Scott sighed. This was a boring party. Gloria Redmond sat at the polished piano, singing and playing "The Way You Look Tonight". He'd already stolen two glasses of champangne from the maitre d's tray and a half dozen little vegetables stuffed with cheese. He was restless. He'd discussed WENN's future and some new format ideas with Gloria. He traded bad jokes with Mr. Foley and Mackie, before Mackie took off, saying he had something to do. Maple and Hilary vanished around the same time. Something was up. He hoped it was interesting.
Gloria's home was a remodeled turn-of-the-century farm house. It wasn't huge or fancy, but it was beautiful. The chandelier in the dining room sparkled like the liquor in his glass. Long tables set with champagne, punch, and hors d'ouvers lined one wall. A Christmas tree with glittering glass and gold-colored ornamnents stood at the end of the room, showing itself to the crowd through the long windows.
Why couldn't Betty come? She couldn't be that busy! What did that girl have against a good time? It wouldn't kill her to get away from the station for a few hours, especially after everything she did for it in the past few weeks. The small group of people who were invited, mostly close friends of Gloria's and a few WENN sponsors, were dancing. They were all close together, some whispering in the other partner's ear. When was the last time he danced with a woman? Heck, when was the last time he danced at all?
He was about to walk to his car when Mackie walked in with a gorgeous woman on his arm, followed by Maple, Hilary, and Jess Marthan. Mackie's companion was tiny and delicate. Her small shoulders were swathed in thick white fur. Her tiny hands hid under spotless white gloves. Chestnut-colored curls framed her gentle, blushing face. She looked like a movie star and moved with the grace of a princess. Mackie left her to talk to Maple and Mr. Foley, leaving her with a group of eager young men, one of whom took her purse and fur to the coat room.
"Lovely, isn't she?" Scott didn't see Gloria Redmond come up behind him. He hadn't even known that she'd left the piano, or that the music stopped. He was transfixed by this new vision of beauty.
"Who is she?" Scott wondered.
Gloria chuckled. "I'm surprised you don't know. You work with her every day. Take a closer look." She gently led him to the laughing circle of men and the stunning beauty at its core.
"Boys, you're so kind," she said. "I'll dance with all of you, eventually." Scott knew that voice.
"Betty?" She turned to him, surprised. It was, indeed, Betty Roberts. "I thought you weren't coming."
"I changed my mind." She blushed. "Jess loaned me a dress from her store. Hilary did my make-up. Maple offered me a fur and put up my hair. Mackie drove me here."
Scott walked around Betty, looking her over, much to the annoyance of the young men who surrounded them. "Wow, Betty, you look amazing. The girls did a wonderful job on you."
"Thank you, Scott," Betty nodded. She decided to make a bold move. Maybe it was the dress. She felt like she could do anything. "Scott, would you like to dance?"
"I'd love to." He swept her onto the dance floor and away from the disappointed youths before she could even breathe.
They danced every dance together. He told her stories of his adventures between songs, and she sometimes told him about her life in Elkheart. They laughed and teased and enjoyed each others' company.
Gloria Redmond watched them as she greeted guests at the door. She'd noticed their interest in each other during Christmas. They worked well as a team and had done wonders with the station. She sincerely hoped that they would find all the happiness that she and Ben once shared.
Jess Marthan nursed champagne at a corner table. The look on Scott's face when he saw Betty in that get-up was priceless. Scott was lucky to find someone he loved so dearly. She only hoped that his duplicity wouldn't come between them. That was part of why she'd left him to go to France. She'd had her fill of his wild schemes that more often than not landed everyone involved in jail.
Hilary watched Betty laugh at one of Scott's crazy stories. "They're having a good time, aren't they, Mittens?" Jeff said as he came up behind her.
Hilary smiled at the familiar nickname. "Yes, they are. If anyone deserves a good time tonight, it's them."
Jeff led her out to the dance floor. "I think we should give them some competition. When was the last time we went out dancing?" He mischeviously dipped her. "And you wanted to go to Times Square!"
Hilary giggled. Giggling felt good. "This is much better than paying an arm and a leg for train tickets and then being trampled by the mob at midnight."
Maple stood with Mackie and Mr. Foley as Foley shared his newest slightly lewd joke. "It's the way he tells them, Mapes," chortled Mackie. "Now, let me tell you the one about the priest and the barefoot lady that I heard when I was in Ohio..."
Maple ignored Mackie and watched Betty and Scott swirl past to the the tune of "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time". She grinned. Betty caught her eye and smiled. "Ain't they sweet?" Maple sighed. "Scotty's gotta thing for her."
"Yeah, they are cute together," Mackie agreed. "I'm not sure about Scott's influence on Betty, though. I'm beginning to have a hard time telling her brilliant ideas from his!" Mr. Foley nodded and began another joke, but Mackie offered Maple his arm before he could say a word. "Hey, Mapes, wanna cut a rug?"
"I'd cut a whole bushel of carpets with you!" exclaimed Maple as they joined the others on the dance floor.
Gertie sat at a table near the piano with Mr. Eldridge. The two sipped champagne and discussed the dancers whirling by them. She nodded at Betty and Scott as they swirled by. Neither seemed aware that anyone else exisited. Hilary and Jeff and Mackie and Maple also passed.
"Look at them, Tom," Gertie said. "I can't remember the last time I saw everyone look so happy."
"After what happened at Christmas, I'm glad they got something nice," Tom Eldridge agreed.
"Scott and Betty only have eyes for each other. He hasn't left her side since she arrived," Gertie told him. "I wonder what convinced her to come? I was told that she had things to do."
"What do you mean, they only have eyes for each other?" Mr. Eldridge asked. "They're eyes are still in their heads!"
Gertie laughed and took the old man's hand. "Oh, Tom."
Rollie Pruitt walked into the strikingly decorated house, but he cared not a whit for having a good time. He was here to talk to Gloria, and on other business that he prefered Gloria not know about. There were people here who were very interested in WENN and the information it sent. He recognized much of the WENN staff as he handed a boy his coat and hat.
He wandered around the room. It was almost midnight. Couples were donning hats and clutching handfulls of confetti. He wasn't interested in confetti or dancing or vapid tunes by vapid writers. He was here on business.
His eye settled on one particular couple. They complimented each other nicely. His stark white and black tux set off her cream dress and chestnut hair. Their eyes sparkled and they couldn't stop grinning. It was sickening. Wait. Wasn't the woman Betty Roberts, who should have been working on WENN's taxes? He went to take a closer look.
Betty saw him as Scott leaned over to kiss her. She gasped. "Scott, did you bring your car?"
He frowned. She seemed spooked. "Yes. Why?"
"I have a headache, Scott. I want to go home." They picked up their coats and headed out the door just as Pruitt went to talk to them. He was blocked by a shower of confetti and celebrating people.
Gloria Redmond met him at the door. "Rollie, what are you doing here? I thought you went back to Boston for the holidays."
He looked over her shoulder. "I wanted to talk to you." He shook his head. "I could have sworn that was her. But, never mind." He took her arm and pulled her back into the noisy throng.
January 1st, 194 - 11:06 AM
Betty Roberts tip-toed into empty station. She just saw Lester, the night engineer, leave to get a sandwich from the Buttery. No one else was going to arrive until noon. She hung up her coat and hat and hurried to the writer's room with her bundle under her arm.
After making sure that she was really alone, she opened the bundle. The beautiful cream-colored gown and its matching shoe and purse spilled onto the desks. One shoe was gone, lost sometime between leaving the party and arriving at the Barbican. She held the dress to her and, if only for a few minutes, allowed herself to remember last night. It was wonderful. She never felt so beautiful. Dancing, listening to Scott's stories, almost being kissed by him....
She blushed and hung the dress on the door. Pruitt would have her hide if she didn't get those taxes done. She only hoped that he hadn't noticed her. She pleaded a headache and had Scott take her back to the Barbican, only to spend the rest of the night dreaming about him. The things she dreamed about made her blush all over again. Besides, Scott wasn't her type. She reminded herself of all the trouble he caused as she settled behind her faithful typewriter.
"Betty, Betty, Betty!"
Betty was assaulted by three voices at once. Scott Sherwood, Rollie Pruitt, and Jess Marthan all crowded into the already full writer's room. Betty shushed them. "One at a time!"
"Betty!" Scott exclaimed. "Why did you leave so arruptly last night? We were having a good time."
"I felt sick," Betty started, but Pruitt stopped her.
"She tried to hide from me," the large man grumbled. It was a very poor job of running away."
"Look," Betty shouted, "I have things that I need to do."
"What things?" Scott asked, glaring at Pruitt.
"She's doing her duty for this station, which is more than I can say for you, Sherwood!" Pruitt hissed.
"What is her 'duty' for this station, Mr. Pruitt?" Jess asked. Her look would have froze steel at ten paces.
"To sort the budget and make sure that..."
"More money gets into your coffers?" Jess interrupted. "Pruitt, I've heard about you and what you do to companies. If you don't like a certain business, you will find a way to sabotage it until it's gone, without thought to who runs that business."
"This is no concern of yours, Marthan," Pruitt snarled. "Why don't you go back to selling your pretty little dresses to empty-headed matrons?"
"But it's our concern," Betty insisted. "You may not care about WENN, but we do."
"And as a sponsor," Scott added in Jess' defense, "this is also Jess'....um, Mrs. Marthan's concern."
Pruitt narrowed his eyes at all three of them. Scott held Betty tightly, but she pulled away. "Pruitt, I'm doing what you asked me to. Isn't that enough? Or is there something else that you wanted?"
Pruitt looked from Scott to Betty to Jess. There was something else that he wanted, but this wasn't the time or the place to mention it. This place was perfect for his plans. He would get even with the lovely Miss Roberts, with this entire station, for humiliating him in front of Gloria Redmond. Yes, he would use them, throw them away, and destroy them. They were disposable. For now, all he said is "I must return to Boston. I have pressing matters to attend to. See to it that the budget is on its way to me by tomorrow morning, Miss Roberts." He gave Scott one last glare and headed out the door.
Betty went to the door and handed Jess the gown, purse, and shoe. "I'm sorry, Jess," she explained. "I lost one of the shoes."
"I know you did, dear," Jess said. She revealed a bag emblazoned with the words "Marthan's Parisian Boutiques". Her long fingers withdrew the cream-colored slipper's mate.
Betty was flabbergasted. "Where did you find it?"
She shrugged. "Outside, in the field where the cars were parked. It probably fell off of your foot when you got in Scott's car. You were in such a hurry!"
Betty threw her arms around Jess. "Thank you, Jess. Without you, I never would have gotten to go to the dance."
"Don't thank me, dear," Jess smiled. "Thank yourself. You're only a store mannquin in a fancy dress if you don't have the inner beauty to match the beauty that's on the outside."
Scott grinned. "Yeah, I'd say Betty's a perfect match." He took both their arms. "Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother deserve lunch in the arms of a handsome prince." His eyes twinkled. "Lunch at the Buttery on me? It's open for New Year's."
Jess giggled. "That's very nice of you, Scott, but the Fairy Godmother needs to get this dress back on the dummy in the window display of her store."
Betty gathered her purse. "I'll go, Scott. I could use some lunch, and maybe you can tell me more of your stories." She smiled. "Who knows, maybe I'll use one for an 'Amazon Andy' episode someday."
"Wow," Scott said, "I'd be the inspiration for Captain Amazon." He laughed. "The only thing I've ever inspired are I.O.Us."
Betty linked her arm with Scott's. "There's a first time for everything."
Jess followed them out and watched them go next door to the small, non-descript diner. She sighed. She was looking forward to her new show and their romance. Now, to put this dress back and see to that number one of the young men who'd been standing around Betty last night gave her, the cute one with the short gold hair. Jess Marthan chuckled and headed in the opposite direction.
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