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Well I'll Stay, Just the Same

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It’s not easy being in love with a genius. Chester Kent worked day and night, straining himself to the point of a nervous breakdown. He barely slept. He rarely ate. And for all his effort, there were many things he overlooked. He never noticed his so-called partners swindling him out of profits. He couldn’t see that Miss Rich was only interested in him because he was successful. And he had no idea that Nan was completely devoted to him.

Every morning as she called for his breakfast, she thought about what it would be like to cook for him. To wake up next to Chester every morning, the early sunlight catching in his lovely hair. She would sneak out of bed without disturbing him, knowing he needed all the rest he could get, and head to the kitchen to make him breakfast. A real breakfast. Something more substantial than tomato juice and toast at a desk.

The sound of Chester yelling into the phone brought her back from the reverie. She repeated the order to the assistant, and headed back into the office, shedding the dreamy look on her face.

 

———

 

Nan wasn’t a creative type like Chester. She was a diligent secretary, and never had the flashes of inspiration like he often did, turning a simple phrase or idea into a musical prologue. But she could weave a beautiful fantasy.

She thought about the life she wanted. A simple apartment with Chester. Something practical, not far from the office. She knew he would never be able to leave work behind for very long, but she wasn’t asking for much.

Chester was a brilliant man, and he desperately needed someone to take care of him. And Nan thought she was just the woman for the job. No one else around the office doted on him the way she would. And the few women he’d seen over the years didn’t last long enough to see the real him. The Chester only Nan got to see.

Late at night, in the office or in one of their apartments. Jacket shed, vest unbuttoned, sleeves rolled up. Hunched over a desk or piano, exhausted beyond belief, trying his damndest to string an idea together. The impressive producer was so vulnerable in these moments that Nan loved him the most. A man in need of care and compassion, but all he’d settle for was a tune. He couldn’t see unwavering devotion if it stood across the desk from him, hanging on his every word.

 

——

 

“Well, any change?”

Nan shook her head. She was having a commiseration lunch with Bea, one of her closest confidants in the office. Chester Kent Productions was teaming with real characters, but the child-vaudeville-star-turned-office assistant was one of the friendliest and most level-headed gals around.

“Cheer up Nan, he can’t stay oblivious forever.”

Bea’s words were comforting and logical enough, but Nan knew better. She’d seen Chester at work long enough to know he could stare at the obvious answer all day, and not realize it until midnight.

“You’re right. Come on, we’ve only got five minutes before we’re due back at the office.”

 

——-

 

Bea couldn’t have been more wrong, but Nan couldn’t blame her. She was distracted and happy, having returned to the stage, and catching the eye of Scotty, the young new star. Personal and professional success. Nan was so jealous she could cry.

But aside from their delight, everything was falling to pieces. Everyone was on edge, working their absolute hardest to pull off the impossible. It was hard to stay cheery in an environment like that, and Nan was letting some of her frustration out. Just little remarks here and there, small things to show Chester that she knew he wasn’t appreciating her enough.

She would walk off, not sticking around to see his reaction. There was no time anymore, to wait for the genius to catch up with his secretary.

They’d been locked up in the studio for three days, not allowed to leave lest Gladstone steal their ideas again. It was like something out of one of her dreams, only it felt more like a nightmare. Night and day they spent together, rarely leaving the other’s side. And yet, he still couldn’t see the way she looked at him. He was surprised when she got him out of yet another fix, and Nan was beginning to get exasperated. What else would she have to do before he noticed? They were closer than had they’d ever been before, and still Chester seemed miles away.

 

——-

 

She was waiting offstage for him. The way she always waited, just off to the side in case he needed her, always at the ready.

Chester had performed beautifully. Nan didn’t know what had happened to make Chester take over the role in the prologue, but his natural charm and talent had been enough to win over both Apolinaris and the crowd. But Nan could’ve told everyone that before. She knew Chester could do anything. She sighed as the curtain came down to thunderous applause. If only he knew she would do anything for him.

As soon as the curtain hit the stage, Chester came rushing towards the wings. He always rushed, wherever he went. He was so full of purpose and energy, which tonight seemed to be directed right at Nan.

“You did it boss!” she cheered, always the first to compliment him.

“You mean we did it!” Her heart stirred at his gentle correction. He was pushed out onto the stage again to take a bow, and she waited, breathless, for his return. As he came running back, she could tell from the look in his eyes. For once, he saw her. And as he took her into his ams, she knew he had finally caught up.