Listy (listener15) wrote in passion_perfect,
Listy
listener15
passion_perfect

FIC: "Searching" Part 1/3 (GL, Olivia/Natalia)

Title: Searching
Author: Listener15
Rating: Going with R just in case
Disclaimers: Don't own them. Wish I did, but alas, you need money for that.
Spoilers: Just until the Near Kiss.
Summary: A fourth party enters the picture with an agenda of their own.
Author's Note: Okay, in this fic I'm going with that the Coopers never lost Company (hey, it's fanfic, I can do what I want). Umm, I know there was something else but I forget. Oops! Thanks to red_lee for betaing! Any problems with the fic are my mistake :-) I'm hoping to get this done in three parts, but if it needs to go longer it will. Hope you enjoy!
Author's Note2: Ack! I can't believe I forgot to post this here! Sorry peeps! I've got part 2 all ready to post here and will once I post this one.



Slowly, the inky blackness that she had been drifting in faded away. Olivia closed her eyes more tightly as the pain in her head and stomach intensified sharply. Sitting up, she realized seconds later, was a very bad idea. The garbage can by her bed was a lucky thing as she emptied what little breakfast she ate that morning from her stomach.

The world spun wildly out of control.

Laying back down on the bed, she could have sworn she heard a soft snicker of laughter as the inky blackness claimed her for it's own once again.


* * * * *


Natalia finished slicing the tomatoes and added them to that night's salad. Normally, she took great pride in cooking the delicious meals that her family would eat together. This afternoon though, found her preparing dinner without much enthusaim, her attention miles away from the farmhouse.

Specifically, a bed at Ceders Hospital.

“I almost kissed her” Natalia said to the small statue of the Virgin Mary across the room. There. She finally said it out loud.

“I almost kissed her.” Saying it again, felt even better.

“I almost kissed her.” The grin starting to play around her lips started to widen.

“I almost...” her voice trailed off and a frown replaced her smile.

Almost.

“I almost kissed her.” Said softly with a sigh, Natalia ran her hand through her hair then rested her chin on her hand. “I didn't mean to,” the conversation with the statue continued. “She was so beautiful laying here, I had only meant to … then her lips where suddenly so close...”

Another sigh.

“I don't know if I'm ready for that yet.” Pausing, the young burnette gathered her thoughts. “I have nothing to offer her. Frank, though, he just wants a wife to love and someone to look after. I can be that for him.”

There was a long silence as she paused, again, in her talking.

“Madre,” Natalia's eyes started to tear up. “I don't love him.”


* * * * *


“Ooh.” Natalia sleepily rubbed her stiff neck. It was the first time she spent the night on the couch in her new home. The times she had fallen asleep here, Olivia would gently shake her, then when Natalia would opened her eyes there would be a smile and a teasing comment before helping her to bed.

Not this time. This morning saw her with a sore neck, shivering in the cold room, and blaring music coming from upstairs.

“Find out games you don't wanna play, you are the only one that needs to know, I'll keep you my dirty little secret...”

“Olivia!” Natalia started making her way up the stairs.

Music continued to blare.

“Who has to know, when we live such fragile lives, it's the best way we survive, I go around a time or two, just to waste my time with you...”

“OLIVIA!!” This time she knocked on the door loudly. Still not getting any answer, the younger woman opened her roommate's bedroom door and peeked in.

No Olivia.

“Find out games you don't wanna play, you are the only one that needs to know, I'll keep you my dirty little secret...”

Natalia hit the off button with more force than was necessary, sending the alarm clock flying off the bedside table. Ears still ringing from the music, she returned the alarm clock back where it was supposed to be.

“Where are you?” As if on cue, her cellphone rang from the right front pocket. “Hello?”

“Hi Natalia! It's Jane. Emma wanted me to call to ask if you could bring her math book to school.”

“Her math book? Did... did Emma stay with you last night?”

“Yes, Ms. Spencer called me from the hospital yesterday asking for me to keep her overnight. She sounded like she had a cold.” Jane lowered her voice. “Is she alright?”

“I'm sure everything is fine. Tell Emma I'll drop it off at the classroom for her.”

“Okay. Have a good day Natalia.”

“Bye N'talia! Love you!” Came a little voice from the other end of the phone.

“Love you too Em!” Her grin was wide, revealing dimples that always made her a bit self-conscious. “Thank you Jane. Bye.” Closing her phone with a click, Natalia pursed her lips at the bed.

“Why didn't you come home last night Olivia?” The bed was neatly made, the teddy bear Natalia had given her friend on Valentine's day nestled between two large pillows. It had been an impulse buy. When she had seen the chocolate colored bear hugging a big purple heart, it came home with her. The next morning when she had made the beds, she placed it in the middle with a note wishing her best friend a Happy Valentine's Day.

The fact that the bed was made was how Natalia knew Olivia never made it home last night. Left to her own devices, the older woman would just pull the covers up on the bed and call it a day. A smile would always grace her features while folding and tucking in sheets. Olivia could bring grown men to tears in the boardroom then turn around and charm an investor to take a risk into opening a Beacon Hotel in their home city. Yet she couldn't make a bed or tuna noodle casserole.

Natalia brought her mind back to the present and dialed Olivia's cell number. It went right to voicemail. Mentally, she went through her boss' schedule. Except for a meeting with some florists, again, nothing was set for today at The Beacon.

“No need to panic, she probably just...” But the brunette couldn't finish her thought. She didn't know where or what Olivia might be doing. She dialed another number from memory.

“Hi Doctor Rick. This is Natalia Rivera.”

“Hi Natalia. What can I do for you? Is everything alright with Olivia?”

“I'm actually trying to find her. She isn't there?”

“No. She checked out yesterday afternoon.”

“Can you check what time?”

“Sure. Please hold on a minute.”

Natalia resisted the urge to pace.

“She signed herself out at one twenty-seven yesterday afternoon.”

“Thank you Doctor Rick. If you see her could you tell her to call me.”

“No problem.” He already sounded distracted. “Have a nice day.” Rick hung up without a goodbye.

Worriedly, Natalia looked around the bedroom.

“Olivia, where are you?”


* * * * *


Waking up this time wasn't as painful, but clawing her way out of the blackness was harder. Olivia just laid there trying to move an arm, a leg, hell opening an eye would have made her happy. She floated in and out of consciousness before finally being able to lift an arm to rub her eyes.

“Uhg.” Blinking to clear her vision, she tried moving her legs. Thankfully they seemed to be cooperating with her.

Finally, Olivia was able to turn her head and look at her surroundings.

“Crap.” It wasn't the first word that came to mind, but between the time spent with her daughter and with Natalia, she had found herself refraining from cursing too much. That and she was tired of putting money into the swear jar, certain Emma's college tuition was already in there.

“Emma.” Olivia frantically looked around the room. She was the only one there.

A sigh of aggravation was the only outward indication of what she was feeling. This time, the woman studied her surroundings in more detail. The room was large, windowless, and completely made of cement. There was a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, the only light in the room. She was lying on an uncomfortable cot that smelled musty, to the far right a toilet and sink were against the wall, and in the middle of the room was a heavy looking wooden table and chair.

The smell of food caused her stomach to rumble and forced her to get up. When the world didn't whirl around violently like before, Olivia walked on weak legs to the table. The metal plate was piled with hot scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, and toast. It was a feast.

A suspicious feast.

She sniffed it. No odd odors.

“Guess if whoever did this wanted to kill me it would have happened already...” But she didn't eat the food despite being hungry.

First, she went over to the far side of the room. There were four wooden steps that led up to large metal door. Locked.

“Damnit.” Olivia started pounding on the door. “Hey! Is anyone there? Someone help!”

She nearly fell down the stairs when someone banged on the door back. “SHUT UP!”

Olivia was back at the door in seconds. “Hey! Please let me out!” She banged on the door again. “Whatever you want, it's yours! Please let me out!”

The only response was the sound of a TV turning up, drowning out her shouts.

The irritated woman hit the door one last time. “At least change it to something interesting!” But the television continued to blare on about the newest QVC product line. With a sigh, and on more steady legs, she walked back to the table and sat on the chair in front of the still warm food.

White plastic fork in hand, Olivia started to eat the food while she tried to remember what had happened. The last thing she remembered was stopping to use the restroom in the hospital after checking herself out. Other than that, she knew nothing about how she got here. She assumed she had been drugged. Over the past year she got to know very well the feelings from waking up after being under sedation. It was also the only reason she wasn't in a blind panic at that very moment, her mind still trying to catch up with everything.

Olivia looked down at the food and poked it. She didn't want to eat anymore, but had no clue when her next meal would be... if there would be a next one. After forcing down the rest on her plate, and feeling much better, she started to explore the room.

Her movements, and thoughts, became more agitated as she searched the room. Phillip had to be behind this, she was sure of it. That man really was still crazy and her being there proved it to her.

Ten minutes later Olivia found nothing new or interesting. There was no clue as to where she was or why she was there, her panic though began to overwhelm her as her heart began beating rapidly. But she did know all about the new line of household cleaning appliances from Oreck. That didn't help.

“I am never going to complain about Natalia watching Dr. Phil again.”

Natalia.

Memory from when they had first learned of Phillip's return came floating back. Panic and fear was what she remembered mostly and Olivia's normal fight instinct morphed instantly into flight mode. If Natalia hadn't been there, there was no doubt that she and Emma would probably be out of the country by now. But she wasn't, she was in some basement only God knew where.

“I have to stay calm.” Eyes closed, she took deep calming breaths. “Focus. Can't escape if you're running blindly. Natalia wouldn't want you to panic. She'd tell you to...” Her voice trailed off.

Olivia sighed as her thoughts turned to the hospital. She had been trying to wake up when her friend had entered the room. Then when she heard Natalia's words, she had been positive it was just another wonderful dream the drugs were inducing. Ones that would play out like a regular day in their lives but ended with them making love at night. It was one of the reasons she hated going to the hospital. It always reminded her of those perfect dreams and she really didn't want any more dreams to remember.

This time, this declaration of... well, of happiness. Of love. It was real.

And it scared her.

Olivia Spencer HATED being scared. She hated it more than being wrong. Being wrong about something meant she could change things to suit her; she could fight against it to fit her needs. Being scared on the other hand, she didn't know how to fight. Only run. So she pretended to “wake up” suddenly when she felt Natalia's breath on her lips.

With eyes closed, Olivia touched her lips again. She had been so close. And now, she might never get there again. That scared her more than Natalia loving her. But why?

“Uhg, face it, you've never been good at self reflection.” Olivia stood up and paced the room, while grumbling. “You're good at dumping your feelings on other people then ignoring what they say. No, I listen to them. Yeah right, you selectively listen.”

Olivia stopped.

“Oh god, I'm arguing with myself and I haven't been here... How long have I been here?” She stopped and turned to the door. “CHANGE THE DAMN CHANNEL!!! I'M GOING INSANE IN HERE!!!”


* * * * *


By noon, Natalia had been to every place she could think of that Olivia might be. She called Olivia's phone again, hoping this time it would ring.

“Voicemail.” She resisted the urge to throw her cell phone out the car window. Not wanting to do it, but forcing herself to do it anyway, Natalia drove to the police station to talk to Frank.

Hellos from various officers greeted her when as she walked through the station to the back where Frank worked.

“Hi Frank.” The smile she received made her cringe inwardly.

“Natalia.” Frank said in his usual breathless way. “Have you made a decision?” Standing, he straightened up in confidence.

“I need your help.” The feeling of guilt settled on her shoulders. Those words she knew, would get Frank's attention.. and distract him from his own question. Sure enough, Natalia saw him try to stifle his grin with a overly concerned look.

“Of course. What can I do?” He leaned casually against his desk. “Is it Rafe? Did something happen?”

“Rafe's fine. It's Olivia.”

Frank sighed and sat on his desk. “What did she do now?”

“She didn't come home last night.” Natalia suppressed the urge to demand what he meant.

With a tilt of his head, Frank looked at her expectantly. “...and?”

“She didn't come home last night. I got a call from Jane this morning saying Emma stayed with her. Olivia didn't leave a note, she's not at The Beacon, and her cell is going right to voicemail.” Natalia became more agitated as she explained.

“I still don't see what the problem is.” He gave her a puzzled look.

“She didn't come home! I can't find her!”

“Calm down, calm down. She probably...” he paused, trying to find a delicate way of saying what he was thinking to the innocent woman before him, “spent the night with someone.”

Natalia's face went blank. “What do you mean?”

“She probably found someone... interesting, and spent the night with him.”

The dark haired woman stepped back. “She wouldn't do that.”

“This is Olivia we're talking about.” Frank couldn't keep the exasperation out of his voice. “I've known her a lot longer than you have, and this is something she would do.”

Silence was her only answer.

“You know, since it looks like Olivia will be busy the next few days...” Frank grinned and stepped closer. “We could have a nice romantic dinner again. I'll get your favorite foods, we could watch the stars and talk...” He made a mental note to check Company's past orders for her favorite foods.

“No.” Natalia swallowed her angry response. “Olivia wouldn't do that. Something is wrong.”

“Natalia, I know you like to think of the best of people, but Olivia-”

“No Frank. I know Olivia, and this isn't like her.”

“Natalia, honey, she's a grown woman. You don't need to cater to her every whim.” He reached out for her hand. “And if you say yes you can quit that job...”

“What?” She stepped out of his reach, a frown firmly in place.

“You wouldn't need to worry about money. I'd work to get Rafe out as soon as possible and you could have your home and life back.”

“You...” Natalia studied his face. “You really don't get it do you?” Shaking her head, she turned around and walked out the door.

Frank watched her leave with a confused look, not understanding what happened at all.


* * * * *


Olivia caught the penny before it fell off the table, then used two fingers to spin it again. The coin had been found in her pants pocket and she had been using it to entertain herself for a while. It was the penny or thinking. Since thinking wasn't something she wanted to do, the penny it was.

Pausing what she was doing, she listened intently as the commercial break came to an end. QVC had turned out to be a good thing, the various people hocking products on the tv station would routinely mention the time and when certain segments would be on. Now, it appeared to be three in the afternoon. A sigh, and she leaned back in her chair. Emma should be home from school by now. No, today was Thursday, and no school tomorrow. Her little girl had a two day sleep over birthday party for a set of twins from school. Olivia was grateful, that meant that maybe Emma wouldn't notice her gone.

“I wonder if Natalia...” Her words trailed off. A sigh, then she stood to pace.

Natalia. Again.

“Why do things have to be so... so...complicated? I should be happy for her. Frank is a great guy, he can give her everything she could possibly want. A happy home, family, a stable life. I have ex husbands everywhere, one which is completely insane, health problems...” She sighed. “And I would do anything to make her happy.” Olivia kicked the leg of the table as she passed by it.

Sitting on the cot, she held her head in both hands. In the past, she had always relished the sexual power she held over men. It had been a while since that part of personality came out to play. She had missed it. To walk in a room and be the most desirable woman in there, it was a rush like no other. Olivia was certain if she just let it loose on Natalia they would fall into bed and then...Getting off the cot, she paced again.

“Then what? What happens to me? I can't do this! Change who I've always been. I'm Olivia Spencer, who can have any man.” Adding a strut to her pacing, a smirk was firmly in place as she remembered past romances and the fun that came with. Were they ever fun? The lovemaking was fabulous. The love was... fleeting.

And not even close to the power she felt for Natalia.

Calmly, Olivia walked back to the table and starting spinning the penny again.


* * * * *


Natalia let out a happy sigh when she finally was able to kick off her high heels. It had been months since she started working for Olivia, and still, she wasn't used to spending most of her days so dressed up. A quick change of clothes, and she dialed Olivia's cell phone once again. In frustration she threw it down on her bed.

“Voicemail.”

After leaving the police station, Natalia had rushed to pick Emma up from school to drive her to a sleep over at a friend’s house. The little girl chatted excitedly about the sleepover, school, and anything else that happened to cross her mind. The Natalia had smiled as she listened to the endless chatter. Grateful that Emma would be busy the next few days and wouldn't notice her mother was missing, she kissed Emma goodbye before going to The Beacon. It had taken the rest of the day but Natalia had gotten everything taken care of so they wouldn't be missed for the next few days. Now it was eight at night and, still, no sign of Olivia.

Natalia stared at the pictures on her bedside table

The first picture was of Emma, Olivia, and her, at the kitchen table. Their little girl had loved the self timer on her camera and used it every chance she got. This picture was one that Natalia loved most. Emma was standing between the two of them, her wide grin lighting up the little girl's face. She had her arms around Emma, hugging her close, and Olivia had her arms around both of them. The speeding up of her heart had surprised her, but at the same time felt right. This was where she belonged, this was her family. When Rafe came home, she wanted to take this picture again with him in it. Then, it would be absolutely perfect.

Rafe.

A sigh. Natalia turned her attention to the other picture on her bedside table. Another picture she loved. It was Rafe with his father.

“Oh Nicky.” She traced a finger around his face. “Why can't things be simple for once? Why does everything in this town have to be so different? I should love Frank, he's a wonderful man.” Natalia got up to pace. She had been pacing a lot lately. “I thought he knew me. When he showed up with that dinner right when I needed it, I believed he knew me, was paying attention. Now, after everything I see he doesn't know me at all. Olivia...”

She turned to the picture with a hand on her hip. “I have never met anyone more frustrating, annoying, bossy, so... driven to be right. All the time! But...” The brunette closed her eyes. “She's kind, giving, a wonderful mother, and when she's on your side she won't let anything stand in her way to help you, and never ask for anything in return. She gave up her job to get that eighty-thousand dollars back, she helped make a deal to get our son into a less dangerous prison; she even got the piece of the door I would measure Rafe against back in Chicago. Who does things like that?”

Back to sitting on the bed, Natalia felt very tired. She had no idea how to find Olivia. “I need her safe, here at home. It's not really home without her.” This time when she looked at her bedside table, her eyes were drawn to her wedding rings from Gus. There they were, still lying in front of the picture of Gus and Rafe, glinting in the lamp light.

“You know why I had to talk them off Nicky. Please understand.” She sat there silently, staring at the rings as she remembered yesterday afternoon after leaving the hospital...

The church was quiet when she walked in. Stopping at the stoup at the entrance, she dipped her finger in the holy water and crossed herself. No one else was there, so she walked to the front pew, knelt to cross herself, then sat down on the bench. Like so many times before, she took a minute to calm her mind before kneeling down to pray.

In a low voice, she started her prayer.

“Thank you for bringing Olivia and Emma into my life when I really needed them.” Natalia's voice broke. Saying thank you didn't touch the emotion she held her in heart, but she knew God would know that. She sighed. “She's the best friend I've ever had. I don't want to lose that. Please God,” she paused, stopping what she was about to say, asking for something she wanted but couldn't have. Then settled for something she was sure could happen. “Please help us to always be friends” A glint from her hands distracted her from the next part of her prayer.

Her wedding rings from Gus.

Before, she had worn them to be close to Gus, to keep his memory and love close by. Now, she had to be honest with herself. Lying in the house of God, even in thought, was a sin she didn't want on her soul.

For quite a few months, she had kept these rings on to protect her from having to love. To exposing her heart to that kind of pain again. They showed to people who didn't know her, that she was married, taken and not free. To those who did know her believed she was still in love with her dead husband and not yet ready to move on.

Unfortunately, she had forgotten to tell her heart this.

So, when she wasn't looking for anyone, didn't want anyone by her side, didn't need anyone, her heart decided to teach her a lesson once again. Just like the love stories she would read as a teen, someone she wasn't expecting and most definitely wasn't looking at for love, walked silently, calmly into her heart as if she had always been there.

Natalia smirked a little to herself at the thought. Olivia was many things, but calm and silent would never have been high, if at all, on the list.

Olivia.

Twisting the rings on her fingers, her thoughts turned to her beautiful roommate. Still being honest, she admitted to herself that she never truly hated Olivia, there had been many, many times she didn't like her, but never fully hated her. At first she had wanted Olivia to live to keep a piece of her husband alive and for that sweet daughter of hers. But, along the way, that feeling had disappeared to be replaced by a stronger feeling of not wanting Olivia to die. Especially now, the thought of losing her caused a crushing pain descend on Natalia's chest.

Still not saying a word, Natalia slipped the wedding rings off and looked at them.

It was time to stop hiding. Love was much too precious to ignore. Having spent many hours reading her Bible this week reminded her of that. Her Lord's message had been about love, its importance, and the need for more of it in the world. Who was she to deny His holy message? With that thought, she placed the rings in her pocket and, eyes closed, started her prayers anew.

“God, please show me what you want me to do.” Intent as she was on her prayer, she didn't notice a figure enter the church with a box of candles. “Are these feelings... are they what you want me to follow? Or should I...” Even in prayer Natalia found it difficult to ask if she should marry Frank.

Just seconds ago she had been sure, then doubt crept in. While being pregnant at sixteen had shown her the hostility a church could manifest, it had also taught her to look at herself for God, have her carry Him with her and not always rely on others to do so. But that didn't stop the voices in her head from telling her otherwise. She hung her head as doubt began to fill her.

“Natalia?”

Startled, Natalia lifted her tear filled eyes up to the voice.

“Sister Anne! I'm sorry; I didn't hear you come in.” She moved to stand up but stopped when the Sister put a hand on her arm.

“I was replacing the burnt out candles.” Sister Anne motioned to the stand of candles to the right of the altar, a quarter of them burning brightly. The unshed tears did not go unnoticed by the Nun, so she sat down next to the praying woman.

Once again silence dominated the Church.

Never being one to let a distraught member of her church suffer, the young Nun spoke first.

“What's troubling you, Natalia?”

There were times in her life Natalia wished she could lie, but this was the first time she wished it in church.

“Frank Cooper proposed to me. Last week.” Eyes down, still kneeling on the padded kneeler, she kept her head down. There was no need to explain who Frank was, as he had attended church regularly and was generally well known around town.

“Do you want to marry him?” Sister Anne kept her eyes on the kneeling woman.

“He loves me, he wants to make me happy, helps me with Rafe, and he'd be a good provider for my son and I. He's everything that would be perfect for my life, all I had ever wanted.” Natalia paused. “He's a wonderful man.”

The Sister wasn't distracted by the reasons the other woman should marry Frank, she was no fool.

“Do you love him?”

Tears, so far held at bay, started to fall.

“No.”

It was said so quietly, Sister Anne almost missed it. She sensed there was more to it than that, so she handed Natalia a tissue and waited. When it became obvious that there was no more coming, she asked her question.

“Do you love someone else?”

Natalia visibly stiffened, holding her breath, she wished to be anywhere else but there.

It took a few moments, but eventually brunette was able to take a breath to speak. “It's someone I'm not supposed to...” She barely was able to choke that out and had no way of saying who. Again, doubt and fear began to fill her.

The blonde Nun held back an aggravated sigh. 'Not supposed to love.' One too many times she heard that phrase, and each time she had to fight back her first response of bullshit. Cursing was one of the few things Sister Anne confessed to each week.

“My mother has a sister named Ginny.” She began her story, the same one she told each time someone dismissed love as wrong. “They grew up in a very... conservative town in Alabama. When Aunt Ginny was twenty, she fell in love with Joe Ray Coffee. They met at park downtown during the summer when there would be live music every night. My mother and Aunt loved to go and never missed a Thursday.” Here Sister Anne paused, shaking her head. It didn't matter how many times she told this story, it still riled her. “When rumors started going around town that she was seeing Joe Ray, everyone, including my grandparents, told her she had to stop. Scripture was quoted at her for why it was wrong. Her church even shunned her. All because Joe Ray was black. But Aunt Ginny loved him, so she continued to see him.”

Again, she paused in her story to look at Natalia, who seemed to be listening.

“One night when my grandparents were out at a church revival, a group of … 'boys' came over to the house. They started yelling at my Aunt, even knocked out a few windows before kicking the door in and dragging my Aunt out. My mother told me she prayed and prayed for someone to help my sister. She was praying so hard that she nearly missed the answer to her prayers. My grandparents had only made it halfway to church before they realized they left their Bibles and hymnals at home, something every member had to bring at that little church. My grandfather saw them pull my Aunt out of the house and heard their horrible shouts about dating a black man. Aunt Ginny said she had never seen a group of men so scared, or run so quickly, when her Daddy pulled out his shotgun from the back gun rack and shot at their car. My grandfather never understood why she loved Joe Ray, but after that stood behind his daughter against the other people of town. They all moved here to Springfield, Uncle Joe Ray included, after that.”

Sister Anne paused to collect herself before continuing. Being close to her Aunt, this story always touched her with every telling.

“God is love. He would not gift it to you if it wasn't right. Love should always have a chance.” Now that she said her piece, she waited for a response.

Natalia closed her eyes and tightened her folded hands, her knuckles white. In a soft whisper she said, “I don't even know if she loves me back.” Then waited for the condemnation.

“Have you asked her?” Sister Anne asked not missing a beat.

“No.”

“Why not?”

The confused tone in Sister Anne's voice caused Natalia to turn her head to look at her. Understanding, not judgment, was found on the other woman's face.

Sister Anne knelt on the kneeler and placed a hand on Natalia's.

“God gave us the gift of love. He would never condemn one of His children for finding it. Don't let fear stop God's gift from filling you. He is found in love.”

Then Natalia began to cry again, not out of fear, but out of relief. She didn't feel all her fear and guilt go away, but somehow, it felt manageable.



Tears pricked at Natalia's eyes at the memory of what happened in that church. So tonight, before she went to sleep, she prayed telling God she was finally willing to follow love and asked for help on finding her Olivia.
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