IT'S EARLY AFTERNOON AT THE OFFICES OF CALLISON PUBLICATIONS

Trevor CallisonCallison Publications"Lorraine...?  Lorraine?  Are you even listening to me?"  Trevor Callison propped himself on the edge of the desk as he pulled the file from Lorraine Blake's hands.

"Sorry, Honey, I just want to get this report finished for your father before lunch.  He's been in a meeting all morning with Douglas."

Trevor grabbed her hand as he pulled her from her chair.  "There'll be plenty of time for that later.  You need to eat.  I bet you haven't had a bite since this morning."  He laughed as he hid the folder behind his back when she tried to reach for it.  "Lorraine, I told you that it can wait!"

Lorraine Blake"Okay."  She folded her arms across her chest when she realized that there was no winning with him.  Trevor always seemed to have a way of convincing her to do what he wanted.  Maybe it was the mischievous gleam in his eye or the boyish grin that would flash across his face.  He always looked like he was up to something even when he wasn't. Lorraine thought about how he could make her heart melt every time he looked at her.  "I guess I can put this off until later.  Besides, I think your father will understand."

"So, you think that contract is fair?"  Charles asked as he followed Douglas and Annabelle out of the office.  "I don't want to spend an arm and a leg to get him on board the Callison team, but I don't want him to feel manipulated either."

"Charles, I think this contract is more than fair.  It's way more than Preston is getting with McBride Publishing.  You know as well as I do that, with his track record, his books are gonna make Callison a lot of money.  Rumor has it that Fox has optioned the last one for a movie deal."

"Well, Douglas, I read his last book and I think that if they can get DeMille, it could be a big movie.  I must have seen Cleopatra six times last year."  Annabelle pushed past Lorraine as she reached for her jacket.

Douglas Davis"Trevor, son, why are you and Lorraine still here?  It's lunch!  Go get something to eat!"

"That's what I've been trying to tell her, Father."  Trevor lowered his head slightly to hide a laugh as he glanced at Lorraine.  She knew he had been right about the report waiting until after lunch, but she really felt like she needed to impress Charles.  Lorraine knew that she wasn't exactly from the same social class as the Callisons.  Sure, her father was a prominent college professor at NYU, but it wasn't quite the same as owning your own company.

"Well, I hate to meet and run, but I've got another very important engagement for lunch."  Douglas reached out to shake Charles' hand.  "Annabelle, I'll see you in the office later?"

"Um, yes, Douglas."  She looked around impatiently as she wondered exactly how long it would take for everyone to leave.

"Well, Douglas. Lorraine and I need to get going, too."  He took her by the arm and lead her towards the door.  "Let's walk you out."

Annabelle Lake"I'll be back after lunch, Mr. Callison,"  Lorraine said as she walked out with Douglas and Trevor.  "Annabelle, are you coming?"

Charles Callison"Oh, oh, yes,"  she stammered.  "Wait!  You go on without me.  I just realized I left my purse in Charles' office.  Good seeing you again, Trevor."  Finally alone in the office, Annabelle took a deep breath and looked at Charles.  "My purse?"

"Oh, yes, Annabelle, let me get it for you."

"Well, actually, wait," she paused for a moment allowing him to turn and face her.  "My purse isn't the only reason I'm here.  Let's step into your office.  There's something I want to discuss with you."


IT'S LUNCHTIME AT THE GARDENS RESTAURANT

The Gardens Restaurant"I still remember the first time I saw you at that dance.  You had on that white dress and you had your hair up."  Reginald gazed across the table at Jillian.  Their food had been on the table for nearly half an hour, but neither one of them had touched a bite.  "You just took my breath away."

"Oh, Reginald."  She blushed slightly as she lowered her head.  She fumbled nervously with her napkin before looking up at him.  Was this going to be the moment that she'd been waiting months for?  "Poor Helen.  I think she really did care for you a great deal."

"Forget Helen.  She's such a ditz anyway.  We were only going out for companionship.  You saw how quickly she dumped me once she got asked out by the quarterback for the football team!  Besides, she's ancient history.  It's just you and me now."

Reginald Callison"I have never met anyone like you in my entire life.  I have danced with some of the most prominent young men in New York society and even got proposed to a couple of times..."  She felt a catch in her throat when she realized she'd mentioned proposals.  She didn't want to feel like she was leading him in that direction.  Jillian didn't want Reginald to ask her to marry him because he felt like it was something he was supposed to do.  She wanted him to do it because he wanted to do it.  "I mean...no one could ever hold a candle to you.  You are the greatest love I've ever had."

"So you've loved others?"  He grinned wickedly as he teased her.  He leaned back in his chair as he watched her squirm a bit trying how to untie herself from her own words.  "How many others have there been?"

"One or two."  She smiled innocently as she realized exactly what he was doing.  He always enjoyed the more playful aspects of their relationship.  She remembered the time he had too much to drink and put ice down her dress.  She was so mad at him at the time, but she could never stay mad for long.  There were always so many more facets to Reginald that no one else ever saw.  No one but her.  He interrupted her memory by reaching across the table and taking her hand in his.

"Jillian, I love you like no one else in the world."  He rose from his chair knelt down beside her while he reached in his pocket.

Jillian Stokes"Reginald?"  Was this it?  Was this the moment?

He pulled a tiny satin box out and held it in front of her.  Slowly, he opened it to reveal the most beautiful princess cut diamond that she'd ever seen.  "Jillian Marie Stokes, will you do me the most gracious honor of agreeing to become my wife?"  Jillian felt the tears of joy begin to form as she held out her hand.

"Oh, yes, Reginald, yes!"  He slowly slid the ring on her finger.  "Marrying you is the thing I want most in the world.  I love you so much!"  He flew to his feet and took her in his arms.  Their lips met to seal their destinies and as they kissed, they knew that this was the most right thing in the world.

 


MEANWHILE,  A FEW TABLES OVER

"Ahh...I hate it that you got tied up in the library and couldn't meet me and Stephanie at The Well."  Sara smiled at Dane as she draped her napkin over her lap before looking at the menu.  She had only eaten at The Gardens a few times before and was thrilled that Dane had offered to take her there for lunch to make up for their missed date.

"I'm sorry.  I really tried to get away, but that paper for American History has been taking up a lot of time."  Dane looked at Sara, but quickly his attention was drawn away when he spotted Jillian and Reginald.  "You know how I feel about my studies."

Sara Summers"That's one of the things I love about you so much.  You're determined to succeed and you've set your goals.  I wish I could be so certain of the things I want out of life.  The only thing I'm really sure of is you!"

"Well, you've just got to find something you want and go after it.  Be stubborn. Don't give up."  Dane continued to watch Jillian.  He couldn't pull his eyes away as he saw her hold out her hand to admire a shiny new ring that was now on her finger.  An engagement ring!  He couldn't believe it.  Jillian was actually going to marry that dud!  Dane knew that Reginald Callison was the last thing  she needed.  Reginald was a boring sod who was entirely too focused on his family's business.  He couldn't give her the life of excitement that Dane knew  he could provide.

"...but then Stephanie said..."  Sara's words trailed off when she looked up from her menu and noticed Dane lost it thought.  "Dane?  Are you even listening to me?"

"Ummm....sorry, Honey.  I was just thinking about all the things I have to do this afternoon."  Dane really did care about Sara.  She was a sweet girl.  Not quite as interesting and complex as Jillian, but sweet.  A little boring, too.  Maybe she should be the one with Reginald.  Dane held back a little laugh at the thought.  "Now, as you were saying."

"I was saying that Stephanie said I should cut my hair.  What do you think?"

Dane Manchester"No, don't cut it.  I love it just the way it is."  Dane raised his hand to stroke her dark locks.  He smiled at her before looking over her shoulder again to see Reginald and Jillian in a kiss.  His thoughts grew dark as he focused on the happy couple and remembered a time not long ago.  It was a time when Jillian would kiss him like that.  A time when Jillian was telling Dane how much she loved him.  Now Jillian was going to marry Reginald.  Not if Dane could help it.

 


IT'S EARLY AFTERNOON IN CHARLES' OFFICE

Callison PublicationsCharles Callison"Well, Annabelle, what did you want to talk to me about?"  Charles went and sat down behind his desk.  He sorted through some papers while he waited for an answer.  Soon, he paused and looked up at her.  Annabelle walked slowly to the desk and leaned against its edge as she straightened the seam in her stocking.

"Well, Charles, how are you and Francis doing?"  She smiled coyly.  "I mean, it can't be easy having a successful marriage when much of your time is occupied with Callison Publications.  How do you do it?  I barely have time for a social life, and I don't have near the commitments that you do."

"When you love someone as much as I love Francis, you make time.  Granted, it hasn't been easy through the years.  We've had as many problems as any other couple.  We just realize that we have to work them out together."  Charles studied Annabelle closely.  He knew that she was up to something, but what?  Her type was always up to something.  "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious.  That's all."  She placed her hand on his and looked deeply into his eyes.  Charles quickly grew uncomfortable and looked away.  He felt his face flush.  Not as much from the embarrassment of her obvious advances, but more for the feelings that began to stir inside him.  He'd been stable and responsible for so long.  He had to put away all the foolishness of childhood long ago.  He looked at her as a million thoughts raced through his head.

"You are such a handsome man, Charles."  Annabelle leaned in closer to him as she lightly stroked his face.  "I would hate to see your charms wasted.  I don't think that Francis appreciates you as much as she should.  She's always so involved with her charity functions.  I appreciate you, Charles..."  She leaned in even closer and their lips met.

"No!"  He pushed her away and moved away from the desk.  He turned his back to her and thought again of Francis and his family.  They were his life.  "I love my wife very much, Annabelle.  I will not throw it all away for the likes of you!"

Annabelle LakeAnnabelle stood up straight and grabbed her purse from the desk.  "You might be rejecting me now, Charles.  But I assure you that there will come a day when you finally wake up and realize that your precious wife is draining your soul.  When you realize that I'm the one who can give that back to you, you'll come running to me."  Leaving those words ringing in Charles ear, she turned on her heel and walked out.  Charles ran his fingers along his lips, still feeling the presence of that near kiss.  Yes, he did love his wife, but why was the excitement of that near moment burned in his head?