The gentle squeeze on her right hand snapped her out of a mild shock. She plastered on a smile and walked over to Karen who stood beside Fitz's grandmother. She extended her hand and gave Karen a side hug. "Hi, Mrs. Grant. It is so nice to meet you!"
Granny stood and gave Olivia a hug and kiss on the cheek, ignoring her hand. "Every time I talk to Karen and Gerry, it's 'Liv said this,' or 'Liv said that.' I had to come and meet you for myself. Of course, my grandson hasn't been very forthcoming with details especially since he never calls me," she said while giving Fitz a pointed look. "Please don't call me Mrs. Grant or Granny. Only strangers call me Mrs. Grant and my grandkids call me Granny. You can call me, GG, like the great grandkids since you look to be about their age. It stands for Granny Grant, but it is much hipper don't you think?"
"Yes, GG," Olivia said. There was something about her that put Olivia instantly at ease. She reminded her of her grandmothers who also spoke their minds.
"Mom, don't hog her. Hi, Olivia, we missed you at church this morning. You don't look sick at all," a booming male voice added.
Olivia turned to see Fitz's mom and dad standing behind her.
"I love your blue dress. You looked dressed for church now." Fitz's mom took her hand.
"Mr. Grant…Mrs. Grant, well, I," Olivia said.
"Mom, Dad, Granny…please excuse us. Olivia needs to take off her coat and I need to talk with her about some school business. We'll be right back." He took Olivia's hand and led her out of the living room and back into the foyer. He helped her out of her coat.
"Ricky, you got some 'splainin' to do!" Olivia whispered.
"Lucy, you do too!" Fitz answered back.
"Why is it like old home week in there?"
Fitz placed his finger over her lips. "Shhh…follow me." He led her into his study and pulled the door shut behind them.
He stalked towards her. "What was that you said when I answered the door?"
He stopped just in front of her, their lips only millimeters apart. "I love you," she whispered.
"Say it again." He touched his lips to hers and pulled back, waiting.
"I love you." He kissed her deeper this time and then stopped.
"Again." His hands trailed twin paths along the sides of her midsection.
"I love you." She initiated the kiss this time and their bodies melded together.
Fitz pulled back first. "Let's go upstairs and finish what you started yesterday." He grabbed her hand and started for the other door.
Olivia wouldn't budge. "Are you crazy, Fitz? Your entire family is here."
"I know, I know. I am kidding, but your shocked expression turns me on." She didn't look impressed as he continued. "Okay, okay we don't have much time before they start looking for us. Here's what happened. Lauren called me last night as I was leaving your place. Mom, Dad, and Granny just showed up unannounced from California. Since they would be staying at Lauren's house first, she and Sybil volunteered my house as the location for all the meals today, although, I bet Granny is going to stay with me."
"But Fitz why are they here…in Denver? This isn't about me is it? What Gran…GG said about wanting to meet me…They wouldn't show up like this just to meet your girlfriend, would they?"
"We haven't talked much about my marriage to Mellie, but…after that drama, they have become…in my opinion…too protective of me and the kids. Karen and Gerry mentioning you probably did the trick. So yes, this is all about you. But it is okay, Liv. They don't bite. My dad is a rough around the edges, though. He has strong opinions about most things. He will put his foot in his mouth today. Don't take it personally. Ignore him. Don't take the bait."
"That's what I get for showing up unannounced like this. So what did you tell them?"
"When I couldn't reach you, I told them you were sick. Had you answered your phone, I planned to invite you to church and dinner to meet them, though I was doubtful you were going to say, yes, after yesterday. But you showed up here making it so easy. Why didn't you answer the phone?"
Olivia sat the couch. "I was avoiding you. I needed to process what happened yesterday, and I couldn't do that with you, so I avoided you."
"I'm glad it didn't last long. Why are you dressed up? You do look very nice by the way."
"I went to Mass with Abby and her family and then we had breakfast at The Good Egg."
"Did you and Abby talk about me?" Fitz sat beside her on the couch.
"Of course, but I won't tell you any more than that."
"Okay, that's fair. Abby deserves a raise if she is the cause of you showing up here today," he said. He fiddled with the sleeve of her dress.
There was a knock on the door. Before they could answer, Lauren and Sybil walked in. They sat on either side of Olivia on the couch, pushing Fitz out of the way.
"Did he apologize to you, Olivia? We didn't, for a minute, believe you were sick. He's been itching to get away all day, probably to apologize for whatever fool-headed thing he did," Lauren said.
"It looks like you all have made up so you should freshen up your lipstick and get back in there. Just remember that Dad is very opinionated," Sybil said as she and Lauren escorted her out of the room without a look back at Fitz.
Olivia couldn't believe some of the things that were coming out of FJ's mouth during dinner. Saying he was 'rough around the edges' was an understatement. She sat between him and Fitz at dinner. The teenagers and the smaller kids were eating in the kitchen. The adults were dining in the formal dining room. Most of the dinner revolved around arguments about politics and religion, mostly between Olivia and FJ.
"Your President wants to take away my second amendment right to bear arms. Guns aren't evil. It's the mentally ill people, who sometimes, get their hands on guns that are evil. Had those teachers been armed at Sandy Hook Elementary, a lot of lives might have been saved and-" FJ said.
"With all due respect, FJ, President Obama is your President too, whether you voted for him or not. That's the problem with the House Republicans and the fringe base they cater too. They haven't gotten the memo twice! Barack Obama is the President. More lives would have been lost if those teachers would have been carrying weapons. Many republicans don't want to provide public school teachers with adequate health care, but they want to give them guns! What kind of message would that send to children…parents, if I were walking around with a loaded weapon? That is not what schools are for. Statistics show that people with guns in their home are more likely to use them against a family member than an intruder. Adam Lanza's mom was a gun enthusiast. She had many weapons. Her son shot her with her own gun!"
Fitz rubbed Olivia's arm. "Dad, can we change the subject?"
"This is fun, isn't it Olivia? You all won't ever discuss these things with me," FJ said with a smile. He spooned more mashed potatoes on to his plate.
"Maybe it's because you turn into a raving maniac at the first mention of politics, sex, or religion. Fitzgerald, why didn't you warn her?" Elise, gave him a disapproving look.
"It's okay, Elise, maybe we will find something we agree on if we keep talking," Olivia said before taking a sip of her ginger ale.
"Let's start clearing the table for dessert," Sybil said rising from her seat.
"I'll check on the kids," Lauren said. Olivia, Elise, and Granny rose also, leaving the men alone at the table.
"Wow, I've never seen anyone take on FJ like that and win. No offense Fitz, but I think I am in love…don't tell Lauren," David, Lauren's husband, said.
"Yeah, I agree. When Sybil said she was African American, I wasn't sure how FJ would react so I felt for you, Fitz, for her too, but…" Sybil's husband whispered so only they could hear before FJ broke in.
"Are you all calling me a racist or something? Lionel from the country club is one of my best friends and he's African American!" FJ offered in his defense.
"Awwww," they all said in response.
"Dad, please don't say, 'my best friend is black' in front of Olivia, please!" said Fitz. He changed the conversation to football.
F.J. shook his head at them all and continued working on his second helping of mashed potatoes.
"Today was great, Fitz. I enjoyed your family, your dad included. I think I can deal with his rough edges. His honesty is refreshing."
They sat in the front seat of Olivia's Land Rover. It was 10 in the evening, and they were pulled over on the side of the road about a mile from Fitz's house. After dinner and dessert, the men had gathered in the family room to watch basketball while the women sat in the living room. Olivia answered all their questions, and she found out quite a bit about Fitz and his family. At 9:30, Olivia excused herself to head home. After saying her goodbyes, Fitz walked her out to the car. Not wanting the night to end, he convinced her to let him drive around while they talked a while longer.
"Yes, it was a good day," he said, unzipping her dress.
"Fitz, what are you doing? We aren't teenagers, parking. Someone might see us."
"I'm trying to get to second base with my much younger girlfriend…that's what Granny called you, right? Besides, I am not going to see you until after school tomorrow. I have an all day principal's meeting at The Learning Center. Granny is staying with us for…well I don't know how long…so I don't know if we are going to be alone tomorrow night. You and me… we have some unfinished business to attend to...but now I need second base…" He trailed kissed down her neck and lifted her onto his lap so that she straddled him. That was when she saw the blue lights through the back window. She jumped out of his lap and back onto the passenger seat.
"Zip me up! There is a police car behind us! Oh my God…Oh My God…!" Olivia squealed as she looked for her shoes and tried to fasten her bra.
Fitz looked in the side mirror. "Shit!" He zipped her dress. "Calm down, Olivia. I'll handle this."
Fitz let the window down. The officer approached the car and shined a flashlight inside. "Is everything okay, folks?"
"Yes, officer, I'm Fitzgerald Grant," Fitz said, "My wife and I are out for a drive. The in-laws showed up unannounced for a visit, and after a day with them, we needed to clear our heads."
Olivia tried to smile through the bright glare of the flashlight.
"Oh, I know what you mean on that front. I only see my in-laws at Thanksgiving and that is enough to last me the entire year," the officer said. They all shared a laugh.
"Ma'am, don't I know you?"
"Umm, I don't think so…" Olivia answered sheepishly.
"No…I stopped you about a month ago when you ran a stop sign. Is it Mrs. Paul, Mrs. Pope?"
"Yes, Pope. I remember you now, Officer," Olivia's heart started beating as she realized that Fitz had given a different last name.
"Honey, you never told me about that. I'm sorry, Officer. She is always rushing around. I am constantly telling her to slow down. Well, if that is all, we will get going," Fitz said.
"I thought you were married. Your name is Grant, and she is Pope?"
"My wife is a modern woman. She wanted to keep her name. See honey, how this complicates things?" Olivia rolled her eyes in the dark.
"Well, I'll let you two go. It is not safe to park on the side of the road like that. I can't tell you how many teenagers we find parked here doing you know what and in full view of traffic. It is truly a road hazard when passersby wreck as they try to get a look. Good night, folks. Be safe." The officer tipped his hat and walked back to his cruiser.
When Fitz pulled off, they both dissolved in laughter.
Olivia was at school bright and early the next morning. She fluttered around her classroom preparing for the day while listening to Esperanza Spalding's, "I Adore You" pump through her ear buds. She was looking forward to making terrariums with her students today. Her grades were done and uploaded so she wouldn't have to stay too late unless it was to help Abby who was perpetually late with everything. Maybe she could convince Abby, Harrison, and Huck to go with her to Denver Coffee Roasters right after school for a quick latte and some conversation before she met Fitz tonight. But then she thought about Rolfo and his need of a good walk if she was going to be at Fitz's for dinner tonight.
Olivia was lost in her thoughts and morning preparations when fluorescent lights in the ceiling blinked off and back on. She pulled on her ear buds and turned around to see Fitz standing against the closed door.
A big smile spread across her face. "How long have you been spying on me, Mr. Grant?"
"Long enough. What are you listening to?"
"What are you doing here? What about the principal's meeting?" She moved to her desk and farther away from him. Fitz didn't move from his post at the door. They had both trained themselves well at school: Maintain distance always.
"The meeting isn't for another two hours, but I had to share some information with you in person…sort of an apology, a heads up, and a warning all wrapped into one." Fitz remembered Cyrus' words earlier this morning on the phone, 'Mellie's on the war path. She is making a surprise visit to your school today under the guise of a tour of all elementary schools. I thought I should give you a head's up.'
"Mellie is visiting Ambrose today. It is no coincidence that she is doing so when she knows I'll be off the premises all day. I am sorry about this. I can't do anything about it now, but I'll handle it later. The one advantage is that she doesn't know that you know. She may find some way to meet you."
"I'll be teaching all day so I doubt we will cross paths."
"I hope not. I should get going." He winked at her and silently mouthed the words, "I love you." She responded in kind before he left the room.
Later that morning, Olivia was preparing her class for the terrarium activity.
Jorge raised his hand. "Yes, Jorge?"
"Can we get more than two earthworms?"
Before Olivia answered, a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Sara Marks entered the room, "Hi, I'm Shelly Pattmore, your substitute teacher for the day."
"You must have the wrong room. I didn't request a sub today. What teacher are you looking for?" Olivia said, "Class, get in your groups quietly so we can line up to go outside. Materials handlers get dirt and terrarium containers."
"Ms. Pope, I don't have the wrong room. I am your sub for the remainder of the day. You need to go to Ms. Kingston's office now," Shelly said with an edge to her voice.
Olivia frowned and pushed the white button to summon the office.
"Yes, front office."
"This is Ms. Pope in 4th grade. There is a Shelly Pattmore in my classroom. She says she is my substitute teacher, but I don't need a sub. I think she has the wrong room," Olivia said.
"Didn't Ms. Kingston talk to you this morning about this? Ms. Grant is here from the school board. She has requested that you give her a tour. Ms. Pattmore is your substitute. You are to report to Ms. Kingston's office," the voice said over the intercom."
Olivia had forgotten about Fitz's warning from this morning until now.
"Ms. Pattmore, please watch my class while I go to Ms. Kington's office. I won't be able to do this tour. I'll be back. Kids…umm pick an ecosystem to draw until I get back. Include a food chain and a food web. You can work in groups," Olivia walked out of the classroom and stopped by Abby's and Harrison's adjoining classrooms. She motioned for them to come out into the hallway.
"Do your remember what I told you all this morning about his ex-wife?" Olivia whispered before Abby and Harrison nodded their heads, hanging on her every word, "Well, I've just been snatched from my classroom and summoned to the Assistant Principal's office to give her a tour! Can you believe that?"
"He did warn you, Liv," said Harrison.
"This is better than TV. You can handle this, Liv. Let us know what happens. I am not going to be able to concentrate all day. Harrison, we need to put in a video after lunch! I am too on edge to teach now," Abby said.
"Abby…," Olivia said as she walked away and to Ms. Kingston's office.
When Olivia entered Ms. Kingston's conference room, ready to put a stop to this, she was met with Mellie's big smile.
"There she is! Olivia Pope. Ms. Kingston, thanks so much for letting me steal her away from you to give me a tour. Thank Mrs. Marks for calling her sister in to substitute for Ms. Pope on such short notice!" Mellie grabbed Olivia by the arm and ushered her out into the hallway.
"So, I want to pick your brain about Ambrose. This is a Title I school, but yet your test scores have been off the charts. How do you reach these kids with all their disadvantages…underprivileged, low income…?"
Olivia frowned at her characterization and proceeded to tell her about the strategies she used in her instruction. After two hours of showing Mellie around the school, Olivia was ready to explode.
"Ms. Rosemont, I really must get back to my class. We were supposed to make terrariums today. I am sure Ms. Kingston can continue the tour and answer all your questions," Olivia said as they walked through the newly constructed outdoor garden classroom.
"What did you call me?" Mellie stopped walking and turned to face Olivia.
"I called you by your name, Ms. Rosemont. You are no longer a Grant and haven't been for some time now," Olivia whispered acidly. "Isn't this what your visit is all about today…putting me in my place? Just say what you've come to say and we can dispense with all the pretense."
Mellie dropped her chipper demeanor. "I am a Grant, and I will always be a Grant. When he is finished playing between your legs, little girl, things will get back to normal. Don't think your little relationship is about anything but that. You may have met my kids, but that is as far as it will go. He would never introduce you to his family. I feel bad for any woman he dates, because his family loves me. They were devastated by the divorce."
"Really? What that really called for? But since you mentioned it, that's not what FJ and Elise said yesterday after church when we were having dinner with GG, Sybil, Lauren, David, and Benjamin. They didn't even mention you at all when they were sharing funny stories about Karen and Gerry as babies. If I didn't know better, I would think they didn't have a mother." Olivia watched all the color drain from Mellie's face as she continued, "Ms. Rosemont, I don't appreciate you coming to my school and pulling me away from my class. I suggest you leave me alone. You lost Fitz long before I came along, and I don't think he will ever get tired of what I have between my legs. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!" Olivia held her breath as she walked away, adding an extra strut to her walk.
She knocked on Huck's window, motioning for him to let her in his side door. Thankfully he didn't have a class. When he opened the door, she fell into his arms sobbing and shaking.
"Liv, what's wrong? You're shaking."
"Huck, I just won a battle with Fitz's ex-wife, but I think the war has just begun."