"Sir, if you don't mind, I'm going to call it a night. I can barely keep my eyes open."
It wasn't often that Grace would dismiss herself from work, if ever. These past few days had been a whirlwind for the Warbucks household, and her continuous yawning was proof that they'd caught up to her. Despite her late-night exhaustion, she wouldn't trade a single moment of Annie's stay for anything. That child had changed the mansion in so many ways. Everywhere you looked there were smiles. Many of the staff members had even picked up the little tunes she sang. Humming sounded through the halls now and it was a marvelous change to the strict business atmosphere. She had a way of endearing everyone she met; even Oliver Warbucks. Grace knew that he'd taken a liking to Annie, but he hadn't said it aloud... not yet anyway.
"Wait a minute," Oliver replied. "There's something I'd like to discuss with you first."
"Yes, Mr. Warbucks?" No matter how hard she tried, her irritation with his typical 'one more thing' never was able to show through. She felt if she denied him her attention, she'd be missing out on something important - and she didn't mean work.
Usually around this time in the conversation, Grace would be shaken from her hopes and fantasies with reality. Every single time the matter was related to work. For once, however, the subject was more personal. "Grace..." he started nervously. "I've been thinking about something over the past couple days..."
"And I... well, I want your opinion on the idea."
"What is it, sir?"
"It's about Annie. I was thinking about maybe... you know..."
Unable to take a breath, Grace said as she held herself still, "Yes...?" She hoped her prediction of his next words would be correct.
"I want to adopt her."
"Oh!" she squeaked with delight. "That's wonderful, sir. Absolutely wonderful!"
"So you think it's a good idea?"
"I think it's a marvelous idea!"
Remaining stoic, the billionaire continued. "Do you think it will interrupt work too much? I know Annie is good about keeping to herself during work hours, but that could change if she were here permanently. I'm losing factories as it is. One more distraction and I could lose everything."
"Oh sir, you're far from losing everything. Annie knows that you need to work. I really do think it's a splendid idea. "
"I don't even know why I'm considering this. The last thing I need is a child."
"You love her, that's why."
At this, Oliver raised his head up from his papers. The woman blushed, realizing that maybe he wasn't ready to name any emotions. She was set to apologize for her forwardness, but to her surprise, she found herself saying, "It's all right to feel that way."
"There is a big difference between loving someone and caring for someone, Grace." He grumbled. "I just don't like the thought of sending her back to that orphanage. I'm able to provide for her, so I feel as I should. I will admit that I have enjoyed her company."
"I'd say those are valid reasons."
Looking up at his secretary again, he thought a moment before concluding. "Well then, I guess I'll have my lawyer stop by the orphanage with the papers tomorrow."
"Oh, sir, could I please be the one to go?"
Surprised by the eager request, he replied, "I suppose, if you want. Any particular reason why?"
"Well, it might be easier. I was the one to fetch Annie in the first place, it would cut down the hassle of another introduction."
"Ah, good thinking." There was a reason why Grace was the highest paid member on his staff, he thought. "I suppose that will be all then. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Mr. Warbucks," Grace smiled.
As she walked to the door, she maintained her grin. While being the one to get the adoption papers signed would help speed up the process, the real reason why she wanted to go herself was to see the look on that woman's face. Perhaps she had gotten too much enjoyment from outsmarting her during their first meeting. Telling her that Annie wasn't going to be back would be even more fun. Honestly, she'd been concerned about what Annie would be returning to after Christmas. Going by her stories and what she'd witnessed herself, there would be a harsh punishment awaiting her. Oh how she wished for a way to stop this ruthless matron. Those other poor children mustn't have it any easier than Annie. She'd thought about having Oliver pull some strings, but overall, it was their word against hers. Clearly, she was smart enough to have kept her job all these years. Annie said that she'd at least been around since she was a baby.
In the meantime, she decided to mess with Miss Hannigan's head. It was no secret that she was jealous of Annie's invitation. The look on her face when she heard that the child would be getting a new coat had been quite gratifying. Now she could go back and tell her all of Annie's adventures from this first week. Maybe she'll start with those stories, and then get to the adoption bit. Yes, she was going to have her fun with this task.
When she reached the door, Grace turned back to her boss. "When do you plan to tell her?"
"No," she chuckled. "Annie."
"Oh. I guess sometime tomorrow."
"I'm sure she will be ecstatic."
"I hope so."
Grace nodded another goodnight before she started to exit, but she stopped when she heard him say her name.
"Could you do one more thing?" he asked.
"Stop by Tiffany's on your way home and see if they have any new lockets. It won't hurt to add a little bribe to the deal."
"I don't think you'll need a bribe, but yes, I will see what they have. That one she wears now is in rough shape."
"Precisely what I was thinking."
"I'll go first thing in the morning," she smiled again.
Not daring to match that smile, he looked down and softly said, "Thank you."
"Any time, sir."