Johnny was getting closer to the bottle green Bedford van, the back windows covered by the red fabric that passed for curtains. It had become a kind of routine now; gambling at the table, turn up in the morning, get the jacket and talk to Penelope.
He couldn't see how this Edward guy could hate her so much. She was so smart and easy to talk to. A little shy maybe, but who was counting that? And yet here he was shouting to the world like she was some kind of monster!
He was next to the back doors of the van and raised his fist to knock but stopped when he realised that Edward and the reporter, Lemon, were talking.
"…on purpose." The blue blood's voice drifted through the thin plastic that sat between them. He had the intense feeling they were talking about him. "He's going for the dowry."
Lemon sighed. "Wish I could find a girl with a dowry."
Was that all they thought of him? Some kind of looser who couldn't see past their next payday? The anger inside him began to build, but he held it in check, moving to stand by the side of the van, keeping himself out of view.
"Think about it Lemon," Edward continued, "Max is only here for the money, so it makes sense that he'd go for the dowry! It's ten times the amount we're offering!"
Johnny gritted his teeth. If they wanted to look at him that way, then fine, he'll make them believe in their little fantasy. Being careful not to alert them to his presence, he made his way towards the mansion, doffing his hat and brushing his hair with his fingers. He wanted to look at least slightly presentable when he saw her. Or at least when she saw him.
Pulling his scarf from around his neck, he straightened his jacket and knocked on the door. Moments later, the woman he'd come to know as Wanda opened it, a huge smile on her face.
"Max! How lovely to see you again!" she said, opening the door further. "Please come in."
Stepping over the threshold of the Wilhern household, smiling at the overly enthusiastic lady beside him. He held up his things. "Shall I… take these?"
"Oh no!" she took them from his hands and walked towards the stair, "I'll hang them up for you." She stopped next to the banister. "You know the way don't you?" When he nodded her smile, against all odds, grew wider, and she went off down the hallway.
As he began to climb the stairs, Johnny could feel the tension building inside him, like it always did. Whenever he was in that room, she… they thought he was someone else, a blue blood, and yet here he was, the son of a plumber and a bust gambler. Every time he left that room, amongst the feelings of happiness and peace was the feeling of guilt; guilt for pretending to be a man he could never be; guilt for betraying her trust every time he wore that jacket.
He had to tell her.
Johnny stepped through the door.
"Okay I've got it." Penelope said over the microphone, leaving him no chance to say anything. "Piano, You play the piano," he walked over to the mirror and looked briefly over his shoulder at the piano that sat in the corner of the room, "I bet my life on it."
"Alright, keep in mind," he said, forming a plan in his mind, "never bet a better." He cringed inwardly at himself. That was subtle! You think she missed that idiot? He nodded and walked over to the instrument, admiring the woodwork. As he lifted the cover off of the keys he looked back briefly and sat down, stretching his fingers out as he always did before playing. Of course she didn't know that, so he thought he'd have a bit of fun. "And a one, and a two, and a one – 'You are my…'" he played some chords, "'su-unshine, my only…'" he moved his hands to play another, "sunshine, you make me…" he played some purposely wrong chords, "'happy when skys are…'" he played some more incorrect chords, "'grey'… no."
"No, it's B flat." She said informatively as he continued.
He laughed. So she did know how to play. "'You are my… sunshine…'"
"B flat on the right hand."
"'my only… sunshine.'" He flourished the notes on his left hand as though he were trying to do what she wanted.
"No, right hand."
He sucked in a breath through his teeth. "'You are my…'" he changed his chord to a minor, "'sunshine, my only…'" he played another, though higher this time, "'sunshine, you make me…'"
A hand came to overlap his own, and he heard a familiar voice in his ear. "You see, your left hand stays…" he stopped playing and let her move his hands, "and the right hand plays the chords."
Johnny smiled. "'My…'" he played the notes she told him to, "'sunshine'."
"See?" Penelope said.
"Yeah, it's better…" he turned to face her.
His back hit the glass doors to the cabinet behind him as he jumped back in shock.
Penelope, the girl he had been talking to for the past month, was standing there, right in front of him… with a snout instead of a nose. It didn't seem real. All he could do was stare. Was this really her?
He watched as she tried to say something, but she just fell into silence, looking down at the floor before her eyes returned to him. They were beautiful eyes, so full of hope and dreams, ready to believe in anything. He began to edge towards her, bringing his hand up to her face, to her nose. As he touched it, he felt the side of his mouth twitch upwards slightly.
"How…?" he couldn't say any more, and he let his hand move past her snout and onto her cheek where a tear had fallen down, his fingers wiping it away. His hand continued to move until it ended up resting on her shoulder.
"You… you didn't run away." She said, her scared face slowly turning into a smile.
"Run away?" he frowned at her, "Why would I run away?" she began to sob. "No, don't… come here." He pulled her into a warm embrace, resting her head on his shoulder. "Why would I run away Penelope?"
"I look like… I'm ugly! I look like a pig!" she cried, her voice slightly muffled from speaking into his jacket.
"What?" Johnny pulled her away and looked straight into her tearful eyes; those beautiful weepy brown eyes. "You are not ugly Penelope. You're beautiful." He brushed her hair behind her ears, ignoring the fact that they were also very pig-like, "You're beautiful and smart and amazing at interrogating people…" she laughed slightly at that, which made him grin, "And you're the most brilliant woman I've ever met."
She stared at him, her hand coming up to her nose. "But, my nose…" her hand moved to the side of her head, "my ears…"
"…are what make you you." Johnny smiled at her. "And to be honest, I think they're kind of cute."
She smiled at him and blushed, returning to her previous position in his arms. It felt like the most comfortable and natural thing in the world to him. "Thank you." She said, and kissed him on the cheek.
"Oh my God!" Jessica exclaimed, dropping her bowl of popcorn as she stood, unable to believe what had just transpired on the screen in front of her.
Franklin nodded, smiling at the television.
"He didn't run." Wanda said, staring at the air in front of her face. "He actually didn't run."
"It's a miracle!"
"More than a miracle!"
Mr Wilhern stood, putting his box of ice cream back on the kitchen table, leaving the two women to ramble on about how this was all thanks to them. Slowly, he made his way upstairs and knocked on the 'meeting' room's door.
Accepting his daughter's invitation, he opened the door and stepped inside. When he saw that Penelope was still in the young man's arms he smiled, and his smile grew even wider at the sight of his expression. It was the look of a man completely at ease, a man who was comfortable exactly where he was.
"I see you've met my daughter." He said, causing her to turn around in Max's arms.
His smile brightened as they unwrapped themselves from each other's arms in embarrassment, their cheeks flushing bright red. It reminded him of the time Jessica's father had caught them kissing in the kitchen in her mansion.
Slowly, he made his way towards them until he was barely a foot away from the young man. He watched him squirm under his gaze and he remembered how he had squirmed. He held sympathies for this man, so he wouldn't prolong it any further. "You believe she's beautiful?"
Max blinked. "Y… yes sir." He looked over his shoulder to where Penelope was sure to be stood. "She's the most beautiful woman I've ever met."
Franklin nodded. "And you'll return tomorrow?"
"Yes sir." He replied, not pausing for a second, his eyes not moving from over the older man's shoulder. He really meant what he said, didn't he.
"Then I expect you back here at ten o'clock sharp and not a minute late." He began to walk out of the room. "My daughter does not like to be kept waiting."
AN - Okay, so I'm a gonner for soppy love stories. So sue me!
I watch Penelope last night and I knew I had to write something about it, and as soon as this scene came up, I couldn't think of anything else to do.
I have no idea when I'll upload the next chapter, so don't be expecting it too soon (I've got a lot of work to do at the moment).
Hope you guys liked it!