Chapter 16:  Balance

The next afternoon at the mall, Alex and Olivia were pushing back dresses on the racks in Bloomingdale’s.  “Has Abbie said anything else to you?” Olivia asked Alex.


“Nah.  Not since that fiasco last week.”


“Good.  I really wish she’d just stay out of our lives.”


“Yeah, me too,” Alex muttered, pulling off a red satin dress with a v-neck halter and diamond-studded center.  It had an open back which stopped a few inches above the waist and was floor-length with cascading pleats.  Her entire face lit up.  “Oh my god, Liv!  Look how gorgeous this is!”


Olivia pulled an identical one off the rack.  “Wow,” she said simply, holding the dress up against her body.


“Liv, we totally have to try this on!” Alex exclaimed, grabbing Olivia by the hand and pulling her toward the dressing rooms.


Once inside an empty room, the girls undressed and tried on their dresses.  Olivia ran her fingers over the intricate diamond design that rested right over her heart.  “This gown is so beautiful, Alex.”


“It is,” Alex said softly, running her hands over the smooth material.  Turning around to see how the back looked in the mirror, she suddenly frowned and asked, “Does this dress make my ass look big?”


Olivia looked around to examine how the dress hugged Alex’s hips and complimented her, “Not at all.  It looks very, very nice.  You have beautiful curves.”


Smiling, Alex looked around at Olivia’s butt and remarked, “I can say the same for you, too.”


“Thanks,” Olivia responded with a grin.


“So this is the dress we’re getting?” Alex asked.


Olivia picked up the price tag and frowned.  “I dunno, Alex…the price is a little steep.”


Alex brushed Olivia’s comment off with a wave of her hand.  “Oh, don’t worry about that, Liv.  I’ll pay for it.”


Olivia cocked her head to the side and gave Alex a look.  “Alex…I don’t want you buying me everything.”


Alex frowned.  “What Abbie said really got to you, huh?”


Olivia sighed.  “Kinda.  But even if she’d never said it, it would still make me uncomfortable.  Just because you have it doesn’t mean you have to spend it all on me.  You’ve definitely spent too much on me, already.”


“Liv, I really don’t mind.  No price is too high to make you happy.”


Olivia was touched at Alex’s love and generosity for her but she still had her reservations.  “Alex, I just don’t wanna feel like a charity case.”


“Come on, Liv.  You know in your heart that it’s not like that.  And it’s not like you haven’t spent a shitload of money on me.  I really want us to have matching dresses.  The other red ones are ugly and the only other dress we both liked was sold out of your size.  Save your money for something else you like.”


Olivia smiled.  “Ok, Alex.”


Alex held Olivia’s face in her hands and said, “I love you, Liv.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.  You’re my princess.”


Olivia felt tears prick her eyes.  “Oh, Alex,” she said softly.  She was used to thinking of Alex as her princess but she’d never had anyone refer to her as theirs before.


Alex leaned in and gently kissed her lips.  “We’re gonna look so beautiful Saturday,” she whispered.


“I know,” Olivia responded, deepening the kiss.


“Come on, let’s check out,” Alex replied, pulling back from Olivia and slipping out of the dress.


After Alex had paid for their gowns, they headed to Macy’s to find shoes.  Alex picked up a pair of open-toed red stilettos with triple ankle straps and a clear 4 inch heel.  She held them out to Olivia in excitement.  “Liv, aren’t these hot?”


Olivia gasped and whined, “Alex…if you wear a heel that high I’m gonna have to stand on my tippy toes to kiss you.”


“Silly, you’re gonna be wearing heels, too!”


Olivia looked down at the shoes in Alex’s hand and scoffed.  “Not that high.  I wanna be able to walk without twisting an ankle!”


“Come on, Liv!  These are the exact same color as our dresses.”


“So are about 20 other pairs of shoes here!  Alex, you’re already 5’9”!  You don’t need heels that tall!”


“Actually, I’m 5’9 ½,” Alex said with a grin.  “And you’re 5’7 ½” so if we wear the same size heel, then it will still only be a 2 inch difference.”


“Alex, there is no way in hell I’m wearing a 4 inch heel.  End of story,” Olivia argued, crossing her arms over her chest.


Alex sighed.  “Ok, Liv.  Let’s compromise.  How about 3 ½?”


Olivia laughed.  “Sweetie, a half inch?  That’s hardly a compromise.  Let’s do 2.”


“2 ½,” Alex argued.


Now it was Olivia’s turn to sigh.  “Ok.  2 ½ it is.”  She shook her head and put her arm around Alex’s waist.  “Oh, the things I do for love.”


Alex grinned.  “2 ½ really isn’t all that bad.”


“I agree,” Olivia conceded.  “But 4 definitely is.”


Alex picked up the box of shoes in her size and then handed Olivia an identical one in hers.  “Come on.  Let’s pay for these and get outta here.  I wanna go eat.  I’m starving!”


Olivia smiled and patted Alex’s tummy.  “What’s new?” she joked.  “But shouldn’t we try them on first just to make sure they fit?”


Alex sighed.  “All right, all right.”


After trying them on, they each paid for their shoes and then headed for the food court.  “So what do you wanna get?” Olivia asked Alex, holding her hand so she wouldn’t lose her in the throng of people milling about.


Alex shrugged a shoulder.  “Oh…I dunno.  I think I’m in the mood for some Chinese.”


“Me, too,” Olivia replied, staring up at the Chen’s Wok menu.  “Hey!  Watch it, ass!” she shouted as some guy bumped into her shoulder.


Alex rolled her eyes.  “What an idiot.”


After placing their orders of bourbon and orange chicken with fried rice, they stood in line and waited for their food to be prepared.  When it was time to pay, Olivia held her money over the counter and gently pushed Alex’s hand back.


“Liv, it’s ok.  I can pay for my own,” Alex objected.


“No.  My treat,” Olivia said, smiling sweetly at Alex.  Alex smiled in return and put away her wallet.  They then picked up their trays and sat down at an empty table.


Alex dug right in.  “Mmm…I love bourbon chicken,” she said, savoring a bite.


“Me, too.  But I like the tangy sauce of the orange a little better,” Olivia replied.


Alex speared some of her orange chicken and held it out to Olivia’s lips.  Olivia bit the chicken off the fork and reached for Alex’s hand across the table.  “I love you,” Olivia said around her mouthful.


Alex grinned.  “I know.”  She felt for Olivia’s foot under the table and then began lightly rubbing hers against it.


“Why, Alexandra, are you playing footsie with me?” Olivia asked teasingly.


“That I am,” Alex answered.


“Good.  Cuz I like it when you play footsie with me,” Olivia responded, taking a sip of her Sprite.


They proceeded to finish their meal, making casual conversation from time to time.  “Come on, let’s go to the gym,” Olivia suggested as she ate her last bite of chicken.


Alex raised an eyebrow and smirked.  “The gym?”


“Yeah.  You can watch me work out,” Olivia said, getting up to empty her tray. 


Alex grinned.  “A huge opportunity to see you purposely hot and sweaty?  I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”


Olivia chuckled.  “Yeah.  I figure I’m gonna need the extra strength so I can carry you off the ballroom floor when you twist your ankle.”


Alex threw her straw paper at her.  “Liv, we only got the 2 ½ inch, remember?  That’s hardly enough to make a two-year-old twist her ankle.”


Olivia shook her head.  “I have yet to see a two-year-old wearing any type of heel, Alex,” she told her matter-of-factly.


Alex took a final swig from her cup before discarding it with her empty plate.  She grabbed Olivia’s hand and they began walking toward her car.  “Well…our little girl is gonna learn to master the art of heel-wearing very early.”


Olivia stopped and gave Alex a lopsided grin.  “Um…Alex, how do you even know you’re gonna have a girl?”


Alex’s mouth dropped open.  “Me?  Who said I was getting pregnant first?”


Olivia placed her hands on Alex’s sides and gently swayed her back and forth.  “Well, you know…you have those child-bearing hips.”


Alex rolled her eyes and shoved her shoulder.  “Whatever, Liv.  I think you’d look absolutely beautiful pregnant.”


“So would you,” Olivia said, placing a kiss on her lips.  “And I’d get to pamper you all the time.”


Alex blushed.  “Well…I think it would be cute if we carried each other’s eggs.”


Olivia smiled and replied, “I agree.  But we’d have to find a suitable sperm donor.” 


“Yeah.”  Alex then shook her head.  “This is insane, Liv.  We’re already talking about kids!”


Olivia laughed.  “Yeah, I think we did skip some really big steps along the way.  Ah well, we don’t have to worry about kids for many years to come.”


“Thank God,” Alex muttered.  “I don’t want any until I’m at least 30.”


“So you really see a future with me?” Olivia asked.


Alex smiled and squeezed Olivia’s hand reassuringly.  “Of course I do.”


“30 is a long time away,” Olivia replied.


Alex draped her arm around Olivia’s shoulders.  “Well, I can’t imagine it without you.”


“I love you,” Olivia whispered, kissing her again.  She lightly nibbled on Alex’s bottom lip and then pulled back.  “But you know I’m a challenge.”


Alex grinned.  “I know.  But so am I.”


“We mesh well.  And we balance each other out,” Olivia said softly, pressing her forehead against Alex’s.


“Yes, we do,” Alex responded, giving Olivia another quick kiss.  “Come on.  If we keep standing here, we’ll never make it to the gym.”


Olivia grinned and put their bags in the trunk.  She then threw the keys to Alex.  Alex looked at her quizzically.  Olivia smiled and informed her, “You’re driving.”


Alex grinned.  “You’d let me drive your car?”


Olivia shrugged.  “Sure.  I trust you with my heart, so why wouldn’t I trust you with my car?  After all, next month you’ll have your license.”


Alex gave her a kiss on the cheek and opened the passenger side door for her.  “Thanks, Liv.”


Once they were buckled in, Olivia joked, “Just don’t kill us.”


Alex shook her head and rolled her eyes.  “Don’t worry, Liv.  You’re safe with me.  If Daddy can ride with me without having a heart attack, I think you’ll be ok, too.”


Olivia smiled.  “Then let’s roll, Miss Cabot.”