Was I drinking when I let Addison suggest someone to interview for the job? she thought to herself as she greeted Ms. Dipesto at the reception desk. "Any messages, Agnes?"
"No Ms. Hayes," she replied, "and before you ask, yes, Mr. Addison is already here, on time. He's in his office..."
"Will wonders never cease..." Maddie replied as she grabbed a quick cup of coffee and knocked on David's office door, entering to find him looking none the worse for wear, sitting at his desk, neat and sharply- dressed, nursing a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper.
"Wow, David," she said with a smile, "what happened to you this weekend?? No wild parties, no orgies, no drinking binges?"
He grinned at her with a raised eyebrow. "Why, did you want to join me?"
"That's my name, Maddie, don't wear it out. Of course, if you want to wear *me* out, I'm free tonight."
Maddie rolled her eyes. "You're not free, but you're definitely cheap, Addison."
"Awww, who have you been talking to?" he replied with a twinkle in his eye.
Maddie placed her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes. "It's common knowledge, David. But seriously, it's good to see you behaving responsibly and having a professional appearance, it means a lot to me."
David arose and smiled. "Thanks, boss. That means a lot to me, coming from you. If I could gain only one thing in my life from working here at Blue Moon, it would be your respect..." And with that, he stepped around to the side of the desk, revealing that beneath his perfectly tailored jacket, pressed shirt and tie...he was wearing a pair of red silk boxers with the Playboy Bunny logo embossed all over them.
Maddie fumed, shaking her head. "Addison..." she huffed and headed to the door, turning momentarily to face him again. "If it doesn't cramp your style too much, do put your pants on before we interview your potentially permanent replacement..."
"Why?" he replied cockily, "Don't want me to give him an inferiority complex?"
She merely growled and exited, slamming the door behind her.
"Hey, Maddie?" he called out as he stuck his head out the door.
Spinning on her heel with a stern look, she huffed "What is it?"
"It's because these turn you on, isn't it? You can tell me..."
As she glared daggers at him and stormed into her office, closing her door with a bang, David laughed to himself, satisfied at having done his misdeed for the day.
At ten a.m., Ms. Dipesto buzzed Maddie's office. "Yes Agnes?"
"The man you're interviewing is here, he's waiting in Mr. Addison's office."
And right on time, Maddie thought, impressed. "Thank you, I'll be right there."
Walking into David's office, Maddie looked at a handsome gentleman, who arose from his seat. "Good morning, Ms. Hayes," the man said in a lovely, soft British accent. "I'm Richard Dawson."
She smiled. "Richard, a pleasure. Please, sit, and do call me Maddie."
"Thank you," he replied, sitting down after Maddie did the same. "I've heard many good things about the agency, and about you. David filled me in over the weekend."
Maddie shot an amused David a stern look. "Well, knowing Addison, I wouldn't believe half of what he says," she said with a smile.
"Well, he told me how beautiful you were, so he was obviously right about one thing..." Richard looked down, embarassed. "I'm sorry to be so forward, forgive me."
"That's not necessary, it was very kind, thank you." she stammered. God, he had the most beautiful, icy, pale grey-green eyes... "But now, tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been in the business?"
Richard handed her his resume. "Well, as you'll see, I worked for a time for Scotland Yard before moving to the states. I worked in Boston for a few years as a private detective, and then I moved to L.A. six months ago. I thought of opening my own office again, but I like working with a team, so I decided to look for an agency to join instead. David and I met a while ago at a pub. We had a lovely conversation, became mates of sorts, and exchanged our business cards afterwards. When this position came up, he rang me and told me that you would be needing a replacement when he goes on holiday."
How in the world could a man like Addison bring in such a charming, distinguished man like Richard, she wondered to herself. But Maddie was completely won over, and hired him on the spot. "Why don't you have David give you a quick tour of the place, and then about noon, we'll all go to lunch and discuss details?"
"Sorry, Maddie," David interjected, "I've got that dentist appointment, remember? Besides, his cute, blonde receptionist has the hots for me, and I definitely wouldn't want to disappoint her..." He grinned, seeing the look of aggravation on Maddie's face.
Richard chuckled softly as she replied with a huff, "David, I really don't want to hear about it. That's fine, Richard and I can manage lunch on our own, can't we?" She smiled at the handsome newcomer.
"Absolutely!" he smiled back at her.
David looked at both of them. "You two kids have fun at lunch, but don't do anything I wouldn't..."
"That doesn't leave us with many options, does it David?" Maddie replied coolly. "Now, go show him around Blue Moon, and Richard, I'll see you about noon?"
"Yes, indeed, thank you again Ms. Hayes...I mean, Maddie." Richard flashed her a million dollar grin before exiting her office.
"I'll be right there, Richard," David called out as the Englishman went to meet Ms. Dipesto. David looked back at her with a mischievous expression on his face. "Well, well, looks like you've become quite the little anglophile, haven't you?"
She chuckled. "I'm impressed, David, I'd figure you'd think an 'anglophile' is a place where a fisherman organizes his lures."
"Oh, that's funny," David sneered with a grin, "just don't come cryin' to me all disappointed when you find out that Big Ben is just a clock tower..."
She pointed to the door. "Go..."
"Although I do like the way *your* lures are organized..."
"Addison..." she growled.
"Fine, I'm out of here, you're no fun!"
"Fine!" And with that, he slammed the door behind himself, off to give the nickel tour to Richard. When he closed the door, Maddie let out the laugh that she'd been holding in, not wanting to give David the satisfaction.
Suddenly, the door popped open, and David stuck his head inside. "I heard that!"
Maddie sighed heavily. "Say goodbye, David..."
After spending the morning busily going over paperwork, there was a knock at Maddie's office door. "Come in" she replied, and Richard entered.
Glancing at her watch, she sighed. "11:45 already? Where has the morning gone?" She looked at Richard with a warm smile. "Are you ready to head out for lunch?"
"Yes, thank you," he said. As they passed by Ms. Dipesto's desk on the way out of the office, she smiled at them.
As Richard and Maddie walked out to her car in the parking garage, Richard had his arm around her waist the whole way, and opened her car door for her, closing it before going around to the passenger side and sliding in.
In a few minutes, they arrived at a charming little Italian restaurant. After they were seated and the waiter arrived, Maddie ordered pasta with marinara sauce, and Richard selected the chicken cacciatore . They also ordered two glasses of the house wine and shared an antipasto plate as an appetizer.
Richard sipped his wine. "Maddie, I must apologize... considering that you're my boss, I realize it was quite unprofessional of me to walk you out to your car with my arm about you and open your door. Old habits die hard, I suppose."
He smiled warmly. "My dear mother, god rest her, would kill me if I ever neglected my gentlemanly duties, but I know it was improper in this instance, and I apologize."
Maddie looked at him, astonished at his manners and concern. "Oh no, please, Richard, you showed no disrespect at all. You have no idea how refreshing it is to be treated like a lady." She laughed. "I work with Addison every day, you have to understand..."
Richard chuckled. "Good old David... yes, he's quite a card, isn't he? But I get the impression that he's a pretty good sort deep inside."
"If only it would come up to the surface a bit more often..." she said with a half-smile and a cocked eyebrow. As Richard grinned, their entrees arrived.
Maddie couldn't help but be entranced again by his hypnotic eyes. They were so haunting, and his seductive gaze made her forget herself momentarily.
"Maddie?" She blinked. "Maddie, are you alright?" Richard asked, concerned.
She blushed faintly, hoping he wouldn't notice. "Oh yes I'm fine, sorry. I've just got a lot on my mind...about David's vacation, and how we're going to make out while he's gone..." Oh god, Maddie, can you be more obvious? "I mean...how the agency is going to do."
She wanted to crawl under the table and hide.
Richard took her hand and smiled at her, his eyes twinkling. "It's ok, Maddie, we all have those slips of the tongue sometimes... see, I've just done it myself! Nothing to worry about, no harm done, now, is there?"
Oh great, she thought, now he's got me thinking about slips of the tongue, imagining what his kisses would be like... She laughed, charmed at his attempt to make her feel more at ease. "Thank you, is my face as red as the sauce on my linguine?"
Touching her cheek tenderly, which sent a shockwave of heat through her body, he replied "No, just the prettiest shade of pink... and as soft as a rose petal."
He closed his eyes. "I misspoke again, I'm sorry."
Maddie looked at him. "Please don't apologize. That's the loveliest thing anyone's said to me in a long time."
Pushing his plate aside, he looked into her eyes. "Maddie, I know that I work for you, and these things can be awkward, but since I'll only be at Blue Moon for a month..."
"Yes?" she said, softly.
"Might I see you, outside the office, that is?" he asked. "Perhaps take you to dinner tonight, if I'm not being too presumptious?"
Smiling like a schoolgirl who'd just been asked to the prom by the cutest boy in school, she took his hand and squeezed it. "Richard, I would love to see you, yes."
"How delightful..." he smiled in delicious amazement. "Shall I pick you up at 8 o'clock?"
"That would be wonderful, yes, thank you," she replied. "But for now, I suppose I'd best be getting back to the office."
They arose. "We've probably covered enough details for now, so I'll see you tonight, and next Monday at work... here's my home address and phone number," she continued, writing on the back of a Blue Moon business card.
Richard arrived at eight sharp, dressed all in black - turtleneck, jacket and slacks - and carrying a dozen roses. He was so unbearably handsome and elegant, he made her heart stop.
"For the lovely lady..." he said with a soft kiss on Maddie's cheek, slowly admiring every inch of her in the peach silk dress she wore. She smiled and thanked him, quickly put the pink buds in a crystal vase, and took his arm.
They headed to a little French restaurant, where they had a spectacular cassoulet, salad, bread and wine. They talked like two old friends all the way through to the espressos and pastries they enjoyed for dessert. They strolled in the park for a little while, hand in hand in the moonlight, before heading back to Maddie's house.
She retrieved her keys from her handbag, and turned to him. "I had the most marvelous time with you tonight, Richard, thank you so much..." Her heart was filled with so many emotions at that moment.
"And I enjoyed your lovely company so very much, Maddie," he replied softly, looking into her eyes. "You are a strong, beautiful and amazing woman." He moved slowly toward her, trying to gauge her reaction. As she gazed intently into his eyes and nodded slightly, he smiled and leaned in to kiss her softly on the lips.
Even though Maddie was a bit taller than Richard, especially in heels, she felt her knees go weak in his strong, warm presence, surprised to find that that she thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of letting someone else have the reins of control for a change.
She completely surrendered to his kisses, her arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him nearer. As his tongue darted over her rosy mouth, like a hummingbird looking for sweet nectar from a flower, she parted her lips, silently urging him to take her more deeply, to taste her eager mouth, to let her taste him in return.
She breathed his name as Richard continued to ravish her with his kisses, his tongue teasing and delighting her, and he held her even more tightly. He looked into her eyes and touched her face.
"Maddie, beautiful Maddie..." he whispered raspily in her ear, covering her neck with blazing kisses, causing her to moan softly.
He backed off for a moment. "Forgive me," he whispered, "We shouldn't, I mean... I work for you. Dinner was one thing, but..."
Maddie pulled him close and pressed her mouth to his. "You're not on my time clock now, Richard," she whispered huskily. He smiled and took her face in his gentle hands and returned her kiss, deeply.
His mouth left her after several more dizzying moments. "I really should be going," he said, regret coloring the inexplicably sexy, soft, graveley voice that sent shivers through every inch of Maddie's body whenever he spoke.
Maddie looked at him, catching her breath, caressing his cheek. "Do you really have to, Richard. Can't you...come in for a nightcap, or something."
His expression turned serious, yet gentle. "It's the 'something' that I'm concerned about, Maddie."
Her face was a picture of disappointment and embarassment. "Oh, Richard, I'm...I'm so sorry to presume that you, that we..."
He interrupted her. "Maddie, look at me." She did, and he smiled tenderly. "You are presuming nothing that I'm not feeling as well, I assure you of that." He looked away for a moment. "You have no idea... But for both our sakes, I'll say goodnight."
She sighed, looked into his eyes with a great sense of wonder, and embraced him. "My god, are you for real?" She smiled to reassure him that it was meant as a compliment. "I've never met a man like you, Richard," she replied, kissing him one last time. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, dear lady," he said with a warm smile, kissing her hand. "May I see you again?"
"I'd be disappointed if you hadn't asked... yes, please," she replied.
His face betrayed relief and joy. "I'm so glad, thank you, Maddie." And with a kiss to her hand, he was off into the cool L.A. night, leaving Maddie to her sweet dreams.
The next few days were a whirlwind at Blue Moon. David scrambled to finish up all his last-minute paperwork in preparation for his absence, and Maddie, in the midst of switching gears for a new temporary partner, kept thinking about Richard.
They hadn't seen each other since dinner that first night, and while she knew it was wise for them to cool it for a couple of days, she ached to see him again. So she picked up the phone.
Dialing his number, she heard that familiar, seductive voice saying hello. "Hi, Richard, it's Maddie."
"Maddie!" he exclaimed, the happiness in his voice causing her heart to glow, knowing that he was as glad to hear from her as she was to talk to him. "How are you, my love? I've missed you terribly..."
"I miss you too, Richard. So I was wondering if you were free for lunch today?"
Richard chuckled. "Wild horses and all the king's men couldn't keep me away," he said. "When shall I pick you up?"
"How about noon, here at the office?"
"Excellent, I'll be counting the minutes..." He paused. "Maddie?"
"I'm so glad you called, I was worried that... well, that I offended you the other night." There was genuine concern in his voice.
She smiled. "Richard, I think you could tell that I was enjoying our kiss every bit as much as you were. Probably more so..."
"More than I was?" he replied. "Not a chance, my beautiful darlin', not a chance...but I appreciate your saying so, and the lunch invitation. I'll see you at noon, Maddie."
"I'll see you then, Richard. Thank you." She hung up and saw that David was standing there in the open doorway.
"Addison... don't you ever knock?" she said, irritated at his eavesdropping.
"Only about ten times," he said, smirking. "But apparently, someone was a bit too preoccupied to hear me." He grinned and taunted her, getting under her skin as only he knew how to do.
"The British are coming!"
"You're pathetic, Addison." she growled. "Get out of my office, and don't let the door hit you on the way out."
"Maddie, you hardly know this guy, and you're all over him like a bum on a sandwich," he said, turning serious for a moment. "You've known me for two years, and you won't give me the time of day, or night."
"Yes, I know you very well, Addison. That's exactly the point..."
He shook his head. "Geez, just because a guy's got a Mr. Smart Guy accent..."
She rolled her eyes. "Addison, if an accent made a man intelligent," mimicking his tough-guy New York mannerisms, "you'd be Einstein."
He glared at her, his eyes suddenly turning dark, a coldness tinging his voice. "And if being a bitch makes a woman happy, you must be in seventh heaven..." Before she could reply, he exited and slammed the door with a resounding shudder.
"Damn it," Maddie sighed, more confused than truly angry, although she was about ready to kick David into the middle of next week at this point. Lunch with Richard was suddenly turning into a life and sanity saver for her than just a pleasant diversion.
She rang his cell phone, praying she could reach him. He answered.
"Richard, Maddie. Listen, something's come up. I'm heading out now, and won't be back before lunch, so can I just meet you, maybe at the little Chinese place a couple of blocks away? Yes, noon's still fine. Great, I'll see you then..."
It was only 10:30, but she couldn't face the office, and especially David, for one more minute right now, so she grabbed her purse and headed out.
Ms. Dipesto looked terribly concerned. "Ms. Hayes? Are you alright? You don't look so well..."
"I'm alright, Agnes. I just need to get some air... I'll be back this afternoon after lunch, probably late."
"And if Mr. Addison wants to know where you are?"
"Just tell him I'm out, and that's all he needs to know." Maddie said firmly as she walked out the main office door and headed to the elevator.
After driving around for a while to clear her head, Maddie went to the restaurant, and found that Richard was there, waiting for her at a corner table.
He arose and helped her into her seat, pushing her chair in for her. Although she tried to hide the emotions of the morning's events, he saw right through her.
"Maddie, what is it?" Richard asked, taking her hand and stroking it with his. "You seem disturbed, darlin', what's the matter?"
"Oh, it's nothing, really. Just some problems at the office, that's all."
He looked at her with a calming smile. "Well, I do work for you, now don't I? For a month, anyway. So your concerns are mine as well. What is it, maybe I can help?"
Maddie sighed. "No, it's not actually related to work, per se. It... it's David. He was acting very strangely this morning, stranger than usual, I mean. Just something I have to deal with, nothing for you to be concerned about, Richard, but thank you."
"Well," he replied, "what did he say, what did he do? Maybe we can figure it out. If I'm not being too pushy asking, that is."
Maddie smiled at him. "No, you're not being pushy, Richard. I appeciate your concern. It's just that David and I, we have a... a history together."
Richard looked a bit surprised. "You and David were a couple?" He skillfully maneuvered a bite of his broccoli beef onto his chopsticks and got it into his mouth without spilling a drop.
"Oh no, nothing like that," she said. "Quite the contrary, actually. We're more like brother and sister, tormenting each other."
Richard smiled. "Somehow, I get the feeling that it's more than that..."
"I...I don't know," Maddie confessed, taking a bite of her cashew chicken. "David was acting very strangely when he overheard our telephone conversation this morning. At first he joked around as usual, but then....it was almost as if he were jealous." She shook her head. "I'll never understand that man as long as I live."
"How do you feel about him?" Richard asked.
She sighed. "I care about him. He drives me insane, but I know that, when it's important, I can count on him to be there. He's a good friend." She took his hand and smiled warmly. "But enough about Addison, I'd rather focus on you right now..."
Richard kissed her fingertips. "And there's nothing I'd rather look at, listen to, or focus on than you..." He leaned over and kissed her gently.
They finished lunch, and were sipping their tea when the waiter brought over two fortune cookies. Maddie couldn't help but smile at hers.
In love and business, luck is on its way...
Walking out to the parking lot, Maddie looked at him. "I'll see you Monday morning at the office, Richard. I wish I could see you again before then, but everything is crazy, and I've got about a million and one things to do to make certain everything is ready for a smooth transition for your taking over during David's absence."
He took her into his arms and looked deeply, intently into her eyes. "Of course, I understand. But I'd best make this kiss a good one, then, if it's going to last us until Monday..."
Richard took her mouth in a soft, sensual, passionate kiss, his arms tight around her, his fingers tangled in her blonde hair. Maddie closed her eyes and kissed him back just as deeply, not even caring who might be watching them right there in broad daylight. It was so unlike her usual cool, guarded manner, but he made her feel free, and she enjoyed it.
Monday came quickly, and Maddie was at the office at an early hour. David had said a quick goodbye on Friday, but he and Maddie didn't talk things through before he left. She thought it was best, anyway, to give him time to cool off and relax on his vacation, and give her the same opportnity.
Richard arrived right on time at 9 a.m., knocking on Maddie's door. "Good morning, boss!" he grinned, taking a seat at one of the chairs in front of her desk, setting his coffee down on a coaster.
"Good morning, Richard." she greeted him brightly. "So, tell me, are you ready for this?"
"As ready as I'll ever be, I'd wager," Richard replied with a grin. "What have we got in the works today?"
Maddie smiled. On one hand, she appreciated the way he was behaving so professionally while in the office, doing his job. On the other hand, however, she couldn't help but hunger for his sweet, fiery kisses, wishing that he'd take her into his arms right then...
What am I thinking, she laughed to herself, that would be just like Addison to treat the office as if it were Lover's Lane...
She pushed those thoughts from her mind as much as she could. "We've got a client coming in at 10, a Mrs. Radcliffe." Maddie pulled out her file from the cabinet. "Her husband is a college professor, and she thinks he's having an affair with a student of his. She wants solid proof before she confronts him, so she can get a good settlement in the divorce proceedings."
Maddie sighed. "I hate these kinds of cases, but unfortunately, if we turned them down, that would cut out nearly half of our revenue."
"Well," Richard said, "I suppose someone has got to do it, haven't they? Besides, it'll help her by giving her the financial means to get on with her life - at least, that's how I see it."
Smiling at his kindness and understanding, she replied "Yes, that's true, I suppose. That's a marvelous way of looking at it." Maddie finished her coffee. "I'm going to get some more coffee, would you like another cup?"
"Yes, thank you, but please allow me," he insisted, snatching up her empty cup before she could protest. "Cream and sugar?"
"Black," she grinned, "I have to watch my figure, you know."
Richard had a twinkle in his eye. "Now *that's* a job I wouldn't mind...watching your figure."
Maddie laughed. "You've been hanging around Addison too long, haven't you?" He chuckled as he went to get their coffee.
By the time he returned, there was someone else in Maddie's office, an attractive, middle-aged brunette wearing an ice pink jacket and skirt with white heels. "Richard," Maddie said, "This is Paula Radcliffe. Mrs. Radcliffe, my associate Richard Dawson."
Setting the two cups on the desk, Richard extended a hand. "A pleasure, Mrs. Radcliffe. May I get you a cup of coffee, or tea perhaps?"
"Tea would be lovely, thank you," she replied in a weary voice as she shook his hand, "and please call me Paula."
"As you wish, Paula. Do you take lemon and sugar, or milk?"
"Lemon and sugar, please, thank you, Richard." He departed, returning momentarily with a steaming cup of tea for their client.
They sat at the desk and began to go over her case. "Now, Paula," Maddie said, looking over her file, "You suspect your husband, Jonathan, of having an affair with a student at the college he teaches at - UCLA, right?"
The older woman sighed heavily. "Yes. A couple of months ago, he started staying at school later than usual. There were some phone calls from a woman who didn't identify herself, but who was looking for Jonathan - she'd hang up when I asked who she was. And I found this in his jacket pocket when I picked it up from the dry cleaners..." She held out a slip of paper with a name and phone number on it.
"I did a bit of research on my own," Paula continued, "and found that Lynn Westerly is a student at UCLA, enrolled in two of his classes." She handed the paper to Maddie. "We've been married for 20 years... I don't care so much about the money, I just want to know the truth."
Maddie looked at her with great sympathy. "Of course. Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this for you," she assured her. After Paula gave them Jonathan's class schedule at UCLA, they were finished for the moment.
"That should do it for now," Maddie said. "I'll call you if we come up with anything, and please call us if you think of anything else that might be useful."
They all arose and shook hands. "Thank you so much," Paula said, a small trace of hope shining through the despair that clouded her voice. "I appreciate your help." She left, and Richard and Maddie sat back down.
"Well," he asked her, "What did you think?"
Maddie shook her head. "I feel so badly for her, giving 20 years of her life to a man, just to have him go off with some pretty young thing."
"Yes," Richard replied, "it's sad... if that's what truly happened, that is."
Maddie shrugged. "I guess it's our job to find out, isn't it? Why don't we go check out the campus?" Arriving at UCLA in Maddie's car, they parked and checked in with the office before they went their separate ways to see what they could find, agreeing to meet back at the campus coffee shop in an hour.
At that time, Maddie found Richard waiting for her at a booth, sipping a cappuccino. After getting an iced mocha for herself at the counter, she joined him. Sliding into the cushioned seat, she unwrapped her straw and took a drink. "Unfortunately, I didn't find out much, how about you?"
"Well," Richard said, "it seems our little Miss Westerly has indeed been spotted in a few intense discussions with the professor. One of her friends even saw them dancing at a local club, The Pink Room."
Maddie looked disappointed. "Somehow, I'd hoped that it wouldn't be true, for Paula's sake."
"I know," Richard said quietly, "but like she said, it's best that she knows the truth, whatever it may be." He smiled softly. "So I guess we'd better dust off our dancing shoes and go out on the town tonight, how's the Pink Room strike you?"
She laughed. "Yes, maybe we can find out something there...oh god, it's not one of those clubs that's like one huge mosh pit, is it?"
"No," Richard chuckled, "from what the girl told me, it's mostly techno dance music, pretty popular with the college crowd, not too crazy. I'd say we can skip the formal attire, though."
"Too bad," Maddie said with a grin, touching his cheek, "I'd kill to see you in a tuxedo..."
His eyes lit up. "No need to go to such extremes, my love. Perhaps we can go to the symphony sometime soon, that'll give me a chance to get the old monkey suit out of mothballs."
"Oh yes, I look forward to that," she smiled. "But for tonight, why don't you pick me up about 9? And don't forget the earplugs..." she laughed.
They headed back to her car and returned to Blue Moon. As they walked into the office, Ms. Dipesto was answering the telephone.
"No matter what kind of problem's your worry, call the Blue Moon agency, we'll be there in a hurry ... Ms. Dipesto, may I help you?"
"Mr. Dawson?" she called out, "I've got someone on the phone for you, someone you just talked to at UCLA?"
"Thank you, Ms. Dipesto," he smiled, going into David's office to take the call.
He soon emerged and knocked on Maddie's door. "I've got to go back to talk to that girl, she has some more information for me," he explained.
"Alright," Maddie said, glancing at her watch. "You might as well just go home after that, and I'll see you at 9."
"I'll see you then," he smiled.
Seven o'clock. Maddie's house. What in the world should she wear? She had absolutely no clue what clothing would help her fit in, yet not look completely ridiculous. What were the kids wearing these days, she wondered. Certainly not her usual silk dresses and tailored skirts.
She finally decided on a black turtleneck, black leggings and chunky ankle boots, hair tied back in a ponytail, very light makeup. She looked youthful and fresh.
Richard arrived soon, wearing black leather pants and a charcoal grey sweater. Her heart skipped several beats at the sight. "Ricky Martin, eat your heart out!" Maddie exclaimed with a giggle, unable to resist the urge to step into his arms and kiss him. "You look amazing," she purred.
"What a compliment, coming from such a hot rock 'n roll babe!" he chuckled, kissing her back, "just let me save my strength and don't ask me to shake my bon-bon until we get to the club - I'm not a young man anymore, and it's getting old and tired!"
"It looks awfully good from where I stand..." she grinned with a raised brow. "Shall we go?"
"After you, my lovely," he replied, his arm around her waist as they walked out to his car.
At the Pink Room, Richard and Maddie entered the door, greeted by the thundering sound of high-energy dance pop music. Despite the fact that it was a weeknight, there was a pretty good crowd, and the dance floor was full of college-age students dancing to the relentless beat.
They headed to the bar, where a young man with spiky, blonde-tipped hair was pouring some toxic-looking, Windex-blue drink. "Hey, I'm Scott, what can I get you?" he said in a cool but friendly tone.
"Two bottled waters, please," Richard said. Handing one to Maddie, he looked at the bartender. "We're new in town, but we heard a lot about this place. You get a lot of college kids here, it looks like. I guess you don't get many older folks, do you?"
"Nah, not too many," he admitted. "No offense, but you two are about the oldest I've seen in quite a while... well, except for that professor a while back."
"Professor?" Maddie asked.
"Yeah, Professor Radcliffe from UCLA," Scott replied. "He met a younger chick named Lynn here a couple of weeks ago. They talked for a few minutes, then she dragged him out on the dance floor. I don't really think it was his scene."
Richard put on his most casual manner of speech to avoid making Scott suspicious. "Well, if they came here together, I guess he must not have minded too much I guess, huh?" He laughed.
"No, man, they didn't come together. She was here with some girlfriends for a couple of hours before he came. Actually, I saw her pull out her cell phone a little while before he arrived, so she probably called him and asked him to meet her here."
"Well," Richard said lightly, "I'm glad to know that we're not the only old folks that come here, anyway." He looked at Maddie. "C'mon, let's dance, old lady..." He paid Scott and took Maddie's hand, leading her to the dance floor.
They felt awkward for a few moments, but soon found themselves dancing to the hypnotic rhythm in sync with everybody else. Maddie felt like a teenager again, the music energizing her, and Richard's tight body pulsing in those tighter leather pants under the strobe lights was the most amazing and delicious sight she could imagine.
After several dances, they got two more bottled waters and drank them quickly, hot and drained from their dancing. "Thank you," Richard said to Scott, "that was great fun! I'm sure we'll be back again."
"Anytime," he smiled, waving as they left.
They sat in his car in the parking lot, giving themselves a few minutes for their hearing to return back to normal. "Well, what did you make of it?" Richard finally asked her.
Maddie wiped a bit of perspiration from her brow. "Well, it looks like they were here together, from what Scott said."
"Yeah," Richard replied, "But they didn't arrive together. Lots of pieces of the puzzle to assemble..."
Richard took Maddie home and walked her to her front door. "Goodnight, Maddie," he said softly, "that was a lot of fun, I must admit. I felt like a young man again tonight!"
She leaned in and embraced him, her hands running up and down his back underneath his sweater, and kissed him deeply. "Mmmm, you feel like a young man to me..."
Richard smiled mischievouly and kissed her back, even more deeply, his tongue flickering in and out of her mouth. "You are one hot, sexy chick, you know that?" he said in a low growl, grinning.
Maddie laughed. "I bet you say that to all the groupies." She hugged him tightly, said her final good night, and went inside, contented and practically glowing.
The next morning, Richard went to speak to Maddie in her office. Unfortunately, he was not wearing those leather pants. Maddie chuckled to herself at the thought.
"What information did you get from the student who called you yesterday?" she asked. "In all the chaos last night, I forgot to ask you."
"She had some very interesting things to say, but let me check on a few things first before I tell you everything."
"Ok," she agreed. "I'm going to be out most of the day, but I'll be back later this afternoon. You can fill me in then."
Richard smiled. "Alright, sounds like a plan. But I suppose that means we can't have lunch today, huh?" He looked disappointed.
"No, I'm afraid not, but I promise to make it up to you."
"I'll hold you to it," Richard grined.
Later that day, she returned and he filled her in on what he'd discovered.
"Oh my god..." she exclaimed. "That's unbelievable. Well, I guess I'd better have Ms. Dipesto call Paula and set up an appointment to come see us tomorrow morning."
At 11 a.m. the next day, Paula came in to Maddie's office, apprehension clouding her face. She took a seat and a deep breath.
"Let me get you a cup of tea," Richard offered kindly.
"Thank you," she replied. When he returned, he sat her cup in front of her on the desk.
"Well," Paula said quietly, taking a sip of tea. "let's get this over with. Whatever you found out, I want to thank you both so much for your help." She closed her eyes and sighed, then looked at them, a new strength and determination in her eyes. "So, what's the story?"
Maddie began. "Well, apparently there was indeed something going on between your husband and Lynn. They were seen together on campus, and at a nightclub dancing."
"I see..." Paula replied evenly.
"But," Richard continued, "it's not what you think."
Paula looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"Apparently, Jonathan was helping Lynn with her classes, taking his own time after class to tutor her." he said. "She apparently became quite enamored with him, and pretty much threw herself at him.
"When he rejected her advances, she became obsessed with him, warning him that she was going to tell you they were sleeping together if he wasn't 'nice' to her. It was she who called the house, but she always made sure it was a time she knew you'd be home to answer the telephone."
Maddie took over the explaination. "Yes, and the meeting at the club was her doing as well. When she was there with her friends, one of whom gave David all this information, she called him, begging him to meet her there, threatening to kill herself if he didn't show up. He reluctantly came to the club, and she practically dragged him out to the dance floor, wanting witnesses to make her story believable.
But he saw what she was up to, and sat her down, warning her to stop trying to see him or he'd report her to the school. When he said that, she got desperate, and tried one last trick..." Richard added.
Mystified by the whole sordid story, Paula asked "What trick?"
He replied, "You gave us that piece of paper with her name and number on it, the one you found in his jacket after it came back from the dry cleaners. Well, something seemed rather odd about it to me, so I checked it out.
"The paper was so crisp and pristine," he said, "that it seemed rather unlikely that it had survived the dry cleaning and pressing process. So I had it analyzed at the lab. There were no traces at all of dry cleaning solution on it."
Richard smiled. "Somehow, I just happened to have a pair of trousers in need of a cleaning, so I took them to your cleaners. And funny thing, the young man who signed my claim ticket? His last name was Westerly...
"Turns out that he's Lynn's brother. After I pressed him a bit, he told me that Lynn convinced him to slip the paper into Jonathan's jacket pocket after it had been cleaned."
"Lynn came clean with the whole story," Maddie explained, "when Richard told her that if Jonathan didn't tell the school all about it, he would. Unless she admitted everything she'd done, that is. And she did."
"Oh thank God, thank God..." Paula sobbed, her head in her hands. Richard put his arm around her, and she lifted her head with a small smile. "But why didn't Jonathan tell me what was happening?"
"He was afraid you'd be upset," Richard said, "when I spoke to him yesterday, after finding out the truth, he said he thought he could handle the situation by himself. But then when things got too out of hand, he was afraid he'd lose you."
"Where is he now?" Paula asked.
Maddie smiled. "He's waiting in Richard's office, shall I have him come in?"
"Oh, yes, please!" she exclaimed as Maddie rang him and told him to come to her office.
Jonathan came in, smiling nervously at his beloved wife, until she broke into tears and rushed into his arms. Maddie and Richard smiled, quietly leaving them to their happy reunion.
In Richard's office, he and Maddie embraced. "What a happy ending! Oh Richard, I'm so glad it turned out this way."
"As am I, Maddie," he smiled. "They were so clearly meant for each other."
That case closed, the month went along rather smoothly. Not a whole lot of new cases came up while David was gone, so they ended up spending a lot of time re-organizing the seemingly hopeless filing system to a new efficiency. There were lunches and dinners and many sweet, tender kisses. And, just as Richard promised, one magical evening at the symphony, he dressed to the nines in a sharp black tuxedo that seemed made just for him, and Maddie in a green satin evening gown. They were practically inseparable all that month.
When David finally returned, he seemed like a new man. His bitterness was gone, and he seemed rested and happy and content. He even shook Richard's hand with a genuine smile.
"Can I talk to you in your office, Maddie?" David asked.
"Of course," she said, excusing herself to Richard, who went out to charm a quite smitten Ms. Dipesto while he waited.
David emerged smiling, and told Richard that she'd like to see him. Richard grinned and went in.
"David said you wanted to see me?" he asked, sitting.
"Yes," she replied, coming around and sitting on his lap. "I just couldn't wait to see you again..."
He smiled softly. "Maddie, I think it's time for me to leave. David's back, and..."
She interrupted him. "No, please, Richard. Perhaps we can still use you around here. And even if we can't manage that, well... we'll still see each other."
Richard looked a bit distant, sad somehow. "Maddie..." he began, "I think perhaps we'd best part now, while it's still possible."
"What?" she exclaimed, standing up, with Richard quickly following suit. "I thought that you, I mean, that we, meant something to each other."
"More than you'll ever understand," he said quietly. "But I also see something else. When David returned, I saw the expression on your face. Not the face of a woman excited with the flush of intense romantic feelings, but the longing of a woman for a man who inspires far deeper feelings than that. I can sense that you care for David far more than you even realize, and I know he feels the same for you. And Maddie, as much as it hurts me to say it, I won't stand in the way of something so special."
"Richard, no, please..."
He looked at her. "Tell me I'm wrong. Maddie, tell me I'm wrong and I'll stay."
She looked into his eyes. "I... I... Oh Richard, I can't..." And with that, she burst into tears within his embrace.
"I know, I know..." he said in a soft, comforting voice. "David loves you, Maddie," he whispered, "Don't let that slip away from you, like Jonathan and Paula nearly did."
"But... I care for you Richard, so very much." she said quietly, sadly.
"I know, and I will always feel the same for you."
She touched his cheek. "You are the most amazing man on the face of the earth, Richard Dawson," she said. "Would you do me a favor before you leave?"
"Anything for you, my angel," he replied.
"Kiss me again, one last time. Please..." she pleaded.
"Yes, Maddie, yes..." he whispered with a tender smile as his mouth pressed against hers, feeling her lips parting as they kissed passionately, desperately, like a drowning man seeking his last breath. He held her for several long moments, stroking her hair, comforting her.
"God bless you, Richard," she said as she looked at him softly, touching his face with a small smile as he headed to the door. "I will never forget you."
"You will haunt my thoughts so beautifully as long as I live," he replied. "And if David ever lets you down, you give me a call."
"So fast it'll make your head spin," she replied with a last, tight embrace. "Goodbye, Richard."
"Farewell, sweet Maddie," he said as he vanished from her office, from her life.
She wiped her eyes as David came in the office. "So, sorry to see your Englishman leaving, huh?"
"Don't start, Addison..." she replied wearily.
"Sorry," he said sincerely. "So, anything exciting happen while I was gone? Miss me?
"Oh, were you gone?" she teased softly. "No, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing worth repeating anyway."
"That's too bad. Hey, wanna see the pictures I took at the nude beach?"
"No, that's quite alright, but thank you." she laughed.
David shrugged. "Suit yourself. Or come to that beach with me and *un*suit yourself."
She laughed. "Addison..."
"What?" he grinned innocently.
"Welcome home, David," she smiled and embraced him tightly. "Welcome home..."
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