There was no happy ending for her. Everyone called her life a Cinderella story but in reality it was more Shakespearean tragedy. And everyone knew how those ended for Lady Macbeth, Desdemona, and Ophelia. It wasn’t much consolation that Fitz might go down with her. Men like him never paid the same price in real life. There would be no consequences for his actions, he would have all the power and get the girl. Mellie had no delusions about that.
If she killed enough of her spirit she would stop wanting him to love her like he loved Olivia. Perhaps if she purged the parts of her that remembered their silly happiness before he started running for office after office it would be easier. Mellie had given up every part of her body and soul for him, more than he would ever know, so much so it disgusted her. Maybe she could move on from him and find happiness somewhere else.
Unfortunately right now she was the president’s wife. That was all she was and there was no room for tears or weakness. So she invited her over as much as she could stomach. Tried to bring Olivia back to their fold like she had been four years ago. They had been friends then. Comrades and co-conspirators. She had loved her. It was so ridiculous but she had probably fallen for her around the same time Fitz had.
But she was going to be the president’s wife, a Republican president’s wife. Even making the suggestion of a move on Olivia would have been political suicide so she was her friend.
And now she hated both of them.
For different reasons but one of them was a shared betrayal. Olivia only ever saw her as an ally and an then as an obstacle. Fitz saw her as a burden. She saw herself as a foolish idealist. Olivia hadn’t made it easy on her, on any of them. Mellie hated groveling but she would do it because that was her job now, to eat that humble pie and smile while she did it. There was still the option of exposing everything and running. Burning the whole White House administration as she walked away from it. These were the thoughts she drowned in while drinking alone in the president’s wing. It was the season for mulled wine and the warmth of it did nothing to sooth the coldness buried under her ribs.
The phone was easy enough to find. He didn’t even try to hide it, any one could have come into the Oval Office and opened the top left drawer and seen it sitting there on top of some binders. It was a little black burner phone and it was how he contacted Olivia.
There was no telling when Fitz would be back from the War Room. That didn’t stop her. She sat down in his chair just this once. Looked out over the entire office and put her feet up like she owned the place. Like it was hers to have. Toeing off her high-heeled pumps next to his golden eagle ink well she got comfortable. The last dregs of the wine slipped down her throat as she slammed the mug down on a stack of papers and went through the call history and clicked on the only number there. It took dozens of rings before Olivia picked up. She had been sure she wouldn’t or that she wasn’t around. Something silly like that but when she finally did she sounded terse. Angry. All of the courage drained from her throat and Mellie knew as soon as she spoke Olivia would hang up on her.
Her voice was weak with false friendliness. She waited for a response, for her to hang up but the silence on the other end stretched out for a long time. Neither one of them said anything to the sound of each other’s breathing.
When she did speak it was low and heavy.
“What do you want Mellie?”
She didn’t know. Lots of things.
Too many dreams to name and half of them impossible. She wanted to go back in time to Fitz’s campaign, to sitting with Olivia on the jet speaking in whispered voices close with her breath ghosting over her throat and cheeks. She wanted to be somewhere warm and light and free of her husband and the Washington political monster. Mellie wanted to stop feeling so dead inside, frozen over like the Potomac was now.
“I’m pretty drunk on mulled wine right now.”
That wasn’t even the half of it. Not even a quarter of the things she needed to say. Olivia sighed on the other end of the line.
“I’m hanging up now.”
“Wait! If we were ever friends don’t. Please don’t.”
There was desperation in it that she hadn’t been feeling moments ago. She was gripping the phone so tight her knuckles creaked against her cheek. Olivia didn’t say anything in response but she didn’t hear the click of a dead line either. For another few seconds at least she wouldn’t feel so alone.
“There were things I was never going to tell you. Now I know some of your secrets but nobody knows mine. You and Fitz think I’m a frigid bitch, hell probably half America does, and you might be right.”
“I wasn’t always that way though. It started way before you were sleeping with him. I’m so tired of it Olivia. And you are the last person I should be confiding in but here we are.”
She cut her off. There was still that last shard of her heart to bare.
“I loved you. Really did. Once. Now you know one of my secrets.”
She was going to leave it at that and hang up. Pretend she never wandered into the Oval Office drunk and distressed that empty December night.
“I’m sorry. I am so sorry Mellie.”
“ Every time you smiled at me, whenever you reached for my hand and held it, I could see it but I never said anything. You trusted me and I betrayed you repeatedly every time I touched him, kissed him, screwed him. I am not proud of that. But both of us have made our choices.”
Her laugh was too loud and bitter.
“People who say women like us always have a choice aren’t women like us.”
Olivia’s sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line was maliciously satisfying.
She did. Mellie wasn’t expecting a response after that.
“I felt it too. Once. You were so much better at the Game than Fitz was; you were my best and greatest ally. There was so much determination around you it shone out of your face and I wanted you.”
“But I knew it would never happen even if people discovered Fitz and I at least he was a man and he was running on a Republican ticket and when we cut the deal with Hollace,”
“Stop. Just stop.”
Pain was something she thought she had killed in herself. Or at least weeded it out whenever it rose again at night with the lights out while she was alone in a bed for two.
“I don’t know what I hoped to get out of this but it wasn’t more agony. So stop before you say anything else. We’ll both regret it.”
When Olivia spoke her voice was methodical and husky.
“Not more than I regret never kissing you after that first rally in Minnesota.”
Mellie sobbed like she had been slapped in the face.
The memory was bright and crushing. Her wide smile at her backstage, both of their fists raised in triumph. Mellie leaning in too close, Olivia’s brown eyes meeting hers curiously then falling to her lips. Then Cyrus was clapping them both on the back and laughing and the spell they had fallen under was broken. Why would she say that if it wasn’t to hurt her? What was the point of this phone call anymore?
“You deserved to know you weren’t alone. You hate me now but I never hated you Mellie. I might hate some of the things that you do, have done, but never you.”
It wasn’t fair. Nothing since the day she was introduced to Fitzgerald Grant the Second like a prized blue ribbon sow had been fair. What Mellie wanted used to align with what her family wanted, what her husband wanted in more way than the obvious. No one had ever asked her what she wanted. She had never been allowed to live for herself because her future already belonged to someone else.
“I’ve never gotten to want anything or anyone for myself before. Not once. But I want you. It’s not fair.”
This time it was Olivia who made a choked sobbing noise. Good. There was something deeply pleasing about having any sort of sway over her emotions. There wouldn’t be another chance for this and she had a feeling that it wouldn’t be the first time Olivia had heard these words over this particular phone.
“I want to hold you close and feel you body pressed against mine, lips touching my neck as I pull that pretty white jacket off your shoulders and kiss all of that skin bit by bit. I want to bite the inside of your thighs and fuck you with my tongue, my fingers. I want you hands to squeeze so hard on my hips it hurts.”
“ I want us to leave bruises. I want to hear what you sound like when there aren’t words anymore, screaming. I want to fuck you so senseless you forget the world for a moment.”
The last part was whispered. Her legs were splayed wider, propped up on the desk. She had refrained from touching herself but she was grinding down helplessly into the chair. Mellie was angry and aroused and too tired to care.
The only sound from the other end of the line was a faint panting and she closed her eyes and pictured Olivia at home on her couch, hand where Mellie wished she could put hers. She squirmed a bit more in the president’s high backed chair.
“What if I wanted to touch you too? Run my hands up under your skirt and pull your stockings and panties down with one rough tug, tease your clit while my other hand plays with your breast. Hand followed by my mouth swirling and sucking on your nipples just one finger inside of you at first but it doesn’t matter, you’re so wet.”
She had to bite her lip to stop a whimper. Damn her she was so fucking close and grinding against the seat of the chair wasn’t nearly enough. She ached.
“More. I can take more of you.”
When she spoke it came out as a croak and Olivia’s voice wasn’t much better, her breathing was shallow and her voice rougher than her usual warm tones.
“I suck and bite at your neck as I fuck you with three of my fingers, using my thumb to stroke your clit. You shudder and buck and I bite down hard to make you still but it pushes you over the edge instead. I keep pushing in and out of you as you come around my fingers. Shaking, neither one of us can stop and I,”
Mellie held her breath as she listened to Olivia come and pictured her eyes squeezed shut, mouth open, head throne back as she let out the loud moans that came over the phone.
She shuddered and stuck her fingers into her mouth and sucked. They muffled the sound of her own orgasm but not enough to hide it from Olivia. She savored the tiny gasp she made when Mellie removed her fingers from her mouth with a wet pop.
Her mind was awash with endorphins and the flush on her neck and face weren’t from the wine. She smiled and wished Olivia could see her, wished she could see Olivia for this to be real but then squashed the thought. This was all they would ever have. This one aching and clumsy phone call. Because Mellie Grant rarely got what she needed and never what she wanted. It wasn’t fair.
“That was, I, that was really good. Thank you.”
“Don’t. Don’t start pretending like this meant anything. It might have been good but it was a mercy fuck and you know it. This, whatever you think this was, can’t work.”
She wasn’t expecting the light laughter that greeted her very pessimistic observation. When Olivia spoke it was full of mischief.
“That’s almost exactly what I told Fitz when we started our affair. Everybody has secrets, what’s one more?”
It would destroy her though. This secret. And they both knew it, knew what she was asking of her. But they also knew how she would answer. She took a shaking breath and whispered “Okay.” Before hanging up. That night when Fitz didn’t come to their bed she didn’t stare at the ceiling and think of all the sacrifices she had made to lay in it alone. She thought of Olivia’s mouth on her own in the darkness.
Mellie slept well for the first time in four years because she didn’t know how many more nights like this she would get.