Title : Caroline and the Sham
Author : Karen Gomes (pyrie@hotmail.com)
Rating : G or PG
Type : Prose
Spoilers : Probably…shrugs
Notes : Well…it's been awhile, a bit too long. But last night, whilst I tried to infiltrate the parallel universe that dwells in the depths of Slumberland, something struck me. It turned out to be my dog that stepped on me, but the idea still remained in my psyche. I scurried around my room in search of some paper, and wrote it down. The next morning I awoke thanks to a ray of inspiration that made its way into the darkness of my head (heh). So, without anymore useless drivel, the feature presentation. grin It's probably pretty crappy, but just humour me. Hehe, I'm only semi-human. Feel free to send constructive criticism, but keep the death threats to a minimal.

Wordfully,
Gomes.

Caroline and the Sham

Richard sat on Caroline's couch, reading a novel. "God how I love this peace and quiet…" he mused silently. Thanks to a fortunate writer's block, Caroline had been doing anything and everything to keep her mind of work, thus allowing Richard to spend some time catching up on his reading.

Caroline came skipping down the stairs. "Hey honey." She smiled, falling onto his lap. "Guess what?"

"I don't care. Go away." Richard said dryly, still reading his book.

"You have to care, honey - now that we are engaged and all." Caroline closed her eyes and made some *kissy lips*.

Richard looked at Caroline, still on his lap. He then proceeded to get up, causing Caroline to fall on the ground. "Need I remind you that we are not engaged…darling." Richard remarked sarcastically.

Annie had just walked in to hear Richard's last phrase. "Caroline, do you need it *that* bad?" Richard gave Annie a dirty look as she grinned.

Caroline got up from the floor. "No, see my ex-fiancée Matt is coming to see me, from Wisconsin." Caroline said casually.

Annie's eyes grew wide. "Wait wait wait wait wait! *You* were engaged once *before* you were engaged to Del?" Annie threw her hands up in the air. "How come I know none of this?"

"Because you were probably out sleeping around somewhere.." Richard sipped his coffee.

"Look. All I need to do is impress him for one evening." Caroline said, trying to avoid an argument between Richard and Annie.

"Why don't you pretend to be married to Del?" Annie asked, getting some coffee.

"He already knows that Del and I broke up." Caroline sighed loudly. "Now he's going to think that I am one big loser!" Caroline pouted.

"Aww sweetie…" Annie rubbed Caroline's back. "…you're not a loser." She said lovingly.

"-said one to the other." Richard muttered.

Annie glared. "So why did you ask Doctor Gloom?"

"Who else Annie?" Caroline paced around the room. "Del is out. Charlie is out…there." Caroline shrugged. "The only other candidate is-"

"-no." Richard remarked.

"Why does it matter?" Annie asked.

"I want him to be surprised, that the Caroline he knew is all grown up…is attractive…" Caroline prattled on.

Annie smirked. "Tell him you're engaged to me and really surprise him!"

"Come on Annie, this is serious!" Caroline whined.

"You always do this!" Annie started, dramatically. "My ideas are never good enough for you. Sometimes I can't remember why I stay with you…"

"Well, you two lovebirds probably want to be alone…" Richard walked to retrieve his coat.

"So I'll see you at eight for supper, right honey?" Caroline asked sweetly and innocently.

"Don't be your sweet life on it, luv'." Richard said monotonously.

"I'll pay you overtime." Caroline said, as Richard opened the door.

"And Ma will cook for you." Annie said desperately to help her friend.

"And Salty will accidentally be mailed to China?" Richard added.

"Richaaaaard….." Caroline whined. "Please? I'll cry."

Richard looked at Caroline momentarily. The last thing he needed was to get close to her. Pretending to be her fiancée would probably involve touching. Lots of touching. While the thought of Caroline fawning over him aroused the emotions he had so long tried to conceal, fear settled into his brain as well, mirroring the same reason : his hidden feelings. "Only for an hour." Richard pressed the elevator button and glanced back: Caroline was smiling.

"Thanks." She replied softly, as the two held each other's gaze. Suddenly she was snapped out of her reverie. "Oh my god, what am I going to wear!?" Caroline's eyes grew wide as she darted up the stairs leaving Annie and Richard standing alone.

"I'll help you pick out a dress Caroline." Annie bellowed.

"That's all she needs…your taste in clothing. Next she'll be working a corner -" Richard smirked.

"Yeah…a strong, strong corner." Annie stated, glaring at Richard.

"Going." Richard gave up on the elevator and headed for the stairs. *What am I going to wear?* He thought silently to himself.

***
Richard stood in front of Caroline's door, trying to calm himself. «Ookay…just calm down…the evening will be over in no time.» Richard thought, as he looked at his watch. Richard heaved a dramatic sigh, and opened Caroline's door with his key. "And the countdown begins…"

Caroline heard the door open and bounded down the stairs. "Oh good, it's you!" She smiled, taking in Richard's appearance : he was clad in a nice pair of black pants with a semi-tight, deep blue (almost black) shirt. She stood there for a minute or so, observing him.

Richard slowly tore his eyes away from Caroline and looked down at his clothes. "What?"

"Oh nothing…you look good, that's all." Caroline flashed him a smile.

Richard started to get rather uncomfortable. "Well, thank my six-legged friends at my apartment - they chose my ensemble." Richard said, nervously. "So when's Mort coming?"

"Matt." Caroline corrected him. "And he and his lovely wench should be here soon." Caroline mentioned casually.

Richard grinned. "Ah…I take it you don't like the wife much?"

"Let's just say that I like "Cathy" better." Caroline said, as she stood in front of her mirror.

"Ouch. That bad?" Richard asked, sitting on the couch.

Caroline brushed her hair one last time, added a little more make-up and straightened out her dress. "You like?" She asked Richard, as she struck an exaggerated pose.

Richard looked at Caroline, trying not to stare. "It's nice." He said simply, as he looked at her. A simple black, cocktail dress hugged every curve. And as she twirled slowly, Richard's breath was taken away by the backless clothing that adorned Caroline.

"Nice? That's it?" Caroline asked, dropping her arms to her side.

Richard shifted on the couch. "Why does it matter what I think?"

"Well…" Caroline sat beside Richard. "You *are* my fiancé, don't forget that, oh and we must go over our story." Caroline said, but was interrupted by a knocking on her door. "Oh my God."

"Oh my God." Richard repeated.

"Go answer the door." Caroline said, her eyes wide.

"Me? It's your place." The knocking came once again.

"*Our* place. And you're the man. And the man answers the door." Caroline said, her eyes still glued to the door.

"Okay, if you're going to start making *all* these rules…" Richard remarked sarcastically, as he headed to the door.

"No wait, maybe I should answer the door." Caroline jumped over the back of the couch and in front of Richard.

"No…let me do it." Richard said, softly pushing Caroline aside. "You got my hopes up and everything…" Richard remarked monotonously, as the knocking could be heard once more.

"No!" Caroline pushed Richard back and fumbled with the door handle.

"Caroline! Let go!" Richard said, also trying to open the door. Finally the door flew open, causing both Caroline and Richard to fall back.

Caroline looked up at Matt and his wife, who were both staring at them in shock. "See honey, I told you to fix the door this weekend." She threw on a fake smile as Richard helped her up.


**End of Part One**