Step by Step

BY : Mac-man
Category: -Misc TV Shows > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 404
Disclaimer: I do not own Step by Step, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Step by Step

Ski Trip Confessions

Rocky Mountain Ski Resort

The mountain air was crisp, clear, and cold, as I stepped down from the bus that had carried me, my step-brother, John Thomas ‘JT’ Lambert, his on-again, off-again, girlfriend, Samantha ‘Sam’ Milano, and my own boyfriend, to the white slopes of Rocky Mountain Ski Resort. My boyfriend was somebody I never thought in a million-years I would even like, let alone, kiss, date, and not only love, but picture marrying in the future. His name was Richard ‘Rich’ Michael Halke, I looked at him, as he and JT went to the bus’s cargo-hold to retrieve the luggage. He is shorter than me, by at least three-inches, had dark hair that he styled like most boys his age, and a thin-frame that in recent months had started to become more toned and muscular. He was not and would never be a typical hunk, but his new physique coupled with the recent change in how seriously he was taking his college classes, has seriously impressed me, and it was making him more and more attractive to me.

When I first began dating him, I thought my attraction to him was nothing more than a crush, a passing fling that I would get out of my system and move on with my life. I would attend law school, preferably Harvard, but any respected law school would get hired by a top law firm, where I would change the world and make it more feminine-friendly. I would make partner by thirty, before meeting and falling in love with a wealthy, but humble corporate executive. Yet, the more time I spend with Rich Halke, the more I realize how much he means to me.

When we aren’t together, I think about him: what is he doing, is he doing something stupid and reckless, most likely spearheaded by my knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, dumbass step-brother, and Rich’s best-friend, JT Lambert. When we are together, even if we’re studying, out to dinner, or even just watching television, it was like a piece of me had been returned to me, a piece I never even knew was missing. Those who were more romantically minded, like my younger sister, Karen, would say that Rich is my soulmate. The ever pragmatic me, however, just stopped at being in love with the dork.

The first time I realized my true feelings for Rich, was about a year ago, when he gave me a locket he had given to another girl. He wanted to get me something to show how he felt about me, but given his limited budget, he couldn’t afford much, so he recycled the gift from that girl and gave it to me. He didn’t know it was a locket, he thought it was just a pendant. I remember how it felt when he gave me the locket, at the time it was the most special thing anybody had ever gotten for me, then I opened it and saw another girl’s picture in place of mine, it felt like somebody had reached into my chest and ripped out my heart. Rich can be extremely clueless, especially when it comes to women, but he really showed how much I mean to him, when after explaining why he made the mistake, he got up in front of the entire restaurant and serenaded me with our song, I Got You, Babe, by Sonny and Cher.

Rich is incredibly sweet, and does things for me, just to make me happy, he has told me, on numerous occasions, that he would do anything to make me happy. But he’s done more than tell me, he has shown me. When he stayed up all night once to study, instead of watching a marathon of that warrior woman, I realized how committed he was to making our relationship work. He later confided in me, when I told him that if he didn’t at least try to take college seriously, then we wouldn’t have a future together, it felt like his guts were being ripped apart with tweezers. 

The sweetest thing he has ever done for me, however, was a few weeks ago. We were invited to attend a wedding and knowing there would be dancing, Rich began to take dance lessons. He wanted to surprise me for the wedding, so he didn’t tell me what he was doing. It was only near the end, just before the wedding that I found out, I thought he was doing something else, I thought he was cheating. Rich was over at my house, goofing around with JT, while Karen and my step-sister Al, were there in the living room. I came downstairs wearing my dress for the wedding, Rich was the first one to see me, and even though I am a strong and independent, sophisticated, modern woman, the dumbstruck look on Rich’s face when he saw me in the dress, made me feel special. That day, we were going to go pick up his tuxedo from the rental place, when he suddenly said he couldn’t go, because he had to pick up some rash cream for his father. Everything would have been fine, if Karen hadn’t put the idea in my head that Rich was cheating on me, I refused to believe my Rich was cheating on me, because even I have to admit, I’m hot. I have a beautiful face, long, platinum-blonde hair, long-legs, a sexy, petite, and nubile, young body, with a set of perky, B-cup breasts, that I have allowed Rich, the pleasure of handling under my blouse, when we would go to Make-out Mountain on dates. What could other women offer my Rich, that I couldn’t, I asked my sisters?

Karen and Al, after sharing a look, turned to stare at me in an obvious manner, Sex, they say in unison. I refused to believe them, at least on the surface, and in truth I really do trust him, I had to, because the very thought of losing Rich to some slut willing to give him what I at the time, wasn’t ready to give him, was just too painful to even imagine.

It wasn’t until Rich came home, after breaking our study date, that the seed Karen planted in my head took root. Rich’s excuse of picking up his wallet to go to the mall for make-up to use in Mime class, was the biggest load of bullshit I’d ever heard, and I’ve lived with JT for seven years. Al and Karen followed Rich in their car, how he didn’t spot them in the bright, red car, makes me wonder if my baby should get his eye-sight checked. They followed him to a house and saw him go in, they even saw the homewrecking, man-stealing, thirty-year-old bitch, that later turned out to be the most understandable, reasonable woman in the world. She was Rich’s dance teacher.

Karen and Al came in and told me what they saw, and I won’t lie, when I heard what they told me, a piece of me died. I felt this great big hole, where my heart used to just open up and swallow me. I have never felt so hollow, and empty, in the few minutes it took to drive back to that woman’s house, it was the worst feeling I have ever felt. We got there and slunk close to the window, looking in to see my boyfriend dancing with somebody other than me. In spite of my feelings at the time, somewhere in the back of my mind, there had still been a small kernel of doubt about Rich’s infidelity. As I knelt there with my sisters, watching the man I love holding another woman, the kernel of doubt died.

I was angry, no, I was pissed off, and it was with pure adrenaline fueled wrath, that allowed me to pick up that planter and batter my way into the bitch’s house. I still remember the venom that filled my voice as I told Rich how I felt about him, and I pray that I never, ever use those kinds of words toward my Rich again. After, I realized my mistake, and got over wanting to murder my sisters for filling my head with distrust, I looked at my Rich and felt a resurgence of my love for him that was so powerful, it took my breath away. I had to lean against him, or I would have fainted, the tears of relief when he readily forgave me, only made those feelings even more powerful. He told me why he was doing this… this incredibly, charming and sweet thing, and then, we danced. While we danced the feelings inside just kept growing and growing, until it became something else, something that I had never felt for any man, ever. For the first time in my life, I felt unconditional, and unselfish love, I suddenly knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Richard Michael Halke. That night after we got home, I dreamt about our wedding reception, where we danced to our song.

Weeks passed, and that love, that goal to become Mrs. Dana Halke, stayed right where it belonged, in my heart. I found myself growing closer to Rich, intimately. Nothing really happened, I am still 100 to 98% virgin, but it's become more difficult to keep my hands off of him, I would go downstairs in the morning and into his apartment. Just looking at this man as he slept, just made me want to kiss him, and wake him, which I would do without hesitation, regardless of what my mother and step-father thought. While he never saw more flesh on me than my back when he would zip up the back of my dress, it never felt weird, not even when he kissed the places he was supposed to be covering. Not to mention when I saw him with his shirt off, after he got out of the shower, during those times it was quite a bit more difficult to control myself and not throw him down on the nearest horizontal surface. My ardor for him just kept growing, I swear he made me drip just looking at him, but my lust for Rich reached its crescendo last week, when he competed in, and of course, lost a male stripper contest, just to get the money to come here for a three-day weekend. We earned the money, from tips the other women paid so that Rich and JT would NOT strip.

Hey, just because I ache for him sometimes, doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become catnip for other women. He’s only catnip for me, and that’s how I like it. I trust him, that ship has already sailed, but I’ve never been good at sharing, which goes double for sharing Rich, not even, with his so-called best-friend from middle school, Cassie, who’s a girl. 

Since beginning my relationship with Rich, I have learned something about myself that I never realized, I am extremely possessive of him - Not Fatal Attraction possessive, but he’s mine and no one else can have him - possessive. Even before he took dance lessons, which cemented him in my heart, I would get jealous if he was hanging around other women. I even thought about changing who I am, just so I can spend time with him, or so he would want to spend time with me, instead of Cassie. Rich told me, don’t ever change, not for me, because you’re the person I love. Yes, I like Cassie, she’s my friend, but you, Dana… you’re the woman I love, and I feel so lucky to be with you, that I sometimes wonder if I’m in a dream, where I’ll wake up and find that my life with you isn't real. It was right after that, I showed him how special I feel to be with him, it was the first time he saw me without a shirt or bra. One thing I will say about my Rich’s sexual prowess, not to mention his learning curve, is he’s got great hands, and dexterous fingers.

I never thought I would be the kind of clingy woman to need a man to be with me, and only me, but I am. I don’t just want Rich, I need him like crops need water, he gives me strength, and when I’ve had a bad day, I can forget about it as soon as I see his handsome smile.

We’ve had our share of fights, the most serious of which was the dancing debacle, but our fights are weird. Because in addition to words, which are more taunts than shouts, we usually end up throwing stuff at each other, from wet clay to food, anything we can pick up and throw, as long as it’s not dangerous, we’ll use. Another thing about Rich that I like, which came as a surprise when I realized it. I actually like it when he stands up to me, there are times when even I’ll admit, I can be a little bit controlling, or I’ll let my ego over-shadow my good judgement. Well, Rich isn’t afraid to put me in my place, or knock me down a peg, but he doesn’t do it by ordering me around like some caveman. Something he knows, after I went off to Harvard with my guy friend from high school, where Rich tried to order me not to go – it was the first time we exchanged our feelings – that I don’t respond to very well. No, what my Rich does, is do something to prove to me that I’m in the wrong, like when I practically called him stupid by picking someone else as my partner, for the eco-friendly challenge last year, instead of him. Instead of going away and sulking, he chose another partner, a bimbo that I still think he chose just to make me jealous – which worked – and ended up winning the contest.

It was there that I realized that there were other kinds of intelligence in the world, and creativity can be just as important as intellect. Rich has creativity, in spades, and he seems to be a natural artist, he picked up pottery like he had been doing it all his life. When he told me, he had never done it before. Rich can be articulate, and his voice is something that I can listen to all day. I feel so lucky to be his girlfriend, it’s not him living a dream, it’s me, and I pray to God I never wake up from this. All that, and the icing on an already delicious cake, he’s the best kisser I have ever had the pleasure of Frenching. His lips are so soft and puffy, and his tongue in my mouth feels like Heaven on Earth. I can’t wait to feel that tongue on other parts of my body, it’s for all of those reasons, and the fact that I’m ready to take our relationship further, plus the fact that I’ve been on birth control for six-months now, that I’ve decided to make love to him, while we’re here.

 


After getting our luggage, the four of us, JT, Sam, my Rich, and me, took them into the lobby of the resort. The concierge was a man with curly-blonde hair and was as old as my mother. He seemed friendly enough, and had a warm, professional smile on his lips. “Welcome to the Rocky Mountain Resort, I am your host, Larry,” he leafed through a reservation book as he was speaking, “Lambert and Halke, Foster and Milano,” he stated, before placing four room keys on the desk, “two rooms, three nights, and I see you’ve paid in advance,” he said in surprise while looking up at us, “that means everything is in order, and the only thing you have left to pay for is your food purchases.” He slid the keys across the desk to us, “the rooms are on the second floor, room 220 and 221, they’re right across the hall from each other, as you’ve requested, so meeting up with your party will not be difficult. There are full bathrooms in each room, and we’ve just recently installed hot tubs in every room,” each of us took a room key, Sam and I took 221, the boys 220, “and I hope you enjoy your stay at Rocky Mountain Ski Resort.”

We grabbed our luggage and trooped up the stairs to our rooms. Our rooms were in the exact middle of the hallway on the second floor, “come on, Barky,” my Cro-Magnon of a step-brother bellowed, “we’re burning daylight, I wanna hit the slopes a little, before sundown!”

“Bite me, jackass,” I quipped back, “you can go practice falling down a mountain after we check out the rooms.” The dynamic with me and JT is a strange one, we do actually love each other as siblings, but our animosity toward each other has become such a part of how we communicate, that it would be weird for us to change it.

We reached our rooms, but just before turning to go into mine, I grabbed Rich’s hand to stop him, while Sam did the same thing to JT, only adding an extra step to put some space between the couples. We turned to face each other, and the smile I only ever see projected at me shines on his adorable face. It’s a smile that sent butterflies tumbling through my guts every time I saw it. I set my stuff on the floor and reach around him to pull him closer, my lips were on his in seconds, and I forgot about everything else in the world. I leaned into him as if he was all that was holding me on my feet, and I wasn’t complaining, his kisses always sent me to Heaven. We slowly came up for air and shared a loving smile, he reached up and casually ran a finger through my hair, while just gazing into my eyes, like he was committing everything about me to memory.

We started to break apart to go into our separate, for now, rooms, when Rich seemed to remember something. He grabbed my hand to stop me, “hey, Dana, there’s something important I need to tell you, but I want to do it over dinner. Will you be free tonight to allow me to take you to dinner, just the two of us,” he asked, but it wasn’t his usual confident smile when he asked me out, there was a tinge of nervous energy under his smile?

“Of course, dear,” I said with a smile, that I hoped contained all of my love and assurance, “you know all you have to do is ask. Spending time with you is my favorite pastime,” I quipped, then added in a serious tone, “because… I love you, Rich.”

Rich’s smile became full-force when I said that, and the butterflies came back, and he said in a gentle voice, “I love you too, Dana.”

We shared one last, quick kiss, before turning and entering our separate rooms, for now. When I entered, Sam had already claimed a bed on the far side of the room. The room was appointed the way most hotel rooms were, it had two full-sized, twin beds, with a dresser for clothes on the outboard side of the room. The bathroom was built into the same wall as the entrance, and the hot tub was directly in front of a picture window with heavy duty curtains for privacy. The picture window was facing one of the more intimidating climbs of the resort, it was steep with a couple of drops, and it was littered with the occasional coniferous tree along the way.

Once the door was closed and locked, I went to my bed and began to unpack. Sam had already finished putting her clothes and ski gear away, so she came over to my side. “So,” she began casually, in her smoky voice, as I began putting my clothes away, “are you as excited as I am, three full days of doing nothing but spending time with our men?”

I made a non-committal sound as my nerves finally started to get to me, was I really ready to go all the way? It wasn’t even Rich, he is the guy I want to have my first time with, there was no question in my mind about that. The question was whether or not I was ready to go all the way, I had been absentmindedly putting my things away, when I came to my lingerie? I heard Samantha gasp, and turned to see her covering her mouth in astonishment, but in a shaky voice, “what is that for,” she asked in a whisper? She reached out her hand to touch a white-lace camisole, there were matching panties, and a garter belt to go with it, “Dana, are you and Rich…” she left the question unfinished, but I knew what she was asking?

I turned my head away in a blush, “no! No, we have never gone beyond a little third base action, he’s pretty good with his fingers, and other than cupping his ass when we make-out, I’ve never touched him below the belt. I’ve seen it though,” I admitted as my blush deepened, “and… I liked looking at it.”

Sam’s eyes widened in surprise, “you mean, you’ve seen his, little Richie?”

I didn’t think my blush could get any brighter, but her question, as well as what she called Rich’s penis, proved me wrong. “I went into his apartment once to get something, nobody was home, he was in the shower with the door to the bathroom open, just enough. My curiosity got the better of me and I peeked,” I confessed in a sheepish voice, “I’d only ever seen one in biology, and once when I took an art class.”

By this time, Sam was also blushing a little, but she still had to ask, “well?”

“Well what,” I demurred, sounding oblivious but I knew what she was asking?

“How does Rich compare to the art class guy,” she asked with a stomp of her foot?

“Why would you need to know,” I asked coyly, “I mean you’re not ever going to use it? That’s a thrill reserved only for me, and I don’t share my toys,” I smiled smugly.”

It was Samantha’s turn to blush now, and as she played with her fingernails, replied with, “I know, but I want to compare my experiences with yours.”

“Ew, I don’t want to even think about what you do with the Swamp Thing across the hall,” I recoiled in disgust, “I mean he’s my brother, and he’s JT.”

“No, I’ve never been with JT,” she explained, then after realizing something, gave me a confused look, “didn’t JT tell you that I was not a virgin when we started dating?”

“No, he never said anything to me about it,” I told her, and it seemed to make her happy to know that JT had actually kept her secret. There was a small smile on her lips as I said that.

Shaking her head, Samantha looked at me, “come on, Dana, give me the juicy details.”

I sighed in resignation, “Fine, I’ll tell you, but it stays between you and me, promise?”

Sam hurriedly nodded her head, and said, “I promise not to say anything about the size of your boyfriend’s cock to anybody outside of this room,” she stated while holding her hand in the girl scout salute.

“Okay,” I relented, accepting her confidence, as I thought about Rich that day while he was in the shower, all lathered up with soap, dripping down his torso, down his stomach into his pubic region. I had to cross my legs rather suddenly and fanned my hands, as it was getting hot in the room, “okay, it wasn’t even erect, that much I am sure about, but it dangled below his testicles. The model for the art class’s unit, which was also in its resting state, only seemed to poke out from his abdomen, about an inch. Are you happy,” I asked my friend. Sam’s eyes seemed to take on a dreamy expression, until I swatted her on the arm, “hey, no day-dreaming about my boyfriend, I’m the only one who gets to do that,” I rebuked her, only half seriously.

Sam and I giggled together for a few seconds, then we went quiet, and the silence was pregnant with angst. “So,” we both said together, and we were silent again, waiting for the other to speak, I let Sam begin this time, “so, I guess you’re planning for a few possibilities this weekend, are you going to allow Rich to make love to you?”

“I’m thinking about it,” I say, “I mean I know I want to give it up to Rich, I love him, and I know he loves me. He’s told me and shown me how much he loves me,” I tell her, and she nods in agreement, “but I’m just not sure if I’m ready.”

We shared a look and Sam nodded, “does he know what you’ve been planning, you didn’t promise him anything, did you?”

“No, as far as I know he doesn’t have a clue,” I shook my head, then giggled, “if he did, he’d be in here or at my door, and practically humping my leg.”

Sam shared my smile, and offered her advice, “then I say, don’t force it, just focus on having a good time while you’re here, and if it feels right, you’ll know it. Rich is a good guy, and yes, he’ll probably be overly excited if you do decide to do it, but he respects you and respects your boundaries, he won’t ever try to pressure you into something you’re not ready for,” she finished.

I had to nod in agreement, despite how far me and Rich have gone, he never tries to take me further than I’m willing to go. Sure, he’ll test the boundaries I set, but the minute I respond in the negative, he draws back like a scalded kitten, and he won’t try again. The rest of the night will pass in a pleasant haze of steamy making out, I feel so comfortable when I’m with him, and safe as well. I don’t feel like I have to constantly be on my guard for any unwanted advances, with my Rich, it’s almost never unwanted. I can feel it in the way he looks at me, he really wants me, but at the same time, he shows me tremendous respect.

I smile at my friend, “Thank you, Sam, for helping me put everything into perspective, and you’re right, I’m not going to think about it, anymore.” I stand up and fold my unmentionables neatly and put them in the drawer, “I’m just going to focus on being here, being with Rich, and if I think the time is right, I’ll let him have me. The question of my readiness to make love, isn’t about who the guy is, it’s a question of when I feel it,” I tell her with resolute conviction.

Sam pats my thigh and says, “that’s right, just enjoy being in love, Dana, the rest will come in its own due time.”

“Love,” I scoff, to her surprised look, but I rush on as my eyes fill with tears as I allow the full brunt of my feelings for Rich to invade my being, “it’s such a simple word, what I feel for Richard, is so much more powerful and momentous, than that simple, four-letter word.”

Sam’s smile returned and her own eyes filled with happy tears, “I’m so happy for you, Dana, I think you and Rich were made for each other.”

I share her smile, “I think so too, and I think you’re good for my troglodyte step-brother, too. He’s not as immature when you’re together, and he’s not nearly as disgusting when you’re around,” I quipped.

Sam’s smile turned from genuine happiness to a haggard version of itself, “well, I try, but there’s only so much one woman can do, I’m only human you know.”

My own expression becomes gentle, “just… take care of him, okay? JT’s a pain in the ass, but I still love the dumbass.”

Sam’s own face becomes gentle, as she places her hand over mine, “as long as I’m here, Dana, he’s in good hands, I promise you.”

There is a knock on the door, and with a pat on my hand, she gets up to answer it, speak of the Dummy, and he shall appear. JT is at the door dressed in his ski gear, his skis are leaning against him and he’s carrying his poles. Before he can open his mouth, Samantha reaches around his neck to pull him down to her and kisses him. I could hear steamy jazz music just watching them. I turn my head and make gagging noises, “my God, Sam, I hope you don’t kiss your mom after kissing… that.”

“Bite me, Barky,” JT retorts with a smile, after he comes up for air, “you’ll get your doggy treats later.” He looks at me with that smile he always uses when we banter like this, it’s just our way of hiding the fact that we really do care about each other. JT turns to his girlfriend, “are you ready to hit the slopes, babe,” he asks, his voice going from his wise-ass tone, to his real tone of voice, which was gentle and warm, especially when he was talking to Samantha, “the resort closes the slopes at sunset, which is in an hour, so we better go if we want to get any skiing in today?”

Sam’s face seemed to glow as she looked at JT, “gimme a minute, baby, me and Dana were having some girl talk, go ahead and meet me down in the lobby. I’ll change really quickly and be down as soon as I can,” she told him while reaching up to caress his cheek.

JT just nodded before turning to look at me, “Rich says, he’ll be out in an hour to escort you to dinner,” he informed me to my nod, then he grew uncharacteristically serious, “and Dana, whatever happens tonight, try to be rational about it, don’t fly off the handle and do something you’ll regret.” I was dumbfounded, this was the most serious I’d ever seen JT since I’ve known him, and even Sam was wide-eyed by his suddenly serious attitude. I could only just nod my head, then the moment passed and the JT I’d known for seven years reasserted himself, “just don’t mess up the carpet, okay, Barky?”

The oldest Lambert kid, after a quick kiss from Samantha, turned and left for the lobby, leaving me and his girlfriend with slack jaws. We looked at each other, and asked the same question, “what the hell was that about?”

 


There was a knock on my door, I had just put the finishing touches on my make-up, stood up and looked in the bathroom mirror. I was dressed for dinner with Rich, in a black, turtleneck, under a burgundy, wool sweater, with a dark, full-length, velvet skirt. I grabbed my clutch for dinner and made my way over to the door. I peeked through the peephole and saw my Rich standing there. I opened the door and smiled when I saw him, he was dressed nicely, we weren’t exactly going to the Four Seasons for our date, in a pair of black slacks and a maroon sweater, he surprised me by not wearing sneakers but formal dress shoes, for the evening. He looked so handsome, that my smile just kept getting bigger and bigger, “wow, Richie, you look great, and in dress shoes too, what’s the occasion?” Richie is the name I use when we’re alone, only I am allowed to call him that, but I only use it when we’re getting intimate. It lets him know how turned on I am.

Rich’s jaw seemed to be permanently glued to the floor, he always acted like this when we went out, no matter what I wore, he always acted like I was the most beautiful person in the world. He makes me feel beautiful and desirable, no matter what we do, and if that’s not enough, when we’re out together, he doesn’t so much as look at another woman, unless she’s our waitress. Even if we’re in a place like Hooters, where the waitresses are practically falling out of their shirts, he keeps his eyes on the menu or on her face. I’ve heard JT complain that even if it’s just the two of them, Rich won’t ogle the waitresses with him. I once asked my Rich, why he didn’t do that, why he didn’t look at other women, even when I’m not there? His answer floored me, “karma, Dana,” when I looked confused, he elaborated, “I think about their boyfriends, husbands, or significant others, and I put myself in their shoes. How would I like it if you had to take a job like this, and some jackass started ogling you like filet mignon? I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t like it at all, not one bit, so to ensure good karma in the ogling department, I refrain from gawking at my waitress, in hopes that you never have to endure anything like that, if you ever had to get a job as a waitress.

His answer was so unexpected, yet it was so sweet and thoughtful, and just so Rich that I almost couldn’t believe this man existed. He thought about me so much, that even when we weren’t together, he thought about my needs and comfort, before his own libido. After his answer, there were times that night where I’d just reach out and touch him, to make sure I was still awake and not dreaming, and this man was actually mine. I both wondered at and praised the stupidity of the other women in Port Washington, who had overlooked him. I wondered at the brain dead trollop that had his heart so much that he bought her a locket, only to literally throw it away, and I prayed that God had given me better sense than that girl. I have never told anybody about that event, I keep it locked in my heart, and if I even think of wavering in my own fidelity towards my Richie, I pull it out and remind myself that I have a boyfriend who puts me first, in everything he does.

That's why I hated going to that strip club for the bachelorette party, I've felt like such a hypocrite for doing that ever since it happened. My incredible, wonderful boyfriend, due to reasons that only make sense to him, refuses to ogle women in person (entertainers and fictional characters are where he draws the line on chivalry), and there I was at a place that makes Hooters look like a PG-rated movie. I would have been seeing more than just strange people in tight clothing, and he hasn't even seen me completely naked, which even if I'm not ready to make love to him, I will make sure he knows my body before we leave.

Before he can respond to me, I surge forward and glue my lips to his, and his arms wrap around me without hesitation. Mine also seem to have a mind of their own, as they snake around his neck, my own tongue sweeps out of my mouth across his lips, begging to be let in, and he opens his mouth. Our kiss lasted for only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity before we came up for air, I felt my breasts pressing into his now much firmer chest. His eyes met mine, and I suddenly just wanted him, I wanted him to make love to me, and regardless of my feminist beliefs I wanted to be his. Not in the sense of ownership or anything, just his, his woman, his lady, his wife, and I wanted him to be mine, my husband, my guy, and my man, I wanted it more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life, even Harvard.

Before we could give into our hormones, we step back, he turns toward the stairs holding his hand out to me and smiling. I take his hand, it feels just so right in mine, like it was made to hold mine. We walk down the corridor, down the stairs, and turn into the dining room.

The dining room is not what one would call a model of fine dining, it didn’t have carpeting, which I guess would be impractical in a place like this. People tracking in snow and ice could ruin a carpet, but it did have hardwood floors, with cloth covered tabletops and comfortable chairs. There were photographs taken of the famous people that have attended the resort, and paintings of skiers during several different skiing activities. It may not have been elegant, but it was definitely intimate, it was not full but the patrons that were visible seemed to be couples, who were all engrossed in their own conversation, which did not carry too far from them.

The hostess for the dining room seated us at a table, presented menus to us, and returned to her post at the door. We spent a few moments scanning the menu for what we wanted to eat. I was quietly reading through the selections, but Rich for some reason was nervous, and kept drumming his fingers on the table as he looked at his menu. I peered over the top of my menu and stared at him, his eyes were on the page, but after spending quite a few hours studying with him, I’ve come to notice the difference between my Rich when he was actually learning, or just staring at the page. I gave him a few seconds to see if he would start, but after a full thirty, he just continued to stare at the same page, I reached over and gently took his hand. He was startled by my touch, as if he had forgotten I was here, then he saw my smile which I hope was conveying warmth and affection and returned it with one of his own. “Is there something wrong, Rich, this isn’t the first time this trip you’ve spaced out on me. If there’s something on your mind, I hope you know that I’m here for you if you want to talk. I am not just your girlfriend. I hope you see me as a friend too.”

Rich just scoffed, “You’re not ‘just’ anything to me, Dana, and as for being my friend,” he leaned over to kiss me, before continuing in a low tone, “I hope you know, you’ve replaced JT and Cassie, in the best-friend department. I hope you know, you can tell me anything, talk to me about anything, and it won’t leave my lips,” he leaned in closer and dropped his voice into a whisper, “even your personal, female hygiene is open for discussion, if you wish to confide that sort of thing with me. I can’t promise to understand a thing you’re talking about, but I’ll listen and help where I can.”

I concealed a smirk behind my hand, the one not holding his, and quipped, “so you mean to say, you want to know when I’m ovulating, when I’m on my period, and when I’m PMS-ing?”

Rich just laughed and replied, “if you want to tell me then go right ahead, Dana,” then in a fake French accent, “but of course, zat weel cause me to up-chuck, ‘oweva’ eef jeu weesh to tell me zis, zen go right a’ead.” We shared a laugh at his awful accent, not sounding at all like Jean-Luc, my mother’s business partner, then we grew serious and he was the first to speak, “I mean it, Dana, I don’t just want to be a party to the fun stuff between us, I want it all, and I hope I’ve earned your trust enough to confide in me about anything. I can’t promise to understand what you’re going through, or what you’re talking about,” he said in humility, “but I promise that I will always listen. Even if I’m not here,” he said in a subdued voice.

I felt the warmth of his promise, and I felt it in my soul that he would stand by his word in this, so I squeezed his hand and brought it up to my own lips. “As long as you realize that it’s a two-way street, Richard Michael Halke,” I admonish him, getting back to the start of our talk, “if you want me to confide in you, then you have to do the same with me. Please, tell me why you’re so nervous. I've been getting weird signals from you, since we started this trip and JT was unusually serious this afternoon. He was concerned about me being angry about something tonight,” then my insecurities reared up, and I gulped, “you’re not, going to break up with me, are you?”

Rich released my hand and pulled something out of his shirt pocket, and placed it on the table, he kept his hand over it, which didn’t conceal much. My eyes grew wide as I saw what it was, a box, and not just any box, a small box. It was black and four-sided, not including the bottom and the lid, which was embellished with a curved roof, and the corners were rounded as well. It was a jewelry box, but the size and shape indicated that it could be only one thing, a ring box. My eyes wrenched themselves away from the box to Rich’s eyes, which had returned to their nervous state from before, but when he spoke there was only a hint of nervousness in his voice.

“Dana, before I say anything else, I want to tell you how much I love you,” he looked down, “maybe someone as smart as you, knows another word that can convey how powerful my feelings for you are, but I do know that the word, ‘Love,’ doesn’t even begin to describe how much you mean to me. I can’t think of my life without you in it, now, or in the future. I want to build a future with you, Dana Foster,” I looked at him, my eyes never leaving his face, he seems to be in turmoil, “but I don’t think I can accomplish that in college. I still have to force myself to go to class, and study and that’s only because I don’t want to disappoint you,” he tells me, [ask me], “I still don’t care about going to class, and while getting good grades is great, it’s only a fear of repeating our argument from the beginning of the year that keeps me motivated.”

I simply nod, and ask in as steady a voice as I could, “Are you planning to drop out of school, Rich,” [ask me], “and get a job?”

Richard nodded but added, “in a way, yes, but I don’t have any kind of job skills that I could trade for any kind of employment, Hell, I don’t even know what I want to major in at school. Plus, I want to do something with my life that I can be proud of,” [Ask me], then he added in a quiet voice, “and something, you would be proud to talk about when I’m not around.” His head suddenly came up and he looked me in the eye, “I’ve decided to enlist into the United States Navy,” he said with a determined expression on his face, and a stubborn cast to his chin.

My eyes widened at his ambitions, but I was far from displeased, “Richie,” I say in a whisper, while using the name I only invoke when we’re alone, to let him know that I’m aroused, it also brought his attention to me. “Are you sure this is what you want,” I asked him, “I hope you know that I wouldn’t care what you did with your life, as long as you are happy. If it’s getting your doctorate in something, or working for Frank on his construction crew,” I told him, placing my hand over the one, not holding the box, [Ask me.] “as long as you’re doing something you love to do, and helping to make a good life for us, I won’t ever see you as anything less than a good man doing his best to provide for me and our children, when we decide to have them. I don’t want you doing something like joining the military, unless it’s something you really want to do,” I explained to him, hoping he got the hint about what my answer will be, “I’ll be proud of you no matter what you want to do.”

“It is what I want to do, Dana,” he answered me, “I’ve been in talks with the recruiter, and she said that if I can finish this year of college, which will give me three, full years, with good grades, and complete my Apprenticeship or ‘A-school’ and make it to the Fleet, then I could be granted the rank of E-4, Petty Officer Third Class. I feel like I need to do this, Dana, I’ve spent most of my life coasting through it, and I never felt that I was worth a damn, until you became my girlfriend and I realized that I could be so much more than I ever thought I could be,” Rich sounded so alive as he was speaking, he was so excited about this, then he said something I’ll never forget, [Ask Me!] “I want to prove to myself, as much as you, that I can be worthy of you. When you’re off at law school and your classmates ask about me,” Rich stood up, came around in front of me and knelt, “you can tell them, that my fiancé is a sailor for the United States Navy,” he flipped open the box, and a golden ring, containing a canary-yellow, princess-cut diamond, shined like a star in the night-sky, “that’s if you will be my wife. Dana Ivy Foster, will you marry me?”

I was at a crossroads, one leading towards a future without this precious person kneeling in front of me, he is an honest to God, gift from Heaven. I had imagined some faceless, handsome man, with a stable career and his future already mapped out, being the one to ask me to marry him, after I had also achieved all of my dreams and ambitions. That was the future I had always strived for, from the first time I ever wondered as a little girl, what my prince would look like, until I went to college and began to work toward that dream. Now I looked down that road and all I saw was superficial, shallow emptiness. That road I had mapped out was a hollow shell, and while my ambition to become a lawyer was still strong, the idea of marrying the kind of man I thought about as a little girl filled my heart with pain. That kind of marriage, while it did have love – I wouldn’t have accepted anything less – there was nothing else about it that appealed to me, no passion, no excitement, no soul, and quite frankly it would have killed me.

Then I looked down the other road, the one with my Richie as my partner, and I saw the passion, the excitement, and I saw life. There was uncertainty, sure, but I’ve never read a single romance novel, seen a single romantic play, or a single romantic movie that I liked, where the main character was ever sure of the outcome of the main plot. As I looked down that road, I started to notice some similarities between that marriage and the marriage my mother has with Frank. They didn’t know any more than me, if their life together would work, and this being their second marriage, there was no guarantee this marriage would end any differently from their first marriages. And then I had an epiphany, nothing is ever a sure thing, you can plan and prepare but nothing is ever guaranteed to be a success, there is only one thing we can be sure of, if we choose not to try then we have already failed. There was also another thing I can be sure of; I love him, and he loves me.

“No,” I blurted out, without warning, I saw my Richie’s face begin to crumble, but before he could pull away, I cupped his face and brought my lips to his in a kiss, that was so passionate, and so full of love that there was absolutely no doubt about my feelings for him. When I pulled back from his lips, there was love, lust, and a lot of confusion on his face, “when I’m at law school, there is no way I would ever allow myself to be called a mere, fiancée,” I stated loftily, while poking him in the chest. Then a smile that contained every scrap of my love for my Rich, blossomed upon my lips, “I won’t accept any title with less honor attached to it than, wife of a Sailor in the United States Navy. When I do eventually attend law school, the only name I will even apply under will be, Mrs. Dana Ivy Halke,” I declared. I looked at Rich’s thunderstruck expression, and smirked, “in case what I’m saying has gone, right over your dunce cap, Mr. Halke. My answer is, yes, I will marry you.”

 


JT and Sam came walking up from the staircase, they had been on the slopes for the past few hours. They had a good day skiing, and more importantly, they had a good day being together and were in that contented headspace all couples find, when they are in a good place in their relationship. Sam was snuggled into JT’s chest and JT’s arm was around her shoulders, she would occasionally glance up at him, and smile that smile women get when they are with someone they are starting to fall for. 

JT was in his mind wondering about something, he had just spent several joyful hours with Sam, and not once did he think about having sex with her. He could tell he still wanted that, but it did not seem to detract from the fact that he had actually enjoyed his time, just being with her. JT, did not understand that, could he really be so in love with Sam, as to enjoy doing things with her that were not sexual in nature, or was he just going gay?

They came to their rooms, but just before they reluctantly began to separate to go to their rooms, JT spotted something on her door, it was a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the knob going into the girl’s room. “Wait, wait, Sam, look at that,” JT exclaimed pointing at her door!

Sam had actually seen it when JT did, but was not sure what it could mean, “what’s that mean, the maid service doesn’t come in until we leave?” It was a rhetorical question, because just as she finished questioning the sign, her mind came up with the only likely explanation, but she was not sure if she should share her thoughts on this particular subject with her boyfriend. JT, however, was actually smirking, when she turned to him as he spoke, as if he knew something she did not, “what are you smiling about, this just means I don’t have a place to sleep for the night?”

JT just chuckled, “I guess this means, Dana, said, yes?”

“Yes,” Sam repeated as the color drained from her face. There are so many questions that have a yes or no answer, but she could only think of one that was relevant between a loving couple, like Dana and Rich. “What do you mean Dana said, yes, JT,” Sam asked in a tense whisper?

JT’s smirk deepened as Sam realized what might be going on, he turned away to go into his room, “Let me check on something, just to be sure,” he used his key to enter his and Rich’s room, leaving Sam in the hall with the implications of what could be going on behind her own door. He was in his room for several seconds, and when he returned, he was carrying a blanket and laughing, he opened the door and stepped out into the hallway, “Oh yeah, she said, Yes,” he said in confirmation.

 “John Thomas Lambert, if you don’t tell me what you’re talking about, the next thing on me you’ll be kissing will be my knuckles,” she ordered with her fist thrust up under his nose!

JT dropped his blanket and brought her in under his arm, “okay, I’ll tell you, but tomorrow when you see Dana, and only if she tells you about it, you’ll have to act like you’re surprised.” At Samantha’s eager nod, they leaned in closer, “Rich told me he was going to ask Dana to marry him this weekend, and that he was going to enlist in the Navy.”

Sam reeled back and looked at her boyfriend in shock, “you’re kidding, he had a ring and everything?”

“The ring was a family heirloom, his grandfather got it in Europe during WWII at a bombed out German bunker,” JT explained with a nod, “he gave it to Rich’s grandmother, his dad gave it to his mother, now he’s given it to Dana, and from the looks of it their enjoying the benefits of being an engaged couple.”

Sam’s eyes were a bit moist as she heard JT explain about the ring, and in a thick voice asked again, “and the Navy thing?

“He leaves for his medical evaluation Monday,” JT said to her while putting his arm around Sam to comfort her, he pulled her close and rubbed her back, and he barely even looked down her blouse. He seemed more concern with comforting his girlfriend than soothing his own hormones, clearly he was losing his man card, “and now it looks as if I’m going to have to have the big brother talk with Rich, about hurting Barky,” he said absently, but with a glint in his eyes, before it vanished, “not that I think he will, but its tradition and I don’t want to hear her howling at the moon.”

Samantha looked at her boyfriend and with a gentle smile, he’s in good hands, Dana, then her face fell as she realized that she did not have a place to sleep tonight, “that’s great, now where am I going to sleep, even if I could get a room, I can’t afford it, I put everything I could spare into the rooms we have, for the trip?”

“No need to worry, darlin,” JT stated as he kissed her cheek, and stood up straighter, “you can sleep in my room.”

Sam looked at him suspiciously, she stepped back with her hand on her hip, “now, JT, just because I need a place to sleep doesn’t mean we’re going to be sharing a bed, my mind may be clouded with romantic thought, but I’m still not ready to make love with you.”

“I totally understand, Sammy,” JT’s smile never wavered, as he let the real John Thomas Lambert out for a minute, the gentle and warm person that he only allows Sam, and Carol, just once, to see. He picked up her hand, turned it palm up, and deposited his keys inside it. Then he reached down and picked up his blanket, Sam noticed in her shocked state, that there was a pillow in it, too, “I’ll go down and sleep in the lobby, it seems that even in their lust filled haze, they took your stuff and put it in my room, now your room.” He looked at her, and noticed the surprise at his gesture, written all over her face, “You need a place to sleep, and I know how reluctant you are to go that far with me, considering what happened with your last boyfriend. I know, not like me to do that right, well keep it a secret I’m losing man points as we speak. I actually had fun with you today, and I didn’t once think about sex.” JT leaned down to give her a kiss, her face seemed to be locked in perpetual surprise, “just let me use the shower and change my clothes and I’ll be fine,” and as he turned away to move down the hall, he departed with, “I’m a man, I can sleep for a few nights on a couch.”

Sam watched her boyfriend walk down the hall, make the turn and was gone, in her mind she was thinking, he’s bluffing, he just wants me to change my mind about sleeping with him, I mean having sex with him. This is JT, he doesn’t think about anything or anybody more than himself, he can be a conniving jerk, right? After he had been out of sight for a minute, she reluctantly took one step toward the stairs, then another, and she reached the top of the staircase with an urgent waddle. Sam looked down on the lobby and watched as JT spread his blanket on the sofa, placed his pillow on the far end, and laid down. She just watched him, not realizing she had sat down at the top of the stairs, and for all intents and purposes was concealed from view from the lobby. He can’t see me, there’s no way he can see me, or he’s a really good actor.

Sam sat and watched JT sleep for a few minutes, the acoustics of the lobby carried his breathing to her ears. It was slow and even and sounded, like all of the times he’d fallen asleep when she would drag him to movies he did not like. She got to her feet and like a zombie, feeling the culmination of the bus ride, the skiing, and the emotional rollercoaster her JT was putting her through, she made her way back to the room that had, up until several minutes ago, belonged to her surprisingly deep, and thoughtful boyfriend. Who probably thought there was something wrong with him, by the way he was behaving, something about him not being a real man for letting a ‘chick’ have what he paid for, and not seeking some sort of reward for his gallantry, and nobility. Sam had learned the circumstances around what happened to his mother, who left their father with three kids to raise on his own, so she could run off to Las Vegas to become a showgirl, in a cabaret.

Sam had taken a few psychology courses, and one of her professors talked about how little boys are naturally closer to their mothers than their fathers. JT was the oldest of the Lambert kids, so he probably saw the emotional trauma his mother put his dad through. How would a little boy turn out when the woman he loved most left his dad, him, his sister, and a younger brother, just so she could go flash her body for complete strangers? Samantha was just closing the door to her room, when that question mushroomed in her mind, and immediately she knew the answer, and tears began to well up in her eyes, perhaps he would be emotionally distant, especially with women, and be reluctant to take a chance on love, so he’d put up a wall, and line it with a male chauvinist façade that practically repels women. All so he wouldn’t have to endure the pain of losing someone he gave his heart to, only for her to tell you that she didn’t want him, like his mother did to Frank, JT, Al, and their little brother.

Samantha suddenly gripped the doorknob of the hotel room so hard, it left an impression in her hand, as she remembered her promise to Dana this afternoon, He’s in good hands, Dana. The door was flung open so hard it smashed into the wall with a loud crash, as Sam went racing down the hall to get her man. She flew down the hall, her hair was flying high behind her like the mane of a wild mustang floating in the wind. She practically flew down the stairs before coming to a stop and flinging herself upon her boyfriend, by this time she was crying her eyes out at how cavalier she could be with him.

JT woke up to his girlfriend raining kisses all over his face, and crying, he was immediately awake thinking something was wrong. He wrapped his arms around her to get her to settle down, but she just kept kissing his face, and as reluctant as he was to stop her, he needed to, if he was going to get to the bottom of what was bothering her, “Sam… Sammy, Sammy,” JT says soothingly, it’s the name he only uses with her, when they are alone, “what’s wrong, baby, what’s wrong?”

Sam pulls back at noticing him awake, then launches herself at him and seals his mouth with hers, it is a kiss filled with relief and not a little bit of love. When they needed to breathe, they parted lips, but she was still silently crying, her eyes were swimming in tears, “oh, JT, can you forgive me, you were being so considerate with me tonight, and all I could think of was that you were trying to get me to make love to you? I’m so sorry,” Sam said, as she buried her face in his chest and began to sob, “you treat me so much better than my last boyfriend, the one I gave my virginity to, that it’s like you’re a totally different animal from him.”

“Really, I treat you better than him, he must’ve been a real low-life,” JT replied in astonishment, “even I realize some of the things I try to pull are really low. I mean, yeah, I wanna be with you, you have no idea how much I think about you, whether you’re with me or not, but there’s a line that even I won’t cross.” Sam pulled back and looked at him, to see that he was genuinely shocked that there are men worse than him out there, does he really think so critical of himself, she wondered, then he said something that floored her, “I mean, I don’t even really like looking at other chicks as much anymore, because all I see when I try, is your face and your build instead of theirs. It all leads me to one dreadful conclusion,” he concluded, “but I don’t want to say it, because nothing good ever comes from me saying that phrase.”

“What are you talking about, what phrase,” Samantha insisted, but she had an idea which phrase he was not willing to say?

JT looked at her, and for the first time since she met him, Samantha saw real fear blossom in his eyes, “No, I won’t say it, the last time I said it was ten years ago, and it brought nothing but trouble when I said it. I want to continue to be your boyfriend, and if I say that… that phrase, you’ll leave me.”

Samantha was breathing hard as she listened to JT voice his fears to her, she did not even care about him admitting to looking at other women. I don’t care where he puts his eyes, as long as he puts his hands, only on me, but that was just a passing thought, her man needed her here. She could guess the answer to her next question, but she had to ask, “who was the last person you said this mysterious phrase to, JT,” she asked gently?

JT looked at her, and his eyes were different, it was not fear reflecting in them now, it was pain… pain and guilt, it dawned on Sam that he had thought of this before but had never voiced it. She reached up and caressed his cheek and looked him in the eyes. She wanted him to know that he could trust her, and it seemed to work, because for the first time since they had been dating, she saw a single tear run down his face. “My mom, she was the last person I said it too, it was the day she left, she told me she was going away, and me, being a little ten-year-old kid, I said,” his voice changed into a higher octave, like that ten-year-old he was mocking, “bye, mommy, I love you,” when his voice returned to normal it was clogged with emotion, “she looked at me, like I meant nothing to her. She closed the door and that was the last time I saw her, she moved to Las Vegas and became a showgirl,” JT turned his face away from Sam and wiped his eyes, there had been a few more tears as he was speaking.

What could Samantha say, I’m sorry, your mom’s a bitch, nothing she said or did would be able to take away his pain, but I don’t have to take it away, I just have to cover it and grow something in its place. Like fertilizer can grow a strong tree if the right seeds are planted. Sam stood up and held out her hand, “come to the room, JT,” he was still clearing his eyes of tears, but his hand immediately shot up to hers, and he stood up, “you can leave the blanket and pillow,” she said as she pulled him behind her, her hips were swaying and he followed her like a little boy clinging to his mother, “you won’t be needing them for the rest of the weekend."



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