"Oh no, you don't! You can't do that, Ginger!", whined Lucille Ball.
"You chose truth," Carole Lombard pointed out, "now you just gotta follow through."
Outside the door, Fred Astaire waited curiously, not sure if he should interrupt the game the girls were playing inside. The fact was that he was more than a little curious to hear her reply. Lucy's question was indeed an intriguing one.
It didn't come as a surprise that the women chose to remain indoors while the men roasted beneath the scorching sun by the pool. He admired both Gable's and Arnaz's resilience in staying under the sun for so many hours. He felt like he was about to melt at any given moment- it was just too hot to do anything.
The group was invited to spend an entire month at the Arnazes' ranch in Chatsworth, including little John Gable- the first and only child of Clark and Carole, who was at the moment splashing merrily in the pool - and everybody was getting along wonderfully. This too didn't come as a surprise, given that Lucy's close friendship with both Ginger and Carole brought the two blondes together, resulting in the creation of one of the most inseparable trios in Hollywood. Their somewhat different personalities only made one compliment the other. Currently, said trio was in the den, drinking ice tea and enjoying the shelter from the sun.
"Can't you ask a different question?" Ginger's pleading voice broke his reverie, sounding slightly embarrassed.
Fred hoped both Carole and Lucy remained firm and persistent.
"No way!" Lucy exclaimed in a bossy tone. "Just answer it already- no one will ever know!", she added in a conspiratorial tone and Fred mentally applauded the redhead.
"All right, fine!", Ginger snapped. "But this better not leave this room!", a mumbled promise was heard from the other two.
Fred inched closer to the door, almost touching his ear to the door, not wanting to miss the answer. His foot pressed on a loose floorboard and he winced at the creaking sound that filled the air.
"Did you hear that?" Ginger whispered. Fred held his breath, his heart beating like mad as he prayed they didn't come to investigate.
"Stop trying to find a way out of this," scolded Lucy, "you know as well as I do the cats and dogs keep walking all around the house."
"So, tell us, Ginger", started Carole eagerly, "who's the man of your dreams?"
There was a long pause before the woman in question replied "Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper."
Fred jolted back as of he'd been burnt. Almost certain he'd heard wrong, he stared at the door, until Carole's amused squeal and Lucy's incredulous scoff were heard.
"Seriously?", asked Lucy.
"Why not? They're both mature, sophisticated men. Plus, they both have this intense look they have that makes a girl loose her senses- or even her panties." Ginger explained nonchalantly.The other two broke in laughter.
"And how do you know about their intense stares so much, may I ask?" Lucy questioned coyly.
Yeah, Fred pondered, scowling. How did she know?
"Well...Gary had an interest in me when I first came to Hollywood." She chucked. "And I can't say the man isn't a good kisser." Fred saw red.
"You kissed Gary Cooper?" Carole practically squealed.
"A couple of times", she shrugged indifferently.
"He does have the lips for it", Carole agreed. "So, besides kissing, did you two...", she trailed off.
This time Fred actually glued his ear to the door. "Oh, the things that man can do with his tongue!" Exclaimed Ginger, a breathless quality to her voice. "That shy demeanour is just a front, he's a beast in bed. I don't think we slept for a week."
"And what about Boggie?" Lucy prodded excitedly. "Don't tell me you and him..."
Ginger giggled like a schoolgirl, followed by a snort- a combination no one ever heard before. "Gary and I were over, but we remained friends and one night at his party I met Bogie and...things got...well, a little interesting and...hot, so we took our party to the bedroom.
Fred may have been the shy, quiet one, but enough was enough!
Throwing the door open, he demanded "Oh, is that so?" He glowered at the trio sitting on the sofa, their feet propped up on the coffee table.
No one looked the least surprised in seeing him there, specially Ginger, who only arched her left eyebrow questionably at him. The other two women quickly got up, declaring they'd prepare lunch, and rushed out of the room trying to suppress their smirks.
"Something wrong, Fred?" Ginger asked calmly, way too calm for his taste.
Fred wasted no time being embarrassed. Crossing his arms over his chest, he returned her polite state with a scowl. "I'll say! What the hell was all that?"
Turning her expression to one of innocent curiosity, she asked "All what?"
"You and Cooper? Really! And Bogart? Please tell me this is a joke!"
Tilting her head to the side, she asked "And what if it wasn't?"
There was nothing I could do, he thought. No matter her answer turned out to be, he would not, could not stop wanting her, loving her and needing her everyday of his life. She was the reason he got up in the morning, the reason he looked forward going home at the end of the day. Despite being younger than him, mentally she was older than more than half women his age, probably older than him too. She was just...everything.
"Are you seriously telling me those are the men of your dreams?" He couldn't hide the hurt in his voice very well, apparently.
"Fred", Ginger got up and went to him, caressing the side of his face, sending shivers down his spine. "You know I love you, more than anything, more than life itself."
He averted her eyes from the truth of her words shinning in her own. "But I'm not the one you want."
Wrapping her arms around his neck, she only got satisfied when his eyes met hers. "That's what you get for eavesdropping. You'll never hear anything good if you snoop on people."
Fred blinked a few times, slowly slowly registering what she said. "Wait, you knew I was there?"
She grinned at him "You're the love of my life. I somehow always know when you're near me", she then added playfully, her eyes twinkling, "just like you told me one night years ago by the piano, that you too could feel when I was close to you. Besides, you shouldn't feel like that- you know I'm yours."
He snaked one arm tightly around her waist, bringing her flush to him. "Don't you forget that", he agreed, nuzzling her floral scented neck. "Completely mine."
Ginger nodded. "Yours, always."
"Ginge?" Fred whispered later that day, as they laid in bed facing each other, limbs tangled, bodies sated as their damp skin slowly started to cool off.
"Did you mean what you said about Cooper and Bogart?"
She smiled against his shoulder before pressing her lips to the skin. "Would you love me less if I had?"
He knew that was impossible. Each passing day he found himself loving her more. He was absolute certain he'd die before his love for her so much as diminished, and even then he'd continue loving her in death.
"I could never love you less, honey." He stroke her side slowly. "I love you so much, Ginger."
She sighed contently. "Good, because nothing ever happened between me and Cooper, or me and Bogart and nothing ever will."
He growly possessively, "Damn right it won't!"
Ginger chuckled merrily, oh how she loved a jealous Fred. "Why would I ever choose anyone over you? I have the most perfect man, lover, husband...father."
Fred was quiet for a moment, slowly registering what she said and she hummed softly, pushing him on his back and climbed on top of him on her hands and knees.
"Ginge?" Her head at his level, she hovered over him, her long blonde hair fell forward, creating a silky curtain, isolating them from the world. "Have you ever thought, I mean really thought how it would be to have our own child, how it would look like?" She inquired, her warm breath hitting his face.
"No much in details, but of course, and every time I did imagine I hoped that it'd have your eyes...your laugh...and luckily your ears, too," he chuckled, "but I know it would be wonderful no matter what, because it would be a piece of you and me, that we created together."
Her smile took his breath away, her eyes alight with happiness, love, hope. "Well, you have six more months to imagine."
His heart skipped a beat and he tried to remember how to breathe. "Ginger?"
She took his hand and put on her lower stomach, bellow her navel, her hand remaining on top of his, her fingers between his. "Here's a piece of you and me, love."
He could only stare at her, absolutely mesmerised, "A baby?"
She nodded, slowly swallowing the lump in her throat, and took her hand from his to caress his face. "I was going to surprise you tomorrow morning, but..."
He pushed her body down flush on top of his, his lips meeting hers, followed by his tongue and with such intensity it took a moment longer to catch her breath. "I love you", he rolled her on her back and her kissed lips again, then followed a path down her body and stopped when he reached her lower belly, gently kissing the skin there, "both of you", he added, looking into her beaming face.
Ginger put her hand on the back of his head, her fingers playing with his hair, "We love you too, man of my dreams."