An Education

The Art of Knowing

A familiar heavy ache at the juncture of her thighs awakened Olivia. At 26 weeks, the latter end of her second trimester, her body was changing in new and interesting ways. She routinely woke up aroused. In some cases, she felt like she was in the midst of an orgasm, albeit involuntary. On the first night of this nocturnal arousal, she tossed and turned until Fitz awakened-he thought she was overheated and uncomfortable-and asked if there was anything he could do to make her feel comfortable. He had in mind adjusting the temperature of the air conditioning or offering her another pillow. Without a word, she pushed his hand between her thighs. It had only taken a few caresses to bring her to release. Over the following weeks, Fitz's body became attuned with hers. Now he rose most nights with that same need sometimes just before she did. Like tonight, for instance, the warmth of his thick manhood pushed into her back, a sort of communication, as if to acknowledge her quivering flesh. Yes, her body was changing in new and interesting ways. She often wondered if Fitz was partly responsible. It was with him that she'd experienced her first full fledged, bona fide orgasm. Sex before him with Edison and the few before him, had been pleasant enough, but nothing akin to the passionate abandon described in books or portrayed on screen. Olivia chalked it up to fairytale romance novels or a marketing ploy. However, his attentiveness to her erotic needs and his focus on her pleasure had changed her outlook. She became an active participant in their intimacy.

Her lips lifted in a slight smile as she turned to face him. Her eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness, but she knew he was grinning too. He pulled her up to her knees and handed her a pillow which she used as a prop against the headboard. He knelt behind her and used his fists to massage her lower back. She moaned loudly in response to his pliable hands against her aching lower back muscles. The massage made her more aroused as the tension in her back was released.

"Shhhh," he whispered, knowing what would happen when he entered her.

The moans that escaped from her lips were not as loud as the sound of the headboard hitting the wall. At that point, Fitz didn't care about the sounds since he was wrapped deep in her welcoming heat.

"I hope you didn't wake the house," Fitz breathed into her ear as he crouched over and behind her after they were done. He reached for his t-shirt that was mixed in with the bedclothes. His t-shirts had been repurposed into her night shirts which she usually discarded during the night because of her increased body temperature. He was accustomed to sleeping as if he was her cocoon until pregnancy brought with it the rise in her body temperature. Where she used to welcome the comfort of his arms and legs, now she moved away from his body in search of the crisp cool side of the bed. She used the t-shirt he handed her to clean herself.

"Yeah, let's hope..." she said with a wince and intake of breath. Her body went stiff as the cramp snaked around the arch of her foot.

"Oh, Livy, where is it?" he asked with concern at her pain.

"In my'll pass..." she whimpered. He didn't move until she relaxed her muscles.

"Whew. I hate those things," she said, settling on her side after tossing the t-shirt on the floor. "I always forget not to flex my foot until the cramp takes over then its too late." He settled in close behind her.

"Fitz, you're too hot. Slide over or turn on the fan. I don't want to freeze GG and Karen by turning the air conditioner down any more."

Fitz got up and pressed the knob to start the oscillating fan. He returned to his place in the bed. "How's that?"

The fan made it's turn toward her and she scooted towards the breeze. "Good. Thanks, honey," she said, feeling his body and its accompanying heat against her back.

She rolled her eyes in the dark at his inability or unwillingness-she hadn't decided which-to give her space in the bed. She slowly turned over to face him.

"You and Little Grant make it harder and harder for me to get comfortable in bed. I think I'm going to get one of those body pillows Lauren was talking about when we were in California," Olivia mumbled with a sigh.

He reached out and rubbed her stomach and felt a sound kick against his hand. "I'm sorry. You can use me as your body pillow."

"No. You're too hot. On second thought, I think I'll get two of the pillows, one for my back to keep you away and one for my front to prop up my belly. Yeah, that's what I'll do," she said snuggling into the pillow.

Fitz chuckled. "A pillow can't keep me away, and besides it's you who wakes me up every night when I'm dead asleep to fulfill your hormone induced sexual needs. I don't complain about this interruption. I dutifully comply with your demands."

Olivia chuckled too. "I've only, as you say, 'interrupted' your sleep once. Since then you have been ready and waiting to fulfill my...needs. I just want some space in bed when we are sleeping since I'm always hot and Little Grant likes to move around at night. He or she will probably be a gymnast or swimmer someday."

"I guess my body needs to be close to yours to sleep, Livy. I am not intentionally moving closer to you. I am doing it in my sleep," he explained.

"Oh you're just spoiled, honey. I am more convinced about this every time The Grants get together. Lauren, Sybil, GG, and your mom are to blame. Since F.J. and Elise had only one boy they all just spoiled you. Your uncle had all girls so there weren't any other boys until Gerry and your nephews."

"What does that have to do with our bed, Livy?," he asked moving closer.

"It's not just the bed. When you want something you think you should have it, and you are pretty uncompromising because you are used to getting what you want because you usually get what you want. It started when you were a baby and surrounded by all those doting women."

" my wife thinks I'm a spoiled, entitled brat who-" Fitz began.

"No..." Olivia interrupted.

"Well, I'm glad you love me anyway despite my faults. I am not entirely uncompromising. You still have Ballard as an agent, despite my strong objections, and are going to a meeting with him tomorrow on the same day as the first day of preplanning. I am not making a big deal about it. I am just accepting it," Fitz said, his elbow bent and holding his head on his hand as he looked down at her.

"I should get to the school by noon so I won't miss the entire day. I can't believe another school year begins in a week. I'll bet you any amount of money that Quinn is up right now. She's both excited and terrified to be teaching 4th grade. I'm glad it turned out this way…that she will be on my grade level instead of Kindergarten," Olivia said excitedly.

"What is the meeting about? I am not clear on the purpose for it. Your first draft is not due until next Monday. You asked for a week's extension and it was approved so what is the purpose of this meeting?" Fitz sat up and clicked on the small lamp on the beside table.

Olivia rubbed her belly and sighed, frustrated with this same conflict.

"I don't know, Fitz. It's not just Jake and me. It's my editor and the education director at the publishing house too. Actually, I'm anxious about the meeting. I only asked for a week's extension. I hope they aren't trying to renegotiate my contract," Olivia said.

"If Ballard was a good agent, he would already know and would tell you," Fitz insisted.

"Honey, please turn off the light and come here," she said looking up at him propped up against the headboard. Fitz turned off the light and slid down into the bed until he faced her.

She razed up on her elbow and looked down at him. "Fitz, you don't like Jake Ballard because you think he is attracted to me. Before you and I met, started dating, and got married, the argument could be made that he was…or acted like he was interested in me. Aside from asking me to dinner, he never made it known...explicitly…that he wanted anything other than a professional relationship. There was never anything between us. Then I met you and…. Jake Ballard is not a threat to you. He is my agent who has gotten me a substantial contract. He is good at his job. So…your suspicions are totally unfounded. Honestly, babe, it is becoming a little irritating. You know I love you. I only want you, Fitz. Can we move forward and stop rehashing this old argument?"

Looking into his eyes, she waited for his answer. She could see the struggle in his face by the moonlight streaming through the window between the parted curtains. He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it. He sat up on his elbow and pressed his lips to hers. When he deepened the kiss and lifted her on top of him, she knew they would make love again. Unfortunately, she also knew that nothing had changed. His fixation on Jake as a threat remained.

Olivia sat at the table with Jake, her editor, Daniella Sage, and Education Director, Ronald Oneida at The Palm restaurant. She was trying to fight the butterflies in her stomach that were competing against Little Grant's cartwheels and other aerobics. She was beginning to feel hot, now regretting her choice of her cream skirt suit with its long sleeved jacket. She unbuttoned it and began to pull it off. Jake, who sat beside her, helped her slide it off her shoulders. He rested it on the back of her chair.

"Relax, Olivia," he whispered in her ear. "Okay, Ron, Daniella, I think we need to let the cat out of the bag as to the purpose of this meeting." Jake smiled and winked at them.

"I think you're right," Daniella added with a smile.

"Olivia, first of all thank you for meeting us this morning. Jake told us this was the first day of preplanning at your school so I know you are eager to get to your school," said Ron. "We have called you here this morning with a proposal, a job offer. As you know, our company has been expanding our education publishing division, hence our multiple book deal with you. Well, since we've been advertising your upcoming book series along with your website, the response from clients has been overwhelming. We've already received advanced orders to warrant a initial run of 300,000 for the full series. We want to renegotiate your contract to add full rights to your website, a traveling professional development series, and textbooks. This new contract is valued at three quarters of a million dollars not counting future sales and speaker's fees. How does this sound so far, Olivia?"

Olivia knew her face registered the complete shock that she felt. She involuntarily grabbed her belly to catch her bearings. She took a sip of water.

"Wow! I don't know what to say. All this for my work on oral assessment?" Olivia managed through her shock.

"Yes. Assessment is big business now," said Daniella. "Your work is cutting edge and has never been explored in the K-12 arena. We know it will have implications for a change in instructional practices too. If schools decide to add the oral component to all tests, then they will have to change how they instruct students."

"I couldn't possibly do this and teach full time too," Olivia added.

"Yes, we know. We want you to work for us full time. This will offer you the flexibility you need especially now since you are expecting. You won't have the confines of having to be in the classroom 5 days a week. You could work from home until you are ready to travel for the workshops. We are offering two staff people to use at your discretion," said Ron.

"I am overwhelmed with this offer. When do you need an answer?" Olivia said, not recognizing her own voice.

"Jake has the contract. We want you and your lawyer to review it thoroughly. I'd say by the end of August. We are eager to get you on board, Olivia," Ron elaborated.

The server appeared with their meals. They spent the remainder of the meal discussing the offer.

By 11, they had finished their breakfast. Jake and Olivia waved goodbye to Daniella and Ron. Jake walked Olivia to her car on the first level of the parking deck.

"Wow, again, Jake. You should have told me about this. I was totally caught off guard. I thought they wanted to decrease the number of books in the series because I am going to be a week late with my draft," Olivia explained.

"I apologize, Olivia. I wanted to surprise you with this dream offer. When Ron called me back to consider my proposal, I knew it was going to be a sweet deal," Jake said, his eyes twinkled and he stepped a little closer to her.

Olivia frowned slightly in confusion. "So, you proposed this? It wasn't their idea? They didn't approach you about this?"

"No, not quite. I knew it was only a matter of time before they wanted more from you. You are very talented, Olivia. I also knew that it would be impossible for you to have the space and time to produce at the level you need to while teaching full time. I saw the direction they were going so I decided to pitch them with this idea a couple of months ago," Jake said, excitedly.

Olivia didn't know how to feel about this. She had a nagging misgiving about it. Olivia observed how happy, giddy even, Jake was at the possibility of her taking the offer. On the one hand, it meant a big increase in his commission. On the other hand, it seemed like there was another reason for his excitement. Olivia pushed those thoughts aside.

"Do you think you'll take the offer Olivia?" Jake asked. He moved back a little. Olivia noticed how he maintained an acceptable distance now and rarely invaded her personal space like he used to. She felt even more justified in her talk with Fitz last night. He isn't trying anything with me, Olivia thought, relieved.

"I'll have to discuss it with my husband first. From the way it was described, it is a plumb deal. I need to read over the contract and look into the travel component. I won't be able to do much travel for at least a year," Olivia explained, she placed her hand on her stomach.

"I totally understand. You are due when again?" He asked.

"November 10 give or take. I can't believe I have over three more months to grow. I already feel like I'm 9 months," Olivia said looking down at her belly.

"You're simply beautiful, Olivia, whether you're pregnant or not," Jake said, looking at her in a way that made her look away. Before Olivia could respond, he said, "Okay, I have to get going. I have a plane to catch. If you have any questions, contact me. Daniella is looking forward to receiving your draft next week. I'll be in touch. His eyes lingered on her face again and then he turned and left. Olivia watched him walk away. She pushed the button to unlock the car. When she settled in the seat, she felt the vibration of her cell phone. It was a text from Abby.

Get your ass to work

Olivia laughed and dialed Abby's number after putting in her earphones.

"Abby, I'm on the road headed to school now. What's going on there," Olivia said when Abby answered her phone.

"Your husband has finally let us go after droning on and on in meetings all morning. We had a couple of the businesses from around the community come and offer their support and representatives from different departments at the county office came to talk about the same old tired motivational speeches. You didn't miss anything important that you haven't already heard. Everyone was asking about you, though. They want to see your belly I suspect so be ready for the roving hands when you arrive. Quinn is walking around like a dear in the headlights. You would think she was going to be teaching lions rather than 4th graders," Abby teased.

"Abby, I hope you've gone in to help her. You remember how it was that first year of teaching."

"Yeah, I know. She is just so easy to tease. She's so gullible. I told her that she would probably have 35 students and she believed me, Liv. I mean really, she was Fitz's Administrative Assistant so she should have known I was't telling the truth. Now, I found out she bought 35 of everything," Abby explained laughing.

"Abby, you are so bad," Olivia laughed. "I'm on my way to keep you away from her."

"Your hubby didn't seem too chipper today. What's up his craw? Trouble in paradise?" Abby inquired.

"Well to be honest, Abby, Fitz wasn't too pleased about my meeting with Jake this morning. I mean he has been a real bear when it comes to Jake. Do you know he actually started shopping other agents for me? I just don't get it. He only met Jake one time and he disliked him on sight. It's frustrating," Olivia said.

"I told you Jake was going to be a problem with Fitz. Jake gives you that "I want you" vibe Liv. Don't you see the way he looks at you? He was going to make his move, but Fitz rode in and beat him to it-" Abby started.

"But nothing ever happened between us. He doesn't give off any vibes anymore. Jake knows I'm married and having a baby for God's sake! Fitz's bad feelings about Jake are going to affect how he feels about the offer I got today, Abby. My publishing company wants me to work for them full time, writing books, speaking, blogging, the whole thing.

Olivia waited for Abby's response. The line was quiet.

"Abby? You there?"

"Yeah, Liv, I'm here. I knew it would happen sooner or later. Don't leave me!" Abby said in an exaggerated cry.

"Abby, I'll see you soon, Fitz is calling, bye." Olivia said. She clicked over.

"Where are you?" Fitz asked.

"I'm about 15 minutes away from Ambrose. How are you?" Olivia asked, not liking the tone of his voice.

"Fine. Karen has been working in your classroom all day. It looks good," Fitz said.

"Really? I think we might have a future educator on our hands," Olivia said with a smile.

"Stop by my office before you go upstairs," he said.

"Okay, honey," Olivia said brightly, trying to lighten the mood in the face of his curt tone.

Olivia wanted to phone GG, but she didn't have time to talk. She resolved to find time to talk to her later. She needed some help since she was at a loss for how to deal with Fitz and his issue with Jake.

Ten minutes later, Olivia entered the front doors of Ambrose as three teachers were leaving for lunch.

"Oh, Olivia! Look at you!" one announced.

"When are you due? Looks like any day now," another one said.

"Girl, you should have not come back until after you had that baby!" the last one said.

"Hi! I'm not due until November," Olivia answered as each of them touched her stomach. Abby's words returned to her mind.

"We are off to lunch until our next round of meetings," one said.

Olivia turned and continued through the door. She greeted a few other staff members and let them ooo and ahhh at her belly before stopping at the door of Fitz's new Administrative Assistant, Alice. She had transferred from another school, having been in this same position for 15 years.

"Hi, Alice. Is Mr. Grant available?" Olivia asked.

"Hi, Mrs. Grant. Yes, please go right in," she said.

Olivia walked in. Fitz was on the phone. He motioned for her to come in and shut the door.

"It's obvious this was not your decision, but I'm glad you're not retiring Cy. I'm finally fully staffed for the new school year. Okay, my wife just walked in. I'll talk to you later."

Fitz hung up the phone and walked over to Olivia. They looked at each other for a minute or so before he lowered his lips to hers.

"You look nice," he said, fingering her lapel. He and Karen had left the house before her that morning.

"Thanks." she replied. "Well it's obvious you're still in a funk about my meeting with Jake. Even Abby asked why you seemed mad today."

He took her hand and pulled her to the sofa. "Livy, I thought about what you said last night, and you are right, I am being a tad bit unreasonable. I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. Ballard has helped you advance those accomplishments. So I am going to swallow my..." he said looking up to find the word.

"Bullheadness. Stubborness. Pain in the assness..." Olivia supplied.

"All of the above," he said leaning toward her. "Seeing in you this cream color reminds me of our wedding and then our honeymoon."

She let him kiss her deeply until she felt his hand sliding her her skirt.

"Okay, duty calls for both of us, honey. Thanks for your change of heart, okay?"

"Okay, babe. Tell me you have a change of clothes in your bag," he said.

"Oh yes, of course. I can't work in these clothes," she said.

"You can change in here if you want." he said with a smirk.

"Bye, Fitz," she said with her own smirk. She gave him a peck on the cheek and left his office.

"Karen, you have outdone yourself," Olivia said, amazed at how her classroom set up was essentially completed. The books in the ample classroom library had been sorted. Her math manipulatives were arranged in labeled and color coded in bins . Her behavior chart and other posters had been hung on the walls. The desks were arranged in neat little groups. There was even an air freshener plug-in an electrical socket emitting an apple cinnamon aroma.

"I'm glad you like it. Dad told me to hold off until you got here because he knows how picky you are. I knew exactly how you'd like it," Karen explained as Olivia hugged her.

"Well, I guess I'll just check my e-mail and get ready for Open House and Registration on Friday," Olivia took a seat at her desk, unable to get as close to the keyboard as she'd like with her protruding belly.

"Liv, I was talking to Ethan last night and he-" Karen began before she was interrupted by Abby, Huck, and Harrison at the door.

"You finally made it, Liv," Harrison said. "Karen's been working hard since early this morning. What is she trying to earn?"

"You need to come to my room now that you are done here," Abby piped in.

"Hi, Liv," Huck said, giving Olivia a hug. "How did your meeting go?"

"It went well. We'll have to talk," she said, trying to communicate that she didn't want to discuss it in front of Karen.

"Where's Quinn? I want to see her," Olivia announced, walking to the door. They all followed her down the hall and into Quinn's classroom. When they walked in they were met with every possible color in the spectrum. The walls were completely covered with every possible educational chart or poster on all the content taught in 4th grade. The floor was filled with bags and bags of other newly purchased supplies and books. Quinn sat in the middle of the floor brandishing a glue gun and sobbing.

"It looks like The School Box exploded in this room, my God," said Abby.

"Quinn, what's wrong sweetie?" Olivia asked. She walked to Quinn and beckoned for her to get up. "I would get down there with you, but I don't think I could get up."

Quinn walked into Olivia's waiting arms. "Liv, I'm glad you are here. I don't think my room will be ready for Orientation," Quinn cried.

"Oh no, honey, you are a little too ready. Karen, Abby, Huck, Harrison help me take some of this stuff down. Quinn, go to the bathroom and wipe your face. We have a lot of work to do before you get your students," Olivia said, pushing her through the door.

They all went to work on Quinn's classroom.

"So Liv, as I was saying when we were at school...I was talking to Ethan earlier today. He invited me to Duke next weekend for the Back to School Luau. I was wondering if you thought Dad would let me go. Ethan said he would pay for my ticket," Karen asked Olivia as they walked Rolfo.

Olivia smiled. Karen's enormous effort to prepare her classroom seemed to be an attempt to curry her favor for this request.

"Kare, It's only been a month since Ethan and Gerry went to college. You will see him when we visit Gerry in October. You will see Ethan at Thanksgiving break too. I don't want you to think you will be able to visit him often. There's the expense and the time. You both will be busy with your own lives," Olivia explained.

"But Liv, he said he'll pay for my ticket! I really miss him. He misses me too. We text, Skype, and talk every day. I really want to see him. Please convince Dad. He'll listen to you. Please! Please! Please!" Kare pleaded. The begging began to grate on Olivia's nerves. Without thinking, she acquiesced.

"Okay, I'll talk to him, but no promises. I won't be a good advocate for you because I don't think it is a good idea for you to go, Kare," Olivia explained.

Karen didn't seem to hear those last words. She slung her arms around Olivia's neck and kissed her on the cheek, pulling Rolfo up short with the leash. He had to stop his trot.

"Karen, I'm going to sit on this bench and rest. Take Rolfo to the tree at the end of the road and then come back. Take these bags in case he poops," Olivia instructed.

"Okay, Liv. Rolfo, don't poop, but if you do, I promise I'll scoop," Karen said as she walked past Olivia. She reached in her pocket and pulled out her phone. Olivia was certain she was calling Ethan with the news that she would talk to Fitz about the visit. Olivia laid back on the bench and rubbed her stomach. Teenagers, she thought. "Little Grant, don't ever become one, okay sweetie pie."

"GG, that was the best stew I've ever had. What is it called again?" Olivia asked as they settled in the family room after dinner.

"Brunswick Stew, dear. My husband loved it when he was alive. It is actually a southern dish. We had it at a friends house decades ago. I never got the recipe, but found a good one in an old cookbook. Fitz loves it too, don't you?" GG asked. Fitz was biting into a cookie he had taken from the apple shaped cookie jar on the counter.

"Granny, I love everything you cook," he said unenthusiastically, flipping through the channels. He stopped at a golf game.

GG looked at Liv with a questioning expression. Olivia knew she was wondering about the reason for Fitz's moodiness. Olivia thought he had come out of his funk after their talk in his office today. She mouthed, "Later," to Granny who sat in the recliner. Olivia sat in the other recliner. Fitz was already sitting on the sofa, engrossed in the golf game. He glanced over at Olivia with a questioning, hang dog expression when she didn't sit beside him.

I know he wants me to sit beside him, but I'm not as long as he is in his little mood, Olivia thought, training her eyes on the television. Olivia had planned to share her news about the offer, but now she didn't think it was a good time to share. She decided to wait, and possibly talk to GG about it first.

"So how was school today?" Granny asked.

"It was good to be back. Karen outdid herself. She set up my entire classroom. There's not much else for me to do. Now I know why she did it?" Olivia admitted.

Fitz looked away from the screen with an inquisitive expression. "Why?"

"Well she wanted to butter me so that I would convince you to let her go visit Ethan next weekend."

"Absolutely not. We are going to visit Gerry in October. She can see Ethan then. They talk all day now anyway," Fitz said. "I am ready for school to start so she can have something to do. Now she has too much time on her hands."

"Yeah, me too, but you know how teenagers are when they think they are in love," said Olivia. She lifted herself from the chair. Fitz rose to help her but she was already on her feet.

"Where are you going, honey?" he asked.

"Nature calls. I'll be back," she said.

When she returned, Fitz was sitting in the recliner. Olivia shook her head at Fitz and lowered herself down on the sofa. Fitz joined her there soon after. He put his arm around her and gave her a light kiss on the lips.

"Stop being a big baby, okay? I only have room for one baby right now," she whispered in his ear.

The doorbell rang.

"I'll get it," GG said.

"Oh, Brent! What a surprise? What are you doing here? Come on in?" GG led Brent into the family room.

Fitz helped Olivia stand again. "Brent!" Fitz said, giving him a light hug after a handshake.

"Brent, It's great to see you? Where's Patrice?" Olivia asked, hugging him also. Olivia noticed the dark smudges under his eyes and the strain in his face. He looked like he hadn't slept in a few days. He also looked like he'd lost weight, dressed in loose fitting jeans and a grey v-neck t-shirt.

"She's home," he said woodenly. "I apologize for showing up like this." He looked apologetically at Olivia and then at Fitz.

"Can I speak with you Fitz? Can we go somewhere and talk?"

Fitz looked at Olivia questioningly. "Why don't you all go to McEachern's on 7th?" she suggested.

Fitz squeezed her hand and lead Brent out of the door.

GG and Olivia returned to the family room.

"That doesn't look good. I imagine that Patrice has finally had enough of his shenanigans and left him. At least that's what it looks like, but looks can be deceiving," GG predicted.

"Honestly, I knew something was wrong when she didn't come with him to the wedding. Why would she allow her husband to come to an island wedding without her?" Olivia surmised.

"I don't think they've been happy for years. I always thought she was too good for him. I love Brent, but he probably should have stayed a bachelor. So, dear, what's wrong with your husband. Why is he pouting? I know my Fitz, and he's pouting about something."

"He doesn't like my literary agent because he thinks Jake...that's his attracted to me. He was adamant this summer that I fire Jake and hire someone else." Olivia explained.

"Well, dear, is Jake attracted to you?" GG said in that direct way of hers.

"I-I-I mean he..." Olivia began.

"Olivia, come on now stop stuttering. A woman knows these things. Men and women communicate in many different ways. If he is attracted to you, he has either said it or shown it or both. You know."

Olivia didn't answer immediately.

"Yes. He was attracted," Olivia began. Granny continued to look at her questioningly. "He is attracted to me. I mean, but once I told him about Fitz and Fitz staked his claim on me at dinner before we were married, he hasn't made any overtures. He's a good agent. I'm not attracted to him so I don't think Fitz should have a problem."

"Olivia, you are deluding yourself, dear. Would you want Fitz working with someone who is, was, may be attracted to him?" GG asked.

There was silence again while Olivia thought. She remembered how she felt when that teacher candidate was dressed so provocatively when she left the interview with Fitz.

"No, I wouldn't like it." Olivia admitted.

"Well, honey, multiply that by 1000 and you have how your husband feels." Granny said. I know you understand what I'm saying, dear. The question is why you are denying it. Do you want Fitz to be jealous? Does it make you feel like he really loves you?"

"GG, of course not," Olivia said.

"Well, I think you need to seek the employ of another agent," GG said softly.

GG moved to the sofa beside Olivia when she saw tears stream down her face. "Is there something else?"

Olivia shook her head. "Today at my meeting with Jake, my editor and the Education director at my publisher, they offered me a full time job, writing, giving workshops, and any other opportunities that might come up. Jake actually pitched this idea to them. I don't know. It felt strange for him to seek out an arrangement like this without consulting me first. It seems like a great opportunity, but it felt like he was trying to pull me away somehow...pull me away from Fitz. He looked at me in this way today. I can't describe it. Possessive maybe?"

"Olivia, why are you discounting your feelings? I think you picked up on the truth. It seems that Jake was communicating with you and you got the message. He wants something from you and he's working hard to get it. Now what that is I don't know. I could guess, but...and I'm not trying to take my grandson's side. I'm just old as dirt and so I've seen it all. So my advice...unsolicited or to listen to your gut. It is working. I'm sure this is not the last time Fitz will be jealous, but I think it is probably warranted this time."

"What should I do about the offer from my publisher?"

"Is it tied to this Jake person? I thought they wanted you...not him. Call and talk to someone at your publisher," Granny said.

Olivia hugged Granny tightly. "GG, I don't know what I'd do without you. You should have been a therapist or something."

"I'll be here for you as long as you want. No thanks to my grandson who tried to get rid of me this summer."

Olivia pulled back. "GG, you knew about that?" Olivia said incredulously.

"Yeah. He was hot and bothered about the car. I know I should have asked him first, but there was just no time with all the drama in this family with Mellie and Savannah. After what happened, Gerry deserved a treat. I will not apologize for getting him that car. Gerry is responsible and is working to pay for his insurance. I told him to send me the money, but I am just putting it in the bank for him later. Dear, I think you have some things to think about."

"GG, you are right, I do," Olivia mused.

"The good thing is that you don't have to do it tonight. Let's see if "Deadly Murders" is on the detective channel. Can I get you something sweet to eat, dear?" GG asked.

"I'll have one of those cookies Fitz was having," Olivia said getting comfortable on the couch.

"I don't know what the hell to do Fitz! Patrice took the kids and moved in with her sister last night. She won't talk to me," Brent said sadly.

"Brent, I am going to be honest with you. The last couple of years, you haven't acted like you were in a marriage. I am surprised that you seem genuinely devastated about this. I had to get that out first," Fitz explained. They both sat at the bar at McEachern's Pub and Grill. Brent was on his second beer. Fitz had finished one and was now, as the designated driver, drinking a club soda.

"I know. I've been an ass for years. I can't blame Patrice for leaving. But Fitz she's been having an affair with this fucker on her job for at least five years and I've had no idea. I guess that's why she stopped protesting when I went on business trips or vacations without her and the kids. She didn't care because she was fucking someone else. I think she loves him too," Brent raged.

"Brent, keep your voice down. No more alcohol. It's not helping." Fitz said.

"I can't believe she d-d-did this to me. I k-k-know I don't deserve her, but how could she. I should have known when she stopped caring. Women can be cruel," Brent mumbled.

"Brent, you are staying at our house tonight, but you have to get yourself together before I take you to my home. Two coffees. Black," Fitz called to the bartender.

"Fitz?" Olivia said sleepily.

Fitz carried her up the stairs to their bedroom. When they passed Karen's room, light peaked from under the door.

"Kare, it's midnight. Get off the phone and go to bed," Fitz ordered before answering Olivia.

"Yes, honey. You fell asleep on the couch. Granny couldn't wake you so she covered you up and went to bed," Fitz said walking into their bedroom and sitting her on the bed.

He closed the door and pulled off his polo.

"How's Brent?" Olivia asked with a yawn. She walked into the bathroom to pee. He walked in as she flushed and washed her hands.

"He's not well. Patrice left him yesterday. She and the kids are with her sister."

Olivia's eyes widened as she squeezed toothpaste on her toothbrush. "Really? Where is he now?"

"I'm letting him sleep here tonight. I hope that is okay. He was in no condition to get a hotel. He drove here today."

"Poor Brent and poor Patrice. He's been having affairs for the last couple of years hasn't he?" Olivia said as she brushed her teeth.

"Actually, Liv. I'm not sure about the extent of his infidelity. He said that Patrice has been having an affair for the last five years, though,"

Olivia lathered her face with her nightly wash and splashed water on her face to rinse. She grabbed a towel to dry her face.

"What a mess. They were both unfaithful," Olivia said. She pulled her hair back and fastened it with a hair tie. She walked into the closet and pulled off her sundress and panties and tossed them into the dirty clothes hamper. She reached for one of Fitz's t-shirts and turned around to find him standing behind her. She gasped, surprised to find him there. "I didn't know you were there."

"Livy, you wouldn't do that to me would you?" he asked.

"Do what to you, Fitz? Be unfaithful? No! I would not. Would you do that to me?" she asked, observing his pained expression.

"No, I could never. Would never, Liv." He lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed, the t-shirt forgotten, discarded on the floor.

They made love slowly as if they were trying to reassure each other that no such breach of trust would ever come between them. Afterwards, Olivia didn't try to move away from his embrace. In that instant she made the decision to get another literary agent. She felt good about her decision, but she didn't relish having to tell Jake the news. She pushed those thoughts away and let sleep overtake her.

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