I have never been able to write a fic so quickly! I wrote the bulk of this in 3 days! The thing had a mind of its own. And it gave me an ending I totally didn't expect I would write.

Setting: sometime mid-forth season


Mr. Roberts

By Digne

"OH JEFF, look at this script!" Hilary moaned.

"What's the matter? I think it's fine. Another thrilling chapter in the life of Sam Dane Private Eye."

"But that's just it, a thrilling chapter in the life of 'Sam Dane.' " Hilary slumped onto the green room couch. "As for my character I get gunned down in the first 10 minutes, and I only have a few lines, the most thrilling of them being ..." she paused, put on a flushed appearance and said, " 'No, don't shoot.' "

"But there's other shows, Hilary," Jeff said. He joined her on the coach. "You're exaggerating. You've got Daphne Danvers, and what about Elizabeth Marlowe, why just this week ..."

" ... just this week Brent got amnesia again. Elizabeth's entire existence revolves around Brent's amnesia. Jeff, I crave real theater! A chance to really explore the craft, to get deep into the psyche of my character." She sighed. "We only ever get to perform the classics every now and then."

"Yes, I miss doing Shakespeare; of course our last attempt was less than stellar."

"Shakespeare should never be attempted on no sleep. Meanwhile I'll do the best I can on these scripts." she sighed. "As if this part weren't bad enough she can't even die properly and be done with it. She makes an appearance at the end as a ghost. Our last show before sign off and I can't even go home when my part is done, I have to sit here for an eternity to deliver two lines at the end."

Jeff touched Hilary's hand sympathetically, "Well maybe after the broadcast we could go out and get a bite to eat or something?"

"Oh no you don't." Hilary pushed Jeff away. "I haven't entirely forgiven you for marring that Czechoslovakian harlot, that is if I ever will."

Jeff frowned. "Then I guess I'll go see if Mr. Foley has the sound effects he needs. He said something about needing a tub of water for some sort of suicide scene, death by drowning I guess?"

As Jeff exited the green room, Scott entered.

"Hiya Hilary," he said. "How are things?"

She stared gloomily at him.

"Well, sorry I asked." He paused, "Do you have Maple's script? I can't find Betty and Mr. Foley wouldn't give me a straight answer about where he'd last seen it. "

"She can share with me."

Scott looked very surprised. "Did I just hear Miss Hilary Booth talk about sharing?"

"I won't be needing it very long anyway." She rose from the couch. "Well I guess I'd better get this over with. Play my two scenes, have my 'great' line, die, one hour off the air, come back as a ghost ... taxi."

"Hilary, what are you talking about? Ah, never mind."

Hilary rose from the coach and exited the room

SCOTT DIDN'T THINK LONG about Hilary's situation. He had his own concerns. Betty had been especially distant all day. He'd hardly seen her since before lunch. She'd talked a long time to Victor in Washington the night before and Scott was itching to know what was going on.

He followed Hilary to the hall, but he didn't go into the studio yet. There was still ten minutes before the show started.

He saw Eugenia approaching the studio, "Eugenia, do you know where Betty is?"

"She's in the office, on the phone with Victor," she replied entering the studio.

Scott's heart sank as his curiosity rose to a fever pitch. He looked down the hall toward reception. Gertie wasn't at her desk and no one else was around.

He'd hung around Gertie long enough to know a few of her tricks. He went over to her desk and took a wire cord from the switch board and connected it into a socket enabling him to listen in on the conversation.

"Victor, this is very sudden," Betty's voice seemed unusually flustered. Happily flustered Scott noticed.

"I know, but I've thought a lot about this and I think it's time we made it official," Victor replied.

"But there'll be so much planning, I don't have time."

"I'll be back at the station, in a couple of days. I'll be able help you. I just have a few things to settle here before I can leave."

"But what am I suppose to tell the others?"

"If you tell them how you feel I'm sure they'll be supportive. After all this isn't just important to you and me, but to the entire station."

"My gosh, Victor, $5,400!"

"I know! It might finally free up things for us to really do something significant. I met with Mr. Heffington yesterday and before we can make any announcements he wants to see the station to make his final decision."

"But aren't you afraid of getting the cast's hopes up?"

"Not if you handle it correctly. Mr. Heffington will only agree to sponsor our new off-broadway showcase theater if he likes what he sees at WENN. So it's going to take a group effort on everyone's part to make an impression on him." Victor paused, "Betty, he's a little difficult to deal with but I think what I told him about us made an impression. Just what ever you do don't do anything to upset him. He nearly broke off the deal when I mentioned Friday's Yankees game. Apparently he's a big Yankees fan and doesn't take criticism of them lightly."

"Oh dear! That's a lot of a pressure."

"Nothing you can't handle. I know I'm leaving this in your very capable hands, and the cast will help you. I'm sure it will be a very memorable reception. I'll be working with his associates here grinding out some of the details so with any luck by tomorrow we'll have the whole thing settled. Just make sure he signs the contract before he leaves. He said he'd be arriving in Pittsburgh sometime around one tomorrow."

"Got it."

"I'll be there as soon as I can. And when I do get back we'll have this plump new account and plenty of new opportunities before us. See you soon!"

"Bye"

"Take care."

The telephone conversation ended and Scott hung up his end. His eaves dropping had afforded no real revelations but he was grateful to know that at least some of their private conversations were just shop talk.

He left the switch board as he found it and headed into the studio.

"JEFFREY! HAVE YOU HEARD?" Hilary asked the following day after the broadcast of 'Valiant Journey.'

"What? Oh! The off-Broadway showcase theater? Eugenia just told me! It's exciting isn't it?"

"Exciting doesn't even begin to describe it. We'll be doing some of the hottest new plays right here at our station"

Scott couldn't help over hearing. "Not to mention getting $5,400 in the bargain."

"Everything come downs to money with you," Hilary replied. "You're like a human cash register. If you push all the right buttons a bell rings."

Scott couldn't help it. "Hillary is an expert on finding a man's buttons." It wasn't his fault that Hilary left herself open like that.

Hilary glowered as Scott but before she could speak Jeff interrupted.

"Well the deal's not quite final yet Hilary."

"I know, I know ... But I'm not going to let anything go wrong. I'm not going to let Victor Comstock or Betty Roberts do anything to ruin this opportunity.

"Or even Scott Sherwood," Hilary spat and turned to Scott.

"What now?" Scott moaned.

"Is it too much to ask that you stick to the script. And while they certainly aren't O'Dette, O'Neal or even Shakespeare they are at least half way decent. How dare you steal my lines!"

"Now don't go blowing things out of proportion," Scott replied.

"You completely ruined my final scene. You complemented Daphne on her 'manly physic,' and 'suave moustache!' "

"Have a sense of humor. Maybe Daphne is doing a vaudeville number?" Scott said sarcastically.

"In her private saloon?" Hilary exclaimed.

This illustration was too much for Jeff. He tried to stifle his laughter.

"Jeffrey Singer I saw that smirk!" Hilary exclaimed.

"Hilary, I'm sure it was an accident," Jeff defended.

"Really? This would make it the seventy-third such 'accident,' " Hilary added. "Perhaps Jeff you'd like to explain Friday's 'accident' again?"

"Now Hilary," Jeff pleaded, trying to stave off laughing. "Don't bring up that rubber chicken incident again."

Scott's expression was pure glee. Hilary was about to blow. He knew it was a little dangerous viewing, but he loved how Jeff attempts to douse the flames always managed to make her fire even worse.

"You've got to admit it was pretty funny." Scott burst into laughter. Which finally set Jeff off as well. Neither seemed to be able to help themselves.

"Ooooh!" Hilary fumed. "If I were the pair of you I'd be careful, or you might find yourselves on the receiving end of one these 'accidents!'"

While Hilary zeroed in on Jeff. Scott found it convenient to make his exit. He wondered what Betty's up to.

EARLIER THAT AFTERNOON Mr. Heffington arrived to meet Betty. Gertie was still at lunch. But Betty, knowing how much was riding on this meeting, had been so nervous that she'd been watching the hall for nearly an hour before he arrived.

"Mr. Heffington?"

"Yes, Julian Heffington, of Heffington Oil," the man answered.

"I'm Betty Robert's. I'm the writer here. We're all so excited about your interest in sponsoring a program with us."

Mr. Heffington was in his thirties, medium build, he was rather good looking and very well dressed. However there was an oddity in the part of his hair that made him look almost childish, it had entirely to much hair grease. He raised his eyebrow slyly. "Well I can't begin to tell you about my interests in visiting you today." He took a step to his side. And scanned Betty from head to foot. "Victor Comstock has painted a very favorable picture of you all and I just had to see if the description was appropriate." He took a few more steps with out speaking till he had nearly circled Betty. "Very, very," then after a pause, "very."

Betty had a bad feeling about this, she'd dealt with sponsors before but dealing with the richer ones was a cultural experience she didn't feel quiet as well versed in, especially one she knew she couldn't possibly afford to offend.

"Well if you will follow me this way, we can get started," Betty said directing him to the office. Betty felt his eyes on her as he followed her at an odd distance. It made her more uncomfortable when he closed the door of the office after they entered.

"Mr. Heffington, please take a seat. We're in the middle of 'Valiant Journey' at the moment, that's one of our shows. You can meet the cast as soon as they get off the air. Perhaps you'd like to read over the proposed contract while we wait. Or would you like to watch the ... "

Mr. Heffington didn't seem to be listening, and there was still that odd look in his eyes. Betty decided to try another approach.

"I'm sure Victor told you about our cast. One of our actresses, Hilary Booth has appeared on Broadway, and Jeffrey Singer has performed with many ..."

Suddenly Mr. Heffington leaped out of his chair and grabbed Betty around the waist. "Now, let's dispense with the formalities, you're a darling little thing; I've hardly been able to keep my eyes off of you. Nothing at all like I expected, one has a vision of female writers as decrepit spinsters."

Betty was absolutely flabbergasted, she pushed herself away from Mr. Heffington embrace.

"Oh playing hard to get are we. Well I enjoy a challenge."

Betty was about to tell him to get packing when she remembered why she was there in the first place. What was she suppose to do? Victor had specifically told her not to offend him. And they really needed his account. But Victor wouldn't have had to deal with this. Mr. Heffington certainly wouldn't have tried to embrace Victor or call him a "darling little thing." She starred at him dumbstruck desperate for an escape route.

"Oh now, don't tell me there's someone else." Mr. Heffington still approaching her as she backed away. "What's some pitiful beau next to me. I can beat any man, I'm richer, better looking at besides 'you' need me."

"I ... I uh ..." Betty took several deep breaths. "It's just that ... "

'"Yes?" Mr. Heffington replied as he continued to approach Betty, backing her into a corner behind the desk.

"Well ..." Betty felt sweat beading on her forehead. She took a deep breath, "Well ..."

Suddenly Scott appeared in the door way. "Man Betty, Hilary just has no sense of ..." Scott gave a confused glanced as he assessed the situation; Betty cowering in the corner and this stranger looking domineering over her.

Betty brightened up, "Scott! Darling!" She rushed to his side, took his arm and quickly kissed his cheek.

She then turned back to Mr. Heffington and indicated Scott as she said, "I'd like you to meet ... my husband!"

"Your husband?" Mr. Heffington exclaimed."

"Yes, Scott this is Mr. Julian Heffington"

"Oh, yeah the new sponsor. It's a real pleasure," Scott reached forward and heartily shook Mr. Heffington's hand. If Scott was confused he hid it well. Mr. Heffington, however, was flabbergasted.

"Oh dear, I had no idea. Nice to meet you Mr. Roberts."

"What?" Scott thought for a moment and then realizing, "Oh, likewise."

"You're a very lucky man!" Mr. Heffington replied.

Scott grinned, "Yeah!"

"I do apologize," Mr. Heffington continued, perhaps not entirely sincere. "It's just that Mrs. Roberts wasn't wearing a wedding ring."

Scott put on expression of total astonishment. "Betty, you lost it again?" Then turning back to Mr. Heffington, "I never met a woman who had more trouble keeping track of jewelry. She spends all her time thinking about radio." Scott stopped and smiled at Betty. "Well not 'all' her time." He leaned over and kissed her cheek.

Betty smiled nervously.

"Now, why don't we get on with business?" Mr. Heffington said rather matter-of-fact. "After all that's why we're all here."

"Certainly." Scott beamed as he took Betty's hand and led her over to the desk. "Betty, where's that contract?"

"Oh it's right here."

"Wait!" Mr. Heffington whined. "I was promised a tour."

Scott's eyes sparkled slyly, "Of course, Betty and I would love to give you a tour! Wouldn't we Betty?"

Before Betty could answer Hilary appeared in the doorway.

"Another 'accident' Scotty?" she said. "That's interesting, I see Scott Sherwood talking here when he should be talking in studio B with Maple - on the air."

Betty was desperate, she had to keep up appearances! "Oh, oh! Scott he 'sure would' talk about... things here. Ah, wouldn't you Scott?"

"Yes," Scott flashed a grin at Hilary. "Now why don't we talk about those ... 'things' in the hall for a moment shall we?"

Hilary gasped as Scott took her by the arm and went into the hall shutting the door behind her.

"What was that?" Mr. Heffington asked.

"Oh that? ... They've been preparing for your tour. You know making sure everyone is ready, and ah ... knows you are here ..."

"What 'things' are they talking about?"

"It's ... your surprise!"

"What surprise?"

"Now if I told you it wouldn't be a surprise." Betty winced at the cliché hoping that Mr Heffington didn't notice..

There was a long pause.

Finally Scott and Hilary returned to the office. Scott looked pretty much as he had before he left but Hilary's mannar was completely changed; she oozed glamour and charm.

"Well Mr. Heffington," she said sweetly, "it's such a pleasure to finally meet you! Of course I'm Hilary Booth. And you've already met Scott and Betty, they're such a ... happy couple." Then as an aside she added, "Especially Scott."

"What about the broadcast?" Betty whispered to Scott.

"Mr. Eldridge is filling in," he replied.

Despite Mr. Eldridge's inconstant acting record, at the moment Betty was grateful for him.

"Now where should we begin?" Hilary said to Mr. Heffington. "We have before us, the works of Ibsen, O'Neal. Or would you like to start with the classics? Aristophanes, Sophocles?"

It was Mr. Heffington's turn to feel cornered. Hilary had gone after him like she was starving and he was a plate of enchiladas.

Hilary continued to approach him, "I'm just dying to play Antigone, the dear soul sentenced to be buried alive, left to a lonely death of suffocation."

Mr. Heffington was backed up against the desk looking rather suffocated himself. "I'd like to start with a tour," he said. "Your boss promised me a tour."

"Oh," said Hilary backing away. "Right this way." Hilary linked arms with him and walked out into the hall.

Scott, who had hardly let Betty's hand leave his since this charade began, led her into the hall after Hilary. As they entered the studio. Betty became aware of a new problem, Eugenia, Jeff and Mr. Foley. How could she possibly warn them?

"This, of course, is our studio." Hilary spoke as if she was auditioning for Mr. Heffington. Her speech was enunciated, forceful and dripping condescension. "And this is Mr. Foley our sound effects person." Mr. Foley waved from behind his table. "And Eugenia Bremer our organist."

Eugenia approached Mr. Heffington and shook his hand, "It's just thrilling to meet you."

Completely ignoring Jeff, Hilary continued her monologue, "I'll be going back on the air in half an hour, and I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing us in action. As we broaden horizons and paint new worlds for our listeners. Shaping, molding our performances, squeezing every ounce of text and subtext out of the script, as we perform for our audience the full range of human emotion: love, hate, anguish and pain."

While she spoke she tightened her grip on Mr. Heffington's left arm. It looked at if circulation to that limb had been cut off. He seemed frozen in fear and all he could seem to say in reply was, "Sure."

"That's our Hilary." Scott grinned. "She really knows about 'being a' pain."

Hilary fumed for a moment, and with a brief flash of deviousness in her eyes, she turned to Eugenia and smiled. "Oh, Eugenia, Mr. Foley, did you hear? Betty and Scott got married."

Betty gasped. She looked at Scott for help but he was speechless.

"Oh my goodness!" Eugenia exclaimed. "Congratulations!" She stifled some sniffles. "I'm sorry, weddings just make me cry and this isn't even a wedding."

Eugenia stopped and Mr. Foley opened his mouth to speak. However before he could get a word out Eugenia continued, "I mean there obviously was one ... a wedding I mean. But I'm only just now finding out."

Again Eugenia paused and again Mr. Foley attempted to speak, however as before Eugenia interrupted him. "I have to make up for missing your wedding. I always cry at them you see."

Mr. Foley sighed and went back to his table.

Eugenia continued, "So I'm crying now. After all I ..." her speech was lost in sobs.

"Eugenia?" Betty said in concern for her.

"No, I'll be fine, I'm just so happy for you, excuse me." Once again her voice was lost in sobs as she exited the studio.

"Congratulations," Jeff said. He shook Scott's hand.

"And who is this?" said Mr. Heffington. He indicated Jeff.

"Oh him?" Hilary cried. "He's nobody, just Jeffrey Singer, my ehhh ..."

Scott interrupted, "Her husband!"

Hilary turned her back to Mr. Heffington and gasped at Scott. Scott grinned wickedly.

Jeff looked confused but didn't say anything.

"Your husband!" Mr. Heffington exclaimed happily, extricated his arm from Hilary's grasp. "Why it seems you're all a happy family here. That's thrilling! I'm sure that comradery will come out in our broadcasts." Mr. Heffington, finally free of Hilary, moved across the room until Jeff, Scott and Betty were between him and Hilary. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Hilary was at a loss, she looked back and forth between Mr. Heffington and Scott. Finally she resigned herself to the inevitable. "Oh, yes, one big 'happy' family, that's us." She took Jeff's arm.

GERTIE WAS QUITE TAKEN ABACK. Eugenia had rushed out of the studio. She looked quite frazzled. She rushed over to Gertie.

"Eugenia, what is it? What happened?"

"Didn't you hear the news? It's incredible ... wonderful ... and such a surprise!"

"No, what is it?" Gertie's curiosity rose. But Eugenia's communication methods left a lot to be desired. Correctly handling gossip was fine art. One Gertie considered herself well versed in. She decided to hand down some advice. "Eugenia, dear, now just take a deep breath and out with it."

"Betty and Scott got married."

Gertie gasped, "No! When?"

"Well, I'm not sure. But isn't it wonderful!"

"Young love." Gertie smiled wistfully. "Where are they? I have to congratulate them"

"In the studio, come on!" Gertie got up to follow Eugenia.

Just then Maple approached from Studio B.

"Hey guys, what's up?" she asked.

This time Gertie was ready like a pro.

WHILE JEFF WAS EXPLAINING the range of WENN's signal to Mr. Heffington Betty was becoming more nervous. She had to do something. She pulled Scott aside. "Scott! You have to figure out a way to tell them!" She said in a low voice. "We can't keep this going all day!"

"Right, just give me time to think of something."

Suddenly Gertie, Eugenia and Maple entered. They noticed Scott and Betty in the corner. "Oh, come on you two. Why didn't you tell us?" Gertie exclaimed.

"Well, uh, it was a surprise to me," Betty said.

"When did this happen?" Gertie asked.

Scott said "Yesterday," just as Betty said "Today." Then realizing Betty said "Yesterday," and Scott said "Today."

"Which is it?" Maple asked.

"It was sometime around midnight," Scott explained as he put his arm around Betty. "I guess we both had other things on our mind than the time."

Maple looked at Betty and said "Ooooh!" suggestively.

Betty tried very hard to smile in agreement.

"Now this calls for a party," Maple said.

"Oh, no!" Betty exclaimed. "We don't want a fuss made over this."

"Oh, it'll be nothing formal. Just an impromptu wedding reception that's all, and a little welcoming party for Mr. Heffington," Gertie assured. "Now, let's move to the green room, so Mr. Foley can go on the air with 'Name that Sound.' I'll send Mr. Eldridge over to The Buttery to see if he can find us a cake."

"A cake!" Betty cried.

"Or a pie, it just depends on what Mr. Eldridge can dig up on short notice."

Eugenia, Maple and Gertie headed to the green room in a happy buzz. Mr. Heffington followed it seemed in a desperate attempt to keep himself as far away from Hilary as possible. Hilary followed him, with Jeff in tow, still ranting about the merits of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Scott was about to join them when Betty held him back.

"Scott!" she whined softly.

"I'm still thinking, gimme time."

"Time!" Betty said exasperated. "A year? Two years? Twenty? By that time our imaginary children will have finished high school!"

"COME ON WE WANT DETAILS!" Maple said as she motioned for Betty and Scott to sit on the couch. "So, Betty, what was it that first attracted you to Scott?"

Betty felt the blood drain from her face. "Uh, well, oh ..." Betty scanned her memories as quickly as she could; what could she possibly use? The embezzling, the forgery, the rigged quiz show? All around her Betty saw the eager faces of her friends and Mr. Heffington waiting for an answer. "He knows how to make me laugh," she finally said almost deadpan.

No one knew how to react to that it seemed; they stared blankly at her.

Gertie broke the silence, "How did he propose?"

"Oh, well, he just did. He said ...," Betty paused, " 'Betty, will you marry me.' "

"And what did you say?" Eugenia exclaimed.

"We all know what she said," Maple laughed. "She said 'yes,' silly!"

Meanwhile, Hilary had pulled up a chair next to Mr. Heffington. Jeff had joined her. The events of the last half hour seemed to have left him rather bewildered. Every few minutes he glared at Mr. Heffington. Hilary didn't seem to notice. All of her attention was directed at Mr. Heffington. Hillary ignored all of Jeff's attempts to join their conversation. Despite Mr. Heffington's many attempts to free himself of her attentions.

"Well," said Mr. Heffington to the group, "I'm sure you want to have a private little party so I'll just be on my way." He got up to leave.

"Yes, yes," Jeff said eagerly. "You can just mail us, your contract later. I'm sure you'll have time in ... Ahhh" Jeff's speech was cut off by a moan. Hilary had kicked him in the shin.

After a moment Mr. Eldridge arrived with a cake box, and Jeff having at least partially recovered reacted to the glare Hilary was giving him, "Oh you must stay Mr. Heffington, we have cake."

Jeff took Mr. Heffington's arm and deposited him back in the chair next to Hilary.

"I couldn't find any regular cake," Mr. Eldridge said, "all they had was this pineapple upsidedown cake."

"That would be appropriate," Betty said under her breath.

Jeff helped Hilary find plates and utensils. Maple set out napkins while Gertie poured coffee for everyone. Mr. Eldridge handed a knife to Jeff when Maple exclaimed, "No Mr. Eldridge, the groom is suppose to cut the cake."

"But isn't Jeff always the groom?" Mr. Eldridge replied.

"Not today," Scott smiled as he took the knife.

"And Betty gets the first piece!" Maple declared.

Betty nearly choked on her coffee. She forced a smile.

When Scott had finished cutting the cake he put a piece on a plate for Betty.

"Now you have to serve it to her," Maple said.

Accepting the inevitable Betty opened her mouth while Scott took a piece of cake and brought it to her lips. This did not make for easy eating; a piece of pineapple upsidedown cake fell down Betty's chin and down her dress.

"Now you get to serve him," Maple explained.

Without saying anything, and still deadpan, Betty carefully served a piece of cake onto a plate, took a piece, raised it to Scott's lips and then smeared it across his chin.

Still Betty didn't say anything as she used a napkin to wipe the pineapple cake off her fingers. The sight of Scott chin covered by pineapple upsidedown cake instantly made Maple, and Gertie descend into pool of giggles. Jeff and even Mr. Heffington soon joined them.

"Now, that is what I call a 'swave moustache' Scotty," Hilary declared.

Finally, Betty cracked a smile and fell into the back of the couch laughing with the others.

"He does know how to make her laugh after all," Maple said as she descended into laughter again.

After things had settled down Gertie fetched Scott a towel from the counter to wipe the cake off his face. And the other's were served their cake in the more conventional method with separate plates and forks.

"Oh, Scott!" Gertie said, "we never asked you. What first attracted you to Betty?"

Scott blushed and looked down for a moment, averting his eyes from the others. He raised his head and looked right at Betty, "Well, she ... she is the kindest, most generous person I know. Beautiful, smart and thoughtful."

Betty felt a sort of dizziness. That really was one of the kindest things anyone had ever said to her. She raised her head and met Scott's gaze and without thinking clasped his hand with hers.

Scott inhaled sharply, his eyes were still locked on Betty as a meaningful silence filled the room. Betty felt a kind of tingling sensation as Scott opened his mouth. He was about to speak when suddenly Maple cried out, "Oh my! Look at the time. We have to be on the air in 2 minutes!"

The moment broken, Betty turned her attention to what remained of her cake, while Scott seemed stunned silent. Maple, Jeff and Eugenia hurried into the studio as Gertie and Mr. Eldridge began to collect the dishes.

Hilary leap up and grabbed Mr. Heffington by the arm. "Yes you must stay and hear our performance of today's episode of 'The Many Loves of Mavis Baxter.' " Then in that heavily sugared tone she said, "It has enough intrigue and entanglements that it will surely whet your appetite for the more substantial dramas you propose."

The intense look of fear on Mr. Heffington's face finally erupted in speech. "Well I think I'd better sign your contract and catch my train back to Washington." He hurried out of the green room.

Hilary followed him to the hall, "But, what about the drama, the art ... ?"

"Right this way! Mr. Heffington," Scott said leading him to the office.

"O'Neal," Hilary continued, "Shakespeare ..."

Mr. Heffington gave Hilary an odd look at he closed the office door leaving her alone in her diatribe.

THERE WERE SEVERAL PAPERS TO GO OVER; it took nearly 20 minutes. After the last papers had been looked over and signed Mr. Heffington bade his farewells leaving "Mr. and Mrs. Roberts" alone in silence.

Scott finally spoke, "Well, I suppose we'd better tell the others."

"Yes ... ," Betty said softly. "I suppose we should." She looked up and met Scott's gaze.

Neither moved, it was only then that Betty realized that she and Scott were still holding hands. She looked down at them, Scott did the same, and slowly they let go.

Scott stared at her for a moment open mouthed. "Betty," he said in a low voice. "I just wanted you to know how much I ..."

Betty backed away. She turned her eyes to the floor and began to fidget with her hands. "I understand," she interrupted, "that you ... you were just being ... helping-helpful. You saw that I was in trouble and you did what any friend would. Nothing more, nothing less ... I ... "

She forgot what she was going to say. But she continued to plead with her eyes. He seemed taken aback. He stared at her in silence for a moment then with resignation he turned and headed to the door. Without looking back he said, "I'll tell them."

Betty followed him with her eyes. Yes he would tell them. Betty could picture their faces. Gertie and Maple would be upset but they would understand. Eugenia would say how sorry she was and probably start crying again. Mr. Foley would ask endless questions. Jeff and Hilary ... well they were on to the whole thing anyway, at least Hilary was. Scott would be very diplomatic and patient with them. While she, Betty, sat in this room free from the repercussions of her lie. She had gotten Scott into this and he would take the brunt of it while she ...

"Wait Scott," Betty said, "I'll go with you."


Author's Note

I'll let you all in on my private joke - the whole first scene is full of Les Misérables references, such as Mr. Foley's tub of water.

Hilary's complaint about her role is based on something Patti LuPone once said about Les Mis. Patti originated the role of Fantine, and although she loved the show, doing it night after night really started to wear on her, in her words, she'd "Walk on stage, sing a really great song, die... 2 hours offstage, come back as a ghost... TAXI..."

True I took a couple liberties, Fantine doesn't get killed at gun point, and in the book she doesn't come back as a ghost - but hey, Hamlet doesn't have guns at all and Sam Dane's version did