Invitation Only and Grand Farewells

Chapter: 5

Rating: PG-13

There was loud, obtrusive, knocking coming from the adjoining doors. Knocking that came in a cute little pattern. God, Sue Ann even knocked obnoxiously. And it was way too early in the morning for the Happy Homemaker.

"Mary, dear." she heard her call out. "Time to rise and shine. We don't want to miss our flight."

She was still more than half asleep. And sleep is where she wanted to be. Lou was warm laying next to her and his strong arms were inviting. This wasn't really the way she wanted the morning to begin. Not after the night they had shared before.

He pulled her to him. "Make her go away." he whispered.

Mary glanced over at the clock on the night stand. "We have four hours, Sue Ann." she said. "I just want to sleep."

"It's almost nine o'clock." her voice was very singsong. "By the time you get up and showered and packed it'll be time for breakfast."

Lou pressed a kiss to her neck. "I could go for some breakfast."

"With Sue Ann?" she asked in a hushed tone.

"I was thinking more like room service."

Sue Ann pressed her ear to the side of the door. She was sure she heard voices. As in more than one. As in dear, sweet, innocent Mary Richards wasn't alone in her hotel room. Wasn't alone in bed. "Mary?" her interest was definitely peaked.

"I'm not hungry." she told her. "I'll just meet you in the lobby at eleven."

She smiled to herself. Now she was even more determined to find out what was going on. "Suit yourself, dear."

"You think she's gone?" Lou asked, just above a whisper.

"Probably not." she replied. "She probably has her ear glued to the door."

"Forget about Sue Ann."

"It's a little difficult knowing she's in the next room.

He rolled her over onto her back, covering her body with his. "I think I can help with that."

Mary smiled. "Does this mean we're finally going to make love?" she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Because I'm beginning to think you're just a tease."

"Are you saying you didn't enjoy last night?"

"God, no! I enjoyed it. Very, very much. You should know that. I'm pretty sure I told you several times." she said. "It's just that..."

"You want more."

"I want you." she told him. "All of you."

He kissed her. "You're the one who fell asleep."

"You wore me out."

"Good to know." he said. "I thought maybe I was boring."

A smile crept across her lips. "Far from."

There was something different about her. Something different when he looked into her eyes. "Are you happy, Mary?" there was something in his voice, something raw and heavy.

Things had suddenly went from playful to serious. "What? Yes. I'm happy. Doesn't it show?"

"We've been having a really good time..." he trailed off. "I don't want this to end once we leave Chicago."

"I didn't think it was going to." she told him. "I don't know what you've done to me these last two days, Lou Grant, but I don't think I've ever been so happy."

"You mean that?"

"God, yes, I mean that. I think I've fallen in love with you."

The only thing Lou could do was kiss her. Repeatedly. With desperate passion. He had taken an enormous risk coming to Chicago. He had laid everything on the line.

"I need you." he told her when their kiss ended. "So much."

"Make love to me?"

xxxxx

His fingertips lazily stroked up and down her bare back. She had fallen asleep in his arms, her head resting on his chest. And he had been perfectly content just holding her while she slept. But they didn't have much time and he knew that soon he would have to wake her.

Her earlier confession had taken him by surprise. He couldn't find the words to express how he felt. He only hoped his actions were enough.

"Mary, wake up." he brushed her hair back away from her face. "We have to get going."

"I wanna stay here with you." she nuzzled further into his embrace. "Just like this."

A smile tugged at his lips. "We can resume this once we get back to Minneapolis, you know." he said. "There's a king size bed waiting for us at my house."

"Is that an invitation to stay the night?" she looked up at him from under thick eyelashes.

"It's an invitation to stay as long as you like."

"You think we're moving too fast?"

"I don't know." he replied, honestly. "I just know that this feels right. And to me that's all that matters."

xxxxx

Mary placed her suitcase by the door. Lou was in the shower and as tempting as it was to join him, she knew that she would never make her boarding call on time. And if she wasn't in the lobby by exactly eleven Sue Ann was going to be knocking on her door. If Sue Ann found out them everyone would know within hours of the plane landing.

She glanced at the clock. All packed and with eight minutes to spare. She heard the shower turn off. And just in time too because there was a soft knock at her door followed by a sugary sweet voice. "Mary, dear, are you ready?"

"Uh, just a minute, Sue Ann."

"I thought we could ride down in the elevator together." she knew that Mary was up to something. She had to be. And she was going to get to the bottom of it. "Can I come in?

"Just let me finish dressing."

"Okay, dear."

Lou opened the bathroom door just in time to hear the Happy Homemaker's request. "Let her in." he teased. "It'll be fun."

"Are you kidding me?" she whispered, moving closer to him. "She'll explode."

He reached out for her. "Nobody makes a scene like Sue Ann."

Mary placed her hands on his chest to prevent him from pulling her any closer to him. Any closer to him would be incredibly dangerous. "You need to get dressed."

"You were in such a hurry to get my clothes off." he smiled. "And now you just want me to get dressed?"

"You're really not helping me out here."

"I know and I'm sorry." he leaned in and quickly kissed her. "Can you get my clothes?"

Once Lou had his clothes and the bathroom door was closed Mary opened the door to Sue Ann. She quickly picked up her suitcases. "All ready." she smiled as though everything was fine. As though she was completely innocent. Like she hadn't spent the past twelve hours in bed with her boss.

Sue Ann had to find a way to push herself inside the room though. She quickly glanced around, taking everything in. Then she looked at Mary and smiled. "You know I could have sworn I heard voices in here this morning."

"Must have been the television." she said. "Come on, let's go. We might have trouble getting a cab. I don't want to miss our flight."

"Of course." she let Mary walk through the threshold and then closed the door and followed behind her. But not before she caught a glimpse of the bathroom light on from under the door. The light on didn't always mean anything. Except in this case Sue Ann knew that it meant something.

xxxxx

Their flight was on time. And so was Lou's at just an hour behind theirs. She knew that he was in the airport and she wanted so badly to see him, but with Sue Ann watching her so intently it made it impossible.

"Is there something wrong?" she finally asked her.

"No, nothing's wrong." Sue Ann smiled. "Why would you ask that, dear?"

"Oh, I don't know." she sighed. "I guess it's the way you keep watching me."

"I'm just curious, that's all."

"About?"

"About why you're so distracted." she said. "Ever since this morning you've been acting very strange and I have a feeling I know exactly why."

"Oh?" she asked. "And why is that?"

"Because you weren't alone in your hotel room."

Mary just looked at her. It wasn't even worth dignifying with a response. She didn't owe Sue Ann anything. What she did was her business. "Okay, maybe I wasn't. What's the big deal?"

"Come on, Mary, who was he?" she leaned in closer to her. "You can tell me."

"I don't think so, Sue Ann." she shifted in her seat. "If you'll excuse me I have to use the restroom."

Mary made her way through the airport and sure enough there Lou was. Sitting at the bar. He Saw her as she approached, reaching out to wrap his arm around her waist. "I was wondering how long it was going to take you to ditch Sue Ann."

"Ugh!" she sighed, heavily. "She's driving me nuts."

"Just tell her the truth." he smiled. "At least it will shut her up."

Mary sat down on the barstool next to him. "You know, I considered it." she told him. "But I have to sit next to her on the plane ride home."

"It's a short flight."

"Nothing is short with Sue Ann. That hour will seem like a lifetime."

He reached for her hand. "She's going to find out eventually."

Mary smiled. And she felt herself relax a bit. "You want to tell people?"

Lou shrugged. "Maybe not come right out and tell them but I'm sure as hell not going to hide it."

"Then I guess I should start looking for another job then."

"There's an opening as producer on Chuckles the Clown."

"That's not really my style."

Lou laughed. "That's not really anybody's style." he said. "But it's a shorter day. The pay is better. And the position is better."

"I like my current position."

"I like your current position too." he smiled. "But the boss man probably won't. Besides it'll just be temporary. Just something until you can find something more suitable. Something else at WJM will come up."

"I suppose."

"The things we do for love."

Mary smiled. "Well when you put it like that..."

He leaned into her. "I thought you'd see it my way." he gently kissed her lips. "Besides nothing has to change right this very moment."

Sue Ann saw the entire thing unfold with her very own eyes. But she wasn't about to let them know. Not when she could use it to her advantage.

tbc...

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