When the doorbell rang, Kara was beside herself. Jack and Lucy had been looking at her strange for most of the day, wondering what was wrong with her. She hadn't heard from Richie and had no idea if she was even going to see him. She was on her fourth glass of wine as she went to answer the door. She swallowed as she looked up to find Richie standing on the other side of the door. "You came."
Richie smiled, "I told you I might."
She stepped back so he could come inside, "but you didn't call."
He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the hook by the door, "I'm sorry, but I wasn't sure I was even coming until just a little while ago." He turned and looked at her, only then noticing the empty wineglass and her flushed cheeks. "How many of those have you had already?" He indicated to the wineglass. He wanted to talk to her, but if she was drunk he had a feeling tonight may not be the right time to have that conversation.
Kara waved the question off, "not that many. I'm fine." They headed through the house and into the kitchen, "do you want anything?" She poured herself another glass of wine.
"Just a soda is fine thanks." She poured Richie a coke and they went into the living room to join the others.
Richie watched Kara. She was quiet even though she knew everyone there. Whatever had been bothering her last night was still nagging at her, he could tell. He came up beside her and took her glass, "can we go somewhere and talk?"
She looked at him, knowing it was now or never. Taking her glass back she walked ahead of him, "come on." He followed her through the house and into the den.
Sitting on the couch, Richie let his eyes roam over her as Kara wandered restlessly around the room. The rich purple dress she had chosen hugged her petite frame and the stiletto heels only enhanced the line of her legs. Her hair was up in some sort of carefully twisted creation and a few strands had escaped to lie against her neck. Richie itched to search out every pin and let the dark mass tumble down around his hands, but he tamped down the itch and waited for her.
Kara drank deep from her glass, trying to find the words. She turned to find Richie watching her intently, waiting for her to say something, his expressive brown eyes full of questions. "You called me a liar yesterday Richie, you were right." When he didn't say anything she let her eyes meet his and he saw the conflict warring there.
She went on, "I wanted to be a professional singer/pianist more than I wanted to breathe, but when all you hear is how many times you are off key, how many mistakes you make, you start to believe it. That was all I heard for longer than I care to admit, so when someone tells me they think I'm good, I find it hard to accept." She took a breath, "there are only four songs on that CD because I kept having to go back and redo this part or that. By the time those four songs were finished, I was sure I would never sing another note."
Richie wanted to find this Greg guy and kick his ass. "Obviously the people you were working with didn't know shit because you are good. I didn't hear a single sour note last night. I wouldn't have said you were good if you weren't and I sure as hell wouldn't have sat at my piano with you and had you sing with me."
Kara smiled slightly, "you know Jen said you would say that."
"Who's Jen?" Richie had heard her mention this Jen before and was curious to know more.
Kara moved to the couch and sat down next to him, "she's my best friend and the one who introduced me to your music. She told me you wouldn't have said I was good unless you truly thought so." Kara paused and gave half a laugh, "she also said that if I didn't talk to you, she would find a way to contact you and tell you all this herself."
Richie smiled then, "I think I need to meet this Jen. She sounds like a good friend."
Kara nodded, "She's the best." She breathed deep, "so, now what?"
Richie took her hand, "do you still want to sing, make music?" He smiled teasingly at her, "I know a guy or two who I'm sure would be more than happy to help." This is what she had been most afraid of. She got up off the couch and paced the room. Richie stood, blocking her path. "What'd I say?"
Kara sighed, "I can't let you help me Richie."
He ran his hands up her bare arms, "why not?"
She raised her gaze to his, "because the last time someone I cared about helped me, he left me with an empty bank account, shattered dreams and a broken heart."
Richie pulled her to him, brushing his lips across the top of her head, "princess, I can promise you right now, that I wouldn't ever hurt you like that. I know we have only known each other a few days, but I already care too much about you to do that. This Greg guy didn't know what a gem he had in you."
Kara felt tears prickling at her eyes and Richie saw them as she raised her eyes to meet his. "I want to" she said quietly, "I just don't know if I have it in me to go through this again."
Richie cupped her face with his hands, his thumbs rubbing away the tears that fell, "you don't have to decide tonight princess. I'm going away at the end of the week and won't be back until the end of the month. Why don't you think about it and we'll talk again then."
She wrapped her hands around his wrists as she looked up at him, "okay, I'll think about it."
The clock struck midnight as they were standing there, "Happy New Year Princess" he told her as he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers.