Don Draper hustled up the stairs of his hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. A fire alarm forced the inhabitants of the Belvedere Hotel to immediately vacate the premises. In some respects, Don was relieved for the emergency – it prevented him from making a potential mistake with one of the stewardesses from his flight. Her name was Shelly, and she had seemed more than willing to take extra care of him after hours, and though he hadn't invited her up with him, he hadn't pushed her away.
Don reached for a bottle of whiskey from the hotel mini bar. With her blonde locks and lithe form, she reminded him of his wife Betty, back home with their two children in New York. Don had a penchant for straying from his wife, and business trips provided a plethora of opportunities that weren't available to him in New York – Shelly wasn't the first stewardess to give him her pair of gold wings at the end of an evening. Yet he felt different about this one; it wasn't that Shelly wasn't lovely, or the fact that she was engaged to someone else. It was the thought of his wife at home, pregnant with their third child on the way. It was the thought of the last time he had cheated on his wife, ten months ago. Betty had managed to find out, through the woman's husband, and she had thrown him out of the house. It had taken weeks of begging on Don's part to get her to take him back, and a promise that he wouldn't cheat again.
So far he had kept good on his word, and had even made an extra effort to be sensitive towards her needs during her pregnancy – something that he hadn't done in the past. Picking up the phone, Don knew that the only voice he wanted to hear was hers.
"Hello?" a tired voice picked up on the third ring.
"Don." The voice on the other line eased at hearing his voice. "Is everything alright? You usually don't call this late."
"I just wanted to check on you."
"You're sweet," Betty complimented.
"How's the baby."
"She's going to be an athlete," the mother decided firmly. "She never stops kicking and only seems to rest for short periods of time."
"You still think it's a girl?" Don joked. "Wouldn't you be surprised if it was a boy?"
"If he looks just like his father, I promise not to mind," Betty smiled.
Don sat back, listening to Betty share about her day. He was so engrossed with her voice that he didn't notice the door hand to the hotel room jiggle open.
"Hi," Shelly drawled in her native accent, oblivious to Don on the phone. "I left my earrings in the room after we rushed out." Shelly bent down to look for the jewelry.
Don widened his eyes and quickly covered the mouthpiece, but it was too late.
"Don?" Betty asked over the phone, her voice rising. "Who's that woman?"
"Betty…" Don began.
"Found them!" Shelly said with glee, looking up at a frustrated Don. Shelly quickly covered her mouth. "Bye," she mouthed, adding her room number for good measure.
"Don!" Betty shouted into the phone. "What is going on?"
"It was the maid service – she left something behind in the room," Don said, mustering his authoritative voice. Don heard an angry click in the mouthpiece, knowing that Betty didn't believe his story. With an unhappy groan he redialed the number.
After dialing five different times with no answer, Don finally gave up, resolved to try again tomorrow. He would solve everything when he got home, when they could talk face to face. He had wowed her with his charm before, there was no reason that it wouldn't work again – especially when he hadn't done anything wrong.
Don stumbled into his meeting with London Fog the next morning. Art Director Salvatore Romano was already present and explaining his designs to the client. Don had spent the entire morning calling Betty, only to have no one pick up the phone. He was beginning to get worried.
"Relax, everything's fine," Sal whispered while the gentlemen talked. "They know the pitch; now all we have to do is convince him that it's the perfect one."
"Right," Don said out loud, looking at the clock, wondering if he could get an early flight to Ossining. "Let's see how quickly we can wrap this deal up."
Sal nodded his head, not wanting to question his boss' intentions. There were some lines that employees did not cross.
Don Draper arrived at the house early that evening after booking an earlier flight back to New York. The pitch went well and Don and Sal were cleared to go back home. Don was greeted by Carla, the Draper family maid, who welcomed him with a smile as she carried his bags upstairs. "How was your trip?" she asked.
"Same as always," Don muttered, searching the house for Betty.
"Mrs. Draper isn't here," Carla acknowledged. "She left earlier today with a friend."
Don nodded his head. "You can leave early for the day," Don told her as he headed up the stairs to the children's bedroom. Carla thanked Mr. Draper and let herself out.
"Daddy!" Bobby and Sally tackled their father in a mad dash. Don hugged the kids, trying not to think about his phone call with Betty the night before. I'll talk to her tonight, Don assured himself as the kids briefed him on their day.
Don paced the kitchen floor, holding the phone to his ear while watching the window like a hawk. "Elizabeth Draper," Don spoke into the phone to the New York police department. "Blonde hair, blue eyes," Don continued his description. "I realize you can't do anything right away, but she's pregnant and…" Don's voice trailed off. "Sixth month," he said softly. "No she doesn't have a tendency to disappear," Don said in frustration. "Our maid was the last one to see her this morning around eight o'clock but I haven't spoken to her since nine last night." Don rubbed his forehead. "I wouldn't be calling like this if she wasn't so far along with the baby – but if something's happened, I'd like to know now…thank-you," Don finished, hanging up.
Don poured himself a strong drink. It was ten-thirty that night and he was more than worried about his wife. He had already called their neighbors, including Francine Hanson who had been with her earlier. Francine had returned home without Betty a few hours ago, saying that Betty dropped her off and left again after, with no idea where she had gone.
Taking another swig, Don found himself at a loss for what to do next. Waiting was killing him. At least the kids are asleep, Don assured himself. He promised the both kids that their mother would kiss them goodnight when she got home. Content with the response, Bobby and Sally were asleep quickly, leaving Don in an otherwise empty house. He had distracted himself with reading, work, and drinking and was still preoccupied with his conversation with her last night. The fact that he couldn't be there to talk to her face to face, to explain what happened in the hotel room frightened him. Don was used to pleasing others, assuaging fears and concerns with his work and it was always done best when all parties were present in the room. The fact that Betty wouldn't bother to listen to him gave him cause for concern. It was only several months ago that she had kicked him out of the house for discovering an affair, he didn't know what she would do now.
Worst case scenarios raced through his mind; thoughts of Betty being stranded and lost with no way home, kidnapped, or worse – in the hospital lying alone somewhere. Come home Don willed her. At that moment, he would have given anything to see her again, to hear her voice.
The front door opened a crack, revealing a weary and pregnant Betty. Don placed his glass on the countertop and wordlessly walked to his wife, pulling her into an embrace. Betty's body stiffened, in Don's touch. After a few moments, Don pulled away and looked at her. "Where were you?" Don asked, his brow furrowed in concern.
"Out," Betty said quietly, attempting to walk past him. Don blocked her body.
"Out where?" he asked, with more of an edge in his voice, the result of a sleepless night and hours of worrying.
"Do you really care?" Betty asked, sidestepping her husband.
"Elizabeth!" Don shouted, touching her shoulder. "I thought you were hurt," he said in a low voice.
"I am hurt," Betty retorted, slipping off her shoes.
Don let out a heavy sigh. He wasn't in the mood to defend his actions this late in the evening. "Nothing happened," Don insisted. "If you'd let me explain…"
"I know what I heard," Betty insisted, her lower lip quivering. "You promised me."
Don gingerly approached her. "Nothing happened."
"How can I believe you?" Betty asked, reaching for a glass.
Don pulled her hand down. "Do the last six months mean nothing?" he asked. "I feel like I'll be apologizing for the rest of my life," he muttered, throwing his hands in the air in an act of frustration.
Betty's face fell further as she walked out of the living room and up the stairs.
Don let out a heavy sigh, following her to the bedroom. Opening the door he found Betty half-dressed, examining herself in the mirror. "I hate the way I look," she muttered to no one in particular.
"You look amazing," Don said, coming up behind her. He buried his nose in her hair. "I thought you were dead," he murmured, trying to control his voice. "Or that something had happened to the baby."
Betty turned and faced her husband. "Do you know the number of times I've wondered the same thing about you? Nights when you didn't call or come home?"
Don let out a heavy sigh. "I didn't know you were that worried."
Betty rested her head on Don's chest. "I was afraid to come home. When Carla said that you were coming home tonight – I couldn't see you…" Betty broke away from Don's touch. "I heard her voice - whoever she was."
"A lonely, desperate woman who followed me to my room," Don said, slightly fudging the details.
Betty looked deep into Don's eyes. "I can't keep worrying about the next time you're going to cheat." Betty sat down on the bed. "I can't take it anymore."
"You know if I could undo the past I would," Don said as he crossed over to the closet, producing a large bouquet of lavender roses.
Betty lifted the assortment to her face, eying a gold glint in the middle of the arrangement. "Don?" she questioned, weaving her right hand into the flowers, retrieving a tiny baby rattle charm, the size of her finger.
"For your bracelet," Don said, kneeling down next to her. "You were all I could think about last night. I called the house a dozen times, you never picked up."
"It's lovely," Betty said, fingering the ornament.
Don nodded his head, stifling a yawn.
"You must be exhausted," Betty said, placing the charm in her jewelry box.
"I didn't get any sleep last night."
"That makes two of us," Betty chuckled. She turned to her husband. "I'm sorry for scaring you last night." Betty ducked into the closet, pulling out one of her maternity nightgowns. "I was driving around the city, not even going anywhere really. Everything is so different at night," she mused, clearly exhausted.
"I'm just glad you're safe." Don removed his tie and dress shirt. "Now I know what it feels like to be the one waiting for someone to come home."
"Not the best feeling," Betty added, crawling under the covers. "Your mind wanders to the darkest places."
"You assume the worst." Don flipped off the lightswitch. "Did you need anything from the kitchen?"
"No, I'm fine."
Don climbed in the bed, pulling the covers over his body.
"Don?" Betty asked softly.
"Hmm," Don said as his head hit the pillow.
"Do you think they'll be many more business trips coming up?"
Don took Betty's hand in his. "I'll talk to Bert and Roger about travelling less until the baby comes."
"I'd like that." Betty kissed her husband's hand. "I always sleep better when you're here."
"I'm the same way," Don agreed, glad that he was back home where he belonged, with the family who needed him.