The One With The Indecent Proposal
--She stared back at her reflection, the question of how her life had come to this foremost on her mind.
Monica had been dating Pete Becker for almost a year - a relationship that had a rocky start to begin with, her feelings for him more of friendship than romantic. It took an impromptu kiss from him to stir something within her.
Those feelings, however, had started to fizzle as of late. Once an attentive man, his focus soon moved to his struggling computer company, leaving Monica all but ignored.
Still, she stayed with him, comfortable and familiar taking precedence over the unknown.
--"I know you hate these things," Pete told Monica, bringing her out of her reverie. "We won't stay long," he promised. "I just can't pass on the opportunity to make important contacts."
She sighed, clasping her expensive necklace in place; a sign of the wealth this man once had. "That's fine."
Fingering the gold chain, her mind wandering again as she stared absently into the mirror, her boyfriend mumbling about some tie he couldn't find.
No, this was not how she pictured life at all.
--Snooty people with fake laughs and mindless dribble bored her to near tears. She stood with her scotch on the rocks with a twist, off by herself to hopefully avoid some of the pointless small talk and false smiles. Pete was great at 'putting on the face', but it was something she simply wasn't good at.
Her head snapped up at the sound of his voice, ready to put on her best smile and be cordial, as was expected, but all she could do was stare back.
His eyes were so blue, his smile so warm and genuine, she was caught off guard.
She found herself stammering, how to answer his simple question, or to even form words far from her mind. He chuckled slightly.
"Yeah, these things can render you speechless," he said in response to her silence. "I sometimes wonder if these types don't throw these parties just to see if they can outdo each other in a battle of misused and exaggeratedly pronounced 6-syllable words."
She chuckled, and he smiled at her response. "I'm Chandler."
Her smile faltered slightly. "Monica."
"A pleasure," he said, taking her hand, turning it, and kissing the knuckles.
She could've sworn she felt herself blush. "I'm here with Pete Becker," she heard herself blurt out, embarrassed that she had a second later.
"I know," he smiled. "But clearly his attentions are elsewhere," he added, gesturing to a group of men, Pete included, who were talking and laughing amongst themselves. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I kept you company for a while."
She turned away from Pete, and the man in front of her. "I'm sorry," she gushed. "Please excuse me."
His words had hit just a little too close to home, and she had to leave his presence to avoid looking foolish, the tears welling already as she rushed into the bathroom.
Was it obvious to everyone? Did everyone know their relationship had become an act, put on for others to believe? But they didn't. They didn't believe, and Monica felt more the fool because of it.
She stayed on his arm, acting as if all was well, but it was far from it, and now she knew. Everyone knew.
Staring at her reflection, at her tear stained face, her expression seemed sadder than before. There was no point in continuing the charade. She would end it with Pete after the party.
--She entered the room, scanning to locate Pete. He was still shmoozing with people of importance, including the man that had her fleeing to the restroom minutes before. Chandler. She hadn't seen him before, at any of the parties Pete insisted she attend with him. Who was he?
When he looked her way, she abruptly turned, angry with herself at getting caught staring at him. She was sure he was smiling smugly, but she didn't dare look back to confirm her suspicions. Instead, she marched over to the bar, ordering another scotch on the rocks with a twist.
She wanted to turn and see what he was doing, but she was near certain he was watching her… she could feel his eyes boring into the back of her head. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of turning around. That would denote interest, and she didn't have an interest in him. Did she?
"He comes from new money," a snooty older woman murmured softly to the woman she was with as they approached the bar. "A lottery winner," she added with disgust.
"How was he even invited?" the second woman asked, equally disgusted.
"Anymore, it doesn't matter where the money comes from, so long as you have some," the first woman replied, then placed her drink order with the bartender. "And what kind of name is Chandler Bing?" she asked, snickering.
--He was a lottery winner, Monica thought to herself. That was why she hadn't seen him before. The older people, who had come from a long line of wealth, obviously didn't approve of him being there. They shared that in common. Most didn't care for Monica, either.
It was Chandler's voice, Monica recognized it immediately, but she remained with her back to him, noting the exaggerated scoffs coming from the old ditties as they walked away.
"I guess I'm not very popular at this event," he mused, ordering 'the same as the lady' from the bartender.
They stood in an uncomfortable silence as they both sipped their drinks… it was Chandler who finally broke the silence.
"I'm sorry if I upset you earlier," he apologized.
"You didn't upset me," she lied, unconvincingly.
"So, you usually go running off to the bathroom in tears at parties?"
With an indignant exhale of air, she turned on her heel and stepped away from the bar. "If you'll excuse me," she grumbled through gritted teeth.
"And if I won't?" he asked, his smile growing wider.
There was a very noticeable pause in the pace of her departure, but she quickly recovered, heading straight for Pete. In a show that was obviously put on for the man she was angered by, Monica linked her arm with her boyfriend's, smiling and hanging on his every word like a doting girlfriend.
For the most part, Pete acted as if she wasn't even there, his attention clearly on kissing the asses of the wealthy potential backers of his declining company.
Chandler seemed to take some kind of perverse pleasure in the scene that was playing out, his smug smile almost a constant on his face. It only served to irritate Monica further, and she was prepared to drop all pretenses and tell the man exactly what she thought of him, when he started his approach.
"What do you want?" she barked, her anger peaked.
The slight glance in her direction was almost an ignore, it was so slight. Extending his hand, Chandler shook with Pete before leaning in, speaking in almost a whisper.
"I've given your pitch some thought, and I'm willing to discuss backing your company."
Pete excused himself, directing Chandler to where they could talk in private. Monica followed along, under the guise that she wasn't ready to give up Pete's companionship. In actuality, she was dying to be there, to hear what this Chandler had to say.
Why was she so perplexed by this man?
--"That all sounds fine," Chandler said, nodding along with Pete's proposal, "And I'm prepared to give you one million dollars in support…"
"Oh my God. Sir, you have no idea-"
"But," Chandler interrupted Pete's ecstatic ramblings, "I have a provision."
"Ok, sure," Pete agreed, "What is your proposal?"
Chandler glanced at Monica, who watched with concerned curiosity as the words that would change her life were uttered.
"I will give you the one million dollars, no strings attached," Chandler stated with forced confidence, "If I can have one night… twenty-four hours… with Monica."
…TO BE CONTINUED…
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