She often had thoughts that were decidedly impolitic.
It hit her one day, as she sat at the kitchen table watching Natalia twirl back and forth between the pot she was tending on the stove and the project she was overseeing at the table – some school craft thing of Emma’s over which Olivia was more than happy to surrender control – that she probably had five ex-husbands because what she’d needed all along was to have a wife, not to be one.
She cracked herself up with the thought, then had to school her features into a stoic mask when Natalia looked her way because there was suspicion in the other woman’s eyes, a fear that she was being laughed at buried not too far from the surface. And Olivia wanted to tell her, wanted to share the joke, but if she did Natalia would huff, and a hint of hurt would sneak into her eyes, and she wouldn’t completely understand that Olivia meant it fondly. Natalia was sensitive about things like that, about intimations that she had a place and that she should stay in it. She was sensitive about other things, too, such as the notion that she was too good for the place she occupied, and the uncertainty of her reaction made Olivia uncertain in a way she hated. She hated any uncertainty, actually, but the thought that she could hurt the woman she loved when she was really trying to do the opposite made her self-conscious in ways that definitely chafed.
So she waited out the moment of awkwardness when Natalia watched her warily, hovering halfway between her two self-appointed chores, and hated the way the other woman seemed to shrink a little bit. To dim.
She had other thoughts. Of course she had other thoughts, ones not so domestic in origin. She wasn’t a fucking nun, after all, though she’d learned early on to stay away from the nun comparisons. They brought to mind fantasies of Catholic school girl uniforms and detentions and the delivery of strict orders which were promptly and dutifully obeyed, and once those sorts of fantasies started, she found she was relatively useless for the rest of the day. There were things about herself which she knew to be true – immutable things – and one of those things was her innate desire to corrupt. It wasn’t necessarily a malevolent push. She didn’t want to turn Natalia into someone like her, someone ruthless and cutthroat and largely unscrupulous, but she did want to see that enticing innocence melt away layer by delicious layer. She wanted tremulous hugs to turn into daring caresses, and shy smiles to fade into devilish smirks. Some people might have questioned why. After all, Natalia’s innocence was part of what made her so alluring. It made her the heroine, the damsel in distress that called out the white knight in all of them, and was, quite frankly, a hell of a turn on.
Olivia could get on board with all of that. Truly she could. She’d even wrangled herself into playing the part of the white knight, horrible though the fit was. She’d saved the day and made sacrifices and, generally, had done any number of vaguely heroic things and made countless unprecedented compromises with herself – things Natalia didn’t even know about, thus things for which she couldn’t even get credit, for god’s sake – just because she knew what it was like when Natalia’s dark eyes were filled with approval and she knew what it was like when they were filled with disapproval. The lengths to which she’d go to see that approval as opposed to its devastating counterpart would have filled her with disgust had she not already been so disgustingly in love that she couldn’t even feel that emotion any more.
So, yes. She knew all about the pull of the innocence and the allure of the vulnerability, but honestly, what she’d much more strongly prefer would to be to look at Natalia and see clearly, for once, just how much the other woman wanted her. Wanted to kiss her, wanted to fuck her… she wasn’t picky. She’d take either. And the galling part, the part that really got her, was that she knew it was in there somewhere, lurking. She knew that Natalia was one of those people who could be so beautifully naïve and innocent one second and then deliciously cunning the next because she’d seen it. It was like the fucking Loch Ness monster, though, or some more mobile North American construct like the Sasquatch – she was back, again, to metaphors, which she hated – because all she got was a glimpse here and there, some undocumented proof that she wouldn’t be able to sell on the open market, and the notion that she was being toyed with by a being who should never even have been a match for her skills but was somehow, instead, winning.
And then there were other times, times she was sure that she’d taken complete leave of her senses, because Natalia’s hand would be in hers and she would be able to see the barest hint of dimples on the other woman’s face, and some part of her would rise up like a fervent believer at prayer camp and think feverishly, “This is enough. I could hold her hand for the rest of my life and it would be perfect and I wouldn’t need any more, really, because this is love. It’s pure and it’s good, and that’s the important part. Even if this is all she’s ever able to give, I don’t need more.”
Then, a few hours later, the haze would pass and the incredulity would come, because honestly, that wasn’t her. She’d already covered the part where she wasn’t a nun – the mention of which, again, sent her mind spinning off on a tangent where she covertly watched the slow rise of a short plaid skirt over smooth, pale thighs and pictured legs clad in spotless white knee socks wrapped so tightly around her waist that it was hard to breathe – and she so didn’t do chaste. Chaste was for Victorian romance novels and Hallmark Channel movies and Frank Cooper.
And she’d have just enough time to come back down to Earth, to work herself into a truly, magnificently pissed off state, and then she’d get a gentle hug or, heaven forbid, a kiss on the cheek, and there’d she be, wandering around like a punch drunk idiot yet again.
It was nothing short of embarrassing.
Why? Because she was Olivia Spencer. She wasn’t some ninny, some perpetual loser continually getting her ass handed to her in the love department, laid flat by a virtual novice. She was sex personified, a seductress of the highest order.
And she definitely wasn’t a nun. With Natalia there on her knees before her, hands clasped just below her chin, eyes wet with tears, and her lower lip trembling as she begged not to be reported. As she promised to do whatever it took to make sure that Mother Superior didn’t hear about…
Oh, fuck it.