Title: Knock Three Times
Fandom: Guiding Light
Rating: PG (so far)
Spoilers: This story begins after the episode which aired July 6th. Any similarities to actual future events on the show are due solely to great minds thinking alike. ;) Once again, I've kidnapped the citizens of Springfield and taken them to what I affectionately like to call Bronzeyfield.
A/N: The muse has once again captured me, and I think this one will be a long one. I hope you enjoy the ride, and remember... things always end happily ever after in Bronzeyfield.
“Look Blake, if you’re not interested just tell me right now and I’ll get out of your office… or whatever you want to call this.” Doris waved her hand around at Blake’s hotel room and rolled her eyes.
Blake took a sip of her wine and watched Doris as she paced the room in an almost cat-like way. “Personally, Doris, I’m intrigued, but I’m not sure the world is quite ready for a book that might as well be called The Life and Times of Doris Wolfe.”
Doris folded her arms and let out a frustrated sigh. “I’ve told you five times now, it’s not about me. It’s about Springfield, and I think we all know the things that go on here are novel-worthy.”
“That book proposal tells a different story,” Blake said and pointed toward the small stack of papers that had been tossed onto the bed a half hour earlier before this cyclical conversation began. “I swear there are times when you make it sound like you’re some sort of puppet master for the entire town.”
Doris laughed a little despite herself and fell into the chair next to Blake. “Well, I am the mayor after all,” she said with a proud smirk. “I play an integral role in the functioning of Springfield.”
Blake gave Doris an incredulous look.
“Perhaps it might need a little tweaking,” Doris finally admitted and took a quick sip from her wine glass.
Blake laughed and rested her head in her hand while watching Doris drink. “I don’t know why you’d even want to write about all the drama in this place. Just living in the middle of it all makes me tired.”
Doris raised an eyebrow and leaned conspiratorially toward Blake. “What do you know?”
Blake raised a finger and tipped it back and forth. “Oh no, my gossiping days are over.”
“There’s a difference between gossiping and confiding in a friend.”
“Since when are we friends?” Blake asked with raised eyebrows.
“Since right now,” Doris said happily and raised her wine glass in the air. “I’m turning a new leaf. Make new friends and all that mumbo jumbo. In fact, Olivia Spencer and I have struck up quite the friendship in the past few months. Who would have thought that…”
Doris’ words died on her lips as Blake almost jumped out of her chair. “Olivia? Do you talk to Olivia often?”
“I’m not sure often would be…”
“But you talk to her?”
“Now and then, yes.”
Blake tilted her head and stared at Doris for a moment before saying, “Do you know about her? I mean, do you know about… things… with her?”
Doris smiled and resisted laughing. “With her what?” she asked with a look of mock confusion on her face.
“And Natalia?” Blake said in a near-whisper. “You know… how they’re…” She put her hands together to demonstrate.
Doris looked around with dramatic suspicion, deemed the room sufficiently empty, then leaned forward and whispered, “Yes.”
Blake leaned back into her chair and released a relieved sigh. “Oh thank God I’m not the only one in the town who knows.” She quickly leaned forward again and began talking giddily. “I couldn’t believe it at first! Who would have thought? Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera! The sinner and the saint, right? But I guess after you get to know them both and really think about it, it makes a lot of sense. They make a good couple. Balance each other out, you know? Or at least they would have. Who knows what will happen now.”
Doris furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Blake’s sudden whirlwind of words had blown through her mind and left only questions in their wake. “What do you mean?”
Blake put her fingertips to her mouth. “Uh. Nothing.”
“What are you talking about, Blake? Last I heard they were about to frolic happily into the sunset of happily-ever-after together.”
“I really shouldn’t say.”
Doris began to look worried. “Blake, I really do consider Olivia to be a friend, so if something’s going on maybe I can help if I knew…”
“I don’t think this is something you can help with.”
“I don’t get it. Olivia’s been bouncing around town with a smile plastered onto her face. And Natalia… well, truth is, I don’t really quite understand how Natalia’s mind works, but I figure if Olivia’s happy she must be too.”
Blake tilted her head uncomfortably and looked away.
“Blake? Did Natalia do something?” Blake tilted her head in the other direction and gave Doris a slightly pained look. “Oh my God. What did Natalia do? Did she break things off with Olivia?”
“Well, no. I mean, not technically. They’re not broken up, but Natalia left town.”
“Why? What would make her do that?”
“It’s not my place to tell you that. She made me promise I wouldn’t tell anyone. Not even Olivia.”
Doris’ eyes went wide. “Olivia doesn’t even know why she left?”
Blake cringed. “I know it’s difficult to understand, but…”
Doris stood up and leaned down in front of Blake in an almost threatening manner. “Where did she go, Blake?”
“I told you. I can’t…”
“You don’t need to tell me why, but you will tell me where. That is, unless you want this little business of yours to come under very close scrutiny by some very powerful people. It’s your decision.”
Blake stared into Doris’ eyes for a moment and realized the woman was being dead serious.
“She’s at a Catholic retreat center about 40 miles from here. That’s all I’m telling you. They have strict rules against visitors, too, so don’t get any ideas.”
Doris stood up straight and stared at Blake for a moment, gauging if that was enough information to find the foolish Natalia Rivera. She decided it was and muttered a short word of thanks before breezing out of Blake’s hotel room.
“Mommy?” Emma asked.
Olivia blinked in surprise. She hadn’t realized Emma was standing so close to her. She forced her eyes to focus on her daughter.
“What is it, baby?”
“What’s wrong, Mommy? You look so sad.”
Olivia closed her eyes and felt a wave of sadness wash over her. She sighed deeply and opened her eyes again. “Your old mom’s just having a bad day. Maybe a hug might cheer her up?” She reached her arms out toward Emma and the little girl didn’t hesitate to hop onto her mom’s lap and hug her tight.
“You miss Natalia, don’t you?” Emma asked when she was settled comfortably in Olivia’s lap.
“I do. I miss her very much.”
“Where did she go? She’s coming back isn’t she?”
Olivia sighed deeply and felt two large tears spill out from her eyes. She wiped them away quickly and was thankful Emma couldn’t see her face from her current position.
“She has to come back,” Olivia said in a whisper and rocked her daughter in her arms. She could feel Emma slowly nod her head in agreement.
“Mommy?” Emma said after several long moments.
“Do you think one day we’ll move back to the farmhouse? Maybe when Natalia comes back?”
“Oh, honey,” Olivia said in a sad, quiet voice and leaned her cheek on the top of Emma’s head.
Before she could even begin to formulate a response to the painful question, a loud knock sounded at the door.
Emma gave Olivia a tight squeeze before reacting to the knock and bounding off her lap toward the door. Olivia quickly wiped her eyes and rubbed her face as the door opened.
“Hello, Emma,” Doris said with a smile as she entered the room.
“Hi, Mayor Doris,” Emma said in reply and looked back toward Olivia who was slowly walking across the room.
“You look like a million bucks, Olivia,” Doris said.
Olivia glared at Doris, but didn’t reply. She bent down in front of her daughter and straightened her shirt for a moment before saying, “Jellybean, do you think you can go to your room for a little while? You can play video games if you want. The mayor and I are going to talk about boring grown up stuff.”
“Aw, I guess so,” Emma said reluctantly and gave Olivia a quick hug before leaving the room.
Olivia stood up and turned her back to Doris. She began walking across the room to the small bar on the far side. “Would you like a drink?” she asked flatly.
“No, I wouldn’t. And I don’t think you should have one either.” Doris strode quickly toward Olivia and reached out to stop her before she reached the alcohol. Doris’ fingertips had barely grazed her arm when Olivia jerked away almost violently and fell back a few steps.
“Don’t touch me,” Olivia muttered and stumbled gracelessly onto the couch. She fell back into the cushions and outstretched her legs haphazardly. “Why are you here?” she asked without looking up.
“I know Natalia left. I wanted to see if you were okay.”
“Did that priest tell you?” She spit the words out like they burned her tongue.
Doris frowned and sat down on the couch with Olivia, leaving a safe amount of distance between them. She looked at Olivia for a moment. Her glassy, red eyes were staring blankly at a nondescript area of the carpet. When she blinked she did it slowly, as if each eyelid carried the weight of the world.
“When was the last time you slept, Olivia?”
Olivia shifted her stare from the carpet to Doris. Her eyes flashed green and red with an almost crazed look of intensity. “Did he? Did he tell you? Did he tell you were she went? Why she went?”
“No, Olivia, calm down. I don’t even know who you’re talking about. I haven’t talked to any priests in quite a long time.”
Olivia’s eyes shifted away again and took on a far-away quality. “He wouldn’t tell me anything. I don’t know why. I don’t understand any of this. She won’t answer my calls. It’s not fair. I didn’t do anything.” Her voice got so quiet Doris almost missed it when she said, “All I’ve done is love her.” A tear rolled down her cheek. She frowned and wiped it away forcefully.
“You had no clue anything was wrong?”
“No!” Olivia said loudly and shifted her body until she was fully facing Doris. “That’s why I don’t understand. We were going to go to the Bauer barbeque and we were going to…” Olivia suddenly dropped her face in her hands. Her words became muffled. “She loves me. She told me. The last time we talked. She told me.” Olivia’s tears were flowing steadily now and she kept her face buried in her hands.
Doris clenched her teeth and resisted the sympathetic pain she felt for Olivia bubbling up inside. “She does love you, Olivia. There has to be some rational explanation for this.”
Olivia looked at her skeptically and felt a rush of anger flow through her body. “There is a rational explanation! She can’t handle any of this.” She pushed tears from her cheeks with one hand and dug the fingertips of her other hand into her thigh. “Why else would she need to go to some damn religious retreat? She’s reflecting on what a big, massive mistake loving me is.”
“Olivia, just…” Doris shut her eyes and calmed herself. Olivia was starting to frustrate her. “You’re contradicting yourself now. You know she loves you and from what little I know about Natalia, she’s not one to back down from a challenge. There is an explanation for this, and we’re going to figure it out. We’re going to find her, ask her, and settle this whole mess.”
“How? She could be anywhere.”
Doris smiled proudly. “I know where she is.”
“Where? How? Who told you? Who knows? Tell me.” Olivia looked frantic and slid closer to Doris on the couch.
“Now, now,” Doris said and held up a hand. “A woman must have her secrets. But I will tell you that it’s a reliable source.”
Olivia jumped up from the couch and looked around with wild eyes. “We have to go. Right now.” She jogged across the room and grabbed her purse. “Is she okay? Is she… where is she? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? Why are you just sitting there? Let’s go!”
“Olivia,” Doris said, and walked over to Olivia and grasped both her arms. Olivia allowed the contact this time and stared into Doris’ eyes. “Calm down. You have to calm down. Okay?”
Olivia blinked and nodded.
“Put your bag down.”
Olivia slowly moved her arm and put the purse back on the table.
“You don’t even have any shoes on,” she glanced down at Olivia’s feet.
Olivia looked down too and wiggled her toes. “Shoes. Yeah. I have… they’re around here somewhere. I’ll just…”
“Look at me, Olivia.” Olivia looked at Doris again. “First, you’re going to call Emma’s nanny and tell her to head over here. Second, you’re going to take a shower and drink a cup of extremely strong coffee. That will hopefully knock some sense into you. If you don’t mind me saying, you’re acting a little crazy.”
“Of course I am! The woman I love is God knows where and who knows what’s wrong with her and I’m just sitting here on my ass!”
“Calm,” Doris said admonishingly.
“Why am I listening to you?” Olivia said, and broke free of Doris’ hold on her arms. “Where’s my phone?”
Doris watched Olivia prowl around the room looking for her cell phone. She took it as a reasonably good sign that Olivia was following her directions.
Once Olivia had made the call to Jane, Doris put a hand on her shoulder and said, “We’ll find her. I promise you that.”
Olivia nodded and felt a dim spark of hope flare up in the back of her heart. “You better be right.”