The Same Lessons Learned
Abby handed Olivia the overflowing double scoop caramel cashew ice cream waffle cone and sat down beside her on the City Park bench.
"Abby, that's too much, but it looks too delicious to refuse!" Olivia said as she eagerly took the waffle cone from Abby's hand.
"Well, you are eating for two now, Liv." Abby patted Olivia's belly and surveyed its roundness. "Are you sure there aren't two bambinos in there? Looks like your belly has doubled since the wedding."
Olivia peered down at her belly and shrugged. "I can confirm the presence of just one baby. I can't control my appetite. Since school is out, all I do is eat, sleep, and write. I'm as big as a house, I know. I'll take care of it on the other end. After I push Little Grant out, I'll reign it back in." Olivia took a healthy lick of ice cream, closing her eyes at the pleasure of it plopping on her tongue.
"From what I can see you are all baby. Everything will go back to normal in no time so don't worry about that now. What's going on with Savannah? How is Gerry? How did your talk with him go?" she asked.
Olivia stopped licking and wiped her mouth with the napkin. The salty sweetness had lost its appeal. "I haven't spoken to him about it yet, Abby."
Abby frowned. "Why not? Isn't he leaving for school next week?"
Olivia looked over Abby's shoulder at a group of children playing soccer. She sighed feeling immediately helpless. "Yeah. Things have been very difficult since we got back. He avoids me. He can't even look me straight in the eyes. The more time goes by, the harder it gets. Fitz keeps saying he will be okay. As for Savannah…she's not really a threat to Gerry now. I know I need to talk to him, but I think he's more embarrassed by her being my sister than victimized by it. I want to talk to him. I just—"
"Liv, can I make an observation?" she interrupted.
"Um…of course you can," Olivia said.
"Don't take this the wrong way, okay? I think you're being a little…hypocritical. You are doing exactly what you accused Fitz of doing…holding different standards for Gerry and Karen when it comes to sex. When Karen had sex with Ethan, you were there for her. You were angry with Fitz for not punishing Gerry for beating him up. Now that Gerry has been sexually…um…sexually abused by Savannah, regardless if they had sex or not, you nor Fitz have been there for him in the same way. Imagine if the tables were turned and an adult man did the same thing to Karen that Savannah did to Gerry. I know that both of you would have reacted differently. I'm not trying to judge you all. The double standards are just plan shitty. But he is the victim here."
Olivia's eyes went red and glossy. She looked down at the ground unable to respond.
"Liv, I'm not trying to make you feel bad. I don't know what I would have done in your situation. It's easy for me to say this since I'm not in the thick of it like you are. All I'm saying is don't forget about Gerry." Abby squeezed her arm.
"You're right. I feel guilty about this. Savannah is my sister after all. That's the only reason she targeted him…to hurt me as usual. I'm going to talk to him as soon as I get home and then I am going straight to my parents' house to talk to them about Savannah. I'm convinced she needs some serious help."
"Liv, I'm not trying to convince you to do anything. Maybe talk to Fitz about it again? And then I want you to put your feet up and rest. I don't think you should engage Savannah right now especially after what happened with the visit," Abby said.
Olivia resumed eating her ice cream. She felt resolved to take action. After a couple more licks, she yawned. "I guess you're right, Abs. A nap sounds good right now. Let's talk about something else. I need light and fluffy topics."
A big smile spread across Abby's face. "Well now, light and fluffy….hmm… Tell me about your honeymoon. I know you have some naughty stories to share."
Olivia feigned surprise. "Why would I have naughty stories? You can't swing from the chandeliers when you're already knocked up. The honeymoon was wonderful, but it was pretty low key. It was nice, relaxing, um…good, solid, marital coupling."
"Liv, I'm not buying it. Marital coupling? You get wordy and formal when you're hiding something. So spill it," Abby said.
Olivia grinned and turned to face her, shifting on the bench to ensure no passerby would hear her. "Well you know how I started having lower back pain early in my pregnancy. So Fitz packed my vibrating back massager. One night he decided to give me a back massage. The part that does the massaging is circular shaped and about the size of the palm of my hand. It works well because it covers a lot of ground. So Fitz being Fitz couldn't stick to massaging just my lower back. Let's just say he started rubbing it south of the border in the um nether regions. It felt heavenly, but Abby, out of nowhere came this powerful…orgasm. You would have thought Fitz had landed on the moon. He was cheesing from ear to ear and as horny as ever…"
Abby grabbed her shoulders. "Wow, Liv! And you always turned your nose up at vibrators…"
Olivia rolled her eyes. "It's not really a vibrator, per se, though it does have two speeds of…um…vibration. It's too big to be a vibrator but I think the wider surface area just wakes everything up down there if you know what I mean…"
"You'll have to tell me the brand of that massager, Liv. You should try a real one, though," she said.
"One step ahead of you…We went to this little shop in Antigua. Fitz bought me my very own passion piece. He enjoys watching, but he doesn't stay away for long."
They sat there on the bench with their heads together giggling for a while.
"Abby, it'll be preplanning for the new school year in less than two months. Even before that is the ASCD conference in California," said Olivia.
Abby stood, following Olivia to the trash can. "Liv, don't start with that. The school year just ended. You all ways do this…counting down the days."
"I do not count down the days," Olivia said, hooking her arm in Abby's as they walked back to their cars.
"Well since you brought it up, are you ready for your presentation? And how is the writing coming?" she said.
"I'm just going to share my research on oral assessment and explain how it can be implemented in a classroom. As for my writing, I'm going to have to ask Jake for an extension. Fitz has gotten it into his head that I need to fire Jake and hire another agent. I can't do that and break the contract. I can't understand why he doesn't like Jake. I'm hoping he forgets," Olivia explained. She leaned against her car and crossed her arms across her chest.
Abby rolled her eyes. "Liv, its obvious that Fitz is jealous of Jake," she said, leaning against her own car and facing Olivia.
"Jealous? Jealous of Jake? That doesn't make sense. I barely see Jake and he's only met him once at that dinner a couple of months ago. Fitz is not the jealous type. There's no reason for it. In any case, we're going to visit his family in California during the conference. For a while we both forgot about the conference and planned on playing hooky from the visit. Now that is out of the question since I have to present at ASCD. Abs, I should get going. Thanks for the ice cream," Olivia said.
Abby gave her hug. "Call me tonight and we'll talk more about the Jake thing. Try to forget about Savannah if you can, okay?"
Olivia smiled but she didn't respond in kind. "Abby, I think I'll get some ice cream to go."
"Gerry? Gerry are you out here?" Olivia called to him through the back kitchen door. He was throwing a slobbery tennis ball to Rolfo who got distracted when he saw Olivia at the door. He trotted over to her and wagged his tail in a vigorous welcome.
"Hey boy. I bought a treat for you." Olivia pulled out a small cup of ice cream topped with a doggie treat. Rolfo sniffed at it as Olivia placed it on the patio.
Olivia walked to Gerry and handed him a white bag and a spoon. "I brought you a pint of Rocky Road."
"Thanks, Liv," he said, starting past her to enter the house. She blocked his path.
"Gerry, honey, can we talk?" She pointed to the lawn chairs. "Now you're going to have to help me sit down and get up." A rare smile appeared on his lips. He took her arm and assisted her slow descent into the low lawn chair. He set down beside her and opened the ice cream. He extended it to her first.
"No Gerry. That's all yours. I've had my fill of ice cream today, thanks to Abby."
He took a couple of bites before Rolfo trotted over to him to beg for more.
Olivia smiled at Rolfo's big head resting on Gerry's lap.
"Gerry…I know things have been difficult. I owe you an apology. I am so sorry for what Savannah did to you. She manipulated you and I don't know if I'll ever forgive myself for not protecting you against her. I've wanted to talk to you before now, but I didn't know how to talk to you. How are you doing?"
Gerry looked up quickly at the mention of Savannah. A pained expression crossed his face. "No, Liv. I'm sorry. I totally understand why you've been mad at me. I honestly didn't know you two weren't talking. She said she wanted me to help her make a gift for you and Dad so I believed her. I should have followed my instincts. It felt strange that she wanted me to keep it a secret from you all and Karen."
"Mad at you? Gerry, I was never mad at you! I am mad at myself for this. She is the one who was in the wrong. You didn't do anything wrong." Olivia reached for his arm and squeezed.
"I do blame myself. When she said those things I should have stopped seeing her, but I didn't. When she…um…touched me, I should have stopped seeing her, but I didn't. I didn't stop until we were almost caught. That's when I stopped it. She started saying these awful things about you and me and then she threatened to say I raped her. Liv, I never had sex with her. I don't want you to think I'm like that."
Olivia shook her head vigorously. "Gerry, whatever she said is a lie, okay? What she did has nothing to do with you. It is unfortunate, but my sister used you to hurt me. She never saw you as a person, just someone she could manipulate to achieve her purpose. Don't believe anything she said. I am so proud of you, okay? If you find that this is hindering you in any way, I want you to talk to your dad or me. You are going off to school next week. I don't want this to stand in your way."
They sat quietly for a moment.
"So are you going too? Dad said he was the only one taking me," he said.
"Do you want me to come?" Olivia asked softly.
"Yes, I mean…If you want to come," Gerry said nervously.
"Of course I want to go," she said, "Now give me a hug."
Gerry knelt beside her and she squeezed him tightly. Olivia knew that this wasn't totally resolved, but she felt better that the major misunderstandings has been uncovered and straightened out.
Olivia pulled into her parents' driveway. Today was turning into a day of reckoning for her. She had multiple missed calls from Fitz on her phone so she decided to call him back. He had been at the annual summer retreat for principals.
"Livy, I've been calling you all day. Why haven't you answered my calls?" he said.
"Didn't you get my voice mail?" she asked.
"Honey, you're talking to me now. I'm okay. How has your day been? Is the meeting going well?"
"It's the same old thing. I've been preoccupied worrying about you because I couldn't reach you. Mellie is here with Cyrus Beene. She gives me the meanest looks when she thinks I'm not looking. I feel like I'm in high school all over again. What about you?"
"I took GG to the senior center then I had ice cream with Abby. I finally talked to Gerry about what happened with Savannah."
"I thought we were going to do that later," he said.
"We can talk about this later, Fitz."
"Where are you now?" he asked.
Olivia hesitated. She knew he how he'd react if she revealed her whereabouts. "I'm at my parents' house. And before you protest, just hear me out. I need to talk to them just like I needed to talk to Gerry. There is no danger here so you have nothing to worry about. Little Grant and I are doing well, okay? Enjoy the rest of your meeting. I'll see you tonight. Be ready for massage duty…and not because my back is hurting." She lowered her voice when she said the last part.
Her sexual innuendo didn't phase Fitz. "I don't like that you are there alone, Liv. What if Savannah stops by? I don't like this one bit."
Olivia hadn't thought about that. "Well I better get in and out. I'll be okay. I'll call as soon as I am headed home.
"Okay. I'll be expecting your call," Fitz said. He looked over his meeting's itinerary to see what meetings he would miss if he left now.
An hour later, Olivia sat on the sofa with her mom and dad. They were peppering her with questions about her book, the baby, Karen, Gerry, and anything else they could think of. Olivia was still waiting on the right opening to bring up Savannah.
"Livia, you look so good. You're all baby. You're carrying high so Little Grant is going to be a girl. Have you and Fitz thought about names yet?" Selena said.
Olivia saw a small opening. "Did Sierra and Savannah carry low since they had boys?"
"Sierra did, but Savannah carried both of the boys high," Selena explained.
"Mom, have you talked to Savannah lately?"
"Yes, I talked to her yesterday. She told me that you and Fitz visited her week before last. It makes me happy to know you all are getting along."
Olivia grabbed her parents' hands. She set between them. "Mom, Dad, I need to talk to you about that. Savannah and I are not in a good place. She and I are not talking. I need to explain why. Please let me explain before you ask any questions."
Her parents looked worried but they gave her their full attention.
"All throughout college, Savannah sought out the boys I was dating or those she thought I liked, and…she…she pursued them to the point of being intimate with them. At the time, I blamed the guys. I thought they were preying on her. I began to doubt myself…my choices…why I seemed to attract such bad guys. Then she went after my friend, Harrison. He rejected her, but then told me what she did. I contacted a couple of the guys and discovered there was a sort of pattern."
Selena didn't look convinced. "Livia, are you saying that Savannah did this on purpose?"
"I know it is hard to accept, Mom, but yes she did. Each time I forgave her until she slept with Edison."
"But she was married to Byron when you were dating Edison," her dad said.
"Yes, which makes it all the more pathological. I never told Byron. Savannah and I didn't talk for two years. She didn't try to come back into my life until I started dating Fitz. In those two years, she never called, texted, or e-mailed me. It wasn't until she heard about my relationship with Fitz that she started demanding to be back in my life. Mom, Dad, I couldn't let her back in to give her the chance to hurt me again. But she has hurt me again. She…she…Gerry didn't know that Savannah and I were estranged. She contacted him on Facebook before the wedding and convinced him to meet with her to create a wedding gift for us. She seduced him. When he ended it, she threatened to accuse him of rape. I confronted her about this, but she doubled down in her pathology. As it stands now, she can't be in my life. She only wants to hurt me… no destroy me. I can't for the life of me understand why. It doesn't make sense."
Olivia looked at her parents. Her dad looked horrified. Her mom was still struggling to believe it.
"Livia, are you sure about this? Savannah is your little sister. She adores you. I can't see her doing this," she said.
"Mom, I take responsibility for keeping this from you for all these years. I didn't want to hurt you. I can't protect you or Savannah anymore. This is not new. It is a pattern of behavior for her."
"Olivia, baby. I'm so sorry for what Savannah has done to you over and over again. I always thought she idolized you too much. I never thought she would do these things. Is there anything I can do?" he said.
Olivia hugged her dad. "What you just said is enough…that you believe me is enough."
Olivia's mom looked off to the side, weeping. "Mom, I know this is difficult for you. Savannah needs help. I'm not sure how she, Byron, and the boys are doing, but she is not healthy. I have to do what is right for me, which means withdrawing from any family events that include her."
Olivia looked at her mom for a moment. "Bye mom," Olivia said as she kissed her on the cheek.
"Dad, could you walk me out?" Olivia asked.
Olivia hugged her dad as they stood beside Fitz's car. They had switched vehicles since she now had difficulty climbing into the Land Rover.
"Olivia, your mom will come around. She always indulged Savannah too much. It's hard for her to accept all the bad things Savannah has done. I believe you. I don't want to miss a second of my grandchild's life so I'll do whatever you need me to do."
"Thanks, Dad. That means so much."
Olivia entered the car and drove off. She felt so much better knowing that at least her father and Sierra supported her. She couldn't reach Fitz so she headed to the Senior Center to get GG.
Fitz pulled into Olivia's parents' driveway. The house was dark. The driveway was empty. He had left his meeting and driven straight to her parents' house. He looked at his cell phone and saw her text from an hour ago that she was headed to get Granny from the Senior Center. He didn't feel that he had overreacted by leaving the meeting. In fact, he was happy to be getting home a couple of hours earlier than scheduled.
He looked behind him to back out, but a car pulled in behind him, blocking him in. The car door opened and Savannah appeared. She walked to the passenger side of the Land Rover, opened the door, and jumped into the passenger seat.
"Fancy meeting you here, handsome," Savannah said. "I'm looking for my parents. Why are you here? I know of a couple of ways we could make good use of either one of these seats while we wait. I never thought a Land Rover suited my sister. I'm glad you're driving it."
"Get out," Fitz said.
"Damn it, Fitz! Stop ignoring me. Olivia's no better than me. You barely look at me. Gerry got a good look. You should too."
"You are pathetic. You need to get out of my damn car!" he demanded.
Savannah looked like she had been slapped. "You and Olivia think I am your biggest enemy. It's not me. You need to look closer to home. Your ex-wife is a real bitch. I'm getting a divorce and losing my business because of her. I'm the least of your problems!" Savannah screamed before she slammed the door, hopped in her car, and sped out of the driveway.
Mellie. Fitz thought as he remembered all the evil glances she threw his way all day. As he drove home, he tried to make sense of Savannah's words. How was Mellie involved? He dialed David Rosen's number.