Just One Of Those Things
By Mavis Applewater
For Disclaimers see part one.
Thanks to my beta reader, Diva Babe
As Always For Heather
CHAPTER THIRTY ONE
The events of September 11, 2001 were proving that Olivia's prediction was correct; nothing was ever going to be the same again. Americans seemed to be pulling together. Olivia was proud knowing for certain that her fellow countrymen never shined brighter than in a crisis. For a brief moment of time people were just a little nicer to one another. The other side of the coin was those who were looking for someone to blame. Taking their already brewing hatred, they attacked innocent people who just happened to look ethnic. This side of her countrymen sickened Olivia to the core. There were moments that made her proud as people just pulled together. She gave blood, which she had to admit it had been far too long since she had donated.
The Friday that followed that tragic Tuesday, Olivia and Sydney went to the reflecting pond and joined thousands of others in lighting candles. That was the night when the entire city had been lit up to show that somehow we will find our way out of the darkness; never in all of the years since moving up north had Olivia seen the entire city burning so brightly. She wept at the sight. As she brushed back the tears, she spotted two familiar figures amongst the crowd. Thankfully Karla held Harry at bay.
Olivia wasn't ready to deal with facing either of them just yet. She didn't regret a moment of that last evening of making love to the tall woman. Unfortunately, the memory was all she could hold on to. Monday morning would come and then they would have to slip into their roles, pretending that they were nothing more than friends; lying to everyone including themselves.
Once they returned to the office it was just as Olivia had feared; there was a new distance between them. Unspoken words and tense moments. Gone was the friendly banter. Olivia just wanted to give up. She wanted to be with Karla and not just for the physical intimacy. She had fallen hard. She found herself sitting at her desk, dealing with another client wishing to close their account. In the scheme of world events most people and business weren't all that concerned with the public relations problems. Not to mention many smaller business were going under. And larger companies were laying off large numbers of individuals.
Olivia said a silent prayer that she would get laid off when J&B started its own cutbacks. She also considered quitting. Life was too short to let happiness escape her. And Karla was what made her happy. But the thought of being unemployed in a shaky economy was out of the question. The only bright spot during the passing weeks was that Tim's son and his family had survived the attack. "Life is too short. Why do I have to choose between my job and my heart?"
A month later Olivia was no closer to the answers she was seeking. The only thing she was certain of was the whole situation sucked. Somehow she managed to get through her days, the tension growing steadily between her and Karla. She entered Karla's office and dropped a file onto her desk. "We lost another one," she explained grimly.
"Sign of the times," Karla muttered as she picked up the file.
Olivia shuddered as she took in how tired and defeated her normally vibrant boss seemed. "Should we be preparing for cutbacks here?" she asked hesitantly.
"No," Karla reassured her. "Things are settling down. Well as settled as they can be since we've gone to war. This whole Anthrax crisis is scaring the holy hell out me. I mean I always knew that these things could happen but now that they have it all just seems surreal."
"I know," Olivia agreed.
"We have some new accounts that will balance everything out," Karla said slipping back into her boss mode. "Everyone's job is safe."
"Speaking of which," Olivia began, wondering just why Rob was still there. "What about Rob?"
"What about him?" Karla glared at her.
Olivia shivered from the coldness in her steely blue eyes. "Am I over-stepping my place, Miss James?" Olivia questioned her tersely. "I was just wondering how it is that someone who is stealing from the company has a job?"
"Miss Davenport," Karla warned her.
"I'm sorry," Olivia said sheepishly. The stern look on Karla's face made her angry. "No, I'm not sorry," Olivia heard herself growling. "I'm terrified about losing my job because I fell . . . I mean because I slept with you and this guy is ripping off the company. Carlos is coming back and I know that I'm in for another round of tell me what's going on with you and your boss. Frankly, I think this sucks."
Olivia was still fuming as she glared down at her employer who just sat there blinking at her. "What?" Olivia snarled. A bright smiled emerged on Karla's lips as the tall woman settled back into her chair.
"You think this is funny?" Olivia snarled.
"No." Karla held up her hands in defense. "It's just that ..." Karla's smile broadened, "...you're beautiful when you are angry."
"Ugh," Olivia growled as she threw up her hands in disgust. "You!" She pointed an accusing finger at her boss.
"Adore you," Karla cut her off boldly. "I'm going to fix this," she promised.
"How?" Olivia sighed, her anger dissipating slightly as she parked herself on the edge of Karla's desk.
"Rob is a weasel and based on what you have uncovered and my own gut feeling, I have a feeling he is holding something over Carlos' head," Karla explained calmly. "Look, we just need to finish that project on the book and then everything will be fine."
"I don't understand," Olivia pressed. "Im ready to just give up and resign."
"Don't you dare," Karla ordered. "Don't let that weasel win. I have a plan but I can't pull it off unless we finalize that project. Why don't we get together and talk." Olivia perked up at the suggestion. "How about Friday night?"
Olivia cringed slightly. "I can't," she said reluctantly. "I have plans." Olivia felt her insides clench thinking of how she had forced Sydney to set her up on a blind date. She had to move on with her life before she went completely insane. "Besides we shouldn't be seen together," she added hoping to hide her discomfort.
"Right." Karla's voice was heavy as her smile vanished.
The air grew heavy around them as Olivia stood. Nervously she ran a shaky hand through her short, blonde tresses. "I should get back to work," she said suddenly as Karla simply nodded as Olivia made her departure.
Olivia collapsed into her chair exhausted. She buried her face in her hands and prayed that the pounding in her head would cease. After several torturous moments she managed to collect herself. Shifting in her chair, she fought back the tears and looked at her watch. It was time to call the west coast. As she dialed the number she prayed that whatever Karla's plan was that it would stop the insanity that surrounded them.
Friday finally arrived and Olivia was shifting nervously in the chair in her office. She could feel her resolve quickly fading. After their conversation the other day, Olivia felt confused. For a brief moment she felt the feelings she tried to keep buried burning through her. Then Karla shut down and it was back to business as usual. The problem was that the reawakening of her emotions was wearing on her. By the end of the day Olivia had somehow managed to convince herself that it was for the best. At the time she was firm in her convictions.
Now she wasn't so certain. It didn't help that Karla looked so damn good every time she saw her. She was beginning to realize that her convictions had never been set firmly in place-- not where Karla was concerned. There was something about the dark beauty that sent her into a tailspin every time she looked at her.
The morning started off with Rob trying to corner her when she was trying to get a cup of coffee. She wasn't stupid. The break room wasn't that small that he had to brush against her repeatedly. It took all of her inner-strength not to just haul off and deck him. Instead she opted for simply telling him in a firm tone to back off. If that had been the end of it, she might have been able to shrug it off. She was adding her customary fifth sugar to her coffee when he made a snotty comment. "Why so much sugar? Doesn't the boss think you're sweet enough?"
At that moment she wished that she had hit him. Unexpectedly she blushed at the comment recalling the morning after the terrorist attack, when Karla had teased her about her coffee preference. She quickly regained her composure and glared at him. His evil sneer informed her that she had not covered her surprise quickly enough. What could she do? This time she did have something to hide. Flustered, she stormed out of the break room, just as his hand accidentally brushed against her backside. She spun around quickly ready to toss her coffee in his face when Robyn and Tracy entered the room.
Her face was flushed when she stormed out of the room. Her head was throbbing as she dialed the telephone. Not the day to be in a foul mood since she had a blind date that evening. "Why did I let Sydney fix me up?" she berated herself as her call was transferred. "Let her?" she admonished herself once again. "I practically begged her to set me up with someone."
"Miss Davenport?" a pleasant voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Yes," Olivia answered donning her most professional tone.
"Good Afternoon," the voice continued. "It is afternoon out there isn't it?"
"Yes it is," Olivia confirmed. "It's good to finally be talking with you, Miss Samuels."
"Alicia, please," Alicia encouraged her. "After all the emails we've exchanged I feel as if I know you."
"I know what you mean," Olivia charmed her. "And call me Olivia."
"I hope things are calming down over on the east coast," Alicia said.
"It's about the same as everywhere else," Olivia confirmed.
"I understand that your company is doing some pre-promotion for an upcoming project that my boss is very interested in," Alicia explained. "As Ms. Merrick's personal assistant, she wanted me to touch base with you."
"You are referring to the publication of Jeanne," Olivia coaxed her. They both knew what they were talking about but they had to play the game just the same. Show business was very confusing. "And of course the present bidding war between HBO and Showtime for the rights for the book."
"That's the one," Alicia chuckled. "Don't you hate these formalities? But you've got to keep the lawyers happy."
"Tell me about it," Olivia agreed. "Look, here is the deal. My boss went off half-cocked and set this project in motion without checking all the details. Now it is up to me to clean up her mess."
"Isn't that always the way?" the assistant groaned. "What would they do without us?"
"I'm afraid to think about it," Olivia urged her on knowing that she was baiting the woman. "It must be nice working for an actress though?"
"Please," Alicia groaned. "Don't get me wrong, Catherine is a doll. But you know how it is. I swear I don't know how they get out of bed in the morning without our help. Catherine can't start her morning without doing a full workout and then she has to have this disgustingly sweet pastry. Every morning it's the same thing. She says she shouldn't but if I brought her something healthy she'd probably throw a clot."
Olivia laughed in response. "Tell me about it," she added happily. "So why is she letting you talk to me? I thought she was against this project?"
"Not at all," Alicia informed her happily. "She wants it to go through."
"Excuse me?" Olivia felt her heart speed up just a little bit. "I thought she was the one who blocked the initial publication?"
"She was," Alicia confirmed. "She's had a change of heart. In fact she would like to be involved with the production."
"I see," Olivia smirked wickedly. "She wants a job," she thought. "How so?"
She could hear Alicia laughing on the other end of the telephone. "What do you think?" Alicia confirmed. "Here's the deal, she won't do anything to stop the publication of Jeanne, if she gets the title role in the film, plus points of course."
"She'd be perfect," Olivia answered honestly. "I don't know how the casting or any of that will go down. I'm not very familiar with the process. But my boss Karla James has invested her own money in the project . . ." She led Alicia on.
"Sounds like we're off to a good start," Alicia asserted.
"Isn't Ms. Merrick worried about playing a lesbian?" Olivia inquired thoughtfully. "I mean she's been playing a squeaky clean schoolmarm forever."
"That's why she wants this," Alicia confided in her. "Her contract is about up and the only offers she's getting is for the same thing she's been doing for over decade. From what I understand the book is damn good and just racy enough to give her career a boost in the right direction."
"The book is good," Olivia reassured her. "It looks like we just need to get the powers that be on board. There's only one snag at the moment."
"That is?" Alicia asked.
"Charlotte Hayden Smith," Olivia confessed. "What do you know about her?" "Like where to find her?" she noted mentally.
She could hear Alicia sighing heavily. "You haven't cleared the project with her?" she asked in a heavy tone. "I've never met the lady but I'll tell what I know and some things that I've heard."
"Okay," Olivia urged her on.
"She was an actress," Alicia began, "past tense. She dropped out of sight years ago. At one time back in the days when Catherine was doing Summer Stock in the middle of Vermont, they were friends. Then they had a parting of the ways. Now I don't know what happened, but from what I heard via the grapevine, Charlotte had a thing for Catherine."
"But the current didn't flow both ways?" Olivia interjected.
"Exactly," Alicia confirmed. "Nothing will screw up a friendship faster."
"Tell me about it," Olivia grumbled in agreement as she reflected upon her own dilemma.
"I don't know what happened except that Charlotte dropped out sight," Alicia continued. "She did work for awhile under a different name. Then she just disappeared until her first book was about to come out. A mutual friend, I don't know who got a hold of a copy. From what I've heard, even though the story takes place during World War Two . . . Catherine's own mother would have known that the main character was based on her. She threw a fit. She was about to start work on a very family-oriented show, it was her first big break and now there were all these rumors about her and Charlotte."
"No wonder she stopped the release," Olivia said.
"It wasn't a hard fight," Alicia added thoughtfully. "Charlotte willingly agreed not to publish. Then she simply disappeared."
"Tell me about it." Olivia repeated. "We can't find her. And her present publisher isn't being very cooperative."
"Can't blame them for that," Alicia noted. "They have nothing to gain if the deal goes through. I don't know if I can help you there. I do know that she is the same age as Catherine, late thirties, and she's from Boston. Catherine did say once that Charlotte always turned up on the east coast."
"Was she ever in SAG (Screen Actors Guild)?" Olivia inquired hopefully.
"She might have been," Alicia answered thoughtfully. "If she was I have a feeling it was under her second stage name, and I don't know what that was."
"Thank you for everything, Alicia," Olivia offered. "I'll hammer out the details with my boss and get back to you on Monday morning."
"I look forward to it," Alicia purred.
They were exchanging their goodbyes when Karla stepped into her office. Her face was very dark. Olivia felt her excitement over the progress she had just made dissipating.
"I need to see you in my office, Miss Davenport," Karla addressed her in a cold tone before leaving.
"Oh brother," Olivia groaned. "This couldn't possibly be good news."
CHAPTER THIRTY TWO
Karla stood in her office waiting for Olivia to enter. She was a bundle of nerves. She folded her arms across her chest in hopes that it would somehow calm her. The effort was failing; her self-control was failing. Olivia entered her office from the side door that connected their offices. Her pensive look caused Karla to clench her fists. "Just be professional," she cautioned herself. "Miss Davenport, please have a seat," she stated in a dry tone, her arms remaining crossed, despite her thoughts to loosen up so she wouldn't frighten the blonde.
Olivia seemed to turn pale as she sat down in the sofa. "I've received some disturbing reports this morning and I need to discuss them with you," she explained trying to lighten her tone. Knowing her efforts had failed as she watched Olivia nodding in response her emerald eyes widen fearfully. "There has been an accusation of inappropriate behavior," Karla went on to explain.
"I'm sorry," she heard Olivia apologize quickly.
"What?" Karla stared at her in bewilderment. "I'm talking about what happened in the break room this morning."
"Oh?" Olivia laughed as she released a heavy breath. "That's a relief. I thought someone caught me looking at your . . ." Olivia blushed suddenly. "Never mind." Karla had stifled a chuckle as she watched the flustered woman trying to recover her dignity.
"My what?" she heard herself purr.
"Nothing," Olivia lied as she chewed on her lip nervously.
"This isn't going well," Karla grumbled as she plopped down next to the nervous young woman. "I need to be professional here."
"You are being very professional," Olivia taunted her.
"I'm serious," Karla groused.
"I can tell," Olivia patronized her.
"Ugh!" Karla groaned in frustration as she threw up her hands in defeat. "You are the most exasperating person I have ever met," Karla added knowing by the sudden twinkle in Olivia's eyes that she was just getting started.
"Me?" Olivia scoffed.
"Yes, you," Karla leered at her. "I swear I get exhausted by just trying to have a conversation with you. Must be all that sugar."
"Hey!" Olivia responded as she swatted Karla playfully.
Karla grabbed her hands to prevent any further assaults. Finding herself lost in those twinkling emerald eyes, she swallowed hard. She felt the all too familiar rush of energy racing through her body. "I want to kiss you. To make love to you, right here and now. To hold you and never let you go." The thoughts rushed through her mind before she could stop them. By the increasing rise and fall of Olivia's chest she knew she was having the same effect on the small powerhouse.
Karla could feel herself being drawn in closer to Olivia's warmth. The blonde's eyes fluttered shut as her cheeks became flushed. Karla quickly released her hold on her and shook her head to clear her thoughts. "I really do need to talk you," she began trying to sound firm, the crack in her voice betraying her. "So could we at least pretend that I'm the one in charge?"
Olivia's eyes snapped open as she shifted slightly away from Karla. "Okay," she answered carefully as she tucked her short blonde hair behind her ears. "You are so cute when you do that." Karla smiled at the thought.
"Now did anyone do anything this morning that made you feel uncomfortable?" Karla finally managed to ask.
"Well yes," Olivia responded slowly. "This morning in the break room, Rob touched me. He said it was an accident."
"HE WHAT!" Karla fumed. Robyn and Tracy both came to her to tell her that Rob had over-stepped the line in the break room with Olivia. But actually hearing that he touched her set her off. "Where?" she heard herself growling as she jumped up.
"In the break room," Olivia muttered.
"That's not what I meant," Karla flared.
"I know," Olivia slumped down as Karla towered over her. "Are you asking as my boss or for some other reason?"
"I'm sorry," Karla responded, quickly trying to bury her anger. "As your direct supervisor, I need to know exactly what happened. Then I need you to go to personnel and give a statement."
She watched Olivia tense up. "I was in the break room getting a cup of coffee when he kept brushing up against me. I told him to back off. Which he did then he made a comment . . ."
"Which was?" Karla encouraged her as she braced herself for whatever she might hear.
"He implied that you and I are involved in a relationship that was less than professional," Olivia confessed. "Then on my way out of the room, his hand touched my ass."
"I'll kill him," Karla fumed unable to control her rage.
"You can't," Olivia sighed.
"Oh yes, I can," Karla nodded eagerly. "I'm going to strangle that bugger with my bare hands. Then . . ."
"Karla," Olivia cut her off. "You can't. You'd just be giving him the ammunition he's looking for. First he touches me and then he let's me know that he knows about us. Then he touches me again. He knew what he was doing. And a part of what he was doing was trying to set me up."
"And feel your ass," Karla spat out thru clenched teeth.
"That too," Olivia shrugged.
Karla paused before taking a cleansing breath. She knew that Olivia was right. Rob was probably waiting to see what they would do about it. What he didn't count on was Tracy and Robyn catching him. "You still have to give a statement," Karla groaned as the dull ache in her head began to throb.
"I can't," Olivia argued. "You know that once I tell them what he said, they will ask if it's true. They have to. And if I omit it he'll know that his suspicions are correct."
"But there were witnesses," Karla explained slowly. "If this doesn't get reported then it will have the same effect. Plus, how can the other employees feel comfortable if I fail to act? How did he find out?" she asked as she rubbed her temples thoughtfully.
"This will go in his file won't it?" Olivia's voice was suddenly lighter.
"Yeah," Karla responded curiously. "He'll probably just get a warning or get sent to touchy feely classes."
"I know but with everything else. . ." Olivia smiled. "And it's not the first time he's been reported. Remember there were two other complaints in his file. Now if they ask if I'm involved with you, I won't lie. But perhaps I won't have to."
"Go on," Karla felt herself relaxing slightly.
"The comment was regarding the amount of sugar I use in my coffee and didn't you think I was sweet enough. I never responded to him. If I'm asked what I thought he meant, I can answer honestly," Olivia explained brightly. "And what I thought was that he was being obnoxious."
"I don't know." Karla questioned her reasoning.
"Do we have a choice?" Olivia asked. "Look, everyone down here knows and hates him just like everyone else, except Carlos."
"Speaking of which, he's coming up here in a couple of weeks," Karla regretfully informed her. She watched as a pair of emerald eyes rolled in desperation.
"Perfect," Olivia snorted. "Do you have any other good news?" The blonde grimaced.
Once again Karla found herself reflecting upon just how adorable the younger woman was. "I . . ." she began dreamily before realizing what she was about to confess. "No. That is everything," she lied.
"Well I do have some good news for a change," Olivia began.
After she finished filling Karla in on the progress she had made with Catherine Merrick, Karla's spirits were lifted temporarily.
"Well, I'm off to give my statement," Olivia announced as she stood. "Hey don't worry," she reassured Karla as she touched her shoulder gently. "What's the worst that can happen?" Olivia chuckled lightly. "We both get canned. That really wouldn't be so bad. We could finally leave this rat race behind. We could sell those tacky t-shirts to the tourist," she teased.
"Or open a little flower shop," Karla said in a quiet voice, secretly revealing her future plans.
"That would be nice," Olivia responded quietly.
Karla was lost in her thoughts when Olivia cleared her throat. "You okay?" she asked tenderly.
"Yeah fine," Karla responded.
"You kind of wandered off there for a moment," Olivia added. "I was just saying that I'll probably be leaving right after I finish up with personnel."
"Right, you have plans tonight," Karla answered recalling how Olivia had turned down her offer to get together that evening. She had been driving herself crazy trying to figure out what Olivia was up to. "Out with friends?" she said aloud without meaning to. But it had been the conclusion she had reached.
"No," Olivia muttered.
"Oh," Karla stammered as she took in just how nervous her young assistant was. "Well I think I'll curl up with that manuscript you left behind. I really should get that back to you."
"What?" Olivia blinked in confusion as Karla's telephone began to ring. "Never mind. I better get going so I can get home and get ready for my date." Olivia tensed suddenly before blushing. She made an awkward bolt out the door.
"Date?" Karla could feel the blood draining from her body.
CHAPTER THIRTY THREE
"You told me to fix you up!" Sydney snarled. Olivia winced from her tone.
"I know," Olivia pouted, thinking that, at the time, it did seem like a good idea. "Tell me about her, again," Olivia pleaded as she readjusted her make up for the third time. Looking at her short black dress she wondered just why she thought that going out with a complete stranger seemed like a good idea?
"Good Lord woman!" Sydney groused as she rolled her hazel eyes in exasperation. "How many times do I need to tell you that I really don't know her that well?"
"Ah hah!" Olivia exclaimed suddenly, grasping at straws looking for someway to get out of this night. "If you don't know her that well, then how can you be certain that she isn't a serial killer?" Olivia noted triumphantly hoping she had just found her excuse.
"She might be," Sydney shrugged.
"Excuse me?" Olivia gasped, flashing her emerald eyes at her old friend angrily.
Sydney groaned as she began to bang her head against the bathroom door. "Alright," she muttered wearily. "For the one hundredth time, her name is Mura. She's very good looking and she is a real estate agent. Now hurry up, I need to get ready for work."
"That's all you know about her?" Olivia pushed.
"Yes!" Sydney growled in frustration. "She is gay, hot and has a job. What else do you need?"
"What are her interests?" Olivia noted as she counted off some things she wanted to know. "What kind of movies does she like? Where did she go to school? Does she have any hobbies? Does she prefer plain or peanut M&M's?"
"How the fuck should I know?" Sydney cried out. "Again . . . gay, hot and employed. Which is a lot more than you knew about wonder woman before you went to bed with her. Speaking of which you if you had bothered to have a conversation with tall, dark and inappropriate you would have saved yourself a lot of grief."
Olivia chewed on her bottom lip knowing that she was trapped. "Well . . ." she began slowly, "...she is in real estate. If we don't hit it off, maybe should could help me find an apartment," she surmised.
"God I hope so," Sydney muttered under her breath. Her eyes widened suddenly as she seemed to realize what she had just said. "Not that I mind having you here," she added quickly.
"Uh huh." Olivia glared at her sticking her tongue in her cheek. She knew that Sydney didn't mean anything by her comment. It was just that the close quarters were getting to both of them.
"Liv, I'm sorry," Sydney stammered. "I didn't mean . . ."
"It's okay," Olivia smiled at her. "Trust me I understand. I just can't believe how outrageous the rents are lately. And let's face it, I'm too old to deal with having a roommate."
"I hear you," Sydney concurred. "The landlord is raising the rent on this place. That's how I met Mura. I'm thinking of buying Condo."
"Wow." Olivia was taken aback by the comment as she wondered how Sydney could afford such an investment.
"Speaking of Mura," Sydney grinned wickedly. "If you do hit it off . . . should I find somewhere else to crash tonight?" she teased as she added a playful wink.
"Sydney?" Olivia gasped with a blush. "I'm not that kind of girl. You of all people should know that. Well with one exception." She blushed again.
"Point taken," Sydney responded. "Still, you haven't participated in any high impact aerobics since New York. And of course that one close call on the boss' desk." Sydney nudged her playfully.
Olivia blushed deeply as she recalled the night she spent with Karla in her apartment in Brighton. "Uhm," she muttered. "That's not accurate," she said quietly.
"What was that?" Sydney pried with a brilliant smile.
"Nothing," Olivia lied as she tried to brush past the inquisitive bartender.
"Oh no . . . no . . . no," Sydney scolded her as she gently halted her escape.
"Rats," Olivia muttered bitterly as Sydney blocked the doorway. "It's nothing. Don't you need to get ready for work?" She lied once again hoping to escape her friend's interrogation.
"You're holding out on me," Sydney accused her.
"I slept with Karla again," Olivia confessed shyly.
Olivia watched with some degree of amusement as Sydney's jaw dropped then she broke out in a brilliant smile. "You boinked your boss?" Sydney chuckled like a schoolgirl.
"Boinked?" Olivia grimaced.
"When?" Sydney continued apparently choosing to ignore Olivia's objections to her choice of language. "Wait," Sydney added suddenly. "Why are you going out with Mura? I mean if you and Karla have finally hooked up."
"We didn't hook up," Olivia fumed. "It was just one night. September 11th," Olivia tried to explain. "She's still my boss."
"Oh big, hairy deal," Sydney scoffed. "Are you really that dense?"
"Excuse me?" Olivia flared as she pushed past Sydney finally escaping the confines of the bathroom.
"Are you completely unaware of the fact that you are in love with her?" Sydney asked her in a gentle tone.
"I am not!" Olivia snarled as she snatched up her purse and coat.
"Yes you are," Sydney stated firmly.
"I'm going to be late," Olivia snapped as she stormed out the door. Her body was trembling as she put on her long wool coat. "Yes, I am," she finally confessed in the safety of the abandon hallway.
CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR
As she stepped out of the taxi, Karla drew her long woolen coat around her body in an effort to fight off the chill of the night air. Karla was still having trouble adapting to the constant changes in the weather. New England was certainly living up to its reputation. Two days ago she had been running around in a t-shirt when the climate resembled summer. Today was most definitely autumn bordering on winter. Back in Los Angeles, the weather did change with the seasons, but not quite with the same flair as here in the east. And most certainly several times in a single day. Karla was falling in love with it. Of course the climate wasnt the only aspect she was falling for.
She had mistakenly admitted as much to her sister Maureen on the telephone early that day. The timing of her sister's interruption had been a double-edged sword. It ended the uncomfortable encounter she was experiencing with Olivia. And it ended her time with Olivia. "Olivia is off somewhere on a date!' Karla thought bitterly as she entered the restaurant.
Her mind could understand that Olivia was free to see whomever she chose to. Yet her heart was having trouble accepting it. Perhaps that was why she allowed Maureen to talk her into accepting this date. 'Talk me into it! Hah. Now that's a laugh.' She chuckled to herself thinking how her older sister had bullied her into going out with this woman. A friend of a friend. Just in town for a few days. Karla grimaced as she looked around the restaurant. The last time she agreed to go out with a woman Maureen fixed her up was an example of slow torture. The woman was very attractive, yet her personality was comparable to a doorknob. That and she possessed the intelligence level of a Barbie doll. She recalled how Maureen tried to defend herself. 'Hey she's a model not a rocket scientist.' After a long tedious argument Maureen finally concede that perhaps she had been mistaken.
Maureen had been right about one thing: Karla needed to move on. She couldn't bear the endless nights of waiting for the telephone to ring. Although she understood completely Olivia's point, it hurt just the same. There were times when she just wanted to stamp 'fool' across her forehead. Nope this was not going to continue; self-loathing was not something Karla did well. And she had no intention of starting now.
The crowd at Club Cafe was just starting to pick up. She approached the maîtred and inquired about her reservation. She was informed that her table would be ready as soon as her guest arrived. The mystery woman knew to ask for James. Karla made her way past the bar and down a long hallway and checked her coat. She took in her Donna Karen suit and thought she looked suitable; black pants and a matching suit jacket. The simple cream-colored silk camisole that peeked out from under the jacket gave her an elegant and yet casual look.
Karla found herself feeling more than a little nervous. This was the first date she had been on in over a year. Sadly she couldn't count her encounters with Olivia as dates. Much as she would have liked to. As she seated herself on a stool, she mentally berated herself for even thinking about the small blonde. Karla ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio from the bartender.
As she sipped her wine she sighed heavily. Suddenly she felt very tired. Mentally exhausted by the twists and turns her personal life had taken. She was tired of the games. Tired of the women who had treated her as nothing more than a trophy or a good lay. She had finally found someone who had treated her a person, whom she clicked with emotionally, mentally and sexually. Olivia had stolen her heart and she knew it. But circumstances being what they were, Olivia was the one person she wasn't permitted to have a relationship with.
"This sucks," she heard herself muttering. The bartender turned to her with a curious glance.
"Is the wine alright?" the young woman inquired.
"Fine." Karla gave her a quick reassuring smile. "Just a long day."
The bartender nodded at her understanding before leaving to wait on another patron. Feeling slightly embarrassed by verbalizing her inner thoughts, the dark woman buried her face in her hands and began to rub her temples.
"Excuse me?" A timid voice questioned her. Karla snapped up her head and found herself looking at a nicely dressed redhead. "Are you Karla by any chance?"
"Yes," Karla responded with a pleasant smile. "You must be Linda," she added as she stood to greet her date. Karla noted that she and Linda were about the same height-- a rare occurrence in her life. "It's a pleasure to meet you." Karla offered her hand.
Linda smiled and shook her hand firmly, something Karla admired; nothing irked her more than a woman with a limp handshake. "I'll just check my coat," Linda added politely.
"Shall I order you a drink?" Karla inquired still feeling ill at ease about the situation.
"Thank you," Linda smiled once again. "I'll have an Absolut Sex on the Beach."
Karla nodded in response as her date left to check her coat. She ordered Linda's cocktail and tried to collect herself. 'Okay get a grip. She seems nice enough. And it's only dinner.' Linda returned as Karla had finally calmed down enough to convince herself that she was capable of behaving like a normal person. "Would you like to finish our drinks here and then go into the dining room?" Linda suggested.
"Sounds good," Karla agreed. "So my sister told me that you are here on business. What is it that you do?"
"I'm an aerospace engineer. I actually specialize in thermal nuclear jet propulsion," Linda explained brightly.
Karla laughed slightly. "So basically you are a rocket scientist?" Karla chuckled.
"In layman's terms, yes," Linda responded in confusion.
"Good one, Maureen," Karla muttered happily. "Sorry it's just that my sister and I had an argument the last time she tried to fix me up. It's silly." Karla waved off her explanation.
"Okay?" Linda said carefully. "So what do you do?"
"I'm in PR," Karla offered.
"Oh?" Linda answered looking slightly disappointed.
They fell into an uncomfortable silence as they finished their drinks. "Shall we go in?" Karla offered hoping that dinner would be quick. Linda was nice enough but there was certainly no chemistry between them. At least her date would be able to understand that. Heck she could probably draw up a periodic table that would conclusively prove they didn't belong together.
"I'm a little surprised," Linda said as they made their way over to the Maître'd.
"By?" Karla inquired casually.
"I wouldn't think someone as attractive as yourself would need to be fixed up," Linda stated firmly as her hand brushed Karla's arm.
'So much for that theory.' Karla mentally groaned. "A reservation for James," Karla said quickly.
"Yes," the young man confirmed. "Right this way ladies."
As the young man led them into the dining area, Linda's touching increased. Karla was feeling very uncomfortable as they made their way past the other patrons towards the back of the restaurant. Karla's eyes widened as they approached their table. Her heart stopped when she saw who was seated at the next table engaged in conversation with a very attractive Asian woman. 'Olivia!' It was official; Karla had just entered the depths of Hell.
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