Ted glanced at his watch. Ten o'clock. He glanced at the thick folder sitting on his desk, which contained everything his creative team had concocted for the Sunkist campaign in the last 24 hours. He had been at the office for over twelve hours, and his head throbbed from pouring over notes from his last awkward meeting with his extremely demanding client. He eyed the door, which seemed to be begging him to walk through it.
"The work must go on," Ted sighed as he picked up the folder and moved towards the couch. He flopped down, leaning his head on one of the arm rests, and began sifting through the papers in the folder.
He scanned the first page, and immediately crumpled it up and threw it in his waste basket. He did the same with the second, third and fourth sheets.
"Garbage! All of it!" He muttered. He stretched and rubbed his eyes. He wondered whether Peggy would laugh or cry at these atrocious ideas. Peggy probably would have sketched out an entire campaign by now, in the time it took for his team of three copywriters to come up with these ridiculous tag lines. Damn it, he thought, if only Peggy were here.
As if on cue, the door swung open Peggy sauntered in. "I think you need to consult an expert," she announced cheerfully.
Ted sat upright and wheezed. He eyed Peggy head to toe. She was wearing an orange chiffron dress that fell just a few inches above her knees. The cut of the fabric accentuated the curves in her body perfectly, and he could swear that her face lit up the room a few more watts.
"P-Peggy," he stuttered. "Wh-what are you doing here?"
Peggy smiled, her eyes sparking with mischief. "Cutler sent me here. He says you're in dire need of some creative genius.' Consider me a temporary loan from the New York office."
Ted furrowed his brows. "But, but I never said anything to- Never mind. I could really use the help. But you're really okay with this, considering, uh, what happened between us? You're not mad at me anymore?"
Peggy sat down next to the couch. "It's okay, Ted," Peggy said warmly. "I understand. You had to do what you thought was best. Who was I to get in the way of that? I've made my peace with it."
Ted breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness, because I was beginning to think that you hate me."
"Hate you?" Peggy let out a boisterous laugh. "No, I could never do that. Besides," she said flirtatiously, "I was kinda flattered you found me so irresistible that you had to run to the other side of the country. Anyway, I meant what I said before."
Ted shot her a puzzled glance. "Excuse me?"
Peggy grabbed his hands and stared straight into his eyes. "I…can…wait." She whispered slowly and deliberately, her face edging closer to his with each word.
Their lips met, and Ted pulled Peggy towards his body, wrapping his arms around her back and waist. His mouth enveloped her lips as he kissed her passionately, fervently, and desperately. He kicked the pile of papers off the couch and pulled Peggy underneath him. His one hand frisked up and down her legs while his other hand darted frantically to the zipper at the back of her dress.
Suddenly, the sharp shrill of Nan's voice reverberated in his office. "Ted!"
Ted and Peggy froze.
"Ted! Wake up! Come on!"
Ted jolted himself awake, and realized that he was not in his office, but at home. Peggy was not there, but Nan.
"It's Frankie," Nan said urgently, "he has a very high fever and he's got this rash all over him. I think he might have measles. Quick, you have to drive him to the hospital."
Ted got dressed in lightning speed and rushed his son to the hospital. He sat with his wife in the hospital waiting room, neither daring to speak. As minutes turned to hours with still no word from the doctors, Ted's anxiety about his son's condition quickly turned to guilt. Guilt that while his wife was tending to his gravely ill son, he was dreaming about a sexual encounter with a young copy writer he had vowed to get away from at all costs. Guilt that even though he had put three thousand miles between him and Peggy, she still invaded his every thought. Guilt that even though Nan was a good wife and mother, she was not enough. Guilt that in spite of fifteen years of marriage, he simply could not love Nan.
Measles turned out to be just a scare. Both the boys had received the measles vaccine as soon as it became available a few years ago, and the doctor reassured the Chaoughs that their kids were safe from the disease. Frankie just happened to be one of the rare people who got the chicken pox twice in his young life. With the knowledge that his child was fine, Ted took his wife and son home, tucked them both into bed, and snuck quietly back to his office.
The office was still deserted at shortly after five in the morning. Ted sat at his desk and flipped the desk lamp on. He pulled a piece of paper and a pen from his drawer and began writing.
I dreamed about you last night. You were so beautiful and radiant, though you're even more so in person. You were just so vivid in my dream, and I just can't help but think about you all the time. The reality of life that made me leave New York also woke me up from that dream. But, god, how I wished that dream were real. I am convinced that we are true soulmates, and that if we wish for it hard enough, fate will one day bring us back together. When that day comes, I promise I will make it up to you a thousand times over. I promise I will do right by you. Until then, will you wait for me?
On a cold January night, Peggy stared at an envelope in her hands. Another SC&P envelope with a California post mark had arrived at her house. She turned it over, ready to tear it open, but then stopped. She shook her head, and threw the letter unopened into her roaring fireplace.