A Common Core
"Hey Quinn, Is he meeting with someone in there?" Olivia said as she passed by Quinn's office where it was situated just before Fitz's office. His door was closed. "I need to see him for a minute."
Quinn's eyes perked up and widened at Olivia's presence. She motioned frantically with both hands, beckoning Olivia into her office. Quinn pulled the door ajar so she could hear when the candidate left.
"Liv, I have been e-mailing you all morning. He is interviewing for Sara's position, but he has not said anything to me about setting up an interview," Quinn whispered nervously, grabbing Olivia's hands and squeezing tightly. Realizing her action, she dropped Olivia's hands and sat in a nearby chair. "Sorry. What if he does not want me for the position? Maybe he does not think I am ready. Some of these candidates have been teaching for over 5 years or more."
"Calm yourself, Quinn. Did you tell him you wanted to be considered? Have you given him your resume and teaching portfolio?" Olivia asked, sitting down beside her.
Quinn turned to face Olivia with a blank expression on her face. "No, but he knows I graduate this summer. I drop hints all the time," Quinn answered, slowly coming to the realization that she had made an error. "But you said you mentioned me."
"I did bring up your name to him last week when he told me about Sara's unexpected departure. And guess what he said, Quinn? He forgot you were in school pursuing teaching because you never say anything to him about it. If you want the job, you have to go after it. Tell him you are interested. Give him your resume. Ask him when you can set up an interview. He had to post the opening and conduct interviews, but the job is yours if you go after it. You need to move fast before he offers it to someone else. I am sure he has forgotten about you again. Will he be finished with this interview soon? I really need to see him."
"You are right. It is done. I am going to e-mail Mr. Grant my resume right now and ask him about setting up an interview," Quinn said. She walked to her desk and began typing. "Thanks, Liv. He should be finished any minute now. His next interview is not for another hour."
"Do not do this by e-mail. Go into his office and talk with him when I leave. You have the advantage over any other candidate. He already knows your work ethic and you only work four steps away from him," Olivia reminded her as she left Quinn's office. She walked out just as Fitz was escorting the teacher candidate out of his office. He and the candidate stood in the doorway.
"Thanks again, Ms. Fisher. It was a pleasure meeting you. I'll be in touch," Fitz announced to the candidate who looked young and fresh out of college. He extended his hand to her in goodbye.
"The pleasure was all mine, Mr. Grant. Please call me if you have any additional questions or need anything else," Ms. Fisher said. She wrapped both of her hands around his and smiled.
Fitz caught Olivia's eye, winking and smiling at her, as Ms. Fisher spun around on her 4-inch heels and strutted down the hallway. He totally missed Ms. Fisher's prancing that was meant for him. Olivia eyed the candidate from head to toe as she breezed by which caused Olivia to miss Fitz's wink and smile. The candidate's simple business suit would have been acceptable, but it was a couple of sizes too small and an equal amount too short. Her blouse was unbuttoned perilously low to reveal her amble bust line. She did not acknowledge Olivia's presence. Her face had the confident look of someone who was used to using these perceived assets to her advantage.
"Mrs. Grant, what can I do for you?" Fitz said, extending his hand to Olivia. Ms. Fisher whipped her head around to see him leading Olivia into his office. When she saw his hand on the small of her back, she stopped prancing.
"I wonder what she was interviewing for dressed like that. It was obviously not a job teaching a room full of 5 and 6 year olds. I have to believe she has the worst intentions because I am sure one of her professors talked about the appropriate dress for an interview. But she knew her audience today though, the hot principal at Ambrose Elementary School," Olivia said after Fitz closed the door.
"You think I am hot, Mrs. Grant?" Fitz said, pulling her close and feigning shock. His hands hung loosely around her waist. "That is a highly inappropriate thing to say since it makes me uncomfortable and compromises our professional relationship."
"You are changing the subject. No man she meets will ever know her eye color. Do you even know Ms. Fisher's eye color, Fitz?" Olivia grilled him, letting her arms settle around his shoulders.
"No and not for the reason you are thinking. The only thing I can tell you is that everything about her was excessive and overdone. She was a little handsy too. I had a mind to keep the door open. I am satisfied with the two handfuls I have right here." His hands ventured up her waist to cup both of her breasts. "Although they are growing every day thanks to Little Grant."
"This is the very reason why relationships between principals and teachers are against the standard of conduct. I did not come to your office to get felt up," she murmured enjoying the feel of his hands on her. She moved closer when he gripped her derriere. "Your broken hand is mending nicely without therapy."
"According to the schedule, you should be at lunch right now, but I am glad you came to see me. You never visit me," he whispered against her ear.
"This," she asserted, trying to grab his roving hands. He moved them out of her reach. "This," she laughed, trying again. "…is the reason why I never visit you, Mr. Grant. You need to go back to kindergarten. Obviously, you never learned to keep your hands to yourself."
She moved out of his arms and took a seat at the table. He joined her there. "Have you already eaten?"
"I had some trail mix and a banana earlier. I'll eat again when my kids are at enrichment. Now, the reason for my visit…Karen has been trying to talk to me since last week about something. With everything that has been going on, I have been putting her off. I feel bad so I am taking her out after school today. We will not be home until after dinnertime. I was intending to tell you last night, but it slipped my mind," she said.
"I have two interviews after school and then Gerry and I are supposed to be picking up our tuxes for the wedding. FJ, David, and Rick should be getting theirs too. Let me know what you find out about Karen."
"I am so behind on my dress and the bridesmaids dresses. I am not sure what to buy because I do not know what size I will be in a month. I wish Sierra were closer so she could help me."
"Between GG, Abby, Sybil, Lauren, and Savannah, I think you will be fine, baby. They can help," Fitz said. He added her younger sister's name to test the waters. Fitz knew their relationship was strained, but Savannah had called him this week. She wanted him to convince Olivia to see her. Fitz promised to try even if he did not know the details of their estrangement. Unfortunately, there had not been any time to talk to Olivia about it.
"Savannah? Why did you mention her, Fitz? Did Sierra or my mom call you?" Olivia glanced at his wall clock. She had about 15 minutes before her kids would be back from lunch and recess. Thanks to Fitz, teachers at Ambrose finally enjoyed a duty free lunch. Teachers alternated recess duty.
Fitz reached out and covered her hands with his. "This is yet another thing we have not taken the time to discuss. Savannah called me last week. She wants to see you but she knows you will not…"
"How did she get your number? I'll deal with Sierra. It had to be her. She cannot leave this alone. Fitz, I do not want to see her or talk to her. If she calls again, ignore her," Olivia demanded.
"But Livy, she is your baby sister. She sounds nice on the phone. She asked about Rolfo. I forgot she was a veterinarian. Her office is just across town we could have been taking Rolfo to see her. What happened between the two of you?"
Olivia rose from the table. "I have to get going. Fitz, trust me. My sister is not what she seems. You will never understand because your family gets along so well. Savannah will do anything to hurt me. I keep my distance. You should too."
She left Fitz sitting there puzzled.
"What are you going to order, Liv?" Karen said as she closed her menu, settled on her choice.
"Wow! You were right these burgers sound amazing. Since my stomach is still a little shaky, I am going to stick with the Chicken Breast of Love sandwich. What are you getting, Kare?"
"I always get the Zombie Apocalypse burger. Let's share some southern fried pickles. They are delicious."
"Order for us while I go to the potty. I cannot seem to avoid going to the bathroom a couple of times an hour."
When Olivia exited the stall an involuntary gasp slipped through her lips. She saw Celeste's beautiful face staring back at her from the mirror.
"Hello, Olivia," Celeste greeted her with what seemed like sincere happiness at seeing her.
Wary, Olivia moved forward slowly with a weak smile. She was unprepared for this encounter.
"Hi, Celeste. Why are you in town?" Olivia waved her hand under the soap dispenser and placed her palms under the automatic spigot. Her enthusiasm did not match Celeste's. Olivia was having a hard time pretending she was not totally freaked out at seeing Celeste. She took a deep breath and did her best impression of a real smile as she lathered her hands.
"One of my clients needed me to take care of some business in Denver so I am here for a couple of days. I hear that congratulations are in order for you and Fitz twice over."
How does she know? Olivia thought.
"Yes," Olivia replied. She did not say much more because she wanted to see what Celeste knew.
"So did he propose before or after you got pregnant?"
Olivia looked at the challenge in Celeste's expression that was reflected in the mirror. Her words were obviously designed to put Olivia on the defense and on edge. Olivia felt pity for this woman who by all accounts should be happy in her own right. In the space of those few seconds Olivia realized that Celeste was jealous of what she had.
Olivia walked to the automatic paper towel dispenser, waved her palm in front of the sensor, and dried her hands with the newly released towel. She met Celeste's eyes and flashed her with a bright smile. She turned sideways and rubbed her hand over her abdomen, resting on the small baby bump.
"Little Grant, our word of the day is envy, meaning a feeling of discontented or resentful longing because of someone else's possessions, qualities or just about anything. Sometimes envy can make people do ugly things." Olivia declared. "Okay. Let's get back to Karen."
Olivia walked out without a second look at Celeste.
Karen was munching on the fried pickles and sipping her soda when Olivia returned to the table.
"These look good," Olivia said. She warily popped one in her mouth. "Mmm…we have to get a to go order of these, Karen."
"I told you they were addicting. Did you see Celeste? She stopped by the table to say hi. She asked if you and dad were here. I told her you were in the ladies' room."
Olivia felt even more justified in what she had done. She did not usually make it a practice of being smug, but Celeste needed it.
"I saw her."
"She invited Gerry and me to a promotional event for Man of Steel," Karen said excitedly, flashing the passes to Olivia. Olivia slipped them from her fingers and placed them in her purse.
"I'm sorry, honey, but you cannot go." Olivia motioned to the server who walked over to the table. "Can we get two orders of the fried pickles, one for the table and one to go?"
"Yes, of course." The server smiled and took the basket away.
"Why Liv?" Karen asked.
"How can I say this? Celeste is not a friend of the family and that is the end of it, Karen. Now…How are you doing? We have not had a chance to talk in the last couple of weeks."
"Everything is great. I should have an A in every class except Health. Dad tried to convince me to take it in the summer, but Mom said I should not go to summer school with students who have failed their classes. Had I taken Health in the summer, I would have made an easy A," Karen explained.
"Kare, we already know your grades. What is going on with you and GG? You two are not getting along these days, which is strange since you two were so close when she first came to visit."
"How long is GG staying, Liv? She is no longer visiting but has practically moved in. I thought she would have gone back with FJ and Grandma when they went back to California? The house is a little crowded."
"I know it has been pretty tight. GG moved in and then me. Now Little Grant is coming…"
"Liv, you don't count…I mean you count, but you are part of the family…I am not saying GG is not, but she has never stayed this long."
"I do not know when or if GG is moving back to California. Honestly, I love having her around. I hope she stays with us. What is this really about, sweetie? How are you feeling about Greece?"
"I am okay about it. My mom said I should go and experience another culture. Then I found out Ethan might be going. I thought it would be fun for us to go together. I am so over going now. I would rather be in Antigua with you and dad and the family… getting married. It feels like you and dad are married already. I mean everyone at school calls you Mrs. Grant, Liv." Karen laughed.
"Your dad started that. How is Ethan? Is he all ready for college? He and Gerry are like two peas in a pod. They are both going to Duke and will be roomies." Olivia said.
"I am such a cliché, dating my brother's best friend. I am going to miss him. Do you think we should break up before he goes to college? I know he is going to be the typical college boy so I cannot expect him to be faithful to me," Karen said as the server doled out their food and refilled their sodas.
"Mmm… this smells so good, Karen. What is the typical college boy?" Olivia asked feeling that she was getting closer to something, but she did not know what.
"You know…having sex with anything that moves. He can go off to college do whatever, but he will always wonder about me because I never gave myself to him. My mom says that when a girl gives a guy her virginity she has lost her leverage. And then after that we have to hold out on sex until they can give us something in return," Karen said.
Olivia sat there listening and a little horrified at Karen's monologue.
"Is this why you wanted to talk with me last week? Was Ethan pressuring you to have sex?" Olivia asked cautiously.
"How long was it before you and dad had sex? I hope I am not freaking you out right now, Liv."
Olivia's eyes widened wondering how the conversation switched to her sex life. "Karen that is personal, sweetie. Why are you asking?"
"Ethan and I have been dating for three months. He thought that was long enough before we had sex. I am totally into him but I did not think I was ready. He said that you and dad started dating, got engaged, and are pregnant all before the semester is over. He actually said that we were like you and dad."
Olivia took a bite of her chicken sandwich, chewed slowly, and sipped her soda. That horny little teenager used Fitz and me to try to get Karen to sleep with him. I hate him!
"So you spoke with your mom about this?"
"Yes. And since then I have been ignoring him. He has been much more interested in me than usual. I think I will break up with him, though," Karen decided.
"Kare, sex is not something you use as leverage. It is not a tool or strategy to be wielded to control a man. I will admit that my view is not popular, and I am not an expert by any means, but I will share with you what I have learned. Making love with someone is awesome and powerful. I mean it can result in the creation of another person. That fact is pretty mind-boggling. When I was a teenager, I was told to guard my virginity or else I would be like a piece of chewed up chewing gum, dispensable and good for nothing. I was also told that girls who gave it away were sluts. So that is what I believed. Where does that leave boys? They start out as virgins too. Are they giving away something too? Are they like wasted gum too?" Olivia waited for her answer. She could tell that Karen was thinking.
"I guess so. I never thought about it that way, Liv."
"We are taught to believe that guys are sex consumers and girls are the products to be used. So dating and relationships become a game to see how quickly the boy can have sex and how long the girl can hold out. Sex is a big deal. There are a lot of things to consider from a health and heart standpoint. Just know that whenever you do have sex that it is not going to diminish you. You will not be dispensable like chewed up chewing gum. You will still be the beautiful, brilliant, kick-ass Karen Grant, that I know and love," Olivia exclaimed to Karen proudly. Olivia tweaked her cheek and smiled.
Karen's expression fell and tears began to fall from her eyes. "Karen, sweetie, what's wrong, honey?" Olivia asked. She scooted closer to Karen and placed her head on her shoulder. Karen cried for a couple of minutes and then lifted her head. Olivia's eyes were wet also.
"Karen, why are you crying?" Olivia asked again. Karen dissolved in tears again. Olivia beckoned for the server.
"Please bring us a couple of to go boxes and the check please."
Later when they were in the car, Olivia held Karen's hand with one hand and maneuvered the steering wheel with the other. She drove to her townhouse, which sat vacant now, but still fully furnished. She and Fitz had not decided what to do with it yet.
She pulled into the driveway and let Karen into what used to be her home. After using the bathroom, Olivia took a seat on the sofa.
"Okay, Sweetheart, let's talk about this. No one is here but us."
Karen dropped on the sofa. "Promise me you will not tell dad or talk to him about this at all," Karen said.
"I cannot promise you that. All I can promise is my support and love no matter what," Olivia said earnestly.
Karen looked like she was going to cry again. "I did it Liv. I had sex with Ethan and I hate myself for it. It was a horrible experience. It hurt and was really awkward. I cried after it was over and Ethan…I hate him! He just turned around and started watching TV when it was over. He is such a freakin' jerk. I never want to see him again. He keeps calling me because he knows that Gerry will kill him if he finds out. What should I do? Gerry knows something is going on because I have been avoiding Ethan like the plague. There is all the graduation stuff coming up and of course Ethan will be hanging around. I feel so bad. Mom does not know, but I know she will be disappointed. She is going to think I am all those things you said…like the chewed up gum and a slut. I do not know what to do?" Karen began crying again.
"Kare, what I said was true, sweetie. You are no different than you were before this. You are not a slut. You are not dispensable. Did you and Ethan use protection?" Olivia asked cautiously.
"Yes. He used a condom."
"Have you all had sex in any other way before? Like oral sex or…"
"He has… umm…gone down on me, but I have not on him. Too gross. But we only had sex that one time," Karen explained.
"Oral sex is sex too. We need to get you set up for a doctor's appointment so you can hear about all your birth control options as well as the ways to protect yourself from STDs and…"
"Wait, Liv. I am never having sex again. I am done! I do not want to go to the doctor. Dad will find out. Please do not make me do this," Karen pleaded.
Olivia moved closer to her and took her hand. "Kare, I am so sorry you have had to be alone during this time. But this will pass, okay. We can talk about Ethan later. I am not concerned about him. I want you to have all the information so you will be able to make the best decision in the future." Olivia rose from the sofa and walked to the bookshelf. "I have this great book, Our Bodies. Ourselves. My friend Abby, told me about it in college. It covers everything. I want you to read it. We can talk about it. How about this? We will not tell your dad right now, but I need you to talk to me. Blow a whistle in my face if you need to okay? I am sorry I was not there for you sooner. This is not a conversation we can have one time and be done. We have to keep talking, okay Kare Bear?" Olivia gave her another hug.
"I love you, Liv."
"I love you, too."
Olivia inhaled, exhaled, and closed her eyes, letting her own tears flow. She did not know if it was the hormones, but she already felt like a mother.
Olivia laughed at Karen as she did a cartwheel up their driveway once they had reached home. She had instantly turned into her giddy, girly self.
"I say we do not rest until we find our dresses this weekend, Liv. I will call Auntie Lauren and Auntie Sybil. We will meet this weekend and do it like that lady on the Target commercial with the track suit and high heels who trains in preparation for shopping. Operation Wedding Dress!" Karen said as her cell phone buzzed. She pulled it out of her pocket. "It is Ethan. Ugh! I wish he would just die! Liv, I am going in the back way because I know my eyes are puffy. GG will be the first to notice. She has hawk eyes. I'll take my food. Thanks again." Karen kissed Olivia on the cheek and disappeared around the house.
It was 8 and finally starting to look like evening. Olivia finally noticed the extra car in the driveway. She thought it was either a friend of Gerry's or maybe Rick or David. Olivia was too sleepy to care. All she wanted to do was take a shower and jump in the bed after savoring a few more fried pickles. She thought about how she would talk to Fitz about Karen. Inevitably, he would want to know the details, but she did not think it a good idea for him to know right now.
Before she could unlock the door, it swung open and Fitz stepped in her path.
"Hey babe, did you get the tuxes? Karen and I had the best fried pickles at The Vortex. You will never guess who we saw there…" Olivia babbled, as she was prone to do when she was sleepy.
"Livy, did you get my texts or voicemails? I've been calling you for about an hour now," Fitz said, pulling her into a hug.
Olivia pulled her phone from her purse. "Really? Oh look. It is dead. Sorry. What did you need? Did GG need something at the store?"
Fitz pulled Olivia into the house. "No. Savannah stopped by to see you," Fitz revealed as they walked further into the house.
Olivia frowned at the mention of her sister's name. Savannah sat beside GG on the sofa.
"Why are you here?" Olivia asked authoritatively.
"Livia, we need to talk. GG and Fitz were nice enough to let me wait here for you," Savannah said.
"Savannah is as cute as a button, isn't she Fitz? We have been talking about you the entire hour she has been here," GG exclaimed happily.
Fitz did not respond. He looked worriedly at Olivia.
Olivia did not want to deal with Savannah at all. It seemed she was now forced into a confrontation with her, something she swore would never happen again.
"Fitz, GG, please excuse us. Savannah, you want to talk? Okay. Let us talk in the study. This way." Olivia placed her food bags on the coffee table and walked into the study. Savannah followed behind her.