Scott Sherwood flopped down on the green room couch, discouraged. He’d just asked Betty Roberts on yet another date, and been turned down again. Not only that, but she had declined, saying she had a date with that Doug Thompson. He picked up the paper on the table next to him, skimming it for something interesting. He noticed the date, December 5, 1941. Only 20 days until Christmas. Last Christmas, things had been so different. He flipped mindlessly through the paper. Last year seemed so long ago. Jeff and Hilary had been together, laughing and dancing. And Betty’s smile when he told her that he’d bought her ticket back form Elkhart himself. He was so lost in that memory that he almost missed the small article near the back of the paper: WENN star to come home from London. He scanned the article. “Radio personality Jeffrey Singer, husband of Hilary Booth...” He paused. Husband? Where had this guy been? He shrugged and continued with the article. “Mr. Singer will be returning to his home in Pittsburgh at an undisclosed time in the next week.” Scott laughed to himself when he thought of the reception Jeff would have to face when he came back from work, and not only from Hilary! Speaking of Hilary, maybe he shouldn’t show this to her yet. Last time he had seen her, she had already been in a bad mood. At that moment, a force of nature blew in threw the green room doors.
“Hello, Hilary,” Scott said mildly, closing the paper.
“You!” Hilary hissed, coming towards him. “You, you, you!” she continued, stabbing her finger at his chest. “How dare you just leave me alone on the air like that?!”
“Sorry ‘bout that,” he grinned. “Betty was leaving and I needed to ask her something.” “And left me alone on the air in the middle of a love scene!” she raged. “*Mr. Foley* had to step in and play your part, and you know what kind of an actor he is!”
“Sorry, Hilary,” he repeated, folding the newspaper in his lap. Hilary noticed.
“Is that today’s paper? Good!” She grabbed it out of his hands before he could say anything. The same headline Scott had seen caught her eye- ‘WENN Star to Come Home from London.’ All her anger left her as she dropped onto the couch next to Scott. “Pumpkin,” she whispered, almost to herself.
“I’m sorry, Hilary,” Scott said sincerely. “I wanted to wait until a better time-“
“I’m fine,” Hilary cut in. “I guess it’s time to start planning my revenge, huh?” she said, but her heart really wasn’t behind her words. She started reading the article. “’Husband of Hilary Booth’? Where has this guy been?” she asked, incredulous.
Scott laughed. “I said the same thing, Hildy,” he said, noticing her heartbroken expression when she read that.
As he had intended, she momentarily forgot about the article and smacked him in the chest. “It’s Hilary, you big oaf!” At Scott’s teasing grin, she dropped her arm and gave him a tired smile in return. “But you knew that,” she said, realizing that he had done that on purpose to get her mind off Jeffrey. Jeffrey. She sighed.
“You know what I need?” Scott asked. “A stiff drink. C’mon. I could use some time away from my thoughts about Betty, and it’s never fun to drink alone.” He took the paper away from her and dropped it on the table as she stood.
“You’re on, Scotty boy.” Laughing, they exited the green room.
4 hours later, 2 AM
Scott and Hilary stumbled into the green room, laughing hysterically.
“And so the Queen says, ‘But what am I going to do with the elephant?’ The elephant!”
They continued laughing as they tried to sit down on the couch, but landed on the floor instead, which made them laugh even harder than before.
“Think we’re drunk?” Hilary asked between laughs.
“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” Scott laughed harder.
“OK, then. I’m tired. Night, Scotty,” she said, laying her head against his body.
almost 5 hours later, 6:45 AM
Hilary awoke with a splitting headache and an aching back. She shifted, and wondered when her bed had gotten so hard. Not to mention her pillow. And since when did her pillow move on it’s own?? Her eyes flew open. “AHHHHHH!” Suddenly, the night before came rushing back. She looked down at her hand, resting on top of Scott’s, and her eyes widened in horror. “Oh, my God, what have we done?!”
“Scott!” Hilary cried, twisting around on his lap where she had apparently fallen asleep. “Wake up!”
“Don’t wanna,” Scott mumbled, still sitting up against the couch were he had fallen earlier that morning.
“Wake up NOW, Scotty,” she demanded. “Now, now, now!” she exclaimed, poking his chest with every word.
He groaned sleepily. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He opened his eyes slowly. “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t you remember what happened last night?!”
He tried to blink the sleep out of his eyes. He generally didn’t feel this bad in the morning. Then it all came rushing back to him. “Oh, yeah, that’s right. We got really drunk, got married, came here, and went to sleep.”
“How can you be so calm? You don’t think there is anything *wrong* with that? We’re *MARRIED*!” She shouted, her voice nearly a squeak.
“Yeah, I know.” He paused, and grinned charmingly. “I’ve never been married before. This could be fun. Not what I planned, but fun.”
“Fun? Fun?! Marriage to me is not fun!” Hilary raged. His calmness was getting to her. “Oh, damn. I mean-“
“Oh, one slightly bad experience with a husband doesn’t mean you’re not fun, Hilary,” Scott laughed. “I think that at the very least, life won’t be boring.”
Hilary glared at him. He was enjoying this too much. “What about Betty? Will she think this is so much *fun*?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm as she smiled smugly at him.
His eyes widened as he fully comprehended the situation. “Oh, my God. Betty!” He struggled to stand, but Hilary on his lap made that just slightly difficult. He tried to push her off of him, but her legs had somehow gotten entangled with his. As they tried to separate themselves, they started yelling at each other. Just as the greenroom door opened, Hilary shouted, “I can *not* believe that I married *YOU*!”
“Right back attcha, Pumpkin,” Scott snapped back, using the phrase Hilary had said when they captured that Nazi saboteur.
Betty, shocked, watched the two of them struggle on the floor. “What?” she asked, disbelieving.
Scott and Hilary immediately stopped fighting and just looked at her.
“You-you got married?” Betty asked, still overwhelmed.
Scott glanced at Hilary. At the same time he said, “Not really,” Hilary jumped in with, “Well, yes, in a way, but-“
Betty just zeroed in on Hilary’s yes, ignoring the rest of the confusing message. “Oh, well. That is so, um, so great. Really. Congratulations,” she said, with a cheer that she really did not feel. “Real swell. I bet you can’t wait to tell the others. I’ll just, um, you know, let you get back to whatever you were doing. Sorry,” she said, backing out of the doors, not hearing Scott tell her to wait.
Once safely out of the greenroom, she stopped to brush the tears away from her eyes. She couldn’t understand why she was crying. She had told Scott she couldn’t forgive him. Why should she be upset that he had moved on with his life? She brushed away more tears as she walked away from the greenroom where she could hear Scott and Hilary bickering again. Betty bumped into someone on her way to the front desk.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she began, and then looked up. Way up. She gasped. “Jeff!” Betty exclaimed. “What are you doing here? I thought you were still in London.”
“I guess they’d had enough of me,” Jeff laughed ruefully. “Maybe they realized I was using London to stay away from here.” He hesitated. “Is Hilary here? I went home first, to talk to her, but she wasn’t there. I wanted to talk to her before anyone else, but,” he stopped.
Betty hesitated. “Yes, she is here.”
Jeff noticed. “Is she still ready to kill me? I know, I deserve it, but I want to explain everything to her.” Betty still didn’t say anything. Jeff became worried. “She’s okay, isn’t she, Betty? Or are you mad at me, too?”
“Oh, yes, she’s fine,” Betty quickly reassured him. “And what happened is between you and Hilary. It’s just.....well, Hilary should tell you, not me.”
“Where is she then?” Jeff asked.
Just then, they heard a loud crash from inside the greenroom and saw Scott back out of the doors, his arms up as if protecting his face. Hilary screeched, “OOOOOH!” Scott ducked down as Hilary’s shoe flew at him.
Jeff laughed nervously. “Guess I found Hilary, huh?”
Scott walked over. “Jeff. You’re back already.” He glanced at Betty, wondering how much she’d told him.
“Hey, Scott. What did you do to get Hilary in this mood?” Jeff asked.
Scott glanced at Betty again. “You didn’t tell him?”
“I thought Hilary should tell him,” Betty informed him.
Jeff had an odd feeling in his stomach. “What should Hilary tell me? I’m lost here, guys.”
Scott and Betty traded a glance. “I’ll go tell Hilary you’re here,” Scott said finally.
He turned and walked back into the greenroom. He found her sitting on the couch, reading the article about Jeff.
She looked up. “Oh, now what?” she asked with annoyance.
“Take a guess at who’s right outside that door,” he said perching on the arm of the couch.
“Santa Claus,” she said off-handedly.
“Jeff,” he replied softly.
She looked up sharply. “I beg your pardon?”
“Jeff’s home. He doesn’t know that we’re married yet, but Betty wants to tell him, I think.”
She remained silent with a speculative look on her face.
“I guess we’ll make something up to tell Jeff, and I’ll explain to Betty later that we were rehearsing something.”
“We will do no such thing,” Hilary cut in.
“But-“ Scott started.
“But nothing. Just follow my lead.” Hilary swept through the greenroom doors. “Jeffrey, *darling*, please come in. Yes, yes, come in.”
Jeff walked in, quite confused. Hilary was never this cordial. She must have something planned. Scott looked distinctly nervous as he sat down, not quite knowing what Hilary had planned, but having a very good idea and not liking it. Betty looked uncomfortable. “I better go make sure that-“
“Nonsense,” Hilary smiled too sweetly. “Please, stay and listen. Come on, sit down.” Betty smiled weakly and sat at the table next to Jeff. Hilary took her seat on the couch next to Scott, sitting close. Jeffrey watched them, bewildered.
“Scotty, now, how do *you* think we should tell him? Maybe *you* should tell him, like he sent that contentious concubine from Czechoslovakia to tell me.”
“Tell me *what*?” Jeff asked.
“Why, that Scott and I are married, of course,” Hilary said with a glib laugh. She was almost dying on this inside, though. Jeffrey looked so shocked, and even hurt, possibly. There was still that small spark of “He deserves it and you know it” in her heart, though. As much as it hurt, she decided to continue, wondering how much longer she could keep this up.
“Married. Married?” Jeff’s voice was disbelieving. “To Scott? *This* Scott?”
“Yeah, Jeff,” Scott said unwillingly. “I married your wife-I mean my wife,” he correctly quickly. “How about that, huh?”
“Yeah, how about that,” Jeff said slowly. “Well, congratulations, I guess. I wish you both every, uh, every happiness,” he said, his voice trailing off.
There was a pause. “Jeff, I’m sure that you’re tired after such a long trip,” Betty said to break the silence.
Jeff grabbed at it. “Yeah, I am. But, um, where should I go?” he asked uncertainly, still thrown by Hilary’s news.
Hilary clapped her hands. Okay, maybe that was pushing it, she thought to herself. “I know! Scotty, you have an apartment, right?
“Right,” he concurred, puzzled.
“So, let’s try this. Jeffrey can live at Scott’s, and Scott can move into my house. Doesn’t that work out beautifully?”
“Oh, yeah. Beautifully,” Jeff repeated unenthusiastically.
Just then, Mr. Eldridge burst through the doors. “Betty! Victor’s here! I just saw Victor walking down the hallway!”
Betty froze. It couldn’t be true. “Oh, Mr. Eldridge, it couldn’t have been. Victor’s dead. It must have been a fan or a delivery man who looked like Victor. That’s all.”
“Where did you see him, Mr. Eldridge?” Scott asked.
“In the hallway! Walking from his old office towards the front desk. It was him,” he said, nodding his head and leaving the room.
No one said anything after Mr. Eldridge left. Betty stood up abruptly. “I have to go.” She hurried out of the room and went straight into Pruitt’s office, currently hers, and locked he door behind her. She located the key and the strongbox, and sat down at her desk. She saw Jeff and Scott stand up in the greenroom, and rushed to close the blinds. She didn’t want to risk anyone seeing anything. She sat down again, exhaling slowly. She inserted the key and opened the strongbox. She wasn’t quite sure what she had been expecting, but this seemed kind of anti-climatic. All that was in the box was a single sheet of paper. She lifted it and began to read.
My dearest Betty-
I am unable to fathom at which instance you will peruse this concise attempt at alleviating my conscience, but I am composing this on December 6, 1941. Within the recent past, I ascertained that I should anticipate dwelling in Germany during the duration of the European conflict, feasibly for several years. I shall continue to have my contact attend to you. Please harbor not a notion of awaiting my return. My associate articulates their feelings of esteem for Scott Sherwood, and relates to me his copious feelings of fondness for you. Do not tarry, for it is necessary for you to progress, Betty, and this Scott appears to be a worthy man. Be happy, and do not forget me. Yours, Victor
Betty leaned back in her chair. Victor was breaking up with her, and they had never even really been together. Not even one date. It was similar to what had happened with Scott earlier that morning. Except, of course, they *had* gone out on dates. But when Scott married another woman, she had cried. With Victor, she felt sad, but not horribly so. There was something very wrong with that. Scott was a liar, and a fake, and Victor was good, and kind. So, why did she care more about Scott? There was a knock on the door that broke her reverie, and she quickly hid the letter and box, moving to open the door. Scott stood there.
“What?” she asked bluntly.
“Bedside Manor will start soon, and we were wondering what we should do. I got the impression that Jeff wants to stay here today, and we didn’t know who Hilary should act with, Simmons or Jeff,” he said, looking a bit uncomfortable.
“Um, you do Jeff’s roles, at least for today, until he gets back into the swing of things. He may want time off,” Betty decided.
“Simmons it is,” Scott nodded. “I’m sure Hilary will be thrilled. Speaking of Hilary, I wanted to talk to you, Betty. I-“
“Scott, what you do is your own business,” Betty interrupted brusquely. “You don’t have to explain anything to me.”
“But nothing,” Betty insisted. “Now go rehearse with your wife,” she said, almost spitting the word out, it was so hard to say. “Go. Go, go, go,” she told him, pushing him out the door amidst his protests, and closing it firmly behind him. When it was closed, she allowed herself some weakness. “Don’t go,” she whispered to herself. “Don’t go.”
Scott headed for Studio A, glancing inside the greenroom at Jeff and Hilary. Inside the greenroom, Jeff sighed.
“Hilary, we have a lot to talk about.”
“Why?” Hilary asked. “What’s done is done, and this is definitely done. *We’re* done.”
“Still, I want to get everything out into the open. I need to explain Pavla to you.”
She followed him reluctantly into the greenroom and sat on the couch. She looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to begin. She sat there, increasingly still, as he explained. When he finished, he tensely leaned against the chair back, relieved to finally get it out, but hesitant as to how Hilary would respond.
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” Hilary burst out. “What, you didn’t think you owed it to me after *how* many years of marriage?”
Jeff sighed. He had known this wouldn’t go well. And she was right on all counts. “I am so sorry, Hilary. I wanted to tell you, but-“
“But nothing! If you had really wanted to tell me, you could have, quite easily! No, you had to take the coward’s way out and send that damned female dog to tell me you were married!” Hilary shouted, her voice a mixture of wrath and hurt.
Jeff sighed. He didn’t need her to translate “female dog” to him. “I know. You’re right. I know I should have told you.”
“But you didn’t,” Hilary said, the rage gone, but the hurt still there. “You didn’t tell me. Why didn’t you?” she asked, almost pleading.
“I couldn’t, Hilary. I wanted to, you don’t know how much, but I just couldn’t.” Jeff sounded miserable.
“Why couldn’t you? Was it because of-“
Just then, Scott tentatively pushed through the doors. “Sorry, guys, but you’re needed on the air in 90 seconds, Hilary.”
She stood, unwillingly. “Coming, Scott.” She glanced down at her ex-husband. “We’ll finish this conversation later,” she said, only slightly questioning.
“I told you about Pavla. What about Scott? Don’t I get to learn about your marriage?” Jeff asked bitterly.
Hilary glanced at Scott, who left it completely up to her. It was her call to make. She steeled herself. “There’s no story there. You unceremoniously dumped me, Scott was there for me to depend on, and we,” she coughed, “fell in love and got married. End of story,” she finished, with a casual wave of her hand, like it was absolutely nothing. She turned and left the room with Scott right behind her, leaving a shaken Jeff behind them. As soon as the doors were shut, Hilary visibly sagged against her husband. He put his arm around her shoulders.
“Say the word, and this is all over, Hilary. I mean it,” he told her.
She straightened her shoulders obstinately. “No. We started this, and we’re going to finish it. He deserves all of this. *All* of it.”
“Yes, but do you?” Scott sighed as they walked into Studio A.
~*~ Hilary, wrapped snugly into her wool robe, nestled against the corner of her couch. She was attempting to get into Gone With the Wind, her favorite novel, but she couldn’t concentrate. As she slammed her book shut, Scott appeared in the doorway, carrying two glasses of eggnog.
“Drink?” he offered, sitting at the other end of the couch.
“Spiked?” she responded wearily, accepting one of the glasses.
Scott laughed. “Long day, huh.”
“You know very well it was Jeffrey’s first full day back at work. We had several love scenes and a wedding. How do *you* think my day was?”
“Ouch,” he said sympathetically. “Well, sorry, it’s not spiked. I remember what happened the last time we had a drink together,” he laughed, waving his wedding ring.
“True,” she allowed, her glance moving past him to the tree they had decorated the past weekend. He followed her gaze and grinned.
“Oh, come on. The tree isn’t so bad. We did a good job. At least it’s not leaning against the wall anymore.”
Hilary sighed. “I’m used to Jeffrey putting it up, not some incompetent fool. And do you realize that this was the first Christmas that I haven’t decorated the tree with Jeffrey in 7 years?”
Scott gave a low whistle. “Long time. This was actually my first tree in about as long a time.”
“What about last year?” she asked curiously, sipping her eggnog.
“Nope. Never got around to it.” He paused. “Do you think about last Christmas a lot?”
“Yes, I suppose I do. It’s hard to believe that it’s Christmas Eve already.” She sighed. “I miss Jeffrey. What about you? Do you think about it?”
“Yeah. Betty and I were growing so much closer.” He sighed, too. “I can’t believe how much has changed. We’re married, Betty almost hates me, the world is involved in a war, CJ will be enlisting after the New Year, I’m only an actor at the station, and we’re actually getting along. This year is nothing like I had thought it would be.”
They were quiet for a moment, lost in their own thoughts, thinking about what they had wanted this Christmas to be like.
“Did Jeff ever tell you about why he married Pavla?” Scott asked suddenly.
“Yes, his first day back, actually.” She filled him in on the details.
“Why didn’t he tell you?” Scott asked incredulously. “That just doesn’t make any sense.”
“That’s what I thought. It was his decision, though, and he screwed up. Now, he has to pay for it.” She looked at Scott. “I don’t know anymore. Maybe I screwed up, too. Is it a mistake to keep this thing up?”
“Hilary Booth even *contemplating* that she did something wrong? That can’t be. Do you feel all right?” Scott teased.
She stretched down and kicked him in the leg. “Scott, I’m serious. Allow me this one moment.”
He dropped his gaze to the floor. “I think that it would be a mistake to keep this going for an extended period. I don’t know, maybe it was a mistake to start with. But it was a fun mistake,” he said, laughing softly before turning serious again. “It’s not like anything was happening with me and Betty. Maybe Jeff needed a lesson in Hilary appreciation, and maybe Betty and I needed to be shooken up a little. Not there really was a ‘Betty and I’.” He looked down at his glass of eggnog and sighed. “Hell. Maybe I should have spiked this.”
Hilary was speculative. “How could we end this without looking foolish?” she mused. “I mean, we decided to separate after 18 days of marriage? Who would believe that?”
“The people who know us, that’s who,” Scott cracked.
Hilary made a face as the clock struck 3 AM. “I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve.”
“I can’t believe we need to be up in less than four hours to get to work,” Scott grinned.
Hilary’s laugh turned into a yawn. “On that thought, goodnight, Scotty.”
“Night, Hilary. Sweet Dreams,” Scott said.
She smiled mischievously in response. “Oh, they will be.”
Hilary walked into the station a few steps ahead of Scott and paused just inside the doorway as she surveyed the decorations. They weren’t new, they had been up for over a week, but now she had ulterior plans. She wanted Jeffrey back. Scott walked in the door and promptly bumped right into his wife.
“Can’t decided where to go? There really is only one way,” he said dryly.
She elbowed him in the stomach. “You know very well what I’m doing,” she told him.
“Does it have anything to do with what you were blathering on about on the way over here?” he asked.
Her eyes widened in anger. “You mean to tell me, you didn’t listen to me?” Hilary asked, her voice dangerously soft.
Scott realized she was extremely close to the boiling point and acted quickly. “Just teasing, Hilary dear,” he said airily. “Of course I listened. I like my plan better, though,” he grinned.
“Mm-hmm. And what was that?”
“You walk in as I’m passionately kissing Betty Roberts,” he said dreamily. “Then, you throw a tantrum and vow to divorce me if it’s the last thing you do.”
“I see. And tell me, how does this little scenario of yours get me back together with Jeffrey?”
Scott paused. “Well, it doesn’t. But I’ll sure have fun!”
“I’m sure. But let’s just stick with my plan,” she told him.
He followed her down the hall, thinking hard. Whoops. “Uh, Hilary? What was the plan?”
She turned to face him, smiling condescendingly at him. “Why, to follow my lead, of course.”
“That’s it?” he asked incredulously. “All that talk, and it boils down to four little words?”
* * *
It was lunch time, and Hilary was annoyed. Here she’d had this wonderful plan worked out, and it wasn’t working. It was as if Jeffrey was now completely immune to her charms, what they may be. She had even been extremely *nice* to him, but he had seemed more nervous around her than anything else. She sighed as she left the station for the Buttery. It was time to formulate another plan.
* * *
Meanwhile, Jeff dropped down onto the greenroom couch, exhausted. Exhausted from sleepless nights, and from pretending that Hilary no longer mattered to him. He rubbed his hand over his eyes. It seemed as if Hilary was going out of her way to affect him today. And boy was she succeeding! She had even given him a small kiss on the cheek when he stood under the mistletoe. All 4 times. It was taking all of his acting skills not to show how much he was truly affected by her. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up, if *she* kept this up.
* * *
Betty sat in her office, playing around with the radio. She wanted to find some music, not an unreasonable request on Christmas Eve, but all she could find were soap operas. No matter the station, the leading men all sounded like Scott Sherwood. She was beginning to learn how Gloria Redmond had felt the past two Christmases. She tuned into WENN again. It was yet another soap opera, starring Scott Sherwood and his sexy voice. Going through all the stations, she finally found some music. She settled back into her chair, ready for a break.
Old man sunshine listen you never
tell me “Dreams come true”
Just try it and I’ll start a riot
Beatrice Fairfax don’t you dare ever
tell me he will care
I’m certain it’s the final curtain
I never want to hear from any
Who tell you fate supplies a mate
It’s all bananas
They’re writing songs of love but not for me
A lucky star’s above but not for me
With love to lead the way I’ve found
more clouds of grey
Than any Russian play could guarantee
I was a fool to fall and get that way
Heigh-ho! Alas! And also lack-a-day
Although I can’t dismiss the memory of his kiss
I guess he’s not for me
Along with the song, Betty imagined Scott’s kiss. She quickly shook her head as if to rid her mind of the very thought. “No!” she insisted to herself. “He’s married. Don’t do this!” She turned the station again and found a nice little Christmas song. She sighed. “Much better.”
* * *
It was one o’clock and Scott and Maple had finished their program and were off to lunch at the Buttery. When they were seated, Maple shook her head. “I just don’t see why you married Hilary Booth. I thought you wanted to get into Betty’s good graces. How can you do that while you’re married to another woman?” she asked, her Brooklyn accent stronger than ever.
“It’s a long story, Mapes,” he told her.
“And did you see how she was throwing herself at Jeff today? She’s a married woman! How could she even think of Jeff when she has you?”
“Hey, thanks, Mapes. But my big thing right now is Betty, though, not Hilary. She’s a big girl, she knows what she’s doing. But Betty, I don’t want to lose her.”
“But you married another woman!” Maple exclaimed.
“Now, Mapes, why should I let a little thing like that stop me?” he grinned.
* * *
It was 10 PM that night. Gloria Redmond was in Studio A, performing on a Christmas special. Hilary was sitting in the greenroom listening to the radio when Jeffrey walked in.
He sat down next to her on the couch. “Hello, Hilary.”
There was a silence between them as they listened to Gloria’s broadcast. She was singing that song from the year before, “You Make It Christmas.”
“Do you think about last Christmas?” Jeff asked suddenly.
“Scott asked me the same thing last night. Yes, I do,” Hilary responded.
“Remember this song?”
Hilary laughed. “I certainly do. You have many things, Pumpkin, but a sense of rhythm is not one of them.”
He grinned. “Never said I did.”
There was another long pause.
“Damn it, Hilary! I can’t do this anymore! I can’t keep pretending. I’m so sorry I hurt you, Mittens. I truly am. I love you so much.”
“I know, Jeff,” Hilary said softly. “I’m sorry, too, for these past few weeks.” She took his hand and entwined his fingers with hers.
“We both made mistakes. Forgive?” When Hilary nodded, Jeff leaned over and gave her a gentle kiss that seemed to go on forever, ending only when Scott walked in.
“Oh, I’m interrupting something? Great!” he grinned boisterously. “I just wanted to drop off my Christmas present for both of you, and go see a certain Miss Betty Roberts.” He handed Hilary a large envelope. “Merry Christmas.”
Hilary opened the envelope and her mouth dropped open. “Divorce papers! Oh, Scotty, it’s exactly what I wanted!”
“Yep,” Scott grinned. “It was so easy shopping for you this year. That lawyer, Doug, wasn’t too happy, but that’s okay. I’ve already signed,” he said pointing, “it’s just up to you now.” He grinned as he dropped a pen on the table and left the room. “Keep the pen.”
Hilary signed with a flourish. “Oh, I am so glad to have that done with,” she said happily. She dropped the papers and pen back on the table and turned to face Jeffrey. “Merry Christmas, Pumpkin,” she said seductively, putting her arms around his neck.
“Merry Christmas, Mittens,” Jeff said, leaning over her and kissing her passionately.
* * *
Scott knocked on the door to Betty’s office and poked his head around the door. “Betty, can we talk?”
Ten minutes later, it was all out in the open. Betty just sat there, dumbfounded. “So, what you mean to tell me is that you didn’t mean to get married. You got drunk. And you didn’t want to stay married, but you did want to help Hilary.”
“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Plus, we’ve signed the divorce papers. Doug set them up.” He looked at her. “Betty, I know I’ve messed up before. But, please, can’t you give me a second chance?”
Betty came out from behind the desk. “You lied to me, Scott. Repeatedly.”
“I know I did, and I’m sorry. I can’t say it won’t happen again, but I don’t want to hurt you anymore.” He took a deep breath. “I love you, Betty Roberts. I know that you don’t love me, you can’t yet, but will you give me a chance?”
She paused, as if considering, when really, she had known the answer to that question for a long time. As his face started to fall, she smiled up at him, having carried on the pretense long enough. “Yes. Yes, Scott Sherwood, I can give you a chance.”
A brilliant smile lit up his face as he bent down to meet her lips with a gentle kiss.
“But Not For Me”, written by Ira and George Gershwin, copyright 1930. It can be found on Linda Ronstadt’s CD “For Sentimental Reasons.”
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