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The Love of Fair Olivia

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“So I'm thinking that we get her one of those cute carry-on luggage pieces with poodles on it,” Viola's mom says.

Viola grimaces and resists the urge to dry heave at the thought of poodle luggage. “What, Mom, no, definitely not,” Viola says on instinct. “Wait, who?”

“Olivia, of course, silly,” Viola's mom says. “The holidays are coming up and I want to make sure that I'm not behind in my gift shopping!”

First of all, the holidays are at least two months away. Viola hasn't even picked out a Halloween outfit (although she's been heavily debating between going as the notorious RBG or that talking Pixar baby), so it's way too early to be thinking about buying holiday gifts. Second of all, why is her mom getting a gift for Olivia? She and Sebastian broke up for what must have been the seventeenth and final time last year. And this one seems to be sticking; Sebastian has even started dating someone new.

“Why are we talking about gifts for Olivia?” A horrible thought occurs to Viola. “Wait, you know that they broke up, right, Mom?” For a moment, Viola has visions of the wild hysterics that are sure to follow. Viola's mom has made no secret of the fact that she loves Olivia—she’s the almost daughter that she'd never had! The almost daughter who graciously went shopping with Viola’s mom, the almost daughter who behaved well in public, the almost daughter who even chewed with her mouth closed!

But the hysterics never come.

“Oh, yes, of course!” Viola's mom says. “Between the two of us, sweetheart, I always thought that Olivia was a little too good for your brother. She's so wonderful and well-behaved and your brother is well...” she trails off. Viola indignantly sputters out of loyalty to Sebastian, although she can’t exactly say that she disagrees.

“But, she's part of the family now,” Viola's mom continues, right over Viola. “Family doesn't stop being family just because two people are no longer together, right? I can't just stop inviting her to Christmas dinner.”

“No, no, no, Mom,” Viola says, feeling a headache coming on. “You can and you should! Etiquette definitely says that we should respect Sebastian. Poor Sebastian, he’s probably still heartbroken. Plus, that would be the most awkward dinner, ever, and, of course, she wouldn't say yes. She probably wants to spend time with her own family.”

Viola's mom gives a little trill and Viola knows that nothing good will come from what is next. “Oh, darling, she's already said yes. And of course your brother is over the moon that everyone's moved on so well.”

“What?” Viola says, quickly checking around her to see if she's moved into an alternate universe where blue is orange and up is down and her mom just invited her brother's ex-girlfriend to Christmas dinner and the ex-girlfriend actually accepted.

“But, you're probably right about the luggage,” Viola's mom says. “What about one of those bustiers? From Victoria's Secret? I'm sure she'd love it! Do you think she's a lilac or a black satin?”

“I have to go,” Viola says a bit frantically, looking around her. She spots a pet supply store. “There's a, uh, horse. And a large dog. Oh no, it’s chaos—I’ve got to help, right now. It's a really urgent situation. Love you, bye!”



“It’s just really weird,” Viola says later that afternoon to Paul. Viola’s treated herself to a caramel macchiato with three extra pumps of caramel because she feels like now, of all times, she deserves it.

“Is it really that weird?” Paul says. “I mean the girl has been coming to your family holiday events since she was 18. That’s like a solid eight years of Hastings family Christmases and Fourth of Julys and Thanksgivings.”

“Well, yes, sure,” Viola says. “But they’re no longer together. Isn’t it weird for her to show up and not be with my brother? I mean, she’s going to show up, looking all hot and cool like she normally does and then Sebastian will realize he’s been an idiot, get back together with her, leaving his poor new girlfriend crying on my amazing new designer t-shirt.”

Paul gives Viola a long look and takes an extremely judgmental sip of his latte. “Name me one designer,” he says, instead of answering Viola’s extremely valid question. Viola frantically thinks. What about that one guy? The jeans guy. Or maybe—“Target does not count as a designer,” Paul says forestalling Viola’s answer and when Viola grimaces, moves on. “Maybe she’s not even close with her family. Have you ever met them?”

“Well, that’s because, I—er—uh,” Viola says wracking her brain. Come to think of it, she’s not even sure if they were at Olivia’s graduation. Viola hadn’t even thought to look, which makes her the worst friend/kind-of sister-in-law/ex-kind-of sister-in-law ever. Great, now Viola feels guilty.

“Thanks, Paul,” Viola hisses.



Viola thinks it out that night when she gets home to her scruffy studio apartment. As always, it’s a bit of a mess, and Viola winces on habit at the piles of clothes everywhere and the mail piling up on the kitchen table. At least the dishes are done!

So Viola starts cleaning up, putting clothes in the hamper, feeling guilty about whether or not Olivia’s parents hypothetically died in a tragic plane crash when she was a young child and she’s been a horribly alone orphan her whole life. Eventually, Viola gives up on the cleaning and just decides to call Olivia; she can’t let stress like this eat away at her. It’s not healthy.

“Hey! Viola!” Olivia says, sounding genuinely excited that Viola called. Another bolt of guilt hits Viola—she never is that excited when anyone calls. Olivia is the perfect daughter—or would be, if she had parents alive to be proud of her.

“Hey Olivia,” Viola says, trying to sound as perky. “So, talked to Mom today, super excited that you’re coming over for Christmas.”

Olivia lets out a little breath of excitement. “Yeah? Me too! I look forward to the holidays with your family every year.”

“Oh us too,” Viola says and then barges forward before Olivia can figure out that Viola’s not really making sense. “What about your family? Do they get jealous of how we’ve stolen you away?”

There’s a pause where Viola closes her eyes in shame and just mouths “stolen you away?” to herself. Oh god, why does her mouth never listen to her brain? But Olivia just laughs and, per usual, it makes little butterflies stir in Viola’s stomach—simple jealousy, obviously.

“No, we’re just really not that close. My parents divorced and then both got remarried when I was a kid. Actually, I was the one who found Illyria. And of course, they couldn’t believe they hadn’t thought of it first. Easier for them than to keeping trying to integrate me into their new units.” Olivia doesn’t even sound that torn up about it—just matter-of-fact.

“Wow, that sucks,” Viola says. “I mean, probably not as much as the tragic orphan scenario that I had going on, but still.”

Olivia laughs again, but it’s more of an understanding one. “It’s not so bad. I have good people in my life—like you.”

“Of course, you always have me,” Viola says and then wishes she could just strangle herself. Thankfully, Olivia takes the conversation reigns smoothly before Viola can babble more idiocy.

“You know,” Olivia says after they’ve done quick family updates (although, to be clear, it was Olivia catching Viola up—apparently she even gets all the good Hastings gossip first), “We haven’t hung out together in a long time. We should grab dinner—what's your schedule like next week?”

And man, she’s good. She’s real good, because Viola can’t think up a good enough reason to beg off dinner. The little flutter in Viola’s stomach is back again—fear this time, definitely fear—but Viola masters it long enough to let Olivia know that her schedule is pretty much open, “Open as the sky! Ha ha ha,” Viola says, wishing for a quick and merciful death.

“Awesome,” Olivia says. “Let’s do 7 p.m. on Thursday—I’ll text you the address.”

And just like that, it’s fact.



When it’s been a while since Viola’s seen Olivia, Viola always builds it up in her mind. The easy comradery and connection must be a fiction of Viola’s mind because Olivia is way too funny and effortlessly cool and attractive to just get along with Viola. Viola’s perpetually got one foot stuck in her mouth and would clearly rather be playing or watching soccer than doing anything else.

And yet, as soon as Viola walks up to the table (fifteen minutes late, of course, because the traffic gods decided that now was the time to mess with her), Olivia gets up and gives her a hug, allowing Viola to launch into her crazy traffic escapades from the drive. Olivia laughs in all the rights places and doesn’t even seem upset that Viola wasn’t on time.

After they get their orders out of the way from their laid-back waiter (who gratuitously sprinkles the word “dude” throughout his conversation with the two of them), Viola takes the chance to ask how Olivia’s been.

Olivia gives a wry smile. “Good, mainly. Work’s been crazy, but I got a promotion this summer, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

“A promotion, wow,” Viola says. “Does that make you a director now?”

“Close!” Olivia says, her face brightening. “Assistant director of biological development.” Viola’s finally graduated to supervising a small team of mini-grunts at the social media company that she works for. She can’t imagine being an actual director of anything.

Viola gives a little moan of pain. “You are adulting so well. How do you do it?”

Olivia shakes her head no. “Definitely not. I am terrible at adulating.” At Viola’s look of skepticism, Olivia leans in closely and stage whispers, “Sometimes I even skip one of my gym days during the week.”

“Yep, that definitely does make you the worst,” Viola says cheerfully. She hasn’t been to the gym since—high school? She should feel more shame over that or she could just grab another delicious piece of bread. “Definitely can’t call yourself an adult now. Also, damn this bread is good!”

“I know, right?” Olivia says. “And they give you as much of it as you want, for free.”

“What,” Viola says as she tries to contain a whimper of excitement. All the free and delicious bread that she wants. This must be heaven.

The rest of dinner lives up to the high expectations put in place by the bread. The restaurant that Olivia has picked out is a nice place, with a wide-open patio giving them a great view of the sunset. It has good food, but nothing too formal and reasonably priced drinks. In short, it’s one hundred percent Viola’s kind of place.

“This is fantastic,” Viola mumbles through her pulled pork sandwich. “So delicious.”

“Right?” Olivia says. She’s making her way through some salad, but she seems to be enjoying it, so Viola tries not to hold the salad against the restaurant.

And it’s so much fun to just hang out with Olivia—as Olivia, Viola’s friend, instead of Olivia, Sebastian’s girlfriend. Viola is having such a good time, that when the check comes, Viola looks around to realize that they’re practically the last diners in the restaurant. “Wow, guess time really flew by,” she says. Olivia nods.

“This was really good,” she says. “Thank you for coming, I had a great time.”

“Thank me? No, no, thank you!” Viola says. “You suggested it! And I had a great time as well—next time I’ll have to find somewhere just as awesome as this place. Although—actually—have you been to Ramirez’s? They have the most amazing carne asada tacos—it’s like meat from the gods.”

“No, I haven’t been there,” Olivia says. “That sounds delicious though.”

“You have been missing out,” Viola says seriously. “Ok, that’s it, I’m taking you. Next week, I refuse to let you live the life of someone who hasn’t been to Ramirez’s.” Olivia’s laughing but she’s also taking out her phone and typing it into her calendar.

“I’m excited,” Olivia says and then pulls Viola into a hug. “Looking forward to it.”

Viola’s oddly keyed up after dinner that night, so much so that she actually calls Sebastian, a weird enough feat that when he picks up, he says, “Viola?” as if he’s uncertain it’s actually Viola doing the calling.

“Yes, yes, it’s me,” Viola says, already half-annoyed in that familiar way when she talks to Sebastian. “Your sister who you love more than life itself.”

“Hey Sis,” Sebastian says in lieu of responding to that. “What’s up? Must be a special occasion to warrant a call.”

“Hey! I just wanted to call and see how everything is going,” Viola says, although Sebastian isn’t all that wrong. Viola isn’t the greatest at staying in touch. She really should be more proactive about this kind of stuff.

Sebastian doesn’t seem all that offended though, so he tells her how the band is doing—apparently they’re doing well enough that Sebastian will be taking two months off his bartending gig next year because they’ve got a bunch of festivals lined up for the spring. “That’s great, Sebastian,” Viola says. “I’ll have to come see you.”

“Well,” Sebastian says. “They’re mainly in Europe. A bunch are in those Scandinavian countries.”

Well, maybe not.

They chat a bit longer—about Viola’s job and Sebastian’s new girlfriend and Viola keeps wanting to tell Sebastian about dinner with Olivia, but, for once in her life, she can’t bring herself to say anything. It’s not like she thinks that Sebastian will get upset with her with hanging out with Olivia, but Viola feels guilty all the same.



So Viola and Olivia do Ramirez’s and get about a million of their delicious and small carne asada tacos to share and Olivia happens to mention that she has two tickets for the Galaxy game.

“Wait, those are playoff tickets,” Viola says. Olivia just waggles her eyebrows at Viola suggestively and Viola nods so hard, she thinks that her head might come off. “Yes, yes, of course, definitely yes!”

Over the course of the next week, Viola calls up Olivia at least five times to make sure that Olivia knows she can take someone else, only to immediately take it back and make Olivia promise to take her. Each time, Olivia thinks it’s hilarious, like she’s not going to be stuck with the crazy playoff soccer version of Viola, instead of just the normal crazy of Viola, but there’s only so much self-restraint that Viola can be expected to possess.



Much to Viola’s surprise, Olivia meets Viola outside of the stadium outfitted in a team jersey with eye blacks painted on and her hair pulled into a ponytail. Olivia looks like she means business.

“Wow,” Viola says, appreciating the view. “I didn’t know you had a jersey.”

“I did my homework,” Olivia says, sounding more than a bit smug.



They have a great time at the game—shouting themselves hoarse during the chants and getting tipsy on shitty beer. The Galaxy win as well, so Viola feels filled with goodwill towards mankind and all that business when they meander out with the rest of the crowds after the end of the game.

“How come we never did this before?” Viola asks Olivia. Olivia’s not quite drunk, but about half a drink passed buzz, and she’s got her arm around Viola, head resting against Viola’s shoulder. She’s warm and smells nice and Viola can’t help but lean in a little closer.

“Mmm,” Olivia says thinking. She opens her mouth to respond and then stops herself. “You know, I think I just saw Mia Hamm over there.”

“What! Where?” Viola is instantly scanning the crowd and it’s only later that she realizes Olivia never answered the question.



Suddenly, right before Thanksgiving, Viola realizes that hanging out with Olivia has become a regular occurrence—they’ve got a standing Taco Tuesday dinner date and Olivia always has the hook-up into what fun events are happening around town on the weekends. What’s more, Viola really likes it. She’s always excited to see Olivia, even if she does get these weird nervous-jealousy butterflies in her stomach.

So it’s a bit of a surprise when Viola shows up at her dad’s house, ready to get tipsy with Olivia and make fun of his newest wife, only to find that Olivia’s not there. It’s just Viola’s dad, wife number four, Sebastian and his new girlfriend, Vanessa.

Hey, where you are you???? Viola frantically texts Olivia from underneath the table. She feels betrayed at the lack of forewarning that she had about this. She could have pre-gamed Thanksgiving in the comfort of her own apartment and then taken an uber over. I thought you would be here and getting drunk and making fun of ChiChi’s latest fashion flop with me!

Olivia texts back a bunch of sad faces.

You would be appalled! Viola writes. Way too much cleavage. My eyes are bleeding. And it’s all accented in fuchsia.

Pics or it didn’t happen. Olivia writes back, almost instantly. Viola takes a discrete photo, sends it to Olivia and then waits giddily for the response.

“What are you smiling at?” Sebastian asks in a sing-song voice.

“Nothing,” Viola says and then frantically tries to move her phone out of Sebastian’s reach but he’s too quick, leaning over and trying to steal it from her, prompting a tug-of-war. “Oh, come on, stop! Dad, make him stop. Dad!”

But Sebastian is too strong and quick and he wrenches it out of Viola’s hands. “Aha!” he says, triumphantly.

“Give it back,” Viola says. Sebastian doesn’t say anything for a moment, a crease appearing in his forehead as he scrolls through Viola’s phone. When he looks up, he looks a bit puzzled and then, seeing their dad stare at him meaningfully, hands Viola back her phone.

“Who was it?” Vanessa asks, playfully. Viola throws her a glare.

“Oh, just one of Viola’s friends,” Sebastian says, his voice deceptively casual. No one else at the table picks up on it. “Nothing interesting.”



Later that evening, she and Sebastian are well and truly drunk in the kitchen, their dad’s passed out on the couch with football reruns on the screen and Vanessa and Cheyanne are still bonding over their love of Coach purses and Juicy Couture. 

“So you and Olivia,” Sebastian starts. Viola rolls her eyes. Hard.

“Yeah, what about us?” Viola says defensively. She’s not exactly sure what there is to be defensive about—she’s allowed to be friends with whomever she wants. And it’s not like Sebastian and Olivia parted on bad terms. By all accounts, it was amicable. For chrissakes, her mom has invited Olivia to Christmas.

“No, nothing,” Sebastian says, but he’s got that stupid smirk on his face, like he knows something that she doesn’t.

“No, what?” Viola says. “You have to tell me now.”

Sebastian pours out two shots of their dad’s good whiskey. “I’ll tell you if you finish your shot first. GO!” Sebastian drains his shot even as Viola’s sputtering through the first gulp.

When Viola finally finishes, she glares at Sebastian. “Uncool, bro,” she says.

Sebastian just winks. “I never said I’d play fair.” He pauses for a second and evaluates Viola. For a second, he looks almost serious and Sebastian is never serious. But then he turns to pour himself another shot and when he turns back, his face is in its normal stupid expression. “Hey, I’m cool with you and Olivia.”

“Thanks?” Viola says, feeling like she got permission for something that she didn’t even ask for.



When Viola and Olivia go out next, Viola waits until they’re well into their second drink before broaching the question that’s been on her mind for a while.

“Why did you and Sebastian break up?” Viola asks. When Olivia raises an eyebrow, Viola clarifies. “The last time. The final time.”

Olivia sighs and is quiet for long enough that Viola’s started thinking of just switching the subject. “I thought that I wanted Sebastian,” Olivia says before Viola can end the silence. “Or really, I told myself that I wanted Sebastian. He was so close to what I wanted that I kept telling myself that if I tried harder or pretended a little better, he would be what I wanted.”

Olivia winces and then goes silent. She looks torn-up about it and Viola feels bad, but not bad enough to interrupt. There’s something inside of her that needs to know, something beyond simple curiosity. Viola feels like part of her is also riding on Olivia’s answer.

Finally Olivia starts again. “I think that Sebastian knew, or at least suspected, for most of the time that we were together. But it was easy for him to be with me. We were good together; compatible. But we weren’t right together. And then finally, one day, I woke up and knew that I couldn’t keep doing it. Because it would be better to not have what I wanted at all, and move on, than to just be near a perfect mirage.”

“What do you want?” Viola asks before she can stop herself.

For one moment, Olivia looks back at Viola, eyes hooded with a heat that Viola hasn’t ever seen, and then Olivia blinks and it’s gone, a wry smile in its place. “I guess that’s the question of the hour,” she says.

Viola’s off-footed for the rest of dinner and ends up overcompensating for it in her usual way, lots of loud conversation about things that don’t make sense. Olivia knows Viola well enough to figure out what’s going on, but she doesn’t call attention to it and Viola half-wishes that she would, wishes that whatever confrontation that Viola feels brewing in her stomach would just be over and done with.

It never comes, at least not before the check arrives, and when Olivia pulls Viola in for a hug, Viola smells a hint of spicy-rose and barely resists shivering from the heat where their bodies are pressed together.

“See you next week,” Olivia murmurs and then she’s off, leaving Viola behind.



That night, Viola thinks back to high school, back when she’d first met Olivia and Olivia had been super flirty with Duke in an attempt to win over Sebastian. Viola had always assumed that Olivia had gotten what she wanted when she and Sebastian got together. It was the best of all possible worlds: Viola—but in a man’s body. That’s what Olivia wanted, right?


What if, crazy as it sounds, Olivia wanted Viola? Was it Viola as Sebastian? Was it Viola? And this is all assuming that Olivia, one of the funniest and most attractive people that Viola knows, even did want Viola.

That’s too crazy for words. But if it wasn’t, if Viola allowed herself to follow that train of thought for just a minute, it would lead to the inevitable question: does Olivia still want Viola? Viola as Sebastian? Or something else entirely?

Although, as Viola comes to think of it, shouldn’t the question be: does she want Olivia? But that turns out to not be a question at all because once Viola starts wondering what it would be like to kiss Olivia, to run her hands up Olivia’s sides, to cup Olivia’s breasts, it becomes apparent that that is something that Viola is definitely into.




Viola tries to think of a way to bring it up over the next few weeks, but there never seems to be a tactful opportunity to say, “Hey, so did you have a thing for me as a guy once upon a time? Does that thing still exist?”

Instead, Viola finds herself blundering even more than usual—she’s completely unable to focus on any of their conversation at hand, increasingly distracted by the way that Olivia smiles or the pale skin that sneaks out when her shirt rides up or (and, look, Viola is not proud of this) what it would be like if Olivia pushed Viola up against the wall and just started kissing her in the middle of the bar.

“Everything alright, Vi?” Olivia asks when she returns to their table with a round of deliciously fruity looking drinks. “You’ve been kind of spacey lately.”

“Yeah,” Viola says, trying to come up with an excuse. “It’s just…Christmas, you know.”

“Oh, I know,” Olivia says, commiserating. “I am so stressed about whether the gifts that I ordered will arrive on time.”

“Oh yeah, gifts” Viola says and then her eyes widen as it sinks in. “Wait, gifts. Oh my god, I still have to get gifts. I am so screwed.”

Viola must look completely horrified, because Olivia cuts her off at the pass. “No, don’t worry! We can definitely figure this out. Who is still on your list?”

Pretty much everyone, Viola thinks. But Olivia helps her brainstorm a bunch of good ideas anyways, because she’s the best.

“You are the best,” Viola says, feeling vaguely despairing. Olivia looks up from her phone where she’s writing out a list of gift ideas. She brightens up at the compliment and Viola feels her stomach give a little flutter. Great.



By the time that Christmas arrives, Viola’s stomach is just a constant butterfly garden and Viola spends the car ride over to her mom’s house, trying to focus on what Olivia is saying instead of thinking about reaching over and holding Olivia’s hand.

Viola’s never been more thankful for the distraction that is her mother when they get to the front door and Viola’s mom starts squealing over seeing Olivia.


 “You both are right on time,” she says, smiling widely at both of them. “And you both look gorgeous—Olivia, that sweater is stunning.” Viola beelines for the kitchen as quick as she can while her mom and Olivia catch up.

Sebastian is in the kitchen, surprisingly early, but when Viola gives him a look, he just shrugs and says, “Vanessa,” which does seem like reason enough.

“Mom and Olivia are still in the foyer,” Viola says. “I’m sure that they’re talking about the latest fashions or something along those lines.”

Sebastian snorts. “Poor Olivia,” he says. “But better her than us.”

“Here here!” Viola says. “I’ll drink to that.” And then she lets Sebastian pour her a nice large glass of wine, which Viola feels is, frankly, quite overdue.



After dinner and presents, Viola and Olivia sneak away to the study and turn on the TV, flipping channels until they get to one showing the Claymation version of Rudolph. Viola whips out a full bottle of wine once they both get settled and they take turns passing the bottle back and forth.

Viola lets herself lean closer and closer into Olivia until they’re pressed up next to each other, Olivia’s arm curling around the back of the couch. Eventually, when Viola can’t take it anymore, she moves to face Olivia and then takes a deep breath.

Olivia looks a little confused but Viola’s never been one to let something like common sense stop her, so she leans in and carefully kisses Olivia.

Olivia freezes up and so Viola immediately pulls back, taking in the shell-shocked look on Olivia’s face. Neither of them say anything for a long moment.

“So,” Viola says eventually. Olivia blinks a few times. “Was it only when I was a guy?” Viola didn’t love dressing like a guy, but she would probably do it for Olivia. Although this time, she’d probably just go for one of those shorter haircuts rather than a wig. The wig sucked.

“What?” Olivia says and then blinks a few more times. “Oh, no. No, I mean.” Viola winces and begins to feel either the flames of hell or the burn of embarrassment work its way across her body. Any moment that the ground wants to open up and swallow her, it should feel free to.

“Oh, I definitely misread this, I am so sorry,” Viola says, aware that she’s starting to babble. “I just thought—you looked at me, and then Sebastian said something. But he didn’t really say anything, I just kind of extrapolated, the way that you do when you think you’re onto the right thing, but your hunch is just totally—”

“Hey,” Olivia says insistently and, when Viola keeps going, puts her hand over Viola’s mouth. Viola instantly stops. Olivia smiles at Viola, and it’s a full smile, one that stretches across her entire face. “I was just surprised.” And then Olivia carefully removes her hand and leans in, capturing Viola’s lips in between her own.

It’s everything like Viola dreamed, Olivia firm and insistent against Viola, pushing Viola back against the couch where they make-out until Viola is light-headed and heady. When Olivia finally pushes herself up onto her elbows, Viola’s mouth feels swollen and tingly.

“Wow,” Viola says wonderingly. “You are an amazing kisser.”

Olivia looks pretty smug as she lays herself next to Viola. Viola can’t help but reach out for Olivia and twine their hands together.

“I definitely didn’t like you because you were a guy,” Olivia says eventually, just when Viola is beginning to drift off.

“Yeah?” Viola says, shaking herself awake to look at Olivia.

“Back then, you being a guy made it ok for me to like you,” Olivia says.

“Ah,” Viola says. “Well, I really like you. Guy, girl, flying purple-people eater.”

Olivia laughs. “I’ll keep that in mind. I mean, I know it now, but it took me a while to realize it then. And by the time that I did, you were already…taken. So I went with what I thought was the next best option until I figured out that just made both of us unhappy.” She paused for a second. “I’ll have you know, I was all prepared to move on. You were the one who jumped me.”

Viola waggles her eyebrows. “Boy, am I glad that I did.”

“Girls!” Viola’s mom says loudly from down the hallway. Both Viola and Olivia scramble to get on opposite sides of the couch and instead just get more tangled up, likely looking even more suspicious when Viola’s mom walks in.

Viola’s mom stops for a second and looks slightly taken aback before her face brightens. “How wonderful! Oh Viola, you’ve got quite the catch!”

Viola shrinks down against the couch and wishes that she could die while Olivia silently shakes with laughter.

“Now, come along girls,” Viola’s mom says. “Time for dessert! You can get back to that later.” She throws a meaningful look at Viola that’s somehow even worse than Viola’s mom just knowing.

“Oh god,” Viola says as her mom leaves the room. “I will never live this down.”

“And yet,” Olivia starts.

“And yet,” Viola says and forces herself off the couch. When she reaches over a hand to Olivia, Olivia threads their fingers together and then pulls herself up. “And yet, still worth it.”

When Olivia leans in to kiss Viola breathless one more time before they head to the dining room, Viola finds it hard to imagine anything that wouldn’t be worth this.