Act I

The warm breeze of the late August day had turned surprisingly cool as the sun began to dip below the horizon. The sunlight cast colors throughout the room as it shone through the glass. Olivia watched the colors change as each minute passed marveling at the fact that only four short years ago she was ready to give up. With her failing heart, her failing hope wasn't far behind. Emma had been her only bright spot and the only reason she held on, but even that hadn't been enough anymore. Like a miracle created especially for her, Natalia swept into her life and into her heart, changing everything for the better.

As the words and emotions came to her, Olivia made quick notes on her phone to add to her vows later. With the wedding only a week away, she had been panicked that she'd never find the right words for her vows, but sitting here in the place Natalia loved the most, only second to the farmhouse, the words flowed easily.

She smiled at what she'd written thus far and decided that she had enough for now. Standing, she walked as quietly as possible on the wood floors in her heels, careful not to disturb an elderly woman praying a few pews back. She had one more stop to make, one more place of inspiration to visit, before heading home.

*****

Natalia stretched her legs out after sitting down on the bench. She had walked the long way around the park to the gazebo - their gazebo - to get in the right frame of mind for writing her vows. Looking around the small space, she smiled remembering the surprising snow that had fallen that fateful day, how gorgeous Olivia looked standing in the snow with her eyes bright and hopeful, and the nervous shiver she felt as Olivia pushed her to return to the church and the way she couldn't hold back her feelings anymore.

This gazebo had seen their lives irrevocably changed in an amazing and wondrous way. It held a special power to her - mystical and beautiful like their love. With a contented sigh, she looked down at the notepad and began to write.

*****

From across the park, Olivia smiled as she leaned against a tree trunk. For the last few minutes, she'd been watching Natalia excitedly scribbling on a notepad and taking breaks occasionally to look up, deep in thought, a pen tapping against her chin.

"She's so adorable," Olivia muttered seemingly to herself.

"You always had wonderful taste," Josh quipped behind her.

Olivia whipped her head around at the familiar sound of her ex-husband's voice behind her and smiled. "And you are living proof," she teased the handsome man. "How are you?"

"Very well. Thank you for asking." Josh smiled back fondly and stepped up next to Olivia. "You'll be glad to know I have everything ready for the ceremony, just as we discussed."

"Wonderful. Thank you," Olivia said sincerely. She hoped Natalia would be pleased with her plan.

Noticing the pensive and slightly nervous look on Olivia's face, Josh set her mind at ease. "She's going to love it, Olivia. Stop worrying."

Turning her head back around, she watched her wife longingly for a moment before nodding in acquiescence. She shifted the subject away from her temporary concerns. Every time she and Natalia tried to move forward it seemed like something was always slowing them down. "How's Reva?"

Josh couldn't help but chuckle. Olivia was so not interested in knowing how Reva was doing so he ignored the question. "You are such a goner. Love looks good on you, Olivia, but not the worry. Just enjoy the anticipation! It's all going to be fine."

She was unable to help the blush that spread up her neck and into her cheeks at being read so well. Quirking a smile at Josh, she admitted, "That obvious?"

He nodded his head and leaned over to kiss her cheek. "This love...this day is well-deserved." Olivia gave him a look that said she doubted that summation, but he stopped her before she could speak. "I need to get back to my girl. It seems I have this wedding to attend in a couple of days for a really good friend, and I need to get a new suit."

"Yes, you do." Olivia patted his cheek fondly. "A haircut may not be a bad idea either."

He stepped back. "Oh, nice! I love you too, Liv." He shooed her with his hand and said, "Go surprise your wife."

Olivia mocked him with a salute and he laughed before walking off in the direction of the parking lot.

Spinning around with a smile and a hop in her step, Olivia made her way over to the gazebo and snuck behind where Natalia was sitting. With a mischievous smile, she tiptoed closer until she was right behind the brunette's ear.

"Saying nice things, I hope," Olivia husked out, surprising Natalia.

The brunette squeaked in shock, the notepad in her hand getting tossed in the air and falling to the ground. Quickly, she grabbed it before Olivia could see anything and sat back. "Olivia! You scared the daylights out of me!"

Olivia leaned over the railing and kissed the younger woman's cheek. "You're so cute when you're flustered." When Natalia huffed, she chuckled and pointed at the notepad. "What do you have there, hot stuff?"

"Nothing," Natalia answered too quickly, shifting uncomfortably on the bench. Usually, she was the prepared one with every detail well-planned out. To wait this late to write her vows was not like her at all. She hated to admit that she hadn't written them yet. "It's just a grocery list."

Reaching over the railing, Olivia tried to take the pad. "Oh, I want to make fettuccine Alfredo tonight. I'll add the ingredients to the list."

Natalia pulled the pad away. "I've got it. I know what to get."

"Uh huh," Olivia murmured, watching her wife shift her eyes. Realization dawned and she walked around the gazebo to go inside and sit down by Natalia. "If it makes you feel any better, I just started writing mine too. In fact, that's why I came here. For some inspiration."

Relaxing back into the bench, Natalia smiled softly at the beautiful woman next to her. She put the notepad aside and reached over to take Olivia's hand, twining their fingers together, remembering some of the words on her notepad. "This is a pretty special place for us, huh?"

Olivia nodded, a sense of comfort and peace enveloping her. "We had some big moments here to say the least."

For a long moment, Natalia was quiet, looking down at their joined hands and tracing Olivia's fingers with her own. "What do you say to having another big moment here? Not that I don't love the farmhouse, but..." Olivia quirked an eyebrow as dark brown eyes glanced hesitantly up at her. "You want to get married here?"

Natalia nodded and hurriedly spoke, "It's crazy, I know. We already have everything lined up for doing it at the farmhouse. Greg has everything in order, but..."

"Consider it done," Olivia agreed even as Natalia tried to talk both of them out of it. "We'll do the reception at the farmhouse. That way all of Greg's prep won't go to waste."

"Yeah?" Natalia smiled giddily at her. When Olivia nodded, she threw her arms around the older woman's neck, kissing her soundly.

*****

The look of panic in Greg's eyes as Olivia and Natalia told him they wanted to switch the location of the ceremony from the farmhouse to the gazebo was priceless. Olivia knew she should feel guilty, but that's what Natalia was for. When she whispered her idea of incentive for Greg into Natalia's ear and got a giggle and nod back, Olivia knew why she loved her wife so much.

Olivia waved a hand in front of Greg's face, which had turned a strange shade of green. "Greg, I have two words for you that will make it all worthwhile."

It took Natalia brushing his arm to bring him back to the present. "Huh?"

"Shopping trip," Olivia beamed. Greg was still non-verbal so she emphasized her next words, "A one thousand dollar shopping spree...in New York City. I'll cover the travel expenses, too."

The words finally sunk in and he squealed like a little girl getting a pony. Both women laughed at him as he perked up. "Oh my God, Mrs. Spencer! I'm...I'm...oh my God!" He paused, turned from them as if he had a thought, then swung back around. "I need some new decorations. Ohhhh, I have the perfect idea."

Olivia and Natalia giggled at the prim man being completely discombobulated as he walked away mumbling. Natalia turned back to her wife who was grinning goofily. "Quick thinking, querida."

Olivia shrugged and pulled Natalia close. "That's why I get paid the big bucks." She winked and pressed a sweet kiss to Natalia's lips. "Mmmmm, you know, the best thing about letting someone else plan the wedding is that we have plenty of free time for more...pleasant activities."

Her body hummed from the kiss Olivia gave her and she desperately wanted more. She asked breathlessly, "What did you have in mind, Mrs. Spencer-Rivera?"

Smirking, Olivia leaned in and brushed her lips tantalizingly over her love's neck before coming up to nip at her earlobe. "Meet me in Suite 403 and find out."

Natalia shivered at the erotic rush that ran down her spine. "Give me an hour."

*****

The minutes seemed to tick slowly by as Olivia put the final touches on Suite 403. Stepping back, she bit her lip and looked around at the room.

"Perfect. Just like you," she whispered into the empty room. Pleased that she had everything in its place, Olivia went to the bathroom to change.

Natalia checked her watch again as she waited for the elevator to arrive. She knew vaguely what Olivia had planned, probably something romantic and sexy like the woman herself, and her body practically vibrated with anticipation. It didn't matter how many times they made love it always felt like the first time. Stepping into the elevator, she checked her watch once again and noticed her hand shaking slightly. She took a deep breath and tried to relax. The feelings Olivia gave her were wondrous and frightening. When Olivia whispered the suggestive encounter in her ear, Natalia had to resist the urge to race her up to the room. After all, the anticipation between them was as addictive and amazing as the actual encounter.

As the elevator came to a stop, Natalia shook her hands and cleared her head. In a couple of days, she would marry Olivia again in front of their family and friends. While it was already legal between them, even if the state didn't think so, the idea of marrying in front of the most important people in their lives was more frightening than the step they'd already taken.

Somewhere in Natalia's head and heart, she had felt married to Olivia already, even long before the trip to New York. As soon as Olivia had told her that she was in love with her, standing next to Gus's grave, Natalia had the image emblazoned on her heart of Olivia being her wife. That day in the church should have been their day. It never should have been wasted on Frank. At the time, the feelings had shook her to her core. Now, though, she was excited about the future -- the future she had with Olivia and their children.

The rightness of it settled her as she slid her pass key through the lock and the door clicked allowing her entry. The lights were dimmed as she walked in and closed the door behind her. A huge smile broke out on her face as she looked around the suite. She loved this sensual and romantic side of Olivia that no one but her got to see.

Taking a calming breath she looked around, rose petals in a multitude of colors - most the rich, deep red and creamy white of their ceremony colors - were scattered in a path on the floor to the king size bed. Across the bed, the covers already pulled down, were more petals caressing the soft sheets. At the end of the bed was a white shirt box, the name of the shop scrawled in gold across the top.

Natalia walked slowly over to the bed and ran her fingers along the gold script. "What have you done, Olivia Spencer?"

Lifting the top off the box, Natalia breathed in a shocked gasp, "Oh my God!" She ran her fingers along the edge of the soft lace of the vintage cream-colored lingerie until it reached the clasp at the dip. Tucked under the edge of the delicate fabric was a note card with a gold "O" embossed on it. She pulled it out and opened it, a smile teasing her lips as she read the note aloud:

A beautiful classic for a classic beauty. I can't wait to see you in this on our wedding night.

Putting the note to the side, Natalia gently scooped her hands under the arms of the material and lifted it out of the box. The sheer silk and lace flowed out below her and she raised it high. She shook her head in amazement. "Oh, Olivia, what am I going to do with you?"

As she took in the shimmer of the gorgeous negligee, a glimpse of something else in the box caught her eye. Carefully setting the gown aside, she noticed something dark hidden behind sheer paper. Lifting the paper, she chuckled and picked up the other note already open for her to read: For Tonight.

With not nearly as much care, Natalia picked up the purple silk negligee and held it to her body. Another shimmer of excitement ran through her body and she suddenly realized that it was now a few minutes past the hour they had set aside to meet. Olivia should have been there by now.

Shrugging her shoulders, she replaced the first outfit in the box, carefully folding and tucking it in before taking the purple one in her hand to the bathroom. "I guess I get to surprise you this time."

A few minutes later, Natalia emerged from the bathroom.

The sensual, lilting voice of Enya was playing, and Natalia knew that Olivia had to be there. Walking out further into the dim room, Natalia adjusted her eyes to the darkness and looked for her wife.

"I take it you like your wedding gift." Natalia spun around at Olivia's voice behind her.

"Sneaky! What is with you sneaking around today? You've been here the whole time?" Olivia smirked mischievously at the brunette, her eyes dancing over the voluptuous curves barely hidden underneath the sheer silk. Olivia nodded in response to Natalia's question.

"I love it. Both of them, actually," Natalia's voice was nervous but tender. "And I love you."

Olivia walked out a little further where the light was better. "Considering we're getting married soon, that's a good thing."

For a moment, Natalia had a hard time breathing. She had never seen Olivia look so gorgeous. "A very good thing. God, Olivia, you're absolutely breathtaking."

Walking over to her love, her bare feet sinking luxuriously into the thick carpet and feeling decadent, Olivia reached for Natalia and took her hand. She pulled the younger woman into her arms and to the beat of the music began to gently sway. "I know our wedding is in a couple of days, but I couldn't wait. I don't want to wait. I want to give you so much. I want to give you everything."

Natalia leaned back until she was looking into intense green eyes. "You have given me everything, querida. You've even given me things I didn't realize I wanted and yearned for."

Feeling Natalia's hands roam up and down her back, she smirked down at her playfully. "What have you yearned for?"

Natalia smiled and leaned in, kissing Olivia on the cheek. "This. This moment, this feeling, right here and right now. This deep sense of blessing and gratitude that my one true love is in my arms. You gave me your love. That's all I ever needed or wanted."

"Wow," Olivia's choked out through her tears. She pulled back and looked at Natalia again, not bothering to hide the tears in her eyes. She brought her hands up to caress Natalia's face. "You know, the vows were supposed to be saved for the wedding, right?"

Natalia chuckled, then gave her love a serious look. "I love you, Olivia Spencer. Until my last breath."

A tear fell down Olivia's cheek as she glanced down feeling surprisingly self-conscious. "Damn, you're good." Natalia tucked a finger under her wife's chin and tilted it upwards. "You have no idea," she whispered, her voice husky with desire as she leaned in to kiss Olivia.

It was slow and tender, full of love and meaning. When Olivia moaned and tilted her head, inviting Natalia in, all bets were off. Natalia pushed against Olivia, edging her toward the bed. Her nails dug in against the silk fabric along Olivia's hips and the older woman hissed at the erotic sensation, breaking the kiss.

"Natalia," Olivia whispered with a whimper as Natalia reached up to caress her breast, taking a swollen nipple between her fingers and tugging until Olivia moaned again.

"I love the feel of your breasts covered in silk," Natalia said as she bent down to bite playfully at the engorged nipple, leaving a wet mark as she broke away. "But I love it more without the silk."

Quickly, Natalia pushed the negligee up Olivia's sides and over her breasts, returning again to suck at the puckered flesh. She moaned at the soft feel of Olivia's nipple in her mouth and the smell of her skin. Desire clenched painfully between her legs, but she wanted to take Olivia to the brink more than she wanted to pleasure herself. She knew that sometimes Olivia liked to be suckled hard so she increased the pressure. When she felt Olivia's fingers dig in at the base of her skull and heard a deep, needy groan above her, Natalia knew she'd reached the ideal spot.

Olivia couldn't get her negligee off fast enough. Natalia's mouth was needy and incessant, demanding more of Olivia, as the younger woman sucked greedily at her breast. A sudden sharp tug and Olivia grabbed onto Natalia's head, holding her in place as she gladly offered herself to her wife.

They must have been moving, getting closer to the bed, but Olivia didn't realize it, distracted as she was, until she lost her balance and fell backwards.

Natalia moved with her, well aware of what she was doing. Her mouth let go of one nipple long enough to move to the other. Without letting Olivia go, she worked to push Olivia's underwear off, deftly spreading the other woman's legs as she did so and settling between them. A thrust of her hips had Olivia clutching at her shoulders, tugging at the silk lingerie that Natalia still wore.

"Get it off," Olivia husked out as she looked down trying to find the hem of the top.

Natalia chuckled as she sat up. "But you wanted me to wear it. It's such a shame to take it off now."

Olivia sat up a little, reaching for Natalia and kissing her soundly. "Take it off or I'll rip it off. Your choice."

"There's no need for violence." Natalia smiled as she sat up straighter and pulled the sleek material up and over her head.

On to the Afterdark

*****

For the first time that week, Doris's schedule was clear for the remainder of the day. Given that it was only 11 a.m., that was a rarity and she was determined to take advantage of it before all hell broke loose again. Stretching her arms above her head, she closed her eyes and sighed.

"Hmmm. Now that's a sight I like to see; preferably on my bed though," Blake said suggestively as she approached Doris, startling the other woman in the process.

"What the -," Doris exclaimed as her eyes popped open. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

Blake smirked. "No, I have better plans for you." The red head leaned against the desk. "But for now that will have to wait. Are you free for lunch?"

"You're in luck. My schedule for the rest of the day is pretty clear," Doris smiled, standing to move closer to Blake. "I need to drop some paperwork over to my law office, but other than that, we can head off." She grabbed a couple folders from her desk drawer and stuffed them into her briefcase before linking her arm around one of Blake's.

Heading down to Blake's car, "Everything all ready for Olivia and Natalia's wedding?"

"Pretty much. I got a slightly panicky email from Greg letting me know about the change of venue for the actual ceremony at the gazebo in the park." Doris smiled over at her partner. When Olivia and Natalia decided on romance, they never spared any detail. "For a conference planner, he really doesn't do last minute stress well."

It took Blake a moment to realize that Greg would have needed to get municipal permission for a ceremony on public property, and who better to give that than the mayor. And when the mayor happened to be best friends with his boss, it was best for him to go the most expedient route.

"Oh, hey, I forgot to mention, my mom's flying in for the wedding. She said she wouldn't miss this for the world." Blake smiled. She and her mother had an odd relationship because of personality differences, but things had certainly improved in the past several years.

"Any chance she can look after Clarissa after the reception?" Doris asked with a smile.

"Shouldn't be a problem. Ross has the boys that evening as they've got no interest in attending the wedding."

"All right. Off we go. We will need to come back at some point and get my car," Doris said as she climbed in Blake's van. "Where did you want to go for lunch?"

"There's that new tapas place just up the road from The Beacon that I've been meaning to try." Blake smiled as she reached over and put her arm on Doris's arm.

*****

As was the custom every Tuesday after dinner, Hector Rivera took the garbage to the curb for pickup in the morning and checked the mail. He rifled through the mail paying little attention to what was there because Carmen always paid the bills for them. However, he stopped at the front door when he saw the familiar name of his oldest daughter. The envelope was thicker than usual and off-white, the calligraphy script giving the appearance of a wedding invitation.

Scoffing, Hector moved the envelope to the back and continued looking through the mail as he opened the door. He pulled out the sales ad for the local hardware store as he walked into the kitchen where Carmen was cleaning up from dinner.

Glancing up at her husband, Carmen smiled and asked her standard question, "Anything important?"

He hesitated and almost said something about the invitation from Natalia, but he remembered just in time that he wasn't supposed to speak of her anymore. Shaking his head, he said, "No. Just more bills."

Carmen wasn't fooled. She saw the strange look on his face and something in her gut twisted. She instinctively looked around for Rafe and caught a glimpse of him in the study sitting at the computer. Drying her hands on a towel, she walked over to the table where her husband had haphazardly tossed the mail and began to look through it.

Bill...bill...letter from the church...bill.

She froze when she saw the invitation. "Mija," she whispered. With reverence and a touch of sadness, Carmen traced the fancy script of Natalia's name.

Shaking her head to break the spell, she quickly found the letter opener and deftly opened the envelope. Inside was an invitation as she had expected, but also something else inside of it - a letter. She glanced at the invitation and realized it was for Natalia's wedding, "for real, this time" as the invitation jokingly stated, to Olivia. Leyla had told them what had happened with the first wedding. While Hector had sneered that it served Natalia right for breaking God's law, Carmen saw the sadness and loss written across her husband's face. He hardly believed his own words, but he was too stubborn to cross his own line in the sand and accept Natalia.

Carmen put down the invitation and picked up the letter, assuming it was from Leyla or maybe Natalia. She found her reading glasses and pulled out a chair. Sitting, she opened the letter and was surprised to see it was actually from Olivia.

Mrs. Rivera,

I know you weren't expecting a letter from me, and Natalia doesn't know that I'm doing this. However, I wanted to ask two favors of you.

First of all, I would like to ask you to come to your daughter's wedding. As you know, because you raised her this way, Natalia is all about family. Family means everything to her and she gives her all to those she loves. I know she misses you and her father, but especially you. Not having my own mother around, I can speak to this personally. A daughter really needs her mother around when she gets married. She's never had that, and I know it would make her so happy to have you here. If you could convince Mr. Rivera to come as well, that would be a bonus.

Second, as with most wedding couples, Natalia and I will be taking a honeymoon after the wedding. I have something special planned, but I could use some help with the details...

Carmen read Olivia's honeymoon plans and found that by the time she finished, she was smiling. She mumbled quietly to herself, "You got a good one, mija."

"Who did?" She looked over in surprise to see Rafe watching her. "What has you smiling so big?"

Carmen picked up the invitation and held up both it and the letter to Rafe, who took it with a hint of hesitation. "This," she said still smiling.

A few moments passed as he looked it over. When he didn't respond right away, Carmen couldn't stand it. "Well?"

Rafe scratched at the back of his head and handed the papers back to his grandmother. "Are you going?"

She looked at him incredulously. "The more important question is, are you?"

He shrugged and mumbled, "She didn't invite me."

Carmen slammed her hand down on the table. "Ay ay ay!" She stood and began going into full-on Latina mother rant with her hands flailing out in front of her in frustration. "Eres tan terco como ese burro de marido que tengo en el otro cuarto! No puedo creer que no vayas a hablar con tu propia madre o ir a su boda! Qué pasa contigo? Tu mama te quiere, y es así como le pagas? Estos muchachos hoy en día..." (Translation)

She wandered off muttering in Spanish as Rafe stood there stunned. "I would ask her to repeat it in English, but I don't think I want to." Instead, he ran his fingers over the ink on the card, tracing his mother's name. With a sigh of determination, he turned to go find his abuela.

*****

Stretching out on the lounge chair in her hotel room at The Beacon, Holly Reade contemplated Olivia's marriage to Natalia. Only two years earlier, she'd sat in a similar room listening as Olivia told her about how Natalia had hurt her by leaving her, only to have her return but very pregnant. She recalled how heartbroken her friend had been, but she'd seen the love and resolve in Olivia's eyes that Natalia was the love of her life.

Hearing stories from Blake in the time she'd been away, Holly was thrilled when they'd tied the knot in New York, and when she'd heard that they were reaffirming their vows with family and friends at home in Springfield, she made sure to clear her schedule so that she could come back for the wedding.

She'd sent an email to Olivia earlier asking if she had time to meet her later that afternoon and now she was just waiting. She had a small present for the younger woman that she knew Olivia would love. It wasn't long before Olivia appeared, knocking at her door.

Giving the older woman a prolonged hug, Olivia smiled. "It's good to see you again, Holly." Separating, she waited for Holly to choose where she was going to sit, and Olivia sat opposite her on one of the chaise chairs. "So, how's life been treating you?"

"Not bad; a little of this and a bit of that," Holly said with a smile. "Can I get you some coffee? Or maybe a martini?" she added as she noted Olivia's nervousness.

"That bad, huh?" Olivia asked at the second offer. "Okay, so I'm a little nervous. When we got married in New York it was fun, surprising and a little nerve wracking at keeping it from Natalia until the time came." Olivia grinned. "This time it's with our friends and family...Natalia's family, if they come, that is. Our track record with her parents hasn't been the smoothest. Natalia's really missing Rafe; I know she would want him here for that. I wish we had some idea where he is."

"You'll be fine, Olivia. Once you see Natalia, things will work out just the way they should."

"We're getting married at the gazebo in the park," Olivia said with a big smile. Noticing the raised eyebrow from her friend, Olivia rolled her eyes. "I know. I'm a big sap when it comes to Natalia."

"Being in love suits you, Olivia. This is the happiest I've ever seen you." Holly stood and went over to her suitcase. "I have something for you." Removing a small jewelry box, she handed it over to Olivia. "A little unorthodox, but since when have either of us really followed any path but our own?"

Taking the box with reverence, she opened the lid to find a fine silver necklace with pewter pendant inlaid with an amethyst stone, and surrounding it were the birthstones of her three daughters, along with Natalia's and Rafe's. Olivia's voice caught in her throat, overwhelmed with emotion. "Holly, wow. This is beautiful. I don't..."

"Yes, you do deserve this. You have this life full of love that you've found with Natalia and your family." Holly took Olivia's hand, and smiled at her. "You deserve this."