Caroline & The Strip Club
Rated 'PG-13' for sexual content
--Caroline slowly opened her eyes as the sunlight invaded her sleep. She rolled over, watching her boyfriend and love of her life sleep, not wanting to wake him just yet. She loved watching him sleep. She loved how his face showed signs of concentration, even while he was deep asleep. Reaching out she touched his face thoughtfully, lovingly, causing him to stir...
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you..." Caroline apologized, snuggling up to him.
"It's ok. I love waking up to you." Richard replied as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in tight to him.
"So, when do you have to go to your appointment?"
"Not for a little while yet." Richard smiled, kissing her neck, working his way to her lips. She responded to his affection immediately and she ran her hands under his shirt, rubbing and tickling his chest seductively. Richard moaned and started kissing her passionately, full of love.
"I love you, Caroline... God I love you..."
"I know..." Caroline smiled... "I love you too..." She loved how adored and wanted he made her feel.
Richard slowly unbuttoned each button on Caroline's PJ's, lightly grazing her breasts and stomach as he did... slowly torturing her. When Caroline reached to help him, he grasped her hands gently and looked deep into her eyes...
"Let me do that..." Richard insisted, kissing each hand before continuing. It was sheer agony, but Caroline didn't attempt to help again. She consciously forced her hands to her sides, clutching the sheet in her fists as Richard continued to undress her. He eased his hands slowly into her PJ bottoms and purposefully grazed her inner thigh, causing Caroline to moan and squirm. Richard smiled, enjoying her reaction. He eased the bottoms down to her ankles and off, but left her underwear in place. She reached for them to push them off, but he grabbed her hands again...
"Ah-ah-ah..." Richard warned, not allowing her to finish her task. Caroline grumbled as she placed her hands back to her sides.
He slowly started kissing her everywhere... everywhere but where she wanted him to most, and he knew it.
"Richard..." Caroline whispered wantonly.
"What?" Richard asked as he continued his torturous affection.
"Stop? Ok..." He stopped kissing her and started to get out of bed...
"Get back here!" Caroline said as she grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the bed with her.
"What?" Richard teased... "I thought you wanted me to stop..."
"I want you to stop tormenting me..."
"Oh, so, my love torments you..."
Caroline grabbed him aggressively and threw him to the bed, giving him a taste of his own medicine. She climbed on top of him, straddling her legs to either side. Richard could have easily tossed her off, but he didn't want to, he was enjoying the view too much. She slowly rubbed herself against him, causing him to moan achingly. Leaning forward she lifted his shirt and started kissing his chest. He reached for her, but she pushed him away...
"Ah-ah-ah..." she purred... "No touching..."
"Uuurrrggghhh... since when?"
"Since you decided to tease me. Now, it's my turn..."
She kissed her way to his mouth and nipped at his lips playfully, pecking and licking them as she teased him unmercifully. Then, abruptly, she stopped and got up...
"Ok... gonna go take a shower now..." she said as she headed for the bathroom.
Richard blinked in confusion a few times, then jumped up and grabbed for her. He spun her around and kissed her passionately...
"No more games..." Richard whispered with an emotional strain to his voice.
"Ok, no more games..." Caroline gasped, ripping off his shirt.
He put his hands in her underwear and pushed them to the floor, then removed his own along with his pants. They tumbled into bed, exploring and caressing each other frantically. They made love, desperate and frenzied at first, then they slowed to a calmer, more-in-control pace, enjoying each other and the sensations they were creating.
--Richard downed his coffee as he rushed about, getting ready to leave...
"You wanna go out to lunch after your appointment?" Caroline asked, helping him into his coat.
"You know what, I don't know how long it's going to take..."
"Oh... ok. Well, maybe I'll go out with Annie instead..."
"Ok. Good idea. Love ya..."
"Love you too..."
Richard kissed her quick and sweet, then walked out the door, passing Annie in the hall.
"Hey, Richie, where are you going so early?" she asked, annoying Richard...
"Considering our current relationship, I believe that information falls under the category of 'none of your business'. Bye."
"Yeah, yeah..." Annie scoffed, then headed for Caroline's...
--Annie entered Caroline's loft, coffee the first thing on her mind...
"Mornin' Caroline. Where's the pain in the ass going?"
"Annie..." Caroline scolded... "He's going to the doctor."
"Why? Is he sick?"
"No, just an annual physical kind of thing..."
"Oh, hush! So, you wanna go to lunch today? Maybe go shopping afterwards?"
"Sure! I just got my unemployment check!" Annie chuckled. "Seriously, I do need an outfit for this audition I'm going on..."
"Oh yeah? What are you auditioning for?"
"The Sound of Music."
Caroline just chuckled... "Ok..."
"Nothing. Just trying to picture you as a nun..." Caroline laughed. Annie scowled at her in response... "Ok. Ok. I'm sorry. After lunch we'll go to Bloomingdales to look for a habit."
--Del sat with the executive from GMD as he watched the attractive women dance seductively, dressed in nothing more than a G-string. He was no stranger to strip clubs, in fact, he'd been known to frequent them quite a bit during 'dry spells', but today, it wasn't about sex. Today it was about a possible promotion. If accompanying his boss to a strip club put his name on the list for a promotion, then Del had no problem with that. After several hours, several drinks, and several hundred dollars spent on lap dances, the executive had decided he was ready to leave. As they started for the door Del noticed a man enter... a man that looked very much like Richard. After a double take he realized... it was Richard. Del's first reaction was to wave to him and say 'hi'... but then something had occurred to him. It wasn't like Richard to visit such a place, and now that he was dating Caroline... he found it downright odd. Instead of saying something, he hid himself behind his boss and left the club undetected.
--Del had a dilemma he was facing... should he tell Caroline he saw Richard at the strip club? Or should he keep it to himself? He didn't want to see Caroline get hurt, and if Richard was going to strip clubs... maybe he was thinking of straying. But, maybe Richard had a reason for going... although a reason for why Richard WOULD wasn't coming to mind. He finally decided to go to Caroline's... still undecided on whether or not to tell her.
--Caroline and Annie dropped their packages to the floor as they entered the loft. With a loud, exhausted sigh, Annie flopped down on the couch...
"Ugh! That guy didn't have to throw his drink at me!" Caroline grumbled as she took her coat off and tossed it to the floor near the door... "I just said that it was kinda early to be drinking!"
"Well, you shouldn't have said anything to him!" Annie informed, kicking her shoes off and tucking her feet under herself.
"Well, I TRIED to ignore him! He wouldn't take 'no' for an answer! I thought saying that was the easiest way to get him to leave me alone and stop offering me his booze!"
Annie watched as Caroline walked up the stairs... "Where are you going?"
"To take a shower! I smell like a wino!"
--A short time later Del showed up, letting himself in as usual...
"Hey, Annie... where's Caroline?"
"Taking a shower." she said, receiving an odd look from Del... "Long story..."
Del seemed distracted, and Annie noticed right away.
"What's up with you?" Annie asked inquisitively.
"Huh? Nothing. Nothing is up..."
"Fine. Don't tell me. I was just being polite anyway..."
"Let's say you knew something about someone. And the thing you knew might hurt this someone else you know. But maybe you don't know what's really going on, so maybe you shouldn't say anything. Except... you really don't want this one person to get hurt--"
"Out with it Del!" Annie snapped, irritated by the circles his point was going in.
"Ok... but, you can't say anything... ok?"
"Ok. I saw Richard at a strip club."
"Today. Around 11:00."
"You're kidding?! Richie told Caroline he was going to a doctors appointment!"
"We've got to tell Caroline!" Annie announced...
"Annie! You promised!"
"Del! He's OBVIOUSLY up to SOMETHING!"
Del shook his head... "We can't say anything! Not yet anyway..."
"Cause, we don't know HIS side to this!"
"He doesn't have a side!"
"You don't know that! Let me talk to him first!"
"Fine! I'll keep my mouth shut... for now. But if I don't like what the lying, cheating pervert has to say... I'm TELLING Caroline!"
--Del approached Richard's apartment, hesitating before knocking. He wasn't sure what he was going to say, but he figured he would just have to play it by ear.
"Who is it?" Richard's voice could be heard on the other side of the door.
"It's me. Del."
Richard rolled his eyes and grumbled as he opened the door... "What do you want Del?"
"Can I come in?"
"If you must." Richard huffed as he walked away from the door, allowing Del access.
"I heard you went to the doctor today?"
Richard looked at him with an odd expression, then dropped his eyes to the floor... "Yeah. Why?"
"Well, are you alright?"
"Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, usually people go to the doctor when they're sick..."
"I'm not sick. It was just a physical."
"Oh! So, clean bill of health then?"
"Yes Del. Look, I'm sure you didn't come all this way into downtown 'Hooker-and-Crackville' to talk about my health. What do you want?"
"Speaking of hookers..."
Richard looked at Del, bewildered... "When were we speaking of hookers?"
"Have you ever... you know... hired a hooker?"
"I can't afford to pay for sex. Now, if you'll excuse me... I'm busy here..."
--Del left with no real answers. He didn't feel right just coming out and asking Richard about the strip club, but beating around the bush produced nothing in the way of answers to his questions. Frustrated, he went to Annie's...
--"Well, what did he say?" Annie asked as soon as he entered her apartment.
"Well, I didn't exactly ask him."
"Well, what exactly did you do?"
"I asked him if he'd ever hired a hooker."
"To see what his reaction would be!"
Annie shook her head and sighed... "Well, what was his answer then?"
"He said he couldn't afford to pay for sex."
"You're useless! You didn't find out ANYTHING?!"
"Hey! I didn't want to just come out and ask the guy!"
"Cause, what if it wasn't him?"
"Del, you have known Richard for 4 years... was it him or not?!"
"If it wasn't, he has a twin brother..."
"Fine. So, we get the slime to fess up! Or prove it was him!"
"How do we do that?"
--Annie entered Caroline's apartment and took a quick look around...
Caroline turned at the sound of the door opening... "Hey Annie. You have that audition today, right?"
"Oh, yeah. Where's Richie?"
"No reason. Where'd he go?"
"To get some more black paint. Why?"
Annie just shook her head and took a seat at Richard's side of the partners desk. "Hey, Caroline?"
"Have you noticed anything odd about Richie? You know, odder than usual I mean..."
"No. Not really. Why the sudden interest in Richard?" Caroline asked, taking her glasses off and putting them atop her head.
"I wouldn't say I'm 'interested' in him. Just wondering... how your relationship is going..."
"It's going fine..."
"What's going fine?" Richard asked as he entered with an art supplies store bag.
"Our relationship." Caroline replied... "Annie was asking--"
"Why?" Richard interrupted.
"Hey, you know Richie... considering our current relationship? I think that falls under 'none of your beeswax'!"
"Hmmm... that remark sounds vaguely familiar..." he belittled as Annie glared at him.
"I would tread carefully, RICHARD. I'm not exactly happy with you right now..."
"Like I care..."
"Why? Why aren't you happy with him?" Caroline asked, confused.
"I don't want to talk about it... YET." Annie got off the seat and headed for the door, making a face at Richard as she left.
"What was THAT all about?" he asked after she left, slamming the door behind her.
Caroline shrugged... "Beats me."
--"So, you didn't get any answers either..." Del whined as Annie explained what had happened...
"Well, I couldn't say something with Caroline right there!" she snapped back.
"Cause you told me NOT to tell Caroline!"
"Yeah, but you're the one who WANTED to tell her! I say we go over there right now and get this out in the open!" Del walked towards the door, but Annie stopped him...
"I got a better idea..."
--Richard had this feeling of being followed, but every time he turned around... nothing there. He continued on his way, walking along the cold streets of New York, heading purposefully towards his destination. When he got to the gallery he stepped inside without hesitation, happy to get out of the cold.
--Charlie watched Richard from across the street. He couldn't see much... just Richard talking to some woman and he saw her hand him something. A piece of paper? A note? Her phone number! He watched as Richard hugged the woman, then followed him as he left the gallery.
--Charlie tailed Richard, undetected as he stopped at the bank, the jewelry store, the grocery store, Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant...
--"Wait! The jewelry store?" Annie asked as Charlie ran down the list of everywhere Richard had gone to.
"Yep." came the simple reply.
"Why would he stop at a jewelry store?" Del asked, confused.
Annie shrugged... "With Richie? Who knows!"
"And what's up with the art gallery? He isn't showcasing, is he?"
"No, Caroline woulda said something about it..."
"Well, he did meet a woman there..." Charlie added...
Annie quickly looked to him, shock on her face... "What?! He met a woman there?!"
"Why didn't you say that?!" Del asked.
"Oh, did you want to know stuff he DID as WELL as where he went?"
Annie and Del just rolled their eyes and shook their heads...
"Charlie, tell us EVERYTHING that happened!"
--Annie waited for the sounds of Richard leaving before she went to Caroline's. She needed to talk to her... alone...
"Hey Caroline... Richie gone?"
Caroline spun around in her chair and gave Annie a strange look... "What is with you lately?"
"I've had a lot on my mind..."
"Care to talk about it?"
"Well..." Annie said as she approached Caroline... "As a matter of fact, there is something I need to talk to you about..."
Caroline raised an eyebrow... "Sounds serious..."
"Yeah..." Annie admitted... "Where do I begin?"
"At the beginning..." Caroline suggested.
--Annie told Caroline everything. She told her about Del seeing Richard at the strip club. Told her about Charlie following him, and what he saw. And she told her about what she thought it all meant...
"Annie, I don't know why he was at the strip club, or the art gallery for that reason, but I trust him! I'm sure he has a logical reason for it!"
"Yeah, well, logical and moral are two different things..." Annie reasoned.
"Hmmm... Annie, logical and moral..." Richard quipped, walking through the door... "Can anyone tell me which word DOESN'T belong?"
"You know what you cheating pervert? I don't--"
"ANNIE!" Caroline interrupted... "I'll take care of this. Ok?"
Annie looked at her for a moment, then nodded... "Ok, but I'm right across the hall if you need me..."
"Ok Annie. Thanks."
--"What was THAT all about?" Richard asked as he headed for the kitchen.
"Richard, we need to talk..."
Richard looked up at her and saw the expression on her face. Serious and concerned...
"Ok..." Richard agreed as he stopped what he was doing and sat beside her on the couch... "What's wrong?"
"When you went to the doctor the other day..."
"Yeah?" Richard could feel his heart skip a beat...
"Well, did you do anything else that day?"
"Anything else?" he repeated, stalling...
"Yeah. Did you go anywhere else?"
Richard sat silent for a moment... he didn't want to lie to her... "You know, don't you?" He looked up at her and he could see the tears in her eyes...
"What? What do I know?" she asked, trying not to lose it. It was true... he was having an affair. She couldn't breathe...
"You know about the painting... don't you?"
*The painting?* she thought to herself... *What painting?* "What painting?" she asked, confused...
"You didn't know about the painting? What were talking about then?"
"Del saw you at the strip club Richard..."
Richard just looked at her for a moment, blinking absently like her words were in a foreign language he didn't understand... "The strip club?"
"So, you don't know about the painting?"
"What painting?!" Caroline's voice edged irritation...
"I... I wanted it to be a surprise. I sold a painting Caroline."
"What? You sold a painting? When? To whom?"
"To a gentleman who apparently likes strip clubs..." Richard joked.
Richard chuckled... "I went to the strip club cause the BUYER wanted to go. Frances said I should 'wine and dine' him. That he would be more likely to buy the painting if he thought we were 'buddies'..." Richard rolled his eyes...
"The woman at the gallery. You know the gallery on 53rd Street?"
Caroline shook her head... "Yeah. I know the one-- Why is she selling your painting? I don't understand..."
"I went to her... to see if she would represent me. She said she would IF I sold a painting. To prove there is interest in my work..."
"So when this guy showed interest, you took him to the strip club to help seal the deal?"
"Is she pretty?" Caroline asked insecurely.
"Yeah. Charlie just said 'woman'."
"Oh, so he left out that part about her being in her 60's then?" Richard laughed...
Caroline smiled, then her face grew serious again... "Why didn't you tell me about all this?"
"I wanted it to be a surprise..."
Richard smiled and got down on one knee in front of her... "Cause I wanted to give you this..." He pulled out a little velvet box and opened it, revealing a beautiful diamond engagement ring...
"Oh my God..." Caroline whispered, her hands starting to tremble...
"Caroline? Will you marry me?"