"The Virginia Slim account." Joan began.
"Peggy's the only creative they want." Jim informed the rest of the board. "They weren't pleased with anything Don brought to the table and would rather keep on with a female."
"That's fine." The man in question shrugged. "Lady's cigarettes aren't really a concern of mine."
"They should be. The account brings in a sizable profit… that means money to keep the company running." Pete explained snappishly, annoyed with Don's attitude as usual.
"They'd like to meet with Peggy again, down at their headquarters." Jim relayed, still a bit surprised how adamant their representative had been with him on the phone.
"Someone should go along to let them know we take their business seriously." Joan suggested.
"I'll do it." Roger offered quickly.
"No, it should be Ted. They like him." Jim interrupted, much to the relief of the table. After Lucky Strike most everyone was hesitant to let Roger deal with their only cigarette business.
"Hmm?" Ted looked up, he hadn't been focusing very hard on the topic of discussion. His train of thought derailing at the first mention of Peggy's name. Despite his best efforts of rebuffing her and keeping his distance, she still managed to intrude on his thoughts throughout the day… and night.
"You should go down to Virginia with Peggy. They like you down there."
"Oh… uh, I…"
"Ted, we need to do this." Jim urged him. "I know you're still upset about Frank…"
"No, no. It's fine. Peggy and I will fly down." Ted answered blankly. It wasn't grief over Frank making him act strangely. Weeks earlier he told Peggy he was in love with her and that nothing could ever happen. Even if they both wanted it. Even if she was free now. That made it even harder, knowing that she was free of obstacles. A few hours in a small plane together…
The travel was quiet as was the cab ride to the motel, the only sound seemed to be that of the constant thunder and steadily growing rain. In fact there was barely a word spoken between them until reaching the front office. Peggy held a paper over her head as they ran to the door, Ted taking on the chivalrous role of carrying both of their cases. It was a short trip and both had packed light, but he could only be so cold, there was no excuse for not being a gentleman.
"What do you mean there's only one room?" Peggy asked the man at the front desk.
"We're the last motel on this edge of town and the weather has forced a lot of folks off the road and out of the camp grounds. You're lucky I saved the one room you did reserve."
"Why did Moira only reserve one room?" Peggy turned to ask Ted. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
"She must have thought it was just me…" He stammered before turning to the man at the counter, "are there two beds in the room?"
"No, but there's a couch."
"That'll be fine."
That wouldn't be fine.
One half of the couch was sunken down to the floor, while the other half had springs breaking through the back.
"You stayed here by yourself last time?" Ted asked, setting their bags down as he observed the state of the room. Aside from the couch the room was far from the cleanest he'd ever seen. The bed looked uncomfortable, there were two flat pillows hastily thrown over the aged comforter.
"Only place to stay in a fifty mile radius."
"Right… I guess I'll take the floor." Although that didn't appear to be in better shape than the couch.
"Don't be ridiculous. We're adults, we can share the bed."
"I really don't think that's a good idea."
"Of course it is. You've made it clear that you don't… feel that way for me any more. And I can certainly control myself." Peggy was firm on this point. "There's no reason for you to sleep on that dirty floor when there's a bed big enough to share."
Ted reluctantly agreed and watched as Peggy disappeared into the bathroom to shower and get ready for bed. He meanwhile, returned to the office in search of a snack and something to drink. Returning to the room with two sandwiches made by the owner's wife and two bottles of Coke. As he closed the door Peggy emerged from the bathroom. He froze at the sight of her; towel drying her hair, he could see more of her than office attire usually allowed. Her pajamas were made of thin material, a camisole top that floated loosely to her waist and a short pair of gauzy shorts to match, just barely covering the skin of her upper thigh.
"That's… that's what you sleep in…?" He managed, forcing himself to look away.
"Yes. It was hot the last time I was down here so I packed accordingly."
"I'm being tested…" he mumbled to himself, though not low enough for Peggy to not hear.
"I didn't do it on purpose, Ted. It's hot here, so I packed pajamas that I assumed I would be wearing in a room alone. You know me better than to think I'd stoop to something as cheap as trying to tempt you…"
"Peggy, Peggy, I know. I know you wouldn't do that… it just seems as though the fates are throwing us together."
"I don't believe in fate, so there's nothing to worry about." She replied shortly, taking one of the offered sandwiches and claiming the right side of the bed for herself.
He simply nodded, opening his own suitcase and pulling out his pajamas to change into. But first he looked for a place to sit down and eat. The only spot was next to Peggy on the bed. They ate quietly, Peggy looking over her notes for the meeting tomorrow while Ted sorted out the sketches. Were it not for the tension between the two the whole thing would have felt positively domestic.
As they finished their simple dinner, Peggy began to put her work away and settle beneath the covers, claiming the only spare pillow and turning so that she would be facing away from his side of the bed. Ted took the opportunity to disappear into the bathroom, eager to shower and hopefully not return to the bedroom until Peggy had fallen asleep.
Hair mostly dry, Ted pulled on his white t-shirt and a pair of pajama bottoms before taking a deep, steadying breath. There could be nothing worse than sleeping next to Peggy while she was wearing that top that revealed her bare shoulders and arms, those shorts that showed him almost the complete length of her nylon free legs.
There was something worse.
For the second time that night, Ted froze upon returning to the main room. Peggy's eyes were shut, her face relaxed, the sheets pushed off of her body showing him how one leg was wrapped around that spare pillow she had used as a barrier between herself and the edge of the bed. As the small rotating fan turned towards here the breeze caused her to stir, a small moan escaping her throat as her leg nestled the pillow further.
Ted couldn't breathe.
As quietly as possible he put his suit away and climbed into bed next to her. It was difficult to maintain a safe distance. Although, at that moment a safe distance would have been the next state over. Peggy must have felt the dip in the bed, shortly after he settled in she turned over, curling around him like she had been around the pillow. Her eyes didn't open, she simply rested her head on his shoulder while her leg curled around his hips.
He drew in a shaky breath.
This was worse. This was wrong. He should not enjoy this close contact. The responsible thing to do was wake her or simply ease her away from him. His body should not be reacting to her so eagerly but it was. With a vengeance it seemed, he had never felt this way in bed with Nan. There was never a strong desire like he felt toward Peggy, the urge was difficult to fight.
"Peggy… Peggy…" He shook her gently. She roused, lifting her head slightly and trying to find her bearings.
"What is it?" She looked down at how she had latched onto Ted and quickly pulled away. "Sorry. Habit from sharing a bed."
"I understand." Quietly she rolled back over, facing away from him once more.
A half an hour passed and neither had fallen asleep.
"You don't believe in fate?" He asked, breaking the silence.
"May I ask why?"
"The notion that everything that happens is predestined to play out in a particular way? What happens if you deviate from that path? What happens to the plan then? I was supposed to be a secretary, what if Freddy didn't give me a chance? What then? I'm supposed to believe that fate would have stepped in and found me another way into copywriting?"
"Freddy Rumsen gave you your first chance?" He questioned, he knew that the two were friends but he had no idea that it was Freddy and not Don who had 'discovered' her. Peggy slowly rolled over so that they were both lying on their backs, staring up at the cracked ceiling.
"Yes. They used to pool the secretaries for the products marketed towards women and then watched them through the two way. Freddy liked my feedback, talked me up to Don, then they started to bring me in on more and more of the products for women."
"You don't call that fate?"
"More like Divine Intervention."
They lapsed into silence again.
"This is awkward." He observed, chancing a glance at her.
"You've never shared a bed in a platonic sense before?"
"Almost every night of marriage." The words escaped him before he could stop them.
"Shouldn't say things like that, Ted."
"It would be easier if I didn't feel them."
"A lot of things would be easier."
"I'm well aware."
"Are we going to discuss this now?"
"Might as well."
"You hurt me. That day, in your office and since…"
"I didn't… I don't mean to hurt you, Peggy. I don't like being cold towards you, but it's easier than the alternative."
"What? Not being a jerk?"
"When I'm nice to you you're nice back. You smile at me and say sweet things to me. It kills me to know that you want me too, that I might be leading you on."
"You want me." She managed after thinking for a few minutes.
"Why?" The notion that he should be so interested in her seemed to leave Peggy confused.
"What do you mean why? Do you not realize how amazing you are? Your mind is brilliant and your creativity… Peggy I'm constantly in awe of you. And ever since I kissed you all I can think about is doing it again."
"Are you thinking about it now?" She asked softly.
Ted made a choice then.
He shifted onto his side, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. His lips found her ear, pressing a kiss just beneath it and slowly moving down towards her neck.
"And?" She prompted again.
"I'm going to kiss my way down your back, then your front, and then…" he pulled back to look in her eyes. She was breathing heavily, her fingers digging into his biceps, holding him in place above her.
"Bury myself between your thighs." His whispered utterance caused a shiver to course through Peggy.
"Do you want to stop?" He asked in a serious tone.
"Then let me."
They wouldn't talk about how that night was spent…
Or the next night. At least not until the day Ted appeared in her doorway, an expression that was rather difficult to read on his face. The word divorce hung heavy in the air. But with each passing moment a smile slowly began to form on Ted's face.