An Education

In Love and War, All is Fair, Part 1

Olivia awoke abruptly from what seemed like a long nap. Through her heavy-lidded gaze, she caught sight of the bedside clock. She had only been asleep about 30 minutes. This was yet another consequence of pregnancy, the ability for her body to slip into hibernation mode at the slightest urging. She yawned and stretched, careful not to flex her feet for fear of inducing one of those pernicious cramps. Sitting up, she swung her legs over the bed using that momentum to bounce to her feet. After a few more yawns and belly rubs, she headed to the bathroom. That's when she thought of Fitz and wondered what errands he had to run. Fitz wasn't an errand runner unless she or GG sent him off. The house was so quiet she realized when she flushed the toilet. As she lathered her hands with the fragrant soap, Fitz's errand run began to bother her. Where was he? Was he possibly working with Abby to plan her baby shower? That was not likely since they would have been meeting with Jake had she not cancelled the appointment. The nagging feeling of uneasiness spread through her. She splashed her face with cool water, swished her mouth with Listerine, and pulled her hair back. Olivia returned to the bedroom in search of her cell phone intent on calling Fitz. She wasn't sure why, but she was extremely curious about his whereabouts.

"Where is my cell phone?" she said aloud. Her eyes flashed in several places at once after she flipped on the light, the night stands on either side of their bed, the dresser, the chair. It was in none of those places. She flipped back the quilt she'd slept under on the bed. It was not there. She rifled through her purse hanging on the closet door and felt through a couple of pairs of her pants in the closet. Rolfo lifted his head, picking up on her frantic nature. He hopped up, stretched, and walked over to her from his place on the area rug. Olivia remembered having it downstairs just before Fitz left. She thought she'd left it on the credenza in the hallway.

"Sorry for interrupting your sleep, Rolfo, but I can't find my phone."

Rolfo yawned and sat at her feet, tail wagging, and ears raised.

"It's downstairs, I think." Olivia left the room with Rolfo following close behind.

After searching the hallway-it wasn't on the credenza as expected-kitchen, and family room, she sat at the kitchen table, a deep scowl on her face. She couldn't shake the feeling that Fitz had her phone. Looking across the room at nothing in particular, she sat there mulling it over. She knew he went snooping on her phone out of jealousy. Is that why he took it this time? Was he somewhere snooping now? He couldn't be. She glanced at the kitchen phone. Rising to her feet, she reached for the phone and dialed him.

"Where are you, honey? Call me," she said after the beep to leave a voicemail.

Next she dialed her own phone which went straight to voicemail with no rings. Olivia shook her head and leaned against the counter. She was becoming more frustrated, but a nagging hunger began to redirect her attention to the refrigerator. There were no leftovers so she opted for a bag of microwave popcorn to quell her hunger for now. She decided to write. Perhaps she could squeeze some productivity out of this day before Fitz returned home. If he did have her phone, she planned to sit him down for a long heart to heart about trust and privacy. Rolfo's ears perked up at the prospect of the tasty kernels when he heard the crinkling of the plastic covering.

"You want popcorn too, Rolfo? Well, sorry boy, I'm getting ready to write, and I don't need you drooling and begging." She gave him a doggie treat and let him out of the kitchen door and into the backyard.

Just as she had balanced the popcorn bowl, saucer of cherries, and glass of water in her hands, the doorbell rang. She instantly thought about Brent and placed the food on the table. By the time she made it to the front door, she'd constructed this entire scenario in her head in which was Fitz doing something to help Brent who was probably here to meet up with him. Olivia often did that, orchestrate an entire narrative out of a small hunch or clue. It served her well sometimes, but more often than not, it muddled reality. In this case, it didn't resolve the issue of her missing cell phone.

She gasped involuntarily at whom she saw standing at her door. Through the peephole, she peered at Jake standing there, his image distorted by the concave glass. Olivia had a distinct desire to flee or hide. She jumped at the sound of the doorbell that he must have pushed again. In the space of 30 seconds, thoughts raced through her mind, doing internal battle about what she should do: ignore him vs. open the door. Olivia chose the latter. She had to show Fitz she could deal with this as she had intended to in the first place.

She pulled open the door before she had a chance to change her mind. "Jake? Why are you here? We is cancelled our meeting so I don't understand-"

Jake smiled in that way of his that hinted at a familiarity between them that Olivia had tried to ignore for so long. "Olivia…I'm sorry to show up like this…unannounced. I tried to call you, but couldn't get you. It didn't even ring, but went straight to voicemail. Is your cell phone working?"

The mention of her cell phone disarmed her somewhat. It reminded her of the nagging frustration of not knowing where it was. "Well, I can't seem to find it at the moment. You're here now so I guess it's as good a time as any. What do you need because it can't be about you being my agent. I've made my decision, and I don't want to discuss it any further."

He cast his eyes down as if he was trying to collect his thoughts. Then, he looked up to face her. "Olivia, I need to talk to you about your husband. I have some information about him that I think you should must know. Can I come in?"

"Information…about Fitz? What are you talking about?" Olivia said. Her first thought was fear since she didn't know where he had gone.

"Do you mind if I come in? This is not something we should discuss at the door," he said, stepping closer.

Olivia raised her arm to stop him. Nothing had felt right since Olivia had awakened from her nap. She couldn't let Jake inside. "Jake, please, I don't understand. What are you talking about?"

Jake sighed deeply and rested his hands on his hips. He didn't move back. "Your cell phone is missing because your husband took it. He sent me-"

Olivia's eyes widened with fear for Fitz. She could only respond, "What?"

"Believe me, Olivia. I'm here out of concern for you. I care about you as a colleague and a friend. Here look at this." He pulled a cell phone from his pocket and extended it to her. "Read these texts that are supposedly from you to me. Did you send them?"

She stepped back to establish some space between them and then reviewed the text messages.

"That's my number, but I didn't send these texts," she said. She pushed the phone back to him. At that moment, Olivia knew who sent the texts. It all started to fall in place for her, but she was still wondering where Fitz was and what this all meant.

"I know you didn't. You wouldn't say…I don't know…I just know your…um…your voice. You didn't send these but Fitz did. He texted me under the guise that it was you and arranged another meeting with me at City Park today after you had already cancelled the the initial one. When I received the texts, I had a strong suspicion it wasn't you. I decided to test that theory by coming here. I am so disappointed that I am right about him."

Olivia's chest burned a little. She rubbed her stomach. "So you didn't meet him? Where is he? Right about him? What do you mean right about him?" she said.

He reached out and touched her arm. "May I come in, Olivia? You know me. I am concerned for you. I simply want to talk to you. This is not even about you firing me," he said gently.

She hesitated, glanced over his shoulder and then back at him.

"Don't worry about him coming home now. I texted him pretending to be you, of course, that I would be delayed."

Olivia decided to hear him out. She was thankful Fitz wasn't going to show up and see Jake here. There was much to sort out. Olivia wasn't sure how she was going to handle Fitz when he did return home. She looked back over her shoulder and into the house. She changed her mind, knowing Fitz would not want Jake in the house. "I'll listen to what you have to say, but you can't come in, Jake. Talk," she said, stepping outside and closing the door behind her.

"Don't you want to get some shoes?" he asked. She was wearing footies.

"No, I'm fine,"

"But Olivia-"

"Talk, Jake!"

He ran his head through his hair and changed his weight to the other foot. "I know you wanted to end our partnership out of deference to Fitz. He doesn't like me. I get it. He sees me as some sort of threat. But Olivia, do you want to live your life like this with a man who is going to stifle you? This is a bad business decision. He tried to get you to fire me once before, but it didn't work. Now, when I got you this very lucrative deal, he succeeded in convincing you to get rid of me. What did I do, though, to make him see me as a threat? Nothing. But even aside from all that, he poses as you to lure me to meet him? That is pretty extreme. What's next? What was he planning to do to me? I know it's difficult to hear, but your husband is the threat, not me. It would be ashamed to let him keep you under his thumb like this. I can't stand to see him squeeze all the life out of you." He reached out and touched her arm again.

She snatched away from him. "Is that all you have to say?"

"I want to help you in any way that I can, Olivia."

"Jake, I need you to leave. I can't talk to you about this. Fitz isn't here to defend himself, but I'm sure he is probably on his way. I am within my legal rights to end our contract now. What you have said about my husband is inappropriate and none of your business. I really need you to leave now. Goodbye, Jake."

Upon turning around, she was stopped short by a strong arm that swiveled her back around with such force that her belly slammed into him.

A surprised and frightened gasped escaped from her lips. His face was only inches away from hers. She could smell the faint scent of peppermint on his breath, which at that moment turned her stomach. "Restraint, Olivia," he said through clenched teeth. "That is what I have always exercised with you. I wanted you from day one, but I always showed restraint. Each time I made a small, restrained, gesture to let you know how I felt, you brushed me off. Then you meet him and before I could blink an eye you are engaged, pregnant, and married, in that order."

"Let go of me! You're hurting me!"

Rolfo immediately started barking in response to her distressed cries, which is probably why neither of them heard the vehicle pull into the driveway.

"Take your hands off my wife, you fucking ass hole!" Fitz said from behind Jake.

Jake released Olivia and swung his body around to face Fitz. "You're going to regret this," Jake said.

All Fitz saw was red as his fist connected with Jake's face.

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