***Chapter Nineteen***
Word Count: 4,600

October 1988

"Tell me again why one of the suits I already own isn't acceptable?"

"Because it's our wedding reception?"

"And none of my suits were good enough?" He was changing back into his regular clothes. She had to admit it probably wasn't completely necessary, but her father had offered his tailor's services so Claire figured why not. There was no way they were going to get through the night without someone taking their picture, so they may as well both look their absolute best.

"I didn't say that, but I'm getting a new gown made."

"Yeah. You enjoy that stuff. Most women go to the salon on weekends to get their nails done. You get gowns made."

"I don't think I'm that bad."

"Have you seen the closet in the guest room that holds all of your dresses? I swear we're going to have to build onto the house if we do have kids because your clothes are going to take up both spare closets."

She sighed softly. She liked clothes! She couldn't help it. He knew that, but evidently hadn't realized just how much she liked clothes and shopping for them. And shoes. Because every new dress deserved a new pair of shoes that went with it. She hadn't taken over his closet, though he'd offered her half of it. She didn't see the point when she could have a full closet in one of his spare bedrooms. Yes, she probably could put some things in the other spare bedroom's closet, but she didn't have to.

"You'll wear it again," she said. "You wear suits for your job all of the time. This will just be a nicer suit. You can wear it to Ginny's wedding in December as a matter of fact."

"Yeah, all right. I suppose. I'm still not sure how the whole working guest thing is going to work."

"Have you ever been a guest at a wedding?"

"No, never."


"When would I go to a wedding?"

"Well, you have friends."

"Sure, none of them are married. Glen's the closest, but they're not even engaged."

"We'll make it work."

"As long as you don't get mad at me that I don't spend as much time with you as you expect."

"I won't," she said. "It'll be kind of neat to watch you work."

"It's not that exciting," he said.

"Good night, Mr. Hogan," Claire said as they walked to the door of the tailor.

"Good night, Miss Standish, it was a pleasure seeing you again."

"You, too."

"And I apologize. Old habits die hard."

"For what?" she asked with a frown.

"Addressing you by the wrong name."

"Oh," she said.

She hadn't even really noticed. Since no one ever said her last name she wasn't used to having a different one yet. John insisted she didn't need to change her name, but she'd filled out the paperwork to do it. Somehow it seemed wrong, as if she wasn't really married to him if she didn't. She just hadn't gotten her new social security card back yet so to this point the few things she'd had to sign she still used her name. Ironically, her father just assumed she would be changing her name and introduced her to everyone with John's last name. He'd never asked, but then she supposed her mother hadn't had a choice. Thirty years ago a woman didn't have the option to keep her name.

"It's all right. I've been Miss Standish to you for over twenty years. Thank you again for seeing us on a Friday night."

"My pleasure for any friend of your father's, but particularly his son-in-law. How could I say no?"

"Well, it was still nice of you. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Enjoy your dinner," he said.

He locked the door behind them once they'd stepped outside. Claire remembered coming here with her dad when she was little, watching fascinated as her father was measured precisely each and every time to ensure each of his suits was perfect. He'd made her a dress coat once. She still had the coat in a closet somewhere. It was the first thing she'd ever had that was made specifically for her and it was probably one of the nicest thing she'd owned as a child. Her mother had it made a bit larger than necessary so she got two winters out of it. Claire hadn't liked it at the time because it wasn't very girlie, but looking back at it now she could appreciate how nice the coat was.

The limo pulled up a few minutes later. John had taken it downtown so they could drive home together later. The wedding he had tomorrow was late starting so he didn't have to be up at dawn in order to start his day. So, they were making a night of it since he had to come downtown anyway.

They'd already told the driver which restaurant they were going to for dinner after stopping at the tailor's so they settled themselves in the back and the driver pulled out right away.

"So, you've been going there for a while then, I guess?" John asked.

"Yes, sure. Dad brought Christopher with him more often than me, but he brought me down here a time or two."

"I'm not sure I know what to do with a suit that probably costs more than my best camera."

She shook her head a bit, sliding off the seat once she was sure the car was moving. She moved between his legs, working the button and zipper of his jeans.

"I told you I'd make it up to you."

"You did," he said, sounding a little curious as she slid her hand into his jeans to touch him. "Is this what you had in mind?"

"Kind of," she whispered.

"Kind of?"

She shrugged, lowering her mouth to his lap. He gave a soft groan, hands going to her hair almost immediately. He liked drawing her hair away so he could watch when she did this. Tonight that wouldn't work so well since they were in a car and it was fairly dark, but she supposed it was habit. Instinctual.

He shifted a bit on the seat, allowing her to tug his jeans a little lower on his hips so she had better access to his entire length.

"If I had known this was what I'd get for going with you to get measured for a stupid suit I wouldn't have put it off for the past couple of weeks," he whispered as she licked along his shaft.

He didn't say much after that, a few incoherent things that she doubted she was supposed to understand. She was much better at doing this than she had been initially. He'd never complained, but she could sense how much more excited he got the more comfortable she got doing this to him. As if the first time or two he thought she'd change her mind or decide she didn't like it.

There was nothing about him she didn't like.

She groaned softly as she felt him moving beneath her. They didn't have a whole lot of time so she wasn't as leisurely about doing this as she was at home when they had nowhere to go or nothing to do. She found it incredibly hard to believe sometimes that she could cause such a reaction in him. That she could turn him on as she seemed to do. She imagined part of it was the idea that she'd never done this to anyone else.

She'd never wanted to.

Maybe that was it, not that she hadn't done anything with anyone else but that she hadn't even wanted to. She'd probably never know or completely understand, but she loved his reaction just the same. How excited he got. How hard he got in her mouth. She even liked when he took control a bit and slid his length in and out of her mouth as he was doing right now. He was always mindful of how deep she could take him, but there was something extremely exciting for her to know he got so turned on from her doing this that he wanted to ensure he came.

She slid a hand to one of his at her hair, taking it and bringing it to his length. She could touch him, stroke him but short on time as she was she knew he'd do a better job of it than she could. He'd never complained, but she was still learning.

"You sure?" he muttered.

She didn't answer him. She didn't want to stop licking and sucking on him. She squeezed his hand before she drew hers away, settling it against his thigh.

"Fuck," he muttered as he took over touching himself as she worked her mouth along the tip of him. She heard his breathing get heavier, uneven. She could hear his hand sliding along his length faster, bumping against her chin more than once as he got closer to finishing.

"Claire," he gasped, his hand stilling as he started to come in her mouth. She loved when he said her name, silly maybe, but she especially loved when he said it under these circumstances. She kept sucking and licking him well after he'd stopped coming. She pushed his shirt up a bit, kissing his stomach when she finally stopped.

"Now I think it's me who owes you," he whispered.

She shrugged. "It was kind of fun," she said, sucking on his stomach a bit longer.

"Kind of? That was more than kind of in my book."

"Good to know," she said, sliding onto his lap once he'd fastened his jeans again.

"Remind me to get a suit again next week."

She laughed softly. "I'm not sure you'll need to get a suit for me to want to do that again."


"No. I was curious I guess."


"Yes, you know, friends who've done things in the back of limos."

"I could think of something that would've been mutually beneficial to both of us. I feel a little guilty that I came and you didn't," he said, kissing her.

"That you can make up to me later and we couldn't really do that."

"Why not?" he asked.

"Well," she said. "There's no bathroom in a limo or anywhere for you to go afterward to get rid of…"

"Ah, yeah, I suppose. Good point."

"I mean, I'm sure people manage, but…"

"Yeah, I don't really feel like tossing one out the window or anything especially since it's not like we have nowhere else to go to have sex. Leaving it in here would be kind of rude and since your dad uses the limo company, probably best we don't do that."

"Probably so."

"Is that why you wore such a long skirt today?"

"Well, no, but it's what gave me the idea, knowing my knees wouldn't look like I'd been kneeling on a carpet for twenty minutes."

"Hmm, I like your ideas a lot even if it means a longer skirt."

"You do huh?"

"I do. Even better I get to take you home with me later."

"That's even better?"

"It is because the possibility for more of that exists."

"I think the possibility exists for it every night."

"I'm starting to get my mind wrapped around that concept."

"Only starting to?"

"Perhaps I'm a little slow."

"Stuck in your ways."

"You know it's been surprisingly easy to change my ways."

"That's good right?"

"I tend to think so. I'm not sure you would've just done that if I'd been having difficulty changing my ways," he said.

Dinner was nice. John didn't like eating out much, probably because he ate out or took a lunch with him every Saturday he worked. He preferred cooking, and Claire was slowly getting used to that concept. She helped him sometimes, but he seemed to not just want to cook but not mind doing it at all so she let him do it unless he asked her if she wanted to help. She still wasn't sure what it said that he'd taught her more about cooking and how to cook in the past few months than her mother had been capable of doing for twenty-two years.

It was the first time they'd been out to a bar together since they'd gotten married. It had taken her parents this long to accept the fact that she'd actually gotten married. The ballroom at their club had been booked for a Saturday John had nothing scheduled yet, and the invitations for the reception had gone out earlier in the week. So, she felt comfortable going out with him tonight like this. The past month had been crazy difficult doing virtually nothing. She'd had dinner with a couple of friends (who surprisingly hadn't announced to the world she'd gotten married) and done things, but not like this.

And they were at a bar, meeting some of her friends not a club. So there was no preferred area for them to disappear to. It was a pretty popular bar, crowded as hell since it was Friday night even if it was still relatively early. There was a fairly well-known band playing in the basement of the bar tonight, though. There was no cover charge to get into the bar, but there was if you wanted to go down to hear the live music.

"You told your parents we were coming out tonight, right?" John asked. He offered her his hand once he got out of the car, which she took. She liked when he did things like that for her. She didn't need the help, but it had been raining and she was wearing heels with a longer skirt so it was nice.

"Yes, why?"

"Just making sure you're not throwing this at them, too. And wondering if I shouldn't take my ring off."


"Well, if they didn't know, if you hadn't checked that they've told everyone they feel should know, your ring by itself doesn't have to mean you're married. Seen with me wearing one, though, there will be little doubt."

"I think it's pretty obvious what it is."

"Oh, I do, too, but from a distance maybe not so obvious."

"Yours can stay on."

"It can, huh?"

She wouldn't make him wear it if he didn't want to. He hadn't expressed the desire not to wear it to this point. She understood some people didn't like to wear jewelry of any kind. She couldn't say she understood it, but one of her cousins was married and he got a wedding band the day of the wedding but as far as Claire knew he hadn't worn it since. She didn't quite understand the point of buying one at all.

She reached up and kissed him.

"Yes," she said.

"I guess they do know we're out tonight."


"You kissed me outside on the sidewalk in plain view of anyone."

"And I'm about to hold your hand, too."

"I've seen pictures of you holding hands before."

"You've never seen a picture of me holding my husband's hand."

"No, I sure haven't."

He actually danced with her tonight. She'd contented herself with the fact he was probably never going to want to do more than slow dance with her, but dancing even those with her was a vast improvement over the none she'd gotten out of him the other times they'd gone out. She realized he probably hadn't ever had a reason to dance before recently.

The first night at his studio when he'd wanted to dance with her she'd felt kind of silly. They were alone and she'd never danced with him. She wasn't sure what to expect. They'd done it more than a few times after that night, though. He was willing to at least try to learn, knowing he'd have to dance with her a couple of times at their reception. A few times he didn't keep dancing on his mind, but she was more than all right with that.

He was far more polite about how he held her tonight than he ever had been when they were alone. She understood, but she had to admit she liked when he held her while dancing as if he wanted her. She suspected he did tonight anyway after what she'd done in the car on the way to dinner, but the physical proof was nice. The reporters that were here tonight weren't the usual gossip column people, but ones who wrote reviews on bands and stuff so it was a bit of a difference compared to the last time they were out. So she doubted any of them even cared what she was doing or who she was with.

Her friends were better around him tonight, too. They'd gotten to know him a little better while they were in Vegas, at least the ones who'd gone to Vegas with them.

They took a cab back to her car, no sense making the car wait for hours just to bring them a couple of miles to her car. She handed him the keys even though she hadn't had too much to drink.

"You had a better time tonight," she said, sliding a fingertip along his jaw to brush the lipstick away she'd just left there by kissing him.

"I did," he admitted.

"Good, I'm glad."

"You didn't drink so much."

"You noticed that."

"I did. I've noticed you haven't much lately."

"I know. Well, I guess I didn't for a couple of weeks after our trip in case I was pregnant and," she shrugged. "I guess I don't need it as much when I'm with you."

"I'm glad," he said, sliding his hands to her hair as he drew her to him for a kiss. "Fuck, really? It's one o'clock in the morning?" he whispered at the sound of a camera. She'd heard it, too.

"Just ignore it. We're not doing anything wrong."

"Well, yeah, I know that, but Jesus, don't they have anything better to do than stake out your car?"

"I guess not."

"Let's go home, Princess," he said, drawing away so he could open the door for her.

She sighed a bit as he walked around to the driver's side.

"I guess I should be thankful I didn't do more than kiss you," he said.

"You were thinking about it?"

"Well, yeah. You've had my mind on you and how I could return that kindness you showed me."

"Not here!"

"Well, no, but some touching while I was kissing you could've been fun. I assumed we were alone finally."

"I'm sorry."

"Not your fault," he said, backing out of the space she'd parked in. "Do you park here every day or something?"

"I do."

"Maybe you should stop being so predictable."

"I guess I should. It's just right by work."

"I'm surprised your dad doesn't have his own parking garage."

"Well, this is his parking garage."

"Oh," he said. "I doubt I'll ever completely understand what it is you do."

"Well, Dad owns properties. Sometimes he buys land and sells portions of the land to businesses to build on it as they please. Sometimes he keeps the land and builds things on it himself or in conjunction with another company or person. Sometimes he buys actual buildings to fix them up and sell them or rent them out if he thinks it's something that will make him money."

"Like the clubs."

"Yes. As soon as they've reached the pinnacle of their popularity he tries to unload pretty quickly."

"You know, something I've been thinking of."


"He should use you."

"I'm sorry?"

"Okay. For four years you've been an unofficial face of his company. If a club opens and you're seen frequenting there it does well. If you don't go more than once or twice it doesn't do as well."

"Yes, not always. I mean, sometimes if it's real out of my way."

"Well, right, there are exceptions, but it seems you and your friends have a lot of say as far as socially what works and doesn't."


"We should find some of the buildings that like your grandpa was involved with. Maybe even your great grandfather. You know? Maybe take some black and white pictures of you dressed in something kind of retro. Kind of a Standish International then and now, the past and the future."

"I can ask him."

"Why ask him? Why not just pick some addresses, pick a Sunday, pick an outfit, I'll bring the camera and film and we can do it. If he hates it, the pictures go nowhere. If he likes it, great."

"It would be kind of fun."

"And it'd be free."

"I'm sure he'd pay you for the pictures if he wanted to use them."

"I wouldn't take his money."

"He'd offer."

"I'm sure he would. If I didn't accept that check back in February, I'm not going to accept one for some pictures."

"How big of a check was it?"

He chuckled softly.

"I wouldn't have had a house payment if I'd accepted it."



"Huh," she said.

"That surprises you?"

"What? That the check was for that much? Or that you wouldn't accept it?"

"Either, I guess."

"I have no idea how much my father pays people off to go away. I was a little surprised you wouldn't accept it."

"I didn't do it for money."

"I know that, but you got beat up and went to jail."

"Great thing about being my own boss, I didn't even come close to getting fired because of it."

She laughed softly at that.

"I suppose that's true."

"I wouldn't have felt right accepting it. People shouldn't get paid for doing the right thing in situations like that."

"I think that's the only reason my father didn't push the prenuptial agreement angle."

"You're probably right."

"He's going to give us money. You know that, right?"


"As a wedding gift. I don't know how much, but my brother told me that we saved him the expense of a wedding so he plans on basically giving us what he thinks a wedding would have cost."

"Are you kidding me? Claire…"

"We can give it back, but he'd get mad, John, he really would. I'm his daughter and the only child he has that's going to get married."

"I suppose," he said.

"We can put it in the bank and forget about it if you want. Put it towards whatever."

"I don't know how much those tests are going to cost me."

"I know. I think we should worry about that after actually trying for a while doesn't work."

"What's a while?"

"A year or so? I mean, I'm not in any hurry. Geez, six months ago I could hardly take care of myself. I don't want a baby yet."

"You didn't want a husband yet either."

"Well, I love you."

"You wouldn't love a baby?"

"You know I would. I just meant. I didn't, couldn't plan on you coming into my life again. We can plan when a baby comes. Or at least trying for one."

"True. You let me know whenever you think you're ready for that."

"If the check is big enough to pay off the house, I say we do that."


"Well, you said you wanted to finish the basement. I mean, like put rooms and stuff down there."


"We could start doing that stuff if we didn't have a mortgage. You know, the money we'd have spent for the mortgage payment could go toward that stuff."


"I don't know how much it's going to be, but I assume it's going to be generous."

"Enough to pay for what he envisioned your wedding was going to cost him. I suspect generous might be an understatement. We'll deal with it. As long as he knows it's going to our house not anything that's solely mine. Like my business."


"No. I don't want your dad's help with that, Claire. I've come this far, I'll continue to get where I'm going on my own."

"I know. I was just going to say if there was something you absolutely wanted."

"Oh, there's always something I absolutely want. I make do. Trust me. I'll continue to do that."


"So, what is it? Are we still in love? Or something new today?"

"Actually," she said, looking mad now that he thought about it.

"What? It couldn't be that bad. We were only kissing. I didn't even have my hands close to anywhere inappropriate!"

She slid the paper over to him and he glanced at it while grabbing himself a glass of orange juice. She had coffee brewed, but she was quickly learning he was never going to drink the stuff so she only brewed enough for a couple of cups anymore.

"Oh," he said.

Evidently, the photographer had caught sight of John's ring but not Claire's so was now accusing Claire of being a homewrecker.

"Fantastic," he said, dropping the paper on the table. "This was your idea, you know. To see who would catch on and how long it would take them."

"I know! I didn't think they'd see your ring and assume you were married to someone else!"

He shook his head.

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know. I shouldn't have to announce to the entire city I'm married if I don't want to."

"Better talk to your dad or Mr. McMillan. Maybe he can do something."

"It's Saturday! It's not life threatening, I'm not calling him."

"Call Dad then, Princess. I've got to start getting ready." He finished his orange juice and kissed the top of her head. "It's too bad that suit wasn't done yesterday. I could wear it for tonight's wedding since it's a black tie thing."

"You're the one who kept putting it off!"

"Yeah, because I assumed incorrectly you'd change your mind about my needing a tailored suit."

"It's going to look exceptional."

"I'm sure it will, I have no doubt of that, I am still not sure it's necessary. And you and your mouth did not distract me from thinking that last night."

"We didn't?"

"You didn't."

"That's too bad. I was really trying."

"I know. You tried very well."

"Did I?"

"You always do, sweets. Call Dad, see what he has to say about that. It's Saturday, maybe it won't be such a big deal."

"I just still can't believe that they think I'd do that! God."

"We know you wouldn't. Don't worry about them. The people who are important know."

"I know."

"And like I said it was your idea. If you'd just announced it."

"I wouldn't think you'd want an announcement."

He shrugged. "My parents are or aren't going to find out, makes me no difference. The number here is unlisted. They could find me at the studio, but I'd call the cops on them before I'd talk to them. I can handle my parents."

"All right. Well, I'll see what Mom and Dad say. Maybe I'll go over there since you're going to be leaving pretty soon anyway."

"Sure. Does that mean you're going to shower with me?"

"I could."

"Well, then, get a move on. I don't have all day to wait for you to decide to join me."

"You don't, huh?"

"Nope. I've got things to do. Important things. Pictures to take."

"Wives to placate."

"Yeah, that, too."

She slid her hand into his. "Well, then best get started."

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