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From Zero to One Point Eight

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The American oil industry cares about diversity.

Sue Ellen knows that because she's had the head of the national trade organization on speakerphone for the last half hour, pretending to listen while he explains why B&H Standard would be the perfect company to showcase in a new voter education campaign.

"The industry's not the good ol' boys' club it used to be," he says, and Sue Ellen hums in agreement as she deletes an e-mail. "We've changed a lot, and I can't think of a better way to prove it to the public than having you and that business partner of yours do a spot for us. They'd love you in the Northeast, especially up around Boston, New York..."

Sue Ellen hits the delete key again, more forcefully than she needs to. It's the third time he has managed to ignore her marriage to Ann while simultaneously suggesting the industry could capitalize on it, and she's about to tell him to go to hell when Ann comes walking in at something close to a swagger, hips swaying and heels clacking against the floor.

"How much do you love me right now?" Ann asks, setting her briefcase on the nearest chair.

Sue Ellen holds up a finger before snatching up the handset and raising it to her ear. "Jack," she interrupts, getting to her feet, "I'm not sure if you heard that or not, but my wife just got back from an important meeting, so I'm going to have to call you back." She doesn't wait for a goodbye, and the phone is barely back on the hook before she's walking around the desk. "You got the contract?"

"Oh, I got it all right," Ann says, a self-satisfied smile tugging on the corner of her mouth.

"How much?"

"That depends..." There's a playfulness in her tone that matches the glint in her eyes. "On a scale from zero to one point eight billion over the next six years, how bad do you want me right now?"

Sue Ellen stops mid-step and blinks in disbelief. "One point eight? Annie, how did... that's two hundred million more than--"

Ann grins. "I know."

Sue Ellen closes the distance between them with two long strides, and grabs Ann and kisses her as hard as she can.

"I'll tell you how much I want you right now," she says, grinning as she walks Ann backwards, pinning her against the desk and pressing their bodies close. "I want you so much there is nothing in this world that is going to stop me from having you."

Ann half moans, half laughs, and Sue Ellen kisses her again, hands on her hips, inching her dress up her thighs. Ann's fingers thread through her hair as she deepens the kiss, teasing Sue Ellen's mouth with her tongue until Sue Ellen leans in more, pressing a leg between Ann's thighs. 

And that's when the door flings wide open. "Mama, I--" John Ross's sentence stops there, and Sue Ellen is sure he turns around even faster than she and Ann jump apart.

"Where are you manners, John Ross?" Sue Ellen demands. Her face and neck are burning with embarrassment. "I know I taught you better than to just come barging in like that."

She looks over to see if Ann is decent and finds her straightening the seams of her dress, the skirt already hanging at its proper length. Her cheeks are only slightly pink.

"All right." Sue Ellen sighs and drags her fingers through her hair, hoping to comb it back into place. She feels Ann reach over to smooth a strand near the crown of her head, and she gives her a grateful smile before saying to John Ross, "You can turn around."

He does, hesitantly, and hazards a glance past his mother, the set of his shoulders loosening up when he sees Ann with her clothes back in place.

He gives her a curt nod. "Ann."

"John Ross," she says, her tone straddling the line between annoyed and amused. She tilts her head. "When are you going to start calling me mama? It's been ten years."

His jaw tightens. "Workin' on it," he says, and he turns toward Sue Ellen with his entire body, hands shoved in his pockets. "Mama, Daddy's in my office, and he says he's got a real good tip on... I don't know, on somethin' or other Barnes Global is lookin' at that we're gonna want to buy out from under 'em. And he says he'll only talk to you. Over lunch."

Ann sighs in disgust, and Sue Ellen can practically hear the roll of her eyes when she says, "'Course he does." She leans back against Sue Ellen's desk, fingers curled around the edge. "Y'all ever notice that, second I close a deal, J.R. shows up to say he's got something better? It's startin' to be a bit of a pattern around here."

John Ross presses his lips together and shakes his head. "Never said it was better."

"Oh, I assure you, he will." Ann crosses her arms. "And why's it he's got this information and not that wife of yours? I thought Pamela was workin' for us."

"Pamela is workin' for us," John Ross says. "She can't sell her daddy out all the time, not unless you want him to get suspicious."

"Enough, both of you," Sue Ellen says, looking from John Ross to Ann and back again. "John Ross, tell your father that he can have lunch with me and Ann... in half an hour. He's going to have to learn that he can't just walk in here and demand my attention whenever it suits him." Her voice softens. "And please remember to knock next time, okay, sweetheart?"

"I will definitely remember to do that," John Ross says, already taking a backward step toward the door. "Anything else, Mama?"

"Yes." Sue Ellen smiles. "Close the door."

His lip curls, but he does as he's told.

"Now," Sue Ellen says, turning back to Ann, "where were we?"