I do not own the 1982 Annie characters but I grew up watching them, over and over again, because I loved them so much. I have read several stories recently on this site about the time between the bridge rescue and the famous kiss between Oliver and Grace which seemed to come out of left field. I enjoyed those fics so much I thought I would give it a whirl.
My story was originally only going to be one chapter starting with Oliver's POV, then Grace's, and finally Annie's. However, my fingers kept typing new twists and turns to my first chapter, therefore, I had to break it down into several long chapters interchanging all their POVs.
I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!
Also big thanks to my beta, Sis21K!
FYI- This chapter mainly has Oliver's POV and musings in italics, however, there are a few of Grace and Annie's POVs in italics as well.
DECLARATIONS, HESITATIONS, & REALIZATIONS
Chapter 1 - 5:15-6:30 a.m.
5:15 a.m. - Mr. Warbucks' office
Drake cleared his throat, as his approach toward Mr. Warbucks went unnoticed. Upon closer inspection he realized his employer was gazing toward the couch across from him with what could only be described as a wistful yet peaceful expression adorned on his face. When Mr. Warbucks diverted his eyes from the couch Drake proceeded to hand him the New York Times. Most of the room was dark but the soft light over Mr. Warbucks' desk did give off a soft glow that provided Drake the keen detection skills to recognize his employer's fatigue yet continued restlessness (possibly from the adrenaline rush that followed the agonizing wake of the past 48 hours).
Little did he know that his restlessness was more due to his recent discomfort from being wrapped around a certain blue eyed beauty. Where for five glorious hours after the chief of police left he fell asleep on the couch after assisting Grace with Annie (when she finally had a meltdown as the shock wore off from the day's earlier events). Initially, Annie fought the tears but Grace's natural perception and compassion took over and she immediately reached for Annie hauling her up into her arms in a tender but firm embrace. Annie buried her head into the crook of Grace's neck and proceeded to sob uncontrollably. Soon after, Grace too let loose the flood gates of her own emotions and began stumbling under Annie's weight. Oliver being shocked at first at what transpired between 'his two girls' recovered quickly and hastily directed Grace toward the couch and swiftly adjusted the ottoman under her feet so she could lounge back without having to adjust Annie's position.
When Oliver wasn't sure what to do next, Annie quickly saved him by reaching out for one of his hands as she twisted her head just enough to shyly glance his way and quietly utter, "do you still want me to be your little girl?"
Oliver quickly sat by Grace and what seemed completely natural wrapped her and Annie into a tight embrace propping his legs up on the ottoman as well as responding "absolutely, positively, without a doubt do I still want you as my little girl!" And with this declaration both girls visibly relaxed into his embrace. They continued to shed silent tears until they both fell into a restful sleep so he agilely reached for the afghan draped over the couch to tenderly cover them due to the slight draft in the office. It wasn't until he started to get uncomfortable due to a certain male part that he realized he too had fallen asleep at some point; but, not wanting to cause embarrassment to himself, Grace, or Annie he hastily but gently removed himself from 'his girls.' Then carefully tucked them in again when neither appeared to have awakened due to his departure and retreated to his desk where he gently turned on its light. That's how Drake found him at his desk pondering recent events that have lead him here.
"Sir, this just arrived. I thought you would want to see this right away! I am sure this is not the only newspaper carrying this story on the front page and the radio programs have been reporting the story nonstop since the sirens started," Drake whispered in order to not disturb the other sleeping occupants in the room.
"Thank you Drake that will be all for now," added Oliver in the same soft whisper as Drake used. "Oh, Drake," Oliver added as an after thought when Drake turned to leave. "Tell the rest of the staff thank you for taking care of the rest of the orphans while we were out."
Slightly startled by his employer's gratitude Drake slowly turned back to Mr. Warbucks with a puzzled look, however, being the refined butler he was he quickly composed himself and replied back in the same manner as before, "It was nothing sir. After we knew that Annie was safe the girls' fatigue set in quickly after their run from the orphanage.
"Actually they were so tired that Saunders, Jack, Annette, and Cecile all carried the younger ones to bed as they were either asleep or falling asleep on their feet. Mrs. Greer and I supported the older two up to their rooms due to ... what did they say ... oh their 'jelly legs'," added Drake with a quiet chuckle. This caused a slight grin to form on Oliver's face as well.
"It appears Annie is not the only child from the orphanage with colorful expressions," replied Oliver with what sounded like a sigh/chortle. "Now if you don't mind Drake I will take a look at what these news maggots have continued to write about our 'heart wrenching' 48 hours to make a dime!" As Oliver shook the newspaper to reiterate his statement, but soon realized the noise he was making when Drake's eyes instantly turned to the sleeping occupants on the couch. Both stirred but Oliver soon exhaled the breath he was holding after making his gesture because it appeared as though they both stilled and went back to sleep in each others' embrace or what did Annie call it ... cuddling?
Drake to realized that the two sleeping occupants were not affected by his appearance with the newspaper and slowly retreated out of the office.
Oliver continued to gaze at the pair. How in the world did these two females break down the iron doors to my heart, in what appears to be less than a week? However, if someone really knew me well they would have already known the older one has had my heart for years. I just had my feelings locked up tight to prevent loosing not only my greatest employee but to protect my heart from the most excruciating pain a person can endure, rejection from your one true love.
He continued to ponder this for awhile but soon turned his attention back to the hideous paper. Leapin' Lizards, won't this be wonderful to read because the two most annoying New York Times reporters, who enjoy writing stories on this ruthless tyrant, collaborated together on this story! They better not ... Trailed off Oliver's thought process as his eyes caught sight of the picture of Punjab and Annie dangling from the auto copter. So with his heart in his throat he started to read the front page.
PARENT IMPOSTERS CAUSE HAVOC FOR WARBUCKS & ORPHAN!
Co-authored by Ethel Anderson (Lead Society Columnist) and Russel Brinkman (Lead News Columnist)
Last night if you live near B & O Bridge you had a rude awaking or a jolt to your heart when sirens buzzed by or you heard the swoosh of Warbucks' auto copter as it flew over your building! Yes, it was a bustle of action caused by a few people who planned to benefit from Warbucks' earlier announcement on the Bert Healy Show about the search for "orphan Annie's real parents" along with a $50,000 reward!
Our sources indicate that a Daniel "Rooster" Hannigan, who is no stranger to trouble or jail, was the ring master of the attempted theft and kidnapping. He had two accomplices, a Lily St. Regis and an Agatha Hannigan (aka his sister and caretaker of the Hudson Street Orphanage); however, Miss Hannigan confessed to her role in the attempted heist, as well as, her attempt to save "orphan Annie" from her brother's revenge.
That's right not only were they trying to catch kidnappers, it also appears "orphan Annie" attempted to take matters in her own hands. Duping the three would be kidnappers and benefactors of the $50,000 reward. According to Miss Hannigan, "orphan Annie" got away from the three by claiming she needed to use the bathroom and in the process of getting out of the truck she grabbed the check and got away. "Rooster" proceeded to follow her to the bridge as the ladies in the gang attempted to head her off. Who would have thought the "little orphan" had the courage to take on three adults!?
Miss Hannigan continued her tale by stating that "orphan Annie" proceeded to tear up the check when she and Regis pulled up in front of the bridge. This infuriated "Rooster" who proceeded to chase after "orphan Annie" to the drawn up bridge. Miss Hannigan stated that she took off after her brother when she heard him yelling "I'm gonna kill her!" According to Miss Hannigan, she attempted to stop her brother but he knocked her out. She reported when she came too she watched her brother attempting to drop "orphan Annie" from the top of the bridge. Yes, drop the poor girl off the bridge!
By this time the police, fire department, and paramedics were on the scene to apprehend Regis and Miss Hannigan. However, right before their arrival Warbucks and his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, appeared on the scene! Now, Warbucks is no stranger to the news or our society pages. And most of the past stories on him have been about his hard heartedness and love for money; but, the look of pure terror upon his face as he gazed up at the top of the bridge, as he gripped his secretary's hand for support and maybe comfort, can be recognized by any parent who fears for their child's life (see page 8C, 9C, 10C, and 11C for more pictures of the "kidnapping debacle" of the three kidnappers, Warbucks, his secretary, his body guard, as well as "orphan Annie")!
Who would have imagined that a simple broken locket and the promise of returning to your child, with the other half, would cause such a harrowing experience for Warbucks, "orphan Annie", his staff, and the rest of New York!? That's right a locket! (Continue story on page 7C)
Oliver quickly looked up to make sure the other two occupants were still asleep as he carefully flipped to page 7C. Hmmm, so far these two have been fairly gentle in their rendition of tonight's ugly events toward Annie but … she's not an orphan anymore or won't be by the end of tomorrow. However, how infuriating that ... thatttt ... shrew and sorry excuse of a caretaker would quickly grab her 15 minutes of fame by 'spilling the beans' as Annie would put it. Probably thinks this will lessen her punishment by quickly coming clean! Oliver hastily realized that he was rattling and crunching up the newspaper with his silent fury causing unwarranted noise again. Quickly looking up toward the couch and ottoman. Where the ladies of his life lounged semi peacefully and appeared to still be asleep. Hopefully some of us will be somewhat rested for tomorrow ... I mean today.
Once that realization settled over him, with a jolt, and 'he thought' all was well with Annie and Grace he returned his focus back to page 7C to finish the news story. However, before he began to read again he hastily glanced at the seven photographs on page 8C depicting different moments of the harrowing rescue. The three photographs that caused his heart to lurch from what could only be described as a combination of immediate love, fear, and also fury toward the paper for the captions underneath them (especially the one implying he and Grace have possibly been more than boss and employee for years) depicted the three of them together as a reunited family.
The photographs themselves were innocent with their heart wrenching reunion and rejoicing in Annie's safe return. This one must be when Punjab handed Annie to me and Grace threw her arms around us! The next one must have been when Annie launched herself at Grace after I held her for what only felt like a few seconds. The third one is when I realized that the 'damn' maggots were snatching photographs of us and I quickly tried to shield and half embrace 'my girls' from them. As I told Punjab to get us the 'hell out of there' as well as requesting the chief of police and medics to meet us back at the house for further questioning and to inspect Annie properly in the comfort of her own home. Hmm, did I just easily call Annie and Grace my girls? Good heavens! Annie sure has changed me quite rapidly from the press hating old miser, tyrant, and hard hearted money lover to a ... what? Absolutely head over heals, smitten father figure who not only loves her but ... also can't deny to himself anymore that he has been in love with his private secretary for years.
Just like so many other men I have watched over the years! Her natural tenderness, elegance, poise, love, devotion, and compassion herald many followers and some have been braver than me, as Annie would put it, by 'attempting to sweep her off her feet' with kind gestures; or they are like me, silently appreciating the rare jewel that graces their presence but would never voice their true feelings for fear of getting immediate rejection. Yes, I know she has several followers who would love to vie for her affections but I am not willing to share her with anyone hence the long days and nights we put in (therefore, ensuring no dates are possible).
Annie, may think I didn't take notice of her before she came here but that is entirely untrue! I took notice of her immediately ten years ago when she worked for Judge William Hawthorne as his temporary secretary when she was only a mere 23 year old (little did I know at the time that I had encountered her as a young lass multiple times). No initially she appeared as a young beauty trying to make it in the 'boys' club' so she pinned her hair up to hide her looks yet her poise, charm, gentleness, compassion, and professionalism still radiated off her. Oliver slowly raised his eyes from the photographs as they slowly traveled on their own accord toward their favorite past time, Grace. Oliver continued to gaze at her as he mused about his first recollection of her.
I remember requiring Hawthorne's advice, after all, he was one of the few honest lawmen I trusted. In some ways we were a like because he too has earned and fought for his career due to his humbling beginnings; however, where I am gruff and standoffish he is the opposite with the air of compassion to him that's made him very approachable. He's 10 years my senior which makes him more like an older brother and with the twist of his charisma sealed the deal that he's become one of the few men over the years that I veer great and I can honestly say I've valued his opinion from almost day one. He is one of the few men back then and today that I can truly call a friend as well as his sweet wife Esther!
Anyway, the evening I met Grace! I had phoned Hawthorne the night before at his house asking to meet him the next evening after hours for his advice on a new international endeavor that was proposed to me by an associate. Something just didn't seem right and I required his legal expertise and friendly advice. He agreed and stated he would retain his secretary for the evening to assist with any dictation and documentation required for our meeting. After all, I had just fired my last secretary two days before. He actually half joked and asked how many secretaries I had gone through that year at the time I was not amused because it had been up to nine and it wasn't even June!
When I walked into the office after hours I didn't pay attention to the person sitting at the secretary desk but just assumed it was Agnes Smith, Hawthorne's very efficient secretary. So I quickly rapped on his door. After 20 minutes of discussing the proposal and possible legalities Hawthorne called his secretary into the office via the intercom. First I was mildly shocked when a sweet angelic voice answered a 'yes sir, I will be right in' knowing it was not Agnes; but, when the owner of the voice stepped into the office her natural beauty, which radiated from within, rendered me completely speechless. I remember her smiling shyly at me as Hawthorne quickly introduced us. When I came to my senses I extended my hand in greeting and when we shook hands I felt a instant tingling.
As I was trying to regain my equilibrium I realized Hawthorne was stating that Grace was filling in for Agnes while she attended her mother, but that Grace had been one of his clerks since she graduated high school. Then he continued to proudly state, like a proud papa, that she had just completed her bachelor's degree in business management with three minors in dictation/typing, French, and Spanish. As Hawthorne continued to praise Grace a blush slowly crept on her face and she shyly ducked her head which I found utterly adorable. He continued to go on about how she put herself through night school for six years while she worked for him during the day. I should have known then he had an ulterior motive with all the rave reviews he was giving.
Ha, to say the least I was very impressed even if she wasn't a man! However, that wasn't even the icing on the cake. Her skills as a secretary were superb! She not only kept up with Hawthorne and I as we dictated to her the information I required for the possible business endeavor, but when we were finished with the business she promptly left to type the documents quickly and thoroughly as William requested that I stay and catch up. Oh course, I had intended to leave and send someone for the documents the very next day, but William being William wanted to chew the fat over a nice cigar.
Little did I know that William and his wife Esther schemed this the night before after I phoned. He wanted Grace to demonstrate her work ethic and efficiency to me in person knowing that I was a hard person to impress unless the skills were exhibited first hand. Not only did she prove it but I was rendered speechless again when 30 minutes after leaving our presence she knocked on the door and returned with the documents completed and efficiently organized to my utter liking. I vaguely took notice of her leaving the office to return to her desk to finish up some other paperwork. When I looked up, Hawthorne had a smug look on his face that said it all, pompous goat! Ha!
He started to collect his things and not even asking but stating that Esther expected us at home by 7 p.m. to eat super with them and their small family of tenants. Soon I was rendered speechless for the third time that evening when we left his office to find Grace with her coat and briefcase in hand waiting on us. The three of us took the stairs to the lower level where Punjab had been waiting on me. Here's where I became dumbfounded again not only did I not argue with Esther's plans but I also assumed I would be taking Hawthorne home; however, I was a bit flabbergasted to find out I was also taking Grace home as well. Hawthorne quickly explained as I was trying to comprehend his gesture for Grace to enter the limo first that Grace had been one of his and Esther's tenants at their small boarding house for over six years as well.
When we pulled up to the boarding house I was again baffled when I was not greeted by Esther first but she greeted Grace affectionately instead. Then after Esther doted on Grace a bit a younger but ganglier version of Grace came bounding in quickly embracing her as she peppered her with questions about her day. (Then it dawned on me, this young woman use to be a gawky teenager as well. In years past I had many meals with Esther and William with their tenants along with young Ellis and two young girls; but, as my wealth grew I stopped attending monthly meals with them.) That's when Esther finally gathered me into her arms for a long sisterly embrace, and as I was embracing her back I looked up to see the most breath taking smile appear on Grace's face as she answered Abigail's questions. Not only did I feel a pull at my heart when I saw the smile but when it was soon accompanied by a sweet musical laugh it lurched for the first time in years.
When I pulled back from the hug to my utter surprise and my heart's disappointment Grace had slipped out of the entry way to assist with bringing the food in from the kitchen. However, I was quickly pulled from those feelings as Esther started doting on me in a similar fashion as Grace. She soon pulled me into the dining room as well as Punjab to take a seat at the table with the other five tenants while Grace and Abigail joined Esther at the other end of the table. After about 15 minutes of getting reacquainted or acquainted with the five men as we passed the food around the table a lively discussion started up among William, myself, and three out of the five gentlemen at the table about the financial and business world. I lacked the awareness that the other two were attempting to engage Grace in their own conversation. (Later while doing dishes with her I realized that Grace was unaware of her beauty and charm, and that she already had followers who vied for her attention.) While the two suitors continued to contend with one another while conversing with Grace she kindly responded to their exchanges, but would generally return back to her conversation with Esther and Abigail not even noticing their interest in her.
No … my full attention headed toward the other end of the table when Esther hastily interjected into our conversation while giving William a pointed look to go along with her ploy. This alerted me that something was amiss and after quickly evaluating the situation at the other end of the table it appeared the two young suitors were starting to get into a heated discussion; but, the undercurrents were due to the competition they had between each other over Grace's affection. And with his wife's nonverbal direction, William, caught the rest of table up to our conversation and soon Esther started adding her thoughts to the discussion as perusal; however, to my astonishment Grace too could keep up with the conversation and also added her own tidbits and knowledge to the discussion as did Abigail. To say I was amazed was an understatement! I also found myself becoming more smitten with Grace but of course my head rebuffed the notion immediately.
After dinner Esther volunteered ME as well as Grace to do the dishes! She said it was only fitting since I kept her husband away longer than usual that night. So ... as I was rolling up my sleeves, heading to the kitchen, and grumbling about how I was a multimillionaire and that I had servants to do these things I felt a towel flip into my hands accompanied by a small chuckle. Sheepishly I looked up to realize it was Grace finding merriment at my expense. '"Mr. Warbucks, there's no arguing with her or getting out of it, but I will do the cleaning if you do the drying." So, what seemed like an unfair 'punishment to a guest' soon became a blissful hour of cleaning pots, pans, dishes, and utensils with a very smart, classy, and exotic beauty. The icing on the cake was when she started humming then it turned into singing as we worked in tandem like a well oiled machine cleaning, drying, and tiding up the kitchen with such ease you would have thought we'd been doing it for years. (How on earth had I never noticed or conversed with Grace, she was charming).
After the kitchen was complete I kissed Grace's hand in appreciation and bid the Hawthornes and Abigail goodbye (I remember Grace turned a nice shade of red after I bid her goodnight and she also bumped into the hall table as well. It was very endearing but perplexing at the same time). Later when I returned home and turned in for the night I experienced my first and definitely not my last dream about a specific blue eyed enchantress. Who continues to visit my dreams regularly. As I recall during the days the following week it was pure 'hell' because I hired and fired another secretary, but at night I slept like a baby because I was visited by my very own goddess. However, toward the end of that week I realized I needed to enact a 'hands off policy' toward Grace out of respect for the Hawthornes. Oliver mentally shook himself realizing he had been starring at Grace with a goofy grin plastered on his face for sometime during his recollection of his first real memory of Grace. Oliver then returned his gaze back toward the pictures of the three of them in the newspaper; however, he couldn't help but silently chuckle at himself when his eyes focused on Grace in the photographs. He knew he had it bad!
As it would turn out I required William's advice and services again the following week to review the possible business deal again (or so I argued in my head but my heart wanted another glimpse of Grace). Later after he reviewed and gave me his legal advice he shared with me how Grace and Abigail came into their care over a few cigars; and, I remember feeling great shame and regret that I never inquired about the girls years before when they first appeared at meals (For years I have argued with myself as to why I neglected to ask about the girls a better friend would have inquired after the first meal. The only two reasons I have come too over the years which are not flattering in the least are: one, I was too selfish, and, two, their gender and ages scared me! I was definitely not use to female children or teenagers).
William that night indicated that Grace's parents, Rebecca and Elmer, were once tenants of his and Esther's. They moved to New York from Connecticut for two years when Elmer's job transferred him here (Grace was only three years old at the time), but his job transferred him back when Grace was five years old. Rebecca and Esther remained great friends so when Rebecca died and Elmer was unable to parent Grace and her younger sister, Abigail, due to his grief, Esther and William took them in when she was 15 and her sister was eight. A year later they learned that Elmer died of pneumonia when he was out in the cold after a night of binge drinking; however, with William's pull as a lawyer at the time he was able to conceal the true reasons of his death on the death certificate so the girls' would not feel the disgrace of knowing their father died at the hands of the bottle. Yet, he and Esther knew that Grace knew the true reason but kept it to herself for Abigail's sake.
Unfortunately, years and years before I learned that Esther and William never had a child live out of infancy (Maybe this knowledge silenced my inquiry about the girls. It was awkward for me ... how does a man like me effectively demonstrate empathy for his friends?) but their continued compassion toward others allowed them to dote on everyone else's children even if their hearts were somewhat broken (I mean look at Ellis Hawthorne he's a prime example). So, after learning of their history with Grace's family there was little doubt as to why William and Esther took the girls in and also demonstrated great love and pride in them as well. William's demonstrations of being the 'proud papa' was not only about Grace's compassion, work ethic, and efficiency but her tenacity to 'do it on her own' as he stated it that day. He said she had told him she loved him but she wanted to pull her own weight, and pay for her degree and boarding with her own money after high school.
He also noted too me that day that Agnes would be returning to work the following Monday, and I would be a fool not to snatch Grace up as 'only' my secretary. William made it very clear that he was aware that Grace, unbeknownst to her, managed to gain legions of followers of all 'ages.' And with that last comment about ages I felt William had read my true feelings toward Grace and was simply implying I was to old for her hence the 'hands off policy.' Oliver sighed after recalling the 'hands off policy' and ran his hand over his head then down his face in a defeated gesture.
So not wanting to be a fool, that weekend, I was greeting my new secretary at the front doors with a tight rein on my emotions because I would not cross that line even though my heart desired it. And to Mrs. Greer and Mrs. Pugh's astonishment I took Grace on a tour of the house as well as lead her to her new courters, something I never did before with my previous secretaries. I have to say my whole body swelled with pride and joy when Grace appeared to be in awe, grateful, and humbled all at the same time for her quarters as well as her new position. Later I went over my expectations I had for her as my secretary and the hours we would work (i.e., Monday through Saturday with Sunday being our day off).
And like William had warned me, admirers even within my own household continued to contend for her affections so what did this 'love sick follower' do? I gave Grace more and more responsibilities such as managing my household, keeping longer hours at work because 'I needed her efficiency', and expecting her to keep me company during all of my meals just so I would have more time with her and effectively keeping other suitors at bay.
So, now 10 years later not only does she still have my heart but due to a certain redheaded cherub the iron door I slammed over it has been torn down in less than a week; but, I cannot expect 'my enchantress' to return my feelings as I am too old, grumpy, and set in my ways for her tender heart, compassion, and youthfulness to ever love me back.
Oh well at least she is willing to call me Oliver and be less formal around me like wearing her hair down during the week. Sundays, have always been my favorite day because she dresses different for the day and wears her hair down. On Sundays I will wait like a 'love sick pup' in my office for the click of her heels just so I can get a glimpse of her as she descends down the stairs to head toward Jack, Cecile, Mrs. Greer, Annette, and Mrs. Pugh to all attend mass together. Sheepishly, I have been known to search her out on Sundays after church and lunch with the Hawthornes just so I can spend some leisure time with her. Generally it's within the library where we both lounge in comfortable domestic silence for hours enjoying a good book and for me her company. Oh well ...
With a sigh Oliver returned his attention back to the New York Times to continue the news article about last nights agonizing trials and tribulations with the 'Mudges.'
Shamefully over 800 couples tried and failed yesterday to get their hands on the $50,000 reward due to their selfishness; but, their ignorance about the broken locket assisted Miss Farrell as she quickly met and interviewed all the applicants and effectively turned them all away by the end of the day.
So the question of the night, HOW IN THE WORLD DID THE IMPOSTERS GET THEIR SLIMMY HANDS ON THE MISSING PIECE OF THE LOCKET TO EFFECTIVELY DUPE WARBUCKS AND TAKE WHAT OVER 800 OTHER COUPLES TRIED TO ACHIEVE BUT FAILED? Well let these two reporters share as the plot thickens! As we continued our interview with Miss Hannigan we learned that years ago due to a fire "orphan Annie's" parents were killed and the police brought her several of their possessions for the girl, including the other half of the locket and two family photographs (see page 11C for the two photographs and the forged birth certificate obtained from Regis' purse).
Oliver quickly stopped reading the rest of the story having read enough and because he was seething. He swiftly started flipping the pages to 11C to view the images 'they' supposedly obtained. If they truly have photographs of Annie when she was a baby and with her birth parents this could truly crush her. Especially if the world sees them before she's had a chance to hold and cherish them.
Before he could actually look at the photographs a delicate hand came to rest on his right shoulder making him lurch forward and close the paper hastily to conceal the story and photographs after hearing "Sir? Mr. Warbucks?" from the most lovely voice ever to grace his presence.
"What happened to Oliver?" questioned Oliver with a slight edge of doubt and surprise to his whispered request as he slowly gazed up to his slightly rumpled but still absolutely breath taking enchantress. Oh boy, you have it bad as Annie would say. Cool it down Oliver even though she started calling you Oliver per your request the other day in the garden, and has slowly closed the gap between you when sitting or standing near each other doesn't necessarily mean she reciprocates the same feelings. Especially, if she has gone back to 'sir' and 'Mr. Warbucks'.
As Grace started to caress his shoulder unintentionally out of concern due to his lack of response earlier to his name she whispered, "What? I did use Oliver three times but you weren't responding so I switched."
He slowly blinked up at her with a perplexed expression etched on his face enhancing the creases on his forehead. "You did?" he exhaled as Grace unconsciously removed her hand from his shoulder to caress away his perplexity. She nodded her head affirmatively. What has you so upset Oliver? Grace slowly reached for the paper but Oliver hastily diverted it from her reach.
"Grace ... please, I don't want you to have to relive last night."
"Oliver, something had you seething just a moment ago and you have been huffing and sighing for over 15 minutes. So, please hand over the paper or let me look over your shoulder," pleaded Grace as Oliver continued to stretch his arm further away from her reach. Oliver don't be so stubborn let me in so I can help you coup as well. Maybe using the Annie card will assist my cause. "Please ... I want to know what I need to face to protect Annie from more pain." And with that final declaration Oliver knew the last shred of iron around his heart dissolved completely.
"Wait, what do you mean for the last 15 minutes? Drake only just brought the newspaper to me 10 minutes ago! How long have you been awake?"
Sheepishly but not detoured from her goal of perusing the newspaper along with Oliver she whispered shyly, "Since you woke up." When you removed yourself from the most wonderful embrace I've ever experienced and have always wanted with you. I knew if I alerted you to my wakefulness the bubble around our safe haven would burst, and I feared you would close yourself off again. I wasn't ready to face that possibility plus I got to cuddle with Annie some more and pretend she was my little girl too!
"You mean you've been awake since I moved? Why in heavens did you pretend to still be asleep?" So, I could watch the man I adore and lo… No don't go there Grace just because he called you pretty and started touching you more doesn't mean he returns your feelings!
Trying to avoid the question Grace ducked her head and attempted to reach for the newspaper but Oliver quickly moved it out of her reach. "Oliver!" Grace whispered fiercely to let him know she was not amused while continuing to reach further over him in order to grasp the paper from his hands.
"Grace you didn't answer my question," Oliver whispered back with slight amusement to his tone. She is so adorable when she gets frustrated with me… However, his grin soon turned to sudden surprise as he inhaled quickly because Grace had responded to his amused tone by whipping her head around bringing her lips mere inches away from his. Leapin' lizards those lips! This also took her by surprise causing her to gasp as her eyes enlarged a bit more. Oh my goodness how I would love to kiss him BUT stop he's your boss even if he wants you to call him Oliver. Get a hold of yourself… Then trying to recover and pull back hastily to a more professional position, she lost her grip on the chair and ended up in Oliver's lap.
With an 'oof' and 'ugh' from each prospective person, they both immediately tried unsuccessfully to remain calm and attempt to untangle themselves but to no avail. Oliver, for his part, was trying to keep the newspaper away from Grace as he attempted to try and help boost her up with his other hand while being mindful to grab onto respectable areas of her body. Steady boy steady, keep your hands off her posterior and her chest! Easier said then done when she continues to wiggle around exciting and awakening another part of my body! Leapin' lizard can this get any worse?
Grace, for her part, was trying to hoist herself over the left arm of Oliver's chair by pushing off the back of his chair. Oliver just drop the ridiculous newspaper so you can help me with both your hands this is getting absurd. There is no way I am going to reach for it now in this predicament and cause more noise with Annie sleeping on the couch over there. But whenever comedy of errors ensue nothing goes as planned; so, the couple's attempts failed as Oliver's hand slipped from her side causing Grace to slip back down but this time when she came down her lips smashed into Oliver's cheek. This is not how I imagined my lips would connect to his face if I ever had the chance … how humiliating … good heavens how will I ever be able to face him in this room without getting embarrassed. Get up, get up! With that thought Grace tried to recover hastily as she pushed back using Oliver's shoulder but when Oliver looked up to see Grace's shocked face again he couldn't help but chuckle softly. My goodness this is ridiculous and all because I was playing 'keep away' from Grace! This caused Grace to erupt into laughter as well which in turn ignited Oliver's belly laugh.
As they continued to laugh at the hilarity of the situation they eventually grabbed onto one another for support which caused them to draw even closer together. This proximity was quickly sobering for the couple, like a cold bucket of ice, but instead of pulling back their lips came crashing together. After several seconds they pulled back to look at one another. Oliver seeing the same passion and desire reflect in Grace's eyes drew her back toward him quickly, however, the kiss was short lived when a squeal of 'yippee' was followed by a small body crashing into the pair from their right.
Before the couple could fully recover the small body started to clamber over the right arm of Oliver's chair attempting to add herself onto their laps peppering them with incessant questions. I'm so excited, I'm so excited! What a great way'ta wake up even if my bladder is full. I get daddy Warbucks and Grace as a mom! Wait till Abigail hears about this that my match makin' worked! Yes! Yes! Yes! Now let's seal the deal. "Does this mean we're an actual family now? Grace can I call ya mom? When's the weddin'? Can I be your flower girl?"
"Annie, slow down!" exclaimed Oliver as he dropped the newspaper on his desk in attempts to balance Annie to his right and assist Grace as she tried to shift on his lap to face Annie better. Oh good heavens, she is going to send me to an early grave! How do we answer this when I'm not even sure if Grace really looo, I mean cares about me like I do her? And MARRIAGE, not that I haven't thought about it for years, but we haven't even courted.
"Well?" asked Annie excitedly as she perched, with a slight bounce, on the arm of the chair since her pursuit of squeezing onto their laps was tenderly halted by Oliver's exclamation and gentle touch.
"Annie, Grace and I haven't even discussed marriage yet. We aren't even in a relationship."
"What do you mean you're not in a relationship? Mom said you've been together for 10 years," Annie answered cheekily back. Alright, daddy Warbucks, I'll pull out the big guns I'm just getting started if ya want'ta continue'ta deny what everyone else sees. What … Annie turned to face Grace when she heard her gasp from astonishment followed by a sudden sob from the 'mom' comment. Oh how I wish I were your mom baby girl! While Oliver was momentarily speechless at the announcement that they've been together for 10 years. Ten years what in tarn nation is she talking about!? Now what? He soon recovered when his attention was drawn back to Grace as she struggled to regain her composure as Annie instantly became worrisome about her use of 'mom' launched herself at Grace haphazardly apologizing for using it. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry for callin' ya mom. I just really want it! Grace immediately started to diffuse Annie's worry by pulling her around into her arms into a hug and shushing her apologizes. It's okay, it's okay, hush now! I will always love you even if being your mom isn't possible!
This lead to them becoming a tangled mess of three and Oliver finally calling everything to halt fearing the next move would cause the chair to break at the rate they were going. "Annie, Grace as much as I love both of you, I'm afraid at this rate our next location will be on the floor!" Talk about a slip of the tongue, smooth move Oliver. Oliver quickly closed his eyes and took a deep breath to regain his composure before Grace knocked him out; but, when he opened his eyes he was met with Annie's cheeky smile but his heart lurched when Grace burst into tears. You love me Oliver!? This makes me so happy but I can't seem to stop crying.
Before he could fully comprehend Grace's reaction Annie threw her arms around him and Grace excitedly proclaiming, "See I knew it! I knew it! I knew you loved each other! You're perfect for each other!" Causing Grace to give out a chuckle through her tears as Oliver and her faces came together again. Annie I think you would be the only person in the world that would think we were perfect together. But upon her quick inspection she realized Oliver had diverted his eyes from her as his self consciousness started to flare. Oliver please look at me! Please don't take it back my heart wouldn't be able to take it. Or are you afraid I don't love you back?
Grace hastily placed her free hand on his cheek to draw his attention back toward her. She quite happily amended his doubt by stating, "I love you too Oliver," sealing it with a quick kiss. And on that note the chair gave a loud groan causing the three to chuckle, but this time they successfully worked together to untangle their limbs and stand from the chair.
Once they were all standing successfully, Annie threw her arms around them, then dashed for the door announcing over her shoulder with her cheeky grin, "I'll be right back! I need'ta go'ta the bathroom! Don't do, say or read anything before I get back, okay mom and daddy Warbucks!"
When Oliver looked back at Grace to share a good chuckle about 'his ... no possibly their daughter's' sudden departure his disposition quickly changed to a mixture of bemusement, fear, anger, and concern as Grace began to wave the newspaper in front of his nose. Definitely not how a girl would imagine confessing her love nor hearing she was loved in return ... which all started with you playing keep away with this newspaper … Grace soon realized her jest had the opposite affect on Oliver and teasing him about how they ended up tangled in a mess and confessing their love to one another in less than 10 minutes would not be warranted at that moment.
"Oliver, what is it? Something's in this newspaper that's made you upset again! Please tell me!" Don't hide something important from me especially if its about you or Annie!
Oliver quickly snatched the newspaper from Grace as he glanced toward the door. He swiftly tucked Grace into his side wanting her close as well as a means of support as he awkwardly turned to page 11C. He then turned their embrace toward the door so they would be able to see Annie return. When he was finally successful at turning to 11C Grace grabbed for the other side of the newspaper to assist him after she realized what he was doing. Then they both hastily glanced at the photographs he knew immediately when Grace acknowledged his earlier response when her grip on his side tightened.
There in black and white was the most adorable, chubby, smiling, toothless, curly top baby starring right back at them. Oh my goodness, NO how in the world did they get their hands on Annie's baby picture. This is so unfair to Annie and to us! Right next to that one was another picture of the same baby in the middle of a blanket being propped up by a woman kneeling beside her but whose face was obscured by her curls. There was also a dark headed man lounging on the blanket but he had his back toward the camera. It appeared as if the family was on a picnic most likely before the hard times hit them. These definitely would have been extra ammo to use against us if Grace and I continued to question their legitimacy especially when the faces of the true 'Mudges' were obscured.
"Oh Oliver, how could things have been so hard that they would want to give up that beautiful face!" exclaimed Grace. Even as a baby she had spunk I can just tell because of that cheeky little grin. It's so unfair we have to share these precious moments with the world! "How in the world did the New York Times get those photographs?!"
"Grace, hold that thought, I want to make sure Annie doesn't see this page until we can gently explain the whole situation to her. Pages 8C-10C have other photographs from last night that go along with the news article but I'll skip the part relating to these photographs until we have them in our possession! Especially since, I'm pretty sure, Annie was referring to this as 'not reading anything until I get back'." Grace nodded in agreement as she briskly ran a finger one last time over Annie as a baby while Oliver hastily continued, "These were left with the locket after the fire in Miss Hannigan's care I believe the 'false Mudges' were going to use them if the locket and birth certificate weren't enough to fool us! They were in the 'false Mrs. Mudge's' purse and that's how the New York Times obtained copies! Anything to make a dime while ignoring the repercussions their actions may cause others especially Annie!"
"Oliver quick I hear Annie returning!" Oliver hastily flipped the newspaper back to the front page just as Annie came bounding into the room.
"What did I miss?!" exclaimed Annie with her typical gusto as she plowed back into Grace and Oliver's embrace. The force elicited two 'oofs' but both recipients gladly accepted her hug. Grace tenderly ran her fingers through Annie's curls as Oliver squeezed her tighter to reinforce her 'bear hug'. I am starting to quote Annie more and more, haha. Won't my associates be shocked when during a meeting I start 'spouting off', there I go again, Annie's expressions to prove my point!? I'm sure they will think I've gone mad! Oliver's thoughts were interrupted by Annie's exasperated questions, "Now what? You're suppose'ta be happy 'cause you two final told each other ya love one 'nother."
"Oh, Annie, we are happy but we are also feeling so many other emotions right now as well due to the last 48 hours," explained Grace. Geez, in the last 48 hours I have gone from being elated that you were going to stay with us along with Oliver's compliments and his request that I call him Oliver. Then within four hours my elation shattered because you turned us down and wanted to find your real parents. On top of those feelings, that same day I put on my brave face to support and cheer you on as my heart was slowly breaking as Oliver made his offer on the Burt Healy Show. The next day I experienced a mixture of what I can only describe as aggravation, disgust, and disappointment toward the liars who wanted to use you for money as well as my continued sorrow that I may loose you and even Oliver again. Then I felt the most intense pain, that struck my heart, when we turned you over to the 'false Mudges'! Oh, how I never want to feel that pain again! But the worst feelings occurred when your friends showed up and told us the 'false Mudges' tricked us resulting in your danger, and they continued to multiply as we watched you dangle from the bridge. I only began to hope, relax, and feel that elation creep back into my heart when Oliver validated that he still wanted you as his daughter while we all cuddled on the couch!
"Like what emotions? 'Cause I'm mostly feeling happy but I can't explain all the other emotions I feel … like … well I can definitely say I'm … as mad as a hornet toward Miss Hannigan, her brother, and his dame for dupin' you. Who wouldn't be, right? But I mean golly, I'm somewhat sad, maybe even melony 'bout my real folks but really I didn't know 'em," added Annie as she looked up at Oliver with such fierceness in her eyes with the last statement. Melony?
"Sweetheart do you mean melancholy?" Grace gently asked as she tenderly ruffled Annie's hair with a slight chortle to her tone.
Annie replied, "Yep that's what I meant melony."
"First off, it's pronounced melon-ka-lee," Grace gently corrected to not offend Annie's limited vocabulary. Because in the last week Annie had demonstrated a great desire to increase her vocabulary skills by picking up and practicing new words when responding to her and some of the other staff who were willing to nurture her skills. "And how in the world do you know what that word means?"
"Abigail, helped me on Sunday after church and shoppin' when I told her daddy Warbucks wore the same face as Sandy did when I told him in the alley where I found him that I couldn't take him home." It's also the same look most orphans 'perience when gazin' upon a family, but I didn't want'ta voice that out loud (to avoid causin' melon-ka-lee to creep back inta mom and daddy).
"When did your daddy wear that face?" Grace asked through a chuckle due to the absurdity of the comparison as well as Oliver's face which displayed a mixture of incredibility, embarrassment, and bewilderment. I can't keep laughing like this without relieving my bladder first. Geez, what time is it? Oh nearly 6:00 a.m. I'm sure the other girl's exhaustion from their long run won't keep them down long especially if they are anything like Annie. They will probably be up by or before 8:00 a.m. raring to go. "You know what? Why don't you hold that thought for 15 minutes and go and see if Mrs. Pugh is in the kitchen and also see if Sandy needs let out. If Mrs. Pugh is in the kitchen ask her quietly for a pot of coffee for your father and I. While you are doing that we will both go freshen up real quick and meet you back here."
"Okay!" responded Annie quietly as she dashed toward the kitchen to fulfill Grace's request.
"Oliver, hide the newspaper or take it with …" However, Grace was unable to complete her request because Oliver had spun her around quickly to give her a long kiss. Grace quickly recovered from her surprise snaking her arms around his neck to draw him closer. They only pulled apart when air was required to continue to breath. "Not … that I'm complaining … but … what was that for?" Grace breathlessly asked.
"I've been wanting to do that for years … and also ever since earlier I have had this uncontrollable urge to continue where we left off but unfortunately we've had a 10 year old, redheaded chaperone among us deterring that impulse. However, I love that redheaded chaperone so much I wouldn't want her to think I'm a monster by devouring your lips and causing you to require oxygen," initially responded Oliver breathlessly from the lack of air but soon his voice gained strength as he regained oxygen to his lungs.
"Oh Oliver, me too but I really need to freshen up! I'm also afraid if we don't leave now Annie will return and then we really won't be able to contain her enthusiasm long enough to leave and take care of some much needed business."
"No, I agree … and yes … I will take the newspaper with me … so curious young eyes don't look at it without us!" Oliver responded pecking Grace's lips during each pause but sealed his lips with hers once more after he finished his statement until they were both out of air again. When they pulled up to catch their breaths he rested his forehead against hers then softly kissed it as they both slowly released each other from their embrace.
"I'll see you in 10 minutes you better be here by 6:10 or Annie or I will probably send out the guards looking for you," Grace said as she quickly dashed barefoot toward the stairs in order to run to her suite to use the facility then change and freshen up her appearance before returning to the office. I must look like a sight! I need to pull my appearance together because I am sure that once we we've spent valuable time together as a … dear lord, do I even dare to hope as a 'family?' Leapin' lizards, a girl can definitely dream especially after the events of this morning! Oh Grace get it together! You need to hurry because once the rest of the girls are up you will not have the luxury to freshen up while you and the rest of the staff attend to all their needs!
Oliver on the other hand started toward the elevator not wanting Grace to know that he too was headed toward his suites as well to not only freshen up, but to retrieve a special item he's had stored away for eight years. Yippee! I feel like a kid in a candy store! Who would have thought that the beauty actually loves the beast back!? Now, instead of looking at the ring and longing for Grace to wear it, she may actually accept it.
When Oliver entered his room he headed straight toward his large bureau that served as his daily suit holder; but, it also had several trick compartments to hold his most valuable possessions including part of his jewelry line. Most people think my valuables are behind that Rembrandt over there but if someone were able to break into this room they would have a rude awaking. It's a great decoy and trips the alarm to alert the police, as well as, my body guards. This bureau was a wonderful find in Monte Carlo several years ago and the only person who is aware of its trick compartments as well as myself is Grace. Leapin' lizards! If you really think about it she is my most trusted companion and has been from the beginning. Maybe Annie isn't so far off when she said we've have been in a 'relationship' for 10 years, just without the sweeter benefits.
Holy Moses, when did I give Grace all this trust and if I really think about it power over my estate? Most likely shortly after I gave her my heart! Grace … has been a God send from day one starting in William's office. Not only does she do her job well, but she demonstrates great loyalty, trustworthiness, and compassion toward me and others. It must have somehow solidified my willingness to share some very important information that could easily be a huge temptation to be used against me by a weaker person. He mused as he reached for his most precious possession, held in the very back of the top shelf of the last hidden compartment.
He slowly raised it to the light to admire it. It's beauty doesn't match Grace's but when I saw it at Tiffany's years ago I had to add it to my collection in hopes of giving it to her one day. I remember the day I purchased it, we had just returned from a two week long business trip in Paris. We took one of my large yachts, not only was it very successful, but it was the most exhilarating and carefree time I had in years.
It was Grace's fourth year with me! I wanted to spend time with her outside of the office. I wanted to see the young vibrant side of her who loved to tease, laugh, and love those around her. I slowly began to note that as our working relationship continued to grow and become stronger, her natural light and vibrancy began to fade around me. The only time she exhibited those around me after our first year was when her family was around, so at that particular time right before that business trip I selfishly wanted her vibrancy back in my presence (Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule my monthly meals with the Hawthornes dwindled and after the crash it became nil; however, I wasn't the brute so many claimed me to be to ban Grace from partaking in her family meals). Especially when I heard through the grapevine that she had a possible new beau trying to court her!
Even though I wanted her to myself, I feared: one, she would remain professional the whole trip, and two, I also knew how society would view our long trip on my yacht alone. I didn't want to damage her reputation. I had already heard tongues wag among my associates and their wives about the beauty I hired as my private secretary. Little did they know her true value as my employ, confidant, and if I dare say my best associate besides one William Hawthorne!
Anyway, so I encouraged her to invite William, Esther, Ellis, and Abigail to join us for the trip as a vacation as well. Not only would Grace's disposition be warm, loving, and playful with them around I could also randomly learn information about this possible suitor I heard about through the staff gossip chain.
It was the most wonderful trip that now I continue to make sure we do it once a year like an anniversary. Not only do we get effective work down but I also get the added bonus to see Grace let her hair down, so to speak. However, on the first voyage I learned the most wonderful news from young Abigail that there was a potential suitor but after going out on a few dates Grace rejected him! Abigail also implied that the dates were just to appease one of Grace's church friends who had been pestering her to date her cousin. I was so elated by the news I think I had a slight bounce to my step the rest of the trip.
Each year on this trip, I seem to become more bolder with my tactile contact with Grace. My hand finds its way to her lower back to guide her around, I purposefully stand or sit a bit closer to her, and even on occasion will brush up against her just slightly. Normally, Grace will grace me with the most wonderful soft smiles which send a jolt right to my hardened heart. However, my most treasured moments are when I hold her as we dance to music after dinner because the others are dancing with their respective partners. Unfortunately, like clock work after our trip to Paris is complete our professionalism creeps right back in within 24 hours. Oliver continued to inspect the ring and its glimmer utilizing the light from the lamps all while trying to curb the mounting hope, elation, and anticipation of finally presenting it to Grace.
I remember it completely baffled me, the first year, I was so elated by how the trip and personal interactions went that I unconsciously went to Tiffany's to buy a ring. Robert, the head clerk as well as my personal account manager there had been pestering me to visit with the purpose of increasing my collection for several months. Of course, this was not one of my favorite things to do so I often put it off, but upon our return I had a message from him to stop by when I was available. It seemed like the most opportune time and I continue this tradition since that first trip to venture there each Sunday after we return from Paris. One, because I am relaxed enough to endure this tedious task, and two, we don't start work until Wednesday to regain our land legs.
Anyway, I was in an amazing mood after our first trip so I decided to give it a whirl. Generally, Tiffany's is closed on Sundays (like the majority of the country's stores) but when you are a billionaire the doors are open whenever you're available. So, I called Robert at his house to say I was available that day to increase my inventory and he quickly agreed to meet me there!
Of course, my inventory at the time involved and continues to involve both men and women's jewelry. So, Robert had pulled out the most exquisite items in the store for me to choose from at that moment. Mostly necklaces, cuff links, earrings, men's rings, and men's accessories. Seldom up until then, did I have interest in women's rings but I would always add one or two to my collection, but not with real interest.
However, as the hour was drawing late Robert finally pulled out the last drawer of jewelry. As I perused the selection with more interest then I ever had before the most breathtaking blue marquis cut diamond engagement ring caught my eye. When I picked it up Robert went into detail about its qualities stating the ring elegance and charm were due to a fancy blue marquis cut diamond center stone surrounded by a beautiful diamond halo. As I grunted indifference to his monologue I was the opposite inside, I was ecstatic to find a piece that would set off her eyes! Of course, I played it off nonchalantly and told Robert to place it in my trunk with the rest of the pieces I had picked out even though I wanted to personally pocket it. I picked out two more rings to continue the rues then told him to pack it all up because the hour was growing late. I was going to miss my Sunday evening with Grace, and unfortunately I did due to an accident on the road.
By the time I got home she had already turned in for the night. The next morning as I played with the ring in my pocket as encouragement to start my pursuit of earning her affections I realized quickly my purchase was for not when she came down to breakfast with the air of professionalism and not a shred of THE GRACE on the yacht! That's when I realized that her disposition during that time was not because of me but due to her family. So, when Wednesday rolled around I had her file the invoice to my Tiffany's trip, and I placed the ring in the back of the top shelf of my trick compartments.
Sadly, I usually look at the ring once a year after our trips to Paris when I would get a glimpse of what life could be like if Grace truly loved me in return. Yes selfishly I did not want to loose those two weeks of bliss (especially since I would always have to do those two weeks of business in Paris) so I forged the yearly anniversary trip with all the Hawthornes, including young Willis this spring just so I can get a glimpse of the carefree and loving Grace that is hidden around me for most of the year! However, this week with Annie has been an added bonus this year, I dare say, especially with her encouragement and insight that Grace thought of me more than her employer … but possibly someone more special … what did she say "like sliced bread"? So ... now that I know that Grace returns my affections …
Oliver instantly clamped his fist over the ring, like a cold bucket of ice, his musings went toward self ridicule and darker thoughts. Then he slowly released the vise grip he had on the ring and returned his gaze back to it; but, instead of admiring it like before his grip on it was like a mere commoner beholding a priceless item, being fearful of damaging it or dropping it, in a jeweler's shop, because it's unattainable due to its value. However, his dark musings weren't really directed toward the ring but who it was meant for, Grace. Dear lord, how could someone like Grace return my affections and my love? What did I do to deserve her? Should I really shackle her down to a tyrant while she is an angel? Whose natural beauty shines from within due to her compassion, natural warmth, and kindness where I am miserly, blind, and too old for her. Who up until a week ago only cared about money, power, and capitalism. Whose heart until a few days ago was closed off to any kind of love in order to prevent immense pain from rejection and humiliation? No, I should set her free …
Unfortunately, due to his reflections and self deprecations he didn't realize how much time had passed as Annie burst into his room. Nor was he aware that Annie saw the ring in his hand as well as his pensive look as he slowly went to put it back in the drawer, dejectedly. Annie being the perceptive child she is did not want him to give up, so plowed into his body for a supportive hug causing the ring to fly out of his hand and roll under the bureau. Will the comedy of errors ever cease today?
PS- a link to the ring I discussed in this chapter is available on my profile if you wish for a visual.