She recognized him immediately as a star of one of her favorite TV shows, "Hogan's Heroes." What surprised her was not only that he was here in the same room as she, but that he looked even more devastatingly gorgeous than he did on television. He wore a dark blue suit with a white shirt and red, white and blue necktie - very British.
She blushed as he noticed her smiling at him. Embarassed to be so obvious, she halfway hoped he'd ignore the silly woman grinning like an idiot. But the other half of her wanted him to come over to her table. Happily, that side got its wish.
"Hello," he said in a much softer, more refined British accent than his character's exaggerated Cockney. "I'm Richard. Might I join you, if you're alone that is?"
"I'm Monique," she smiled, motioning him to take the chair next to her. "Yes, please. I'm waiting for some friends, but they haven't showed up yet. Besides, there's plenty of room even if they do come."
"Thank you," he replied with a smile that just about killed her. Or perhaps it was those transluscent grey-green eyes that she was utterly lost in. Or the subtle, spicy, irresistibly masculine scent of his after shave. Either way, she knew she was absolutely done for.
They sat and talked and drank coffee until the late hours. Her friends never arrived, and frankly, as much as she loved them, she didn't miss them a bit that night. Monique agreed to have dinner with Richard the following night, and he kissed her cheek as they parted ways for the evening.
They had dinner the following night...which led to many more lunches, dinners and other special times together over the course of the next couple of weeks. As they got to know each other, she learned about how he enjoyed doing the series, but that he'd like to explore other directions for his career, and he learned that she was a student at UCLA studying to be a teacher, and was living with her grandmother Molly.
And they both learned very quickly how much they enjoyed each other's company. One night after dinner, they went for a moonlight stroll in the park. Suddenly, Richard stopped and turned to face her.
He smiled at Monique as he caressed her soft, creamy cheek with his gentle hand, her brown skin glistening like a pool of melted chocolate in the moonlight. He looked so lost in the moment and in his thoughts, she had to know what was on his mind.
"What are you thinking about, Richard?" she asked.
He looked embarassed. "Oh, nothing. I....I was just wondering something..."
He smiled softly. "Wondering if you taste like chocolate."
Monique smiled and looked into his eyes, as pale and as mysterious as the moon, pulling her in like a tidal wave. "I don't know, do you taste like vanilla?"
"I'm not sure," he whispered with a quiet grin, "But I guess there's only one way to find out." And with that, he pressed his lips to hers, clutching her to his chest and holding her tight.
Richard's fingers stroked her long, thin braids as he skillfully seduced her lips apart, aching to kiss her deeply. She gladly surrendered to his gentle, demanding tongue, and pulled him even closer as he continued to ravish her.
Monique raked her fingers through his hair and moaned softly as she returned his kiss, their tongues slowly dancing together in a sensual rhythm that their hearts kept time to.
The heated scent of her exotic perfume drew him to her throat. Richard nuzzled her neck and kissed the warm flesh there, his tongue making gentle circles upon her skin. She felt dizzy, yet like a child both frightened and fascinated by the roller coaster, she didn't want the ride to end.
She turned her head to kiss him again, tasting him deeply. Richard looked at her with a gentle smile.
"I think we taste like an Oreo," he said softly. "A sweet, delicious Oreo..."
"Or chocolate milk," added Monique.
"Or coffee and cream," Richard chuckled.
She embraced him and gently tousled his hair. "I think you're a terrific guy, Richard. And brave. Not many white men in this society would get involved with a black girl."
Richard looked tenderly into her eyes with the sweetest smile. "Then they don't know what they're missing..." And he kissed her again.
When his mouth left hers, Monique looked at him, a serious expression clouding her face. "Richard, it won't be easy. People will stare. And talk. And maybe even worse." She sighed. "The last thing I want is for you to be hurt, to be called names, like a certain two-word phrase ending in 'lover.'"
Richard took her face into his hands and looked straight into her eyes. "I couldn't possibly care less what people like that call me, or what they think." He tenderly touched her cheek. "Angel, I'm not going to lose one moment of sleep over the ignorant opinions of a bunch of racist idiots, and I won't let them dictate to me who I'm going to spend my time with. Screw 'em..."
"But Richard, what about your career?" Monique said, concerned. "If we were just a couple of unknown, anonymous people, maybe it could work. But, you're an actor on a very popular TV show, and if word leaked out to the press that you were dating me..."
He interrupted her, repeating her words in disbelief. "'If word leaked out?' Darlin', I am not about to keep you hidden away somewhere like some dirty little secret. I care for you, and I am so very proud to have you as my girl. I'll proclaim it to the world, and to hell with whoever can't deal with it.
"Besides," he said with a grin, "I'd love to see the studio try to make me to stop seeing you. I'm always up for a good fight, and you can bet I'll give 'em one if they press the issue."
Richard took her into his arms again. "No one's gonna take my beautiful angel away from me..." he smiled softly, caressing her face with his strong, gentle fingers.
Monique looked into his eyes. "You are the most amazing man I've ever known. Why would you risk so much to be with me?"
He smiled softly and came close, kissing her. "Because I love you..."
"Oh Richard," she sighed, pushing back the protests in her head and giving in to what her heart was telling her instead. "I love you too." She pulled him closer and kissed him back with great passion and emotion.
Richard and Monique were nearly inseparable for nearly three months. She visited the "Hogan's Heroes" set as often as she could, stealing a sweet kiss from her favorite British soldier at every possible opportunity during his breaks. His co-stars adored her too.
One night, after dinner and a movie, Richard drove her home, kissing her goodnight and waiting to make sure she got inside safely.
But just as she got her key in the lock, a car drove by, followed by the sound of her window breaking and tires squealing. Richard, seeing that there was no possible way to catch up to the fleeing culprits, went inside to see what happened.
Molly emerged in her pink floral robe, a terrified look on her face. "Good lord, what's happened here?" she asked.
"It's alright, grandmother," Monique said in as calm of a voice as she could muster, "Go back to bed."
After making sure she was comfortable and resting, Monique came back out. "Did you find anything?" she asked Richard.
"Yes," he replied quietly. "Someone threw a brick through the window, with a note attached." He handed a piece of paper to her.
She read the note, warning her that if she didn't keep with "her own kind," she'd find her house burned to the ground, and Richard blacklisted in Hollywood, as his series wouldn't last forever, and the producers of the next show he wanted to work on might not be so tolerant of the "class of people" he chose to associate with.
Richard reached for the telephone. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"Calling the police," he replied.
"No, it won't do any good. There's no proof of who did this, and it'll just cause more trouble." She looked at him with a small smile. "Believe me, I know."
Looking greatly frustrated, Richard replaced the receiver and sighed heavily, hands on his hips, his lips curled seriously in a pout, glaring darkly out the broken window in the direction the vandals had driven.
"If you say so, love, I won't call. But at least let me sleep on your couch so you and your grandmother won't be alone tonight. I'll patch the window up as much I can for now, and get it replaced tomorrow."
Monique hugged him tightly, as much from gratitude for his kindness as for how safe he made her feel in his arms. "I'd appreciate that, thank you, Richard."
As he cut panels from a cardboard box and affixed them over the hole in the window with duct tape, she swept up the broken glass and got a blanket and pillow from the linen closet.
"Thank you, darlin'" Richard said, lying down on the couch and spreading the blanket over himself. "Would you like to stay out here and snuggle with me tonight?"
She tried so hard to be strong. But at that moment, on that night, she needed him to hold her, needed to feel his warm, protective arms around her as she slept, as much as she needed the air she breathed.
Monique nodded and smiled softly, kicking off her shoes and slipping into his waiting arms. She closed her eyes as he swallowed her up in his strong embrace.
"Thank you, Richard," she whispered, cuddling close. "You make me feel so safe and warm.
"And I love holding you like this," he said softly. "I promise to be a gentleman."
"Darn..." Monique chuckled quietly as she leaned in to kiss him gently.
"Don't sound so disappointed," Richard said in a low voice, smiling, "Even if I am a gentleman, I can still do this..." His tongue skimmed her lower lip, beckoning her to open to him. A sigh of delight escaped her mouth.
His kisses were deep and strong, yet gentle and filled with love and warmth. As he crushed his lips to hers, his tongue moving slowly within her mouth, she grasped him tightly. After a while, she rested her head on his shoulder as he held her, and they finally drifted off into sweet slumber.
In the morning, Monique stirred, but Richard wasn't there beside her. Hearing sounds coming from the kitchen, she rubbed her eyes and went to see.
The smell of coffee brewing wafted through her senses as she saw Richard standing at the stove, making a large cheese and mushroom omelet.
"Good mornin', darlin'!" he greeted her, kissing her softly. "I didn't want your grandmother to wake up and get the wrong idea about us, so I got up early and started breakfast."
"Mmmmmm," she sighed, returning his kiss, "A man who cooks, and kisses like you do...I'll tell you, a girl could get used to this!"
Richard chuckled and slipped the finished omelet onto a platter as the toast popped up. Monique put in two more slices and buttered the two that were ready.
Molly was soon up and greeted them. Monique kissed her on the forehead. "Good morning, grandmother." Looking at the handsome chef slaving away over a hot stove, she added "Richard slept on the couch last night to make sure we were safe."
"That was very nice of you, Richard, thank you." she said.
Richard grinned and kissed her cheek. "You are very welcome. Besides, now, how could I resist helping out two such lovely ladies?"
After breakfast, Richard called the glass company and set up an appointment for them to replace the window that afternoon, and refused to hear the two women's protests when he insisted upon paying for it.
The trio spent the day at home, playing board games and talking until the window man showed up. After the work was finished, Richard paid him.
"Well," Molly said, "It's about time for my church Bingo game, so I'll leave you two youngsters to your own devices." With a grin and a hug for both of them, she left.
After she was gone, Monique had a strange look on her face as she looked at him. "Pour us a couple of glasses of wine, would you please, Richard? I need to talk to you about something."
"Of course, love," he said with a small, worried frown. He brought two glasses of white wine, and they sat on the couch together.
"Richard," she said quietly, "I've done a lot of thinking today, about you and me, and what happened last night, and... well, I've decided that it would be best if we don't see each other anymore."
He sat his glass down on the coffee table and took her hand. "No! Oh Monique, no, please don't say that."
Tears formed in the corners of her eyes. "Richard, if it was just the two of us affected by this, I could handle it. But..."
Richard looked at her sadly, knowingly. "Your grandmother."
"Yes," she said. "I can't put her through this. She's getting older, and she doesn't need this kind of stress in her life. Besides, I don't want to worry every day that something's going to happen to her because of me."
Richard brushed aside her tears and kissed her fingertips. "Oh my love, it wouldn't be your fault, but I understand what you're saying. Although I hate to let those cretins the satisfaction, you and your grandmother's safety must come first."
They arose and he held her more tightly than he ever had before. Monique began to weep uncontrollably, and Richard stroked her braided hair, comforting her as a wave of grief and sadness flooded her soul.
Finally, she looked up at him with damp, reddened eyes. "I can't believe that we're saying goodbye. I love you so much, Richard. Please don't think that I don't."
"I know, and I love you too, Monique. It breaks my heart to let you go." His eyes began to cloud with tears of his own. "But you're right, my angel, it's the only way."
"I feel like such a coward, running away from these people," she said.
"No, my angel," he replied, "It takes the greatest courage in the world to walk away from something so wonderful and precious when you know it's for the best." He leaned in and sought her mouth in a final, passionate kiss.
"I will always love you..." he whispered.
"I'll love you forever, Richard." she sighed, pressing her mouth hard to his, hoping they would never be separated.
As he embraced her, Richard smiled softly, looking into her eyes. "Goodbye, Monique. I'll never forget you."
"And I could never forget you. God bless you, Richard" she replied.
He walked to the door, drinking in the sight of her sweet, beautiful face for the last time, "Someday, my love, perhaps this world will be a different place, where a girl like you and a fellow like me could have a future together. A world where the color of two lovers' skin wouldn't even matter, only what was in their hearts."
"Oh, I hope so, Richard," Monique said as she smiled a sad smile and waved goodbye, her heart aching more than she ever thought it could, yet his words planting a small seed of hope within her soul. "I hope so..."
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