"Olivia, dear…dear, please take it easy. I'll get those. It's only been three weeks since you had major surgery," Granny said rushing over to her. She grabbed the the top dishwasher drawer before Olivia could lift out the two heavy platters. As Granny guided her out to the kitchen, Olivia rolled her eyes when she was out of eyeshot.
"Giving birth is not exactly surgery, GG. I am finally starting to feel better. The incision doesn't hurt," she said, plopping down haphazardly and producing a wince. She touched her abdomen. "Hurt as much..." she said.
Granny looked down at her with pursed lips and worried eyes. "Any procedure that involves an incision is major surgery. Now, I know you are very independent, dear, but you have to rest so you can heal. You really should be sleeping now because Ollie is sleeping. Sleep when the baby is sleeping. You are excited about your parents coming over, but I've already taken care of everything."
Olivia forced a smile. She adored Granny but was losing patience with her hovering today.
"Okay," Olivia said, standing slowly, "I'm going to rest now, GG."
GG patted her arm and smiled after her. Instead of resting immediately, Olivia walked into the nursery to check on the baby. Unable to resist, she lifted him from the crib and buried her nose into the crook of his neck. The heavenly smell and his warm body pushed all thoughts of a nap away like an unwanted meal. She sat with him in the glider rocker. He stretched and made the sounds Olivia knew so well, signaling that he would soon rouse from his slumber. She didn't care that she was waking him. Holding her baby this way calmed her in unexplainable ways. She needed that calmness to quell the anxiety about her parents' visit. Would it be awkward? Would her mother be happy to see her? She was sure her mother would fall in love with the baby. That's all she cared about. She wanted her mother to love her son, really love him.
It was as if she'd exchanged one fear for another. First she'd been afraid of her potential failure as a mother, unable to be loving and nurturing. As soon as she'd laid eyes on him, her heart ached with a love she'd never felt before. Then her parents' inexplicable absence made her both sad and protective of her son. Fitz's family and her friends had been very present, a jarring contrast to the sporadic visits of her own family. She had hoped his birth would bring her family closer. Really, she wanted it to bring her closer to her mother. She couldn't bear her son ever feeling an ounce of what she'd felt all her life, the subtle difference of affection, the coldness, the distance. She couldn't name it then, but she'd always felt it first as a flutter and finally like a heavy weight. Over the years, she had tried to ignore it, but in the last several months it had bubbled over and now settled in the pit of her stomach. When her dad had called last week to arrange this visit, she'd been anxious ever since, wanting everything to go well.
"Oliver Samuel Grant," she whispered in a sing-song voice. "What are you dreaming about? Mommy wants to talk to you."
She watched adoringly as he began to squirm in her arms. When she heard his soft grunts and gurgles she knew he would be fully awake soon. One of his eyelids lifted slightly. Olivia chuckled. He opened them both then, first the right grey iris and then the left blue one. Looking into his eyes never got old.
"Am I going to pay later for waking you up now?" she whispered, nuzzling his cheek. "Where's your pillow my Ollie Ollie? Mommy can't hold you for too long. My big boy…my big boy…what were you dreaming about?" Olivia reached for the lap pillow to relieve the pull that holding him put on her incision. She continued to talk to him. He watched her intently. Olivia wasn't sure how long she held him when she heard a voice at the door.
"Just as I thought Samuel. She's with Ollie. I knew she wasn't sleeping. You really must have a word with your daughter about resting more," Granny said. Olivia looked up and smiled at her father, exchanging it for a frown when she didn't see her mother.
"Oh Dad, you're here. Where's Mom?" she said.
"Aww, he is getting so big, Livia," Samuel said. He bent low and scooped the baby out of her arms. "And those eyes are still different colors…"
"My ride is outside," Granny said throwing her hand up. "I'll be back in a couple of hours. The food is on the stove, and I've set the plates out. Please make sure Olivia stays put or I swear she will—"
"GG, I'm going to be fine. Enjoy your visit with Sybli and Lauren," said Olivia. She was still frowning, not at Granny, but at her Mom's absence.
Samuel smiled. "I'll keep watch over her." They watched GG leave.
Samuel took a seat in the chair beside the rocker. "Baby, he is beautiful and so attentive. Look how he's staring right at me?"
"Dad…?" Olivia said. She didn't have to finish her sentence because he knew.
Samuel hesitated. He continued gazing at Ollie. He finally let his eyes meet Olivia's. "She didn't come…I…" he said.
"What? She didn't come? Why? She hasn't seen the baby but once since we left the hospital. What's going on? She can't be this busy teaching, Dad. It doesn't make sense. It's like she's purposely staying away. I don't understand," she said.
"Baby, I…Honestly, I don't really know what's going on with your mother. I would have been here before now, but we would make plans to come and see you and she would have something come up. Today, I decided to come without her," Samuel said.
"Dad, does this have anything to do with Savannah?"
"She is having a hard time accepting that you and Savannah don't talk anymore-" he said.
"But…what does that have to do with seeing her grandson? Savannah has done some terrible things to my family and me. Why do I have to keep justifying my decision. But doesn't she want to see Ollie? Sierra told me that Mom and Savannah went to Hilton Head a couple of weeks ago. I just don't…" Olivia said. She stopped when Ollie started to fret.
"Dad, he's probably hungry. It's about that time, isn't it Ollie?" Olivia took him and shooed his cries. Karen appeared in the doorway.
"Liv, I'll take him. Does he need a bottle? Hi, Mr. Pope," Karen said brightly. Samuel smiled and greeted her.
"Karen, be careful okay. Check the temperature before you give it to him. And don't forget to burp him when he finishes half of the bottle," Olivia said as she passed him to Karen.
"I know, I know, Liv. I know how to feed him. Don't I Ollie? Don't cry. Your big Sis will take care of you," she said, walking out of the room.
"I thought you said she had moved in with her mother?" Samuel said in a low voice.
"She did, Dad. I wish I could have recorded the look on her face when Fitz told her he was okay with her moving in with Mellie. And then after a week she was begging to move back in. Fitz and I told her she had to stay at least 2 months. She is here practically every day plus the weekends. We can't get rid her and she is actually doing homework too," Olivia said with a shake of the head. "I'm not making a big deal about it. I know that she loves doting on her new baby brother too."
"Well, you called her bluff," he said. Samuel asked her question after question about the baby, Fitz's family, her writing, her friends, and anything he could think of to keep the conversation away from her mother.
"Samuel, hi. I'm glad I caught you and Selena before you left," said Fitz, appearing at the door some time later with Ollie in his arms. "Dad, I can feed him."
"Okay, Kare," Fitz said. When Karen sat down Fitz placed Ollie in her lap and gave her the bottle.
"Hi Livy," Fitz said enveloping Olivia in a hug. "How's Ollie been treating you?"
Olivia didn't say anything. She just smiled at him hoping he wouldn't pick up on her grief. Unable to keep the smile, she turned away. "Fitz, why don't you take my dad downstairs and get him something to drink. I need to use the bathroom. Karen, It's almost time to burp Ollie. He's a guzzler." Olivia made a hasty exit out of the room, heading for the bedroom. She walked into her bathroom and shut the door. Looking in the mirror, she couldn't bear to see her own reflection. Her mind raced. Her mother had grown more and more distant since Savannah's separation from Byron. Olivia had thought she would come around when the baby was born, but it had not happened. Her dad's visit without her mother had solidified that as well as what Olivia has expected all her life. Does my mother really hate me? She thought. All the emotions hit her all at once, the crushing weight pushing her against the wall and to the floor. She didn't even feel the ache of her incision as she sank to the floor. The emotional pain far outweighed the physical.
"Livy, honey, what's wrong?" Fitz said. His face held a pained and confused expression. Olivia didn't speak. She couldn't through her crushing pain and tears. He picked her up carefully and carried her out of the bathroom. He sat on the bed with her in his lap. She leaned into him and wrapped her arms around his neck, sobbing. Fitz held her tightly trying to absorb her pain. When the tears stopped, they sat in silence.
"Please get Ollie for me."
"Are we going to talk about this?"
"Yes, but I want to make sure Karen has burped him."
Olivia walked into the bathroom to wash her face.
"Is GG back yet? She was supposed to be gone for a couple of hours," Olivia asked when Fitz returned to the bedroom with Ollie.
"Yeah, honey. She is entertaining your dad. I think she cut her visit short. Your daughter is having a lively conversation with Samuel about the playoff game last night," Fitz said with a chuckle as he handed Ollie to Olivia.
"Now, she's my daughter. She's been extremely helpful these past three weeks. I think she's trying to earn her way back. We can't give in…2 months?" Olivia said lifting a fist to him.
"2 months," Fitz answered, placing his fist to hers for a fist bump.
"Do you think Ollie's going to be easy going like Gerry or high strung like Karen?" Olivia asked, patting his back.
"It doesn't matter to me. I just want him to know he is loved," she said, sadly.
"What's wrong, Livy?" He rubbed her cheek already knowing. Her mother's absence answered his question.
"My mom didn't come with my dad today. She is mad at me…well I don't know how she feels towards me exactly. She hasn't seen Ollie since I left the hospital. It's been three weeks. She's my mom and she's not here. You should have seen how hands on she was with Sierra's and Savannah's pregnancies. She stayed a week or two with both of them. She won't even visit me," she said.
Fitz frowned. "Why would she do this? Do you think she's just busy?"
"No. She is purposely staying away from the baby and me. My father told me in so many words," Olivia said calmly.
"But why? I don't understand," Fitz asked.
"I've always felt the like the odd one out in my family. My mom was not as enthusiastic about me as she was about my sisters. Even my name is different. They each have names starting with "s." I felt it most from Mom. I don't know what about me she hates. I just wish she wouldn't take it out on Ollie."
"There has to be some explanation, Liv. Your mother loves you," he said.
"Let's not talk about it anymore. I'm fine," Olivia said with a manufactured smile.
"But Liv, you're not fine…"
"I am. Now give me a real kiss," she said leaning forward to distract him.
"Livy, that's a low blow, using your feminine wiles to distract me," he said leaning forward to meet her lips. "I'll take it, though. It's been a long 3 weeks and I still have 3 weeks to go. This is not the end of this conver-"
Olivia silenced him with a kiss. Ollie was between them, content to be in that familiar place.
Fitz strolled into the front office, happy that the day was almost over. Eager to get home, he couldn't stop thinking about Olivia. Today was her 6 week check up appointment, and it hadn't come a moment too soon. He was looking forward to some serious alone time with her absent any clothing or space between them.
He hadn't been in his office all morning. Instead, he'd traveled to 8 classes performing teacher evaluation visits. He knew that his presence sometimes made teachers nervous or edgy. Mostly his visits went well. He enjoyed witnessing all the inventive ways his teachers were delivering quality instruction.
He frowned in confusion at the huddle the entire front office staff formed around something he could not see. They were ooing and ahing over it. Then he saw the wheels of dual bassinet stroller system in the middle of the huddle. A wide smile crossed his face.
"Who is here distracting my staff?" he said.
"Oh Mr. Grant! The pictures don't do Ollie justice. He is beautiful."
"Look at those eyes!"
"He's a big one!"
"He looks just like you, Mr. Grant, and nothing like you, Liv, which is ashamed since you did all the work."
Fitz walked over to Olivia and hugged her from behind. "What are you and Ollie doing here?"
"Ollie wanted to see where you worked," Olivia said.
Fitz tried to lean over the bassinet, but he was pushed out of the way as another staff person discovered the baby. Grabbing Olivia's hand he pulled her close to the empty clerk's desk.
"How was your visit at the doctor's," Fitz whispered so that only she could hear.
She whispered back, "Everything looks good." Fitz beamed.
"But we'll need to wait another 3 weeks before-" she began.
"What? Why?" he responded a little too loudly.
"Fitz, I was kidding," Olivia said with a light chuckle and a wink. "All systems go."
"Mom, Dad, hi," welcomed Fitz after opening the front door. "What are you doing here?"
Olivia stepped around Fitz when she saw who rang the doorbell. "Fitz!," she said in a reprimanding tone. "What kind of question is that? Come in FJ and Elise. You must stay for dinner."
Fitz didn't looked pleased. He knew that if his parents stayed for dinner, his chances of finally making love to his wife after a long 6 week hiatus would be delayed past the 8:45 time he had calculated. His calculations included dinner at 6pm, small talk till 7:30 with Granny only since Karen had a late soccer practice, a brief walk with Rolfo, and time with Ollie until putting him down at 8:30. He had hoped for a good 3 hours or until Ollie work up. Maybe I can cut out Rolfo's walk and wake up Ollie now so he'll sleep longer, Fitz reasoned to himself.
"I'll go get Ollie, Mom and Dad, I know you want to see him," Fitz said.
"Fitz, let him sleep for now. Olivia texted me the pictures of him visiting you at work. I'm sure he's all tuckered out," Elise said.
Fitz couldn't believe his mom. She never passed up an opportunity to be close to Ollie. He began to restrategize. He looked up and noticed Oliva watching him. She winked.
"Oh no! I forgot to pick up my prescription from the pharmacy today," Olivia said. "Why don't you all start eating dinner? I'll be in and out. Do you want to ride with me, sweetie?" Olivia asked Fitz. "I'm driving though."
"Yeah, Let's go," Fitz agreed already headed towards the door.
"Oh, Liv, I can go out and that for you?" FJ said.
"No, we'll handle this," Fitz said, pushing Olivia out of the door. She had just enough time to grab her purse.
Within minutes, they were cruising down the street toward City Park with Olivia at the wheel. Fitz was all tongue, hands and fingers on her neck, down her blouse, up her skirt. When she felt two insistent fingers pull back the damp crotch of her underwear and slip deep inside, she moaned and inadvertently pushed on the brake pedal. The blare of the horn and the car speeding around them brought her to her senses.
She grabbed his hand and pushed it away, and then reached for his belt as a signal to open it. As he unbuckled his belt she pushed her hand deep and inside and massaged him. Olivia maneuvered the LandRover with one hand into a remote parking space. As soon as she killed the engine, Olivia crossed over to his bucket seat and hit the lever to let the seat back. He pulled pushed down his jeans while she simultaneously pulled down her panties and hiked up her skirt. He pulled her her face down for a bruising kiss while she straddled his lap. Fitz grabbed her waist and and pushed her down over his manhood. He groaned with pleasure. Olivia grabbed the either side of the headrest for balance while held on to her waist. The vehicle swayed, the windows fogged, and they allowed the sounds of their pleasure come forth at whatever octave was manifested.
Finally there was stillness and quiet except for their breathing.
"Livy, are you okay?" he asked against her ear.
"Are you?" she asked against his.
Pulling her head back from his shoulder, he leaned his forehead against hers. "No. I want more of you."
"Me too," she said. Before he could respond, she climbed over the console and into the back seat.
He dove behind her. She squealed and giggled until he refocused her to the task at hand.
"Fis..your turn...," Olivia mumbled pushing on his arm. They both slept like the dead tonight.
Fitz turned away from Olivia, burrowing deeper into the pillow.
Olivia threw back the covers and slowly dragged out of bed, a little sore from their acrobatics in the Land Rover. "Mommy's coming Ollie," Olivia said finally beginning to wake up as she made the short walk to the bassinet across the room.
Ollie was now at a full bawl. He cried like his life depended on it, kicking his legs and rocking his balled up fits in the air. "Shhh, Ollie, bqby. I bet you're wet and hungry." Olivia changed him and went downstairs to a warm bottle. Soon she was back in the bedroom, feeding him in the rocking chair. She laid her head back against the chair.
"I could watch you two all day." Fitz sat up against the head board. "Livy, look at him. He's not feeding. He's just looking around. Why don't you all come over here."
She sat on the bed and propped up against his chest. "I wish I could have breastfed him longer, Fitz."
"It's okay, Livy. The doctor said that two weeks was good, honey. Don't beat yourself up about it. Ollie is okay. Aren't you, son?"
Ollie's eyes traveled around the room.
"What is he looking at, Livy?"
"Everything. Erica called yesterday. She said Templeton wants to know when I can start traveling."
"Let's talk about that later, if you don't mind, honey."
They sat there for a long time.
Olivia's cell phone rang. Fitz handed it to Olivia when he saw the caller ID. It was her father.
"Hello," Olivia said.
"Livia, you have to come to the hospital. Your mom has been in a car accident." Samuel announced.
"What? When? Is she okay?" Olivia asked frantically.
"She was in a car accident coming from school-"
"Last night. She's stable now. I'll explain more when you get here. I just want to let you know that Savannah is here. Sierra landed a couple of hours ago."
Olivia hung up after getting the information.
"My mom was in a car accident last night. They're just now calling me," Olivia said as she laid a sleeping Ollie in his bassinet. "I don't understand."
Olivia trudged toward the entrance of the hospital room. Her shoulders felt heavy and burdened. She noted how quiet it was, like it was after a good snow. Outdoors seemed insulated. It was late, she knew, too late to be entering a hospital at 11:00. Despite Fitz's protestations for her to wait until morning, she'd gotten dressed and insisted on coming. Fitz dressed also, determined to be there with her for whatever was coming. After Ollie was settled in GG's room, they'd driven off in the Land Rover.
Fitz held her hand in his grip. He noted how frail it felt in his hand. He glanced down at her and the confused yet painful expression on her face. He had wanted to forbid her from going to the hospital, but he knew that nothing would stop her from being with her mother at this time, no matter how painful it was to get the news so late. He heard a small whimper escape from her lips.
"Livy, honey. I don't like this. It's late. You are tired. Your mother is stable. I think we should go home and come back in the morning," Fitz pleaded, pulling her to a stop just as they reached the door. The sliding door opened.
"Fitz, It's my mom in there. I have to make sure she is okay. Even if-if-if," Olivia uttered. She began to weep. He hugged her close and tried to absorb her pain. That's all he knew to do. When she pulled back, he held her face in his hand and wiped her tears away with the pads of his thumbs.
"Livy, I love you. No matter what happens, know that you have a family at home that loves you. GG, Gerry, Karen, FJ, my mom, Sybil, Lauren, Abby, Huck, Harrison, I could go on and on. You are not in this alone okay?
She acknowledged with a nod of her head. They entered the hospital.
"Sierra," Olivia whispered from behind her. Sierra turned around and they embraced.
"It's so good to see you Livia," Sierra said, taking her hand and walking her towards the hospital bed.
"She's sleeping now. They gave her more pain meds so that is why she is sleep. They'll be making us leave soon. Dad was able to get them to extend the hours until you arrived," Sierra explained. "Have you spoken with dad yet?"
Olivia didn't respond because she didn't quite hear Sierra's words. She was too focused on her mother's small frame in the bed. She was hooked up to a breathing machine and various other monitors. It was difficult for Olivia to imagine that she had been awake. Olivia reached out and grabbed her mother's hand.
"What happened Sierra? Was it a hit and run? Drunk driver?"
"Have you spoken with Dad?"
"Sierra, why do you keep asking me that? Why can't you tell me? Why wasn't I called when this happened? I'm beginning to feel like an outsider in my own family. Mom hasn't been to see Ollie since he was born. You get in town yesterday and don't call me. What is going on?" Olivia pleaded.
"I know. I know. I can't say now. You really need to talk to dad." Sierra reiterated.
"What is she doing here?" Savannah said snidely, entering the room. She handed Sierra a coffee mug and walked around Olivia to take her place in a chair on the other side of the hospital bed.
"Savannah..." Sierra warned.
"Okay, what are you doing here?" Savannah asked, addressing Olivia directly.
"I think it is obvious. I am here because our mother is in the hospital, Savannah," Olivia said. "Can we put aside our differences for mom? Please? I don't want to fight with you."
"Girls, you should probably say your goodbyes. The nurses are on the way to show you out. I'll see you in the morning."
Olivia looked out as a man she'd never seen before entered the room. He was medium height with glasses, a beard, and thinning hair. Though Olivia had never seen him before, he looked familiar. Olivia continued looking at the man, trying to place him. It was as that moment that she realized she had yet to see your father.
"Sierra, where's dad? I haven't seen him since I arrived." Olivia asked, not relishing the feeling of uncertainty and confusion that was becoming all too common.
"Livia, he's...this is so hard. Let's meet tomorrow morning for breakfast. There's so much you don't know. Dad will be ready to talk soon, but it it probably too difficult now," Sierra explained.
"What the hell does that mean Sierra?" Olivia pleaded.
"Let me tell you what the hell it means, Olivia," Savannah began with a little smirk on her face.
"No, Savannah. No!" Sierra said.
Savannah ignored Sierra and continued. "This man here is our real father. When I say our, I am referring to Sierra and me. You are just leverage your dad used to keep momma tied to him. She wanted to be with our dad, but he wouldn't let her go when she had you. Now our momma is here because he made her have an accident. But the truth of it all is that she is here because of you!"
On one level, Olivia couldn't process the words she heard dripping like venom from Savannah's mouth. After years of feeling like something was wrong, like she was out of place in her family, it all made sense to her. Her life flashed before her eyes, but now instead of looking through a glass darkly, she saw the truth, face to face. It hurt her fiercely.
"Savannah, you can be such a bitch sometimes!" Sierra railed, as Olivia left the room.
"Livy, what happened? How's your mom?" Fitz asked as he drove back home. He didn't like the way she looked.
"Fitz, I don't really know what happened. I went in there with a family and I came out without one. Apparently, my sisters and I are half sisters. My dad is not their dad. It surely explains a lot. I need to talk to my dad."
"Do you want to call him now?" Fitz asked. He was at a temporary loss for how to respond to her news.
"No. All I want to do now is go home, get Ollie, and wrap you both in my arms."
He grabbed her hand and kissed it, planning to let her do just that.
"Olivia, you have company," whispered GG through the baby monitor in a covert tone. Olivia smiled at the "mission impossible" lilt of her voice. Since they began using the monitor after Ollie's birth, GG always kept one with her that she used more like a walkie talkie than a monitor for the baby.
"Send Quinn right up. Over and out, GG," Olivia responded in the same tone. She quickly put away one of her old family photo albums and dabbed her eyes. The photograph of her 4th birthday party had held her attention, causing tears to well up in her eyes. She had been perched on her mother's lap who was obviously helping her blow out the candles. Savannah was in a high chair, and Sierra was on her knees in a kitchen chair as they both tried to assist with the candle blowing. Olivia knew that her dad wasn't in the picture because he was the designated photographer. Everyone's birthday cone hat sat on their heads askance as those hats due to the irritating rubber band holder. The happiness that seemed evident on the faces of those in the picture only made the lie that stood behind the photo more poignant for Olivia. She tried to push that out of her mind in anticipation of her visit with Quinn.
"Liv, are you...?" asked Quinn.
"I'm in here!" Olivia beckoned. She walked over to pick up Ollie who was awake but content to lie propped up on a pillow staring up at his black, red and white multi-shaped mobile.
"Finally, I get to meet Ollie in person. Can I hold him?" Quinn asked as she entered the room.
Olivia snuggled him to her breast and kissed him on the cheek before passing him on to Quinn. "But we call you, Ollie, don't we cutie pie?" Olivia said. "Have a seat Quinn. He gets heavy fast."
"Oh, Olivia, he is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. Everyone at school has been talking about his eyes. The colors are so deep. Look at those cheeks. He looks just like Mr. Grant. Speaking of Mr. Grant," Quinn whispered looking around nervously, "You don't think your mother-in-law will tell him I was here when I was supposed to be sick today?"
"GG is Fitz's grandmother. No, she won't say a word so stop worrying about it," Olivia assured.
Quinn took a break from doting on Ollie to look around the room. "Those are the most beautiful flowers, Liv. Do you have a garden? You have so many bouquets all over the house."
Olivia noted the beauty of the flowers, but they seemed to drive home the contrast between the family she married into and the family she was raised in. The day after she visited the hospital and received the devastating news from Savannah, bouquets of calla lilies started being delivered. There was the "Love of My Life" bouquet from Fitz, the "Just Because You're You" bouquet from Lauren and Sybil, and the "Sending Love Across the Miles" from Fitz's parents. GG made delicious macaroons with little callas decorated on the tops just for her. Abby, Huck, and Harrison sent a "Friendship" bouquet with a book of naughty teacher inspired limericks. Olivia knew that Fitz was behind it all which made her appreciate all she did have in spite of the pain.
"No, I don't garden. The flowers are from family and friends, mostly for Ollie who has so many admirers," Olivia explained, not wanting to go into specifics. "So Quinn, I'm all yours. Why are you taking the day off as a sick day to hang out with me?"
Quinn took a deep breath. "No offense to Ollie, but I hate teaching, Olivia. I don't think I can do it anymore. It's an impossible job." Quinn railed. "Why are you smiling Olivia. It's not funny. I...actually daydream about something happening to me to force me to stop. Like, I'll think, 'What if I get hit by a car or something falls off a shelf to slightly injury, but not kill me.' I remember there was this one episode of Grey's Anatomy where this girl made repeated visits to the hospital for bruises and burns. The doctors discovered that she was harming herself in these freak accidents as a way to get out of her responsibilities as a law student. The night before bar exam, she purposely burned herself.."
"Quinn, have you harmed yourself or are you trying to?" Olivia asked which a chuckle.
"No. I have not. I just.."
"What is it that you don't like about teaching, Quinn? And please know that you are not the first and won't be the last teacher who has felt this way at some point," Olivia assured her.
"It's just everything, Olivia. There's always so much work and never enough time to complete it. I have a planning period that is taken away two days a week by pointless meetings. When I think about all that's required, teaching every child according to his or her ability, doing those small groups in Math and Reading workshop, keeping the notes on each kid's progress, grading the papers...oh and don't get me started on the data entry of the pretests, the mid year tests, the post tests and all the standardized tests. Why did Mr. Grant give me a class with so many English Language Learners? I am still new and I have the one girl who is Non English Proficient. I never have time to make special homework and classwork for her. The ESOL teacher who is supposed to come in to help is always getting pulled to go to a meeting or do testing so many of the days she is not there with me! The kids can't sit still for any amount of time for a lesson. I don't expect them to sit constantly. I make my lessons fun and interactive, but at some point they have to sit and work! Then there are the ones with behavior issues. I almost have them under control, Thank God! I feel like that King Sisyphus in Greek Mythology who is forced to an eternity of pushing a big boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again. That's me, Liv. I am happy we have duty free lunch thanks to you, but I hate being tied to the kids day in and day out. The biggest thing, Liv, is that I feel like a failure. I just want to do something else."
"Oh Quinn," Olivia crooned, hugging her around the shoulders.
"As someone whose taught for 10 years, I understand everything you've said. I've been there. My first recommendation would be to surround yourself with a supportive team. How are you getting along with the other fourth grade teachers?"
"Eh. I can take them or leave them Liv. They aren't very helpful. I think they are just burned out too. Or they don't want to get sucked into helping me. I don't know. They probably think I am antisocial. I always feel like I'm frowning. Despite this the kids seem to love me. They are always hugging me, even the ones I'm always getting on to," Quinn explained.
"They knew you care Quinn. I think the key is to analyze your week and see where you can pare down. When I was a newbie, I overplanned for the week. I also beat myself up if a student didn't understand something or failed a test. Quinn, you can only do what you can do, especially if the student isn't getting any support at home. Let's do this. E-mail me your lesson plans for any given week, I'll take a look at them and give you some suggestions," Olivia offered.
"I would love that Olivia, but I still don't know about teaching. I can't see doing this for 5 years so much less a decade or more," Quinn assured.
"Okay, let's take first things first. Give Ollie some more hugs. He has the uncanny ability to make any problem fall way while you're holding him."
"In that case, Ollie's going home with me aren't you sweetie pie? Oh Liv, could you just bottle him? He smells so good," Quinn murmured.
Liv smiled, forgetting about her troubles for a while. "Quinn, GG made these delicious macaroons. You'll have to take some to work so I won't eat them all. I'm trying to lose this baby weight."
"I think it's time to let Karen come back home," Olivia said as the hot water cascaded over her shoulders running over and down the front and back of her torso. She lay back against Fitz's chest as he squeezed the wash cloth and released the water onto her skin. Fitz had drawn them a hot bath that they were enjoying after dinner.
Fitz let the cloth fall into the steamy bath. He watched the paths of water drift over her shoulders and coalesce as a single drop at the tip of her nipples where he made contact with the tips of his fingers. "Why? There are still a couple of weeks left," he murmured back, now making little circles around her nipples.
"I think she's learned her lesson. I miss her and I know she misses us. I just want her home. Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. She needs to be home, Fitz," Olivia insisted.
Hearing the care in her voice, he lifted her up and turned her around to face him in the tub. A little water sloshed out onto the floor. He rubbed her cheek and looked into her eyes. Something about her saying that made him overwhelmed with love and passion for her.
"I don't want her to feel like we abandoned her. I mean she...she has been really trying lately. We should give her credit for that."
He shook his head in agreement and then lowered his head to kiss her deeply and completely.
"Thanks for meeting me, sweetie. I know it's been difficult for you. I'm sorry for..," Samuel Pope didn't complete his thought, overwhelmed by his emotions. Olivia covered his hand with hers, understanding his agony.
"Dad, it's okay," she reassured him.
She was still unsure about his part in it all. They sat at a small cocktail table at an area restaurant. He'd finally called Olivia requesting that they meet and talk. Olivia had accepted and then canceled their meeting only to have him call back and try again to set something up. A talk with GG had convinced her to give him a real opportunity to explain. Now sitting before him, she saw the kind and loving face of her father.
"Thanks, Olivia, but it's not okay." He squeezed her hand.
"I should have stood up for you more with your mom and Savannah. I let her and Savannah get away with hurting you too many times over the years. I want to tell you everything now. It's your right to know," he began. He took a sip of water and continued. "When I met your mom, she had just ended a relationship another man. Sierra told me you saw him. The man at the hospital...Joe is his name. They had a pretty tumultuous relationship. I didn't know that at the time. She was a nurse on base and we started dating. She told me she had been in an abusive relationship with another man on base, an NCO. Shortly after we became serious, she started seeing him again. I was hurt. I let her go and moved on. I continued to see her around base and we spoke and talked. Before long, we were back together. Joe was reassigned to Germany and left the base. Your mother and I were engaged very soon after that. What she didn't tell me was that she was pregnant."
"Sierra?" Olivia asked.
"Yes, with Sierra. I don't think she lied about it. I honestly think she didn't know. She was afraid I wouldn't marry her, but I loved her and promised to raise Sierra as my own."
"But Dad, did she tell Joe she was pregnant?" Olivia asked. She heard her phone buzz. "Dad, I'm sorry. I have to get this, It's Fitz."
"Hi, is Ollie okay?" Olivia asked, holding her breath.
"Livy, he's fine. I know I said I wouldn't call unless it was an emergency, but I wanted to make sure you were okay. If you need me to come and get you tonight, just let me know," Fitz offered.
"I'm fine, honey. Thanks for calling. I'll call you when I'm leaving okay?"
"Okay. I love you."
"Bye, I love you too."
"Olivia, I can say that Fitz is like an answer to my prayers. I always prayed for the best for you...someone who loved you that you could build a family with..." Samuel reflected.
"Where was I...yes, I encouraged your mom to contact Joe. He wasn't my favorite person, but I couldn't imagine having a child and not knowing about him or her. Your mother said she contacted him, but he wrote her back and didn't want to have anything to do with the baby. So such is life and life went on. We built our life together and it was good for the first couple of years until it wasn't good anymore. All of a sudden, she wanted became unhappy and wanted to leave. I couldn't understand what the problem was. We were doing well. By then I was a fully commissioned officer. She was getting her Masters in Nursing. Soon I found out that she had been having an affair with Joe. He was back and they had started seeing each other. She told me it started after he asked to see Sierra. Long story short, she wanted to leave me and I wouldn't let her. I threatened to tell her parents who hated Joe by the way. She didn't care. She finally did leave me, but she returned because she was pregnant with you. At the time, I wasn't sure if she was being truthful so I made her have a maternity test to confirm that you were mine. Honey, everything was such a mess at that point. I didn't want any more lies. After you were born, we had the test done, confirming that you were mine. Our marriage was rocky from that moment on..."
"Because of me...mom didn't want me, right?" Olivia said.
"It wasn't your fault, honey. I think your mom started to resent me for making her stay. I didn't want to break up our home. Sierra didn't know about Joe at the time. She was just 5 years old. We sought counseling and tried to work it out. I thought things were going well. Over a year later, Savannah was born. Life went on. You mother and I renewed our vows and for the first time, we were happy."
"Dad, Savannah said that Joe was her father. Is that true?" Olivia asked.
"I would have put my life on the answer to that question being no, Livia, which brings us to now. Since Savannah and Byron have been separated, Savannah has been living with us," Samuel explained. She literally has no money. I'm not sure how she was staying afloat at her clinic. Ever since she moved in, a wedge has been driven between your mother and me. Savannah knows which buttons to push so lately she's been running you in the ground with all her bad mouthing. I wouldn't stand for it so I gave her an ultimatum. She could stay with us if she stopped talking about you day in and day out. One night we started arguing and she made the comment that I wasn't her father and she was glad she and Sierra were getting to know their real father."
"Wow, Dad. She said that?"
"Yes. I thought it was another instance of her histrionics until she challenged Selena to tell me the truth. I wanted to know what truth she spoke of. I don't want to go into details, because it makes me angry. I discovered that night that my wife, the woman who I thought loved me, had been secretly taking Sierra and Savannah to see that bastard. She told them that he was their real father. When I heard that, I left the house and sped off in my car. Your mother followed me and that is how the accident happened. She was chasing after me and got into a wreck with another car."
"Dad, how long have Sierra and Savannah known about Joe?" Olivia asked, reeling from the shock.
"After you went off to college, Livia. That's when she told them and she was supposedly taking them to see him. Despite all that's happened, I still believe that Savannah is my biological child. At this point it doesn't matter. I don't want to see Selena or Savannah for a while. I do talk with Sierra. She's always been good to both of us."
Olivia and Samuel took a break from their discussion to order tapas and drinks.
"Dad, why didn't you all name me a name that begins with an 's'? Olivia inquired.
Samuel considered her words. "You know I'd never thought about that. It wasn't intentional. Your grandmother, Sadie, named you after her mother. Given everything, I can see why you would ask that."
"Why does Savannah hate me so much, Dad? I think, if given the chance, she would do me bodily harm if she could. I'm not joking either."
"I think I may have doted on you a lot as a child. Savannah saw that and interpreted it as me loving you more I guess. That's the only thing I can think of now. Savannah's behavior is inexplicable to me, Livia. Sierra has filled me in on some of the things she has done lately. I don't understand it."
Olivia grabbed her dad's hand. "Dad, how are you doing with all of this. Have you and Mom spoken since the accident?"
"Not really. I was there when she was admitted. I sat with her through the worse of it and until Joe showed up. All the fight is gone out of me. I realize now that you can't fight for a relationship alone. I did that for so many years. I want to apologize for what that did to you, baby. Maybe if I would have let her go, you wouldn't have been subjected to everything with your mom and Savannah,"
"Dad, you did the best you could with the information you had. I will never blame you. For a while there, when you called me after Mom's accident, I thought you were... I didn't know or understand why you wouldn't have called me the night of the accident," Olivia said.
"I asked Savannah to call you. I hoped she would put all the toxicity behind her. It wasn't until Joe showed up that I realized she hadn't called. That's when I called you."
"Dad, nothing has really changed, but talking to you...getting the whole story has made it easier to take."
"You can ask me anything you'd like. I am no longer keeping any secrets. I also plan to wear out my welcome by coming to visit Ollie."
"Dad, you are welcome to stop by any time."
"Well look who's here, Dad? My former principal, Mr. Grant. I wonder what he wants?" Olivia announced as she and her dad walked to Samuel's car.
"Good evening, Fitz," Samuel greeted, extending a hand to him. They shook hands and hugged.
"Hi, Samuel, Mrs. Grant. How was dinner?" Fitz asked, giving Olivia a side hug and grasping her hand.
"Eclipse de luna has the best tapas so it was divine," Olivia answered, feeling especially giddy with Fitz's arrival. She felt so much better after talking with her dad and hashing it all out. Nothing was totally settled, but with so many answered questions, she felt settled.
"The food was okay. The company was better," Samuel said. He kissed Olivia on the cheek. "I'll stop by tomorrow to spoil my grand baby. See ya Fitz." Samuel continued walking to his car whistling some unknown tune.
"Okay, Dad. See you tomorrow," Olivia said. "So, to what do I owe this surprise?"
"Well, Mrs. Grant, when I saw you getting ready to have dinner with your dad tonight, I thought about how long it had been since we'd had some alone time since Ollie was born," he explained as they reached the Land Rover. He opened her door and lifted her onto the seat. It was here on this very seat and back there. So I called and made us reservations for an overnight stay at The Renaissance Hotel, where I plan to have you every which way but loose, six ways till Sunday, until we make another baby," Fitz elaborated.
Olivia couldn't help but convulse with excited giggles as he spoke suggestively in her ear. "Number one, whose watching our child? Number two, I'm all in. Number three, while there will be much baby making practice, there won't be any actual baby making since my uterus has a no occupancy sign at least until Ollie can walk."
He smiled at her and bent his head to give her a kiss.