Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Step By Step
Character/Pairing: Rich/Dana, Frank/Carol
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog 91: Bomb (But then I forgot to actually post it until, like, three days after the deadline.)
Word Count: 1,268
Date Written: 17 December 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
Carol tisks as she gazes out of a crack in the kitchen door at her oldest daughter. “I knew it,” she hisses. “Drat that JT!”
“Drat that JT?” Frank asks, coming up behind her and sliding his arms around her waist. He holds her close to him and inhales the sweet scent of her shampoo. “What did my boy do this time?” he asks, resisting the urge to comment that the kid is a true chip off the old block.
“He convinced Dana to throw a party,” Carol whispers, “and darn that Karen too!”
“What did she do?” he asks, pulling her away from the door.
“She just left her! I stopped watching them for all of two seconds, and she left her! She probably went out the front door and around to JT’s party, because it’s the ‘in’ thing,” she laments, darting her fingers in air quotes, “to do!”
“And Dana’s all alone? Nobody’s coming?”
“No! Of course not! She’s not popular like JT and Karen! The kids she actually has things in common with aren’t the partying type! JT knew that! She knows it! And so does Karen!”
“So why’d she throw the party,” Frank asks, truthfully trying to understand, “if she knew it was going to bomb?”
“Because she got into some stupid argument with your son again and he bet her she couldn’t throw a better or bigger party than he can! Which, of course, she can’t, and I’m sure she realized that but only after the heat of the moment. And she’s too darn proud to admit she was wrong!”
“Of course,” Frank murmurs, resisting the urge to comment that Dana is, after all, Carol’s daughter.
Cutting her eyes at the floor and folding her arms before her, Carol surprises him. “Like mother, like daughter,” she mutters. “Oh, don’t look at me like that, Frank!”
“Like what?” Frank queries, knowing better than to even consider how Carol knows he’s looking at her in surprise when her back is still turned toward him.
“Like you’re surprised. I wasn’t always as beautiful and as . . . “ She waves a hand at her chest. “ . . . well, endowed as I am now. There were more popular girls than me, prettier too.”
He hugs her tighter from behind and pulls her up against his strong chest. “I find that hard to believe,” he murmurs into her long, blonde hair.
“Well, they were,” she mutters. He kisses her cheek, and she giggles. “Frank!” She shoves against him, but gently, nowhere near hard enough to actually push him away. “Dana needs me right now!”
The doorbell rings, and Frank, having been searching his mind for a winning argument, comments hopefully, “Maybe she doesn’t.” He releases his wife, and she hurries back to the kitchen door. “Who is it?” he whispers as she peers out again.
“It’s Rich!” Carol exclaims in a hushed whisper, her eyes filling with tears as she watches her daughter’s boyfriend, and JT’s best friend, come into their home from the front door, when he never normally bothers to knock, let alone ring the bell.
“See?” Frank asks, pulling Carol back against him. “She’s not as alone as you think, and neither are you, Missus Lambert.” He kisses her, stealing her away with him and giving the kids some privacy at last.
Dana stares in disbelief at Rich. He clears his throat and pulls at the collar of his fine, business-quality shirt. “Hum, are you gonna invite me in?”
She blinks. “Y-Yes, of course.” A light pink tinges her cheeks even as she mentally chastises herself. It isn’t like this is their first date, after all. “I’m just surprised,” she admits, “that you came.”
“Of course I came! My girlfriend’s throwing a party!”
“Yeah,” she murmurs, looking at the floor and backing away from the door. “Come in. I just know, of course, that JT’s your best friend and his party is much more . . . happening than mine.”
Rich glances around her at the vast, empty living room. It’s as bad as he’d feared, not a single other guest having appeared. He walks into the room, brings the flowers he’s brought from behind him, and takes her hand. He squeezes her hand gently as he pulls her closer to him. “You’re not as alone as you think, sweetheart,” he murmurs, having no idea how close his words sound to her stepfather’s. “Yes, JT’s my best friend, and I love him, but I’ll always love you more and, you know, definitely in an entirely different way.”
Dana blushes again. “Now come here,” he tells her, daring to boss her as she usually takes the lead in their relationship. She lets him pull her the rest of the way to him. Careful not to crush the flowers against her back, he wraps his arms around her, hugs her, and kisses her. His lips linger on hers, growing in passion.
She lifts her mouth from his and looks toward the door. “What if somebody comes?” she asks.
“Dana -- “ he starts, but she grins as he’s still trying to figure out how to gently tell her the truth he already knows.
“Hmph.” She dismisses her own idea, “Yeah, I know. Nobody’s coming.”
He caresses her beautiful face, drawing his thumb softly across her cheek and filling her with delightful shivers. “But I’m here,” she tells her. When she doesn’t answer at first, he strokes her cheek again and asks, “Doesn’t that count for something?”
Finally, she beams down at him. “Yeah,” she whispers, her own eyes becoming misty as she realizes that he’s not only passing up his best friend’s party to be with her, and likely causing another argument between them, but even dressed up and brought flowers only to come be with her. “It counts for everything!” She kisses him this time, and her tongue slides smoothly into his mouth, dipping into the place where it belongs as her body entwines with the one with whom she belongs. Forget parties, she thinks. This is where she belongs, and that’s all that matters.
Rich is thoroughly enjoying drowning in their sweet, passionate kiss when he hears a noise. Concerned that he might have been wrong and somebody is coming after all, he glances up, but it’s only the kitchen door swinging shut again behind Missus L, no doubt, who had been checking on her daughter yet again. That’s okay, Missus Lambert, he thinks. Your daughter’s in good hands, and we’re both right where we belong.
“See?” Frank asks back in the kitchen, keeping his voice down to a low whisper. “She’s perfectly fine.”
Carol giggles as he presses another kiss into her hair. “She’s more than fine,” she says, beaming up at him. “So am I.” They’re both right where they belong, she thinks, embracing her husband and pulling him in for a long, deep, and passionate kiss, and for the first time, she can see that Rich is every bit as perfect the match for her studious, nearly perfect daughter as Frank is for her. It doesn’t matter that he’s a construction worker, or that Rich is a slacker. What matters is how they treat them and how they make them feel, and Carol knows Dana feels every bit as loved and cherished as she herself does. One day, her daughter is going to marry that boy, and as long as she’s graduated with top honors by that time, Carol will be proud to sit in the front row at their wedding, almost as proud as she is to be married to this wonderful man now embracing her.