Chapter One:

The audience hung on to every word that Karen sang. They were silent as they watched in awe. They were mesmerized, attracted the way flies where to a light bulb. It truly was a fascinating performance, to say the least. The hundreds of people who brought tickets to see Rebecca Duvall had forgotten all about the actress, and had immediately become #team Karen groupies!

"And please let me!" Karen belted out in perfect key. The crowded jumped to their feet shouting praises of " bravo".

Sam stood in the wings, he suddenly realized Ivy was nowhere to be found. He couldn't let her miss the curtain for applause. He knew she sick with utter disappointment. He ran the women's dressing room.

"Ivy baby, you going to miss ensemble applauses. " Sam shouted. He walked in to see her crushing pills into dust.

"Ivy Lynn! You listen to me, I am not going to let you do this to yourself!"

"You know that been me on th stage Sam, I could've done that in my sleep. I hate that girl. I wish she never waltz in this town." she slurred.

"Ivy baby, this is not your fault. It's not hers either, it's Derek, I told you he was no good!" he said with venom.

"I thought he was different, He said he loved me! He-Said He-" she dropped her head and sobbed as sam rubbed her back.

"let's get out of her, before anyone else comes, how about hard drinks" He suggested.

Oh my goodness Karen you were spectacular! Jessica Jumped up to hug her.

"Thanks" she blushed as she was out of breath.

The ensemble was crowding her sing songs of praises to the starlet. Karen felt like she was in a dream world. She couldn't believe that she just had her first major performance in a musical headed for broadway as the star. Especially under these circumstances. She began to head for the dressing rooms. When she felt someone grab her arm.

"Karen you were absolutely fantastic, I have some people who would like to see you" Eileen said dragging her towards the lobby.

"Okay" she giggle as she turned back and looked at the ensemble.

"Drinks on me everyone, at the hotel bar, Derek I expect you to be there as well."

Derek,Karen thought to herself. Suddenly she was lulled back to reality. Thoughts came rushing back about the exhausting day she had. About Dev and RJ, about Dev and Ivy, and Derek. It was ironic the man who was the explosive and verbally abusive director, seemed more like a kind and loving friend. The large and active volcano transformed in to a river valley where all things beautiful grow. The thought perplexed Karen. But those words and his soft touch were just was she need at the time. After all Derek, was always known for giving his stars what they need. So maybe he was just providing reassurance for her, it still sounded wonderful. As she walked down the hallway she recalled the smell of him, the way his breath tickled her neck, and it gave her goose bumps.

Karen was greeted in the lobby by dozens of compliments, and request for autographs. She spoke to a few review writers, but for the most part the introductions were a blur. Especially when she had so many things on her mind. She tried to push the thoughts of Dev out of her mind, but she was furious and rightfully so. How could he have done this to her How could she have not seen these behaviors shown in the man she was willing to spend the rest of her life with. How could he try to justify what happened it's all behind us, let's not go back there... She couldn't bear the thoughts anymore as she made her way back to the dressing room. She hadn't wanted to talk to Dev, but she had so many questions. She wish she had a male friend who could help he decode, and not a gay male friend, she had plenty of those now. She flung open the door to the dressing room. And her thoughts were interrupted abruptly.

"Iowa! Don't you dare take that wig off" Bobby screamed in his excited manner.

"It's so itchy, why do I need to leave it on," Karen whined when she spoke.

"Well you know the way the replace Marilyn's around here, it may be safer to keep it on", sue joked.

"it's tradition" bobby stated, "but you may want to take of the dress It's a little fancy for we're going.

"Fine, fine, but only a few drinks, I really am tired".

Karen knew that the night out wouldn't fix anything, it would mend her broken heart. but it would give her time to bask in her glory. After all she did deserve it, she truly nailed her performance. She didn't know why but her thoughts started to turn towards Derek. His words stuck with here, ringing in her head like a bell in chapel. "I do Understand love" she recalled his tone, the way he zipped her dress up and gently placed his hands on her hips. He spoke in a way that was calming, endearing and sexy. she couldn't believe she though the last part, but she has to admit he was extremely sexy. She spent so much time avoiding him that she never really notice how sexy he was. She was always so devoted to Dev, that no other man could catch her attention. But he was charming, funny and a brilliant director.

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted. "Karen can you take off that dress, or are you doing an encore one woman show".

"You know I really could Bobby, and maybe they will give me all of your checks!" she teased

" No way Iowa" Jessica cut in, " can we go now ".

" I'll meet you guys in the lobby."

Karen looked at herself in the mirror and thought to herself " I am going to get wasted", the thought itself made her chuckle. But she was sure there would be plenty of drama in the hours to come, and she was right.

The cast and crew arrived at the bar still on an after performance high. They ordered a double round of shots and the party began. The ensemble spread out across the bar. Tom, Sam and Ivy were by the piano, And Eileen was at the bar with her rugged associate. Derek stopped by the bar to congratulate everyone and did a toast to the beautiful Marilyn. But he didn't speak directly to Karen which was odd, after the brief encounter they shared. This definitely confirmed that he was just giving her what she need to make the show a success. And before she knew it he vanished. Almost like he was never there. Julia was with her Husband, and so forth and so on. The hotel bar had been quiet before they got there, but it was long before it seemed like a full on frat party. Bobby called some friends from the city and the entire bar was packed. They were all having a blast. Everyone came to the bar. Including the one person she would have prefered not to...Dev.

" Karen I need to talk to you." he tried to be discreet, but the tension between them was obvious.

How could he even have no she was here. She didn't want to cause a scene, and she wasn't going to pretend that she didn't care about him, because she did. But it wasn't the same. Maybe she was kidding herself the whole time. Dev had been her only real relationship since high school. And she adored him, but was she in love with him? He loved the thought of Dev, his support his care for her, his understanding and intelligence. But Did she love Dev, or was she just comfortable?

Ivy, who had been in the bar well before the crew came walked over to the group. She was obviously smashed.

" Hi Karen, Hi Dev...What's going guys" She smiled and said in that completely calculated cheery way she did when she was uncomfortable.

Karen was in disbelieve, she couldn't believe that she had the audacity to walk over and speak. She was obviously drunk, but so was Karen. Here goes nothing Karen thought.

" Really, what's going on? I will tell you what's going on" her nostrils flared as she spoke. Her heart rate elevated and and her flesh started burning with anger. She paused for a moment and finished two random shots on the table. she didn't knows who they were, and the group was to distracted by the tension to question her actions.

"Everyone, let me tell you what's going on. Dev purposed to me!" she pretended to be cheerful, but suddenly she switched. Her friends clapped and congratulated her.

" After he almost slept with colleague who has been fawning over him for months. And when I said I need time after that devastating news, he knowingly slept with miss Ivy Lynn here... And Ivy decided to angle that information to try to get me to quit bombshell, which momentarily worked. It seems the best day of my life is also the worst. So if you would excuse me I am going to go to the room and attempt to get some rest!" she was yelling loudly which cause the entire room to stare in awe. "Guys" she directed her voice to the ensemble in a much nicer voice, that still trembled a little, "Please stay and enjoy yourselves, you deserve it! You guys are amazing, I just really want to be alone." and with that statement she briskly walked out of the bar.

The cast was shocked, they could believe what they just witnessed. Dev turned to run after her.

"Ivy, I can't believe you", Jessica said in disgust.

"Karen, never had a bad thing to say about you. Even when you were horrible to her. She admired you as Marilyn and spoke highly of you at every turn." Dennis remarked.

Ivy felt so embarrassed and walked out of the bar to the elevator. She took out her phone and dialed Derek, she hadn't noticed him in the bar. She didn't know why she was calling him. After all he was a complete ass. But now that Rebecca was gone she could go back to where she felt she belonged.

Dev reached he lobby but a voiced stopped him in his tracks.

"You know the more you push, the further she pull. It's quite sad actually, you mess up with the most amazing woman you'll ever meet, purposely, and know you expect her to come running back to your arms." Derek spoke very directly.

"You got some nerves, you want to shag her. So mind your own business you bastard. Karen in my girlfriend! If you don't want a repeat of fist in you face you'll stay the hell out of my way", Dev yelled.

Derek didn't want to fight Dev the last time they had an encounter, but this time he hated him for hurting Karen. He didn't know why he just did. She her crying in the dressing room, feeling her pain, seeing that beauty in such distress mad him quiver with heart ache. So with out saying a word he sa down his grocery bags and lunge forth tackling Dev. He knocked him to the ground and punched him in the face four times. He felt blood on his hands, which instantly made him regret his actions. He gather his composure, and stood up.

" If I ever see you around Karen, with out her will..." He spit out, but was interrupted by his phone ringing in his pocket, it was Ivy. Bloody Hell he thought.

Derek left Dev in a daze of the ground. and proceeded to the elevator. He need to get some food in stomach and a few drinks. He was on a adrenaline high. but he knew he must tell Karen about what just took place. Tomorrow.

Karen knew it wouldn't be long before someone came to find her. She moved swiftly. She didn't know exactly where she would go, but it wouldn't be her room. She walked up the stairs, nobody ever takes the stairs, which was her very reason for choosing the path. It was her safest bet. She reached the 15th floor, and decided to head for the fitness center. She thought about how stupid she would look sitting there drunk in her Marilyn wig. that wouldn't work for her. It would probably draw more attention than anything. She snatched the wig of and let her hair fall on her shoulders. She longed for a shower. But she dreaded going back to her room. Maybe she could get her own room for the night. She had plenty of credit...but she also didn't want to offend her cast mates. so she decided she might as well face the music and made her way to the elevator. She got the the brass door elevators and looked at the antique mirror above her head. It really was a beautiful hotel.

the elevator dinged and opened wide, she hadn't remembered pushing the button. She was startled when she recognized her director stepping out of the elevator. He had bags in his hands, they appeared to be bags of food.

"Ms. Cartwright shouldn't you be celebrating with the brutes, after all you are the star of my show." His british accent was somehow enticing, seemed foreign to Karen, like something she wanted to explore.

"I really just want to get away from everything and everybody," she sounded deeply saddened.

"You can join me for tea, if you'd like." Derek announced, unexpectedly. His offer sounded completely innocent.

"I don't want to intrude on your evening",she replied. Hoping that he would insist.

"Alright, goodnight Ms. Cartwright." and turned and started walking down the hallway to his suite.

"Do you really think I am going to leave you in this hall looking like a bloody lost puppy." His sarcastically said. She could hear the smile in his voice even though she couldn't see it.

"alright" she sighed as she followed behind him. He had this way of making her feel comforted, and in some sick way she trusted him despite the casting coach session. He always seemed to have her best interest in mind.

When he opened the door to his hotel suite Karen was surprised. Not by the size of the room, or the elegant interior of the suite. It wasn't the full kitchen, or the waterfall against the wall. It wasn't the lit staircase that led into the living room. It was how clean it all looked. They had been in boston for some time now, and the ensemble rooms looked like a pig pen. But Derek's room looked like he just checked in.

"Are you going to stand by the door all night?" Derek smirked as he asked the question.

She hadn't realized that she was frozen by the door.

"We both know why I asked you her Karen." He rarely called her Karen, and he never said her name with such intimacy behind it.

"Because you want to sleep with me? She said half joking.

"Oh Darling, of course I want to sleep with you. I think I made that evidently clear from your first audition." She spoke so sly with a smile. he was walking closer as he spoke which made Karen tense up and regret her decision to come. But he was so handsome, maybe she should just go with it.

"Relax, your like a frighten deer, caught in the head light. I do want to sleep with you, but that's not why I invited you here." his voice was soft as he spoke. He rubbed her back and that managed to soothe her. " You here because you have had a devastating day filled with highs and lows, and you need someone to talk to. Someone who can help you objectively, someone you can trust with your deepest relationship woes because you know that I quite frankly don't give a damn." He chuckled.

"You're pretty good at this."She smiled.

"Sit down darling I will fix you a tea. Are you hungry at all?" he asked.

"I have totally forgotten about food" she answered, you could hear the sadness in her voice.

"Give me a few minutes darling." he yelled from the kitchen.

She was confused by the events of the day... Never did she imagine she would be alone with Derek in his hotel. Especially under these circumstances. She sat on the couch and took out her phone. She had 40 messages, she imagined they were all from Dev. Most of them were but one messages caught her attention. Karen, you run off to sleep with your director as soon as you break up with me. I knew there was something going n all along. Maybe I will see if I can find Ivy again. What as asshole Karen thought as tears start to flow down her face...

"i'm not going to tell you to stop crying love, but I am here to talk when your ready." hs words comforted her.

"You made grilled cheese, that's funny, I never figured you as a cooking type." Karen managed to say through hr sadness.

"Well when you a bachelor in the big apple, you better know how to take care of yourself."

"I guess that's a good reason" She began to laugh. But she couldn't stop.

"What is it?" What's so bloody funny? Derek asked with a hint of seriousness. He didn't like being the butt of jokes.

"It's just you she said. You are usually so frank, loud and sarcastic. You would be consider notoriously mean and womanizing, but I don't see that now, You are being so kind to me. why?"

"Karen, I am the director of a million dollar production, I have to be those things I need the respect and fear of the cast to push you guys to the brink of perfection. It's my job, and it's why I am so good at it." He was defensive in his answer and cold. Maybe she shouldn't have asked him the question she thought. He must have notice the loo on her face so he lightened up and continued, "I am human, no matter how hard that maybe to believe. If have emotions and reactions to things. Miss Cartwright, you have a way of bring out the best in everyone around you. I've see you turn a brutal cast into your best friends. Its no wonder you have an effect on me. You calm me with your essence. You are always so happy, your not full of the evil venom, that leads people to do such horrible things in this business. Your are driven by talent and hard work, not by manipulation. " He pause to read her face, but she hed her head towards that floor as if she was reading the carpet patterns in his hotel. "So when I seen you break up with Dev during rehearsals, and hiding in the costume room devastated, I had no option but to care."

"Thank you. I never really realized that you have a vast array of emotions like everyone else. Yo make it very easy to forget...How did you know I broke up with Dev? Se questioned wondering if I had been that obvious.

"Oh Love, you don't just argue you with your boyfriend on the best day of your life, and suddenly disappear. You seem to keep your personal life and professional life as separate as possible. And you don't seem like a quitter. So what happened, love" He reasoned with her.

"I don't really know where to start, I suppose that this is all my fault. Dev came up during Tech last week, after I asked him not too. I was so stressed, and we hadn't really been on the same page lately. He had been spend so much time at work and grew jealous over, of all things, Marilyn. When he came up he purposed to me. But it wash shocking. We'd barely spent any time together in the past month. The proposal was nervous and seemed to be unreal, unromantic. And I said i need time. I asked him not to come.' She looked up at Derek, his face read no emotions at all. Maybe she was telling him much. But he read right through her thoughts.

"Go on darling" he said in a low voice. he moved his hand to her knee as to reassure her it was ok. he wasn't sure if she would cry or not, nor if he was ready for that emotional outburst.

"When I said that he got so upset, that he started speaking of moving to D.C and about a colleague of his that was helping him. i was furious that he would bring her up at such a time, so I told him to go be with her. That's when he said that he was. that they were in my apartment making out, when he realized that he only wanted to be with me .

"That bloody lunatic, what man in his right man, what a coward." Derek said his words were filled with anger. "so is that why you gave him his ring back at rehearsal today?"

"No", the tears started to whale up in her eyes. But when she looked up at Derek she was compassion. "I thought Dev went back to the city, and I felt remorse for my actions the day before. So I called and called, he never answered. But after the first preview he was there. I introduce him toa few cast members, even Ivy. I couldn't stop telling him how sorry I was. I even agreed to marry him. everything was perfect." The tears were streaming down her face now. Derek wiped them away. which surprised Karen, she couldn't believe she was here on his couch sharing this story with him. She continued. "Today when I got so upset, it was because...because. Ivy and Dev slept together. And she told me because she wanted the part, she couldn't stand to see me happy. and it worked...she ruined it for me." Karen's voice broke as she spoke. Which made Derek even more upset.

"Well then I guess that bloody bastard, got every ounce of what he deserved", Derek mumbled under his breath.

" What?" Karen looked up in utter confusion.

"When I got back from the store, I seen him chasing you in the lobby. We exchanged a few words, which ended with me paying him back a few punches for the last time." Derek stated.

"You did what?" Karen Gasped "Why?" The question shocked Derek because he wasn't sure of the answer himself. Sure it was a natural male dominance and testosterone thing. but he would have never done that for anyone else. Even Rebecca's boyfriend stormed into rehearsal, he only threatened the guy, but for Karen, He would do anything.

"Karen I don't want to ever see you hurt like that again. That's really the only explanation I have." Derek said, now he was nervously looking at the ground.

Derek and Karen talked for hours about any and everything, which was very refreshing. They talked about the show, about Iowa and london. They even talked about there favorite colors over grilled cheese and tea. They laughed so much, more that either of them had laughed liked this in months. There interactions felt so natural to Karen. She couldn't help but look at Derek differently than she ever had before.

"You know darling, you really are one of the most beautiful women, I've ever had the pleasure to know." Derek said in a borderline seductive manner.

"Really, thank you" She blushed ask she spoke. "it's probably just the tea talking, how much alcohol is in it anyway?" She said changing the subject. She was quite bashful

Derek chuckled as he replied, "You really are as innocent and shy as I thought you were".

" I am shy, but not innocent. I just think there is a right way and wrong way to do things. I choose the right way. But I am far from innocent mr wills." She whispered the last words. What the hell she thought to herself. She was having the worst day, and Derek was the one unlike person to make it better. It would be nice to throw inhibition out of the window for one moment.

"You know Mr. wills, when I have always looked at you, but chosen not to see you. But now I am definitely seeing you. And I must admit, I like what I see." She said in a very sexy voice as she rubbed her hand up hi inner thigh.

"Is that your invitation to make this evening more adult friendly?" his eyes were smouldering at her now.

" Maybe, I think I might quite enjoy that" she responded but with a new energy something Derek had never seen from her. Of course why would he have seen t from her. It reminded him of the sexy way she sung Touch Me.

" I am going to go to the bathroom, and I'll be right back." Karen said right before Derek could make his move.

As she stood up she wobble a bit trying to find her center. The tea he served her, was of course very stong, he wouldn't have it any other way. Derek was excited, he watched her sway as she made her way to the bathroom. What a walk he thought to himself, what a women.

When Karen got back from the restroom Derek had lit a few candles and turned on soft jazz music, he was very smooth. He was standing in the corner of the living where the city and his hotel room met, staring out of the window. It really was a beautiful city. Karen walked over to him slowly. She was still incredibly sexy after the grueling day she had, and she smelt incredible.

"Darling" he said, but that was the only word he could get out. He reached out and put his hand on her hip and pulled her in closer while they looked at the city.

"So this was your plan all along, get me drunk and then shag me?" She said in her best attempt at an english accent.

"You really should get a dialect coach for that horrible attempt at sounding english" He said as he laughed. They both laughed.

And then it an instance the mood changed again. There eyes met and Her breathing started to grow heavy with anticipation. and just as the air around them started to change from casual friendly conversation to hot and heavy flirtation filled with lust. The door to his hotel swung open. It was none other the infamous Ivy.

"Derek, i know you in here. You never answered my phone calls, I miss you baby". She slurred her words, she was still drunk.

"I think I better go, " Karen said the annoyance was very evident in her voice.

'You are probably right, but I don't want you to be." He said agreeing with her. he was pissed.

"Derek you've got to be freaking kidding me, now you're sleeping with Karen out of all people, karen Cartwright." Ivy was livid. She really had no right to be after what she did to Karen, and the way she carried on through the days But Karen didn't let it bother her.

"Thanks for everything Derek", she spoke softly and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Anytime Darling. I am really sorry about this." Derek pleaded to her.

"Don't be." she said and turned heading towards the door. She didn't say a word to Ivy as she left she just looked and smiled. What a classy lady Derek thought as he watched her exit his suite. Once Karen was gone his rage returned and he focused on Ivy.

"Are you out of your bloody mind Ivy?" Derek yelled at her. "How did you get a key to my room, and why the hell are you in here at 4 in the morning".

"I-I-I thought you would want to see me, but obviously you are too busy screwing "the Cartwright" girl to think about me. You full of Shit Derek!"

"Quite down, I will not be kicked out of my hotel suite because all of you is screaming at the top of your lungs." Derek scolded her. "for one I have not slept with Karen, we were simply talking. I am sure you know why seeing as you tried to break the poor girls spirit today. You slept with her boyfriend. Bloody hell Ivy has jealousy driven you that mad?"

"I am not jealous of Karen or anything she has. You are my boyfriend, why shouldn't I be mad...You make me this way. You cheat on me, treat me like shit, overlook me for a part and then leave me out to dry. You tell me Derek how should I be acting." Ivy was cry tears of anger passion and hurt.

"Ivy, we slept together, it's something that people do. I saw an opportunity in you. And I went for it. Don't give me that look Ivy. You saw an opportunity too. You wanted the part. You got the part. we both work extremely long hours so it made sense to continue. But you became so clingy. We never did anything outside of sex, no matter how great the sex was. It was still just sex. No dates, dinners, walks in the park nothing. I apologize if I have led you to believe that it was anything more than that. It was simply a professional courtesy. "

"You bastard." Ivy yelled as she slapped him across the face. "I quit, I quit this show, I quit you, I quit everything."

"You know I think you should leave now."Derek walked over to the door and opened it to show her out.

"Derek you said you loved me last week" she said as cried. He shut the door again.

"ivy it's a phrase. I do love how knowledgable you are about the theater, how you take direction, you are devoted to your art. but I don't love you." He could see the words sting her as she left out of the hotel room. She didn't speak just opened the door and slammed it. He really did want to know how she gotten a key to the room but he was too exhausted. They had rehearsals tomorrow, and he did nothing to prepare.

At that moment he wonder what Karen was doing, if she had fallen asleep already. he missed her. After 10 minutes he missed her.