The Seduction (Chapter 26, Lou Grant)

6 09 2009

26.

The Seduction

Ted stepped onto to the balcony of Mary’s apartment and looked out from the seventh floor window over the ravine and city skyline. The city lights were smeared on the sky like pastels on purple satin. Across the ravine stood the dark shell of the Forester building, derelict for years since it had been condemned by the city then abandoned by its owner.

Ted returned to the bar and made a drink for Mary and himself. Returning to the couch he placed the drinks on a coffee table. His eyes toured the room, tastefully decorated in the fashion of a magazine layout.  Ted liked that. Character meant chaos and Ted preferred order. Mary returned to the living room, having changed into a nightgown, a dark purple lace gown that trailed along the floor, falling loosely over her shoulders. Ted swallowed deeply, the bouquet from his cognac rising up his nostrils and filling his eyes with tears.

Ted couldn’t keep his eyes off Mary as she stepped across the room to put on some music, Nat King Cole in concert. The lights were dimmed. Ted got up to refill his glass. When her returned, Mary was waiting, sitting on the couch, her gown revealing a bare knee, her chest heaving, her eyes dark and liquid, her lips open in a smile. Ted sat down beside her.

“I find the people in the Blue Lagoon so interesting.” Mary spoke softly, sipping at her glass of white wine. “They live lives I would never have the courage to pursue. Outside convention. Impulsive. Passionate. Living on the wild side. Don’t you ever have a desire to step over the line, Ted?”

“Step over the line, Mar? I mean, what are lines put there for?”

Mary placed her hand on Ted’s knee. Ted swallowed deeply.

“You know what I hate about public speaking, Mar? I never know where to put my hands.”

Mary took one of Ted’s hands and placed it on her breast. “How’s that, Ted?”

MURRAY: I think I’m going to be sick, Lou.

LOU GRANT: Hang on. I’m sure this is going nowhere. You know Ted, Murray. You think that he’s Mary’s type?

MURRAY: God, I hope not.

Mary put her drink down on the table, then leaned over and kissed Ted on the lips. The drink in Ted’s hand began to shake. Mary reached for the belt on Ted’s trousers and undid it.

Ted squeezed his glass, his hand shaking.

“I’m sorry, Mary!”

Ted bolted to his feet.

“God, I’m not very good at these things. I shouldn’t have come up! I know I’m not going to sleep tonight. I like you, Mary, but I didn’t mean to give you the wrong impression… I want our relationship to remain professional. Strictly personal! I mean… Lou’s got a rule about fraternizing with the staff. Too many complications. Lou would kill me!”

Mary reached over for Ted who pulled away.

“Mar!” Ted cried, jumping back. “Tomorrow we’ll laugh about this. Jesus, I better get going. You’re not angry at me, Mar, are you?”

Ted walked quickly toward the door.

“I’ll let myself out,” he said, and was gone.

MURRAY: Oh my God!

LOU GRANT laughing: I told you nothing would happen. That’s our Ted.

MURRAY: You’ve got to promise me something, Lou.

LOU GRANT: What?

MURRAY: Don’t ever do that to me again.

LAUGH TRACK