calliopes_muse (calliopes_muse) wrote,
calliopes_muse
calliopes_muse

Otalia - Heroes & Friends, 5/?

Title: Heroes and Friends
Fandom: Otalia
Rating: Mostly PG-13, eventual NC-17 for sex and violence (Not between our girls though…the violence that is…promise. The other? Well…teehee).
Disclaimer: These wonderful ladies and the rest of the town belong to CBS, Telenext, and P&G. I’m just having some fun with them.
Spoilers: I don’t think so. This story picks up at the “no more waiting” gazebo scene and goes off canon.
Summary: Nat gets the shock of her life and it turns Liv’s world upside down.
Warning: Not beta’d so if it sucks, there’s only me to blame.
A/N: Last part may be a tad confusing, but hopefully you all will get it.

Chapter 5

Olivia awoke to a sharp poking on her shoulder and as she struggled to open her weary eyes, she saw her smiling daughter looking at her with a hint of trepidation. Emma knew her mom wasn’t a morning person. She had waited five whole minutes before giving in and going to get her up.

“Mom, I gotta get to day camp.”

Olivia pushed herself up on the bed, “Oh, yeah. Right.” She looked at the clock realizing how behind they were, “Let me call the kitchen and have them make you a bagel sandwich or something. We can pick it up on our way out.”

Emma happily nodded her head, and skipped back to her room, “Okay!”

“Hey, did you get your backpack ready?”

“Yep.”

“Brush your teeth?”

“Yep.”

“You better, kiddo! I get a kiss goodbye and I don’t want stinky kid breath.”

“Moooommmm!” Olivia laughed as she struggled to stand and stretched to get herself fully up. She looked at the now empty couch and smiled a small smile. It had been good to have someone like Josh to talk to for a change. She hadn’t really had anyone to open up to about her and Natalia, and considering his situation with Reva, he had some pretty sage advice based his own personal experience.

She took the fastest shower in known history, and in ten minutes, they were headed out the front doors of the Beacon with Emma’s sandwich in hand. Suddenly her daughter stopped mid-stride.

“I think I forgot something.”

Olivia was a tad exasperated, “Do you HAVE to have it today, ‘Bean?”

“Um, yeah, but I don’t really need it until after lunch, and that’s good ‘cause I think it’s at the farmhouse anyway.”

Olivia tugged at Emma’s hand, urging her on to the car, “Great! Well, what was it?”

“It’s supposed to be something representing a time when we were happy. I was going to take the picture of us from Christmas, but I think it’s still in my old room.”

She unlocked the doors and helped Emma get buckled in, then she kneeled down eye-level with her little girl, “Tell ya what. Since you don’t need it until after lunch, I’ll go out and get it for you, then bring it back in time for you to do whatever you got to do with it, okay?”

“Okay! I wish I could go with you though. I miss being there.”

Olivia pushed the hair back from Emma’s face, “I know, baby. We just don’t have time to run out there right now. Maybe another time.”

Emma nodded and Olivia stood to close the door. She ran her hands through her damp hair as she walked around the car. Well, this should make for another wonderful day!

**************
She cut the engine after sitting in the driveway for a few minutes. Even though it had only been a couple of days since she had last been here, it felt like an eternity. She stared at the walkway and porch, remembering sitting there with Natalia. The night she came up the walk and Natalia was waiting there, bathed in the moonlight. How that night had gone horribly wrong as she watched from a window as Frank proposed. Then the morning after the engagement party sitting on the bench and how absolutely stunning Natalia looked at that moment. They had joked a little and laughed, and she almost forgot why they were there to begin with. It had taken every ounce of strength she had to get through that party, but sitting on that bench, she found some small reserve that kept her from kissing Natalia and begging her not to go through with the wedding.

So many missed opportunities happened, or didn’t happen, as the case might be, at the farmhouse, and Olivia regretting every second of hesitation she had ever felt. She should have kissed her that morning. She should have told Natalia not to accept that proposal. A lot of things she should have done and didn’t do, that she regrets. She wasn’t sure if it was better or worse to be like Josh and know fully what you’re missing out on or to never know. Right now, though, she’d take her chances.

She exited the car and slowly walked up the steps, letting her fingers play over the wood of the banister Natalia had been leaning against that night. She could almost fool herself into believing it was still warm to the touch because of Natalia’s heat.

She sighed and found her key to let herself in. After a couple of days of being closed up, the house was already getting a slightly stale smell to it. There were no sweet scents of baking cookies or evidence of movement. A fine dust was settling on the flat surfaces.

She took the steps slowly. She could see Natalia on the couch folding clothes. The woman loved to do laundry! Or maybe she was cuddled up under the blanket with Emma waiting for movie night to start. It was like nothing had changed in the house. Not an item was out of place, nothing disturbed. It was almost eerie, like a snapshot had been taken and Olivia was living in the picture. Nothing felt quite real.

The last thing Olivia saw before reaching the landing was a glint of Natalia’s rosary hanging from the mantle. Olivia thought that odd since Natalia always takes her rosary with her when she leaves, but she shrugged her shoulders anyway thinking how none of this made any sense so why expect Natalia to follow any expected pattern of behavior.

Olivia went to Emma’s old room and quickly found the picture she wanted since it was sitting on her old dresser, but as she exited and started to leave, she had an urge to go to Natalia’s room. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew she shouldn’t invade Natalia’s personal space this way, but she couldn’t seem to resist the pull.

She wrapped her fingers around the cold metal of the door knob and hesitated only a second, her other hand resting against the wood, as she wished more than anything that it had all been a bad dream and Natalia would be in her room, maybe taking a well-earned nap or reading a book. She cracked the door and immediately felt the overwhelming sensation of having Natalia near, the scent of the room so much like Natalia herself. Tears sprang to her eyes as she pushed the door open wider. Draped over the back of a chair in the corner was the shawl she had been wearing so often recently. It seemed like she was always cold lately even though it was the middle of summer. Olivia sat on the edge of the small bed, clutching at her mid-section as the tears came earnestly. It was like Natalia had vanished off the face of the earth. There was even a half drank cup of tea on her dresser and bills laying open to be paid.

Olivia buried her face in her hands. None of this made sense. Natalia had seemed so happy and ready for them to move forward. Why would she leave like this? She didn’t want to believe that Frank and Rafe were right, that Natalia could never really be with her. She could see Natalia’s determined and happy face declaring she didn’t want to wait at the gazebo, and Olivia’s heart soared, but it all plummeted back to the cold ground as she raised her now red eyes to survey the very empty room.

“Why Natalia? I don’t understand. We were good, weren’t we?”

She stood and went to the chair to pick up the shawl. She remembered the feel of it under her fingers as she fought the urge to clutch Natalia to her that day and kiss her.

“God, she looked so beautiful.” She raised the material to her face and inhaled deeply, closing her eyes, wanting to take the scent of Natalia as deep into her as possible.

She shook her head and knew she had to snap out of it. With deliberate movements, she folded the material in her hands and opened the closet to get a hanger. She found one in the overfilled space and pushed as much aside as possible when she noticed the stack of suitcases on the floor…all of her suitcases.

“What the hell? Who leaves without packing a suitcase?” She knew this was all the luggage Natalia owned because she took every single piece on the spa trip. Then something occurred to her, she stepped back and looked at the closet again. All of Natalia’s favorite outfits were here. She quickly moved to a dresser and opened a drawer. Full of underwear and socks. She bolted from the room and ran downstairs. Opening the refrigerator door, she found what was once a fresh salad and marinating steaks. She moved to the dishwasher. Crusty dishes greeted her.

When she looked up, her panicked eyes landed on Natalia’s Virgin Mary statue on the shelf. She went over and picked it up gently, “And I know she’d never leave without you. Please tell me I’m wrong. I can’t believe I’d prefer that she ran away right now, but I’d take it compared to what I’m thinking.”

Olivia placed it carefully back on the shelf with shaking hands, and she found herself actually praying, “Please God…”

Maybe she was just crazy or too close to the situation. Maybe she just needed some perspective. She picked up her phone and dialed the first person she could think of.

“Josh? I need your help.”

************
When Josh pulled up to the farmhouse, Olivia was pacing on the porch, her hand over her chest tapping in an irregular pattern. Even from a distance, her face was red and he knew she had been crying. He jogged to the porch and took her arm, settling her to the bench.

“Hey, what’s up? You okay?” He watched her rock slowly, fighting to catch her breath, her hand never stopping its steady tapping. “It’s not your heart, is it?”

She shook her head and gasped, trying to push the words past her mouth, “I don’t think she ran away. She was taken…against her will.” The tears started again and when she looked at him, he stepped back at the rage on her face. He had never seen her so upset, and he had seen Olivia upset plenty of times in his life, but this…this was the worst. He took both of her shaking hands in his and held them tight, even though she tried to pull away.

“Take a deep breath.” He watched her for a couple of seconds and when she didn’t respond, he pushed her, “Do it, Olivia. Breathe.” She closed her eyes and slowly took in the first deep breath she had had in about thirty minutes. “Again.” Several more times she followed his instructions until her hands had nearly stopped shaking and he could actually start to see some green around her pupils.

“Good. Now slowly and calmly tell me why you think someone took her.”

She stood and took his hand, “Come here.”

She walked him through the house, pointing out all the little things she had noticed. He took it all in but turned to her at the stairs, “Olivia, if she panicked and was in a hurry, she may not have thought about taking care of these things.”

“It’s not like her. She’s…she’s a freakin’ neat freak. There’s a dirty spoon and coffee cup in the sink. She never would have left that. She always washed the dishes before leaving the house, even if we’re just taking Emma to feed the ducks!” Her voice had risen with each word out of her mouth and when she finished, she realized her hands were gesturing wildly and she was nearly screaming.

“Well, maybe she wasn’t planning on being gone long. So she thought she’d just deal with it when she returned.”

“No.” She shook her head vehemently. She wasn’t going to be talked out of this or convinced otherwise. Her gut told her something was wrong. She could feel it. Suddenly, she felt incredibly dizzy and she grasped at the banister. Josh reached for her free hand as she flopped to the stairs below.

“Okay, Olivia, you’re letting yourself get too worked up over this. Come over here to the couch and sit down, just for a minute.” She followed him as he held her steady by the hand.

He got her settled, and then went to the fridge. He came back with a bottle of water. “Here, maybe this will help.”

Olivia raised her head out of her hands and took the bottle, “Thanks.” Then realizing something else, she stood to look at the thermostat. “She wouldn’t have left it to run this cold when she wasn’t here. She always puts it right at 72 when we leave.”

“Hey,” Josh got her attention and he motioned to her with a finger and at pat on the couch, “Here…now.” She walked over and dropped down on the cushions.

“I know I sound crazy, Josh. I can feel that something’s wrong. I just know she’s in trouble.”

He took a deep breath, not fully convinced just yet, “Okay, tell me other things you noticed.”

“Well, the big one was that she didn’t pack a single thing to take with her. All of her suitcases are still in the closet upstairs and her drawers are full of clothes and underwear. Who do you know would leave without at least taking underwear or a…” In mid-sentence, Olivia bolted up the stairs and Josh wearily pulled himself up to follow.

He turned where Olivia had stopped. She stood in the bathroom with her hands on her hips, “Her toothbrush is still here.”

He nodded his head, “Okay, now I think I’m getting convinced.”

She threw up her hands, “Finally! So, what do we do?”

“We…oh no, WE don’t do anything. WE call the police.”

Olivia rolled her eyes and brushed past him, “They’re useless, Josh. You know that! Frank barely showed any emotion over her suddenly leaving. He probably thinks it’s what I deserve for corrupting her or something.”

He had followed her down the stairs and they stood in the kitchen, just staring at each other, “That doesn’t mean he can refuse to do his job if there’s evidence to support your case. He’ll at least have to check into it, especially now that it’s been over 24 hours.”

“Fine…fine, we’ll call him.”

As soon as she pulled her phone out of her pocket, there was a knock at the door. They shared a confused look before Josh reached over to open it. Rick stood there with his hand in mid-knock and then he just looked at them strangely and then looked back to make sure he had come to the right house.

“Hi.”

“Hey, Rick. What in the world are you doing out here?” Olivia had an appointment for her heart just last week so she knew it shouldn’t be about that.

“Is Natalia home?”

Olivia scratched at the back of her neck, “No, actually. She’s not.”

“Do you know where I can find her?” Rick persisted.

“Um, no. If we did, I’d be there too.” Olivia put her hands in her pockets, anxious for this conversation to end so she could call Frank and get to looking for Natalia.

“Okay, but I really need to find her. I’ve been calling her cell and getting no response. I thought I’d try just coming out instead.”

“Yeah, well. Good luck with that.” Olivia stepped back into the living room.

Rick looked at Josh oddly and he merely stepped aside, “You may want to come inside. It’s a long story.”

They sat on the couch and recounted the whole tale to Rick and by the end, he was just as convinced.

“Did you call the police?”

“I was about to when you knocked.” Olivia fidgeted nervously, knowing time was wasting.

“Well, you may want to add a tidbit of new information to the case.” Olivia scrunched her eyebrows, confused by what he meant. “Considering the circumstances, I don’t think this should be kept confidential under doctor-patient privileges.”

“What? What is it, Rick?” Olivia was exasperated.

“I got some test results back for Natalia. She has very dangerous sugar levels and if she’s not treated immediately, the results could be…well, deadly.”

Olivia stood and started pacing. She put a shaking hand to her mouth, “She has diabetes.”

“Uncontrolled diabetes. Honestly, Olivia, she has some of the highest levels I’ve ever seen in a patient. I’m surprised she didn’t have more symptoms before.”

“She’s been under a lot of stress,” Olivia mumbled as she kept pacing.

“That doesn’t help.”

She turned to look at Josh, and held out her hand with the phone in it, “We gotta…something…we can’t…I can’t,” she started to crumble, her legs giving out from under her, as Josh reached for her before she hit the floor.

Shortly, she came to with Josh and Rick hovering over her, “Well, ain’t I the lucky girl?”

“Come on, McFiesty, sit up.” Josh helped her into a sitting position. She recalled what had gotten her on the floor in the first place, and she looked at him with a deep sadness in her eyes.

“I can’t lose her, Josh. We have to find her.” Suddenly, she remembered what she needed to do, “Where’s my phone?”

“Here.” She took it from him and dialed Frank’s number.

“I can do this, Olivia. You don’t have to…,” she raised a hand to cut her well-meaning ex-husband off.

“No, I do have to do this. Yeah, hi Frank, It’s Olivia.”

**************
Natalia’s eyes fluttered as she drifted somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. In her dream state, the cold floor no longer existed. Instead she rested back against Olivia’s soft curves. Looking up, she saw the gently swaying leaves of the tree they sat under as they watched the ducks lazily swim across the lake.

She raised the hand wrapped around her waist, looked at it…studied it. She let her own fingers trace the length of each one, admiring the strength veiled by deceptively feminine hands. She slipped her own fingers between the webs of the other teasing at the nerves there. A soft moan at her ear ruffled her hair and she turned the hand over, running a finger along the life line in the middle that had a curious interruption halfway through, only to pick up again and not end until it reached the space between thumb and forefinger. Curiously, she looked at her own life line and holding it next to Olivia’s saw the same odd blip at nearly the same location.

Olivia leaned her head over Natalia’s shoulder, and Natalia held up their hands, “Look.” She pointed to the markings, “What do you think of that?”

Olivia turned Natalia’s head with her free hand, “I think it means I’ve always loved you…always will.”

Natalia let go of Olivia’s hand and turned in her arms. Soon she was straddling her hips and kissing her deeply. The hands Natalia had been admiring pulled her close and began to roam to find any vacant skin available. Deep inside, Natalia felt the pull, like an invisible cord that drew her closer to Olivia instinctively. So many times she had felt it when Olivia looked at her for too long and when she couldn’t hide what she was feeling, but she couldn’t admit until recently that this longing and need had been there far longer than either of them had cared to admit. Probably as far back as Gus’ death.

The brunette whimpered as the dream began to fade, the harsh reality of her new world stinging her bare skin, as she struggled to hold on to the feelings her dream brought. She didn’t open her eyes. She refused to, refused to believe that she’d never feel Olivia touch her again or that they’d never kiss again. Instead, she squeezed her eyes shut tight, tears falling freely, as she replayed the dream images over and over again, and making up those that faded from her consciousness.

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

He had barely pulled all the way into the driveway and shut his car off when he saw Olivia barrel down the front steps of the farmhouse, heading in a direct line for him. Josh Lewis and and Rick Bauer were tight on her heels. This wasn’t going to be pleasant and he could feel his self-protective mode kicking in. He managed to get out of the car by the time Olivia got to him.

“She’s gone. She’s gone and you have to do something about it.” She put her hands on her hips, fighting to control herself. She wanted nothing more than to smack the clueless look off his arrogant face.

He sighed and looked at her like she was a child. It made her nostrils flare, and she clenched her fists to hold down her anger. “We’ve talked about this Olivia. You just need to accept it, she left.”

“No, she didn’t.” She pointed over his shoulder. “Her car’s still here.”

“She could have called a cab.”

Olivia ran her fingers through her hair, “Her clothes are still here.”

He shrugged, “She thought she’d do some shopping while she’s gone.”

She stepped back and shook her head. When she turned and acted like she was walking away, Frank let out a long sigh, glad that was easier than he thought it would be. He turned to get back in his car when a hand came out of nowhere and banged on the roof. He jumped and turned back to see a very livid Olivia Spencer in his face.

“What are you, some freakin’ idiot? Is that the best you got? Shopping? Seriously, Frank, no wonder she left you if the best image you have of a woman is baking cookies and shopping to reduce stress. Her car’s here. Her clothes are here. Even her freakin’ toothbrush is here, not to mention her son, her job, her dead husband, and everything else that ever mattered to her, but the best you can come up with is she’s shopping. No wonder you all can’t figure out who killed Edmund!”

She had Frank pinned between herself and the car and only seemed to be inching closer when Frank yelled back, “She left a note, Olivia! She left you! Can’t you just accept it? I did.”

“No. No, I can’t and I won’t. She didn’t leave me Frank. I know it. I just…I feel it. Please…”

“I can’t.”

“Frankie, she’s sick and she doesn’t know it.”

Rick recognized his cue and stepped up, “It’s true. She came in for tests the other day when she wasn’t feeling well, and she has diabetes. She’s in a very acute, untreated phase of it right now. We need to find her.”

Frank threw up his hands, “I’m sure if she starts feeling too bad, she’ll go to a hospital.”

She clenched her jaw, determined not to cry anymore in front of Frank. Instead she turned and walked back into the house, slamming the door hard enough to crack one of the panes.

Frank, Rick, and Josh stood looking at the house. None of them daring to approach Hurricane Olivia at the moment. Josh finally turned to Frank, “You’re one hardheaded son of a bitch, aren’t you? What if you’re wrong?”

“I’m not.”

“Or maybe you just like seeing Olivia miserable.” Josh looked to Rick, “I’m going to go check on her. Thanks for telling us about this.”

“If you need anything…,” Josh nodded his acknowledgement and gave Frank a withering glance as he turned back to go inside.

Frank called to Rick as he walked to his car, “Is it that bad?”

“Let’s just say that I pray to God you’re right.” Rick got into his car and left Frank in the driveway.
***********

Josh poked his head around the corner into the living room. Olivia was curled up on the couch, a pillow in her lap and her knees drawn up. Her face was hidden in the pillow and from the shake of her shoulders, Josh could tell she was crying again.

He came up and put a hand on her shoulder, “Hey, it’ll be okay. We’ll find her.”

“You still believe me?” She sounded so small and scared that his protective urge kicked in and he came around to give her a tight hug.

“Absolutely!”

She sniffed into his shoulder, “Thanks.”

He smiled, “You’re welcome.”

“Can you do me favor?”

He leaned back and brushed at the tears on her face, “Why not? I’m on a roll today.”

She smiled in spite of her pain, “Could you take this to Emma at day camp? I was supposed to take it to her, but I don’t want her to see me like this.”

“Sure, no problem. Do you want me to take you back to the Beacon?”

She leaned the side of her head against the couch, “Actually, I think I’m going to stay here for a little while.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Yeah, it helps. I feel closer to her here, and right now, I really need that.”

He nodded his head in understanding. He had lost track of how many times he had hovered outside Cross Creek for the exact same reason. “Okay, but call me if you need anything. I’ll swing back by after dropping this off.”

“Okay.” He kissed her on top of the head and left.

Olivia waited until Josh had left to sink down into the couch. She rolled on her side and buried her face against the back cushions. The tears started anew and she squeezed her eyes shut tight against the mantra running through her head “she left you…she left you…she left you.”

She punched at the offending cushion in front of her imagining Frank’s face there instead.

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

Frank pulled up to the parking lot of his small apartment and spotted Rafe sitting on a bench, nursing a beer. He walked up to the younger man and jerked the bottle out of his hand.

“What the hell are you thinking?”

“Dude, what’s wrong? I just wanted a beer. It’s not like I’ve finished off the pack or something. I just…needed something,” he mumbled.

Frank sighed and sat down next to him on the bench, “I understand, believe me, but think about it before you do this. You’re sitting out in broad daylight, outside the apartment of a police officer and your mentor, drinking and you’re only 19.”

Rafe shook his head, “Hey, I’m sorry, man. I didn’t think.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

They sat for a couple of minutes in silence before Frank finally spoke up, “Hey, um…can I ask you something…about your mom?”

He shrugged at the out of place question, “Sure, yeah, I guess.”

“Did she ever, I don’t know, just flake out on you when you were a kid? Like take off or anything like that? Or take off on her job?”

He scrunched his bushy eyebrows together, thinking, “No, she’s always been like a rock. She rarely missed a day of work. She even took me with her once when I had the flu. I curled up on a booth seat while she waited tables, but she had no choice. It was the weekend so the doctor’s weren’t open anyway, and we had no one to take care me. We were short on money that month so she worked double shifts nearly every day just so she could pay the rent.”

“So she wouldn’t just take off if she got stressed?”

Rafe chuckled a little at this, “No. Definitely not!” After a short pause and watching the thoughtful look on Frank’s face, Rafe let his curiosity get away with thim, “What’s this about, Frank?”

“Nothing. It’s probably nothing. I just needed to know.”

“I don’t buy that.” Frank looked into the dark eyes of this troubled young man, seeing the stubborn determination inherited from his mother. With a sigh, Frank fessed up.

“I’m sure you heard the rumors about your mom leaving Olivia.”

“Yeah, finally! I’m glad she wised up about that crap.”

Frank looked down, noticing that he had peeled the entire label from the bottle and didn’t even realize it, “What if we’re wrong? What if she didn’t willingly leave?”

“What are you talking about?” Rafe turned to him to fully follow his reactions and comments.

“I just talked to Olivia, and she seems to think that Natalia didn’t willngly leave.”

“Someone took her?”

“I honestly don’t know, Rafe. Olivia has a lot of evidence to support her but…”

The young man stared at him intently, “But what?”

“Olivia’s always been a master manipulator and she knows exactly what to say to get someone to jump through her hoops. I just…,” he breathed a heavy sigh, “I just don’t know what to think.”

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

Olivia drifted in and out of sleep, waiting for Josh to return, until she finally succumbed to the exhaustion the past few days had taken on her.

She was standing in the gazebo, a huge smile on her face, as she watched Natalia walk up from her car. The dark jacket and pants hugging her in all the right places, her hair hanging down a little in her eyes, making Olivia’s fingers itch to want to brush it back. Her heart skipped a little when Natalia looked up at her and smiled. She gave Olivia a little wave as she adjusted the basket in her hands.

“So, what have you got there?” Olivia tried to peek into the basket as Natalia playfully swatted at her hand.

“No peeking. It’s a surprise.” Olivia smirked and stepped closer into Natalia’s space, a thrill running along her spine as Natalia’s dark eyes drifted down to her mouth.

“I want to see now. I don’t want to wait.”

Natalia leaned her head to the side, smiling expectantly at her, “Are you sure?”

“No more waiting.”

“Okay,” Natalia bit her lip and raised the lid on the basket.

Olivia gasped when she saw the small velvet box sitting in a bed of white satin. She looked up into Natalia’s eyes and knew what was inside without even opening it.

“I don’t want to wait, Olivia. I want you to be my wife.”

Olivia put a hand to her mouth in an attempt to hold back her happy tears, but there was no use. Instead, she just wrapped her hands in Natalia’s beautiful hair and pulled her close into a long, sweet kiss. When they pulled back, they were both crying and wiping tears from each other’s face.

“I take it, that’s a ‘yes’?”

“Yes,” Olivia nodded, “definitely, yes.”

Natalia looked at her shyly, “Want to try it on?”

Olivia nodded, unable to talk. Natalia took the little box out and set the basket down. When Natalia opened the box, Olivia’s face fell. Nestled inside the box wasn’t the ring she was expecting, but the red and gold family crest from San Cristobel. She looked up and Natalia had disappeared. Her car wasn’t in the parking lot. The little black box was gone from her hand. The only thing besides her in the gazebo was the cooler Natalia was going to bring to the barbeque.

With a start, Natalia woke up. Her face was streaked with tears and when she remembered the look of joy and hope on Olivia’s face as she opened the box change to despair, her tears started again. She curled herself tighter into a ball on the cold concrete and rocked herself back to sleep.

Olivia jumped off the couch, her eyes wild and searching. Without thinking, she ran out the back door to the barn and flung open the doors. On the floor of the barn was the same cooler from her dreams, and in a panic, she scrambled up the steps to the upper level of the barn. When she sees the blanket, lantern and other personal items strewn haphazardly in the corner, she falls to her knees crying.

“No! No, no, no, no,” she runs her hands along in the hay, in, under, and around the blanket searching for any sign of what she knows to be true, until she jerks her hand back at a sharp stab. Buried in the palm of her hand is the red and gold family crest, same as in her dream.

She pulls it from her hand and stares at it, her face shifting from fear to rage, “You son of a bitch! I swear to God if anything happens to Natalia, I’ll kill you with my bare hands.” She barreled down the steps to the house for her phone. She frantically dialed the number.

“Josh, get back here…NOW! I know what happened to Natalia.”
 
Tags: guiding light, olivia/natalia, otalia
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