Act 1, Scene 1: John Harrel sits at his computer. Haggard, in ill health, and still in deep mourning, he sits at a desk trying to finish every project he can. John has long, greying dirty-blond hair and a scruff that has sprung up around a badly maintained goatee. His glasses seem to sit precariously on his nose.
It has been a almost three months since Kandy passed. It has not gotten easier for me. My health, once under control, is now spiraling downward into oblivion. I have been told that I don’t have long left. Years of neglect and self-sacrifice have caught up to me. I don’t know how long I have before it gives out.
Jennie enters from a room behind John. She is 20-ish, young when compared to John’s 43. Jennie is brunette and very English, but also very in love with her “boss”.
(with a strong English accent)
How are the manuscripts coming, Dear?
As good as can be expected. Has Bette come in yet?
(shaking her head)
No, Love. At the moment, it’s just you and I.
(smirking, obviously trying not to correct her grammar)
I see. Did she say when to expect her?
(shaking her head again)
Of course not.
(walking up behind John, throws her arms around his shoulders)
I just thought that she wanted to…give us a little time to ourselves.
(she kisses him on the top of the head, then begins massaging his head by playing with his hair.)
After all, she knows how stressed you have been.
God, I missed having someone who knew how to do that.
(looks at Jennie in surprise)
How’d you know?
Dear, can we talk?
(still a tad distracted)
(sucking in a deep breath nervously, then letting it out)
You and I.
(looking up, surprised)
What about us?
(suddenly finding the nerve)
John Harrel, I love you. I-I know that you can’t return how I feel about you but–
(she pauses as John’s piercing gaze shifts up to her letting her know that she has his attention)
God dammit, John, I love you! Probably more than you love yourself!
John’s hand goes from the computer to her hand and grasps it. he rubs her arm in a comforting motion.
Jen, you’re right. I could never love you as much as you probably love me. Those days are gone for me. They left when she died. Kandy was my only love. She taught me how love was supposed to be. When she died, I made myself a promise that I would never put anyone through the pain that that kind of loss creates.
(pulls gently on her hand, trying to guide her to a spot in front of him.)
Come. Sit in front of me.
(she does as he requests and looks over at him, placing her hand back on the desk. he takes her hand and looks her in the eye, smiling sadly)
Look. I care very deeply for you. You have been a great help and a blessing since you got here. I would be lost without you. I will love you as much as my heart will allow, but there will be no marriage. No attachment beyond romance. I never asked you to be anything more than my personal assistant. But you have been a devoted companion. That is something I could never repay. Not in a million years.
(jumps up, goes around to him, throws her arms around him and kisses him.)
You don’t know how happy you just made me!
(lays her head on his shoulder and cries. He lifts her chin and kisses her lips)
I loved you the minute you arrived. You were a godsend. Someone to keep an eye on me and make sure nothing bad happened. Someone who kept me from being alone.
(stands up, turns to her, and takes her in his arms)
gimme a smile.
(she smiles through her tears and he kisses her)
That’s my girl.
So, where shall we eat lunch?
Why not call an order to Whitten’s and I can go get it? I mean, I just want to be with you and it doesn’t matter what I eat at the moment.
Your usual? A salad?
Jennie nods and leaves the room. John picks up the phone and “dials” the number for a local restaurant.
Yes. Is this Whitten’s? Yes. I am calling in an order for one salad, Italian vinaigrette, and a Steak meal. Baked. Green beans. Oh. And two pieces of your cherry pie. Yes. My assistant, Jennie, will be in shortly to pick them up.
(Bette walks in. She is 30-ish, brunette, and very sexy. He looks up and directs a question at her)
What do you want for lunch, Bette?
(smiling at a thought, but thinking better of it)
Salad. Italian vinaigrette.
(Into the phone)
Make that two Salads with Italian vinaigrette and a steak meal. Yes. as ordered. $52.50? OK. I will send the money for the bill with Jennie. Thank you. You too.
(hangs up and looks at Bette)
What new from the Riddermark?
(smirking, trying not to laugh, in a deeply English accent)
Oh, har, har.
Seriously. what news do you bring?
Our British business partners want me to go and oversee the London office for you…and them. Would you be–leaving Jennie this side of the pond to oversee this office? I am just curious.
Depends on whether they felt it best or not. After all, they are far more powerful than I. And wealthier too. (looking into her eyes) Is there–any specific reason you would ask that?
(blushing, then winking)
(throws her arms around his neck and lays her head on his shoulder, nestling his neck and kissing it lightly)
Besides. You know how I feel about you.
Yes, strangely enough, both of you have made your feelings very clear. What I don’t quite understand is what the two of you see in me.
(in a very seductive tone)
John, John, John. You are extremely attractive because of how you handle these business accounts. Your professional coldness and lack of scare-a-bility makes you so–so sexy! And those piercing eyes! It’s almost as if you strip me naked every time you look at me. And that gets me hot!
(finding it nearly impossible to resist her)
And you know what your accents do to me.
(moving her hand to his crotch, then smiling)
Oh, yes. And you know the two of us will willingly share you.
their lips meet. fade to black. End scene.