Before Sunset
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Before Sunset

Chapter 18
Olivia spent the night in a chair next to Elaine's bed. Neither of them slept much. Olivia wondered if she would ever sleep again. Everytime Elaine woke up and saw her there she would smile, thank her for being such a good friend, for being there when she needed her. Olivia wanted to crawl into a hole. A good friend? She was the worst sort of friend. What would Elaine think if she knew the truth? If she knew her good friend had just sold her and her son out for a party dress and a few thousand dollars? Bette came early in the morning and hugged Elaine in a tight bear hug, crying with her while Olivia sat guiltily in the chair and watched.

Bette couldn't believe she'd found the nerve to come, to face her friend and offer her comfort for her lost son. How could she live with her knowledge? Knowing that it was her own brother and husband who had caused all this suffering. Olivia was a much better friend, being there for Elaine while Bette kept her own secret hidden carefully away. She could barely face the two of them, knowing that she was part of the conspiracy now. What would they think if they knew what she did? That she had burned the documents implicating her husband in a baby stealing scheme?

Elaine forced herself to concentrate on the good things around her. She would be going home soon and had to think about Paula, about making the little girl's life as normal and happy as she could. As she looked at her two best friends she thanked God for them. She wasn't sure how she would deal with all of this is they weren't there. She could see they were hurting as much as she was and it helped somehow to know they understood. She smiled through her tears, "Thank you for helping with Paula and everything. I owe you both so much..." Bette looked at her shoes; Olivia looked at the walls; neither could answer...

Del rang the bell at his brother-in-laws house and waited. Mario was falling apart and he had to make sure the man didn't lose it all together. Things had gone perfectly so far... Of course with Olivia and Mario both grappling with guilty consciences that could change fast. And there was no way Del was gonig to jail or losing out on the Deschanel cash.

When Mario opened the door he looked horrible. Suffering from a hangover and his hair uncombed, it was hard to recognize this man as a successful doctor. "What do you want, Del?" He grumbled as he recognized his visitor.

"Is Bette home?"

"No. She's at the hospital visiting the grieving mother." Mario snapped.

Del smiled, "Good... I'm sure Elaine will appreciate the support. Now we need to talk."

"I don't have anything to say to you."

"Well, I have plenty to say to you. Everything went smoothly and I don't intend to stand by and watch you screw it up... Now pull yourself together, clean up, and start enjoying that money you have stashed away now. My sister deserves the best, remember? Think of it that way. You can now give her what she deserves."

"And what about Elaine?"

"Elaine has Paula..." Del shrugged.

Pausing outside the door Mario tried to compose himself. He held Elaine's file in his hand and was about to tell her she could go home. It should have been good news, easy to deliver. Instead he found the idea of looking her in the eye and smiling the hardest thing he'd ever faced. Finally he opened the door, his eyes meeting those of Elaine, Olivia, and Bette. He held Olivia's for a moment before they both looked guiltily away, each knowing the other was a fraud.

"Hello, Doctor." Elaine forced a smile. "I hope you are here to tell me I can go home to my daughter."

"That's exactly why I'm here. I've looked over your charts and everything seems to be in order. Do you have a way home."

"I'll take her..." Olivia and Bette answered together.

"I have plenty of people looking after me." Elaine squeezed the hands of the two best friends she'd ever known.

Olivia had been only too ready to get back to her own apartment once Elaine was back home with Paula. She sat now on the sofa curled up, her eyes shut tight as if fighting to block out the images that played in her mind. She had just about drifted off when the doorbell rang. Sighing, she tried to ignore it, but whoever it was, they were persistent. She sighed and pulled herself up.

"Good morning, Sunshine!" Del walked past her as soon as the door was open.

"What do you want? I was trying to sleep."

"Sleep later, I brought you a surprise." Dell held up the dress he'd draped across is arm. "Go on, try it on. If it doesn't fit we'll need to find you something else, but I think this one will be perfect."

Olivia frowned, not looking at the gown, "I don't want..."

"Nonsense." Del leveled cold eyes on her. "The party is only a few days away and I mean for my date to look gorgeous. Try it on."

Olivia recognized that the words were not a request, but an order. She paused a moment before reaching over to take the dress. She felt like crying again as she walked into her bedroom to change. She had not only sold out her friend, but herself, and deep inside she knew it was too late to change that.

"You want to what?"

"I want to bury my baby in the Deschanel graveyard. He had a right to be there, Bette."

"They'll never allow it..."

"I know... That's why I'm not going to ask for their permission. But I will need you and Olivia to help me..."

Bette felt ill. She knew she would agree. She had to. She sat down on the couch and listened to Elaine's plan for stealing the tiny coffin and giving her son a final resting place amongst his relatives. It was the least she could do, Bette rationalized. Maybe, just maybe it would bring Elaine some peace. As long as she didn't realize that little coffin was empty...

Del smiled as Olivia walked out. She did look stunning, even though a little pale. Hopefully she would get over that before the party. All he needed to do was to get her mind off Elaine and that darn baby and back on Gregory Richards and his steadily growing bank account. "Perfect... We'll need to get some jewelry and make an appointment to get your hair done. Once Richards lays eyes on you he isn't going to be able to think of anything else."

"What about Felicity? I'm sure she'll be doing everything she can to ensure he is thinking about her."

"Felicity isn't even in the same league as you, Olivia..."

"That's what I'm worried about..."

It was sometime later when Bette arrived at Olivia's door. She had a complete plan laid out for the undercover baby burying scheme. She just prayed she was able to go through with it... As son as she rang the bell Olivia answered, looking much more rested than she had earlier. "Hey, Toots..." She hugged her.

"Hello, Bette. How's Elaine?"

"Better, I think... She seems to be dealing with it. Better than I would anyway."

"I can't imagine what she's going through..." Olivia dropped her eyes.

"Me either. I'm not sure I want to. Actually, Elaine is what I wanted to talk to you about. She wants to bury the baby in the Deschanel graveyard..." Olivia looked up, eyes wide and mouth opened. "I told her we'd help..."

Getting the casket out of the hospital proved to be simpler than any of them anticipated. Both Bette and Olivia were familiar with the schedule and getting into the morgue when no one was around was fairly simple. Then it was just a matter of using the back stairs and slipping the casket into the trunk of Bette's car. The ride to the cemetery was quiet, each person wrapped in their own thoughts. Olivia sat in the back, playing distractedly with the shovel, trying desperately not to think about what they were going to do with it. Dead people made her nervous... Knowing that the coffin in the back was empty didn't make it any less creepy and the thought of digging in a cemetery in the middle of the night was almost more than she could bear.

As soon as they arrived Elaine was out of the car. Bette and Olivia both hesitated before they seemed to decide in unison that leaving Elaine alone with that coffin was not the best of ideas. The jumped out and went around to the back of the car where Elaine was just lifting the tiny casket out of the trunk. "I want to see him..."

"No!!!!!!" Two voices echoed as one in the darkness, stunning both Olivia and Bette as they turned towards each other, trying to read the other's objection while hiding their own.

Tears filled Elaine's eyes. "I just want to hold him once..."

Olivia was immediately in tears herself, a combination of sympathy, guilt, and terror. Bette put her arm around Elaine's shoulder's. "I know... I understand, but..." She had no idea but what. But he ain't in there and I have no idea where he is? Not on your life, Sweetheart! She looked desperately to Olivia, hoping she would be able to express her own objections.

"But he.. uh..." Olivia fumbled. "He wasn't prepared for a viewing, Elaine... It would only make things worse for you..."

"Right. Exactly... You don't want to see him like that, Elaine. The image you have of him should be the one from the delivery room... That's what you should remember."

Elaine smiled, "I am so glad I have both of you. You're right. I wasn't thinking. Let's get this done before someone catches us."

They carried the casket into the cemetery and found the area they were looking for. Then they took turns digging the tiny grave. Once the casket had been placed and covered Elaine said a small prayer over it. Olivia wondered if God really did strike people down with lightning bolts and kept an eye on the sky, certain she was going to be struck down at any minute.

"Where have you been?" Mario asked as soon as Bette walked in. He was drinking again, already a little unsteady on his feet.

Bette turned cold eyes on him, disgusted by what she saw. "Out." She stated simply and walked upstairs to shower.

Mario watched her, remembering the ashes in the trash and the missing forms. He knew she knew and that she hated him for it. Couldn't she see he'd done it for her? Just as she had covered it up for him? It should have brought them closer.. Why then could they barely stand to look at one another?

Olivia showered as soon as she got home, letting the water wash away the dirt from the graveyard, wishing it would wash away the guilt as well. She looked at the dress Del had bought for her. It was beautiful and fit perfectly. She slid it on and studied herself in the mirror. Could she go through with it? The party was only two days away. Would she survive that long?
Elaine sat quietly and watched her little girl sleep. IT had been hard to explain why she hadn't been able to bring home the baby brother she'd promised, but Paula had seemed to accept it finally. She seemed to think it was a special privilege to have a baby brother in heaven with Jesus. If only Elaine could think of it that way...

Chapter 19
Sitting on the couch, staring at the dress Del had bought. That was what Olivia had been doing for 3 hours straight. The longer she stared at it, the sicker she felt. Now, only one hour before Del was supposed to pick her up, she was certain that there was no way in the world she would be able to go through with this. Who was she kidding anyway? Gregory had reportedly flown in that morning. Not reportedly, he had. One of the first things he'd done was to call Bette. Not her, Bette. And Bette had confirmed that that Felicity floozy had picked him up at the airport. She'd been cooing in his ear the whole time he was talking to Bette. No amount of money or any number of new dresses was going to change the fact that Felicity had something Olivia couldn't buy. Breeding, position, and respectability. All the things that would be important to Gregory's career...

Del rolled his eyes as he listened to Madeleine complain for the umpteenth time that he wasn't taking her to the party. He hated upsetting her. After all she was attractive, could be fun, and was rather wealthy... There was no way he could back out of the date with Olivia now. She was still too unpredictable. It was bad enough his worthless brother-in-law was drunk more than he was sober, but Olivia seemed to have devoted her life to Elaine and Paula. He was going to make sure she got back ono track before she did something foolish and confessed what she knew about that little brat. "Madie, baby... Listen, I told you... I owe Bette a favor. I have to take the kid to the party... I'll make it up to you, I promise..." He cooed into the phone. She might be smart, sexy, and rich, but sometimes Madeleine could be a pain. Under spoilt rich kid in the dictionary, it should have listed her picture...
Elaine rang the doorbell and tousseled Paula's hair, "I bet she looks like a princess..." Paula's eyes were wide with expectations and she nodded in agreement. A few minutes later they both stared in amazement when Olivia opened the door. Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, she wore no makeup, and was dressed simply in sweats. "Olivia! You aren't ready!"

Olivia looked miserable, her own anxiety and guilt mixing and expressing themselves in a physical form as the worst quesiness she'd experienced in a long time. "I don't feel so well..." She muttered, feeling near tears, but relieved to see Elaine there. Elaine would know what to do...

"Oh, Sweety.. What's wrong?" The mother in Elaine took over as she felt Olviia's forhead. "You don't have a fever...." She then proceeded to ask a number of embarresing questions that first annoyed and then made Olivia laugh.

"Stop... I'm okay. My word you are horrible!"

Elaine smiled. "I have a sneaking suspicion you're just nervous..." She stated as she picked up the afternoon paper from the coffee table. "Bette says Gregory made it on alright. And that he will definatly be at the party..."

"Oh what do I care about Gregory Richards?" Olivia said, slipping the protective cover from the dress in an attempt to hide the true feelings swirling within her.

Elaine smiled knowingly, "Why don't you run slip that on and Paula and I will help you with your hair. I promised Paula she could see you all dressed up and I know you aren't going to disappoint us..."

Olivia looked at the woman and child, remembered how much she owed them, and lifted tha hanger. "I'll just be a moment..."

Gregory tried hard to ignore her, but Felicity's constant buzzing about was making it difficult. If he'd only had a couple of days he would have been able to find someone else to go with him tonight. But Felicity had appeared at the airport and seemed to believe he'd actually invited her. He'd tried calling Bette, believing he could casually get her to give up some information on Olivia. But for the first time since he'd met her, Bette seemed to be keeping her mouth shut. No matter how many subtle hints he dropped she hadn't mentioned Olviia's name once. He couldn't even find out if she would be there that evening. He desperatly wanted to see her, needed to know if she'd met anyone, or if she was still pining for that loser Deschanel. Well, it would have to wait. Somehow, sometime, he would manage to see her, talk to her... But tonight, he had to deal with Felicity. He frowned and shrugged her away as she came up and kissed his cheek, dusting at his sleeve as if removing invisible dust from his jacket.
"You look like Snow White!" Paula said excitedly as she watched her mother arrange flowers in Olivia's dark hair. The dress was the prettiest she had ever seen and she had been in awe of her mother's friend from the first moment she'd seen her. Olivia was like the ladies in her books that married the prince. Now, dressed in the gown that made Cinderella's seem shabby to the litlte girl, she looked even more the part.

Elaine grinned at her daughter. "Let's just hope Olivia doesn't have to deal with any wicked stepmothers..." She winked.

Olivia rolled her eyes, "No... Only the evil princess who wants the prince all to herself." She said without thinking.

Elaine laughed, "So it is about Gregory..." Olivia glared at her, making her laugh even harder.

"Just don't eat any apples!" Paula said, sounding quiet serious and sending both adults into fits of giggles.

The party was interrupted by the doorbell as Del arrived. He frowned as he heard the laughter from inside. He didn't like Elaine and Olivia spending a great deal of time together... But at least they seemed to be in good spirits and not crying over Elaine's brat.

Olivia opened the door and Del smiled, remembering what it was about her that had first attracted him. For a moment he was tempted to give up his own social climbing and go after her, but it passed quickly. They were both destined for bigger things. "Good evening, Olivia. Elaine... Are you ready?"

Olivia turned to Elaine who nodded, "We were just leaving... Call me tomorrow." She kissed Olivia's cheek before taking Paula's hand and slipping past Del on her way out.

"I'm as ready as I'm going to be." Olivia sighed as she faced Del. She had to admit that Elaine had done wonders gettnig her ready in time, and making her feel better. But now, with Del standing in front of her, and the party just moments away, she felt uneasy again. At this rate she was going to end up with ulcers...

Gregory and Felicity entered the room and the air grew quiet for about 30 seconds before exploding with applause and shouts of congratulations. Gregory smiled and nodded. Felicity was soon forgotten in the crowd as he was ushered from group to group and answered the same questions over and over. he was no longer Gregory Richards up and coming lawyer. He was Gregory Richards corporate success and fit easily among the other big players in the room. He loved it... Despite his enjoyment of the attention and appreciation for the situation however, he could not keep his eyes from sweeping the crowd occasionally or from falling expectantly on the door each time a new guest arrived. Finally the multiple disappoints he felt were replaced by overwhelming satisfaction as his eyes met hers. She had just walked through the door on Del's arm and was passing her coat to the doorman when he'd looked up. She had instantly looked directly at him as if she knew where he would be. More beautiful than he had remembered, she had dropped her eyes and turned to Del, placing her hand on his arm. Del was smiling and Gregory would have traded all his popularity at that moment to be by her side.
"Shouldn't we wait a bit?" She asked Del, almost pleading as the butterflies in her stomach took flight. "I don't want to look over anxious..."

"Nor do you want to look as if you are avoiding him. Relax, Olivia... It's only natural that we would wish to congratulate our friend on his return..." He laid his hand over hers and led her through the crowd towards Gregory.

Felicity seemed to know instantly that there was trouble. Something in the air didn't feel right and she quickly made her way to Gregory's side, claiming her position with an air of superiority meant to warn off anyone that dared consider challanging her. The smile on Gregory's fce as Olivia and Del approached seemed benign enough, barely interested. But there was something else in his eyes, something she didn't like at all. And despite that Olivia clung intimatly to Del didn't mask the spark in her eyes as they met Gregory's. She glared at Olivia, a warning look that said she would not be easily gotten rid of. The look did her no good, serving only to amuse Del and place a smug grin on his face. Neither Olivia or Gregory saw it. As the distance between them faded all they saw was each other. Gregory rose to his feet, stepping up to meet her, oblivious to Del's precense as he smiled at her. She blushed as his eyes ignited something deep within her. "It's a pleasure to see you again, Ms. Blake..."

"The pleasure is mine, Mr. Richards, I'm sure...."

Chapter 20
Felicity was fuming, desperatly planning a means of heading off the disaster she saw developing. She turned to Del and realized instantly he knew what was happening, had probably been a part of it. She remembered his assurances of a year ago that Olivia was happily engaged to AJ and would not be a problem. Had he known even then? Everyone knew he was attepting to make headway into the elite social structure of Sunset Beach. But how would he benefit from the Brit's relationship with Gregory? If she could figure that out, maybe she could stop him. Stop them both. She would not give up her chance at regaining her fortune, certainly not to some low life European trash...

Del smiled at the obviously infuriated woman at Gregory's side. Would she make a scene? Nothing had happened to warrent one, yet... Gregory was being polite, welcoming an old friend. The majority of those standing close by were probably oblivious to the fact that the opening shots in a major war were about to be fired. "It's good to see you again, Felicity. Would you do me the honor of a dance?"

A fake smile as she tried to beg out, "Oh, Del, you know I would be absolutly delighted to dance with you, but I.."

The rest was cut off as he placed an insistent hand on her elbow, "Excellent. We'll be right back. You will keep an eye on my date for me, won't you, Gregory?" He didn't wait for the answer, but led Felicity to the dance floor.

"What the Hell are you up to, Douglas?" She snarled.

Gregory watched them walk off and turned back to Olivia, "Can I get you something to drink?" He grabbed a couple of wine glasses as the waitor came by and lead her to a table, away from the others he had been speaking with.

She smiled up at him as she sat, taking the glass from his hand and waiting for him to be seated before speaking. "I take it your trip was a success?"

"It was... But I am happy now to be home and have it behind me. How are things here? Elaine?" He asked, honestly concerned.

Olivia felt a tug of guilt, "She's okay... You heard about the baby?"

He nodded. "I'll have to stop in and see her. I feel terrible." Olivia started to say something, but seemed to be struggling. He reached across and took her hand. "It must be hard on all of you. I know how close you are..." Even as he said it his mind was drifting from Elaine. He glanced down at her hand in his and gently moved his thumb across it. Olivia's eyes met his and he smiled, knowing that she had felt the same thing he had at the touch.

"I'm not sure I know what you are talking about, Ms. Prescott." Del said with an unnerving grin.

"Don't feed me that bull. Why aren't you here with Madeline?"

"Because I'm here with Olivia..."

"Exactly! And we both know there is nothing going on there."

"She is a close friend of mine and my sister's. There was a party and she had no escort."

"So you dropped the woman you have been puruing for months to do a friend a favor? Balony! Half the men in Sunset Beach would have fallen over themselves to bring her if she needed a date."

Del laughed, "And would your date have been one of them?"

"Go to Hell, Del."

"I probably will... I probably will..."

The song ended and Gregory saw Felicity making a beeline for the table as another started. Not letting go of Olivia's hand he stood as another song started. "Dance with me."

"I don't think Felicity would like that..."

"Do you care?"

"Not at all." Her grin matched his as she stood to her feet and let him lead her to the dance floor, carefully avoiding the frustrated Felicity and increasingly amused Del.

"You could always cut in. Of course that might be embarrasing when he turned you to take a flying leap out a high window." Del taunted.

"Are you enjoying yourself?"


"Mr. Douglas, someday, someone is going to put a bullet in you and I sincerely hope they get away with it." She turned on her heels and walked off, leaving him laughing behind her.

One song ended to be replaced by another but Gregory kept his arm around her, her hand held securely in his. She smiled and let him draw her closer as the dance floor grew more crowded in response to the slow love song being played. She felt light headed, as if in a dream. Neither of them had said much, but her heart was pounding and she was certain he could feel it as they swayed together.

Gregory was just as much affected by the closeness as she was. The scent of her perfume and the feel of her body against was almost more than he could handle. He had to fight the urge to kiss her, knowing if he did he would not want to stop there. All the time he was away he had thought of her, imagined her in his arms like this. He had almost convinced himself that he had built her up in his mind, made her more beautiful than she was, more desirable. As he held her know he realized the opposite was true. As much as he had wanted her while he was gone the desire had faded somewhat. Now, in this close proximity, with her lips a slight turn of the head from his, he knew he would give up everything else for the chance to be with her. All his other dreams, everything he'd worked for his whole life, paled in comparison.

The song ended and Olivia felt herself tremble as he stepped back and looked into her eyes. Before either could speak Felicity was there, demanding his attention, insisting he come and meet some important person who had just arrived. Del stepped up and took her hand, leading her into the next dance, saving her from her own inability to move...

Felicity was aided by other party goers through out the night in keeping Gregory effectively away from Olivia. The closest he could get was an occasional smile from across the room. Olivia didn't mind. She was actually thankful for the distance. It allowed her some time to recoup from the disturbing effects he had on her. It wasn't until the party was starting to thin out that they were close enough to speak again, Felicity temporarily distracted by the governor.

"I'm sorry we never got a chance to dance again." He said lightly. Back in control, his voice sounded friendly but not overly so.

"Perhaps another time..."

"Actually the firm has a dinner scheduled for next week. Perhaps, if you are available..."

Olivia glanced to ensure Felicity was still occupied. Gregory's hand caught her chin and turned her back to face him. "She isn't a concern..."

"Have you told her that?" She asked softly.

"I'll remind her..." He smiled.

Del arrived then, apologizing. "We should be going..."

"Of course. It was good to see you again, Del." He shook the other man's hand. "I'll call you concerning arrangements." He told Olivia before Del lead her away. In another minute Felicity was by his side, her arm around him, kissing his cheek and purring softly that they should go home. He glanced at her and then at the door Olivia had just disappeared through, "You're right. Get your coat and I'll be glad to drive you back to your house." He walked off before she could protest too loudly.

Chapter 21
Olivia was silent on the ride home and Del let her think quietly for awhile, "You okay?" he asked finally. After all, he did care about her and, although everything had seemed to go well, he hadn't been privy to the conversation she'd had with Richards.

"Hmm, what? Oh yes, fine..." Olivia smiled, pulling herself back from her thoughts. "Are you going to be able to make things up with Madeline?"

"Don't worry about it," Del assured her, ever confident. "I'm guessing Gregory's remark when we left means you two have plans?"

"He invited me to a company dinner." She grinned.

"We'll have to celebrate." He laughed.

"Gregory...." Felicity cooed into his ear as he drove her home. "You have no idea how much I missed you while you were away..." Her hand traveled slowly up his thigh.

Gregory caught his breath and her hand in the same instant, "I'm tired, Felicity."

"Then let me help relax you." She kissed his neck, letting her tongue play teasingly against his skin before moving to his ear. "It's been a long time..."

Gregory couldn't deny the physical impact of her actions. He was a man and she was a very attractive woman. As he pulled up to a stoplight she moved and captured his mouth with hers in a passionate kiss. He responded for a moment, moving his hands over her body. Her hands were more daring and he pulled away as she touched him, "That's enough," he said firmly, driving again, glad no cars were behind him.

"Darling, I know you want it as badly as I do. You can't deny this..." Her hand moving again.

He grabbed her wrist, "Stop! Not tonight, Felicity."

She pulled back to her side of the car, sulking as he drove her the rest of the way home in silence.

Olivia couldn't sleep. She could still feel Gregory's body against hers, his hand gently caressing her fingers, the scent of his cologne. She turned on the shower, letting the water run hot as she brushed out her hair and stepped out of her clothes. Would he really call her? She glanced at herself in the mirror, studying her face and her body. Men had always found her attractive, but could she compete with someone of Felicity's upbringing? The woman knew how to handle herself in upperclass society. She knew how to dress, to fold her napkin, hold her fork... Olivia wouldn't know where to begin planning a charitable fundraiser, but she suspected Felicity had been involved with them since she was a child. She stepped into the shower, wincing as the hot water burned her skin. She didn't bother adjusting the temperature, it matched her mood.
Del left Olivia's and drove straight to Madeline's apartment. He shook his head as he looked at the building, the best apartments, most exclusive, in all of Sunset Beach. Well, his beach house wasn't shabby, and it was paid for, thanks to AJ's bastard son. He knew getting into the old man's confidence would be profitable, but he'd never imagined he could make so much money so easily. And if he could add Madeline's fortune to it... He strolled casually up to the doorman and gave his name, confident that she would let him in, if only to yell at him again. Once he was upstairs he knew how to calm down...
Felicity slammed the door to the family home that three generations of the Prescott family had been raised in. Her family had been among the first to move here, going into business with Armando Deschanel. Her father had managed to gamble away all his stock in the companies and everything else her grandfather had left him. The house was all they had left. Timothy came downstairs when the door slammed. "Welcome home. I take it the party didn't go as well as you'd hoped."

"Where were you? I could have used some help with a certain tramp I happen to know you have the hots for."

Prescott laughed, "Such language.. Very unladylike, Felicity. Grandmother would be most unhappy with you. I was there, I split early. Don't tell me you weren't able to wiggle yourself between Gregory and Olivia Blake..."

"So you saw them? Why didn't you do anything? I can't believe how shamelessly she was throwing herself at him, rubbing herself against him like a cat in heat." Timothy felt it better not to point out that the only "cat" he had seen after Gregory Richards had been Felicity. She didn't seem to be in the mood to handle it well...

Gregory sat down as soon as he got in the house. He silently thanked God for Felicity's intervention at the party. He was going to have enough trouble sleeping even with hours between now and the dangerous feelings Olivia's being in his arms had provocked. He wanted her more than he'd ever wanted anything. The physical affects were not helped by Felicity's never shy advances. He'd even been tempted to give in and stay at her place for the night. But she wasn't what he wanted and the real thing had been too close for him to give in to a substitute. Maybe after a cold shower and a drink he would be able to sleep...
"Come on, Baby, don't be like this. You know I love you..." Del pulled the pouting woman into his arms. "I couldn't stop thinking about you all evening." "Right. You couldn't stop thinking about me while you paraded that Blake woman around the party I should have been at." She pushed him away.

"I was hardly even with Olviia all night. She was giving Felicity Prescott a run for her money with Gregory Richards." He smiled, knowing Madeline would find the gossip irrisistable.

She squinted at him, trying to decide whether to believe him and if the story was worth letting him off the hook for, "You insisted on taking her to the party and she ignored you for the lawyer?"

"Exactly. Very humiliating..." He teased. "I told you I owed her a favor. Olivia isn't a threat to you, darling... No woman ever could be." He stepped closer to her again, sliding his arm around her waist.

"She used you to get near Gregory?" she asked doubtfully, beginning to play with his shirt.

"Exactly... And now I have repaid my favor and I am free to focus on what is important to me, on what I want...." He lowered his lips to her neck, tracing a line to the opening of her shirt as his hands moved over her hips.

"You're lucky I'm such a forgiving woman..." she replied, sliding his jacket from his shoulders.

Olivia stepped from the shower and wrapped herself in the large bath towel. She felt more relaxed but the feel of Gregory was still there. How could any person have such a strong impact on another? She was tired and the wine combined with the hot shower to give everything a dreamlike quality. She slipped on a silk nightgown she'd bought only a few days ago while on a shopping spree with Bette and Elaine. The feel of the fabric complemented the fuzzy condition of her mind as she crawled under the covers. Her thoughts went to the party, to Gregory and the music, all else fading away as she remembered and let her mind change the events to suit her. As she drifted off to sleep she moaned softly in anticipation of the imagined feel of his lips on hers.