An Education

Fight or Flight

The silence stretched between them as Fitz drove to Savannah's house. They were running an hour behind the time Olivia and Savannah had agreed to meet. After several protracted debates-Olivia vs. Fitz and GG-they were finally on their way. Granny made another attempt to dissuade Olivia from going. Olivia had accepted that Fitz would accompany her, but she preferred that he drive a separate car and wait outside during her talk with Savannah. Fitz repeatedly insisted they they go in one car and that he would not remain in the car.

"Those are the terms Olivia or I'm calling this meeting off," he said. Olivia rolled her eyes at his principal tone and marched through the front door and to the passenger side of his car.

As they traveled, she was thankful he was driving. She was too anxious. She'd mentally rehearsed what she planned to say, but her words felt too rehearsed. This would not be a one way exchange. She didn't know what Savannah would say. Would she admit it? Would she be calm or emotional? Olivia felt a tightening behind her left eye that was starting to throb. She rubbed her forehead.

"Are you feeling okay? We can call this off. We're already an hour late."

"No. I think I'm getting a tension headache. I didn't sleep well last night. I'm going to take some Acetaminophen," Olivia answered. She pulled a bottle from her purse and swallowed the pill with swig of water.

"This stress is too much for you and the baby. After today, Liv, we have to let the authorities handle this. I know she is family...this is difficult, but you can't fix this yourself...not now," he said.

"Okay," Olivia laid her head back on the seat and closed her eyes. She wasn't going to argue. She hoped the medicine and her calming breaths would quell the pounding that was spreading across her forehead.

"Livy, wake up, honey we're here." Fitz rubbed her cheek. He had resisted the strong urge to turn around and drive home while she slept.

Olivia peeled open her eyes. She looked at the large house that sat on a lot that was just big enough for the brick dwelling. The cookie cutter square lawns dotted with newly planted trees and private residence signs lined the street. The subdivision looked new. Olivia wondered how long Savannah and her family had lived there. She took another sip of water while Fitz walked around to open her door.

He took her hand and they walked to the door. It swung open before they could ring the doorbell. Savannah greeted them with a wide dimpled smile as if they were there as invited guests. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore a green silk romper with silver gladiator sandals.

She always dresses to turn heads, Olivia thought.

"Well hello, Livia! You should have told me Fitz was coming. Byron and the boys just left. I could have introduced you to my family, Fitz," Savannah said.

Fitz couldn't stop the frown that formed on his face. He didn't know if he was more confused or angry at her giddy and breezy tone.

Olivia rolled her eyes for the second time today and pushed past Savannah with Fitz in tow.

"You know this is not a social call, Savannah. Where can we talk?" Olivia walked through the foyer and surveyed what appeared to be the formal living room. "How about in there?"

"No, that's too formal. I thought we could have some lunch. I cooked for us," Savannah said, "I made some—"

"Would you just stop it, Savannah? I don't care how formal this living room is. We will talk in here," Olivia let go of Fitz's hand, but he grabbed it again. His gaze said, Are you sure? Olivia squeezed his hand and walked into the room. Savannah winked at Fitz and walked in behind Olivia. Fitz remained in the foyer.

"Gerry just turned 18. Had you pulled this stunt a little earlier, we could have had you arrested for statutory rape. What is wrong with you?" Olivia said. She was less anxious now. Irritation and anger were her overriding emotions.

"Statutory rape? We never had sex, although we could have if I had wanted to. Did you play the mommy role and talk to him about it? Did you comfort him? You better keep an eye on that one. He was easy, I think, because he really wants you, if you get my drift," Savannah said with an impish chuckle.

That face Olivia saw looking back at her was not her sister's face. Savannah looked gleeful, if not a little crazed. Her eyes had a faraway, glassy look. She sat down as if she was gearing up to throw more darts at Olivia. Before she could react to Savannah's unbelievable words she felt familiar little kicks in her womb. She could feel Little Grant's movement like never before. Olivia looked down at her abdomen and covered it with both hands. In that instant, she had the overwhelming urge to flee. Without looking at Savannah, she turned around and rushed out of the room.

"Livia, where are you going?" Savannah called out.

"Fitz, let's go," Olivia said, walking past him to the front door. He followed her through the door without a word. Savannah tried slip past him to catch up with Olivia. He blocked the door with his arm.

"No. This bullying...your antagonism of my wife ends today. You are going to pay for what you did to Gerry," he said.

"Okay, I'll look forward to it," she retorted, squeezing his forearm.

Fitz snatched his arm away and walked to the car.

"What happened in there? Did she threaten you? You ran out so fast," Fitz asked as they drove away. He saw her rubbing her abdomen. "Are you in pain? Is it the baby?"

"I'm…okay...just, just drive," Olivia said weakly. "This was a bad idea, Fitz. You should have stopped me from doing this. Little Grant is kicking too much. Feel."

She grabbed his hand and placed it on her belly. "Yes, that's a lot of movement."

"I think I need to go to the hospital."

"Mrs. Grant, everything looks fine. Fetal heartbeat is strong. All your vitals are normal. Excessive fetal movement, while worrisome, is not a cause for alarm. We should worry when there is little or no movement. You haven't been eating sugary foods or drinking caffeinated beverages, have you?" The doctor closed the file and waited for an answer.

"No, she doesn't drink coffee or caffeinated drinks," Fitz answered.

Olivia finally felt like herself again. The baby was calmer. She was breathing normally.

"I might have a couple of sips of my husband's coffee every now and then, but not regularly. I think I was overly stressed today," Olivia said.

"I recommend you see your obstetrician soon. Your body is under enough stress with the natural changes of pregnancy. It doesn't help to add additional sources. Right now everything thing looks good. You're free to go," the doctor shook Fit's hand and left the room.

Olivia began dressing. "I thought you stopped drinking coffee, Liv."

"I did. A sip or too every now and then is not drinking coffee," she said. "Okay, most mornings especially since we've been back, but never a full cup. I've been so tired and it has helped me get going in the morning. But neither that nor the sugar has anything to do with those kicks. It might sound a little crazy, but I think all my stress put the baby in distress. I needed to get out of there. Savannah said some horrible things to me. It was scary. I am now officially scared of my little sister. I need to talk to my mom and let her know what has happened with Savannah. I also need to talk to really talk to Gerry. Then I need to write. Mr. Ballard is going to start hounding me about a draft soon."

"Wait a couple of days before talking to your mom. Gerry will be okay. I thought we agreed that you would drop Ballard and get another agent. I don't like him. I think you should just let me take care of you these next couple of weeks. I'll take Gerry to Duke next week for Lacrosse camp. We'll skip the visit to my parents but send Karen and GG. You can write to your heart's content for a couple of hours, we'll find you another agent, and then we can pretend we are in Antigua all over again," Fitz said. He fastened her sandal and stood up with a smile.

"As yummy as spending more time alone sounds, I can name a long list of Grants who wouldn't stand for it," she said, pulling him closer. "Did you have to call everyone after we got to the hospital.

He kissed her and smiled against her lips. "I called Lauren. That's it. I told her I'd keep her posted."

"Which she interpreted as, call Sybil, round up GG, Karen, and Gerry, and come to the hospital. It's okay, honey. I married all the Grants when I married you. I love them. I'll never get used to being fussed over this much. I never had that growing up…really until Abby, Huck, and Harrison in college. I was always the one doing the fussing over," she said, softly. "Does that sound bad, that I like being fussed over?"

He swooped her up in his arms. "I'll carry you to the car. How's that for being fussed over?"

"Fitz, come on. Put me down!"

He walked with her to the door and placed her on her feet. He took both of her hands. "Livy, I'm not going to let Savannah hurt you anymore. I won't pretend to understand how it feels to have a sister hurt me like she has hurt you over and over again. I know your heart. You love her, which makes this especially painful. There is nothing else you can do to help her or even to understand why this is happening without hurting yourself and our family."

"But what about her threat? Gerry can't have that hanging over his head before college."

"This is not your fight, honey."

She nodded her head against his palm.

"I know, but I can't help but thinking that Savannah is having some sort of mental breakdown. She needs help...professional help."

Granny and Fitz sat across from David Rosen in the kitchen. Fitz still didn't know how Granny knew him or why he was in her employ. He was a handy asset who made house calls.

"What's the dirt, David? I need her to go away," said Granny.

Fitz sat up in his chair to level with her. "Granny, we have to tread lightly. She had two kids who Olivia loves. I want to make sure she doesn't pursue these charges and leaves Olivia alone."

"This is what I've found out. Her husband has filed for divorce with a request for full custody. Her veterinary clinic isn't doing well financially based on the payments from clients. Each month she receives an infusion of cash from somewhere. I can do more research on that," David reported.

"Keep digging, David. We will have to wait and see what her next move is," said Fitz.

"Let's not wait. We should create something…manufacture some dirt," Granny suggested.

"No. We will wait. I don't want to magnify this. David, thank you. Please keep looking. We will be in touch." Fitz led David to the door.

Granny placed a large mixing bowl on the counter. "Fitzgerald, I could have handled this on my own."

"How long has David been working for you? You've only been in Denver for a couple of months. And why would you need him?"

"Those details are not important, my dear. My friend shared with me a low sugar macaroon recipe I have to try. So you two are not coming to California? Everyone's going to wonder and be worried. Please give me the coconut."

Fitz pulled it from the pantry and placed it on the counter. "We need time alone, Granny. Everyone should understand that. You can make it clear to everyone. They'll listen to you. Don't tell them about the problems with Savannah."

"I won't tell any of them, but you should tell everyone you're not coming instead of just not showing up," Granny contended.

"If I do, then mom and dad will come here which will defeat the purpose of us not going. Plus she needs quiet time to write. I am supposed to help her find another literary agent too. At the end of the month, it will be time to gear up for another school year and then Little Grant will come in November. We need this time," Fitz explained.

"I understand, Fitzgerald. All I'm saying is that I think everyone would respect your decision if you explained it. But I'm just an old woman. Tell Liv, I'm making macaroons," Granny flipped on the kitchen television and pulled out her measuring cups.

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