’t really want anyone else looking at you."

"I’m sure they’d be looking at you, Olivia."

"Oh, I don’t know. I’m kind of scarred up these days, as you know."

"Olivia, you’re a beautiful woman. A couple of little scars don’t change that."

"Little?" Olivia burst into laughter. "Maybe the mark from the bullet wound is small, but that heart transplant scar?" Olivia tightened her arms around Natalia. After all, she didn’t want her to escape just as the conversation was beginning to get more interesting. Of course, she needed to move the conversation back on to Natalia’s body for it be really interesting.

"I know that one is several inches long, but it’s thin and it’s really pale—and frankly I doubt anyone would even notice it."

Was that a reference to my bustline? It was, wasn’t it? Olivia knew she was well endowed, and she was also aware Natalia had been noticing—and apparently appreciating—things like that more and more just in recent days. "And why wouldn’t they notice that scar?" she asked, cocking one eyebrow. She grinned when her flirtatious question was met with a sudden reddening of tan cheeks.

"Because you’re so gorgeous," Natalia said in a breathy voice. "And your body is just so ... beautiful and ... and sexy."

Olivia kissed her then, quickly deepening the kiss instead of taking her time to savor a slower approach. She just wanted and needed that greater intimacy right then and there. Sometimes it felt as though she just couldn’t get enough of this, enough of her, and it made the impatient part of her break free of all restraints and take control.

"Okay," Olivia said when she finally released her. "We better get ready or we’re going to miss our ride."

She waited for Natalia’s nod to make sure she was still capable of coherent thought after the unexpected and steamy kiss she’d just planted on her, and then she turned and headed toward her room.

As soon as they’d changed, they set off in a hired car to meet with the pilot who was going to take them for a tour. They were both wearing capris and lightweight button shirts, Olivia in khaki and Natalia in navy. They clambered into the sleek helicopter, settling themselves in the back, and then Olivia watched Natalia as the chopper lifted off its pad and rose straight up into the sky. The expression of excitement and anticipation on her face made her look so young, and Olivia was glad she’d spent so many hours on the Internet and on the phone arranging these various surprises. She realized Natalia had never had anyone in her life treat her the way Olivia thought she should be treated—with love and kindness and respect and no small amount of effort to try to find ways to bring little moments of fun and happiness into her life. Natalia was special and she deserved special treatment as far as Olivia was concerned.

"This is amazing," Natalia said as the chopper began to follow the beach east toward Diamond Head.

Olivia nodded as she gazed at the broad expanse of sea stretching out below them. It looked like there must be endless miles of shoreline bordered on one side by the golden beach and on the other by the sea. The ocean was an astonishing shade of blue that sparkled under the afternoon sun and sent frothy white waves toward the shore to lap at the sand.

"I’ve never seen anything this beautiful," Natalia said.

"Me neither," Olivia said looking at Natalia before stealing a quick kiss. She was a little surprised Natalia didn’t blush or pull away, but decided she’d probably forgotten about the pilot, whose attention was most likely on the business of safely ferrying them through the skies over the tropical paradise below.

The chopper soared like an eagle high above the treetops. They were so high, in fact, that they could see puffy clouds hanging below them over breathtaking vistas of blue sea and green and umber earth. Here and there a jutting rock formation rose from the water like a mighty sculpture carved by Mother Nature’s hands. As they passed over tropical forests, it seemed as though they could see every shade of green from the color palette; and then just when it seemed as though nothing could surpass the beauty of the lush vegetation, they passed over a ridge and saw twin waterfalls cascading more than a thousand feet down the rocky cliff face.

"So gorgeous," Natalia whispered.

"Did you know Hawaii has some of the world’s tallest waterfalls?"

"No, I didn’t."

"I know they have the second and fifth tallest waterfalls and eight of the top sixty."

"Where’s the tallest one?

"Salto Angel in Venezuela."

"I think I know what you did while I was out running errands before our trip."

"I might have been doing a little research," Olivia said with a laugh.

They both watched intently as the helicopter passed over the reddish rock formations of a canyon and then swooped lower to traverse its intricate valleys and peaks as sun and shadow battled back and forth for dominance over their ride.

Finally they crested a ridge at the far end of the canyon and came upon what looked like a small expanse of empty beach nestled between two cliffs, bordered on one side by the cresting waves of the sea and on the other by lush grass, palm trees, and vegetation from the forest attempting to reestablish its dominance over this secluded terrain. At the far end of the short stretch of beach, they could see a dark opening in the rock face that looked like a cave, and beyond that, on the other side of the cliff wall that formed the northern boundary of the beach, they could just barely see the top of a small waterfall.

"This is so beautiful," Natalia said.

"I’m glad you like it, because this is where we’re going to have our picnic," Olivia said. She grinned as Natalia’s eyes opened wide in amazement.

"You’re kidding!"

The helicopter slowly began a descent straight down to the surface of the beach.

"No, I’m not," Olivia said. "This is all ours—at least for a while." And you’re all mine.


They stood and watched as the helicopter lifted off the sand and rose straight into the air before turning and heading back down the shoreline. When they were finally alone with their picnic basket and duffel bag full of blankets and towels and other sundries, they turned toward each other, grinned, and spontaneously hugged.

Natalia had never been happier. "I just can’t believe we’re here."

"I know. It’s beautiful," Olivia said. "So, what would you like to do first? Eat? Swim? Explore?"

"I want to see the waterfall."

The pilot had explained that what looked like a cave from high above was actually an arched passageway under the cliff face that led to another area of beach and a pool formed by the small waterfall on the other side of the cliff face.

"Okay, let’s go then."

They walked the short distance to the tunnel that must have been carved by the unrelenting force of the sea over the centuries. When they got close, they could see that beyond the dark passageway lay another smaller section of beach, too small and too populated with tall, slender palm trees to provide a safe landing area for the chopper.

"It’s really cool under here," Natalia said as they walked hand in hand through the shaded tunnel.

Once they emerged into the sunlight on the other side, they could see and hear the small waterfall plummeting down the face of the cliff into a pool of clear water below that was encircled by rock, lush grasses, ferns, and sedges.

"This is so beautiful," Natalia said.

"Looks like a perfect swimming hole to me," Olivia said. "Want to swim to the back and see if we can get behind the falls?"

"I’d love to," Natalia said.

"Okay, then. Swimsuit time. Let’s throw the blanket down here in the shade and then we can strip down to our suits."

"Okay." Natalia felt both nervous and excited about changing clothes, so to relieve her tension she busied herself spreading the green plaid picnic blanket beneath the shade of the cliff near the tunnel and then opened the duffel bag to pull out the large beach towels she knew they’d need after their swim.

When she turned back toward Olivia, she saw that she’d already removed everything but her indigo bikini, leaving her standing there looking so tall and gorgeous and sexy that Natalia’s breath caught, and all she could do was stare at her.


I’d love to know what you’re thinking, Olivia thought when she noticed Natalia staring at her. "So ... is it the scars?"


"The reason you’re staring."

"No, I wasn’t looking at the scars."

"What were you looking at?" Ha, made you blush.



"You’re so beautiful, Olivia."

Olivia walked to where Natalia was kneeling on the blanket and offered a hand to pull her up. "Well, I’m glad you approve," she said stepping back. "And now it’s your turn."

"My turn?"

"Swimsuit," Olivia prompted. And it better not be one of those skirted granny suits or someone’s going to be in serious trouble.

Natalia pink cheeks darkened a bit more. "I guess you’re going to watch?’‘

"I guess I am," Olivia said with a grin. "Come on now. Don’t be shy.

Natalia stood for a moment without moving, but finally unbuttoned her shirt and slipped it off, revealing her purple bikini top.

All right! It’s a bikini. Thank you, Jesus! Olivia smiled in what she hoped was an encouraging way. "Love that color. Reminds me of Emma’s big purple dreams."

Natalia laughed. "I remember that."

"Well, you can’t go swimming in those," Olivia said, gesturing toward Natalia’s navy capri pants.

"No, I guess I can’t." Natalia’s hands lingered at the tie-waist.

Olivia abruptly hooked her fingers inside Natalia’s waistband and pulled her close. "Need some help?"


"I’m always happy to lend a helping hand," Olivia said as she pulled on the tie and eased the pants down over Natalia’s hips and legs, finally revealing the bottom half of her bikini, not to mention her gorgeous slender legs. Olivia folded the capris and tossed them on top of Natalia’s shirt, then stepped back to look at her. "You are absolutely gorgeous," she said. My god, I don’t know how in hell I’ve made it this far without stripping you down and making mad, passionate love to you till you screamed my name loud enough for everyone in Springfield to hear.

Olivia wanted to grab her right there and at least kiss her, but she didn’t want her to miss out on anything, so instead she took her hand and they both walked toward the edge of the naturally formed pool. The closer they got, the louder became the sound of the tumbling water.

"That looks like it might be cold," Natalia said as they reached the edge of the water.

"Well, if you want to check out the waterfall from closer up, it’s the only way to get there."

Gingerly Natalia dipped a toe into the water. "Wow, that really is cold."

Olivia grinned and jumped right in. She began to backstroke through the sparkling freshwater pool toward the falls so she could watch Natalia gently ease herself into the water. "See? It’s not so bad." The view is freakin’ great, she thought as her eyes roved over olive skin. You are such a hottie! And the amazing thing is I don’t think you even realize it.

Natalia finally managed to commit completely to wading all the way in and swimming through the bracing water, and soon they both reached the far end of the pool near the waterfall.

"I think I see a way to get up there," Olivia said as she climbed out to the side of the falls. She turned and offered her hand to Natalia, and then they both carefully made their way over wet rocks and around the edges of the cascading water till they were able to slip behind the watery curtain and into a small pocket that had been carved into the rock face by who knew how many hundreds or thousands of years of relentless, thundering water. The sound was deafening, and although they didn’t stand beneath the heaviest part of the falls, they were both quickly and completely drenched by the lighter stream of water spraying over them in the small cave-like indentation.

Olivia turned to Natalia, whose heavy dark hair was soaked and clinging to her back. She smiled up at Olivia, dimples suddenly on display, and Olivia couldn’t resist pulling her close and holding her. It felt amazing to feel so much bare skin pressing against her body. If the logistics weren’t virtually impossible, she might not have been able to control her sudden urge to make love to her right there, "go slow" rule be damned.

Maybe we can’t do that, but we can certainly do this, Olivia thought as she tipped Natalia’s face up and leaned down to press a slow, gentle kiss to her lips. When Natalia’s lips immediately parted, Olivia deepened the kiss while her hands amused themselves by skimming over Natalia’s nearly bare back. She shivered when she felt Natalia’s hands moving over her shoulders and down her back. My god, this feels so good I may never want to leave this place.

Olivia could feel her libido kick into hyperdrive. Her body felt sodden with lust and love and an almost irresistible urge to proceed full speed ahead. Her hands slipped down and cupped Natalia’s buttocks, pulling her tight against her lower body. When she groaned, Olivia continued to knead the sexy mounds of flesh, and then with one arm tightly around Natalia’s waist, as though fearful she might escape, her other hand skimmed over her hip and up her side till she could brush her fingertips over the side of her luscious breast. She broke the kiss to lean her forehead against Natalia’s while she cupped both her breasts in her hands. "I could never get enough of this," she said, wondering if Natalia could even hear her above the roar of the cascading water.

Whether she heard or not, Natalia slipped a hand behind Olivia’s neck and pulled her close for another kiss, her mouth already open slightly as if ready for greater intimacy. Olivia was more than happy to oblige, and proceeded to deep-kiss her while one hand encircled her back and the other continued to squeeze and knead a very sexy mound of flesh.

It took a superhuman effort for Olivia to draw back from that last kiss, especially when she saw Natalia’s look of disappointment. Don’t worry. I’m not quite done with you yet. I just think we need to move this back onto dry land.


Chapter 50

Natalia wasn’t sure her legs would move or hold her up if she tried to walk. Kissing Olivia under the thunderous cascade was a transcendent experience, one she was reluctant to let go of. She clung to Olivia for a moment before she released her hold and allowed her to lead her back out of their watery nook and toward the pool for the short swim back to the grassy bank. The water didn’t feel quite as cold after standing in the icy spray from the waterfall, but her body still felt sluggish, as though her very arousal had become so great it was literally weighing her down.

Olivia beat her to the edge of the pool by several strokes and turned back with a cocky grin to offer her a hand out of the water, which she then held onto as they strolled back toward the picnic basket and blanket.

"Beat ya’," Olivia said with a sidelong glance at Natalia.

"I noticed. I’m just not moving very fast right now."

"Any particular reason for that?"

"I think it’s your fault."

"Oh, really? Well, next time I want you to slow down, I’ll know what to do, now won’t I?"

Natalia giggled. "You looked like a very strong swimmer. Is there anything you’re not good at?"

"Plenty of stuff, but I do have skills," Olivia said with a lift of one brow.

When Olivia looked at her like that, Natalia always just melted, which is pretty much what she was doing right now. She’d never felt so off-kilter in her life as she did when she was around Olivia.

They soon arrived back at the green plaid picnic blanket, which they’d left under a palm tree near the back part of the rock cliff where the sand of the beach began to mix with encroaching grass and shrubs. Natalia opened the duffel bag and rummaged through its contents. She pulled out a large blue and white striped beach towel, which she handed to Olivia, and then began to towel herself off with a red one.

Watching Olivia run the terrycloth over her face and hair and body was hypnotic, as was seeing her in just her indigo bikini. She’d always thought Olivia was beautiful, but she was even more impressed now that she could see so much more of her, and she found herself fascinated by Olivia’s smooth pale skin and voluptuous curves. She was naturally and unselfconsciously sexy, and Natalia was becoming more and more aware of it—and more reactive to it. In fact, she wondered how Olivia had managed to have the patience to wait on her to figure a lot of this out. After all, Natalia had gone from falling in love with Olivia to feeling attracted to her in a rather general way to now having very specific desires—to be kissed and touched by Olivia, but also to kiss and touch her.

She was beginning to understand why Olivia seemed unable to keep her hands off her—not that she minded—because suddenly she was aware of how much she wanted to touch Olivia. She’d never experienced that before, that desire to touch another person’s body, to feel their skin, to enjoy their reaction to being touched. Truthfully, she’d never particularly craved someone touching her until Olivia, and now it was almost all she could think about—especially right now.

When they’d both dried off, they sat down on the green plaid blanket.

"Do you want to lie in the sun?" Olivia asked.

"Not especially. Why? Do you?"

"Not really. I think even with suntan lotion I might burn in this afternoon sun, and you ... well, just look at you. You already look like you have a perfect tan."

Natalia grinned. "You don’t think I need to get an even darker one?"

"No, I think you’re absolutely perfect the way you are," Olivia said as her eyes slid down Natalia’s body, much of which was revealed by the skimpy purple bikini.

Natalia trembled under Olivia’s frankly sexual perusal. "So, are you hungry?" she mumbled as she turned away from the penetrating green eyes that seemed to be looking right inside her. She wasn’t sure she could eat with all those butterflies fluttering around in her stomach.

"Not really," Olivia said, "but I’d love something to drink. Shall we see what’s in the basket?"

Natalia unlatched the wicker container and peered inside. "Looks like bottled water and fruit juice. I see apple, orange, and papaya."

"Ooh, got to try the papaya."

Natalia grinned and handled her a bottle, then continued rummaging through the basket. "There’s also smoked cheese, crackers, nuts, and fruit."

"I may eat in a bit. Right now I’m just enjoying the view."

Natalia looked up from the portable larder to see which of the many sights might have caught Olivia’s attention, but she found emerald green eyes still gazing directly at her. When you look at me like that, I just can’t think. Lately her body almost felt as though it belonged to a stranger because it was experiencing so many different reactions. It’s like I’ve been asleep—for years!—and now I’m suddenly awake and feeling all kinds of new things.

"You should go ahead and eat if you’re hungry," Olivia said.

"You should eat something, too, Olivia. You’ve barely eaten anything today."

"Hey, I ate a continental breakfast this morning before the seminar."

"I don’t think half a bagel and a cup of coffee counts as ‘breakfast’ of any kind. You’re going to get sick if you don’t eat." Natalia reached into the basket and pulled out a small slice of smoked Swiss cheese. "I know you like cheese. Won’t you at least try a little of this?" Natalia asked, bringing the small morsel close to Olivia’s lips. She smiled when Olivia took a bite, and then she ate the other half. "Good?"

"Very good," Olivia said as she chewed slowly with her eyes riveted on Natalia’s.

Natalia could feel her stomach flipping all the way over under that intense stare, but she continued to feed Olivia small bits of cheese and crackers. Neither spoke. Natalia, for one, was finding it highly erotic, not only to feed Olivia, but also to watch her mouth as she delicately accepted food from her hand.

When Natalia was satisfied Olivia had eaten enough protein to keep her from getting sick, she looked over the fruit choices. "How about fruit for dessert? We have bananas and ... well, I’m not sure what some of these others are."

Olivia scooted closer to the basket and peered into it. "I see mangos, mangosteens, and sugarloaf pineapple," Olivia said, pointing out the various fruits as she went along.

"What’s that ugly brown one?"

"I think that must be a Ka’u orange. They’re supposed to be really sweet and juicy."

"What would you like to try?"

"I’ve heard mangosteen is really juicy and tastes like a cross between a peach and a pineapple. Want to try that one?"

"Okay." Natalia used the supplied knife to cut through the thick rind of the reddish-purple fruit. "It kind of looks like a giant beet, except, look ... it’s white inside."

She cut off a small piece and held it up to Olivia’s mouth. When she bit into her own morsel of mangosteen, juice trickled down one side of her mouth. She started to wipe it away, but Olivia caught her wrist before she could.

"Here, allow me," Olivia said, leaning close enough to lick the errant stream of juice away. "How’s that?"

Natalia just looked at her. "Good," she finally managed to say. Actually she was surprised at how turned on she felt. She realized Olivia must have noticed, as well, because she took the knife out of her hand and put it back in the basket, which she then moved off the blanket.

"Are you still hungry?" Olivia asked.

Natalia shook her head.

"We can save the rest for later, if you like. Meanwhile, I just don’t think I can resist any longer."

"Resist what?"

"This," Olivia said softly before cupping Natalia’s face in both her hands and kissing her lightly on the mouth. "I think this makes a much better dessert."

Natalia nodded. She couldn’t think of anything she’d rather be doing right now than kissing Olivia on their own secluded beach in a tropical paradise.


Olivia’s hormones were raging after spending so much time feasting her eyes on a nearly naked Natalia. I knew you’d look hot in a bikini, but oh my god! How am I supposed to keep my hands off of all ... that? Natalia’s olive skin was soft and sleek and gorgeous, her face was pretty and sweet, and her body was curvy and breathtakingly sexy. Olivia was dying to have free access to every glorious centimeter.

She gently pushed Natalia down onto her back on the blanket and stretched out beside her on her side, propping her head on one hand while the other began to take a tour of a certain unbelievably sexy body. She smoothed Natalia’s partially dried hair back and traced her fingertips over Natalia’s face—over her forehead and eyebrows, down her nose, over her cheekbones, along her jawline—as though she were blind and trying to "see" what Natalia looked like.

"You’re so beautiful," Olivia said. She trailed her hand down over her chest, between her breasts, over her midriff, and onto her bare stomach, where she lingered, just rubbing her hand in a circular pattern over the smooth skin there. "Are you sure you actually had a kid?" Olivia asked. When Natalia smiled and nodded, Olivia leaned over and kissed her tummy. "It’s just kind of unbelievable you had a child and yet you look like this."

"I had one, all right. In fact, you’ve met him."

"Mm-hm." Olivia followed the plane of her stomach with her tongue and then dipped into the small depression of her belly button. She noted Natalia’s skin was quivering beneath her tongue. "Ticklish?"

"No, not really."

Okay, that can only leave one explanation, then, Olivia thought. I think you must like this. You do, don’t you? I know I sure as hell do. She ran her hand over Natalia’s hip and down the outside of her thigh to her knee. "Have I ever told you how much I love your legs?"

Natalia shook her head.

Olivia slowly stroked her hand up and down the top of Natalia’s shapely thigh. "I do. I love them. They’re slender and tan and perfectly formed." She ran her hand along the inside of her other thigh, but stopped before she reached her center. So close. Just a fraction of an inch further. That’s all it’d take–and once I touched you there, I know you wouldn’t want me to stop.

"When’s the pilot coming back?" Natalia asked.

Aw, damn it! I forgot about that. The reminder that their time was limited gave the angel on Olivia’s right shoulder an edge over the little devil on her left urging her to slip past that flimsy piece of cloth covering Natalia’s sex and show her a really good time right there on the beach.

Olivia looked at her watch. "He’ll be here in about twenty minutes." Natalia’s heavy sigh told her that her latina beauty didn’t want to leave their secluded beach anymore than she did. "So I’d say maybe we should make the most of our remaining time."

"So ... what would you like to do?"

"Do you really need to ask?" Olivia asked.

She noticed Natalia’s quick grin, but it didn’t last long because Olivia rolled on top of her and began to kiss her. As she savored the mingling of their lips and tongues and breaths, she could hear the waves striking the beach and the waterfall tumbling into the pool, could smell the aroma of trees and grass and shrubs mingling with Natalia’s unique cinnamon and floral scent, could feel Natalia’s body heating up and moving restlessly beneath hers.

I’m in love and I’m in lust and I’m in danger of completely losing control someday soon. Olivia did take one piece of advice from the tiny devil on her shoulder and wedged her leg between Natalia’s thighs as they kissed. She carefully applied the slightest bit of pressure against her most sensitive flesh and was rewarded with a groan and the feel of Natalia’s body suddenly writhing beneath hers. Before she could do anything else, though, they both heard the distant sound of the helicopter and reluctantly pulled apart.

See? Olivia told the little angel. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

"I guess we need to pack up and go," Natalia said.

"Yeah, I guess. I really don’t want to."

"Me neither," Natalia said as she began to pull her outer clothing back on.

Olivia stopped her with a quick kiss. "We may be leaving here, but that doesn’t mean our fun is over—not by a long shot."

I can see by that smile and those gorgeous deep dimples that you like the sound of more fun. I know I sure as hell do!


Continue to Chapters 51-60


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