Caroline & The Talk Show
Rated 'R' for sexual content
--"What about this one Richard?" Caroline asked as she walked down the stairs, striking a pose.
Richard looked up absently and sighed... "That's nice too..."
"Ok, but is it nicer than the last one?"
"Caroline... you are making way too much out of this. It's just a local talk show... it's not like it's Leno..."
"BAAAAaaah! Don't even mention his name around me!" Caroline shot back, an irritated smile on her face... "After what happened... I'm surprised I'm even allowed to WATCH Leno anymore..."
"What are they going to do? Send 'The Leno Viewer Enforcement Agency' out to take your TV set away?"
Caroline laughed... "Hey! It's Hollywood! You never know!"
Richard just smiled... "Uh-huh..."
"Ok, so... this one or the other one?" she asked, spinning so he could see the outfit.
"I like the first one better."
"You couldn't have said that 3 outfits ago?!"
"I could have... but what fun would that have been?" he asked as he held her tight, kissing her affectionately. He reached his hand under the hem of her short skirt but she backed away from him...
"Not now... I'm running late..."
Richard sighed... "Just 5 minutes?"
"Who are YOU kidding?" she laughed, sporting a wicked grin.
"Well, apparently not you..."
"Why don't you come with? It'll be fun!"
"I don't think so. That's not my idea of fun, but I'll be watching for your segment..."
Caroline pouted and he wrapped his arms around her in response...
"Don't pout. Please? I was just really looking forward to painting a bit..."
"Ok, ok. But be sure to watch me!"
"You better! I'm gonna quiz you later!"
"A quiz, huh? What do I get if I pass?" he asked suggestively…
"You'll just have to wait and see..."
--"C'mon Caroline! Cab's waiting!" Annie announced as she entered the loft.
"I'll be down in a sec..."
Annie shook her head and plopped down on the couch, knowing 'a sec' with Caroline was always a lot more than that. "So, Richie, what's on the agenda for today?"
"To the cultural illiterate maybe…"
"You know, being a snob doesn't make you an artist."
"You know, being a slut doesn't make you popular."
Annie glared at him and opened her mouth to retort when Caroline came down the stairs…
"Ok, let's go!" she said as she bounced towards the door. Annie stuck her tongue out at Richard, then followed Caroline out. Richard just shook his head as he began setting up his easel.
--Caroline was nervous. Sure, it was ONLY a local talk show, but she was still tense about talking on camera. Especially after the whole 'Leno' fiasco.
"That was different Caroline… you were trippin'!" Annie announced without thought to the people around her.
"Ssshhh…" Caroline hushed her… "I don't want people to get the wrong idea…"
"Oh! Right… sorry…"
"Ms. Duffy?" the stagehand approached Caroline, getting her attention… "We're ready for you…"
--Richard turned on the TV and absently watched as he painted, more involved with his art than the show. When Caroline came on the screen, he stopped what he was doing and set his brush and palette down. He smiled as he observed how nervous she seemed, her hands fidgeting and shaking ever so slightly.
"Just relax Caroline…" he said to the TV… "You're doing great."
--"How do you come up with the ideas for the strip?" the host asked Caroline.
"Well, I get most of my ideas from the people around me. My friends, my boyfriend… and just the people in the city." she replied.
"What does your boyfriend think of being in the strip? He's a veterinarian, right?"
"Well, actually, we broke up. I have a new boyfriend, but he doesn't want our relationship shown in the strip…"
"He likes his privacy…"
--Richard could see the sadness in Caroline's eyes. He didn't realize till that moment how much that had really bothered her… that he'd asked to keep the relationship out of the strip. He sighed and headed for the kitchen to get more coffee as the show went to commercial. Salty sat perched on the counter near the coffee maker, probably because the heat coming off it was warming. Richard hissed at her to drive her away, but she held her position, staring at him. She'd grown somewhat accustomed to his presence and wasn't as easily scared away. Richard just rolled his eyes and reached past her…
"Stupid cat." he grumbled as he poured his refill.
With as much as he disliked Salty, and cats in general, he would never hurt her, or any other living thing for that matter and Salty eventually realized this. Or most likely realized it. At any rate, she wasn't frightened away by his hissing. When the show came back on he pointed to the TV and put his face near Salty's…
"There's mama…" he chirped, then shook his head… "I've been around Caroline too long, haven't I?" he asked her as he walked back to his easel, only to get a soft 'meow' in return. Salty hopped down off the counter and sauntered over to Richard, rubbing up against his pant leg…
"Not now Salty…" he very gently nudged her with the leg she was rubbing against… "I have to watch this… Caroline is quizzing me later."
--After the segment with Caroline was over, Richard went back to his painting, not bothering to turn off the TV. He paid little attention to what the upcoming segment was going to be about, and didn't hear anything that was going on till he heard Caroline's name again…
--"Well, isn't this something?" the host announced… "Caroline Duffy is interested in adopting this cat!"
Richard looked past the easel at the TV set to see Caroline holding a black cat in her arms, a smile from ear to ear.
"Tell us Caroline, why do you want to adopt this cat?"
"I love cats. I have a cat at home… Salty… from the strip. I had a second cat as well, but he ran away. Pepper. They were Salt and Pepper, but I changed Salt's name to Salty when Pepper ran away. This cat looks just like him. I'm gonna name him Pepper! And I bet Salty will LOVE to have a playmate again!"
Richard's eyes got big and round and he walked over to the TV set…
"NO! Caroline! No! What are you doing?! You can't adopt another cat! Just say 'no'!"
When the show went to commercial, Richard turned to Salty…
"Well, lucky us. We get a new playmate." His tone was humdrum and very unenthusiastic.
Salty just 'meowed' and walked off towards the litter box. Richard chuckled and shook his head, taking his glasses off and rubbing the bridge of his nose, smearing paint on his face…
"Oh, great!" he barked as he realized what he had done, heading for the bathroom to wash it off.
--Caroline entered the loft slowly and put the animal box down, a quiet 'meow' coming from it.
"Richard? I'm home."
Richard called down from upstairs… "I'll be right down…"
Caroline took a deep breath to steady her nerves. She was worried about Richard's reaction to this new cat. He made no secret of his feelings towards cats, or 'anything that comes up and pees on you when you come home' as he liked to quip, but she hoped it wouldn't be too big a battle. She hated to fight with him.
*Oh, what was I thinking?* she asked herself… *He's gonna be mad… I just know it.*
--Richard came down the stairs and looked Caroline in the eyes. She could tell he knew…
"You watched the show?" she asked apprehensively.
Richard nodded… "Uh-huh…"
"Are you ready for your quiz?"
He smirked and squinted his eyes… "Uh-huh…"
"Ok…" she said as she hung up her coat… "What did I say?"
"On the show? You said lots of things…"
"Ok, what did I say about my boyfriend?"
"That you weren't dating the veterinarian anymore and that your new boyfriend didn't want to be in the strip cause he liked his privacy. I assumed you meant me. Unless you have another boyfriend I don't know about…"
"No, you're it. What did I say when they asked me about Wisconsin?"
"Ah-ah-ah… that's a trick question! They never asked you about Wisconsin!"
Caroline smiled, then a 'meow' from the box by the door caught Richard's attention…
"Ummm… your box is 'meow'ing…"
"Uh, yeah… I know. I have… something to tell you…"
"Uh-huh…" Richard fought to stop smiling.
"Yeah, uh… well, you remember me telling you that Salty used to have a playmate? Pepper?"
"Ok. You remember me telling you how he ran away?"
"Well, after my segment, they had this adopt a pet segment and they had this cat that looked just like Pepper and I was kinda excited about that and I kinda 'jumped without looking' and… well… I adopted him."
"Caroline…" Richard scolded, only to be quickly cut off by Caroline…
"I know, I know… I should've asked you first. I just, I just… I just know how you feel about cats… and I just…"
"Didn't want to give me a chance to say 'no'?"
"Yeah! No! No! That's not what I meant!" Caroline got all flustered and Richard approached her, wrapping his arms around her…
"Caroline, it's ok."
"Yeah. I mean, I wouldn't want to have any cats let alone 2 cats, but you do, so, it's ok."
"Richard…" she whispered, getting choked up… "It's no wonder why I love you…"
"I love you too. Now, let's see this new flea bag…"
Caroline smiled and walked over to the box, opening it slowly. With a quick spring Pepper was out of the box, bathing as if it were urgent for him to.
"Look…" Richard chuckled… "Emergency bathing!"
Caroline laughed as Salty walked around the corner, both cats immediately tensing up and on guard.
"Watch…" she whispered, pointing to Salty.
They both took a step back and allowed space for the cats to become acquainted. They sniffed, and hissed, and watched each other closely, but it was obvious that Salty was not happy about this new family friend. Pepper didn't seem concerned one way or another.
"She doesn't like him…" Caroline whined, flustered.
"Give her time Caroline. She'll come around. She's been the only pet in your life for so long…"
"I guess…" She was disappointed, and Richard could tell…
"We'll keep Salty in our room tonight, and give Pepper the run of the place down here… maybe by tomorrow she won't be so bent out of shape…"
--Richard and Caroline snuggled up together in bed, Salty at their feet.
"I'm sorry I didn't talk to you about Pepper first…" Caroline apologized again.
"It's ok Caroline." He assured her as he kissed her neck… "Did I win your quiz?" he asked, his voice hoarse with passion.
"Mmmm… uh-huh…" she purred back, enjoying his affection…
"Well, what do I win? Where's my prize?"
Caroline smiled and held him tight, taking him with her as she rolled over. Now he was on his back and she was on top of him.
"Hmmm… I like my prize so far…"
"Yeah?" she rubbed herself against him seductively, and he moaned in response…
She smiled, enjoying the affect she was having on him… "Good."
While leaning over him she pulled his T-shirt up to his neck, and he helped her to pull it off. She slowly kissed his lips, his neck, shoulders, biceps, pecks, then worked her way lower. She hooked her fingers inside his boxers and slowly started to remove them, inch by inch, kissing the exposed skin as she traveled.
"Caroline…" Richard whispered, dizzy with desire…
"Ssshhh…" Caroline put her finger to her lips… "Good things come to those who wait."
After his boxers were off, she threw them to the floor, then crawled back up his body, stopping at his neck and kissing her way to his lips. The kiss was passionate and desperate, giving away her hunger for him.
Richard grasped at her back as he kissed her neck and shoulders, sucking softly on her skin… "I want you so bad…"
"I want you too." Caroline gasped, digging her nails into his shoulders in response to the yearning he was creating. She slid down his body, positioning herself. He moaned as she eased herself onto him, moving slowly, an almost sweet torture.
"Oh God, Caroline…" Richard breathed, the building of emotions made it difficult to speak. He gently but firmly grabbed her waist, attempting to speed up her movement.
Caroline leaned forward, kissing him quickly… "I love you Richard…" She whispered, her heart pounding with desire. They moaned and cried out as their love peaked, both lost in the sensations of their union.
--Caroline collapsed from exhaustion onto Richard, and he wrapped his arms around her, holding her and caressing her tenderly.
"That was amazing…" he spoke softly in her ear… "Simply amazing…"
Richard held her just a little bit tighter… "I love you Caroline."
"Mmmm…" Caroline hummed, then rolled off of him and laid on her side, propping her head up on her hand, her elbow on the bed… "Did you like your prize?"
"Good!" She kissed his lips softly, then sprang up off the bed… "Join me in the shower?"
--Caroline bounded down the stairs at the sound of Richard's ranting and raving…
"STUPID CAT! You've ruined it! And my paints! Oh my God! Look what you did to my paints!"
"What? What happened?" Caroline asked as she entered the livingroom.
"This stupid cat CHEWED through my paint tubes! Knocked over my painting! Walked all over it with painted paws!"
Caroline looked around at the mess that Pepper had created…
"I am so sorry…" she grabbed a wash cloth and started wiping up some of the paint from the floor and counters… "I'll replace the paints Richard."
"It's not just the paints! He wrecked my art! I've been working on this for weeks! Weeks worth of work… destroyed!"
Caroline could feel the tears welling up, but she forced them not to fall. She continued to clean up the mess, listening to Richard grumble and complain, not saying a word. She knew no amount of apologizing would help, he was too upset for that. She wanted to burst into tears, and hug him and make him feel better, making herself feel better just by being in his warm embrace. Richard, after he started to calm down, could tell something was wrong with her…
"You're awfully quiet…" he stated softly.
She just nodded, still on her hands and knees, continuing about her task.
"You know this isn't your fault, right?"
Caroline stopped what she was doing, her gaze directed at the floor. He saw a tear hit the paint smeared floor and sighed. He knew it was because of him that she was crying. He crawled to her on all fours and turned his face to catch her eyes. She slowly looked up at him, and he kissed her gently…
"Caroline, you do know this is not your fault…"
"I'm just so sorry…"
"Ssshhh… you don't need to apologize…" he whispered… "Just kill the cat…" He smiled, it becoming broader as Caroline smiled in return. "I'll just keep my paints and art away from him from now on."
--"Pepper! Pepper! Drop that! Drop that pencil!" Richard shouted as he chased the cat around the room, trying to retrieve his pencil. The cat finally dropped the pencil and Richard huffed as he picked it up… "Oh, gross! Cat slobber!" He quickly grabbed a paper towel and wiped the pencil, then washed his hands… "I hate that cat!" he griped, his irritation obvious.
Caroline suppressed a laugh… "He'll calm down once he gets used to us…" she offered, receiving a glare from Richard…
"Not if I kill him first." He quipped under his breath.
"Salty still doesn't like him…" she said as Richard took his place at the desk… "I wonder if she ever will. I wonder if this was just a huge mistake."
"You want an answer to that?"
"No. I know what your answer would be."
Richard smiled, then his expression turned serious… "I know how much you wanted a playmate for Salty, but she obviously doesn't want a friend. You have to ask yourself… if you are doing this for Salty, and she isn't happy, then, why keep Pepper?"
"I know, I know. Salty has even started to shun me. Although, now she likes you more!"
"Oh joy." He said apathetically. "I know it's not the way you wanted this to go, but I think you should adopt out the cat."
"Yeah, maybe you're right…"
"Right about what?" Annie asked as she barged in the door.
"Giving Pepper up for adoption." Caroline said as she turned to greet her friend… "Good morning."
"Why? Why do you want to get rid of him?"
"Salty doesn't like him. And neither does Richard. It's just not working out."
Annie poured herself a bowl of cereal and sat with it at the bar… "I'll take him."
"Sure! Been kinda wanting a cat…"
"Wow! Annie, that's great! Thanks so much!"
"Hey, no problem."
--"Hey Caroline!" Annie announced as she entered the loft.
"Oh, hey Annie. What's up?" Caroline asked, spinning around in her chair.
"Her fees for her service…" Richard taunted as he walked off into the bathroom.
"Do the world a favor Richie… fall in and flush yourself!"
"Annie!" Caroline snapped softly, getting her attention.
"How did it go with Pepper?"
"Oh, fine! He's great."
"Oh good! I'm so glad…"
"You wanna go out to eat?" Annie asked abruptly.
"Well, for lunch…"
"Ok, sure. Any special reason why?"
Annie headed for the door with Caroline's half-gallon of milk and box of cereal… "We'll get into that at lunch…"
Caroline sat staring at the door, still deep in thought when Richard came out of the bathroom…
"What did she want? Besides to raid the fridge…"
"She wanted to go to lunch… later…"
"Ah. Well, let's get some work done…"
Caroline looked at him skeptically. It wasn't like him to be so… flexible… about her plans with Annie.
"That's it? No fight? No complaining?"
"No, actually, since the monster cat is at Annie's house of ill repute, I can finally get some painting accomplished."
She wasn't exactly sure she believed him, but she had no real reason not to.
--"Ok, Annie, I'm here. What did you want to meet up for lunch for?"
"Ok, here's the thing…" Annie said as Caroline settled in… "I have this audition for this made for TV movie--"
"Oh Annie!" Caroline interrupted… "That's great!"
"Thanks. Ok, so, it's like a love story. And the guy proposes to the girl-- me-- in front of this room full of people. That's my audition scene. Well, they won't give me instruction on how to react to this. I'm supposed to act how I would actually act if this happened to me! So, my question to you is… how would YOU react?"
"Hmmm… isn't that a bit odd? That they're not giving you instruction?"
"Not really. It's not the norm, but it's not unheard of either. So, how would you react?"
"Well," Caroline gave it some thought… "Are these two people in love? Or is he jumping the gun?"
"They're very much in love…"
"Well, if that's the case… I would think she would react excitedly… don't you?"
"I guess. I've never really been in love. What would you do if Richie did that?"
"What? Propose in a public place?"
"He wouldn't do that. He is too private a person. I would just be thrilled if he proposed at all."
"Really?" Annie asked, smiling widely… "You two are that serious?"
Caroline looked at the menu and shrugged… "Well, I am, but Richard is… well… hesitant. Nervous… you know?"
"Because of that whole train wreck with Julia?"
"Well, do you think he'll ever--? Cause if he's not ever-- I mean, you know… if you want a commitment and he doesn't--"
"I'm willing to wait. Till he figures out what he wants. He's been through a lot, you know? I don't want to pressure him into anything."
"I guess. So, you would act excited…"
"Yeah. So, wanna split a chef salad?"
Annie chuckled and put her menu down… "Sure."
"So, how did your lunch with Annie go?" Richard asked as Caroline walked through the door.
"Fine." Caroline replied, walking to him and kissing him softly… "How was painting?"
"Good. See?" He pointed to the canvas in a grand gesture and looked to her expectantly.
"Oh, wow, Richard. That's beautiful!"
Richard beamed and wrapped his arms around Caroline, nuzzling into her hair, breathing in her scent. She could hear him hum in her ear and she smiled, pulling away…
"You have been such a love bug lately! What's up with you?"
"Love bug?" Richard chuckled… "I am an insect?"
"It's a term of endearment. Shut up."
"Oh! Before I forget… You had a call from that show…"
"What show? The talk show?"
"What did they want?"
"I don't know. Number is on the counter."
"Hey Richard! You're never gonna believe what they wanted!" Caroline shouted at the bathroom door.
"Who? What who wanted?"
"The TV show!"
"Well, can it wait till I come out of the bathroom?"
Caroline paced excitedly as she waited for Richard…
"Ok, what did they say?" he asked as he entered the kitchen.
"They want me back on the show!"
"Oh, well, thank you!" Caroline shot back, feigning agitation.
"I didn't mean it like that Caroline. I just meant, what will you be doing on the show? Another interview?"
"No, I'm gonna do the adopt-a-pet segment!"
Richard looked at her with one eyebrow raised… "Just don't adopt another cat… or pet of any kind…"
"I know. I know."
"Ok…" Richard smiled, pouring himself some coffee… "When?"
"Uh-huh. But it's only a 20 minute segment. The rest of the day will be ours."
"Good." He kissed her quick and sweet, then headed for the desk… "Now can we get some work done? You do have a deadline you know…"
"Yeah, I know. You are so good about keeping me on schedule…"
--"Ok… I'm off…" Caroline announced as she headed for the door.
"Yes you are." Richard teased as he continued reading the paper.
"Oh hush!" she laughed, kissing him as a quick goodbye… "I'll be back shortly…"
--Caroline readied herself for the adopt-a-pet segment, getting acquainted with the pets and reading over their statistics and information.
"Caroline? We're ready for you…" the stagehand informed her, directing her towards the set.
--Caroline introduced each pet, talked about the breed, the former owners histories, any personality traits known about… and she was able to solicit interest in all the pets up for adoption. Just when she was out of pets and was ready to wrap up the segment, the host informed her that there was one more adoption…
"There is?" Caroline asked, confused… "I wasn't-- I wasn't told…"
"It's alright. It's a sort of… an unusual adoption… of sorts…" the host stated, continuing on… "This male is a wonderful creature. Warm and loving. A real rare breed…" she informed, gesturing towards the curtain. Caroline turned around, expecting to see a dog or cat… instead, she saw Richard.
"Richard?" she asked in a whisper… "What are you doing here?"
Richard smiled as he approached, kneeling on one knee upon reaching her…
"Caroline, I love you more than words could ever describe…"
Immediately Caroline started crying tears of shock and joy…
"My life is nothing without you. You are the love of my life. And my sincere amore." He pulled a small deep blue velvet box from his pocket and Caroline let out an audible gasp… "Caroline? Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Caroline couldn't speak… she almost couldn't breathe. She nodded her head emphatically, touching his face gently.
He opened the soft box, a small but eloquent ring shining brightly… "Is that a yes?" he asked tenderly.
She nodded, tears falling freely… "Yes." She managed to squeak out, a myriad of emotions in her smile.
Richard placed the ring on her finger and stood, wrapping his arms around her, holding her up from collapsing… "I love you Caroline."
"I love you too, Richard." She choked out, wiping her tears as the cast and crew of the talk show applauded.
"Happy Valentines Day." Richard whispered, looking her deep in the eyes before kissing her softly.
--"So…" Del said as he and Annie watched the show… "He finally got brave enough to pop the question, huh?"
"Yeah, well, I don't know how brave it was…" she replied… "He had me feel her out first…"
Del looked shocked, his mouth dropped open and his eyes growing wide… "What?! You felt her up?!"
Annie rolled her eyes and smacked him on the shoulder… "Not 'feel her UP' you Neanderthal! 'Feel her OUT'! As in, talk to her first to see if she was interested in marriage…"
"Oh! Oh! Ok… you had me worried there for a minute…"
"So what did you do to 'feel her out'?"
"I told her this lame story about an audition I was gonna be going on about a guy who proposes to a girl in a public place… and then asked her how she would react to that."
"And what did she say?"
"That she would be excited about that happening… especially if it was Richie doing the proposing."
"Well, I'm just glad it's finally going to happen! She deserves happiness…" Del said as he headed for the door…
"They both do!"
"Yeah. See ya later…"
"Ok. Bye Del."
Annie smiled at the TV, then turned it off, grabbing for the phone book…
"Ok, let's see… 'wedding planners' would be under 'w'…"