Caroline and the Six-Month-Old Secret
Six months ago, if someone had told him he'd be here right now, he would have laughed grimly in their face... and possibly called them an uneducated boob. He pulled on his boxers, standing to do so, and laughed aloud when he felt two fingers give his rear end a quick pinch. Once his boxers were on, he sat down on the edge of the bed and closed his eyes when he felt a pair of slender soft arms drape around his shoulders, sucking in his breath as he felt a pair of breasts against his bare back.
And then lips were on his neck -- pouting lips. "Do you really have to go?"
With a smile, he reached back and touched her sex-tousled hair. "Yes. You know I do."
A childish whimper escaped her lips and she kissed down his neck again, her hands sliding down his shoulder blades and under his arms, around to his chest again. She toyed with his chest hair. "If you stayed, I could make it worth your while."
"I know. Unfortunately, if I stayed... we would get caught."
"I know." She was still pouting. It amazed him how she could be childish and vixen-like all at once. Yet another complexity that kept him so firmly tethered to her. "Y'know, sometimes this really sucks."
He chuckled. "Way to be mature, Caroline."
She whacked him in the arm. "You know what I mean. I couldn't think of a more eloquent way to put it. Here, how about this?" She cleared her throat. "The way in which we continue to hide our attraction is no longer fun and exciting for me, Richard. Better?"
"Much." He sighed then and turned around on the bed, watching her lay back against the pillows enticingly. He rolled his eyes at her less-than-subtle seduction tactics but slid under the covers with her again nonetheless. He kissed her pouting lips, then down her neck to her collarbone, dipping his tongue into the small indentation there. "Caroline, you know that I would love nothing more than to be able to bring this out in the open. But we have more than us to consider." He laved her chest in slow strokes with his tongue until she started moaning and writhing beneath him. Then he started sliding his lips toward her stomach. "How do you think Del would feel if he knew you'd been going behind his back this whole time?"
Her breathing was labored, but he looked up long enough to see her nod with eyes closed. "You're right. And Annie, too."
Richard paused on his way past her belly button to arch an eyebrow at her. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm not nor do I ever plan on dating Annie."
She laughed and sat up to kiss him, raking her fingers through his impossibly-wavy blond hair. "I know. But if Annie ever found out about this, she'd never fully recover."
"Hmm. The thought of that is rather appealing." He gently pushed her on her back again and continued kissing and licking every part of her, tingles shooting up his spine when his lips met her center and she cried out in ecstasy, moving against him immediately. He had her flying within minutes, and while she came down off the high, he got out of bed and gathered his things.
"You're just leaving like that? You don't want to...?"
"Of course I want to, Caroline, but Del is going to be here in fifteen minutes to pick you up for racquetball. I need to go out and at least pretend to have been picking up lunch, and you need to shower."
"I'm just going to be getting sweaty again shortly."
"Fine, then at least run a comb through your hair," he teased, nodding at the tufts of her shoulder-length hair that were sticking up in unruly tangles.
She glared facetiously and smoothed her hair down, then pulled it back into a low ponytail. "Y'know, eventually we're going to have to come out with this."
"Yes. But not now."
"But... don't you think this is a little weird, Richard?"
"Caroline, our definitions of 'weird' are very different. To me, weird would be spotting someone on the subway with two heads."
"Well, don't you find this to be... a little out of the norm as far as relationships go? I mean, y'know, most couples see each other regularly-"
"Which we do-"
"They go out together-"
"Which we do-"
Richard paused at the door, sensing she needed to get the 'relationship talk' out of her system. She kneeled up on the bed and wrapped the sheet around herself, moving toward the edge of the bed closest to him. "Richard, I just mean... I care about you. The sex is great, but... I'm sensing something deeper going on here." He watched her forehead wrinkle as she practically begged, "Please tell me I'm not the only one feeling this way."
Richard closed his eyes and sighed, realizing that in his effort to keep their personal relationship under wraps, he completely disregarded her need to know how he felt about her. Since it started six months ago, it had been mainly sex... fueled by an argument the first time and continuing beyond that when the spark became too much to ignore. But now it was six months later and he was past caring about Caroline -- he was in love with her, despite their yin-and-yang differences. "I feel it too," he assured her softly.
"Then... why can't we bring this out into the open?"
"You know it's more complicated than that, Caroline." He went to her and cupped her face in his hands, kissing her slowly.
And it was more complicated than she wanted it to be. As long as they'd been sleeping together, she had also been sleeping with Del. To keep up appearances, Richard started to date Shelly despite the fact that she annoyed the hell out of him. He was no longer sure why they felt the need to hide their relationship -- there was no company policy about interoffice dating, after all, since Caroline effectively was the company. But the decision was made early on and they'd stuck with it.
But now, it seemed, Caroline was unhappy with the deal they'd struck. ...And she was still pouting. So Richard kissed her again and decided to placate her by taking a leap and expressing his feelings. When he pulled away, he looked deep into her eyes and murmured, "I love you."
"Really?" She sounded surprised, to say the least, and for a split-second Richard feared the worst until he saw the brilliant smile lighting up her face. She grabbed his face and kissed him emphatically. "I love you too." She laughed. "And I don't say that to just anybody, buster." She poked him in the chest and he laughed.
He enjoyed being with Caroline in this way. Not just the sex, but being able to relax. He'd never had anyone in his life that relaxed him. With Julia, it had been constant stress over which party she'd be dragging him to on that particular night, or what aspect of his art or his life she would complain about at any given moment. Caroline just took him as he was, stopped trying to change him once she realized the persona she saw during working hours wasn't completely him, and encouraged him to relax with her.
"Actually," her stream of consciousness continued, "I don't think I've ever even said that to Del."
"Don't I feel special," he quipped.
Caroline rolled her eyes and pulled him to her by the shirt for another searing kiss before she pushed him to arm's length. She definitely knew how to tease a man. "Go. I think we've just got five minutes now before Del gets here."
"Alright. I'll see you when you return from racquetball. Want me to pick up your usual from the deli?"
She smiled, already getting out of bed (completely comfortable walking around naked in front of him), and nodded. "Please."
"Okay." He kissed her one last time, whispering, "Love you," against her lips again before forcing himself to walk out the door.
Once out on the street, Richard felt himself smiling and briefly wondered if he'd finally gone insane. If he had, he'd been driven there by the lovely redhead. Six months ago, he never would've seen it coming. The best thing in his life, borne of an argument, spurred by his own cowardice. He shook his head and chuckled.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I heart you guys SO MUCH for putting up with my flighty (okay, slutty) muse, lol. I am still working on 'C & the Big Hangover' but this story was nagging at me all this week. I'm absolutely currently obsessed with season one Richard & Caroline -- so pretty, so touchy-feely. GAH. I love it. And since I'm such a giant stickler nowadays for characterization & flow, I will definitely be trying my hardest to keep this as in-character as I can, without going over-the-top, but with just enough wiggle-room to TRY to make this situation plausible, hehehe. In the following chapters, I'll be interspersing real-time action with flashbacks. And FYI, flashbacks will always be in italics. Hope you enjoy the coming chapters! "Caroline and the Mugger" is covered in this next one :)