After Rich and JT gave their speech to the manager about quitting, they started to walk out with their new waitress friend, and bumped into...
"Uh, um, Dana... What... what are you..." Rich fumbled.
Dana looked at him unsurely.
"Well, you've been weird the past three days." she blurted. "And, when you freaked out about 'No, no, you are not to come see me at work!', well... it had my mind racing in a zillion different directions..." she said, moving her hands around a bit.
Rich winced, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Your sisters are out in the car, aren't they?"
"No... actually, I haven't talked to them about this. The last time I felt upset about something and vented to them they..."
"Made it a zillion times worse?" Rich smirked.
"Okay, come on." he said, putting a hand on her hip. He gave a wave to JT and Candy and lead her out to her car, sitting down in the backseat.
"What are you-"
"Come sit next to me, woman." Rich ordered, looking amused.
Dana shrugged and got into the other side of the backseat, sitting down, facing him.
"All right... first of all: I love ya, babe, but... what part of 'don't come see me at work' was so hard?"
Dana frowned, starting to get huffy. "Oh, I suppose your little friend Little Miss Voluptuous wasn't supposed to know I existed?" she snarked, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
Rich sighed, shaking his head at her with a frown. "Her name's Candy."
"Of course it's Candy... what else would it be?"
"And, she's a nice girl, Dana. You'd actually like her if you got to know her. She was only working there to put herself through law school because her parents couldn't afford to."
Dana flushed, looking down at her hands.
"And, I didn't want you to see me... like this, okay? It's freaking humiliating."
Dana looked up at him with wide, confused blue eyes.
"But, Rich... you were wearing it in front of all those people..."
"Yes, but those people aren't you." he said softly, and his tone cut her to the core as he reached for her hands. "Dana... sweetie, I love you, okay? More than anything in this world... that's why I was willing to have this degrading job!"
Dana blinked back tears, fluffing his hair a bit with gentle fingers. "I don't understand..."
Rich sighed. "Living with your parents, as insane and... practically Amish as they can be at times... I mean, hello, we're twenty-one, I shouldn't have to sneak up or you sneak down for us to sleep in each-other's arms. We shouldn't have to wake up extra early every morning so no one can see... but, the fact is, with my living in the apartment, at least we can do that. It's not about sex, or petting, or any of that. It's just holding you all night in my arms..." he admitted, pulling her close.
Dana snuggled into his arms, her head on his shoulder, her hand on his clavicle.
"And, not being able to sleep with you? I don't think I could sleep anymore." he admitted with a smile, and kissed the top of her head. "So, yes, that was worth it to me. But, Dana... you don't know how the waitstaff got treated in there. You see how we were dressed; the customers all acted as if we were part of the menu."
Dana frowned up at him.
"Look, I didn't like it, old ladies grabbin' at me. Dropping stuff for me to pick up... the comments... but, as long as you didn't know, and weren't ashamed of me... it was worth it, because it meant I got to stay with you, and I even had extra to buy you nice things."
A few tears trickled down Dana's face. "Oh, Rich, I'm so sorry... I never meant to... and I would never, never be ashamed of you, Rich. I love you... so much..." she said, cupping his face in her hands.
Rich closed his eyes, reaching his hand up to take one of the hands, and kissed the palm and wrist gently. He sighed.
"Rich... if you're having trouble finding a job, making rent... I'll help you. I'll get a part time job."
"No. You won't." Rich said firmly.
Dana balked. "Did you just tell me what to do?"
"Yes, I did." he said in the same tone, looking into her eyes with his deep chocolate ones. "You had a job in high-school, but you don't right now because you have such a full course load. I feel more than you should, but that's just who you are, and you want to graduate early to go on to law school. I respect that. Working could affect your grades, and I know you; you get less than an A minus your brain is going to shit itself."
Dana looked at him incredulously, and saw his mouth twitch towards the end, and couldn't help the shy smile herself.
"Look... how much did you hear of why I quit?"
"Most if not all, I think. Saw you defending that girl- er, Candy. It was chivalrous."
"Well, she's a nice person and didn't deserve to be treated like that." Rich shrugged.
Dana nodded. "Neither did you, you know. I don't want you to have to do that for me."
"Not for you- for us, baby."
"I already quit, but if it makes you unhappy, the next place I drop my resume won't be Chippendale's, okay?" he teased.
"Good... because I don't like to share." Dana smiled, splaying her arms over his chest as she stretched her body closer to him.
Rich groaned at her proximity, his hands rubbing her back gently.
"Yeah, speaking of..." he began uncomfortably, "that's the other reason I didn't want you to go."
Dana's eyebrows went up. "What?"
"Well, come on: if they treated the waitstaff that way, who's to say they wouldn't treat just anyone that way? Buncha oafish pigs..." he muttered darkly. "I felt like the money was good, and worth it for me to get mistreated a little; but... if you had come in, and some guy had treated you like that nozzle was treating Candy... I wouldn't have just told him off." Rich said seriously, looking at her.
Dana smiled at him. "No?"
"No." Rich said, shaking his head. "I would have ripped his arms off and beaten him to death with them, and I'm pretty sure that would've gotten me fired..."
Dana leaned up and kissed him breathless, then moved her trail of kisses to his cheek, his jaw, and back up to his earlobe, where she began sucking gently.
"Ohhh... God I love you..." he mumbled into her neck, nipping gently at her.
Dana looked at him and smiled. "I know... I love you too."
Rich looked at her thoughtfully. "Dana? Do you ever get tired of just... staying where things are?"
Dana looked at him with a light frown, her forehead creasing, but Rich gently brushed his fingers over the worry lines.
"No, babe, that's not what I mean... I mean... don't tell your parents yet, but... I've still got a bunch of my extra tips saved, why don't we go pick out a ring? I want to marry you." he said seriously. "This college stuff... it's not really doing for me. I'm gonna find a real job, and get us our own place... just we'll keep it between the two of us until then."
"Marry? Oh, Rich..." Dana smiled, but then it dampened. "But, you want to drop out of school?"
"I've been going three years and I haven't even declared a major, Dana. I'm taking all bullshit classes, come on. I'm wasting time, money and energy."
Dana looked thoughtful.
"I'd even be willing to take a job with Frank at the construction site full time."
"But, Rich, you don't know what you're doing there..."
"On the job training, baby." he dismissed. "And, if that doesn't work, I'll find something else." he promised, kissing her forehead. "And, you didn't answer my very important question..."
Dana looked at him with wide, serious eyes. "Oh, Rich... you should already know my answer, lovie... Yes, yes, a thousand times yes..." she said, falling back into his embrace again...