I'd Rather Go Blind
Love is a universal migraine
A bright stain on the vision
Blotting out reason.
"We should have just eloped."
"It's your fault! Why do you know so many people?" Olivia called out through the en suite bathroom door.
Fitz groaned, sitting down on the edge of the bed as he toed out of his Prada dress shoes. He pulled one side of his bowtie lose and let it hang around his neck while he made short work of removing his cufflinks.
"You know, you could have changed out here," Fitz said amusedly. "I see you naked all the time."
"Well, if you want to see me naked tonight, you'll be patient and not come in here."
The weeks leading up to the wedding had been trying and tedious for Fitz and Olivia. Their wedding had taken nearly a year to plan. Invitations went out to 600 hundred people all descending into Santa Barbara, California and the Grant Family Ranch. It seemed like a fitting location, and honestly, one of the few with the requisite amount of space.
The weather stayed Southern California perfect for their evening outdoor wedding ceremony. Luckily, being a former Governor of California allowed Fitz to pull some major strings and keep their wedding reasonably hushed up. Guests were bused to the ranch and their entrance to the party was through a large white tent that led out to the plush rows of seats facing the breathtaking landscape of the Grant Ranch.
A few west coast socialites were overheard talking about how posh this second wedding of Fitzgerald Grant's was—and to a black woman at that. Most guests were just happy to score an invite to the social event of the year; and others, a very small group of the closest of friends and family, were genuinely there to wish the couple well.
"Empty threats, Olivia," Fitz responded with a smirk. "You and I both know you'd never withhold your body from me. You need me too much."
"Are you sure that's not the other way around?"
Fitz looked up from his spot on the bed as he heard the door open and reveal Olivia, standing in the open archway, dim light outlining her form, provocatively draped in very tiny bits of lace and satin.
"All that ivy league education really seems to be paying off, Fitz."
Fitz quickly crossed the short distance from the bed to the doorway and neatly swept her up into his arms.
"My apologies, Mrs. Grant, but my brain seems to have taken a short hiatus. You look stunning and in need of being ravished."
Olivia laughed heartily as Fitz set her gently in the middle of the plush Four Seasons bed. "Ravished? Have you been watching BBC alone again?"
Fitz smirked and lowered his lips to meet hers. "How are you this evening, Mrs. Grant?"
Olivia sat up on her elbows and shook her head. "Pride and Prejudice, Fitz? Really?"
"Hey, Mr. Darcy's got some moves, babe."
"Well," Olivia said moving her body flush against his and bringing her lips to his ear. "I think you've got plenty of moves I'd love to see, Mr. Grant."
Olivia rolled them over completely so that she was perched atop him, as if she were claiming her kingdom. Her fingers trailed down his shirt, leisurely undoing each button. Olivia licked her lips and brought them down to run over each new patch of skin she exposed. She quickly rid him of his shirt and moved to unbuckle his belt.
Fitz watched and enjoyed as his wife of three hours moved down his body, her lace clad hips swaying enticingly. He relished the feel of her fingers and lips brushing over his hipbones as she unzipped his pants and gently pushed them down.
"Are you just going to lie there, Mr. Grant, or are you going to help me?" Olivia asked in a mock serious tone.
"I'm enjoying the view, Mrs. Grant."
Olivia crawled back up his frame and nestled her hips into his, leaning over to rain kisses over his neck. "I think you can do both. How about I make it worth your while?"
Olivia sat up and reached behind her and unlatched her bra, dragging it down her arms and brushing it against his chest where she dropped the tiny scrap of lace.
It was enough to propel Fitz to action. He sat up and toed out of his shoes and pushed his pants the rest of the way down legs as his lips and tongue plundered her mouth and took them over into their pleasure.
"Do you ever feel guilty?" Olivia asked as she ran a finger up and down his damp neck. They were still naked basking in the after glow, wrapped tightly around one another.
"About what?" Fitz replied, the edges of sleep starting to creep into his voice.
"About how our relationship started. Do you ever...I don't know, worry?"
Fitz opened his eyes and turned to look at Olivia. Her hair had lost most of its curl and her neck was covered in a light sheen of sweat. He coveted this sight because he knew he'd never have to share it with anyone else.
"Worry about what?"
"History repeating itself. You loved Mellie once, too. You loved her enough to marry her. Have kids with her. Do you ever worry that the same thing may happen to us? That we just might wake up one day and not feel the same way anymore?"
Fitz sat up quickly, fully alert now, and reached for the light on the bedside table. He pulled Olivia up with him and smoothed his hands through her hair.
"I love you. I love you in a way I've never loved anything or anyone before. Yes, I loved Mellie. I cared for her a lot in the beginning. We were both determined to make something of ourselves apart from family expectations, but somewhere along the line we forgot to stop and care about another. We continued to grow as individuals and forgot about us. We thought kids would help, but they didn't. I'm not proud of the fact that I cheated, but I don't regret one moment I've spent with you. History is not going to repeat itself, because I can't imagine my life without you in it."
The King & Spalding annual Christmas gala was well underway when Olivia and Fitz finally arrived.
There'd been a mix up with the car service, a broken heel on a Jimmy Choo, a pointless, nasty fight and subsequent make-up sex that made them fashionably late to the party. Even though Olivia and Fitz were absolutely used to black-tie affairs, they both preferred to be at home rather than making small talk with people out for their own gain.
"Fitz! Olivia!" Cyrus boomed jovially, clearly feeling no pain as he was imbued with holiday spirits. "So good of you to finally make it. Liv, you look stunning as always." Cyrus noisily clapped Fitz on the back while he lovingly placed a kiss on Liv's cheek.
"Drunk already, Cy? The party's only been going for an hour," Fitz said as he rubbed his shoulder.
"An hour with no one to talk to but the world's most boring people. James has gone off somewhere talking with everyone because he's a natural at it, and I can't be bothered to care. You all weren't here yet so I had to take refuge in the only place I could, the open bar, which, is excellent, by the way. Best thing about the whole damn party."
Olivia smiled at Fitz before turning towards Cyrus. "Well, how about a spin around the room, before you get too drunk, old man."
"Old man, my ass, toots. Let's go."
Olivia laughed as Cyrus twirled her out to the dance floor. She looked over her shoulder at a smirking Fitz and mouthed 'I love you.'
'Love you, too,' he mouthed back and made his way to the bar.
He chatted with a few senior associates while he waited for the bartender to pour him three fingers of scotch.
"Good evening, Mr. Grant."
Fitz tipped the bartender and grabbed his drink before he peered over his shoulder to see his assistant Amanda standing there looking uncommonly pretty. Her usually mousy hair was shiny and styled into a low chignon. Her red dress was low cut, but still managed to be tasteful with a sheer panel of fabric that came up to her collarbone.
"Hello, Amanda. You look nice. Are you having a good evening?"
"Much better now, thank you."
Fitz nodded awkwardly as he swirled the amber liquid in his highball glass. "Are you here with anyone?"
Amanda shook her head. "My boyfriend was supposed to join me, but...we had an argument before the party..."
"Oh, well, I'm sorry about that. I hope it wasn't anything serious. All couple's fight; you just have to find a way to work it out if your relationship is worth saving. Liv and I have had our share of disagreements, but I know we'll always fight for one another, ya know?"
Amanda gave a sort of sad smiled and nodded. "Is Mrs. Grant here this evening?"
"Of course," Fitz said thinking her question was a bit odd. Why wouldn't his wife be there with him? "She's currently suffering through a turn on the dance floor with Cyrus."
Amanda turned in the direction of the dance floor and took in the sight of Cyrus and Olivia dancing. Olivia was currently laughing as Cyrus spun them in wide circles around the floor. Olivia caught Fitz's gaze over Cy's shoulder and tossed him a saucy wink.
"Mrs. Grant is very beautiful."
"Yes, very much so."
As the jazz band finished their rendition of 'Fly Me to the Moon,' Cyrus kissed Olivia's hand with a flourish and lead her off the dance floor towards the bar.
"Would you excuse me?" Fitz asked before he knocked back the rest of his drink and met his wife and Cyrus halfway.
"I think you've monopolized enough of my wife's time, Cy," Fitz said pulling Olivia into him. "Care for a turn around the floor, missus?"
Olivia nodded and tugged on his tux jacket to bring him closer to her. She leaned her face up and gave him a gentle kiss. "Let's go, Dr. Grant."
"Don't start something you can't finish, Olivia."
She laughed as he took her into his arms and started dancing to the apropos 'You Go to My Head.'
"Amanda makes me uncomfortable."
Olivia smirked and shook her head. "Why?"
"I can't really explain it."
"Does she always make your uncomfortable, or is it just tonight?"
Fitz swung them around so they moved deeper into the crowd and farther from Amanda's gaze. "All the time."
"Then get rid of her."
"She's very efficient and she's never been inappropriate, just a little...odd. I don't know how to explain it. Any way, it's not important. Let's enjoy our evening, shall we?"
"Hello, Mrs. Grant. You look lovely this evening."
Olivia looked up from her Blackberry and smiled at the young woman before her. Fitz and Cyrus were at the bar with the other associates and partners laughing raucously at something Olivia would wager wasn't all that funny. "Amanda, how are you? You look very nice as well. Would you care to join me for a bit?"
"Thank you, Mrs. Grant."
"Please, call me Olivia. Are you having a good time?"
Amanda shrugged and set her champagne glass down on the table. "As much as can be expected at a company party without a date to dance with. You and Mr. Grant seem to be having a good time."
Olivia looked over at the bar as another as another shout of laughter came from Cyrus. Fitz met Olivia's gaze and gave her a look that was full of sex and dark promises that made her squirm in her seat.
"He's a good man, Mr. Grant, and an excellent boss. I really like working at K & S."
Olivia moved her eyes from Fitz back to Amanda. "Yes, he is, and I'm glad. Going to work is a lot easier when you enjoy what you do."
"Or at least who you work for."
Olivia raised an eyebrow and smiled. "True."
"Mr. Grant seems to get all the female clients that come into the firm, but he's so devoted to you, he barely pays them any attention when they flirt. And they really do flirt. It's like these women have no consideration for a wedding band."
Olivia sat incredulous at the forwardness of the young woman before her. She wasn't sure if that was a slight towards her, a reminder, or a warning.
"You should know, Mrs. Grant that if anything at all happened, I would definitely let you know."
"Amanda, I don't doubt my husband's faithfulness, so I'm sure there isn't anything you'll be needing to tell me."
"Oh!" Amanda said, her hand moving up to clutch her necklace. "Mrs. Grant, I hope I haven't made you think—I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds."
"You're close," Olivia remarked picking up her glass of champagne.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Grant, forgive me. It's just; well I wouldn't want you to be caught unawares if anything did happen. Not that I think it would, but I just wanted to let you know, I'm, well, I'm on your side."
Olivia took at deep breath a stared at Amanda. She opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by Fitz coming back to the table.
"Honey?" Fitz said leaning over to kiss her cheek. "One last dance before the night's over?"
Olivia nodded and put her hand in his outstretched one. She turned back over her shoulder as Fitz led her out to the dance floor. "Have a good evening, Amanda."
"I see what you mean, Fitz, she's a strange girl."
"Please kill me," Karen groaned. An oversized pair of sunglasses shaded her eyes as she gingerly sipped from a tall Bloody Mary.
"Hair of the dog?" Olivia asked as she let the bubbles from her mimosa tickle her nose.
"Ugh. Why did I drink so much? Why didn't I just stop like Mason suggested?"
At present, Fitz, Jerry, Mason and Mason's father were on the court playing a truly pathetic game of doubles. Jerry and Mason were relatively good, while Fitz and Mr. Spencer were battling to keep up, making the teams balanced, but utterly unwatchable.
"Karen, you really need to talk to your father."
"Did you and dad talk last night?"
Olivia flushed only slightly before taking a big sip of her drink. "We talked some."
One perfectly arched eyebrow appeared over the top of her designer shades. "You didn't sleep together, did you?"
She lifted a hand in supplication and turned towards the court to see the score was 30-Love, Mason and Mr. Spencer. "I just can't believe you're so willing to forget everything he put you through."
"Karen, it's not fair for you to judge your father based on the little you know. And it's our relationship, not yours."
"I'm not basing his dishonesty and lack of trustworthiness on your relationship. My father makes big promises and says lovely words, but in the end he doesn't mean any of it. Not enough to follow through."
"You should be talking to him about this, Karen. Not me. I've already been in the middle of your relationship enough. I don't want to be there any more. You're getting married, and he's your dad. You'll regret it for the rest of your life if he's not there and if you don't try to fix this."
Karen scoffed and grabbed her Bloody Mary for support. "Mighty big words from someone who literally ran away when he came into the room last night."
Olivia finished off her mimosa and gently set the glass down. "He really loves you. It tore him apart when you wouldn't speak to him, I know for a fact he wasn't putting on airs."
Olivia stood up and placed a kiss on Karen's forehead. Karen sighed deeply and continued to sip at her hangover cure as she watched her father and brother finally score a game point.
Olivia took refuge in the big house from the mid-day sun. She'd always admired the house during her runs on the beach when she and Fitz would go to the Hamptons for the season. She'd known that the house was a Rothschild home and old one at that, but hadn't given much thought to what that actually meant. Had Mellie been there some mornings when she and Fitz had walked by like a pair of teenage lovers? Could she easily spy their not so discreet couplings from the large windows at the back of the house? Had she really been so thoughtless to this woman's feelings?
"Olivia, why aren't you out enjoying the game?" Mellie said from the kitchen where she setting a carafe of orange juice beside another bottle of champagne on tray waiting to be transported outside.
Olivia shrugged and moved toward the kitchen island. "Do you need any help?"
Mellie smiled and shook her head. "No, thank you."
Olivia sat at one of the high back chairs around the granite island. Mellie paused from setting items out and faced Olivia. "Is there something you wanted?"
"When did you find out about me and Fitz? And how?"
Mellie was taken aback for a moment not expecting the abrupt question. "I saw you two together, the evening of Super Tuesday while we were waiting for returns. Fitz and I had a big argument that evening about it."
"Fitz knew that early?" Olivia asked incredulously.
Mellie laughed mirthlessly. "We may not have had the best marriage towards the end, Olivia, but there wasn't a lot that we kept from one another. Fitz had almost no regard for my feelings in the end, and I couldn't really be moved to care myself. I didn't want to be some ornament on his arm for an election. Our marriage had been over for a while when you came along."
"So, you were okay with Fitz cheating?"
"God no. I was furious," Mellie turned towards the wine cooler at the side of the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. "Would you like a glass?"
"Sure, thank you." Olivia sat quietly while Mellie poured knowing that they'd only breached the tip of the iceberg.
"I gave up a lot for that man. I gave up my own career, my livelihood. I had kids younger than I ever thought I would. When I first had Karen, we were a wreck. We were fresh out of law school, just newly barred with our first jobs in Boston. Fitz didn't want to rely on his father's money and he wouldn't come into his trust until he was thirty any way, so we had very little to survive on and then we had another mouth to feed. It was hard, but we got through it because we had each other. Then things got better for us financially, but worse for us as a couple. Then it seemed like things changed almost overnight. We were unhappy for years, but I can't tell you when it started. We had Jerry and then things got even worse.
"Then he gets this idea of wanting to move back west and run for Governor. I supported the idea. The man was born for public office. He's an idealist. A man that believes that government actually changes things. And he was great at it. I thought maybe one day he'd run for Senator, we talked about it, but we never talked about him running for President. I blame Cyrus for that push, and you a little. We barely spoke to each other while he was Governor. I was sure he was having an affair then, but he wasn't. We just stopped being in each other's corner. So, while I wasn't surprised that my husband was having an affair with you, I was angry. I was upset that we didn't love each other like that anymore. I was upset that my husband, no matter how distant, was cheating when I never had. Because somehow I just assumed...well, that doesn't matter I guess."
Olivia sat, stunned at what Mellie revealed. She hadn't thought any further than what Fitz had told her about their relationship. She hadn't needed to. She'd seen the fights and the blowback. She'd watched as the divorce papers were delivered to Fitz and had seen his relief, but she'd never though of the other side of the equation. She'd never really stopped to really think about Mellie.
Mellie shrugged and poured some more wine. "It's in the past now. And I'm...I'll be okay."
Olivia picked up her wine glass and took a long sip before meeting Mellie's gaze. "Still...I guess, I just never thought that far."
Mellie nodded and sipped at her wine. Raised voices started to filter in from outside grabbing both women's attention. They exchanged a brief look before moving towards the source of the commotion.
"Karen, sweetheart, maybe now is not the time—"
"This is as good of time as any Mason. Dad seems to think I'm behaving like a child."
"Because you are, Karen. How long are you going to punish me for the past? You're not a kid anymore. I said I was sorry. I can't believe you'd keep something as big as your wedding from me because you're upset."
"I'm not upset. I'm angry. I'm furious. I'm hurt. All I wanted is for you and mom to give a damn. All I wanted was for you to be there when you said you were going to be."
"Karen," Mellie said sternly, drawing her daughter's attention.
"I'm sorry mom, but it's true. Jer and I were shipped off so we were out of your hair, but it didn't help anything. You still got divorced, dad still cheated. Jer and I were still left disappointed time and again."
"You grew up with the best of everything," Fitz said angrily. "You never wanted for anything, I'm sorry, but I don't feel bad for you."
"The only thing I ever wanted was for you to care more about me than your stupid career! The only thing I ever wanted was for you to be there when I needed you. Do you have any idea how much it killed me to see you so happy about you and Olivia's baby? You were never that excited about anything we ever did, dad. Not once. You couldn't be bothered to make it to graduations; you couldn't be bothered to make it to recitals, or swim meets, or basketball games, but you were so excited when you mentioned this baby. You and Liv's baby, I never saw you so happy about anything that had to do with me. They may seem like nothing to you, dad, but it was everything to me. I just wanted you to be there for me. And every time you chose to be somewhere else. Every time."
Karen had tears streaming down her face as she turned to look at a crestfallen Olivia. "I'm sorry, Liv. It's nothing against you. I love you; you listened. You cared when I called. You wanted to know. It's more than I can say for either of them."
Olivia shook her head. "Karen, I don't think you're being fair to either of your parents right now."
Karen stared at her incredulous. "You should know better than anyone Olivia—dad's a great politician. He's very good."
Karen stormed past Olivia and her mother, tears continuing to fall down her face, Mason following quickly behind her.