This is a short story based on the movie Annie,when Oliver's secretary is engaged, forcing Oliver to finally admit his true feelings.But is he too late?
For the past year, Oliver Warbucks had watched his friend, John Bernard woo Grace Farrell. At first, Oliver never imagined his secretary falling for the man. John's long history of loving and leaving women was pretty well known.
The two men knew each other through work so John made it a point to hold any meetings at the mansion. Every time one was held, Grace would receive a gift from him. They started out as small tokens, but slowly they grew more extravagant. John was one of the few wealthy men left in the country, so that alone was enough to make him stand out.
With every passing month, the billionaire's colleague and secretary grew closer. Eventually, they became an item. Oliver nearly went mad at the news. What did she see in him? He'd known the woman for far too many years to suspect she was only after his money.
Yes, John had successfully put her under his spell.
Oliver refused to let that man hurt Grace.Unfortunately, when he confronted John on the subject, they nearly had a falling out. Oliver was then forced to put his feelings aside. Losing business over a woman was not an option.
Yes, he was in love with Grace. It was a ridiculous fascination though. She was far too young for him. No–he was too old for her. Not that it mattered anymore. He had missed his chance.
If money was truly what she was after, she wouldn't bother with John. Oliver's fortune was far greater than his colleague's. Money simply wasn't enough to turn her eye. The man's personality was far greater than his own as far as she knew.
They soon got engaged. Never did Oliver think the relationship would go this far. John didn't marry his women… and yet, here Grace stood before him wearing the same man's engagement ring.
Even though he'd tried to distance himself from her emotionally throughout this all, the sting of jealousy returned at her announcement.
Hiding his hurt, he stood and hugged her in congratulations. He realized that this was their first touch beyond a handshake. Regret flooded his veins for now he knew precisely what he had let pass him by.
Telling Grace was never an option. As hard as watching her make the biggest mistake of her life was, he had made the right choice. Besides, who was he to say if she were making a mistake or not? The truth of matter was that he didn't know the woman outside of work. How could this be true love?
Yes, she was kind, caring, and beautiful. She was patient and a hard worker, too. But what he was feeling couldn't possibly be more than a mere attraction. That is what he began telling himself over and over again as he sat alone in his study every night puffing on a cigar.
The wedding was drawing near. For Oliver, the three month long engagement period had been a lengthy one. All through that time, Oliver continued his resolution to leave Grace and John alone.He Knew Grace would find out eventually,but he decided that he wouldn't tell her what a playboy John Bernard was.
But that man was destroying her! He even told her to quit her job- a job she loved. She was to be his wife and nothing else. One thing Oliver could say for sure about Grace was that she loved to work. She'd put herself through years of school to do so. Her work ethnic couldn't compare to any other woman he knew.
She was the only person who kept up with his tempers. Ever since Annie came into his life,a whole new world opened up to him.He began to experience feelings he never knew he had.Everyone knows that Annie wrapped him around her little finger.But it was also then,that he realized he was in love with Grace.
Some of the other staff members insisted on throwing Grace a farewell party. Naturally as her employer, Oliver attended. Musicians were hired. Caterers were hired along with waiters. When Oliver caught wind of the gathering, he insisted money was no object. Mrs Greer and Mrs Pugh were the party planners.They were given an endless array of possibilities.
It turned out to be a wonderful night.There was fun and laughter along with the unavoidable sorrow around the longtime employee's departure.
The party lasted until the early hours of the morning.Once things came to an end, one by one the guests went home.
Soon only Oliver, Grace, Drake,Mrs Greer,Mrs Pugh and the musicians remained. However, Oliver excused Drake and Mrs Pugh and Mrs Greer went to clean up.
Maybe it was the three glasses of wine he'd drank that influenced his next move, but he held out his hand and asked his secretary, "May I have a dance with the bride-to-be?"
To his relief, she accepted with a smile.
Holding each other dangerously close and comfortably,they danced to the slow song chosen by the players.
It was as if they'd danced a thousand times before.They were in perfect sync with each other. In this moment, the resolve Oliver had worked so hard to maintain completely melted away.
He held on to her dearly, dreading the moment they would have to part. If only he could have spoken. If only he could have told her how he felt.Nonetheless, it was the common silence that made their cavorting embrace acceptable.
But Olive didn't know that Grace had tears streaming down her cheeks.How was she going to leave the man whom she had worked for nearly ten years? The man she had secretly loved right from the beginning.
The song came to an end, and he had no choice but to step away from her. Who was he kidding? He could call this a plain attraction all he wanted. It didn't hide the truth. After having just held her so close… thinking of every mundane moment he'd ever shared with her…picturing how life might be without her… he knew it was indeed love. He needed her to stay. He needed to say those three words. But it was too late.
She was only two days from the altar. To confess to
her now would
be an outrage.
Then again… better now than after she's married…
"Miss Farrell… Grace-" he started, "there's something you need to know about John."
Taken aback by the use of her first name, she nervously asked, "What is it?"
Anxiety set in again as he stared at the ring on her finger. "He…" There was no backing out now. "Grace, he isn't the man you think he is."
Her eyes grew wide in defense. "Who are you say what my thoughts are towards him?"
"Please, hear me out. This isn't easy for me to say," He began.
"The man is notorious for breaking women's hearts.In all honesty, I'm surprised at how long your relationship has lasted. The fact that you're about to get married blows me away. I know it really isn't my place to say anything — and believe me when I say that I have tried my hardest to bite my tongue — but I can't stand by any longer and see you get hurt."
Grace looked away. Tears came to the brim of her eyes and threatened to fall. "Why are you telling me this?" she shook.
"Like I said, I couldn't stand by and see you get hurt," he replied.
"Well good job," she cried as she looked back to him.
"Grace, I'm so sorry." He reached for her arm, but she pulled it away.
Shaking her head, she began, "You aren't telling me anything I don't already know."
"I'm not?" he reacted, stunned.
"What do you take me for, a fool?" She asked." Of course I know about his ways with women. As we speak I'm sure he's out with one."
Wishing he had a handkerchief to offer, he tried to understand. "Why would you agree to marry such a man? He seems to be the complete opposite of you."
"He is," she agreed. "That was precisely what had attracted me to him in the first place. It wasn't supposed to go this far, but it did."
"But why?" He asked.
"There are parts of him that I really admire."She replied.
"Is it the money?"He asked, the words slipped out of his mouth before he had a chance to stop them.
"Certainly not!" she replied offensively. "He's good company. He can also be very, very sweet…"
"Do you love him?"He asked.
Taking a moment to dry her eyes, she replied softly,"I will learn how to love him."
"You mean you don't now?" He asked.
Her only response was a solemn shake of her head.
"Do you mean to tell me that you are about to marry a man you don't even love?" he interrogated.
"Yes, that is what I am saying!" She replied.
"But you could have any man in the world…" he began before she interrupted him.
"Oh really?" she challenged. "If that's so, how come he's the only man who has ever asked?"
"That can't possibly be true." Oliver replied.
"I hate to disillusion you, but it is in fact the truth." Taking a deep breath in attempts to finally collect herself, she admitted. "I want to be married. I want a family. There's only so much time left. Maybe one day John will learn to be faithful to me. He already took a step in proposing. So far he hasn't gotten cold feet. And if he never changes his ways, I'll learn to live with the outcome."
Boldly taking her hands in his, he proclaimed, "You don't have to settle for him. I love you, Grace."
Grace's mouth fell open. With a blank gape, she repeated, "You love me?"
"I do,"he admitted."I've loved you for a long time."
A new set of tears filled with confusion appeared. "Why have you waited until now to tell me?" She asked.
"Because I am a damn fool." He replied.
A very faint smile crossed her face. "That you are, Oiver Warbucks."
With guilt in his voice, he queried, "I'm too late, aren't I?"
Looking up at him she stared a stare that Oliver couldn't for the life of him read. Then taking a few steps closer towards him, she gently wound her arms around his neck as she placed a tantalizing kiss on his lips.
His heart soared as he kissed her back with equal enthusiasm. For a minute, he had to wonder if he was lost in some wonderful dream. As he held her closer, he realized that the woman he had in his arms was very much a reality.
When they broke away,they stared into each others eyes for a long time before she finally said ,"Theres no such thing as too late," She smiled through her tears. "You're not the only one whose been in love for a long time."
"Oh Grace…" he breathed. "Do you really mean it?"
"I do,"she assured him."It's always been you. I love you,Oliver."
"I love you to Grace," Oliver said as he kissed her gently on the lips.
As if they were in the middle of a scene from fairy tale, the music swelled again. Both were startled having wholly forgotten the other few people standing on the sidelines. Letting out soft chuckles, they held each once more.
Another slow song played. They both marveled in the others embrace as they moved in time with the music. Oliver continually placed innocent pecks on her cheek and forehead.
"Will you marry me,Grace?"He asked.
She was made speechless by his question.Tears filled her eyes once more as she murmured,"yes."
Looking deeply into
her eyes,he closed the distance that had formed between them
and swept her off her feet in a spin.
Van Zyl lives in South Africa.She started writing when she was very
young and she studied Comprehensive Writing at College,