Yes, I've written another multi-chapter Annie story instead of working on the two already in progress... but I got to see the UK version of Annie and I was totally inspired. Oliver and Grace were played out so beautifully and they had such good chemistry. I couldn't resist working a story around the little moments added between them. Marking this as slightly AU because while it all stays within the timeline, these extra scenes aren't exactly canon in a family show. I'm also labeling it a good-sized drabble/fluff.
Oliver couldn't take his eyes off of Grace as the horse-drawn carriage took the three of them home. Every now and then his eyes fell to Annie who was still sound asleep, but other than that, nothing stood in the way of his secretary. Although, right now, he didn't remember she worked for him. She was the person who helped him chase a spirited orphan around the streets of New York. It was there he noticed for the first time just how beautiful she was.
No, it wasn't the first time. He'd known since the minute she first walked into his office. He never thought to act on it, though. Lots of women were pretty. As time went on he was used to seeing her day after day. Though, it was interesting how she seemed to look her prettiest after he'd been away.
In a way, Annie's attitude towards him at first was much like Grace's had been. She wasn't rude, but she challenged him. Those years ago he hadn't wanted to hire another young woman as his secretary. He wanted someone older, a man preferably, to be his assistant. The fresh out of school girls never lasted. They ended up fearing him or took his temper to heart. Sometimes it was the workload that overwhelmed them. But it was marriage that got the most of them. They never intended for a steady job and he needed somebody that was.
Against his better judgment, he hired Grace. While the interview was brief, he could see a difference in her. He didn't know what that difference was exactly. Not then, and not really now if he was being honest. All he knew was that she stayed. He never understood why. She had the misfortunate of being around when the market crashed. She saw him at one of the lowest points of his life. She took on more tasks than any other assistant had combined. Another thing she did differently was keeping him in line. Not in a disrespectful or even powerful way. It was her heading glances and small gestures that appeared when he started getting riled up. Thanks to her he'd probably saved quite a few business connections. Especially with President Roosevelt.
But right now he couldn't think of anything other than where he was. Spending the night roaming the city was not his intention coming straight from six weeks away inspecting factories. There was a mountain of paperwork awaiting him in his office. Going out tonight was downright irresponsible… so how come he felt the happiest he'd been in years?
When they returned home, Oliver carried Annie upstairs with direction from Grace to the room she'd chosen. Upon entering it became clear she'd intended on picking a girl from the orphanage all along. It wasn't a whim. He knew that she knew him well enough to know he would want a boy. This was another thing that made her different. Everyone else did exactly what he wanted and expected. They wanted to stay on his good side because, in their minds, it kept them one step closer to his fortune. These people grew tiresome, even if he did like everything going his way.
Annie woke just enough when she was set down to know she was back at the mansion. While Grace helped her ready for bed, Oliver waited in the hallway still trying to process the evening. These newfound emotions scared him. He laughed tonight. It wasn't forced laughter at a dinner party, it was genuine happiness. He had just as much fun as the kid. He knew Grace enjoyed herself, too, though she looked panicked at times when Annie got too far ahead. What he liked most was seeing how taken she was with Annie — and vice versa. She looked utterly content watching over a child. As endearing as the vision was, it also saddened him, making him wonder why she never married off. Inviting an orphan for Christmas had been her idea, so she must have had an ulterior motive somewhere.
Grace came out into the hallway pulling the door shut behind her. She hadn't noticed Oliver standing there right away, resulting in her to bumping into him with surprise crossing her face. He just smiled, using this opportunity to take hold of her hand before they started walking. Her eyes locked on him wide and tranquil as ever. Lightly she squeezed his hand, hoping he'd meet her gaze before it was time for her to turn down the next hall. When he didn't, she sadly loosened her grip and started walking away. She opened her mouth to say goodnight, and this is when he finally turned his head.
"Thank you, Grace," he said, his voice more emotional than expected.
"For bringing her here. I didn't realize how much I was missing."
"So you're not angry with me?" she asked.
"Why would I be angry with you?"
"For choosing a girl."
Oliver chuckled. "She's not so bad after all."
"She really admires you. I can tell."
"Absolutely. I wish I could have taken a photograph of you two together. I think tonight just about made up for her time in the orphanage."
"And it's only her first day."
"Does this mean I should cancel your meetings tomorrow?"
With a sigh, he said, "I suppose I shouldn't. I've put them off for weeks. But once we're through we'll go to dinner somewhere. The three of us. We'll figure out a time to work. I want to make the most of her visit. I know I can't afford to fall any more behind. It's just that it's been years since I've taken a break. I forgot how enjoyable seeing a movie can be. Although, I think it was the company…"
Grace smiled. She was well aware of the change in his attitude. Not only towards Annie and work but towards herself as well. All evening she thought she'd seen him glancing her way. When he put his hand on her shoulder as they rode in the carriage everything was confirmed. But even with this, his next move surprised her.
Taking a step closer to her, nearly pushing her against the wall, Oliver took both of her hands in his. His eyes changed, looking more serious than they had all night. No longer did he avoid meeting her gaze.
"I've realized something else."
"What's that?" she questioned, her voice shaking the slightest bit.
"I missed you when I was away."
"I missed you, too, sir."
Raising her hands to his lips, he kissed them softly, then asked, "Have you ever considered calling me Oliver?"
"Well… no. What I mean is, you're my… I work for you. I shouldn't address you that way. Not near other people."
"No one is around now."
She looked down a moment. While she knew there was not a chance she was misreading his signals, a part of her still feared. This moment — this entire evening — felt too good to be true. This was Oliver: the man known to work well into the sunrise to avoid leaving any task unfinished. Today he'd given up the busiest hours. Now he was standing here, so near to her, instead of marching down to the office.
When she looked up again, she saw an unusual nervousness in his eyes. Not wanting to give him the wrong idea from her hesitation, she went against all the logic her mind gave and instead went with what she so wanted. And she'd wanted this for a long time.
Instantly he smiled, apprehensions disappearing with it. Without thinking he pulled her to him, hugging her with no immediate intentions of letting go.
And he didn't. Before long, he was laying on his side watching her sleep beside him. How fast everything happened… not twelve hours ago he was preoccupied with the problems of the world. In such a small amount of time, a new life was breathed into him. When agreeing to invite an orphan he assumed all he'd need to do is greet the child and maybe take them to lunch. As for Grace, he only meant to set something in motion for another time. He didn't plan on kissing her nor did he assume she would kiss back. Making love to her was most certainly unexpected…