Betty shut the top drawer of the filing cabinet in the writer's room with a satisfying clang. She was almost done for the day except for a couple of minor odds and ends. Two weeks passed in an almost dizzying blur since she had forgiven Scott, but Betty hardly noticed the passage of time because she was far too busy.
In addition to the normally frenetic pace of her job at WENN, Betty was seeing much more of Scott Sherwood outside of the office - a fact not unremarked by the rest of the staff. If Gertie's gossip machine had been unable to keep up with the news, the sight of Scott's beaming face would have been a dead giveaway. Everyone agreed through the exchange of several knowing glances that Betty was fairly glowing herself. Whether or not she was aware of it, they couldn't be sure.
What Betty was aware of was that she was thoroughly enjoying Scott's company. There'd been some lunch dates, two or three more movies and a Saturday afternoon at the zoo. Scott hadn't been able to resist devising several schemes for getting Hilary to visit the reptile house, although all of them had come to no avail.
Through it all, Scott had been a perfect gentleman, never pressing his case too hard and kissing Betty's cheek sweetly at the end of every evening they spent together. Scott was more than content to bide his time because he felt lucky just to be seeing so much of her. He marveled continuously at the fact that one woman could so completely fascinate him and couldn't imagine his fascination ever diminishing.
Betty, on the other hand, was not only becoming increasingly intrigued, but also confused. The more she learned about Scott, the more interested she became. There was certainly more to Scott than met the eye and those brief flashes of longing for a more settled lifestyle she had detected on that first surprising date had not been her imagination. They spoke at length about their childhoods and Betty deeply felt the disparity between the two. His often seemed such a lonely way to grow up.
The more enlightenment Betty received about Scott's personality, the more confused she became. It was increasingly difficult to deny that she was drawn to him, but she still wasn't quite sure where she wanted it to lead.
And where did that leave Victor? Betty shook her head in consternation. He hadn't been back even once over the course of the last couple of weeks and except for one hurried phone call, she hadn't had any contact with him. She should be missing him, shouldn't she? She had to admit to herself that she wasn't particularly missing him. That, in fact, she had hardly spared him a thought, except in passing. What did that mean? She used to think about him all the time when...
A knock on the door interrupted her reverie. Oh, well, there'd be time to analyze that thought later.
"BettyBettyBetty," Scott said as he came brashly through the door of the writer's room. "You about ready to go? I know I'm no match for Fred Astaire, but I'm pretty sure Ginger never kept him waiting this long."
Betty looked up from putting the finishing touches on tomorrow's "Bedside Manor" script to smile at him as he perched one hip on the edge of her desk. "That's because she was sure her toes weren't going to be stepped on. I'm only trying to delay the inevitable," she teased him.
"That's not fair, Betty Roberts," Scott protested, trying his best to look injured. "If you'll recall, this won't be the first time we've danced together. I know it's been a while, but surely you remember a dance we shared in the green room during a certain quarantine."
"As if I could forget! You're right. The dancing was fine, but plenty of toes got stepped on, at least figuratively," Betty amended, "during the next couple of weeks."
"Well, we'll just stay out of Mr. Foley's way and hopefully avoid a similar trampling tonight," Scott smiled as Betty stood up behind her desk, she looked beautiful, like always. "You ready?"
"All done," Betty announced as she dropped the dust cover over her typewriter, "and ready to go!"
Scott offered his arm and the couple set off down the hallway, pausing momentarily at the reception desk to bid good night to Gertie and Mr. Eldridge.
"Have a wonderful time!" Gertie called after them as they walked through the door. She sighed contentedly and leaned her chin on her hands, "Oh, Tom, it's so romantic! A real-life love affair, blooming in our midst. It's just like one of our soap operas."
"Oh, dear! I didn't realize Scott had amnesia. How did it happen, Gertie?" Mr. Eldridge demanded as if steeling himself to hear the worst.
"Tom, Scott doesn't have amnesia, I just meant..."
"You mean he's married to somebody else? Oh, dear, what will Betty do now?" He shuffled down the hallway, sadly shaking his head.
"Tom..." Gertie gave up, sighing in resignation. Where Mr. Eldridge was concerned, some things did not become clearer with explanation.
The music was slow, romantic, and Betty felt as if she were floating on a cloud. She let out a contented sigh and snuggled just a little more deeply into Scott's embrace. Her head was leaning against his chest and she could just feel his chin resting gently on the top of her head. She listened to the slow, steady rhythm of his heartbeat and allowed her eyelids to drift downward.
If her mother could see her right now, she'd insist that this was not appropriate behavior. She'd be correct, Betty admitted, but somehow this felt so right that it didn't really matter. Scott truly was a marvelous dancer, better than she remembered, and her toes had been perfectly safe all evening.
Betty had never been to this place, the Starlight Ballroom, before and now she found herself hoping that she could return often. True, there were a lot of couples here, but the dance floor was so enormous that there was plenty of room for everyone. The lighting was low and the band seemed to favor romantic music with a slower tempo, which Betty was learning to prefer. It had it's definite advantages.
"Betty," a voice murmured, very close to her right ear. There was that delicious little tingle again that she'd been feeling with alarming frequency over the last couple of weeks. "Betty," Scott tried again, "the music's stopped, we could sit down for a minute or two if you want. Not that I'd mind staying like this forever."
Betty's head jerked erect and she stared at Scott with a surprised look on her face. "I didn't even realize the band wasn't playing anymore," she smiled a trifle sheepishly as a blush stained her cheeks a rosy pink. "I guess I wasn't paying attention." She tried to disentangle herself from his right arm, only to find that he still held a firm grasp on her waist.
"That's all right, I wasn't either," Scott admitted as he reluctantly released her from his grip. "Do you want to sit down? Your feet must be killing you," he observed as he led her back to their table on the edge of the dance floor.
"No, actually I haven't felt them all evening," she responded with a smile. She took a sip of her ginger ale. No white wine tonight, thank you, she wanted to be sure she had both feet on the ground. It didn't really seem to be making much of a difference, though.
Scott glanced at his watch. "Uh, Betty, I think you're about to turn into a pumpkin."
"What?" Betty looked at her watch. "Oh, my gosh! It's almost midnight. If I don't get back to the Barbican before curfew, I'll lose my apartment!" she exclaimed.
Scott was way ahead of her. "Piece of cake, Betty. The last trolley comes by here in...oh, will you look at the time?" He tossed enough money on the table to cover their bill and grabbed her hand as they hastened for the exit. They were just barely in time to hop on board the last trolley of the evening, their only hope of getting Betty home in time. Scott and Betty collapsed into their seats, both a little breathless from their run.
"Whew! See, piece of cake!" Scott breathed as Betty succumbed into helpless laughter.
Several minutes later, Betty felt herself being nudged gently by somebody's elbow. Her head was pillowed comfortably on Scott's shoulder and she realized dimly that she must have dozed off for a moment or two.
"Mmm, are we there?" she murmured sleepily, lifting her head.
"Yeah, we're here, sleeping beauty," Scott said softly as he smiled down at her. He clasped her hand in his and gently tugged her from her seat and down the steps of the trolley to the pavement in front of the Barbican. They began to slowly traverse the few steps from the trolley stop to the hotel's stoop, neither of them truly ready for the evening to end.
Betty breathed in the fresh night air deeply, feeling a little more awake now. She looked up, squinting, trying to make out the stars and promptly walked straight into Scott. "Ooof," she exhaled as her chin made contact with his shoulder. She'd been so preoccupied by the stars that she hadn't realized he'd stopped and was turning towards her.
Scott clasped her by her upper arms and looked down at her with a smile playing around his lips. "Are you all right?"
"I think so, although I'm not sure my chin will ever be the same," Betty laughed, a little uncertainly.
"Here, let me see," Scott said as he took her chin in his hand and pretended to inspect it gravely. "No, no permanent damage done. What were you doing?"
"Trying to see the stars. That's one of the things I miss about home," her voice took on a far-away quality as she recalled nights spent under the stars with her father and brothers as they learned the names of the constellations. "They're so much brighter and easier to see because there's not so many bright lights around. I wish we could see them like that now; they're so beautiful."
"Yes, you are," Scott said softly, mesmerized by her eyes and voice.
"That isn't what I said," Betty started to smile up at him in amusement, but when her eyes found his, she stopped. It was almost as if the past two weeks had not happened and they were still standing under that street lamp in front of Carlton's Restaurant. That same lock of hair had fallen over his forehead and his eyes were still a deep, rich brown. As before, Betty sensed herself drifting towards him, her eyes beginning to close and she was vaguely aware that he was doing the same.
As their lips met, Scott slid his arms around her waist, gathering her as close as he could, and hers encircled his neck. When at last they broke apart, Betty found that her feet were no longer touching the pavement - the ginger ale had done her no good at all. She found it did not matter. In this one single moment, she was completely, unutterably happy and everything of importance to her was standing right in front of her.
Suddenly, someone behind Scott was clearing their throat, effectively breaking the spell of the moment. Betty tore her eyes away from Scott's and glanced over his shoulder. Ugh! Miss Pritchard, the night watchman, as the residents liked to call her, was standing with the front door propped open, poised to lock up for the night.
"Miss Roberts!" she shrilled querulously. "You must come inside now or risk an eviction. The board does not approve of late hours."
Betty turned her eyes back to Scott. "I guess that's my cue to say 'good night'."
"Mmmhmmm," Scott agreed.
"I think that means you have to put me down," Betty clarified, "before Miss Pritchard locks me out."
Scott muttered something unintelligible about hatchet-faced old battle axes with some other colorful metaphors mixed in that she didn't care to contemplate, before slowly releasing his hold on her and settling her feet back on the sidewalk.
"I had fun tonight, Scott."
"So did I. Betty, I have to tell you something," Scott began earnestly.
"I'm locking the door now, Miss Roberts," Miss Pritchard threatened.
"Tell me Monday," she said hurriedly. Then, surprising them both, she stood on her toes to kiss his cheek before rushing through the door of the hotel. He watched until he could no longer see her and then found himself confronted with Miss Pritchard, who wore an ominous frown while shaking her head disapprovingly. Scott flashed her his trademark grin, guaranteed to melt the heart of any sour old spinster, only to find that she was somehow impervious to it. Disconcerted, Scott tipped his fedora to her anyway and went on his way home. It didn't matter; nothing Miss Pritchard could do would spoil his mood - everything else was too perfect.
Scott walked rather nervously down the street from his apartment toward work. It was Monday morning and he was running a bit late, but there was just one thing he needed to do before he reached WENN. He stopped abruptly outside of a florist shop. Perfect! Now all he had to do was try to figure out what kind of flowers she liked.
He hesitated. He couldn't remember the last time he'd bought flowers for a woman; it just wasn't really his style. But Betty was no ordinary woman and with the subject he wanted to broach today, he needed all the help he could get.
Not that he felt completely insecure. After Friday night, he felt confident...well, almost confident, that Betty would not only listen when he told her he loved her, but also be able to say that she was at least beginning to feel the same way about him. So Scott had devised a plan to ask her out to lunch at The Buttery, during which he would sweep her off her feet by being completely honest - something he almost always tried to avoid. Maybe The Buttery wasn't the ideal place for this, but Scott knew that Betty wouldn't be able to get away for long during the day and for some reason he found that he didn't want to wait any longer to tell her.
He'd been just about to tell her on Friday night when that hatchet-faced prison warden had completely destroyed the opportunity. Not that he'd planned to tell Betty that night, it was just that the moment was so perfect for it. Now that the words had been on the tip of his tongue, he had to say them.
Scott had spent some time debating this with himself over the weekend. Just because he wanted to say them didn't mean it was the best decision. He'd come to the conclusion that this was one of those cases where you just had to take the risk. And Scott never hesitated from taking a risk.
He thought of Friday night's kiss again and couldn't stop himself from smiling in anticipation. Yes, now was definitely the time. Taking a deep breath, Scott purposefully opened the door of the flower shop.
Betty was pacing frantically up and down in front of Gertie's desk with the oddest sense of deja vu. Hadn't she done this before? And where was that Scott Sherwood? His first show of the day started in precisely two minutes and he was nowhere to be found.
She should be grateful, she supposed. This was the first time in two days that she hadn't been playing that kiss over and over again in her mind. It was nice to think about something else - even if she was mentally sharpening carving knives to be thrown at Scott the minute he walked in the door.
Betty's sense of frustration was quickly growing into anger. Just when she was starting to believe that Scott really cared about his job, the station and her he had to pull a disappearing act. She looked at her watch again and froze. One minute! She'd better run into Studio A and warn the cast that they'd have to stall until Scott got there.
Just as the door to Studio A was swinging closed behind Betty, the front door opened and Scott hurried inside. Gertie looked up from her fiendishly busy switchboard to cast him a curious glance, wondering what could have kept him from getting to the station on time. He looked all right physically, at least until Betty got a hold of him, she thought wryly. Scott was no more than just over the threshold when Mr. Eldridge cornered him.
"Scott, where the hell have you been?" Sensing something amiss, he came in closer to Scott and sniffed. "Are you wearing perfume?" he demanded.
"No, Mr. Eldridge. I bought some flowers," he replied absently, producing them from behind his back. He peered anxiously around the old gentleman, trying to catch a glimpse of Betty. He set the flowers on Gertie's desk while he removed his overcoat and fedora.
"For me?" queried Mr. Eldridge with a smile. "You didn't have to do that. I prefer Walden's Chocolates."
Scott brought his full attention to Mr. Eldridge. "I'm sorry, Mr. Eldridge, but those are for Betty."
"Oh, well, if she'd rather have the chocolate, I guess I'll take the flowers," Tom said resignedly.
Scott was puzzled, but was saved from having to come up with a response by the sight of Betty sprinting down the hallway to intercept him. He quickly re-hid the flowers behind his back.
"Scott Sherwood! You were supposed to be here half an hour ago. You have exactly twenty seconds to get on the air," she gasped as she hustled him toward the studio door.
"Twenty seconds?" Scott asked in disbelief. He looked down at her and heroically battled the urge to kiss her right now. He flashed her his trademark grin instead. "I'm earlier than I thought I'd be. In fact, I have just enough time to talk to you..."
"Talk? The only people who want to hear you talking right now are the members of the Pittsburgh radio audience and your co-stars," she thrust today's "Bridal Bouquet" script into his left hand and pushed him deftly through the doors of the studio before collapsing against the wall with a relieved sigh. One crisis averted so far today. How many more to go?
Scott paused on the other side of the studio door and stared blankly down at the cluster of flowers in his right hand. How was it that he still had the flowers when he'd been so intent on giving them to Betty?
At the sound of the doors swinging closed, Hilary whirled around to face him. "Ah, ladies and gentlemen, here's today's late and unlamented groom," a wicked smile bloomed across her face. "Or is it bride? Skeet, with that lovely bouquet in your hand, you look as if you had a role reversal planned for today's episode. Perhaps you'd like to be the blushing bride?"
Scott shot her a sour look. "Nah, Hildy, it's a role you've played so often in real life, I figure you have it down cold. I wouldn't dream of taking the part from you. Here," he thrust the flowers at Hilary, figuring she would look less ridiculous holding them than him.
Jeff bristled. "Now see here, Scott," he began threateningly. "We all know you're already seeing Betty, now here you are, giving my wife flowers! Maybe one woman isn't enough for you, but..."
"Your wife! How dare you have the audacity to address me as your wife!" Hilary snarled.
"Yes," Maple broke in, ever-mindful of the microphones, "everyone in Pittsburgh is waiting with bated breath to hear someone addressed as 'wife' by the end of this program. Stay tuned for further developments."
An hour later, Scott tracked Hilary down in the hallway. She was standing next to the watercooler, drinking a cup of water with her right hand, while her left arm was slung with studied casualness over the cooler, the swiftly wilting bouquet dangling from her hand. "Well, if it isn't that lazy, lackadaisical layabout Scott Wormwood! Tell me, what other delightful surprises do you have in store for us today?" She indicated the flowers. "I suppose I should be angry with you about this, but it's irritated Jeffrey to no end so I can't help but feel a grudging gratefulness."
"That's just great, Hilary. I'm so glad I could help you with your little vendetta against your husband," Scott retorted sarcastically. "Now, can I have my flowers back?" He snatched them from her hand.
"Husband? How many times must I repeat . . ."
"Oh, there you are Scott," Betty poked her head out of her office. "Could you come in here for a minute? I need to see you about something," she pulled her head back in and closed the door.
"Hold that thought, Hildy. I guess today I'm just an irresistible fool."
"You're half-right anyway," Hilary muttered.
"Gee, Hildy, I didn't know you cared," he turned to flash his grin at her, one hand on the doorknob of Betty's office.
Hilary bridled. "What the bloody blue blazes are you talking about? I meant the fool half, you half-wit!"
Scott went into the office, chuckling, leaving Hilary seething in the hallway.
Betty looked up from her desk. "Oh, Scott. Good. I..." she caught sight of the bouquet. "What are you still doing with those? I thought they were for Mr. Eldridge. Or was it Hilary?" She looked away, puzzled, trying to sort through the stories she'd heard earlier. Mr. Eldridge had come to her an hour ago, cryptically offering to trade his flowers for her chocolates. Then Jeff had come in, fuming about men who gave flowers to other men's wives. She shrugged the problem away; she'd probably never know what it was all about. "Anyway, we have a potential sponsor coming in this afternoon and the word on the grapevine is that he doesn't deal with women. He's one of those really old-fashioned types that thinks that a woman's place is in the home - and nowhere else," Betty emphasized. "I was hoping you might meet with him. He's proposing to bring a lot of money into the station and Victor was supposed to be here, but..." she finished helplessly.
"But his duties to peace and democracy come first. Sure, I understand, and of course I'll meet with this guy. Anything for you, Betty. But I've got to talk to you about something first. Well, ask you something first, I guess," he moved to give her the flowers. "Betty, these aren't for Hilary, or even Mr. Eldridge. These are for..."
"Betty," Gertie's voice crackling over the intercom interrupted him. "There's a nice looking young man here who has flowers for you. He says you have to sign for them - special instructions from the sender," Gertie's voice held all the excitement and suspense of a woman who loved gossip on the scent of a breaking story.
"Okay, Gertie, I'll be right out. Who could be sending me flowers?" she mused. "Oh, Scott, I know you were just about to tell me something, but can it keep for just a minute? I don't want to keep the delivery boy waiting. Plus, I just can't figure out who would be sending me flowers," she was already on her feet and at the office door, Scott following close on her heels. He had a pretty good idea who was sending the flowers. Victor, he thought with a derisive snort.
Betty was already at Gertie's desk signing for the flowers. They were enclosed in a white rectangular box which was tied up with a bright red ribbon.
"Open them, Betty, and look at the card," Gertie urged her. "The suspense is killing me!" Betty was already tugging open the bow and lifting off the lid of the box to reveal one dozen exquisite blood-red roses. Gertie and Betty barely restrained a gasp of surprise - these must have cost a small fortune. The activity at reception was drawing the attention of the rest of the cast and everyone was slowly migrating to see what all the fuss was about. Scott positioned himself behind Betty, craning his neck over her shoulder to try to read the note she'd taken from amongst the tissue paper.
"Well, Betty, don't leave us hanging! Who are they from?" Gertie could hardly contain her excitement.
"Victor?" Maple guessed tentatively, casting a wary eye toward Scott, who frowned dejectedly.
"A passionate listener?" suggested Jeff.
"One of my legion of fans, thanking you for writing words almost adequate for me?" Hilary mused.
"A sponsor, pleased that his sales have increased since you've been writing his show?" queried Eugenia.
Betty's eyes were still fixed to the note. "No, none of those," she said as she looked up at all of them in disbelief. "They're from Craig Atwater."
"Oh, Craig Atwater!" Eugenia exclaimed, nodding knowingly. Her face went from beaming to blank in a split second. "Who's Craig Atwater?"
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