“What do they have that I don’t?”
The question echoed in Amanda’s ear like it had done since she asked Sandy in the bar an hour earlier. It was so loud and overwhelming that she couldn’t bring herself to focus on anything else. She tried to answer the question instead, letting her mind wander as her feet wandered the sidewalk.
Amanda didn’t realize where her feet were carrying her until she was already outside of Olivia’s apartment building. She stared up at the door, hot tears threatening to spill over her eyelashes. The lump in her throat made it hard to breathe but she forced herself to inhale deeply, then walked slowly up the stairs and to the front door. She didn’t know what she needed or would get from the other woman, except to see Olivia’s comforting brown eyes and to offer an apology. She knew that she would regret it in the morning – giving in to her feelings for Olivia for momentary comfort would only make the pain worse when she finally let herself feel all of it – but she could hardly think of anything else.
With a shaking finger, she quickly pressed the call button to Olivia’s apartment.
The call was answered by silence. Amanda quickly checked her phone to see that it was almost 1:15. Of course Olivia would be asleep. She turned to leave when the speaker whined.
“Hello?” Olivia’s voice crackled out.
“Liv, it’s…it’s Rollins,” Amanda’s voice sounded small before it faded to silence.
Olivia seemed to understand anyway because Amanda heard the lock click, and then her voice crackled through again. “Come on up.”
Amanda walked slowly to Olivia’s apartment, knocking quietly on the door when she arrived. It swung open and her eyes were met immediately by warm brown ones, full of concern. The sudden feeling of safety forced the tears in her eyes to fall, leaving lines down her cheeks by the time she sat down on the couch where Olivia pointed.
“What’s going on, Amanda?” Olivia asked softly as she lowered the volume on the TV.
Amanda sighed quietly, apologizing for her behavior towards Sandy before launching into her explanation. Her voice wavered as she repeated the story she’d told Sandy, but it didn’t crack until she asked the question.
“What do they have that I don’t?”
She dropped her head as the tears came faster. She brushed them away roughly with the back of her hand, but they were replaced almost immediately by another wave. Before she could wipe them from her eyes, she heard Olivia say her name and felt a hand under her chin, gently forcing her to look up. “Please,” Olivia’s voice was soft.
Her vision blurred and she blinked to clear away the tears, even though she knew it was useless. She felt a tear start to roll down her cheek before Olivia’s thumb swiped it away softly.
Olivia moved suddenly, wrapping her arms around Amanda. She froze for a moment, surprised by the sudden contact. The next moment she relaxed into the hug, finally understanding that it was what she had needed – not only since taking on Sandy’s case, but since finding out about the escorts, and probably even before.
Amanda stayed in Olivia’s arms, letting the seconds stretch into minutes, grateful for the comfort and understanding the older woman was showing her. Olivia never let her go, and instead of breaking apart they eventually shifted in their places on the couch. Amanda let her head rest on Olivia’s chest, listening to the steady rhythm of the other woman’s heart.
Without realizing it, Amanda threaded her fingers through Olivia’s, who squeezed them back gently. She didn’t mean to fall asleep on the couch but she did, eventually settling into a pattern of deep breaths until she heard the faintest words whispered above her.
“Someone will show you that it was never you,” Olivia’s voice was soft but full of emotion. Amanda’s throat tightened painfully again until Olivia continued. “I’d do anything I could to.”
Tears burned in Amanda’s eyes and threatened to spill over again. She couldn’t bring herself to speak so she just tightened her arms around Olivia’s waist in thanks and gratitude. Olivia’s breath hitched above her before she felt the other woman relax into the couch and tighten her arms around Amanda.
When Amanda woke up the next morning, still wrapped in Olivia’s arms with a blanket thrown over her at some point throughout the night, she started to think that maybe Sandy was right, and the smile on Olivia’s face as she smiled down at the blonde made her trust that maybe Olivia had meant what she said.
She was already starting to think that maybe it really wasn’t her.