It was a dark and stormy night as Natalia Rivera and Gus Aitoro walked into the Beacon Hotel. Although Natalia felt uncomfortable holding Gus's hand, she decided to not let go. Gus was wildly enthusiastic about their upcoming nuptials although Natalia had a very indifferent attitude toward it. She agreed to marry him simply because she felt sorry for him when his wife ran off to live in wedded bliss with another Cooper ex-wife on the island of Lesbos in Greece. Natalia was happy for Harley and Eleni, but she did feel slightly bad for Gus and Frank.
Gus gave her an enthusiastic smile as the elevator they were riding came to a stop on the top floor of the hotel. When the doors slid open, she could immediately hear several voices all speaking at once and one of them, whose low, dusky register reverberated deep inside of her, was the clearest. Coming around the corner, Natalia immediately identified the owner of the voice as belonging to the sultry and statuesque woman standing among a small group of people.
As the couple approached, the woman caught sight of them and immediately went still, her eyes focused on Natalia, who immediately dropped Gus's hand as her eyes zoomed in on the most amazing pair of verdant orbs she had ever seen. The world seemed to come to halt on its axis and time exited the equation of the space-time continuum as Natalia gazed into infinity. She realized she had just met the reason God had created her.
The woman with the striking eyes moved forward with her hand held out. "I'm Olivia Spencer," she said and Natalia could feel her skin vibrating from the sound. She reached out a hand to take the other woman's – Olivia her name was; just the word alone could invoke entire civilizations to worship the goddess – hand in hers. The touch sent an electric shock pulsating through her veins that directed itself straight to her womanhood. By the expression in Olivia's stunning eyes, Natalia knew she had felt it as well.
"I'm Natalia Rivera," she finally answered.
Olivia stared at the brunette beauty that had captured her attention. Never in all her life had she seen a more beautiful woman, with the exception of her daughters. Not that Olivia made a habit of looking at women, beautiful or not. She just had never felt the need to. Until now.
"Natalia," she whispered, moving closer. "What a beautiful name."
Natalia could feel herself blushing at the compliment. "Thank you," she said. "I was just thinking the same thing about yours."
Olivia smiled, utterly charmed by the beautiful blushing woman. She realized she would be perfectly content to stare into those eyes and holding the impossibly soft skin of the other woman's hand for the rest of the night if a interrupting cough hadn't caught her attention.
Turning, she caught sight of her friend Gus Aitoro who was standing next to Natalia.
"Hello Olivia," Gus said. "Is there something wrong? We heard shouting a moment ago."
"What?" she asked as she shook her head, confused. She seemed to remember that Gus was engaged to be married. Surely it couldn't be with this beautiful creature. Then she remembered Emma's birthday gift. "Oh, no," she answered. "I thought Phillip was back, but I'm sure it's just another one of your father's schemes to manipulate me into ruining someone's life." She turned back to Natalia. "Are you engaged to Gus?" she asked.
"No," Natalia immediately answered. "Not anymore."
Olivia felt a wave of relief wash over her. "Oh, thank God," she whispered and rejoiced to see Natalia smile.
"What?" Gus asked, turning to Natalia.
Natalia turned to face him, but Olivia was glad she didn't let go of her hands. "I can't marry you, Gus," she said. "I just felt sorry for you when Harley left you."
"What about Rafe?" he asked.
"You can still be a father to him if you want to," Natalia reasoned. "After all, it was just an accident anyway."
Gus nodded thoughtfully. "You know, you're right, Natalia," he said. "I think I'm just gonna go and see if I can cheer up Frank. He's been crying in his ouzo for weeks now."
"Good idea," Natalia said. "Bye Gus."
"Bye Gus," Olivia echoed.
After he left, Olivia noticed her other guests were gone. "Oh, I guess the party's over," she said. "Do you want to go get some dinner or something?"
"You mean like a date or something?" Natalia asked.
This time, Olivia could feel herself blushing. She had never asked anyone out on a date before and she realized that she liked the feeling. Suddenly, she hoped she got the chance to ask the fetching female before her out on lots of dates. "Yes, exactly like a date," she confirmed. "I mean, I'd like to spend some more time with you, that is, if you want to, too?"
"Oh yes, more please," Natalia answered, feeling her heart pound inside her chest. She had been asked out a lot, but never had a reaction like this before. "I'd love to spend a lot of time with you."
"That's so great," Olivia answered. "Come on, wanna meet my girls? And then we'll go."
"Sure," Natalia answered, once again flashing that winning smile.
Olivia switched hands they were holding and led her into the suite.
Ava greeted them. "Hi Mom," she said. "Where did the motley maggots go?"
"You mean the guests?" Olivia answered, and then shrugged. "Gone. Probably off to turn people's stomachs with their disgusting high jinks. You know how people in this town are. Always sleeping with the most inappropriate people." She turned to Natalia. "Not that there's anything wrong with sleeping with someone," she explained. "I just feel that you should only sleep with your soul mate."
"I believe that, too," Natalia said with an emphatic nod.
"Good," Olivia answered and turned back to Ava. "Ava, honey, this is Natalia Rivera."
"Hi," Ava said, shaking Natalia's hand. Then she made a pointed look to where the two women were still joined together. "I sent Emma off to sleep. She was exhausted after all the excitement."
"That's great," Olivia said, and then turned to Natalia. "I'm sorry, but perhaps you can meet her tomorrow?"
Natalia nodded. "I'd like that very much," she said. "I'm sure if she's your daughter, she must be beautiful."
"Oh, she is," Olivia answered with a smile that again caused back flips in Natalia's stomach. Then Olivia asked her oldest daughter, "Ava, do you have plans tonight? Perhaps you can stay for a while? I thought I'd take Natalia out to get something to eat."
"Sure Mom," Ava answered. "No problem, I'd love to."
"Thank, honey," she said. "We'll see you later."
"Have fun," Ava said with a wave.
It was still a dark and stormy night as downstairs in the restaurant the two women took the best seat in the house, which was always reserved for Olivia anyway. It allowed her an unobstructed view of the restaurant, and also allowed the entire restaurant to admire her and tonight, Olivia thought, to admire the luscious Latina who was gracing the table.
"Well, I've spent a lot of time at the Beacon, but this is the first time I've eaten in the restaurant," Natalia commented as she looked around after they had placed their orders.
Olivia frowned at Natalia's comment and felt a lurch in the pit of her stomach as her mind immediately tried to come up with scenarios as to why Natalia would spend a lot of time at her hotel. She knew why other residents did and while Olivia didn't care for it that much, it did keep her in Jimmy Choos.
"You…" Olivia started. "You've spent a lot of time here?"
Natalia nodded, still looking around. "Every day from five in the morning until noon," she said. At Olivia's confused look, she added, "I work here. Didn't you know?"
Olivia shook her head. "No, I didn't," she answered. "Believe me, if I had seen you around the hotel, I certainly would have remembered you. You work here?" Olivia's mind was running through the positions. She personally handled most of the hiring for the senior staff, which only left the wait and custodian staff which she barely paid attention to.
"I'm a maid," Natalia said, confirming Olivia's suspicions.
"Really?" Olivia said. "How come?"
"It's what I do," Natalia said. "What I've always done. Cleaning and waitressing."
"Didn't you ever want to do more?" Olivia asked.
"I suppose," Natalia shrugged. "Just never had much opportunity, being a single mother and all."
Olivia thought for a moment. "Not that I think there's anything wrong with being a maid, but I think you can do better, Natalia," she said and came to a swift decision. "How would you like a promotion? I really need someone to help me run the hotel."
Natalia blinked in surprise. "I don't know…I've never done anything like that before."
"Yeah, but I'm sure you can," Olivia said. "What do you say? It'll be a great help and I'm sure the salary increase will be a big help."
"Still, that's a lot of responsibility," Natalia said. "Are you sure you can trust me? I mean, we just met."
Olivia gave her a big smile. "I'm sure and even though we've just met, I feel like I've known you all my life. I know you can do it, Natalia. You're a superhero!"
Natalia felt pleasant warmth suffuse throughout her body. Never had anyone called her a superhero before and she decided she really liked the feeling. "Well, all right," she finally answered. "But if it doesn't work out, I'll need my old job back. There's a house I've been saving for."
"Oh yeah, which one?" Olivia asked.
Natalia waited while the server placed their orders on the table. Then, unable to wait, she took a bite of her salad. "Oh this is delicious," she said.
Olivia watched as Natalia's eyes closed in utter pleasure. She could feel her breath stop at the sensuous sight. When Natalia's tongue snaked out to capture a stray bit of the creamy salad dressing and then retreat inside the dark mystery of her mouth, all of the moisture in Olivia's mouth disappeared and then reappeared in her nether regions. Her mind immediately shot off into fantasies involving that luscious mouth.
"Olivia?" Natalia said, jarring Olivia out of her stupor. "Are you all right?"
"What?" Olivia asked stupidly and then realized she had been caught daydreaming.
Natalia smiled. "You're adorable," she answered. "I said, I want to buy that farmhouse located out on Harlequin Lane."
Once again, Olivia flushed at the compliment, but she willed her mind to focus. "Farmhouse?" she asked. "Oh, that's owned by my business partner Cassie. I'll give her a call tomorrow and let her know she's got a buyer. You can probably move in as early as next week."
"Wow, that is so great!" Natalia said and then a thought occurred to her. "I hope you and Emma will visit."
"Oh, you better believe we will," Olivia answered and delighted in Natalia's answering grin.
The two women chatted amicably throughout the mean. By dessert, Olivia felt comfortable enough to ask, "So, you mentioned earlier that your son – Rafe, yes? – was an accident. What did you mean?"
"Oh, not that I don't love him or that he's not a blessing in my life," Natalia answered. "Just that he was started by accident."
Olivia nodded. "My girls were too," she said. "What happened?"
"I was at a Fourth of July party and even though it was so hot outside, I was relaxing in the hot tub. A boy got in with me and even though I totally ignored him, I guess he really liked me."
"Oh," Olivia said, nodding. "So he never touched you?"
"No, just himself," Natalia said, shaking her head. "It was my fault for not getting out of the tub. How was I supposed to know you can get pregnant that way? My parents never taught me about things like that. I knew I'd never risk getting pregnant the way they taught us in school."
"I know," Olivia said. "But it wasn't your fault, Natalia. Like you said, your son is a blessing as are my daughters. I got them the same way you did, except with Ava it was in a warm swimming pool back on San Cristobel."
"Oh," Natalia said, chewing on her tiramisu and thinking about what they had revealed to each other. "Weren't you married?" she asked.
Olivia nodded. "Yes, but those were all business arrangements and each ended in annulments."
"Oh," Natalia said again, hoping she didn't sound like a broken record. "So…you mean you're a…"
Olivia realized where Natalia's mind had gone and she felt herself blushing more than she ever had, but not in embarrassment. "Yes, I am," she answered. "You, too?"
"Yes," Natalia breathed out and then laughed. "That's so great."
The two women laughed, each instinctively realizing that all of the lonely years they had endured were finally coming to an end.
The dark and stormy night was progressing nicely as the two happy women finished eating their dessert which had been decadent, Natalia thought as she ran her finger along the edge of her plate scooping up a bit of caramel sauce. She closed her eyes as she put the finger in her mouth.
"Mmm," she hummed and then opened her eyes to see Olivia watching her intently with a look of pure desire on her face that Natalia felt between her legs.
"Want some?" Natalia asked.
"Yes," Olivia husked out.
Natalia had to control her breathing. She had never met a sexier creature than Olivia Spencer. She ran her finger around the plate again, gathering up the last of the sauce and then she held out her index finger.
Olivia leaned forward and took the digit into her mouth, her tongue caressing along its length as Olivia tasted the sauce. Then she withdrew her tongue and lightly sucked on Natalia's finger for a few arousing moments, then let it go with a soft, wet pop.
"I've never tasted anything so delicious," Olivia said, her malachite imbued eyes dark with desire. "More please?"
Natalia gulped and then looked at her plate. "Oh," she breathed out, feeling her heart hammering wildly in her chest. "There is no more."
"Oh really?" Olivia said. "What a shame. Perhaps you have something else for me to taste then?"
"I think…" Natalia said and then paused to swallow.
"I think it's time to leave," Natalia answered.
Olivia gave her a wide smile of delight. "I agree," she answered. "Let's go."
The two women were heading toward the entrance hand in hand when they were suddenly intercepted by a disheveled Frank Cooper, who just stood there staring at Natalia.
"Frankie?" Olivia asked.
Frank turned toward Olivia with a confused look for a moment, then shrugged and turned back to Natalia and said, "Natalia! I just heard the news. It's so great!"
Olivia felt a twinge of annoyance at being so callously dismissed.
"What's so great, Frank?" Natalia asked.
"I just saw Gus and he told me you two are no longer engaged!" Frank gushed. "What great news, Natalia. I rushed right over here."
"Um, okay," Natalia said and glance at Olivia who simply shrugged. "Well, we've got to be going, Frank."
"Wait!" Frank said, holding out a hand to stop them. "Now that you're available, there's something I want to ask you."
"I'm not avail…" Natalia started, but came to a full stop as Frank dropped to his knee in front of her. Olivia squeezed the Latina's hand.
"Natalia," Frank said pulling out a miniscule box and from inside an even more miniscule diamond ring. "Would you do me the honor of being my husband…er, I mean, can I be your wife…um, will you marry me?"
Olivia felt her stomach drop at the detective's question. She looked at Natalia and saw the shocked expression on the face whose features were quickly becoming a big part of her life.
"Natalia?" Frank said after a few moments of stunned silence from the woman.
"Maybe you should think about it, Natalia," Olivia said and Natalia turned to her with a confounded look on her face. "Yeah, I mean, old Frank here is a good man and he can give you things someone else – maybe someone you just happened to meet very recently – can't give you."
"Like what?" Natalia asked, scrunching her eyebrows together.
"Well, like I said, Frank's a good man, he's got a great job…he was almost chief of police permanently. And he can give you a nice, normal and wholly eventless life. Oh, and not to mention lots of little orange Oompa Loompa children."
Natalia's lips quirked as she suddenly guessed Olivia's intent. "Hmm, you know Olivia," she said, putting a finger to her chin. "You might have a point. Maybe I should think about it."
"Really?" Frank asked eagerly, his puppy dog face brightening at Natalia's words.
Olivia and Natalia shared another long look and then both burst out laughing. Frank got a very confused look on his face which turned to utter disappointment as Natalia said, "No, Frank. I will not marry you."
"But, Natalia," he started. "How can we ever make love if we don't get married?"
"Why would I want to make love with you when I want to make love with Olivia?" Natalia asked and Olivia's stomach did its happy dance at the words.
"Olivia?" Frank asked and looked between them and then finally noticed them holding hands. "Oh."
"Yes, 'oh' Frankie," Olivia said with a quirky smile. "Sorry."
Frank sighed and creaked his way to his feet. He ran a hand through his hair and gave Natalia a sheepish grin. "Sorry, Natalia," he said. "I got so excited when Gus said you broke it off that I wasn't thinking straight. I mean, of course you'd fall for Olivia Spencer. I mean, who wouldn't?"
"It's okay, Frank," Natalia said. "I'm sure there's someone out there for you, too."
"Yeah, maybe," Frank said. "Hey, maybe Blake Marler's available?"
Olivia coughed discreetly in her fist. "Um, haven't you heard, Frank," she asked. "Blake's dating the mayor."
Frank's eager face fell again. "Dang!" he said, stamping his foot on the plush carpet of the restaurant foyer. "Are there any women in this town who aren't gay?"
Natalia and Olivia shared another look and then both said at the same time:
After the women had sent Frank Cooper out into the dark and stormy night, Olivia paused in the lobby and turned to Natalia. "I know it's getting late, but I'm not ready for our evening to end yet," she said.
"Neither am I," Natalia said with a fond smile. "I'm really enjoying our time together. This is the best date I've ever been on."
"Been on many?" Olivia asked with a teasing grin.
"No, not really," Natalia said. "Mostly just with Gus, but I did date that police officer Remy Boudreau."
"Remy?" Olivia said. "Oh yeah, I know him. Nice guy."
"Very nice," Natalia agreed. "But Rafe didn't like him that much so I ended it."
Olivia felt a twinge of worry. "Do you think he'll like me?" she asked.
"Oh yes, I'm sure he will," Natalia answered immediately. "I like you, so why wouldn't he?"
"That's great," Olivia said. "Wait here for me for a moment, please? Something I need to take care of."
"Of course," she answered.
Natalia stood looking around the lobby as Olivia headed to the concierge desk and spoke animatedly on the phone. She thought about how happy just looking at Olivia made her feel. After a few minutes more, Olivia joined her and immediately took her hand.
"Come on," she said and gently tugged until Natalia followed her.
In the elevator, Olivia stood close to Natalia simply gazing into the other woman's warm chocolate eyes. "You are so beautiful," she whispered.
Natalia also looked into the most beautiful pair of vibrant green eyes she had ever seen. "You make me feel beautiful when you say that," she answered.
Olivia leaned closer, her eyes fixed on Natalia's lips and she wanted nothing more to find out if they were as soft as they looked.
Natalia's eyes fluttered shut in anticipation of Olivia's kiss. She felt a tickle of the other woman's sweet breath on her lips and she tilted her head. Right before their lips met, the elevator came to a stop with a jerk and the doors slid open.
Olivia looked at the open door with confusion and then back to the dazed look on Natalia's face. She gave a rueful chuckle and realized that the moment had passed. "Come on, honey," she said, pulling Natalia from the elevator.
The Latina blinked as she looked around, her mind still whirling from the almost-kiss. She noticed they were on the top floor of the hotel. Olivia pulled out a key ring and unlocked a door. A quick trip up a flight of stairs and they exited out on to the roof.
Natalia looked around, doing a full three-sixty. "Hey, look at that," she said, pointing her finger.
"What?" Olivia asked and followed where Natalia was looking. All around the hotel, dark storm clouds raged in fury, except for right over the hotel where the stars and moon were shining brightly. "It wouldn't dare rain on us, sweetheart."
Natalia looked back at Olivia. "No, I suppose it wouldn't. It's so beautiful tonight. Thank you for bringing me here."
"You're welcome," Olivia answered. "Will you dance with me?"
"Here?" Natalia asked. "There's no music."
"Sure there is," Olivia said and raised a hand. "Hit it boys."
Natalia's mouth dropped open as the string quartet that entertained the restaurant patrons broke into Prokofiev's string quartet in B minor. They both listened for a few moments and then Olivia held out her arms and Natalia willingly moved into them, feeling as if she had come home.
The two women moved to the slow and haunting tones, their bodies pressed closely together in perfect synchronicity. Natalia laid her head on Olivia's shoulder and tightened her grip. "You feel so good, Olivia," she whispered.
"So do you," Olivia replied, nuzzling her nose into Natalia's sweet-smelling hair. Then a thought occurred to her. "Natalia? Can I ask you something?"
"Of course," Natalia whispered. "You can ask me anything you want."
"What did Frank mean before when he was asking you to marry him?" Olivia started. "That you can't make love until you're married?"
"That's the way I was raised," Natalia said. "No sex before marriage, which is why my parents were so upset when they thought I had sex with Gus."
"They didn't believe you?" Olivia asked.
"No, but it's all right," she said. "I did the best I could raising my son. Now that he's got his father in his life, he's going to be just fine."
"Good, I'm glad," Olivia said. "But Natalia…you know that you and I can't get married, right?"
Natalia pulled back to look Olivia in the face. "I know that," she said. "I don't care."
"You don't?" Olivia asked. "But you told Frank that you wanted to make love with me."
"I do," Natalia said. "But I don't want to wait until the state of Illinois joins the twenty-first century."
"I could make a few calls if you want," Olivia offered. "I think the governor is staying in the hotel tonight to avoid the storm. He can introduce legislation legalizing it for us. "
Natalia thought and then peered at Olivia. "Olivia Spencer, are you asking me to marry you?"
Olivia felt her stomach clench. "Um…I…I guess I am," she said with a self-conscious laugh.
Natalia wrapped her arms around Olivia's neck. "Of course, I'll marry you, Olivia," she answered. "But I don't want to wait until we are before making love with you. I want you, Olivia. Tonight. Tomorrow night. And every night after that for the rest of our lives."
"Oh, Natalia," Olivia said. "I want you, too."
As if finally given permission, Olivia leaned in and captured Natalia's lips with her own. Lightning flashed all around them and the music swirled, but both women were only aware of each other and their rapidly heating bodies.
Olivia ran her hands up and down Natalia's back as she lightly brushed her lips against Natalia's, delighting in the fact that her lips were indeed as soft as she had imagined. Her head was swimming as she gently sought permission with her tongue and felt an intense throbbing in her womanhood.
Natalia's warm, wet tongue eagerly encountered her own, both muscles gently caressing each other in an erotic dance. Olivia's breathing quickened until she was panting and on the dim periphery of her mind she realized Natalia was as well. She pulled her head back, breaking the contact and eliciting a whimper of protest from Natalia.
"Olivia," Natalia whispered and leaned in for another kiss. "More please."
"Natalia," Olivia groaned. "Wait."
"Wait?" Natalia's eyes blinked open and stared into Olivia's. "What?"
"Wait," Olivia said. "Not…not here. This isn't the time or place for it."
"Screw time and space," Natalia said.
Olivia laughed. "I mean not here on the roof," she clarified. "Let's go to my suite."
"All right," Natalia readily agreed and pulled Olivia toward the stairs.
"Oh boy, this is gonna be fun," Olivia laughed.
The dark and stormy night had returned with a fierce ferocity, Olivia noted as she led Natalia into her darkened suite. Outside the picture window, the storm continued to rage. Lit only by some carefully placed candles, the living room was silent except for a low moaning.
"Ava?" Olivia called out as she flipped the light switch.
A moment later, her flushed and disheveled daughter popped up from behind the couch. "Oh! Hi, Mom!"
"Hiya honey," she said and then her eyebrows raised up as a second later an equally flushed and disheveled blonde woman also popped up from behind the couch. "Well…hello Ashley Wolfe."
"Hi, Ms. Spencer," a blushing Ashley replied.
Olivia laughed. "Considering what we just walked in on, I'd say you better call me Olivia."
"Okay, thanks Olivia," Ashley said with a smile. "Hi Natalia."
"Hi Ash," Natalia answered. "You're looking well."
"Thanks," she said and then Olivia smiled when the girl reached out to take her daughter's hand.
"Emma still asleep?" Olivia asked.
"Oh yes, she's fine," Ava replied. "Did you enjoy your date?"
"Oh we had a great time," Natalia answered. "Your mother wined and dined me wonderfully."
Both Ava and Ashley laughed. "Well, then," Ava said, "I guess we'll go so Mom can move on to the next item on her agenda."
"Ava…" Olivia said with a warning tone, but her eyes belied her amusement.
"Can't help it, Mom," Ava said. "You guys are just too adorable." She looked at her watch and said to Ashley. "You know, I think if we hurry, we can meet the guys before the movie starts."
"The guys?" Olivia asked.
"Rafe and James," Ashley said. "They called earlier and asked if we wanted to go see My Own Private Idaho with them."
Olivia frowned. "Isn't that film a bit too mature for James?" she asked. "He was just here tonight playing dolls with Emma."
Ava shrugged. "You know how fast kids grow up in this town," she answered. "I think he was just really eager to start dating his cousin."
"Oh yeah, that's right," Olivia said with a nod. She turned to Natalia. "Strange things happen in this town sometimes. Try not to get too close to old paintings. They might fall on you and you'll wake up in a strange place with even stranger clothing on."
Natalia frowned. "You mean like at the Cooper's house on a Greek festival day?"
"No, even stranger," Olivia answered. "Victorian England."
All four women shuddered.
"Let's go, Ava," Ashley said.
"Yeah," Ava agreed. "You guys don't do anything we wouldn't do."
Natalia snorted. "Yeah, like that's really gonna happen."
"Goodnight, girls," Olivia said. "Have fun."
"You too!" Ashley said and nearly pulled Ava from the suite.
Olivia turned to Natalia, the look on her face causing a ripple of desire to rush through Natalia's womanhood. "So," she said in a breathy voice. "What do you wanna do now?"
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