Caroline & Richard's Romantic Side

Caroline & Richard's Romantic Side

Rated 'PG-13' for sexual content

By: Jana~

~~Disclaimer~~

*****~*****

--Richard was on a creative roll that was surprising to him. Well, actually, it didn't really surprise him so much as amaze him. Since he and Caroline started dating six months ago, he could see his artistic talent flourish. In that time Richard learned a lot of things about himself he never realized before. Like, when he was happy, his art took on a whole different quality. He had never been truly happy before, not like this anyway, so he never knew that this simple emotion would affect his work like this. Nothing broke his concentration to his work... not the neighbors next door fighting, not the thing that lived in the wall scraping and gnawing... nothing... till there was a knock at the door.

Richard stepped back and looked at his painting, ignoring the door for the moment.

"She's going to love this..." he whispered to himself, pleased with his creation. He was lost in thought when there was a second knock...

"Richard? It's Caroline... are you home?" the familiar voice from the other side of the door inquired.

"Yeah. Just a minute Caroline..." Richard answered back, then started to frantically cover his painting and put aside his brushes and supplies.

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah... I'll be right there..."

"What are you doing in here?" Caroline asked Richard when he opened the door.

"Nothing..." he replied, giving her a quick kiss.

"That's why it took you 10 minutes to open the door..."

"Don't exaggerate... what are you doing here?"

"I was hoping we could go out to dinner..."

"Oh, I would love to... but I can't."

"Why?"

"Because... I'm busy... painting."

"Oh? Can I see it?" Caroline asked, walking towards the easel.

"No! No... umm... it's not done yet. I will show it to you when it's finished..."

"You're acting funny... are you sure you're ok?"

"Yeah, Caroline... I'm fine... really..."

"Ok... well, we're still going out tomorrow night... right?"

"Of course!" Richard assured her.

"Ok... well, I guess I'll let you get back to painting then..."

--Caroline knew Richard was up to something, but he liked his privacy, so she decided not to press the issue further. Through the course of the last six months Richard had only opened up in small dribs and drabs, but when he did share something about himself, Caroline considered it very special. He had built a wall up around himself so that people couldn't hurt him, and it was taking time to take it down so that Caroline could love him. Richard didn't make it easy on Caroline, not that he was trying to make it difficult, but she loved him greatly and considered it a worthy challenge. She wanted to know more about him. Know everything about him. She wanted to get closer to him, but she knew it would take time. She headed home, not really in the mood to go out to dinner alone.

*****~*****

--Caroline entered her loft and was startled to see Annie already there...

"Hey, Caroline! I thought you were going out to dinner..." Annie said casually, continuing to look through Caroline's freezer.

"I was, but Richard wasn't in the mood..." Caroline replied, looking at Annie suspiciously... "And why are you here?"

"I wanted some ice cream..."

"Uh-oh... what happened?"

"My date cancelled on me!" Annie exclaimed, digging into the ice cream she had found, eating it straight from the carton.

"I'm sorry..."

"Yeah, well, him standing me up isn't the worst part! What's worse is that he's some loser my mom set me up with!"

"Why does that make it worse? You would think you'd be happy to get out of the date."

"Because HE stood ME up! What does that say about me?"

"That even losers don't want to date you?" Caroline said jokingly.

"Ouch!"

"Sorry... I think Richard is rubbing off on me..."

"Speaking of Mr. Blue Bird of Happiness... why didn't he want to go out to eat?"

"He's painting."

"Painting? Can't he deface a canvas some other time?"

"Annie!" Caroline scolded... "It's really no big deal..." she added, grabbing a spoon from the drawer.

"Ok... if you say so. So, what do you have planned for tomorrow?"

"Richard made all the plans, so I don't know... it's going to be a surprise."

"Uh-huh... remember the last time he made plans? Remember spending most of the night on the roof with him stuck in a vent?"

"Annie... that was months ago! And it was our first date! He knows me much better now!"

"For your sake I hope so..."

"There's a romantic side to him you don't see Annie..."

"And I thank God for that!" Annie joked.

"C'mon Annie, can't you be happy for me?"

"Of course I'm happy for you!"

"Thank you. Now stop hogging all the ice cream!" Caroline chuckled, grabbing the carton away from Annie.

*****~*****

--Richard woke before the alarm, his anxiety making it difficult to sleep. He had planned for this day for so long, and now that the day was here, he was nervous. He wanted everything to be perfect... it had to be perfect. He got out of bed, not even flinching when his feet hit the cold floor. He was too preoccupied with thoughts of the day ahead of him to notice. He haphazardly threw on his robe and grabbed for the phone, dialing the number from memory...

"Hi..." Richard said into the phone... "Yeah, it's me. ~~ Good. Is everything set? ~~ Great! Thank you so much for your help with this! ~~ Ok, great! Bye." Richard hung up and headed for the shower.

*****~*~*~*~*~*****

--Caroline was jarred awake from a sound sleep by a knock at the door. She sleepily looked over at the clock...

"Six-thirty?! It's too early for people to be knocking on my door!" she grumbled, then headed downstairs. "You better have a good reason for knocking on my door at this unGodly hour... whoever you are. That's all I gotta say!" she muttered to herself as she approached the door. She peeked through the peephole, but didn't see anyone there. At first she thought it might be some kid playing ding-dong-ditch or something, so she almost didn't open the door, but curiosity got the better of her. When she opened the door she was surprised to see a beautifully wrapped box with a card attached and a single white carnation sitting atop the box. She looked up and down the hall, but couldn't see or hear anyone... or anything...

"Hello?" she called out to the nothingness... no answer. She picked up the box and looked it over as she walked back inside her apartment. She took the card off the box, opened it, and read it quietly to herself...

'Caroline,


It is difficult for me to express how I feel. I'm an artist, not a poet, but I'm going to try...

I know it's trite to say that I have been waiting for you my whole life, but in many ways it's true. Even before I knew I could love, or be loved, this relationship was waiting for me... for us.

Before there was 'us', the 'me' that I was is not the 'me' I am now. When I look in the mirror I almost don't recognize the man I see. I have to remind myself that the image I'm used to seeing was the partial me. Before, I was not whole. But now, I am. You make me whole.

I know I don't always show it, and I know these simple words could never truly express my love for you. Therefore, next time you are near me, listen to the beating of my heart. Watch how my hand trembles when I reach for yours. Notice how I am forced to avoid your gaze when my feelings for you rush upon me so suddenly that I become flush with emotion. These are the things that say more then words ever could.

My love for you is ardent and pure... that is why I chose a white carnation. Did you know flowers have meanings? I didn't until recently. White carnations mean `pure and ardent love`.

Open your present. I hope you like it. Then get ready for a wonderfully romantic day!

Love,

Richard'

--Caroline couldn't contain her smile as she put the card back in the envelope. She gently unwrapped the box, careful not to rip the paper, then opened the box to reveal a beautiful dress. Casual style, antique-white in color, cotton dress. She removed it from the box to get a better look at it when a note fell from the box to the floor...

'I hope you like this dress. If you do, please wear it. If you don't, then choose something to wear that is semi-casual.'

"How can I not love this dress?" Caroline asked herself as she held the dress up to herself, getting an idea of how it would look on. She ran up the stairs to take a shower and get ready. She couldn't stop smiling as she wondered what Richard had in store for her.

*****~*****

--After she was ready, Caroline came down the stairs, half expecting to see Richard there. Instead she found another note...

'When you're ready, go downstairs. Someone is waiting there for you. Bring the white carnation and the card and notes.'

"What is he up to?" Caroline asked herself, more then just a little curious now. She did as the note instructed her, and when she got outside, there in front of her building was a limo and a chauffeur.

"Caroline Duffy?" the chauffeur asked.

"Yeah..." Caroline replied cautiously... "Where's Richard?"

"I have been instructed to drive, and open and close doors for you. I'm not allowed to answer your questions." he replied straight-faced, opening the door for her. Caroline smirked, picturing Richard saying that.

"Ok. Let's get going then..." she said as she got into the limo.

*****~*****

--Caroline looked around the limo as the driver drove her to wherever. She had no idea where they were going, and it wasn't obvious to her by the directions the driver was taking. She spotted a vase with a note attached...

'Put flowers in me.'

She smiled and placed the white carnation in the vase, then returned her attention to where the driver was going.

*****~*****

--The driver stopped at an odd location and got out to open the door for her.

"Where are we? Why are we here?" Caroline asked as she got out of the limo.

"I can't answer your questions..." the driver replied. Caroline huffed as she looked around, not seeing any sign of Richard or any reason to be there. Just then Charlie skated up...

"Here 'ya go!" Charlie announced, handing her a note and a flower.

"Charlie?! What are you doing here? Where's Richard? What's going on?"

"I'm not... allowed... to answer your questions." Charlie stammered, obviously trying to remember what his instructions were. "See 'ya!" he said, then skated off.

"Ok..." Caroline hummed to herself. She opened the note...

'At this very phone booth I heard your voice for the first time. I became immediately aware of the gentleness and innocence in your voice and I was curious about the person who spoke with such a voice. That is why I chose a daisy. Daisies mean `innocence and gentleness`...'

Caroline could feel the tears starting to well up, but she forced herself to choke them down. She said nothing to the driver as she got back in to the limo. He shut the door and they were off again.

--Next they arrived at Remo's Ristorante. The driver opened the door for Caroline and Remo came out of the restaurant holding a note and a flower.

"Here you go Carolina." Remo said, handing them to her.

"Let me guess... you're not allowed to answer any questions..."

"Nope. Sorry." he apologized, then walked back in to the restaurant. Caroline opened the note...

'Although we have had many, many a meal here, the first meal we ever had here will always be the most memorable to me.

It was my first day of work and I pretended to be your date for Del's benefit, so that you could prove to him that you had moved on. You enchanted me. That is why I chose a lavender rose. Lavender roses mean `enchantment`...'

Caroline couldn't stop the tears, and she didn't even bother to try. She quietly got back into the limo and they were off again.

--A short time later they arrived at the Plaza Hotel. Caroline got out of the limo and was immediately approached by Annie...

"Annie! You gotta tell me what's going on!" Caroline shouted.

"Oh, no! Richie would kill me! He said, and I quote... 'If you answer any of her questions consider yourself dead!'... sorry." Annie said, then handed her a note with a flower and walked away.

"Fine then!" Caroline snapped in a joking manner, then opened the note...

'The first time we danced together was here, at the Plaza Hotel. It was the night of your awards banquet and I was your last-minute date. I was so nervous about dancing with you I almost couldn't find my feet, but you helped me and we danced perfectly together. I longed to tell you how I felt that night, but nervousness prevented me. That is why I chose a pink camellia. Pink camellias mean `longing for you`...'

Caroline wiped the tears from her eyes and glanced at her surroundings before getting back into the limo.

--Next they arrived at The Glass Onion. She got out of the limo and Del came running up to her...

"Here you go!" he said cheerfully, handing her the note and flower. Caroline quietly took it from him and started to open the note. "You're not even gonna ask me to tell you what's going on?"

"Why? You won't tell me..." she replied, smiling.

"True! Just wanted to say my line! I've been rehearsing!"

"Ok... ok. Del? What's going on?" she asked, placating him.

"Sorry. I'm not allowed to answer your questions!" he announced proudly, then walked off. Caroline just smiled to herself as she read the note...

'Remember when we came here to hear Donna Spadaro sing? Remember the song she sang? Meet me at Remo's? The lyrics of that song were taken from a letter I wrote... a letter to you.'

The note stopped there, confusing Caroline. She looked around, trying to understand when the limo driver handed her another note...

'Dear Caroline, I don't know what I'm really writing, so please, bear with me. I know I'm probably violating several rules of etiquette by telling you this right before your wedding, but I have feelings... strong feelings for you. I want to be with you. I want to share your laughter and wipe away your tears. If you feel the same way, and if I have any chance at all with you, come to Remo's as soon as you can. You may not recognize me, because if you walk through that door, I'll have a smile on my face previously unseen by anyone. If you're not there by seven, I'll know your answer is no.'

She didn't know what to say... or what to do. She stood silently, trying to process all that was happening when the driver handed her another note. Without even hesitating she opened it...

'I was so nervous about you hearing that song. I thought you would make the connection and I wasn't prepared for what I would do if my love wasn't reciprocated. I wanted to keep my feelings a secret, I didn't want to ruin the friendship we had. That is why I chose a gardenia. Gardenias mean `secret love`...'

Caroline got back into the limo and they were off again.

--They stopped in front of a travel agency, confusing Caroline even further. Just then Charlie skated up...

"Here you go!" he said, handing her a note and a flower.

"Why you again?" Caroline asked Charlie.

"I'm not allowed to answer your questions." he reminded her, then skated off. Caroline just smiled and opened the note...

'This stop really should be at the airport, but the airport is noisy and crowded. It was at the airport, in a little coffee shop that I first found out about your feelings for me. Annie let it slip, and although she tried to cover, the truth was already out. I wanted to go to you, but I couldn't. You know why. I am so sorry for not telling you about my feelings sooner. I'm sorry for causing the pain you endured because of my foolishness. That is why I chose a purple hyacinth. Purple hyacinth means `I'm sorry, please forgive me`...'

"I forgive you..." she whispered to herself, looking around for some sign that Richard might be near by. "Where is Richard? Please tell me..." she pleaded, directing her pleas to the chauffeur.

"I'm not allowed to answer your questions. Sorry." he replied, holding the door open for her. She just sighed, then got back into the limo.

--Their next stop was at Patries, one of Caroline's favorite restaurants and the place they were going to have their first date... if Richard had actually made a reservation. She got out of the limo and Annie walked up...

"Here 'ya go!" she said, handing a note and a flower to Caroline.

"How long have you known about this plan of his? How much longer is this going to go on?" Caroline asked.

"Aren't you loving it?" she asked, half jokingly, half seriously. Just then the limo driver glared at her... "I am not allowed to answer any of your questions. Sorry." she added, almost robotically, then walked away.

"I AM loving it! But I was kinda hoping to spend my ANNIVERSARY with RICHARD!" she yelled out to Annie as she walked away. Annie glanced back, but kept walking. Caroline turned her attention to the note...

'Patries. Our first official date. You looked so beautiful. I wanted to give you the big night you expected and deserved, but I was ill prepared. I didn't spend enough time and attention discovering what you wanted. That will never happen again. I never want to see you that disappointed again. That is why I chose a yellow carnation. Yellow carnations mean `disappointed`...'

"IF YOU WANTED TO MAKE ME AN EMOTIONAL WRECK, THEN YOU'RE SUCCEEDING!" she yelled, just in case Richard was near by and could hear her. She wiped the tears from her face as she got back into the limo.

--They arrived at the Plaza Hotel again, but this time no one came up to Caroline to hand her a note and a flower.

"Make sure you take all your belongings please." the chauffeur said as Caroline started to get out of the limo.

"What?" she asked, not sure she heard him right.

"Make sure you take all your belongings with you please."

"Why?"

"I'm not allowed to answer your questions."

"Yeah, yeah..." she said, somewhat irritated. She grabbed all her notes and the vase with all her flowers and just stood there as the limo drove away. "Ok... now what?" she asked herself, a bit concerned. Just then a horse drawn carriage approached...

"Caroline Duffy?" the driver asked.

"Yeah." she replied hesitantly. The driver hopped down off the carriage and opened the door for her, signaling for her to get in. "Now I go with you? To where?"

"I am not allowed to answer any of your questions." he said soberly. Caroline couldn't help but laugh.

"Fine. Let's go then." she said as she got into the carriage.

*****~*****

--They headed into Central Park and Caroline sat back and enjoyed the view. She wished Richard was with her, but he obviously went through a lot of trouble to make this happen, so she trusted that eventually this would all end with him at her side. The carriage ride lasted for a while, and the surroundings got more and more secluded as they went. Finally, they stopped. It was a fairly secluded area of the park and on the grass under a tree was a picnic basket and big, beautiful picnic blanket. The carriage driver opened the door for her and she hopped out, looking around for Richard. Just then, he appeared from behind a tree, holding a red rose...

--"Richard!" Caroline called out, walking towards him. He smiled at her as she approached...

"Hello." he said cheerfully.

"I can't believe you Richard! How did you do all this?" she asked, embracing him tightly when she reached him. Her tears were flowing steadily.

"I'm not allowed to answer your questions." he laughed, holding her tight.

"That got annoying real fast!" she snapped jokingly, pulling back to glare at him.

"Well, I know your persistent need for knowing all. I worried most about Annie. She has a big mouth!"

"She wouldn't squeal... darnit!"

"Good!" he chuckled... "This is for you..." he said, handing the rose to her.

"Thank you..."

"Do you know what red roses mean?"

"What?" Caroline asked, smiling...

"Red roses mean `I love you`..."

"I love you too."

"You look amazing..." Richard said, noticing she was wearing the dress he gave her.

"Thank you. Please tell me that picnic is for us!"

"Yes it is. Are you hungry?" Richard confirmed, taking Caroline by the hand and walking towards the picnic.

"Yes! I'm starving! I didn't eat before all this started!"

*****~*****

--They both sat on the blanket and enjoyed the picnic brunch, then laid back to watch the wind dance through the trees.

"You never cease to amaze me Richard..." Caroline said, her voice heavy with emotion. Richard turned to face Caroline and snuggled into her, kissing her neck and earlobe. Caroline moaned softly, the telltale sign she was enjoying the affection. Richard loved her reaction, and responded by placing his hand on her thigh, inching under the hem of her dress. "Richard..." Caroline whispered in protest, placing her hand over his. He held his hand still, then started kissing her passionately, full on the lips. Caroline didn't resist, but her hesitation was obvious.

"What?" Richard asked softly, noticing her apprehension.

"Well, it's just... we're in a public park Richard." she replied shyly. Richard smiled at her timidity, then sat up and collected the picnic basket and blanket...

"Come on. Let's go!" he said, taking her hand and leading her towards the horse drawn carriage that had been waiting for them.

"I'm sorry." Caroline apologized.

"For what?"

"For what just happened..."

"Caroline... don't be sorry. I was just being affectionate. I had no intention of making you uncomfortable."

"Then why are we leaving?"

"Cause I have so much more planned for us today!"

"You're kidding! What?"

"I'm not allowed to answer your questions." Richard smirked, then helped her up into the carriage.

--Caroline snuggled up to Richard as the horse drawn carriage headed for their next stop. Richard draped the picnic blanket over them both, then wrapped his arms around Caroline, pulling her close. He slowly started to fondle her, which made her both excited and nervous.

"Richard..." Caroline whispered urgently, looking up at the driver.

"He has a job to do. And he doesn't have X-ray vision. Just relax Caroline..." Richard whispered soothingly, continuing his soft caresses. Caroline's nervousness slowly began to dissolve as desire began to build. Almost abruptly, Richard stopped... "Not here. Not now. We'll continue this later." he clarified, noticing Caroline seemed confused by his actions.

"Yeah... ok. Good idea..." Caroline replied, partially grateful, partially disappointed.

The carriage driver took them out of the park and across the street to the Plaza Hotel, then stopped to let them out.

"Why are we stopping here?" Caroline asked in vain.

"I'm not going to answer that." Richard said, helping her out of the carriage.

"You're lucky I love you!"

"I know I am."

"No, I mean... if I didn't love you I would be furious with you right now!"

"Only because you have this obsessive need to know everything! Just enjoy the day Caroline. Not knowing can be exciting!"

"Ok, ok. I'm trying..."

"I know you are..." Richard said lovingly, then kissed her softly on the lips. He took her hand and headed for the hotel.

"We're actually going in?" Caroline asked as they entered the Plaza Hotel. Richard just chuckled as he continued towards his destination.

*****~*****

--Richard knew exactly where to go. He had been there before several times setting everything up. Richard walked up to a conference room and stopped.

"Here..." he said, pulling a blindfold out of his pocket. He started to put it on her, but she stepped back...

"Why do I need a blindfold?!" she asked, slight concern to her voice. Richard smiled mischievously at her. "Yeah, yeah. You can't answer my questions... but, maybe I don't want to be blindfolded!"

"Caroline... do you trust me?"

"Of course..."

"Would I ever do anything to hurt you?"

"I wouldn't think so... no..."

"Then just relax... ok? Trust me..." Richard said, kissing her softly. Caroline just nodded. He put the blindfold on her and led her into the room. He helped her to where he wanted her to stand, then turned her slightly. "Ready?" he asked excitedly.

"Yeah..." she replied quietly. He took off her blindfold and she saw immediately that she was facing a painting. "Richard... is this...?"

"Mine? Yes."

"But... how...?" she stammered, looking around her. There were many more paintings as well, but Richard called her focus back to the one she was in front of.

"One at a time. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is my private showing. Just for you!"

"Oh my God Richard... this is amazing!"

"I wanted to show you something..."

"What?"

"I wanted to show you how my work has changed throughout the years. Look..." he said, pointing to the painting they were standing in front of. He explained how old he was when he painted it, what was going on in his life at the time... his motivation, his inspiration, and how that showed in his work.

"That's incredible! I don't think I ever had a true understanding of your art... well, art in general really..."

"Look..." he said, directing her attention to the next painting. Again he explained the motivation and the meanings that inspired the creation. Caroline was mesmerized. He went through each painting like that, describing each time in his life. Then he got to the first painting he created after meeting Caroline. He pointed out how she changed the appearance of his work. How much she influenced his creative process. How much she affected his life...

"I had no idea... that even back then..." Caroline said, choking on her words. She couldn't believe how much she mattered to him...

"I don't think I really realized it either... how much you influenced my work... till recently." he admitted, then headed to the next painting. And the next. And the next. Each painting had a story. He showed how the depression and anguish could be seen in the paintings he created while in France. How her engagement to Del affected his art. How entering her life again when he returned to New York brought on changes as well.

"When you know what to look for... these paintings almost tell the story of your life." Caroline contemplated.

"I saved the best for last..." Richard said, pointing towards the painting that was covered by a sheet. They walked to stand in front of it, then Richard whipped the sheet off...

"Oh, Richard!" Caroline gasped... "It's amazing!"

"You like it? This is what I was finishing up last night when you came over..."

"But... how...?" she asked, confused. "How could you have painted this last night? It's of me... from today..."

"At the picnic... I know. I know every curve... everything... about you. I painted it from memory."

"But the park... the dress... the picnic blanket..."

"I've had the dress and blanket for months. I was hoping you would wear the dress..."

"I just can't believe..." she said, tears starting to fall... "How did you do all this?"

"I'm not going to tell you..." he said, wiping her tears. "Knowing how I did it wont change the experience... just enjoy the experience Caroline..."

"I am. I love you Richard..."

"I love you so much Caroline..." he whispered, then kissed her passionately. "There's still more. What time is it?"

"More!? It's... almost five... what more?"

"I'm not going to tell you Caroline..." Richard reminded her, then went to the phone in the room. He picked it up and dialed from memory... "Hi. It's me. ~~ Yeah, all done. ~~ She loved it! ~~ Yeah. ~~ Ok, just please be careful with them. ~~ Ok, thanks. Bye."

*****~*****

--Richard took Caroline by the hand and headed through the hotel to a hotel suite. He opened the door to the room and gestured for Caroline to enter first. The suite was exquisite. Caroline gasped, clutching her hand to her chest...

"How could you... never mind..." Caroline knew it was futile to ask how... he wouldn't answer. Richard just chuckled as he brought out a dress and a tuxedo from the closet.

"Here. I hope you like it." Richard said, handing Caroline the dress. She took the dress from Richard. It was a gorgeous deep forest green, made of crushed velvet. Very eloquent.

"This dress is beautiful Richard..."

"And you will look amazing in it. Please... put it on. Our dinner reservations are at six."

"I don't have any make-up... or anything... for getting ready..."

"Look in the bathroom..." Richard said, smiling. Caroline looked at him incredulously, then walked into the bathroom...

"How did you... ugh. Nevermind..." Caroline could be heard from the bathroom. Richard laughed quietly to himself as he got ready for dinner. He knew not knowing the details of how he put all this together was killing her.

--Richard sat on the bed and waited for Caroline to come out. Richard almost couldn't breathe as his eyes gazed upon her.

"You look..." he faltered, trying to find a word that was worthy of describing her.

"Thank you..." Caroline replied shyly. He slowly approached her, a million thoughts running through his mind. Her beauty... his love for her... how much he wanted to take that dress off her...

"We should go..." he said, forcing himself to dismiss that thought for now. He held out his arm courteously... "Shall we?"

*****~*****

--The food was superb. The ambiance... exquisite. And after dinner... dancing. They danced so close, it was almost a tight embrace that swayed to the music.

"I love dancing..." Caroline said, barely above a whisper.

"I know."

"I love dancing with you." she added softly.

"I love dancing with you..."

"You know... I wanted you to stay. That time... at the awards banquet. I just wish..."

"Shhh..." Richard interrupted... "No sad thoughts tonight. We are together now... that's what matters... ok?"

"Ok. You're right..." Caroline agreed.

"I would have stayed..." Richard said softly, after several minutes of silence.

"What?"

"That night... if you had asked me... I would have stayed..."

"Shhh. No sad thoughts tonight. Remember?" Caroline reminded, pulling back slightly to look at his face. She was surprised to see tears in his eyes. She had never seen Richard cry... "Are you crying?" she asked, taken aback. Richard responded by pulling her close to him so she couldn't see his face.

"Allergies..." Richard whispered, trying to cover. Caroline's lips reached for his. Finding them she kissed him tenderly, passionately. Richard's hand on the small of her back sent shivers of desire through her...

"Let's go back to the room now..." she suggested, struggling to regain her senses. Richard took her gently by the hand and led her off the dance floor and back to the room.

*****~*****

--Richard opened the door for Caroline, allowing her to enter first. Once inside he twirled her around to face him, then kissed her passionately. He kissed his way down her neck, slipping his fingers beneath the neckline of her dress, sliding it off her shoulder to expose her pale skin.

"I've wanted to take this dress off you all night..." Richard whispered, kissing her shoulder.

"Mmmmm..." Caroline purred, enjoying the sensations Richard was creating. He slowly reached behind her and unzipped her dress, helping it to fall to the floor. Richard caressed, kissed, and fondled, leaving no part of her untouched. She felt drunk with passion, her head high in the clouds. Richard loved how she reacted to his touch.

"God, I love you..." he whispered in her ear, causing Caroline to shiver... "Are you cold?" he asked, noticing her reaction. Before she could answer he gently guided her to the bed. He pulled down the covers and gestured for her to get in. After he undressed, he joined her, continuing where he left off. His strong, artistic hands skillfully toyed with and teased her, creating a want in her that made her cry out...

"Richard... please..." she begged, breathless.

"What?" he asked teasingly. Caroline grasped at him, trying to convey her wants without the use of words. Richard smiled, pleased with the yearning he was inspiring.

"Please..."

"Please what?" he asked, kissing her neck, then traveling lower. Caroline moaned softly...

"Please..."

"What? Tell me..." he coaxed.

"Richard..."

"Say it..." he whispered lovingly. Caroline remained silent, obviously frustrated. She sighed deeply. Richard continued to kiss and caress her, cherishing her modesty. "Say it Caroline..."

"Don't make me beg..." she whispered, almost sadly.

"I don't want you to beg... I want you to tell me what you want..."

"I want you to make love to me..." she whispered shyly. He sighed deeply, overwhelmed with desire.

"Never doubt I love you..." Richard whispered, making love to Caroline attentively, fulfilling her need for him... fulfilling his need for her.

*****~*****

--Richard and Caroline laid side by side, exhausted...

"I don't..." Caroline said, panting from exertion.

"Don't what?" Richard asked, panting equally as hard.

"I don't doubt your love for me..." Caroline said, snuggling into Richard's warm chest... "I love you too... never doubt that..."

"I don't..."

"I don't know how you're going to top this..."

"What?"

"This day was so perfect. I don't know how you're going to top it... for future anniversaries I mean..."

"I have to TOP this?!" Richard asked sarcastically... "UGH!"

"Richard!" Caroline chuckled.

"You let me worry about it... ok?"

"You're never going to tell me how you did this... are you?"

"Nope!"

"C'mon!" Caroline whined.

"You are hopeless!" Richard joked... "I will answer one simple question..."

"One question?"

"One SIMPLE question!" Richard corrected.

"Ok... hmmm... Ah! Ok! Where did you get the money to afford all this?"

"I sold a painting..."

"What?! You sold a painting?! When? To who? Which one?"

"Ah-ah-ah... I said ONE question..."

"ARGH! You are driving me nuts!"

"That's not a far drive!" Richard quipped.

"You're mean!" Caroline mocked anger.

"Thank you." Richard smiled... kissing her softly.

"Really... this day was SO perfect... Thank you..."

"You're welcome. You deserve perfect days every day..."

"Every day with you IS a perfect day."

THE END