Caroline and the Proposal – Alternate Ending
“You came all the way out here just to give me an umbrella?” Caroline looked at Richard expectantly.
‘If I don’t tell her now I will lose her forever’ Richard thought. ‘But what would it help anyway? It’s not like she feels the same way. But then again, why is she here? Why did she come to this god-forsaken part of the city?’
He looked up and stared into Caroline’s big brown eyes, his heart skipped a beat.
“No, there’s something else…” he croaked. He had a hard time keeping his voice steady, and Caroline’s expectant look didn’t help the matter.
‘This is it, there’s no turning back now. NO! I can’t tell her! This will destroy everything!’ But something inside him made his lips form the words “Don’t marry Del!”
Caroline looked at him somewhat exasperated “You already said that. But why do you think so? Can’t you just give me a reason?” Her eyes pleaded with him.
“I…..I don’t know…I just….think that he’s not the right man for you. You deserve so much better.” Richard stuttered, not able to tell her the real reason. That he wanted to be the one marrying her, spending the rest of his life with her. Make her breakfast in bed, hug her whenever he wants, cuddle her, stroke her swollen tummy… ‘WAIT A MINUTE!! Where the hell did that come from?’ A shocked look crept across Richard’s face. ‘I don’t want to have children. And even if I wanted kids, having them with Caroline will never happen. I can’t be that lucky. Not in a million years.’
“What’s wrong? You look horrified!”
“No… nothing. Sorry Caroline, I can’t give you another reason, just trust me with this. He’s not right for you.”
Caroline threw her hands up in the air “For God’s sake Richard! You drive me insane! Who do you think would be right for me? You??” With that she turned on her heel and walked down the street, leaving Richard standing in the rain.
‘Great Richard! That’s it, you finally ruined everything. But oh well… that’s just the way of things in your life. You can’t be happy. And even when things start to look good, you sure know how to mess it up.’
Hanging his head he walked back into his apartment.
“How did it go? You don’t look too good.”
Richard looked up startled, he had already forgotten about Maddie.
“Can you please leave me alone? It’s how I work best anyway. All I can do is hurt the people around me, so you better run and hide before you have to suffer too.”
“Oh please, give me a break! It can’t be that bad! Did you expect her to fall right in your arms? This must’ve come very sudden for her. Her boyfriend proposed to her and right after that her assistant professes his love for her. That must be quite confusing.”
He sank down onto his bed. “I didn’t tell her.”
“What??” Maddie looked at him disappointed. “Why not? What have you got to lose?”
“Excuse me? I have everything to lose, Caroline is the only real friend I’ve ever had. But oh well, I did lose her anyway.”
Maddie sat down next to Richard and put an arm around his shoulder “Listen, I don’t know Caroline but I’m sure she doesn’t hate you. You really have to talk to her. You can clear things up.”
“I have to think about it. Could you please leave me alone?”
“Ok, but you have to promise me that you won’t just throw away this friendship.” Maddie got up and put on her coat.
“I promise” Richard told her half-heartedly.
Maddie looked hard into Richard’s eyes “I’ll call tomorrow and check, and you better have done something by then, or I’ll take it upon myself to talk to Caroline.”
Richard stared at her in shock. “You wouldn’t!”
“Don’t try me” Maddie smiled wryly and walked out of Richard’s apartment.
Caroline didn’t care that the rain was soaking her to the bones. She had decided to walk home to blow of some steam.
‘Why does this affect me so much? It’s not like I have any feelings for Richard that go beyond friendship, right? Right??
I love Del! Del is a great guy. But do I see myself married to him, having kids and a house with a white picket fence? Why does this picture seem so wrong?’ She kicked away a can lying on the pavement and gave out a frustrated sigh.
She watched a small family walking through the rain. The husband had taken of his jacket to cover his wife and daughter from the rain. And he himself was getting soaked. ‘Del would never do anything like that. What about Richard, would he? Well, he ran after me to give me an umbrella even though he had company. That was pretty close.’ She had this feeling that Richard would do anything to make her happy. ‘He even came to Peshtigo with me for the Park dedication, and I know how much he must’ve hated it. But he stuck to my side all the time, comforted me after the argument about Chris, stayed with me after everyone had run off to see the fish Chris had caught…but that’s just stuff a friend does for you, right?’
Caroline suddenly remembered that first evening when Richard had pretended to be her new boyfriend, so she wouldn’t lose face in front of Del. Thoughtfully she touched her lips. That kiss took her breath away. She could still feel it, it held so much passion. She remembered how her knees had gotten weak. ‘What does this mean? It was just a favor he was doing for me. And he actually made me pay him overtime. That’s not what somebody does who has feelings for you… Why doesn’t this convince me?’
Caroline noticed that she had arrived in front of Remo’s and decided that she needed a hot coffee before going home. She was suddenly very aware of how wet she was from the pouring rain.
Remo smiled when he saw her coming in, but his smile soon faded when he noticed how she looked.
“Oh my god, Carolina! What happened to you? You look awful.” He hurried to her side to take her coat.
“Thanks Remo. That makes me feel better…” she sighed scanning the little restaurant, not seeing any of her friends.
‘Thank god, I don’t know how I could explain myself in front of Annie or especially Del right now.’
Caroline moved over to a little table in the corner Remo guided her to.
“What can I bring you Carolina?”
“I’ll have a coffee please. I need something to warm up. Oh, you know what? Put in a shot of rum, please. I need that.”
Remo nodded sympathetically and hurried over to the bar.
‘Del, how am I going to face him now? I’m so confused. Damn Remo and Annie for putting those thoughts in my head! If they
hadn’t done that, I could have just accepted Del’s proposal, and we would live happily ever after. But would we really?’
“Here is your coffee, if you want to talk, let me know, ok?” Remo smiled down at her.
“Thanks Remo, but I really just need to think right now.” She took a sip of her coffee and felt the warmth spread through
her body. The same warmth that she had felt when she had seen Richard just a few minutes ago. ‘His deep brown eyes are so beautiful. How come I never noticed that before? They are mysterious actually. Like they are hiding a big secret.’
Caroline finished her coffee not really thinking about anything in particular, basically just staring at the wall.
‘Geez, I have to get out of these clothes. I’ll get sick if I don’t. I’ll take a hot bubble bath and think about what I’m going to tell Del, and tomorrow I’ll call him. By then I will have to have made a decision.’
Caroline put down some money on the table and rushed out of the restaurant.
When Caroline got off the elevator on her floor she noticed right away that the door to apartment was open. ‘Oh great, like I’m not in enough trouble already, now somebody broke into my apartment.’
Carefully she pushed open the door and her eyes opened in shock when she saw roses strewn all over her apartment. And Del was standing right in the middle.
“I couldn’t wait till dinner,” he smiled.
‘Oh my, I totally forgot about dinner. And now he’s here, what am I going to do? I was already pretty sure that Richard was
right, that Del isn’t the right man for me…and now this! What a sweet gesture, so unlike Del. Is he actually changing? Could
he be a caring husband and dad?’
“Oh, this is so amazing” Caroline blurted out when she noticed that Del looked at her expectantly.
Caroline started chewing on her lower lip, and hesitated.
‘Great! What am I supposed to do?’ she looked around her apartment and at that moment Annie stormed through the door.
“You won’t believe what just happened… WHOA! What’s going on? It looks like a flower salesman threw up in here! Am I interrupting something?”
Del opened his mouth to say something, but Caroline was faster.
“Hi Annie! Nah, you’re not interrupting! So, what happened?”
She looked over to Del insecurely, and he gave her a confused look. Annie sensed that something was wrong and she didn’t want to let her friend down, so she started ranting and raving about her newest conquest, and how he had stood her up for a guy.
“I can’t believe I didn’t notice it! I mean, how blind can a person be?”
Del picked up his jacket and went to the door “Um, Caroline. I gotta go. I’ll call you tomorrow.” With that, he disappeared through the door.
“Spill it!” Annie sat down on the couch and looked at Caroline. “What is going on here? I mean, Del buys you all these flowers and you obviously don’t seem too happy about it.”
“Oh Annie, I’m so confused, I don’t know what’s going on anymore.” She told her friend everything that happened throughout the day and Annie listened intently. Even though the thought of Caroline and Richard together grossed her out, she didn’t say that, since she knew that wouldn’t help Caroline at all.
“So, you think that you might have feelings for Vlad, huh?”
Caroline stared at the floor intently and then lifted her head to look at Annie “I don’t know. I really don’t know. This is driving me crazy. I just don’t know what to think or do.”
“Well, first you will have to tell Del that you can’t marry him, that’s for sure!”
“What?” Caroline gave Annie a confused look.
“It’s obvious, don’t you see it? If you wanted to marry Del, you would’ve already said yes. But here you are sitting on your couch thinking about your cranky assistant.”
Caroline knew that Annie was right, and she smiled at her. “You know Annie. I don’t know what I would do without you. You are so right. I mean, Del and me, it just wouldn’t work, the only times we get along without fighting is when we’re having sex. That’s not what a marriage should be based on, is it?”
“I’m not the right person you should ask about that” Annie grinned.
Caroline laughed at her. “Oh yeah, for a moment I forgot who I was talking to.”
Annie put an arm around Caroline’s shoulder and hugged her “It’ll all turn out alright, trust me.” With a look at her watch she added,
“Shoot! I have to go take Ma to electrolysis. Go call Del, honey. Get this problem out of the way and then you can concentrate on the other one.”
After Annie left Caroline sat down on the couch with the phone in her hands, staring at it intently. Finally she got up the nerve to dial Del’s number.
“Hi Del, it’s me Caroline… yeah, everything’s alright, well…. kinda anyway… Listen, are you busy right now? I would like to talk to you… no… not on the phone… could you maybe come over?… I know you just left, but this is important… ok, thanks… see you in a few.”
She put down the phone, thinking about the conversation that was about to happen. ‘Am I really doing the right thing? Yes I am… am I? For God’s sake, of course I am. There’s no way Del and I can get married, we both wouldn’t be happy.’
Not much later there was a knock on her door. She opened it and made way for Del to come in.
Del had a worried look on his face, and when he looked at Caroline it seemed that his suspicions were true.
“Caroline, I think I know what this is all about” he started, but Caroline cut in.
“Please, let me talk.” She cleared her throat. “I gave this a lot of thought, and…it just…. doesn’t
seem right. I mean, I do love you, and I’m not trying to hurt you, but honestly, … you are not my sincere amore. If you
were, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say ‘yes’.”
Del looked up and stared at Caroline “You know, the more I thought about this whole wedding thing, I actually saw myself hoping that you would say ‘no’. This would be my third marriage, and I just have to be very sure before I take that step, because I want my third marriage to last. And with us, I don’t really know if it could work out. I think we are better as friends than as a couple.”
Del stepped in front of Caroline, tilted up her chin with his right hand, and with his thumbs wiped away the tears that silently made their way down Caroline’s cheek. He kissed the tip of her nose. “I think it’s good that we both realized what a mistake it would be if we got married.”
Caroline tried to break a smile “I’m glad that you feel the same way. I would’ve hated myself for hurting your feelings.”
She hiccupped when she tried to swallow her tears. She rubbed her eyes and straightened up. Holding out her hand to Del she said “Friends?” Del took her hand in his and replied with a smile “Friends.”
Soon after Del left Caroline fell asleep on her couch. After this day, she was so exhausted, she didn’t even make it up to her bed.
She fell into a dreamless sleep and woke up a few hours later to a silent scratching at her door. Not knowing who it was she silently crept up to the door, looking through the peephole. Her eyes grew wide when she saw Richard standing outside her apartment. ‘Don’t those people give me any time to think about stuff today?’
Slowly she opened the door. “Richard. What are you doing here?”
He went through his hair with his right hand. “I’m sorry to come by so late Caroline, but I saw the light in your living room and thought that you’d still be awake.”
“I fell asleep on the couch.”
“Oh… look… I came to apologize. I acted like an ass before, I don’t know what has gotten into me. I think it’s
none of my business whether you marry Del, and actually he is a nice guy, you deserve to have a nice guy, so…” he looked
at her more closely “…hold on a second. What’s wrong? You look like you’ve been crying?”
“I said ‘no’.”
Startled Richard grabbed the doorframe to steady himself. “What? Why?”
“Don’t you want to come in and sit down? This is not really a doorframe-conversation.” Caroline opened the door more,
to let Richard step in.
“I don’t know. It’s late, my boss will be mad when I come in late tomorrow.” He smiled wryly.
She smiled at him “I think your boss might make a little exception, now come in.”
Richard walked inside and sat down on the couch. Suddenly he was very nervous. ‘Great! Why am I nervous? It’s not like I’m here for the first time! But something is different… Why isn’t she marrying Del? Maybe… yeah right! Stop fooling yourself Karinsky!’
“Would you like some coffee?” Caroline ripped him right out of his thoughts.
“Umm, yeah, sure!”
Caroline came back to the couch with two coffee mugs in her hands and handed one to Richard, sitting down next to him.
“So…” she sighed.
“It’s actually like you said. Del isn’t the right man for me… I don’t know why I didn’t see it from the beginning. Actually our relationship was mostly about sex. And the sex was…”
“Please Caroline” Richard sighed nervously. “I don’t really want to hear those details.”
“Oh, sorry, I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it” he gave her an encouraging smile. “So, I was right, huh?”
“Yeah, kinda. It’s just, I realized after a lot of thinking, and also with a little help from Annie, that Del is not my sincere amore.”
‘Sincere amore… she actually remembered that? I thought she didn’t even listen when I told her about Julia at our first date. Date… I wish. Pretend-date is more like it.’
“And the good thing about it is, that Del just felt the same way about us. He actually hoped that I’d say ‘no’.
Isn’t that crazy?”
“It sounds like Del to me.”
“You’re right. I just don’t know why I didn’t see it before.”
“So your search for Mr. Right continues, huh?” Richard didn’t dare look in her eyes.
Caroline hesitated “Well, yeah… I guess so…” She tried to search his eyes, but didn’t see anything. ‘How am I supposed to figure this out when he shuts down?’
“I might’ve found him already though…” she felt like taking a leap. “…I have to figure out my feelings towards him though.” She looked at him intently. “I hope he will give me some time.”
‘Wow, she’s moving on fast! I wonder who this mysterious Mr. Right is. And how could she hide him from me? I mean, she usually tells the tiniest things going on in her life, and then she holds back on that one? This seems wrong.’ Richard looked up at her and noticed her staring at him. ‘She couldn’t mean… Nah. What did I say before? Richard Karinsky could never be that lucky.’
Caroline was still looking at Richard, trying to figure out her feelings, and then realized there was only one way to find out. When she found him looking back at her, she moved closer, staring deep into his eyes, looking for a glimpse of hope. Then their faces were just a few inches apart.
Richard jumped up from the sofa and leaped for the door. “I have to go. I forgot there was something I have to do.” And with that he was out the door.
‘Now that went well, didn’t it? Why did he run out like that? Am I that repulsive??’
Caroline curled up on the couch and wiped away the tears that started to flow down her cheeks. She almost fell off the couch when Annie stormed into her apartment.
“Was that Richard I just saw leaving? Why was he here at this time of…” she ran over to the couch “…Caroline? Are you ok?”
“He must hate me!” Caroline sniffed.
“What happened? Why would he hate you?”
“I told Del that I wouldn’t marry him and he was actually relieved about it, we decided to be friends… well… and
later Richard came by to apologize and we got into talking. For once in my life decided to take a leap and tried to kiss him. And what happens? He runs away. He doesn’t like me! I ruined everything!”
Annie took Caroline in her arms and rocked her like a baby. “No, you didn’t ruin anything. Trust me on this one. Richard really likes you. The way he looks at you when you don’t see it, his eyes are filled with love that is about to spill over. Gee, I can’t believe I’m saying this about Richard, but he is a great guy. But it seems that he is scared of his own feelings. You know how his childhood was. He’s probably afraid to lose you, or maybe… maybe he thinks he’s not worthy of you and that you could never love him.”
“But I do! I do love him!” Caroline blurted out and gasped for air. “Wow, that was sudden!”
“It was about time that you realized it. Now, one piece of advice. Go after him right away. Don’t wait. If I know Richard,
he might try to run away, far away. So far, that you won’t be able to find him.”
Caroline got up from the couch and grabbed her coat. “You’re right Annie! Again. I don’t know what I would do without
“Oh, you know, you can thank me by giving me intimate details about Richard, as soon as you two get together. You know, I’m running out of stuff I can pick on him with” Annie grinned.
“I can tell you one thing already Annie.” Caroline smiled at her. “I hope you will get used to him, ’cause if everything goes as planned, you will see him for a looong time!”
“Oh yeah, why don’t you rub it in my face?” Annie scoffed. “Now run Sweetie! Don’t let him escape!”
“Wish me luck Annie!”
~Meanwhile at Richard’s place~
‘What did just happen? She didn’t try to kiss me, did she?’
Richard threw his suitcase on his bed and started packing.
‘No, that is not possible. And even if she did, after what just happened, there is no way I can face her again. I have to go as far away as possible. Yeah, that’s a good idea. But where exactly? Hmmm, how about Europe? Yeah, maybe that’s where I can finally be recognized as an artist. Those Europeans have way better taste in art anyway. Should I write Caroline a good-bye note? It would be the right thing to do, but what would I write? I can’t tell her why I have to leave. That I’m too embarrassed to ever face her again… I didn’t decide on where exactly I want to go yet… London? Rome? Berlin? Paris?… Paris sounds good. Yeah, Paris it is… Caroline will never find me there. Yeah, like she would go looking for me…’ His thoughts were jumping from one topic the next.
Richard just closed his suitcase when there was a knock on his door.
‘At this time? Who the hell could that be? Maybe a burglar?’ He took one of his knifes and slowly opened the door.
“Take anything you want! I don’t have much anyway.”
Caroline screamed when Richard tried to attack her with the knife. When he recognized her he dropped the knife.
“Ca… Caroline… what are you doing here? I thought you are a burglar!”
“I… uh… was in the neighborhood?” Caroline smiled sheepishly.
“Why? Needed some crack? Honestly Caroline. You shouldn’t be in this neighborhood at night. It’s dangerous!”
“Well, I don’t want you to be here either.” She spotted the suitcase on Richard’s bed. “Where are you going?” she looked at him confused. ‘Annie was right! He really wants to run away!’
“Getting out of this neighborhood, maybe exchanging it for a similar one in Paris.” He looked at her uneasily.
“Paris? Why do you want to go there? And assuming everything’s packed, you wouldn’t even have told me? Don’t I mean anything to you? Don’t you care for me at all?”
“If you just knew how much” he mumbled.
“What?” Caroline knew exactly what he had said, and it had made her heart skip a beat, but she wanted him to say it out loud again.
“Nothing!” Richard snapped.
“Ok, this is getting us nowhere Richard.”
“Why? Where do you want it to go?”
Caroline moved closer to Richard and stood on her toes trying to get even closer.
“Here” she whispered, when she placed her lips on his. Richard couldn’t believe what was happening, he was in shock. But soon he realized that he wasn’t kissing back ‘What the hell am I doing? Caroline is kissing me and I’m not kissing back?’ And just as she started to pull away, he put his arms around her and intensified the kiss, his tongue gliding over her lips waiting for her to let him in. When she parted her lips, his tongue entered and caressed hers softly. He heard Caroline moan silently, and his knees suddenly felt like they were made out of jello. He slowly and unwillingly pulled away, hesitantly opening his eyes ‘I don’t want to open them, ’cause then I will wake up and realize this is all a dream’.
“Wow” was all Caroline could say, that kiss really had taken her breath away. She never had felt anything as intense as what just happened.
“This is a dream, right? I will wake up any minute.”
Caroline pinched his arm.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“This isn’t a dream Richard. Well, let’s say it is a dream that has become reality. I don’t know why I didn’t see this before. But, you are the Mr. Right I was talking about before.”
“But… Caroline… we are too different. I can’t be enough for you. Look at this place, I’m poor, I could never live up to your expectations!”
Caroline smiled at him “Oh Richard. Don’t say that! I don’t care about all the money in the world! I love you and that
is what’s important.”
“You what?” Richard couldn’t believe what she just said.
“Yeah, you heard right. I love you Richard. With all my heart, I love you!”
Richard hugged her “I love you too Caroline. But I can’t afford to have my heart broken.”
“I won’t break it, as long as you won’t break mine. I want to be with you forever.” Caroline kissed him softly on the forehead followed by his cheeks, his nose and finally his mouth. She pulled him back on his bed and the kiss grew more passionate, until Caroline pulled away.
“Wait. Let’s take things slow, ok? I just broke up with Del, I can’t just go on like nothing happened.”
Richard kissed her cheek “I understand Caroline. We really shouldn’t rush things. But I would love for you to stay here tonight. I want to hold you in my arms, I never want to let go of you again.”
His words made Caroline’s stomach tingle. “I’d love to stay with you tonight, seeing as it is pretty late already anyway.
And tomorrow, I think we can both afford to be a little late at work.”
Richard smiled and pulled her closer. “I don’t know how I could ever survive without you, sweet Caroline.”
Caroline woke up to the phone ringing. She turned around but Richard wasn’t lying next to her anymore. The phone was still ringing as she heard him in the shower, so she decided to pick it up.
“Uuh, Hi.” A female voice was on the other end. “Am I talking to Caroline?”
“Yeah, who is this?” Caroline was slightly confused.
“Just somebody who wanted to check whether Richard kept a promise he made. And it seems he did.”
“Do I know you?”
“We had a very short encounter, but I don’t think you want to remember me. Anyway, gotta go. Bye.” The other end of the line went dead.
‘Now that was weird’ Caroline thought, but her thoughts were distracted when Richard came back into the room with a big smile on his face.
“Who was that?”
Caroline shrugged “I have no idea. Some person talking about a promise you made. Can you explain this to me?”
Richard smiled inwardly ‘Maddie’. “No. Sorry Caroline, no idea who that could’ve been.”
Caroline tried to pull him back into bed “Uuh, Caroline… we’re gonna be really late for work. And anyway, do you remember what we talked about last night? Taking things slow?”
“I don’t care if we’re late, I’m the boss remember? And I just want you to hold me. It feels so nice. Please, will you hold me forever?”
He climbed into the bed and snuggled up behind her, holding her as close as possible, drowning in her sweet scent.
‘This is forever’ they both thought.